Have You Played… Alien Swarm

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Valve have a game even more forgotten than Ricochet. Despite being only five years old, I bet if I’d asked you to write down all their games you’d have missed off Alien Swarm [official site].

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Rocket Jumps And Grappling Hooks In LawBreakers Vid

I lost interest during the announcement of Cliff Bleszinski’s new shooter LawBreakers [official site] when the former Epic chap’s livestreamed reveal-o-rama went into guff about criminals and cops and law-breaking and the future and the moon and… oh, I didn’t care. I closed the stream.

However! Watching its ‘gameplay reveal’ trailer, I discover that the arena FPS has gnarly-looking energy grappling hooks to whip you around levels, rocket jumping, and some other swish gadgets. Aye, I’ll keep an eye on this game all right. Watch this:

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Of Fantasia And The Black Cauldron: Tsioque

I’ve mentioned Fantasia and The Black Cauldron above because there’s something about the combination of dark fantasy and slapstick animation in Tsioque that brought them both to mind. Admittedly, I haven’t seen The Black Cauldron for years and looking at a few screengrabs has convinced me that it might not be quite the film I thought it was, but I’m sticking to my guns here. There’s something of Bluth in Tsioque as well.

Whatever the merits of my references, Tsioque [official site] looks like a delicious slice of fantasy, starring a young girl in a dark castle. You can play a demo right now or read on for more information.

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Bright Lights, Big Cities: Skylines – After Dark

Somehow I ended up thinking Cities: Skylines – After Dark [official site] would be a scuzzy, sleazy, neon affair. I was expecting a rain-soaked trailer with buzzing lights advertising GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS or CHAPS CHAPS CHAPS or something and soundtracked by Electric 6. Maybe Devil Nights off Senor Smoke.

It isn’t. There are streetlights and windowlit office blocks and the soundtrack is perky and plinky plonky as it showcases the expansion’s new nightspots:

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The RPG Scrollbars: Legends Of Valour

Who said epic action and high adventure has to be part of an adventurer’s life? (Checks) Oh, right. Pretty much everyone at least expects it. Still, back in 1992, US Gold and Synthetic Dimensions decided to try something a little different. Specifically, spelling ‘Valour’ correctly. (The sequel might have done the same for ‘Honour’, but we never got to find out.) Also, something to do with life simulation. It’s a little remembered game these days, but one that had a major impact on some of the biggest modern RPGs around. Ever heard of a series called The Elder Scrolls? Bethesda’s Todd Howard has long mentioned this being one of its big inspirations.

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Deus Ex: Mankind Divided Release Date Held To Ransom

One Deus Ex: Human Revolution mission centred around an old friend from the Deus Ex universe, Tracer Tong, was locked off in pre-order DLC (and later sold seperately). It was a bit of a gross move. Apparently not learning from their mistakes – a pretty Deus Ex-y theme, to be fair – publishers Square Enix have announced all the pre-order guff for Deus Ex: Mankind Divided [official site].

It’s a big mess, of course, and includes the unpleasant step of saying they’ll release the game four days early if enough people pre-order. How about we not pre-order games any more and Squeenix simply release it when it’s ready, eh?

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Mad Max Roars Out, Dragging Movies To Steam Too

Mad Max [official site], the open-world apocalypse ‘em up from Just Cause devs Avalanche Studios has arrived on Steam, and so has Mad Max, the post-apocalyptic watch ‘em up series from Babe director George Miller.

Seeing the four Mad Max films on Steam is quite a surprise, given that Valve’s moving picture offerings so far have mostly been small indie films and documentaries about video games. It helps that Warner Bros. distributed the movies as well as publishing the game, but still, coo, Fury Road! More than ever, I wish Steam’s films were games.

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Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain – Faults And Fixes

I woke up this morning in a bright new world, a world in which what may be Hideo Kojima’s final Metal Gear game [official site] is available on PC. It still seems like an impossible dream, that a series that has only sporadically stealthed its way onto our machines should be here day one, the same time as the console launch, so I was expecting something to go wrong. Performance issues due to the port from console to PC? A sudden stepback in visual quality as compared to ‘prologue’ mission Ground Zeroes?

Remarkably, The Phantom Pain hasn’t gotten its cape into a tangle and seems to be running smoothly while looking devilishly handsome. There are some caveats and snags though, as always.

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Wot I Think: STASIS

Stasis [official site] is a traditional point and click adventure game with a sci-fi horror theme. Successfully Kickstarted by tiny South African studio The Brotherhood in 2013, it was released yesterday. Join me for some space-screaming.

Perhaps the main reason adventure games and I broke up is that I found them too arbitrary to take seriously. The puzzles were so often at odds with the setting or theme, necessitating a suspension of disbelief (either that there really only are three usable objects in this room, or that the protagonist is simply too stupid to try anything else) that I was increasingly unwilling to provide in order to commune with some designer’s lateral thinking, or some writer’s gags. Even Grim Fandango, the last adventure game I loved, was guilty of this: that wonderful sense of journey regularly disrupted by an inherent illogic. I don’t enjoy puzzling for puzzling’s sake – but when it’s a puzzle which propels a game’s events onwards, that’s a different matter entirely. STASIS is all about momentum rather than stop-start headscratching. The majority of its puzzles act as natural stepping stones along its journey into body-horror darkness, not obstacles. It flows.

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Premature Evaluation: Universe Sandbox 2

Universe Sandbox 2 has some perfectly reasonable restrictions on what it is willing to simulate, but isn’t always clear about why it’s stopping you from doing something. I wanted to recreate the 0.1 fm wide black hole from Larry Niven’s 1973 story The Hole Man, for instance - and found the scale doesn’t descend that low. It’s not especially surprising that the game doesn’t model subatomic sizes, but getting the diameter below a couple of kilometres is also impossible and attempting to do so has this strange effect of deleting what you just typed and replacing it with the lowest number that the program will accept, and yet nonetheless changing a bunch of other stats that would be affected by a further reduction in diameter.

Each week Marsh Davies orbits the supermassive blackhole that is Early Access and comes back with any stories he can find or gets shredded to subatomic spaghetti as he tumbles towards a point of infinite mass. This week he has become death, destroyer of worlds, and really quite a lot of moons as well, in Universe Sandbox 2. Otherwise known as Universe Sandbox², if you’re the kind of terrible prick who insists on using Character Map to enforce your brand. Anyway, the game’s great.

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God Game Crest Wants To Make Monthly Content

The developers at Eat Create Sleep managed to tame that wild horse crowdfunding a little over a year ago. In 2014, using Indiegogo they raised just over $21,000 to create an interactive god game called Crest [official site] – where players take on the role of an unseen force who can express commandments to its island denizens, which can be interpreted and misinterpreted by followers to dire consequence. The game is in Early Access until sometime this December, say its makers, and they’ve already have some ideas on how to fund some regular content before and after release.

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Master Spy Creeps Toward Steam On September 8

O and the clouds parted and so decended the great Master Spy [official site] – a little stealth-based precision platformer that’s drifting toward its Steam launch on September 8th.

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Have You Played… Door Kickers

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

I don’t know when I’ll ever get another first-person experience like SWAT 4, but Door Kickers [official site] is pretty close. It’s played from above, but you command a squad of well-trained soldiers to breach and clear rooms full of criminals, and it’s every bit as smart, tactical and exciting as its inspirations.

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