The Complete Unknown Pleasures 2009

She's lost her control scheme.

We spent January doing something a little different at RPS. Every year, websites do their “What’s New In The Coming Year” articles. And they’re splendid. We did it last year too. But we couldn’t help but think perhaps they were all missing something. They exist to talk about games which the vast majority of PC gamers already know and love. We thought that going the other way would be worthwhile: just concentrate on what’s exciting about the next eleven months which, in all likelihood, no-one else is going to mention. Games which the vast majority of gamers won’t even know exist yet. We ended up with eleven interviews and hands-on impressions of the Unknown Pleasures that await in 2009. And here they are…

Let’s hope they turn out as well as we hope.

Venture Dinosauria: Dinosaur Ecological Management game. We repeat: Dinosaur Ecological Management Game.
No Quarter: Gish’s Edmund McMillen and Alex Austin’s Videogame Mix-tape. We predict Wuh-huh-hah?-hahs!
Elemental: War of Magic: Galactic Civilization’s creators turn their impeccable turn-based credentials towards the glories of fantasy.
Sol Infernum: Diplomatic Strategy game from the makers of the exquisite Armageddon Empires. Set in Hell. Better to rule in hell? It better rule, more like.
Age of Decadence: The great-white-hope of traditional PC role-playing games. As pugnaciously confident as Indie RPGs have ever got.
Gridrunner+++: Llamasoft pump a previous classic full of all the experience, knowledge and visual flair of their previous Space Giraffe taught ’em.
Blush: Flashbang Studios promise six games in 2009. This is their first. Can they really double their output of webmeme-classics ala Minotaur China Shop and Off-road Velociraptor Safari? We pray.
The Void: ala Typrop ala Tension ala the new game from the makers of Pathologic ala your new favourite game to read 47,244 word esays about.
Machinarium: Amanita Design take their tranquil, beautiful and un-nerving adventure game skills (e.g. Samorost) and expand it to a new, epic palette.
Zeno Clash: See that elephant-headed guy? He’s totally looking at your bird. Punch him. And then punch your bird, as it’s a bird-headed man. Just punch them! PUNCH THEM IN THEIR FREAKY FACES.
Majesty 2: Old-school PC classic of indirect control passed eastwards. If any half-remembered strategy game deserves to be this year’s triumphant Phoenix, it’s this one.

Perhaps obviously, this isn’t all – or even most – of what excites RPS when we look forward across the remaining nine months of 2009. Which begs the obvious question – what would you have included in your list of Unknown Pleasures?


  1. K says:

    This is an excellent idea. Just what I wanted. Hurrah.

  2. A Delicate Balance says:

    Something about “unknown unknowns” springs to mind… I look forward to some known unknowns!

  3. Corvus says:

    Nice idea. And nice Joy Division reference ;-)

  4. Feet says:

    Also nice work on the site in the last few days, updates and posts coming thick and fast! Woo go RPS!

  5. phil says:

    @a delicate balance – We know of the known unknowns, its the known unknown unknowns and particularly the unknown unknown unknowns I’m looking forward to.

  6. h4plo says:

    Extra points for the Joy Division reference.

  7. Junior says:

    I’m just going to echo, Yes it’s a great idea.

    No point in getting us more worked up about what we already know, give us new things to look forward to and reccomend to others, it makes us look well informed!

  8. Matt says:

    Awesome, awesome Joy Divison reference.

  9. oddbob says:

    Oh. I thought it was a Zune reference…

  10. Xercies says:

    This is good…other websites should try this…but no they always go for the biggest releases. Good Job and great idea i always love an unknown gem being shown to me because otherwise how can i find these gems?

  11. Monele says:

    This is exactly why I love RPS. Don’t change guys.

  12. boatorious says:

    After DoW 2, the 2009 games I’m mostly likely to buy are the unheralded yet inevitable Ratchet and Clank and Penny Arcade Adventures games.

  13. Candid_Man says:

    I heard a lot about Cryostasis in the past weeks, but not much on the coming (?) in-house English translation of Icepick Lodge’s last game Tension/The Void.

    Probably not unknown enough, though.

    What about the upcoming (?) Disciples III? These guys know how to dress-up high fantasy biblical-style.

    Also, weren’t there similar under-the-radar sequels to classics like Jagged Alliance and Majesty?

  14. Stromko says:

    I find it amusing/sad how many of the games on the 2008 list, didn’t in fact see a release in 2008, and might still be far from it as far as I know.

  15. The LxR says:

    Tension is already translated – and has been since summer. ;) If you have a Russian version, I can send you English subtitles.
    The delay is because we’re currently working on enchancing the English version – it looks like it’s going to be a whole new game, if all the changes make it in.
    Thus, better wait for the English release.

  16. Jasiek says:

    Hey LxR, can you tell me more info on those english subs for Tension and where to get them?

    email me at

    thanks in advance

  17. gidge-lizard says:

    I really like the Joy Division reference, and the alt-text is pretty kewl too.

    I’m probably looking forward to Black Mesa although that’s just a half-life 2 mod/re-make of the first half-life, the people working on it are really into it though, one of their daugters turned 5 so he said ‘she had half the life of half-life’, really, eh?
    Also The Path looks good too it’s quite unknown and the people that are making it are really kewl, (Tale of Tales, incase you didin’t know and are interested), they’re great at creating atmosphere so to see them making a survival horror like this gets me all excited

    ok, i’m done now

  18. BooleanBob says:

    That seventeen comments seem to have been posted weeks before the article they are appended to was published has blown my mind. Does reading RPS develop the power of prophesy?

    Wait! I’m seeing shapes… visions… lo, and on the fifteenth day following the collapse of the Great Bridge in the Upper Kingdom…

    … the company that calleth itself Nintendo shall announce it is solely dedicating its labours to the creation of brown-palleted First Person Shooters..eth…
    … the second coming of Starcraft shall cause much wailing and gnashing of the teeth as its keepers will charge monthly for access the “multiple players” mode. A hail of frogs shall followeth…
    … a game shall be made that is so emotional affecting that the one who calls himself John Walker, verily, shall melteth in his entirety…

  19. Skurmedel says:

    I don’t know if ibb & obb will be out 2009, but I’m looking forward to whenever it arrives.

    link to

  20. Mythrilfan says:

    And now, after the announcement of the Mount and Blade expansion, everything else seems irrelevant.

  21. Nihohit says:

    I’m really looking forward to appending two more months to the ten months you’ve limited 2009 to.

  22. A-Scale says:

    For the love of God stop calling it “Unknown Pleasures”. It sounds like a HBO late night special or a strip club.

  23. Feet says:

    Is Precursors coming out in 2009? I know it’s not totally Unknown but it’s more Unknown than most. Known.

  24. Jim Rossignol says:

    Or a cultural reference of some kind.

    link to

  25. Scandalon says:

    I’m still confused…when is this Unknown Pleasures due to be released? And will it run on my computer? :P

  26. Jim Rossignol says:

    We’d already just done a barrel of Love coverage. Doesn’t seem that unknown, either, he’s got some pretty serious coverage, including previews in Wired, Edge, PC Gamer.

  27. Pags says:

    For the love of God stop calling it “Unknown Pleasures”.

    Nomenclature will tear us apart.

  28. A-scale says:

    I keep forgetting this is a uk site. Enjoy your snow and Brit punk.

  29. Nick says:

    English post punk, but thanks for playing.

  30. Cooper42 says:

    You have just proven already what I knew was immense about this site. Nowhere else would I get a Joy Division reference so shamelessly, yet somehow fittingly aside an ecelctic mix of PC gaming.


    Also, Cactus’ new site:
    link to
    Has me playing his games which herebefore have been largely hidden on his forums and get me agitated for what wonderful sensory overloads will be coming from him next.

  31. malkav11 says:

    Cryostasis isn’t -precisely- unknown (and indeed RPS has devoted a few articles to it), but I don’t think it’s really much higher on peoples’ radars than things like Elemental or Majesty 2. And as it’s out in Russia it’s possible to get a good sense of what exactly one is in for. I am in fact playing the Russian version (with handy-dandy fan translated subtitles and option menus) and it is a gorgeous, spooky, excitingly strange and dark and *cold* experience. It really helps to have the lovely Russian vocals and surprisingly excellent subtitles, also.

    Downsides – it’s very linear and scripted thus far, with the flashback sequences being required for progression (previews gave the impression they were optional but would help you out. Nope. Required.) and the environments being fairly repetitive and nondescript. Not that it’s surprising, being as the game’s set on a giant icebreaker ship…lot of redundancy and cargo holds and such. But that might turn some people off, especially if the atmosphere doesn’t click for you.

  32. James Brophy says:

    Ack… I wanted to play the games that came out of the weekend but that bloody Click o tron joke thing has buggered my mouse hand.

  33. Benjamin Finkel says:

    Pretty much every game I want to buy for this year, I learned about here.


  34. soul says:

    I have to know who else knew thats the cover to Joy Division’s debut epic album?

  35. Skurmedel says:

    Love was featured on swedish telly, maybe not the most prominent television in the world, but still that proves he’s not mega-unknown since the generally gaming-ignorant television here found out about him.

  36. Xercies says:


    Where did you get this? And if i sell my soul can I have it?

  37. Duncan says:

    Bizarrely enough, I watched “Control” a couple of days ago – pretty good film.

  38. Kieron Gillen says:

    I liked Control a lot actually, despite knowing the story back to front from loving Joy Division.


  39. Not a Music fan says:

    Who are Joy division, and why are they being referenced so reverentially?

  40. Kieron Gillen says:

    Just a seminal British post-punk band. A lot of people have ripped them off this decade, but they’re very much – for want of a better word – part of the trad canon of rock music. Singer Ian Curtis’ suicide immortalised them.

    Later reformed as New Order, who you’re more likely to be aware of.

    The hit: Love Will Tear Us Apart.

    One more for the road: Atmosphere

    Popular with very serious young men in trench-coats. Two albums, both worth owning.


  41. Dan Lawrence says:

    Another vote for the film ‘Control’ here, excellent performances and a tragic portrait of a young man really living his music. I especially like the neat way that the title sums up the thesis that it presents, the whole film is like an answer to the question ‘Why did Ian Curtis commit suicide?’.

  42. AndrewC says:

    Then perhaps the film should have been called ‘Cunt’?

  43. Dan Lawrence says:

    Only if you misread it.

    It wasn’t the women that destroyed him but his own inability to take control of the situation and make any decisions of choices.

    Unless you had some other meaning in your explicit, yet cryptic, utterance :) ?

  44. Not a Music fan says:

    Thanks, KG. Wiki P also helped with some of the ‘who?’ but not the ‘why?’.

    New Order I know, thanks to that massively over-played hit, the one with the video of blue-faced men in silly costumes slapping each other. It was alright, as that kind of thing goes, but not good enough to warrant blanket exposure, IMO. Oh, they did Blue Monday, too? Well I never.

    Lumme, I know Love Will Tear Us apart, too! For that to happen to me in particular makes me begin to understand the word ‘Seminal’ you just used. :)

    I once owned a Trench-coat but was too cheerful to wear it effectively.

  45. AndrewC says:

    I refuse to mythologise suicide – and that goes a thousand times for the suicide of a public figure whom Kieron’s serious young men will idolise.

    All these ideas that go around the tragic, stupid and meaningless deaths of rock stars – of it giving them freedom, or control, or meaning they never have to compromise – are ugly and toxic. I’m bringing in ideas associated with other Rock Stars’ deaths too – that it somehow makes their life a work of art or that it makes them immortal – those attitudes still spin around the rock world too much and i always feel a very strong need to react against them.

    Plus he had a wife and a kid when he did it – so if we’re playing the ‘project meaning onto a senseless act’ game then i’m heading towards the negative on Ian.

  46. Kieron Gillen says:

    AndrewC: This is a post about the new games of 2009, with some really basic comments towards people wondering who Joy Division were. It’s not the place to discuss the ethics of suicide or the stupid glorification of the “beautiful young dead” in rock and roll.

    For the record, I don’t think Curtis comes across particularly well in Control, to say the least.


  47. Ziv says:

    that was a great series. it had majesty 2 which till then I didn’t know had a release date.
    btw. at the beginning of the article you say other sites have articles about next year – can you link to some good ones?

  48. dhex says:

    for what it’s worth, i think atmosphere and love will tear us apart are their least interesting songs.

    the remastered version of unknown pleasures is a great example of how reissues should be done. the bass is fabulous, and curtis’ voice comes through.

    it still kinda sounds like a cry for help, in retrospect.

  49. Premium User Badge

    phuzz says:

    An early death in a band pretty much cements a reputation for greatness (rightly or wrongly).
    Syd Barrett being the exception that proves the rule imo.