Author Archive

Rusty Lake talk Rusty Lake, Twin Peaks,
and making money from properly free games

The Rusty Lake universe absolutely fascinates me. Consisting of nine free room escape oddities, and three longer premium puzzling adventures, each adds clues and confusion to a deeply creepy and unsettling mystery surrounding the eponymous lake. With the recent release of the superb Rusty Lake Paradise, I wanted to speak to the two-man development team to find out how it got started, where it’s going, and how they’ve managed to keep going while making so many properly free games. So I did.

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Have You Played… Attack On Pearl Harbor?

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

I, you will be confused and perhaps upset to learn, am not Tim Stone. I know as much about flight sims as I do quantum mechanics, and find both equally approachable. When it comes to flying games, my interests lie at the arcadiest of arcadiness, and find their absolute joy in Attack On Pearl Harbor. Read the rest of this entry »

Steam Charts: Variation Edition!

Sorry to frighten the more sensitive reader, but, goodness me, among the miserably common entries, this week’s chart welcomes a fair few newbies and indies! Are customers about to get better at buying? Or will we just see these games in the charts every week for the rest of the year? STAY TUNED! Read the rest of this entry »

Wot I Think: The bloody creepy Rusty Lake Paradise

The long-running saga of Rusty Lake continues in Rusty Lake: Paradise, and I’m pleased to report this is one of its finest outings. I wasn’t sure at first, but by the end I was deeply embroiled in its Lynchian psychic dystopia, once more tangentially exploring the lives of a creepy family, crow-faced creatures, and that fuzzy black man-thing that haunts my dreams.

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Pictopix just doubled in size, and remains the best picross game on PC

The best picross/nonogram puzzle game on PC, Pictopix, just got a free update on its first anniversary. It’s added in another 45 large-size puzzles, pretty much doubling the play-time of the whole game. So I’ve gone back in, and argue once more why this is the sort of PC game our industry is sadly failing to celebrate.

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Steam Charts: Feedback Edition

As the feedback loop of Steam successes reaches an ear-shattering scream, this week we see last year’s best sellers dominating the New Year’s first week. So I refuse to live in the past. Let’s look forward. Let’s imagine what we might want from these behemothic developers. Read the rest of this entry »

Exposition Demolition: Just let us start playing the game

A challenge to game developers: let the first thing the player sees on starting a new game be the game itself. Let the player be immediately in control. And let them keep that control at least until it has at least become familiar.

I love gaming stories. Stories have always been my primary interest in playing games, from the first text adventures in the early 1980s, through the glorious adventure years of the ’90s, to the dynamic and impactful environmental storytelling of the 2000s, to today’s glorious open worlds packed with freely explorable plot. And interwoven throughout all these eras, the RPGs that have delivered their epic plots across space and time. I love stories. I am not, and would not, argue against the narrative aspects of gaming. I just, more than ever before, want to experience those stories while I’m playing. Read the rest of this entry »

The 14 Best Metroidvania Games On PC

The Metroidvania is perhaps one of the more tricky genres to nail down. With its very name coming from an amalgamation of two actually quite different Nintendo-based game series – Metroid and Castlevania – quite what qualifies is always up for debate. Hence, we suspect this could be one of the more controversial lists, when it leaves out a favourite game that someone else might argue fits the remit, but we decided did not. The important thing to remember is that we’re right. And all of these games are brilliant.

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Wot I Think: Death Coming

Death Coming is a fantastically beautiful piece of pixel artwork, on a par with the master of the art, eBoy, and a game in which you must try to create accidents to kill as many of the world’s inhabitants as you can. For you are Death…’s assistant. It sounds great! It would be, if it would only stop getting in its own way. Read the rest of this entry »

Oxenfree, unarguably the best game of 2016, is free on GOG right now!

Oxenfree is my favourite game of 2016. Unfortunately I didn’t play it until the very end of 2016, so didn’t know to bellow about it when the time was ripe. The time, people, is ripe once more. Oxenfree, the best game of last year, is free right now on GOG! Oxenfree, you might say, if you were a twerp. Read the rest of this entry »

Wot I Think: Finding Paradise (To The Moon 2)

To The Moon is one of my favourite gaming experiences. No game has made me blub as hard, or as often, and it earned those tears through a funny, passionate, emotionally complex story. Finding Paradise, a direct sequel after a number of smaller asides, didn’t make me cry. It made me laugh, think, wonder, and finish with a sad smile on my face, but no tears. But games aren’t measured by how much they make you cry, people, come on. Read the rest of this entry »

Interview: Jason Roberts on Gorogoa, brevity and unknowability

We’ve been following the development of mind-bending, reality-warping, picture-based puzzler Gorogoa for five years, since it was first revealed in 2012. It then went on to win an IGF Award in 2014, despite being unfinished. And now, finally, it’s here. And as our review says, it’s magnificent. We spoke to lone developer Jason Roberts about the long development, the process of what to leave out, and how unknowability was woven into the fabric of the game. Read the rest of this entry »

Wot I Think: Gorogoa

Gorogoa feels like a sort of magic that might fall apart in the understanding. It’s a beautiful story in which you solve puzzles more by instinct than deduction, and their solutions feel as magical as the process. Its impossibly overlapping world weaves a delicate fiction that stretches beyond the boundaries of its central conceit. Read the rest of this entry »

Steam Charts: Post Sale Fatigue Edition

The tail-end of Steam’s Autumnal sale sees a few old favourites lingering with the usual suspects in the charts this week. The discounts that got them here are all gone now, but it’s only a couple of weeks now before everything goes completely bonkers for the Winter Sale, and you can expect to see all the same names deeply discounted once more. Read the rest of this entry »

Hey, you, Tower 57 is well worth a look

You’ll have an example off the top of your head, but I’m struggling to think of the last twin-stick shooter that put a big emphasis on downtime between blasting, with NPCs, a decent chunk of story, and an RPG-style upgradeable roster of characters. That’s what Tower 57 rather modestly offers, all through very pleasing chunky 16-bit art.

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Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2 is great! No, it isn’t.

I am in two minds about Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2. It is a phenomenally dense and ridiculous playground of Traveller’s Tales at their finest. And it’s a buggy, opaque and disjointed mess of haphazard controls and direction. And I’ve no idea which one is right. It’s me. Or it’s me. Read the rest of this entry »

Steam Charts: Clean Underwear Edition

Imagine what would happen if Plunkbat weren’t to be at number 1? Could anyone even cope any more? Has all of gaming started operating on this as a foundation, forgetting that it could, one day, not sell more copies than everything else? What if I’m writing this as a bluff because it’s not at number 1 this week? What if I just wrote that to imply the bluff even though there isn’t a bluff?! OH MY GOODNESS EVERYONE QUICKLY READ THIS NOW!

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Wot I Think: Megaton Rainfall

Megaton Rainfall‘s goal is to let you feel like a superhero. Originally created with VR in mind, the earliest build I played years back on an Oculus Rift featured what still makes up the core of the game: swooping around via the gift of flight, trying to blow up alien ships while not accidentally levelling the city around you. Released now in flat-o-vision (I’ve no idea why the PC release is non-VR only, after the PSVR release last month), I find a game containing absolutely astonishing ambition, incredible achievements, beyond comprehension scale and awe, and the weirdest sense that you’re not really being allowed to have fun. Read the rest of this entry »