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Brendan Caldwell

3 months ago

Feature: Throwback Thursday

Why are so many old games coming back? We asked developers why they chase nostalgia

Remember that thing you like from 10 years ago? It’s probably getting a sequel. Shenmue 3. Evil Genius 2. Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines 2. The calendar of upcoming games is packed with throwbacks that will revisit the worlds we left behind over a decade ago. Oddworld: Soulstorm is heading back to the strange homeland of Abe the skinny green freedom farter. Mechwarrior 5 is booting…

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Feature: WELL!?

What are we all playing this weekend?

We are waist-deep in the liquid of July and things are starting to coagulate. The air is still, the waves are quiet. There are no colossal games on the charred blockbuster horizon, so this is a bounteous time for the thriving shoals of smaller games. Nipping at our thighs like sea lice. Demanding attention before the winter tsunami eventually comes to kill them all. Give…

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Feature: Not that Black Friday, idiot

Have You Played… 1979 Revolution: Black Friday?

The Iranian Revolution of 1979 is not exactly well-trodden ground for videogames. But at least one game took a swing at it. 1979 Revolution: Black Friday is a game in the style of Telltale, a story told with playable cinematics and quicktime events. It's mostly made of conversations and the drama that comes from making a bad decision instead of another, equally bad decision. It…

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Feature: The sense of an ending

Pathologic 2’s easy mode lets you soak in the dread of an unwell town

There’s a woman wailing in that house. I keep walking. I walk until her screams are out of earshot, then I look at my map. I can see the noisy house drawn here, a square box with a little circle around it. I look closer. “You can hear wailing,” it reads. I close the map. I keep walking. I need a cog - a rusty…

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4 months ago

Thousands perish in Elite Dangerous expedition, but survivors reach the edge of the galaxy

Whoa. I was too distracted during the disgusting month of E3 to pay attention to what really matters: the space news. The Elite Dangerous expedition which saw 13,000 players set out to cross the galaxy in a long trip has finally ended after six months. Just over one quarter of those explorers touched down at Beagle Point last month, which is practically the furthest you…

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Feature: "Ask the hard questions"

Meet the geographer who tells studios when they’re ignorant and offensive

We hear a lot about level designers in games. Voice actors, concept artists, big directors. Kate Edwards is none of those things. She is a geographer. It seems like an odd job for the games industry, but the more you learn about her work, the more it feels essential. Edwards is hired by studios to cast her geo-eye over the shuffling NPCs of sci-fi space…

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Feature: You've been blocked

‘Kids are not born toxic’ – How Roblox tries to keep 90 million children safe

“Kids are not born toxic,” says Laura Higgins. “Adults generally are where most of the negative stuff is online. It's not kids doing it.” Higgins works for Roblox, a children’s game of blocky-armed figures and even blockier cars. Well technically, it’s not one game, but many. Roblox is a sort of pick-your-own-playground with a platter of multiplayer minigames made by other players. You could fly…

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Feature: It's not about Somerville dog festival

‘Mystery is important’ – Inside’s co-creator won’t tell us the secret of Somerville

It’s set in England. That’s all I learn about gloomy sci-fi adventure game Somerville while talking to Dino Patti, producer at Jumpship. For all those hiding under rocks which are secretly giant spiders, Patti is the former co-chief of Playdead, the studio who made Limbo and Inside. The flagship games of the sad-boy-goes-right genre. Somerville is likely to have similarities to those quiet puzzle platformers,…

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‘It’s not A Way Out 2,’ says Hazelight boss about their next game

Fold up your overalls, prisoner. We don’t know much about the next game from Hazelight, the studio who made co-op jailbreak ‘em up A Way Out. But we at least know it isn’t a sequel. "What I can say is that it's not A Way Out 2,” said Josef Fares, studio head, when he spoke to me at Gamelab Barcelona. “But it's going to be…

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Feature: In the clink

Have You Played… Mount and Blade: Warband?

The Elder Scrolls games delight zero-to-hero fantasists by introducing you as a prisoner in every installment. Shackled on a ship, locked away in a keep, transported to the block on a prisoner’s cart. It’s a nice tradition, the reincarnation of the world-saving pluralist nobody, always in chains. But these games lack true resolve. They set you free immediately, after serving practically no time at all.…

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Feature: To the Max

Evil Genius 2 wants to feed the sharks, not jump them

This is Maximilian. As you can see, he is a very insecure criminal mastermind. Not content with having a scar on his left eye, he wears a monocle on his right. He is trying very hard to be the stereotype of evil. When you need this many sinister affectations to intimidate your staff, you are probably broadcasting your own neuroses straight to the camera. But…

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Feature: Bask in his healing fart cloud

All hail the Plague Lord from Age Of Wonders: Planetfall

Intricate 4X strategy games don’t benefit much from short demos, especially during the annual videogames vomitorium of E3. But a short demo is what I got with Age Of Wonders: Planetfall. I would need far more time to get an understanding for the Civ-like encroachment of its world map. And I can't give you a solid impression of the battles based on the single brief…

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Feature: Quit murderin' for a second, Joey, willya!?

Empire Of Sin is full of serial killers and drunks who need a good mobster manager

Ronnie O’Neill is a scumbag. But that’s okay. In about 20 minutes he’ll be dead, slumped on the tarmac next to a black truck. That’s what happens when you mess with Al Capone, you filthy mutt. At least, this is one way things can go in upcoming mob strategy game Empire Of Sin. It’s part mobster management, part turn-based tactics, with a splash of the…

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Feature: Endangering species

You play a panda with a minigun in Contra: Rogue Corps

The fight to become the best panda in videogames is the smallest, fluffiest battle royale. Until last week, there were two serious contenders. The Just Dance panda was the bookies favourite, for clear reasons. And the panda who became last year’s Tekken World Champion is the other (don’t @ me). But now we have a third competitor. Contra: Rogue Corps is a new twin-stick co-op…

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Feature: Another Story

‘I hate repeating a trick’ – the writer of Telling Lies on going back to the desktop thriller

When Sam Barlow released murder mystery game Her Story in 2015, he probably didn’t expect to get a two-page spread in Le Monde about this three-hour FMV game. Her Story worked because it was simple. You had a fictional desktop and a search engine that would bring up videos of an ongoing police interview. When you typed in “dead” or “argument”, you’d get a video…

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Feature: Odd balls

Oddworld Soulstorm is a loud and chaotic alien snooker

“It’s a little bit like a molotov cocktail,” says Lorne Lanning, the head of Oddworld Inhabitants. He is holding a bottle full of flammable soda pop with a rag stuffed in the top. “So if I was about to use that on a guy who was pretty helplessly bound up,” he continues, gesturing at an alien henchman lying on the floor wrapped in duct tape,…

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