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Sin Vega

Unknown Pleasures: access early, access often

Our pick of the best new indie games on Steam

13

Unknown Pleasures: Wanderers Edition

Ten more of the best gems in Steam's rough

22

Unknown Pleasures: Adventurer Time

Unjustly under-played indie games on Steam

10

3 years ago

Feature: Lessons in world design from 2001

Why Gothic Is More Believable Than Modern RPGs

One of the many nebulous concepts that spring up when writing about games is "a sense of place". We talk about worlds and locations and settings, but often these boil down to unusual geography or art direction – surface details and imagery rather than a real identity. Gothic, by contrast, wasn't particularly pretty. Its setting wasn't the singular underground world of Arx Fatalis, nor the…

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Feature: Open New Tab

VA-11 Hall-A review

I hesitate to call V4l... Va11 ha1... Val1... Valhalla [official site] a visual novel, which is ridiculous. It wears its influences on its sleeve, sometimes to a fault, and though its most 'gamey' aspect is that of a bartending sim, that's really just a well-integrated excuse for telling a humble story. Is it a good one?

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Feature: The greatest total conversion ever made

You Wouldn’t Steal A Skyranger: X-Piratez Is An Outstanding Total Conversion Of UFO/X-COM

In my intro to Silent Storm, I mentioned both modding scenes and UFO (used to distinguish the 1994 original X-COM from the 2012 Firaxis one, and not only out of increasingly sad Eurocentric obstinance) without tying the two together. That, it turns out, was stupid, because X-Piratez, a UFO mod in active development by Dioxine, is the best total conversion for any game I've ever…

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Feature: Monsters, Mobsters and Cinematic Strategy

What Cinemaware Understood About Cinema And Games

Cinematic! What a loaded word it's become. Once the game industry's marketing buzzword du jour, the descriptor certainly earned its current status as a groanworthy sign that a developer would much rather be doing something else. With such a disclaimer then, it's safe to specify why It Came From The Desert, and in fact most games from its developer Cinemaware, had "cinematic" firmly in their…

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Feature: Why more games should copy it.

The Joy Of Destruction In Silent Storm

It's a strange time to look at old turn-based shooters. While we're hardly swamped, the genre has left its dormancy, casting strange shadows on our old sacred cows. Whisper it now: maybe some of those old things we championed for so long aren't all that great? Fortunately, Silent Storm can ignore such insinuations, as it was never sacred. Its 2003 release by Nival Interactive caused…

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Feature:

Have You Played… Salvation Prophecy?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time. Loners are odd sorts. We all know this. Salvation Prophecy, for example, is a third-person shooter, space dogfighter, and real-time strategy all rolled into one by a lone creator. No committee would even try that.

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Feature: World without war

A World Gone Sane: Strategy and Story In Hostile Waters

Strategy games seldom come with a premise more creative than "what if aliens?", or "what if robots?", or perhaps "what if alien robots?", and while this often works - their appeal tends to come from systems and details instead - it does leave a gap for more imaginative fair. Take, for example, Hostile Waters, Rage Games' 2001 release inspired by the 1988 naval/aerial action strategy…

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Feature: A worthy twist on Dungeon Keeper.

Have You Played… Evil Genius?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time. It's a little baffling that nobody's tried to make Evil Genius [official site] again. A transparent derivative of Dungeon Keeper, it did more than enough to distinguish itself from that noble luminary of base building and evil overlording.

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4 years ago

Feature: Biff! Pow!

Doing Comics Justice: Freedom Force Vs The Third Reich

Superheroes are, my dear mole cave people recently thawed following a decades-long slumber, very much in vogue right now. Films about whiny teenagers with the least interesting powers of an arachnid are ten a penny, but video games of this kind have been oddly lacking. The superhero games we do have - for example, the Arkham series - are mainly about specific superheroes, not about…

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Feature: Icarian Bite

The Ambitious Failure Of Cybervamp RPG BloodNet

I'm known for writing about old games that are worth playing today. This is something of a departure, as I can't really recommend Bloodnet [Wikipedia page] with a clear conscience. It isn't a good game. But it's been lurking in my mind for the better part of 20 years. It's a rare game that would excite a traditional RPG fan as well as a genre…

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Feature: RTS RPG TLA

Screw Balance: How Warlords Battlecry 3 Blended Genres

There's this obscure game called StarCraft - you probably haven't heard of it. It was one of those games that was so well designed that for years afterwards, most that came after its throne were either failed experiments or pale imitations, and even those that succeeded were just more of the same. Here are a few factions, they're unique but equal; here's a campaign where…

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Feature: Going underground

Arx Again Later: How Arx Fatalis Bridged RPG Eras

Confession time: I don't like dungeon crawlers. The very name says it all. Why would anyone want to go to the non-sexy kind of dungeon? And crawling - the form of movement reserved for times of serious injury and distress - around a dungeon? It's a recipe for a dreary, ugly casserole, served by a skeleton archer in a rusty slime-edged prison bucket with a…

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Feature: With a spoon?

How To Eat Your Cake: Consortium And The Fourth Wall

We can't keep saying video games are a young medium. We've been saying it since I was your age (or since you were mine, if that fits better), and besides, the last few years have finally shown that there's plenty of room for games that do more than idly amuse us. Consortium is one such game. Unlike any RPG I can name, Consortium throws you…

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5 years ago

Feature: Bohemian Laxity

Darklands Retrospective: What RPGs Are Supposed To Be

A lesson that often eludes the games industry is how much names matter. Though it's hardly the worst offender, Darklands is about as generic as a name gets, and its cover image (which mattered once) is even worse. Even discounting that, it faced an uphill struggle, as its original 1992 release was marked by a plague of bugs, which Microprose's patching never entirely expunged. It…

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Feature: As Good As Arrest

Why Sid Meier Is Wrong About Sid Meier’s Covert Action

Spies! They're kind of dicks®. If they're not seducing us or gambling away our taxes, they're shoving microphones into cats or jabbing us with umbrellas. It's hardly surprising that so many games about them veer into cartoonish James Bond territory, or cartoonish parody of cartoonish James Bond territory, or some kind of recursive humour vacuum that threatens to make Miranda Harts of us all. But…

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Feature: Wail to the King

Remembering King Of Dragon Pass

King of Dragon Pass was first released on PC in 1999, but its mixture of strategy, management and RPG, and its focus on offering the player meaningful choices at every turn, was sadly overlooked at the time. We asked Sin Vega to explain why you should still play the game today. We've all dreamt about ruling over a tribe, right? And let's be honest with…

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