Premature Evaluation: Colony Survival

Every week we cast Brendan into the early access wilderness to see what friends he can make. This time, he recruits some peasant help to run a farm in Colony Survival [Steam page]

To look at the videos of Colony Survival you might think it a top-down city builder or a blocky management sim. In reality, it’s a Minecraftbut. That once safe and sound (now vastly oversubscribed) subgenre that sees you building a personal castle out of giant blocks from a first-person perspective and fending off nightly monsters, like a really lonely King. But here, you’re not so alone. Colonists in the form of AI-controlled helpers can be recruited to farm crops, mine ore, grind flour and cook bread. This is Minecraft-but-with-serfs.
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State of the Art: The monsters of Prey

Prey's Typhon

I’m only a little way into Prey [official site] at the moment but one of the most interesting aspects for me is the monster design. I love pausing the trailers to peer more closely at their glitchy, weird forms without worrying about being killed. The monsters in question are these hostile lifeforms which all come under the bracket of “Typhon” but there are different species of Typhon within that.

The differing shapes, sizes and movements make it easy to distinguish one species from another. There are the scuttling spidery, crabby Mimics, the tentacled, floating Telepaths, the humanoid Phantoms… But there’s a common visual thread – all of them are these glitchy, threatening oilslicks whose forms never quite settle. Even when dead their surfaces ripple and shimmer. Emmanuel Petit (lead visual designer) and Jason Timmons (lead visual effects artist) offered their expertise so we could unpack the design of these writhing oddities. Read on to find out why the idea of colour palettes makes the team laugh and how they repurposed foliage tools for monster silhouettes! Read the rest of this entry »

Wot I Think: Darkest Dungeon – The Crimson Court

The Crimson Court [official site] has transformed Darkest Dungeon into a turducken of cruelty. Every layer of the tactical RPG is now laced with poison and jam-packed with barbs that pierce and tear with every bite. What was already an extremely challenging game has become considerably harsher and unyielding, so much so that even gluttons for punishment may balk at the prospect of fighting the new vampiric menace.

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Northwest Passages: Reaching for the Beaufort Sea

My noble mission to travel the infamous Northwest Passage using only my wits and salty sailing sim Sailaway [official site] continues with all the recklessness of a manic toddler. Last time the crew and I got stuck in water a metre deep after we made the definitely joint decision to detour into a place called Terror Bay. But nothing can stop this valiant vessel. The Bluster & Guesswork will not know failure. It will not know disruption. It will not know defeat! I mean, it’s a boat, it won’t know anything.
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The Pipwick Papers

Pipwick Papers

Hello there! I’m currently browsing my week’s reading list while listening to the rise and fall in sparrow chirping outside my window. There’s a baby in the nest box and an increase in the volume of tweeting means an adult has popped by with something for the baby to much on excitedly. The noise creeps up on me and I get used to it, as well as the feathery company which goes to and fro. But suddenly the baby fledges and there’s an eerie silence so I now try to appreciate the loud parts even more. Anyway, onward! Read the rest of this entry »

Frostpunk asks why we survive, not just how

In the first week, we put the children to work. They weren’t forced into dangerous jobs, so we told ourselves, but when you’re living on the brink of extinction, what work is truly safe? One afternoon, a man collecting coal complained of numbness in his arm. Frostbite had taken hold. We could have left him to die but instead we opted for an experimental treatment.

He lost the arm and he’s no longer capable of contributing to our dying society. One more mouth to feed with no body of work beneath it. What should we do?

Frostpunk [official site] is a city-building survival sim from the studio that brought us This War of Mine and it is beautifully bleak.

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