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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Retrospective: Darksiders II – Deathinitive Edition

Returning to Darksiders II [official site] nearly five years after I first reviewed it, for a worrying time I wondered what on Earth I’d been on about. I remember absolutely loving the game, and writing a rave review back in 2012, so why was I struggling to even want to carry on in the first hour? It turns out, it just has a really dull first hour, because ten hours in I’m so utterly engrossed, and want to rave about it all over again. Read the rest of this entry »

My struggle in Passpartout: The Starving Artist

Passpartout: The Struggling Artist [official site] is a painting sim in which you must splatter some canvases in the most talented way you can and hope that the discerning public will take notice of your genius. But you can only do this with the most rudimentary artist’s tools. Imagine if making bad pictures in MS Paint was a profession and you got paid hundreds of dollars for each poorly sketched sailboat you drew. That’s this game.

I tried to become famous in my own lifetime by painting a variety of wholesome scenes, including a series in which a recurring motif known as the Stretch Man dispenses various vital fluids on the people of the earth. Here’s how I got on. Read the rest of this entry »

Steam Charts: Sale away, sale away, sale away

The Steam Summer Sale is here to rescue us from the same old games! Hooray! Hooray! Hoo-whatnow? Oh for crying out loud, the usual games are all on sale too, aren’t they? Read the rest of this entry »

The RPG Scrollbars: Gameshow For A LARP

This week saw the return of one my all-time favourite TV programmes, Channel 4’s The Crystal Maze – the knockabout silliness of a team, thankfully not usually including Louie Spence, bopping around four time-zones (Industrial, Aztec, Medieval and Futuristic) in a quest to recover magic time crystals, win distinctly underwhelming prizes, and ideally not look like a complete arse. It’s a wonderful show. But, sadly, not one I can really justify talking about while pretending to write an RPG column. Luckily, it is but part of a great lineage – the wonderful world of British TV LARPing.

Just not the kind where you’re going to see many lightning bolt, lightning bolts.

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The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for trying to make a videogame. I’ll be honest, that’s what they’re always for, I just don’t mention it. But they’re also for rounding up some games writing from across the week.

At Gamasutra, Bill Borman did some statistical analysis to try to discover ‘hidden gems’ within Steam. It is, by his own admission, not a perfect method, but it does turn up some interesting results. Read the rest of this entry »