Have You Played… Red Baron?

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

In the dozen or so years I reviewed flight games for the British version of PC Gamer magazine I never gave out a 100% score. If I’d been sim scrutinising in December 1990 things might have been different. Read the rest of this entry »

Wot I Think: Virginia

I’m delighted to say that Virginia [official site] was not at all about what I thought it would be, what it seemed to be. Pretty early on, its narrative took a surprising sideways step, a sudden and yet fluid motion that made it feel fresh, exciting and unpredictable. It was the first of a series of such steps the game would take, crabbing its way into increasingly unusual territory until, at the end of its two hour story, I wasn’t quite sure where either of us were left standing. Many of its surprises were pleasant, but others were perplexing.

Ostensibly, Virginia is about two women working for the FBI in the early 1990s, tasked to find a boy who has gone missing in the titular state. However, this missing person case isn’t quite what it seems. Nor is your own objective. Nor even is your character or, it seems, much of what’s going on around you. By its conclusion, I wasn’t entirely sure what Virginia was about and I’m not sure how much of this I could attribute to imperfect storytelling, to elements of very deliberate obfuscation or to my own ignorance. Virginia is strange and fascinating. It definitely isn’t for everyone, but it certainly is remarkable.

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Wot I Think: Sorcery! Part 4

With Part 4, Inkle’s triumphant Sorcery! series [official site] reaches its conclusion. It’s still sourcing its core tale from the Steve Jackson classics, but having taken wonderful leaps away to include its own far more elaborate possibilities. And the trajectory of each game being better than the last is not broken in this fourth release, the best yet, and indeed one I now feel comfortable calling one of the finest RPGs ever made. This is spectacular. Here’s wot I think:

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IF Only: The Works Of Ryan Veeder

Screenshot of Winter Storm Draco

There are a handful of IF authors whose work is consistent and satisfying, who repeatedly and frequently release things their fans rush to play. Andrew Schultz turns out a wordplay puzzle game or two a year. Caelyn Sandel wrote a serialized Twine story called Bloom, with a steady supply of new installments. And then there’s Ryan Veeder, a master of short parser games who produces several a year, often outside of any competition setting.

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RimWorld Diary, Part 2: From The Ritz To The Rubble

We dispatched Brendan back into sci-fi disaster simulator RimWorld [official site], where he quickly established a failing hotel in the middle of a scorching desert. Last week, the hotel staff were in the grip of drugs and cancer. In part two of this three-part diary, a tragedy brings the hotel to its knees.

Wide-eyes Pete was on another one of his binges. He’d gotten his hands on some Wake-up thanks to a passing group of merchants and after spending the previous week in withdrawl he was now sucking it down like sugar. In terms of work rate, this is bad because you can’t control RimWorld’s cartoon men and women when they enter a state like this – they just refuse to do their jobs. But in terms of happiness, I would rather Pete get high every day and stay chipper than descend into a spiral of withdrawl. That’s why I bought him the drugs. He’s better like this.

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Wot I Think: Duelyst

Duelyst is Hearthstone’s child. You can see the shared DNA everywhere, from the menu layout and free to play business model to specific minion abilities and hero powers. Almost everything Hearthstone does, however, Duelyst does better. I’ve spent years grinding away at the Hearthstone mill, but now I’ll never go back.

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Have You Played… Cover Discs?

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

I couldn’t afford many games as a teenager, so like many other people I turned to the only other available legal avenue: cover discs. The demos they offered were often the only way I ever played the biggest games – games about which I still have strong memories and thick opinions years later, despite only experiencing a sliver – as well as the method by which I procured patches in an age when dial-up internet was slow and expensive.

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