Hitman reveals itself in layers

In December, we named Hitman [official site] the best sandbox game of 2016. I hadn’t played it at the time, but I have since and, yes, yes. Hitman deserves to be celebrated for its beautiful, detailed worlds. Let’s pretend I’m folding this write-up into the calendar entry for the game I missed.

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Semispheres is brilliant, and will break your brain in half

We seem to be in something of a blessed time for puzzle games. Alongside the big names are an ever-growing pile of previously unknown indies creating really inspired ideas, and right near the top of that pile is Semispheres [official site]. A single-player split-screen mind-fuck that’s at once deeply relaxing and brain-rippingly smart. Read the rest of this entry »

IF Only: dressed for the party

Plundered Hearts cover slice

Plundered Hearts (Amy Briggs/Infocom, 1987) was Infocom’s one and only romance. It was also very much ahead of its time. Emulating the conventions of romance meant offering richer non-player characters, and spending more interaction time with them. There was a definite plot, not just a sequence of puzzles in an underpopulated landscape. There were set scenes where you could be clever and turn the tables on your enemies. There were multiple possible endings, depending on whether you wanted to give your heart to the sexy pirate after all.

Not only that, but it was easy enough to complete, even before we all knew how to find walkthroughs on the internet. When I got to Plundered Hearts as a teenager, I’d been playing Infocom and Scott Adams games since the age of six, without ever seeing the end of a single one. This was the first text adventure I ever actually finished.

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Wot I Think: Hidden Folks

Perhaps the most important thing about Hidden Folks [official site] is how it manages to contain so much unabashed happiness. Taking the Where’s Wally concept and making it far more complex, despite being in black and white, these intricate wimmelbilderbuch art drawings (got to use it again!) burst with silly life. Click on anything and something will happen, whether it’s birds squawking and taking off, monkeys falling out of trees, boats sailing further down a river, hay bales rolling across a field, or doors opening to reveal people sitting on the toilet, each is accompanied by a man-made sound effect. Which is both daft and wonderful, which are the two words that best describe Hidden Folks. Read the rest of this entry »

Have You Played… Fate of the World?

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

Would you like to learn about the Human Development Index and global fuel policy? No, I suppose not. What about playing a videogame where all your decisions lead to the entire earth becoming a slowly decaying barrel of human sadness? I thought so. Here’s Fate of the World.
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Prey: watch the full first hour here

I’ve written down my thoughts on what it was like to play the first hour of Arkane’s upcoming first-person-shooterbut Prey [official site] right over here, but if you prefer to watch than read, here’s a recording of the entire session for you. Warning: contains spoilers for the first hour of the game (but nothing beyond that point), which do include a couple of twists. Don’t watch if you want to go in blind.

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