Circles combines hide and seek with a steady hand

Circles

Circles [official site] caught my eye because I tend to be attracted by that particular clean, geometric aesthetic and I went in expecting something like a logic puzzle because that’s a genre which seems to marry up with the art style – clean lines, logical solutions. But having played the free online demo Circles is actually more like one of those wire loop games from fairs where you have a long, wiggle line of wire and must pass a loop along it without the two touching and setting off a buzzer. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Loaders: Catching up with your past self

One game this week (pictured above) is about physically chasing your own trail to catch your past self in a dancey “worm hole of time-space frequency”. I once encountered my past self. He sent me an email through some sort of delayed electronic delivery service. On the morning of my 20th birthday I checked my inbox to find a poorly-written message from 2004 in which my schoolboy self laughed at me because he had “no worries ’bout money, education or any of that stuff”. What a brat. Well the joke’s on him. I don’t need money when I’ve got free games!
Read the rest of this entry »

Raising the states: Realpolitiks is out now

Realpolitiks is the practice of pragmatic diplomacy based on circumstance. Real politics is arguing with your mum’s friend Derek on Facebook about unisex bathrooms. And Realpolitiks [official site] is a strategy game set in the contemporary world with all its international crises and dilemmas. The first two have been around for a while, but the last one just came out today.
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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Hearthstone trimming Spirit Claws, squishing Small-Time Buccaneer

Two powerful cards in Hearthstone [official site] will be toned down in an update later this month, Blizzard have announced. Small-Time Buccaneer and Spirit Claws are good enough that they appear in too many decks, Blizzard say, so they’re getting the ole nerfaroo. Having played years of cardboard CCGs, I’m still fascinated by digital card ’em ups being able to respond quickly and tweak things. I’m used to powerful cards being banned or restricted, and interesting-but-weak cards reappearing redesigned under new names in expansions years later. How magical this digital future is! Read the rest of this entry »

Watch the world end in Defcon VR’s virtual war room

If you fancy a break from watching the crawl towards nuclear annihilation live on TV, you can now jack into virtual reality and watch it sped-up in Defcon VR [official site]. Introversion Software today launched the free VR doodad, which lets goggheads enter a virtual war room to spectate matches in the nuclear war RTS Defcon. Our Adam will tell you Defcon is one of the best strategy games, and I… don’t disagree but don’t have the stomach to play again. Watching wars with your chums in cyberspace seems deliciously wicked and fitting for something so awful. Read the rest of this entry »

Path of Exile: Fall of Oriath expansion going godslaying

Free-to-play action-RPG Path of Exile [official site] has announced a monster expansion, adding a whole new Act and five remixed Acts too. The Fall of Oriath will conclude Path of Exile’s campaign with new areas, items, and enemies, and a whole lot of godslaying – letting players pick up powers as they do in deities. It’s due later this year so, for now, peep this announcement trailer: Read the rest of this entry »