How SteamWorld Heist brought skill into turn-based tactics

This is The Mechanic, where Alex Wiltshire invites developers to discuss the inner workings of their games. This time, SteamWorld Heist [official site].

SteamWorld Heist is a tactics game about boarding procedural spaceships with a squad of desperado robots and grabbing all the swag you can before they’re turned to scrap. It’s also a cross-genre oddity, a turn-based platformer, with presentation and polish that comes across a bit like a Nintendo fan fell in love with XCOM.

But while that observation is essentially true and it’s a big part of Heist’s rust-bucket charm, it ignores the real reason why it’s so great. And the reason why SteamWorld Heist so great? It’s down to a single simple-sounding feature:

THE MECHANIC: Realtime aiming Read the rest of this entry »

Where the Water Tastes Like Wine writer lineup revealed

I do like a nice bit of Americana so I’m quite keen for Where the Water Tastes Like Wine [official site] to arrive later this year. It’s a weird road story from Johnnemann Nordhagen, who previously worked on BioShock 2: Minerva’s Den then Gone Home with fellow 2K splitters, and he’s recently announced an interesting approach to writing the game. Each of the sixteen characters we meet on our travels will be handled by a different writer, and the lineup includes a fair few folks familiar to RPS readers. Read the rest of this entry »

Subnautica is secretly a brilliant horror game

Subnautica [official site] seems like a nautical holiday wrapped inside a survival game. Swim around a gentle ocean and meet lots of colourful fish, chill out in an underwater forest, sunbathe on top of a little escape pod – it all sounds very relaxing. Don’t be fooled. Subnautica is, in fact, absolutely terrifying.

I can’t quite remember when I realised that the sea was actually a vast world of horrors. Whenever it was, this realisation was undoubtedly confirmed when I was snorkeling off the coast of Australia in my early teens. I broke the surface of the water to be greeted by blood. So much blood. Not mine, thankfully. It belonged to a man who had bumped into some coral, which proceeded to rip open his leg.

Coral! Nobody expects this of all things to tear chunks out of them, but that’s what you get when you decide to visit the utterly alien sea. In Subnautica, this is even more pronounced because it’s a literal alien sea, an entirely new world, that you’re exploring. You’re not meant to be there and you’re definitely not welcome.

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XC’mon: Xenonauts 2 releasing free dev builds

When X-COM cast off its hyphen and complexity to become XCOM, Xenonauts was handily here with old-school alien-busting. Now you can see how its sequel is shaping up, as developers Goldhawk Interactive are releasing development builds of Xenonauts 2 [official site] for free. You can play one single mission right now, then Goldhawk plan to expand this pre-alpha demo fortnightly. They’ll start charging money once the game’s in good enough shape but paying with feedback is peachy-dory for now. Read the rest of this entry »

PSA: you should change your RPS password, just in case

Last night, content delivery network and security service Cloudflare reported that a security issue means that it’s possible they accidentally leaked user passwords for websites that use their service. Since RPS is a user of Cloudflare in the operation of our servers, that means that to be on the safe side you should change your RPS website and forum password. We think it’s highly unlikely that any user will be affected but it’s better to be safe than sorry. There’s more information on exactly what’s happened below, along with details of how to change your password.

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Ken Levine heads up Ghost Story Games

Ghost Story Games

Given Alice is not interested in any ghost stories which aren’t terrifying movies she can freak herself out with while alone in the house, it falls to me to tell you about Ken Levine and other senior Irrational folk’s new studio, Ghost Story Games [official site].

I’m not sure whether to call it a new studio or a rebrand, actually, as the site seems to position it as a new thing with familiar faces but their announcement tweet is: “The studio formerly known as Irrational Games is now called “Ghost Story”.” Maybe it’s more of an evolution or transition. Read the rest of this entry »

Have You Played… Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery?

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

I wrote the other day that Grim Fandango proved to be a metaphor for the decline from wider relevancy of the point and click adventure game. Well, Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP is a metaphor for how those games – and others of the era – have mutated in our memory to become something far more than they were.
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