State of the Art: Old Man’s Journey

Old Man's Journey

Old Man’s Journey [official site] caught my attention before release entirely on the strength of its aesthetic. It reminded me of board game illustrations, of children’s books, of a particular Courbet painting, and of colour palettes remembered from trips to the sun-baked south of France. The game itself offered a touching tale told through environment and memory as an elderly man strapped on his rucksack and headed off.

The landscapes you encounter are both the setting for the game and the game itself because you play by raising and lowering the layers of scenery. Where the curves of two layers intersect the old man can hop between them, dodging obstacles and navigating around errant sheep. I sat down with Clemens Scott, the game’s art director, earlier this year to find out more about how he made the hillscapes work:

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How to make your own faction in Endless Space 2

Endless Space 2’s races are a fascinating bunch who wouldn’t seem out of place in a Mos Eisley cantina, but maybe you’ve had enough of them. Or perhaps you want your next galaxy to be full of new aliens to pal around with. Good news, then, because buried in the game setup menu is an option to create new factions. In an effort to get to grips with the editor and put together this guide, I’ve been working on my own: the Oak Blokes. Read the rest of this entry »

Moonshot: Overwatch’s Horizon Lunar Colony map’s live

MOON MOON MOON

Overwatch‘s [official site] moon arena, Horizon Lunar Colony is now live. The assault map’s origin story is all about exploration and science and all of that kerfuffle which sounds so grand and optimistic. Nowadays (i.e. in the future-present of Blizzard’s FPS-iverse) it is a contested set of facilities where heroes mangle one another with lasers.

On the negative side that feels less grand and optimistic. On the positive side, it means that universe has the technology to send people to the moon all the time. Read the rest of this entry »

Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2!! plating up on August 24th

It’s time to start a strict training routine of fingertip pushups: Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2!! [official site] is coming. Developers Vertigo Gaming today announced a release date of August 24th for their follow-up to the fun and unexpectedly really, really intense game about cooking in your own little restaurant. They’ve also confirmed that cooperative local multiplayer will return in CSD!2!!, but this time as a fully thought-through mode rather than something added as an experiment. All of this sounds great, aside from the fact that my fingers haven’t recovered from E3 week so I’m already a week behind in my training to build strength and speed for the game’s intense key-tapping. Read the rest of this entry »

Death Road to Canada adds Bort & new unlock system

Splendid zombie apocalypse road trip action-RPG Death Road to Canada [official site] recently launched another hefty update, and another one is soon to follow. Friday’s update was mostly systemic, introducing a new progression system to unlock perks, traits, and persistent bonuses. A magical gnome is involved. After this, developers Rocketcat Games have plans for a big content update bringing everything from hats to Swole Mountain. Friday’s update did sneak in a little more content, mind, including new events and characters including a diddy kaiju and, ah, Bort ↑ up there. Read the rest of this entry »

Total War: Warhammer 2’s campaign rethinks the endgame

Lizards riding dinosaurs. Almighty spells crackling through the sky. A dragon swoops down from above and collides with a stegadon as elves are torn apart and consumed by carnosaurs at its feet. Total War: Warhammer 2 [official site] brings even more spectacle to the battlefield, particularly with its lizardmen armies, but the campaign is looking like the most exciting part of the game.

Strategy games have a habit of petering out as you move toward the endgame. Anyone who’s played Civ (including Civ V designer Jon Shafer) knows the tedium of pushing end turn to watch the numbers grow, as your inevitable crawl toward victory or defeat plays out in turn-based slow motion. That’s partly because so many victory conditions involve watching the correct resource pile up in sufficient quantity, or painting the entire map in a certain colour. Discovery is a thing of the past, diplomacy has run its course, and there is nothing new under the sun. Creative Assembly are looking to change that.

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Have You Played… Blood II: The Chosen?

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

Delivered to me on a CD of assorted bootleg delights, a gift from a university friend with ties to the thriving software piracy scene of South Wales in the late 90s, first-person shooter Blood II meant nothing to me. I had not played Monolith’s first Blood, and I found the in-game story to be almost incomprehensible. (Only years later would I discover that Blood II wouldn’t play most of its cutscenes in the event the player did not choose the one canonical option from the four offered playable characters). But I found something uncommonly dark. Read the rest of this entry »

Dungeon Defenders 2 launches out of early access

After two-and-a-half years in early access, free-to-play tower defense action-RPG Dungeon Defenders 2 [official site] has launched in full. If you want to fend off monsters with towers while scampering about murdering them yourself, swing by Steam and get to it. Given that free-to-play games rely on a steady flow of updates anyway — and more are certainly planned for Dungeon Defenders 2 — what’s special about leaving early access? Things that make it friendlier to casual passers-by: improvements to the tutorial, campaign, and HUD, along with a fair few bug fixes. Read the rest of this entry »

Crytek’s monsterhunt FPS Hunt: Showdown looks neat

The first gameplay video of Crytek’s Hunt: Showdown has arrived and makes the monster-hunting multiplayer FPS look a lot more interesting than expected. I was disappointed when Crytek revealed that they’d turned the cooperative Hunt: Horrors of the Gilded Age into the competitive Hunt: Showdown [official site] and teased the change with a video of some cowboys shooting some other cowboys. Turns out, it’s not nearly as rubbo as suggested. Showdown will see five two-person teams roaming around big monster-filled levels, trying to find and kill a boss monster with a bounty on its head – while making sure they live to claim it. Watch: Read the rest of this entry »

Steam Summer Sale begins 22 June (tomorrow!)

A timeless image for a timeless event. But in 2017.

With the kettle singing in the background to provide me with enough tea to enjoy the hot weather it seems appropriate to be writing about the incoming Steam Summer Sale. PayPal (who have a deal on with Steam to promote their payment method) confirmed the sale will kick off at 6pm BST on 22 June. Read the rest of this entry »

Hitman hits Mac, man

Ooh it’s all go for Ian Hitman these days. Developers IO Interactive have kept the rights to their stealthy murder series and become an independent studio after former owners Square Enix ditched ’em, a demo of the recent episodic Hitman [official site] arrived yesterday as its prologue chapter became free, and oh! the game is now playable on Mac too. The Mac port by porting house Feral Interactive has launched. If you have Hitman, you already have the Mac version sitting in your Steam library. Easy peasey. Yup, that prologue demo is on Mac too. Read the rest of this entry »

Bang bang! Serious Sam’s Bogus Detour released

Devolver Digital and Croteam are continuing their experiments in throwing the Serious Sam name at small teams on condition that the resultant game in some way includes: 1) sand; 2) big guns; 3) screaming shirtless men with bombs for hands. This has previously given us such games as the gun-stacking side-scroller Double D and turn-based RPG The Random Encounter. Now Crackshell, the makers of Hammerwatch, have expanded that odd lineup with Serious Sam’s Bogus Detour [has launched]. It’s a top-down shooter with four-player online co-op and, of course, sand, big guns, and screaming shirtless men with bombs for hands.

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Golf things into existence with Fallout 4’s ‘creation club’

Hurr hurr. Inspired by the name of Bethesda’s upcoming method for selling bespoke mods, the ‘Creation Club’ is a weapon mod for Fallout 4 in the form of a golf club that spawns random items, enemies and NPCs when you swing it. It’s a silly jape taken to its logical conclusion – one that the golf club’s creator says isn’t intended as a criticism of Bethesda’s plan. “This mod is based on a pun,” he says, “A wordplay… It’s just a simple joke.”
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Premature Evaluation: Kenshi

Every week we cast Brendan into the early access badlands in nothing but rags. This time, the hot mess of genre that is survival-strategy-city-builder-RPG Kenshi [official site]

You could call Kenshi an RPG, you could call it a survival game. Or you could call it a chaotic jumble of good ideas stitched together via a user interface that would make a Wurm player eat their keyboard in a blind rage. I mention Wurm Online only because this feels like the closest comparison. Except this isn’t online. It’s set in a single-player fantasy Japanese world of skeletal robots and bony animals of burden and it’s got a reputation for toughness. My favourite line in the trailer is: “nobody will help you when the fog-men are eating your legs”. A line both frank and representative. How would I fare in this hostile landscape? Let me tell you the saga of the Gurpson clan.
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