Niko: Through The Dream [official site] is a ghastly title, but is it a ghastly game? I’ve been wandering through its dream-ish puzzles for a good while, to give you my impressions:
RPS Feature Sleepy
RPS Feature Survival game from ex-BioShock folk
The Flame In The Flood [official site] is a ‘post-society’ survival game from The Molasses Flood, a new studio formed from the ashes of Irrational. It was successfully Kickstarted last October, and just sent out its first, very early and not at all finished build to backers (and press). I thought I’d have a look and see how it’s coming along.
Don’t starve. Don’t freeze. Don’t drown. Don’t dehydrate. Don’t drink suspicious water. Don’t break all your bones. Don’t ram your raft into a boulder. Don’t get mauled by wolves. Definitely don’t leave the game alt-tabbed without having hit pause first, because then you’ll definitely starve.
RPS Feature LA LA LA-LA LA-LAAAA
As is my wont of an early morning, I like to look through the new puzzle games appearing on Steam, in search of treats to share with you, my bestest internet friends. I’m not sure my pre-8am brain was quite ready for the extraordinary cheerfulness that occupies every moment of Prismatica [official site]. Ostensibly a game about rotating overlapping hexagons to move coloured tiles around, its real impact comes from the joyful bursts of colour and sound. Oh, such ludicrous joy.
RPS Feature Big Bad Boss Wizards
Slow and steady wins the race. No wild promises, but plenty of apparently practical plans for the future, has long been X-COM creator Julian Gollop’s approach with his Kickstarted comeback, Chaos Reborn [official site] (currently on Steam Early Access). While it sadly doesn’t seem to attract quite the same adulation/scrutiny as other returning 90s devs’ crowdfunded career reboots, what it has done is reliably get on with things, meeting its initial promises one-by-one. So here we are with the first components of its singleplayer mode – perhaps the strategic wizard-battler’s biggest break with its multiplayer-only, Spectrum ZX past. On the one hand, that’s probably what X-COM fans want more than anything (other than a true blue X-COM follow-up, of course). On the other hand, what is chess without a human opponent? All depends on structure – how can a series of disconnected, turn-based battles with random spells be made into a meaningful campaign?
RPS Feature Pure magic or a raw deal?
Hex: Shards of Fate [official site] was kickstarted successfully in mid-2013, hot on the cardboard-heels of developer Cryptozoic’s final set of the physical WoW TCG. Long before Hearthstone made it clear that digital cards were going to be a successful market, the gaming public pitched in two million dollars and change for the MMO/TCG hybrid. While its single player campaign and the MMO portion’s dungeons, raids and guilds are yet to materialise, Hex is onto a third set release of cards in a free to play model. Here’s some thoughts after a few hours of play.
RPS Feature Let Them Eat Poo
On my third night in Ark: Survival Evolved [official site], when the sun had finally set and I was left alone in the seething blackness of the jungle, I saw a glimpse of my possible future. I was chopping trees in the dark, too scared to even light a fire for fear of what the warmth might draw toward me, but as another tree toppled with a groan I spied lights in the valley below. I crept closer. Silhouetted in flickering torchlight towered a tyrannosaurus rex, around which a group of hunters darted back and forth, attacking with spears and arrows. Eventually, they hunters prevailed, and, as they set upon the fallen dinosaur with tools to harvest its meat and hides, I faded back into the jungle and began chopping with renewed purpose.
Ark: Survival Evolved is an early access survival game full of these moments – the kind that fill you with trepidation and excitement in equal measure. But for every moment that adds to the enchantment of surviving on an island teeming with prehistoric life, there are just as many capable of frustrating you. Building on a firm foundation well tread by online survival games, Ark certainly has potential, much of it unrealized, but I can’t help but wonder if the claim of Survival Evolved is just too hyperbolic of a statement to make.
RPS Feature It's cracking, ACTUALLY
Hacking games remain far too few and far between, and often make the mistake of veering into far too complicated territory for the newb to enjoy. Hello, I am the newb. In fact, it’s not since Uplink that I’ve enjoyed the process. I’m not sure if that’s changed with Hack RUN [official site]. A super-simple command prompt-led hacking sim, with a nice amount of detail around the edges, and around the web. It’s been around a while, and has a bunch of sequels on iOS, but has just showed up on Steam which is where I first spotted it.
RPS Feature Feisty Heisty
I instruct my character to walk into a late night kiosk, a toy gun in his pocket and the vaguest plan fluttering around his mind (TAKE ALL OF THE MONEY). The door that leads to the stockroom is locked. There’s only one staff member on duty and no guards whatsoever. Outside, on the street, there’s a payphone that could be used to call the police but there are no alarm buttons or security cameras.
A customer arrives and I point the fake gun at him, backing into a corner so that I can cover the cashier as well. They both raise their arms in surrender. I instruct the customer to bludgeon the cashier until he’s unconscious and then take his key. With the stockroom open, I take everything I can carry and lock the customer inside, next to the slumbering clerk. The simplest of The Masterplan’s [official site] heists executed to perfection.
RPS Feature Shapely
It’s a bold move when your options screen requires a working understanding of your game mechanics. Bold, and daft. But I’m going to forgive Color Assembler this enormity purely because its ataraxic atmosphere lulls me back into a state of imperturbable calm. I’m even forgiving how bloody confusing it is.
RPS Feature I drink it up
If I have a weakness, other than being so unspeakably beautiful that I inadvertently make all other humans feel awful about themselves, it’s that I’m highly susceptible to games in which the primary purpose is to accrue money. That’s not the sort of person I want to be. I want to be the sort of person who helps people. Yet dangle a glorified beancounter in front of me and I’m lost. I still fire up Adventure Capitalist from time to time to see how many greenbacks have backed up during my absence, then exit it immediately with a faint, sick sense of accomplishment. These Cookie Clickerlike don’t even require me to do much of anything: they just feed more bottomless hunger for more. 19th century oil rush sim-ette Turmoil, out on Early Access next week, at least asks me to build crazy pipework before I can roll around in dollar bills.
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RPS Feature Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow
Ideally, you’d be looking at the review right now. Unfortunately, due to code not showing up til Sunday and then problems getting it to run, I’m only just digging into The Witcher 3 [official site] myself. The full verdict will be with you as soon as possible, though it’s a big game and I don’t want to do it or you the disservice of rushing through it just to throw words at the screen. However, here’s a few thoughts from my first few hours of witching, on the opening hours, on the controversial graphics, and my displeasure that it features hair technology that hasn’t been named “TrissFX.” Such a wasted opportunity.
RPS Feature There Can Be More Than One
I fought all the way to my enemy’s doorstep, but now here I am, ten minutes later, back where I started and with an insurmountable force at my door. I started playing Highlands [official site] because of the hand-drawn artwork, but its turn-based tactics are harder than they first appear.
RPS Feature Breach & Unclear
Graham: I might have shared this before, but I think Peter Gabriel wrote a song about my favourite thing in Rainbow Six: Siege.
RPS Feature Good Grief
First-person puzzlers are still a rare enough treat that it’s always worth perking up your ears when one comes along. While Standpoint – out on Steam today – is far more of a pure puzzler than the likes of Portal or the Talos Principle, it’s as smart as either. I’m not yet halfway through, because my flipping goodness, it’s hard. But here are my impressions so far.
RPS Feature Wow
I’ve used the Oculus Rift DK1, HD and DK2 for hours and hours and enjoyed my time with each of them immensely, but on each occasion, I’d feel some sense of relief upon taking the headset off. Relief that my head could cool down, relief my eyes could relax, relief that I hadn’t thrown up.
When my twenty minutes with Valve and HTC’s Vive came to an end, I felt no relief. Instead, I only felt disappointed that I couldn’t continue exploring the 3D painting demo or playing with the specially-designed Portal 2 vignette.
RPS Feature Wile E Coyote Simulator
My average life expectancy in Catacomb Kids [official site] is measured in minutes. I’ve died within seconds of starting a run through the procedurally generated Spelunky-like, clobbered by monsters or reduced to a blood puddle by swarming piranhas. The first couple of minutes are the hardest part, as I struggle to make sense of my situation and abilities, and if I survive for a couple of levels, I’m likely to die because I deserve to rather than because the game decides to kill me.
Maybe it’s not the game. Problem is, I’m a cat. Curiosity kills me.
RPS Feature Stuck in Limbo
Every now and then, like for instance whenever we communicate, Kieron Gillen and I disagree about things. One of the things we both think the other is most wrong about is Limbo. Kieron wrongly thinks it’s an unfair game, echoing the failings of Rick Dangerous and its ilk by forcing you to fail. I rightly think it was a statement, an expression through these enforced failures, that crafts a uniquely interesting experience. Oscura [Steam link], despite trying to be a lot like Limbo, is not doing that. It’s doing Kieron’s thing.
RPS Feature Angry squirrels on the final frontier
The last few times we looked at top-down sci-fi survival-strategy (is that a thing? Genres are becoming so tricky lately) Rimworld it was merely flirting with the idea of being genuinely playable, but recent buzz had it that the Rimworld was now inhabitable at last. It doesn’t take much to convince me to starve to death on an alien world, so I thought I’d check in.
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RPS Feature SPACE BUSINESS
Offworld Trading Company is a combat-free, sci-fi real-time strategy game from the lead designer of the sumptuous Civilization IV.
A great concept with a great pedigree – can it possibly be as good as it sounds? But enough about Snickers More Nuts, let’s talk about Soren Johnson’s new game, an Early Access version of which was released this week.
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RPS Feature Nymphomaniac leper