Oh my! Oh what an actual proper treat. Ladies, gentlemen, humans of Earth, I have for you a really good point-and-click adventure game! It’s Unforeseen Incidents, and here’s wot I think: Read the rest of this entry »
RPS Feature Going viral
RPS Feature An impressive MMO/singleplayer RPG balancing act
I’ve spent the past few days in a sadly cider-free Summerset, the High Elven setting of The Elder Scrolls Online‘s latest expansion pack. Like the Morrowind DLC before it, Summerset functions as both a big, fat barrel of new things to do/kill/collect for established players and a clean entry-point for newcomers.
I’m somewhere in the middle of that, as someone who stopped by for a nostalgic return to Morrowind – The Elder Scrolls III being one of the best RPGs ever, to my mind- last year, but otherwise feels that his days with traditional MMOs are behind him. Another way of putting that is “someone who fancies some more Elder Scrolls while waiting for whenever and whatever the next mainline Elder Scrolls is.” An oddball mix of tranquil solo adventures and extreme MMO noise, Summerset is surprisingly good at scratching that itch, despite also replicating the sins of a hundred other games.
Read the rest of this entry »
RPS Feature A bad spell, but not the worst witch
The past few years have been good for TV and film-licensed games, especially anime tie-ins. What used to be a dumping ground now contains a growing stable of games blending compelling mechanics with 3D art that captures the look of the original 2D animation.
Based on the popular Netflix-backed anime series, Little Witch Academia: Chamber of Time is sadly not one of those, but not for lack of trying. It’s a game with grand ambitions that go unfulfilled.
RPS Feature So little has changed...
I’ve loved The Forest when I’ve played it in the past. I first took a look in 2014, finding it limited but a lot of fun. I then went back in 2015 to discover it was hugely improved and far more involved. I even videoed half an hour of my inept ambling. I have been back since then, but not written any more, but it’s probably close to two years since I really dug into it. Now it’s out in a final version, I’m surprised how little has changed in the last three years, but also pleased to find the same mix of survivor and terror. Not quite so pleased to discover so many of the classic bugs are still there. Read the rest of this entry »
RPS Feature A rotten list
I’m driving home from a busy night of killing and the roads are empty, save for some legless grumblers. I sigh and look at my map, try to count the exclamation marks, when a voice comes on my radio. It’s probably the fifth voice I’ve heard tonight, and I half expect another plea for bullets from some faceless chump three doors down. But this time it’s one of my own, a member of my enclave. She’s just calling to tell me: Workshop level 3 complete.
“That’s one more item off the To Do list!” she says enthusiastically.
RPS Feature Sucks to be you
Join Ella McConnell for Waifu Material, a monthly column in which she navigates the murky, cherry-blossom-strewn waters of visual novels, dating sims, and everything in between (reader masochism not required but strongly recommended).
For better or worse (NAMING NO NAMES), vampire romance is a prolific subgenre in pretty much every contemporary medium – and visual novels are no exception. As such, when Red Embrace popped up in my Steam recommendations I decided to embrace the inevitable.
Developed by Argent Games, an up-and-coming Western visual novel team whose previous title Chess of Blades made it into Rock Paper Shotgun’s Unknown Pleasures roundup in January, Red Embrace is also part of the boys’ love – or yaoi – subgenre. Historically, yaoi fans (as well as fans of its female-focused counterpart yuri) have often found themselves under fire in popular culture, but will Red Embrace make a fujoshi out of me?
Let’s find out. Read the rest of this entry »
RPS Feature A mysterious puzzler
Right at the beginning, The Thin Silence warns you of its themes of depression, suicide and negative mental health and asks you to stay aware of your own mental state while playing. This warning represents the essential sentiment of the game straight away: violence and death should never be taken lightly. Read the rest of this entry »
RPS Feature Murderhouse Architect
MachiaVillain is primarily a game about remembering to sweep severed heads off your porch. Too much visible viscera will scare off the next crop of guileless victims to your hand-crafted house of horrors, y’see. Shamelessly in the tradition of Dungeon Keeper (still my go-to PC gaming nostalgia, along with X-COM), MachiaVillain is a management sim in which the baddies are the goodies. You shepherd a small herd of flesh-eating monsters around, building both an ever-growing lair for themselves and a faux-home to lure in unsuspecting humies with which to feed your festering menagerie.
It runs much further with its inverted horror movie concept than does the usual “ooh, what if you were the bad guy, eh?” tomfoolery, though witless humour and a needlessly fiddly user interface get in the way of the gruesome good times. Read the rest of this entry »
RPS Feature Hit and myth
Ever since Avatar: The Last Airbender (the original cartoon, not the film) did the rounds on TV, the concept of magic as martial arts has been steadily rising in popularity. Who needs MP bars or long casting times when you can just use the elements as extensions of your body? Punch with the force of a boulder, leap like the wind and kick arcs of flame into people’s faces.
Wizard of Legend, Contingent99’s new action roguelike for one or two players (local only) builds stylishly on the concept, putting you in the swooshy cloak of a mage-in-training, invited to a festival of simulated dungeon-crawling/martial arts exhibition. No fate-of-the-world stuff here, just mystical showboating.
RPS Feature My ghoul
High school is already a nightmare without having to woo literal demon spawn, but multiplayer dating sim Monster Prom makes you want to relive the experience over and over. At times obtuse, at times hilarious, this is an education in monster romanticism. But you may not learn the same lessons as my friends and I, because its real strength lies in how varied each playthrough can be. Read the rest of this entry »
RPS Feature Plunkshark
Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the wilds of early access. This week, Fraser’s running away from sea monsters and hunting down galleons in nautical battle royale, Maelstrom.
I wasn’t a happy pirate. I wasn’t any kind of pirate, really; not with only a series of failed fights and a major lack of booty to my name. It was all a little embarrassing. So when I saw the Dwarven ship on the horizon, there was a storm brewing inside me, and I pointed my shark-drawn Orc ship at the stumpy corsairs and increased speed. Wood and metal and, of course, shark collided, followed by a barrage of cannonfire.
This would be it. I knew it. My first victory in Maelstrom.
RPS Feature Choppy waters
Pillars Of Eternity II is seemingly infinity hours long. Despite a week of playing, I’m still going, so here’s my in-depth thoughts about the game excluding the impact of its ending. I will update later.
What a lot Pillars Of Eternity II feels like it has to do. It needs to be a completely new dozens-of-hours-long RPG, while it also needs to be a sequel to 2015’s stunning first outing, while it needs to feel like it’s evolved from then, while it needs to feel like it’s faithful, while it… In many ways, it succeeds despite being tugged in all these directions. And in others, it feels wearily stretched from the process. Read the rest of this entry »
RPS Feature We didn't start the fire
Flash Point: Fire Rescue is the digital adaptation of a board game about rescuing people from buildings on fire. The basic premise is simple: a house is aflame. You command a squad of firemen and penetrate the place, trying to rescue as many survivors as possible before the building collapses. Big question marks randomly appear on the map. Some of them hide survivors, other are false alarms. Once you find a person, you need to drag them outside the building, possibly avoiding catching fire during the process. This faithful recreation got successfully funded on Fig last year, and now is here for us all to enjoy. Who is it for, though? Read the rest of this entry »
RPS Feature Kingly beards and flaming arrows
From my vantage point, there’s something enchanting about the snow-capped palisades of Dinefwr. Although I imagine its majesty is somewhat lost on the seven hundred exhausted Welshmen I’ve just ordered to breach the stronghold’s walls, with nothing but battered wooden shields between them and a typical British forecast of flaming arrows. I’d like to pretend their sacrifices come at the bitter end of a long, failed diplomatic campaign. Truthfully though, like so much of the conflict in history, they had something shiny, and I decided I wanted it. Read the rest of this entry »
RPS Feature Waiting For God Knows What
It’s safe to say you’ve played few games like Beckett. A multimedia collage piece about futility and hopelessness, it’s utterly fascinating in many ways. To call it a visual novel is to suggest far too many ideas that aren’t relevant here, so let’s instead call it a “narrative experience”. Parts Kafkaesque, parts Lynchian, parts bad sixth form poetry, it’s really quite something. Read the rest of this entry »
RPS Feature Lives unending
RPS Feature I like everything it does, but not how it does it
Update: though the below complaints stand, my feelings about Battletech’s tactical core have become significantly more positive as a result of continuing to play it following publication of this review.
I was perplexed to discover that my partner, also a home-worker, was wearing earplugs as she sat at her computer. There was, for once, none of the thunderous din of new kitchens or loft extensions being built in one of the adjacent terraced houses, and nor was my own PC’s volume set high as I threw stompy tankbots at each other in XCOM-meets-Mechwarrior turn-based strategy game/boardgame adaptation BattleTech. Stony-faced, she informed me that listening to me sporadically bellow “Oh god, it’s so boring” every few minutes is not terribly conducive to work. I didn’t even know I was doing it.
I don’t like calling things boring. It’s an aggressively dismissive criticism, and often says as much about the accuser as the accused. I’ve returned to BattleTech repeatedly, in different moods and with absolute determination to find the fun in a game made from components I usually thrill to, but I keep winding up in the same place: bored. And then hating myself for feeling that way.
RPS Feature A cold-hearted city builder
When I signed the law drafting children into my city’s workforce, I should have felt resistance. Some sense of remorse, or an impulse to explore other options—anything but this. Instead, I was simply surprised at just how many kids lived here.
Then I sent them to the coal mines. Read the rest of this entry »
RPS Feature Choking out Dorian Gray
Join Ella McConnell for Waifu Material, a monthly column in which she navigates the murky, cherry-blossom-strewn waters of visual novels, dating sims, and everything in between (reader masochism not required but strongly recommended). [Content warning: discussion of yet more sketchy consent stuff.]
When I first got my hands on OZMAFIA!!, I was unconvinced it’d take me as long to finish as people suggested. Reviews on Steam said the main route alone could take 20 to 30 hours, with full completion clocking in at over 50 hours for some. I laughed. Clearly they were just slow, especially as the game has the visual novel staple skip button (which lets you speed through text you’ve already read and quickly reach the points where you make choices that cause the narrative to branch).
They were not slow.
RPS Feature Demon Keeper
Lobotomy Corporation is an extremely simple game that’s also about as complicated as building a microwave from scratch. This supernatural research and containment sim straddles that treacherously thin line between brilliance and disaster, which is of course where all the most interesting games end up.
Read the rest of this entry »