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 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 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 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 Contesting crazy paving in a cocked hat
Shenandoah Studio are anti-hexites and proud of it. Equilateral, equiangular, six-sided polygons aren’t common on their battlefields. They prefer more misshapen shapes – the squashed pentagon, the leaning lozenge, the skewed quadrilateral with one wiggly, dog-eared edge. The crazy paving makes for attractive maps but as I’ve discovered during my diverting but disappointingly smooth and brief March to Glory march to glory, creates problems too. Read the rest of this entry »
RPS Feature Tonedeaf in Vinland
A man finds a severed bull’s head and flees from the worms crawling in its rotten cranium. Dead in Vinland is a management/survival RPG in which you’re tasked with leading a family of exiled vikings as they attempt to keep themselves alive and sane in a strange new land. Strange is the operative word, and in between managing resources and relationships, you’ll be dealing with all kinds of oddities.
Sometimes it’s weird and wonderful, but sometimes it’s a low-brow parade of weak jokes that don’t fit the setting. Through it all, there are interesting choices to be made though.
RPS Feature Brown study
How annoying. As Wikipedia is adamant Field Marshal Wavell didn’t dote on a Manx cat called Matilda during his time in North Africa, and the 1947 sidecar TT wasn’t won by Rommel’s twin sons riding a stripped-down, souped-up BMW R75, it looks like I’m going to have to introduce this week’s pieces on TT Isle of Man and Desert War 1940-42 with an admission that this week’s pieces on TT Isle of Man and Desert War 1940-42 have flip-all in common. Read the rest of this entry »
RPS Feature How great is this escape?
At its very best, two player co-op game A Way Out explores a counterintuitive truth: that conflict is a necessary step towards good teamwork. It’s a prison break game about two men, Vincent and Leo, incarcerated in an American prison. Vincent is a cool-headed strategist who solves problems using his words rather than his fists, while Leo is a young hothead who would rather strike first and ask questions later.
The most remarkable thing about this second game from Josef Fares, writer/director of Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, is how it encourages both participants to roleplay as those strong personalities. Vincent and Leo are set in stone; unlike in games such as Telltale’s The Walking Dead, you cannot affect their character through in-game choices. You and another player surrender to the narrative, while the game aims to involve you through action rather than intent. It’s a game that sacrifices freedom for character work. Here’s wot I think.
RPS Feature Groundhog Minute
Minit is that most rare of joyful things: A really good idea, done really well.
In Minit you play a little bird-like pixel character who lives in a black and white pixel world, and is cursed with only ever living for a single minute. And yet despite this limitation, it presents a little RPG. HOW?! you ask, in your belligerent way. Hush, I shall tell you. Read the rest of this entry »
RPS Feature Freedom, at a price
Ah, a new Far Cry has appeared! Having torn up the Himalayas, Polynesia, Central Africa and The Past, in Far Cry 5 Ubisoft’s lidlessly searing eye for endless open-world violence has turned to the USA. Specifically, we’re in Montana, where Ubisoft have conjured a new set of colourfully monologuing nemeses who toy with you as they enact their Bad Plans while you try to ignore them so you can get on with the important business of hanging out with animal pals. Which particular brand of environment and Kurtz-like do we get this time? Let’s find out.
RPS Feature Heavy metal
The heavy metal thunderdome that is World of Tanks has finally hit 1.0, heralded by the sound of explosive shells and colliding war machines. It’s not 1.0 in a conventional sense, but it does give us the excuse to finally give it the ol’ review treatment. Here’s wot I think, eight years late. Read the rest of this entry »