Describing a game as a mash-up of other titles is often regarded as lazy writing, and I should know because I do it all the time. However, sometimes it’s appropriate because Spellforce 3 is Baldur’s Gate meets Age of Mythology and in its mixture of RPG leveling and RTS base-building you can find mechanics taken from numerous games from across the years. It’s like a Frankenstein’s monster, all stitched together, a little rough around the edges, prone to getting in trouble with local villagers and yet has a heart of gold. Or at least, the heart of somebody.
The mighty Roman Empire is ingrained in my head, such a big role it has played in history. But while many people can envision marching columns of Roman troops conquering everything they came near there are huge swathes of their history that is much lesser known. It’s in one of these lesser-known eras that Numantia has settled its strategic routes, telling a tale firmly entrenched in reality and embellished with a few heroic characters.
Oh, adventure games! As a colossal part of my childhood, their modern resurgence has done my heart good. Suddenly we’re back to the days of witty dialogue, fun puzzles and mad stories complete with modern graphics. The downside of this comeback, though, is that it also shows how little adventure games have really come over the years. Darkestville Castle is a prime example of this, a point and click title that has the witty dialogue, fun puzzles and mad stories complete with modern graphics, but that doesn’t ultimately feel any different from something like Monkey Island released all those years ago.
The problem with creating a new game every year that’s based on a real sport is that eventually each game starts to feel a bit similar. Without any huge shake-ups in the sport the developers are left to twiddle their thumbs. To their credit, Codemasters have at least attempted to do a few new things, but their efforts have been inconsistent over the years. Now, though, they’ve gone and done it. They’ve made their best F1 game to date.
Y’know, reviewing Community Inc. has proved harder than I first imagined. Every time I find a problem or issue or little niggle the developers are already promising to fix it in the next patch, or indeed already have fixed it by the time this review is ready to go, leaving me to once again sigh and edit the damn thing. Of course, this is to the developer’s credit; they’re incredibly active on the Steam forums and have been taking on board all the various bits of feedback. People mentioned, for example, that they didn’t like how farmers wouldn’t collect crops without being manually told to do so and the developers quickly added that to the list of upcoming changes. EDIT: Wait, they’ve actually changed it in an update as I wrote this.
When everything comes together Hover: Revolt of Gamers is beautiful, a neon-colored blur of fluid movement across rooftops, walls and massive gaps that makes you feel like an ultra precise badass. It becomes even better when you take part in a race that uses the environment well, crafting a wonderful course that clicks with the controls to lull you into that awesome state known as flow. This spiritual successor to Jet Set Radio has run onto the Steam store after several years in Early Access, so now that we can finally get our hands on to it there’s just one question: is it good?
When Firaxis brought back the venerable XCOM series from the dead nobody could have predicted how damn good it would be, its turned-based tactical mayhem creating a palpable sense of tension. It was difficult, too, demanding that you contemplate every move or else lose your soldiers forever. XCOM 2 had a rough launch, but it still managed to improve on Enemy Unknown, refining various parts of the core gameplay. Unsurprisingly several companies have attempted to leap onto the bandwagon. Shock Tactics happens to be the latest game trying to capture the magic of yelling at virtual soldiers because they missed a 90% chance to hit. It’s also not that good.
These days it’s hard to shake the feeling that videogames on Kickstarter are primarily fueled by tapping into people’s nostalgia, playing on their childhood memories and their desires for the good old days when you could really see the pixels. Thimbleweed Park doesn’t so much aim for the nostalgia center of your brain as it does strap a rocket to its butt and proceed to blow straight through it, offering up a point and click experience so retro that it honestly could have come straight from the golden era of the genre. Only it’s constant references and a few little tweaks oust it as something published in 2017.
I love those games that come out of nowhere and surprise you with just how enjoyable they actually are. Despite the fact that I enjoyed the first Styx game its sequel wasn’t exactly on my radar, so imagine how pleased I am to report that it’s a whole load of fun. It’s certainly the most surprising game I’ve played this year so far. It’s like getting an unexpected gift from a friend.
Science fiction is one of the most beautiful genres, its very premise allowing readers, viewers and players to be amazed by visions of the future or glimpses of alternate timelines while also exploring complex issues that relate to us and our planet under a more comfortable guise. When you combine the sci-fi genre with puzzles you have my undivided attention, because despite not always being that great at them puzzle games are something I love. Lemuria: Lost in Space could just be the game for me, right? Right? Oh.