A few years ago, I reviewed Trendy Entertainment’s interesting take on tower defense called Dungeon Defenders. The game was a great mix of tower defense, action and RPG, and Ricky and I had a lot of fun trying it out. Now, Trendy is working on a sequel Dungeon Defenders II, which is in early access on Steam. I played with it for a while and am pretty impressed with what I have seen so far.
Dokuro is a fun title developed by Game Arts that came out for the Playstation Vita a few years ago. This puzzle-platforming game is fun, and its chalk-drawing world looks great on the intended platform. The publisher, Gungho, saw fit to port it over to the PC, and while it looks fine, I think that it makes a much better Vita title.
To me, playing Spiderweb Software’s Avernum 2: Crystal Souls for the PC feels just like playing Dungeons & Dragons. Now, I haven’t played legitimate, tabletop D&D in almost thirty years, and I didn’t really think I missed it since computer RPGs seemed to fill that gap pretty effectively – especially nowadays. When I look at a game like Skyrim, which is huge and beautiful and dynamic, with a first-person view that figuratively puts you right in the boots of your character – when you’ve got all that, who needs a bag of dice and some shoddily painted figurines? But ten minutes into playing Avernum 2, I felt a really powerful nostalgia for those old D&D days. I don’t know if that effect was achieved by design or by accident, and I don’t think I want to know, but I know why it feels so much like old school D&D: it’s all in the exposition.
Focus Home Interactive’s Cities XL has always been my favourite go-to city-building series. The sheer size of the cities that can be built makes for long-term fun, and with the ability to build multiple cities around a virtual world (that interact with each other), players who enjoy this genre should never get bored.
Is it fair to say we live in a golden age of roguelike games? Considering the success of games like FTL: Faster Than Light, The Binding of Isaac and even the technically-still-in-early-access Darkest Dungeon, it’s very tempting to agree. The thing is, those games are a little too…well…modern to really capture the aesthetic of the true Rogue experience1. If we really want to go back to the days of the genre’s progenitors and stake a claim to the golden age of procedural dungeon generation and the potential for cruel insta-death encounters, we need to embrace its text-based roots. Enter SanctuaryRPG: Black Edition.
With the month winding up all too fast, the daunting pile of reviews may have to get a bit of a rapid-fire treatment. Time for some byte-sized reviews!
Another Perspective (developed by ShaunJS) is a shining example of how effective use of a hook can create an addictive and compelling game. This PC puzzle-platformer doesn’t really look like anything special at first; but once you start playing, it’s a whole other matter. Thanks to a well-spun narrative and a clever puzzling mechanic, Another Perspective is one of those games that will keep you playing well past the point when you thought you would be calling it a night.
I’ve never been much of an athlete. I don’t mind a bit of regular fitness at home or cycling around town to keep myself healthy, but more structured sports and recreation never sucked me in because I had neither the drive nor the competitive mindset to commit an adequate level of focus or discipline. The idea of hitting or throwing a ball over and over and over with the intent of minor incremental skill gain didn’t appeal to me the way something like drawing did – or gaming. As a youngster I had no objections against flying the same mission, grinding the same dungeon or running the same map over and over and over with the intent of a higher score or a better time. You could argue that between gaming and sports I made the poorer choice, and you’d be right, but I can’t change the past and here we are. This is all somewhat of an unnecessary preamble to introduce this notion: if you find difficult and repetitive gaming nothing but infuriating then you might want to pass on Moon Spider’s Harold; but if you can relate to my childhood attitude then you will probably find Harold an engaging and satisfying title.