iOS, Android, Kindle, PC/Mac/Linux • Before I begin, a personal note: I’m a big fan of Choice of Games, both because of the sheer range of themes and authorial voices in their library of gamebooks and because of their inclusive ethos – more on that in a bit. Oh, and I’ve known Jason Stevan Hill, Choice of Games’ COO, and Nissa Campbell, author of Heart of the House, for years. Heart of the House is a branching adventure with themes of mystery, horror, and romance, in a Victorian setting that eschews the goggles and cogs of steampunk in favor of the hauntings and seances of Spiritualism. Hold that planchard steady, my spirit guide tells me we’re not alone. Did you hear that? A single knock as upon a great door? Did you feel that? A touch of cold at the back of your neck? Did you see that? A tenebrous shadow, almost a face, then subsiding into a roil of tiny tentacles? They’re here.
PC/Mac • This is something we’ve known has been in the works for a while, but were verboten to talk about until today. Fantasy Flight‘s new FFG Interactive digital studio is bringing one of their LCGs to digital, Lord of the Rings: The Card Game.
iOS, Android, Tabletop • Tabletop games that emulate escape rooms are all the rage these days, with one version even winning this year’s Kennerspiel des Jahres award. These games tend to be $10-15 and are one-time deals. Once you’ve played through the puzzle, the game is useless to you. Some folks have an issue with board games they can’t replay, but spending $10-15 to get a group of your friends together for a fairly authentic escape room experience is way cheaper than paying $25+ per person for the real thing. Escape Team is a new escape room title that uses your phone as its centerpiece while getting rid of that pesky $10-15 bill you had to pay for EXIT or Unlock. Intriguing, isn’t it?
PC/Mac • When you think of fantastically themed solitaire card games your mind should instantly head to mobile with games like Solitairica, Card Crawl, and Miracle Merchant. Fun, quick games like this are a staple on your phone, less so on Steam where you expect a bit more under the hood. A new solitaire card game, Shadowhand, was released yesterday and while it seems like mobile would be a perfect fit, you’ll only find it available for PC/Mac. As expected, there’s a little more under the hood.
iOS, PC/Mac/Linux (Early Access), Android (coming soon) • My father was born in Austria and came to the US when he was a kid, which means I grew up with a rather inflated view of Austria’s importance to the rest of the world. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized that Austria wasn’t the world power I had envisaged in my head and hadn’t been for nearly 100 years. Still, I’ve been over there to visit a few times and am heading back that way next year to visit once again. It’s a pretty neat place, but the Austria of Wolfgang Lueger’s vampire-themed deck-builder, VEmpire – The Kings of Darkness, seems a lot cooler.
iOS, Android, PC/Mac/Linux • The original Reigns is a game that, to this day, makes me feel like an idiot [to be fair, it’s not hard to do -ed.]. It’s not due to complexity but because I don’t know anyone else who doesn’t enjoy it. It’s universally beloved and yet I can only muster a half-hearted “meh” whenever it loads up. What am I missing? I know there’s something that I’m missing, something that will emerge if I just keep swiping. Today the sequel landed for iOS, Android, and PC/Mac/Linux and, dammit, I’m going to figure this out. Today, I’m going to start playing Reigns: Her Majesty with a clean slate and figure out what all the hoopla is about.
iOS Universal, Android, PC • We’re starting to put together “best of 2017” lists behind the scenes and, to be honest, this year is a tough one. There have just been so many great releases this year that picking 5 or 10 and ranking which are better than others feels like telling one of your kids that you like them the least [it’s the middle kid, by the way -ed.]. There are a couple games, however, that are easy to toss near the top of the list and Race for the Galaxy from Temple Gates is one of them. A simply brilliant digital take on the classic card game, RftG has everything you’d want in a digital port. Well, almost everything. It is lacking the Brink of War expansion, but that’s going to change on December 14th.
PC/Mac/Linux • There are few games that take over my complete existence for periods of time, where nothing else in the world matters other than taking another turn. The Civilization games will do this, as will most city-builders. Another group of games that I tend to lose myself in for days or weeks at a time come from a small indie developer, Zachtronics. I instantly fell in love with them after my first foray into SpaceChem, and have loved just about everything else they’ve ever conjured up. Their latest is in Early Access on Steam right now and it’s just as good as anything they’ve ever made. If you’re looking for a puzzler that requires actual brain power, logic, and a dose of coding, look no further than Opus Magnum.
iPad, Switch, PC/Mac/Linux • It would shock you to learn how little I actually do around these parts [not really -ed.]. Sure, I’m the one writing up the blurbs you see on the front page, but the real work comes in tracking down these stories and that’s mainly done by everyone in our forums. They bust their backs to find cool stuff, then I steal it and report it like I stumbled on it all on my own. It’s a great system (for me) and really goes to show just how great our readers are…so far, they haven’t called me out on it. Today’s theft of a story is about one of my faves of 2017, Darkest Dungeon. New DLC is coming in Spring called The Color of Madness and it sounds even more Lovecraftian than regular Darkest Dungeon if you can believe it.
Tabletop • At first glance you might be tempted to compare Catalyst Game Labs‘ latest card game, Dragonfire, to one of the favorites around the Stately Play grounds, Pathfinder Adventures. Both use cards to replicate the role-playing experience with the latter set in Pathfinder and the former in D&D 5E. Other than those similarities, however, the games couldn’t be more different. You already know I love Pathfinder ACG, so how does Dragonfire stack up?