Silent Depth is a long-gestating WWII submarine sim, placing you in an American sub in the Pacific Theater in 1942. Success means slowing the flow of vital supplies to Japan, sinking troopships, and buying the U.S. industrial effort time to rebuild the surface fleet after the catastrophe at Pearl Harbor. And, in a cruel metaphor involving sinking ships, it represents the first Stately Play use of the tag “Windows_Phone. [and possibly the last. -ed.]
I saw the recent announcement of the release of Kathy Rain, and found myself reflecting on how, despite my satisfaction with mystery novels and movies, mystery games have long disappointed me. Largely, it’s because such games rarely give you any incentive to develop hypotheses–sometimes there’s an element of memory or exhaustive search, but mostly, it’s stuff like “Detective Mode” from the Arkham games–you can’t do anything until you see the highlighted clue and press x on it, then the next clue is unlocked. I started thinking about how to do that better, and it occurred to me that I write for a gaming website, so I have a forum to express my terrible ideas to an audience! Here are two. Some day I’ll learn to use my powers for good, but it is not this day.
Colt Express has two things I adore: an Old West theme of bandits robbing a train, and programmed movement with character decks. Westerns are in sort of a tough place right now. The themes common to westerns are largely in tension with some now-common values, so it’s difficult to make them without effectively taking a controversial political stand (either to support those themes, or explicitly reject them). As a result, family-friendly western content is rare these days. Admittedly, I have never seen Sheriff Callie’s Wild West, but Wikipedia tells me it occurs in the town of “Nice and Friendly Corners”. I am now imagining Fred Rogers in a poncho, chomping a cigarillo, and my attempt to deride the western credentials of the Disney Junior show has gone totally off the rails as I embroider that fabulous image.* Anyway, a western family game stands out.
Red7, a simple but scalable card game now come to iOS, offers a surprisingly strong metaphor for American capitalism and its discontents. Try to think of this claim, not as total BS, but as a helpful mnemonic for the various details the game adds as you activate the three independent optional rule sets. My brain apparently abhors a purely abstract game.
Doug Triggs of Lensflare Games just pinged us to announce Elexi for Android and iOS, which looks like a cleanly and cleverly designed word game. He describes it thusly: Elexi is a word game where the player spells words on a board of lettered tiles, then discards one of the letters used. There is no time limit, scores are based instead on the combination of the length of words as well as the rarity of letters used. There are several modes of play, including simple elimination (until no more words can be spelled) and a more challenging mode where letters are replaced by new letters from a queue if an ever-increasing threshold is met. There are also “express” versions of the game played from a 3×3 board (instead of the 5×5 board used by the “full” game). Elexi has word lists for six languages (English, Spanish, German, French, Portuguese, and Italian) and is localized into two additional languages (Japanese and simplified Chinese).