Hello my ghoulies and ghosties and long-legged beasties and things that go “bump” in the night! It’s uh, still Sunday night, right? No… well, never mind then. This week, I’m starting my creative playthrough/AAR of Tales of Maj’Eyal as a Writhing One. TW for body horror in roughly the same vein as Mary Shelly, David Cronenberg, H.P. Lovecraft (of course), and my nightmares as I entered adolescence. We’re not getting into Human Centipede territory because even I have limits. It’s my intention to stay as close as possible to the official lore of ToME and to the key in-game events without being pedantic about either one. We’re not doing this is chess notation.
Oh boy! Are we going to try something dangerous? Sorry, had to work the reference in there somewhere. Blink and you’ll miss it. Or, at least, “be sick nigh unto death itself with food poisoning and ye shall not see it.” Last week, while my guts were re-staging the storming of the Bastille, Paradox showed off the first live-play session with forthcoming sci-fi 4x game, Age of Wonders: Planetfall. But wait, you say, isn’t Age of Wonders a fantasy series? Not this time, friend, though the video does show off some classic Age of Wonders / fantasy 4x mechanics adapted to sci-fi with grace and aplomb.
Alice is dead. So is Lisette Coalface. Halfling Shadowblade and Dwarven Berserker, they died in shockingly similar ways, neither overwhelmed by a tide of foes nor slain in dire melee with some fell champion, no, each was humbled by a single critical-hit with a spell. I begin to see why they massacred all the wizards (game lore… of course there are a great many spellcasters-in-hiding).
So much for Sunday night… or early Monday morning. Well, better late than never, I always say [they do always say that, and I always pull out my hair and scream at them to no avail -ed.] From the moment I wrote about the importance of keeping “decadent” 3D art and animation out of roguelikes, I knew I’d need to re-load Wazhack. Wazhack, if you haven’t played it, is a roguelike that breaks a lot of the rules about what roguelikes look like and how they play, while remaining shockingly faithful to the feel of the genre. Wazhack is a side-scrolling roguelike with fully animated low-poly 3D art that plays out in a kind of frozen “real time” that makes it the roguelike ancestor of Superhot, though it plays more like Steamworld Heist than anything, especially with any ranged or magical class.
I shouldn’t have been such a hard case about the Black Death last time, I appear to have attracted the attentions of disease spirits and spent much of last weekend sick in bed. I beheld the Angel of Death and prepared to meet my end… but then it turned out that I was only re-watching Angels in America (the HBO miniseries). It’s really good, by the way – if you haven’t seen it, you really should.
Welcome to what may become a regular SP Sunday-night feature, if you’re in the US (more like second breakfast or elevensies time in NZ). I’ve always fancied myself a decidedly non-prime hours horror host, in the vein of Vampira, Elvira, and Commander USA. Don’t remember Commander USA? Just imagine Watchmen’s The Comedian unconvincingly faking enthusiasm for El Santo movies and “drawing on” his hand with his cigar. I asked editorial for a wardrobe budget, but all I got back was a series of farty noises, so just imagine me in a LBD and a smoking jacket, wearing a wig stolen from a community theatre production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, sitting in a ridiculously oversized Gothic armchair next to a roaring fireplace (burning official strategy guides and AOL diskettes, ‘natch) and cradling a coffee mug bigger than my head in my arms with a degree of tenderness usually reserved for newborn babies and Alpha Edition Magic: the Gathering cards. Got it? Good, let’s go.
There’s this obscure thing in gaming where some people, instead of or in addition to playing games on their a proper personal computer or mobile communications device, as HAL intended, attach things that look like gussied-up Blu-ray players to their home televisions and play “console games” on them. Well, some of these “console gamers” are in for quite a surprise, as the kind folks at Failbetter Games are bringing the best video and computer game of all time, Sunless Sea, complete with the Zubmariner expansion to a gaming console called the ソニー株式会社 プレイステーション 四, roughly translated as “Sony Playstation Quatro,” and sometimes affectionately referred to as the “PS4.”
Tardiness being my calling card, I didn’t have my Steam Sale recommendations ready in time to for them to go up with the rest of the Stately Staffers’. I’d apologize, but I believe that an apology is supposed to express regret and a willingness to change… so I’ll just say “I can’t change I can’t change I can’t change I can’t change my mould, no no no no no…”
PC/Mac • What is your favourite Battlemech? Is it the 100 ton Atlas, king of the battlefield with it’s death’s head cockpit? A bit on the nose, don’t you think? How about the Zeus or the Battlemaster, each titans in their own right? Perhaps the more stately Catapult, bristling with Long Range Missiles (LRMs), or the fragile but devious Firestarter? I’ve fallen in love with the Shadow Hawk all over again. Sitting at the high end of Medium weight-class, it’s a lot zippier than its heavy cousins, especially when kitted out with jump jets. The Shadow Hawk is a another Battletech classic, a mech that literally punches above its weight class, with melee and Death from Above (DA) damage that many heavier mechs might envy. Behemoth’s Shadow Hawk gives up long-range weaponry for more intense medium-close range firepower and heavier armour, and it’s cherry, only the best ++ and +++ parts for Behemoth’s ride.
PC, Xbox, Playstation, Switch • Witching Hour Studios‘ Masquerada: Songs and Shadows had been sitting near the top of my Steam wishlist for about a year when I got around to it. You may know Witching Hour for their mobile and PC TBS Ravenmark: Scourge of Estellion, and if you don’t you should. Almost everything about the game intrigued me: the hand-drawn isometric art style, the highly developed and original fantasy setting, a plot that sounded like it just might actually explore tensions between the rich and poor with some subtlety, and the promise of tactical combat modeled on fencing.