Tabletop • I’ve been pondering whether or not to review Journal 29 from the moment I cracked its first truly difficult puzzle. You see, it’s not the usual fare here at Stately Play, and I wasn’t sure if our readers wanted to live the dread of English teachers everywhere, having to read a poorly written book report. Yes, a book report. You see, Journal 29 is an actual book made out of dead trees without a battery to recharge or screen to tap. It’s like the 80’s, with the exception that I’m not listening to Spandau Ballet [for the record, Dave is totally still listening to Spandau Ballet -ed.].
PC • At the intersection of Hornblower-Tolkien cosplay, you find Maelstrom. It’s an enticing clash of high-fantasy and fighting sail, and is exactly the twist a certain type of popular multiplayer game needs right now. Behold, Battleship Royale.
PS4, PS Vita, Switch • Biggles Defends The Arcade – by Captain W.E. Johns and Infinite State Games. If you’re rocking one of those Switchy things, or a PS4, or the Mark Hensby of Sony handhelds, you’re in for a treat. Especially if the Brewster Buffalo appeals. Rogue Aces has landed.
PC • Nothing turns the alternator of mid-life assessment more than realising you’re no longer at the top of your game-game. Nerves withering like sun-dried kelp. Reaction time raising smirks and eyebrows in the Galapagos paddock. The abyss, it looms. But then along comes the invigorating cordite suppository known as SYNTHETIK. Sometimes, you just need a little help to feel the old magic.
Trespasser: Jurassic Park is such an outrageously fantastic game. It’s as much a primeval, primordial walking sim as it is a survival-lite FPS, served on a revolutionary bed of fully-realised physics. It has wonderful environmental story-telling; audiologs and internal monologues that don’t strain atmosphere. It offers a natural sense of physicality. Hell, it did the two-weapon limit before Halo. Trespasser: Jurassic Park is also a broken, under-baked mess. Twenty years on, there hasn’t really been a game quite like Trespasser. There have been games better than it in some of its aspirations, but DreamWorks Interactive’s ungainly opus is more than the sum of its oft-busted parts. What follows is a record of certain events in which I took part between the years 1980 and 1997, on an island I will call Site B – Hammond
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.
PC • Huge insectoid monsters of doom and destruction burst forth from the earth and turn their monstrous eyes upon a futuristic human civilization for a snack. “We’re all screwed,” the people exclaim, but you know better. See, there are equally giant mechs in the future packed with explosive fly swatters (not literally) at the ready, all you need is a little time travel which also comes in handy if they fail. Just zip forward, grab some more mechs and try again.
iOS Universal, Android • This is a weird way to start a review, but I think I’ll probably just keep beating this dead horse all through the post if I don’t do this up front. I’m talking about the theme of Hostage Negotiator and the fact that it’s dark; dark enough that it turns me off a bit. It’s a fairly hypocritical stance, I know. After all, I have no issue with assassinating William Shakespeare in Through the Ages or laying waste to a horde of redcoats in Liberty or Death. Hostage Negotiator feels a little more personal, however. Whether the bad guy is a terrorist or a rogue teacher, the number at the top of the screen represents helpless humans that are going to, very likely, shuffle off their digital coils before you’re done. I’m not saying Hostage Negotiator is a bad game–you’ll have to read past the break to see how I actually feel–but I felt that I’d keep bringing the theme up at every turn and didn’t want it to bog the whole thing down. There, that’s the last you’ll hear of it. Now let’s talk about the game itself.
Mobile, PC/Mac • Earlier this year my Kickstarted copy of One Deck Dungeon from Asmadi Games arrived and it quickly became my go-to solo game. It’s compact, easy to fit in a backpack, and plays fairly quick while still giving you something to think about each and every turn. Those gents at Handelabra have taken it upon themselves to convert this card game to digital and, just this week, they let me have a look behind the curtain to see how things are going. They’re going very, very well.
Tabletop • Dickens famously wrote one book about two cities. Martin Wallace, on the other hand, topped that by designing two games about the same city. You know, I’d been milling that intro about in my head for days and it sounded way better there than it does when I type it out. Unfortunately, my delete key is broken so it will have to remain as-is [unfortunately, my delete key is broken too, or it would have been destroyed. -ed.]. What I’m trying to get at is that I’ve played London by Martin Wallace. I’ve played it a lot. I’ve played both the first and second editions and I’m going to talk about it after the jump.