PC, Mac, Linux • NEXT JUMP: Shmup Tactics has my number something fierce. Do you like shmups, this Brazilian indie effort asks. YES, I proclaim. But do you suck at them, it continues. YES, I admit. If you find yourself in this quandary of unquenchable thirst, Post Mortem Pixels has your back.
Windows, coming soon to iOS • YOU’VE PLAYED 5 hours. Nice of Steam to keep a tally of how much of your life you spend gaming, isn’t it? I don’t really need Steam to explain that crap-I-stayed-up-too-late-gaming-and-now-it-is-2AM feeling, though. I shouldn’t have started playing so late, but then again, I didn’t expect to spend five hours on Missile Cards, a game I had just installed earlier that day. Problem is, I just couldn’t stop.
Tabletop • As a sad and lonely man, it’s only natural that I would gravitate toward games I can play by myself. This used to mean playing a game meant for 2+ players alone by taking control of all sides. Over the past year or two, however, I’ve discovered that there are great solo games out there, you just have to look. GMT is one company that regularly puts out games that play great when you’re all by your lonesome, and Victory Point Games is another. To be honest, before HexWar brought Infection: Humanity’s Last Gasp to digital, I wasn’t familiar with VPG’s offerings. Since then, I’ve fallen in love with several of their designs, and have Kickstarted several others (including their latest Kickstarter for Chariots of Rome). The latest to draw my attention is one with a unique board game theme, Healthy Heart Hospital.
iOS Universal, Android • It is difficult to call something, anything, unique these days and be confident it is true. No one person can play all the games, listen to all the music, read all the books, and watch all the things to feel sure about such an assessment. Most things are derivative of something, often clearly so. When I play Erin: The Last Aos Sí, however, I am drawn to that description: unique, rare, different.
iOS, Android • Onirim is a highly-regarded, fast-playing solo card game by Shadi Torbey and Z-Man Games, and is now a highly-regarded, even faster-playing ideal phone game by Asmodee Digital. Perhaps the easiest single-sentence summary for Stately Play readers is this: Card Crawl is more like Onirim than Card Thief, and this stands as a strong compliment to all three games. Card Crawl gave about as much satisfaction as a turn-based game could offer in such a brief playing time, and Onirim gives us decisions with a similar tactical feel and memory element. Card Thief has much in common with Card Crawl, but Tinytouchtales innovated with it enough that a third game could be more similar to their first outing without being redundant. In other words, Onirim fills the same niche as Card Crawl while still being sufficiently distinct to justify itself.
The board game Scythe has had its share of space here on Stately Play due to the fact that a digital version is in the works and should be coming sometime in 2017. It never really dawned on me that the rest of you aren’t spending half your waking hours skimming game info over at BoardGameGeek, or lurking on Kickstarter waiting for The Next Big Thing to arrive in board games. I just assumed that you’d be as excited for a digital Scythe as I was. Let’s talk about the tabletop game a bit, and maybe you’ll see where the excitement is coming from.
PC, PS4, PC, Vita • You can say you were there, but the fact remains whether you were, like, really there. I packed a PSP from Day One, and while I built a portable library deemed by esteemed colleagues to be the UMD equivalent of the Royal Navy, I never quite grokked Sony’s portable software saviour. Monster Hunter. Responsible for atrophied extremities numbered in billions, the talons of Capcom’s fantastical neolithic beast-mincer never found true purchase in my soft, sallow flesh. But I think, years later, I might have found friendship in a genre descendant. Something clicked here. The formula has been shaken up, a story has been injected, and it’s by those Dynasty Warriors folks. It’s Toukiden 2. And it’s pretty good.
PC/Mac/Linux • Nostalgia is a tricky beast. Some creators will use it like bad wallpaper, covering the cracks of their leaky foundation while trying to remind us of the wallpaper in our childhood bedroom as if that would make us ignore what’s underneath. Other creators will use it to enhance the story or characters by dropping us deeper into whatever it is they’ve crafted. Last year’s X-Files reboot was the former, Stranger Things was the latter. Nostalgia can only take you so far, and if the product isn’t good to begin with then nostalgia won’t suddenly make it worth your time. Thimbleweed Park drips with nostalgia. In fact, they could have called it “Nostalgia: The Game” and I would have nodded and thought it was a good choice. Thimbleweed Park exists solely to remind you of classic point-and-click adventures from the 80’s and 90’s, especially those from LucasArts, but it does it with a deft hand and excellent new mechanisms, making it far more Stranger Things than X-Files. This is nostalgia done right.
iOS Universal, Android • Shortly after this review was published, Funforge updated Tokaido, notably adding the previously missing two-player option. Because two-player local play was my ideal use case for the game, this pleased me greatly, and it deserved special mention. My thanks to forum-goer “Misguided” for directing my attention to the improvement. Tokaido crystallizes thinking about the merits and challenges of digital translations of tabletop games. The cardboard version features lovely art, evocative of stylized watercolors, which sets the mood for a pleasant walk along a scenic road in ancient Japan. Not content to simply replicate these static images, developers Funforge created a 3-D, animated version which captures the artistic impact of the original–given the extent to which this is the game’s greatest asset, that’s genuinely impressive. Unfortunately, the very quality of the presentation highlights limitations of both the app and the underlying game.
iOS Universal • Word games are usually not my go-to, but every now and then one will get under my skin and become an obsession. The last was Tim Fowers’ board game port, Paperback, but Zach Gage’s latest, TypeShift is the newest word game keeping me up at night.