PC, Consoles • The Surge is out, and by a piston’s hiss, is it grand. For good or ill, Deck13‘s futuristic brawler will be known as ‘that robot Dark Souls‘, and if it helps cut to the chase, then I’m all for it. FROM Software’s punitive dark fantasy has laid the groundwork for what has now been coined Soulslike, a tidy riff on the descendants and pretenders to Rogue. Soulslike it is. Industrial body horror Soulslike, even better.
Windows • Though my 2014 review of Cyanide‘s goblin stealther has disappeared beneath the waves aboard a now-defunct website, my opinion on the Styx franchise has only strengthened with this year’s Shards of Darkness. This brand of dark French fantasy might be left wanting in the narrative presentation stakes, but as an unfettered vertiginous romp worthy of grizzled Garrettians, the goblin is as good as it gets.
iOS Universal, Android • When 2017 started I had already been girding my loins in preparation for a certain card game that was originally released in cardboard form back in 2007. Yes, 2017 was to be the year that I finally left my family behind and started the cult of Vlaada, continuously playing the digital version of Through the Ages. Things have changed. While I’m still planning on abandoning my family for a 2007 card game, it looks like it might be Race for the Galaxy instead of the aforementioned civ builder. RftG is out and, yes, it’s that good.
PC, Mac • How often does a game’s catchphrase, a blurb that’s often silly and seldom informative, sell you on playing said game? We’re hoping the answer is, “not often”, but check this out: A Deckbuilding Roguelike Adventure. Sold! That’s the tagline for Monster Slayers, a game by Nerdook Productions, and it’s the exact coupling of words needed to penetrate the inky blackness of my heart and, more importantly, wallet.
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.