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.
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.
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.
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.
iOS Universal, PC/Mac • When the first Where’s Waldo? book was published I was already in high school failing to impress the ladies with tales of my 7th level paladin, Sir Loinofbeef. Yes, even at 16 I was confused why girls weren’t impressed by the wit of a Bugs Bunny cartoon from 1949. Anyway, I was a bit on the old side for “hidden object” books that seem to still be a thing 30 years after the bespectacled barber pole made his first appearance. Hidden Folks is basically a Where’s Waldo? for the digital age. Each screen is loaded with a mind boggling horde of stuff, and you’re tasked with finding a needle in the figurative haystack. Sounds terrible, I know, but for some reason it isn’t. In fact, it’s a rather wonderful way to spend an afternoon.
iOS Universal, PC/Mac • The Games Workshop licensing bonanza continues. Crazy Warehouse Man says all licenses must go by midnight tonight! No exceptions. Battlefleet Gothic: SOLD! Man-o-War: Bring your floaties, we’ve got the flintlocks! Necromunda: It just makes such perfect sense! And don’t think we forgot about your massed armour fans! Sadly, that’s as excited as I’ll ever get when discussing HexWar’s absolutely perfunctory turn-based effort. I’m beginning to think they’ve kept the art team on and sent the coders home. What makes The Horus Heresy: Battle of Tallarn a tough one to level criticism at is a by-the-book approach to both source material and its tactical crunch. If ever a game felt like it was helping a studio reach a monthly quota, Battle of Tallarn is it.
Since the dawn of electronic handheld gaming, there has been conflict between mother and child. The mother wants chores or homework to be done, but there’s always “just one more level” or a high score just out of reach. At some point, the mother will resort to simply hiding the device in the hopes of boring the child into productivity. The child, of course, instead leverages their boredom into searching for their game. They inevitably find the device, and the cycle begins anew. Japanese developer hap Inc.’s free Hidden my game by mom (sic) series distills and translates this conflict into a delightfully absurd escape room puzzle game format.
Cheaper than a bag of Perry miniatures, more bang for your buck than a Legend of the Five Rings starter deck; Warbands: Bushido is a lightning-quick slice of Early Access turn-based multiplayer tactics. And it is素晴らしい*. * bloody good gear.