Tabletop • Warning: Guard your wallet. We’re about to enter into some dangerous Kickstarter territory for a couple of cardboard titles that you’re going to want to back. Just remember, it’s not my fault. I’m just the messenger. Actually, I’ve already pledged for both and this it my way of trying to spread my pain around. Blame me all you want.
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.
iOS, Android, PC/Mac • When you think of Fighting Fantasy books, you probably remember solitary dungeon romps with your trusty d6s in tow and pining for the love of another human being. Good times. Gamebooks like The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, City of Thieves, and the Sorcery! books replaced my parents for a good chunk of my adolescence and it seems these books can’t stop being brought back to life on our phones and tablets. Heck, we just had a new version of Warlock of Firetop Mountain land a month or two ago, and the Sorcery! saga was brought to life in ways my pimply-faced self couldn’t have imagined thirty years ago. Nomad Games, creators of digital Talisman, have joined forces with Fighting Fantasy to bring some of these old titles back to life. They’re not doing it with stodgy pages and, you know, reading. Blech! Instead, they’ve added dice and cards and are turning the whole thing into a boardgame-esque romp.
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, Android • The Battle of Polytopia is one of the best pick-up-and-play time wasters on the App Store. In minutes you can build an empire, quash your enemies, and then realize your score is tens of thousands lower than everyone else who’s ever played the game. Hooray! Battle of Polytopia is one of only two things you can be terrible at and still have a good time. You can guess what the other one is and, yes, I’m terrible at that, too. Yesterday, Midjiwan released a major expansion for Polytopia ensuring my futility will continue for all time.
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 coming soon) • It’s not often that we post about app updates unless they include some major new features or content, but here we are prattling on about an update to the excellent Card Thief which adds neither. It’s almost as if it’s been a slow news week or something.
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.
iPad, Android, PC/Mac/Linux • On Monday we wondered about the timer that Beamdog was winding down on a site that just happened to be named “Planescape”. When the timer went off yesterday revealing that, yes, it does indicate a new, enhanced version of the Infinity Engine classic, we were right there to post all about it. We were, our site was not. Turns out we had some issues on the backend that were preventing posts from appearing on the front page and, although he had absolutely nothing to do with it, I blame Kelsey. We’re back now–the issue self-corrected, which doesn’t inspire much hope for a problem-free future–and we’re ready to talk about the only digital RPG to feature the Lady of Pain.
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.