iOS Universal, Android, PC/Mac • It’s about time I came clean. I know this will come as a shock to many of you, so you might want to prepare yourself. Ready? Here we go: Back when I was in college, I was a huge nerd. There, I said it. Take as much time as you need to let that soak in. Now, when I say “nerd”, I’m not talking about the kind that spent their time in the library on Thursday nights rather than at house parties, I’m talking about the kind that stayed in and played role-playing games with friends on Thursday nights instead of going to house parties. A lot of Dungeons & Dragons Second Edition was played in many dorm common areas, let me tell you. We even, for a short time, dabbled in something called Vampire: The Masquerade which was White Wolf’s more freeform answer to D&D’s mathiness and was all the rage thanks to Anne Rice and the lingering effect of a young Kiefer Sutherland in leather. Well, Vampire: The Masquerade is back and it’s on your phone.
iOS Universal • One of the most unique games I’d ever played was Her Story released back in 2015. The “game” consisted of a myriad of video clips that you had to piece together in order to figure out the entire story. There was no winning or losing, just learning more and more about this rather interesting woman who was being questioned by the police for…something. Designer Sam Barlow has said that he’s working on a follow-up, but we haven’t heard of when Her Story 2 might actually find its way to our tablets. Yesterday, Three Story House released a game I wasn’t aware of that brings a lot of that Her Story vibe back to our iPads and adds a healthy dose of Sherlock Holmes along the way. It’s called Ink Spotters 1: The Art of Deduction and, as someone who loved Her Story and also devours anything Sherlockian, color me intrigued.
iOS Universal, Android • Pathfinder Adventures from Paizo and Obsidian was my top mobile game of 2016 and one that I still find myself playing more than most of the other games on my iPad. It’s always big news when Obsidian drops a new update for the game, if only to squash some of the still lingering bugs. Yesterday, the latest update was released for the game bringing some new features and fixes but, more importantly, it was accompanied by a blog post indicating that Quest Mode has an upcoming appointment with the headsman.
PC/Mac • A long time ago I remember hearing rumors of cardboard publisher Lock ‘n Load getting into the digital game, then I hit a personal black hole and lost contact with the world only to reemerge last fall having completely forgotten about their digital plans. Turns out I should have written a note or tied a string around my finger to remind myself, because Lock ‘n Load published several versions of their light, fast tank battler Tank on Tank for PC/Mac last year and I’m just hearing about them now.
2016 rather inured me to the tragedy of celebrity deaths, and when a man dies at age 97 after a life as a mathematician, logician, philosopher of eastern religion, stage magician, pianist, author, husband, and stepfather, it seems more an opportunity to celebrate his life than sink into despondency. Raymond Smullyan is best-known as the author of numerous books of puzzles, often puzzles which make advanced logical concepts accessible to an innocent audience (which is, perhaps, to be expected from a logician who extended Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorems). I recommend these; they exude a playful light-heartedness rare in any discipline, without compromising their depth and quality. Indeed, much of my taste for puzzles was shaped by Smullyan’s work, and several other Stately Play authors joined me in marking his passing. Should you wish to learn more about Taoism, or serious logic, his writing on those subjects is also first-rate.
iOS Universal, Android, PC/Mac • You might remember Mi-Clos Studio from their classic study in isolation, Out There, a game with beautiful art that tells the story of a stranded astronaut trying to find their way home. It was thoughtful, a little dark, and very hard. These are all traits that do not apply to their latest, Dungeon Rushers. Developed by Goblinz Studio and published by Mi-Clos, Dungeon Rushers is full of 8-bit art and has its tongue firmly within its cheek. This is a game that takes dungeon crawling the level of seriousness it probably deserves, but still manages to be a fairly deep and interesting RPG. Oh, and it’s coming to iOS and Android on February 23.
iOS Universal • Ever since Tinytouchtales arrived on the scene back in 2015, we’ve been wondering about their next big project. That’s what happens when you release one of the best mobile games ever created, which is exactly what they did with Card Crawl. We shouldn’t have to wait long to experience what they’ve been working on, as yesterday they announced that Card Thief has been submitted to Apple and it’s release is imminent.
PC/Mac/Linux • Nearly three years after its release on iPad, FTL: Faster than Light is still one of the greatest games on the platform. Not only is it one of the most perfect roguelikes ever made, its port to touchscreens set the standard for all ports from that point on. Since then, the forge at Subset Games has been silent, but today we learned [Hat tip: Matt Thrower and Kotaku] that their next effort is well underway. It’s a turn-based strategy game called Into the Breach and it’s coming for PC/Mac/Linux.
Tabletop • In the comments following our review of Arkham Horror: The Card Game, there was short discussion of Fantasy Flight‘s recent decision to split their rulebooks into two separate tomes, a Learn to Play guide and a Rules Reference. Victory Point Games has done FFG one better. Actually, four better. That’s right, when you pull the lid off of the latest edition of Dawn of the Zeds you’ll find no less than six rulebooks staring you in the face. Six. If the tech writer at VPG was writing A Song of Ice and Fire the series would have ended back in 2005. I’ll admit, the six manuals seemed like a whole lot of overkill until I actually got this to the table. Dawn of the Zeds can be a massive, complex game if you want it to be, or it can be a simple struggle against invading hordes. Either way, it’s harder than hell and hell of a lot of fun.
iOS Universal, Android, PC/Mac • I worry about Scandinavians. They’ve been exporting bleakness long enough that it may actually have overtaken mythology as their principal cultural product. The Frostrune mixes peanut butter* with a bar of that bitter chocolate: it’s a point-and-click adventure in which you play the lone survivor of shipwreck, a thirteen-year-old girl. After washing ashore, you discover that everyone you encounter is dead, murdered by a legendary being with the power to create magical ice in summertime. I’ll spoil the happy ending for you: you use necromancy to stop it, but everybody’s still dead and you’re still alone.