iPad, PC/Mac/Linux • Yesterday saw one of the biggest surprise releases to ever land on the App Store, Civilization VI. Yes, THAT Civilization VI. The one with Sid Meier in the title and Boromir doing the voice-overs. The one that takes days to finish a game, with full tech trees, barbarians, city states, and enough different Civs to fill a tiny UN. It’s the real deal, with a real price, and it’s on the App Store.
iOS, Android, PC/Mac/Linux • Digidiced‘s digital version of Terra Mystica brought one of the heaviest and most complex board game titles to our tablets earlier this year and, for the most part, did so successfully. I say “for the most part” because the digital version didn’t alleviate any of the game’s complexity, which is usually something you expect when the CPU is handling the rules and fiddly bits. I’m not saying they didn’t create a good port–I’m not sure how they could have fit everything TM has to offer in any other fashion–but it’s a daunting game to play and even those of us who have played the tabletop version need to dedicate our full attention to follow just what the hell is going on. It’s worth the effort, however, as TM is a pretty great euro game once you wrap your head around it. It gets even better when you add the Fire & Ice expansion which is currently being worked on in the Digidiced labs. Luckily, they need our help to iron out the bugs, so we’ll have a chance to try it out for ourselves over the holidays when it becomes available for owners of the TM app as part of an open beta.
iOS, Android, PC/Mac/Linux • There are mornings when I wake up and read press releases and really wish Owen were around. Today is one of those days. There weren’t too many developers that Owen appreciated more than Luca Redwood, whose 1000000 and You Must Build A Boat were always on his top whatever lists. Luca has a new game in the works, Photographs, and it’s unlike anything else he’s done. Maybe unlike anything anyone has done. I know I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around it.
iOS Universal, PC/Mac/Linux • Fez looks like one of those games 12-year old me would have loved but old, decrepit me should detest. Like all platformers, it looks as though it requires at least a modicum of dexterity, something I haven’t been in possession of since I was 24. Still, like Braid or Super Meat Boy, it’s one of those indie platformers you hear about even if you’re not a fan of the genre. Today Fez made its way to the App Store so I gave it a go. Lo and behold, I’m not as worthless as I thought I’d be.
iOS, Android, Kindle, PC/Mac/Linux • Before I begin, a personal note: I’m a big fan of Choice of Games, both because of the sheer range of themes and authorial voices in their library of gamebooks and because of their inclusive ethos – more on that in a bit. Oh, and I’ve known Jason Stevan Hill, Choice of Games’ COO, and Nissa Campbell, author of Heart of the House, for years. Heart of the House is a branching adventure with themes of mystery, horror, and romance, in a Victorian setting that eschews the goggles and cogs of steampunk in favor of the hauntings and seances of Spiritualism. Hold that planchard steady, my spirit guide tells me we’re not alone. Did you hear that? A single knock as upon a great door? Did you feel that? A touch of cold at the back of your neck? Did you see that? A tenebrous shadow, almost a face, then subsiding into a roil of tiny tentacles? They’re here.
iOS, PC/Mac/Linux (Early Access), Android (coming soon) • My father was born in Austria and came to the US when he was a kid, which means I grew up with a rather inflated view of Austria’s importance to the rest of the world. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized that Austria wasn’t the world power I had envisaged in my head and hadn’t been for nearly 100 years. Still, I’ve been over there to visit a few times and am heading back that way next year to visit once again. It’s a pretty neat place, but the Austria of Wolfgang Lueger’s vampire-themed deck-builder, VEmpire – The Kings of Darkness, seems a lot cooler.
iOS, Android, PC/Mac/Linux • The original Reigns is a game that, to this day, makes me feel like an idiot [to be fair, it’s not hard to do -ed.]. It’s not due to complexity but because I don’t know anyone else who doesn’t enjoy it. It’s universally beloved and yet I can only muster a half-hearted “meh” whenever it loads up. What am I missing? I know there’s something that I’m missing, something that will emerge if I just keep swiping. Today the sequel landed for iOS, Android, and PC/Mac/Linux and, dammit, I’m going to figure this out. Today, I’m going to start playing Reigns: Her Majesty with a clean slate and figure out what all the hoopla is about.
PC/Mac/Linux • There are few games that take over my complete existence for periods of time, where nothing else in the world matters other than taking another turn. The Civilization games will do this, as will most city-builders. Another group of games that I tend to lose myself in for days or weeks at a time come from a small indie developer, Zachtronics. I instantly fell in love with them after my first foray into SpaceChem, and have loved just about everything else they’ve ever conjured up. Their latest is in Early Access on Steam right now and it’s just as good as anything they’ve ever made. If you’re looking for a puzzler that requires actual brain power, logic, and a dose of coding, look no further than Opus Magnum.
iPad, Switch, PC/Mac/Linux • It would shock you to learn how little I actually do around these parts [not really -ed.]. Sure, I’m the one writing up the blurbs you see on the front page, but the real work comes in tracking down these stories and that’s mainly done by everyone in our forums. They bust their backs to find cool stuff, then I steal it and report it like I stumbled on it all on my own. It’s a great system (for me) and really goes to show just how great our readers are…so far, they haven’t called me out on it. Today’s theft of a story is about one of my faves of 2017, Darkest Dungeon. New DLC is coming in Spring called The Color of Madness and it sounds even more Lovecraftian than regular Darkest Dungeon if you can believe it.
PC/Mac/Linux • 2017 has been such a great year for mobile gaming that I can’t even remember the last time I fired up Civilization VI, which was my top game of 2016. I know it’s been within the last few months, but there’s always been something else to pull me away from all that civ-building goodness [mostly the civ-building goodness of Through the Ages, I’m sure -ed.]. Looks like Civilization VI will be getting a bunch of my attention in February as Firaxis just announced that a full expansion, Rise and Fall, is coming on February 8.