Stately Scrying: What we’re playing this weekend

Next week I’ll be heading on vacation with the family to sunny California. I’m dreading it for a couple reasons. First of all, this involves flying and I probably wrote some of the code that’s keeping the plane in the air. As the editor will surely tell you, self-confidence isn’t my strong suit [no shit -ed.]. Secondly, I’m heading out there with three kids, one of whom is 16 years old and angry at all times. Earlier this week I got my first “fuck you” from him and I’m just super excited to sit next to him in confined quarters for 4.5 hours and then a hotel room for a week. Kill me.

Before I leave, however, we have a weekend to kill and that means playing games. What, you ask, will we be playing? Come see after the break.

What Alex played last weekend: Deep Sky Derelicts, Armajet, and The Swindle

(Alex gave this to me last Friday and I didn’t have time to post, but it was too good to simply throw in the bin. So, this Friday you get a double dose of Alex Connolly goodness)

I liked everything about Darkest Dungeon bar playing it. [you’re fired -ed.] Heresy? Absolutely. Well, it wasn’t helped by some pretty appalling UI issues on the Playstation Vita. However, I think I’ve found a proxy, and while calling it Darkest Dungeon, but in Space is a touch disengenuous, it taps into the same risk and reward. And adds cards. Enter similarly alliterated Deep Sky Derelicts.

You’re still stalking a small mob of heroes through complexes, and combat is still the initiative-based conga line of carnage. But character and their respective classes have an expandable deck of cards from which to draw on, running the gamut of attacks, buffs, debuffs and the like. A deck builder without the drawing and banking shite. I generally don’t much care for deck-builders because I am a dolt who isn’t very discerning. This though? Discrete decks I’ve built from mods and weapons and tools equipped to that specific character. It’s just a case of waiting for it to roll out on a draw.

Deep Sky Derelicts still has a level of risk, where exploring lost starships and facilities hinges on a power pool. If that drains before you can return to your ship or top up your supply, it’s a guaranteed Bad Time. But getting you through is its 2000AD aesthetic, which is lovingly rendered as a kinetic comic. Pop-out panels depicting any action, and while it sounds a little too static in comparision to Darkest Dungeon, I really dig the balance of austerity and science-fiction crunch.

Elsewhere, Armajet. Thanks to Athros, I took a recommended punt on this curious little side-scroller arena shooter. A team-based frisson of fun, relatively slow-paced goodness. If Abuse or Soldat started life on N64. It’s F2P, but not at all intrusive, and offers cross-platform play between mobile platforms and PC. Sounds like a nightmare, but while not completely hitch-free due to lag and rendering, the game is equalised by its pace. My mobile wheezes even on wifi, so make sure you’re packing a decent handset before entering the fray.

Finally, I’ve started another run in The Swindle. It’s a game that never leaves the Vita, and if you’re in the market for a robust Spelunky-like, trading out tombs for Victorian steampunkery and getting your burgle on is now freshly available on Switch! Wherever you play it, Dan Marshall has crafted a real gem that, while thematically apt, might have slipped a lot of people by.

Thus, the weekend is planned.

-Alex Connolly

What Alex is playing this weekend: Battlestar Galactica Deadlock Anabasis DLC

Could we clone Rebecca Black, not merely for her virtuosic prowess, but for her ability to make it Friday upon command? Surely, more powerful magic does not exist.

Nuggets and toasters alike, it is Battlestar Galactica Deadlock DLC week, and it’s a corker. Having swirled Anabasis around my mouth like cognac, letting it dance on the palate for a mere hour, I’m ready to commit. While coupled with a feature-widening update, Anabasis is the core attraction. As a side-story to the main campaign, it’s up to the fleet to rescue colonists from a collapsing frontier. Chaperoning a growing gaggle of civilian vessels home is no mean feat. No space docks here, only boondocks. Each mission operates on a countdown, as FTL drives spool and enemy DRADIS contacts bloom. Survive the timer, mitigate damage, get your Vipers and Raptors on deck, jump.

It’s absolutely tense. The enemy count ramps as the clock ticks down, and in only the finest nods, you can dodge Cylon missile barrages by seconds with a jump, leaving them to course through now-vacant real estate and into the darkness of space.

Oh, and the tactical map, as if plucked from the Galactica’s CIC itself? Has the trademark DRADIS sweep sound. Love, people. Love.

Keep it coming, Black Lab Games. And have a frakking good weekend, Statelies.

-Alex Connolly (today)

Phantasy Star Online and Forza Horizon 4

Oh video games, you never cease to amaze. A few weeks ago I was listening to the excellent Giant Bombcast when a few of the hosts mentioned they were playing Phantasy Star Online. I had no idea that there were still people playing this game from the beginning of the millennium, so I decided to check things out. PSO is your typical action RPG – go out into a specified zone, complete quests, kill enemies, level up, collect loot, and come back to town.

But where the game truly shines is its bustling community. I’ve been playing on the Ephinea server, one of a few options for playing the game in 2018. From what I’ve heard, it’s a mostly true to the original experience with some added quality of life upgrades. It seems as though there’s always 50-100 people checking in to the game at any time of day, which is impressive for a game that is this old. From what I’ve seen on the server’s site, people are incredibly friendly to new players.

I’ve also been speeding across the open world of Forza Horizon 4. I purchased Xbox Game Pass specifically for this game, and I plan on getting all I can out of it for the next month. Games that throw you into an open world with a ton of icons on the map are both a blessing and a curse. The completionist side of me loves to tick off these different races and collectibles. However, it can be overwhelming to boot up the game and see literally hundreds of different things you can do at any one time.

The driving feels great, though. And it’s incredible how many vehicles there are to drive in this game. Maybe I’ll add on another month?

-Nick Houghtaling (aka the other Nick)

Elder Scrolls Online

Elder Scrolls Online still dominates my gaming time. I’m currently exploring endgame content and crafting as well as leveling up some new and interesting characters. The Witches Event is going on right now, which offers double XP among other things. I find double XP hard to resist.

-Nick Vigdahl


Stardew Valley

With the news that life simulator, Stardew Valley, is set to arrive on iOS next week I decided to jump back into the game on my laptop knowing that I can transfer my PC save over to my iPad. I’m happy I did. My family is not. Once again I’ve fallen under the spell of the surprisingly deep and, yet, completely cartoony, world of Neumann Farms. There’s a million things to do each and every in-game day with the caveat that you’ll never have time to finish them all. What do you prioritize? How are you going to make the big bucks? Each time I start a new farm I try something different and have just as much fun as the last playthrough.

I’ll keep plugging away on the laptop this weekend and will get that save onto my iPad for the flight home next weekend. Perfect.

-Dave Neumann


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Notable Replies

  1. Earlier this week I got my first “fuck you” from him and I’m just super excited to sit next to him in confined quarters for 4.5 hours and then a hotel room for a week. Kill me.

    That seems like good parenting though. 16 is pretty old to be giving out the first fornicate command. Did you laugh?

    Enter similarly alliterated Deep Sky Derelicts.

    That looks like it’s my speed. Just as hard as Darkest Dungeon though, the only game ever to make me ragewank?

  2. It’s got a little bit to parse at first, and the interface could use an overhaul…BUT, I like the map traversal far more than DD, and the combat is much more palatable, even if it’s just a case of superficial changes in delivery.

    You’d dig it, knowing you.

  3. Dead Cells

  4. Just bought Game of Thrones Reigns on ios, so I’ll be trying that out, starting this evening. Tempted by Indian Summer, also on ios, but think I may wait for a discount since it is a game I’m not sure I will like.

    Dave: Where in CA are you venturing? I live in Berkeley, just as a reminder. We have lots of board games on hand. Just saying.

    Alex: Ok, ok, ok, geez, you’re killing me with all the love for Galactica Deadlock. I love the show and the board game, and Deadlock looks great and it’s on sale. Sheesh. So, um what’s the learning curve like? And is it relatively easy to play for an hour and come back to a day or two later or will I be like, “What am I doing?”

    And yes, I often say, “What am I doing?” just walking from one room to the next. That aside…

  5. Deadlock is very easy to pick up. Anabasis feels like a module you dig into after a bit of campaign acclimatisation, but the game is very elegant on a mechanical level.

    Roll the hard six on the collection. Base game is good, but the DLC packs have really done the game a service.

  6. I played swindle on switch and in think it’s really good. It’s not as tight as spelunky, so it feels like there’s more unfair deaths due to sloppy play. It might also be my imagination but I think the game is vastly improved by playing on the big screen. It may be a frame rate thing, or the switch console screen just being too small, but it’s way less frustrating to play on the big screen.

  7. PSO? Wow. How old is that now, fifteen years?

  8. Yup. It was a Dreamcast job IIRC.

    I’m on Obsession, Terraforming Mars, Dying Light, and Valkyria Chronicles 4. Maybe even some games of Twilight Struggle…

  9. athros says:

    Hrm. Let’s see…

    Switch: MHGU and Enter the Gungeon most likely.

    iOS: I was hoping for the Color of Madness this week, but nothing from Red Hook. I’ll probably pick up Siralim 3 considering I’ve put a crap load of time into 1 and 2. Probably some Cytus 2, Halcyon 6 along with more work on my latest prototype. Art, music and some design work this weekend, less coding.

    There isn’t much else right now.

  10. Kolbex says:

    Playing Bloodborne on my PC. Started up a one week trial of PSNow, and it works pretty good with a 360 controller. Doesn’t look great, but it’s the game I want to play at the price I want to pay!

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