One of my most endearing traits [right above obnoxious, yet not entirely unwarranted, levels of self-loathing and below crippling social anxiety. Just in case you’re keeping score -ed.] is the ability to instantly give up when the going gets tough. This goes for everything, but let’s put it into a gaming perspective. Factorio, Europa Universalis, RimWorld, and Kerbal Space Program. What do all these titles have in common? Steep learning curves. How do I adjust? I simply stop playing them. I’ll get back to them, eventually. Usually. Factorio, for instance, has become, quite possibly, my favorite video game of all time. I’m slowly, but surely, getting my head around the interpersonal hooha in RimWorld. EU still eludes me, but I have started to get my Paradox feet wet with some Hearts of Iron IV. Oh, and I’ve really started digging into Kerbal Space Program the past couple weeks. Why did I wait so long?
PC, PS4, XBox One • There’s an inbound Steam summer sale bearing six-two-two-carom-one-eight, Statelies. You know what that means? That means, with any luck, Battlestar Galactica Deadlock might be had at a lovely discount, alongside the most recent and most wonderful DLC, The Broken Alliance. That is, if you’ve not already played it. And if not, here’s impetus in the form of an internet-grade list as to why Deadlock is worth a punt.
PC • As the axe fell on the RTS after the turn of the century, and we all realised that the late Nineties RTS arms race had an unfavourable signal-to-noise ratio (sideward glance to this current battle royale malarkey), a name rang out in the wilderness. Spieleentwicklungskombinat. But if a dinosaur roars and nobody hears it, is it really there? Behold, the enigmatic ParaWorld.
Trespasser: Jurassic Park is such an outrageously fantastic game. It’s as much a primeval, primordial walking sim as it is a survival-lite FPS, served on a revolutionary bed of fully-realised physics. It has wonderful environmental story-telling; audiologs and internal monologues that don’t strain atmosphere. It offers a natural sense of physicality. Hell, it did the two-weapon limit before Halo. Trespasser: Jurassic Park is also a broken, under-baked mess. Twenty years on, there hasn’t really been a game quite like Trespasser. There have been games better than it in some of its aspirations, but DreamWorks Interactive’s ungainly opus is more than the sum of its oft-busted parts. What follows is a record of certain events in which I took part between the years 1980 and 1997, on an island I will call Site B – Hammond
PC, Xbox, Playstation, Switch • Witching Hour Studios‘ Masquerada: Songs and Shadows had been sitting near the top of my Steam wishlist for about a year when I got around to it. You may know Witching Hour for their mobile and PC TBS Ravenmark: Scourge of Estellion, and if you don’t you should. Almost everything about the game intrigued me: the hand-drawn isometric art style, the highly developed and original fantasy setting, a plot that sounded like it just might actually explore tensions between the rich and poor with some subtlety, and the promise of tactical combat modeled on fencing.
PC/Mac/Linux • [Today we’re starting a new type of article that looks at older games we never got around to looking at when they were still new and shiny. Not sure how regular they’ll be, but will erupt occasionally when one of the writers get an itch to write about an older game. It happens more than you’d think. Writers getting itches, that is. We have an unguent, but it’s expensive. -ed.] The future used to be something to look forward to. Detective Daniel Lazarski, likeness and voice provided by Rutger Hauer, is tasked with solving a series of grisly murders in future Poland. There’s something amiss in this socially-stratified place, and nothing is quite as it seems. Cue intrigue.