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 • Huge insectoid monsters of doom and destruction burst forth from the earth and turn their monstrous eyes upon a futuristic human civilization for a snack. “We’re all screwed,” the people exclaim, but you know better. See, there are equally giant mechs in the future packed with explosive fly swatters (not literally) at the ready, all you need is a little time travel which also comes in handy if they fail. Just zip forward, grab some more mechs and try again.
iOS Universal, Android • This is a weird way to start a review, but I think I’ll probably just keep beating this dead horse all through the post if I don’t do this up front. I’m talking about the theme of Hostage Negotiator and the fact that it’s dark; dark enough that it turns me off a bit. It’s a fairly hypocritical stance, I know. After all, I have no issue with assassinating William Shakespeare in Through the Ages or laying waste to a horde of redcoats in Liberty or Death. Hostage Negotiator feels a little more personal, however. Whether the bad guy is a terrorist or a rogue teacher, the number at the top of the screen represents helpless humans that are going to, very likely, shuffle off their digital coils before you’re done. I’m not saying Hostage Negotiator is a bad game–you’ll have to read past the break to see how I actually feel–but I felt that I’d keep bringing the theme up at every turn and didn’t want it to bog the whole thing down. There, that’s the last you’ll hear of it. Now let’s talk about the game itself.
Mobile, PC/Mac • Earlier this year my Kickstarted copy of One Deck Dungeon from Asmadi Games arrived and it quickly became my go-to solo game. It’s compact, easy to fit in a backpack, and plays fairly quick while still giving you something to think about each and every turn. Those gents at Handelabra have taken it upon themselves to convert this card game to digital and, just this week, they let me have a look behind the curtain to see how things are going. They’re going very, very well.
Tabletop • Dickens famously wrote one book about two cities. Martin Wallace, on the other hand, topped that by designing two games about the same city. You know, I’d been milling that intro about in my head for days and it sounded way better there than it does when I type it out. Unfortunately, my delete key is broken so it will have to remain as-is [unfortunately, my delete key is broken too, or it would have been destroyed. -ed.]. What I’m trying to get at is that I’ve played London by Martin Wallace. I’ve played it a lot. I’ve played both the first and second editions and I’m going to talk about it after the jump.
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.
iOS Universal, Android • We’re not huge fans of hyperbole here at Stately Play–the best damned site in this or any other universe–but when a game like Meteorfall shows up, it seems appropriate. Meteorfall is good. Dare I say, super-duper good. So good, in fact, that I’m sticking it in the running for Game of the Year and it’s not even the end of January yet. Why am I telling you this? Because it’s a review, dummy. [Dave fell on the ice, hitting his head on the concrete yesterday and has been calling everyone–even his wife and kids–“dummy” ever since. We’re hoping the concussion symptoms go away soon but, until then, please take no offense. -ed.]
iOS Universal • The Room: Old Sins is the fourth title in the vaunted The Room series of puzzle games, the first of which came out way back when the iPad 3 and iPhone 4S were the pinnacles of mobile gaming. The first game was a revelation, mixing cutting edge and realistic graphics with a tactile feel that you could only get from a touchscreen. The next two games in the series offered more of the same touchy-feely puzzles while expanding the size and scope of the world in which the puzzles existed. The Room: Old Sins doesn’t do anything new to change the well worn formula, feeling much like every other game in the series. Luckily, that’s exactly what we were hoping for.
PC/Mac/Linux (First Access now), Tablets (down the road) • An alien spacecraft streaked down from the sky and plowed into the desert. It spoke to you when you arrived, and now you’re considered a prophet. It’s on you to lead your newfound followers through a desert wasteland in search of a new home, a journey fueled by the promise of the unlimited powers and ancient knowledge of an alien race.