I was a backer of the Kickstarter for Victory Point Games‘ recent release of Gem Rush Second Edition. I had never played (or even heard of) the first edition, but I love the “premier” stuff VPG has been putting out recently not to mention that most (all?) of their games are playable solo. Oh, and the designer is Jeremy Lennert, who I fell in love with via a previous VPG title, Darkest Night Second Edition. My copy of Gem Rush arrived before the holidays and has sat, untouched, since. Not the game’s fault, just my crappy time management. Anyway, I had forgotten (until prompted in the forums) that the Kickstarter had mentioned a digital version. With little to no fanfare, the digital version of Gem Rush was released way back when and has completely slid under our radar. Time to fix that. Gem Rush is a polished, tight app of a pretty great board game that no one is aware of. Let’s change that.
PC/Mac/Linux Last Friday we returned to our weekly glimpse into the future and I stated that I would be playing the hell out of Divinity: Original Sin 2. Well, I lied. I didn’t even open D:OS2 all weekend. I have a good excuse, though. You see, no one told me that a little card game called Slay the Spire had left Early Access last Thursday. If I’d known, I would have been forthcoming with the fact that I planned on playing the living hell out of Slay the Spire all weekend long.
iOS, Android, PC/Mac/Linux We’ve loved the Trese Brothers around here since before there was an around here. Way back when, at another site that you might have heard of, they were recipients of several year-end accolades for their previous title, Templar Battleforce. Their latest, Star Traders: Frontiers, has been out for PC/Mac/Linux since last August, but, today, we learned it’s making the move to our touchscreens. Soon.
PC/Mac/Linux While I love Baldur’s Gate, BG2, and all the other Infinity Engine games from the 90’s and early aughts, they did suck in one aspect: combat. Unlike the fantastic D&D Gold Box CRPGs from SSI, the Infinity Engine turned RPG combat into a real-time click-fest, which was so unlike tabletop D&D that I could never quite grok the reasoning behind the decision. Tabletop RPGs are turn-based, why not the digital versions? This bizarre choice was used again by Obsidian when they attempted to reignite the Infinity Engine style games with 2015’s Pillars of Eternity. I tried, I swear I tried multiple times, to play PoE only to discover that the game wasn’t compelling enough for me to put up with combat I despised. Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire, also released with the real-time curse, but today Obsidian has made amends. Today, they released an update that allows you to choose between real-time or turn-based modes. Guess what RPG I’m going to be buying and playing this weekend?
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?
Did you play Crest? That gorgeous but rather abstract Swedish affair that you’d swear was a Molyneux tulpa? No? Your sins are forgiven, because as is often the case with indie titles that don’t hit the ground running, Eat Create Sleep have relaunched their tribal papercraft terrarium, with new elements, overhauls and tweaks. Additions that will entice the agnostic and convert the disbeliever.
PC/Mac/Linux • I’ve been fascinated with the story of Jon Shafer ever since I heard about him back in the Civ IV days where he was a prolific modder catching the eye of Firaxis who hired him as an intern and, eventually, a full-time developer to help with the two Civ IV expansions. Big deal, sure, but the story took an epic turn when he was promoted and made the lead designer for the series’ next iteration, Civ V. Yep, it was his idea to move from square grid to hex and (controversially) abandon the Ultimate Stack of Doom tactic by eliminating units’ ability to stack. Oh, and he did this all before he was 25. When I was 25 I made my own beer bong from parts scavenged from my dad’s garage and Home Depot. Once again, I lose. Since then, he’s meandered around and, eventually, settled with his own dev house, Conifer Games. Their first title, At the Gates, is another epic 4X strategy title and it’s coming to PC/Mac/Linux in January, 2019.
iOS, Switch, PC/Mac/Linux • My kids think it’s weird that I enjoy programming games like TIS-100 from Zachtronics (or any Zachtronics game, actually), or Human Resource Machine from Tomorrow Corporation. This is because they think I sit at work all day and write code which is most definitely not what I do. In fact, my “writing code” to “writing boring documentation” ratio is so horrifically skewed to the latter that it shouldn’t be a surprise that I’d leap at the chance to do a little coding without all that legal overhead. 7 Billion Humans is Tomorrow Corporation’s follow-up to the aforementioned Human Resource Machine and it’s been out on Steam and Switch for a couple months. Yesterday, however, it arrived for iOS and now it can be played the way it was meant to be: on a tablet.
iOS/Android (coming in 2019), PC/Mac/Linux (available now) • Artifact, if you’re not aware, is the latest digital CCG to hit the market, this time from streaming bigwig, Valve. While playing Civ VI on my laptop, I was inundated with ads for the game [there was one, and it was only when he logged in -ed.] and, [being a simpleton -ed.] couldn’t resist. After playing through the two tutorial matches I can only say one thing for certain: I’m not a huge fan of CCGs.
PC/Mac/Linux • The first game I ever played was PC Research’s 1983 survival horror game, 3-Demon. And by survival horror, I obviously mean a first-person vector riff on Pac Man. John D. Price and Rick Richardson’s intimate maze-em-up was austere and unsettling, branded as a seminal experience into soft, impressionable neurons. So, imagine if that sort of ambience dropped tired old phantoms for battlesuits in a near-future subterranean lair? Das Geisterschiff, which arm should I present for cannulation, come November 25th?