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?
PC/Mac/Linux • Since the release of Sentinels of the Multiverse on iPad way back in 2014 Handelabra, has established themselves as one of the top board game devs in the biz, right up there with Playdek and Czech Games. While I get that Sentinels, Bottom of the 9th, and One Deck Dungeon aren’t in everyone’s wheelhouse, you can’t deny that everything they touch is polished to a blinding sheen. Thus, when they announce a new project or, as is the case today, launch a new Kickstarter, we listen. We already knew they’re working on digital versions of both Spirit Island and Aeon’s End, and it’s the latter that is now available on everyone’s favorite crowdfunder.
iOS, PS4/Vita, Xbox, Switch, PC/Mac/Linux • I talked last week about my recurring addiction to Stardew Valley, the overly cute and surprisingly deep farming simulator that’s been the bee’s knees since it released on PC back in 2016. We knew it was coming out for iOS today but it actually popped up on the App Store last night giving me a little time to try it out while the family slept. It’s pretty great.
iPad, Switch, PS4, Xbox, PC/Mac/Linux • While it doesn’t happen very often, every now and then things turn out okay. Last Friday I mentioned that I’m leaving for a 4.5 hour plane trip with my entire family [on Spirit Airlines, no less. The only airline folks with three kids can afford -ed.] and was dreading it. Red Hook Studios was listening and, I’m sure it’s because of me, have finally released the Color of Madness DLC for Darkest Dungeon on iPad. Now I can get frustrated and angry at my tablet instead of my kids! Huzzah!
iOS, Android, PC/Mac/Linux • Last Friday we skipped our normal Scrying article to bring you a new screenshot of the upcoming Leaders & Wonders expansion for Czech Games Edition‘s magnum opus, Through the Ages. Well, my embarrassing pleas to Vlaada to be noticed and get into the beta have born fruit! I’m not helping playtest the new expansion (they’re not stupid), but I should be in the beta once it goes live. Also, they sent me a couple more screens from which we can extract completely erroneous information. Let’s put on our deerstalkers and get to work.