PC/Mac • I went into Return of the Obra Dinn with high expectations, stemming from its designer, Lucas Pope. You might know Mr. Pope as the creator of the thought-provoking and terrifying Papers, Please, a game that crawled into your skull and stuck with you well after you closed your laptop. Return of the Obra Dinn does the same, and it’s one of the best experiences I’ve had on my laptop in a long time.
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.
Here’s a collision of interesting things. Remote Games are the blokes behind Isotopium: Chernobyl, and the premise is pure magic. Players control wheeled drones and remotely roll around a scale model of the infamous reactor and nearby town, searching for energy caches and seeking out new locations. Slivers of escape room meets Joe Haldeman’s Forever Peace. It’s currently in Kickstarterdom. And you can play a timed demo right now. Go on.
iOS Universal, Android, PC/Mac • While I used to talk quite a bit about iOS war game gem, Carrier Battles for Guadalcanal, over at another site I used to write for, our coverage here at SP has been shamefully light. I apologize not only to the one-man development team of Cyril Jarnot, but to you as well. CB4G is a pretty great hex-and-counter war game for iOS (the only one I can think of) and we’re the kind of audience that should be eating it up. With a little (or a lot–that’s a big $ number) luck, CB4G will be a little less niche than it currently is. A Kickstarter started today to not only bring CB4G to other platforms–namely, PC/Mac–but also adding a ton of functionality making “the little war game that could” into the sprawling epic war game that Cyril envisioned from the beginning.
PC • Here’s a bold prediction. Kerberos Studios‘ Pit of Doom will be a runaway hit. And not just one of those cult sleepers, name-dropped for cred at gatherings of those in the know. A bona fide smash. It sounds ludicrous to predict the fortune of an unfinished game, one still slick with Early Access afterbirth, but I have that tingling sensation. Could be the creeping onset of Zuul poison, though. You never know.
Xbox, PS4, PC/Mac • Before 2014 I had never heard of Larian Studios or their Divinity universe. Somehow, I stumbled onto Divinity: Original Sin that year, however and instantly became a fan. Here was a throwback to the Baldur Gates and Icewind Dales of my youth [late 20s. Your “youth” involved games like The Bard’s Tale and Pools of Radiance -ed.], only better. I mean, it didn’t use the D&D license, so I was confused as hell about how to build a decent character and whatnot, but here was an isometric RPG with turn-based combat. I don’t hate the real-time, pausable combat of the Infinity Engine games, but it’s definitely stopped me from getting giddy about other epic, recent RPGs like Pillars of Eternity. On top of the turn-based sundae, the story, graphics, and sheer amount of stuff you could pull off in their engine was pretty great, as well. In other words I fell, hard, for what Larian was selling. Fast forward to Kickstarter in 2015 and there I was putting down cash to ensure that Divinity: Original Sin 2 would, someday, be on my laptop next to its predecessor. It’s more than three years later and I’m still waiting, but not for long.
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.
PC • I don’t think it’s much of a secret that Factorio has been (and still is) one of my favorite video games of all time. The open-endedness, seemingly endless research tracks, and mind-twisting efforts to crank just a little more efficiency out of what’s turned into a bowl of spaghetti are, apparently, what I’m looking for in a game as I turn into a grumpy old man. It doesn’t end with Factorio, though. I’ve always loved city-builders and simulations that allow you to create something amazing from a blank slate. Today a new challenger to the throne arrives from the one-man dev house, Codebyfire, called The Colonists.
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!