PS4, Xbox, PC • I imagine the right way to open the review of a Lovecraft-riffing game is dark foreshadowing of looming evil, so, uh–don’t look behind you. [Well done. Now clean out your desk. -ed.] Ripstone’s Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics (henceforth ACT) aims at an experience much like XCOM. Not XCOM as it would be now, because you’ve probably already played that. Instead, it has all the pieces needed to give you the experience of playing XCOM for the first time, again. That is, it’s mechanically distinct enough to play quite differently, facilitating the joy of discovery. The setting is almost perfect for this purpose–while I feel the pull of legitimate concerns about continuing to use Lovecraft’s work (starkly put by Michael Barnes here), ACT’s melding of techno-über-Nazis with Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos offers players mostly familiar, immediately comprehensible weapons and soldier roles to build from, with such a variety of possible ways of adding strangeness that you never know what might emerge from the shadows.
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.
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!
PC/Mac, PS4/Vita, Xbox, Switch • You sneaky bugger. At least, that’s what you should aim to be, and Nintendo Switch owners can work on their window-smashing, wall-sliding, robot-braining, loot-grabbing, computer-hacking antics with the fresh release of a modern classic. Dan Marshall’s The Swindle has arrived.
PC/Mac/Linux, PS4, Xbox • XCOM2 might just be the most evergreen video game I’ll ever have the pleasure of playing. It never gets old and, honestly, I can see myself sitting down at a laptop ten years from now and blindly rushing into ambushes and getting all my best troops slaughtered. What I’m trying to say is, XCOM2 is really good and I kind of want to marry it. Imagine my shock when, yesterday, I noticed that there was new DLC for XCOM2. NEW DLC! Are you kidding me? I contemplated quitting my day job just to stay home and try it out today but, instead, went to work so I can write posts for Stately Play on the company dime. To quote Bugs Bunny, ain’t I a stinker?
iOS, Android, Switch, Consoles, PC/Mac/Linux • My history with Stardew Valley is a tale of two extremes. I first started hearing about it on other mobile sites wondering if it would ever make the move to phones and tablets. Looking into it, I decided the cartoonish graphics weren’t my style and, other than Agricola, farming doesn’t do a lot for me. I tried to forget about it, but its immense popularity ensured it popping up in Twitch streams or YouTube reviews of people I followed. It became too big to ignore. Eventually, it came to Mac and I caved. Thus begins the second act of my experience with Stardew Valley, the phase my wife likes to call “that time you were obsessed with that one game and you didn’t talk to anyone in your family for about four months”. Yes, she’s very verbose and, unfortunately, not exaggerating much. I fell for the open-ended game pretty damn hard and loved just about everything it offered and was only saved by the fact it wasn’t available for mobile, confining my addition to a desk. That’s changing, however. Not only is has it been out for Switch for a bit (yes, I own it there, too), but it’s coming to iOS on October 24. My wife has already threatened divorce.
iPad, Switch, Xbox, PC/Mac/Linux • I know Darkest Dungeon has both its fans and critics around these parts (I’m steadfastly in the “fan” category), but even the haters can’t deny that the more big-name PC ports we get on iPad, the better. The downside of not being the game’s primary platform, however, comes with the slow pace of getting new content. We’re all still waiting for Aspyr to release the Rise & Fall expansion for Civ VI on iPad, for example. The latest DLC for Darkest Dungeon, the Color of Madness, was unleashed on Steam back in June but those of us who play on our iPads or Switches were left in the lurch, waiting for any news of its appearance on our platform of choice. Today, that news finally broke. The Color of Madness will be coming to all platforms–iPad, console, Switch–on October 11.
PS4, Xbox, PC • While trudging through the usual Stately spam this morning, I stumbled on a press release proclaiming that Space Hulk: Tactics gets a release date. I was confused. First of all, there’s already a couple digital versions of Space Hulk out there and, secondly, what the hell is with that subtitle, “tactics”? Turns out that there’s a new version of Space Hulk (yes, the same board game that’s been around since the 80s) coming to digital and they added “Tactics” to the end to differentiate it from the versions that already exist. What differentiates Tactics from the other versions on Steam? Cards.
PC/Mac/Linux (today); iPad, Switch, Consoles (later) • While it’s one of the most polarizing titles available for the iPad, Darkest Dungeon on Steam is less divisive. The game still sports a “very positive” rating on Steam more than 2 years and many updates later. Today that will be put to the test when the latest major DLC, The Color of Madness, arrives. From what I can tell, the expansion is sure to be a hit. The test is going to come from the changes being made to the base game at the same time. Let’s just say the list of changes coming to DD is massive.