Welcome, everyone to another edition of game club. Game club is not at all like Fight Club. We absolutely encourage you to talk about it.
As ever, we go in rounds and for this particular round, I’ve picked the stellar adventure game Beneath A Steel Sky.
Read on past the break to find out how this is going to work and what you need to do to get the game. Read more
Last week, we talked a little about Brothers and games very like it. These titles are often experiences more than they are games. You get into them and you direct a protagonist, but you don’t do much actual video gaming: there’s no one to kill, there’s no score to beat and – most tellingly, often, no way to really fail.
There’s just you, the story and whatever medium the story passes through as it unfolds. Sometimes, this is a walking simulator, [you are in a 3d environment where you can roam around and encounter the story] sometimes, it’s a text-driven experience where the narrative unfolds as a collection of still pictures and verbose writing, but sometimes – as is the case with To The Moon – the entire affair is top-down and looks remarkably like an old-school 16 bit RPG.
At first, that sounds like a supremely odd thing to do, but it works here. It works because a lot of the story is conveyed by dialogue and RPG’s can sometimes by very dialogue heavy. Read more
Gaming is largely made up of two big landmasses.
On the one hand, we have games that are truly games – with systems and high scores and scores of people to kill.
On the other, there are experiences. The industry hasn’t been kind to these, calling them walking simulators and then writing them off, but these experiences are part of the glue-that-binds. You see, there are just things that cannot be done in a book or movie form. You can only have them as games.
Brothers is a game like this. It straddles a quite-fine line between experience/walking simulator and “game” but it thrives exactly because it’s on that knife edge.
And, in one short play through, it has become one of my very favourite games of 2016. Read more
This is the moment the King's Quest series has been leading up to.
Not 7 - because seven is an animated Disney travesty.
And certainly not 8 - because 8 was just barely a King's Quest at all.
This is - effectively, the series swan song. And it does a lot of things so, so right. But then, you know, in typical Roberta Williams style, it tends to screw it all up on occasion.
So let's talk about the "grand finale" game of the King's Quest series, King's Quest 6. Read more
So, I'm going to confess to something right away:
I was intensely worried about replaying this game, twenty years along.
I was worried about it because I'd played a bit [and got stuck] a couple of years ago. And I remembered the conversation with the Billy Goats Gruff.
Essentially, it turns the fable into a commentary on worker's rights - and that - really - says all you need to know about the first game. It's in a somewhat surreal and slightly twisted High Fantasy world. Read more
The Hex Player Versus Environment game is awesome and I wish more card games would do it. There. Review done. Read more
It happens every year. Every year, without fail, at around this time, "real" news [and I use the word in inverted commas, because really - game releases and hints at game releases aren't really "news" at all. They're - at best - terrible product placement] drops right off the radar.
Why? Because some PR drone way up on high has decided that nothing can leak out prior to E3. And that results in what fans generally call "lots of slow news days." While that's a problem, E3 - and shows like it - have a far bigger issue that I want to tackle.
They're pageants. Read more
Links open in new pages
Magic: The Gathering is a great game with a troubling digital history. In one sense, it's really sad, because Hearthstone is immeasurably polished - a thing that Blizzard is absurdly good at. And where Blizzard have gone, others have attempted to follow, because surely, if they can make it work to the tune of a silly number of people throwing money at imaginary cards that they're never going to really own [because the servers will go down and then you'll be left with nothing] then someone else has to be able to share the pot, right?
Probably. But a lot of that is going to depend on lots of little factors. And where Spellweaver comes up strong in some of those factors, it's just kind of bland and uninteresting for a lot of the rest. Read more
This is long and ranty. But I feel that it is important.
You guys absolutely got the industry you wanted.
We got here through slow degrees. Like the proverbial frog in the pot - although, it didn't actually seem that way to begin with. So, very quickly, let's talk about the divide between modern games and how they monetize and older games and how those raked in the money.
In the bad old days, a game was a once-off experience - for the most part. You bought the game, it had absolutely all the content on the disk and off you went. This wasn't absolutely universal, of course - even back then we had what were known as "Scenario Disks" and added content through content builders - Things like the Forgotten Realms Unlimited Adventures construction kit.
But if you bought a game you would be assured of ALL the content. At least until a scenario disk/expansion pack rolled around. There was no messing around with day one DLC [a misnomer, but we'll get there] or very many "added content exclusives." The game you took home was - generally - the same game your European friends took home on the day of release.
Then, Bethesda cracked open the door through Horse Armor and everything changed.
But it's important to realize an important thing about this whole fiasco: we can't go back. We can't stuff the genie back into the bottle. But we can maybe make executives think twice about fleecing us.
I quite like reading. I quite like adventure gaming. So the best of both of those worlds has got to be text adventures, right? Well. Sort of. If the writing is smart and the characters are clever then text adventures can - absolutely - paint marvellous pictures in your mind - the kind graphics engines simply don't have the oomph to render, but the problem with text adventures is that they're sometimes obtuse. The writing can be fantastic and the game world and characters can be completely memorable - both good reasons to start playing text adventures today [because modern text adventures tend to double down on both those things] but...
...the puzzles. Dear God, the puzzles.
And that's why I kind of like the design intent behind Gateway. Gateway sort of understands this problem. Read more