The Witness is the second game from Braid developer Jonathan Blow, this time acting as the head of small indie team Thekla, Inc. Development began soon after Braid’s 2008 release, and is still continuing now, if the frequent Steam updates are any indication. It is, like Braid, a puzzle game depositing the player on a mysterious island dotted with strange ruins without any explanation of who they are or what is happening.
Helldivers. I'll sum the story in a sentence: You are a “Helldiver” whose only mission is “spreading democracy” from Super Earth to the Cyborgs, Bugs, and Illuminates by landing on various planets. Each intergalactic democratic mission consists of two or three objectives – such as activating SAM Sites or carrying briefcases across the map – and then getting the hell out of there, all while battling aforesaid enemies of democracy. Truth be told, if you’re playing Helldivers, you’re not in it for the story; you’re in it for the pure arcade carnage it so gleefully relishes in providing.
Living up to the rolling hype-ball generated by Fallout 4 seems nearly impossible. After reminiscing about Fallout 3 for years, living through false rumors, and the non-stop recent postings pertaining to Bethesda’s latest game, expectations are at an all-time high.
Fallout 4 is the much-anticipated continuation of the Fallout series. The first-person shooter, role-playing game is based in a futuristic world similar to our own, but diverging on a timeline wrought with nuclear war.
The newest game in the series is set in Commonwealth of Massachusetts -- Boston, specifically. Fallout 4 has been in development since the release of Fallout 3, a late 2008 launch, and uses the same engine as Skyrim. The basic storyline (note: this only covers the very beginning and initial storyline setup, nothing more) behind Fallout 4 is that a family is cryogenically frozen in Vault 111, after getting in just as the nuclear bombs go off. We’re then awoken, and see our child being taken by two unknown NPCs who’ve just killed our significant other. After waking up again, we discover that we’re the only one left alive in Vault 111. So begins the game, setting forth on a journey to find a child.
Now that the background is established, let’s cover some of the features Bethesda did well on: settlement building, FPS mechanics, weapon and armor modding, and game atmosphere. We’ll later visit subpar performance for average graphics and irritating bugs.
Kingdom is a 2013 flash game by developer Noio, greatly expanded and brought to PC/Mac/iOS/Android with the help of fellow developer Licorice. As we noted back in our August preview, despite being an indie game, Kingdom was, for once, not funded by Kickstarter --surprise! Let's see if the retail release keeps that overly-addictive-flash-game charm.
In the beginning, there is a King (or Queen) and a pile of money. Such is the way of life. The "tutorial" is short and sweet: ten coins are enough to light a campfire, build two walls, and hire/equip a builder and an archer--after that, there's not much else to learn. Coins are the only resource in the game, and are used to create buildings, upgrade the settlement, hire workers, and buy tools. At night, mischevious green creatures scurry in to tear-down buildings and run away with tools (or brutally devour innocent townsfolk, as the game progresses). If one snatches the crown, that's it--time to start a new kingdom. This is a permadeath game.
Epistory - Typing Chronicles is an “atmospheric action/adventure game” from developer Fishing Cactus, available on Steam Early Access since September 30th. The game mechanics focus on two of my favorite things: typing long words as fast as possible and riding a giant fox. What more do you really need?
The basic premise of Epistory is that you’re a girl who’s lost her memory, and—again—you’re riding a giant fox. The forest is in danger, and it's the player's job to clean house by ridding of various patches of bramble and giant snakes. That was about as far as the narrative got in the time that I played, and there was no indication that it would get more elaborate than that, but possibilities abound in a title so early in development. Additional “chapters” of the game will be released over the course of its time in early access, leaving plenty of room for expansion through its 1Q16 release target.
Looks like Peter Piper decided to take a few days off, and all hell broke loose. Good job, Peter. Now five unfortunate souls have been thrust into the midst of one of the most brutal vermin infestations in Warhammer history!
That’s the premise of Vermintide: The End Times, developed by Fat Shark Games, and I couldn’t be happier.
It’s important to note that I am a little biased (a necessity of good game reviews), as I am a huge Warhammer and Warhammer 40k fan, but Vermintide is everything I could have asked for in a co-op survival thriller. From the very instant the game is loaded, I was filled with a sense of dread – every piece fits together to give the player a desperate, horror-filled experience without relying on cliché jump scares or a false sense of foreboding.
I've never understood why sports fans yell at the TV during a match – or, at least, I didn't until the eSports revolution. If that hadn't taught me the origin of this fruitless endeavor, Blood Bowl certainly would have. Few games can induce the rage-quitting fury exhibited by Blood Bowl 2 online players.
But that's OK. That's part of the game's charm, in the same way that it's part of FIFA's charm. Or, err, “charm.”
It's been five years since I've looked at Blood Bowl on the PC. The second iteration doesn't change the core ruleset – a game adapted from a tabletop predecessor in the Warhammer universe – but sees a number of changes made to the multiplayer and league support.
Undertale by Toby Fox is a genuinely creative and enjoyable RPG. Unreal Engine, CryEngine, Unity, RPGMaker (and, in this case, GameMaker) have made it much easier for indie developers to create games, but at the same time, much harder for them to stand out from the crowd. Undertale has no problems with that, however.
The basic backstory is explained thoroughly in the intro and on the website, but here's a quick recap: Undertale takes place in a world of two races – humans and "monsters" (a lot of them are pretty cute). At some point, the two fought a war that was easily won by the humans -- but now the year is 201X, and monsters have been sealed deep under Mount Ebott for ages. For some reason, you decide to climb the mountain and fall into the mouth of a deep cavern (to start your tale. Under it).
Windward ($15) is Tasharen Entertainment’s ode to Sid Meier’s Pirates!, inspired following a Meier GDC panel encouraging developers to reuse the elements of a game that they liked; Tasharen did just that.
Windward’s RPG, MMO, and real-time strategy elements are all wrapped-up in the knots of a sailing game. Players sail the seas of a randomly-generated map, controlling a single, upgradeable ship from an overhead view.