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Game of Year Roundup 2013

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I could use this time of year to make a boring old top 10 list, or you know give out awards that make sense. Instead you get this. A bit of weird nonsense (but totally true nonsense) followed up with my actual game of year.

Best Co-op Game I played in Single player

Monaco What's Yours is Mine

I ended up playing a little bit of online with the Halloween update and a bunch since then, but up till recently I played the entire game alone. I played it much more as a stealth game than most people probably did so working solo helped that goal somewhat. It seems like co-op games are destined to turn into utter absurdity pretty quickly. That game is still excellent playing alone but it really does shine when playing with people and everything goes wrong.

Game that exists on this list only for me to shake my head at before moving on

Brothers a Tale of Two Sons

Moving on then! Okay fine I'll just say this, it's a super interesting game that should be really remembered for what it does control wise. And then should be scorned for what it does narratively because it's kind of terrible.

Favourite Achievement

Hate Plus

I baked a cake! Okay, a small glass ramekin of a cake but still! As it turns out it's hard to bake when you lack baking equipment. Not sure what I would've made if I had flour but I probably would've made more cake than I did, because you know cake. Also Hate Plus is a really cool visual novel, that mixes in a lot of real life stuff with it. So one of the characters asks you to look in your kitchen to check if you had baking stuff and I immediately said no and she immediately scolded me saying that wasn't enough time for me to actually go into my kitchen and check...

You should probably play the previous game, Analogue a Hate Story if you want to play Hate Plus. It directly follows on from that last game so it probably doesn't make a whole lot of sense without it. But it's a really interesting story that even though you know how it's all going to pan out in the end, it's much more about how that place ended up the way it did.

Most Laughs and Best Demo

The Stanley Parable

Hands down funniest game I played this year. Also best demo that's super weird because it isn't a demo at all and is just it's own thing. Absolutely go play the demo regardless of if you intend to play the full game, it's completely separate to the main game so just play it anyway.

The Stanley Parable does a lot of really good comedy and just general taking the piss out of video game structure. It's well worth playing through to see as many of the endings as you can. Even though I played the original mod there's still plenty in the game that was new and much of it has been improved a lot since that Half-Life 2 mod.

The narrator is the one that brings that humour to the game and is just a treat to have along to guide/snark at you. It's just wonderfully well done how many lines there are in the game and how they call to various things that you do. Also there's an achievement for clicking on a door 10 times. Try it out. That one's pretty great. You'll probably need to lookup how to get every ending but even then it's still worth seeing as much as you can.

Game I didn't play that I enjoyed the most

DOTA 2

Image From: http://store.steampowered.com/app/570/

I never really got into the original DOTA I played a few games years ago and I played a tiny bit of League and then went I don't like these games and just quit. DOTA 2 is just not a game that I'm interested in playing and sinking the time to learn it properly. That said I watched The International and watching that just kind of incredible. That game is an absolute wonder to watch pro teams just do crazy things that require so much skill and coordination to pull off.

Starcraft 2 Heart of the Swarm is still my eSports game of choice when it comes to watching. I'm more familiar with the game, I know how that game works and I've been following it for much longer. Still just super cool to watch how DOTA 2 and all that stuff plays out from the sidelines.

Game of the Year

Gone Home

Probably one of the easiest Game of the Year choices I've had in a good long while. It's a game that's full of heart. I could go on about how clever the environmental storytelling is in that game. There's just so much in that game that is just in the background for you to find, that the game doesn't telegraph, that it just expects you to look and try and connect the dots for yourself.

It's weird how much a game that boils down to walking around and picking up stuff actually gets. The voice acting keeps Sam's story at the forefront the entire time though and it's just lovely the whole way through.

It's hard for me to say how well that resonates with people of different ages, I'm a little bit younger than the generation of folks to who probably relate to Gone Home much more. And I think a lot of what makes makes the game great is that it has touched so many people on a deep personal level. I read a lot about how people felt about the game and it was all really wonderful to hear about how these different people reacted to different parts of the game.

Like the Stanley Parable, Gone Home uses your expectations against you. The former uses it to get laughs out of you, but Gone Home uses it to just tell you just a bit more about life at the Greenbriar household. Sometimes that family life is mundane, sometimes it totally sucks and other times it's just beautiful and those are the parts of the game that still stick in my memory and that's awesome.

Other notable games for me this year

XCOM: Enemy Within - This game was awesome before, expansion just makes it even better

Metro Last Light - Awesome dark atmosphere, makes me long for a new STALKER game. Really creepy depictions of women that half feel like they fit and half a measure of we wanted an excuse to have breasts in this video game

Papers, Please - Moral choices, like actual ones where you make hard decisions about do you do a good deed only to not have money to feed your family for the night

Antichamber - Kind of peters out towards the end but there are some great puzzles that force you to think in really strange ways to solve them

Strike Suit Infinity - The much better follow up from Strike Suit Zero, it's just some really excellent space shooting freed from the really terrible missions that plagued the original game

Depression Quest - The second 'I will never play this game' on my list. Super important though.

Race the Sun - Kind of an endless runner using a solar powered hovership and you chase the sun. Super well made and great for doing a couple of runs between other things.

Eurogamer Expo 2013

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One of these days I will get to go to a gaming expo in this country for not work. It's been a while :P. On the flip side it's awesome to get to talk to people about Prison Architect particularly with people that have bought the game and are enjoying it. On the down side, bloody hell my legs hurt hell right now. I try not to sit down too much so that it looks like I'm willing to talk to people, but my normal job usually involves sitting on my butt for the entire day so standing up for four days with few breaks hurts. I also got to see some games this year too! Far less than I would've liked, didn't get to check out the indie arcade section which is a separate section that has a bunch of smaller indies but always has cool stuff to show off. Didn't even get hands on with new consoles or Oculus HD which would've been fun to do but ah well. Now I'm going to talk about some of the things I did get to see, unsurprisingly they were all within like a 20 meter radius from our booth.

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Volume
I suck at stealth games. Mike Bithell's next game doesn't make me not suck at stealth games. At the beginning of one of the levels I dropped the Beagle noisemaker at my feet attracting a guard who promptly filled me with bullets. It seems like it could be a cool game, it's fairly fast paced as far as stealth games, not quite as fast as something like Monaco but it's not super methodical either.

War For The Overworld
A spiritual successor to Dungeon Keeper and it really shows. There are differences between that old game and this one, but the core of digging out tunnels and excavating to make rooms to attract creatures into your lair are very much in this game. They had a pair of levels on the floor but I only had time to get through the tutorial. It's on Steam Early Access right now, it's still fairly early but there's enough of a chunk to see where they want to go with it. Hoping for great things from them.

Frozen Endzone
Similar to Mode 7's previous game Frozen Synapse. Turn based game but the turns play out simultaneously. Thematically it's robot rugby, I don't know the rules to that game. Similarly I didn't get time to figure out how you really play and I was there in the morning before the Mode 7 guys were at the booth so I ran the ball into my own end zone by accident. Oops.

Redshirt
As someone that uses Twitter and not Facebook, this game is super weird. It takes the idea that you are on a space station and you spend most of your time on Spacebook to make friends, relationships and also schmooze your way into the good graces of other people. Unfortunately for you, you also happen to wear a redshirt so if you value life you wish to avoid ever being on an away mission. It's really interesting. Also when I put the headphones on I burst out laughing because the opening music is all kinds of perfect.

And because I can't end this post on a positive note, I did hear that there was a transphobic incident on the last day of the show which is super shitty. Eurogamer were made aware of it and it seems like they've been good about it but the damage is kind of done the second it happens. The folk at Eurogamer have done their best to make it a welcoming show so it sucks to hear that awfulness manages to creep in despite that.

Not super in depth on anything in this post but I got back earlier tonight and just sat down and did nothing for an hour and that felt lovely. Wanted to write something just to wrap up the show. And now to sleep.

Games I've been playing - Gone Home + Hate Plus

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I've been playing a few games recently, just kind of want to write a bit about Gone Home and Hate Plus. I'll try to avoid massive spoilers but both are story based games so minor spoilers incoming I guess.

Gone Home
So this is a wonderful game that I've kind of been gushing about. Less so now because well that was like two weeks ago, but it's awesome and you should play it. I definitely think that going in as cold as possible is the way to play that game. It's a first person walk around and explore game. You play as Kaitlin Greenbriar, you've just arrived to the new mansion that your family moved into while you were travelling through Europe. What you do is go through this mansion, look around, pick up objects, letters, notes, cassettes (because it's set in 1995 where those things still existed) and through that and some lovely voiced monologues from your younger sister learn about what has been going on with your family this past year.

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For me it was just a beautiful story and it's one of the best uses of environmental storytelling I've ever seen. It's not really interested in hand holding you, the game trusts you to connect many of the threads of the story together. Your sister's tale is told to you fairly straight forwardly, but if you miss one of the items with an attached audio monologue it doesn't give you any indication that was the case. What's going on with your parents however is never explicitly told but there's enough to piece together what's going on with both of them. Grrr..hard to say more without diving into actual spoiler territory.

There have been some people that have said that $20 is expensive for it, I don't think it is. I mean if your gaming budget is looking for something that needs to last a month or whatever then sure fine, wait on this one. But Gone Home has certainly been one of the most emotionally affecting games I've ever played. And it's something that doesn't have any fluff to it, you are constantly finding new things, reading and listening to your sister's story. Is the game only 2-3 hours, yeah but for me it was an incredibly valuable 2-3 hours and it's certainly a game that has stuck with me.

Hate Plus
A Visual Novel, direct sequel to Analogue: A Hate Story. In short it's really well written and kind of wonderful, also this happened.

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If you're wondering what exactly happened here, I baked a cake for a video game character, because I promised I would do so. Admittedly it was a pretty shoddily made cake because as it turns out, I didn't have some of the ingredients one normally associates with chocolate cake. For example plain chocolate, cocoa powder and you know, flour. In short it's a flourless chocolate and coffee cake using Ferrero Rocher as the base. It was actually surprisingly tasty, slightly too heavy on the coffee and it's certainly not the most presentable cake I've ever made.

It's also got a kind of strange save system, you only have a certain number of things that you can read per day. So after you're done you save the game and then that save file gets like a 12 hour lock on it so that you need to wait till the the day after while you're just "But I want to know what happens!". The reasoning fits in nicely narratively, so I don't mind too much, but in some ways it is just a tiny bit frustrating.

They haven't been the only two games I've been playing but both are super interesting and have gotten me to care about fictional characters in a way that I don't normally. Hate Plus (and Analogue: A Hate Story) is mostly just reading, but there are more than enough interactive elements to let you role play in that world. These aren't the only two games that I've been playing over the last couple weeks, just the two I most wanted to talk about.

Free Design - Plants vs. Zombies 2

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Plants vs. Zombies 2 came out recently, and unlike its predecessor it's a free to play game. It has been released as an iOS exclusive instead of a $10 PC and Mac game, EA/PopCap have said that it will come to other platforms in the future. When this was first announced people were, to put it mildly, not happy with that bit of info. Here's the good news, the game doesn't attempt to massively gouge you and all of the levels can be played and unlocked without paying any money. On the flip side there have been additions and changes to the game design that almost certainly wouldn't have been made had this just been a buy to play game.

Slight side note, Plants vs. Zombies on iOS is a $1 game with in app purchases. It wasn't originally that price and the IAPs were added much later, I think around the same time as it dropped down to the $1 price. The transition to F2P makes more sense with that context in mind.

The original game was a simplified tower defence game, taking the elements of traditional tower defence and compressing them down to its barest essentials. Largely that remains intact in the sequel, you still use sunflowers to generate sun and you plant peashooters, wall-nuts and other plants to fight off the zombie hoard. The two main new features to this are plant food and special powers. Plant food is dropped by some zombies and can be used to give a one off boost to a specific plant, put it on a sunflower, it immediate drops lots of sun, peashooter and it'll do huge damage to its lane. The powers all use the touchscreen, but they are all variations of temporarily use gestures to kill lots of the zombies.


Both of these can be bought using coins, this used to be the only currency in PvZ and was used to purchase upgrades and unlock new plants, now these boosts are the only thing they are used for. This has two effects, one is that using one of the powers or buying plant food is the equivalent of a cheat, it breaks the balance of the level. The other is that it needlessly complicates the gameplay which was always supposed to be simple and elegant. Adding in these mechanics doesn't make the game more deep, just more complicated. The powers don't fit in as a core mechanic because it's gated by the use of coins and it doesn't feed into the core gameplay of balancing out the use of offensive plants and resource generating sunflowers. Plant food is dropped by certain zombies during a level but the way that you use it is either as a get out of jail free card in an emergency, or to just generate more sun. In both games you can buy coins using real money, all of the things that can be bought in PvZ2 with coins are single use items.

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As in the original you unlock plants through playing through the campaign and you get a steady stream of new plants. Some plants are locked behind pay walls, most notably the Snow Pea and Torchwood. The Snow Pea was a staple of your defence in PvZ because it had the slow effect and single handedly made a lane much safer than it otherwise would've been. Torchwood was used to buff already existing defences with extra damage and the two were mutually exclusive in their usefulness. A flaming pea would render any slowed zombie back to full speed so you were forced to choose between the extra damage or the slow. Both are available in the store for two pounds fifty, each. The selection of plants you have available to you and the plants that you choose to take with you determines how you intend to play out the level. Having neither of the two more important plants from the previous game behind a paywall (they aren't currently available by any other means) is fairly limiting.

In the original there were five different arenas and they all followed a similar pattern, four standard levels, one mini-game, four more standard levels and then a boss level. In PvZ 2 this ls largely the same, except you now have an over world map. And a lot more mini-games. In the original these were always put outside the main game and while they are still somewhat off the main line of levels, they are much more prominently displayed as well as being significantly more valuable to progressing through the game. Calling it an overworld map is slightly misleading in that there isn't really any freedom in the map, what you have is a main path and then a series of upgrades/plants behind locked gates. These gates require keys to unlock, which are randomly dropped during play. Finishing the boss level on a world I had amassed all of 3 keys, which is just enough to unlock the cheapest door.

PvZ2WildWestMapNear.jpg

This wouldn't be a problem if it was only the mini-games behind those gates except many upgrades and plants are behind these gates. The original had some plants and upgrades be unlocked using coins, but in general it's much slower to get the keys to unlock all of the upgrades than it was in the original to buy them with coins.

The bigger problem with progression is that when you finish a boss world you can't immediately progress to the next world. Instead it gives you a giant gate with a Star unlock, the second world takes 15 Stars to unlock and 30 Stars are needed to unlock the third. Stars are also spent to unlock the next world so you'll need a total of 45 to unlock all the main levels are currently in the game. Getting Stars involves going back and replaying previous levels and you can only get one star per run through level. This essentially means that you're playing through the same levels over and over again just to get to the next bit of content. They try to change it up by adding challenges to the levels to get the stars, but it's been designed this way in order to slow down the speed at which you progress through the main content. If you just want to move on you can always just pay around four pounds to just unlock it immediately. This destroys the pacing of the game's progression, you go from unlocking new plants and new zombie types at a steady pace for 10 levels, to grinding out those same levels just to get to the next world.

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Some of the upgrades have been moved to pay walls as well. There are duplicates of all the paid upgrades on the world map, but it all stacks. Buying an additional seed slot will boost your seed total to eight at max (eight was the max number of seeds in the original). New upgrades have been added to the game like getting refund sun when using the shovel, so you end up getting about the same number of upgrades as you did before. But having eight seed slots instead of six or seven meant you could carry much more variety into a level. It allowed you to carry more one of use plants like the cherry bomb, or maybe multiple plants that served the same purpose, like having both the Wall-nut and Tall-nut so that you have two different walls on cooldown.

Plants vs. Zombies 2 is not a bad game, by any stretch. Is it as good a game as the original? No, not at all. There's a lot of talk about how some games do the free to play model right and wrong and there have been many people that have said that PvZ 2 is an example of it being done right. I disagree with that assessment because they've changed the design of the game massively to accommodate that business model and as a result much of what made that game as great as it was has been eaten away at. Plants vs. Zombies 2 doesn't attempt to gouge money from you at every opportunity, but if that's the standard we're using for doing Free 2 Play right, then the Free 2 Play space is going to continue to be filled with games that don't respect players and their time.

Civilized History Lessons

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I never much liked learning history in school. Mostly I found the class to be rather dull, punctuated by occasional tidbits of information that were fun and interesting. It wouldn't be until a few years later that I would figure out why I was at times fascinated in learning historical facts and stories in my free time while at the same time being utterly bored by the same subject in class. Some of this was in part to school history curriculum just not being particularly interesting

I played a lot of Total War when I was a teenager and I got into playing Civilization a little bit after that. In Civilization there is a lot of stuff to digest, you can play it without getting too deep into everything but when you start digging into planning strategies you will probably end up plumbing the depths of the in built Civilopedia. It's an in game encyclopaedia of sorts, which addition to giving you the specifics on how the mechanics work also gives you a small brief on the real history behind the thing you were looking up.

CivVCivilopedia.jpg

It has really great bios on the civilisations, the technologies, units. The information that is relevant to how to play the game is immediately apparent, but right below that information is that brief that you can just read if you choose to. I ended up in the Civilopedia because I wanted to learn how to play the game properly, but it's so easy to start at 'What civilisation best fits how I want to play?' to end up just reading about the early life of Ghandi. Firaxis have done a good job of condensing the history into relatively short pieces, but there's enough there that it does inspire that interest beyond the game.

Looking at Civ from a more mechanical point of view, what it teaches is a bit of a double edged sword. The tech tree follows a lot of what real life history was like. Mostly. The first technology in the game, which you get for free, is Agriculture. Agriculture was the basis for pretty much all civilisations around the world and was developed independently of each other. It was that idea that allowed to create cities, it allowed people to create a food surplus that could sustain higher populations. Prior to the agricultural revolution most, if not everyone was a hunter or forager of some kind, which doesn't really allow for populations to grow to large sizes, because a large population would eat out it's local area much faster than the land would naturally provide.

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It also showed that the development of technology around the world didn't progress at the same pace. The Mayans who in addition to not predicting the end of the world, built massive stone structures and developed a base twenty number system and understood that the number 0 is super important to mathematics. And they did all of this without ever having developed metal working. On the flip side some technologies just weren't available to some cultures, not within their local environment anyway. While many parts of the world developed the bow and arrow, many places couldn't. Not all wood can be used to make bows and without trade and transport of more suitable materials the technology just wasn't ever an option for some early civilisations. Raw materials put a fairly hard limit on what technologies were able to be developed by some civilisations, without our vast international trade and infrastructure much of what we rely on in our modern day lives just wouldn't be possible.

There are also some rather unfortunate implications for what the game teaches you although that bit is perhaps more indicative of who I am as a leader. Unlike real life, Civilization has a number of victory conditions that players try to win the game with. In reality the win condition for a civilisation boils down to don't get your population killed. Debatable by some but lets move on. Much of how Civ works is that it encourages the use of large expansive empires. The concept of not using empires as a form of government is actually relatively new as far as humans are concerned, explaining why the United Kingdom still owns a not so small chunk of Antartica*.

In Civ one of the best ways to gain power in the early game is through the use of military force. Against whom? Well, everyone. Other major powers and budding empires to be. And also the nearby barbarian** encampments who don't take too kindly to your encroaching expansionism. It seems the locals to that area don't take too kindly to other people coming in and taking their land. But Civ, particularly Civ V, does encourage this kind of expansionism. If you take more land you have more stuff that you can use. You have more people, you can produce more stuff and you can use that stuff to take more land. Empire building in a nutshell. The only thing that can stop you is, well, another Empire. To be fair to Civilization this kind of expansionism, conquest and just owning lots of land mimics much of, it precludes the possibility that there could've been another method of government that might have worked but didn't for whatever reason. Ancient Greece for example was an alliance of independent city states although one could argue that was an alliance of mini-empires. Being entirely peaceful in the early stages of the game is pretty much impossible.

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While Civilization hardly attempts to directly teach history, there is plenty of real history learning that exists in the game. Both on a gameplay mechanical level as well as a little bit more explicitly with the Civilopedia. What the game does though more than anything is that it wraps all of it up and makes it interesting. The game itself is so much fun to play that it makes the idea of learning more about how these things work and how they came to exist in the real world, fun and interesting.

If you're interested in history at all I have to recommend the YouTube channel Crash Course. 40 Episodes of World History alongside other subjects like Chemistry, Biology and Literature. I might do a part 2 of this post into about how I'm just an awful person when playing Civ, but I'll stick to the Civ makes history fun, awesome and interesting vibe for the moment!

*Kind of untrue, lookup British Oversees Territory for the wonderful complexities of that

**The word barbarian originating from Ancient Greece meaning not Greek

A Little Bit Of: The Swapper + Rezzed 2013

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Stationed with yourself.

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The Swapper is a pretty cool puzzle game. I've since finished the game. It does get quite a bit harder as the game progresses, I managed to get myself pretty stuck on some of the later puzzles. That said I don't think any of the puzzles are absurdly difficult, there are a couple of tricks that apply to some of the puzzles that once you use it once I managed to complete a three or four of them almost immediately after skipping over them.

You do need to finish all the puzzles to complete the game but you can progress to later areas after only completing a subset of them. The story stuff is midly interesting, the story of what's happened to this abandoned station doesn't really payoff, it's all right, it's good enough to get me pushing on but it's a bit disappointing.

In other news I spent this weekend at a PC and indie games expo in Birmingham called Rezzed. It was a fun show, one of these days I won't be working at one of the booths so I can actually go play some of the games that are on the show floor. There were lots of interesting games like, Redshirts, Gone Home, Tengami, Sir You Are Being Hunted among others. And I got to play none of those. Hotline Miami 2 was opposite where we were and I would've played it if the booth wasn't always surrounded by people.

I did manage to play the incredibly weird Revenge of the Sunfish 2. I don't care for that game, it banks far too much on being weird and catching you off guard that far too little attention has been put into making any other component of that game compelling. Played Rome 2 because as it turns out when you bring like 16 machines it's pretty easy to get on one of them late on the last day. That game plays like a Total War game, the mixed naval combat I didn't much get into simply because the scenario they had just favoured me landing my troops immediately and sacrificing my remaining navy.

I really enjoy these shows, my job often involves sitting at home alone coding. So actually getting to talk to people face to face that have bought or played the game I work on or even just the people that are just learning about Prison Architect for the first time is pretty awesome.

A Little Bit Of: Gunpoint

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Stealthy electrician.

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This is a pretty cool stealth puzzle game, it's a pretty short game lasting 2-3 hours but it's good fun. The idea of the cross link is pretty clever and it's used in interesting ways. You can setup pretty complicated things to happen all with just a single flick of a light switch.

You could do that of course but almost none of the levels demand that kind of complexity, which is a bit of a shame. Narratively it comes to a close at just about the right time, but from a puzzles and mechanics point of view it feels like there could have been a whole lot more. There is a level editor included but the game just came out so it's hard to say if anything will come of it.

That said it's also not an expensive game, it's like $10 from the developer website and it's good fun while it lasts. I'm also a big fan of the dialogue, it's funny and non-sensical in a way that I really appreciate.

A Little Bit Of: Don't Starve

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Alternate titles include don't get stabbed, eaten or set on fire.

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A survival roguelike game with perma death. That also contains lots of things that are going to kill you. I think the game is really good. They're still adding features even since the game has been out, but that also leads into one of the game's major problems. Back when there wasn't a lot of items in the game you could figure out things in some sort of reasonable fashion. That just isn't the case any more, you have different tiers of research station and you can come across things that you've never seen before within 5 minutes of starting a new world that you had never seen before even if you had been playing a separate game for hours on end.

While you can survive the first couple days, it unfortunately all but forces the use of a wiki to play the game to any degree of success. There's some fun to be had fumbling around, but you don't really get better understanding of how the world works after you get the basics.

That said there's a lot to do, from setting up farmland, walls and structures to help you survive the night. Crafting walls to help you survive against later attacks, all while needing to venture out into the world and get more materials or explore to find valuable materials to bring back to your base camp. It's also risky, do you set up a temporary camp to keep yourself out at night or do you spend a good deal of time travelling back to a place relative safety.

Game also has a great art style to it. If you're willing to sink a good number of hours into the game then you'll probably get a lot out of it. But prepare to die early and often in the beginnings of the game, failing to meet the game's objective of don't starve is the least of your problems in that world.

A Little Bit Of: Strike Suit Infinity + Review

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Waves in Space

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My review is here! http://entertainium.org/pc/strike-suit-infinity-review/

But in short I enjoyed this game a great deal more than I did Born Ready's last game Strike Suit Zero. That last game had the major flaw of having some terrible mission design that sucked out so much of the fun that the good parts of that game have to offer. Infinity goes for just a pure combat wave based survial mode and as a result it's a good deal more fun.

It does still have some of the problems of the original, combat awareness and targeting still aren't ideal. You don't get a good impression of what's around you and your only warning that you've boosted into a group of enemies is you dying rather rapidly. Also the default nearest enemy targeting is also fairly useless, it prioritises selecting the objective usually favouring capital ships. You can change that so that it prioritises torpedos, or strike craft, but it's of little comfort having to toggle between them when what you really want is select the nearest thing trying to kill me. The default setup makes mines all but impossible to deal with and given that a mine hit almost kills you in one hit makes the default target selection even more silly.

Anyway beyond that it's probably one of the best space combat around, not a huge amount of competition in that space right now. But it's a good deal of fun and it's like five quid on Steam.

A Little Bit Of: Monaco What's Yours Is Mine

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Monaco's mischievous marauders.

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Monaco is great. I still haven't had a chance to play it as a co-op game which is unfortunate. The game looks great, the greyscale blueprints compared with the coloured world provides a great contrast for you to know what's in your line of sight, as well as where various items and security systems are.

Music is also rather good, Austin Wintory the composer for Journey has made more wonderful music. It does a lot to pace your own mood from sneaking around in vents to the mayhem that ensues after you inevitably set off an alarm.

I really love how all of the classes have their own distinct advantage to the point that the all feel overpowered in some way. I found the locksmith to be my least favourite, going through locks quickly is decent because it means you don't get stuck behind doors and also makes for faster runs through levels but I just didn't find it as useful.