Friday 2 July 2010

Some Upcoming Games I'm Excited About: No. 6 - 4

This post continues the countdown of the commercial releases I hope are going to do fascinating things with interactive narrative over the coming year or so.

The story so far:
15. Privates
14. The Old Republic
13. I Am Alive
12. Brink
11. Kinect
10. The Last Guardian

8. Subversion
7. Journey
6. Fallout: New Vegas
Developer: Obsidian   Lead Designer: Chris Avellone   Release: 19th October 2010 Format: PC, 360, PS3

WTF is it?
The first major follow up to Bethesda's mixed series reboot moves the action back to the west coast and, more importantly, puts development back in the hands of one of the series' original bright lights, Chris Avellone and his team at Obsidian.

What's mind-bogglingly intoxicating?
- Avellone, along with a number of Obsidian staff, was a key player on Fallout 2. I often feel that modern RPGs (Fallout 3 included) have scaled back the complexity of their interactions in favour of polish, so a slight return to the more slapdash, frontier territory of yesterday would make for a welcome change.
- Obsidian has proven with projects like KOTOR II and Neverwinter Knights 2 that they know how to write. That'll be a relief for those who found the Bethesda's efforts to be strong in every area other than the most important one.

What's a little bit disquieting?
- If Obsidian have a reputation for one thing other than well-written sequels, it's for rushed and poorly polished sequels. Not necessarily their fault, but even Alpha Protocol - their first new IP - failed to break the cycle.

5. Portal 2
Developer: Valve   Lead Designer: Eric Johnson   Release: 2011   Format: PC, 360, PS3

WTF is it?
It's the only straight sequel that's made the list, that's what it is. Portal 2 was, from inception, a conscious decision by Valve to release a full progression of the formula, rather than go the episodic route. As such it's featuring new gameplay systems (including the paint gun from Tag, whose indie dev team has been brought into the Valve fold), co-op, and a host of schizophrenic GLaDOS sub programs.

What's mind-bogglingly intoxicating?
- Er... it's the sequel to one of the most touching, threatening, hilarious and inventive games of all time. And it's from Valve. And it's got new shit. And it's done when it's done. This is the only sequel (not counting Vegas above since it's an entirely new dev team) in the list because it's the only sequel I can't imagine being happy just doing the same thing over again.

What's a little bit disquieting?
- Kim Swift, the lead designer on the indie hit that later became Portal, left the studio last year.
- For all the brilliance of writing Portal displayed, in terms of delivery it was rarely a game that introduced anything new. But then, when the content is this good I guess that can be forgiven.

4. The Witness
Developer: Jonathan Blow   Lead Designer: Jonathan Blow   Release: Late 2011   Format: ?

WTF is it?
The designer's difficult second album. Mostly just technical info floating about at the moment, but he describes it as "An exploration-puzzle game on an uninhabited island." With programming input from indie game advocate and ex Spore developer, Chris Hecker (check out Spy Party), I'll be watching this one with interest.

What's mind-bogglingly intoxicating?
- I'd argue Braid had its flaws, but they weren't quite enough to get in the way of its invigorating combination of temporal platforming and attempts to integrate philosophical musings into the gameplay. Jonathan Blow has proven he's one of the foremost supporters of games as more than 'mere' entertainment - not only that, he's proven he can deliver.

What's a little bit disquieting?
- I'm going to go out on a limb and say I found Braid's in-game text a little pretentious. But that's hugely subjective, and at the end of the day I'm just glad games like Braid not only exist, but can shift serious copies.
- The screens look quite a lot like Myst.

Watch this space for the top 3 coming soon...


  1. Very much looking forward to The Witness - there's hardly a game I'm more excited about, certainly in terms of discovering what its actually key themes are going to be. Jon Blow said that this game idea stood out from all the others he has in his mind as demanding to be made first - I really want to find out why that is. I am now torn between following the development blog for any snippet of info I can get or avoiding it altogether so that the game is a fresh as possible for me.

  2. Good shout. I'll also be really interested to see what comes of the first game from

    If I know I'm going to buy a game no matter what, I avoid all previews and trailers from then on. In fact, I generally avoid previews and trailers after I've read the first one.