There was a time on this blog when I did previews and recommended games and things, and that time is returning... NOW! I've been stuck in exams and The Swapper crunch for the last month or three, but no longer.
Every week I play games that are worth writing about. I rarely actually write because the internet is full of such things, and actually lists are a bit time consuming to write; but it is worth doing if even one person comes here and is sold on a game they'd not gotten around to yet, so here we go. These are the games that stirred that childhood emotion inside me of wonder and delight over the last year.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown
My word does XCOM make me realise how much TBS fans have been hard done by over the past decade, and how glad I am those days are over. Frozen Synapse reinvigorated my interest in the genre, and games like Memoir '44
, Hero Academy
and Rad Soldiers
have been sustaining it. XCOM well and truly sates it.
It's hard not to admit that a big part of XCOM's appeal is in the looks (especially with the HD mods
). The cover system is similar in function to Rad Soldiers' (though far more nuanced than), but seeing your people actually dashing for cover in roadie-cam, being pinned down by suppressing fire and shying away from incoming fire actually makes me feel like a commander. Sure the animation and clipping is still seriously rough really quite frequently, but who cares?
The meta-game deserves mention as well. While it's not as involved as the classics, it does a decent enough job of representing to you the global view, and the dramatic progress that you're making. I love the X-Com experience more than anything because it's holistic: I don't feel like I'm playing a game, I feel like I'm defending the world from aliens.
If I'm honest, I've not booted Don't Starve since it officially released. It hit that point for me where I hadn't played in a while, and I couldn't bring myself to make the reinvestment in the perma-death only to starve gruesomely yet again. Don't Starve, it's true, has a bunch of features that distance me from it. There's not enough hand-holding for me - I like feedback from a game that I'm doing something significant, even if it's only a few lines of text. There's a bit of grind in the Minecraft-y elements as well, and frankly clicking on tiles all day so I can make my garden more aesthetically pleasing isn't the sort of activity I'm ever likely to engage in voluntarily.
None of this is to say I didn't thoroughly enjoy the hours I put in during the beta. I love Don't Starve because it's one of the best survival games I've played. I love dynamic systems, I love fleshed out worlds, and Don't Starve's nightmare wilderness is at once fascinating, fluid and convincing.
Quite apart from its lovely aesthetic, Journey was an important game for me for its 'co-op'. By eliminating almost all interaction, and then placing players in that beautiful, ever shifting desert Journey achieves that most difficult of goals: it takes the general awfulness of people on the internet and turns it into something wonderful. Okay, perhaps the way I've described this makes Journey a sort of lobotomy: take all the tools away from people and they've got no choice but to be nice; but play through the game to the end with someone you'll never know and tell me you didn't appreciate it.
Part 2 next week.