I’ve missed out on Roller Coaster Tycoon and its descendants, so I can’t compare Parkitect to those games. What I can say is that it is delightful and non-threatening, and playing it has typically left me feeling pleasantly drowsy and contented, the way I might after wandering around a brightly-lit midway, munching a corn dog covered in mustard in a gauzy childhood memory of the carnival.
Frozen Synapse 2 is a welcome return to the intensely micromanaged turn-based tactical battles that made the original so compelling. The asynchronous multiplayer is unquestionably the star of the show, and queuing up multiple online games at once means you're never stuck waiting for an opponent, and that you can play at your own pace. But while the new City Game story mode is conceptually interesting, in practice the largely scripted sequence of story missions doesn't allow for much in the way of meaningful gameplay depth.
What's struck me most about my time with Vampyr is that it manages to turn you into a predator through its mechanics as much as it does with its storytelling. It does collapse under its own weight by the end, but the fact that it so effectively seduces you, almost trance-like, into roleplaying a villain makes it worth biting into.
Shadwen has a lot of dings and dents – a superfluous crafting and loot system, unreliable physics, poor AI, and a fairly one-note aesthetic, and a brief campaign – but it manages to entertain nonetheless with its devil-may-care approach to puzzle solving and a heroine who’s actually a rather horrible, stabby bastard.
Add in a terrific soundtrack by Command & Conquer composer Frank Klepacki, and that’s 8-Bit Armies – it’s a small, tightly-designed RTS geared toward genre newcomers that doesn’t offer much in the way of gimmicky flash or weird new asymmetric factions, but counters with an easy-to-use design with just enough moving pieces to make it a great first step for players who are RTS-curious but intimidated by the likes of StarCraft 2 or Total War.
[W]hile I loved the atmosphere, the setting, and the aesthetic of The Flame in the Flood, I never got that "one more run" feeling I've gotten from other roguelites like Isaac or Spelunky. It's possible that the game's pace is a bit off, or that I haven't quite figured out the "correct" way to play it.
Cobalt could definitely use a bit more documentation or a more fleshed-out tutorial to explain the many systems it throws at you from the outset, and the gameplay never feels as tight as, say, Super Meat Boy, but it's full of its own weird, clunky charm and certainly has a high skill ceiling for those interested in mastering it. Imagine R2-D2 in Mark of the Ninja – that's Cobalt.
Playing it was a trial for me every time I fired it up – the firehose of outdated pop culture references and toilet humor made me feel like Alex DeLarge undergoing the Ludovico Technique in A Clockwork Orange. Should I ever find myself on stage for a robot game show in the 26th century, I'll opt for lethal injection instead.
In any case, Armello is a remarkable achievement. Instead of simply transferring a board game experience to the TV or computer screen, developer League of Geeks has managed to escape the boundaries of the board game format using modern innovation. Arthur C. Clarke suggested that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, and in that light, Armello is quite definitely magical.
So I think of Armikrog as a tragic point-and-click adventure. It's sad because of what it might have been, and because it might have lent itself to further episodes set in Tommynaut's delightfully retro universe. But given the state of the game before us, I can't imagine we'll be visiting it again any time soon.
These warts considered, Might & Magic Heroes VII isn't enough of a refinement over VI to justify purchase if you already own that game. It's unfriendly to newcomers to the series, with nothing that qualifies as a tutorial included out of the box. And fans of the old games may find themselves put off by all the unnecessary visual flash. But devoted fans of the series will certainly find lots to do with the latest entry.
Having played lots of the classic adventure games in the '90s, I find myself now completely bereft of nostalgia for them. Games, I've felt, have generally moved on and found better ways to impart an experience of "adventure." But Dropsy is deftly executed and so full of genuine heart and warmth that it overcame my cold-hearted distaste for the form. It's sweet without ever being saccharine, tells a story that disturbs without ever resorting to cynicism, and ultimately is disarmingly uplifting.