Anno 1800 could have been any one of a hundred shades of mediocre, and I would have had a much lighter, breezier time talking about it. But whether I end up adding it to my list of perennial must-plays, or retiring it in despair at the whimsical capering of Captain Bumeggs, it’s an undisputed heavyweight, and an experience I’d recommend to anyone.
Plutarch said of Alexander the Great: “when Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept, for there were no more worlds to conquer.” If anything, my experience of Imperator: Rome has left me feeling the exact opposite: I want to weep, as I know I will never find the time to conquer everything this game has to offer.
This just wasn’t for me. Ultimately, there’s only so excited I can get by the prospect of being (let’s all say it in Chod’s awed whisper) an entrepreneur. Maybe I’m just becoming more prone to escapism as I age, but there’s just not much of a thrill for me in getting really, really efficient at flogging grape juice and tables to people.
After finishing with Druidstone, I found it interesting to think how much less of a game it might have been if its developers had gone through with early plans to make levels procedurally generated. While a more random, improvisational version of Druidstone might have appealed to my appetite for turn-based tactical games, and might – in fairness – have been more replayable, I suspect I would have enjoyed it less, and gotten bored before the end.
Brilliant though it is, [Oxygen Not Included] is an ordeal. It’s satisfying, but it’s stressful. I’d even go so far as to say – and here I risk invoking the scorn of the Legion of Geniuses, who wait in the darkness beyond the comment section – it’s a little bit too hard.
Don’t make the mistake I nearly made and disregard it: if you enjoy the tactical and strategic game styles it draws from, you’ll find a game that doesn’t go out of its way to innovate on either front, but one that performs a bloody lovely duet.
It’s not my favourite play of all time by any means, and I may never come back to it after my fascination fades. Even so, if I’m asked to come up with an example of a genuinely unique experience that shows what games are capable of in 2019, this is the block my internal Wilmot will bring forward from the tangled stacks of my memory.
Planet Zoo is a game where you can build your own zoo. It’s buggy, intermittently opaque, frequently saccharine, and – barring an eleventh hour miracle – it’s my undisputed game of the year. Because here’s the thing: it’s a game where you can build your own zoo. And by thunder, it delivers on that promise.
Given the scarcity of successors, then, I see no reason why Microsoft shouldn’t just keep making this game bigger and bigger and bigger, lumping all the bits together every few years and slapping it down with nicer animations, until it’s got ten thousand missions and includes “Dudley” as a civilisation because they ran out of ideas. That would be fine by me. Long live the (Age of) King(s)
I’ve not been a professional games reviewer for that long, and I’m not ashamed to admit I was frightened by the prospect of offering my opinion, publically, on a work of this size and importance. Truly, this is a Monday to hate more than any other.
Frog Detective 2 is a game you can hold in your head all at once, and cherish. I think it’s great.
Here is a completely unhyped, completely straightforward expansion – in the old-school sense of the term – that adds a few strong new systems to the game, as well as a whole bunch of new variables to feed into its various narrative generation mechanics. And thanks to the endlessly repeatable, emergence-focused creature that RimWorld is, it’s enough to completely refresh your sense of compulsion, even if you felt you’d done it all to death with RimWorld 1.0.