There’s another way to look at War Hospital which is as some sort of RPG/visual novel. I think this change would actually benefit the themes of the story. There are already existing characters in the story. They are where the game comes closest to realizing its vision. The randomly generated patients by comparison, all feel like unimportant NPCs. War Hospital is all about taking on a role, but you express yourself through tactical decisions. If I spent less time choosing the mortal fates of random named guys, maybe I could have spent more time learning to be Major Henry Wells.
I plan to spend a lot more time with The Iron Oath. In fact, it gets a rare stamp of honor. Even fantastic games can grow old once you’ve played and reviewed it. With The Iron Oath, there’s still so much more for me to learn and see. In fact, I think it’s going to remain installed on my PC for a long while. I can’t foresee another game coming for the merc management throne for a long time.
Having spent many hours on Infinite, I think I’ve seen all I need to see. Expansions and DLC might bring me back, but now we are talking about gating content behind another paywall. That sounds less enticing to me, especially when there is a more interesting mod available for free. Someone patiently waiting for new Star Trek games will definitely have some fun puzzling through Star Trek: Infinite, but I think I am probably going to go back over that New Horizon.
Total War games spent so much time trying to do more. There are countless clever strategy games out there, but this series always prided itself on having a massive scale. Pharaoh totally changes that formula as it scales down and rethinks the gameplay flow of the series. Everyone has their favorite Total War game (mine for the record is the original Rome Total War). I’m sure that someone out there will be quite unhappy with some of the Total War changes. But from where I sit as a long-time player, Pharaoh is a total blast, and has me more excited for the future of the series than ever before.
I cannot lie, the world of Dune is one of my favorites, and any chance to visit Arrakis is a welcome one. Despite a its significance to gaming as a whole, there aren’t a lot of Dune games out there. Spice Wars is the kind of power struggle fantasy game that we’ve been seeing for decades, but its a winning formula. Sure Spice Wars might mostly be porting over a lot of the mechanics from Northgard and dressing them up with a new coat of paint, but it’s an incredible court of paint. If you were distraught to learn that the second Dune movie will be pushed back into next year, Spice Wars will probably hold you over until the big day for the big worms.
I am reminded of Sid Meier’s often repeated quote: “games are a series of interesting decisions.” I never really felt that my decisions were all that interesting in Astronaut: The Best. Either the course of action is fairly obvious, or it’s totally opaque. Click a button, find out what happens next. But then I keep looking at images from the game, which reminds me how consistent the whole experience is. I appreciate the wild swing, but ultimately, I don’t think Astronaut: The Best, is (the best.)
I did however have the best time solving its puzzles, which I’d hate to spoil here. But man, when you turn a photo upside-down and then stuff falls out of it? That moment got me to gasp. And the gravity physics were fun enough to have me playing with them until I made myself a little seasick. Viewfinder doesn’t have the tonal mastery of an exploration game like Myst, but it’s puzzles are second to none in the genre. You should definitely challenge yourself with Viewfinder, the most beguiling puzzle game of the year.
After beating the story in Jagged Alliance 3, I still really wanted to play more. I want to try out every merc on the roster, and learn how to use each of their unique abilities. There are fights that I want to play again, this time with a new approach. Fans of turned based action will find Jagged Alliance 3 to be a genre-best game. But I’m probably going to play those gunfights with the volume turned way down. After all, I’m not in Grand Chien for the atmosphere and the company. I just want to find new ways to blow stuff up.
Even coming short of perfection, you nerds are going to love Xenonauts 2. It lacks the bombast and superpowers of reboot-era XCOM, but it more than compensates with logistical complexity. It may not be sexy, but Xenonauts 2 is a well-designed strategy game, thoughtfully made by a team who knows the genre. And if you are a youngster who missed the 90s? Here’s an approachable piece of video game history given form. Figuring out how to run an old DOS game is a headache. Xenonauts 2 in out and ready for your orders commander.
Of all the possible stories to tell in the wide universe of Star Trek, Resurgence picks a good one. It takes place in the “present” of the story, and while it has some fun with cameos, it doesn’t overdo them. It presents a galaxy in a time of uneasy peace, and a diverse Federation crew. I would certainly recommend Resurgence to anyone who loves Star Trek. If you’re a curious non-Trekkie well, how much can you tolerate quick time events? Because by the ancients there are a lot of them. But this reviewer didn’t mind one bit.
There are elements of Unheard that still befuddle me. Why did there have to be a framing narrative around testing a sci-fi sound machine? Why couldn’t this just be a series of devious chapters, full of double identities and swapped masterpieces? Ultimately, I don’t think some of the eccentric flourishes hurt the game. Unheard – Voices of Crime focuses on doing a few things well. The game rises to that very specific set of standards.
I don’t know how I feel overall about the release schedule and pricing of Paradox expansion packs. Maybe it’s a lot, or maybe it’s a fair price. What I do know is that these big expansions look to change the feel of the game in significant ways. Measured against that standard, Tours and Tournaments is another huge step forward for Crusader Kings, the best emergent narrative RPG/strategy game around!
I probably admire Barotrauma more than I enjoyed it. I like the setting. The gameplay is very clever, even if it isn’t always exciting. I didn’t get a chance to get deep into co-op, but I can’t wait to try. It’s crazy to me that cooperative spaceship games aren’t an entire genre now, with dozens of indie games to compare. At the moment, Barotrauma may be one of the best trailblazers, giving inspirations for the developers of the future.
The Last Spell made me realize that a siege is the perfect video game scenario. It allows you to focus on a single area, and gives the player a chance to customize their base. It also lends itself to a small group of heroes standing bravely against a horde of faceless enemies. Combine that with other popular features such as roguelike development, and you have a pretty fun game. But spend some time with The Last Spell, and you will see how differently it plays.
If you’re a frostbite-loving freak like me, The Pale Beyond is the game for you. It makes me optimistic about the future of this niche genre. The amount of research and care is apparent as you play. The opaque gameplay systems draw you into the narrative, but leave you in suspense. If you’ve made it this far in the review, I have to assume one of those things is appealing to you. Play The Pale Beyond; it might just be the best novel you read this year.
The straightforward rules of Pharaoh: A New Era make it great on the replay. Even apart from the campaign, you can find maps where all you are supposed to do is grow your population, your prestige, and your pyramids. And if you have the city building bug, you will love watching dusty browns and yellows explode into a cosmopolitan blast of color. To newcomers Pharaoh: A New Era easily takes its place in the modern library of deeply playable city builders.
The verdict is, PowerWash Simulator belongs on Switch. It’s not an immersive world demanding you get lost in it. You’re just enjoying beautifying playgrounds and old busses. It’s something to do with your hands. As such, if you’ve been waiting to power wash some stuff, this Switch port is a great excuse to get started.
But I wasn’t counting on how strong the actual strategy game is. This is the first release from Yaza Games, but they seem like a team with some fresh ideas and the vision to implement them. Daedalic Entertainment publishes a lot of novel strategy titles that fail to hold your attention for long. Inkulinati earns its place in your library with its depth.
It probably sounds frustrating. And it is. I walked away a few times in disgust. But as is clear from the tone of this review, I always came back. That counts more than anything else. That’s the most important thing. I liked spending time in Ixion’s world, in Ixion’s story. I like space disaster stories. Eventually, I was happy to bump myself down to the ‘story’ difficulty, because I didn’t want to miss out. I like looking at it, and I like listening to it. I plan to return to Ixion, to once again embrace sweet failure.
The solarpunk genre is here and only is going to grow as our climate starts to transform. Plenty of people are going to find a way to express their existential dread at a problem that seems so big. There will be plenty of corny stories about rebuilding a world from the ashes of the people we were before. Where Floodland has a leg up is in its subtlety. You aren’t constantly talking about who you want to be and how you want to run your apocalypse town. You are showing who you are by how you build it.