Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Life Is Strange

«Life Is Strange» fills a genre need I didn't know I had, namely in the not so very big category of games about high-school melodrama with time traveling. It's an adventure game in the Telltale tradition, but aimed at the kind of person who enjoys mysteries like «Donnie Darko» and «Twin Peaks» but also has a soft spot for coming-of-age stories like «My So-Called Life» and «Mean Girls».

Sunday, 4 January 2015

World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor

When «World of Warcraft» was released in 2004, I was ready to embrace it. A massively multiplayer online role-playing game by Blizzard Entertainment just had to be good. Like an eager Apple enthusiast awaiting Steve Job's announcement of the original iPhone a few years later, I was excepting nothing less than a revolution.

Unfortunately, my expectations set me up for inevitable disappointment. Upon release I quickly concluded the game wasn't for me.

Mainly because it was too easy and thus quite boring. As a result, I shelved it, and started playing the more sadistically challenging «Final Fantasy XI» instead.

In the meantime, ten years have passed, and «World of Warcraft» has come to dominate the MMORPG market to such an extent that it's no longer just the king of the genre, but practically a genre unto itself, despite the fact that newer entries have arrived with both better looks and fresher game mechanics.

As such the game has become an institution, both for the hardcore gamer and their less dedicated casual brethren and sisters. Which in itself is interesting independently of whether one is a fan or not.

Friday, 19 December 2014

The art of Ikaruga 斑鳩

Whilst I obviously think the most important trait of a good game is beautiful game-play, having great visuals is a very close second. 

In fact, I am not ashamed to admit that I am a huge graphics whore, who will often dismiss otherwise playable games due to sub-par art direction. Even though I have chosen to live as an avid gamer, life is still too short to be playing games that aren't awesome in every way.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions

Screenshots from «Geometry Wars» are woefully inadequate at communicating why it's such an awesomely delightful game. You need to see it move in order to fully "get it" and you must play it for yourself in order to fully grasp its brilliance.

«Geometry Wars» originated as a mini-game you could play within «Project Gotham Racing 2» on the Xbox. It was a fast, hypnotic, neon coloured SHMUP best described as a re-imagining of the classic «Robotron: 2084» arcade game. It was later re-released as a standalone title and one of the earliest downloadable Xbox Live Arcade titles for the Xbox 360.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Legend of Grimrock II

Props to the illustrator for nailing the visual style of a 1980s book cover by Larry Elmore

In 2012, Finnish indie developers: "Almost Human" released «Legend of Grimrock», a game based on design principles that haven't been popular since back when computers operated with only 16 bits. And it was awesome! Thus proving that old game mechanics can still be viable as long as they are implemented with confidence, care and good production value.

«Legend of Grimrock II» follows the same template, but is larger and more ambitious than its predecessor. As in the first game, you take control of a quartet of prisoners who are fighting for their lives in a labyrinth full of enemies, traps and puzzles. But whereas the first game unfolded entirely inside a mountain with a huge but fairly linear cave, the sequel takes place in a more open and diverse island setting.