As a parent of a young child I’m all too familiar with the eternal struggle of bedtime. After many sleepless nights, I discovered a nightly ritual of a lullaby playlist worked wonders. I’m a huge fan of video game music and many official soundtracks, orchestral adaptations, and remixes work amazingly well as beautiful lullabies, especially if you’ve grown tired of Enya and classical music. Here’s a collection to get you started.
Every once in a while I dive into a more recently released game in my backlog. This whole season of Rogue’s Adventures is mostly made up of games released in the last few years, and The Banner Saga is the second most recent game I’ve played and written about since Shadowrun Returns last year (which was backlogged for all of a few weeks).
The Banner Saga was part of the original wave of Kickstarter games in 2012, alongside the likes of Broken Age and Wasteland 2, and benefited greatly from that initial excitement and draw to the crowdfunding platform. It was also one of the few games I didn’t actually back (along with Shadowrun Returns, ironically) in my attempt to be choosy when picking my supporting projects. The Banner Saga was a first indie project from a new studio (broken off from BioWare’s MMO division) and the gameplay structure seemed a bit confusing.
But the hand-drawn art style was beautiful and I’m always up for a game with tactical turn-based combat – thus The Banner Saga remained on my radar for years until finally picking it up on the last Steam sale.
If I had to describe The Banner Saga in a single ‘elevator pitch’ sentence, it would be: An apocalyptic Oregon Trail with life and death choices, tactical combat and RPG stats wrapped up in a unique fantasy world based on Norse mythology.
So here we are with the long-awaited third installment. Unlike Dragon Age II, which was pumped out in a little over a year (while they were working on ME3), Inquisition has been in development for several years, and from what we’ve read of previews, interviews and most recently reviews, it looks like a huge step in the right direction. Taking feedback from fans, combining the best parts of Origin, DAII and the Mass Effect trilogy as well as looking at the insane success of the most recent Elder Scrolls game Skyrim have created a winning formula.
After navigating the panels of Dragon Age Keep I’m full prepared to dive back into Thedas – but first I have to decide on my Inquisitor.
Ever launch into a game you are unsure about, and then a few hours in you think ‘Oh crap, this was a terrible mistake?’ Maybe you preserve and stick with it, enjoying some elements despite some deep flaws and annoyances, and slowly emerge into a semi-enjoyable experience. The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings garnered a very mixed reaction from me, not just of the games I’ve played on Rogue’s Adventures, but of any game I’ve played.
Usually when I add a game to my backlog it’s because I want to play it (obviously) but it wasn’t quite high enough on my limited priority list to immediately play it. For The Witcher 2, my motivation was based entirely on how awesome the upcoming third game looks. I played the original Witcher back in 2007-08 and didn’t actually care for it, never finishing it.
I skipped the sequel for years based on that experience and only finally decided to dive in based on how critically acclaimed it was (not to mention a devoted fan base). But mostly, it was the third game showing really well in all its trailers and previews. Yes, I’m a sucker for hype sometimes; I love games.
I don’t love The Witcher.
Like many RPGs, Dragon Age: Inquisition will feature a secret base where heroes can rest and recuperate. Here are the top ten strongholds in games.
Home is where the heart is. In games it’s also where you stash all your loot, craft some supplies and chat with your fellow party members and allies. Most games are about the journey of the hero, and precious few allow you to kick up your feet and relax at a safe haven you can call your home.
Bioware’s upcoming Dragon Age: Inquisition promises one of the biggest player bases we’ve ever seen in Skyhold. Skyhold will serve as you primary stronghold and base for the inquisitor and his or her allies, improving over time and aesthetically customizable.
Of course, Skyhold certainly isn’t the first player base to feature prominently in a game, and I’ve gathered my ten favorites (in no particular order).
We were on Floor 11, and we were in trouble. Our supply of Dust was reduced to dangerous levels after the most recent wave, and we could barely power the rooms around our crystal. Our healthy buildup of Industry and node access was crippled by our lack of power. We spread our heroes around to deter as many enemy spawns as we could, but still they came as we searched for the exit.
Finally we took a gamble and opened several rooms at once, starting off a terrifying chain of enemies that would be our doom. Except one of the rooms contained the exit to the final level. We grabbed the crystal and ran through hordes of foes, using our last remaining food supplies to keep everyone alive until they reached the exit. We made it, but only just, and if the final floor was any indication there was a good chance we wouldn’t make it out alive.
The scenario above is only one such experience from playing through Dungeon of the Endless, the latest game to explore the Endless Universe created by Amplitude Studios. Whereas their previous games, Endless Space and Endless Legend are Civ-like 4X empire management games, Dungeon of the Endless is, *deep breath,* a cooperative rogue-like tower defense dungeon crawler. If any of those terms spark your interest you may discover one of your favorite games of the year in this unique mash-up of genres.
Just a few weeks ago I finally laid waste to the Void Dragon and completed Divinity: Original Sin. It’s a phenomenal tactical RPG that modernizes the genre while still retaining all the best parts that make those epic computer role-playing games so memorable.
It’s also incredibly long.
My playthrough took me almost 90 hours – that’s three solid months of giving it as much attention as I can while still playing online games with buddies and reviewing and writing about new games.
I also purchased Bravely Default in late July as a little birthday present to myself. I hadn’t really played a major 3DS game since I beat Fire Emblem in April (not counting Shovel Knight) and was looking forward to this well-regarded JRPG to tide me over till Super Smash Bros released in early October.
After two months I hit the 50 hour mark and completed chapter four….of eight. Literally at that point some kind of dimensional rift takes place, and our heroes are thrown back into the world where they have to do everything all over again. I stared at the game for a long time at that point.
Shadowgate was one of many Kickstarter projects I helped support back in the initial crowd-funding explosion in gaming two years ago. While many projects were promised and created on an intoxicating nostalgia-laced aroma, I’m happy to report that two years later, Shadowgate not only successfully released but is a damn fine remake worthy of its name. It helps when you have the original developers that are just as passionate about remaking their classic for both new fans and rosy-eyed veterans.
Karl Roelofs is the Design Director at Zojoi, and along with fellow Zojoi cohort Dave Marsh helped create the popular first-person puzzle adventure game, Shadowgate, back in the late 80s. “If it wasn’t for Kickstarter, we would have never been able to re-imagine Shadowgate,” Karl says, “I am very grateful to the innovation of crowd-funding and the particular focus on retro gaming.”
Like the first Legend of Grimrock, the sequel is filled with brutally difficult puzzles, harrowing monster battles and cruel traps. It’s also incredibly fun.
While individual puzzles and walkthroughs can be combed through via wikis, forums and guides, these tips are more generalized and spoiler-free. Knowing is more than half the battle in Legend of Grimrock 2, and even veterans of the first game will find lots of useful new information and tactics to utilize while adventure on the island of Nex.
1) Create a balanced party of specialists. There are only so many weapons and armor on the island, it would be supremely difficult to outfit four warriors, especially in the early game. Instead diversify your party as much as possible to cover different skills and different weapon styles. You’ll also want at least two frontline fighters to wear the majority of any found armor and take the majority of the hits. I suggest at least one Heavy Weapons and one Light Weapons user.
2) Alchemy may be the most important skill in the game. You don’t necessarily need an Alchemist (though I’d highly recommend it if you want to wield firearms) but do invested in the alchemy skill. Unlike the first game you do not need an empty flask to make a potion, only the proper herbs. And the island is chock full of them just lying around. At 4th level you can brew Greater Healing and Energy Potions, the former which also heals injuries, and several new potion types are introduced that require high levels of alchemy, like Potions of Resurrection and even the ability to brew permanent attribute boosters. Alchemy is amazing.
3) Either max the Firearms skill or ignore them. Even with an Alchemist firearms malfunction at an annoying degree, essentially removing them from the current combat encounter. The firearms themselves are rare and fairly powerful, and though ammo is decently plentiful you do not recover them like arrows and quarrels. If you’re firing your gun as often as possible, you will quickly run out of pellets, so invest in a backup weapon skill.
When Blizzard approached the sequel to seminal Action-RPG Diablo, they expanded the gameplay beyond a single large dungeon-crawl into the deserts, jungles and forests of the larger world. Almost Human utilizes a similar design philosophy in creating the sequel to 2012′s Legend of Grimrock, a modernized but still old-school at heart first-person grid-based RPG.
Legend of Grimrock 2 still begins with a four person party of prisoners, only instead of being cast into a hellish dungeon, your ship crash lands into the mysterious island of Nex, home to a robed figure known as the Island Master, as well as a host of monsters and Grimrock’s intriguing brand of devious puzzles.
Many of the core gameplay mechanics remain the same from the original. You navigate the world one square at a time picking up items and weapons, searching for secret buttons and treasure chests and solving a myriad of puzzles. All the denizens of the island, including lots of new foes as well as some familiar faces (yes those terrifying spiders are back, and there’s a dungeon full of ‘em) follow the same square moving rules, and your approach to the ‘square dancing’ method of combat as either an important part of the gameplay or exploitative will still likely determine your overall enjoyment of the combat.