Gaming Backlog Final Thoughts – Saints Row IV

I’ve finished another backlogged game via Rogue’s Adventures. You can read my latest Final Thoughts on my gaming blog, and enjoy the excerpt below.

SR4

If I were to write this in the guise of a typical Steam review, it would be something like:

“Plays Stan Bush’s “The Touch” during an epic climax near the end before the hero and villain trade classic banter from The Transformers: The Movie. 10/10″

Seriously though, the quickest way into my heart is to love the ’86 animated Transformers movie as much as I do. Clearly the folks at Volition love and celebrate all things nerdy and game-y, and in many ways Saints Row IV is a grand example of today’s AAA gaming scene as it cribs gameplay elements and concepts from other successful franchises into something that’s just pure fun.

If Saints Row: The Third was Grand Theft Auto minus all the *** with a whole lot of loving goofiness, then Saints Row IV builds upon that formula (literally with the exact same open-world city of Steelport) with a layer of Matrix-style story framing and outlandishly awesome superhero powers.

Read my full Final Thoughts on my Game Informer blog >>

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Final Thoughts – The Banner Saga

I’ve finished another backlogged game via Rogue’s Adventures. You can read my latest Final Thoughts on my gaming blog, and enjoy the excerpt below.

banner saga

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.

Read the full Final Thoughts over on my blog on Game Informer >>

Final Thoughts – The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings

I’ve finished another backlogged game via Rogue’s Adventures. You can read my latest Final Thoughts on my gaming blog, and enjoy the excerpt below.

witcher_banner

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.

Read the full Final Thoughts on Game Informer >>

Final Thoughts – The Swapper

I’ve finished another backlogged game from the excellent Humble Indie Bundle I purchased earlier this year thanks to Rogue’s Adventures. You can read my latest Final Thoughts on my gaming blog, and enjoy the excerpt below.

the swapper cover

Rogue’s Adventures has introduced me to a lot of non-violent puzzle games, especially in the last year – Antichamber, Fez, Portal, etc. The Swapper is absolutely the best of the bunch (yes, I enjoyed it more than Portal, I generally prefer 2D to 3D with my puzzle games) and is also one of the few games with a foreboding sci-fi horror theme that is never actually reaches heightened stages of horror. A friend of mine put it succinctly: It’s like the first 15 minutes of a sci-fi horror film where we’re delving into the danger before *** hits the fan, extrapolated over a five hour game.

To me that pervading sense of dread and curiosity without having to feel scared of zombies or aliens jumping out at me is a huge plus, and something I rarely get to experience in games. I really don’t do horror games and The Swapper’s emphasis on puzzle solving and exploration while still maintaining its creepy atmosphere of What Went Wrong was wonderful to experience.

 

Read the full Final Thoughts over on Game Informer >>

 

New Final Thoughts – Dust: An Elysian Tail

I’ve finished another backlog game from the excellent Humble Indie Bundle I purchased earlier this year. You can read my latest Final Thoughts on my gaming blog, and enjoy the excerpt below.

Dust-An-Elysian-Tail

Video games are extremely difficult to make, in cost, time and skill. The concept of the auteur has been around in film for decades – that a single filmmaker’s work on a film was as complete and total as an author of a book, but in games it’s exceedingly rare due to the amount of work involved. Thus I was pleasantly surprised to find that Dust: An Elysian Tail was created (designed, drawn and programmed) by one man – Dean Dodrill.

Originally crafted to be an old-school Castlevania-style platformer, Dodrill won the 2009 Dream.Build.Play Microsoft Challenge, resulting in a contract to provide a full-fledged release on Xbox Live Arcade, which eventually released as part of the Summer of Arcade promotion in 2012.

I mention all this as a testament to how well crafted the story and themes of Dust are, and though every indie studio can’t secure a big contract from Microsoft it’s an absolute joy to see the auteur surface in gaming.

Read the full Final Thoughts on my gaming blog >>