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My top ten favorite games of the year, presented in ascending order each day leading into the holidays. Look for my full Top Ten list with categories and awards on December 24!
Developer: 11 bit Studios
Publisher: 11 bit Studios
I was a bit late to the party with This War of Mine, a unique sim-survival game that played out like a strategic board game with a harrowing real-world theme about the horrors of war upon civilians. This War of Mine put 11 bit Studios on my personal radar, and I was very much looking forward to Frostpunk when it released earlier this year.
Frostpunk did not disappoint. Like This War of Mine it takes some very heavy survival themes and treats them with the cold-hearted seriousness that befits surviving during an apocalypse.
Your haggard survivors have found a geothermic reactor and established a city amid a world blanketed in sub-freezing temperatures.
The real-time strategy game forces you to manage precious resources like coal, wood, and food, but also regulate the happiness and morale of your people. Stuffing food with sawdust will help ration meek food stores but your people won’t be happy. A 24-hour shift could be just enough to make it through the night, but injury and exhaustion will spread like a plague.
Little story events force you to make tough decisions, like giving leniency to a mother stealing food for her children. Ultimately you’ll need to choose either a zealous or totalitarian path to unlock new laws and edicts and keep everyone in line, a sobering look at how humanity survives extreme conditions.
Thanks to its incredibly immersive atmosphere, haunting string soundtrack and compelling writing. Frostpunk is more than just a thematic city builder. It’s one of the best games of the year.
Nothing irritates me more than seeing the smiling faces on happy customers. It means I priced an item too low and they scored a sweet deal. A begrudgingly crestfallen customer, one who’ll pay just enough to purchase my stock, is exactly the kind of oil that keeps my dungeon crawling machine going.
Moonlighter provides an interesting premise. What if, after exploring a Zelda-like dungeon, our loot-filled hero had to sell all that loot in their own shop, without knowing how much it’s worth?
Moonlighter offers a unique and fun combination of both action-RPG and merchant sim, but doesn’t provide nearly as much depth as games that specialize in either one.
A unique post-apocalyptic city-builder that forces you to maintain hope as much as heat and wood.
Things were going well, or least as well as can be expected against an apocalyptic snowstorm, until the temperature plummeted another 40 degrees. “Snowmaggeddon” is a joke during brutal winters. But nobody’s laughing in the world of Frostpunk when temperatures approach -90 degrees, rendering most of the world uninhabitable.
In the last city my supply of coal dwindled to nothing as my geothermic reactor began shutting down. I watched a cascade of Bad News as my workforce grew sick, homes grew cold, and people began dying.
I was forced to pass a law to enable emergency 24 hour shifts. Brave men and women operated frozen coal mines in the dead of night to give us the juice we needed. Some grew sick, and some were so frostbitten they had to have limbs amputated.
But the city survived. These harrowing moments solidify Frostpunk as one of the most memorable and emotional city building sims I’ve ever played.
Effectively combines the physical danger and emotional toll of war with a strategy layer of managing survivors and resources.
Developer: 11 bit Studios
Publisher: Deep Silver
Release Date: November 14, 2014
This War of Mine presents an immediately intriguing concept – tell the story of a heart-breakingly realistic war, from the civilians caught in the middle. The setting has a decidedly Eastern European flavor, and uses real photos for all the characters. The realistic dialogue and attitudes of everyone effectively ratchets up the empathy and emotional resonance throughout the rather lengthy experience. The board game-like cadence of crafting by day and scavenging by night gets a little repetitive at the end, but the overall experience has a perfect difficulty ramp. It’s a constant battle for emotional and physical survival, creating a very memorable experience. Continue reading “Gaming Backlog Final Thoughts – This War of Mine”