Many video game genres overlap and blend well together. Shooting and third-person action. Narrative-rich adventure with first-person exploration. RPG elements in just about everything. Yet in the paraphrased words of Dr. Ian Malcolm, just because you can combine genres doesn’t mean you should.
The Swords of Ditto is a cautionary tale. The concept seems solid: combine the basic structure of classic top-down, 2D Zelda within the framework of a challenging roguelike, creating a frustrating experience that relies too much on repetition.
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!
#10 Fire Emblem Heroes
#9 Metroid: Samus Returns
#8 Injustice 2
#7 Hand of Fate 2
#6 Battle Chasers: Nightwar
#5 Thimbleweed Park
I adore the adventure game genre. When I say ‘adventure game’ I’m specifically referring to point and click, puzzle-based games. There’s no question the Golden Age was in the 90s, during the reign of Sierra and LucasArts. I was firmly in the former camp instead of the latter, yet I fell completely in love with Thimbleweed Park, developer Ron Gilbert’s love letter to classic LucasArts adventure games. Continue reading “My Top Ten Games of 2017: #5”
Nearly every hugely successful Kickstarter game plays on the nostalgia of gaming yesteryear. Pillars of Eternity and Baldur’s Gate. Torment: Tides of Numenera and Planescape: Torment. Yooka-Laylee and Banjo-Kazooie.
Thimbleweed Park’s campaign aimed its sights at a very distinct game style: classic LucasArts Adventures. The finished product not only succeeds at capturing the humor, gameplay, and essence from the era of Maniac Mansion and The Secret of Monkey Island, but also stands tall with adventure gaming classics as a great game in its own right.
Thanks to numerous modern conveniences and relatively easy and linear puzzle designs, Heaven’s Hope is an enjoyable, light-hearted adventure.
When Tim Schafer put out his Kickstarter video for the 2012 Double Fine Adventure campaign, he jokingly mentioned that all the good Adventure games were being made in Germany—he was not wrong.
While many American studios are creating narrative-focused Adventure games (like Telltale), a number of European developers continue to release Point and Click Adventure games. These games revel in the nostalgic Golden Age of the 90s with hefty inventory puzzles, whimsical humor, and beautiful art work. Heaven’s Hope is a wonderful example of these qualities, and a particularly effective entry point thanks to its keen puzzle organization and variety.
The Telltale narrative adventure is brilliantly grafted into the zany Borderlands world, excelling with witty writing and fun action.
I have finished another backlogged game via Rogue’s Adventures. You can read my latest Final Thoughts below and also on my gaming blog on Game Informer.
Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
Release Date: Episode 1: November 25, 2014, Episode 2: March 17, 2015, Episode 3: June 23, 2015, Episode 4: August 18, 2015, Episode 5: October 20, 2015
There’s a now-infamous puzzle in the first episode of Telltale Games’ 2012 The Walking Dead adventure game where you have to find and put batteries in a radio. It’s ridiculously simply to the point of insulting, but I remember thinking “Hey, at least we got a classic inventory puzzle in this otherwise very narrative-heavy game.”
Since then, Telltale has doubled-down in their unique subgenere of adventure game that tells an incredibly solid story filled with choice-driven dialogue and action-packed quick-time events – and almost no actual puzzles. Their latest adventure, Tales from the Borderlands, exemplifies this philosophy to the point where I feel like I’m watching a series of cutscenes at least half the time.
And yet, the story is good. Really, really good. It begins as a classic thieves tale and zany con-artist scheme and expertly weaves together a fantastic mix of cultures and players within the Borderlands world to create a truly memorable and fun experience. I ranked it #8 on My Top Ten Games of 2015.
For the first time in a Telltale adventure, we get to play as dual protagonists, Fiona and Rhys. Fiona is a native Pandoran, an orphaned thief with a good heart and a sassy sister. Rhys is a corporate stooge working for Hyperion in the orbiting space station Helios. Thanks to an elaborate con being pulled by Fiona involving a valuable vault key, Rhys tries to take advantage and the two become embroiled in a much bigger plot. Continue reading “Gaming Backlog Final Thoughts – Tales from the Borderlands”
My #8 Game of the Year is Tales from the Borderlands, a brilliantly written episodic adventure in one of my favorite gaming worlds.
My Top Ten Games of 2015
#8 Tales from the Borderlands
I, along with everyone else in the gaming world got utterly sucked into 2012’s The Walking Dead video game by Telltale Games. This narrative-focused adventure game centered more on making important choices and leveraging relationships rather than traditional inventory puzzles. It was also harrowing and dramatic. It came in at #6 on My Top Ten Games of 2012 list.
Since then Telltale has exploded in popularity, snatching up several licenses to create more episodic adventure games along the same vein as The Walking Dead.
I’ve mostly stayed away. I watched a friend play the first two episodes of The Walking Dead Season 2, and I tried the first episode of The Wolf Among Us, but neither really grabbed me. I’ve also heard worryingly bad things about their Game of Thrones adventure, which also just recently wrapped up.
With Tales from the Borderlands, however, it was nothing but excitement and praise, even from folks who didn’t care about Gearbox’s quirky, goofy shooter world. I happen to be a big fan of the Borderlands games: Borderlands 2 was #2 on that 2012 list, while I gave Best Cooperative Game to the Pre-Sequel last year.
Tales from the Borderlands expertly weaves an action-packed tale among thieves and con artists on the zany world of Pandora. Dual protagonists Fiona and Rhys let the story split up and rejoin at key moments, while an expanding cast of excellent, well-written characters makes even the slowest dialogue moments a joy to play out. Continue reading “My Top Ten Games of 2015: #8”
Despite the aging Adventure Game Studio engine, Technobabylon succeeds thanks to an intriguing story, diverse cast, and satisfying puzzles.
Wadjet Eye Studios have quietly been carving out a stalwart niche among traditional Point and Click Adventure game fans. In recent years, the genre has grown and segmented to include more narrative-rich, dialogue-heavy adventures, spear-headed largely by Telltale’s successful licensed Episodic Adventure games. Fans of old-school Adventure games, however, ones full of complex puzzles and creative worlds, can still turn to studios like Wadjet Eye and their latest release, Technobabylon. Despite the aging Adventure Game Studio engine, Technobabylon succeeds thanks to an intriguing story, diverse cast, and satisfying puzzles.
The story opens with Latha, an orphaned young woman living in poverty. Like many people in 2087 she’s addicted to the Trance – Technobabylon’s equivalent of a virtual internet of the future. Escaping her apartment after a power surge serves to act as a tutorial as you learn how to manipulate the game’s most unique gameplay hook – downloading and rearranging programs of the various electronic devices around her.