Friedrich Nietzsche famously said “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” In Sundered that which kills you also makes you stronger.
Sundered is a challenging, beautifully animated roguelike action-platformer from indie studio Thunder Lotus Games. With a carefully crafted difficulty ramp, Sundered excels in a genre that often teeters on the brink of frustration and repetition.
If you hear about RPGs and Sports games, you may recall the RPG-like campaign stories injected into otherwise traditional sports, such as The Journey mode in FIFA 17, or the new Longshot mode in upcoming Madden NFL 18.
Pyre, beloved indie studio Supergiant games’ third title, does the opposite. Sports-like gameplay is integral to escaping the intriguing fantasy world that you and your diverse band of outcasts are trapped within. The results are an innovative sports-as-combat battlefield that meshes well with Supergiants’ heavy focus on story-telling, art design, and music, though Pyre ultimately falls short of their previous efforts.
Since the halcyon days of Double Fine Adventure just a few years ago, Kickstarter has faded as a legitimate source of revenue for video game companies. While some veteran developers and spiritual sequels can still find success on Kickstarter, it’s the last place one would expect to find a multi-million dollar MMORPG by a brand new studio.
Intrepid Studios has discovered an audience who is hungry for their upcoming title Ashes of Creation, an ambitious MMORPG that promises an impressive degree of player involvement within the politics, economy, and history of the world. The Kickstarter campaign surged to over $1 million after 36 hours. The campaign wrapped up last week with nearly 20,000 backers pledging over $3.2 million.
We’re supposed to “reach for the moon” in our goals. That way if we fall short we’ll still land among the stars. That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense given that the nearest star is several light-years farther away than our moon. But the point is sound.
Zeboyd Games’ moon is represented by classic, beloved 90s Japanese RPGs such as Chrono Trigger, Suikoden, and Phantasy Star. It’s a big reason I backed the game on Kickstarter several years ago. To take on some of the best RPGs in gaming with an indie budget and two-person development team is a daunting challenge. While Cosmic Star Heroine falls short in some ways, it still lands among the stars as one of the best games I’ve played this year.
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.
Portal, and to a larger extent Portal 2, have inspired a new subgenre of puzzle games that emphasize cooperation with a dash of cheeky humor. Death Squared is a shining example of this cooperative puzzler genre, letting one, two, or four players guide little robot cubes around a series of increasingly challenging deathtraps.
Death Squared features a lengthy Story campaign consisting of 80 levels that can be played with two local players, or a solo player controlling two bots with one controller. For the latter, the single player controls each bot with a different analog stick (or keyboard setup).
That’s a lot of levels, but they’re designed to be bite-sized. Each level should only take a few minutes to complete, and that’s with a lot of trial and error.
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 Pokémon GO
#9 Skylanders Imaginators
#7 Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun
#6 Fire Emblem Fates
#4 Pokémon Sun and Moon
#3 XCOM 2
#2 Sid Meier’s Civilization VI
#1 Stardew Valley
Once again my top game of the mid-year remains on top at my end of the year list. Once again it’s a delightful indie game I sunk dozens of hours into. Once again it’s a…. farming sim? Wait what?
It’s fun to say indie games come out of nowhere even though with the proliferation of Kickstarter and Early Access that’s rarely the case any more. Stardew Valley very much came out of nowhere (from a one-man dev) and quickly became my favorite, and most surprising gaming love of the year. Continue reading “My Top Ten Games of 2016: #1”