Stardew Valley Review [Pixelkin]

Many mobile and social games have used farming gameplay to great success. Stardew Valley elevates the genre into something truly unique and special.

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Read the full review at Pixelkin

Farming games have existed since the 90s with the likes of Sim Farm and Harvest Moon. In recent years many mobile and social games like Farmville have used the rewarding feedback of growing your own crops to great success. Stardew Valley puts them all to shame, and elevates the genre into something truly unique and special.

After creating your pixelated character you re-discover a letter from your dying grandfather inviting you to take over some farmland in a rural village. You leave your mundane office job and set out to Pelican Town to start a new life.

Read the full review at Pixelkin

Gaming Backlog Final Thoughts – Hard West

A fun XCOM-lite in a dark Western setting hampered by its tight indie budget and odd campaign structure.

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: CreativeForge Games

Publisher: Gamibitious Digital Entertainment

Release Date: Nov 18, 2015

hard west banner

Hard West had all the right ingredients that got me excited about its Kickstarter campaign: tactical XCOM combat, Western setting, supernatural elements, choice-driven gameplay. The end result is something of a mixed bag, mostly due to its shoestring indie budget and odd campaign structure.

Hard West mostly tells a classic Western story of revenge. Warren loses his parents, then his girlfriend, then his life (life was rough back then, man).  He’s given a second chance with a not-so-subtle Deal with the Devil, and begins his quest for vengeance. Also an ill-conceived quest to bring back his dead girlfriend.

Now I said “mostly tells” because that story represents only a fraction of the total campaign. And here we come to the crux of my issues with Hard West. Continue reading “Gaming Backlog Final Thoughts – Hard West”

The Awesome Indie Games of PAX South [Pixelkin]

A list of 12 of the most exciting indie games I saw and played at PAX South 2016.

Read the full list at Pixelkin.org

indie games pax south

We’re at a point now where each month has a gaming, comic, or tabletop convention to be excited about. PAX South is now in its second year and has a much bigger focus on indie gaming. Few big publishers have much to show in January. Hopeful indie devs were there to fill the gap. Below is a list of some of the most notable games I saw at PAX South 2016.

 

Color Thief
Developer: Trouble Impact
Release: Early 2017
In a world of black and white, one chameleon discovers a hidden temple full of color. Our hero can absorb color from any object in the world and apply it anywhere else. Painting water creates a solid surface, while matching colors on a door opens it. Puzzles are forgiving and the non-violent world is kid-friendly.

 

Dead Star
Developer: Armature Studios
Release: Early 2016
Armature Studios had a neat booth capable of 5v5 matches in their top-down space shooter. The developers described Dead Star as a League of Legends-style MOBA in space. Players can choose between multiple classes and ship designs. Teams will need to work together to secure outposts on the map. The arcade-like gameplay was immediately fast and intuitive. The full game will allow 10v10 matches, leading to some deliciously chaotic space battles.

Read the full list at Pixelkin.org

My Top Ten Games of 2015: #1

Obsidian’s delightfully old-school RPG Pillars of Eternity is my #1 Game of the Year for 2015!

My Top Ten Games of 2015

#10 MASSIVE CHALICE

#9 Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void

#8 Tales from the Borderlands

#7 Ori and the Blind Forest

#6 Super Mario Maker

#5 Yo-Kai Watch

#4 Fallout 4

#3 Xenoblade Chronicles X

#2 Heroes of the Storm

#1 Pillars of Eternity

pillars of eternity

My #1 Game of the Mid-Year remained on top despite some truly excellent games released in the Fall. Obsidian’s record-breaking (at the time) Kickstarter project recalled the computer RPG nostalgia of the late 90s and early 2000s, such as Baldur’s Gate and Fallout. Needless to say, I jumped all over the chance for one of my favorite RPG developers to tackle a wholly original project.

I’m pleased to report that Pillars of Eternity is a smashing success. It manages to invoke all the best mechanics and themes of the classic isometric, tactical role-playing game while infusing lots of modern designs and philosophy. All of that plus Obsidian’s trademark superior writing create a wonderfully immersive new fantasy world that I spent over two months and 70s hours getting lost in. Continue reading “My Top Ten Games of 2015: #1”

Gaming Backlog Final Thoughts – Hand of Fate

Despite some frustrations, Hand of Fate successfully layers in 3rd person combat into a highly randomized card-based tabletop adventure.

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: Defiant Development

Publisher: Defiant Development

Release Date: February 17, 2015

Rogues Adventure

The indie gaming scene is full of brilliant, innovative ideas and genre mashups. Many of them bury a cool concept deep within convoluted gameplay or “retro-homage” graphics. Final execution is just as critical as having a cool idea, and so many games fail – or are quietly forgotten because of it.

Thankfully Hand of Fate is not one of those games. By layering a 3rd person arena-fighting game on top of a card-based tabletop adventure, Hand of Fate creates a truly unique and infinitely replayable experience. Continue reading “Gaming Backlog Final Thoughts – Hand of Fate”

Gaming Backlog Final Thoughts – Monaco: What’s Yours Is Mine

A brilliantly designed and cleverly themed top-down cooperative stealth game that’s much less fun to play by yourself.

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: Pocketwatch Games

Publisher: Pocketwatch Games

Release Date: April 24, 2013 (PC)

monaco characters

I’ve played several cooperative and multiplayer games for Rogue’s Adventures over the years. From Saints Row 4 to Trine 2 and Risk of Rain, I’ve been able to enlist friends to enhance the single player experience exponentially. Most cooperative games are vastly improved with the addition of a friend (or three), but in the case of Monaco: What’s Yours Is Mine, it’s damn near required.

Monaco resembles a top-down, pixelated arcade game. The emphasis is on stealth, however, as none of your intrepid criminals carry a weapon. Weapons and items can be found in extremely limited quantity, but your characters quickly go down in a fight, so stealthy maneuvering and strategical planning is the order of the day. Continue reading “Gaming Backlog Final Thoughts – Monaco: What’s Yours Is Mine”

Gaming Backlog Final Thoughts – Gunpoint

Rewiring security in this 2D stealth-puzzler is a blast, but it’s too short to fully embrace more advanced levels.

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: Suspicious Developments

Publisher: Suspicious Developments

Release Date: June 3, 2013

Gunpoint-title

There’s an old joke that all critics really want to be creators – game critics want to be designers, film critics want to be screen writers, music critics want to be rock stars, etc. Occasionally a critic does successfully make that leap. Even late film critic Roger Ebert wrote an odd X-rated pseudo-sequel to Valley of the Dolls in the 60s. Former PC Gamer editor Tom Francis may not be a Roger Ebert, but his one-man stealth-puzzle game Gunpoint is a triumph of simplistic but effective 2D puzzle design.

Gunpoint stars Richard Conway, a private investigator that lives in a pixelated world full of guards, security cameras, and breakable windows. During the opening sequence Conway witnesses the murder of a potential new client while trying out his new Bullfrog brand Hypertrousers. The pants allow you to charge up super jumps, breaking through windows and falling from any height. This allows you to concentrate on the puzzles in each level rather than any tedious platforming.

Conway is suspect #1 in the murder investigation, and the story follows a funny tale as he’s hired to first erase the data by one party, then try and recover it by another. The story unfolds through a simple text-based dialogue between a pair of pixelated faces. It’s a rudimentary as you can get. Thankfully the writing is particularly amazing. I laughed out loud throughout the unfolding noir drama that maintains its self-aware snarkiness. Continue reading “Gaming Backlog Final Thoughts – Gunpoint”