In 2014 Triumph Studios revitalized the niche 4X strategy series Age of Wonders with the excellent Age of Wonders 3. After two solid expansion packs the studio quietly began working on their next project, and was acquired by Swedish publisher Paradox Interactive, known for big, densely packed strategy games.
Age of Wonders: Planetfall is the long-awaited next step in the franchise. It’s less of an evolutionary leap forward, but builds upon the successes of Age of Wonders 3 along with several smart and fun gameplay improvements and dozens hours of replayability.
Tactical strategy games have seen a resurgence in recent years, with excellent reboots and sequels for series like XCOM and Fire Emblem. But it’s pixel-perfect indie studio Chucklefish that has taken up the mantle of re-imagining the Advance War series (which had inspired Fire Emblem’s initial localization outside Japan).
Indie games have long filled the void of classic genres and gameplay styles left behind by bigger studios. Wargroove is the perfect example of an indie studio rebooting a beloved series while infusing their own story, with several modern improvements and an astonishing amount of content.
In most eldritch horror fiction, the heroes’ goal is to prevent the end of the world. In Stygian: Reign of the Old Ones, an isometric tactical RPG, the end of the world has already happened.
“We define Stygian as a role-playing game about horror, loss, and madness,” says Can Oral (pronounced Jon Rahl), lead designer and creative director at Cultic Games. “It takes place after the awakening of the great old ones. Your goal isn’t about saving the world, it’s already too late.”
The story takes place in the city of Arkham, which has been torn loose from the ruins of Earth and floats under an alien sky beneath a perpetual lair of gloom and despair. The city has been divided up between pagan cultists and ruthless mobsters, and many of the residents have either gone insane, or are teetering close to the edge.
DLC: War of the Chosen, Tactical Legacy Pack, Resistance Warrior Pack
Mods: Commander’s Choice
Episode 03: The Lost and Abandoned
M03: Operation Lost and Abandoned
- Sq. Therin “Beast” Bristlebeard (Ranger)
- Sq. Gillian “Triton” Flounderson (Specialist)
- Rk. Calder “Inquisitor” Mannix
- Cpl. Georgiano “George” Tortle (Ranger)
Weekly video game adventures. Streamed live Mondays and Fridays.
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Does the turn-based tactical combat of XCOM work in a 2D game?
Adventuring through my backlog of games, one game at a time.
Developer: Image & Form
Publisher: Image & Form
Release Date: December 10, 2015
Available On: 3DS, PC, PS4, Vita, Wii U, iOS, Switch
Played On: 3DS
It’s been far too long since I was able to properly start and finish an older game from my backlog. My workload as a freelance writer continues to increase (and part of my job is to play new games), and 2017 in particular had a bunch of long games that have taken up a big chunk of my personal play time, such as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Horizon Zero Dawn, and Divinity: Original Sin 2 (consequently, the #1-3 games on my Top Ten list).
But thanks to waiting in line every day to pick my daughter up from school, I’ve been slowly plugging away on my Nintendo 3DS, finishing a lot of recently released games like Pokémon Moon, Metroid: Samus Returns, and Monster Hunter Stories.
After those I fired up an older game that had been sitting in my digital library for so long that I accidentally purchased it again during a Steam sale at some point: SteamWorld Heist.
SteamWorld Heist is a spin-off of the SteamWorld Dig series that takes place in the same steampunk-robots-in-space universe. But instead of another action-platformerer, it’s freakin’ 2D XCOM, and it works brilliantly. Continue reading “Gaming Backlog Final Thoughts – SteamWorld Heist”
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
#4 Cosmic Star Heroine
#3 Horizon Zero Dawn
#2 Divinity: Original Sin 2
Larian Studios have quietly been crafting RPG classics for years (and I’ve dabbled in a few), yet none really hit the big time until Divinity: Original Sin in 2014. It was my #1 Game of the Year that year. The sequel is better in every way, and it’s only a testament to how amazing #1 is this year that I’m slotting it here. But make no mistake, Divinity: Original Sin 2 is destined to be remembered as one of the best RPGs of its time. Continue reading “My Top Ten Games of 2017: #2”
If you have the time to dig in this 3DS remake should easily become the definitive version of Dragon Quest VII.
Back when the original Dragon Quest VII (called Dragon Warrior VII in the US) was released for the Sony PlayStation in 2000, it was already dated. The old-school 2D sprites were a big step backward compared to Final Fantasy VII’s fully 3D polygons. This new 3DS remake brings a much-needed graphical facelift, improved translations, and streamlined additions to entice turn-based JRPG fans to one of the genre’s forgotten gems.
Dragon Quest VII is all about time travel. Your hero and some childhood friends open an ancient shrine on your home island – the only island in the world. The shrine contains portals to other islands in the past. Each new island brings new characters, quests, monsters, and dungeons. The islands then appear in the present for even more monster-slaying content.
Time-travel requires assembling the tablet portals from fragments you find scattered throughout these islands. The main story focuses on exploring new islands, righting the wrongs of the past, and defeating Dragon Quest’s colorful array of enemies.
I for one welcome our new alien overlords in this mini-review of fantastic sequel XCOM 2.
Available on: PC, Mac, Linux
Reviewed on: PC
XCOM 2 is the sequel to the surprisingly awesome 2012 reboot XCOM: Enemy Unknown. The sequel retains the same nail-biting tactical combat while adding new aliens, new soldiers, new maps, and a rejiggered strategy layer that paints XCOM as the resistance to our new alien overlords.
XCOM 2’s premise makes an incredibly bold choice – we lost the war. As a series XCOM has become famous for being brutally difficult. Developer Firaxis ran with this and declared that we lost the war in the first game. Thirty years later Earth is under control of the supposedly peace-bringing aliens. But like the old TV show “V” the aliens have sinister plans.
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.
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 >>
Our latest episode of Chamber of Game, the video series hosted by Leviathyn, takes a look at Endless Legend. Developed by Amplitude Studios who previously made well-received 4x space strategy game Endless Space, Endless Legend takes the action down to the planet of Auriga featuring fantastical factions and gameplay that’s very similar to Civilization while still introducing lots of new concepts and mechanics.
In this video Chris and I show off some of the early game while discussing how a race of murderous insect people are maybe just misunderstood.
Read More at Leviathyn >>