No matter your taste in games, it would not be an overstatement to say that every year, we are inundated with a deluge of fantastic experiences. Overstatements abound, however, in the odes penned by marketing departments, aggrandizing their subject with claims of ground-breaking, innovative features that redefine a mechanic, a genre, nay, gaming itself! In reality, of course, as with any cultural expression, most games walk down well-trodden paths and offer only incremental improvements in familiar genres.
Occasionally, there comes a game that truly is novel. It may defy genres, or mix them in a new way. It may present a fresh take on a well-known genre by bring a new mechanic to the table, or by removing one of the genre’s central mechanics. Snake Pass is of the latter kind, being a 3D platformer where you’re a snake and must slither your way across obstacles and hazards, notably without being able to jump.
Doom is a well-executed breath of fresh air in an age of morally ambiguous, cover-based shooters.
The status of Id Software’s Doom (1993) as a legend in the history of video games is undisputed. But what would it look like if it was created today? How would the mechanics translate to modern game design? And would it be as fun?
The series’ most recent instalment, Doom (2016), may provide the answer.
Beware weakly typed APIs when you are used to strong compile-time safety.
Weakly typed APIs can bite you, particularly when you’re using a language like F# where you’re for the most part blessed with strongly typed APIs. Thankfully, strongly typed wrappers are often one-liners.
Hell is oneself when you’re struggling with the living nightmare that is psychosis.
“Turn back!” cries a voice. “She never listens”, mocks another one. “She must go on!” a third demands. The cacophony of voices reaches a crescendo as you stretch your arm toward the door. Your vision starts to blur. Swirly, dark shadows slithers across the landscape. The sky darkens. You open the door.
The Darkness subsides. “She’s not… dead”, whispers a surprised voice. You may yet be consumed by it, but you escaped this time.
A witty commentary on forum subculture makes this much more than just a good map pack.
What is an online community? How do information and misinformation inform common beliefs and dogmas? How do those beliefs again inform art? And how does all of this interplay with roles and relationships in the community?
Writers Tom Jubert and Jonas Kyratzes return for story duty in this expansion to The Talos Principle, meaning Road to Gehenna sports another rewarding and masterfully crafted narrative.
Good puzzle design, an enigmatic narrative, and an excellent soundtrack combine to make this a great experience.
Behold, child. You are risen from the dust, and you walk in my garden. Hear now my voice, and know that I am your maker, and I am called ELOHIM. Seek me in my temple, if you are worthy.
Thus begins The Talos Principle, with a fatherly, yet commanding voice coming from everywhere and nowhere. The words, more than subtly inspired by Genesis, invite you to start your quest to solve increasingly difficult puzzles, for whichever reason. But it is not just the mechanics what will challenge you; your enigmatic circumstances will also have you befuddled in this philosophically heavy game.
For all the exploitative design, games provide solid female characters, too.
Happy International Women’s Day! Female gaming characters don’t have a reputation for being feminist-friendly, but there are many exceptions. In that regard, allow me to highlight a few of my favorites.
Let F# types guide you to better user experiences and stopping terrorists.
Boolean logic is central to many business rules. But sometimes it’s not enough to know whether a chain of conditions evaluates to true or false; we might want to know which of the conditions failed. F#, unsurprisingly, lets us model this in a very succinct, composable, and completely type-safe way. But there are pitfalls – sometimes, a seemingly simple and pure function just won’t cut it.
Cradle is an interesting and imperfect narrative puzzle that may or may not be a tad bit too smart for me.
You know you should prepare your mental faculties for a potentially challenging experience when the development studio is a Ukranian four-man team called Flying Cafe for Semianimals.
The first game, Cradle, is a first-person exploratory sci-fi adventure released in 2015, and a game I find rather difficult to review. One reason is the game’s short length making it hard to avoid spoilers (which I also experienced when reviewing Abzû). But more importantly, I get the distinct feeling that the game had some deeper layers that were lost on me. Regardless, quite a bit can safely be said, and there are a few bones I’d like to pick.
Good storytelling trumps impressive graphics any time.
My game backlog continues to shrink (albeit slowly, having had to prioritize other stuff the last few months), and two more games can now be struck from the list. With one of them being depressingly boring and another being quite short, I opted for one more round of mini-reviews – which, looking at my current backlog, will probably be the last pair of mini-reviews in a good while.