Gone Home and The Reality Effect

Gone Home.

Gone Home. This was The Fullbright Company’s famed “Story Exploration Video Game,” a game that I had been aching to witness, to dissect, and to analyse.

This, I already knew, were a Critic’s Kinda Game – one that would absolutely speak both to my ludological and narratological interests… only, the increasingly massive amount of criticism (reviews, articles, critiques, and commentaries) had begun to pile and fill up my Pocket feed, my RSS subs, and my Twitter timeline; first, to the point of my hesitation, then, to mild discomfort, and finally to a kind of destitution.

I really did feel, for a moment, ashamed of not having tackled the popular game on this website. We seemed like such a good match.

I guess you could say that I think we both owe it to each other.

Minor spoilers below.

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Shipwreck Review

I recently stumbled upon a really good video game trailer:

The above video, then, is a launch trailer for Brushfire Games’ new indie game Shipwreck. It is as WYSIWYG as you get! In buying this new game, you get the following:

  • Neat and tidy pixel graphics
  • Atmospheric console-style ‘retro’ music
  • Well-balanced, honed gameplay
  • Fun mechanics and a good difficulty curve
  • Zelda! Zelda! Link! Link!
  • I.e., A solid little game.

Interested? Read on, for more commentary on the game’s mechanics, qualities, and genre:

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Payday 2, “Death Wish,” and Binary States

Over here at The Slowdown, I like and try to produce criticism on things that I enjoy, and things that I think are good. This is often (cough, preposterously) visible on the website. This doesn’t mean, however, that I don’t just “play” games, too.

One of these games is Payday 2, the sequel to 2011’s Payday: The Heist, a 4-person co-op cops-and-robbers FPS that came hot on the heels of the foundations laid down by Left 4 Dead. Copocalypse, anyone? Credit where credit is due: Not only are both games excellent co-op shooters, but the game’s developers, the Swedish Overkill Software, have pretty much a perfect track record of community support and management so far.

In fact, I would point @Overkill_TM out to any aspiring developer as an example of how to masterfully utilize Steam as more than just a platform for selling games; Payday 1 was well-supported enough, and Payday 2 on the PC has received a constant stream of community-oriented events, content updates, and patches.

On the whole, I am a big Overkill fan, and a Payday one, too, and it seems many, many others are as well: With Overkill owners Starbreeze Studios signing a new 2-year, $6 million extension deal with 505 Games, it’s not surprising that Overkill have now deployed yet another update to the game.

All that aside, the all-new “Death Wish” update, however, is a curious case of a developer failing to see the forest of their core mechanics for the trees. “Death Wish” is, simply put, a mind-boggling move from the otherwise reliable studio.

Read on to find my PSA-like analysis on why.

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A Post About a Blog: Edmund McMillen

Alert, alert! @EdmundMcMillenn has recently opened up a new Tumblr dev blog for The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth.

That ends the newsworthy portion of this post; certainly, the opening of the Tumblr is major news to any and all Isaac buffs (like myself! I am your Golden God!), as McMillen has promised a weekly stream of teasers from the forthcoming Nicalis remake: videos, gifs, screenshots, information, and music. Diptera Sonata, below, won me over very quickly:

The main thing that I’d like to draw attention to, however, is McMillen’s personal Tumblr, which is now largely a domain for nigh-daily Q&A for fans. McMillen’s answers are astonishingly open, honest, and gripping, and recommended reading for anyone interested in the making of art and video games.

I’ll let one of the entries do the talking:

i do enjoy answering questions that might help people, i know i could have used some advice when i was younger so i usually answer those. i think its important when being in the public eye to put as much as you can out there so people get a better idea of you as a whole person, instead of the caricature  the press/internets paint you out to be

Here are some more past examples of the kind of answers that you can expect from McMillen. (more…)

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Steam Treasures: SteamWorld Dig Review

It’s time to bring back our Steam Treasures series.

With hundreds and hundreds of titles now receiving the all-important right to be on Steam – through Valve’s Greenlight initiative (that Gabe Newell now wants to do away with) – the idea of a “jewel” of an indie game somehow “making” it through to the service (against all odds!!) no longer carries the same much any weight.

Where Valve’s standards may have changed (for better or worse), ours haven’t: In this series, we review budget-sized, budget-priced, big-small games that deserve to be added to your Steam library, period – even, when they’re not currently in a bundle for beans! Our first new entry to the series, then, is none other than the aptly-titled SteamWorld Dig: A Fistful of Dirt. SteamWorld Dig Logo

Curiously, the game’s developer, the Swedish Image & Form, actually did not target Steam first, as the game found its original home on the Nintendo eShop. Even on the Nintendo 3DS – a system I don’t currently own or have access to – the game immediately caught my attention due to its colourful look and feel, cute robot designs, and overall Steampunk shenanigans.

Ultimately, nomen est omen, and so forth, and we computer folks ended up receiving a full OS smorgasbord, from Windows to OSX to Linux, all via Steam. I was overjoyed to discover the game was to be ported so quickly over to PC – there still exist footage of me posting awful puns on Twitter. That’s how excited I was about getting to play the game.

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