So, I have this friend. We’ll call him ‘Jeff”, because, well, that’s what his name is. He plays a lot of video games, and he usually finds some manner of fault with roughly 95% of them. Most of that fault is with the plot, because let’s face it, while video game plotwriting has come a very long way, it is oftentimes still lacking when compared with books and such. So when Jeff recommends a game to me based on the strength of its plot, I take notice. I take a lot of notice. Even if that game is something I may not ordinarily have picked up.
When I started writing this article, I fully intended on it being a review of Magic 2014, the latest release of the Magic: the Gathering self-contained video game (which, thankfully, drops both the ‘the Gathering‘ and the ‘Duels of the Plainswalkers‘ suffixes). I really did. And it’s still going to be, at least in part. However, as I opened up the game itself to give myself a mental refresher on it, as it has been out for a few months or so at this point, I realized that the feeling I was having when I started to play the game again was something that really should prompt a bit of consideration. I found that not only was I really not in the mood to play it, I couldn’t really imagine a time when I would want to grind through even the short, predictable matches that would unlock entire decks worth of cards, one card at a time, all over again.
And in that moment, I finally understood why someone would spring for paying a buck or two in order to unlock content that is available to the player through gameplay progression.
Shadowrun Returns is one of Kickstarter’s earliest major success stories. Its funding happened during the time immediately after Double Fine seemingly opened the floodgates of people willing to throw down money for the kind of games that they wanted to play, and as a result, ‘cutting out the middleman’ became the cool thing to do. Shortly after that, though, was when people realized that the intersection of people who want to self-publish and the people with good project management skills is very, very small. Luckily, the folks behind Shadowrun actually know how to deliver a finished product (after a few twists and turns along the way).
Ah, the venerable point-and-click adventure genre, the genre that includes such greats as Maniac Mansion, Shadowgate, and King’s Quest, among others. Some of my favorite games on the face of the planet come from this genre, and it is absolutely filled to the brim with nostalgia for me. Like others, I greatly lamented the decline of the genre, both in the number and the quality of games that were released in it, and again, like others, I have become quite excited at the genre’s revival. I eagerly devoured the new Sam & Max games, I have placed The Walking Dead into my queue of games to tackle, and I am quite enthusiastic to see what Double Fine decides to do with their Kickstarter success money.
I had every intention of starting Dishonored this week. I really did. And, to be fair, I did start it, except that an unfortunate quirk in my living room arrangement kept me from getting that far in it (windows + TV + game with dark color palette = NO). So in the meantime I decided to try out a few games that I had acquired during the Steam Winter Sale, and the one that really stuck with me was this one, FTL. I’d heard about it before, but I will admit I was really going into the game blind. I didn’t know what to expect, really, and I will admit I was quite surprised by what it ended up being.
Now, everyone who knows me knows that I absolutely love me some Portal. And why not? It definitely has secured itself squarely in the ranks of the Greatest Games of All Time. In fact, I could just sit here and say “Portal is one of the greatest games of all time” and leave it at that, and would hear absolutely no arguments from anyone.
Except I’m not going to do that.