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Each Monday, Chris Livingston visits an early access game and reports back with stories about whatever he finds inside. This week, pantsless survival and gimp mask crafting in Starforge.>
The Earth’s sun is being devoured by a black hole, and humankind, desperate to survive, has sent scouts to the planet Atlas to prepare the mysterious new world for colonization. I am one of those scouts, the Earth’s last and best hope, which is a bit of a shame because I’ve been here for several days and I’m still wearing just the underpants I arrived in and I’ve been living in a hole in the ground. On the plus side… well… I dug the hole myself?
For almost two weeks, this screenshot and several others popped up in my RSS reader every morning without me having the slightest clue what it was. I couldn’t remember which game it was from, and I didn’t particularly care. The sun glowing over those hard-edged, untextured mountains made me happy. Every morning I’d open the blog post, admire and reflect on the screenshots a little, then mark it unread to enjoy again tomorrow. After a fortnight of blathering about those mountains in the RPS staffroom, today I was nudged into posting them (only partially to shut me up).
I was anxious about looking into them more because games often work better as ideas, things to turn over and dream about in our heads. I didn’t want to ruin the illusion. Luckily, the game they’re from, Into this Wylde Abyss, sounds splendid. It’s a short first-person game described as being “about struggling to survive on a freezing island and what happens in your final hours.”
A Story About My Uncle is actually a story about the narrator’s uncle told as a bedtime story to a small child. Said uncle is a brilliant scientist – a whimsical and even-tempered version of Uncle Quentin from the Famous Five books. A blackboard in his abandoned house reveals that he has built some kind of waste disposal system possibly powered by starlight. The story begins as the child version of the narrator enters the garbage disposal dimension rift thingummy to go looking for him.
The untextured, low-poly-ish, neo-primitive 3D look of games like The Official (and Skipping Stones, Kyoto Wild, and…) spark a curious nostalgia in me. They don’t remind me of the games I played growing up, but the games I wished I could have played–those I only saw in magazines and heard friends talk about. Jumping from a slow 386 to a 3D-crippled Cyrix system, I missed TIE Fighter, Alone in the Dark, and so many others that looked astonishing on the pages of PC Gamer and were so exciting inside my head. It’s nostalgia for that dreaming and imagining.
The Official is also a bit of a throwback to those days in how it controls: it’s a first-person adventure game where you’ll need to click on arrows to take a few steps between scenes.
If you’re looking for a Wot I Think on the recently released Snipe Elite 3 – a game in which you spend most of your time wading around wet meadows, using a long bill to probe mud for worms and larvae, you are in the wrong place. This is a Wot I Think on the recently released Sniper Elite 3 – a game in which you spend most of your time waddling around dry wadis, using a long arm to probe flesh for bones and organs. The only feathers you’ll find here are feather palms, the only helpless invertebrates Axis soldiers crudely de-spined by Lee-Enfields and M1 Garands. … [visit site to read more]
News about games reaches me in many forms. Sometimes it’s a personal email from a developer, a conversation with a friend or another website’s reporting, but more often it’s a press release. They’re often coldly efficient, those press releases, listing a stack of genres, throwing buzzwords at the wall and hoping that at least a couple will stick. Not always, but often.
This afternoon I discovered that the best way to receive news about games is in the form of a few words twittered into the world by former journo-critic turned developer Tom ‘Gunpoint‘ Francis. “Look at fucking Transmigration. What the fuck is this delightful shit.” What the fuck indeed.
Games are far weirder and varied than most people realise, which is why we must do our utmost to constantly remind ourselves and look further than that which is advertised to us. We must even seek out those little dream games when they’re incomplete, because that’s the only way dreams will ever become reality.
That’s also why the header image on this post includes a menu, a quote from a JG Ballard, some procedural spaceships and an ancient biology drawing. Videogaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaames.
Sheltered is a game of post-nuke survival in which the player is at the head of a family living in an underground bunker. Our Alec took notice when it reached Kickstarter a couple of weeks ago and he wasn’t alone. With four days left on the clock, the project has reached passed its 15,000 goal and is on the verge of raising 20,000 in bottle caps and other assorted currency. It wasn’t only pledgers who took note of the pixel art survival sim, companies were also watching, notably Team 17 who have snapped up publishing rights.
I have fond memories of clearing corners in Rainbow Six and SWAT, and I’ve longed for a modern method of drawing and poorly executing plans with friends. Rainbow Six: Siege could be the game I’m looking for, or it could just as easily be Due Process. It’s a first-person multiplayer game where attackers and defenders draw on maps, draw their guns, and then blow themselves and each other up. There’s a first alpha trailer below and it contains plenty of reasons to be interested.
Often game jams produce a lot of interesting ideas rendered in basic, barely-legible programmer art, but themes like the cyberpunk jam or the space cowboy jam seem to attract artists as much as game designers.
Case in point: The Last Night, made by brothers Tim and Adrien Soret. It’s a “Blade Runner + delicious pixels”. It’s inspired by Flashback and games of its era. It is by implication a stealth game, though it contains no mechanics to support that so you have to shoot everything. It is three minutes long, beautifully drawn, and full of great music. Play it in your browser at that or this link.