Sometimes, a rare gem of a game comes along that just defies true explanation. On paper, Technobabylon is a cyperpunk noir mishmash that seems to take inspiration from Blade Runner, Ready Player One and point-and-click adventures of old, but in reality it’s so much more than that. Not that the combination of those things isn’t awesome already, of course, but Technobabylon’s strengths push it far beyond awesome and into very important and progressive territory.
Let me preface this review with a disclaimer: Heroes of Might and Magic III (The Restoration of Erathia, to true fans) is one of my favourite video games of all time. My love for it is up there with Majora’s Mask and the Civilization franchise. Heroes III took up hundreds upon hundreds of hours of my childhood; between the single player campaign, the random scenario generator, LAN matches with my father and brother, and Hot-Seat matches with my cousins, I don’t even want to know how many hours of outdoors time I sacrificed as a child to play Heroes III. Tower was always my faction of choice and Astral was my man–nothing could stand in the way of huge stacks of Master Gremlins. I would, without hesitation, call Heroes III one of the greatest strategy games of all time. I do appreciate its shortfalls: it’s very simplistic, almost garishly in its colour palette, and incredibly cluttered. That said, It’s the absolute peak of the Heroes franchise–not only does it contain the highest number of factions, but it’s a truly triumphant blend of turn-based strategy, battlefield tactics, and fantasy role-playing. And the music, oh man the music is so beautiful.
That said, this review is of the remastered “HD Edition”, not the legendary original game. I unashamedly let out a fanboy squeal when I first received an email from Ubisoft announcing the existence of the remaster. I should have known… I should have known that there was only the bitter taste of disappointment in store. No, it’s not “bad”, just disappointing.
Daedalic Entertainment are known for their ability to provide gamers with interesting and immersive worlds, eccentric characters and lovingly crafted stories that whisk you away and force you to buy into their special brand of whimsy. These are all elements that make for an excellent adventure game, in which a good story can make an otherwise unremarkable game worth playing through to the end. However, when attempting a turn-based strategy game like the studio’s newest offering Blackguards 2 it’s a little harder for the story to act as a crutch, even when the game takes place inside the vast and already-established universe of ‘The Dark Eye’. So does Blackguards 2 prove that the developers can stray from what they’re best at?
If there’s one genre that really embraces the true potential of video games, it’s simulation. With simulation games, one can fulfil every dream they’ve ever had, from the more modest professions like long haul train driving, to the somewhat more unrealistic manager of a football club–even the downright impossible, such as an intergalactic trader in a futuristic universe, is made possible in a video game. Yet, despite their broad range of subjects, one thread tying most simulation games together is that their topics are usually things that people would love to do in real life. That isn’t the case for The Escapists, a simulation game that asks the player to plan and execute escape from gaol.
2014 has been a hard year to conjure Game of the Year nominations for, but not due to an overwhelming number of options, a problem I wouldn’t mind having right now. The year had some interesting releases sprinkled throughout, yet the dread of all the disappointments brought (shockingly) by the major developers has left me preferring not to look back on the year that regrettably was, but here are some highlights.
Battleblock Theater was re-issued for PC, and Abe’s Oddyssey returned as Oddworld: New N Tasty for PS4. Octodad: The Dadliest Catch and The Swapper proved several barrels-worth of enjoyment for too few hours, while Ubisoft’s South Park: The Stick of Truth and Valiant Hearts both managed to exceed my high expectations. It doesn’t seem so bad when I describe it that way, so I guess I’d better stop there.
My vote for GotY goes to a game that offered some strain of innovation without forcing me to consider reading the returns policy, a sad rarity for 2014.
After what seems like an age (I’m hilarious) of being glued to the PS4, I think I’m finally ready to talk about Dragon Age: Inquisition, the biggest game and first ever RPG to be made using the Frostbite engine. By claiming a powerful narrative, complex characters and an introductory area said to be bigger than the lands of the first two Dragon Age games combined, BioWare have set high standards for the game and it has been surrounded by a level of hype that can often be dangerous. We’ve already seen some AAA titles fall flat this year, so how does Dragon Age fare?
I can’t say that I’ve ever truly wanted to ride an elephant in a video game. It’s never really been a major selling point for me. So when Far Cry 4‘s marketing revolved heavily around the ability to do just that, I was highly sceptical. Surely there’s more to FC4 than just riding elephants? Well, after playing the fourth installment in possibly Ubisoft’s last respected franchise, I have come to the conclusion that the answer is much more complicated than a simple yes or no.