Yesterday. More than a just a very strange surname, Yesterday is a point-and-click adventure by Madrid-based developers Pendulo Studios. Sneaking under the radar of many a gamer, even the adventure nuts among us, Pendulo bills their latest head-scratcher a “thrilling mystery”, and that it is “presenting a unique, dark and sombre style”. Don’t be fooled by the cartoon-y graphics and caricatured models, they really mean it. Yesterday is about as sombre as an adventure game can get. Murder, torture, betrayal, the supernatural, even Satan himself make up major parts of the plot, helping make Yesterday into one excellent, albeit completely unique, point-and-click.
Doctor Who has a fairly poor track record when it comes to video games, especially in recent years. Who remembers the notoriously horrible Doctor Who: Return to Earth and Evacuation Earth, for the Wii and DS respectively? Don’t seek them out, in any case. But the latest interactive adaptation of the franchise, PSN-exclusive (for now) Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock, was promoted as the first title intended for adult Whovians – were we going to get a real video game, rather than a mish-mash, sub-par Professor Layton clone? A game that properly encapsulates the feel of the television show, without feeling condescending or watered-down? I had no choice but to play it eagerly.
In the contemporary video game climate (do I use that phrase too much?), there seem to be a number of common, yet largely ignored, plagues. Well, maybe plague is a very harsh word, but there are definitely a few infective diseases that are spreading like wildfire through the industry. Is that phrase too harsh as well? In my review of Krater, I briefly discussed the epidemic that is indie games releasing well before they’re ready and lacking a multitude of necessary features. Fieldrunners, recently released on Steam, is an example of a very distinct pandemic – portable games being ported to platforms which really don’t need them.
Way back in 2009, a strange little third-person shooter was released, called Foreign Legion: Buckets of Blood. I’m sure that the real foreign legion, the branch of the French army open to civilians of other countries (thanks Wikipedia), was thrilled to have their name on a game in which you attempt to defend a number of objectives (bus full of civilians, house full of civilians) from wave after wave of terrorists in as gory a manner as possible. Indeed, the more grizzly your method of dispatching your foes, be them soldiers or chickens, the more buckets of blood (or, score) you accumulated throughout the level.
Franchise reboots are a common occurrence in the modern video game climate. The usual requirement for a franchise to receive this treatment, however, is that the original games were actually good, popular games that have stood the test of time. The Spec Ops franchise has none of these qualities. Between 1998 and 2002, Zombie Studios and Runecraft developed a slew of low-quality, low-price, squad-based third-person shooters that started life on PC before making their way to console. So why, then, does this criminally mediocre IP deserve resurrection while other beloved series are being overlooked?
This is going to be a short one. In my review of the first episode, I detailed the praise and complaints I have about Telltale’s episodic adventure adaptation of The Walking Dead – the poor interface, the lazy puzzles. But the reason that it still received such a high score can be summed up with one simple, six-letter word – choice. Choice was the reason that I loved the first episode, and is the reason that I loved the second even more. Just a warning, though – there will be spoilers for and assumed knowledge of The Walking Dead: Episode 1.
Explore. Expand. Exploit. Exterminate. These are the four tenets of 4X video games; the four pillars upon which an entire genre of gaming rests. You scout through the fog of war and discover new lands. You plant your peoples’ flag on these lands, claiming them for your own. You drive your own territory down to skin and bones, through incessant mining and farming. And you amass yourself a military force like no other, using clever micromanagement and tactics to ensure that your civilization lives on while others perish. Endless Space is a 4X game created by 4X enthusiasts – one that doesn’t just abide by, but embraces the four tenets of the genre so wholeheartedly that myself, and other fans of the genre, will find themselves so engrossed in their galactic conquest that, by 4 in the morning, we’ll agree with each other that this is a game that can proudly stand alongside Master of Orion and Sid Meier’s Civilization as one of the best examples of the genre.