Project Temporality

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Independent games were once renowned for the extra effort invested in original plot, characters and at least an attempt at interesting dialogue, while triple-A titles pushed forward interesting gameplay concepts. With big-name developers now competing to see who can be as derivative as possible, we rely on independents to conceive gaming elements intriguing enough to prevent the gaming world from becoming an industry-servicing industry, pumping out bland, generally acceptable titles that appeal to wider audiences to maximise sales, using the profits from last year’s sequel-fest bland-o-rama.

Project Temporality investigates some potential game-saving concepts but is one of the most derivative independent titles in regards to the extra-curricular gaming elements that we’ve ever seen. Somewhere along the line, tables have turned.

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Among The Sleep

As a non-combative first-person survival horror, it was inevitable that indie title Among the Sleep would be compared to Amnesia: The Dark Descent, and this toddler-based game conjures similar feelings as the much longer and larger Amnesia, particularly that widespread feeling of pants being shat in. At least in Among the Sleep you’ll already be wearing a nappy.

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Wolfenstein: The New Order

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Ahh, Wolfenstein. After almost single-handedly inventing the genre in 1992, the Wolfenstein series has struggled to stay relevant, releasing a handful of mediocre titles and non-canon multiplayer tie-ins over the last twenty years. Spoiler alert: Wolfenstein is back, and it’s making old-school sensibilities cool again.

Wolfenstein: The New Order is only the fourth title in the Wolfenstein series of first-person shooters (sort of, let’s not get into pedantics here) that started with id Software’s Wolfenstein 3D and essentially paved the way for all entries in the genre to follow. It was developed by on the id Tech 5 engine by debutants MachineGames, a studio mostly comprised of veterans from Starbreeze Studios (of Riddick and the Darkness fame.) Set in an alternate reality, the Axis forces (more specifically, the Nazis–I didn’t see any RSI imagery in the game) have won World War II by way of incredibly advanced technology and forced the Allies to their knees. As series staple protagonist William “B.J.” Blazkowicz, Nazi-killer extraordinaire, it’s your job to go up against your old pal General William “Deathshead” Strasse–or, as he calls himself, Totenkopf–and his arsenal of Nazi robots.

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War of the Vikings

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I know quite a few of people who hate War of the Vikings. They truly detest it. Hardcore fans of its predecessor, 2012′s War of the Roses, these people mourn the level of complexity of Roses‘ damage system. They miss the depth of Roses‘ custom loadouts–the literally thousands of possible combinations of weapons, armor, perks–for example, they miss Vikings‘ inability to choose from one of three different groove types in your sword, each impacting the balance of its damage/speed/stamina cost. They particularly loathe the fact that Vikings features about 30 different types of one-handed axe, but the differences are all aesthetic–in game, regardless of how many coins the axe was worth (don’t worry, coins are earned after battles. They’re not microtransactions like in War of the Roses.), every one-handed axe will perform exactly the same. As will all weapons of the same overall type.

I also know a lot of people who love War of the Vikings. Sick of Roses‘ reliance on flashy, over-complicated custom loadouts, these people took Vikings‘ move towards simple, skill-based gameplay as a huge breath of fresh air. No longer do they see people run around bashing the living shit out of everything that dares to move, destroying their weapons, shield, and skull by flailing a fuck off massive war hammer around. These people recognised that the main result of Roses‘ huge level of complexity, while initially appealing, was the enormous difficulty in ensuring that gameplay was properly balanced. They recognised that it wasn’t. Hence the abundance of war hammers. They also appreciate Paradox’s step away from the microtransaction-based free to play model that War of the Roses morphed into.

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Puzzle Game of 2013

Last year brought forth a great collection of fantastic indie puzzle games, most of which seem to have been reviewed by myself. The Bridge, Antichamber and Element4l, all made by unbelievably and impressively tiny development teams, all absolutely blew me away, and while Forced may be better described as an arena hack-n-slash RPG (I don’t know, gaddamnit), the preconceptions of puzzling were cast off in its development process and re-defined to make something unique. It is sad for Forced then that the winner of our Puzzle Game of the Year managed to do the very same but to a further unprecedented and incomprehensible level.

The winner of best puzzle game of 2013 is:

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Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies

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It was during the very early months of 2008 that I played my first Ace Attorney game and realised exactly what had been missing from my life: sunshine, and time spent outdoors. No, it was in fact Phoenix Wright, the slightly incompetent but very, very lucky young lawyer with hedgehog hair that pulled at my heartstrings and made me chuckle at the most inopportune moments. Since then I’ve been a huge fan of the series, and while it took a little while to warm up, the latest instalment did not disappoint.

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Biggest Disappointment of 2013

2013 was awash with disappointments for many. Even titles that weren’t absolute failures still left a little something to be desired, whether that be a smoother online launch or a more consistent gameplay experience (non-coincidentally, that’s my miniature-review of GTA V). Then there are the titles that every gamer thought they knew what to expect, assured by the continuing development (or lack thereof) of previous series entries that 2013’s rendition would surely match that same level of production value and cheap amusement. There really is only one series I could be talking about right now so let’s controversially get on to it. The biggest disappointment of 2013 is:

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