Edna & Harvey: The Breakout

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It may surprise you to learn that during the rare moments when I’m not gaming and/or getting deeply emotionally invested in the lives of fictional characters, I’m a psychology student. Apart from leading to many “hilarious” jokes about me psychoanalysing my friends one day, my interest in psychology means that when I saw that Daedalic’s 2011 title Edna & Harvey: The Breakout was set in an asylum, I was cautiously optimistic. It’s not often that mental illness plays a role in games (explicitly, anyway), and when it does it’s usually used as an offensive way of explaining why a bunch of goons are flailing wildly at your face, so I hoped that this might be a fun change that I could really get behind. When I actually started playing, however, I became a little glad that the optimism had only been cautious.

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Forced

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Forced is a very interesting and innovative take on what would initially appear to be an isometric dungeon-crawler. Instead, it is an adventuring puzzle game with a focus on dynamic gameplay, accommodating for 1-4 players. Each level can be completed solo or with a team, though an inconsistent difficulty level and technical issues taint the experience in either avenue. Damned if you do…

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Papers, Please

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Who’d have ever thought that a desk job could be so simultaneously exciting and terrifying? To be perfectly honest, a 9-to-5 (well, 6, in this case) desk job would probably be right at the bottom of my list of things to make games of, way down there with managing a lemonade stand and going on a daily paper route. Papers, Please, however, takes a premise that is unpromising at first glance and manages to come through with one of the most memorable titles of 2013.

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Beyond: Two Souls

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Quantic Dream games are like Tommy Wiseau’s The Room. You end up liking them for their weird, unintentional shenanigans that make the game hilarious while trying to be a serious piece of art. I wish this was the case for Beyond: Two Souls. David Cage has taken a few steps forward but even more steps back when it comes to the interactive-movie-game- genre-thing they are going for. I’ll have to keep comparing Beyond to Quantic Dream’s last game, Heavy Rain because the whole time I played Beyond, I was just waiting for that hilarious “JASON” moment. It never came.

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First Outstanding Game of 2012

It’s the final night of Select Start Media’s annual awards ceremony! We only have a few awards lined up for tonight: firstly, we’re going to be giving out a number of “Outstanding Game” awards, followed by our writers’ Game of the Year awards, and then the overall Select Start Media 2012 GOTY award! First up, here’s the winner of the very first Outstanding Game of 2012 award:

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Torchlight II

Isometric click ‘em up is a genre that has been dominated by one franchise for the last fifteen years. Diablo. Since the release of the first title in that series back in 1996, the idea of running around clicking on things to make them explode into gibs has been synonymous with a game cover featuring an angry looking red thing glaring out at you. But as the world over waited for Diablo III, their desire to see things explode upon click sat, insatiated, until Torchlight popped its curious head around the corner. Torchlight, a game that could have so easily been lambasted as a direct clone of Diablo and yet was celebrated by critics and fans alike. It satisfied the desires of every gamer who’d moaned that they’d never see the release of Diablo III, perfecting the click and loot formula while retaining a sense of whimsy and humour that Diablo lacked. The introduction of the “pet” mechanic was seen as a revolution to the genre. What it didn’t have, however, was multiplayer.

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Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

I’ve never been very good at Counter-Strike. Hold your gasps of shock, please. Maybe it’s just the ridiculous level of skill reached by everyone else on the servers I seem to jump on, but I always find myself with a kill-to-death ratio of about 0.2. I just don’t have the drive to invest the time and energy required to really improve my twitch shooting skills. I do know people who are good at shooting heads from halfway across the map, however, and the majority of them seem to agree on one very important issue. Have you guessed it yet? That’s right – Counter-Strike players across the globe are near unanimous in agreement that Counter-Strike 1.6 is a far superior game to Counter-Strike: Source. Shocking, I know. For the better part, 1.6 is still used for professional play. That’s where Counter-Strike: Global Offensive comes in. The almighty Valve seem to have realised that they missed the competition-play boat with Source, and have released this budget-priced update to do what Source should have done.

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Endless Space

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.

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