32 thoughts
last posted Feb. 22, 2016, 10:25 p.m.
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Horizon: Zero Dawn is a kind of open-world game that mixes post-apocalypse and tribal primitivism that pits woman versus robot.

It feels like it is rooted in the same zeitgeist as Far Cry: Primal and Tomb Raider but is less morally ambiguous because you're fighting robots (right?).


The Showdown level of Hotline Miami was brutally hard.

Learning to beat panthers to death was an extension of what you've learned about dealing with dogs. However to defeat the ninja you need to do two moves in quick succession perfectly. I had guessed one of the moves but I needed to go to an online FAQ to confirm that I had the right idea but was failing to execute it.

And then it turns out that you're only halfway through the game!


OliOli has come to Steam and the XBox controller rather than touch.

It's a demanding side-scroller racer that forces you to keep up the pace, trick and grind your way across a course while earning a high-score by chaining together perfect trick execution to raise your combo bonus.

Although notionally simple using only the left stick and the A button. The overloading of the controls is actually confusing at high speed.

Even getting through the tutorial is a challenge but as with all difficult games finally get the hang of the manual dexterity required to chain together tricks is really rewarding.


Walking Dead Season 2 Episode 4 was a predictably grim as ever. I felt I was doing a good job of keeping the group together and I knew that encountering strangers is now a harbinger of danger.

In the former I felt a little bit robbed of agency as there was a choice between two characters that felt like there was only a single real choice, and then to top it off, having chosen a character they leave the group which means you just get to feel generally low.

In the latter I couldn't quite find the right conversation options to explain the potential danger in the stranger, but again it didn't feel like there was any way to avoid the climactic ambush. At least the cliffhanger indicates that there are going to be some radical changes in the group in the next episode.

This season has lacked the strength of the first because it lacks a way to reflect the consequences of your decisions in a meaningful way. Clem's decisions come back to her so far by predictable plot beats rather than the impact she's having on the world. Whether she kind or cruel the world of Season 2 is a nihilistic and depressing place.


I can't face a Walking Dead Season 2 episode tonight. Maybe tomorrow when I'm feeling stronger...


I've been playing the beautiful geometry puzzler Monument Valley, which rather like Thomas Was Alone frames the puzzles in a story. However the mystical story of stolen sacred geometry and the ruins that you are exploring creates an atmosphere that is closer to Journey.


Real World Racing has all the arcade excitement and gameplay of lawnmower racing.


I've been giving TinMan Games Gamebook Adventures Engine a go on my new Nexus7. I've been playing their own Gun Dogs, illustrated by Gary Chalk, and the Fighting Fantasy classic Forest of Doom.

I'm a massive fan of gamebooks, partly for nostalgic reasons. Forest of Doom thought reveals the rather basic underpinnings of the system in the newer, faster playing format. While Gun Dogs has a rather Groundhog Day effect where the difficulty rather radically spikes and you are left to play the opening stages again and again to figure out how you are meant to build your character up enough to survive the combat.


Call of Juarez Gunslinger is a bit of a gem with an on-rails shooter being transformed by the framing mechanism of an old gunfighter spinning a yarn. This means the story can be rewound, reframed or retold to put a different spin on the same shooting action.


Walking Dead Season 1 was horror framed by a friendship. Season 2 is all of the horror without any of the companionship or nurturing.

It feels utterly bleak and nihilistic.


Started Episode 3 of the Walking Dead Season 2 and I'm not sure if the story could get more miserable if it tries. It also seems to have an incontrovertible villain with no redeeming qualities in the form of Carver. I keep waiting for some kind of ambiguity to open up with him, but no he just seems to be a colossal arsehole.


I really hate the way uPlay refuses to federate with my Steam details and on PC seems to be unskippable unlike on the console.


Vlambeer's Nuclear Throne is a crazy action rogue-like about post-apocalypse mutants fighting to get to the throne and end their suffering.

It's pretty mental but seems pretty fun as a kind of random shooting rogue.


Broforce is an insanely addictive, tremendously fun run and gun with a puzzle element.

The game is made up of unlockable "bros" modelled after ridiculous but iconic action heroes . When rescue a prisoner "bro" you switch to the new bro and gain a life. When you die you switch to a new bro until ultimately you run out of bros or violently "liberate" a level.

Apart from the level of manic arcade action there are a few features that really make Broforce stand out. First there is the destructible levels, almost everything can be blown up or shot through. You can create a tunnel with a minigun or a cavern with a rocket launcher. Chain reactions can also make the level tricky to navigate.

The other aspect is the different attacks of the bros meaning that while a level is fixed your approach has to vary based on which random character you end up playing. Rather than having a fixed set of movements where you have to hone your timing the game is much more improvisation with you adapting to the opportunities in the level and the attacks and special moves you have at your disposal. Blade characters hack through soldiers but a stray swipe will result in an explosive barrel going off in your face.

It's already great even in beta so I'm looking forward to where it goes from here.


Played a bit of Race the Sun this weekend, which I think I Kickstarted and bought but never got round to playing. The basic endless racing is quite fun although you need a lot of skill and understanding of the collision mechanism to really get good.

However the daily generation of the levels and the reset of the scoreboard is really interesting. It really provides a motive to play the game each day and see what landscapes have been generated now.


Episode 3 of The Wolf Among Us is out and once again it was a binge gaming experience. The noir conspiracy plotlines are dominating but there were a couple of times when the unique aspect of the world of fairytale characters gets used.

I thought the moments when Bigby can choose to express sympathy for the other Fables are the most interesting. It was also the first time that actually I really disliked some of the suspects in the case.

The writers are also doing a good job of showing Snow White as being fallible rather than just being the paragon she's been up until now.


Played quite a bit of Chains of Satinav which is a title that really cries out for a less literal translation.

This is a point and click adventure game set in the German D&D world of The Dark Eye. One where streets are muddy and the poor are downtrodden.

You play a birdcatcher called Geron blessed with an ominous prophecy, a reputation for bad luck and the magical ability to smash fragile things at a distant. Which is as good as it sounds.

The story of someone at the bottom of society, who struggles to get a break and his haunted mentor who is heading to a horrific, vengeful death is all good gothic fantasy.

However it is really the arrival of the second protagonist a faerie called Nuri that really brings the game alive. Nuri wants to experience the world but initially is trapped by her connection to the faerie realm.

Her desire to experience the world and the peril she faces from those who want to use her innate magic is quickly the more sympathetic storyline.

The voice acting while committed never sounds like people are having a conversation. Energy levels are all over the shop and some things that sound definitive fail to finish conversations.

Gameplay wise I've already had to cheat once, the puzzles are not necessarily hard but there is too much pixel hunting, even on easy. The error lines also fail to give you sufficient guidance as to what might work.

Since all puzzles are about either combining items in the inventory or using things on the environment its no using having error messages like "Why would I want to do that?"; the answer is simply because one of these combinations is the answer and I've lost interest in trying to reason what the combination might be.

The trial and error element here also robs the game of a lot of dramatic tension, while there are moments in the game when time seems to matter in truth it never does as you try to find the right order and combination to satisfy the game and move on.

However the difficulty does make me feel satisfied when I do figure out a problem.

reposted to Chains of Satinav

Had a brief bash at Shadowrun Online (currently early access). It's quite interesting to compare it to Shadowrun Returns as there is a lot of similarity in terms of running into cover and then tactically choosing which spells or attack options to use.

Missions are currently framed by little vignettes that remind me quite a lot of the original Max Payne games.


Now that Mercenary Kings is out beta I thought I'd give another go. It still feels too clumsy to be in the run and gun genre and the crafting still feels too unintuitive to be fun.


I paid for access to the Wasteland 2 beta (I backed it on Kickstarter but I was curious to see the current state of the game) but have struggled to make time to play the game.

The initial impressions is that the game is a little slow and juddery but the graphics look great.

There's no kind of tutorial or guide into the game so creating a character seemed quite intimidating and I ended up selecting a group of pre-gen characters that collectively would not represent my normal playing style.

The radio device is quite atmospheric but the map movement is a weird mixture of the abstract (a map pin tracing a line) and literal (random encounters).


Clockwork Cat is really interesting and sweet combination of platforming and time-reversing.

It's a Ludem Dare game so it's quite short and the time-reversing puzzles are quite straight-forward but it feels perfectly formed and complete.


I started Shadowrun: Dragonfall after dinner last night.

What a mistake! The game is hugely compelling and the storyline is broken down into neat little chunks in the context of larger story arcs. Hours literally flew by in a mixture of mystery uncovering, tactical combat, RPG character unlocks, upgrades and tweaks.

The worse thing is that I was often tearing through the background conversations rather than taking the time to enjoy them.

It also seems a much tougher, replayable campaign in that a lot of options require high skill levels to unlock so its hard to be a generalist with lots of flexibility now.

And biotech now seems to be important for clues and conversations making it much more valuable that a simple healthkit boost.


Walking Dead Season Two Episode Two is a big improvement over the first. There is less misery porn and more decisions, evaluating and talking to people.

The story has more of the child's view of the apocalypse which is really compelling and it is starting to pay off decisions from Season One and 400 days


I bought an i5 and an Asus H87, the CPU fan wouldn't spin though. Now in the classic homebuilder dilemma of not knowing whether this is an issue with the power supply or the board; do you spend more and plow on or give up and buy a more expensive pre-built machine?

Realistically I might be prepared to spend another £60 next month to try a new PSU given the prices of gaming PCs.

However there is a point when you think a PS4 looks good for the money.


Finally downloaded Thief and fired it up, only for its lovely medieval vistas to judder, flicker and ultimately crash.

Guess it is upgrade time if I want to play it.

Most of the games I play are 16-bit graphic style or indie darlings, it's rare there's a first-person high-quality graphics game I want to play.


I gave Spacebase DF9 on the weekend. As an alpha game the learning curve is pretty steep with any mistakes being punished with death and failure.

The summary of the game is Dwarf Fortress in space. You are creating a spacebase but really it is the occupants of the spacebase and their lives that is of interest.

At the moment the game's difficulty is sufficiently compelling that with each failure you feel like you've made a bit more progress and understand what you have to do a bit better than you did before.

At other times though the alpha-ness sticks through and the base starts failing because you can't intuit what the interplay within the systems is. If you don't grow food, people starve, if you grow food then you also need a pub to turn it into meals. Do people want food or sleep more?

The construction tools are also opaque with objects having a minimum room-size radius but no apart problem with being placed next to one another. Some objects require a wall to attach to but there is no feedback except the "can't build here" red.


I tried to play the Baldur's Gate Enhanced Edition. My memories of this game are radically different to the realities of the graphics which appear more like the way I remember Amiga games.

There are some things that are best left to memory.


I have been playing a lot of Thomas was Alone over the last week. Ostensibly a platformer, the game is filled with subtle humour and excellent writing that provides a motivation for pushing on with the next puzzle.

It is interesting how the game so easily anthropomorphises a set of coloured polygons, often with nothing more than names.


The AF2014 videos are coming out painfully slowly, I watched the Day 2 video this evening. Best Little Pink Buds is turning out to be a more interesting game than I thought it would be with a stronger emotional core.

Steed and Dear Leader seem to be going well and are clearly going to be interesting prototypes although I'm less interested in a good horse physics simulator than I am a game around early Soviet politics.


Hmmm, the AF2014 shortlist is interesting. As White Witch's Gnome War didn't get through it was easy to transfer a vote to Derelict.

After watching the shortlist interviews though I am now wavering between Steed and "What could go wrong?".

I'm not into slasher horror but I really liked Dave's idea of having slightly different characters in a game and also the idea of dramatically cutting between the characters.


I wasted the whole evening looking through the pitches for Amnesia Fortnight. The selection is pretty amazing.

I'm indifferent about Pendleton Ward's ideas but choosing between the Double Fine contributions was hard. I liked White Birch last time and loved the sound of Ether. I also immediately thought that Steed was a very DoubleFine game (the horse is the hero).

The last choice was really hard though. Levi Ryken's game about gnomes defending their home against the undead sounded dementedly brilliant (and Black Lake was the best of AF 2012 in my view). But Oliver Franzke's Derelict also seemed amazing, particularly with the addition of Occulus Rift support.

Lots of the pitches sounded amazing though and I am looking forward to the documentaries again.


I gave Risk of Rain a quick twirl this evening. Initially I found it an insanely hard rogue-like with vague rules.

However once I found my attack key and realised that you needed to run around and level up a bit first (rather than just following the instruction to find the teleporter) it started to get a bit more fun. Then when I found a gun drone that followed my character around it started to seem very fun!

Child Streams

Far Cry: Primal

1 thought
updated Jan. 29, 2017, 6:14 p.m.

Game design

2 thoughts
updated Oct. 16, 2016, 11:15 p.m.

Forza 6

3 thoughts
updated Oct. 16, 2016, 11:07 p.m.

Forza 3 Horizon

6 thoughts
updated Oct. 12, 2016, 8:59 p.m.


4 thoughts
updated Oct. 9, 2016, 8:34 p.m.

Forza 2 Horizon

3 thoughts
updated Sept. 24, 2016, 8:43 a.m.

Tomb Raider

2 thoughts
updated Sept. 11, 2016, 10:49 p.m.

Mad Max

5 thoughts
updated July 28, 2016, 8:27 p.m.

The Walking Dead: Michonne

4 thoughts
updated Feb. 28, 2016, 11:27 p.m.

Fallout 4

10 thoughts
updated Feb. 24, 2016, 8:08 a.m.


8 thoughts
updated Dec. 26, 2015, 10:19 p.m.

Batman: Arkham Knight

11 thoughts
updated Sept. 6, 2015, 9:44 p.m.

Guardian Games Night: Games, military and morality

10 thoughts
updated April 10, 2015, 8:04 a.m.

Pillars of Eternity

19 thoughts
updated April 6, 2015, 7:21 p.m.

Chains of Satinav

4 thoughts
updated Nov. 9, 2014, 4:19 p.m.

The Walking Dead Season 2

3 thoughts
updated Oct. 12, 2014, 8:12 p.m.

Nuclear Throne

4 thoughts
updated Sept. 28, 2014, 6:14 p.m.