Twine Weeky: Bower of Blood and Thorns

Bower of Blood and Thorns is an interesting game that often feels like a love song written by the likes of Tolkien or Martin. The writing is whimsical with a flourish for the dramatic, most noticeable when making reference to the battles that have taken place. However, there is much more here than just a fantasy piece about a special relationship. This is a tale of everything and nothing, beginning and end, intimacy and betrayal. Continue reading

Inaccessible Gaming Part 1: Hardware

It seems there has always been talk about finding ways for gaming to break out of its own little box. We used to discuss about how to get gaming into the mainstream but I think those days are over. Some of our largest games are costing more to make, and earning more in a launch weekend, than summer blockbuster films. Television advertisements for video games can be seen running between ads for Suave and McDonald’s during commercial breaks on network channels. It is becoming more and more difficult to find someone who doesn’t play video games, even if it is the widely popular Candy Crush on a mobile phone. Yet, despite all of this breakthrough into pop culture, there is still a huge schism between the idea of “Video Games” and culture. What is it that film, music, and prose have accomplished that video games have not achieved yet? Accessibility. Continue reading

Twine Weekly: Fibromyalgia Simulator

I wasn’t sure what I was getting into when I started Xandir’s Fibromyalgia Simulator. I had never heard of this chronic disorder beforehand and the word “simulator” in game titles has increasingly been used ironically. I went in with an open mind and was surprised to emerge better educated about a disorder that affects millions of people. Continue reading

Mad Max: The Dangers of Safe Game Design

I am going to start off by saying, I have never seen a single Mad Max movie. In fact, my only knowledge about the movies is that they take place in a post apocalyptic wasteland. With that said, I went into this game with an open mind and zero expectations. I came away from Mad Max with utter disappointment, feeling as though I had been duped into playing a cobbled together mish-mash of half baked mechanics stolen straight from other games. Every bit of my experience was mediocre and disjointed. Continue reading

TL;DR: Assassin’s Creed Syndicate

If you like any of the previous 38 Assassin Creed titles then you will love Syndicate. If this is you, just go buy the game because it is the same thing just in Victorian London this time — which seems to be a pretty popular time period. The zipline trivializes the hallmark climbing aspects. There are two playable characters, though this mechanic isn’t fleshed out in either the narrative nor the gameplay. One is better at combat, the other can become invisible (WHAT?) and they have their own skill trees which allows you to play with different builds. In the story, one doesn’t utilize subtlety in assassinations and the other cleans up the mess. Seriously, they could have just had one character with one skill tree and the ability to respec. Evie is much more interesting and fleshed out than Jack Jacob anyways(he’s so generic I even forgot his name). In the end they assassinate the main bad guy and the present day plot still doesn’t make any sense.

Score: Brooding Frye Twins

brooding frye twins

AltGames Weekly: BasketBelle

In 2012 I went a little overboard with all of the indie bundles that were popping up after the success of Humble Bundle and ended up accumulating a vast amount of DRM-free games that I have never installed. After almost three years I am finally playing these games that I have purchased. While most have been passable — and some are outright unplayable — some have been really well done. BasketBelle is definitely on the better end of that spectrum and is quite memorable due to both the mechanics and the narrative. Continue reading

An Exercise in Inclusivity: Defenders of Townsville

Usually tie-in games based on franchises aimed at children fail…horribly. These games are usually filled with poor platforming physics, repetitive combat, and boring puzzles — if you can even call them that. Needless to say, my expectations going into radiangames’ Powerpuff Girls: Defenders of Townsville were pretty low, and I was blown away. Instead of a poorly conceived platformer I found a Metroidvania styled shmup with depth. But I’m not going to rave about how good the game is. If that genre mix sounds like peanut butter and chocolate then you should play it. Instead, Defenders of Townsville is filled with design choices that developers should take note on as many are based around accessibility and making the game enjoyable for as many people possible. Continue reading