All Steam-ed up

A Polygon article by Ben Kuchera in January reported that, according to SteamSpy, 7,672 video games had been released on Steam in 2017. This worked out to be an average of 21 new titles each day and was an increase from 2016’s figure of 4,207, which in itself accounted for 38% of all games available. The chart below will give you an idea of what this really looks like.

The dotted line I’ve added shows the trend and if this continues, we’ll have 11,833 additional titles to browse through by the end of 2018; that’s over 32 additions every 24-hours. But even these statistics pale in comparison if we jump forward to 2019 with a predicted 19,262 releases. There’s no real research here and the figures are ones I’ve produced using historical data and formulas, but they’re still pretty surprising.

Last month I came across a post by Marius from The Patch Notes in which he directed readers to the Steam Trailers in 6s account on Twitter. Whenever a new release appears on Steam, this experiment bot clips its trailer to six-seconds and tweets the resulting video. The frequency is kind of scary to watch in real time; there’s a tweet every 45-minutes or so, which is roughly in line with this year’s statistics in the paragraph above.

It’s visual evidence of what we all suspected: that the gaming platform is now a flood of constant releases and not all of them are of a quality we expect. With those kinds of numbers, how on earth is any gamer meant to keep on top of them all and find the games they’ll actually enjoy playing? And what does it mean for developers who are trying to get their projects noticed?

Steam, Greenlight, video games

There are some who feel that last year’s huge increase can be attributed to the phasing out of Greenlight and the introduction of Direct in June 2017. Creators had to previously rely on the community to vote for their title to be released onto the platform but are now able to pay a $100 fee to self-publish. In a blog post last summer, Steam revealed the effect they felt this move would have on submissions.

It read: “With this transition to Steam Direct, we’ll be keeping an eye on new submissions and making adjustments as necessary. We aren’t quite sure whether there will be a lot more new submissions, just a bit more, or even fewer. It’s most likely that there will be an initial surge of new submissions and then a new rate somewhat higher than what was coming through Greenlight.”

According to SteamSpy, 3,405 games have been released on the platform so far this year. If the average per day remains constant, we’ll be looking at around 9,345 titles by the end of 2018; that’s lower than the 11,833 forecast by my trend above but still higher than 2017’s figure. Perhaps the prediction made by Steam in their blog post could therefore be correct, but we won’t know until we have at least a full year of Direct data.

Steam, recommendations, video games

One thing is for sure though: with the barrier to entry lowered, the number of new releases is likely to continue to rise and make the platform less reliable for gamers to use as a discovery mechanism. I don’t know about you, but the recommendations given to me by Steam are hit-and-miss – and that’s despite them saying they’d continue to ‘work on features designed to help the Store algorithm become better at helping you sift through games’.

This is something which worries creators. In October 2017, PC Gamer published the results of a survey of more than 200 Steam developers concerning their opinions about the platform and what they’d most like to see improved. It’s no surprise that their top-ten issues included ‘clarify what a developer needs to do in order to qualify for various featuring opportunities’ and ‘the Upcoming Games list is becoming useless’.

Appendix B of the full report gives thoughts behind the latter: “The Upcoming Games list used to be a major way to find out about new titles but there are now so many that it is becoming clogged. Not only is there lots of new stuff, but we often see a growing list of titles parked here week after week. If the discovery feature is meant to work, it needs to gather some initial data about new games, otherwise it’s just blindly promoting things that come into the store with existing buzz.”

Sergey Galyonkin, the creator of SteamSpy, published an article in April based on the presentation he gave at GDC 2018. This shows that while Steam had its best year so far in 2017, ‘the number of new users joining the platform and buying games can’t keep up with the number of new titles being released’. It’s therefore no wonder developers are concerned.

As discoverability continues to be an issue, increasing promotion and building a community before the launch of a game will become even more important. As stated by Attilio Carotenuto in a post-mortem of his first indie game, An Oath to the Stars: “Most importantly, what you really need to understand and always keep in mind, is that nobody cares about your game… You’ll need to chase people and journalists, create an amazing presskit and a lot of social media work just to get them to look at your page for ten seconds.”

He went on to refer to this process as ‘exhausting’ and claimed that having someone to take care of such promotional activities is vital for any developer who wants to spend their time making games. Based on the figures used throughout this post, it’s clear that creating an indie title is becoming riskier by the day; and so he was quite right when he said that if you’re in it for the money, you’re in the wrong line of work and should consider employment by one of the major companies.

I’ve found myself moving away from Steam and its ‘featured and recommended’ section and discovery queue recently, due to the fact that the majority of titles which appear there have nothing to do with my gaming preferences or are of a low standard. It all feels very cold; it’s almost as if I’m just another number when it comes to calculating how big their user-base and profit margins are.

Instead, I prefer a more personal touch and now get the majority of my game recommendations through other bloggers. There are a great bunch of people here on WordPress, many of whom have similar tastes and opinions to myself, so why wouldn’t I trust their views over a Steam algorithm? Now that’s what I call really ‘injecting human thinking’.

To find out what’s happening with SteamSpy and learn about the accuracy of their data, take a look at this article.

Where it all began

There are many of us who enjoy playing video games in all their forms and see them as more than just pretty pixels on a screen. But what makes some of us decide to put down the controller for a moment, take a step back, pick up a keyboard and begin writing about them?

For me, it all started on a weekend back over five years ago. It was February 2013 and I was in a bookshop where a pile of black-and-green tomes has been stacked on a table in the corner: 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by Tony Mott. I had a quick leaf through its pages and when I saw The Secret of Monkey Island had been included in its recommendations (he he), I took a copy to the counter and made a purchase.

One evening the following week, I met a couple of friends in a pub after work and happened to mention this book to them. After saying how much I’d love to be able to work my way through all of the games listed, one of them suggested creating a blog to record our thoughts on each entry; and this sounded like a great idea at the time, with the fact that none of us had any writing experience not being a deterrent. Perhaps that glass of wine had something to do with it.

Anyway: from there we went on to design our first blog together, choosing its initial look (black and green in honour of our inspiration) and the type of content we wanted to publish. We decided to write formal reviews with a fixed structure and scoring system – not the most creative direction we could have taken but one which made sense to us and felt comfortable at the time. Two of us worked in IT and had a fondness for process and consistency, and this showed in our writing.

A few months later, we got chatting to another gaming blogger who coincidentally worked in a nearby area, so we arranged to meet up for a drink at Meltdown (included in my gamers’ guide to London). That person turned out to be Ben and it was blogging-love-at-first-sight: we all hit it off straight away and it was clear this was going to be a beautiful friendship. We eventually managed to persuade him to join us and our team of three became four.

Our first few years together as a foursome were excellent and I had experiences I’ll never forget. I had the opportunity to meet developers I’d always admired, becoming starstruck and tongue-tied. We found out about SpecialEffect and became volunteers for the charity, working on their stand at expos and participating in the annual GameBlast marathons. And I got to watch Ben during his interviews and learn he was a natural in front of the camera.

In August 2014, after moving to a different part of Essex for a fresh start, someone overheard me having a conversation with a friend about Street Fighter. He introduced himself as ‘Pete’ and started trying to guess my favourite character; and in a conversation over a couple of drinks, we realised we’d grown up in houses on parallel streets and had moved to the same town as adults had had never met each other before (it’s a small world).

It soon became clear this was also going to be another beautiful ‘friendship’ and a few months after meeting his young son, I wrote a piece dedicated to Ethan called The wisdom of the LEGO Movie Videogame. It explained how he and Pete didn’t see me as a ‘girl’: they saw me as a gamer who happened to be female, and one they were happy spending time with playing and talking about video games. This made me hopeful for the future.

That post was the turning point. The boys had opened my eyes to writing something more personal and it had felt strangely exhilarating, and I finally had the courage to admit I didn’t enjoy writing reviews. I realised that I’d started to attempt each new gaming experience in a way which was almost clinical, with one eye always on the lookout for material for the next article, and I’d forgotten about the sheer joy that comes from playing video games.

EGX, video games, expo, event., gamers, Kim, Pete

I also realised that I no longer enjoyed working with the team I was in as the blog had changed our relationship over the past three years. The main problem was our attitude – both to the site and each other – and as our popularity grew, we became cocky and over-ambitious. Certain members were unfairly left picking up most of the work and it had started to become a job; and when you get to that point, you know that something has to give.

Ben and I finally decided to call it a day in March 2016 and split from our two colleagues who, as far as I’m aware, are no longer writing. My blogging-partner-in-crime and I took some time out to figure out a new direction for ourselves and after spending several months coming up with ideas and designing a new site, Later Levels was born towards the end of that year.

Sadly adult responsibilities and family commitments have meant Ben isn’t able to appear as frequently as he used to, but you’ll notice his name still remains at the bottom of the blog. That’s because there’s a permanent place for him here. He’s been a good friend over the years, always there with a kind word or some sage advice when things are getting tough, and I’m extremely lucky to have been given the chance to meet him back in 2013.

Regardless of how difficult it has been at times, I wouldn’t change anything about my blogging journey. I’ve learnt a number of valuable lessons (sometimes the hard way) over the past five years and this is what inspired me to add an advice section to the site a few months ago. I’m in no way an expert and there are people out there who are more way more intelligent and experienced than I am; but if my words can help just one person, then it’s worth it.

I think one of the most important things to remember is that there are no quick wins. Blogging can be a pain in the butt sometimes – having to come up with ideas for new posts on a regular basis, making time to read articles by other writers, fitting it all in between work and family – and resorting to dubious measures can sometimes be tempting. But they’ll only result in hollow stats and will never get you to where you really want to be.

Instead, it’s necessary for every blogger to find their ‘thing’: the inspiration which makes them push on. You need something that’s going to motivate you and drive you forward when it feels as though the odds are stacked against you – be it a love for writing, a passion for your subject or the awesome people around you. If you’re stuck in rut, you may even consider giving a bit of community and collaboration a go.

Rezzed, SpecialEffect, Ben, Kim, Pete

No matter how tough it seems, keep telling yourself it will get better and stick with it. You need to give yourself time and space to make mistakes and learn from them, and grow into the writer you are. Just remember that there’s a whole group of amazing bloggers around you who are happy to share advice, offer moral support, celebrate achievements and even send a funny GIF or two.

To every single person reading this: you’re awesome and you don’t need to be more or less than you are. It’s great to have you here.

This post is dedicated to the ladies from Double Jump, who very kindly nominated Later Levels for the Sunshine Blogger Award in April. Thank you to Kris and Rachel for giving me the opportunity to tell this story and indulge in some reminiscing.

Follow the light: Lake Ridden

I’ve had my eye on Lake Ridden since playing the demo at EGX last September. It had been added to my event to-do list after I’d read that developer Midnight Hub was aiming to create ‘something that evoked a creepy atmosphere without relying on the usual use of blood and gore’ and was instead going for ‘an intriguing story woven together with interesting gameplay’.

As I’ve written before, I find it incredibly difficult to play titles like this while at expos as their narrative tends to get lost among the noise and crowds. But even after a few minutes at the keyboard I knew Lake Ridden was going to be a game for me; the twisting and overgrown path ahead led to a sunken garden before branching off into various directions, and the impression of secrets being hidden in the shadows hung heavy in the air.

It’s early autumn in 1988 and players step into the shoes of 13-year old Marie, who has reluctantly joined her younger sister and friends for a camping weekend in the wilderness of Maine. An argument results in her running off into the forest where she vanishes, and while you’re searching for her you encounter an abandoned house. Can you find Sofia and piece together the dark secret of the forgotten estate while the shadows are watching?

Midnight Hub contacted me through Twitter just before the game’s release on 10 May 2018 and very kindly sent a Steam key for their project. The following weekend, my other-half and I took the opportunity to try it out while the stepson wasn’t with us; and we ended up sitting in front of the screen for over six-hours. We were so hooked that we went straight back to it the following morning and completed the title a few days later.

It was the atmosphere which had initially pulled us in and not let go. There were no jump-scares or any of the other tricks usually relied upon to create that feeling, simply an eeriness which urged us deeper into the forest and abandoned house. It was hard to believe that an environment so gorgeous could shelter anything dark and sinister, but there were several moments when the hairs on the back of my neck stood up on end.

A number of reviewers have mentioned Firewatch or Myst in comparison and I’m afraid I must disagree with them. The former’s focus was on the protagonists, Harry’s conflicted emotions and his developing relationship with Delilah, while Lake Ridden’s attention is on something else entirely. The latter is a much closer assessment due to both games taking place in a good-looking environment and featuring puzzles but it’s still not quite right.

Lake Ridden, video game, garden, gazebo, night, darkness, lamps

The vibe I got from Midnight Hub’s project was more The Vanishing of Ethan Carter. The awareness that something more was going on under the surface of the story, something threatening and fearful; I got that same feeling from Lake Ridden. I’d say the puzzles throughout this title are more complex than those in Ethan Carter and so those looking for a story combined with a bit of a challenge will be pleased.

Speaking of the puzzles, the developer hit the sweet-spot between ‘too easy’ and ‘so frustrating I’m going to throw my mouse at the wall’. They can all be figured out if you take your time to think them through. Pete and I ended up only having to use the hint-system twice: once when we’d missed a visual clue, then again when we overthought a challenge and went off in the wrong mental direction (something we’re occasionally guilty of!).

We kept a pad and pen handy while working our way through Lake Ridden as it soon became obvious we’d need to make a few notes to help us solve certain challenges. Remember the good old days when it was necessary to draw diagrams in order to figure out a solution? You don’t always get that when playing modern releases and it was weirdly satisfying to end up with a few pages of intelligible scrawl by the end of the game.

Lake Ridden, video game, paper, notes, puzzles

It suited how my other-half and I play video games together. I’m a complete wimp and whenever I think something mildly scary is going to happen, even if it’s not a horror we’re playing, I’ll had the controls over to him. But when there’s a tile puzzle involving logical thinking like those which appear on top of the nine hidden puzzle boxes, the mouse comes straight back to me. The result was a nice mix of different play-styles.

The thing I loved most about Lake Ridden was something subtle: a small detail which made me smile when I realised its purpose and appreciate the work of the developer even more. Dotted throughout the title are a number of lights in many forms – candles, lanterns, lamps – which you can turn on and dissipate the darkness as you go past. At first I wondered whether they were part of some elaborate challenge or achievement.

But then I realised they were simply there to help the player navigate through the environment. Like the trail of breadcrumbs from the story of Hansel and Gretel, they left a path of light to show where I’d already been. Some reviewers have criticised the absence of a map but I think a feature like that could have possibly compromised Lake Ridden’s atmosphere; it would have made no sense for Marie to have a diagram of an abandoned estate.

Lake Ridden, video game, attic, puzzle box, teddy bear, candle, candle

The majority of the story is told through notes and diary entries found around the house and forest and, while this format works for this type of game, it’s not always obvious who wrote them or what their true meaning is. The were a number of questions we still had around the origin of the events and the nature of the game’s antagonist by the time we reached the title’s conclusion and it seems as if other players had similar confusions.

Despite that Lake Ridden is still pretty impressive when you consider it’s the work of such a small team. A number of people have reported a few bugs, some of which we noticed but none of which were totally game-breaking. The developer is keen to collect more details about these via the Steam discussion page and two patches have been released already, so they’re clearly working hard on getting them resolved.

If you’re a fan of mysterious adventures, nicely-challenging puzzles and games with an eerie atmosphere, Lake Ridden is definitely worth checking out. I’m hoping there’s more like this to come from Midnight Hub in the future and if they take the lessons they’ve learnt from their first project, they’re certainly on a bright path.

A gaming life sentence

If you could only play one game for the rest of your life, what would it be? That’s the question posed by Strange Girl Gaming as part of her Sunshine Blogger award nominations last month. A big thank you to her for choosing Later Levels and giving me the opportunity to ponder over this difficult conundrum, as well as publish the following musings in her honour.

One of the things I love most about video games is the variety. The term ‘non-gamer’ has become somewhat of a misnomer; there are so many different types of genres, styles, mechanics and platforms nowadays, that it’s highly likely everybody would find something they loved if they just gave it a chance. From open-world quest-packed RPGs to quieter, shorter adventure titles, there’s something to suit every individual.

That’s why choosing just one to play for the next sixty years is incredibly tough. It’s the same as ice-cream: regardless of how awesome the stuff is, wouldn’t we all get bored of eating it if the only type available was vanilla? It’s obvious I love the adventure genre but even I’d grow tired of it if that was the only thing I could play. You know what they say about variety being the spice of life: it keeps things interesting.

So to answer Strange Girl Gaming’s question, I need to pick a title that has plenty of elements so it was possible to mix things up every now and again. When I got bored of completing quests for example, I could head into the map and simply explore or go annoy the inhabitants in a nearest village to see what reactions I could get out of them. It would also need to be something with many hours of gameplay as a minimum.

I have to admit I’ve struggled with this challenge and it’s probably the hardest nomination question I’ve had to answer so far! I therefore haven’t been able to narrow it down to a single title and I’m torn between two. Which should I choose to fulfil my gaming needs for the rest of my years?

The Elder Scrolls, Skyrim, video game, warrior, dragon, mountains, snow

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is a fairly obvious choice and one I’m sure many other gamers would pick. There’s just so much to do within this game and every time you head out into the landscape, you always seem to find something new: a mudcrab trying to steal a fish, a villager reading a book under a tree, a mage trying to perform a spell. Although I’ve completed many of the side-missions I’ve still not finished the main quest itself; and I’d have plenty of time to do it if this was the only game I was allowed to play.

Horizon Zero Dawn, video game, woman, warrior, Aloy, mountains, sky, photo mode, clouds

Horizon: Zero Dawn is the other option. As well as being an excellent title and one of the best of last year – and featuring a kickass female lead who everyone wants to be friends with – it also includes an awesome photo-mode. I spent over 130 hours playing this game and I’d hazard a bet that around a third of those were due to me taking screenshots. Imagine the photo gallery I’d be able to build up over a 60-year period; that’s plenty of tweets right there.

The Secret of Monkey Island, video game, ghost, pirates, LeChuck, Guybrush Threepwood, root beer, grog machine, Stan's Previously Owned Vessels, boatyard

I’m guessing there are some readers who are surprised I didn’t go for The Secret of Monkey Island, the point-and-click which sealed my future as a gamer almost thirty years ago now. But I just couldn’t imagine this being the only game I was ever able to play despite adoring wannabe pirates, fine leather jackets and insult-swordfighting. Adventures are all about their story and puzzles, and they lose much of their mystery once you know both inside-out.

Writing this post has made me realise that although I have my favourite games, they’re not releases I’d necessarily want to be the only ones I had access to for the rest of my life. And if that’s the case, is there ever truly such a thing as a ‘favourite’ title? That’s a big question for another time, and one I may attempt to answer in a future article.

Thank you once again to Strange Girl Gaming for the award nomination – you certainly gave me a lot to think about with this one! Which game would be your only one?

A Myst opportunity

In my post on Tuesday, I included Myst in a list of my favourite classic adventures. After spending an afternoon at a friend’s house while he played and seeing Myst Island with my own eyes, I promptly purchased the title so I could play it for myself.

So many people fell in love with this graphic-adventure when it was released: it was a surprise hit with critics praising its ability to immerse players in its world, and was the best-selling PC game ever until The Sims exceeded its sales in 2002. Its success led to a number of ports, remakes and sequels, along with several novels which filled in the series’ backstory.

It was my fondness for the original which led me to become a backer for Cyan’s 2013 Kickstarter campaign for Obduction. Rather than a direct sequel, it was a title which ‘harkened back to the spirit of earlier games Myst and Riven’ and it did indeed give off the same vibe. Unfortunately though, it just couldn’t reach the dizzy heights of the title that started it all and fans were left wanting more.

I’d therefore imagine I wasn’t the only one who got incredibly excited when the news that the developer starting up a new Kickstarter project landed. To celebrate its 25th anniversary, Cyan decided to complete a ‘never-been-done’ before historical anthology of the series; and although the games would be available later, but the ‘special packaging’ would only be available through the campaign and never be sold again.

I therefore headed over to the page as soon as possible and have to confess: I’ve never pledged so much towards a Kickstarter backing before. I’ve gone in at the Bookmaker level so hopefully towards the end of this year I’ll receive digital downloads, as well as physical copies of the titles within a special Linking Book box complete with window and hidden compartment.

To be honest, I would have liked to have gone in at one of the higher levels in order to receive the Linking Book with LCD screen showing the fly-throughs from the games; but sadly, adult responsibilities call and its not a purchase I can justify right now. The Bookmaker tier is available for $99 but watch out for the shipping fee, as backers in the UK can expect to pay an additional $22 for delivery costs.

Myst, video game, island, trees, water, mountain, rocket, dome

It seems as if there are plenty of people willing to part with their money however, as (at the time of writing) the campaign has already reached £1,245,678 from 10,834 backers – surpassing the original £182,710 target in just eight hours. And with 12 days still to go before the funding deadline, there’s the opportunity for others to get on board and push that amount even higher.

If you’re interested in doing so, get yourself over to the Kickstarter campaign before 18:02 on 24 May 2018. Downloads of all seven games (the five Myst games plus Uru: Complete Chronicles and realMyst: Masterpiece Edition) are available for $49 at the Archivist tier. The estimated delivery for the digital titles is August so we haven’t got long to wait: prepare yourselves for a Myst marathon stream at some point this summer.

Modern adventures (which aren’t Monkey Island)

Thanks to a Sunshine Blogger award from TriformTrinity, yesterday I got to talk about some of my favourite classic point-and-clicks. Surprisingly, my list didn’t feature The Secret of Monkey Island – although regular visitors will clearly recognise this as, quite simply, one of the finest titles ever made and the yardstick against which all future games shall be measured (he he).

So here’s a bonus post: I enjoyed writing that piece so much that I’m back again today with another list, this time focusing on more modern adventures. This one was a little harder to put together because the definition of the genre has changed significantly over the years; it now spans a wider variety of releases than just point-and-clicks and so it has been tough narrowing down the selection. Hopefully the following titles will provide something for everyone.

2011: To The Moon

One of the first indie titles I ever played after being introduced to this side of gaming was To The Moon. It absolutely broke my heart and I was genuinely in tears by the credits; and it taught me that video games are much more than entertainment and pixels. Here’s a storyline that shows the player that life is too short to have regrets so if there’s something you want to do, get out there and do it.

Chris from OverThinker Y and I played the follow-up, Finding Paradise, earlier this year and has a lengthy discussion about our thoughts. Freebird Games smashed it again: there was more sobbing along with the life-affirming realisation that sometimes we have everything we need right in front of us. To steal a quote from Chris, it’s a title which tells a story which feels as though it’s about real people and lets the player decide how to feel about it.

2012: Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller

Featuring an FBI agent whose ‘psion’ powers enable her to see the past, it would have been all too easy to resort to using them to complete every puzzle and push the plot along. But instead, Erica’s skills aren’t the solution to every problem: they don’t always work as intended and cause her a great deal of trauma. She’s wonderfully portrayed as a real person who’s struggling with a stressful job, tragic past and powerful secret.

I’ve participated in the GameBlast marathons for SpecialEffect for a number of years now and during a our first event in 2014, our team decided to play Cognition. Kevin from The Mental Attic kindly put us in touch with Katie Hallahan from Phoenix Online who agreed to chat to us about the game as we worked through it on air – which turned out to be both an awesome and nerve-racking experience, all at the same time.

2014: J.U.L.I.A.: Among the Stars

This is a title I haven’t yet completed so why am I including it in my list? I started it a fortnight ago when I had some time off work and ended up sitting in the same position for the entire day after becoming completely hooked from the start. Although it takes place in a completely different setting, there’s something about J.U.L.I.A. which gives me the same feeling I had when playing Myst for the first time – a game included in yesterday’s post about my favourite classic adventures.

So if it’s that good, why haven’t I finished it? The thing we all dread: a fatal crash. I’ve been in touch with the team at CBE Software and have sent them my save file in the hope they can fix it, because I really want to find out what happens. Unfortunately I haven’t yet heard from them but I’m guessing they’re busy working hard on their next release – the website for Someday You’ll Return teases that there’ll be more in a few days and I can’t wait.

2015: Her Story

Hannah Smith may not be the most likeable video game character, but she’s definitely one of the most interesting. During the summer of 1994, she reports her husband as missing to the Portsmouth Police Station and it’s now a number of years after the event. It’s up to you to use video clips held within an archive database on an obsolete computer to assemble this woman’s story and answer the burning question: did she murder Simon?

Before going to the Rezzed expo in 2015, I’d found out quite a lot about Her Story through the bigger gaming websites and its premise, along with its unique central mechanic, had piqued my interest. It was therefore great getting the change to play the title at the event before meeting Sam Barlow and watching Ben interview him. Although this isn’t something we routinely do any longer, thinking back on the experience makes me want to reach for the camera.

2017: Stories Untold

Maybe it’s nostalgia talking or perhaps I’m becoming jaded in my old age, but it seems as though a lot of current text adventures are missing the thing that used to make them so special. At least, that’s what I thought until I completed Stories Untold in October last year, after receiving a recommendation from Bradley over at Cheap Boss Attack when he referred to it as one of his favourite games of 2017.

Advertised as ‘four stories, one nightmare’, this experimental title manages to bend the genre into something new and unique. It cleverly combines text adventures, point-and-clicks and psychological horrors into a rather remarkable experience which is likely to stay with the player for quite a while. If you’re a fan of series such as The Twilight Zone and Stranger Things, of 80s throwbacks and retro games, then you need to take a look at this one.

A huge thank you to TriformTrinity for his Sunshine Blogger award, and for allowing me to take an indulgent look back at some of the best entries in the adventure genre. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve ot some pointing-and-clicking to do…