Finding it hard to be bad in video games

Last month I asked readers how they approach character creation in video games. Do they make a protagonist who looks just like themselves, one who appears completely different, or maybe even hit the randomise button and see what they end up with?

The most popular answer in the poll was ‘somewhere in the middle’ at just over 40%, but that’s not the most interesting trend I noticed from everybody’s responses. It seems their character’s appearance is also influenced about how they intend to play the game. Most people said they would make a complete badass who looks dangerous if they were going down the evil route; but the protagonist would look more like themselves if they were trying to be the hero.

This got me thinking about my own gaming habits further. As I wrote in that last post, I’ll spend ages getting each slider on the character creation screen just right and trying to make my female avatar look as much like me as possible (but with a post lockdown haircut). And then I’ll always try to imagine myself in each situation and base my in-game choices on what I would do in real-life, hardly ever performing a completely aggressive or reckless action and preferring to stick to the paragon path.

That’s kind of weird when you really delve into it. Here we are, presented with millions of digital lands where there are opportunities to be whomever we want to be. We can turn ourselves into the evillest villain we can dream up and do all those things never allowed in real life, knowing they’ll be wiped away when you turn off the game and that the only consequences are inside of it. So even when I’m given those chances, why do I still find it so difficult to give into the temptation to be bad?

The morality system I’ll always look back on fondly is in Lionhead’s Fable, released in September 2004. It was the first time I’d seen anything with an alignment mechanic and this fascinated me because it affected everything to do with my Hero of Oakvale: his looks, the titles available to him, the actions he could do and the way others responded to him. I spent the entire game trying to become as good as possible and felt pleased when he grew a halo, had butterflies fluttering around him and villagers cheered him on.

I went back in for a second playthrough some time later with the aim to do the opposite: make the protagonist so terrible that his eyes glowed yellow and a malevolent haze circled around his legs. But I just couldn’t do it. I got tired of having to sort out the attacking guards every time I entered a location, as it pulled me out of the story and broke my immersion. There was also the fact that I felt a pang of guilt whenever I killed an innocent bystander or stabbed a chicken.

Morality systems have matured and evolved considerably since Fable was published almost 20 years ago. It’s not just about being straight-up good or bad any longer; video games have introduced more shades of grey and started to ask their players to really think about the results of their actions. Instead of your only option being to rescue the princess, you can now decide to leave her sitting in the castle in favour of another non-player character (NPC) – or even go in there and behead her yourself.

We’ve grown to expect that the decision which appears to be the most virtuous on the surface will usually have a far-reaching consequence we didn’t see coming. This brings an added pressure to gameplay and it’s definitely something I felt watching Pete play Until Dawn for Halloween in 2019 or playing Detroit: Become Human myself for last year’s GameBlast challenge. I wanted to keep every character in both release safe and felt so bad at the unintended outcomes of some of my choices.

As I’ve written before, I do sometimes struggle with choice-based video games. The two sides of my gaming personality – being a perfectionist and not wanting to replay titles – don’t always exist together happily because there’s that niggling fear of failure in the back of my head, along with the feeling that I’ve got to make it to the ‘best’ ending in a single playthrough. I sometimes seek comfort in linear narratives because knowing I’ll arrive at the same end point as everybody else can be liberating.

Maybe this has something to do with why I’ll always choose to be a good protagonist whenever I can. Although things have changed since the dawn of video games, the most compelling endings are still usually associated with heroes and so that’s what my inner perfectionist constantly wants to achieve. There’s that guilt I feel when mowing down innocent villagers or defenceless chickens too; I know they’re not real, but it seems both reckless and pointless doing away with them when they’re not causing any harm.

Ultimately though, and this goes back to the point raised in my post about character creation, it’s to do with both challenge and escapism for me. I want to see what I would do when confronted with a difficult scenario or a choice where there are no right answers: would I be up to the test and able to save everyone? I can find out the answers in a situation I’m never going to come across in the real world, and where the only consequences are in my save file.

It appears many people have a similar preference but for their own reasons, as over 80% of those who voted in my recent poll said they’re most likely to aim to be good during a first playthrough. Some like Ellen from Ace Asunder want to be the hero; others like Luke from Hundstrasse just can’t seem to commit to being evil; and there are those like Nathan who feel the paragon path makes for better character growth. Heather from KiaraHime is similar to me in that she doesn’t like upsetting the NPCs.

My other-half is the complete opposite to me though. Pete is one of the kindest people I know in real-life but stick him in a video game and he’ll be the one doing the double-crossing, blowing up their spouse and killing defenceless creatures (rest in peace, Rubbish Dog). Maybe he’s of the same opinion as Frostilyte from Frostilyte Writes: unless there’s an obvious advantage to being good, sometimes it’s fun to do the evil stuff you can’t get away with in everyday life.

I guess your preference once again comes down to your preferred form of escapism. Some people enjoy seeing themselves in games and finding out what they’d do when confronted with an end-of-world situation, their desire to be the hero and save everyone. Others want to completely forget about any aspect of real-life for a while and aim to behave in the opposite way, leaving a path of destruction in their wake and killing every NPC who so much as looks at them in a funny way.

So what about you: are you good or bad?

Video game lessons: how not to flirt in real-life

Many people will be thinking of romance and how to treat their partner this weekend now that Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. If you’re looking for guidance though, I’d highly recommend thinking twice before turning to video games for advice.

For every protagonist couple destined to be together, there’s another which seems totally unlikely and confuses us; and for every charming compliment used by a hero to woo their sweetheart, there’s an opposite which is far too cringey. It’s the latter that we’re going to dig into today as we take a look at some of the worst chat-up lines in gaming. Try using any of these in real-life and it’s almost guaranteed you’re going to end up with a drink being poured over your head.

Dragon Age: Origins: “Have you ever licked a lamppost in winter?”

Today’s round-up kicks off with a pickup line suggested to me by Ellen from Ace Asunder. I’ve not played Dragon Age: Origins myself so the only thing I know of it is what I’ve seen of the clip opposite – and I’m a little bewildered. Does Alistair really believe this is a good flirting technique? I get the feeling he has been hanging out with Garrus (see below) and can’t quite decide if he’s going for sincere or euphemism. But if it’s the former, I’d highly recommend not licking any lampposts.

Fable: “Heeey…”

Getting someone to fall in love with you in the world of Fable is as simple as walking up to them and saying ‘Hey’ in a smooth voice with a raised eyebrow. Add a Manly Arm Pump or Sexy Hero Pose, give the object of your affection a bunch of roses or a box of chocolates and you’re well on your way to marriage. I’m not sure who I’m most annoyed at in this situation. The Hero for being too lazy come up with a less cliched approach, or every single inhabitant of the town for falling for it.

Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers: “There’s something about you. You really touch me.”

As Nathan from Gaming Omnivore found out for himself last year, Gabriel Knight is a total sleazebag who frequently lets his fondness for pretty ladies get in the way of an investigation. He throws pickup-lines at his assistant Grace so often that you know the first time he meets beautiful socialite Malia is going to be cringeworthy. With lines like the one above and “Your legs are so strong, do you work out at one of the clubs?”, he’s lucky she didn’t slap him before kicking him out of her house.

Mass Effect 3: “I’ve got this big gun back at my place I’d like to show you.”

I feel sorry for Garrus. He’s one of the best characters in the Mass Effect series and has some endearing qualities that would make him a great life partner – but he’s going to struggle to find himself one because he just doesn’t have a clue when it comes to romance. After Commander Shepherd tells him he needs a date and introduces him to another turian at a bar, the only thing he can think of to talk about is gun collection. I’m not sure you could say anything else which sounds more like a euphemism.

Metal Gear Solid: “If you make it back in one piece, maybe I’ll let you do a strip search on me.”

It’s impossible to say what I hate most about the conversations in Metal Gear Solid. It could be the way the characters think there’s nothing wrong with calling each other during a top-secret mission and having a chat. Perhaps it’s how Snake feels it’s appropriate to start hitting on the young Mei Ling immediately after being introduced to her, and while others are on the same line. Or maybe it’s the way Naomi fights for his attention by saying she’ll let him do a strip search. Urgh.

Resident Evil 3: “All the foxy ladies love my accent, it drives them crazy.”

Thanks to Luke for Hundstrasse for sending this gem to me. Carlos from Resident Evil 3 believes he doesn’t need chat-up lines because his sexy accent does all the hard work for him. So when Jill wants to ask something, he automatically assumes she’s going to propose a date – but she doesn’t react and instead asks him why he has been sent there. Perhaps Carlos has been taking a few too many tips from the Fable Hero and needs to start putting in a bit more effort when it comes to dating.

The Curse of Monkey Island: “By my congealed blood, you’ll learn to love me!”

Let’s face it: Guybrush Threepwood is a bit of an idiot. He’s sarcastic, insults everyone around him and messes up every plan he’s involved in, and someone as independent and courageous as Elaine would have been far better off with LeChuck. With lines like those he uses however, it’s never going to happen. It’s usually a good idea to not remind the object of affection that you’re a zombie or make them think about your congealed insides when you’re trying to flirt with them.

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves: “Is that an ancient Tibetan ritual dagger in your pocket?”

Anyone who’s ever tuned into our streams will know that Pete and I have different opinions when it comes to Nathan Drake. He thinks he’s a nice guy with a charming cheeky streak; I think he’s an idiot who has far too much good luck on his side. That’s why I’ll never understand what Chloe sees in him or why she constantly flirts with the douchebag. I’ll give her points though for coming up with a bad pickup-line which references his obsession with ancient artefacts though – and I’m not talking about Sully.

And that concludes our lesson on how not to flirt in real-life. Whatever you’re doing for Valentine’s Day this weekend, I hope it involves video games and not licking lampposts.

We’re taking part in GameBlast21 to support SpecialEffect, the gamers’ charity.
Making a donation will bring you great loot, increase your XP by +100 and make you immune to fire.*
(*Not guaranteed.)


Games of their time: still something special

Have you ever felt like replaying a game you haven’t touched in years, and then felt slightly disappointed when you do? There’s an image of it in your mind and you remember what it like the first time you played – but are let down when what you’re playing now doesn’t match up.

I’ve had the opportunity to take part in several game-swaps with other bloggers this year and this has given me the chance to try some older releases I’ve not experienced before. First up was Luke from Hundstrasse, who sent me Whiplash for my PlayStation 2 after we decided to find the most bizarre retro titles we could. Next was Athena from AmbiGaming with whom I swapped favourite games, and you can find out what I made of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty in last Wednesday’s post.

In return, Athena bravely challenged herself to play Fable on her Twitch channel every week until she’d completed it. Work conference calls sometimes got in the way but I tuned in as often as I could and, watching her experience the title that had me back into gaming in my early 20s, I remembered a lot of fond memories and found myself wanting to play it again myself. That weekend I turned on our Xbox One, tracked down Fable Anniversary on Game Pass, hit the install button and waited eagerly with the controller in hand.

I’ll always love this series. I understand why it gets a lot of criticism in certain respects, one of them being that it never lived up to the expectations that the proclamations of designer Peter Molyneux set for it, but I can see past that. To me he was someone who was pushing the boundaries, being inventive, taking risks instead of churning out cardboard-copy titles and I can admire him for that; and there’s a chance that without Fable, I wouldn’t be a gamer today or be sitting here writing about my hobby.

Playing through the start of Fable Anniversary reminded me of how much the original title had pulled me in back in 2004. It was something to do with the land of Albion, its real-but-fantasy setting which felt like something out of a fairytale and made you believe the protagonist was destined for great things. It was the world’s inhabitants too: perhaps my favourite thing about them is the humour, and anyone who enjoys a Monty-Python-style of comedy is sure to find something here which appeals to them.

But damn, the controls were bad. Like, really bad. I didn’t remember it being like this before and had no trouble picking up the title all those years ago. But now the buttons felt as though they were back to front and I was behaving like an uncoordinated mess (more so than usual). Accessing the menus felt counter-intuitive, the items on the D-pad changed continuously and the camera never stayed where I wanted it to. No wonder Athena had remarked about the control scheme on a few occasions during her streams.

She also made a comment about certain releases being ‘games of their time’ during her next session on Twitch the following week and this really struck a chord with me. It completely hit the nail on the head when it came to the original Fable. Its story and humour were still current enough and the graphics didn’t let it down too much, plus it had been positively received when it had been released 16-years ago. But the controls had aged terribly and made playing the title sluggish, giving it a heavy and dated feeling.

I feel the same way whenever I turn on my PlayStation 2 nowadays. The console may have had some great releases but I dislike the controller immensely now, mainly because the jump button never seems like it’s in the right place. I had to hand it over to my other-half while playing Whiplash for my game-swap with Luke because there were certain bits I just couldn’t get to grips with; and I made the decision to play MGS2 on our Xbox for my collaboration with Athena, thinking it may be easier with a modern controller.

It didn’t help much though. I struggled with the way the protagonist insisted on sticking to walls whenever I got too close to them and he wouldn’t do certain actions unless I removed his weapon first. I may had had a few issues with my first Kojima game but as several people in the Twitch chat said to us: there was nothing on the market back in 2001 which was as cinematic or ambitious in what it was trying to deliver, so I can imagine it was something truly spectacular for players at the time.

I guess that’s what ‘games of their time’ are. They may feel old and outdated to us but, when you look back on what they managed to achieve when they we released, it’s clear there was something special about them. Without these titles we may not be where we are today in terms of narrative strength, innovative mechanics or impressive visuals and you can see their influence in many of today’s titles. We might not get the same feeling from playing them now but we’ve still got a lot to thank them for.

The next game-swap lined up is with Ellen from Ace Asunder. She was rather put off of full-motion video (FMV) after watching us play the strange Dark Nights with Poe and Munro in May so I’ve sent her copies of Her Story and The Madness of Doctor Dekker to prove that there are some good entries in the genre. In return she has gifted me Final Fantasy XIII to help me get over my aversion to turn-based combat, so we’ll see if we manage to convince each other to come around to the others’ way of thinking and open our eyes to new genres.

FFXIII was released in 2009 so it’s a little newer than the other titles I’ve played for game-swaps so far, relatively speaking. I’m curious to find out if it turns out to be another game of its time, and whether I’ll see what it is that makes it special for Ellen.

The video games that define me

We all have at least one video game which defines us. It’s understandable that this could be the first we ever played although this isn’t always the case. Other releases might also make our lists thanks to their narrative, protagonists, or just because they’re a whole lot of fun.

After being tagged in a tweet from Alex Sigsworth at the beginning of April, this was a subject I ended up thinking about for a few weeks before hitting the keys on my laptop. Which four titles would make my defining list and why? Some I knew immediately, while others I had to think harder about to make sure I picked those that felt as though they’d had a lasting impact on me as a gamer. Join me as we take a brief journey through my gaming history and look at the releases which define me.

1990: The Secret of Monkey Island

The fact this game has appeared in today’s post will come as no surprise at all to regular readers. It wasn’t the first I ever played, because my family had a Commodore 64 and NES before I was given my Amiga 500 by my parents for Christmas, but it’s one that’s had the most lasting effect on my gaming habits. You can read the full story here if you’re interested. Suffice to say, The Secret of Monkey Island was what kickstarted my love for video games and made me an adventure fan for the thirty years following.

I might play other types of releases nowadays but it’s point-and-clicks that I regularly return to. I’ve always adored stories and there’s just something about the way the narrative is so inextricably linked with the gameplay in these titles that makes me adore them as much as I do. Although some may feel that the adventure genre is a relic of the past and the only thing keeping it alive now is nostalgia, for me it’s still evolving and adding new elements – just look at Unavowed, Stories Untold or The Red Strings Club as great examples from recent years.

2004: Fable

If the entry above made me fall in love with video games initially, Fable was the one which reminded me of that after being made to feel as though gaming wasn’t a suitable hobby for a young woman for several years. It’s thanks to a friend turning up at my apartment with an Xbox and a copy of the game that I finally realised I didn’t care what anybody else thought about what I did. After turning on the power and getting lost in the world of Albion for a few hours, I had the revelation that this was what I’d been missing out on.

The thing that fascinated me most about Fable was the sense of character development as it was the first time I’d seen anything with such an important alignment mechanic. I spent the entire game trying to make my Hero as good as possible and that’s still something I do today; the paragon route is always more appealing and I find being an evil protagonist difficult. It’s Fable II which is my favourite in the series as it took what I adored about the first game and made it even better, and this is something I hope happens again with Fable IV.

2011: To The Moon

I was pretty late to the independent scene and To The Moon was one of the first indie releases I ever played. It hit me hard. The gameplay might be limited and not to everybody’s taste, but that story: I really did cry at the end. It made me see that video games don’t have to be about action and explosions, or puzzle-solving and humour in the case of point-and-clicks. Narratives can be more than just simple tales about saving princesses and they have the power to make you feel some pretty strong emotions.

Since then I’ve preferred indie games because their developers have the freedom and creativity to experiment, and they give me the kind of unique stories I want to experience. I’ve played very few big-budget releases since beginning to blog in 2013 and don’t see that changing right now. The third instalment in the To The Moon series is due to be released at some point this year and you can expect a marathon stream of all the titles when that time comes – along with a few tears on Twitch.

2019: Eastshade

Eastshade is the latest release to earn its place on my list of favourite games. I fell in love with it very quickly because it’s such a lovely take on the RPG genre: imagine playing something like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim but where the pressure of any kind of combat is removed, so the exploration and conversation elements are enhanced as a result. It’s a simple and beautiful concept that managed to have a huge impact on me and I was genuinely upset to leave the title when the end credits rolled.

I want more games like this. Ones which take an established genre and then provide something new and unexpected; give you something you didn’t realise you were missing; and offer players a space to relax and clear their mind. Eastshade is possibly the most calming gaming experience I’ve ever had and one I won’t forget. The developer has said they have no plans to make a sequel which is a little sad but if this is what they can do with the RPG genre, I’m looking forward to seeing what they come up with next.

Two years ago, I wondered whether defining titles were going to become a thing of the past. What effect do short attention spans and endless distractions have on video games? Could failure to reach the ending cutscenes and those associated moments of realisation mean an end to gamers experiencing a release which sets them off on their future digital path? I still don’t know the answer to these questions but maybe they’re ones I’ll put to my stepson when he’s in his early twenties to see how he responds.

In the meantime, I’m curious to see which game will make it onto my favourites list next and perhaps become a title which defines me personally. And what about you: which four releases would you choose?

What I’d like from Fable IV

It’s not just pirates which hold a special place in my heart: heroes do too, because I love the Fable series. The original title got me back into gaming after drifting away from it for several years as a teenager and the second game is one of my all-time favourites.

Although Fable III didn’t live up to expectations, it hasn’t stopped me from wishing for a fourth instalment since 2010. That explains why I was sorely disappointed when there was no news during Microsoft’s E3 presentation last year. The leak on Reddit the week before had left had left many fans excited about a possible big reveal but none was forthcoming, and now it looks like we’ll have to wait until the next E3 event in June to find out more about what’s going on with the franchise.

The silver lining is that this gives us plenty of time to figure out what we’d like to see in a Fable IV. This is something I’ve been thinking on since including the game in my list of those I’m looking forward to in 2020, and here are eight elements I’m crossing my fingers for.

Stick to the fantasy theme

Fable II, video game, man, Hero, troll, giantThe first theme that comes to mind when you think of Fable is fantasy. But with the Reddit leak announcing that Albion is gone thanks to an asteroid, and a Heroes Guild based on a different planet accessed via Demon Door as a result, could we see science-fiction elements added to the series? I really hope this isn’t the case. Fable is a game which makes you feel as though you’re being transported back to an epic age where the battles of Heroes had an impact far into the future, and a sci-fi twist could spoil that.

Huge moments in an open-world

Remember the first time you stumbled upon a Thunderjaw in Horizon Zero Dawn? Or when you rode out to meet the first stone giant in Shadow of the Colossus? It would be great if there were huge moments like this in Fable IV, and there are plenty of great modern open-world games that the developers could take inspiration from. I want to step into that first location after the opening cutscene and feel as if there’s a whole world out there for me to explore – just not necessarily on different planets.

Moral decisions that have consequences

Fable III, video game, man, knight, Hero, swordOne of my favourite things about the series is its morality system and the way it changes your appearance. But what if this was developed into something more organic? Your alignment could be determined through your actions rather than a series of choices that are simply good or evil. For example, if you find end up using stealth regularly and stealing items, you could become known as a thief; or if you buy all the property and set the rent to the minimal amount, the townsfolk could see you as caring. And rich.

Money for mini-game jobs

Speaking of being rich, bring back the mini-games! I’d rather not see them used to the same extent as they were in Fable III where it was necessary to earn a huge amount of gold if you wanted to save the kingdom completely, but it wouldn’t be Fable without being able to take on a position as a woodcutter, pie-maker or lute-player. I didn’t play any of the pub games unless it was strictly necessary for a quest so I’m not particularly bothered about those – just keep the jobs and let me be a bartender again.

A bigger role for the dog

The dog in Fable II was a star. He was the reason I went for the option I chose at the end and it should be a requirement that he’s brought back for all future Fable games. This good boy would help you in battle and direct you to buried treasure, as well as change appearance in line with your character’s morality; perhaps this could be expanded upon for a new release and he could be taught new tricks. There needs to be a way to protect your companion though – perhaps some doggy armour – because I hate it when animals get hurt in video games.

More time for Theresa

Theresa is one of my favourite characters both from the Fable series and gaming in general, because she’s so mysterious. Frequently referred to as ‘The Blind Seeress’, she has had prophetic powers since a young child and possesses extrasensory perception due to her exceptional Will abilities despite being unable to physically see. You’re never quite sure whether she’s on the side of good or evil: is she telling you all she knows or has she seen the future and is now trying to guide you down a certain path?

Plant the acorn that grows into an oak

Fable, Fable II, video game, trees, meadow, grass, flowersRemember the acorn incident? Players were promised the ability to plant one at the start of the first Fable title and see it grow into an oak tree by the end. That didn’t happen however, and many people turned on Peter Molyneux as a result (although I maintain some adoration for him). It would be great to finally see this in Fable IV. Imagine being able to plant a seed and see it grow throughout the course of your gameplay; and what if the state of the plant affected what was going on in the world around your character? That would be awesome.

Keep the silliness

One of the best things about the Fable franchise is its humour and cast of colourful non-player characters (NPCs), frequently voiced by well-known stars. It manages to strike the perfect balance between absurd silliness and black humour. This will be hard for another developer to recreate but if they manage to channel that charm, it will help Fable IV stand out from the other RPGs from the market and make it something special. New players will be won over by its magic while established Chicken Chasers will be reminded why they love the series so much.

With the next E3 expo taking place in the summer and the latest Xbox console surely being out in time for Christmas, I’m hoping we’ll hear more news about Fable IV soon. In the meantime, I think I’ll return to the start of the series and be a Hero all over again.

We’re taking part in GameBlast20 to support SpecialEffect, the gamers’ charity.
Making a donation will bring you great loot, increase your XP by +100 and make you immune to fire.*
(*Not guaranteed.)


Wishlist wonders: games I’m looking forward to

How has 2019 been for you so far in terms of video games? I know there are many gamers who won’t agree but for me it’s been quite disappointing. Last year I wrote about the industry trend of producing sequels, remakes, spin-offs and ports – and it seems as though nothing much has changed over the past nine months.

It’s not all doom and gloom though because I’ve played some great games in that time, even managing to find a new favourite in Eastshade. There are also 27 upcoming titles waiting for their releases on my Steam wishlist right now, along with several Kickstarter projects. Rob from Bandicoot Warrior recently asked his Real Neat Blogger nominees to name a game that could be released within the next two years that gets them excited; so to thank him and show him just how some he is, I bring you not just one but eight.

Disclaimer: this post was drafted towards the end of September, before I’d heard that some of the following games were going to be released this month!

12 Minutes

I wasn’t particularly impressed by Microsoft’s E3 presentation in June and the only title that stood out for me was 12 Minutes by Luis Antonio. Players take on the role of a husband who’s due to spend a romantic evening with his wife but things take a turn for the worse when a detective breaks into your home and you find yourself caught in a time-loop. Use the knowledge gained from repeating events to change the outcome – or relive the same terror over and over again. I wasn’t particularly impressed by Microsoft’s E3 presentation

Backbone

I backed last year’s Kickstarter campaign for Backbone for three main reasons. First, everyone knows how much I love a point-and-click game; second, I’m partial to a good bit of pixel-art too; and third, you play as a detective raccoon. I had the chance to check out the prologue a few months ago and if the full release is of the same quality then we’re in for a treat. I highly recommend giving it a try yourself but be prepared for some pretty dark subject matter: take a look at Luke’s preview on Hundstrasse for details. More please, Eggnut!

Disco Elysium

Disco Elysium was my favourite game at last year’s Rezzed event. It’s an interesting mix of detective-show and isometric RPG where you can choose the type of cop you want to be, through an original skill system which takes feelings, doubts and memories into account. Kick in doors, interrogate suspects or simply get lost in the city of Revachol as you unravel its mysteries. I’m not the only one looking forward to ZA/UM’s project; the lads from Geek Sleep Rinse Repeat are excited about it too so keep an eye out for their review.

Fable IV

The only reason I tuned into Microsoft’s E3 presentation this year was because of the rumour there may be news about Fable IV, so I was sorely disappointed. Maybe the news of a series resurrection was a little premature; or perhaps there were so many other games to unveil that Microsoft decided to hold onto the next Fable instalment until there’s more progress to show off. I’m guessing that we’re going to have to wait until next year for any real information, when the company might reveal it as a Project Scarlett launch title at the next expo.

Firmament

It’s no surprise I showed my support for Firmament on Kickstarter after backing Cyan’s previous campaigns for Obduction and Myst 25th Anniversary Collection. The story begins when you wake up in a glacial cavern, crowded with metal pipes and clockwork gears. Massive doors open to a chamber containing an ancient table holding a tea cup on one end and a frozen body slumped over the other, the corpse’s hand clutching a strange device. Expect a title full of atmosphere and mystery just like the Myst series.

In Other Waters

I added several games to my wishlist after the LudoNarraCon digital expo in May, including In Other Waters by Jump Over the Age. There are plenty of titles featuring artificial intelligence but not so many where you play as the AI itself. When a routine exoplanet study goes wrong and her partner disappears into an alien ocean, a Xenobiologist is left with little more than an antiquated diving suit. What she finds is a sea of extraterrestrial life; and it’s up to you to help her trace her companion and dredge up secrets that were meant to be lost forever.

Nanotale – Typing Chronicles

After having enjoyed Epistory – Typing Chronicles a few years ago, I was looking forward to seeing Fishing Cactus’ follow-up title at Rezzed in April. It’s an adventure game with a twist: everything from movement to menus to action is controlled through the keyboard, and combat is completed by typing in words. Nanotale felt familiar but it’s clear the developer has put a lot of thought into how to evolve the mechanics since their previous title, and the experience feels fuller thanks to the inclusion of some new RPG elements.

Neo Cab

Neo Cab’s setting is somewhat unsettling, because the dystopian city in Change Agency’s title is so much like modern life. Citizens make use of wearable technology which monitors their emotional state as well as records what’s happening around them. Workers are worried about being pushed out of their jobs by robots and automation, concerned about how they’re going to make a living. And huge corporations are focused on profit at the expense of their employees and society in general. It’s all a bit close and it certainly makes you think.



So how has 2019 been for you so far? And what games are you looking forward to being released in the next year or so? Thank you once again to Rob for the Real Neat Blogger nomination – I’m sure he’s excited about the next Fallout title already!