For the uninitiated, the roguelike genre is the meanest branch of the RPG evolutionary tree. They are typically story-light, turn-based affairs where a lone hero progresses through a lethal dungeon gaining power. But unlike the usual RPG, roguelikes balk at the idea that games should be easily-accessible dispensers of fun and entertainment. They wield their learning curves like swords: they combine lessons by trial and error with permanent death. (No going back to a save point!) When you fail, and you will fail, you start over at the beginning with a level 1 hero armed with a bent paper clip and a passing notion of how it’s used. Though this might sound frustrating, it creates a uniquely rewarding experience. The growth and rewards happen within the player as they master the complex systems within these games, unlike other games where the rewards are on-screen as the player’s avatar advances instead.
Surprisingly, this brings us to Doom. When Doom was released in 1993 it was the king of on-screen rewards. You ran through the most immersive 3d environments ever created blowing up over-the-top enemies with equally over-the-top weaponry. Doom was amazing, but little happened within the the player. It seems like the polar opposite of a roguelike, doesn’t it? It was a story-light affair where a lone hero progressed through a lethal dungeon gaining…
With all of the new titles constantly shipping in a variety of genres, it’s easy for some games to get lost in the shuffle. For me, this was the case with WB Interactive’s Gotham City Impostors.
I first heard about this game at PAX Prime last year. I loved the concept and the booth was pretty entertaining, so it seemed like a title that I was going to be hearing a lot about. However, much larger and more anticipated titles from franchises like Mass Effect and Assassin’s Creed ended up stealing the show for me.
Flash forward nearly a year and enter the 2012 Steam Summer Sale. I saw the entire Batman franchise on sale and could not resist adding GCI and the entirety of its DLC content to my library.
Despite owning the books, I have yet to try Luke Crane‘s table-top RPG masterpiece Burning Wheel. The RPGs I have experience with are robust enough that I can approach them like I would Legos: I take the parts that look cool, I snap them together as I go, poof a fun experience is built. But Burning Wheel is designed with a mode of play in mind; its player-driven reward system is a delicate thing. It promises the world, but interact with one bit in the wrong way and gears threaten to come to a grinding halt.
Thankfully, Crane took the world of David Peterson‘s Mouse Guard and created a game that amounts to “Burning Wheel 101”. The Mouse Guard Roleplaying Game retains Burning Wheel’s core philosophy of rewarding players for propelling the game forward but uses the lens of heroic-mouse-adventures to pare down much of the complexity. Mouse Guard is the ladder to hold onto while one dips themselves gently into Luke Crane’s mad genius. Continue reading →
Lately I’ve been putting a lot of hours into Rusty Hearts. For those that are unfamiliar, Rusty Hearts is a free to play action MMO. Basically, it’s a dungeon crawling arcade-style button masher with levels and loot. In addition, you can team up with other players to take on increasingly difficult content for fun and profit. Not real profit of course, but you know what I mean. The controls go from simple move, attack, jump, and dodge to a variety of special abilities bound to hotkeys for each of the playable characters. It’s for this action and accessibility that it ranked #10 in MMOVault’s Top 10 Free MMOs.
Natasha in motion with her pistols and giant purple hair. It wouldn’t be anime without one purple-haired character.
Aesthetically, Rusty Hearts delivers a solidly cartoony anime experience. The playable characters are exactly what you would want if you happen to go looking for an anime based MMO. Perhaps that’s a pretty specific thing, but it’s hard to ignore the over-the-top hair and weapon styles. For people that like a certain look to their characters, the costume system is likely to be exactly what they’ve always dreamed of. Instead of equipped items making horrible aesthetic changes (I’m looking at you, green drops in every new WoW expansion), the only changes you’ll ever see on your Continue reading →
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