Alasdair Duncan is that bearded, bespectacled Scotsman that covers PC gaming that is not Fraser Brown. A long time Destructoid community member and forum moderator, he covers adventure, puzzle, FPS and all kinds of games on the PC. Watch, as he adds more games to his Steam library with only the vaguest hope of ever playing most of his games.
Alasdair has been gaming since his mother bought a Commodore 64 back in the early 1980's. He adores Deus Ex, GTA Vice City, Team Fortress 2, Borderlands, Super Mario Brothers 3 and all those weird indie titles on Steam.
You can meet Alasdair at places like PAX where he tries to convince people he isn't a) drunk or b) Irish.
Last month was a good result in taking on my Backlog; I took on three games, two old and one new and completed all of them. First up was Hard Reset, the old school sci-fi FPS. Boy, I tell you I havenít circle strafed in a game for quite some time. Hard Reset is real old school, a big array of weapons, no reloading, waves of small enemies to pick off... itís old school Quake and Doom with a grim sci-fi style. The story is told in some nice looking motion comic cutscenes (which are skip-able, bonus points there) but thereís not a lot of sense in them. Something about rogue androids and artificial intelligences running wild and the main guy swears a lot. I didnít realise it but in my first attempt at playing Hard Reset last year, I can really close to finishing the game. The free DLC did extend the game somewhat and I was grateful for being able to upgrade my weapons more to really waste the robots in the game. Recommend the game but be prepared to play it in bursts, maybe do a level at a time.
The next game I played was Mirrorís Edge which was recommended because it too was fairly short. The game looked great, despite some screen tearing and the fact that PhysX drivers made crowded scenes real laggy. I love the sense of speed and momentum you could feel once you got Faith up to speed, however the person that made enemies with guns so prevalent in the game needs a stern talking to. It was no fun bumping into a group of enemies and I died a heck of a lot more due to gunfire than falling to my death. I would like to see a sequel, maybe in a city thatís managed to shake itself from the oppressive government and Iíd love to see longer stretches of just running without complicated platforming, just for the sheer sense of speed.
I also played BioShock: Infinite this month which I was always going to do first up. I thought it was really good and whilst it leant quite heavily on the original BioShockís mechanics, I do want to go back and experience Columbia again soon. It looked and sounded stunning and I understand the complaints that the combat detracted from the experience as a whole but then again, Iím not sure what youíd replace it with. Where Irrational goes from here I have no idea, Iíll suppose weíll need to wait and see how successful BioShock: Infinite is financially and what the future holds for the franchsie. I like the idea of ďshockĒ representing a player either exploring the ruins of lost cities (the Von Braun in System Shock 2, Rapture in BioShock) or seeing the fall of a utopia (Columbia in BioShock: Infinite) but those themes could be explored in another game or with different mechanics.
So now onto the games I want to try and beat this this month; I started playing XCOM: Enemy Unknown in April too so Iíd like to complete that as well. Iím also wanting to play Donít Starve and Monaco as well, but I reckon thereís time enough to fit in a good story driven game into this monthsí challenge and who knows, I might be able to get two or even three games completed this month. Hereís your choices below:
I think the Ball may have been a gift and if it was, I apologise for not playing it sooner. All I know is that the Ball involves..... a ball. And Iíve seen some screenshots of some kind of giant lizard man and zombified gorillas. Iím not sure, I may have been drunk...... no, that does seem legit.
I got real close I think to finishing Zeno Clash back when I was living in Australia but I never did finish the game. It wasnít the strangeness or the sheer weirdness of Father Mother et al, but I think I was having some issues with the mechanics, specifically the melee attacks. But I did love the style and thank God for a first person game in 2009 that showed some real imagination. Just like Metro 2033, Iíd really like to play this before the sequel comes out.
Now that the sequel has been funded and will be on Steam, I should really finish Dreamfall: The Longest Journey. I got maybe an hour into it before maybe moving on. I remember feeling frustrated with the camera but I really should finish it; Caimdark highly recommended it and I feel it would make a good change from some of the games Iíve played recently.
Again, I think Singularity may have been a gift and I really should have played it already. All I know is that Singularity is better than average game with time control mechanics and some great Soviet aesthetics. I hope Singularity is one of those gems that sneaked under the radar at the time of release.
This was another game that was described as ďwait until it comes down in price before buying itĒ. Pretty sure I got Driver San Francisco in the Steam Christmas sale for a real good price but until I play it, itís money wasted. Iíve not played any of the Driver games since the PS1 days so I have no idea what to expect from the game.
So there you go, 5 pretty different games and Iíd love to get at least one or even two of them played and completed in May. Iíll be putting aside XCOM once the vote is over and Iíll be returning to it and other games throughout the month. Iíve got some big titles planned for the Backlog Challenge for the Summer months so stay tuned for that. Put your votes of which game youíd like to see me play before May the 2nd in the comments below.
Okay so that took longer than expected. At the start of February you voted that I should play The Secret Of Monkey Island: Special Edition for the first time. And play it I did but it took a whole lot longer than expected. So hereís my excuses; I kicked wrote a lot more for the front page of Destructoid than I have done in recent weeks, including a preview of the upcoming Sang-Froid - A Tale of Werewolves. Iíve also moved into a new apartment, so it took a few weeks of getting things in order, organising furniture and necessities like internet all sorted out. Plus, thereís been PAX East 2013, a great week afterwards in New York with Changston...
...but I finished the game and boy that is a real old school adventure game. After playing recent point and click games like Yesterday and Da New Guyz itís strange to go back to a game where thereís very little concessions made to the player. At least, thatís the impression I made whilst playing the remastered version of the game; having to manually bring up the inventory and the commands took a bit of getting used to once I realised thatís how I had to interact in the world. It took a while because, remember, no tutorial. Thereís also a fair amount of backtracking which was frustrating especially on Monkey Island itself. No way that could have been streamlined a bit so I wouldnít have to paddle back and forth from the North and South of the island?
That being said, Monkey Island is known for itís humour more than anything else and that still delivered. Whether it was the great scene where everything happens behind a wall and you have to watch Guybrushís interactions on the bottom screen. The one-liners and insult sword fighting are still great and Iím now wanting get the sequel to play at some point too. But I need to score off a few more games before I make some more purchases. With that in mind, I did buy and complete the first episode of Kentucky Route Zero. I love the art style and the really subtle audio design as well. Instead of it being like a traditional adventure game, youíre really kind of sculpting your experience as youíre doing, making it unique to you but still consistent with the overarching story. Iím glad Iíve got plenty of forthcoming episodes to come later this year.
So onto this monthís picks; Iíve downloaded more games that I really want to play and finish toute suite as the French would say (I bet Beccy is correcting me right now as I type this). Let me get this out of the way first: Iím playing BioShock Infinite first and foremost this month (actually just finished it about an hour ago). This was one of the few games this year that I said I was going to play before anything else and my copy has been sitting at my parentís house since Tuesday whilst Iíve been in New York. So thatís getting played but then what next? Itís up to you.
Mirrorís Edge was one of those titles that people kept saying ďOh, you should buy it when itís cheap and play it then,Ē Well I did the ďbuy it cheapĒ part but now I really want to play it. Especially now as Iíve gotten a new TV and hooked it up to my PC; Steam Big Picture mode ahoy!
I tried playing through Metro 2033 but I felt I botched an early stealth mission and grew frustrated with it. That being said I feel Iíve given the game a short shrift and should really return to it. I definitely want to finish it before Metro: Last Light is released. Which also reminds me that I still have to finish the Metro 2033 book I bought...
This was a narrow loser in the first Backlog Challenge I did at the start of the year, just missing out to Sleeping Dogs. I do really want to play XCOM as I want to get primed for play Total War: Rome 2 and Company of Heroes 2 later on this year and I really need to bone up on my strategy games.
My buddy The Toilet Duck (aka Aidan) said this might be a bit much for me to chew on in such a short month. Whilst Dark Souls has this really hardcore reputation, the way itís been described to me by my friends who have played it, is that Dark Souls just requires a slow and steady approach and plenty of patience. I do think itís a game that will take a while to play but I can see myself being absorbed in it once I get into it.
I got maybe... half way through Hard Reset shortly after launch before my laptop really started to creak under the weight of the graphics. It had done really well running the game for a while but hopefully I can get back into it and finally finish it because I was having a lot of fun with this old-school style gem.
So vote now, I'll keep the voting open until Monday 8th. Get voting and hopefully I'll finish a game this month!
So last month you kindly folks voted that I play Sleeping Dogs and scratch that game off my backlog. And play it I did, completing the single player, a fair chunk of the side missions as well as the Zodiac Tournament and Nightmare in Northpoint DLC packs. Overall I thought the game was good; the story was interesting enough and it managed to do a good job of conveying Wei Shenís inner-conflict. The voice acting was good overall and the representation of Hong Kong felt really vivid.
Some parts didnít feel as good as they could be; I kept being reminded of other games whilst playing Sleeping Dogs which isnít a good thing. Whilst I was fighting I kept thinking ďthis combat system is good but not as good as Batman Arkham Asylum or Arkham CityĒ. Whilst doing one of the chase/traversal missions I thought ďthis movement is good but Assassinís Creed games does it betterĒ. Aside from that, a lack of polish stuck out at me Often I found myself in a combat sequence with three identical enemies. I took a screenshot randomly of three identical woman just hanging out, completely at random. The radio stations were great; having a station that features two of my favourite record labels, Warp and Ninja Tune was a great move. But having the tracks skip between missions even though youíd only been out of your vehicle for a few seconds was frustrating.
Strangely GTA IVís Liberty City seems more cohesive and more identifiable as a place rather than Hong Kong in Sleeping Dogs but I still think the latter is a good game to play. It looks gorgeous on the PC with the HD texture pack and playing it with a controller feels like the right way to play. Since I finished Sleeping Dogs in the middle of the month, I felt I could get another big game finished before the end of the month. With the memory of me trying to cram games into the last few months of the year to be able to vote in Destructoidís GOTY for 2012 poll, I thought Iíd better play a 2013 release. So I picked up Devil May Cry DmC on Steam mainly due to the positive reviews. Despite never having played an original Devil May Cry game, I enjoyed the new title a lot. It looks great, the combat has a great flow to it and some of the levels and boss fights were really imaginative.
So now onto Februaryís challenge. Iím leaving 2012ís games behind for a bit so I can actually start to get into the depths of my backlog. I had a Garth Marenghi-esque revelation recently when I realised that Iíve probably received more point Ďn click adventure games than Iíve played simply for fun, and that was just in 2012. Lacking a PC for most of the early-mid 1990s meant that I missed most of the golden age of Sierra and Lucasarts adventure games; the Curse of Monkey Island was the first one I played, which I really enjoyed but the year after I played Grim Fandango which became a steadfast favourite of mine. Afterwards the adventure game genre seemed to decline severely in popularity but in the last few years thereís been a glut of great adventure games released. This selection of games matches old and new adventure titles that I really want to complete off my backlog.
I suppose we better start with maybe the classic adventure game. As I mentioned earlier, I missed out on a lot of early adventure games because my family didnít have a dedicated PC. My dad had a work laptop but he stopped my brother and I from using it after finding we had installed Doom on it without his permission. I purchased The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition with the intention of filling in some of the blanks of my gaming past but Iíve yet to play it.
The Dig was seemingly highly regarded at the time of release only to fade in the eyes of some as being over-hyped thanks to the involvement of Steven Spielberg. Iíve played about 45 minutes of this game but Iím willing to start up a fresh game and get laid into this one.
I always assumed Spielberg was associated with Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis because well... itís Indy. Again, I bought this with the intention of adding another classic point and click game to my library but like with the Dig I have barely touched it.
Resonance reviewed really well last year and I picked it up on Steam in the Christmas sale. I hoped it would simply sit on my laptop and be there whenever I was travelling or had some downtime during the year. But if you guys pick it, I will be starting it and finishing it by the end of the month.
Ben There, Dan That! and Time Gentlemen Please were so stupidly cheap that I had to buy them. And of course play them for about 5 minute before not touching them again just like about 80% of my Steam collection. So if you vote for this pair of games, I will be playing them both this month. That way I get two games written off for the price of one.
So there you go, 5 games for you to vote on. Simply put down which game you want me to play in the comments below, I'm going to keep the voting open until Sunday 3rd February at midnight when Iíll post a comment declaring a winner. Part of the reason I've picked these games is that I'm probably moving into a new place at the end of the month and all of these games will run on my laptop without too much trouble. Hopefully Iíll be able to get online and post my thoughts again but until then, get voting!
So in the vain hope of reducing my backlog, Iím throwing open the chance to all of you lovely folk as to what game Iím going to play next in my backlog. When I say my hopes are in vain, it basically means that Iím hoping to play as many games as I end up buying in 2013 so I start 2014 in pretty much the same position as I started this year. Anyway, with that cynical thought out of the way, hereís a couple of ground points I want to make.
1) Iím going to provide 5 options each month for people to vote on. Iím planning a theme on each set of games, so I donít end up
2) If I end up completing a game really quickly, then Iím reserving the right to play another game of my choice in the same month. If I finish that game, then Iíll start the next vote early
3) Iím still going to be reviewing games for the site, so if something comes my way, Iíll be dropping everything to play the game and review it. Last year I did about 7 or 8 reviews, so that wonít happen too much, but...
4) When it comes to big new releases, I am dropping everything to play them. So when Bioshock Infinite comes out, I am playing that straight away. Like, maybe taking some days off work to play. Again, wonít happen too much but at the same time I need at least 10 games for my end of 2013 Best Of... list, right?
5) I reserve the right not to play DLC that extends the game and also to play the game on Easy mode (if applicable) should I choose. Also, I ain't playing multiplayer but I may play co-op if I can guarantee people will play with me.
So with those excuses out of the way, letís get to the theme for January and the games youíll be voting for:
Best of 2012 I didnít finish.
So hereís a list of games that I either bought but didnít play in 2012, or started but never finished. I think youíre going to see a lot of repeat themes here...
Sleeping Dogs seems to have been a case of ďhey, this is way better than expectedĒ, considering itís troubled development. I bought Sleeping Dogs at launch knowing my new PC was going to be arriving soon but two reviews and repairs to my desktop meant I had to shelve playing it until this year. I have only played an hour but that was mainly to see how good the HD texture pack looks on my PC (spoiler: it looks reeaaaaallllyyyy good)
Fez was more of a case of ďwow, this is really greatĒ and then ďI have no idea where I am or what I should be doingĒ. The seemingly maze-like series of doors and passages meant I quickly lost my bearings and my puzzle solving skills are so lax that I know I wasnít going to make it far. But I donít want to give up on Fez, I want to experience that ďah hah!Ē moment that everyone seems to have with that game.
File under the ďhey, this is way better than expectedĒ category too. I want to play another modern military shooter set in the middle east like I want an extra couple of holes in my head. Yet Spec Ops seems to have gotten a lot of praise with elements of itís story and itís non-glamorous take on warfare. Worth a shot it seems, after I picked it up in the Steam Winter Sale for next to nothing.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown was something that was on my radar but it wasnít until I played it at PAX Prime last year, that I knew I wanted to play for sure. I wasnít ideologically opposed to the FPS reboot but seeing Firaxis update the older XCOM games for modern times was really pleasing. I know I will dig into this at some point but will it be next game I play?
Just like XCOM, I wasnít opposed to the idea of an FPS reboot of Bullfrogís classic Syndicate; the only thing I remember from the original game was playing it at my friend Martinís house when I was a kid and guys in trench coats gunning down people with miniguns. And Starbreezeís update has both of those. I got about halfway through and got frustrated with seemingly invincible boss fights and the nagging sensation that I maybe missed out on some gameplay info.
So there's your 5 choices, I'm gonna keep voting open until Sunday midnight GMT, afterwards I'll post what the choice of game was in the comments and start playing. Bear in mind there were more games I got in 2012 that I need to finish but these were some of the big ones that came to mind. With all that, get to voting!
Hey, here's the games I enjoyed the most out in 2012. See the bottom of this post for the obligatory apologies and excuses.
10: Thirty Flights of Loving A game with simplistic graphics and controls that only takes maybe 15 minutes to play? Thirty Flights of Loving scattershot narrative echoes Reservoir Dogs (a heist movie where you never see the actual heist) but it's told in such a fractured way that it's always moving between action sequences and surprisingly touching moments between your character and his band of crooks.
Be right back, booking my flight to Hong Kong so I can hang out with my close friends and peel some oranges.
09: Mass Effect 3 Yes, the ending was muddled but when it comes to games, I'm more of interested in the journey instead of the destination. The road to the end of Shepherd's tale still delivered some great highpoints in the series. The Krogan genophage is handled really well, returning characters come back with some great moments and the improved gameplay from ME2 (I preferred the shooter-centric style over ME1's loose gunplay).
There were problems with the the third installment; the pacing felt all off after the initial excitement of the Reaper invasion of Earth. The random fetch quests you pick up whilst wandering around places seems really weird and keeping seemingly important story information in paid DLC is really disappointing. Where does the series go from here? No idea, but I'd love to see something different in this universe. A space combat sim during the First Contact Wars? Sign me up!
08: Tribes: Ascend I already mentioned how Tribes: Ascend was an under-rated game this year. Whilst the aesthetics aren't very original and hardcore fans weren't keen on a classic multiplayer shooter being re-tooled for a modern free to play title, Tribes: Ascend managed to get the frantic, fast paced combat intact.
It's just so fast compared to modern twitch based shooters, the arenas are large and allow you to get a good sense of where the flashpoints on the battlefield are. Seeing a scrap in the distance and skiing over to it was super satisfying and Tribes: Ascend became my multiplayer shooter of the year.
07: Botanicula Amanita Design have been bringing us charming adventure games for a number of years now, Botanicula doesn't follow the lead of their previous title Machinarium, it still has the same European sense of style and craft. Following the journey of a group of tiny tree dwellers as they seek to protect a precious acorn from a life sucking spider creature, Botanicula manages to communicate purely through tt's wonderful artwork and sound design.
Whilst the puzzles are sometimes simplistic, Botanicula wowed me with every new screen; there's strange and wonderful creatures going about their weird business and new sounds and music that kept surprising me. The scene where the group encounter the magic being in the lamp who grants their wishes was one of gaming high points for me this year.
06: Hotline Miami I feel dirty after playing Hotline Miami.
Whether it's the slightly queasy visuals or the relentless beats that accompany your balletic bloodshed, I don't feel empowered or like a superhero after wasting a room filled with Russian mafia types. There's a lingering sense of unease after each mission and whilst managing to clear a floor of enemies is rewarding, it's never without a "ooooohhhh shit" that comes with beheading a dude.
Whilst the controls don't have the tightness that might make the game a little easier, Hotline Miami is more about quick planning, reactions and weighing up your options. Ok you only disarmed a guy when you threw your baseball bat at him; should you rush in and take him on before he recovers and picks up a weapon or retreat and wait for a better opportunity. The lightning fast restarts help the sense of speed and meant that experimentation was encouraged. I frankly suck at the game but that doesn't stop me from wanting to come back to it time and time again.
05: Max Payne 3 I played the original Max Payne games back in the day and whilst I really liked them, I recognised there were flaws with them too. The script often veered too much into self referential humour and I often found myself just clearing a room of enemies, quicksaving and continuing which negated a lot of the challenge.
But Max Payne 3 was different; the older, paunchier and even more miserable Max struck a chord with me. What ex-cop who'd been through what he had would not be strung out on booze and pills. The game's presentation was top notch, both in it's visuals and audio and the challenge was rock hard (remember, I generally suck at games but not as bad as babee Britt Zaddler). The multiplayer was decent and I enjoyed playing the Gang Wars mode with the Dtoid Crew on Friday Night Fights. All in all if this is the last Max Payne game then I'm okay with that, the dude deserves a break.
04: FTL Just like Hotline Miami, I suck at FTL but again, failure isn't a bad thing. With FTL, I learn a little more about the systems at play and I quickly realised that sometimes I was up against a stacked deck. I didn't have the right combination of early luck to get me the right upgrades or weapons to secure victory or maybe additional crew. Maybe I didn't respond quickly enough to emergencies; maybe I panicked when I got boarded; maybe I forgot about re-sealing that hatch and everyone suffocated.
Whatever the reasons for my failures, it never put me off FTL. Modern gaming is generally failure averse meaning there often feels like a lack of geniune challenge, or at least a sense of learning from failure. FTL did such a good job of hooking me in that it was hard to resist jumping into a game every few hours just to see how far I could flee the rebel fleet.
03: Mark of the Ninja
Unlike a lot of people, I really enjoy stealth games; I enjoy the patience and tension they provide and when a game like Deus Ex or Dishonored offer me a stealth option, I'll take it. Mark of the Ninja is stealth above all but the way it communicates information in the levels is sublime. It took me a while to realise that my character had line of sight, it just felt really natural to have to peek over a ledge to check the position of a guard.
Sure, all the indicators and visual cues are super-gamey but it's never distracting; Mark of the Ninja is similar to Hotline Miami as you need to work out the best route to clear a room before you can proceed. Leaping into action expecting to cut the guards to shreds is never gonna work, you need to be thinking clearly and ready to respond to danger. The controls feel so right that I never felt that I was screwing up because of them, rather I hadn't thought a situation through well enough.
02: Dishonored When I read that Harvey Smith and Viktor Antonov were working on a systems heavy stealth/combat titles I was instantly excited. Smith was one of the key designers on Deus Ex and Antonov's designs were used to great effect in Half Life 2's City 17 levels. Deciding how I should extract revenge on the conspirators that murdered the Empress was a delight, especially when I realised that the harder non-direct solutions were so much more rewarding.
Considering I'm a big fan of Deus Ex, it was no surprise that Dishonored scratched that particular itch; the option of whether to play as a pacifist, a blood thirsty stab-a-holic or a mix of the two is always intriguing. I wish there was a bit more to the stealth mechanics, especially coming off the back of Mark of the Ninja, but the blink/teleportation system was a great choice and the whole city of Dunwall was a strange place that begged exploring. Lady Boyle's party was a highlight of 2012 with the guests' grotesque masks making the vibe so creepy.
Oh, and stop calling it a "steampunk game".... did you see any cogs, steamworks or goggles? No. If anything we should call it "whale-oil punk".
Actually, that sound pish.
01: Torchlight 2 Hey Steam, how many hours did I plough into Torchlight 2 since it came out? 62, really? It feels a lot more. I know I'm almost at the end of my third playthough and I still want to play it in between sessions of the other titles I've been struggling to finish this year. Whilst it's accepted Diablo III's combat has more "crunch", I've loved the build of my Outlander character. Blasting away with dual pistols, her blinding back flip can get her out of trouble really easily and she can summon a whole host of Shadowling allies if things are too overwhelming.
The addition of the interconnecting maps was a great addition, the tweaks made to the pet were fun and the allure of collecting gems and armour sets was totally compulsive. The fact the game ran like an absolute treat on my laptop was a great boon. It meant playing sessions when I was out then returning to my desktop via cloud saves a total breeze. I played no other games this much during 2012 and I certainly didn't return to any game again one I finished playing it. The fact I've started over twice in Torchlight 2 is maybe the highest compliment I can pay it.
2013 and beyond!
"Hey, you bearded pretentious twat! You didn't enjoy (insert name of acclaimed game here)? You useless tit!!"
Hey, whoa.... the year wasn't perfect. I was unemployed for almost half the year, so I wasn't buying a lot of games. My laptop meant I could play fairly undemanding titles like FTL and Hotline Miami but it was only when I got my gaming PC in October that I was really able to play really graphically intense games. Then there were reviews I did and other delays (PC broke, got it fixed)...
Basically, I grossly underestimated the time I had before submitting my top 10 games for the Destructoid end of year list. I purchased titles like XCOM, Spec Ops: The Line and Sleeping Dogs but have only played maybe an hour of each, same with Dark Souls on PC. I waited until all 5 episodes of The Walking Dead to be released only to have a few days to play the whole thing before my list was submitted. Then there's games like Journey, Sound Shapes, Rhythm Heaven, Super Mario 3D Land, Persona 4 Golden that I really want to play but I'm lacking the funds for either a PS3 or Vita right now. Dammed European release delays aren't helping either. I bought a few iOS games but my original model iphone won't support them.
Right now I'm almost at the end of Borderlands 2 as quickly as I can and I've set a backlog challenge of completing 25 titles in 2013. Since I've got a PC that can handle anything I can through at it, I want to eliminate big titles from my backlog as quick as I can. I also want to avoid being an idiot in the Steam sales (probably too late at this point). I'm also considering doing a backlog challenge that will be similar to the one Conrad Zimmerman did a recently, where I list some options for a game to play and you all can vote on which one you'd like to see me play. Won't be streaming them but I'll do a write up on each one I finish, is that something people would like to see?
Cards against Humanity is a very simple game. It can also be a staggeringly offensive game if you are so inclined. After a successful Kickstarter campaign, Cards Against Humanity gained notoriety online and it's been something my friends and I have been keen to play. Now, after a few games at PAX, and the fine folks at Cards Against Humanity providing me with copies of both expansions, I can whole heartedly recommend you play Cards Against Humanity as soon as possible.
Gameplay is very simple; each player has a number of white answer cards that have a variety of things written on them; people, places, objects and actions. A randomly chosen "card tzar" will pose a question from a black card and the remaining players will place a white card answering the question on the table. The card tzar will then pick his or her favourite answer card and the person that played the winning card will win the question card. Then a new card tzar is selected and we start over. Simple.
But there's an amazing amount of depth to this game; since the cards are played anonymously, there's a meta game taking place where playing to the card tzar's tastes come into play. Standing out from the crowd with left field and surreal answers can also work in your advantage too. Sometimes the more apt (and probably the most shocking) the possible answer, there's less chance of it standing out from the other answer cards.
And here's where we get to the meat and bones of Cards Against Humanity. The answer cards can get into scorchingly touchy subjects; certain actions, historical events and bodily functions are all fair game in Cards Against Humanity. But the truth of the matter is that by themselves, the cards aren't offensive, it's the players. YOU are the person that chooses to answer the question "What's the crustiest?" with the card marked simply "my vagina".
And thus the meta-game continues with games of chicken being played between those who wish to get a reaction out of other gamers. As such it's best played with newbies who have no prior knowledge of what is on the cards. Getting through those first few rounds produces the most laughs and it's something that Card Against Humanity can produce over and over again.
However, it's best that you play Cards Against Humanity in short burst with small groups of people. I've found between 4-5 people and playing up until 1 player has amassed 5 cards is a real good way to play. A group game I played with 10 other people didn't have a good flow to it and became unwieldy. There's also the temptation to play for hours just to see how crazy/offensive your answers can be but again, that just leads to a game running out of steam.
Photo via Beccy Caine. I was the one who selected The Force and I won. Naturally.
As someone from the UK, some of the specifically American references went a bit over my head but there are blank question and answer cards in the main game and two expansion packs so you can flavour the game to your own regional tastes. Unfortunately the game isn't available in the UK (Amazon.com won't ship Cards Against Humanity to the UK for some reason), so you're going to have to hit up one of your transatlantic Dtoid buddies for a copy. If you can't wait, you can visit the Cards Against Humanity website for a downloadable cards that you can print off yourself.
Play Cards Against Humanity; trim some of the answer cards if you have to and keep the game brief. Do all this an you're guaranteed a damn funny time with your friends.