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Dad by the Sword photo
Dad by the Sword

Dad by the Sword features limp, floppy swords


Jean shorts, evil hot dogs, and jealous beast-men make for a delightful game
Mar 11
// Rob Morrow
Dad by the Sword is iOS developer Rocketcat Games' first entry into the PC market and boy howdy, is it a doozy. Part sword-fighting simulator, part long-running dad joke, all demented loveliness. Rocketcat's design expe...
Deals photo
Deals

Next week's Cities: Skylines pre-order deals up to 27% off


The citybuilder you're looking for?
Mar 06
// Dealzon
Next week's release of Cities: Skylines has a pre-order discount right now making it cheaper than 2013's SimCity at MSRP. The new city-builder game from Colossal Order starts at $29.99 and can be pre-order for ...

Review: Screamride

Mar 02 // Chris Carter
Screamride (Xbox 360, Xbox One [reviewed])Developer: Frontier DevelopmentsPublisher: Microsoft StudiosReleased: March 3, 2015MSRP: $29.99 (Xbox 360), $39.99 (Xbox One) Believe it or not Screamride actually has some semblance of a story. In a dystopian future, a mega-corporation has recruited thrillseekers to test out various dangerous rides and experiences "for the future of mankind." It's all very eerie while at the same time adding in comical effects like people flying off the back of a boat to their death. It's never laugh-out-loud hilarious but it strikes a nice balance tonally to the point where I'm typically smiling. The thing I like most about Screamride is the commitment to the theme. Whether it's the chill electronic soundtrack or the bright and beautiful skylines, I'm constantly in a state of therapeutic bliss. The actual game on the other hand is very simplistic -- often to a fault. Everything is broken up into three core concepts, strung across six different zones. You'll get the "Ride," "Demolition," and "Engineer" subtypes, with roughly three to four stages for each activity. A certain score is required to progress through the campaign, which should take you roughly 10 hours or so to complete. [embed]287893:57556:0[/embed] "Ride" is probably the least exciting of the bunch, as it's basically Kinect Sports without the Kinect. Some of you out there might be jumping for joy at the lack of motion controls, but a fair bit of Kinect Sports Rivals was actually well done and innovative. With this minigame, you're just controlling a coaster, literally on rails, to its destination. Your job is to boost every so often and not fall off. "Demolition" is easily my favorite, and the one I play most often. In short, it's a 'roided up Angry Birds, subbing in orbs with people in them as the "bullets," so to speak. You'll control a catapult as you aim and fire each shell into various buildings and targets, with a slight aftertouch control to ease you into your destination. On the Xbox One, the physics are beautiful, and the destruction is gloriously detailed. You'll also get quite a bit of variety here as the game ramps up and gives you more powers, like the ejection pod or the jet-propulsion pod. To hinder or help your chaos there's a bunch of bounce pads, explosive barrels, wall-blocks, and basketball hoops to navigate through, adding a lot more depth over time. What feels like a basic Angry Birds clone eventually turns into something much more than meets the eye. "Engineer" is the last bit, which is basically more of a tutorial for the sandbox mode. You'll get to create the coasters that you got to play with in "Ride," adding in your own twists like bigger drops, tighter corners, and higher hills. The only real selling point here is challenges, which aren't present in the sandbox mode. Sandbox will be the bigger draw for creative types, as there are a lot more tools at your disposal. If you're so inclined you can also add in objectives for other players and share them online. There's already some crazy developer creations that were more fun to ride around in than the campaign, so as if the community stays active, there will be extra content to play around in down the line. That's a big "if" though. The main problem with Screamride is that the creation process doesn't feel as grand as it could. I was hoping that I'd be able to jump in and craft a giant universe of rides, but instead the game only gave me smaller islands to work with. Creating your own coaster with hundred-foot-high hills can be thrilling, but it can only go so far until you want to move onto something else. In a future sequel, I'd love to see ten or more concepts, not three, all working in tandem. Screamride is a limited romp, but its core selection of minigames are fun to play. It's enjoyable for what it is, whether you have a creative mind or just want to blow shit up. I can see myself going back from time to time to top my best score -- I just won't be creating things for months on end. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Screamride review photo
More like mild yelling
When I first saw the debut trailer for Screamride, I assumed it was a simulator. Growing up with Sim Theme Park and RollerCoaster Tycoon, I relished the idea of creating and managing my own commercial park and divining n...

Extrasolar photo
Extrasolar

Extrasolar's mobile interface got a slick update


Controlling an exoplanet rover on the go
Feb 26
// Darren Nakamura
Extrasolar has always been a tough sell for hardcore gamers, in my eyes. Though it was one of my top games of last year, most readers tune out when they see a description like "free-to-play science simulator," and going any f...
Shelter 2 Trailer photo
Shelter 2 Trailer

Shelter 2's latest trailer will thaw the coldest of hearts


Pre-orders now available, stackable disounts for Shelter owners
Feb 26
// Rob Morrow
I was reminded of Might and Delight's upcoming abstract adventure game Shelter 2 the other evening as I was winding my way up into the snowy, North Carolina highlands at dusk. As I made the last few icy turns appro...
Weapon shop game photo
Weapon shop game

Cuuute: A weapon shop game about potatoes


There's even a potato pup
Feb 25
// Jordan Devore
Games about managing weapon shops are still novel enough conceptually and satisfying enough mechanically that they don't need much window dressing to draw me in. Holy Potatoes! A Weapon Shop?! has a cutesy art style and offb...
PoPoLoCrois Farm Story photo
PoPoLoCrois Farm Story

Look at this bushel of happiness on the PoPoLoCrois Farm Story Japanese cover


Wouldja look at it?
Feb 24
// Brittany Vincent
Okay, I know no one cares that much about farm sims or things like that these days unless they're teeming with in-app purchases. Or PoPoLoCrois, for that matter. But for some reason, I really like both. I also really like the...

Saving the newly erected Ass from poop water in Cities: Skylines

Feb 23 // Steven Hansen
I started my four square kilometer city next to a river that flowed into the ocean. A smart city planner would’ve taken this advantageous location location location and immediately gotten sewage treatment plants funneling shit (literally!) downstream and out into the ocean where it's fine and not a problem at all. A smart city designer would've taken a screenshot of their work rather than snap a camera phone picture. However, the city starts on the Roads panel. Draw some roads from the highway that serve as the foundation for your city. It's easy, too, to paint on lines or curves. It's a bit too easy, in fact, to start painting beautiful, phallic roadways and eat into your starting budget. I made too large a dick to handle -- fiscally, anyways. I painted the automatic areas on either side of the street with zoning designation (residential, commercial, industrial) and suddenly I had houses erecting and entitled citizens demanding things like power and water. [embed]287913:57461:0[/embed] Skylines is actually quite good at leading you. Little icon demands pop up over homes showing what you're missing (power, water) and you go over to those tabs and start building. Erect power lines, funnel water to homes. As you hit population milestones, more options open up. Schools, fire departments, police departments, hospitals. I was a bit stuck, though, before all that as I had a city -- I named it Ass, by the way -- in turmoil. Shit-covered turmoil, limping along one stretch of pipe at a time, as much as the budget could handle, inching my way towards the coast so I could empty houses of their fecal waste. Buildings were abandoned, people tweeted obnoxiously with the built-in, faux-Twitter app that citizens occasionally use to talk about their Ass. Once I got the shit out of the homes, though, I really turned things around and Ass began growing exponentially, to the point where I was working on beautification projects (parks) as much as adding a second fire department to cover the eastern half of Ass. With built-in Steam Workshop support, too, your own potential Asses aren't limited to the 3D models provided. An hour in, crisis averted, I was still in a relatively podunk state. I hadn't come close to filling my starting four square kilometer tile, and you can patch together up to nine of them. And despite the scope, you can zero in on the most minute details of the simulation, as far as naming an individual city inhabitant and following them until they die. If you are looking big picture, though, there's lots to do beyond rote construction. You can map out and name districts, add city policies (want a smoking-free haven?), set taxes. Maybe build yourself a nice gentrified city, or develop a suburb escape as urban areas filled with crime. My simulated town of Ass never reached significant complexity, but Cities: Skylines' usability, given everything there is to do, impresses and should prove enough scaffold learning to facilitate highly functioning, complex cities from even the stupidest of us. Like the ones who name their city Ass and draw it like a dick.
Cities: Skylines preview photo
Scratching that Sim City itch
Paradox is sticking with, "let’s talk about our product on its own merits" tact with its upcoming city-builder from developer Colossal Order, but I am under no such nice-marketing guide (nor do I know tact, as this post will confirm). Cities: Skylines is looking to be what busted ol' SimCity should’ve been.

Artemis convention photo
Artemis convention

Artemis Spaceship Bridge Simulator is getting its own convention


Artemis Armada One
Feb 16
// Darren Nakamura
I have always been interested in playing Artemis Spaceship Bridge Simulator, but have never had an opportunity. A team had it set up at Phoenix Comicon a couple years ago, but the room was booked for the whole weekend, so I w...
Story of Seasons  photo
Story of Seasons

XSEED harvests Story of Seasons on March 31


A Harvest Moon by any other name still smells like farm
Feb 12
// Kyle MacGregor
Story of Seasons takes root in North America on March 31, XSEED Games announced today. The Nintendo 3DS farming simulator is the latest entry in the Bokujo Monogatari series, which previously was localized under the...
RollerCoaster Tycoon photo
RollerCoaster Tycoon

Devious smile: 'Mishaps' can occur in RollerCoaster Tycoon World


Plus details on the freeform track editor
Feb 09
// Jordan Devore
Area 52 is promising footage of RollerCoaster Tycoon World soon, presumably on or around the Game Developers Conference early next month. I look forward to seeing that, skeptical as I still am about the game. Until then, here...

Review: The Escapists

Feb 09 // Chris Carter
The Escapists (PC, Xbox One [reviewed])Developer: Mouldy Toof StudiosPublisher: Team17 DigitalReleased: February 13, 2015MSRP: $14.99 If you've ever seen the intro to Kenan & Kel, that's basically how Escapists works. Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to escape from prison by any means necessary. Whether you're Shawshanking it or divining an elaborate Michael Scofield-esque Prison Break scheme, the prison is your oyster, as the game is very open-ended in nature. It's a puzzle game, plain and simple, with old school JRPG-like menus to boot. Using said menus you can pick up new gadgets, combine and craft, and check your statline. You won't find a party with varying sets of skills though -- you'll have to escape all on your own, using the tools found within the prison and nothing more. The tutorial is basically an elaborate ruse, providing an interactive step-by-step guide on how to break out of the intro lockup. It feels really easy at first, until you enter the first real stage and realize that pure entropy is the name of the game. Guard and prisoner routines are entirely different, there are more people to worry about, the vents aren't automatically open like they were in the intro, and so on. There's so much going on at all times. The top portion of the screen basically functions as a ticker, showing you what activities you are expected to attend, including lunch, exercise time, and any and all job requirements. Nearly all of these have a small minigame of sorts, and boost your stats just like a classic NES Final Fantasy would. You can also converse with inhabitants and do favors like giving beatdowns for cash, or call upon favors yourself. Conversely, you can also be on the receiving end of a beatdown or get fired from your cush job. When that happens you may find yourself losing some advantage you had previously gained, like access to the laundry room where you work, which would have allowed you to snag a guard's uniform. You'll also be able to move about the prison freely if you have the tools to unscrew vents, and the power to move furniture around to get to hidden areas. The crafting system is fairly in-depth, but thankfully provides you with recipe lists once you've concocted the item of your choice. Hiding items is a key part of the game, but shakedowns can screw you if you aren't careful. To add to the madness, you can visit other cells to overhear conversations, and random events like riots will happen around you. The game can get pretty insane, and each playthrough is inherently different. Escapists is fun when you win, and fun when you fail. It's a joy to slowly figure out what works and what doesn't. While everything may not go according to plan and you might wake up in the infirmary bed with a terrible headache, the game is fairly forgiving with your follies. All your items are going to be confiscated after "death" and progress on certain activities is reset, but you can't really "die" in the traditional sense. I'm half and half on this design decision because while it does make the game easier, it makes failure less maddening -- just pick yourself back up and try again, sans menu clicks. The main problem I had with Escapists is that there is barely any emotional connection present throughout the experience. While it was often funny, presenting hilarious situations or dialogue reliant on specific inmates, you'd be hard pressed to feel anything else if you aren't a hardcore puzzle fan. A lot of gamers are going to get plenty of satisfaction over flushing items down the toilet or going through the paces of normal prison life while they search for vulnerabilities, but a lot of the mundane routines are just that -- mundane. Some of the later prisons (a Gulag, a medium security location, a jungle compound, a rough Federales prison, and a supermax) will test the resolve of some of the greatest strategy enthusiast due to their complexity. I'm sure that within due time there will be min-max oriented strategy guides out there detailed every exploit and the "fastest" or "best" way out of each scenario, but the entire point of the game is to come up with your own plan and see it through. It's kind of like Monaco in that sense, another polarizing game I adored. The Escapists is a game for a certain kind of player. If you love the idea of getting thrown on a desert island and figuring out how to survive for days on end, you'll probably enjoy it. If you find that prospect trivial, knowing that a lot of that time will be spent doing menial tasks, you may not enjoy it. As for me, I think I'm going to go back to Escapists for quite a while whenever I need to brush up on my puzzle skills simply because of how open-ended it is. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
The Escapists review photo
Aw here it goes!
Kenan: Kel, I'm going to need some chicken wire, some beeswax, a rooster, a few rolls of toilet paper, and a 5-Iron. We're busting out of prison today! Kel: Aw here it goes!

Coaster Park Tycoon photo
Coaster Park Tycoon

RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 studio working on new theme park title


New IP slated for PC next year
Jan 27
// Jordan Devore
I can't effectively describe how pleased I am knowing that multiple games about rollercoasters are in the works. There's RollerCoaster Tycoon World, ScreamRide, and now Coaster Park Tycoon from Frontier Development, the studi...
American Truck Sim photo
American Truck Sim

60 (sixty) minutes of American Truck Simulator


Strap in
Jan 27
// Jordan Devore
"We got a great big convoy, rockin' through the night. We got a great big convoy, ain't she a beautiful sight! Convoooy!" Inside SCS Software and 1 hour with American Truck Simulator [SCS]
Sims 4 Free Trial photo
Sims 4 Free Trial

Play The Sims 4 free for 48 hours on Origin


Breathing virtual life into Origin Game Time
Jan 23
// Conrad Zimmerman
Electronic Arts has added The Sims 4 to its Origin Game Time program, which offers a trial period on some major releases in the Origin library. Players can install The Sims 4 now through Origin and play free for 48 hours, sta...
Freebies photo
Freebies

Classic PC sim Theme Hospital free on Origin


Watch out for Bloaty Head
Jan 20
// Jordan Devore
For years, my uncle left his his late-'90s laptop at my grandparents' house and whenever I'd come to visit, I'd flip through PC game instruction manuals and play stuff like Diablo, Warcraft, The 7th Guest, and 3-D Ultra Minig...
Cop this photo
Cop this

Beautiful survival-sim The Long Dark moves 250,000 copies in Early Access


Next month's update doubles the size
Jan 15
// Steven Hansen
Dang, I need this game. Early Access continues to be a boon for open-world survival simulators, even unwavering artsy ones. It's a ways from DayZ's two million (a year ago) or Rust's half a million in a month, but still ...
Aviary Attorney photo
Aviary Attorney

Aviary Attorney Kickstarter surpasses funding goal


Sketchy Logic's bird-brained legal sim is a resounding success
Jan 08
// Rob Morrow
Coventry, England-based studio Sketchy Logic's delightfully clever twist on the legal sim, Aviary Attorney, wrapped up its Kickstarter campaign today. The project went far beyond its modest £7,000 fu...
Tomodachi Life photo
Tomodachi Life

I've neglected my Tomodachi Life island for too long


Return to Bomination
Dec 22
// Jordan Devore
While reading through Darren's personal picks for game of the year, I realized something troubling: I haven't played Tomodachi Life in, oh my god, months. Literal months. And it's not like the signs weren't there. I had, as I...
Farming Sim controller photo
Farming Sim controller

So, Mad Catz is making a controller for Farming Simulator


Might as well quit your job as a farmer and do this instead
Dec 16
// Jordan Devore
Peripheral maker Mad Catz and Farming Simulator developer Giants Software are working on a range of Saitek-branded hardware for the PC simulation game we can't seem to stop talking about. The controller, which is planned for ...
Aviary Attorney photo
Aviary Attorney

Aviary Attorney flies to Kickstarter, soars away with my heart


Sketchy Logic remixes 19th century art and music with a deft and steady hand
Dec 14
// Rob Morrow
Aviary Attorney is the ingenious brainchild of Coventry-based Sketchy Logic; the living half of which (for the sake of this project) is comprised of programmer and designer Jeremy Noghani with graphic artist and animato...
Microsoft Flight Sim photo
Microsoft Flight Sim

Microsoft Flight Simulator X coming to Steam next week thanks to Dovetail


Wanted: experienced, non-judgmental co-pilot
Dec 09
// Jordan Devore
Through a licensing deal with Microsoft, Train Simulator studio Dovetail Games will release Microsoft Flight Simulator X on Steam on December 18, 2014 "at a spectacular introductory price." It's sad Microsoft couldn't be both...
I am Bread photo
I am Bread

Brighten your morning with I am Bread


That expert swing at 0:25!
Dec 01
// Jordan Devore
It's been over a month and, conceptually, I am Bread still tickles me. I'm giggling over the prospect of sentient bread going on a quest to become toasted (what happens next?). Ahead of the game's Steam Early Access release ...
Heat Signature photo
Heat Signature

Even failing looks fun in Heat Signature


Covertly board ships or die trying
Nov 19
// Jordan Devore
Just like with Gunpoint, it's a joy to watch designer Tom Francis play Heat Signature, wonky wrench physics and all, while it's still in development. It's as if he's making the game solely for himself and, hey, if the rest o...
Goat MMO Simulator photo
Goat MMO Simulator

Free 'Goat MMO Simulator' update coming Thursday


A reason to revisit Goat Simulator
Nov 17
// Jordan Devore
Coffee Stain Studios hasn't stopped supporting its wonky physics sandbox game Goat Simulator, thank goodness. The mobile version didn't entice me, but this fantasy-themed Goat MMO Simulator expansion is exactly the type of w...
ScreamRide photo
ScreamRide

Roller coaster crashing game ScreamRide will be budget priced


$29.99 on Xbox 360, $39.99 on Xbox One
Nov 13
// Jordan Devore
Frontier Developments' ScreamRide is a game about building and crashing roller coasters and while I'd prefer to play something like that on PC (or just scratch that itch in RollerCoaster Tycoon where I can also charge people ...
Heat Signature  photo
Heat Signature

Gunpoint designer and artist team up for Heat Signature


The space game about infiltrating ships
Nov 07
// Jordan Devore
Gunpoint designer Tom Francis' next title, Heat Signature, has art! Well, new art, I should say. The stuff we saw previously for this spaceship heist game was just placeholder. John Roberts, who did the art on Gunpoint, has j...
Fishing sim photo
Fishing sim

Holy carp, look at this fish!


Dovetail Games Fishing
Nov 05
// Jordan Devore
The makers of Train Simulator have released their next project, a fishing sim, on Steam Early Access. It caught my attention for a few reasons, the first being that the game is way cheaper than I was expecting. Here's why: th...

Metrocide is a thinking person's Hotline Miami

Oct 21 // Rob Morrow
[embed]282810:56025:0[/embed] This is just one of the many delightful nuances Flat Earth has built into the game. From the time I spent with it during the last week or so, I found that aspects of Metrocide's difficulty seem to align well with my experiences playing the pen-and-paper role-playing game Shadowrun. For every advantage you gain, there's a tradeoff. Some items may seem to give you the upper hand, but the game's rules still manage to balance things out, tasking you, the player, to be ever more thoughtful if you want to successfully leverage your new hardware. One of the biggest surprises I experienced while playing Metrocide was witnessing the emergent AI behavior -- the world reacts to itself depending on the current conditions in the game. I pulled my gun on a target and realized too late that he was also armed (and much faster on the draw than I was), when seemingly out of nowhere, he drops to the sidewalk in front of me in a pool of blood -- shot dead from behind by an armed vigilante when he drew his weapon. Mission complete. I'd managed to fire off no rounds during the hit, still collected my reward, and now the vigilante is the suspect of the crime rather than me. Brilliant. Metrocide is a thinking person's Hotline Miami. Yes, the game will still allow you to run in guns blazing, but you're going to need a hell of a lot of luck to pull off your hits. Not only do you stand a good chance of being shot dead in the streets by vigilantes if you're seen brandishing a gun, you'll also draw the unwanted attention of the police drones. Once they're investigating an area of the map, you're better off avoiding it completely. If you catch their attention, they shoot on sight and there's no way to outrun them. Patience and creativity are rewarded in this bleak dystopian cityscape, not recklessness. Taking your time and thinking about what you're doing allows this title to shine. Unlike other stealth-based games that I've played, I was never bored while preparing to make my move. The city is far too reactive to let that happen. The AI surrounding you makes every hit different in one way or another. You never know how things are going to play out, so you have to always be flexible in your tactics, which I'm sure will add tremendously to the game's replay value. Metrocide is not a perfect fit for everyone. It's a challenging little game that features the the love-it or hate-it permadeath gameplay mechanic. It also doesn't rely on realistic graphics or an interactive open world to be engaging; but, if you're willing to look past these aspects of the project, I think you'll find an intriguing game that rewards persistence, restraint, and creativity. If you're interested in trying it out for yourself or would just like to learn a bit more about it, you can do so by visiting the title's Steam Early Access page for more details.
Metrocide Early Access photo
Flat Earth's top-down murder sim impresses
Sydney-based independent studio Flat Earth Games has released its top-down cyberpunk-noir contract killing simulator Metrocide via Steam Early Access at the reduced price of $6.99. The final version of the game, which should ...

I am Bread photo
I am Bread

I am Bread is just delightful


From the minds behind Surgeon Simulator
Oct 17
// Jordan Devore
How did that bread get up on the ceiling fan? Very carefully, I'd imagine. Bossa Studios' I am Bread is a game in which you literally play as a sentient slice of bread. And, get this, it looks fun! Challenging, too. The cont...

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