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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

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

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...
Farming Simulator 15 photo
Farming Simulator 15

I'm totally gonna murder some amber waves of grain

Herder simulator
Oct 15
// Brett Makedonski
Videogames are largely about power fantasies that real life simply can't provide. That's why 98 percent of games (rough estimate) are centered around a man with a gun that knows no bounds to save the country that he loves. P...

Review: The Sims 4

Oct 02 // Chris Carter
The Sims 4 (PC)Developer: EA Maxis, The Sims StudioPublisher: EAReleased: September 2, 2014MSRP: $59.99Rig: Origin Millennium: Overclocked Intel Core i7 4770K Quad-Core (4.0GHz-4.7GHz), Dual 3GB NVIDIA GTX 780 Ti  The premise of The Sims 4 is basically the same as it always has been. By way of open-ended gameplay, players can create avatars and mess with their lives. The reason I've enjoyed past installments is because of the non-linear nature of the titles. If there was ever a "sandbox mode" in a Sims game I often played it more than the regular campaign. Character creation is much simpler this time around, which is mostly a good thing for newcomers. Progression is even easier to figure out, as each avatar can have an "aspiration," such as an eSport career. What I like about this system is that it's clear what your goals are and how to obtain them, making that "ding" feeling much more satisfying since there's no cryptic decoding and stat crunching involved. Of course you'll also want to grow your own empire within your household and aspire for more material goods -- a goal that's likely linked to your career. It's very fun to jump in, create some characters, choose goals, and watch those meters rise just like a regular old RPG. It's one of the most satisfying aspects of The Sims 4. Emotions are perhaps the biggest addition, and while I didn't find them all that intriguing, they allow you to connect with your creations more than ever before. In short, events can happen that adjust your mood, which your character will wear on their sleeve. Recent real-world innovations like the rise of smartphones are incorporated into the experience to help you boost your characters' spirits, and it's enjoyable to figure these out. To help get them out of undesirable spats, Sims also have a more natural way of speaking to each other, which is an improvement for those of you who prefer group interactions. Sadly, a lot of the long-standing issues with the series have carried over into The Sims 4, like the lack of direct control you often have over your creations. While it's great to have them do their own thing most of the time, sometimes the AI isn't smart enough to handle an important task that's right in front of their faces. If you attempt to queue up an action occasionally, it may not work or they might get utterly confused and just stop doing it altogether. The biggest problem however is the amount of regression that has been made since The Sims 3, which I would consider the pinnacle of the series. Big features that we've come to expect are gone, like the entire toddler stage, parking lots, pools, true neighborhood exploration elements (not just instances), and the inclusion of a real living world around your house. The lack of exploration is my top complaint, as the game is separated by lengthy loading screens and a distinct lack of cohesiveness. Instead of seamlessly walking out your door and into the great outdoors in an open world, you'll be greeted with constant instancing and tangentially linked zones that don't lend themselves well to a simulation game. This is a massive bummer for people like me whose favorite aspect of The Sims 3 was walking around with no real goal in mind. Every world I was a part of just felt so...isolated as well. There was no real neighborhood feel even though I crafted my own inhabitants. Everything was sort of "spotlighted" onto your central family and household, which is great in some ways, but disappointing when you consider how right the last game got it. Random events like burglaries also feel less frequent, or are completely scrapped in general (you guessed it, burglars are gone). There's also less clothing and building options, which is a shame, and I suspect more will be added eventually over the course of the game's lifetime with free and paid DLC (pools, costumes, ghosts, and more careers are confirmed). Still, it feels weird to essentially downgrade for a slightly better set of visuals and a few mechanics that aren't nearly as groundbreaking as each iteration was before it. The Sims 4 has room to grow, but right now you're better off continuing to play its predecessor. While certain features were axed in the name of progress, those features were a large reason why many have come to love the series in the first place.
The Sims 4 review photo
The game of life
As a growing gamer, Maxis was always one of my go-to developers at a young age. From the original SimCity, to SimAnt, to SimTower, the company was almost infallible in my eyes, and I ate up practically every simulation it had...

Metrocide walkthrough photo
Metrocide walkthrough

Metrocide gets a developer walkthrough, Early Access coming in October

Flat Earth Games walks us through the first few minutes of Metrocide
Sep 30
// Rob Morrow
Flat Earth Games, comprised of brothers Leigh and Rohan Harris, walk us through the first few minutes of their new top-down, cyberpunk-noir, contract killing simulator, Metrocide. In the grim, futuristic world of Metrocide, ...
ScreamRide photo

You're actually supposed to crash roller coasters in ScreamRide

With pleasure
Sep 29
// Jordan Devore
ScreamRide is an Xbox 360 and Xbox One game due out this spring that should appeal to those of us RollerCoaster Tycoon players who regularly have "accidents" happen at our amusement parks. Now, it's more action than simulati...

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