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The Occult Chronicles Preview


Haunted house type horror board games like Mansions of Madness and Betrayal at House on the Hill tend to suffer from one overriding problem which is that they’re pulled in all sorts of different directions by their requirements. How do you create a game that’s full of both mystery and well-informed decisions? How do you give it variety and replayability with limited tile stock and table space? How do you make it competitive and exciting without giving one player too much power?

The answer, obviously, is to make it into a computer game instead, and have the CPU handle all the fiddly bits for you. Enter upcoming game The Occult Chronicles, currently available to purchase as a playable beta-test. But in a twist worthy of the dark and disgusting gods that inspired the game, developer Cryptic Comet (also responsible for indie strategy titles Armageddon Empires and Solis Infernum) has seen fit to breed in elements of a Rogue-like as well.

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Cracked LCD- IOS Review Rodeo- Agricola, Immortal Heroes, Magic ’14, Rivals for Catan

Agricola board game on iPad tablet and iPhone mobileThere’s been a couple of high profile IOS board games not called Warhammer Quest released recently and I thought it would be a good time to resurrect the ol’ Review Rodeo for another roundup.

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The Last of Us Spoiler Space

the last of us shot 3

If you listened to Episode 180 of Jumping the Shark, or if you have finished The Last of Us, you know that it’s close to impossible to discuss the game fully without giving away a significant amount of the game’s story. With that, and the desire of some community members to keep the discussion going in mind, consider this a full-on, spoiler filled discussion of The Last of Us. If you read this post, things will get spoiled. If you read the comments, things will get spoiled. You have been warned.

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Hotline Miami (PSN) in Review


This is how you’re supposed to be doing it.

It’s 3 A.M., I’ve got my headphones on and the 47” LED is searing my retinas in hot pink and turquoise neon, the title in scan-lined Russian letters like it’s bootleg contraband, hardcore violence porn from a world where only outlaws play outlawed violent video games. The music is turned up almost painfully loud, throbbing synth pulses from a 1989 that never existed except as a fantasy of unremembered nostalgia in the minds of musicians likely too young to have listened to music back then. I’m trying for either the 20th or the 100th time to complete a level of Hotline Miami, and I’m feeling totally wired, paranoid, cranked up really high and headed for a 19th nervous breakdown as I get gunned down again. Continue Reading…

Mage Wars Review

mage wars box

I’ll wager that anyone who ever played Magic: the Gathering more than once has, at some point, wondered how great it would be if creatures weren’t just static lines of attack and defense, but actively engaged in tactical manoeuvre. You don’t need to wonder any more because that, effectively, is what you get in Mage Wars.

Furthermore, I suspect that anyone who ever played Magic: the Gathering more than once has, at some point, been so annoyed by rubbish card draws that they pondered on a variant where you could have a bigger hand, or more control over the draw. Mage Wars addresses that problem too, with swaggering overkill. Because in Mage Wars you don’t get a bigger hand, or control over the draw, you can pick whatever you like from your entire deck each and every turn.

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Cracked LCD- Triassic Terror in Review


Triassic Terror is a new area control game from Australian designer Peter Hawes, who did the somewhat underrated War of the Roses: Lancaster Versus York a couple of years ago through Z-Man Games. This time, the historical setting is dialed back several milllions of years and the publisher is Eagle/Gryphon, but Mr. Hawes has delivered another quality design with some very old school German game sensibilities that may likewise wind up under the radar and underappreciated. It’s one of those games that really should sell itself with the always awesome dinosaurs theme, but the competition in the area control genre is stiff- this game is up against greats like El Grande and more recent masterworks like Chaos in the Old World.

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The Xbox One-Eighty


I swear. You go to see Man of Steel and the whole world changes. James Gandolfini, a man who changed the face of television with his portrayal of Tony Soprano passed away and Microsoft reversed all of their crappy DRM and online check-in policies.

What an afternoon.

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Cracked LCD- Quarantine in Review


Mark Klassen’s Quarantine, new from Mercury Games, is the kind of title that easily gets lost in the shuffle these days. It’s not another high profile million-dollar Kickstarter zombie game, it doesn’t bear a popular license, it isn’t making the rounds among the video review tastemakers, and it doesn’t feature any deckbuilding whatsoever. It’s really just an old fashioned tile-laying game that smacks of some of the qualities of the old German games movement, and many might find it unremarkable. But the concept is fun and the theme is appealingly fresh- players are tasked with building a hospital and triaging patients into appropriate care in exchange for resources spent to acquire additional rooms for their facility. Points are scored at the end based on the number of completed nurse stations in your hospital, the special rooms you’ve built, the number of resources you’ve earned and not spent from treating patients, and by not having any patients waiting to get in the door. Continue Reading…

Why The Last of Us Sucks

the last of us shot one

Along technical criteria The Last of Us is a stunning entertainment product. The art direction is rugged, detailed, and presents a post-apocalyptic American civilization both in ruins and in the process of returning to nature. The character animation, modeling, and voice acting (coupled with an attention to body language) is damn close to the best in the industry, setting new benchmarks for the quality of human depiction in AAA design. The sound design is sparse, evoking a quieter world punctuated by the percussion of gunshots or the wet smack of a fist in the face. It’s not hard to be impressed by Naughty Dog’s production work, which may very well outstrip anything they’ve accomplished in the Uncharted games.

It’s really too bad that the rest of the game sucks. Continue Reading…

Fading Glory Review


I’ve always wanted to like traditional hex and counter wargames more than I actually do. The idea of recreating the strategic intricacies of historical battles is wonderful, but the execution too often involves hundreds of counters, irritating mental maths and quickly becomes dry and stolid. The aspect of Generalship they seem to reward is logistics rather than strategy.

Enter Fading Glory. It’s a collection of four scenarios based on Victory Point Game’s Napoleonic 20 series which is simple to learn, has no more than 20 counters per side, and will play in an hour or two. It’s been given a visual makeover by GMT who’ve added lovely art, mounted boards and a new scenario, Salamanca, not in the original VPG lineup.

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