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DarkestDungeon_Feast

Brakketology Goes Pimping for Darkest Dungeon

DarkestDungeon_Feast

There are a lot of games in the pipe that I’m excited for. Like really excited for. Like, man, you guys just don’t even know. Pillars of Eternity? Wasteland 2? The Witcher 3? Dragon Age 3? The iOS edition of FTL? I’m pretty much agog for these titles. So when I tell you that, with the possible exception of Witcher 3, there is no game I’m more looking forward to seeing than Darkest Dungeon, take me seriously. Well, maybe not seriously, but perhaps with an extra grain of salt. We don’t want to go overboard here.

The point is, it’s Kickstarter has launched and I don’t just want to see this tactical dungeon crawler meets psychological horror mash-up meet it’s goal of 75k. I want it to leave that goal so far in the rear view mirror that… well that it can’t be seen anymore, I guess. (Well, that line fell apart fast. Ah well.) So, watch the trailer below, check out the plethora of details on the Kickstarter page, and if you are so moved, help this project get made. Sure, it could end up imploding into so much vaporware, but I’ve got a Good Feeling about this one and I’m almost never wrong. Except when I am. But I’m not this time. Mark it down – this is going to be great.

After the break, a link dump…

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Now Playing: Lords of Waterdeep

Lords of Waterdeep - a European style worker placement game made by an American company for a fantasy setting

At a pre-Christmas gathering, I ended up chatting to a friend about worker placement games, as you do. He’d enjoyed a lot of Puerto Rico and Agricola with his family but, it transpired, he’d never played Lords of Waterdeep, which I’d been playing loads of on the iPad.

So the next time I visited, I took it round, Skullport and all. We threw in both expansions and played a six-player game. It turned out to be quite a ride: I drew a lord card that got a bonus for each building owned and focused on that instead of quests. As a result I lagged way behind the leader for the whole game, was able to deflect attention away from myself when take-that opportunities came up and then got a truly massive end-game bonus that tied me for the win, only to lose the tiebreaker.

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Now Playing: Spec Ops – The Line

Spec Ops: The Line

Spec Ops: The Line has accrued a bizarre reputation as a third-person cover-based shooter that stands against violence. This is obviously and annoyingly oxymoronic, to have the game condemning the source of its own entertainment value. I’m not the first to say so.

But the contradictory nature of the narrative does offer a surprising level of motivation, pulling you deeper into the game to see what sort of knots the protagonists will tie themselves into next over the games’ central moral conundrum. The writing and acting are excellent, and the script does its very best to scale the impossible face of paradox. (more…)

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Now Playing: Mark of the Ninja

motn

I picked this up as part of a Humble Bundle that contained two games I wanted to play; FTL and Fez. I’d never even heard of Mark of the Ninja, yet it’s become the most-played title in the little selection I secured.

It’s a stealth game and I’m not generally a fan of stealth games. My experience of them is creeping through dark corridors in first or third person, waiting an apparent age for a guard to wander over to an area where I think he can’t see or hear me, followed by a cautious move forward revealing he can, in fact see me and then my untimely demise. Repeating this semi-random process ad nauseum does not a fun game make.

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Housekeeping

Housekeeping

 

Housekeeping

It’s been quite some time since any of us paid attention to upkeep on the WordPress back-end of No High Scores. To that end, I’ve finally enabled a series of updates to WordPress and the few plug-ins we do use. My relief that nothing exploded during this process was… notable. In doing all this, I also replaced an abandoned site notification email address with my own. That’s when the flood of registration emails started. Easily 50 of them in less than 24 hours. All spam as far as I can tell. This aggression, quite obviously, will not stand, man.

Since Captcha isn’t getting the job done, first and of very little relevance to you, I’ve enabled a new plug-in that should make fake registrations at least a smidge harder. This includes requiring new registrations to put in at least a first name as well as reply to a verification email. In the 24 hours or so since I enabled this, fake registration attempts dropped precipitously and none of them have jumped through the verification hoop to actually become registered. This is a huge improvement that, as noted, in no way affects you.

The next step, however, may affect you. For this and for ruminations on the past year, the year ahead, and what it all means for No High Scores, you’ll have to venture beyond the break. Come, walk this way…

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calenda man 11-5 halo 4 shot 1

Now Playing: Halo 4

calenda man 11-5 halo 4 shot 1

In the interests of picking up the pace a little, I thought that when I didn’t have a proper feature to give you, I might start posting brief thoughts on games I’d been playing that week instead. Not a proper review, you understand, just a quick sketch. First up to the plate is the fourth iteration in the Halo series, appropriately known as Halo 4.

There’s an old adage that runs “if it ‘aint broke, don’t fix it”, which I presume is emblazoned in thirty-foot high fiery letters on the wall of the Halo development office. Because my initial impression of Halo 4 is how very much like the original Halo it is.

You’re still limited to two weapons and some grenades, from a roster that’s barely changed, dropped by enemies that have barely changed, and occasionally you’ll come across some vehicle sections that have barely changed. As the saying goes, it ‘aint broke, so it’s still fun to charge around on Warthogs gunning down the Covenant and new Promethean enemies, but after three previous entries it’s a lot less fun that it used to be.

Of course as a late-cycle Xbox 360 game it looks amazing compared to its predecessors, and many of the scenes were clearly designed to wow the player. And there are a few new additions – a welcome raft of abilities for your armour and a less welcome portrayal of Cortana as some sort of super-curvy cyber-babe. I’ll be playing it a while yet. But if Microsoft are still seeing Halo exclusives  as a prime selling point for the Xbone, they really ought to do something about shaking up the rapidly ossifying gameplay.

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euphoria

Cracked LCD- Euphoria in Review

euphoria

A common complaint about worker placement games is that they don’t really have much to say in terms of expressing a theme or storyline. Euphoria, a new title from Stonemeier Games, is aiming to bring a little more narrative and a sense of world-building to the genre and by jingo, it mostly succeeds at contextualizing fairly standard production and conversion mechanics into a unique setting. The game is sub-titled “build a better dystopia”, and that is just a teaser as to the surprisingly effective science fiction story this game attempts to tell. This may be the first worker placement game where the worker pieces actually carry subtextual meaning. (more…)

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NBA 2k14 - VC

Brakketology Goes Ball’n, Gets Soaked

NBA 2k14 - VC

If you’re a JtS listener (and you should be, because we’re still awesome), you know I finally unpacked my, uh, kids’ Xbox One over the holidays. For scientific purposes, I also picked up NBA 2k14. The things I do for science.

Can I just say, right out, that for all the flack we give to EA (wholly deserved) for how ostentatiously they over-monetize their middling products, and treat their customers like drones who should just shut up an pay already, there’s not nearly enough disgust thrown 2k’s way? They’re awful. And consistently so. It’s not just an NBA 2k thing, although 2k14 is by far the most blatant, irritating, and just plain icky swindle so far. But even quality games like Civilization 5 ($5 civilizations and map packs anyone?) and XCOM ($5 to choose armor color?) are not immune.

As a gamer, I’ve lived with it because who really caress about an extra civ here and there? And $30 may suck for an expansion, but the expansions for both Civ and XCOM were extremely good. NBA 2k14, though? Yeah, Brave New World, not so much.

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crusoe-1

Robinson Crusoe Review

crusoe-1

Mostly, I’m not a big fan of co-operative games. Games suffer terribly without the unpredictability and skill of human opposition, and the whole genre sometimes looks like a collection of semi-functional attempts to solve this big, blaring problem.

But there are a very few that make my grade. And I’ve noticed they tend to have certain things in common: they allow plenty of scope of individual player decision making in the face of the group, offer some sort of simple AI-like mechanics that make it look like the game is reacting to your decisions and have a deep well of variety to add to the narrative and keep things unpredictable.

But the most important quality of all is balancing the need for transparent mechanics that allow for strategic decisions with a strong wind of chance to make sure the game doesn’t become a mere logic puzzle. Lean too far in the former direction and you might as well be solving co-operative Su-doku with your friends. Too far in the latter and you might as well co-operatively shoot craps. It’s a hard, hard proportion to get right and none of the co-ops I’ve played so far, even my favourites, have quite got it right. Until I played Robinson Crusoe.

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