Year Walk (IOS) in Review

year-walkI’m not going to tell you much about Year Walk, a new IOS App from Swedish developers Simogo. You might remember them from a cute game/metaphor for relationships called Bumpy Road from last year. Year Walk isn’t anything like that. Roughly, it’s a very brief and hugely atmospheric adventure game with just a handful of puzzles. It’s based on an archaic Swedish tradition wherein a person would fast on typical feasting days such as New Year’s Eve and at midnight set out for a church. It’s a sort of vision quest myth, as the walker would encounter spectral entities and symbolic  figures before reaching the church, where future events might be revealed.

If you really want to know more- because I’m just not going to spoil this masterpiece of chilly suspense, dread, and the impossible ways the supernatural intersects the “real” world- there’s a free companion App that Simogo has released. It’s a couple of pages of text with some very evocative and very spooky woodcut images. It’s all based on actual folk beliefs. And it’s really the key to Year Walk working as well as it does, touching upon deep-rooted, elemental fears and the psychology of myth. Continue Reading…

Lords of Middle Earth : War of the Ring Extraveganza

War of the RingLicensed games based on well-known films or books are nothing new, and while of variable quality. generally rather better than their digital counterparts. But since its publication, the love for War of the Ring has been little short of astonishing.

It’s not hard to see why. The biggest achievement of the game is to allow players to re-tell a plausible version of The Lord of the Rings on each play through whilst still enabling plenty of strategy and freedom of choice while doing so. When you consider how difficult that balance is to maintain, and how venerated the source material is, the astonishing scale of that achievement becomes clear.

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Cracked LCD- Exodus: Proxima Centauri in Review


There’s a new contender for the space 4x board game throne, and it’s called Exodus: Proxima Centauri. Designed by Andrei Novac and Agnieszka Kopera, Exodus is on some levels exactly what you are expected from a game quite directly descended from Twilight Imperium and Eclipse. Start from a home planet, take over neighboring planets, manage resources, do a little politicking, tool up with technologies, and blow up spaceships. It’s certainly not an unexpected design and it’s definitely a little more ramshackle than either of its ancestors, but after a couple of games of Exodus I’m convinced that there is room for this game in the marketplace and I wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes something of a cult hit, luring longtime TI3 players and recent Eclipse acolytes away to engage its particularly aggressive, more direct style of play. Continue Reading…

The PS4 Unveiled

ps4 announcement

The PS4 was unveiled last night, in that people talked about it but didn’t show it, say when it would be available or how much it would cost. I’m not going to go down the list of promised features, as there were plenty of other sites on hand to cover the event and you’ve probably already read about the PS4 from those sites.

I will, instead, point you to John Teti’s excellent post at the AV Club’s Gameological Society. It hits on everything I think was wrong with this kind of event as well as the the fallacy that more power is the only thing artists need to make good art. Here’s a taste of John’s piece, but you really should go read the whole thing:

Expanding the technological capabilities of our game machines is not inherently bad, but treating new tech as a magic bullet is a self-destructive delusion (if a familiar one). The reason that so many games suck is not because the technology is too modest. The reason that so many games suck is because so many games suck. Making art is hard. No microchip changes that.

Grand Theft Ukulele

gta v michael

No, I did not steal my ukulele, as the title of this post may imply. I bought my uke fair and square from the magical leprechaun that lives in the hollowed out oak tree on the edge of my property. I got a great price, but unfortunately all I can play is Danny Boy and if I go thirty minutes without playing, I bray like a donkey.

What I’m finding out as I navigate the twisted paths of musical incompetence, is that there’s a lot to learn when picking up an instrument, and if one isn’t careful, one can get lost in the weeds, spending more time deciding what to work on than actually working on it. Don’t get me started on watching YouTube videos. Man, it’s great that there are so many resources available for free lessons, but when you’re in the middle of watching your tenth video on chunking, you realize that at some point, you have to just start chunking yourself.

Thank heavens I have all of this open world gaming experience to fall back on.

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MGS: Revengeance Makes the Cut

calendar man revengeance shot 1

I’m going to do a full review of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance but since Gamefly somehow managed to get my rental to me on release day, I thought I’d share some first night thoughts.

Those thoughts are as follows:

  • OK, that’s pretty cool.
  • Oh ho ho…
  • Wow.
  • Oh hell yes.
  • Cut that guy into exactly 262 pieces. That’s what I call a microtransaction.
  • Eff you, chainsaw-tailed wolf (repeat x57)

More to come. But without spoiling the review, I will say that as someone that loves Metal Gear, Bayonetta, and general video game greatness this game is fucking awesome and I would be shocked if they blow it by the end. Classic, overblown Kojima production design and melodrama paired up with raw Platinum-style video gaming. And Raiden wears heels better than any man since Prince.

Jumping the Shark Podcast #163

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Image: Filomena Scalise /

We’re all in the house for Jumping the Shark #163, which features a lengthy recrimination of Gearbox for murdering joy with their insipid release of Aliens: Colonial Marines. Bill, finally -finally- dips his toe into the cool, delightful waters of XCOM: Enemy Unknown and promptly wants to know why he can’t use a fallen squaddie’s medkit. To be fair, it’s a reasonable question. Brandon gets in bed with Sly 4, Dead Space 3, and Little Inferno. And I hop into a decrepit old starship, hoping to rebirth humanity in the recent iOS release, Shifts. All this and a little TV talk await you in this week’s thrilling episode!

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Calendar Man – Week of 2/18

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Welcome to the “Dudes in Weird Suits” edition of Calendar Man. It’s Raiden vs guy from Crysis! Woohoo! I have Metal Gear: Revengeance heading to me from GameFly and I’m looking forward to stopping Dead Space 3 to play it, trading in one guy in a metal suit for another one along the way.  In other news, there are some strategy offerings this week as well as Assassin’s Creed: III’s first bit of evil King George DLC.

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Android: Netrunner Wave 1 Data Packs Review


About the only major issue there was with FFGs reboot of Netrunner in the Living Card Game format was that the starter box encouraged deckbuilding but didn’t give you the tools to do it. Whether it was the somewhat mean choice to only supply one or two copies of powerful cards when the maximum was three, or the limited pool of cross-faction cards, it didn’t quite make the grade when it came to constructing your own decks.

But Living Card Games of course get boosters from time to time. Now the first ones are available for Netrunner labelled, rather curiously, as Trace Amount and What Lies Ahead. The names may appear rather meaningless. But I’m glad to say that between them they pretty much perfect Netrunner as a system.

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Cracked LCD- City of Remnants in Review


The new Plaid Hat Games title is City of Remnants, designed by Colby Dauch (Summoner Wars) and Isaac Vega (the upcoming Bioshock Infinite board game). I’ll cut right to it, this game is bad ass. Especially if you’re looking for a game that somehow magically combines a plot development/harvesting mechanic with a light dudes-on-a-map conflict game featuring massive die rolls and plenty of battle incentives across tight quarters. Call it Aggro-cola if you must, but this is an easier and far bloodier design. Oh, and to top off this delightful layer cake of a design, there’s also simple deckbuilding element with multi-function cards that have different values for each player.  There are a couple of unclear rules mostly owing more to its dynamism than a substandard rulebook, but on balance City of Remnants is poised to be one of the top games of the year. Continue Reading…