Endless Space is a turn-based strategy game of space conquest. It’s somewhat interesting; I tend to like games with a lot of crunch, and it delivers both on high crunch and a high degree of abstraction. Endless Space delivers just enough intellectual stimulation to provide an engaging experience and provide a game that can be mastered, rather than just played. However, more importantly, Endless Space is also a game that is not particularly intimidating, falling somewhere more in the Civilization area of difficulty despite having a more emergent experience than most of the entries in that venerable series have.
13th Age isn’t super innovative. Let’s get that out of the way ahead of time. In terms of mechanics, there’s nothing that hasn’t been seen before. The setting is good, but not really anything that we haven’t seen. Where 13th Age succeeds, however, is in its balance of elements. 13th Age is the sort of thing that I love; it takes a game and tears it down to its basics, then reconstructs it. I’m not sure that the d20 system was the best place to apply that, but it’s certainly an interesting take.
Shadowrun released two supplements this weekend, and I took a look at both of them. All-in-all, Catalyst releases content at a somewhat rapid rate, and while they haven’t been releasing the sort of content I’d like to see most (namely a Runner’s Companion for 5th Edition), they did actually answer a question I asked on Stack Exchange, so I can’t complain too much. Also, Gun H(e)aven 3 (which I will just refer to as Gun Heaven from here forth) adds sport rifles and more weapons to 5th Edition, giving more flexibility in characters’ loadouts and gear.
Covert Ops is a rules-light game of espionage and intrigue that is a great choice for quality and value. In a day and age when basically everything has been released as a supplement, it packs a surprising amount of content, it includes not only a hundred-and-change page core rulebook but a similarly long GM’s guide, as well as a bulky portfolio of pre-made characters and a ton of additional goodies, such as printable initiative cards, to round out the deal. Continue reading
Game of Thrones is a traditional western RPG, in so much as such a thing can be said to exist, that actually provides a satisfying experience through the lens of a substandard execution. It is set in the same universe as the television show, books, and later strategy game that have been so dramatically successful, and in this respect it provides a pretty good game, but it fails on the things that make it up.
Be Awesome At Freelance Game Design is written by Creighton Broadhurst at Raging Swan Press. It’s an interesting look at the art of making content for games. However, one thing to note is that it touches most heavily on three independent aspects: freelancing, the games industry, and then writing. If you’re thinking about writing your own stuff you’re not really a freelancer, but it’s also important to note that the guide is more for adventure, campaign, and setting writing than for actual game design, which, to be fair, is a topic which is colossal in scope.
Ring Runner (sometimes stylized RingRunner) is an indie 2D space combat game focusing on an epic space adventure imbued with quirky humor. It’s actually a refreshing breath of fresh air in a genre that hasn’t seen many good releases recently, and while it’s not the size and scale of a triple-A title, it has a lot of bang for its buck and it’s got some nice features and charm that hasn’t been seen in the market recently.
Risk of Rain is one of the few modern “roguelike” games that fall outside the genre that I accept as having a firm foundation in traditional roguelikes, perhaps more faithful than other games. I could get into the Berlin Interpretation and look further, but the truth of the matter is that Risk of Rain follows the conventions well; it’s a difficult but rewarding game that pushes the player’s skills to the limit while testing them in various ways. Don’t let its hardcore nature push you away, though, it’s a game that’s rewarding in many ways. Continue reading
Prowlers and Paragons is a tabletop game that attempts to make everyone think it’s a D&D retro clone but is actually a superhero game with an original, if not terribly innovative, system that is more than worthy of standing on its own merits. As a superhero game, it does a good job of providing a framework for highly-narrative adventures and, while it may not have the boon of a major comics publisher’s licensing deal it is, in my opinion, still as good as any of the alternatives, if not better in certain ways.
So I just got back from the theater and watching Ender’s Game. I should likely preface this by stating that my review is perhaps a little informed by the fact that I didn’t really enjoy the book all that much; it had some good ideas and concepts, but my memory grew less fond of it as I’d sort of mulled it over and thought about it again and felt like it just felt less consistent and well-written. The movie, however, was somewhat different than I had expected.