2014′s A Goner


Not that it’ll really be noticeable against the backdrop of my recent slow output, but I am taking my seasonal break along with seemingly the entire rest of the videogames blogging community. The Scientific Gamer will return on the 5th of January – and hopefully I’ll have used the break to actually write something for it! In the meantime, three things:

  • Merry Christmas.
  • Merry Russian Christmas.
  • I am assembling a list of games to play in the new year. Currently I have Elite: Dangerous, Alien Isolation and Temple of Osiris, along with Dead State (which launched just before Christmas to a general reaction of “Are you really sure this game is finished?”) ¬†That gets me through January, but up till March looks pretty dead in terms of new releases. So all suggestions and recommendations are welcome.

15 thoughts on “2014′s A Goner

  1. Do people really call Orthodox Christmas Russian?.. Oh well.

    So, recomendations.

    Infested Planet – last year quick RTS. It tries to capture the feeling of elite marines beating thousands of small insects, like Starcraft or Starship Troopers. Has a nice campaign progression (when you feel it’s too difficult you can play random sidemissions for money to buy upgrades or boosters). Generally I can’t handle quick mad RTS, but this one got to me.

    Shadowrun Dragonfall Director’s Cut – great improvement on basic game (which you are probably familiar with).

    Dungeon of the Endless – very, very good strategic roguelike/tower defence. Like all Amplitude games it may lack balance and it may not be replayable, but it’s fun to expirience and master.

    If you’re feeling experimental, then… Space Rangers HD. The game itself is old and it’s sort of Pirates! in space. Or Elite, but it’s 2D, top-down, turn-based. Hundreds of characters are tracked as they trade and fight in the galaxy while the great war for survival happens. Also has RTS mini-game. Also has interactive fiction mini-games. Also has bullet hell mini-game. Very big, very replayable.

    • The problem I had with Infested Planet is that many of the battles can easily result in a stalemate- on one occasion I left the game running for about 20 minutes whilst I was on the phone, and came back to find exactly nothing had changed, there’s was still a swarm, and my marines were still holding them at bay.

      Agreed about Dungeon of the Endless, it’s the most original blend of ideas I’ve seen in a long time, but haven’t played enough of it to know if it has got the requisite staying power. I wouldn’t mind seeing something on Neo Scavenger, I’ve played about an hour and still don’t know what to make of it. Maybe Dominions 4?

      Oh, and what about the Talos Principle? I’d also appreciate a perspective on This War of Mine and Shovel Knight because both of those seem to be getting ridiculous levels of praise without anyone actually doing a decent job of explaining why.

      Thanks for another year of great writing Hentzau!

      • True, the enemy in Infested Planet is reactive and if you don’t overextend you’re only in trouble when it’s counterattacking (or in some story missions). Still, as you can’t stockpile resources you can’t turtle in this game, i.e. defending doesn’t give you any edge. So I think it’s ok.

      • Hentzau says:

        Dominions 4 is one of those games that’s too big for me to invest the time learning how to play it. I mean, it looks right up my alley, I just don’t like the idea of playing it for twenty hours to figure it out (which is like a week’s worth of free time these days) and then realising that I do not, in fact, like it that much.

        The Talos Principle probably isn’t happening. Neo Scavenger, This War of Mine and Shovel Knight probably will – but again, I think I’ll have to be in the right mood for them.

    • Hentzau says:

      I have actually played all of these games to a greater or lesser degree!

      Dungeon of the Endless I played for about fifteen minutes and came away extremely baffled, but I do intend to go back to it when I’m more in the mood.

      Infested Planet I got about two-thirds of the way through. It was pleasant enough up to that point, but eventually the aliens got so tough that each mission was just a matter of inching closer and closer towards whatever my objective was under an umbrella of siege cannon fire.

      And Dragonfall was a big improvement on Shadowrun, but I think I played it a little too soon after the first game. I’ll leave that one another month or two before taking another crack at it.

      Space Rangers, god, that takes me back. My defining memory of Space Rangers is taking twenty minutes out from trying to defeat the evil cube-things (Annihilators?) to play a text adventure where I was running a ski resort. Unfortunately they’d been run through Google Translate to produce the English versions, so figuring out what the text adventure was about was sometimes as big a challenge as actually completing it.

      • They were called Dominators, yeah.

        They’ve made HD version with massive additions to the game. Also they say the game is translated properly this time – which is probably true, it took them several month to add English language after they’ve put Russian one on Steam. I haven’t checked it myself cause it’s a rare occassion when I can play the game in a language I think in without throwing up – Google Translate is still ruling over non-major game releases in Russian, and even major ones suffer from technical and quality problems.

        Anyway, Steam negative responses do not mention any translation problems so I guess they’ve done it right this time.

        Another recent game is Lords of Xulima, which is again odschool RPG so everyone can call you not hardcore enough if something goes wrong.

        • innokenti says:

          I’ve been sporadically playing the HD version in Russian, but I’ll pop it on English and check out if they’ve made a better effort. Certainly the last couple of King’s Bounty games have had a better English translation, so I think there’s some hope.

          I do love Space Rangers – still really hits the spot in all that it offers.

        • Week later I’m sorry I’ve recommended Lords of Xulima. It reminded me of your review of Banner Saga. It’s not fun. I wanted to try it before Legends of Grimrock cause it has turn-based combat. But no. It’s adequate, well-thought, efficiently implemented factory of boringness.

    • Hentzau says:

      (Also “Russian Christmas” is largely for the benefit of Innokenti, but happy Orthodox Christmas to anyone else who celebrates it. :) )

  2. Darren says:

    Merry Christmas!

    Alien: Isolation is a surprisingly–and perhaps unwisely–long game. I’ll be curious to see if you get it finished as quickly as you expect.

    In the meantime, why not look through the Steam sale and see if anything catches your eye? DmC is due to get an enhanced PS4/Xbox One port, but I think the initial release was underrated, and if you’re a fan of Revengeance-style action games it’s a solid entry.

    Or maybe something vaguely strategic and more pure-PC? Reus is an unusual little god-game about managing giant creatures to control the development of civilizations. Call it Black & White but not bitterly disappointing (and also kind of weird).

    • Hentzau says:

      Alien Isolation looks like the archetypical week-long game – I’m not expecting to blast through it in a day (and if I did I suspect I’d be doing it wrong), but if it lasts longer than a week of evenings I’ll be surprised.

      Steam Sales are a bit tricky for me because about a year ago I instituted a loose rule of not buying anything “for later”. I have too many games on Steam that I’ve bought that way and ended up never playing. So I only go for stuff I’m immediately interested in, and since Steam sales are cyclical I already own most of the interesting stuff.

  3. Just thought of one more you should consider- distant worlds.

    • Hentzau says:

      My main objection to Distant Worlds was that the consensus was that you also had to buy one or more expansion packs to make it really worthwhile, and while it was being sold from Slitherine’s website this was incredibly expensive. Now that the entire package is on Steam for ¬£45 it might be worth looking into.

      • They’re still greedy as hell. It’s a Winter Sale, the game is almost 5 years old, the last addon is 7 months old and they ask for 60 bucks without any price drop. For those money you could get everything Amplitude has to offer and Sins of Solar Empire on top of that. And the game itself is technically horrible. It really looks like it was made to prove you can’t make games with .NET. Or if you do at least don’t use default windows alerts and prompts. And let user choose resolution. Or at least make fonts larger than 9pt. Argh.

  4. everblue650 says:

    Starbound? Still in beta but I have fired it up recently and it looks promising.

    Prison Architect?


    Heroes of the Storm?

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