Battleborn Review | Techradar

There’s a fine line between bravery and foolhardiness; Battleborn straddles it, legs akimbo. On the one hand, it’s made a good effort to mingle MOBA and shooter mechanics, mixing the team combat, creeps cooldown specials and in-match levelling of a MOBA with the fast pace and face-to-face combat of an FPS. On the other, it’s sacrificed much of the subtlety and variety of the MOBA in that transition.

Source: Battleborn Review | Techradar

Total War: Warhammer review – an intimidating blend of empire-building, strategy and high fantasy | Technology | The Guardian

Warhammer is a range of tabletop strategy games; Total War is a series of historical battle simulations. Combining the two should have produced a black hole of nerdiness so unapproachable it would crush all mortals. Strangely, however, this is probably the most accessible each game has been for years.

Source: Total War: Warhammer review – an intimidating blend of empire-building, strategy and high fantasy | Technology | The Guardian

Sense of Adventure: Dave Gilbert, Wadjet Eye Games and The Shivah

Real-world religions are oddly absent from games. Whether it’s through fear or complacency, the mainstream part of our industry careful sidesteps controversy. If religion enters at all, it’s used as in God of War or El Shaddai, as a theme to be mined. Similarly, the liberal bent of most indies means that religion isn’t a huge part of their lives and hence rarely enters into their games.

This article originally appeared on Edge Online, before that site disappeared into GamesRadar. I post it for archive purposes. I first wrote about the Shivah back in 2006.

Real-world religions are oddly absent from games. Whether it’s through fear or complacency, the mainstream part of our industry careful sidesteps controversy. If religion enters at all, it’s used as in God of War or El Shaddai, as a theme to be mined. Similarly, the liberal bent of most indies means that religion isn’t a huge part of their lives and hence rarely enters into their games.

When Dave Gilbert released The Shivah back in 2006, he dealt with religion head-on, and not in a crass way. His Rabbi Russell Stone is a believably bitter priest with a declining congregation, who stumbles into a nasty noir plot. Despite winning the 2006 Adventure Game Studio (AGS) competition, the nascent state of digital distribution and online media meant that the game wasn’t widely played back then.

Now, seven years on, Gilbert’s Wadjet Eye Games has released The Shiva: Kosher Edition, with improved graphics, music and voices, making the game feel like an unreleased LucasArts adventure title. We caught up with him to find out how the scene has changed since his first successful title.

The game isn’t long or complex, but it evokes ‘police procedural’ like nothing else.
The game isn’t long or complex, but it evokes ‘police procedural’ like nothing else.

“Success is relative.” Gilbert says. “I had no idea what I was doing back then, and my launch plan consisted of playing it once to make sure it worked, uploading it to a store server my brother-in-law set up, and then going to bed. Shockingly, this did not turn me into an overnight success story.”

Interestingly, despite the religious title (‘Shivah’ is the Jewish mourning period) Gilbert doesn’t think of the Shivah as a religious game. “It’s a murder mystery which happens to star a rabbi, and takes place in his world. So I didn’t shy from it so much as wanted to tell this specific story.  There’s no attempt to preach or convert or even teach anyone. In fact, despite being Jewish myself I got a LOT of facts wrong. For example, in the game Rabbi Stone is considering closing down the synagogue. In real life, there would be a whole board of people who would decide that kind of thing, and the rabbi wouldn’t be involved. So anyone looking to the Shivah as a way to learn about Jewish culture should probably look somewhere else.”

Indeed, he seems to have chosen a Rabbi as his lead because the characters in his previous game, Two of a Kind, were criticised as lacking motivation. “They were detectives, and it was their job, and that was it. So when I wanted to write another game, I wanted to create a detective (or detective-like character) who was really driven to get to the bottom of a mystery.”

Cart Life was built on a custom-modified AGS engine.
Cart Life was built on a custom-modified AGS engine.

In these days dominated by pixel art, it’s not unbelievable to see the pixel-heavy AGS games again rising to the surface. Richard Hofmeier’s IGF winning Cart Life is a heavily-modded AGS title, after all. “Tons of games are still being made with (AGS), and there are more commercial ventures than ever before. It also went open source a year ago, and significant headway has gone into making it cross-compatible. We used the iOS port to release an iOS version of Gemini Rue back in April, and the Shivah remake will also be on iOS.”

And Gilbert’s Wadjet Games is making a lot of AGS games, including the award-winning Blackwell series. “Back in the dark ages of 2006, it seemed like a ridiculous idea to make small point-and-click adventure games and earn a living at it. It still kind of is, but somehow we’ve made it work… I can’t say it’s always been easy, but I can’t think of many things that are as rewarding.”

“People have been saying “the adventure game is dead” for… twenty years, now? We’re not trying to do anything so lofty as to “bring the genre back” or whathaveyou. If people didn’t like adventure games in the first place, we wouldn’t be in business. We just make the games we want to play, and that seems to be enough.”

Total War: Warhammer – hands-on with all the factions | VG247

Knolek SunEater has really lived. He’s stood on mountaintops sucking up the lightning just because he could. He’s battled dragons and served the lords of Chaos since time immemorial. He’s twenty feet tall with six scaly limbs and electricity crackling from his eyes. He’s totally, totally what Warhammer Fantasy Battle is all about. But it turns out that all his history is no use if you send him charging on his own into the heart of a enemy Total War army. Against those odds, even Kholek Suneater turns and runs like a whipped hound.

Source: Total War: Warhammer – hands-on with all the factions | VG247

Merely Players: The Most Shakespearian Games | Kotaku

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream follows the adventures of some fairies, some peasant actors attempting to put on a romantic play that’s a bit like a rubbish Romeo & Juliet, some star-crossed aristocrats who all drink love potions, and, for some reason, Theseus and Hippolyta. That makes it a hodge-podge of Greek myth, contemporary satire, romantic farce, and Middle High German epic poetry. In contemporary lingo, it’s Shakespeare laying intercontinuity crossover on with a trowel.”

Source: Merely Players: The Most Shakespearian Games | Kotaku UK

Battlefleet Gothic: Armada review | PC Gamer

Battlefleet Gothic gets so much right. The campaign’s story, script, voice acting and appearance is all spot-on for the 40K universe. The 2D battles are challenging and interesting, if still quite unbalanced. The RPG elements are horribly compelling. And its detailed, nebula-filled universe brings the tiny tabletop models to life—before they’re blown into thousands of pieces.

Source: Battlefleet Gothic: Armada review | PC Gamer

Digital Spy | Dark Souls 3 review: We died. A lot.

Dark Souls 3 returns the player to the series’ grim world, again tackling the endless problems of the undead peoples of Lothric. Your task this time, as an undead hero, is to defeat the corrupted Lords of Cinder and return them to the throne room that now sits inside the Firelink Shrine. It’s an unusually clear remit for a Dark Souls game, and it’s matched by the game’s revamped mechanics.

Source: Dark Souls 3 review: We died. A lot.