PC/Console/Web game recommendations

Discussion in 'Games (and Other Interactive Entertainment)' started by Nachtfischer, May 21, 2013.

  1. Nachtfischer

    Nachtfischer Well-Known Member

    So, now that we not only have an iOS/Android thread but also one about board games, we surely should have one for the "big" digital systems, right? Well, there may not be that many good games actually, especially recent ones, but let's see if we can dig up some gems!

    Most users of this forum will probably already know about the few more successful sparks of good digital game design on PC: Desktop Dungeons, Spelunky (also on XBox!) and some of the more focused roguelikes (Shiren The Wanderer, Brogue and certainly 100 Rogues, but that's iOS again :p).

    I'd also add to that the fairly new 7 Grand Steps (I've written about its handling of savegames here), which has some serious problems, but is definitely interesting to check out and shows signs of innovation (somewhat of a rarity in today's digital games, I guess). There's a free demo of the game available!

    And: TowerClimb. A randomly generated platformer with pretty quirky controls (which might actually kill the game straight away for some people and really need to be improved), but a focused core idea: Jumps. Not a big deal, you might think (because that's just what platforming is). But here the jumps are kind of a resource: You collect double jumps as potions (or some special abilities effectively acting as some kind of "super" jump). And you will most probably need them to get through the level alive (at least it will be pretty hard without them).

    So, that's what I could think of from the top of my head.
    keithburgun likes this.
  2. vivafringe

    vivafringe Well-Known Member Staff Member

    The best PC/console games I've played in the last year are:

    - Bastion
    Very nice take on the hack and slash genre. It's a hack and slash with actual play to it. And the story elements/narration is AAA. Newgame+ is snore-tastic though; they needed to bump the difficulty up.

    - XCOM: Enemy Unknown
    Ironman Classic difficulty is probably the best PC gaming experience I had all year. Ironman Impossible was kind of too ridiculous and frustrating even for me, though. As fun as that game is, there are roughly 1000 things that could have been done to improve the experience. But it's a great start at taking the old x-com formula and making it something playable today. IMO it's one of the few games where I think a sequel is absolutely merited, because there's so much room for improvement there.

    - Dota 2
    Probably not much needs to be said about this one. If you're the kind of person to like this sort of game, chances are you're already playing it.

    Games that more or less bounced off of me are Torchlight 2, Borderlands 2, Diablo III. I guess this year was the year of realizing I no longer enjoy grindy games, or even worse, sequels to grindy games. OHWELL.
  3. Nachtfischer

    Nachtfischer Well-Known Member

    Oh, I do so well understand that. Add Path Of Exile into the mix as well (albeit I applaud it for doing "Free2Play" right, but then again... there's mostly no actual "play" :().

    I second Bastion, it actually has some non-mindless gameplay! Though you'll likely delete it after one playthrough (around six hours) just as most other single-player games.
  4. keithburgun

    keithburgun Administrator, Lead Designer Staff Member

    Desktop Dungeons is fantastic, but I think sadly the new commercial version is going to end up a few steps back from the original free alpha. Way too much focus on metagame crap IMO. Also I think even the original game had a few flaws, which I would suggest could have been fixed by using my silly system of forms (toy, puzzle, contest, game). A lot of people pointed out that death doesn't make much sense in this system, and they're right. Death shouldn't be possible at all because the only times that it would occur are during a misclick or when you want to resign. Further, though, I think actually the system is partially wasting itself by having the goal it has "just kill the level 10 monster". That's too flat and "completioney". It should be score based, and have some other game-end condition. Like, bad example would be just a timer, but maybe a better example is that there's some central area of colored tiles, and when you reveal all of them, that ends the mission. Both of those aren't great but the concept is hopefully clear. So yeah, in short, I like DD, but it could have been much better, and it's going to get worse instead.

    Viva, did you not play the original XCOM? It's weird to see the new one there and not the old one, which I see as just orders of magnitude better, like 100 times better. The new XCOM is OK. Also if there is a sequel, my bet is that it will be worse.

    Couldn't handle the narrator in Bastion. When someone is trying really hard to be cool it's like gum surgery for me. But also, that kind of real time Diablo mashy gameplay is totally uninteresting to me anyway. Again, I'm not anti-real-time, but I am anti-real-time RPG, for sure. Actually, I'm just anti RPG, period - all of those D&D mechanisms just aren't very good for games, in my opinion. "Loot", horrible. XP system, horrible. Of course, if you look at it as more like a slot machine, it fares better, but that's just not something I'm interested in at all.

    As for Spelunky, my thing on that game is that it's the first platformer to really get "the basics" right - meaning, having randomized maps and being score based instead of completion-based and not having "lives". I think as an individual game, it's actually just "OK", but people went nuts about it basically because it got these few basic low level things correct (even though from watching interviews I believe the designer has no idea why what he did was better; it is apparent to me that he just thinks "oh I am blending roguelike games and platformer games"). I'm looking forward to someone making a really well-designed platformer that has these qualities.

    Blake and I often muse: what if Super Mario Bros. had the "story mode" game that it has now, but also a completely randomized "score attack" mode as well? People would still be playing it now. Hell, I'd play that shit right this moment.
  5. Dasick

    Dasick Well-Known Member

    Pirates Vikings and Knights II - Really great first person team based hack-and-slash (not the kind Viva is talking about. Real, authentic, PC hack-and-slash, characterized by tight controls, actual use of 3d space and emphasis on position, timing, movement and direction/facing). I feel like it's a really well designed fun 3-way team game, with some really well designed game modes (Grail Wars is like Team Deathmatch with actual teamwork required). The timing of the swings, the power of the swing mechanic, the damage based on how long the weapon stays in contact with the enemy - there's a lot of really good design.

    Cortex Command - pretty much the only 'continuous space' game where pixel difference comes close to having the same meaning as each square in Chess or hex in Outwitters. Most other continuous space games can have their space lumped up into regions of similar importance. Oh, and it's a physics based (every pixel is it's own object) side-scrolling tactical (tactics>1337skillz) shooter, not unlike Worms or Soldat.

    If you liked Xcom2012, Jagged Alliance 2 would probably scratch the same itch. I'd rate it like this - Xcom>JA2>Xcom2012.

    Bloodline Champions - a really boiled-down DotA-like. No lanes and last hits, no items or gold, no facerolls and balance by math, all skillshots with lots of commitment,just two teams fighting first-to-three-wins. Each match is like 10-15 minutes of intense combat - poking, engagement, clean-up. Repeat

    Racettear - pretty game-like, despite having no score and a goal/cap. I like the shop-keeping mechanic, and I really like how dungeon-delving is an actual game.

    Come on, you can turn the sound off :D Speaking of sound and music, the other day I was messing around with logic pro loops and found entire segments of their soundtrack.

    I would not compare the combat of Bastion to any Diablos, unless I want to be snarky and be like "it's like Diablo if Diablo's combat was at all interesting". Bastion itself isn't a 'real game', but the combat is worth looking at (I've got a design doc for an Action "Roguelike" inspired in part by Bastion). You can't just mash through the fights, you have to time your attacks, position well and exploit the specifics of your weapon, while working around the drawback. For example, the hammer does lots of damage when you attack standing still - positional commitment. The bow is best used when you can line up several targets and time a 'precise shot'. The mashiest weapon is the machete, but even it has some decision making - should I keep mashing or should I move/roll?

    And the monsters do pretty well in terms of being more than just HP bags that do DPS. A lot of them have a timing and a positioning element, as well as some environmental effects and interesting properties.

    Yeah it's got RPG elements, but the actual upgrades are pretty interesting, and game changing. As for the loot, there isn't actually loot - all weapons are hand-made and have room for exploration and mastery.

    The only thing the levels do is give you another slot for a passive drink (you always have more drinks than you can use, and most of them are pretty balanced), which are pretty interesting by themselves. One of my favorites is were-whiskey - at below 33% health all your attacks are crits.

    yeah, i can't find the link but i read the exact same thing. "people like mario, people like roguelikes - what if I put the two together?" Really curios what ideas you have regarding an "actual platforming game", because I'm gonna start work on a little hobby project of mine pretty soon and it's a platforming game (endless runner-ish. floor is constantly collapsing. High jumps do damage to level. Game ends if you fall down (that's how you kill baddies as well). Points for nabbing 'stars' which are spaced out above the level)
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  6. keithburgun

    keithburgun Administrator, Lead Designer Staff Member

    Excited for your game, Dasick!

    We've been kicking an idea around for a platformer where "speed is the resource". It's loosely based on a game a friend of mine did (I did a small amount of art for and all of the music for, which I like) called MAYFLIGHT. Maybe I'll make another thread on that.

    In other news, if you guys like tactical RPGs, the Shadowrun game that got kickstarted has a gameplay video up. It's like 100% what you would expect - like, it's basically Fallout 1 or 2 again, which is alright. I just wish someone would make a randomized D&D game, that'd be fantastic.
  7. Dasick

    Dasick Well-Known Member

    What do you mean by that? D&D games all have heavy dice rolls.
  8. Nachtfischer

    Nachtfischer Well-Known Member

    I assume Keith is talking about input randomness here. So basically a D&D game with a randomly generated environment.

    The only thing resembling that I can think of is probably Dungeon Hack. An old first-person roguelike with randomly generated dungeons using the D&D rules. John Harris wrote about it, I played it a bit, but honestly: It's more interesting from a historical point of view than from a gamer's. Also, as Fallout 1 and 2 were mentioned, I assume the wish also included turn-based tactical combat. :p
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  9. Dasick

    Dasick Well-Known Member

    Hmm. Don't roguelikes count? I've heard people referring to the more graphical ones (including 100Rogues) as "RPG"

    Also, D&D is pretty far from being a good base for a game. It pretty random (in fact, it's supposed to be random to provide context for roleplaying), and because it's highly thematic it tends to be really, really broken and abusable.
  10. keithburgun

    keithburgun Administrator, Lead Designer Staff Member

    Ya I agree that D&D is not a good base for a game. I guess I just mean like, if people are gonna be making these Fallout 1 style games, please randomize them (as in input randomness). Even better, of course, would be to design good games from the ground up but I think that's asking too much of most developers.
  11. Nachtfischer

    Nachtfischer Well-Known Member

    You might already know about it (I know Keith definitely does), but I think it's worth mentioning anyway: Michael Brough (creator of Zaga-33 amongst others) made a 7-day-roguelike this year called 86856527. You can download it for free and I think it's pretty good, albeit a bit confusing at first. I like it much more than Zaga actually (which isn't bad either!).

    In other news: "Super Puzzle Platformer Deluxe" just got released. Can't think of many more off-putting titles...
  12. keithburgun

    keithburgun Administrator, Lead Designer Staff Member

    Yep, it is good. And much better than Zaga. Although it needs some serious balancing. I hope Brough pursues it and really polishes it because it's a solid idea.
  13. EnDevero

    EnDevero Well-Known Member

    Yeah, he's actually been doing testing and balancing on it and generally polishing it up. Even has a new name for when he releases it: 868-HACK.
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  14. Senator

    Senator Moderator

    I suppose this is a good place to mention Kerkerkruip, a roguelike game that I have a (small) role in developing. In form, Kerkerkruip is a text adventure, but mechanically it's a roguelike. It features a lot of output randomness, of course, which probably means it won't garner many fans here. But even if you feel that the OR disqualifies it from being a good game, I think that Kerkerkruip is quite interesting in its approach to leveling up and healing, and the way it uses those to structure the entire flow of the game, forcing the player to seek out a high-level strategy toward victory. (The game is designed to be played and won in 15-30 minutes.)

    It's also an interesting experiment in that it removes spatial positioning from combat, replacing it with what are essentially time-paced tactics. The particular approach to output randomness is interesting as well, since unlike most roguelikes, all of the bonuses to combat are reported on with each move--the player always knows why an action succeeded or failed--and because die rolls are weighted toward the average. In other words, it is more likely that you will roll an average roll than that you will roll a low or high one, so the scope for being screwed by the RNG is lower, and you can focus on strategizing around the modifiers to the dice roll. (In fact, I feel like I'm more often screwed by the input randomness than by the output randomness.)

    Anyway, the game's designer has recently written a blog post that describes some of the mechanics I've been talking about, which you might find interesting:

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  15. Nachtfischer

    Nachtfischer Well-Known Member

    I just went ahead and gave Kerkerkruip a shot. It's pretty interesting and certainly unqiue. I found it amazing, how intuitive (if you have an idea of interactive fiction and combine it with your standard roguelike verbs etc.) it was to control with just typing in text. The parser really seems to be quite intelligent in recognizing what you mean, even if you e.g. just type parts of an item name or something like that.
    The game itself felt actually - albeit the up-front flavor text - tighter than many roguelikes as you just move from room to room, without the "just randomly walk around till you find something"-passages. 1-on-1 Melee combat did not feel much different from a typical roguelike: attack, dodge, attack, dodge... well, it is a bit more interesting actually, because enemies have a "concentration" mechanic and take some turns to get ready to attack (you can also randomly break their concentration by attacking). And when they actually do attack, you can still decide to dodge or cast a spell or something else as a reaction. Combat is of course dice-heavy, but that's nothing unusual for roguelikes, too.

    So, thanks for bringing that up, Senator. I definitely like it more than I would've thought and it will stay on my PC for a bit more tinkering around in the future.

    Edit: Forgot to mention. The Megaman-mechanic (grabbing special abilities from killed enemies) is pretty cool, too!
  16. Senator

    Senator Moderator

    I'm glad you could find time to check it out, Nachtfischer--and thanks for the mini-review!
  17. Nachtfischer

    Nachtfischer Well-Known Member

    Xenonauts is now on Steam (early acess). Pretty much an X-COM-clone and not a bad one actually. It's been a while since I gave the latest (I guess) alpha version a shot, though. Fans of the genre should maybe take a closer look at it.
  18. keithburgun

    keithburgun Administrator, Lead Designer Staff Member

    There were so many of those XCom clone/remakes. How does Xenonauts compare to the 2012 XCOM? Because unless it's like strongly better, I'm not really interested.
  19. Nachtfischer

    Nachtfischer Well-Known Member

    Haven't played the 2012 XCOM, but read about it (and listened to your podcast episode). I think Xenonauts is a lot more "old-school". There are not as many changes as in the official new XCOM compared to the original. This is a video of a right now pretty old version, but you might get the idea from watching a few minutes of it...
  20. Dasick

    Dasick Well-Known Member

    Ok, I just re-installed Pirates Vikings and Knights II and I gotta say - this game is ace. Pretty much the perfect example of how to do timing in a RT game (that is, timing as a source of decision-making), all the classes are pretty unique and have their own gameplay flavour, and their version of TDM (Grail Wars) is MILES ahead most game modes in terms of design. Heartily recommend.
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