It’s been not two but three weeks since our last On Tap, because, like, sometimes Dix gets lazy. In that time, one of this console generation’s first anticipated releases has hit with Watch Dogs, and proved that we’ll likely have no shortage of sociopathic protagonists in case anyone was worried; LeVar Burton and Reading Rainbow blew the lid off Kickstarter by getting all the money; and everyone’s been placing their obligatory E3 bets.
But since we have a little time to kill before Geordi can once again read us to sleep, we’ve had to turn to the comforting embrace of these games…
The Wolf Among Us, Episode 4: “In Sheep’s Clothing”
Developed and Published by Telltale Games | PC | May 27, 2014
Telltale’s other episodic series based on a great indie comic hurtles toward its conclusion, as Bigby Wolf gets closer and closer to the secret behind the murders that have rocked Fabletown. What it lacks in the sheer emotional intensity of The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us makes up for in personality, capably preserving the fairy tale noir that makes FABLES such a good read in the first place. -Dix
Developed by 4A Games | Published by THQ | PC | 2010
As Tappers go, I seem to be late to the game on Metro 2033, the post-apocalyptic horror shooter set in the metro tunnels of Moscow. And honestly? I feel like it’s just okay. Maybe I’m coming too late to it (although it’s not exactly old, nor have there really been any truly revolutionary shooters since 2010, I think), but I’m maybe halfway through the game and I’m already having to kind of push myself through it. It’s well done, to be sure: the atmosphere is excellent, it’s a nice spin on the post-apocalypse, and the weapons look neat in that cobbled-together sort of way. And the writing’s fine. But it feels very conventional, almost, certainly from a gameplay perspective; and while the setting might be unique amongst games in its genre niche, most shooters have some sort of underground/tunnel/sewer levels, it seems, which saps some of the novelty. Competent, but I’m struggling to see what really stands out. -Dix
Developed and Published by iDGi | PC | 2014
Steerpike touched on Consortium (which is a word I cannot for the life of me type correctly on the first try) in our first-ever On Tap, and he spoke of it favorably despite having not really played it through yet. I’ve played it through twice, now, and with the Master Edition (v. 1.2) which presumably fixes most of the major technical issues that early reviews claimed were there. The audio is still a bit buggy, but otherwise I didn’t have any technical problems with the game. Consortium is a near-future murder mystery with layers of Quantum Leap leveraged for metatextual commentary. When one of the crew members of the ginormous airplane Zenlil (a craft which travels the world doing paramilitary things for the titular entity, almost Star Trek-style, and this is a fact that the game is VERY aware of), it falls to you, an interdimensional traveler occupying the body of one of the other crew, to solve the case. There’s layers of conspiracy and mystery and, in a touch that both frustrates me and compels me, it is very very possible that you won’t solve the case, and you will be left with unanswered questions. After two goes I haven’t cracked it, though I think the answers I lack may lie in the copious textual lore database that I’ve mostly ignored in my previous plays. I’ll probably set it aside for a little while before diving back in again, but I do hope we see more little indies like Consortium, because I’d love for this sort of mystery to really become a sub-genre of adventure in the hands of indies. -Dix
Dirty Bomb (closed beta)
Developed by Splash Damage | Published by Nexon | PC | TBC
I have an itch that only Splash Damage can scratch. Yes, I’ve played most of the Battlefield games, and Team Fortress 2, and HAWKEN, and Titanfall, and the Left 4 Dead games, and Natural Selection 2, and Guns of Icarus Online, and Chivalry: Medieval Warfare, and various other multiplayer first-person shooters, biters, slashers and spitters, but the objective and class-based play that Splash Damage have been mining and refining since their inception just hits a certain sweet spot for me. Unfortunately, I never played their debut (and allegedly flagship) title Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory, but I was a huge fan of Enemy Territory: Quake Wars and loved Brink for its boldness and under appreciated design smarts.
Well, Splash Damage are back with another objective and class-based first-person shooter, only this time it’s F2P and formed by something really nifty called Echo. Unlike Brink, which was eventually abandoned at sea, Dirty Bomb (formerly Extraction and originally Dirty Bomb again) should hopefully benefit from the ongoing development, fine tuning and support that F2P affords, as well as the risk-free entry (because let’s face it, Brink hit Splash Damage’s reputation hard; so hard in fact, that the Dirty Bomb closed alpha trailer didn’t even mention it). Anyway, I’ve easily played close to 20 hours of the Dirty Bomb closed beta since I got my key a week or so ago, but due to the NDA I can’t really talk specifics about it. However, if you want to know more, Total Biscuit spared some thoughts on it after PAX last year, many of which align with my own. –Gregg
Developed by Image & Form | 3DS, PS3, Vita, Windows, OS X, Linux | 2013/2014
I don’t really think SteamWorld Dig is a Metroidvania, contrary to what most people say about it. Sure, it gradually folds in new abilities which change the way you traverse the world and deal with enemies and obstacles, but Tearway does this and you don’t see people calling that a Metroidvania. No, it seems too linear and resistant to backtracking and exploring to be a Metroidvania. Don’t get me wrong, there are clear influences here: the slow descent into the bowels of an alien world, the map system, the music, the scarce supply of resources, and yes, the abilities and specifically the way you acquire them; but SteamWorld Dig is about cautiously digging down, finding valuable ore and minerals to cash in for better gear to dig even deeper. It’s a game where absent-mindedly drilling, pick axing away and exploding blocks of earth will only make your life harder as you struggle to find your way back up. Sometimes you’ll get crushed. Sometimes you’ll get trapped and have to self-destruct. Sometimes you’ll get killed by other forces. Fortunately, you can be rebuilt on the surface, but that costs you, and you’ll also have to make your way back to where you died to pick up your spoils. Spoils, not souls. SteamWorld Dig isn’t a particularly hard game though, and from what I hear, it’s fairly short too (they said that about Tearaway but that thing couldn’t end fast enough). Nevertheless, it can be tricky at times and I’ve been at it several hours now with no obvious end in sight, which is great, because so far, it’s a been a joy and a real gem. In fact, I’ve found it surprisingly difficult to put down at times. Just one… more… dig… –Gregg
What have you been playing lately? Tell us in the comments!