As always, there’s a lot I didn’t play this year, mostly because of games from previous years. One in particular from a very previous year. Like, 2001. But that’s okay! Here on Tap we don’t let that kind of thing spoil a good list. A good wordy list.
Games of 2016
If you combined the campy superheroes of Freedom Force (one character even looks like Walter White dressed as a chicken), the manoeuvres of a great platformer (wall jumping, sliding, dashing, double jumping and grapple-hooking) and the slew of screw-you pickups and screen constrained multiplayer chaos of Micro Machines, then you should have a good idea of what SpeedRunners is all about.
It’s been showcased at gaming events for years now, usually attracting a large (and committed!) crowd so it was great to finally get to play the finished thing with friends. It’s been a long time since a game has had me giddily giggling and screaming this much as the multiplayer tension ratcheted up and up, but SpeedRunners manages it consistently and I love it.
This is largely down to players being eliminated if they fall behind and off the screen, and once one does, the screen starts getting progressively smaller for the remaining players. Even if you’re eliminated it’s still hugely entertaining watching the others hang on for bitter life. It’s a really clever dynamic because the leader, with their nose up against the screen edge, has to anticipate the geometry of the level and any hazards or obstacles in their path to keep their speed, and their lead. Conversely, the player at the back is, yeah, at the back and nearly out, but they also have some wiggle room in case the leader falls afoul.
What’s more is that as much as your success benefits from memorising the levels like any racing game, if you really want to mix things up you can dip into the curated and popular Steam Workshop levels. Here you’ll almost always be going in blind which makes for a chaotic scramble through some surprisingly creative and brilliant user-created content.
The catchy, groovy, jazzy and big brassy soundtrack by SonicPicnic is just the ticket too and guaranteed to put some zing in your swing. SpeedRunners is competitive multiplayer gold, local, online or both.
I expected Doom to be my first-person shooter of the year but then a titan fell on it at the last minute.
Quite frankly the whole thing snarls like a chainsaw. Mick Gordon’s industrial glitch techno metal works so perfectly that it’s grafted itself to my playing memory. Metal meet flesh. I can’t listen to BFG Division now without feeling the rush of rhythmically ripping and tearing my way through hordes of demons spilling into my discotheque death arena.
I also love that the ‘Doom Slayer’ is such an irreverent arsehole. At least at first. And while plenty is said about the gunfighting and glory killing, Doom scratched that Metroid Prime itch of poring over 3D maps and exploring vast levels to find secrets. The rune trials scattered throughout the game and the level and weapon mastery challenges were welcome diversions too.
Finally, I really need to express just how remarkable the engine is that powers Doom. Even on my GTX 970 I’ve come to expect minor performance and qualitative issues on most games, just because that’s what happens with games. Doom was different though. I maxed it out expecting some hiccup somewhere and there just… wasn’t. Not a dropped frame, screen tear or jaggy in sight, and let me tell you: Doom looks fantastic and gets really busy. I wish I’d discovered Nvidia Shadowplay earlier to record some of it.
If you haven’t read it already, then swing by Steerpike’s Hate Expectations for some more (hilarious) thoughts on Doom.
3) Titanfall 2
I miss the ill-fated HAWKEN and its high TTK team brawling and Siege mode; I miss Brink’s movement; and I miss Battlefield 2142 and all its sci-fi gadgets and gizmos. Titanfall 2 folds in a lot of these elements and I’m pleased to say that — unlike Battlefield 1, whose multiplayer was a miserable rinse-repeat cycle of dying and respawning thanks to stacked teams of vets stomping noob scrubs like me — it has not disappointed. Ho boy, has it not.
What’s great about that trailer is that it’s representative of the actual game. Yes, badass stuff like that happens all the time.
The real surprise in Titanfall 2 though is just how good the campaign is. It’s short, yes, but it’s pacy and varied, firing very cool levels, smart mechanics and spectacular set pieces at you on full auto until the credits roll. It reminded of Platinum’s games and of Bulletstorm (minus the dick jokes) with its irresistible confidence, flair and fizzy enthusiasm. I ultimately came for the multiplayer, and stayed for the multiplayer, but the campaign was a real treat that I’d like to zip through again.
Speaking of which, the multiplayer surprised me in a number of ways too. Firstly, the matchmaking works. Nearly every game I play is close. Like, actual ‘gg’ close. There are no visible player levels so nobody starts a game thinking ‘We’re doomed’, there’s no team-switching to fuck the matchmaking up, and spawn killing is practically non-existent. Take that Battlefield 1!
Secondly, there are no intermediate lobby or ready-up screens so you go from the main menu straight into the game proper, with each round usually lasting 10 minutes or so. Loading times are short too so sessions are super snappy — perfect for quick pick up and play bouts. Again, take that Battlefield 1! I mean, seriously.
Thirdly, there’s a half-time so teams switch sides. That’s how you balance asymmetrical maps and keep things fair!
Fourthly and finally, Titanfall 2 has a great mix of game modes, from your standard team deathmatch ‘Pilots vs. Pilots’ and an unexpected (but totally perfect for this given the game’s beautifully fluid movement) Capture the Flag, to a tense ‘Bounty Hunt’ mode and the Titanfall classic ‘Attrition’ which basically floods the map with dropships, drop pods, AI grunts, droids and mechs to create a less clusterfucky battlefield than Battlefield. One of my favourite modes is Last Titan Standing where everyone starts in their titan and gets one life. Cue lots of bunching up, careful feeling out of weaknesses and actual attempts at things like flanking, diversion and, yeah, teamwork.
Titanfall 2 is this year’s Splatoon for me and just a really slick, immediately enjoyable and solid all-round package.
2) Offworld Trading Company
Offworld Trading Company is now one of my favourite real-time strategy games, and it picks up right where M.U.L.E. left off way back in 1983, even making a few very sweet references along the way.
I’m an economics dunce and a total sloth at real-time strategy but Offworld Trading Company grabbed me by the cahonies right from the moment Christopher ‘Baba Yetu‘ Tin’s Red Planet Nocturne pattered out of my speakers to the words “Earth may be dying”. It’s a wonderfully evocative set-up and one perfectly scored by Tin.
Here’s a war game that’s fought on a different front: the Martian stock market. It’s Corporate Combat. There’s no diplomacy, and there are no weapons in the literal sense either; your weapon is cold hard capitalism and your trusty steed supply and demand. Ride it well.
It seems some people go into Offworld Trading Company expecting some sort of longform, perhaps story-driven campaign, that plays like a laid back empire builder. It isn’t like that. At all. This is a trading game and it’s cutthroat. Quick and sharp. Dog eat dog. “Screw with us, and we’ll screw with you.”
Single rounds can be over in as little as 15 minutes or drawn out towards an hour depending on how well (or badly) you play, but the game goes to great lengths to ease you in with a fine set of tutorials, a full fat tutorial skirmish, toggle-able auto-pausing when you’re doing certain tasks, speed settings, and it also comes bundled with a comprehensive and in-depth almanac. Oh, and the tooltips are superb.
There is a campaign mode but it’s not a linear single playthrough affair. It’s dynamic, replayable and meaty and as such something you can really sink your teeth into. Think Invisible Inc. or Infested Planet’s Planetary Campaign DLC (see below!) where each skirmish is linked together by a strategic layer, rich with tough but exciting decisions that may have far reaching ramifications as you progress.
The Daily Challenges too are worth a pop just to hone your real-time skills with no pausing and see how you fare against other players on the leaderboards. The competitive multiplayer is demanding but there’s also co-op against the AI which knows how to play and can be a formidable challenge in itself. My friend and I have yet to beat it on the recommended Manager difficulty!
If you like your strategy to be focused and deep then Offworld Trading Company might just be for you. It’s such a smart game and one I foresee myself coming back.
It had to be really. After dabbling with it at Rezzed in London, I was practically counting down the days till it launched, followed shortly by a rallying cry to my girlfriend and friend whom I played the entirety of the base game with. We’ve the DLC to play through next.
There are a few things that make Overcooked such a special local multiplayer game. Firstly, it’s a cooking game so there’s no abstract concepts for players to wrap their heads around. Mushroom soup needs mushrooms; beef burgers need beef, buns and salad; pizzas need dough, tomatoes and mozzarella; plates need cleaning; meals need taking out; fires need extinguishing (that’s when something overcooks). This makes the whole experience very accessible and readable which is great for a range of demographics and even better for spectating. Secondly, it’s adorable. I mean look at it:
And thirdly, it’s an honest-to-god co-op game and just a ton of fun with friends or family. Don’t be deceived by its cutesy shell though; this thing is hard boiled.
The basic gameplay loop goes like this: get ticket orders, collect the necessary ingredients, prepare them, cook them, put them together, then take the meals out. The quicker you get meals out, the more tips you get. If tickets time out or you serve the wrong meals you’ll lose money. The more money you get the more stars you’ll be awarded. Yes, it has that insipid star system that plagues mobile games that I’ve never been especially fond of, but here it works because the entire premise of the game is about getting more efficient as a team to ultimately thwart ‘The Beast’ or the ‘Ever Peckish’ one, introduced at the beginning.
The driving force behind Overcooked is the level design which constantly throws something new and disruptive at you, whether it’s a new recipe, an environmental hazard or some kitchen layout quirk. The thing is, when you’re playing with others you’ll share the excitement and terror of seeing the next level. You’ll share the stress and frustration as you fail. Often repeatedly. There will be shouting and cursing. But you’ll also share the joy of working like a machine together and utterly conquering it. That’s where the real magic is in Overcooked. It understands that, much like a real kitchen, real co-operation is tough and emotions will run high, but when three or four of you are in sync with each other it’s a thing of beauty.
I recommend Overcooked with at least three players and if you have four you can even take part in the riotous competitive mode where two teams of two can try to outcook or outscrew each other.
Oh, and this jaunty little number will haunt me and my fellow chefs till our frying day:
Infested Planet – Planetary Campaign DLC
How do you make one of the smartest real-time strategy games in recent years even smarter? In much the same vein as Offworld Trading Company and Invisible Inc. — hell, X-COM — you add a dynamic planetary campaign where top-level strategic decisions bleed down to the ground-level stuff. Instead of skirmishes playing out in isolation, here they become pages in an evolving story. Well played Rocket Bear.
For the first ten hours or so I was absolutely convinced that Darkest Dungeon would be my game of the year, such is the strength of its first impression. For the next ten I started to have my doubts as I continued to do the same things over and over again, thinking any minute there’d be something new around the corner. For the final ten I realised that, aside from the odd boss battle to break up the monotony, all I was doing was grinding to make numbers go up until I could arbitrarily access new areas just to do the same until I eventually reach the Darkest Dungeon. If I faltered and lost a character (or four) then I’d have to hire replacements and build them all up again. 34 hours in and I hadn’t really scratched the surface. Funnily enough, according to the developers, ‘the average owner has played 27 hours of Darkest Dungeon.’
Since then updates have brought town events to mix things up a little and an ‘antiquarian’ character class, designed to maximise your spoils and ultimately reduce the grind. Further, a ‘Radiant’ mode is planned to reduced the game’s length down from 80+ hours to around 40, which is great, but just… too late.
The unholy alliance of Quake and Robotron with an impeccable sonic vocabulary to help you read, no — hear — the hurricane of hell writhing around you. It’s a twitchy score-chaser of the highest calibre and leaderboard replays are an inspired addition and a fantastic way to learn from your peers. I played against some of the folks over at Quarter to Three and was able to beat everyone apart from ‘Elvis’ who was way ahead of me. Ain’t no beating the king. I’m happy with my best score but… I’ve no real desire to try and beat it now to be honest.
What a year for first-person shooters though, eh?
The Flame in The Flood
I suck at Don’t Starve. Like, I don’t even know how I’m supposed to stave off insanity, let alone not starve. The Flame in The Flood is a less brutal survival game, generous with tips and guidance early on, arguably a prettier game and a lot more linear or directed. I mean, you’re travelling down a river caused by the flood so there’s only ever one way you can go. All this added up to make The Flame in The Flood a much more palatable and ultimately enjoyable experience, helped immensely by the atmosphere of the setting, Chuck Ragan’s melancholic but hopeful soundtrack, and the sublime art direction. Towards the end I was surviving comfortably and the surprises were starting to dry up unfortunately, but it just made it to the finish line in time to leave a good impression on me. Here’s looking forward to The Long Dark.
Non-games of 2016
If SOMA had been released in 2016 it would be my game of the year. As some folks around here know, back when I first started writing for Tap I reviewed Penumbra: Overture and Penumbra: Black Plague, Frictional’s first two games, and I really enjoyed them despite their relatively lukewarm reception. Overture and Black Plague have since taken on a somewhat cult following but it was Amnesia: The Dark Descent that was a critical and commercial success. You may have heard of it. Or was that the cries of scared YouTubers?
Now, I still haven’t played Amnesia, despite pre-ordering it, but what struck me with SOMA is just how far Frictional have come since Penumbra. There’s a confidence and sophistication about them now. From Overture to Black Plague they boldly ditched combat, and from Amnesia to SOMA they’ve dialled back the puzzling and got rid of inventory and resource management altogether. Even death, or getting ‘got’, a prickly issue in most horror games, is handled sensitively here. There’s no saving either which I’d usually object to but, again, Frictional know what they’re doing with the checkpointing, and quitting out won’t lose you progress.
All this is in service to the experience, one that doesn’t get bogged down with familiar busybody work, unnecessary combing of the environments for items or collectibles, worrying about remembering to save, or restarting and replaying the same sections over and over again. Alien: Isolation this is not. There’s a focus here that puts SOMA somewhere between Gone Home and System Shock in that it’s absolutely committed to the forward momentum of the (fantastic) story and specifically how you piece it together, but it’s fraught with terror and the unknown.
There were several moments in SOMA early on where I caught myself ‘exploring’ a toilet/bathroom or looting a locker and was like ‘Gregg, what the hell are you doing? There’s nothing here’. We talk about immersion in games but SOMA actually gets it more than most because it removes almost all the typical game-y nonsense that creates bad habits like this. You’ll poke around, sure, but only to get insight into your situation and find out what to do next. And even when you do, you’ll not want to hang around. There’s no min-maxing or gaming SOMA; you just get on with it, just as the main character would.
SOMA also retains the excellent physics I remember from the Penumbra games which make typically mundane interactions that bit more involving and tactile. I’ve missed it! Of particular note too is the exemplary sound design.
If you do decide to play SOMA, just play it. Don’t watch any trailers, don’t read anything else about it. The less you know, the better.
2) Fran Bow
Oh Fran Bow, how I love thee so. I’ve missed Fran Bow ever since my girlfriend and I completed it, and it’s yet another shining example of an adventure game done right, where solutions aren’t ridiculous and there’s plenty of signposting to keep you on the right track. There are a few niggles, mostly relating to the UI and the way the game delivers dialogue to you piecemeal so you have to do that thing where you keep interacting with something until the words start repeating. Bleurgh. But other than that though, this is a macabre, beautiful and twisted tale that’s part Alice in Wonderland and part Return to Oz.
3) Affordable Space Adventures
So… this was on my Games of 2015 list as an honourable mention, mostly because I’d only just started it and was incredibly excited by its potential. Similar to Life Is Strange, really. It’s included here in earnest now because, having completed it with my friends, it exceeded those early expectations and ended perfectly, unlike Life Is Strange. You can find out more about Affordable Space Adventures by checking out the Side by Side video I did with Joel Goodwin (there are more thoughts in the comments too!), but suffice to say it’s a real co-op gem on the Wii U and an experience that can’t really work on any other system, including the upcoming Nintendo Switch, so don’t expect any ports unfortunately.
4) Invisible Inc.
I’m not sure why Invisible Inc. didn’t click with me when I first started playing it in early 2016. It has everything that the turn-based nut in me loves and expects in a game like this — a dynamic campaign with procedurally generated levels, lots of really tough and interesting risk/reward decisions to make, an elegant and informative UI, slick visuals and a pulsing reactive soundtrack — but… I just wasn’t feeling it. Fast forward a good 10 months and I’ve finally fallen in love, I’m just struggling to find the time between everything else to really break the back on it.
Is Anachronox worth playing today? That’s the 100+ hour question.
This is the ‘very previous’ 2001 game I spent most of my time on this year. It was a hog and a half, let me tell you. Oh, and I forget that I ditched the incredibly boring Pillows of Eternity to play this.
There’s a movie of the game cut together by the game’s cinematic director, Jake Hughes, that I watched after finishing this, but it’s old now and very poor quality, which is a shame because thanks to his quite frankly amazing camera work and editing, the fantastic voice acting, Richard Gaubert’s effortlessly cool dialogue and the surprisingly good facial expressions (remember, this is a heavily modified Quake 2 engine), the whole thing holds together remarkably well without the interaction. My girlfriend seemed to buy into it anyway.
The movie is just over two hours long which is incredible value compared to the full fat game but… Tom Hall and co. put so much into the rest of the experience. Throughout Anachronox I felt like I was playing something like Firefly by way of Rick & Morty and Final Fantasy VII. I mean, shit, that’s a pretty incredible mix. You’ve got a ragtag group of wildly diverse and unique characters; an evocative world to explore that’s bursting at the seams with inventive ideas, bizarre personalities and lovely little details; an interesting plot that’s orbited by far more interesting subplots– you can feel the energy and passion coursing through it all.
Anachronox can also count itself alongside Planescape: Torment in that it’s one of the few RPGs where I wanted to talk to almost everyone, and enjoyed doing so. And y’know, as downright funny as Anachronox is, there’s tragedy and pathos here, not unlike Bojack Horseman which I was watching around the time I completed this.
Anachronox is not without its faults however, and I think given its age some of these are to be expected.
Firstly, there’s a lot of traipsing back and forth everywhere. I mitigated this by assigning the game’s debug ‘fast forward’ function to a mouse button which allowed me to clear greater distances and cycle transition animations much quicker.
Secondly, a lot of the game’s statuses, terms and systems aren’t very well explained. Nuts? Bouge? Winky? Beefiness? In fact, the last boss was a nightmare, purely because there was a fundamental aspect of the combat that I hadn’t understood for the entirety of the game, and not that it really mattered much leading up to that point either.
Thirdly, the combat is mostly just busybody work. The battles aren’t random, which is a saving grace, but there’s just not that much you need to understand or think about in order to progress until you hit two major difficulty spikes late in the game (the aforementioned last boss and a Final Fantasy VII Weapon-esque side-boss). The thing is, the combat itself has some depth and is occasionally gratifying despite the clunky UI and repetitive animations (hello fast forward button!), but it’s not explored enough to make it really worthwhile.
Anachronox is at its best when you’re exploring these alien spaces, chasing up leads, mixing with the locals, finding items or bits of information that may be of interest to characters you met hours ago on another planet. Wandering around on the planet of Anachronox and through the Sender Station Routubes and red light district often reminded me of Bernband because I just didn’t know what the game was going to throw at me next. And that’s awesome.
So is Anachronox worth playing today? It was for me. It’s a special game with so much heart, but it requires a lot of time and a degree of patience to get past its flaws.
Patience and a fast forward button.
Thanks for reading and I’d like to wish everyone a gentler year than last.
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Some great games on that list – obviously I think Overcooked! is genuinely awesome so a number 1 spot seems very fair.
The one that got me was Titanfall 2… It is honestly the biggest disappointment of the year for me. I played the two betas and immediately went back to Titanfall one with a shrug ‘maybe when it is a tenner’.
Maybe things have changed since I played it (there were some big tweaks between the first beta and second) but here are some thoughts I wrote about it when I was very unhappy about my time:
“Every player glows the colour of their team so that you can see them a mile away, which defeats some of the tactics from titanfall. Everyone has a health bar, but that just leads to the best players dodging away from surprise kills and lesser players getting ganked all the time.
The loadouts feel less flexible and all around less fun. The grappling hook is dope but it comes at the stiff price of being a selectable item, so far everyone just uses it because you can get yourself out of trouble all the time.
The game has also become really sniper heavy because of the glowing players issue, also because of the way that your abilities work (on a cool down) and the lack of dominant Titan play, there means that there are always camping snipers. If ypu recall, I said that snipers were an influential but small part of multiplayer in Titanfall – they got significant kills but were never top in the leaderboards. Now, with this wonderful new level design (the levels so far have been small) you don’t spawn in randomly you spawn at specific ends of a level, so that sets up snipers and campers galore.
It is a fucking travesty that the most refreshing shooter I have played in a long time just became Call of Duty with Mech and smart pistol perks.”
After the second beta:
“They have randomised the spawn points, a bit, but it still feels like you are almost always guaranteed to end up on one end of the map on Homestead on hardpoint, and that means there will be people camping for you.
The core system now that it is explained makes more sense, it means that pilots can now act like medics for Titans, giving them another layer of support on foot.
The mag launcher has been nerfed, which seems fair as it was incredibly overpowered, and the regen option for grenades makes sense.
The tweaking done has improved the game alot but I do not like that the cloak is not a default. It too often means that pilots will hole themselves up rather than storm across the maps because getting caught out in the open means you are going to get stomped hard.”
I am surprised how many people are really into the multiplayer because I absolutely hated the map design, the pacing and the new mode as well as the removal of AI from a lot of maps. It felt like the developers had listened to all the complaints from the people who didn’t like Titanfall and made a game I now have no interest in. Has any of this been addressed?
To end it this was me playing every hardpoint match:
You’re on console right? From my experience on PC and what I’ve seen and heard on console, there’s definitely a speed/reactivity difference because of mouse aiming. I don’t see many snipers (or campers), and if I do they don’t last very long. If anything, I actually appreciate seeing snipers do well because to me they just don’t seem that viable on PC! Submachine guns, like the CAR and Volt, are the go-to weapons for most players because they can confidently hipfire with minimal spread while manoeuvring at crazy speeds. Honestly, it astounds me how sharp some players are. If anything, that’s my biggest criticism: submachine guns are the most versatile weapon and as such the easiest to use effectively.
As mentioned above, the spawning seems rock solid to me, especially after the horror of Battlefield 1.
I only played the Titanfall… open beta(?) I think, so I can’t really comment on the loadout flexibility but that’s one of the things that I really like about TF2. I can mix and match to fit my playstyle, although, really, I just mix and match to fit the game mode I’m playing on! This is great, but I do get in a pickle every now and then thinking I’ve got these grenades or that ability equipped. I play Mixtape mostly, so that’s why.
As for the glow, I’ve got no point of comparison unfortunately because I didn’t partake in the betas, but it seems relatively subtle to me. Still, I’d rather it not be there! On the other hand, the game’s very fast and busy so… a visual aid doesn’t hurt much in my opinion. I find seeing someone is easy enough but killing them is another matter!
I’m not sure what you mean with AI removal from a lot of maps? Attrition and Bounty Hunt feature loads of AIs running around. It’s bedlam!
And finally, I’m a big fan of the maps too. There are some lovely divisions/lanes cutting through them which grant all kinds of opportunities for flanking and sneaky flag runs.
A multiplayer cooking game? Why have I not heard of this? That sounds fun.
We found that with two players it’s a little too manageable because there’s less ambiguity when communicating under pressure. Three gets to the core of the chaotic co-op. Four is bedlam (of the best kind). Solo’s not really worth bothering with.
I also recommend playing this together from the beginning so you can share the learning curve, form strategies and discover little tricks together. We’ve played the game a lot and got plenty of friends and family to join in, and when we’ve mixed veterans in with newcomers they seem to get less out of it — because everything goes a lot more smoothly — than if all the newcomers are just thrown in together and told to work it out (which is a lot more entertaining to watch too!).
A nice mix of single and co-op, indie and mainstream, plus (as usual) a few games I hadn’t heard of and now must try.
Thanks for calling out Anachronox, which was under-appreciated and hasn’t aged like fine wine, but which is still your time if you’re a fan of JRPG-inspired adventures, extremely zany dialogue and characters weirder than anything Mervyn Peake ever imagined. I loved it and remember that movie well — that’s a good way to get a feel for Anachronox, but the viewer will miss out on the sense of ownership that comes with investing time in getting to the pivotal events. As funny as Anachronox is, it’s sometimes really tragic — Fatima’s memory of her conversation with Boots during a high speed chase in a snowstorm is very powerful — and you get more out of those scenes if you drove the action to them rather than watching passively.
I will have to try and sell my 4-man co-op crew (currently in The Forest on Overcooked, which sounds silly and delightful. This and Viscera Cleanup Detail have both been on my radar for a while but I’ve never gotten around to them.
Thank you, also, for using the correct title when discussing The Flame in the Flood. For some reason it drives me crazy when people use “and” instead of “in.” This is another one that’s been on my Steam Wishlist for a while but that I haven’t yet made a priority. I will rectify that immediately!
Ha! You have no idea how many times I write ‘The Flame AND The Flood’ by accident though, damn it.
Yeah, that sequence with Fatima and specifically when you realise she was about to quit Boots is god damned horrible. I remember shouting ‘No!’ at the screen. I know the game ends on a cliffhanger but I’m not convinced it NEEDS a sequel because it does mostly wrap itself up neatly, thankfully.
If Hall did manage to wrest the IP from Square ENIX’s titanic grasp then I’d like to see the team focus their efforts on what made the original so good rather than clunky combat and mini-games. I know it was riffing on FFVII, but we’re in the age of the ‘walking simulator’ and there’s never been a better time to just indulge in all that world building stuff that, alone, simply wouldn’t have passed muster back in 2001. I mean, I suppose there was the Blade Runner game. Yeah, do something like that Hall, but in the Anachronox world.
Viscera Cleanup Detail is quite fun for a while, and satisfying if you like sitting back and admiring your work but it lacks the… focus of something like Overcooked. Yeah, they’re both about doing jobs you couldn’t pay us enough to do in real-life but I think the big difference is that Overcooked makes a much better game of it with really compelling twists that keep you coming back. VCD doesn’t really have that. Each level is more of the same– often a lot more of it. It’s definitely worth checking out though. To be honest, it’s a great game to stick on and kick back with some friends because the work is so mundane that you naturally just end up shooting the shit!
Some games I have played and love, some games I have played and don’t care for, others I’ve not played at all… yet my biggest take-home here is this:
“…Chuck Ragan’s melancholic but hopeful soundtrack…”
Chuck Ragan? He of Hot Water Music? Holy shit, now I am definitely playing The Flame in the Flood!
“Some games I have played and love, some games I have played and don’t care for”
Do tell Mr. CG!
And yeah that’s the same Chuck. Huh, I had no idea he did punk!
Indeed. He’s a very important figure in 90s US pop-punk. Really exciting to see his subsequent work has expanded to soundtracks!
I also adored Overcooked and Invisible Inc, whilst the Titanfall 2 beta left me as cold as it did AJ. I can’t argue with your criticisms of Darkest Dungeon’s length (not sure I’ll ever finish it) but I did like that game a lot. Of the rest, I have mostly not played them, or have had a taste and would like to play more. 🙂
So what I’m taking away from this is that I should have a go at Anachronox 🙂
Yes I’m reading the best games of 2016 in February 2017.
Don’t feel bad Joel, I’m writing my best games of 2016 in February 2017. I have high hopes that it’ll be done within the next fifteen years.
As to Anachronox, do. Well worth it, even if you only spend a few hours and get a feel for the story and world. It’s hilarious, touching, and powerful. It’s also highly recommended that you do some of the tweaks Gregg mentions here. Anachronox is a HUGE game even without its often-tedious traipsing and combat animations; we’ve generally lost patience for that and it does get in the way of the experience. If you don’t see yourself getting around to the game, at least watch the movie he mentions. It’s not quite the same impact, since like Pathologic and others you really have to have been there yourself to experience the biggest emotional hits, and just being shown them doesn’t quite accomplish the same thing. But still, it’s way better than nothing!
And I’m reading THIS reply one week later. I’ll definitely play Anachronox – just after Mass Effect.