Our Year in Games – Part Three
Welcome to Part Three of Our Year in Games. You can find Part One and Two right over here if you are interested in catching up. As we get closer to Christmas, we are also starting to think about our Games of the Year. You will be able to see what we have each chosen on the 25th. For now, why not read on and see what else we have been up to this year.
This year has to go down in some ways as the year of Euro Truck Simulator 2. My Steam playtime might not read that high, but that doesn’t include the hours I spent in the game before SCS were able to get it through Greenlight. It might have bee last October when I delivered my Verdict, but I have to say that this is a game which has seen a slow burn with the wider gaming world. I think it says a lot when you see fans working on a multiplayer mod for the game. It has struck a cord with gamers on a more serious note than Farming Simulator ever did, probably because trucking is a larger part of everyday life as you drive about the motorways of the world, while farms are hidden away in the countryside. A great game then that I am really pleased to see the developers still supporting.
I think this year is probably the year when the indie scene became more mainstream. The success of Kickstarter and Greenlight have propelled more indie titles than you could ever realistically play into the limelight. The amount of innovation and experimentation on show is simply stunning and still surprises me to this day.
A couple of titles stick out in my mind from this year though.
Spelunky – I was a bit late to this party, having literally only got the title last month, but oh my, it’s rather good isn’t it. The mix of randomisation, punishing difficulty, and instant reward/risk make this one of the most addictive titles I have played in years. I have sunk hours into it without even realising. Never before has a quick ‘ten minute’ blast been so dangerous…
Gunpoint – This game is almost too polished for me to think of it as a pure indie game, but an indie it is and luckily, it also happens to be brilliant. For me, I think the writing and the sound are the two things that ‘make’ the game. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fun title with challenging and interesting puzzles, but the thwack of face on concrete and the mid-mission dialogue really stand out. I literally laughed out loud on a number of occasions.
Receiver – This ones a bit more left-field. On the face of it it’s a simple FPS, but the way you interact with your gun is not in anyway simple. You see, it’s not just a case of press ‘r’ to reload. You have to eject your magazine, check the bullet count, manually insert new rounds into the magazine. Then, you load the mag, slide the rail and pop the catch to be ready to fire again.
Easy huh? Not so much, especially given that getting things in the wrong order will spell disaster. I’ve lost count of the times I ended up dropping rounds on the floor- fumbling the re-load under pressure. Or forgetting how many rounds I had left and ended up being quite embarrassed… And dead…
I’ve had my preconceptions challenged so many times this year, I’m genuinely excited to see what next year brings. Hopefully it’ll involve puppies and rocket launches…. Just ‘cos…
One of the quirks of my rejoining the team when I did is that I still haven’t actually written about what “I’ve played this week” – I’ve been onboard only for the ‘five years’, ‘last gen’ and ‘last year’ specials. Right about the time I was bitching about hardware generations and the release of a new set of home consoles, I was actually totally picking up a new games console – though at least I wasn’t hypocritical enough to be buying one without a proven software library.
Most of my 2013 next-big-purchase thoughtspace was dedicated to the “which handheld?” question. There’s really no wrong answer: the Vita is a beautiful piece of technology and despite what some seem to believe, I’ve never been short of software that I would want to own on it. Tearaway recently joined Gravity Rush, Persona 4, Uncharted: Golden Abyss on the list of games I wish I had – and the PSN library of PSP and PSOne games is far more impressive than anything in the 3DS eshop’s archives.
Still, I ended up with a 3DS XL after Argos (of all places) ran a deal that, slightly humiliatingly was exactly what I’d been stalling for. Apparently. There can be no shame at getting two free Professor Layton games – and some fortuitous timing meant that I’d snap up a free copy of Super Mario 3D Land thanks to Nintendo’s generous welcome promotion (it’s still running and worth a look to see if you qualify). I’m just a little embarrassed that the ‘WE ORDER THIS NOW’ switch got pressed because of the promise of pink coloured plastic. If I convert five girls to using ‘Ms’ on their official documentation, can I still be a feminist?
This is the story of how I died.
I wasn’t being a hero; I was about as far from heroic as it’s possible to be whilst still playing a video game. I hadn’t stopped a nazi menace in its tracks, and I hadn’t fought off alien invasion using a crowbar. No, I died whilst rooting through a fridge and eating mouldy vegetables, not noticing a zombie lurking in the corner of the room.
In my defence, I’d been in that kitchen for quite some time and he hadn’t seen me either, so I don’t feel too stupid about not spotting the corpse hanging out by the cooker. Besides, it’s not like I just stood there and let him devour me either. He only got in one swipe before I shoved him out the way and scampered out the door, cursing my bad fortune. The thing is, in Project Zomboid, just one precious second of inattention is enough. That single scratch was enough to introduce infection, and within an hour I was dead.
That’s how Project Zomboid gets you. It’s not unfair and it doesn’t trick you, it just sits back and waits patiently for the inevitable moment when you miss something. It could be something huge, like a horde of the undead just out of view, or it could be something tiny, like a door you thought was unlocked refusing to budge.
And then it kills you.