Saturday, February 18, 2012

Games of 2011

I think it's about good time to talk about the games of 2011 - which were the biggest names for me? Lots of good games came out, but I'll try to talk only of few. Consider these mini-reviews, I'll talk more about these later.

Frozen Synapse (PC/Mac/Linux)

Frozen Synapse is a we-go turn-based tactics game developed by Mode 7. It is fairly simplistic in view, but at its heart it contains lots of possibilities to do tactics, covering, feigning and all that. Frozen Synapse managed to re-ignite my love for small-scale tactics games. It is extremely simplistic on the outside, but its looks are clean and informative enough, and at its heart it is really, really hardcore tactics game. The multiplayer-scene is still alive, though some doomsayers have been claiming its death. And the multiplayer is where the game really shines - theres no better feeling than outsmarting another human player. The soundtrack is also very, very well composed and works well with the semi-futuristic setting.

Binding of Isaac (PC/Mac/Linux)

To say the least, when Binding of Isaac was announced I was fairly sceptical. It was touted as a roguelike, it looked like twisted Zelda born out of blood and shit and it played like a twin-stick shooter, developed by one half of Team Meat. What could possibly come out of that?

Hi there Isaac, how are you doing?
A lot, that's what. The strange-sounding mix works surprisingly well and is addicting as narcotics. The game features standard roguelike features, such as permadeath (you die, that's it, start again) and random dungeon generation. That is where common features end - the rest is twitchy twin-stick shooter meeting Zelda-like dungeons. You'll encounter lots of items during your playthroughs, and on your playthroughs you'll unlock many items which feeds the addiction. It's a game well worth playing.

Deal with the Devil, and gain these nice horns!

Dungeons of Dredmor (PC/Mac/Linux)

Another commercial roguelike, this time with more to-the-roots-attitude, developed by Gaslamp Games. Turn-based, slightly humorous (depending on your taste on humour, I didn't find any good jokes) dungeon crawler. The customization options for your character builds are many - you get to choose 7 skill trees out of around 30, and these define your character very strongly. During playing you can take side-quests, try to enchant your weapons and all that. It's fairly well done, though it has some glaring flaws.

One rarely gets congratulated for dying.

Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together (PSP)

Another tactics game. Unlike Frozen Synapse, Tactics Ogre lives and breathes JRPG inheritage. It has lots of stats, interesting character development system, challenging battles and best of all, actually interesting story with choices and consequences. It feels from time to time more like a puzzle-game than tactics-game, but that's okay, since it feels just so damn right.

The Witcher 2 (PC)

Probably the game I expected the most from 2011. It's a big-budget, beautiful, epic and mature fantasy RPG with grey-and-grey morality. It's themes are larger than its predecessor (even if Witcher 1 was larger game in a way), and its combat system almost as divisive as The Witcher 1's. The story branches greatly, and depending on your choices in Chapter 1, you end up in one of the two different places in Chapter 2. Absolutely gorgeous, even if I prefer the first one. Enhanced Edition update coming for free soon.

Dark Souls (X360/PS3)

Game of the Year for me, and easily. It's an action-RPG to the core, and feels very arcade-y. You will die, time and time again. And you learn from each death. It's brutal, merciless and fair. It's dark, and subtle. It doesn't spell the storyline or the world straight away for the player - it's all hidden in the subtexts, little words and sceneries. It has innovative multiplayer-system. It doesn't tell you much, so you must experiment a lot. And doing so, you can die. Dark Souls is a fresh breeze from the past, when games were hard and fair, and completing them wasn't something that would just happen. Prepare to die.

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