Thoughtfully gifted to me by a friend, the subject of this week’s review is Dust: An Elysian Tail. Created by Dean Dodrill and published by Microsoft, I suppose you could attempt to dispute Dust’s indie status… except that nobody cares. No, absolutely nobody. Not even that one guy. Besides, it’s not like I let little things like ‘published by a multi-billion cooperation’ stand in the way of my reviewing before.
What I know of Dust: An Elysian Tail, besides the fact that that pun it its name caused me no end of writing headaches, is absolutely nothing. That means I have no ‘funny’ anecdotes to bore you with before the start of the actual review. I know, I know: I’ll try harder next time. As for now, allons-y!
(Spoiler levels: Narrative, medium-yet-frontloaded. Mechanical, high.)
After the break: just what *is* an Elysian Tail? And why should we care? And will I actually find the answers to these questions?
Gunpoint, Tom Francis‘ three-year magnum opus, has finally seen the light of day. I’ve been interested in Gunpoint ever since I first learned about it: you might remember my writeup of that game’s demo a little over a year back. Yes, that does mean I’ll likely remember most of the mechanical tricks in this game sooner than I otherwise would. To compensate, I’ll try extra hard to pretend that I don’t.
(Spoiler levels: Narrative, medium. Mechanical, high.)
After the break: what’s a Gunpoint? *I don’t even know*.
If you heard about Leviathan Warships, by the Interactives Paradox and Pieces, anywhere in the last two months, it was probably in the context of either of their two release trailers. Have you seen the trailers? If you haven’t, I’m going to recommend you click those links before reading any further. Really, do it right now. I’ll wait. I’ll watch them again with you, that’s how committed I am to this.
Welcome back! You now know 100% of my motivation re: playing this game. Alright, 82%: The idea of tactical turn-based boat-customizing hijinks is more than a little appealing to my tinker-based mind. But I’ll not deny that the trailers’ jazzy goodness was what got me curious, attentive, and purchasing. Let’s hope the game can stand up to this largely non-content-based interest.
(Spoiler levels: Narrative, next to none. Mechanical, probably a bit more, but still not a whole lot.)
After the break: what if the game doesn’t stack up? Well, I guess you could say they *boat* it on themselves.
Fun fact: of all the anecdotes I could have gone in this introduction to of Reus, the one that I’ve apparently chosen to use is one about the pronunciation. See, at first I pronounced Reus as ‘Ray-us’, like Deus, because that connection made it appear latinized to me. Makes sense, right? But then I found out that Reus is a creation of Dutch game development team Abbey Games. And that Reus is a game about controlling a bunch of giants. And then I remembered ‘Reus’ is the literal Dutch word for ‘giant‘. I’m still not entirely sure how that wasn’t my first and only mental connection. Bilingualism: sometimes a curse?
Anyway, Reus is a game in which you control a bunch of nature-themed giants terraforming a planet for as-yet-uncertain benefit. Sounds neat, no? I thought so.
(Spoiler levels: Narrative, high, but not incredibly important. Mechanical, medium.)
After the break: will the benefits of controlling a bunch of nature-themed giants to terraform a planet become evident? Yes.
Be honest, longer-time readers: did you think I’d try pulling something like this a second time? I mean, obviously the answer is yes, but did it surprise you? Please… please tell me it did. It’s the only thing that keeps me going anymore.
As before, so again: three games, each individually too short to merit an actual full deconstruction, so instead I’m offering general insight and impressions. Up for grabs this time around are a game about monsters, a game about star seeds and a game about games. There’s no theme or grand idea connecting these three games, because that’s simply not how I do things.
And by that I mean that this way of doing things is silly and inefficient, which is the way I like it best.
What in the devil’s a Pid? I mean, a game by Might and Delight, obviously, but what could the name ‘Pid’ even stand for? Well, quite a lot of things, actually, though none of them seem to match up to the sporadic screenshots I saw of this game when I pulled it off the Indie Royale Lunar Bundle — yes, now defunct, I’m sorry, should have warned you in advance — so I guess I get to choose what it means for myself? Hmmm… I like ‘Principal ideal domain’, “in abstract algebra, an integral domain in which every ideal is principal“, because it sounds nice and incomprehensible.
So long story short, that’s what I’ll be playing this week.
(Spoiler levels: Narrative, very low. Mechanical, medium-to-high.)
No, I won’t actually refer to Pid as ‘Principal ideal domain’ more than once. That’d be *way* too much commitment for a throwaway joke.
Like everyone who is anyone in this industry, I spent most of last week playing Monaco, the rather long-awaited game about stealing things by Pocketwatch Games. Perhaps due to Monaco’s somewhat storied development process, I wasn’t as excited at ‘it finally coming out’ as some other people I know, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t looking forward to it. And this week, I’ll be finding out just how justified all that pre-built excitement actually was.
(Spoiler levels: Narrative, low. Mechanical, high-ish.)
Fun fact: looking for Google leads on ‘Monaco development process’ mostly leads you to job openings in the oil industry. Good to know, I reckon?…
My first exposure to Klei Entertainment‘s Don’t Starve was actually a few months back, when you-know-him-by-now JPH pointed out that
- Klei Entertainment are also the creators of Mark of the Ninja, a game both he and I enjoyed a great deal, and
- It looked pretty okay at first glance.
Subsequently, I purchased alpha access to Don’t Starve on Steam, played a bit of it, and realized that would probably want to write about it at full release. I didn’t feel very comfortable writing about the still-in-development product, and I didn’t want to sour my ‘official’ first impressions too much, so I dropped playing it almost immediately after that first realization, and have been waiting eagerly for the day Don’t Starve was to go gold.
That day is… well, it was a few days ago by the time this goes up, but you understand the sentiment.
(Spoiler levels: Narrative, next to none. Mechanical, medium.)
This *does* mean I’ve seen and played an earlier, unfinished version of the game, yes. But I’ll keep references to this to a minimum.
This week: Octodad, a game by the constantly-evolving DePaul Game Experience, associated with the university of the same name. Why this week Octodad, etc, etc, you ask? Because screw you, it’s Octodad, that’s why.
More seriously, though, Octodad has been in my list of ‘games I should probably play (for this column) at some point’ since as long as I can remember. I don’t actually know why I haven’t played it earlier; for some reason, my mind had been convinced that it would be hard to obtain, or hard to get running, or something along those lines. But on being reminded of the Steam-Greenlighted sequel currently in development, I decided to give it another shot. And what do you know? It’s available for free in convenient one-file download format.
(Spoiler levels: Narrative, somewhat high. Mechanical, full.)
After the break: what in the devil is an Octodad? And does anyone suspect a thing?
Evoland, by two-man outfit Shiro Games, was recommended to me by my good friend and part-time possibly-anthropomorphic werewolf Varewulf, whose blog about games and stuff I really ought to add to our woefully underused linkroll at some point in the future. An expanded version of the 2012 Ludum Dare #24 winner (the original version is still playable online, Evoland promises to be ‘a short story of adventure video games evolution’. A short look at the trailer convinced me that this game at least looked pretty interesting, and as such, here we are.
(Spoiler levels: Narrative, ‘high’. Mechanical, high.)
Also, it has pixels. I *love* pixels.