PRICE is a game that started out with so much promise. It caught my eye on the Steam store for two reasons: its nicely realized anime aesthetic, and its low price of free. I figured that that was more than enough reason to dive into it, and I was initially very pleased with it. The opening cinematic in particular really drew me in with its haunting vocals and dramatic instrumentation. I highly recommend that you check it out if you’re into the whole “dark and mysterious anime opening” thing. Unfortunately, that’s the only part of the game I can really recommend looking at, as I found much of the rest of it to be a tiresome, frustrating chore to play.
“Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.”
-Philip K. Dick
It is with this quote that SOMA begins its interesting, insightful, and terrifying descent, both metaphorical and literal. In its opening moments, the game establishes you as Simon Jarrett, a seemingly ordinary young man who is suffering from a severe head injury following a tragic car crash. Given months to live, Simon decides to undergo an experimental procedure under the observation of Dr. David Munshi. However, as the first stage of the procedure (a brain scan) begins, Simon is knocked out, and wakes up somewhere…else. He eventually determines that he is onboard a largely abandoned facility known as PATHOS-II, and it’s some 100 years in the future. After some exploring, Simon is able to contact one of the other sites on PATHOS-II, and reaches a woman named Catherine Chun. She informs him of the purpose of the facility, and the two set out to complete the mission Catherine began before everything went to hell.
Game developers around the world, a word of advice for you. If you want me to be instantly interested in your game, do the following:
Make it a music/rhythm game.
Allow me to import my own music into the game.
That’s it. It’s that easy. I find that there’s something incredibly satisfying about mashing keys to a tight drumbeat, playful piano, or heavy-hitting bass drop. Games that effectively synchronize with their music can give even the simplest of actions a visceral thrill. Add to that the ability to import your own music, and you have an effectively infinite game. This is the reason that I was (and still am) totally hooked on Audiosurf. In my opinion, it’s the perfect blend of simplicity of design and exciting gameplay, and I’ve spent many hours playing the game with my music library. It’s an amazing game for turning the lights low, shutting your brain off, and spending a few minutes or hours jamming to your favourite tunes. It has very quickly become the standard that I judge many other music/rhythm games by, particularly when they try to use similar gameplay mechanics. Not to say that Audiosurf was the originator of some or any of those mechanics, but it’s the one that I’ve spent the most time with.
Tomb Raider is one of the video game industry’s more venerated franchises. Since its inception in 1996, the series has seen many incarnations on many platforms, including home consoles, handhelds, PCs, and mobile devices. However, despite all the different versions of the game, Lara Croft (the protagonist) has remained mostly unchanged. Many are no doubt familiar with her classic outfit of a light-blue tank top and brown short shorts that are somehow classified as acceptable for the act of raiding tombs. Her appearance and role as the sexy, badass archaeologist gained her quite a reputation in the gaming world, though not necessarily for the best reasons. As a means of remedying this, Square Enix decided to take the Hollywood approach to the Tomb Raider franchise and give it a gritty, realistic reboot; the hope was to establish Lara as a strong-willed survivor who was defined more by her skills and personality than her looks. And thus, 2013’s Tomb Raider came to be.