The Story So Far: Conan Exiles

Releasing in early access on January 30, 2017, Conan Exiles is yet another entry in the seemingly endless “early access survival” genre.  Of course, the core draw with this one is the Conan universe: savages, slaves, monsters, etc.  Plus, it’s actually seeing regular updates, including the massive Frozen North expansion which was recently released for free.

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EVERSPACE Review

Rogue-lite mechanics have been one of the most popular features in indie games for years now, second only to pixel graphics, it seems.  I get the appeal: given the comparatively small budget that many independent games have compared to their AAA counterparts, being able to artificially extend an experience with a near-endless supply of randomly-generated content is an appealing proposition.  However, its prevalence has started to wear on me over the years, to the point where “rogue-lite” or “rogue-like” as buzzwords often tarnish my interest in a game.  Thankfully, while this did somewhat colour my experience with Everspace, there were enough good ideas under the surface that it was worth a more thorough look.

The Long Journey Home Review (Cubed3)

Randomness in games is an excellent method of promoting custom story generation. The fact that nearly everyone will have an experience that is at least marginally unique means that there’s always something new and interesting to talk about that many players may have never seen or heard of. That’s the goal with The Long Journey Home, a rogue-lite space game that channels FTL: Faster Than Light and No Man’s Sky into a challenging, galaxy-trotting, survival experience.

Sssnakes Review (Cubed3)

Snake has existed in one form or another for around 40 years, now, so it would be unsurprising if the classic “eat things to grow longer” formula had worn out its welcome by now. Evidently not, as Sssnakes seeks to add more to the game than just a few extra consonants in the title. Featuring a wealth of stages, new game mechanics, and colourful, updated visuals, the question remains: is it better to leave the classics untouched?

Standing Still to Move Forward

“Beware the barrenness of a busy life” is a quote that appeared on my new browser tab this evening. In a way, it’s appropriate. Here I am at 10 PM, realizing that I have no games ready to review, and homework that I should really be working on instead of fixing that. The insanity of the last week has left me feeling at loose ends this weekend, despite knowing full well that I have work to do. Maybe it’s warranted, though. Multiple 1-2 AM nights, one 3:30 AM night (is it even considered night at that point?), and probably something like five litres of hot chocolate. Thinking back, I barely know where half the time went. There were frustrating university assignments, final classes that seemed to last for an eternity, and the joys of crunch time on a video game development project. Yet it’s all just a blur.

On the other hand, I feel motivated. I know that I’ll never truly stop being busy, yet it seems like the worst may be over for the time being. Coming out of last week, I’ve realized that, aside from three exams and presenting the aforementioned video game, I have very little on my plate, at least from a school standpoint. In its place is something that I find far more exciting.

I’m Not Dead

I mean, the title really says it all, right? But seriously, I know that it’s been a while since I last posted. If you follow me on Twitter (@Olivigarden, for those of you that don’t know…hooray, self-promotion!), you may have seen my tweets about how everything basically went to hell and back. Well, at this point in my prolific (HA) games journalism career, I feel that it’s probably in my best interests to keep my personal and professional (HAHAHA) lives separate for the most part. Unfortunately, certain events have a way of making it so that focusing on anything (including being a functional human being) is extremely difficult. I’ll avoid going into the gory details, but since February 11, I’ve been dealing with some…ahem…distressing personal circumstances. Don’t worry, nobody died. But, well, something did.

The Games I Wish I Had Played in 2016

Well, it’s officially 2017 around the world. The start of a new year. Which means that everyone’s looking back on the last year and going, “Well that was a bit toss, wasn’t it?” That is, except for the people who are taking the opportunity to look back at their fond memories from the year past, namely when it comes to video games. There were countless fantastic games that got released last year, so many of which I desperately wanted to try out. Unfortunately, as a university student, there are two things that I severely lack in: money and time. As a result, it is incredibly common that I have to watch as new releases are hyped, released, and enjoyed by the masses, while waiting patiently for the day that they inevitably go on sale and I actually have the time to sit down with them. Some of these games have been sitting in my library for months, awaiting their eventual installation. Others are on my wishlist, hoping to one day be added to my ever-growing backlog. Whatever the case, these are (in no particular order) the games that I wish I had gotten to in 2016. You can also consider this to be a “To play in 2017” list, if that’s your thing. Either way, you’ve probably all already played all of these and think I’m a pleb for not looking at them yet.

Okay. 😦

Tsundere Sharks Review

Tsundere: [noun] A Japanese term for a character development process that describes a person who is initially cold and even hostile towards another person before gradually showing a warmer side over time.
– Source: Wikipedia

Tsundere Sharks. The name alone got me, and it was further helped by the app icon, featuring a cute-looking shark with rosy cheeks and a sour expression. Having flashbacks to my brief time with Hatoful Boyfriend (a pigeon-dating visual novel), I was instantly intrigued. The store description furthered my excitement by promising the opportunity to “Find [the] best girl”, calling the game a “Super Realistic Harem-Shark Sim”. “I am 110% okay with a shark dating game on mobile,” I thought. I specifically postponed playing it until I was at home, thinking that it would be an amusing and entertaining experience deserving of my full attention.

I think that I maybe got a bit overhyped.

Tomb Raider Review

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.