Qvadriga is a game about Roman chariot racing - a very good game about chariot racing (not that there's a whole lot of competition for that title). Turn-based at heart, though with a real-time option in case you needed more pressure - I don't - it still captures the excitement and brutality of racing with an elegant set of rules that offer variety without needless complexity.
The Battle of the Bulge, though a popular theme for WW2 strategy games, isn't one I'm terribly familiar with. First released as a mobile game, Battle of the Bulge has recently had a PC release that finally allowed me to try it out. I'd read about it being a well made and accessible piece of strategy gaming, and I'm always keen on accessible strategy games. The question is whether they can balance ease of play with the necessary level of complexity to keep your attention. Battle of the Bulge has entertained me for four hours so far, but will I be coming back for much more?
In Dungeon of the Endless your goal is to explore a set of rooms to find the elevator leading to the next floor, while fighting off monsters that emerge from the darkness. The action is real time, but generally big things only happen when you open a door to a new room. That's when you get resources from your generators and new enemies appear. It includes elements from roguelikes and tower defence games - you can spend resources to place turrets and boosters, research new or improved structures, or level-up and instantly heal your heroes. Which structures you can research, which additional heroes you discover, and which items you find or merchants sell are all random. The only save games are when you quit. There is a lot I like about this game, but every time I lose a run, I find myself wondering if I really have the energy or inclination to try again.
I've been dipping in and out of a few games recently, and I was going to write a bit about each of them. However, in the end I realized that I had plenty to say about the two above, but could sum up my experiences with the others in one sentence for the most part. Killing Floor 2 free weekend: fun enough but basically felt the same as the original. Won't be buying. Close Combat - Gateway to Caen: interesting, but I need to play more than a brief scenario and one campaign battle to get a feel for it. Company of Heroes 2: still excellent - the newly added British faction seems decent, but having not bought it I've only seen them in AI skirmishes so have no idea how they play. Regency Solitaire: it's a really nicely made solitaire game (actually I think I might want to write more about this one at some point). Now we go onwards to Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes and Star Wars: Republic Commando.
Invisible, Inc. was released back in May, but I've only just got around to trying it out - I played a bit of the early-access version, but not enough to form a solid impression of it. Going back in I've found it to be very polished and enjoyable, though I haven't spent a lot of time on it yet. However, while choosing a difficulty setting and reminding myself how the game works, I found myself musing on undo buttons in games (or the equivalent, save-scumming).
The early 20th century naval management and combat game Rule the Waves (and their earlier combat only game Steam and Iron) was first brought to my attention through one of Tim Stone's excellent Flare Path columns on RPS. I tried and enjoyed the demo of Steam and Iron, but the talk of designing, building and organizing your own fleet of ships was what really enticed me, so I settled down to wait for Rule the Waves. Another Flare Path column (which also captures what's so exciting about the game wonderfully) alerted me to the release, and so here I am in charge of the Italian navy from 1900 to 1925.
Since my last Vietnam '65 AAR back in March, there has been a large update which looks like it might address the concerns I had about difficulty - there's a new level of AI, fog of war, and bad weather, along with various other small changes that look good. So I'm going back for another engagement.
In my spare time lately I've been working on a game inspired (in a sense) by the rather addictive Compact Conflict. I love the simplicity of the game, the satisfaction in switching chunks of the map to your colour, the replayability of the random maps and the limited actions mechanic - here used to restrict army movement, but it's something I like in board games as well when used to make every action interesting and keep the game moving at the same time. But what really keeps me coming back is the interaction of the AI players.
After going through the summary graphs, now is a good time to talk about how I felt while playing the game. You could be forgiven for thinking that I had to force myself through it, and at times (particularly early on) I would probably have quit if I hadn't committed to doing the AAR. The worlds of Endless Legend are full of unusual resources and ruins, but very little that really felt exciting to me. Too few of those resources really resonated as interesting or important - they provide extra bonuses when you're building or expanding cities, but there are so many I tend to just place cities where they'll catch the most special features in their area of influence without worrying too much about the details. While there were a few important mountain formations (like those near the coast where we fought an important early battle with the Broken Lords) I couldn't remember much else - the bottleneck piece of land we fought over in Saradh as well. Both areas defined by battles, which Endless Legend does very well. Depending on your army and faction, you'll be looking for different things. Playing as the Wild Walkers with a bonus in forests, I was keeping my armies to the woods, circling enemy cities to strike from a side with trees, and that was very cool. When you are moving an army or looking to start a fight, then I think the map becomes interesting. But in terms of general exploration, not so much.
My Endless Legend AAR (starts here) ended with a wonder victory as I constructed a huge temple after completing my faction quests. In the end I had no serious competitors, despite a few uncertain moments earlier on. I was classed as weak by the score charts, but felt fairly safe. Did I enjoy the game? Yes, though I wasn't fully enthused in the earlier stages, and I'm glad it didn't take much longer to earn my victory, to be honest. But that's a harsh summary, and there's far more contributing to those feelings than just the game itself. More below the line.
What's All this then?
I like making and writing about PC games - mostly strategy games. Expect after action reports, thoughts about design and gameplay, and maybe even a few prototypes.