Last week Ion Storm’s classic first-person RPG Deus Ex turned 20. The week before that I had written about the game for the first time, having played it through again over the winter, totally unaware of its imminent birthday. I don’t know why it took me just shy of two decades to write about given its enormous influence on my creative life (I first picked it up in…2002, by which time it had made its way into the Sold-Out Software range). It might be that I owe it something of a debt.
But so much has been written about Deus Ex over the years that I knew there was little value in going over the usual talking points. I decided instead to explore what it was like to be a part of this most immersive of games, with its rich, conspiracy-laden world. It meant venturing into the margins of its story, where a surprising amount of Deus Ex’s…let’s say purpose resides. And it meant talking about two characters that have always stuck with me and to whom I wished, in some small way, to tip my hat.
So, here it is. Happy birthday, Deus Ex. This was for you, in more ways than I knew.
“This is not how death is supposed to be.”
So intones the recently deceased William Mason upon finding himself in purgatory and not…where, exactly? Collectively, we’ve lots of ideas on what the afterlife – should there be one – has in store for us. But we don’t know. It’s what makes this mortal plane of ours such a terrifying thrill.
Not so with video games. We know where death leads us: back to the last checkpoint or a swift return to the previous quick save. Death is a momentary impediment to progress, which is just as well because there’s often a shitload of baddies determined to scrub us from existence.
Weep for William Mason, then, who certainly didn’t bank on the afterlife being chock full of gun-toting ghouls and monsters. But then he probably hadn’t expected to look like a stylish cross between Ghost Rider and Overwatch’s McCree, either. You could do worse. Swings and roundabouts ‘an all that.
Slipping into Mason’s dusty boots I push my way into an empty saloon, which serves as the gateway to purgatory: a waiting room within a waiting room. I’ve little idea of what’s in store for me. I came here for West of Dead’s striking cel-shaded aesthetics, which create a world that often feels like a thick layer of ash caught in a time loop – forever frittering away without losing an inch. There’s farms and mines and towns, but in the words of one of our latter day cowboys, they’re more like someone’s faded memory of farms and mines and towns.
And that’s it as far as my knowledge is concerned. I was just excited to play something new.
The saloon’s sole occupant, the barman, doesn’t give any hints. He might have said “roguelike” and provided a definition, but instead seemed merely content to muse there’s east and there’s west.
East for the good souls.
West for the bad. Of course.
I’ll be going west, then. …
Earlier this week, we had a massive preview of Nighthawks, the vampire RPG with a narrative drive reminiscent of Sunless Seas and Skies. In the first part of our interview with creator Richard Cobbett, we covered Richard’s influences and the Kickstarter campaign. This time, we dive into the NPCs of the Nighthawks world, that crucial part of any vampire story…sex. We also cover life as a nightclub owner and talk more about the story of Nighthawks. Hit the break for all of part two. …
Last week, I brought the key news that in Nighthawks, the vampire RPG from Richard Cobbett, has a scene where a rat can kill you. Important information, I’m sure you can all agree that shaped my massive preview. That though was just one part of an extensive conversation I had with Richard, one so extensive that I’ve split it into two parts. In this first part, Richard talks about the influences behind Nighthawks, the Kickstarter campaign the allowed him to focus his efforts on it, and of course we cover combat and the aforementioned rat. Hit the break and find out more.
Following the recent unveiling of DEATHLOOP Arkane Lyon, I felt that a return to Dishonored was on the cards. A few things struck me, but foremost was just how well the prison break that opens the game proper lays out some aspects of the playstyles on offer, and alerts you to the type of world you will encounter outside the walls of Coldridge Prison.
Games come in all forms, and narrative led titles take on their own various guises. A modern title which combined roguelike elements with a healthy dose of narrative was Sunless Seas and follow up Sunless Skies. One of the lead writers on those titles was Richard Cobbett who is now busy working on Nighthawks, a narrative led vampire RPG which was successfully Kickstarted in 2018. …
I first reviewed Dan Marshall’s Behold the Kickmen in 2017 on the PC, and absolutely loved it. Kickmen has now landed on the Switch, and with that I am re-publishing my original review with a few tweaks to take light of the changes for the Switch port.
I’ve talked at length about Behold The Kickmen in the past, and it’s finally here, on the Switch as well as the PC! You can pick it up on the Switch for less than the price of a pint at a real life football match…not that we’re ever going to be going to one of them again. But who needs to go to the football when this truly majestic little game exists, one that perfectly simulates the game of football*
In my Life in Games feature, I talked about my experience of playing demo of the original Command and Conquer as a kid, but that it was Red Alert 2 where my true love affair with the series started, a love affair that led me to create my first site. But I still fondly remember those missions in the demo of the original and seeing them again in Command and Conquer Remastered Collection is a joy. …