Stranded Review

Note: This review was written entirely sans PR materials and research; ordinarily, we pride ourselves on diligence and copious amounts of background research, but due to the game’s clear intentions and sensibilities, chose to approach this review differently.

The single worst thing about adventure games – the one aspect that is also almost wholly unique to them – is being stuck. (Worse still, in fact, is knowing when you’re badly stuck.) For players, after all, adventure games are all about progression; for developers, they are all about managing it.

The genre on the whole is a curious balancing act of controlling tempo, pacing, difficulty, balance, and the flow of information.

Peter Moorhead’s Stranded, then, is supposed to be

“[…] a minimalist adventure game that foregoes dialogue and puzzles to focus on atmosphere, mystery, and exploration; it is both a love letter to classic point & click adventures, and an experiment with the fundamentals of the genre.“1

To read the store page like the Devil does the Bible, then, according to the quote the fundamentals of adventure games are 1) dialogue, and 2) puzzles. From what I could gather, Stranded has neither of these things. Hence, it would be perfectly fair to state that Stranded is either a piss-poor adventure, or it isn’t one at all. Love letter? More like breaking up with emoji. (more…)

  1. http://store.steampowered.com/app/295250/ []

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Don’t Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

United Front Games, best known for their atmospheric Hong Kong city brawler Sleeping Dogs (2012), is rumoured to be closing down.

The weight of this rumour is not slight, and deserves all the extra attention we can bring to it – true or not, at this point in time we don’t yet know for sure – because, once again, the string of events that led us here reads like yet another example of Konami-like profound executive failure.

sleeping-dogs-definitive-edition-1920x1080

But, to start from a beginning. According to United Front producer Dan Sochan, Sleeping Dogs – which never quite lived down its reputation as a True Crime game – actually started out as the original game Black Lotus, which was then subsequently bought and slated by Activision to be the next part of their True Crime game series as True Crime: Hong Kong. After the publisher lost faith in the game’s market prospects, with Activision’s Eric Hirshberg noting in 2011 that “The finished product was not going to be at the top of that genre,”1 it was ultimately poached (sans the True Crime moniker) from Activision by Square Enix, who would then release the game as Sleeping Dogs in 2012.2 (more…)

  1. https://www.engadget.com/2011/08/01/square-enix-snags-rights-to-true-crime-hong-kong-from-activisio/ []
  2. https://www.engadget.com/2012/06/06/the-true-story-of-sleeping-dogs-non-true-crime-origins/ []

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Bioshock Remastered, Promise, and Emotional Torture

We’re all huge fans of the BioShock franchise here on The Slowdown, but we’ve also had our fair share of the game series. We awaited each game, lathering ourselves with collector’s editions (remember the original Big Daddy statue that would crack in half?), with nightly chats about lore and story, and even with articles written on the game here in the archives. They are some really good games. Some guy named John Lanchester once said somewhere that Bioshock “was the first game he played that had the ambitions of a novel” and I find that very damn agreeable.

It’s just that no-one in particular was looking forward to The Bioshock Collection in the traditional sense. We’re not console gamers, so they just weren’t in the view, or on the horizon. The games are bygones for Ken Levine, too, who had claimed the games took such a toll on him that he thought sequels would make him “[…] lose my mind, and my marriage.”1

We too were arguably done with these anomalously nihilistic, brutal, and taxing video games, perhaps even with additional future games in the series, the idea of which has soured somewhat with Levine’s surprise dissolution of Irrational Games as it were in 2014. With the joint release of the remastered versions of BioShock 1 and 2 on the PC, however, I have been made a fool.

I’ve been roped to care for something that was supposed to be both free and carefree.

(more…)

  1. http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/news/we-were-all-miserable-inside-bioshock-video-game-franchise-w439921 []

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Quote of the Day: Thimbleweed Park

Pledge $25 or more
“I pirated Maniac Mansion and Monkey Island when I was a kid and I feel bad!” This reward tier instantly absolves you of all guilt and includes the Thimbleweed Park game. All subsequent tiers also include guilt absolution.1

Thimbleweed Park Kickstarter campaign reward tier

  1. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/thimbleweedpark/thimbleweed-park-a-new-classic-point-and-click-adv []

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