Payday 2, “Death Wish,” and Binary States

Over here at The Slowdown, I like and try to produce criticism on things that I enjoy, and things that I think are good. This is often (cough, preposterously) visible on the website. This doesn’t mean, however, that I don’t just “play” games, too.

One of these games is Payday 2, the sequel to 2011’s Payday: The Heist, a 4-person co-op cops-and-robbers FPS that came hot on the heels of the foundations laid down by Left 4 Dead. Copocalypse, anyone? Credit where credit is due: Not only are both games excellent co-op shooters, but the game’s developers, the Swedish Overkill Software, have pretty much a perfect track record of community support and management so far.

In fact, I would point @Overkill_TM out to any aspiring developer as an example of how to masterfully utilize Steam as more than just a platform for selling games; Payday 1 was well-supported enough, and Payday 2 on the PC has received a constant stream of community-oriented events, content updates, and patches.

On the whole, I am a big Overkill fan, and a Payday one, too, and it seems many, many others are as well: With Overkill owners Starbreeze Studios signing a new 2-year, $6 million extension deal with 505 Games, it’s not surprising that Overkill have now deployed yet another update to the game.

All that aside, the all-new “Death Wish” update, however, is a curious case of a developer failing to see the forest of their core mechanics for the trees. “Death Wish” is, simply put, a mind-boggling move from the otherwise reliable studio.

Read on to find my PSA-like analysis on why.


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A Post About a Blog: Edmund McMillen

Alert, alert! @EdmundMcMillenn has recently opened up a new Tumblr dev blog for The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth.

That ends the newsworthy portion of this post; certainly, the opening of the Tumblr is major news to any and all Isaac buffs (like myself! I am your Golden God!), as McMillen has promised a weekly stream of teasers from the forthcoming Nicalis remake: videos, gifs, screenshots, information, and music. Diptera Sonata, below, won me over very quickly:

The main thing that I’d like to draw attention to, however, is McMillen’s personal Tumblr, which is now largely a domain for nigh-daily Q&A for fans. McMillen’s answers are astonishingly open, honest, and gripping, and recommended reading for anyone interested in the making of art and video games.

I’ll let one of the entries do the talking:

i do enjoy answering questions that might help people, i know i could have used some advice when i was younger so i usually answer those. i think its important when being in the public eye to put as much as you can out there so people get a better idea of you as a whole person, instead of the caricature  the press/internets paint you out to be

Here are some more past examples of the kind of answers that you can expect from McMillen. (more…)

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Steam Treasures: SteamWorld Dig Review

It’s time to bring back our Steam Treasures series.

With hundreds and hundreds of titles now receiving the all-important right to be on Steam – through Valve’s Greenlight initiative (that Gabe Newell now wants to do away with) – the idea of a “jewel” of an indie game somehow “making” it through to the service (against all odds!!) no longer carries the same much any weight.

Where Valve’s standards may have changed (for better or worse), ours haven’t: In this series, we review budget-sized, budget-priced, big-small games that deserve to be added to your Steam library, period – even, when they’re not currently in a bundle for beans! Our first new entry to the series, then, is none other than the aptly-titled SteamWorld Dig: A Fistful of Dirt. SteamWorld Dig Logo

Curiously, the game’s developer, the Swedish Image & Form, actually did not target Steam first, as the game found its original home on the Nintendo eShop. Even on the Nintendo 3DS – a system I don’t currently own or have access to – the game immediately caught my attention due to its colourful look and feel, cute robot designs, and overall Steampunk shenanigans.

Ultimately, nomen est omen, and so forth, and we computer folks ended up receiving a full OS smorgasbord, from Windows to OSX to Linux, all via Steam. I was overjoyed to discover the game was to be ported so quickly over to PC – there still exist footage of me posting awful puns on Twitter. That’s how excited I was about getting to play the game.


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Being Saved in Actual Sunlight

Actual Sunlight 02One of last year’s remarkable critical success stories, Actual Sunlight, is being currently remade into 3D by developer Will O’Neill. The game is testing waters on Steam Greenlight, and a demonstrative beta build of the new 3D version can be downloaded on the developer’s website.

The game is a “short interactive story about love, depression and the corporation”:

The game puts you in the role of Evan Winter, a young professional in Toronto, as he moves through three distinct periods of his life. The story is linear, unavoidable and (hopefully) thought-provoking. You experience his perceptions, fall under the consequences of his decisions, and meet everyone who didn’t change him.

Inspired by the game’s resurgence in 3D, I would very much like to go back in time (it’s not like we get second chances very often!), to point out just one interesting feature in the original game – a feature that’s completely transparent, and ordinary, and yet crucially shaped my experience with the game.

The game engenders feelings, responses, and thoughts on so many different levels that there already exists a wealth of criticism (see, for instance, Chris Priestman’s and John Walker’s). So. I shall try to be to the point.


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Why APB Reloaded’s Blood Money Event Works

Over the past few years, APB Reloaded developers have intermittently run different types of events: Some have equipped players with new weapons, or customization options, while others have also netted players with concrete rewards in the GamersFirst game shop currency, or “G1C.”

APB Reloaded

The latest such event, “Blood Money,” run in anticipation of their new content patch, simply asks players to kill other players in exchange for rewards:

Alright boys and girls, listen up and listen good, there’s a BOUNTY on! Someone out in San Paro needs a whole lot of corpses and needs ‘em fast, and well, they figure you’d make a mighty fine supplier. You can bag yourself up to 100 kills per day at 1 G1C a pop for 7 days. We know most of you cold-hearted killers’d already be doing this anyway so this is basically just like free money, but hey, whoever it is needs this killing done doesn’t seem to mind.

Sounds right about normal, right? Wrong. The current event, running from the 20th to 26th, is markedly different from those that came before it, and is deserving of some commentary.


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