It’s been strange, scary and difficult times for us all. Sending love and internet hugs to all who need them: we will get through this. I’ve been keeping myself busy with editing, expanding my author interviews and of course, gaming.
With a lot of people needing to stay in and self isolating, many are turning to gaming. What I hope to accomplish with this series (yep, it’s going to be something new. I hope to fuck I stick to my promises this time!) is show you guys some games you may have overlooked, or just not known about. I’ll probably give you 5 recommendations per article, and hopefully you get to see something new.
Some minor bias…okay, I’m fibbing. I fucking love this game. It cracked my Top 10 games of 2019, reaching an impressive ranking of #6. On reflection, it’s probably a lot higher now.
I’ll make it sweet: I really think highly about Wildermyth. To describe it best: I’d say it’s a roleplaying fan’s dream. The game launched in early access just in November, and nearing 6 months on, it’s going great.
At it’s heart, it’s designed for you to make your own characters and campaigns, and there’s already three base campaigns in the game for you to enjoy, with a ton of generated events, battles and content for you, as well as two randomized campaigns with a bit more variation. I’ve played one so far, and starting a second campaign. I found it humerous, well written and enjoyable to play. There’s also a massive amount of variation, and every campaign feels different. Your characters age and change, form relationships depending on events, get wounded, get random buffs or even die.
There’s also a beautiful artistic style to the game that really grabs my attention. The art style in Wildermyth is a mixture of cartoons and paper, capturing 2D characters in a 3D enviroment during the battle mode. Their movements are basic, but it’s done well, and the fighting system has a wonderful, simple loop. There’s lots of different weapons and abilities to pick up, and the magic system is unique and well-made, giving mages cool ways to unleash their terror upon the battlefield. I really enjoy the combat system, one of the best I’ve seen in an RPG.
The nice thing about Wildermyth is again, the customization. This is designed so you can make your own characters, campaigns and scenarios. You can edit your characters appearance and write up their histories.
There is a serious amount of depth brewing in this gem of a game. It’s still fairly early in development, but has a lot of content already. I could see this game becoming a massive hit in 2020 if the devs continue the pace they have with it, with more campaigns to come. The artistic style is cute and fresh, the gameplay is extremely satisfying with a good range of in-game events, the enemies are diverse and there’s plenty of choices for difficulty. Want it to be a fun romp, or a Dark Souls murderfest? The choice is yours.
You can even read about the devs visions by clicking on the picture down below. I interviewed them! I have so much love for this game, and I see Wildermyth breaking waves in the coming months, as it approaches a full launch.
Oh boy. I have some comments about this 2017 rough man’s treasure, and not all of them are flattering. ELEX is a weird game, but an oddly good one if you get past its many quirks.
I have a strange relationship with this game. At times I get engrossed in its world for hours. Some times I just laugh at how obtuse some of the game mechanics are.
And sometimes I get very frustrated with it.
It is a weird game. ELEX is a fascinating, at times broken and at times horrible RPG, but one that deserves a look I reckon. I put nearly 50 hours into the game in my first run.
A couple of years ago, I made my Top 5 games of 2017 list. In it, I said that this game nearly became Number 2 on my list, for so many reasons. This is when the “love” part of ELEX gets to me. Many times I sat back and went: “Huh. This is actually pretty impressive.” ELEX didn’t make my Top 5 cut of last year, but it did win my “Love/Hate” reward. Just like Marmite.
It reminds me like a 2013 version of Morrowind. Now, that has good and bad in it.
This world environment is diverse with a lot of different biomes, and while things are rough around the edges, I really liked exploring. The textures at times are a tad rough, but there is some good variation and the world-building is the best part of the game. Everything is hand crafted, the cities are large and well varied and the world map is pretty big, but still manages to do a good job at finding cool things to explore.
Exploration itself is the meat of the game for me. You get a jetpack from the beginning and it really adds to this regard. You can bullshit through a lot of the world with it, which is a good thing. If the jetpack did not exist, this game would be a whole lot more unforgiving, more so than it already is. This is down to its pretty atrocious combat system but I’ll get into that later.
The quests themselves aren’t particularly special, but the factions are pretty nice. There are four overall and many little settlements, usually each with their own quests. There’s good variation and completely different play-styles. The world gives off a good view of it being alive with different NPCs going around doing their thing, animals that attack each other. It plays a bit like a survival stealth game at times, because you’re so weak for most of the game you really need to watch where you’re going. This world hates you, and you will die a lot. That isn’t a bad thing, but I’ll get into that properly in a bit.
Want to know the bad news?
When its bad, its really bad. Now, ELEX has a lot of frustrating problems. The opening 20 hours are punishingly difficult (but this is a subjective thing) and quite a slog. The starting area is, I’ll put it honestly, trash. It takes a long time to get to the point where you can enjoy travelling the world without getting one-shotted. I got killed within my first 10 minutes by a rat. A fucking rat.
It would not be the last.
Onto the combat system, its rough. Clunky is putting it politely, and theirs a stunlock system that hampers you. Your stamina bar is also quite tight.
Its quite a shame because you get quite a diverse array of weapons and styles to choose from, but it is let down by the nasty combat. I will say while it is painful, you do get used to it. Treat every battle like a boss fight, and I mean it. You will get better at it, but these two big problems merge into one shit sundae and a very uncomfortable opening hours. So much so I don’t blame anyone for putting the game down. If you can push through this, I personally found the combat satisfying. But this takes a while and you might not get to that point. I like the publishers, but they probably should learn how to make games with less frustrating combat. Oh, and navigating your UI. It’s a mess. You also can’t order your items or drop anything so you have to spend a ton of time scrolling through all your shit. This is tedious.
This game has some serious flaws, but there is an ambitious, well made open world in here, with solid quests and factions. The game sold so well the devs are making a sequel. It’s done something right.
Overall, I’d recommend at least giving it a shot. It’s a good enough game, if you can get past its downsides, and there are a lot of them. It’s a game worth trying, if you haven’t done so yet.
This is a true theme park game, and in some cases it’s better than Planet Coaster. It has some excellent management quirks in a shoutout to Rollercoaster Tycoon 2, and focuses heavily on the management side over its main rival. Planet Coaster still rules the pack in customisation and “build your own sandpark”, but it still lags behind on management and optimization.
This might be the pivotal theme park game in the future, even above the olden goldies. Rollercoaster Tycoon 2 still leads in that regard, especially with the amazing OpenRCT2 mod that enables it to run on modern software and adds a ton more options. Parkitect oozes charm and runs quite well. It has great sandbox options and a new extensive campaign. I’ve been quite enjoying it so far and it gives you different challenges throughout. Once you complete each campaign mission, you can play the map again in sandbox mode.
I’m really impressed by Parkitect. It feels like a lovechild to the old era, and still going strong in 2020. I recommend it, if you’re looking for something different to whet your cabin fever appetite.
Mount and Blade: Warband
I know Bannerlord is out. No, I’m not going to talk about that game. Not yet anyway. Let me play it for longer first. However, I will recommend it’s older brother!
Welcome to one of my favourite games of all time. It’s truly that good. What could I say about this? Made by Taleworlds Entertainment in 2010, it was a direct sequel standalone to the original Mount and Blade. The best way to describe this game is an action RPG in a sandbox world.
It’s not a pretty game by any means; it’s graphics are borderline ugly. I’d say it’s a cross between Morrowind and Oblivion graphics. The outdoors (where you’ll do most of the fighting) are occasionally pretty, but overall, it doesn’t look amazing. But graphics isn’t what this game has for it, it’s the gameplay. My god, the gameplay. There are six factions in the game which you can join and fight with, or forge your own kingdom. There is some level of diplomacy, marriage to princesses, hire your own armies and look after them in battle, besiege castles and towns. While it’s not hugely polished, it’s still an awful lot of fun. There is even some trade profit options if you want to go down that route.
The biggest strength to this game though is its adaptability. There are hundreds of fan-made content mods for this, including full conversions which transform the game in every shape and form. The vanilla game surely isn’t perfect, but the modding base really makes it shine. There are giant adaptations of popular genres like Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings and Warhammer universe too.
If you can get this game for around £10-15, buy it without doubt. This is one of the best games ever made (In my opinion anyway), and you’ll get hundreds if not thousands of hours of content. In terms of money for your time, it’s one of the most profitable. It does have a steep learning curve and its presentation is ugly for a 2010-gen game, but the depth more then makes up for it.
Man, I have a lot of good feelings about this game. It made the Top 10 of my GOTY list in 2019, which is strong praise for someone who isn’t usually drawn to these cutesy style games.
The story is quite compelling, and I found myself both drawn in and affected by the game as it played out. It starts off fairly happy, but it really ramps up in terms of emotions, and I really felt for both main characters. The story takes a really dark and sad turn, but it ends on a beautiful note.
Lost Ember gives you a bunch of chapters in big open spaces to explore, and while it’s fairly linear, you get some opportunities to run about. You can transform into several different animals to get around the map easier, and it’s these cute moments where the game really shines. It’s part walking simulator, part platformer in many ways, but I had so much fun in these segments. You can fly as a parrot or duck, swim as a fish, climb as a mountain goat, dig tunnels as a mole…there’s some depth into these mechanics, and you need them for some sections of the game.
Like I said, I’m not usually drawn to games like this, but Lost Ember made it a first time for everything. I really liked all the little mechanics, and the swimming segments of the game are perhaps the best part. It feels quite a lot like ABZU, and jumping about in the water as a fish and exploring the lakes feels very zen. In such stressful times, trying to stay calm is tough with everything going on.
Zen is a good way to describe this game. I felt very peaceful when playing it and even when the story is over (It’s not a very long game), there’s lots of collectables to pick up. And I feel compelled to go back into the game and try to collect anything. No other game does that for me. I hardly ever want to try and 100% a video game. I want to with this, even if it means replaying the game from scratch.
It’s a big buggy, and is pretty short (around 7-8 hours). However, it’s on sale for 40% off on Steam right now, so I’d recommend picking it up. It’s a fascinating little game, and I’m going to restart it soon, if just for the fun little animal roaming.
So there’s five games! Hopefully it appeals to you guys. If not, I’ll have more coming soon. There’s some big heavy hitters I’m going to review in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!