Available on: Xbox 360; Publisher: Microsoft Studios; Developer: Certain Affinity; Players: 1 – 4; Released: September 7, 2011 (Steam); ESRB: Teen; Official Site
When looking back on the games that we remember, it’s always the most groundbreaking or well thought-out games that stand out the most. Games on the other end of the spectrum stand out as well, if only for the laughs that people get reminiscing about how low their standards were as children. Fortunately for Crimson Alliance, it does not fall into the latter category; unfortunately, it does not fall into the first either and merely rests in the realm of mediocrity.
Available on: PC, PS3, Xbox 360; Publisher: Square-Enix; Developer: Eidos Montreal; Players: 1; Released: August 23, 2011; ESRB: Mature; Official Site
Eleven years after the original game came out, Deus Ex: Human Revolution is ironically set 11 years before the original. With a different publisher, Square-Enix, that undoubtedly has more Japanese roots and is more reknown for their static, yet emotion driven stories, it was definitely an awkward combination with Deus Ex’s open-ended world that constantly changed with the player’s actions. Thankfully, the Japanese publisher’s signature gameplay and storytelling hasn’t interfered with the western philosophy of design and left gamers with everything they could expect of a sequel.
Available on: PC, PS3, Xbox 360; Publisher: Square Enix; Developer: Obsidian Entertainment; Players: 1 – 4; Released: June 21, 2011; ESRB: Teen; Official Site
I’ve been a fan of Dungeon Siege since the first game came out, when I was hot in my exploration of swords and magic themed narratives. The open-ended feeling of the character development and geographic design let me spend many hours finding secret places with unknown and powerful monsters hoarding magnificent treasures. Dungeon Siege II heavily redesigned the gameplay to facilitate more linear character development, which at first felt constricting, but turned out to be a clever way to make the player focus on a goal.
Dungeon Siege III focuses the intense white-hot narrative to make an action-oriented RPG that feels less like the original Dungeon Siege than some may be comfortable with, but it is okay; beating up the bad guys is more fun when it is an activity rather than a process.
Available on: Xbox 360; Publisher: Atlus; Developer: Larian Studios; Players: 1; Released: April 12, 2011; ESRB: Mature; Official Website
Throughout history, dragons have always captured our imagination, whether it was through art, literature, or the cult-classic Dungeons and Dragons. Incidentally, Dungeons and Dragons is the western model for RPGs, filled with open-ended decisions that affect the game’s path. Along with other RPGs, both games in the Divinity II: The Dragon Knight Saga package follow this model closely, putting players into the boots and armor of a loyal/defiant/cocky/(insert adjective) dragon knight.
The Darkspore beta is currently available on steam and free to try for anyone interested. Brought to us by the same people who made Spore, it combines the gameplay of dungeon crawlers with the creation system of Spore. Players can customize creatures and create squads of up to three to bring on missions to clear out hordes of enemy darkspore minions.
Available on: PC; Publisher: Paradox Interactive; Developer: Arrowhead Game Studios; Players: 1 – 4; Released: January 25, 2011/April 12, 2011; ESRB: Teen; Official Website
Without a large financial backing, indie games need to rely on innovation or simple, effective game design to get it critical acclaim. Curious gamers will always be on the lookout for that next Braid or Super Meat Boy, games that were able to capture the hearts of gamers and critics alike despite their humble roots. Magicka does a little of both, delivering an open-ended single player and extremely fun multiplayer experience.
Tecmo Koei is usually known for their hack and slashers, such as the recent Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage. Trinity: Souls of Zill O’ll is a slight departure from this, adding in RPG elements to Tecmo Koei’s usual style. So the question is: is there an RPG in my hack-and-slasher or a hack-and-slasher in my RPG? Read the rest of this entry