Jason Rohrer’s next game is a twisted take on child rearing

Jason Rohrer’s last game, the home defense MMO The Castle Doctrine (2014), revolved around protecting what’s yours: your family, your wealth accumulated through rounds of burglary, your carefully designed web of traps and defense. It was a ruthless world, a merciless place where your measure of success is how good you were at dismantling other’s work and stealing their goods. So it seems ironic that his next game (working title One Life) starts you off as completely defenseless and reliant on the kindness of online strangers. Enter the world in Rohrer’s currently unnamed MMO, and you find yourself birthed to…


Roguelikes aren’t done with ASCII art yet

ASCII and the roguelike genre are practically inseparable. ASCII was there at the birth of the genre, bringing Rogue (1980) itself to life—and it’s stayed, with today’s most ambitious roguelikes such as Dwarf Fortress (2006), Ultima Ratio Regum (2012), and Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead (2013) crafting sprawling worlds and adventures from ASCII’s collection of characters. It’s understandable why ASCII persists even as the roguelike expands into myriad subgenres and aesthetics. The simple abstractions of your @ hero, potions, enemies, items, and so on, as letters and symbols allows for vast potential without having to visually display such complexities. Instead, flavor text,…

Sunless Sea Zubmariner

Oh, what horrors you can see in Sunless Sea’s new expansion

That Lovecraft’s infamous eldritch horror Cthulhu shares a similar appearance with a being from the deep only highlights a certain connection between the abyss below and the terror-filled void of science fiction works. While we’ve yet to discover extraterrestrial lifeforms, the sea floor is home to species with gaping maws and needle teeth, black eyes and bioluminescent bodies, that would be at home among alien monsters. Much like the expeditions of the Enterprise and other space-bound vessels, submersibles drift through the abyss, shielding crew against the inhospitable environment outside. Failbetter’s Sunless Sea (2015) was a unnerving hybrid of the terrors…


Beholder will turn you into the eyes and ears of a dystopian state

Most dystopian media places you in the shoes and mindset of the individual realizing the horrors of their world, from 1984‘s (1949) Winston to The Hunger Games‘s Katniss. Even in the videogames that feature protagonists working for the governmental power such as Papers Please (2013), the tone is one of rebellion and struggle against the society’s hardships. You may have to invade privacy and abide by Arstotzka’s rules in Papers, Please, but your suffering family and the consequences of disobeying are always guiding your actions. Beholder takes the opposite approach. You’re not the victim, but rather the eyes and ears of…

Vienna Automobile Society

Vienna Automobile Society makes a puzzle out of racing cars next year

The racing line is perhaps one of the most crucial aspect of motorsports. Carefully modulating speed and direction to take a corner optimally is key to shaving precious seconds and fractions of a second from lap times. Cornering strategy and track condition and vehicle limits are linked in that moment of driving precision. Royal Polygon understands the importance of the racing line. The studio’s upcoming arcade racer-puzzler hybrid Vienna Automobile Society takes that moment, the careful navigation of the corner apex, and crafts a minimalist test of reflexes and fast-paced planning around it. It’s come a little way since we last…


Sundered’s eldritch horrors are terrifying and spectacular

Thunder Lotus’s debut title was one of giants and gods, bringing North mythology to hand-drawn life in Jotun (2015). It was a title about scale, your shieldmaiden Thora often small against the sprawling landscapes, colossal architecture, and raging behemoths. Each enemy felled felt like a titanic victory, a true David-versus-Goliath moment born from your own skills and tenacity. Now, the studio’s sophomore effort, Sundered, promises to transplants those incredible odds from the land of Yggdrasil and Jomugandr to a world of gothic horror and otherworldly evil. It’s due out in 2017 and, to mark the announcement, we have been bestowed a…


Astroneer will take humanity’s fight against nature to space

In last year’s man vs. nature (in space) thriller The Martian, Matt Damon’s stranded botanist looks into the camera and tells us exactly how grave his situation is. “If the oxygenator breaks down, I’ll suffocate. If the water reclaimer breaks down, I’ll die of thirst. If the Hab breaches, I’ll just kind of implode. If none of those things happen, I’ll eventually run out of food and starve to death…” Aside from establishing those desperate stakes, that quote makes it very clear that, for the humans that step foot on another surface far from Earth, the most pressing danger isn’t…


There’s an absurdly realistic game about sailing the world’s oceans on the way

The thrill of traveling the ocean has captured our attention for millennia, across cultures and continents. From the westward journeys toward a new world to the harrowing quests of circling the globe or reaching the poles, sailing these vast blue expanses has long been tied to adventure and discovery. Perhaps it’s that intrinsic link that makes the sailing in The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker (2003), Salt (2014), Assassin’s Creed Black Flag (2013), and other games feel so satisfying and exciting, letting the layperson experience the freedom of the open ocean. The upcoming Sailaway hopes to capture that freedom in…


A game for Tenchu fans arrives next month

The darkness is scary. We’ve been fighting back against night and shadows since prehistoric times. It’s a fear that horror movies and novels have preyed on for decades; the dark room, the claustrophobic shadows where unknown horrors lurk, are often more dread-inducing than the monster itself. In Aragami, you are the monster lurking in the shadows and the darkness is your weapon. Well, more specifically, you’re a summoned otherworldly assassin with the power to bend the shadows to your will. Last time, we wrote about the game, it was known as Twin Souls; two years and a failed Kickstarter later, Aragami…