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,…


Guts and Glory is trying to kill you and your family

If you mixed MTV’s Jackass series with Bob Guccione’s Caligula (1980) film, and sprinkled a healthy dose of Super Meat Boy (2010) on top, there’s a good chance the result may be developer HakJak’s upcoming game Guts and Glory. Recently launched on Kickstarter, Guts and Glory asks its players to do one thing: race to the finish line while “everything tries to kill you.” Giving you control of such characters as a father bicycling with his toddler or a family out in a car, traps such as guns, saws, ramps, and run-of-the-mill crashes stand in the way of success. If it…


Oh look, had a baby with your biology textbook

Smash-hit mitochondria simulator (2015) and its recent knockoff took certain corners of the internet by storm a while back. If you’re confused to why this is, here’s a hint: they’re super addictive. They’re easy to grasp, have a manageable skill curve, and ring that bell in your brain that says “One more try!” It’s a simple but foolproof formula—the same reason you kept coming back to Facebook games in 2011, and the same reason you haven’t deleted Stack from your phone even though you swear you’ll never touch that thing again. You can’t stop swiping. It sure resembles old entomology illustrations But…


Duello wants to be a realistic sword fighting game, but mostly it’s funny

Any videogame that aims to represent the things we can do with our bodies (i.e. attain realism) has to bring in some kind of abstraction to make it look or feel familiar. Take, for example, the Assassin’s Creed games, in which combat isn’t really meant to be realistic as much as it’s supposed to capture the frenetic fights of action movies—full of brutal sound effects and finishing moves with sweeping cameras. Likewise, there is Chivalry: Medieval Warfare (2012), one of the few games with first-person sword fighting, whose goal is to provide a robust and competitive multiplayer arena. As in a lot of multiplayer games,…

Who's Your Daddy

The eternal battle between parent and child becomes a hilarious videogame

What better way to start the day than finding out your baby son is trying to roast himself in the oven? Flare your nostrils wide and inhale that pungent aroma. Ah, the smell of searing tot flesh in the morning. Oh no, wait, that’s a bad thing. That’s a terrible thing! You’re supposed to be a parent and dedicate your every waking (and non-waking) hour to safeguarding this child from danger and death. What the hell is he doing in the goddamn oven?! This, I’m sure, is not how parenting goes. It’s bloody awful, and hard, and yeah you’re probably going to…