The principle of SimCity is simple: build it and they will come. Establish a city on an empty plot of land, provide infrastructure and zoning, then sit back to watch it grow. While that core gameplay loop is fun, it is quite short. However, it almost ends up feeling more like a tech demo or proof of concept than a fully-featured game.
Either Beneath a Steel Sky has some very obtuse puzzle design, or I’m just terrible at adventure games. Here I am in the game’s opening location, a factory, and I’m stuck. Perhaps the game wants me to feel out of my element. After all, my character, Foster, is certainly out of his element.
While it never got the mainstream attention that it deserved, Cataclysm effectively combined a space-based strategy game with an organic B-movie horror plot. Though it sounds odd, it worked remarkably well and has stayed in my memory for the past sixteen years. It’s a game that I had lost all hope of playing again. Until a few weeks ago.
There’s no grace, no subtlety to using Vader’s powers. The slightest nudge of the controls results in a disproportionate explosion of force. Trees and wooden barriers shatter spectacularly. Cargo containers take flight and bounce as though nearly weightless. Enemies and allies alike are strewn about like rag dolls. Though the force powers respond to your commands, rarely will you feel completely in control. But in a sense it fits, because when is the rage of a Sith ever synonymous with precision?
Thinking I had a decent grasp of the basics, I loaded up the game and headed over to the multiplayer lobby. After a short wait the matchmaking service drops me into an arena with a foe named Sinistro. He begins the match with some friendly chat, “So how many online games have you played?” Knowing that my newness to the game will be exhibited in how poorly I play, I tell him, “Including this one… One.” He responds with a greeting of welcome, capped off with a smiley face. I take the gesture of politeness to mean I won’t be destroyed instantly.
“[…]Sid Meier’s SimGolf eschews realism, slices and dices the various aspects of course design and management, and sticks all the fun bits into a game.”
Playing it safe doesn’t capture what I consider is the essence of what it is to be a gamer; which is to discover compelling narratives and exciting experiences firsthand. It’s certainly not in the spirit of RavingLuhn, where one of my goals is to, “sift through the games of PC past and present to pull out which ones are worth experiencing today”. Therefore I present to you the only resolution I’ve made for the year 2017…
So I went an entire calendar month without playing a violent video game. Woo. If it sounds boring, that’s because it was! But I say that in reference to the experiment itself and not about the games I ended up playing. In fact, this turned out to be a great opportunity to rediscover some of the titles in my library.