The original Frostpunk looked into my soul and said, “This is what you want. Buy me.” As a steampunk survival game that took place entirely in the frigid cold, it appealed to the masochistic Chicagoan in me who always wanted to play survival games but was too busy being trash at them to enjoy them. This game seemed right up my alley, and so I took the chance (shoutout Steam’s refund policy).
I was going to comment here about X many hours later. Here I am, except I have only put in 19 hours, which makes me very sad because I have clearly underappreciated this game. However, there are aspects of the game that can be built and improved upon, and I am BEYOND excited to see what Frostpunk 2 is bringing to the table. The setting is absolutely up my alley as I am very biased towards the cold versus the heat (if there’s a Heatpunk, I’m not playing it straight up). The city management gameplay is simple enough on the surface, with enough depth to keep me interested and learning.
Once again, I cannot express my excitement at the announcement of a sequel and its inevitable arrival. I’m hoping it drops during the Thanksgiving or Winter Holidays period because having it be frosty outside absolutely adds to the experience, and Frostpunk 2 is one experience I will not be missing out on.
Achilles: Legend Untold caught my eye due to an I can’t even remember. It was probably a post in a subreddit. I honestly have no idea, but what initially drew my attention was “It’s a Soulslike ARPG,” and I thought to myself, “What the fuck? How does that make sense?” I’m a huge FromSoft/SoulsBorne fan, and I am very tired of the “Oh, this game is hard? It’s a Soulslike, baybee!” trope in games journalism (Yeah, I’m calling y’all out, I do not care). So I have a morbid curiosity about this game, but it has the bonus of diving into my interest with the Greek Pantheon/Mythology.
I’ve been itching for a very solid, modern ARPG ever since the Blizzard news came out, which turned me away from Diablo 2 Remastered/Diablo 4. And so I’ve kept my eye on this game, trying to marry a genre I’m madly in love with and a genre that I’ve been searching for something to love in. I’m hesitant due to my prejudices, but good gosh, I’m not sure if there’s any other game on my Wishlist that I want to succeed more than this one.
I left off my last preview by saying I’m not sure if there’s any other game I want to succeed more in, and I’d like to start this one off by saying, “Well, I might want this one to succeed more.” I bought an Arkham Knight PS4 in 2014 due to a few factors that landed cash in my pocket, and I bought Bloodborne and Dying Light alongside it. I intended to spend all my time playing Bloodborne, but due to me being absolute trash, I played more Dying Light instead.
Dying Light was everything I wanted out of Dead Island, which makes sense because they’re the same developer. I’d wager that Dying Light might be the most slept-on game of the PS4/Xbox One generation, because good gosh, this game is one of my favorites and I haven’t seen anywhere near enough people talk about it. Now, with all that said, Dying Light 2 has been mired in behind-the-scenes issues, with the Chris Avellone situation being top among them. This has led to many people being rather hesitant with Dying Light 2, counting me in those numbers.
Now, there is one thing that catapulted Dying Light from an 8/10 game to a 10/10 game for me, and if this one thing is missing from Dying Light 2, not only will I refund the game, but I will bully everyone I know who bought it into getting a refund as well. That one thing is the Grappling Hook. The Grappling Hook changed the way that Dying Light was played, and absolutely for the better. I cannot imagine a Dying Light 2 without it, and I refuse to play a Dying Light 2 without it. Make it happen, Techland!
Wolfstride’s is an anime-inspired, pixel-art RPG with turn-based combat. These selling points wouldn’t usually be something I’d be interested in. While I love pixel art, and I’m starting to appreciate anime a lot more than I did, turn-based combat is a mechanic that I always rejected. If any game I wanted to play had it, it would be instantly ruined for me. Sometimes it was too boring, sometimes too complicated. However, there’s a reason why Wolfstride seems exciting to me.
The combat you experience in the game happens between giant mechas, which I think we all love. In this case, I feel the more structured and manual nature of turn-based combat helps with the immersion, making you feel like you’re the one inside pulling levers to throw a punch or dodge. It’s also very stylized, with fun animations reminiscent of the fights directed by Guillermo del Toro in Pacific Rim. It’s a weird case where I can see this type of combat and think ‘’I’m definitely going to enjoy this.’’
The other mechanics didn’t have to prove themselves as much to me. The RPG elements are always a great addition in my eyes. In this case, adding to the sense of being an underdog the game is going for, as you live in a hangar with your friends while you all decide how to build your giant mecha. You also get to walk the streets of Rain City, a beautifully designed setting with various NPCs to interact with and tasks to take on. While I don’t expect to find a world with much depth to explore, and it’s already confirmed that it will have six establishments, it’s always fun to run around and interact with everything you can, and I assume the change of scenery with the hangar and the arena where you fight will be more than enough to avoid repetition and offer a great playthrough.
This might just be the one I’m excited about the most. I’ve always loved the concept of isometric RPGs like Fallout or Wasteland but I could never get into it. I did play a lot of the first Baldur’s Gate and a bit of Wasteland 3, both of which I enjoyed a lot, but I always wanted something more and/or different. I think Mechajammer is that.
You wander an almost post-apocalyptic world influenced by the cyberpunk genre (with extra focus on the punk part) and the horror genre. But first of all, you have to create the character who you will live as, choosing the classic perks and stats, while also experimenting a bit by making you answer questions like which addictions or side-effects you developed from your past work. It’s also worth mentioning you get the opportunity to decide if you want to be female, male, or non-binary, an option that even AAA games that pat themselves on the back for their representation can’t seem to do, and as a non-binary person I greatly appreciate the decision at Whalenought Studios.
Once you get to really play, you get immersed in this gritty world where you have to survive in any way possible. You recruit a team that will follow you and help you in a very fast-paced hybrid between real-time and turn-based combat. And of course, as it is with RPGs, you have various ways to achieve most tasks, so you could instead try to go stealth and avoid encounters. Your usual movement has an added rare jump mechanic, but you also can ride freely in cars or motorcycles. There are more details like being able to pick or break locks or decide which body part you want to focus on while fighting. I don’t necessarily need very deep gameplay to enjoy a game, but I think I’m with the majority when I say that having as many ways to solve a task is probably the best part about RPGs, as you get the feeling you have to work around the world, instead of the world working for you, helping you immerse in what feels like a real setting.
Funnily enough, I probably would’ve tried the game without all that, just going in based on how good it looks. It’s not meant to be pretty and is reminiscent of old games, but the art direction is simply amazing. There seem to be a ton of distinct places, all of them with a great atmosphere that, while still doesn’t want to make me live in this post-apocalyptic world, I would be lying if I said it didn’t want to instantly play in it.
From games with action in the spotlight, we go to full-on exploration, puzzles, and crafting. In Wytchwood, you play as a witch (I know, shocking!) in a world of magic and fables. I’m not a big fan of puzzles and crafting, but if it wasn’t already obvious, you could get me to play almost any game as long as I like the art direction. And let me tell you, this game looks beautiful, with an art style that instantly puts you in the middle of these fables.
I adore the idea of exploring this world and encountering all kinds of fantasy creatures in a deeper way than you might find in their classic tales, as your lives intertwine and you prepare potions and spells that will help you decide their fate.
I do love that the game seems to be centered around this world and how you interact with the characters and affect their stories, more than in a grandiose main story for the protagonist. Don’t get me wrong, I love main single-player stories, and that’s what I look for in games almost every time. But more mundane everyday tasks, a kind of slice-of-life in a fantasy setting, is a pitch that I can’t avoid being attracted to.