Something slightly different today, as the title suggests I will have a small ramble about some of the games I have enjoyed playing recently.
First up is Ronin, meant to be a copycat of Tom Francis' Gunpoint and the inspiration is very obvious, this games takes the stealth genre and slams in the puzzle genre in a highly effective way. It creates what I would term a realtime puzzle, this is one that is different almost every time due to what you do before the puzzle component starts. An explanation of the gameplay would help at this point; there are two distinct phases of play, realtime movement & turn-based movement. The realtime movement is when the player is moving stealthily and has not been seen by enemies, however as soon as the player has been seen by an enemy the turn-based action kicks in. In this mode you can see where shots are going to be fired and given your only weapon is a katana, the player needs to get up close and personal to take down enemies. This means jumping back and forth, dodging bullets, knocking out enemies and waiting for the opening to go for a kill. The extent at which you will need to do this is reliant, however, on how good your stealth skills are. If you can take more enemies down while in stealth mode, the turn-based puzzle becomes easier. The story is light on details but sufficient to keep me engaged for length of time to play the game, with the difficulty curve stretching me at all the right points along the way.
Second is The Room and The Room 2, these are both incredibly detailed puzzle games with an intriguing story as well. The puzzles are not too obscure, but the hint system ensures your never really rage quitting with frustration. In these games there is an incredible physicality to any action you perform, be it opening a drawer or a chest, there is weight to every object in the game. From this it is my hope that they take these games into room scale virtual reality as I think they would make an amazing experience and would naturally fit into that paradigm. I would also recommend using these games to introduce someone to video games as the puzzles can be solved between 2 of you, discussing what to do next.
Finally today I have enjoyed playing the latest (Shadowrun)[http://store.steampowered.com/app/346940/] game. This time based in Hong Kong you are thrown in at the deep end with the story kicking off with a bang. This time around they have significantly improved the hacking part of the game (enjoyable as I normally play a Decker) by introducing barriers which can be destroyed or hacked around, stealth within the Matrix, and ambushes in the real world. However what really draws me back is the world that the team has created, it feels complete and lived in. Across all 3 recent games that I have played (Shadowrun Returns, (Dragonfall)[http://store.steampowered.com/app/300550/] & Hong Kong), the dev team have kept the consistency of world intact while having three independent campaigns. This is likely in part down to genre, which makes world building easier than most genres, however it is still impressive to be consistent in the writing, art, sound to bring a real sense of belonging and liveliness to a place.
What I love about all of the games I have mentioned today is that they can easily be played on a laptop without a mouse, so are perfect for a longish commute (dependent on battery life). This is great for myself as it forces me to play games that would normally be lower on my list when sat in front of a more powerful capable machine.