Today is the sort of day where it’s hard to get my mind in tune with my creativity, so I will use it to talk about the creativity of others.
Video games have basically always been close to my heart. They started becoming more widespread and available right around the time where I was old enough to appreciate them. (I still have fond memories of playing DESCENT with my dad and sister; ostensibly a single player game, we managed to coordinate four hands on the keyboard to pull some sweet maneuvers in tight corridors, all in glorious [at the time] 3D.)
Now that I’m older, and have a little more choice in what I play, I actually find myself playing a little less often. This may be because of increased responsibility due to my alleged adulthood. Who can say? When I was young, my free time was basically split between reading books and trying to sneak more time on the computer. These days I pop onto the ol’ iPad for a quick game or two and find it a bit of a struggle to talk myself into turning on the Xbox 360. I wish I could figure out why that is, but alas, it is probably yet another facet of the quasi-depression.
But this post is getting away from me. I wanted to talk about games I enjoy, and that is what I’m going to do. Here goes.
On Steam, and quite successfully ported to iPad and Android.
Uplink is a relatively simplistic game that puts you in the virtual shoes of a hacker in the near future of 20XX. Computer security has apparently stalled to the point where anyone with the liquid assets and a basic understanding of computing processes can bypass security systems on various servers around the world.
Initially this game is a sort of sandbox, wherein the player takes the occasional mission and utilizes the limited resources available to accomplish them. As you get paid, you can upgrade your hardware and thus put yourself into a situation to do more complex tasks. Things change, however, when an email from an anonymous source draws you into a deadly conspiracy.
Of course, things ALSO change if you get yourself caught performing any illegal actions. As in, it changes to a game over status. The company through which you work will disavow you and claim you were an illegal using their assets for illegal things and throw you under the bus.
This game is not particularly realistic. The Wikipedia page on the game puts it well: “It is best described as a simulator of the cinematic depiction of computer hacking.” In essence, it gives you the basic veneer of this fictional hacking world without expecting you to do much of the heavy lifting.
Even so, it’s pretty fun, if you can get past the moderate learning curve.
FTL: Faster Than Light
Available on Steam, iPad
Despite the redundant title (which they no doubt got from the ATM automated teller machine), this is a pretty exciting game. Sometimes… too exciting.
As in, your ship just exploded because you thought that oxygen was more important than shield maintenance.
FTL is brutal and unforgiving in most regards, and I’m not terribly good at it. But the time that leads up to its utter brutality is genius. I know there are those out there who can actually beat the game, but I have yet to have a successful run even on ‘easy.’ That’s okay, though, because each run is its own experience, and most playthroughs are intrinsically satisfying.
I would recommend this higher. but some people aren’t satisfied with a game that doesn’t want you to win. (Some days I am that way myself, and I don’t play FTL on those days.) Still, it’s a pretty fantastic game and everyone ought to experience the surge of hope followed immediately by crushing realization of defeat that this game so happily puts forth.
THE INNER WORLD
available on PC/Mac, ported to iPad (with a few lingering bugs)
I just finished playing this point-and-click on iPad. It’s got a great atmosphere, cool story, fun characters. In my mind, it hearkens back to the adventure games that looked at the world with wide-eyed wonder rather than hard-bitten cynicism. (There is a place for that, but sometimes I want to get away from it.) In a way, that cynicism is acknowledged here, but not given precedence.
One of the best things about the game is its 2D art, some fantastic animation and just generally cool artistic styling. They did a great job making a world with bizarre creatures and even more bizarre citizens feel internally consistent.
The price is a bit high for the PC/Mac version, but I do think it is a worthwhile purchase. (I picked it up for iPad back when it was on a steep sale, so maybe my perspective is skewed on this.)
One other bright side is that you can play in either English or German, with full voice acting for each. That’s pretty cool, if you ask me. And I know you wanted to ask.
So, there we have a few games that I’ve been enjoying lately. What games, praytell, have I neglected in favor of these?