Steve Jackson’s Sorcery! is a weird hodgepodge of a game. It’s a text-based adventure in that most of what you do and see is described in the text, but you also control a little figure of your character, moving it around a beautifully colored 3D map of the landscape, evoking the feel of a board game. It’s a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure game, but you also have an inventory of items, including gold for buying stuff and rations you need to eat to survive. It’s like a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure, interactive fiction, fantasy RPG with great graphics. It’s also the first game in a series of four. I own all four games (they have their dedicated row on the home screen of my phone), but even though I’ve owned them all for about six months now, I can’t move on from the first game. Thankfully, it’s not a matter of difficulty, but of desire: Sorcery has one of the best branching stories I’ve ever played, and I don’t want to move on until I’ve seen all its branches.
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I’m a relatively new fan of the Fire Emblem series. Like a lot of people, I came to the series through the 3DS game Fire Emblem: Awakening. Also like a lot of people, I was interested in the mobile game, Fire Emblem Heroes. Now that Heroes is finally out, it can be compared and judged against the rest of the series, and unfortunately for fellow fans of Awakening, the mobile game ignores what made the 3DS game so special.
I’m a police chief with only four months left until my forced retirement. I’m burnt out, I’ve got no life savings, I’m addicted to uppers, the Mayor hates me, I hate the Mayor, and my deputy fled the city under pressure from a corruption scandal, leaving me to take his place as a mole for the mafia.
It’s a recipe for tragedy. This Is the Police is a neo-noir resource management sim, a bizarre coupling for sure, but also a surprisingly effective one. The premise sounds like a typical “good cop gone bad” scenario, especially once you—Jack Boyd—decide on a retirement plan: Earn $500k before your days are up, by any means necessary. However, while Jack might be a good cop, he’s not a particularly good man. This isn’t the story of Jack’s moral downfall as he is already close to the bottom of that metaphorical well when the game begins. This is the story of his attempted come back. The power structure in the city of Freeburg is designed to keep men like him under the boot, so when he realizes his days are numbered he rebels against that system. Not out of moral outrage, but self-preservation. This is the Police tells the story of his failure, and why it was always inevitable.
Dishonored 2 opens with a coup. Emily Kaldwin is dethroned by an aunt she never knew she had, then imprisoned in her castle. Naturally, she escapes, and the first level/tutorial of the game has us sneaking out of our home. Along the way, you’ll encounter many traitorous guards and many more dead bodies. It’s easy to put two and two together; this was a coup after all. So what are you going to do about it?
2016 was a good year for first-person shooters, but a great year for single-player shooter campaigns. First, Doom, Gears of War 4, Battlefield 1, and Titanfall 2 all had single-player campaigns, which is a victory in itself for an industry that would prefer to go all multiplayer all the time (screw you Overwatch). Second, all those campaigns were good, and some were even great! However, the biggest surprise of all was that the best shooter campaign came from the game I had the lowest expectations for: Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare.