2015 was a good year for detective games: Her Story was great, episode four of Life is Strange had a cool sequence in which we run down all the evidence that we’ve collected over the past three episodes, but most unexpectedly, Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate brought back the detective side-missions from the last game with a wealth of improvements. Her Story may have been the better game, Life is Strange may have been the bigger mystery, but Syndicate had the most versatile and fully-featured detective gameplay that I’ve seen in a while. We investigated various murders, some elaborately staged and some simple crimes of passion, we collected evidence, questioned suspects, then contrasted the two against each other in order to discover motive, opportunity and an overall timeline of events complete with red herrings and dead ends.
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I’ve always enjoyed the idea of Hitman more than I’ve enjoyed the actual games. On paper they sound fantastic: You’re dropped into an open environment to kill a target, and you can kill that target any number of ways. Sure, you could just shoot him at the first opportunity, but you could also be a bit stealthier and get him alone before shooting him. Better yet, you can make the death look like an accident by dropping a chandelier on his head or by switching a prop gun for a real gun. Every time that I started a new level of a past Hitman game the possibilities felt endless.
Tharsis is a game centered on the luck of a dice roll, but there’s also a considerable amount of strategy revolving around those dice. It’s a game about managing risk, knowing how to manipulate the many systems in play, so as to increase the odds in your favor. The odds will never be completely in your favor, but that’s fine. That’s part of the challenge. How do you make the best of a bad situation?
A common refrain in reviews of The Witness is the plea to solve each puzzle on your own, to not ask for help or look up solutions, that the game is designed to teach you things in ordered steps and that it is important not to skip a step. While, yes, this is true, that doesn’t mean those steps are easy. What will inevitably happen is that you’ll solve a series of simple puzzles, and then you’ll try to solve the next puzzle in the exact same way that you solved the previous puzzles, only this time your solution won’t work. You’ve done something wrong. You’ve misunderstood the concept. Time to go back and reanalyze your work.
Shooting a gun in a game is a simple action. You aim a cursor at a target and press a button to pull the virtual trigger. It’s a simple action, but when you look at a standard controller and all the buttons used for shooting, the action quickly gets complicated. Suddenly there’s a button for looking down the sights of the gun, for reloading the gun, for crouching, for switching guns, for activating a secondary function of the gun. Then, there’s all the complexities not linked to a button: knowing when to reload, how fast each gun reloads, how recoil affects your aim, that looking down the sights improves accuracy, that crouching improves accuracy, that moving decreases accuracy, that running prevents you from shooting, etc., etc. Seen this way, the modern shooter is actually a damned complicated beast.
// Moving Pixels
"We continue our discussion of the early episodes of Kentucky Route Zero by focusing on its third act.READ the article