Dec 14, 2017 Last Updated 3:01 PM, Dec 14, 2017

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Nicholas Barkdull

Nicholas Barkdull

Nic is a freelance writer, doctoral student, and devout PC gamer. He says he's not a hipster but still insists that the best games are either decades old or made by one guy in a basement. This includes things like Undertale or any Final Fantasy that was released on Super Nintendo. He is also an RTS fanatic.

TARTARUS is a unique concept in that it makes computer puzzles come alive with realistic representations, where most titles try to make abstract mini games out of “hacking.” The plot and overall horror atmosphere don’t come together, however. Overall, this is a solid attempt at making light programming puzzles interesting, but more work needs to be done in this area before we see a title that is truly free of tedium.

The Rome II: Empire Divided DLC is the standard Total War that we all know and love. There are no huge surprises and for the most part, mechanics added do a good job at immersing you into the Third Century and a Roman Empire fallen into chaos. Banditry isn’t all that noteworthy but Cults are fun and thematic. In sum, if you can’t get enough of Total War give this one a try.

Project Nimbus has a somewhat anticlimactic ending, but that’s only because the climax revealed in Early Access set the bar so high, both in terms of gameplay and story. Those awaiting this title’s full release after playing the Early Access might feel a little ripped off, but they might also realize just how great this experience is a second time through. Impressive mech combat that never grows old and interesting story elements equate to an impressive win for this small indie developer.

Trackless is a neat little experience. The puzzles are not very challenging, and it doesn’t take long to get through them, but the message is unique and thought-provoking somewhat. This title offers minimal raw entertainment, but the art and music have their own characteristic appeal, and the ending is a fair payoff for a brief time investment.

Imagine the year is 2089 and the Cold War never ended. You would, of course, be a burly, time-traveling cyborg-agent who goes to dance clubs to flirt with and/or kill other burly men, right? Of course you would; the self-described tech-noir All Walls Must Fall is so chillingly accurate that an alternate history textbook could be written based off of it.

Super Cloudbuilt has the potential for unlimited playability simply due to the fact that there is always a higher challenge to aim for. The downside to this, however, is an intense level of frustration from repeated failure. The visual aesthetic and puzzles are commendable, but the awe doesn’t even register in comparison to the amazement you can experience due to your own reflexes and persistence – if you ever actually manage to make progress.

Planet Ancyra Chronicles appears to be made by a team of developers who are each individually good at their jobs – the level design, the narrative design, and the score all have their moments. Unfortunately, it seems the team suffered from miscommunication, because this title’s individual parts struggle to fit together into a single, cohesive experience. Perhaps only the most persistent of players will be able to make it to the end of this otherwise interesting story.

Vostok Inc. is as addictive as any other incremental game – in fact, it’s one of the better incremental games to come out; it has a lot more polish and character, along with humor, great artwork, and music. It’s nigh impossible to stop playing (because, what happens when you reach the last number there is?), but once you do, you wonder what the point of it all was.

Cladun Returns This is Sengoku achieves what it sets out to be with an apparent abundance of effort on the part of the developers. However, Cladun is not for everyone, and probably not even for most people. It’s intensely focused on customization, attention to detail, and a formidable obsession with stats. In the process, it sacrifices story and the option for casual gameplay; those not familiar with heavy RPG play, might want to think twice before plunging into Cladun.

Black The Fall has the makings of a deep and emotional retelling of life under a totalitarian communist regime. The literally dark, oppressive, and intimidating imagery combines with the music, sound effects, and mechanics to narrate scenes without using a single word, and that alone has to be respected.

RiME is a wonderful experience filled with both light-hearted excitement and touching emotional moments. It invokes the old cliché, “I laughed, I cried,” but, of course, that doesn’t do justice to the amount of effort it took to coordinate the vivid yet dreamlike artwork, the fun and easygoing gameplay, and the dramatic musical score. It’s unfortunate that the graphics can be choppy and the movement can be finicky. Otherwise — especially if you value aesthetics over fun — this is an incredibly satisfying title.