After a bit of last minute re-jigging, the forth and final exciting instalment of 14 for ’14 has finally arrived for your viewing pleasure. Which games have made the list? Stop asking stupid questions and read on…
Supergiant Games // TBA 2014
Linux // OSX // PlayStation 4 // Windows
Supergiant Games grabbed everybody’s attention in 2011 with their début title, Bastion – an action-RPG with beautiful illustrated visuals and a sublime soundtrack that went on to win over one hundred awards. This year Supergiant are back with Transistor, a game that looks to be every bit the worthy successor.
Set in the stunningly futuristic city of Cloudbank, Transistor is a sci-fi themed action RPG in which players assume the role of Red, a girl who wields the titular Transistor – a powerful and intelligent sword, that if you ask me kind of looks like a pointy USB stick. Of course, carrying a weapon of that ilk is bound to get you noticed and consequently Red is being pursued by a shadowy organisation known only as The Process.
Transistor may at first glance appear to look and play like its predecessor, however this time around Supergiant have implemented an almost turn-based strategy system. When in a combat scenario the player can now pause time and enter Planning Mode, from here they are able to queue up a number of actions (movements or attacks) that Red will carry out upon resuming play. It’s a neat and sophisticated tweak to the genre, and one that fundamentally changes the way battles play out. It’s the inclusion of fresh mechanics like this coupled with beautiful artistic direction that almost guarantee Supergiant have another winner on their hands.
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter
The Astronauts // TBA 2014
The début release from The Astronauts, a small team comprised of ex-People Can Fly developers, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a “weird fiction” horror game with lofty narrative ambitions and seriously impressive visuals.
Assuming the role of Paul Prospero, a detective of all things occult, the player will investigate the disappearance of a young boy, Ethan Carter. Paul has the supernatural ability of being able to visualise the final moments of the recently deceased and throughout the course of the game the player will use this power to hopefully track down young Ethan before it is too late.
While the game will draw inspiration from early 20th century macabre fiction, the studio have also cited inspiration from narratively focused titles such as Gone Home and The Walking Dead. The Astronauts believe that video games remain a largely untapped resource for storytelling and with Ethan Carter they aim to raise the bar in interactive narratives, promising to deliver an immersive experience that focuses on telling a mature story with emphasis on exploration and discovery. It’s a game that ticks all the right boxes for me and I really cannot wait to see more of the title.
inXile Entertainment // Deep Silver // TBA 2014
Linux, OSX, Windows
In 1988 game designer Brian Fargo and Interplay Publications developed a post-apocalyptic RPG, Wasteland. It’s a game that’s widely considered to have had a huge impact on the role playing genre and its lineage can still be felt today. Twenty six years later, thanks to hugely successful campaign on crowd funding site, Kickstarter, Brian and the team are back together working on a sequel – the sensibly titled, Wasteland 2.
A classic, isometric, turn and party-based RPG, Wasteland 2 harkens back to a time when video games weren’t afraid to rough you up a little. Set in an alternative reality where the Earth has been ravaged by global thermonuclear war, players will control a squad of Desert Rangers roaming the post-apocalyptic wilderness. On their way they will encounter a bunch of bandits, marauders and mutants who can be dealt with in myriad of ways.
With a focus on character driven storytelling, rich world building and meaningful player choice Wasteland 2 could well be worth waiting twenty six years for.
Ubisoft Montreal // Ubisoft // May 27th 2014
PlayStation 3 // PlayStation 4 // Wii U // Windows // Xbox 360 // Xbox One
Now, before you get too excited – no, it’s not an inventive new take on the Anne Robinson fronted BBC consumers rights show. It’s instead a new dystopian sandbox title from Ubisoft Montreal. Originally slated for release in late 2013, Watch Dogs was the first ‘next-gen’ title the world got a glimpse of during E3 2012 – way back before the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 had even been announced. Fast forward almost two years and Ubisoft is nearly ready to release the Orwellian open-world offering.
Set in near-future version of Chicago, Watch Dogs put the player in the shoes of Aiden Pearce – a paranoid, anti-security hacker who is looking to take down the corrupt security corporations that control the city. Armed with a small electric device known as The Profiler, Pearce is able to hack into the hyper-connected systems of Chicago and bend them to his will. On top of a lengthy single-player campaign the game will be feature a seamless drop in/drop out multiplayer component allowing other players to ‘hack’ into your game just to mess with you – it kinda sounds like Dark Souls with more security cameras.
While Ubisoft’s other open-world franchise Assassins Creed has, in my opinion, become convoluted and stale from a barrage of annual releases, Watch Dogs could potentially revitalise the genre for both the player and the developer in 2014.