Buoyed by the success of the episodic video games based on the Walking Dead comic, Telltale Games is storming along with two more adaptations. Every couple of months, there’s a new episode for each new series (both available for PS3, PS4, Windows, Xbox 360, Xbox One; rated mature), offering 1.5 to two hours of gaming for around $5. Cheaper than a movie, and much more fun.
Tales From the Borderlands is a five-part series that’s set after the events of Borderlands 2 and tells the story of a group of ambitious Hyperion employees trying to chart a course to success on the planet Pandora.
Telltale has absolutely nailed the tone and humour of the Gearbox games here. As always, player decisions determine the course of the story. With The Walking Dead you had to choose between two bad choices, but with Tales the decision is between two appealing options. But you can’t have it all.
The Sword in the Darkness is the third of six episodes in Game of Thrones. Unlike Telltale’s adaptation of The Walking Dead, which was based on the comic, Thrones is tied in with the HBO series. It revolves around five members of House Forrester, Stark bannermen, starting with the “Red Wedding” incident from Season 3 of the TV show.
Thrones will confuse anyone not familiar with the story, but fans will find that the characters and dialogue fit nicely with what they already know.
As for other recent releases you might consider playing, here’s a sample.
Bloodborne (Sony; PS4; rated mature)
The werewolves that infest Yharnam are huge, slavering, ferocious beasts. There are other enemies in Bloodborne—twisted crows and other misshapen horrors, including top-hat-wearing things that may have once been men. Developed by From Software, this third-person action game has much in common with its cousins, the Dark Souls and Demon’s Souls games. Which is to say it’s dark, and twisted, and punishing, and relentless.
What differs is the setting, here a Victorian London steeped in goth and gore. Combat is faster, but the rhythm of your attacks is as important as ever. Instead of a shield you carry a firearm in your left hand—better to press the attack, because you can recover lost health if you retaliate after being hit. When you die you lose your progress, your “blood echoes” (currency) spilling onto the ground. Get back to the spot of your demise and you can recover them, but you’ll have to fight the thing that killed you a second time. Everything you’ve killed returns when you do.
In an interview at the PlayStation Experience event in Las Vegas last December, game director Hidetaka Miyazaki told the Straight that Bloodborne would have a nonlinear approach with branching story lines and some areas, like the Chalice Dungeons, that are dynamically generated depending on “the outcome of your actions”. While it might have something in common with other From Software games, Bloodborne is its own thrill.
Darkest Dungeon (Red Hook Studios; OS X, Windows; rated 9+)
At first blush, Darkest Dungeon seems like a simple game. You navigate your party of adventurers through a two-dimensional environment one stutter step at a time, and combat is turn-based. But to dismiss this role-playing game so quickly would be a mistake. With a distinct art style and layer upon layer of game mechanics, Darkest Dungeon is a complex and scintillating test of strategy in which the death of characters is permanent. On top of all that is the notion that your heroes, facing death and horror at all times, are slowly going insane. You can arrange for them to be treated, by praying or drinking. But what works for one character doesn’t work for others. Each of the heroes you control is truly distinct. With the game available now as a Steam Early Access title, Vancouver’s Red Hook plans on releasing it for Linux and OS X, as well as Sony’s PS4 and PS Vita consoles.
Ten Large (Frosty Pop Corps; iOS; rated 9+)
A new puzzle game from Vancouver-based developers presents you with a grid of 100 safes. Tapping a safe opens it and gives you $100. The next safe you open has to follow certain patterns: moving vertically or horizontally you have to skip two safes, and moving diagonally you must skip one safe. The objective is to collect as much money as you can before you run out of safes to crack. It’s a quick pickup, and it’s free if you don’t mind seeing an ad after each board. (You can dismiss the ads with an in-app purchase of $1.19.) It’s a challenge to see if you can figure out a move pattern that will clear the board.