INSIDE.

“I love my job” is what I would have written if reviewing video games was something I did for a living, and INSIDE was my current assignment.

Danish developer Playdead entered the indie scene with their puzzle-based side scroller LIMBO on Xbox Live Arcade in 2010. I reviewed it the year after, giving it my very exclusive two thumbs up. Since the release of LIMBO, Playdead has porting the game to no less than 9 other platforms, firmly squeezing every last potential out of that poor kid.

Last year, the company returned with a brand new game: INSIDE. Not only does the game confirm Playdead’s love for ALL CAPS titles, and young, male protagonists. It also shows that they are still very, very good at making puzzle-based games.

INSIDE somehow managed to fly completely below my radar. It wasn’t until Steam’s algorithms decided that it was time for me to buy something new that I realized it existed. And for once, Steam hit a home run with their recommendation.

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Stellaris.

You might or might not have noticed that there hasn’t been a lot of activity on this site lately. The reason for that is Stellaris1.

Over the last couple of years, Paradox has become a highly respected brand in strategy gaming circles. The Swedish publisher/developer, operating as Paradox Interactive and Paradox Development Studio respectively, has published and developed some of the most popular strategy games and strategy franchises on the PC platform in recent years. Titles like Crusader Kings, Hearts of Iron, Europa Universalis, and Cities: Skylines will make most strategy gamers giggle of joy.

Paradox’ grand strategy games, in particular, have amassed a considerable amount of dedicated fans. Despite their steep learning curve, complicated mechanics, and non-intuitive user interface, Paradox’ grand strategy titles are among the finest in the genre. It was not a huge surprise then, that the strategy gaming community got very excited when Paradox announced their first science fiction title back in 2015: Stellaris.

There were some skeptics. Of course. There always are. Until Stellaris was announced, Paradox had dabbled exclusive in historically based strategy games. Would they be able to conquer space as well? One year after release, it’s time to see if Paradox’ first science fiction title has turned into everything it set out to become.

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Arcen Games Giveaway!

Arcen Games included keys for 4 of their games as part of my AI War 2 Kickstarter pledge. They keys also include every expansion they’ve released for those games. Since I own everything already, I thought this was a good chance to spread a little Arcen love. Let’s have a good old giveaway!

Make your choice from the following masterpieces1:

Leave a comment below with information on which game you want. And make sure to include your e-mail address, Twitter name, or something similar that I can use to contact you.

Some simple ground rules

To make sure no one comes in and scoops up all the games, you’re limited to one selection. Pick wisely. All games are available for Windows, Mac OS X, SteamOS, and Linux. Please refer to each game’s Steam page for system requirements. Each lucky gamer will receive a game key that have to be redeemed on Steam. If more than one people want a particular game, I’ll use RANDOM.ORG to pick a winner.

The giveaway ends when all games are gone. Which might be never, I’m nor sure if anyone will realize the giveaway exists.

Homeworld Remastered.

In 1999, Vancouver-based developer Relic Entertainment released their first game. The game was Homeworld, a real time strategy game set in space. For its time, Homeworld was a visual feast. Beautiful, 3D modeled space ships in combat against glorious backdrops of star fields and nebulas. In 2015, 16 years after the release of the original game, Gearbox Software released Homeworld Remastered, with both upgrades visuals and a refined user interface. But does Homeworld stand the test of time?

Both critics and players rejoiced when the original Homeworld was released. Even I wrote a preview of sorts. But the visuals wasn’t the only aspect that made the game stand out. Homeworld came with an intricate, original backstory, a feature that wasn’t exactly in abundance among the strategy games released at the time.

An ancient space ship is discovered buried in the sand at the dessert planet Kharak. It contains a stone map showing Kharak and another planet across the galaxy labelled “Higara” – home. The clans of Kharak unite to build a giant mothership that will carry 600,000 people on the long journey to Higara to reclaim their home planet. But during a final calibration test of the mothership’s hyperdrive things go bad. It turns out that strong forces in the universe are prepared to do whatever it takes to keep the Higarans from leaving Kharak, and start the journey back home.

Homeworld Remastered and its beautiful space combat.

Homeworld Remastered and its beautiful space combat.

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AI War 2 Kickstarter Campaign, Take Two.

You might remember Arcen Games‘ first AI War 2 Kickstarter campaign. I wrote about it when the campaign launched, and while I threw quite a lot of money Arcen’s way, I didn’t really think they would reach their very ambitious $299,400 funding goal in time.

When people say “I hate to say I told you so”, they rarely really do. But when Arcen Games founder Chris Park cancelled the campaign on November 10, I felt really bad for him. I don’t know Chris personally, and I’ve never talked to the guy. Still, by following what he’s been doing to promote both his company and the AI War 2 Kickstarter campaign, it’s obvious that this is a man who lives and breathes for making games he really believes in. Park is not a guy who gives up, and lays down in the fetal position under a desk when the world kicks him in the nuts.

Instead, he goes back to the drawing board, takes good advice from the people around him, and returns with a new, better, and refined AI War 2 Kickstarter campaign.

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