Now here’s a funny one: when Resogun was announced, it sounded great – a new game in the vein of Super Stardust from Housemarque, a Finnish team that does beautiful things with PlayStation hardware. But as the PS4’s arrival grew closer, our hearts grew colder. Was a side-scrolling indie schm’up really going to be a key component in Sony’s next-gen hardware line-up?
Well, it was, and this turned out to be a really clever idea, because Resogun is sticky, and gorgeous, and a really excellent showcase for Vita Remote Play and the PS4’s emphasis on social. I personally mainly play it at friends’ houses, beating their high scores and never coming back to check on their progress (I’m better than casual players, but I’m not good by the standards of even my limited PSN friends list). But we lost Pat to it for weeks on end, and if you can beat his scores, you’re doing really, really well.
This one’s not out yet, so maybe we’re cheating a bit here, but Destiny’s alpha and previews have taken nearly the whole VG247 crew by storm. You would not believe the cynicism we had about this one; it just seemed so formulaic, you know? Hire the team that made Halo, throw an enormous amount of money at it, tack on a bunch of ultra-modern features like ubiquitous multiplayer and persistence. It might make a billion dollars, or it might be tired and uninteresting and drag us all down with it.
Yes, well, we all know how that worked out, don’t we. When even Brenna “I hate shooters and MMOs kind of suck” Hillier is refusing to come to work because she’d rather be playing Destiny, you know you’re in for trouble. We might just close the site for a month in September.
Here’s a little secret one you might not have known about. Glitch was a free-to-play, side-scrolling MMO from a team called Tiny Speck, which once boasted such luminaries as Robin Hunicke (Journey) and Keita Takahashi (Katamari Damacy). The project ran out of money, presumably because it was too beautiful to live, and the rather clever tech behind it is being sold off to power other things, which will probably be significantly less beautiful.
I was always very interested in Glitch theoretically but we didn’t expect it to draw us in and eat it like it did. There was something about this simple world of patting pigs, milking butterflies, gathering fruit and growing vegetables that appealed to a deep need in both of us for self-expression and play in a world that isn’t populated by people screaming insults and trying to kill us. About the most malicious thing anybody could do in Glitch was pretend to be stuck in a tree.
Glitch was home to some clever new ideas like crafting “raids” allowing users to build new portions of the world, and would eventually have unfolded into a story complete with all the trappings of a real grown up game – without combat, but with hugs. We miss it. I will always remember excitedly making Pat log in to see my octopus hat, or having him lead me half way across the world map to show me his carrot patch.
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
“It’s just free to play Magic, innit?” we asked each other. “Even if it does have Warcraft characters in it, nobody’s going to give a rat’s arse about yet another boring card battler, are they?”
It’s moments like these you look back on and regret. Hearthstone is not just a free-to-play Magic, and Wizards of the Coast ought to be taking a long, hard look at precisely why Blizzard’s first ever effort in this direction is so much more accessible, satisfying and life-consuming than the most famous of all card battlers.
Once Hearthstone has its sticky paws on you, it refuses to let go – poor old Pat has had no success clawing his way out. Personally, I tried it once, put the iPad down firmly, and vowed never to download it – much the same way I do not allow myself to live within a 10km radius of a candy factory.