October 7, 2014 · Anything Nice

In honour of the launch of Alien: Isolation (of which more later), here’s one of its cousins. The Dead Space series relies on monster closets. It does pretty well with monster closets, lovingly and abundantly placed. The first Dead Space is set on the Ishimura, a colossal mining ship with some memorable internal spaces. The second is […]

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ANYTHING NICE: Lord of the Rings Online (Turbine)

October 6, 2014 · Anything Nice

I never imagined an MMO could feel like Tolkien offcuts, but Turbine put real love into the project – its F2P baggage notwithstanding – and the Tolkienian atmosphere survives astonishingly well. One example of a small thing done exactly right. As with many MMOs, beasties (oh all right, ‘mobs’) have a general type as well as […]

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October 5, 2014 · Anything Nice

You’re a high-ranking Nazi or Soviet officer in the waning years of WWII. You propose plans to Hitler or Stalin, who may reject them. If your dictator accepts a plan and does badly, your stock will fall; if he accepts and succeeds, you win favour; if he rejects and then fails, you escape blame. Meanwhile, […]

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ANYTHING NICE: Dungeon Adventure (Level 9)

October 4, 2014 · Anything Nice

Oh, primordial, this one. Early parser interactive fiction, BBC Model B, magnetic cassette tape, I couldn’t have played it later than 1985. I wish I could bring you some sort of fragment of antique wisdom, but all I have here is a really daft joke. There’s this giant rat you have to chase off with […]

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ANYTHING NICE: The Cretan Chronicles (Butterfield, Honigmann and Parker)

October 3, 2014 · Anything Nice

In the long gamebook summer of the 1980s, Puffin published something unusual. The Cretan Chronicles was a trilogy about an alternate myth in which the Minotaur killed Theseus, and his younger brother was called by the gods to take revenge. They were written in a kind of Homeric pastiche-prose. They were by turns haunting, funny and incoherent. […]

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ANYTHING NICE: State of Decay (Undead Labs)

October 2, 2014 · Anything Nice

State of Decay is an open-world zombie apocalypse simulator. It’s faithful to the genre in that life is cheap, and survivors come and go. To give you a closer connection to survivors who may die, the game allows you to switch viewpoints between characters at will. It follows through on this. The character first set up […]

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ANYTHING NICE: Deus Ex (Ion Storm)

October 1, 2014 · Anything Nice

One of the first-act Deus Ex levels is the headquarters of a government agency: offices, labs, storage rooms, security posts, toilets. Because it’s a video game level, most players will snoop into every office, lab, storage room, security post, and toilet, in case someone’s helpfully left a box of stun darts on the cistern. When your […]

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September 30, 2014 · Anything Nice

This is a base-building / research / turn-based strategy war against aliens, with a narrative element: an X-Clone. This one, however, is set on Mars after the destruction of Earth. You don’t get to hire any more soldiers, because the small station staff you have is the entire human race on Mars. Each has a […]

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ANYTHING NICE: A Dark Room (Doublespeak Games)

September 29, 2014 · Anything Nice

The opening scene reads in its entirety   the fire is dead. the room is freezing. A Dark Room [light fire]   I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a more compact and compelling opening.   — ‘Anything Nice’ is is a series of very short posts highlighting things I liked about the treatment of […]

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ANYTHING NICE: System Shock 2

September 28, 2014 · Anything Nice

The first enemy you encounter cries out: “They see you. Run. Run!” That’s a lot of implied backstory in just five words. — ‘Anything Nice’ is is a series of very short posts highlighting things I liked about the treatment of narrative in other people’s games. It’s a deliberately magpie, grab-bag approach. Some of these games I […]

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