Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Best of 2014: Part Three

This is the third installment of my Best of 2014 list. Missed any entries, or want to skip ahead? Check out the whole list here:


But enough about the past: this list is moving onward and upward, towards number one! So here we go! Best of 2014: Part Three -- ACTIVATE!

16. Marvel Puzzle Quest (D3Publisher)

Even for a mobile game such as this, it still
has some eye candy to offer!
It might seem a bit strange that a mobile title -- and one that is essentially a Bejeweled clone -- would rank anywhere on any "Best of" list but I would be lying to myself if I didn't acknowledge how much fun I've had with this game over the last year.

From an outside perspective, Marvel Puzzle Quest is nothing special: as mentioned, the gameplay is basically just Bejeweled -- it's a Match-3 game, where you slide gems around to form lines of varying length in order to score points. The twist is that you slowly accumulate a team of superheroes, each with their own abilities, which you take into each round to face off against a team of three enemy heroes or villains. All of the gems you match damage the enemy team before going into colour stockpiles which can be spent to activate the different abilities of your heroes. You have to be careful, though, because the enemy team is also accumulating colours and can activate their own abilities to knock out your team. While it appears pretty simple at the face of it, Marvel Puzzle Quest really is a tough game of risk and consequence as you weigh your options against the health of your team.

The game is addictive to a scary degree, with multiple competitions weekly that reward you with in-game currencies to both buy new heroes and level them up to make them more powerful. Each hero has three different powers but you only get access to each one if you find the right version of that hero. You can play competitions against teams from other players (simulated by the computer) or just story-themed missions against the computer teams.

As I mentioned: it might sound stupid but, because of its addictive, "gotta catch 'em all" style, Marvel Puzzle Quest devoured a lot of my time. It is fun and simple to play, scratches both the collection and superhero itch simultaneously, and even allows for some social interaction with the Alliance feature where you can team up with your friends to get rewards. Marvel Puzzle Quest: as embarrassing as it is fun!

15. Sir, You Are Being Hunted (Big Robot)

For the first few playthroughs, my experience was
very similar to this screenshot.
Sir, You Are Being Hunted is another proud member of the crowd-funded fraternity, and one that holds a special place in my heart. It is, after all, the game that I spent the most time recording for YouTube before technical issues ceased my progress -- a twenty-one gun salute for the lost save game file -- and there's plenty of great reasons why that series ran for so long.

SYABH is a game never takes itself too seriously. One needs look no further than the premise to see that: you are alone on a chain of islands inhabited by robots who are actively hunting you. You were attempting some sort of experiment that misfired terribly, causing the machine to explode and sending fragments flying all over the archipelago. You are now out to recover these mysterious fragments in hopes to, at the very least, escape the dangerous robots. A butler-type character gives you tips and updates on your progress along the way which honestly sound more like threats.

Forgot to mention: SYABH is procedurally generated,
so no two gameworlds are ever the same.
Also, the hot air balloons are persistent bastards.
It is also a game that likes to make fun of itself, poking fun at the "British" sensibilities of the developers. Need to increase your vitality to heal up? You could certainly eat some steak but a thermos of tea will do you better. The robots pursuing you have deerstalkers, mutton chops and pipes, and they chase you down with robotic hounds and hot air balloons. It’s British humour at its best – when it’s not actively trying to be funny.

The gameplay of the game has you scrounging for supplies and managing your limited inventory in an effort to protect and feed yourself and, generally, just stay alive. You hide in a ditch, waiting for a hunting party to pass by, the whirr and clicks of their mechanical parts fading from earshot before you break cover, and you suddenly understand what SYABH is all about.

This is a game about simple concepts coming together to create a truly unique and enjoyable whole. Part stealth, part survival horror and part comedy, it takes the best parts of many different themes and mashes them together to create a game worthy of any "best of" list.

(This is where I plug my series again. Go watch some of the episodes: it's good stuff, promise.)

Part Three
Part Three is done and Part Four is on its way! The next installment features the first game on the list that isn't a video game! It's very exciting stuff, you really shouldn't miss it.

'Til next time!

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