It's been a little while, but I'm back with another wargame review for Shut Up & Sit Down. Except it isn't a wargame at all. I'm looking at Euro-in-wargame's clothes Race to the Rhine.
Except it isn't a typical model Euro at all. The way it's structured makes it look like a race game, but it can be viciously cut-throat. It encourages players to hoard supplies needed by other generals, snip off each other's best routes and use the Nazis to cut supply lines. The result is an interesting and unique game.
It reminds me of Imperial in certain respects. It's not so brilliantly malleable and open-ended as that game. But it manages to force the players into tough decisions without straightjacketing them, or throttling back the interaction. Sometimes, though, it's a bit too much like too much hard work, not enough fun.
I've also been playing some 5th edition D&D - first time I've played any interation of the game in twenty years. It's been amazing. More content on that over the coming weeks.
I got asked to compile a list of my top 30 iOS games recently, and it seemed a good excuse to catch up on some titles I'd been meaning to play.
A couple stood out. First was The Room and its sequel. I had these down as simplistic puzzle games, but boy, was I wrong on that. Some of the challenges are tough, although a timed hint system means no-one should get stuck forever. But what really surprised me was the horror atmosphere. I'm amazed and impressed that a simplistic touch and move game can generate such an oppressive aura of dread.
The other was Wayward Souls. It's a classic dungeon-delving Rogue-like with a big palette of items and enemies, randomly generated levels and a steep difficult curve. What makes it stand out is that it's a real-time game. Combat strikes a satisfying balance between twitch and tactics, and it feels like you're only ever a few pixels away from doom. It's multiplatform, though, and probably better on PC.
Films & TV
I seem to be on a run of poor to mediocre material at the moment. I watched the Amazing Spider Man, and it wasn't. Couldn't see much love for this at all. The characters were all paper thin, Parker's guilt complex wasn't explored at all and I cared more about the villain than anyone. The action sequences were similarly flat. But without any emotional center, I'm not sure even exciting CGI could have saved this.
Also of interest to some is bizarre body horror Under the Skin. It plays rather more like some French arthouse piece than anything in the usual horror canon, but it is still pretty disturbing. After an intriguing start, full of mystery, sex and extraordinary primal visuals, it loses the plot halfway through. After that it doesn't seem to know if it wants to be horror, human drama, or thought-provoking artistry and ends up being a mess.
Finally got round to starting the new Doctor Who. Loving Peter Capaldi, who seems to be channeling the spirit of Tom Baker in the best possible way. I was also struck by the end of the first episode, which twisted things into the Doctor's viewpoint, at once both alien and vulnerable. I'm not sure about the supporting cast, though, or the overarching plot. Time will tell.
I went on a sudden massive comics bender, inspired by watching the Batman Year One film, which was okay. But I didn't realise there was a whole story arc in that continuity, so I read the lot.
I thought most of it was pretty poor. I've read Year One before and thought it overrated. But I also caught the well-recieved Man Who Laughs and didn't think much of that, either. Added no interest to the most interesting villain in all of comic books. And don't get me started on Batman and the Mad Monk.
The best was Batman and the Monster Men, which bought the rookie Batman alive, as someone learning to cope with their overconfidence. And then, of course, there's the classic Long Halloween, but I'd read that before too.
I also read Old Man Logan. I don't know much about comics, and I know less about Marvel than most, but this was excellent. The art was incredible, evocative, airbrushed brilliance. And the story, recasting Wolverine in a bizarre post-apocalyptic world ruled by supervillains, was imaginative and unpredictable. Highly recommended.
Been listening to a lot of classic 70's rock lately, things like the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin. I didn't like it much when I was younger, so I feel I've got a lot of catching up to do.
I've only unearthed one decent new band, but I reckon it's a doozy. Young Wonder, a "dub-pop" duo from Ireland. I have no idea what dub-pop is supposed to be, but in practice it's funky shit garnished with multi-layered and filtered samples. It's kind of like trip-hop, but cheery,
They've only put out two EPs so far, but the sound is shaping up to be super promising. Here's Orange, from their eponymous first record, and To You from the more recent Show Your Teeth. If you like it, they're on Spotify andÂ Bandcamp.
Oh, and stuff you Barnes, Tori Amos is an absolute godess.