Category Archives: Play It Now

Katawa Shoujo

Review: Katawa Shoujo

A red-headed girl with short hair in a boy's school uniform sits on a table. She has no arms, her sleeves are tied off, and she lifts a forkful of food towards her mouth with her toes.

I blinked back tears, my heart aching in my breast, deeply affected. I opened my post-editor and then I began to write this, dabbing occasionally at my eyes with a tissue.

Katawa Shoujo (translation: “Disability Girl”) is a free, English, Visual Novel game by Four Leaf Studios, which is a collection of talented people scattered around the world. Five years in the making, the game is among the best of its breed, in my opinion.

There are dozens, nay, hundreds of ways this Visual Novel project could have gone awry, turning to mere pap or horribly insensitive trash; instead it is remarkably well thought-out, smart, sensitive, emotional and insightful.

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Miasmata

Play it now – Miasmata

Alice Liddell with a flamingo and the words "Play it now!"Day four

This-morning, I had climbed a rise to take bearings on some landmarks, to see if I could figure their precise locations. One distant spire (what is it? A lighthouse? One of the primitive statues, perhaps? I do not know) was obscured by some trees, and I took a few steps sideways to try to get a better view.

That was a mistake.

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Jagged Alliance: Back In Action

Play it now – Jagged Alliance: Back in Action

I had Meltdown slip up behind one of the guards, who was kneeling behind a short barricade of sandbags, watching for an external threat. The guard had no time to react when Meltdown shot her twice in the back of the head. I knew there was another guard nearby, and expecting that he might hear the shots, I had Meltdown drop to her belly and slither around the other side of the barricade where she would be out of sight.

As expected, he heard the shots, and dashed out just in time to spot Meltdown before she got behind cover, but not with enough time to aim and fire before she was out of sight.

I expected him to try to circle around, and prepared Meltdown for that, but he didn’t. Instead, he hunkered down partly covered by the trunk of a small tree, aimed his pistol and just waited. Meltdown had nowhere to go, and all he had to do was wait.

While this standoff continued, I instructed Fox to belly-crawl towards him, along the side of a building. There was a low, concrete barrier to the guard’s left, just slightly to his rear. Fox easily slipped into position.

I coordinated the two. Fox would pop up, and fire a shot at the guard, then drop again. As soon as she fired, Meltdown would move up into a crouch and empty her magazine at the guard, who would hopefully have turned towards the new threat, but be denied a target as Fox vanished from his sight.

It worked beautifully. Fox took a shot over the barrier, catching the guard by surprise, and then dropped as he turned towards her. Meltdown popped up at the first shot, aimed and fired three of her own shots, taking him down.

He didn’t stand a chance, and that was just the way I wanted it.

There were other guards, but they were far too far away to have heard the action. I instructed the girls to reload, and began planning their approach towards the next guard post, checking the lay of the terrain, cover and patrol routes.

I was just fifteen minutes into playing Jagged Alliance: Back In Action.

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Play it now – Game Dev Story

Play it now!
Got an Android device handy? Want a cool little management game for just a couple bucks?

Give Kairosoft’s Game Dev Story a whirl. Currently, the game is 40% off to celebrate the release of their newest game, Hot Springs Story.

Game Dev Story is just what it sounds like. A game about developing games.

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Spacechem

Play it now – SpaceChem

Do you remember when I wrote about Gondola? Did you tragically lose a half a day to its rapacious mechanisms?

Well, I nearly didn’t get this piece about SpaceChem written. I didn’t want to stop playing long enough to write it. So be careful, it’ll eat a chunk of your day (or even days) and it’ll eat twenty bucks. You might also be afflicted with high levels of intellectual stimulation and fun. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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Academagia: The Making of Mages

Play it now – Academagia: The Making of Mages

Play it now!I’d seriously sweated for my midterms. Astrology, dialectic and calligraphy, I felt I had in the bag. Arithmetic and geometry, well, I figured I could get by on geometry with the extra-credit work that I’d done.

Incantation, though. Why had I taken incantation – one of the toughest branches of magic – this year instead of something like botany? Pride? The lure of being able to bend the forces of nature with a well-tuned wand? Whatever it was, I just knew I was going to make a poor showing on my midterms, and I had a lot to make up before the finals. I didn’t dare wash out.

All in all, I’m glad I picked up Academagia: The Making of Mages. I played it right through, and I had an awesome time with it.

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Play it now – Three mercenary company simulations

The appeal of mercenary company simulators is somewhat more broadly-based than other gaming genres, as they tend to (more or less) successfully blend strategic, tactical and logistical tasks into an appealing framework. Choose your work, or your targets, select your personnel, make sure everyone’s equipped, fed and getting paid, fight your battles – and maybe get some looting and pillaging in on the side.

Here are my pet picks from the genre, in no specific order.

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Play it now – Winter Voices Prologue: Avalanche

Play it now!This is sort of awkward. I don’t want to tell you about this game.

That’s because I don’t want to spoil it for you.

Let’s pull some adjectives out of the bag. It’s refreshing, surprising, haunting and surreal.

Got that? Good. Play it now!

For the rest of you who are still here, I’m wondering quite how to describe this without giving you the wrong impression.

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Play it now – Hoist Sail for the Heliopause and Home

Play it now!Something a little unusual this time around. One that you can play right away.

From the very skilled – and I might even be inclined to suggest ‘artistic’ and ‘spectacular’ – Andrew Plotkin comes a sterling piece of short interactive fiction. It’s compact and lovely, and not too difficult.

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