04 Jan

The Roll the Dai 2017 Definitive Games of the Year List

Hello fellow travelers! I’m glad to see you that you made it to the year 2018. Before we continue further down this road – for who knows what darkness lies ahead? – let us pause and glance back at the year behind us.

What games are those that helped us along our path? Look carefully! Do you see them? Do you see how each is a meaningful part of the journey – this journey that we call life? Perhaps we had better camp here tonight. As you prepare the fire, let me warm you with stories of the games that touched my heart in 2017.

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18 Jan

The Roll the Dai 2016 Definitive Games of the Year List

“So…what are you playing these days?”

I get that a lot. I know, I know, I’m a game designer. I should have a ready list of games to recommend, but it’s hard. Every player is different and something that may blow one mind may glance off another harmlessly. Neither player is wrong. Neither player is right.

Which is all a long way of saying: game of the year lists are not meant to be objective judgments of quality. They are not meant to be arbiters of perfection. Heck, I didn’t even play some rather popular 2016 releases, including XCOM 2, Far Cry Primal, The Division, and The Last Guardian (just to name a few). This list is just the 10 games from 2016 that connected with me.

If you want some bonus commentary about games that didn’t release in 2016 or somehow otherwise were pushed off the list for some reason, stick around after the list for some Premium Content (assuming you’re a Premium Member).

All right, future heroes. Let’s do this. Read More

12 Jan

The Roll the Dai 2015 Definitive Games of the Year List

This is perhaps as far from random as I can get. This post – this comeback post, this reemergence, this magnificent Girl-On-Fire entrance into the Capital post – is instead a very intentional though somewhat sloppily judged list of what I consider my top games of the year.

What is a game of the year? It’s a game that came out in 2015, which is both limiting (because I play lots of random games that are a few years old) and unclear (because lots of games are released before they’re released now), but I’ve tried to keep it relatively tight. Stick around after the Definitive Ten for some bonus content if you’re a Roll the Dai Premium Member.

I want to make clear a few things before we start. First: this list is it. You don’t need to go read any other game of the year lists, because game of the year lists are dumb and subjective and you should just enjoy the games that you enjoy. Also, because this list is the best and only correct game of the year list.

Also, I didn’t play a bunch of new games this year. For example, I didn’t even touch The Witcher 3Bloodborne, Pillars of Eternity, Assassin’s Creed London Bridge, or Halo 5. I didn’t play the following games enough to feel like I could include them: Life is StrangeRise of the Tomb Raider, and COD: Black Ops 3. So, forget those games.

All right, all right, all right. Here are my top 10 games of the year. Read More

02 Jun

Who’s Afraid of Gordon Freeman?

I’ve spent the past month trying to convince myself to play more of a game that will be 16 years old in a few months, but in the end, a little over an hour of Half-Life: Opposing Force was all I could muster. It’s not that Opposing Force is a bad game. It’s just that I didn’t want to keep playing it.

Dead guysSince I’ve summarily pushed nostalgia onto the ground, let’s give it a few kicks for good measure. I played some of Half-Life and found it decent, though, like so many games, I never finished it. I also found it more than a bit tedious. Read More

05 May

Learning to Fly

Well, I certainly didn’t intend to take a month-long break, but now that I’ve gone and done it, I suppose there’s nothing to be done but to forge onward. And what better way to do so than with first-person grappling game A Story About My Uncle? ASAMU was primarily on  my radar because it’s published by Coffee Stain Studios, the company behind the decent action-tower-defense games Sanctum and Sanctum 2, but more importantly the developers of the sublime Goat Simulator.

ASAMU is a game that is entirely based on movement and momentum. It’s a game where you fly through the air with a mysterious crystal-powered energy-grapple that emerges from your gloves and attempt to land on various rocks, platforms, and other bits of terrain. It’s a game where you repeatedly fall to your demise and try again. It’s a game where, ostensibly, there is a story about an uncle. Read More

09 Apr

I’m From the Bureau

I feel bad for The Bureau: XCOM Declassified. It’s like the poor middle child, born with the XCOM name but not given the responsibility of the eldest son (the well-respected though absolutely confusing old-school X-COM: UFO Defense) nor spoiled rotten as the critical darling who’s just so like his older brother, isn’t that darling XCOM: Enemy Unknown. No, not only does The Bureau have the misfortune of being in a family with those two, but in this tortured metaphor, I’d go so far as to say that The Bureau is their sister: the single outnumbered girl constantly being told how great her brothers are.

Go Eagles!And here’s the thing – it’s a prestigious family. It’s hard to stand out when your older brother is considered one of the greatest original tactical games ever invented and your younger brother is considered one of the greatest modern tactical games ever invented and you’re a game that has shooty gun bits. How good can an XCOM shooter be, anyway? Is The Bureau a modern-day X-COM: Enforcer? Read More

25 Mar

Over the Line

I’m not a big fan of multiplayer shooters. I tend to spend most of my time either crawling through vegetation looking for a point of interest, or staring at the stats of the person who has just killed me and wondering what I could have done differently. It’s mainly a sad, contemplative experience, and it’s an experience I can easily attain by booting up various Battlefields, Halos, or Call of Duties that I own across multiple platforms. When I cracked the plastic wrap on Battlefield: Hardline, I resigned myself to another go on this melancholy merry-go-round.

Cop StuffI had heard only bits and pieces of the marketing for Hardline, but one of the things I’d heard was that they were going to deliver on a strong story for the single-player experience. I’ll admit that I scoffed. I’ve played my fair share of shooters, all of which have either complex stories based on a lore that I’ll never understand or essentially boil down to killing the right mans with a side of “isn’t war terrible” thrown in. While I’ve been impressed with level design and certain environmental moments that shooters have been able to present, the actual story, plot, and characters have always felt a bit amateur hour to me. Would Hardline be any different? Could it? Read More

18 Mar

I Built This City

It seems odd to talk about a game that was actually released recently, because this blog isn’t supposed to be a collection of reviews. I’m not a game journalist; I’m a designer, and each entry is simply a short rambling of my thoughts on how a particular game works or doesn’t work for me. I also try – often poorly – to pinpoint any designs in the game that I feel are particularly strong or weak. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk a bit about Cities: Skylines.

Cities: SkylinesWait, wait, I’m actually not done with disclaimers. Before we actually dive into Skylines, I want to talk a bit about my relationship with SimCity, because I think it’s important. I’m not what you would call an “avid” SimCity player. Back in the day, when SimCity was a fresh new piece of intellectual property, I found the game and simulation to be hard and unforgiving. I would immediately spend all my money trying to build a city only to find out I was bankrupt and had to sit and wait for a few months to go by to get enough in the budget to build another power plant or police station or school. I was frustrated that the game let me believe I could run free with my city-building imagination only to smack me down with gameplay incentives to take it slow. Read More

10 Mar

A Mighty Pirate

Let’s go back in time a bit. Let’s walk down memory lane, hand in hand with Telltale Games, to a time when they made point-and-click adventure games for the adventure game crowd. Before the Walking Dead became a storytelling hit that would forever seed the path of all their future games, before every game that came out of that studio was a fictional tour de force with heart-wrenching player choices with little of the adventure game puzzle-solving that their early work was known for.

A SwordfightPerhaps it was fate that I rolled Chapter 2 of Tales of Monkey Island (The Siege of Spinner Cay). I had finished Chapter 1 eons ago and enjoyed it, but had never ventured further down the Tales of Monkey Island path. Other shiny baubles had distracted me and I had never come back. So when Guybrush Threepwood’s exaggerated features and shiny face peered out at me once more, I was curious what I’d find when I returned to this past life, both for me and Telltale Games. Read More

03 Mar

I Got 99 Spirits

A clarifying point, to start: I didn’t actually roll 99 Spirits. I rolled Tsukumogami, the original Japanese version of 99 Spirits. As the two games are very similar if not identical – other than language – I decided to play a game in which I could understand the story and instructions. And a good thing too!

Exposition!

Because wouldn’t you know it, one of the main mechanics of 99 Spirits is guessing words and had I been playing in the original Japanese, I would have done quite poorly indeed. What an odd creature 99 Spirits is. If you were to ask me who should play 99 Spirits, I’d be flummoxed. Let’s see if I can arrive at a good answer before I call it a night. Read More