Now let´s thematize three games I want to shine a light on to, even though I´m not able to give them the space they deserve.
First and foremost: Steel Division 2 from Eugen Systems. A studio I have a special love for, mainly because they created the only RTS able to hook me for hundreds and hundreds of hours: RUSE. I love this game and it´s by far my favourite title of the genre. However, over the years, they focused on more realistic, deeper and way more complicated titles, which were never bad but never able to capture this simplistic magic either.
Steel Division 2 doesn´t break this trend, yet, provides probably the biggest step forward since years and really got me interested. Basically, it´s Steel Division 1 (read my review here) with another game added on top. Instead of simply selecting a map and fight battles, especially the campaign focuses on the sheer scale of those operations. For example, the Operation Bagration campaign now consists of one giant map, which aims to reconstruct the size, details and aspects of those manoeuvres. Naturally, as a result, the map is so big, that you can´t actually fight any battles or control units and have much fun. Instead, it´s a turn-based strategy game, where you control each and every, historical correct battalion.
Those can be sent over roads, grass or another environment, similar to previous titles in their benefits and disadvantages, to reach their goal. Obviously, the enemy won´t ignore your armies and it comes to battles. Those are actually fought like the ones in its predecessor, on a tinier map, which is only a fracture of the real one. However, the phases got an overhaul too and are now replaced by distance. In practice, that means, the further away your remaining battalions are on the giant overview map, the longer they need to come into battle, shown through the phases A, B and C. Honestly, a really cool new interpretation of this thing!
Otherwise, Steel Division 2 keeps everything the first one did well: Rocking hundreds of historically accurate units, the great Iriszoom engine and fun battles. This time though, the bottlenecks are gone, due to the large, open fields of Russia, where the game takes place. Now add a giant layer of turn-based RTS into the campaign (sadly the multiplayer wasn´t ready yet), expand the game´s scop by quite a lot and you got the sequel: A deeper improvement in almost every way.
Steel Division 2 will launch on PC
Darksburg is the next title from Shiro Games, developers of Evoland and Northgard. So I obviously expected quite a lot. This time they´re trying their hands at a multiplayer PvE/PvP game, similar to Vermintide or Left 4 Dead, just from an isometric perspective. This time zombies have overrun Darksburg and only a bunch of heroes can save it. Every player can choose from the quirky cast of four and later six heroes, each with their own abilities, weapons and ultimates … you know the drill.
In action, it also really looks just like any of those before mentioned titles, just with a new camera twist, which definitely isn´t bad. Considering how fun a well-made coop game can be, I was really intrigued by their different little twists they try to give the whole thing. For example, there will be zombies who have their own abilities too, designed specifically with an own room for the procedural generation, in order to add more depth to the whole thing, along with a Fog of War. However, the biggest thing was definitely the promise of being able to actually control the zombies yourself in a PvP mode, where you can take over those elite zombies, decide where to spawn hordes and so on. Something I never really see in games, despite the immense amount of fun it can provide. While not an entirely new concept Darksburg seems to follow Shiro Games’ track of delivering really fun, great titles.
Darksburg will release in Early Access later this year on PC
ARTE, a well-known French TV channel. Though did you know they also publish games? They do. Naturally, all of them have on thing in common: They try to teach something in some way. From the super interesting Homo Machina to one of their upcoming titles, Frankenstein: Birth of a Myth. Revolving all around the beloved horror figure, it aims to tell a new, unique story in this universe. Instead of focusing on the classic horror aspect, it wants to show the psychological behind its creation.
Author Mary Shelley underwent fascinating events and problems while she worked on the book and those are the tales of this game. Gameplay-wise it´s a 2D exploration game, where we control the mysterious white figure which will later be known as Frankenstein in beautiful, dream-like sequences. Presented in an art style resembling classic paintings, it´s a truly breathtaking experience to be able to explore those canvases with all their majesty. Additionally, we´re also bearing witness to Mary Shelley´s thoughts and beliefs during conversations with her friends, where she sheds more light on why she´s working on this book and what´s her goal. Honestly, for a book lover like me who´s in love with classic horror stories, this seems like a perfect game, once it releases.
Frankenstein: Birth of a Myth will release 2019 on PC and Nintendo Switch