Electron Dance

Electron Dance Highlights

23Dec/190

Twilight’s Last Gaming 2019/3: INFRA

I don't do Game of the Year, but I can do the games I enjoyed the most this year. This is the third of four.

INFRA (Loiste Interactive, 2016) is a wacky, strange one. You are structural analyst Mark, sent out to review some crumbling infrastructure. Initially, it appears to be a loosely linear first-person adventure in which your primary goal is to take photos of structural issues with a few simple puzzles to inhibit progress. Despite not being an open world, INFRA has a subtle exploration quality to it which I found beguiling.

Perhaps I should've known when a corridor was "blocked" by some colleagues who were chatting in the office that maybe this was going to be a rough ride. Because INFRA repeatedly turns to obtuse puzzles that often have unreadable feedback. And the story, which initially sounded quite realistic, warps into the ridiculous. It also has an unappealling obsession with luminous green mushrooms.

I spent 33 hours in INFRA over a period of eight months. How did I keep going? Well, there were such sights in the game - I genuinely enjoyed the places that INFRA sent me to, while hating the hoops it made me jump through to reach them. The end was, admittedly, a struggle, because the whole game is set over a single day and INFRA's dark night offered little in the way of cool visuals. How realistic were INFRA's environments? I couldn't tell you. Early on, I suspected the developers had done their homework. But towards the end, I had the feeling they were just very good at winging it.

Despite its janky design, INFRA is an incredible achievement - a huge and expansive explorer's dream. And it became one of my son's favourite games of all-time because of all the fascinating places we got to visit and explore at our leisure. Personally, I'd jot it down as one of my top love/hate games of all-time: if I'd played more Outer Wilds this year, I suspect it would've edged INFRA out of this list.

INFRA is available from Steam.

22Dec/192

Twilight’s Last Gaming 2019/2: Eastshade

I don't do Game of the Year, but I can do the games I enjoyed the most this year. This is the second of four.

There's no argument that Eastshade (Eastshade Studios, 2019) is a beautiful game. It isn't beautiful all of the time, no. It's not great at close-ups, nor panoramic landscapes. But get Eastshade in the right mood and, boy, you can screenshot a Twitter thread for six months.

Pitched as an open-world game based around painting vistas, it morphed more into an open-world game with fetch quests. Which makes it sound more like your regular open-world game. But that forgets Eastshade has no violence. Frankly, you've got nothing else to do except wander around and paint pictures, so why not help the occasional local with their problem? Is Kai at the apothecary a bad 'un? Who is the thief at Sinkwood inn? Who is responsible for the drumming in the forest at night?

Eastshade is like spending the time inside a children's book; few of the characters you meet are villains and most times people are just misunderstood. Thus Eastshade isn't big on moral quandries but it has a few - I rejected one quest outright as I wanted nothing to do with it. It's more about a sense of place, doing good and embracing community. It's not perfect because it never truly engaged me and for a game about painting it did a great job of sending me off on errands that didn't involve painting.

But Eastshade feels unique and was definitely worth the journey. I will be writing something more substantial about Eastshade in the near future.

Eastshade is available on PC from Steam or itch.io, and also on Xbox and PS4.

20Dec/190

Twilight’s Last Gaming 2019/1: Guildmaster Story

I don't do Game of the Year, but I can do the games I enjoyed the most this year. This is the first of four.

Guildmaster Story (WZO Games, 2019) is an honorary entry in this year's Most Enjoyed List because I lost the will to play after a certain point - but the Will O'Neill kept me going.

Guildmaster Story is a basic Match-3 game with a story told in cutscenes between the levels. I played on mobile which was a free-to-play affair with certain levels designed to encourage players to splash cash on powerups, otherwise you'd spend eternity trying to get lucky enough to make progress. The Steam version does not support the microtransactions, so it's probably less wearying.

But the genius here is O'Neill's blackly comic writing which translates Silicon Valley capitalism and the gig economy into a fantasy setting. For example, adventurers doing menial tasks for XP is a stand-in for interns who take no salary. There are some clever juxtapositions here and a real fire propelling it forward. Initially you're hoping that anti-hero protagonist Ganyo might turn things around and become a genuine human being but as the game progresses your dreams become much more mundane: you'll be satisfied if he suffers a horrible death.

Sure, some of the comedy is on the nose but it's so well done I wrote a month-long Twitter thread on the it. It even seems to taunt you for playing a game with microtransactions, you fool.

Guildmaster Story is available from Steam, Google Play and the App Store.

19Dec/190

Side by Side: Disobedient Sheep

Side by Side is a video series on local multiplayer games. This is the final episode of the fifth series.

Joel Goodwin of Electron Dance and Gregg Burnell of Tap-Repeatedly look after some Disobedient Sheep in Sickly Dove's upcoming local multiplayer sheepdog simulator. In the standard co-op mode, players endeavour to keep the sheep out of trouble. Trouble can mean boulders rolling through the field, anchors falling from the sky or - even better - some dynamite thrown amongst the flock. It seems someone is a little too eager for the silence of the lambs. Additionally, there are numerous competitive modes such as competitive survival, where you must bark your opponent's flock into danger, and King of the Hill.

Joel was so impressed with this back at EGX Rezzed he quietly shuffled it out of the Dabbling With series in favour of an exclusive, detailed look in Side by Side. Developer Laurie James was kind enough to send him a pre-release copy for the series.

From what we understand, the game was pretty much done when Gregg and Joel played it and it was slated for a September release. Some issues unrelated to the development have kept it in a holding pattern and we planned to wheel out this episode on release week. Sadly, it looks like the release has slipped into 2020 - but there's nothing stopping you adding this to your Steam wishlist!

If you enjoy the series, please like our videos and subscribe to the Side by Side channel. Although this is the final episode of the series, there will be a bonus episode in January.

Watch the video here or direct on YouTube.

12Dec/190

Side by Side: At Sundown

Side by Side is a video series on local multiplayer games. This is the fourteenth episode of the fifth series.

Joel Goodwin of Electron Dance and Gregg Burnell of Tap-Repeatedly go back to a game they encountered three years ago at EGX Rezzed - Mild Beast Games' At Sundown: Shots in the Dark.

Labelled a "hide-and-seek" shooter, players are invisible while lurking in the dark in this top-down multiplayer deathmatch. They can give away their location if they fire their weapon - provided a flash of lightning doesn't do it first. This makes At Sundown tense but when the tension pops, you often find players run around like headless chickens firing in random directions, desperate to fend off an invisible pursuer.

While At Sundown and concept-a-like Invisigun Heroes both entered the public consciousness in 2016, Kickstartered Invisigun Heroes beat At Sundown to release: Invisigun Heroes was done and dusted the following year while At Sundown just made it into digital stores this January. The two games are by no means identical but Gregg, having played both, admits he prefers At Sundown.

If you enjoy the series, please like our videos and subscribe to the Side by Side channel.

Watch the video here or direct on YouTube.

5Dec/193

Side by Side: Totally Reliable Delivery Service

Side by Side is a video series on local multiplayer games. This is the thirteenth episode of the fifth series.

Joel Goodwin of Electron Dance and Gregg Burnell of Tap-Repeatedly know you are terribly tired of seeing local multiplayer open world slapstick physics delivery games with wacky vehicles but, hey, here's Totally Reliable Delivery Service from We're Five Games anyway. Somehow, the Side by Side team barely scratched the surface of this one, more prone to exploration than getting on with, you know, actual deliveries. Really, take a look at this one because they had a right laugh. Oh and before you watch the video, please note the open beta is available on Steam right now for no pennies.

If you enjoy the series, please like our videos and subscribe to the Side by Side channel.

Watch the video here or direct on YouTube.

28Nov/190

Side by Side: On Trailers

Side by Side is a video series on local multiplayer games. This is the twelfth episode of the fifth series.

This time, Joel Goodwin of Electron Dance and Gregg Burnell of Tap-Repeatedly are having a fireside chat about trailers for local multiplayer games. They talk about trailers for games gathered from across the series and beyond - they travel from Sportsfriends and Hellfront Honeymoon to Botolo and Videoball. What gets the thumbs down and the thumbs up? And why? What's Joel's favourite local multiplayer trailer?

If you enjoy the series, please like our videos and subscribe to the Side by Side channel.

Watch the video here or direct on YouTube.

21Nov/190

Side by Side: Wand Wars

Side by Side is a video series on local multiplayer games. This is the eleventh episode of the fifth series.

This week, Joel Goodwin of Electron Dance and Gregg Burnell of Tap-Repeatedly have a real treat for you - Wand Wars from Moonradish. This beautifully polished game casts players as wizards or witches fighting it out for possession of the magical sphere, a weapon that gets progressively more dangerous with each throw. Is it a sports game? A PvP? Co-op? It is all these things and more. Wand Wars has an incredible amount of game content.

If you enjoy the series, please like our videos and subscribe to the Side by Side channel.

Watch the video here or direct on YouTube.

14Nov/190

Side by Side: Daka Dara

Side by Side is a video series on local multiplayer games. This is the tenth episode of the fifth series.

This week, Joel Goodwin of Electron Dance and Gregg Burnell of Tap-Repeatedly take on their first digital board game, Daka Dara by Chris Fibsch, based on an old West African game called Dara. There are two phases to the game. In the first phase, known as the drop phase, players put out their counters one at a time in turn, preparing the ground for the second phase. The second phase is referred to as the "move phase" which is far too genteel a name. Joel prefers to call it COUNTER CARNAGE. Because it's all about COUNTER DESTRUCTION.

An interesting curio with music that wants to make you rip your ears off with a pair of pliars, it delivered a comedy Side by Side moment which never fails to bring Joel to tears. Although he does have to tell people which bit he finds hilarious.

If you enjoy the series, please like our videos and subscribe to the Side by Side channel.

Watch the video here or direct on YouTube.

10Nov/1927

Behind the Poster

This is the first in a series of short musings on Control.

When I want to write about a game I like, it takes way longer than you might think. There’s an obsession to assemble an artwork of words that befits the title, something that feels as unique as the experience it delivered. That process never feels like a natural consequence of a great game; it’s not as if a game is an untapped seam of minerals and all I had to do was mine it for words. I’m looking for an essay that gives me peace, that looks like I've bled the memory directly onto the page. Write. Delete. Write. Delete. Go to bed. Format the drive. Start again.

I feel some remorse over my brutal carelessness towards a game which inspires derision. I can be cavalier with the words as all you have to do is swing that axe and the job is done. But what about the shrug game, the “meh”? How much brain juice needs to be expended on something that’s, uh, okay, I suppose? I will send my finest soldiers to the four corners of the world in search of exotic prose that conjures the most average of reactions. Now that’s real tricky, I think, as I write up my feelings after three hours of Control (Remedy Entertainment, 2019).

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