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E3 2018: 5 great games you might have missed

It’s hard to not be distracted by E3 2018‘s huge announcements and dazzling trailers for the next installments of popular series or brand new video-game franchises. Nestled among those bright lights and earth-shattering presentations were brief looks at smaller indie titles that looked just as amazing. Here are 5 games you might have missed out on this E3.

Tunic

During the Xbox presentation at E3 2018, a little fox made a big splash. Tunic is an isometric action adventure that takes the adorable character through lush, sunlit forests and dark, mysterious ruins on a quest to unlock an enigmatic glyph language and defeat the rampaging monsters. The glyphs are even part of the game’s text, making their translation a vital part of your adventure. The calming colors and soothing soundtrack immediately make the game stand out, but don’t let them lull you into thinking Tunic will be a laidback lark around the island.

Sable

Shedworks’ Sable might be the prettiest game of E3 2018 and for a good reason. The narrative adventure from Gregorios Kythreotis and Daniel Fineberg looks like it was torn straight from an ‘80s-inspired graphic novel. The game leans on the kind of detail and simplicity you’d expect to see in The Louvre. It’s an open-world, coming-of-age tale of discovery, bound to be a true Breath of The Wild descendant that fills every corner of your body with butterflies.

My Friend Pedro

My Friend Pedro is a gun-fu ballet 2D action-platformer in which a talking banana assists a man with glowing eyes in the mass execution of geriatric gangsters. No matter how I describe it, I can’t do this game justice. Please go watch the gameplay trailer for this game and enjoy the masterful juxtaposition of thoughtful platforming and a brutal murder party. Video games, ya’ll. And kudos to Devolver for taking chances in these single-dev productions and giving platforms for these great games to shine.

The Messenger

In The Messenger you play as a young ninja tasked by the “Western Hero” to transport a scroll that is key to your clan’s survival. Meanwhile, a demon army has launched a full-fledged assault on your village. The visuals look similar to old-school Ninja Gaiden games, but The Messenger promises to expand itself from traditional platformers. There are several portals located throughout each level that seamlessly transition the game from 8 bit to 16 bit. Transporting to two different eras in gaming history serves a crucial role puzzles within the platform too.  The Messenger clearly looked to the past, but its eyes are dead-set on the future.

Daemon X Machina

Nintendo opened its big E3 presentation with a wild new mech game from Japanese developer Marvelous Entertainment. Called Daemon x Machina, the game features incredibly fast-paced robot action, along with a cel-shaded art style similar to anime. Aside from how cool it looks, it’s the pedigree behind it that promises this game’s production value. Driving forces behind the Fire Emblem, Armored Core and Macross franchises are working on this game and it shows on the gameplay. The game’s entire color palette- a mix of vivid reds, oranges, turquoise and mustard yellow- makes it stand out.

Best of E3 2018

The annual E3 video game convention is a gamer’s paradise. This year’s model brought 70,000 insiders and fans to Los Angeles, California for three days of giveaways, tournaments and announcements, blowing minds (and eardrums) with over-the-top presentations of hundreds of cutting-edge games. Though it lacked headline-grabbing hardware news, the expo was jam-packed with impressive upcoming software for every platform under the sun. But some games show better than others. In no particular order, here are my favorite ten games from E3 2018.

Cyberpunk 2077

CD Projekt Red has already established themselves as the master craftsmen of video games with their Witcher trilogy. The question remained, however, can a studio steeped in the tropes of medieval fantasy successfully make the transition to futuristic dystopia? And if the Cyberpunk 2077 trailer at the Xbox conference and the 50 minutes behind the scenes demo are any indication, the answer is a resounding yes. While the in-engine trailer hearkens back to how Rockstar introduces its games- a showing of the vibrant world and its colorful inhabitants, the gameplay demo available only to the journalists makes a bold statement. CDPR isn’t treading on familiar grounds, rather it wants to break new ones. Tons of character customization, their trademark stringed quests and choices, a breathtaking open world with a brand new first-person perspective- the Polish developers have set a higher bar than even their previous masterpiece. And I for one can’t wait to get my hands on the final product.

Resident Evil 2

Woe to any team that tries to remake a beloved game and doesn’t do it right. Thankfully, that doesn’t appear to be the case with Resident Evil 2, Capcom’s attempt at remaking the revered horror masterpiece. Incorporating a modern third-person camera from another critically hit entry Resident Evil 4, sharp visuals from a more recent Resident Evil 7 and a more fleshed-out story, the game still retains the classic horror elements along with its great multi-layered puzzles. Resident Evil 2 feels like the game in our memories, rather than that actual game. Which is just what a remake should be, of course.

Dying Light 2

Zombie-apocalypse vision Dying Light 2 is overhauling every system in the game from the lauded first game. Revamped choices and consequences will drastically change how the world reacts to players, with the story written by veteran narrative designer Chris Avellone. The free-flowing parkour movement and creative means of zombie-killing that people loved about the first game are all there with full force, but this time with an open world that reacts to your choices and alliances. I, however, am looking forward to the scariest part of the game, the nights- with faster and more vicious zombies that are relentless in their pursuit for you.

The Last of Us Part II

One would be hard-pressed to name a video game with more emotional resonance than the soulful, harrowing post-apocalyptic survival story of The Last of Us. Following it up seems like a Sisyphean task, but the talented team at Naughty Dog is more than up to the task if their E3 presentation during Sony’s press conference is any indication. The demo made my jaw physically drop with the much-improved gameplay, tense enemy encounters and probably the most ambitious character animations the gaming industry has ever seen. The masterful juxtaposition of the jolly opening scene and the brutal gameplay that followed makes me certain that creative director and writer Neil Druckmann has retained his mastery to switch tones organically from the first game. Starring Ellie at the forefront this time around, the game has added jump and crawl buttons and bigger and more vertically designed levels for some incredible gameplay moments. Safe to say, The Last of Us Part II has set its eyes to surpass the original in every way. And I expect nothing less.

Ghost of Tsushima

Sucker Punch Productions leaves the superpowered world of Infamous behind to travel back to 13th century Japan in a gorgeously rendered open-world adventure game that puts you in the well-worn armor and sandals of Jin Sakai, a samurai coming to grips with the fact that life as he knows it has come to an end. Based on the real-life Mongol invasion of Japan and, more specifically, Tsushima Island- this game is poised to win over the fans of the classic Samurai films and the Kurosawa enthusiasts. With stunning imagery of lush vistas and beautifully rendered combat, this game is an elegant, dazzling experience and looks like a promising new series that I can’t wait to explore.

Devil May Cry 5

After 10 years, director Hideaki Itsuno and the core team at Capcom have reunited to give us the “true” sequel to Devil May Cry 4. We return to Red Grave City, where a demonic invasion has begun. This event attracts Nero, the protagonist- the familiar face you might remember from Devil May Cry 4. Nero has lost his demonic arm, the source of his power. But fear not, the robotic replacement looks just as handy and stylishly cool. The combat and music give off that nostalgic vibes while the visuals have taken a hyper realistic approach. Capcom has recently been a on a role with their crowd-pleasing game lineup. But Devil May Cry 5 is surely the crown jewel of that accolade.

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

At first glance, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice can be relegated to another FromSoftware production which draws too much from their already well established Soulsborne formula. But underneath, Sekiro tries to be much different from the bunch. Light stealth mechanics drawn from Tenchu, minimal RPG elements and more focus on swordplay than hacking and slashing makes the game a different beast altogether. Sekiro is set in Japan’s Sengoku period- a time of constant military conflict and social upheaval, but also drawing from Japanese myths and fantastical elements. This E3 didn’t have a shortage on Japan-set samurai action games, but Sekiro sets its own mark for sure.

Anthem

Anthem had a tall order to live up to the last year’s ambitious reveal and on top of that, to break out of the EA stigma that has tainted the publisher’s reputation drastically. Bioware’s own Mass Effect Andromeda’s failure to make a splash coupled with EA’s Battlefront 2 microtransaction fiasco didn’t help as well. But after this year’s E3, I am much more confident in Bioware’s ability to give us a great game than I was before. The way the character’s Javelin exo suits feel is something quite special, as is the transition between flying and hovering and back again. There’s something really nice here, with Bioware nailing intuitive movement across, above and around an open world. More vertically designed levels give the players to maneuver and fly around in more creative ways and tackle enemy encounter accordingly. Taking queues from other shared world shooters and actions games like Destiny and Monster Hunter World, Anthem is shaping up to be a great time sink for those who want to play with friends in a fascinating world deeply rooted in rich lore and mysteries. While we’re busy asking “is this a true Bioware game?” the team itself has moved on and is confident about making a “new” type of Bioware game. Maybe it’s time for us fans to move along too.

Forza Horizon 4

At some point in the past couple of years, the playful, arcade-inflected “Forza Horizon” series passed up the hardcore “Forza Motorsport” simulation line as my favorite racing franchise. The next game puts the pedal to the metal by incorporating changing seasons into its open-world take on Great Britain; race in the snow during winter, across rainy puddles in spring, through sunny pastures and fields in summer and over leaf-filled roads in fall. A technical and mechanical showpiece for the Xbox One, it boasts a special gift for Xbox One X owners: an option to race at a blistering 60 fps. With the new McLaren Senna on its cover, Forza Horizon 4 seems to do the impossible again- to improve upon an already perfect formula. While other “shared-world games” have struggled with their identities and differentiating between the single and multiplayer elements, Forza Horizon 4 juggles those issues like a true master. The online to offline transition is seamless and it never kicks you out of your playing session. The online players outside your party can never grief you on the road.  Overall, this iteration of the Forza Horizon franchise seems to keep its eyes on being the most robust and feature-heavy game in the series.

Halo Infinite

“A piano tune from Halo 3!”
“That was totally Master Chief but with the classic armor style!”
“Is that a Halo ring I see?!”
“Where is this buttery graphics coming from!”

Halo Infinite trailer is responsible for me to lose my voice during this E3 for all the screaming. A lifelong Halo fan, I can’t wait to see where 343 Industries is taking the Master Chief saga after their initial stumble during the first couple of years. After they took the franchise reigns from Bungie, it has not been a smooth sail. But responding heartily to fan feedback, Halo Infinite is being built from the ground up with a brand new SlipSpace Engine featuring all the things Halo fans love. After Halo 5: Guardians failed to excite the fan base, this is exactly the path 343i should follow to regain that trust and goodwill.

E3 2018 preview: predictions and rumors

E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo), the biggest show on the gaming calendar, is right around the corner. This month, as they now do every June, the best and brightest talents in the industry will descend on a heat-baked Los Angeles to showcase their digital wares to the world. While the numerous leaks and plausible rumors have dimmed the element of surprise to an extent, the E3 hype train continues like a juggernaut nonetheless.

Conference schedule:

While the official E3 show will run from June 12 to June 14, the conferences start from June 9.

EA                        Sunday, 10 June 12:00 AM
Microsoft            Monday, 11 June 02:00 AM
Bethesda             Monday, 11 June 07:30 AM
Square Enix        Monday, 11 June 11:00 PM
Ubisoft                 Tuesday, 12 June 02:00 AM
PC Show              Tuesday, 12 June 04:00 AM
Sony                     Tuesday, 12 June 07:00 AM
Nintendo             Tuesday, 12 June 10:00 PM

Sony

While Sony is surely hard at work on the next generation Playstaion console, it is a safe bet we won’t be hearing anything major on the hardware front this year. Sony head Shawn Layden has also confirmed that the presentation will focus on four main Sony exclusives: Death Stranding, Ghost of Tsushima, Spider-Man and The Last of Us Part 2. Fans can expect deep dives, development updates and new trailer for all of these titles as well as announcements from third-party publishers and indie developers.

Sony is currently at the top of their game in churning out top-tier exclusives. Therefore, all eyes are on the next batch of their offerings as they gear up for this year’s E3. It seems Capcom may reveal a new Devil May Cry as well and what better place to do that other than Sony’s stage. Last year at PSX, From Software turned heads with their Shadows Die Twice teaser. Fans are eagerly expecting the game to be the sequel to the developers’ revered Bloodborne, or their long dormant Tenchu franchise. Whatever the case may be, it is expected to make an appearance in this E3.

Microsoft

Microsoft has a lot to prove this year. While they are adept at offering consumer-friendly services like Backwards Compatibility and Game Pass, their first party stable is failing to effectively compete with Sony’s diverse offerings. It seems Microsoft knows this too as they have boosted their efforts to strengthen their first party catalogue. The amazingly talented Playground Games are set to reveal the next game in the Forza Horizon series, but that is not the full picture. Rumor has it that Microsoft has assigned Playground to make the next Fable game as well. While it is still in early stages, a teaser this year on E3 might serve Microsoft well to get their message of commitment to diversify.

Announcements of new entries in the Gears of War and Halo franchises are also expected. This might be the year Microsoft bites the Battle Royale bullet and introduce a Halo Battle Royale game, but it is all up for speculation. Some third party surprise announcements are surely on the way too. Rocksteady’s rumored Superman game, Gearbox’s Borderlands 3 might turn up on the Microsoft stage pushing the extra horsepower of the Xbox One X.

Nintendo

Nintendo has had a killer 2017, due to two of the most critically acclaimed games in the Mario and Zelda franchises. To keep the momentum going, they are releasing a new Smash Bros. game this year. Built from the ground up for Switch, this one will embrace the eSports scene that’s formed about Brawl and Melee over the years. Kirby and Yoshi are also set to get new adventures in 2018, so I am fully expecting Nintendo to showcase gameplay from both. Last year’s Metroid Prime 4 reveal was a pleasant surprise for many fans, but more surprising would be the fact that Retro Studios is not making it. So while a Metroid gameplay trailer is expected, many including me are also eagerly anticipating Retro’s new game reeveal as well. Exciting times, indeed. I also imagine there’s a chance Nintendo will announce some new kits for its upcoming Nintendo Labo accessory which is now available worldwide.

EA

The last year has been tumultuous for EA, to say the least. From Mass Effect Andromeda’s disastrous launch to the Battlefront 2 micro-transaction fiasco, EA is in desperate need of some goodwill. For sports games this year, it is the usual. Fans will get the chance to see and play the latest EA Sports titles such as Madden 19, FIFA 19, NHL 19 and NBA Live 19. The recently revealed Battlefield V will have a large presence as well, especially the multiplayer. Titanfall Developer Respawn is currently working on a Star Wars game which could see a reveal on the EA stage. But the star of show will definitely be Anthem, Bioware’s latest project. A seeming mashup of Lost Planet, Dark Void and Destiny- I am really intrigued to see more gameplay and a deeper dive of the game.

Ubisoft

Outside of more details on the now-confirmed Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and The Division 2, I am fully expecting Ubisoft to roll out the only other remaining Tom Clancy franchise worth its salt: Splinter Cell. The fact that Michael Ironside came back to voice Sam Fisher as a cameo in Ghost Recon: Wildlands might be a sign of a full-fledged post-MGSV Splinter Cell.

Ubisoft blew everyone’s mind last year with an amazing Beyond Good & Evil 2 trailer. A gameplay trailer this year is not farfetched. Whatever the conference ends up being, you can be comfortably sure there will be a dance number during the Just Dance 2019 reveal.

Bethesda

With the recent announcement of Fallout 76, and not much information beyond reported leaks that the game won’t be a traditional Fallout game, I think we can definitely expect to hear more about it at E3. Last month Bethesda released a Rage 2 announcement trailer. Being jointly developed by id Software and Avalanche Studios, a gameplay trailer was released the day after the announcement. So far we have a release window of 2019, which we can hope Bethesda will narrow down during their conference. A Prey DLC is probably going to make an appearance as well. There are also a number of Elder Scrolls games Bethesda could make announcements about on stage this Sunday, namely The Elder Scrolls: Legends, The Elder Scrolls Online and hell, maybe even an Elder Scrolls VI teaser. I am of course most excited about a possible Doom 2 reveal. The original one from 2016 was a blasting success, and I hope the sequel is bigger, better and just a plain old hellish ride.

Square Enix

I’ll kick things off with the most sure thing of the bunch: Kingdom Hearts III. We should finally get a chance to see when we can get our hands on the hotly-anticipated title during this conference, which until recently had a vague window of 2018. Another guaranteed showing, Shadow of the Tomb Raider also had a recent announcement event. A gameplay trailer is definitely on the cards as the game releases this September. Final Fantasy DLC is expected to make an appearance too along with more Dragon Quest XI information. Square Enix may also give us a look of Final Fantasy VII remake gameplay. Revealed in 2015 with thunderous fanfare, it might be time for us again to salivate in anticipation for this one. The most interesting prospect for Square’s presentation may be a gameplay trailer for the already announced Avengers game. Right off the hype train of Infinity War, I am ready to dive in the Avengers hole once more. I mean, who isn’t?

So what are you guys hoping for this year on E3? Share this article and get the conversation going!

Red Dead Redemption: 8 years on, still awe inspiring

I remember playing Red Dead Redemption a couple of years after it was released. Everyone kept telling me how awesome it was and that I should have started playing it already. I was not as enthusiastic, however. It’s just cowboys, I thought. It’s just more Western stuff, stuff I had gotten bored of a long time back. However, I was a huge fan of Rockstar, the company that made this game, along with some of my all-time favorite franchises such as GTA and Max Payne. So I listened to my friends. Easily one of the best purchases I’ve ever made.

Red Dead Redemption was an open world masterpiece. This game would become the benchmark upon which all other future open world games would be compared against. Before we discuss the game itself, there is a fascinating story behind the development of the series that must be spoken of. Technically speaking, the first game of the series was Red Dead Revolver. The game was produced by Capcom and Angel Studios, who announced the campy, light hearted arcade game in 2002. However, Capcom decided to pull the plug on the project a year later.

This would not spell doom for the franchise, however. In fact, looking back, it looks like a classic rebirth. Rockstar’s parent company, Take Two, acquired Angel Studios for a cool 28 million dollars, and by extension, acquired the intellectual license to Red Dead Revolver.

Angel Studios, known as Rockstar San Diego from the point of the acquisition, was tasked with finishing the Red Dead Revolver game. The game was no longer as campy and arcade oriented as it was under Capcom. Instead, Rockstar’s mature storytelling, humor and gore was quite prominently featured in the game. It was still an arcade game, but now it had a mature story. The game has not aged well, however. The story feels unevenly paced and the voice acting is inconsistent. Most characters, the protagonist Red Harlow included, were fairly two dimensional.

One of the innovations Red Dead Revolver made was the “deadeye” mechanic. This would be seen in the next game as well, where a player presses a button to slow down time, and mark multiple characters to shoot and kill them instantly after getting out of the mode. This mode would be one of the things that makes the Western experience of Red Dead Redemption so salivating. I mean, who doesn’t want to be Clint Eastwood?

Highway robbery and horsin around – the Red Dead way.

Rockstar would put the franchise on the backburner until 2010, when they released the next and the most famous game of the series so far, Red Dead Redemption. The game was released for Xbox 360 and PS3 and was an ambitious open world project, in contrast to the earlier game. This would be a huge challenge for Rockstar as even though they had lots of open world experience from GTA, it would be a much bigger map than any of the GTA games that had been released at the time. Suffice to say, Rockstar pulled it off.

The game was a massive success, both critically and commercially. The story of the game was Rockstar at its finest: nuanced, gritty, mature and yet, humorous. The shooting mechanics had been greatly improved from Rockstar’s previous release, GTA IV. The world itself was bigger, better, and filled with more content than any Rockstar game at that point. There were multiple horses to choose from, each with its own stats, and who doesn’t like the option of many horses?

Red Harlow, the protagonist of the previous game, was ditched in favor of John Marston. Marston is a much more complex character than Harlow could ever be. An avid family man, Marston was trying to go back to being a civilian and just living out his life, but blackmailed by the Feds, he had to go back to a life of killing. That would be his penance for running with Dutch’s gang. I will not spoil the story for anyone who hasn’t played it, but in my opinion, Red Dead Redemption has one of the most satisfying, gut wrenching, heart breaking yet bittersweet endings I’ve ever seen in any game.

Screenshot from the remastered Xbox One version.

8 years on, I still get chills thinking about the brilliance of the story, the ending and the multi-dimensional characters. Almost every character in the game is an accurate representation of what could be expected of the Wild West: unpredictable, treacherous and morally ambiguous. Help could come from unexpected sources, and it’s just as likely that a trusted friend would stab you in the back.

Finally, the open world of the game is what makes it the genre-defining masterpiece it became. Before Red Dead Redemption, Just Cause had made an absolutely massive open world, but it was nowhere near as filled with stories, characters and intrigue. The game world of Red Dead Redemption was so full of content that you could be doing side quests for hours before you even start the main questline.

This massive open world, along with its dozens of hours of content, gave the game its uniqueness. Even back in 2010, the market was over-saturated with open world games. Red Dead Redemption gave the player the chance to fulfill their Western fantasies. Want to collect bounties? Just go talk with the sheriff. Card games more to your liking? Play poker at salons. Want to hogtie some injun and pull him around on top of or drag behind your horse? Nothing in the game world stopping is you (aside from pretty effective law enforcement, of course). Hell, bored of the good ol’ US of A? Just cross the border, go to Mexico and overthrow the government, or side with them against the rebels. Humans too boring? Hunt wildlife with your trusty steed. The best thing about this game, for me, is the freedom a player has in the game world. It’s not just a shooter with a good story, it’s an open world game that feels truly endless, at least for quite some time. A true Western role player game that also had a heck of a story. Considering the platforms it was released on and their technical limitations, that’s certainly something a company would be proud of.

Undead Nightmare should have had undead horses. Undead Night-mares. Geddit?

Red Dead Redemption was so well set in its ability to deliver a fantastic open world experience that a semi-sequel, Red Dead Undead, felt like a seamless transition into zombies and monsters. Even that had a story that, in its depth, can rival the best that Hollywood has to offer. – enough to put The Walking Dead to shame.

Red Dead Redemption is what reignited the love of cowboys and Westerns in my generation. It is such a good game that it almost feels unreal that we could get a game like this, something that was unimaginable even a few years before the game’s release. Possibly the greatest Western game of all time, and certainly one of the greatest open world games. I look forward to Red Dead Redemption’s sequel, coming out later this year, to topple its predecessor in terms of quality. Much easier said than done – it will be extremely difficult for RDR 2 to live up to the hype.

Best Indie Games of all time (PC only)

It was about a decade ago. This little thing called digital distribution came about, changing the entire landscape of the gaming industry. What this meant was, you no longer needed to buy physical copies of video games from stores. Games could now be distributed as digital content through the internet. This, as you might imagine, started to make things for gaming a bit different than it used to be. With the establishment of digital distribution platforms like Steam, Origin and such, games developed by independent developers began to gain more exposure. And so began the reign of indie game.

Gamers had found the equivalent of a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Why indie games became so popular is a question that has a plethora of answers. Mainly it was because this wasn’t some big name publisher trying to make the biggest game for the biggest paycheck. This was mostly a couple of dudes or sometimes just one dude trying to share one’s vision with the world and as such there was a touch of intimacy and care. And now about a decade after indie games had begun to get the love that they always deserved, I will try to inform you of the very best that this medium has to offer.

Now best of lists are almost always entirely subjective, and this is no exception. These are the games I cherish the most, so this list is constructed on my personal opinions and choices but I’ll try to make it somewhat objective. Consider this the beginning of a conversation instead of the final word on anything.

Some ground rules. This list was made in no particular order. As such, this isn’t gonna be a ranking. Also I’ll try to cover games from different genres, because if it were up to me, a best of list could be entirely consisted of RPGs and rhythm games. Lastly, since there’s a plethora of games to choose from across all platforms, this list will contain games that are available on the PC. We might do a few more for consoles later. Cool? Let us begin.

The Witness

Jonathan Blow. Funny name, genius man. In a way, he was a contributing factor of the indie game boom, with his puzzle game Braid. But this, this is his masterpiece. A puzzle game to its core but unlike any other. You are left with a huge island containing over 600 puzzles to solve. An open world puzzle game of sorts, The Witness with its ambient music and subdued storyline gives you the freedom of exploring and solving puzzles in a way no other game does. The game helps you through it without any sort of tutorial, with a learning curve that you have to discover for yourself. Add a beautiful art design that is both modest and ambitious, the Witness is an experience like no other.

Firewatch

As games are gradually being considered more as an art form, developers are trying to make games more akin to experiences than time sinks. A result of that very mindset is the walking simulator. A form of game that is more about exploring a world and experiencing the various aspects of it. And Firewatch is at the forefront of this advent. You play as a park ranger exploring the Shoshone National Park of Wyoming in the year 1989. You explore an open world on your own with your partner Delilah’s voice over the radio being the only form of social exchange and watching the game’s emotionally engaging narrative unfold at a slow, relaxing pace. But the game’s true beauty lies in the art style and visuals, along with the relaxing music in the background. This game approaches a unique visual style composed of vibrant colors and contrast. Moreover, the game gives you a camera to capture the scenic beauty, but the camera has a limited number of films, so you can only take a certain quantity of pictures on your journey. Although it sounds like a drag, I believe this encourages players to seek out the best scenes they can see in the game and adds more value to each picture, making it a memory to cherish. Fair warning, the game has an ending that is very divisive and will not appeal to everyone’s taste.

Inside

There are some things I like so much that I don’t want to talk to people about them. Perhaps it’s something related to my own lack of confidence on if I can convince another person just how much this certain thing might have affected me. Inside is one of those things. I cannot possibly put into words how special this game really is. On its surface, Inside is just another puzzle platformer with a slightly different take on the base mechanics. But there’s something about the game’s melancholic, bleak, ominous atmosphere. Without a single line of dialogue, Inside manages to tell a more compelling story than most games today, and I do not mean that lightly. The implications and subtle hints in this game leave the player engaged in thought long after the quite linear and to be honest, quite short game is finished. It is a unique experience, and one that every person should taste at least once. Play it. Just, go play it. That is the best advice you’ll get today.

Stardew Valley

If you played any of the Harvest Moon games, this is the peak of the formula laid down by that great series. If you haven’t, firstly, what’s the matter with you, secondly, do I have a treat for you. Though it is expected of gamers today to frown at farming simulators thanks in part to Farmville, this game is nothing short of a magical experience. This game is one of the most enjoyable and thoroughly captivating time-sinks of this generation. You will put in a significant amount of time into this once you get into it, that’s a given. The satisfaction and pride derived from the growth of your virtual farm is too much to resist for long. This game is just so brimming with content that no two hours spent will ever feel the same. A must play entry for every gamer.

Enter the Gungeon

Confession. I never liked Bullet-hell games. The sheer amount of stuff going on in the monitor was always too frustrating for me, until I tried this. This rogue-like bullet-hell dungeon crawler with RPG elements has something for just about anyone. Primary among which is, puns. Every item you find will have some sort of witty legend in the description. And it’s not just the puns, some descriptions genuinely stir your curiosity for the lore of the game, which is in no sense lacking by the way. Some people complain about the difficulty in this game, which is actually perfect in my opinion. Just a perfectly balanced system, gutturally satisfying as you get the sense that you are gradually mastering the mechanics. An all-round fun experience.

To the Moon

I honestly don’t know how to explain to someone how magnificent this game is without spoiling what makes it so. There’s no form of combat in this story driven experience. Just absolutely raw emotional engagement. Everything about this is beautiful in a heartbreaking way. This is one of those games that stands as a legitimate example of video games transcending just entertainment and becoming an art form. I simply cannot tell you how good this game is without perhaps spoiling a bit of the story, something I wouldn’t want to do to my worst enemy. Just know that this isn’t a game you win. It’s a poignant melody that you must feel.

Pyre

Any of Supergiant’s games could have taken this place on this list, and all of them deserve a mention. But what they had started with Bastion, evolved further into Transistor, has been perfected with Pyre. Every element of the other games is weaved together perfectly to create a most unusual and a most mesmerizing experience. The beautiful visuals, extraordinary music and deeply emotional story all add up to make a compelling combination of sports and RPG mechanics. It is just about everything I look for in a video game executed in an unbelievably flawless manner. The care and creativity put into every frame of this game makes you marvel at the sheer genius of the minds that brought this to life. A vividly lifelike experience.

Hotline Miami

An exhilarating, intoxicating, high-octane celebration of old school violence in video games. Hotline Miami is the top down shooter with intense gunplay and brutal close combat. Nothing gets your blood pumping like this game does. A thoroughly breathtaking soundtrack to boot, Hotline Miami is the perfect example of telling a story through gameplay alone. The surreal atmosphere and music can put you in a trance like state where you become your character, gunning down enemies in tightly wound spaces. The dictionary definition of addicting gameplay, Hotline Miami will have you die and come back for more each time. Also, check out the sequel, it’s actually better in a lot of ways.

Spelunky

Okay, right of the bat, this game does not hold your hand. There is no character progression, no item unlocks, just raw skill on a gamer’s part. The levels are all randomly generated on this unique platformer, which makes this game endlessly replayable. Since there’s no shortcuts to get better, you always find new interactions and tricks to make your character’s movements more fluid and agile. Your gameplay is forced to become more versatile and refined gradually as you keep playing the game. And you will keep playing it, for difficult it might be, but addictive it is to a far greater extent. This game has actually taught me an important life lesson. Life isn’t a nightmare, it isn’t out to get you. It’s just randomly generating extremely unfair situations.

Undertale

The term “perfect” should not be thrown around randomly, and this game is perfect.

This is the most compelling piece of storytelling of this generation. And RPG at its core, Undertale challenges every known trope of the genre with fearless wit and confidence, and remains one of the most unique and deeply satisfying experiences conceived by man. Every aspect of this game has been knocked out of the park in terms of excellence. The story is amazing. The soundtrack is phenomenal and it accentuates and underlines everything happening in the game. The graphics might turn some people away. But I say to you, bring those people back, tie them to a chair and make them play an hour of the game because that is all one would need to fall in love with every bit of this game’s formula. Behind a guise of humor and wit, this is a deeply emotional game which makes you think about every choice you make in it. In a time when videogames concentrate on being making profits, Undertale makes us remember why we love videogames so much. Undertale is the one story I wish I could wipe from my memory, just to experience it again, in all its emotional beauty, for the first time, and I am truly jealous of one who is about to experience it for the first time.

So I hope this list wasn’t much of a disappointment to you guys and you all can relate or be motivated enough to actually go through one of these games.

Enter the Gungeon: gunning for the sweet spot

Difficulty in video games is a divisive topic to say the least. There’s a stark difference between games like Devil May Cry from the early 2000’s and Assassin’s Creed from the current generation. In that, compared to the former, the latter feels like a cakewalk at best.

So it would seem challenging games are out of fashion. But with the popularity of games like Dark Souls and Bloodbourne (among others), it’s quite apparent that difficult games still have a strong demand in today’s world. The major milestone that a game’s difficulty has to reach is a proverbial sweet spot between frustrating and challenging. A game has to be approachable in a way that learning the ins and outs of its mechanics are rewarding in some form. It is quite a fine line.

Enter the Gungeon manages to walk that line almost perfectly. Personally I do not usually enjoy bullet hell games, the sheer amount of stuff going on on-screen and the frustrating difficulty curves are too much for my patience to withstand. But this indie game offers just the right blend of bullet hell, rogue-like and RPG elements to engage the average gamer.

Its challenging but rewarding mechanics push you to your very limits and further beyond in such grand fashion that once you finally beat that seemingly impossible boss, you can’t help but come back for more. The game does have a steep learning curve, but it’s are not as frustrating as it is genuinely engaging.

Even when you’re away from the game, your mind keeps pondering how you could have done the little things differently, how you could’ve dodged that one pesky bullet. The game gives you a variety of ability altering items and guns so you can prepare a strategy to suit your strengths. It presents a perfect balance of basic gameplay mechanics and new additions each level.

The most fun part of the game in my opinion, is the wit. There’s a surprising amount of lore attached to it, as each character and even each item has a unique story behind it, usually in the form of witty wordplay. For example, here is the description of a gun called “The Bullet”:

This strange gun, shaped like a bullet, fires bullets that are shaped like guns. Those gun-shaped bullets continue to fire bullets in-flight, but those bullets look like bullets. Straightforward Gungeon engineering!” 

You can see the wit in play. And that’s probably not even the funniest description. You’ve got to find that one for yourself.

At Enter the Gungeon’s core lies a viscerally satisfying and engaging gameplay style that never fails to give the player a run for their money. It feels frustrating at times, yes. But it always gives the player an opening, utilizing it depends on the patience and skill of the player. And that is what makes you play it over and over again, at the end of the day.  Overall, a must play for someone who could do with a challenge.

Steam’s pricing policy for developing countries – good news for Bangladesh

An increasing number of PC gamers in Bangladesh have shied away from the decade-old norm of buying pirated DVDs from their local shopping mall or sailing the high seas themselves and are now buying original games for full retail price.

The reasoning behind that, aside from the obvious moral ones, is that video games have immense online interactions now — from updates, patches and DLC’s to the doom and gloom of MTX’s — and players are also drawn towards playing online, something which is cumbersome to say the least with pirate games, as couch co-op slowly fades.

Developers have also spurred on that trend with DRMs, with mixed results.

As much as one can build up their library during Steam sales, the prohibiting factor for every gaming enthusiast in Bangladesh has always been the pricing.

Justifying the $60 purchase of a single game can prove a tough ask, especially to your girlfriend who will ask why you didn’t take her to the Westin for a buffet dinner using a certain telecom company’s ‘buy one get one free’ offer.

Just kidding, PC gamers don’t have girlfriends.

But more to the point, that load on your wallet is definitely going to get a lot lighter after Valve’s latest changes. The software giant announced that they would not only be adding more payment methods, but that they would be starting a ‘South Asian Pricing Region’, meaning the prices of games South Asia will be lowered.

As a result, PC gamers in Bangladesh can expect to see hugely reduced prices for some upcoming titles, while they can grab Middle Earth: Shadow of War for just $30 compared to the $60 that North Americans will have to pay for the AAA experience. Other $60 AAA games include Call of Duty WWII, which currently costs $32, and Assassin’s Creed Origins, for $44.

Image: Ubisoft

All over the store games have been reduced in price. Cuphead is retailing for $8.19, less than the $9.99 its soundtrack costs!

That load on your wallet is definitely going to get a lot lighter after Valve’s latest changes, which aims to make games cheaper for countries like Bangladesh.

The changes have not been made without their troubles however. The process has led to gifting harder due to pricing differences across countries. If you have a cousin living in Canada or the US and they want some of the sweet deals, it’s not going to happen. Sure they can Western Union the money to your mom, but Steam has restricted the gifting of games to players in other regions where the prices are different.

Great, so now you know that the games in Bangladesh are cheaper, but how do you go about acquiring them without an international credit card? While Valve seriously needs to work on accepting BKash directly, you can have a gander around Facebook.

Image: Cuphead

Impex Computer, a shop in Elephant Road’s Multiplan Center, have Steam Wallet Codes available.

The process is akin to recharging your phone in the pre-flexi days, with a scratch-off card, and the price isn’t that bad either.

While a $2 card currently costs Tk 250, an 82.5% mark-up, that difference is just 23 taka when you buy a $10 card for Tk 850. Using my A level degree in math, I have calculated that buying Call of Duty WWII ($32) would cost you Tk 2,800 – a bit more than you’d need to pay officially, but a far cry from the official retail price of $60.

Group gaming with Nintendo Switch – the next big console?

The current generation of consoles brought improved graphics and made new gameplay mechanics possible but they do not do anything to shift the planes of the video game industry. The Nintendo Switch is the newest entry and it is by far the most innovative one. But will it really click with the average Bangladeshi gamer?

For the uninitiated, the Switch is a portable console by default that also doubles as a traditional home console. You have the main unit with two controller sticks attached at the sides called “Joy-Cons”. The main unit can be placed onto a dock that is meant to be connected to a display via HDMI. If you dock the portable unit, your game instantly shifts to the big screen. You can remove the joy-cons from the sides of the Switch and they’ll work wirelessly with your console. You can also slot the joy-cons onto an included grip module that makes the controller sticks mimic an actual controller. The joy-cons also have gyroscopes and accelerometers so you can use them to play games like you did on the Wii.

Nintendo Switch - HIFI Public
Squinting at a tiny screen has never been this fun. Neither has fighting for elbow space. Image: Nintendo

This innovative design means that you can take your game anywhere you want to. One moment you’re playing Zelda on your TV screen, the next moment you’re stuck in Dhaka’s traffic jam bashing bokoblins instead of listening to your chauffeur arguing with unruly pedestrians. It is truly a technical marvel that is just as seamless as the commercials showed us.

You might be wondering about how big the console actually is and how much it weighs. The screen size is 6.2 inches and the whole shape of the device is larger than your average cellphone, so fitting this one in your pocket is a no-no. But the shape can be accommodated for easily in a backpack or messenger bag. It weights around 300 grams so it is very light and it isn’t tiring on your hands either.

The internals of the device are as follows:

Display: 6.2 inch, 1280×720 LCD (the Switch outputs at 1080p when in docked mode).

System Chip: Nvidia Tegra X1.

CPU: Octa-core (4×ARM Cortex-A57 & 4×ARM Cortex-A53) @ 1.020 GHz.

Memory: 4 GB LPDDR4.

Storage:  Internal flash memory: 32 GB.

GPU: Nvidia GM20B Maxwell-based GPU at 307.2 – 384 MHz while undocked, 307.2 – 768 MHz while docked.

Sound: Linear PCM 5.1ch (via HDMI), front-firing stereo speakers, and headphone jack.

Nintendo Swiitch games - HIFI Public
Image: Gamestop

The Switch has an extensive library of video games, all utilising the console very well. For starters, you have two Game of The Year award winners in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild, and Super Mario Odyssey. If single-player games aren’t your forte, you have Splatoon 2 – a competitive shooter with a unique twist on gameplay. You also have a game called ARMS where you have to use your joy-cons to emulate punches thrown at your opponent.  There are also multiple ports by Bethesda – Skyrim, DOOM, and Wolfenstein 2 which are to be released at a later date.

It is truly a technical marvel that is just as seamless as the commercials showed us.

Most games run at a steady 30 fps both in portable and docked mode. Super Mario Odyssey and Splatoon 2 run at 60 fps. The Switch does very well with the modest hardware that it has and games do not have any sort of noticeable lag or fps drops even during taxing situations like combat and rendering heavy particle effects.

Playing on the portable mode is easy and ergonomic. The whole shape isn’t too wide and the joy-con controllers were adequately sized even for my large hands. We definitely recommend picking up a pro controller though, as the included grip module is a bit of a joke.

Nintendo Switch - HIFI Public
Nintendo has found a magical way to make controllers float. Image: Nintendo

The big plus side to the Switch’s design is that during summer days, when load-shedding is common in Bangladesh, you need not worry because if the power goes out, the console instantly shifts to portable mode. So, you can rest assured that your boss fight isn’t going to be disrupted by electrical problems.

Games for the Switch can be found at all the common video game retailers in Bashundhara City or Rifles Square. IF you want e-shop cards, the Facebook page Get-Set-Gaming can set you up.

All in all, the Switch can be a worthy addition to your video game hardware collection. It has great games, amazing design, and is a blast to play on.

Will the real Need for Speed please stand up

Turn the clock back to 2010, and you’ll find yourself in a world where all racing games were measured by the gargantuan franchise that was Need for Speed. Regardless of what kind of racing game it was, the gamers, and sometimes reviewers, would still judge it by names in the Need for Speed stables. And why not? Back then, they had arcades as well as simulators and a loyal fan base under their belt. Fast forward to present  day, and the Need for Speed name is either being dragged through the mud, or worse, ignored and forgotten altogether.

How is it that a renowned franchise such as this has fallen into such dismay? A franchise almost synonymous with cars and racing is now considered a brand you’d rather overlook and not spend your hard earned money on. You’d think that having been in the industry since 1994 have earned them a wealth of knowledge and insight into the mind of the gamers, but their more recent titles feel more and more disconnected with the fan base.

It’s easy to say that EA, the company behind the franchise, is to blame for the progressively bad entries being made, but is it really that simple? Let’s go through all the possible scenarios that could be hampering this series from claiming its bygone glory.

Image: Electronic Arts

New kids on the block

Back in the heydays of NFS, there weren’t really that many titles that could really challenge it. Rather, it was the yardstick by which other racing games were judged. However, the competition started to rise to the challenge, and newcomers were suddenly taking the virtual racing scene by storm. Titles like the Test Drive Unlimited series, Burnout Paradise, and the newly competing Forza Horizon series was showing the way forwards with arcade racing games. Unfortunately, Need for Speed did not have the same development pace as its competitors, instead stubbornly sticking to age-old formulas instead.

Image: Electronic Arts

Taste Evolution

Up until 2002, the formula of NFS was pretty straightforward; exotics darting across scenic, albeit closed, tracks and maybe throw in a police chase or two for a good surge of adrenaline. That all started to change, however, when car culture as we knew it started to shift to a new paradigm thanks to the first two Fast and Furious movies (back when they were about cars and racing, that is). EA was smart to jump in on this with their newly rebooted Need for Speed Underground and its subsequent follow-up titles. The new formula was all about self expression through the customization of one’s car, and the new titles were providing that in spades. However, pushing the same styled content over and over again does tend to grind on one’s tastes, and unfortunately, that was precisely what had happened. EA had even gone as far as to bring back the exotics, pretty tracks and police chases in the hopes of getting fans back under the banner, but of course this wasn’t exactly what the fans wanted.

Image: Electronic Arts

Shifting Studios

Don’t know if you noticed, but NFS has been going through a bit of an identity crisis in the recent years thanks to the inconsistent number of studios that have worked on its various instalments and that’s another reason NFS can’t match up to its competitors. Take the era of Underground for example. The first one, its sequel, Carbon, 2005’s Most Wanted, and Pro Street were all developed under Black Box games. All of these were hits with the audience and it gave Black Box studios a wealth of experience that could have filtered down to future titles. However, as history teaches us, EA has a habit of acquiring studios and then dissolving them, and as such, Black Box was dissolved, and future titles were put under charge of Criterion Games, makers of the Burnout series. And that lineage showed, as Need for Speed suddenly started getting Burnout-esque crashes and lacked any kind of customization other than colours, and the same thing happened when they decided to do an arcade-y remake of the beloved Most Wanted title. With things starting to crumble, EA handed over development of the next title, Rivals, to the current studio, Ghost Games, with Criterion overseeing things. It was the first time in a long time that customization, albeit rudimentary, had popped up.

Image: Electronic Arts

As history teaches us, EA has a habit of acquiring studios and then dissolving them, and as such, Black Box was dissolved, and future titles were put under charge of Criterion Games, makers of the Burnout series.

Ghost Games seemed to have gotten their bearing with their 2015 reboot of the franchise, finally returning to the belly of underground racing and deep levels of customization. Ghost Games also has a good rapport with the community as many of the feedback was actually addressed, unlike in the past. Aside from a few technical and handling glitches, it was well received by fans and hailed as the first step to NFS’s return, and when 2017’s Payback was announced, fans waited with bated breath for Ghost’s second outing. However, the slot machine style “Speed Card “performance upgrades and EA’s new-found greed of incorporating lootboxes have otherwise ruined a good sequel.

Image: Electronic Arts

All the problems outlined above are indeed a breakdown of things that EA should be able to manage, and yet it isn’t happening. What is happening instead is the Need for Speed name keeps getting more and more negative hits, and with games like Forza now making it’s way into the PC realm, EA can no keep the racing market all to itself. This isn’t the first time a beloved franchise went down under because of profit-making initiatives, with Mass Effect, and Star Wars Battlefronts being  recent victims. Unless Ghost Games start addressing these issues and ACTUALLY start listening to their fan base, they may actually have to drag this franchise to the digital graveyard .

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and not to be attributed to HIFI Public or its editorial team in any way.

Table-Top Role Playing Games

Only one medium of entertainment allows me to design and then play a Mongolian ghost-wrestler who beats down doors with a giant hammer and then helps blow up a ship using electroplasmic spirits. Only one medium of entertainment allows me to go mad with rage in an attempt to cover my team’s escape from said ship, with only the team’s thief rolling a lucky crit that allowed him to manhandle my character’s berserk body onto the getaway boat. Only one medium of entertainment lets you respond to a police raid by producing a shrunken head from your coat and throwing it at them, sending them packing in panic.

Role-playing games. A hobby with a bit of an image problem, and one that is pretty non-existent in Dhaka. It’s not a surprise given that Dhaka’s hobby culture is very trend-based and tabletop RPGs seem too geeky and outré – we don’t even have proper drama classes in our schools – but it’s a shame because these games map really well onto the blank spots of Dhaka’s lifestyle.

Image: Stranger Things / Netflix

You can place most free-time activities in Dhaka on a two-axis compass: running from social to solitary, and from sedentary to mobile.

You want to go out and meet your friends? Even if it’s just at one of their homes the traffic is a killer, makes scheduling really hard and you might have to give up your whole day to it – not to mention possible traveling costs. Throw in the price of movie tickets or the cost of eating a restaurant and it gets worse. Sure you could hang out with your friends on the football field, but you can’t get just any old friend of yours to turn up for that. What about solitary activities like reading? Books can get pretty expensive. Gaming? Ditto, especially if you want to shell out on a multiplayer game you and your friends can enjoy in the comforts of your own homes.

So thinking in terms of what people in Dhaka like to do anyway, the tabletop RPG pitch is as follows –

  • If you want to schedule a game session in person, it is dirt cheap. Just get your hands on a game manual PDF, maybe some character sheets, and just print whatever you need and keep the rest on your laptop or whatever device you prefer. Not every game system requires dice, and the ones that do can often work well enough with your bog standard 6-sided dice from your old Ludu set. Hell, there are perfectly good apps on the Play Store that roll dice for you – you don’t need to bother trying to track down a 16-sided dice in Dhaka. Things can get expensive if you want gear like miniatures, but even those can be MacGyvered using old action figures or what have you. Importing an expensive DnD kit using a backpack company is entirely an option, but in absolutely no way is it a requirement. The only price you absolutely have to pay is the rickshaw fare and snack costs for getting your mates together.
  • You can play online with friends, just as you would a session of League of Legends (cheaper too, because while LoL is free to play, the therapy you need afterwards is not.) Get a free account on Roll20.net, find the user-created tools for your game system of choice (almost certainly free) and send the game room link to your friends. If you wish to hear their lovely voices as you play, just use Discord. Or Skype, if you want to punish yourself. Zero cost.
  • RPGs allow and in fact encourage you to immerse yourself in a story, just like any good book. And unlike a book it’s not a passive experience – every player gets to exert creative freedom over what happens, to a degree that resembles the video game experience – but far more freeform. Anyone who enjoys either gaming’s system mastery or the joys of storytelling (ideally both) would find something to like. There’s nothing quite like it, but those come close. Maybe a bit of improv theatre, in case you do that.
  • Like your gaming crew, your football team or your mini book club, it will foster the creation of a tight group of fellow hobbyists. Don’t go in expecting all your friends to be up for it – though it’s certainly possible that they would be!
Image: Stranger Things / Netflix

In case your primary objection is that you don’t really see yourself as the Dungeons and Dragons type, don’t worry about that. There is absolutely no end to the game systems and settings you can give try. (Quick primer: the setting is all the cosmetic stuff, the flavour and world in which you play, whereas the system is the actual body of rules you need to play. A lot of systems have setting associated with them, but there’s no reason you can’t use D&D’s rules to play a game themed around a world like Mass Effect’s.) Choosing a game based on the setting is easy: you’re either excited by it or you aren’t. Choosing a game system is a little bit harder because until you give it a shot you won’t know if you and your friends prefer more narrative-driven games or more rules-based ones. Do you guys like complex games that require a lot of strategy or planning, or do you prefer to wing it? Maybe you want to play one big sit-down session, a short one while lazing around after lunch, or commit to a long campaign.

I’ll just give a brief rundown of a few games that could be appropriate for beginners – bearing in mind that whoever has responsibility for running the game is also probably playing an RPG for the first time ever.

  1. Dungeons and Dragons. There’s a reason this one’s the poster child for the hobby. It’s a system and setting that is so inherently familiar – especially if you video game – that you can slip into the mindset easily. Does take a bit of reading up and learning before you play, but the recent 5th edition is the most accessible yet. If you want the baseline RPG experience, this is the one.
  2. Powered by the Apocalypse. This one’s a game system focused around creating characters with relationships with one another. It’s relatively rules-light and relies heavily on players to narrate their actions instead of straightforward mechanics. Good if you like character-based storytelling. The main setting for Powered by the Apocalypse is Apocalypse World – think Mad Max with psychics. I’d avoid Apocalypse World itself because the game encourages player characters to get hot and heavy with one another, and that’s probably going to be awkward for your first time game group. You could try Masks: A New Generation It’s basically Teen Titans.
  3. Blades in the Dark. My personal jam, and the one I described in my opening paragraph. Narrative-driven game about playing criminals in a haunted steampunk city – think Ocean’s Eleven meets Dishonoured. This is one of the easier ones to learn as a player and conducive to both long campaigns and shorts – the GM needs to do most of the heavy lifting, so that’s good news if you don’t mind investing a lot more time than your friends.
  4. Now for something completely different – this isn’t an RPG at all, but looks enough like one for me to feel comfortable throwing it down here. It’s a collaborative worldbuilding exercise – you and your friends spend your time creating a new fictional world and filling up its history, moving back and forth along the timeline and zooming in and out (hence the name) on the focus and adding whatever layer of detail you want. It’s a very different experience to the rest, but with the right people it can be an easier sell than anything else on this list.
  5. Lasers & Feelings: Just a single sheet of rules. Shlocky sci-fi setting that’s ridiculously easy to grasp. Suitable for really quick sessions. One disadvantage of being so incredibly light is that it requires more imaginative heavy lifting to fill in the necessary blanks.

So go forth and test the waters of role-playing games. Who knows? It might let you find out things about your friends that you would otherwise never figure out.