Recent Games I’ve Enjoyed

Here are some new games I’ve been playing this last week

System Shock Remake

They actually pulled it off! I’m sure the development of this was a nightmare. They spent about 8 years working on it, had to restart development at one point because it wasn’t turning out the way they wanted it too, and other things popped up, but it’s great! The remake updates just enough so the game is much more approachable than the original, while still feeling like a faithful remake and an immersive sim with more fiddly bits than we’ve seen from other recent immersive sims. The art is so good too. If I recall, it’s similar to what they had for the demo they were making in Unity, then they switched to Unreal and went for a more realistic look, but then realized it wasn’t working at all and went back to the old art style but in Unreal. Go check it out, it’s really good.

Slayers X: Terminal Aftermath: Vengance of the Slayer

Slayers X is a spinoff of Hypnospace Outlaw where you are playing a “lost” FPS from the 90s created by a character from that game who recently found his missing code and is releasing the game today. I think what really impressed me with this game is how much more faithful it is to the 90s style of FPS and Build engine era of games than everything else in the recent retro FPS trend. For better or worse this also includes the bits likes levels being weirdly designed and disorienting, but I think this is part of the charm of that style of FPS so I’m glad it’s been kept in. It also happens to be very funny, as you would expect for a Hypnospace Outlaw related game.

Queer Games Bundle 2023

I already wrote about this last week but just wanted to bring it up again. There’s a lot of great games in here and it’s only $60, which is the price of a AAA game. There’s also a version of the bundle that’s $10 if you can’t afford that at the moment.

Indiepocalypse 41

There’s a new one of these. It’s good! If you never checked out an issue of Indiepocalypse, consider picking one up. They are all good starting points and each has some great games in them. It’s just a fantastic place for curation and discovering new games and game devs.


Played Inca, an adventure game/rail shooter by Coktel Vision and released in 1992 about Incas and conquistadors fighting in space. If that sounds like a lot, that’s because it is! You journey through time and space to grab some important looking orbs to become El Dorado and rebirth the Inca empire, all while fighting conquistadors flying spaceships. The game has you alternating through these shooting segments (there’s also some on foot) with traditional point-and-click adventure game parts. Since this is a French DOS game, none of it is really that well designed but it’s all fascinating and certainly a lot more playable that other DOS games that hop around between different genres, even with the difficulty spikes. I’ll definitely play Inca 2 at some point because the weird combination of it all and the FMV is very interesting to me.

I’ve been playing Goblins 3 this month for Adventure Game Club, which is by the same developer, so it’s fun looking at the credits and seeing that the people involved with that goofy game also worked on this right before that game. I don’t know if I could recommend it because it certainly is a clunky game, but it’s easy to get running in DOS Box if you want to try it and it has passwords and stuff you can do to make the action segments a little bit easier. I would definitely recommend watching the intro which starts off normal enough and then suddenly shifts into “what the hell am I watching?”

I love French DOS games

An Intro Guide to Gobliiins

This is a spoiler-free guide for people who wish to check out the series Gobliiins, a point-and-click adventure game series created by Pierre Gilhodes and Muriel Tramis. This is not a walkthrough and is just meant as an intro to help people get into the series and a little background on the games. There are five games in the series. The first three were released in 1991, 1992, and 1993. Many years later, after Coktel Vision had shut down, Pierre Gilhodes created a Gobliiins 4 in 2009 and recently released Gobliiins 5 in 2023, after getting funding for it on Kickstarter. The number of i’s in a Goblins game changes based on the number you play as. So Gobliins 2 has two playable goblins and Goblins 3 (also known as Goblins Quest 3 in the US) has one playable goblin at the start, but you have other playable characters as well.

goblin standing on a flying boat in the sky

Why Should I Play It?

The Gobliiins series is an entertaining series of point-and-click adventure games that have great art, animation, and music, with really charming sound effects and talking noises for the characters as well. If your interest in adventure games is more focused on the puzzles than plot, which isn’t a big focus for this series, then I would recommend these games. The puzzles can be challenging but even failure can be fun to watch in these games and for the most part (with the exception of the first game) you cannot die or lose in a Gobliiins game so you are encouraged to try everything to see what funny results occur even when it’s not the correct solution.

How Do I Get Started?

Fortunately it’s very easy to get most of the games in the series. Goblins 1-3 are available in a pack on GOG, which includes both the floppy disk and cd-rom versions of the games, which all run in ScummVM. While I’m fine with the cd-rom versions of the games since that’s what I grew up with, many people prefer the floppy disk versions due to them having a different soundtrack. Some people even prefer the Amiga version of Gobliins 2 over the PC versions since that has a different soundtrack. So when playing these games, I would maybe just go on youtube and listen to brief snippets of the soundtracks to see what you prefer but if you don’t feel like doing that, it’s probably safer to go with the floppy disk versions. Unfortunately Gobliiins 4 is now abandonware and you’ll have to find it on your abandonware site of choice. Gobliiins 5 is available on Itch and coming to Steam very soon.

This next part is where things might be a little controversial. If you’re looking for a game to start with in the series, a lot of people would recommend Goblins 3 and I would agree with this. It has the most solid game design of the three original games and some of the best art in the series too. Plus the series is so light on plot that you won’t be confused by anything if you skip ahead and will just miss some references. Gobliiins 1 is very hard to recommend to beginners due to its health meter. So much of the humor in the series is connected to failing or seeing your characters get hit in a cartoonish way and the first game will remove health anytime this happens, almost defeating the point of the game. Your health bar also carries over between levels and there are only one or two places in the game where you can refill it, meaning you either have to replay levels after you figure them out and not lose health, or the game almost becomes unplayable towards the end. I would also hesitate to recommend Gobliins 2 to beginners even as a fan, due to some of the frustrating puzzle design. The game has two characters that have the same abilities but sometimes requires you to arbitrarily use one to solve a puzzle. It also has puzzles requiring chains of actions that must be executed perfectly or else you have to redo the whole puzzle.

That all said, if you play through Goblins 3 and enjoy it, I would recommend playing the others if you want more. If you want to check the game out, consider playing it with us in the Adventure Game Club, where it is our game for June.

Queer Games Bundle 2023

A new Queer Games Bundle is out this month. I loved the ones from previous years so I’m immediately picking this one up too. In an episode of the Adventure Game Club podcast last year, we recommended a bunch of games that are also in the bundle this year, but here are some more games I really like in this year’s bundle

LesbiAnts – I wrote about this one before but it’s a very good rpg for the Game Boy where you play as ants.
Funny Walk – Very funny adventure game laser targeted at people with a fascination with digitized sprites like in Dark Seed 2. You do not need to play the other two games in the trilogy to understand this.
A Circle of Charity – It’s a brilliant game set on an old Windows desktop so of course I’m recommending it
WASTE EATER – Wrote about this before too but it’s a great IF game and only 10 minutes long so I don’t want to say too much. It’s cool!
Ladykiller in a Bind – Very funny adult visual novel by the developer of other great games like Digital: A Love Story

An Intro Guide to Duke Nukem 2

This is a spoiler-free guide for people who wish to check out the game Duke Nukem 2, a 2D platformer developed and published by Apogee in 1993. This is not a walkthrough and is just meant as an intro to help people get started. Duke Nukem is a franchise that is mostly famous for being a first person shooter with a main character that says one liners while you’re blowing everything up, but before this happened, it was a 2D platformer series. The first game was released in 1991 and was a big hit, so a sequel followed in 1993.

image of the Rigel Engine running Duke 2, showing it in wide screen. Screenshot is of Duke shooting lasers at an explosion

Why Should I Play It?

The first two Duke Nukem games are still pretty charming platformers. While they’re a bit dated by today’s standards, especially the first game, I think they’re fun and worth checking out if you enjoy DOS games. It’s also fun seeing the earlier versions of the Duke Nukem character who would become a lot more crude and have more attitude starting with Duke Nukem 3D.

How Do I Get Started?

Because of the long and weird legal history of 3D Realms going under and the Duke Nukem property going to Gearbox, Duke Nukem 1 and 2 are no longer on Steam and GOG. However, they still seem to be on the ZOOM games platform along with a different version of Duke Nukem 3D that’s not on other stores and Duke Nukem: The Manhattan Project. Not to be confused with ZOOM, the video chat service, it is a site similar to GOG that is focused on buying DRM-free copies of old games. I know it’s a little hard to believe this is a real site legally selling games when it looks the way it does and is somehow the only place selling these games, but my understanding is that they somehow signed a contract forever ago that allows them to continue selling them? I don’t completely understand it. In any case, this is the only place where you can legally get the games so I’m linking to it.

Once you have a copy of the game, there’s a couple of ways to play it. If you want to play the game as it was originally shipped, there’s always DOSBox. However, if you would like to play the game with some minor enhancements, I would recommend the Rigel Engine. The engine is a reimplementation of Duke Nukem 2 that offers the following features:

  • wide-screen mode
  • smooth scrolling & movement mode with increased frame rate
  • quick saving
  • improved game controller support
  • extended modding features

The widescreen mode and smooth scrolling really do a lot to improve the experience of playing it today so I would strongly recommend giving it a shot.

Terminal Velocity: Boosted Edition

I didn’t even notice it until I saw it in my GOG library, but I guess a rerelease of Terminal Velocity happened a couple months ago. Apparently buying the game on GOG over 10 years ago meant that I get the new version for free, which is nice. I’ve been playing it for the last day and…’s fine. The game was previously on GOG but running on DOSBox but with the new remaster it does the things you’d expect one to do, higher resolutions, adds achievements, improves the view draw distance, and runs natively on Windows. The original game is still included as a bonus too. It’s all fine even if I expected a little more from it. I’m sure it’s nostalgia doing most of the work but I’m having a good time with it. I find it kind of amusing that fixing the draw distance introduces a new issue, that you can see and shoot your enemies far before they notice you.

I’m certainly not upset at all about this existing but I’m not really sure who it’s for. I don’t think I could really recommend the game to people who never played it before since it’s a pretty repetitive game and feels odd to fly around in, and people either already bought the DOS version or they’re busy moaning about the new version on GOG. It’s a perfectly fine update though and I’m glad it exists. I’d love for it to lead to a rerelease of Fury³ and Hellbender, which aren’t available anywhere since they’re Windows 95 games and won’t run anymore. This is probably unlikely to happen since Microsoft seems to have no interest in any of their old games outside of Age of Empires, but I’d love to be proven wrong.

An Intro Guide to Marathon

This is a spoiler-free guide for people who wish to check out the Marathon trilogy, a series of FPS developed and published by Bungie in the mid-90s. Since we are apparently getting a new PVP-focused Marathon, I thought I would write up this intro for people who want to check out the original trilogy and see why it has so many fans even decades later. The Marathon trilogy is a sci-fi FPS series that starts with you playing a security officer trying to repel an alien invasion of your colony ship. The three games, Marathon, Marathon: Durandal, and Marathon: Infinity, were released in 1994, 1995, and 1996 respectively. With the exception of Durandal, the Marathon games were exclusive to the Macintosh. Due to it being technically superior to the Doom engine and the Macintosh being known as a platform with less games, this was seen as a big win for users of the platform and partially why it has a devoted fan base to this day.

screenshot from marathon of guy running from a creature shooting lasers and someone with a flamethrower

Why Should I Play It?

If you’re a fan of Bungie or older FPS, I would strongly recommend this game. The comic book-like artwork for all the characters is very charming, the gameplay mostly holds up, and Bungie fans will enjoy the story told in these games, which was a novel feature for FPS during this time.

How Do I Get Started?

Luckily it’s very easy to get these games for free. In 2005, Bungie said it was ok to freely distribute these games and the open source engine Aleph One makes these games playable on Windows, Mac, and Linux. You can download all three games here and it’s very easy to install the games and get them running.

Tips for Playing Marathon

There’s a couple things to keep in mind while playing the game that will help you from getting frustrated since it is an older FPS and doesn’t follow all the FPS conventions that we know today. First, please look at the keyboard mapping in options before playing. Some of the key mappings are a little odd and you might want to change them. Using terminals, doors, and switches is essential to completing the game and understanding the plot, and by default it’s at the Tab key. The game also relies on Save Terminals for saving your game, so you are unable to save at anytime through options. Terminals are also used for other things like advancing the plot and restoring health. At the bottom of your screen are two bars, a red health bar and a blue oxygen bar. At parts of the game you have to travel through areas with no oxygen and you will have to quickly move through them as your bar depletes. Hopefully knowing these quirks ahead of time makes it easier to get into, because it’s a fascinating trilogy and I think Bungie fans who like retro games will enjoy it.

An Intro Guide to Loom

This is a spoiler-free guide for people who wish to check out the game Loom, a point-and-click adventure game designed by Brian Moriarty and developed and published by Lucasfilm Games in 1990. This is not a walkthrough and is just meant as an intro to inform people what the best version of the game is and help get started playing.

a character in a tent with a cauldron and potion

Why Should I Play It?

Loom is a must play for fans of point-and-click adventure games. Unlike other games from the era, including other adventure games by Lucasfilm Games, there is no inventory and all the puzzles revolve around spells you cast using musical notes created by your staff. It’s a fascinating system for an adventure game and was a joy to play as someone that was a fan of other Lucasarts games. The game also features wonderful art in the EGA version and the version of Swan Lake that plays throughout the game is very well done. All the puzzles felt very logical to me and it’s shorter than other games by Lucasfilm Games, making it easy to recommend to people new to the genre as well. I only played the game for the first time a few years ago and felt that it held up very well. There are no deaths or (as far as I know) any dead ends you can hit in this game, which makes it another reason why it’s a great game for adventure game beginners.

How Do I Get Started?

Unfortunately, the version available on Steam and GOG is not the one people generally prefer, which is the EGA version of the game. While the EGA version has less colors, the art is still superior to the later cd-rom VGA version, which is the one available today. In addition to this, the VGA version made room for the voice acting on the cd by cutting many lines of dialog, closeups of characters talking, multiple puzzle solutions, and censored some cutscenes. My recommendation would be to download the EGA version of the game from your illegal software download site of choice, but buy the VGA version of the game on Steam or GOG so you still own a copy legally. If you are curious about trying the game with 256 colors, I would recommend finding the FM-Towns version. While it does not have the voice acting that the cd-rom version has, it does not cut nearly as much as that version.

Before you start playing the game, I would strongly recommend listening to the audio drama prequel here. This was a cassette that came with the original release of the game. It’s fun to listen to, provides some important background information before you play, and it’s only 30 minutes long.

Once you have the game downloaded and have listened to the prequel, you are ready to play. The game runs well in both ScummVM and DREAMM. If you’re unfamiliar with DREAMM, give it a shot. It was created by Aaron Giles, a former employee at Lucasarts, and is an emulator exclusively for Lucasarts games that aims to be a more accurate emulation of these games, including using the original save and load menus.

Tips for Playing Loom

There’s a couple things to keep in mind while playing the game that will help you full appreciate it

Take Notes
The spells you learn in this game are not saved to any sort of in-game notebook, so make sure you write them down instead of trying to memorize it all. Many of the spells are randomized so you will not be able to just look it up in a walkthrough later.

Hints Are Ok!
If you’re struggling with a part of the game and it’s getting in the way of you enjoying the game, it’s ok to look up hints! I think this guide on UHS Hints is good for giving hints for what to do next, without giving away the entire solution.

Some Neat Games (May 15-21)

Here are some games I played this week that I think a lot of people missed but are pretty cool.

After many years in development Cyan, the creators of Myst, finally released their newest game. I’m still playing through it but it’s really everything I would want from a game by this studio. The puzzles have been very solid. it’s a beautiful game, and I’ve been enjoying the world building. I heard some complaints from people saying it’s too easy but given that Cyan gets so much criticism for all their other games being too hard, it just feels like they can’t win at this point. I’ve also been playing this on desktop, where I heard the VR version is a little buggy but they’ve been working on bug fixes this last week and pushing updates quickly so hopefully that’s resolved soon.

Blue Suburbia
Blue Suburbia is a demo for an upcoming game by Nathalie Lawhead. The game is about their experiences in the games industry. They go into more detail about that on their blog so I won’t bring it up here but I thought Blue Suburbia was an incredible experience and I’m interested in the full game. It’s technically very interesting too and wild to see playable Bitsys implemented in the Unreal engine.

VIVIDLOPE is a fun puzzle game that feels like a lost Dreamcast game. They perfectly nailed everything about the aesthetic of games from that era and it’s just a well made game outside of that. It has a demo if you want to try it out.

There were a couple games I haven’t played but seem really neat. HRO looks like a fun interactive fiction game set in space. I enjoyed the stream I watched of it. Glypha is a remake of a Joust-inspired game from the Macintosh era and I’m glad they kept the black and white graphics. Hand of Doom is a first person rpg that does a fantastic job capturing the weird aesthetics of mid 90s PC rpgs. The same dev made a game for the first Dread X collection in a very similar style (this may just be an expanded version of that?) and I really liked it at the time.

An Intro Guide to Blake Stone

This is a spoiler-free guide for people who wish to check out the series Blake Stone, two first person shooter games developed for DOS by JAM Productions and published by Apogee. This is not a walkthrough and is just meant as an intro to the series to help people get started playing the games. The two games are sci-fi first person shooters made with the Wolfenstein 3-D engine where you play as a British spy named Blake Stone and must stop the evil Dr. Goldfire. The first game, Blake Stone: Aliens of Gold, was released one week before Doom in December, 1993. The second game, Blake Stone: Planet Strike, was released a year later in 1994. Planet Strike is a sequel similar to how Spear of Destiny is a sequel to Wolfestein 3-D, where there are not any major overhauls but it changes the graphics for the enemies and makes a variety of little changes. The first game had strong sales until the technically superior Doom came out and Planet Strike struggled to sell with it still using the dated Wolfenstein 3-D engine. The development studio shut down fairly soon after the release of Planet Strike.

screenshot of the player shooting a gun at the guard

Why Should I Play It?

Even though it was quickly overshadowed by the superior game Doom, I think there’s still a lot to appreciate about this series. It has a lot of features that weren’t in either Wolfestein 3-D or Doom such as vending machines, friendly NPCs you can interact with, a silent weapon for not alerting other guards, being able to travel back to previous levels, and it did some things before Doom like an auto map and textured floors and ceilings. If you’re a fan of retro FPS, you will probably enjoy playing this series.

How Do I Get Started?

It’s easy to get the games running on modern computers. If you don’t have the series, you can buy them on GOG or Steam. While they run well in DOSBox, I recommend the BStone Source Port. This adds a some nice features like customizable key bindings and improves the graphics a small amount. Just download the latest release here

Tips for Playing Blake Stone

There’s a couple things to keep in mind while playing the games that will help you avoid some headaches people can run into with this series, and to fully appreciate them.

Search for Secret Walls
If you’re unfamiliar with early 90s FPS, one important thing to know is that they frequently had secret rooms filled with health and ammo hidden behind walls. The way to discover these is pretty much by spamming the Open Door button while walking along walls.

Save Often
You will want to save regularly. Encounters with enemies can go poorly and may require reloading, especially since there are some enemies that can drain your health very quickly.

Read the Manual
There’s nothing too important in here. I just think the comic they included as the backstory is kinda neat.