There aren’t a lot of 2D side-scrolling RPGs, I can’t think of any that aren’t from consoles like Odin Sphere on the Playstation 2 and Valkyrie Profile on the Playstation and Playstation Portable. Certainly none were cyberpunk. We’ve had a resurgence of cyberpunk gaming with the isometric Shadowrun Returns, the third-person Republique, and the first-person Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Those tough-times for cyberpunks looking for their side-scrolling fix are at an end.
Originally crowd-funded way back in December 2013, the side-scrolling cyberpunk RPG Dex has been released for Linux on Steam.
Doctor Entertainment’s multiplayer custom vehicular combat game, Gear Up is now out of Steam’s Early Access program. The game is free-to-play, though it lacks traditional micro transactions and instead has a basic and a premium version on offer that let you choose how many customization options you’d like to have on deck.
The developer, Doctor Entertainment is interesting. They’re a Swedish studio made up of developers who have worked on Battlefield, Riddick, and more recently, Wolfenstein: The New Order. Not a one of which was released for Linux but that they decided to do that with Gear Up is pretty cool and it is free to try out.
Twin-stick shooter Crimsonland’s “thousands of aliens, giant spiders, and more are on the attack…” on Linux. Crimsonland was originally released in 2003, and this is the hugely updated version originally released early in June 2014. They had a few comments about the porting process in their announcement:
We’ve also implemented gamepad support for all platforms and I must say that both Mac and Linux could use some improvements with their gamepad support. Other than that we were quite happy with the porting process. The Linux version was mainly developed with Steam OS and Ubuntu in mind but it should work on some other distros as well (we know that somebody is playing on Linux Mint for example).
Developer TheShortAndTheTall have had their third-person action puzzler The Body Changer in Steam’s Early Access program and it’s now available for Linux. I had a chance to play it and it is interesting although I’m not sure how fitting the “metroidvania” description is as it seems the developers aren’t either.
What it does do well is the mechanic of switching between different synthetic persons and using them to complete tasks that allow you to advance through the game’s sectors.
Aspyr is on a roll, and now they’re doing remasters. This time it’s Quantic Dream’s Fahrenheit. Or as I knew it here in the US, Indigo Prophecy. In addition to updating the graphics, and adding proper controller support, Aspyr has also decided to mash the names together with a colon.
Fahrenheit is a weird adventure game about a man who murders someone in a diner’s restroom and flees the scene because he was possessed while it happened. Spooky.
Hopefully Aspyr will update the original weird adventure game from Quantic Dream, Omikron, because that one features David Bowie and is even more ridiculous.
It’s entirely possible that you were born after Tim Schafer’s adventure masterpiece, Grim Fandango, was originally released 17 years ago. If that’s the case, school sucks but here is some good news. Grim Fandango has been re-released with updated visuals, music, and the best part is that the tank controls are now entirely optional.
The developer of Dead Island has brought out another Adjective Noun zombie slasher. This time it has a greater focus on parkour and we get our Linux version on release day. Dead Island was pretty great, hopefully this one is even better.
Sid Meier’s Civilization V gets a fresh coat of paint with Civilization: Beyond Earth, available now. A successor to Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri in theme, this civilization from Aspyr and 2k switches from nations to factions and adds other sci-fi tropes.
Oakland, CA – After playing the entire talos principle “public test” (a free downloadable version with limited content) TimeDoctor made the decision today to pre-order Serious Sam developer Croteam’s soon-to-be-released The Talos Principle.
Said TimeDoctor: “It seems pretty cool, you know? It was kind of like Portal with the puzzles, but then they changed it up and added the robot dude and the weird voice and all the weird Greek styling and the non-union version of the tetromino puzzles “
Early reviews from other publications look good and you can play the other freebie, Sigils of Elohim to get a feel for those non-union Tetromino puzzle pieces. Pre-ordering tonight (before tomorrow’s release) gets you a free copy of Serious Sam 3: BFE.
Sci-Fi storytelling game, Elegy for a Dead World has been released from Dejobaan Games, makers of such fine games as AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! for the Awesome and Drunken Robot Pornography. Elegy tasks you with visiting dead planets and writing about them. You’ll be able to share and read fictionalized stories made in the game.
Having recently brought a handful of games to Linux, Aspyr has opened a Linux games section of their GameAgent store. It’s interesting to see Aspyr come to Linux after having been known as a Mac developer for so long. Though this store just seems to be another interface to buy Steam download keys, instead of a full-fledged competitor to Steam. You can also pre-order the Linux version of Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth through this store, which is not yet available for Linux and has a release date of December 31st, in the year 2099. I hope it gets done a bit sooner than that. Their developer blog notes that the Mac version is out today and the Linux version is “…about 2-3 weeks behind the Mac” so it shouldn’t be too long.
Surprisingly, Activision (under the resurrected Sierra “indie” label) has released Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions for Linux. This is also another surprise port from Aspyr, who has been knocking it out of the park lately with Borderlands 2 and the recent Civ games. Originally an Xbox 360 Arcade (digital download) game, Geometry Wars is an arcadey twin-stick shooter has high score challenges and a ton of fun if it’s anything like the original.
The beautiful Action-RPG, Transistor, from Supergiant Games (the team that built the Bastion), has been brought to Linux by Ethan Lee. He details his travails and technical challenges in this blog post:
Basically, I took all the files in their MonoGame branch that referred to OpenTK, and replaced them with the FNA versions of those files. That’s about it. Most of the files never changed, and the FNA files that replaced the OpenTK files went through minor changes to line up with the internal APIs (primarily, fixing things to work under the XNA 3.1 spec, but not actually changing any functionality). For the actual game it was mostly the obvious set of changes, like save paths, and very little else. I made a couple changes so my very old Mono compiler would be happy, but those changes aren’t relevant in the shipping version since the C# assemblies you’re playing with are built by VS2012, primarily to ensure accuracy in the assembly output.
We don’t post many kickstarters, and I personally try to avoid doing so because 90% of them aren’t going to ship at the budget they’ve chosen, on time, or with most of the features they’ve talked about. With that preface I’m fairly psyched for The Black Glove, from former Bioshock devs Day for Night Games. It isn’t looking great for their kickstarter right now with nine days remaining and they’re only about 25% of the way to their goal of $550k, but the atmosphere of “The Equinox” looks rad and I am super curious to see what a smaller game from that team would look like if it can be done. Go back it.
Do you like murdering zombies on tropical islands? Dead Island is pretty great at it and is somewhat surprisingly now available for Linux years after it was released. By far the most fun you’ll ever have brutally slashing melee weapons at zombies. Plug in a 360 pad for bonus analog control over your attacks.
If you’ve ever played a multiplayer, split-screen, console game you’re going to be right at home with multiplayer split-screen FPS Screencheat. It’s like those older games, except everyone is invisible at all times and it’s impossible to be polite and avoid looking at their corner of the screen. In this game you must do so to figure out where they are and shoot them. It’s a very strange concept but I’d like to try it.
We don’t post much in the way of editorials, but it seems inappropriate to remain silent on an issue that is making everyone who plays games or is associated with them look bad.
If you’re not familiar with the issue, there’s a hashtag on twitter called #GamerGate (that link will take you to see it, be warned that it is often nsfw when it gets bad.) It’s been covered in traditional media such as the New York Times, The Boston Globe, CNN, and almost everywhere else.
This hashtag recently became a bit more popular after the people posting in that hashtag decided to harass an indie game developer for having sex with other people who work in games.The actual name was recently coined by an actor, Adam Baldwin, but this kind of harassment has been going on for a long time.
I’ve met the developer briefly at Steam Dev Days, and used her games as an example about why voting systems like Steam’s Greenlight might not work out for games that aren’t game-y, but are more serious than fun if they’re about a topic like her Depression Quest, which is also available for Linux. That’s about as much relation to Linux as there would be, if not for people like this posting to the Kernel mailing list after a developer stopped working on Intel’s drivers for Linux due to Intel withdrawing an advertising campaign from Gamasutra after Gamasutra posted an editorial article the GamerGate community didn’t like.
All of this comes after years of harassment to other women who work on games or write and speak about them. Of course this has happened in tech and with Linux as well. In 2000 I saw pornography displayed during the Linux World convention in New York City at a booth run by the Window Maker team, I’m sure there are many other examples that are more recent. At the time I didn’t know what to say about it, and didn’t even begin to think critically of the actions of my peers who did that. Of course that kind of thing could cause someone to not want to be involved in that free software project, or the project I was involved with at the time and wasn’t appropriate.
What is new is that people who come to that hashtag unaware of the backstory might be drawn in by the recent #GamerGate creed of going after unethical games journalists. The thing is, there have been plenty of real ethical concerns in video games. They just haven’t been as motivating to the people who are in this hashtag as the idea of a sex scandal for review coverage. As has been pointed out, it doesn’t even make sense to attack a game developer for increased game journalist ethics.
Supporters of GamerGate’s ethos have created lists of websites to not read because they disagree with the content of those sites or their editorial integrity. They’ve also created lists of people to attack and then later others who support the GamerGate ethos have cried foul and said the list-makers and attackers didn’t represent them, and all that they’re concerned about is ethics in video game journalism.
I don’t understand how anyone anyone could buy into the notion of this sex-for-review-coverage scheme after it has been thoroughly debunked and the main proponents of it have names that include the term “Fart.” I don’t understand how someone could look at that name, and the things that are in that hashtag on twitter, and go “Yep, sign me up!”
What I do know is that games are changing. There are now “walking simulators” like Gone Home and Dear Esther, to name a few games from one genre, that don’t fit in with what everyone wants. You don’t have to like them, or play them, or even read the reviews and coverage to understand that it’s OK for new games to exist.
You can still be critical of something while you enjoy it. It is okay to play Hotline Miami and also be a little bit concerned with the amount of violence and how enjoyable it is, or the way that women are displayed in it. I love that game, it won’t stop being fun even if I take a minute to think about what I’ve played.
This is ridiculous. If you’re actually concerned about video game ethics your concerns will not be heard amongst those who promote violence and harassment of all kinds. Jeff Gerstmann of Giant Bomb said it best:
I’m a man in the media business. I’ve been doing this since I was 16. I could sit here and defend my line of work, which I think is largely just and on the level, but if you’re deep into the ‘Gate, your only reaction will be to probably say “of course he would say that.” That’s fine. Some of you have been politicized so completely that this is just another “left vs. right” issue to you, and many of you are using the same language used in arguments over other hardened political issues. So keep on “rolling coal” on video games journalism if you think it’s actually that corrupt. I’m not here to tell you what to do. But you might want to really look in the mirror and ask yourself if you’re spending your time crusading for the right fight. That’s all. Make sure this is the position you want to take and, more importantly, how you want that position to be represented. If you genuinely care about ethics in games journalism, GamerGate is not the spot for you. To some of them, “unethical” is being used as a synonym for “a viewpoint I don’t agree with.” That’s not an ethics discussion. That’s an attempt to silence criticism. Again, if you do care about ethics in games journalism, GamerGate is destroying your message.
I have personally done some questionable things on LG in the past that I look back on and realize weren’t ethically appropriate. I’ve written reviews of games for LG where I knew the person who brought them to Linux maybe too well to be critical of the game itself. When Loki Games was still around I sometimes had to justify my request for a review copy of a game to Loki, and in so doing I might have corrupted the review. I wanted more games for Linux and for that to succeed I was sometimes very picky to only review games that would review well and I would like.
You could read that and ask “Why should I trust your opinion on GamerGate?” You don’t have to. Please read what others have written and what I’ve linked above, you’ll probably know if you want to get involved with it or not very quickly. Hopefully we won’t have to post about this again and we can resume our regular crawl of Linux releases and the occasional review. There is plenty of good news for gaming on Linux. #GamerGate isn’t good news for gaming or anyone.
All of that Borderlands 2 porting work that Asypr did hasn’t gone to waste. Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel was just released and is a simultaneous release with Mac and Windows. It is a little odd that this is a full-price $60 game, the early impressions I’ve heard haven’t been extremely positive as the main (and only?) gameplay system change is the addition of an annoying oxygen meter. So this isn’t a mainline Borderlands sequel and was developed by 2k Australia. Hrm.
Valve recently added a new storefront to Steam, and in addition to enhanced search controls for finding games available for Linux, you can now follow us on our Steam curation page. We’ll post some recommendations there, and you should join our group if you’d like to chat or play with your fellow LG readers.