Backlog: Dark Rooms, Dark Routes Edition

It's another light week over here, content-wise. Everyone's busy these days. I guess that's just the nature of adulthood - if you don't have enough responsibilities at any given time, you'll inevitably wind up with more than enough on your plate.

This week's Backlog consists almost entirely of adventure games that defy expectations and run against the grain. I dunno how well you know me, but those exact kinds of games are my jam. It's fair to say that if I had complete authority over what we wrote about, the site would look exactly like this on a daily basis. So I'll just wrap things up here without getting unreasonably giddy. Go learn about these awesome games and make room in your schedule to check them out.

Have a great weekend!  - Nick

Nick

I’ll spare you the unsightly details of my descent even deeper into the abyss that is Hearthstone this time around. Instead, I want to mention the other game I played in the last seven days.

It’s possible you’ve heard of A Dark Room already. It started out as a simple, text-based web experience, but I didn’t find out about it until a port arrived in the iOS App Store. Initially it’s not clear what you’re getting into with this game, but a little trust and a few minutes of your time are more than enough to understand that you’re getting into something different. What unfolded over my four-hour playthrough was unexpectedly poignant and troubling. It’s a rare game that prompts me to ask tough questions about humans and society; the fact that A Dark Room embraces difficult topics in a purely text-based format stands as testament to the creators’ confidence in this game.

To be honest, I haven’t played a whole lot of games like A Dark Room. Maybe text-based games are all the rage these days, but for someone like me, the only obvious comparison I could think of was Candy Box, a charming little browser-based game that made a name for itself by slowly and subtly defying expectations.

A Dark Room also subverts a player’s preconceived notions, but it does so much more subtly than Candy Box. Your choices as a player do have weight, although it’s unclear after one playthrough exactly how much of a difference they ultimately have on the game’s outcome. Still, the game successfully suspended my disbelief, and the end result was a fresh and unanticipated play experience. If you’re a fan of visual novels or minimalist game design, A Dark Room is fully worth the one-dollar price of admission on iOS.

Spencer

Literally how I feel every night before going to bed.

Literally how I feel every night before going to bed.

Fresh on the heels of the fairly vapid entertainment of last week, I've actually played something of a bit more weight this time around.

First up is Broken Age,which languished in my Steam library after being purchased back in times immemorial. Feeling a vacuum of meaningful games to play, I plopped down on the living room couch, installed it on our household media computer (a raggedy 2008-model Shuttle that used to be my gaming desktop), and played through it on the wireless keyboard.

Broken Age is seriously gorgeous, and looks amazing on the home TV. Honestly, its only fault is being too short (only episode 1 is out so far) -- everything about that game is pitch perfect.

Speaking of seriously gorgeous, pitch-perfect games, Kentucky Route Zero'sthird act dropped and I finished it just now. This game is too good. If it finishes its five-episode run this year, I'll fight tooth and nail to have it in our coveted #1 GOTY spot.

You've been warned.