Modern Dystopia

Tag Archive: TBS

Are Squad Level Turn Based Games Dead?

…and where is the Role Playing in many recent RPGs that thrust a predefined character into what is ultimately a very linear storyline?

On Kotaku today there is a thoughtful article lamenting what seems to be a bygone era. The true Role Playing Games of the past. The article brought back many fond memories, and showed me just how we’re being taken for a ride by developers these days, a roller coaster, action packed ride, but with our appetite for consoles I don’t see us getting off the rails any time soon.

Anyway, I wrote a comment there, and it got so wordy I though I might post it here as well, as a mini article of my own.

I fondly remember playing older games like Darklands with it’s rich storyline and environment and party based gameplay. I’m a huge fan of what I term Squad Level Turn Based gaming, a genre that includes some stellar classic games like Laser Squad, X-Com, Soldiers at War and the Jagged Alliance series as well as newer forays into the genre such as Silent Storm.

All these games kept me awake night after night, week after week with engaging and thoughtful gameplay, and often extremely tough opponents. Never boring!

Recent attempts have missed the mark, the unofficial remake of X-com I saw recently was unpolished and amateur, the games I held high hopes for such as the most recent Fallout and Dragon Age became more of a button mash than a thinking exercise.

The closest in recent years was the original Neverwinter Nights, that game found the balance (IMHO) between tactics and action. While also presenting strong role playing and character development. We could write our own adventures, play other peoples, run a world of our own designing, play co-operativly online, enjoy persistent worlds, or get together for an adventure with friends on a LAN.

The focus on consoles seems to me to be what has sped up this decline. I think younger gamers are being trained into a short attention span, button mashing, fast paced gaming world, and it’s a great loss.

Addendum: if you like Turn Based gaming, you may really enjoy Battle for Wesnoth. Their own blurb sums it up perfectly: “The Battle for Wesnoth is a Free, turn-based tactical strategy game with a high fantasy theme, featuring both single-player, and online/hotseat multiplayer combat.” It’s open source and there is a huge variety of content that’s been developed for it, from races for multi player to full campaigns.