Ars Technica’s gaming trust has always strived to recommend the best in clever and killer video games. But a rising trend has made that mission more difficult: a seemingly endless fountain of content.
This statement of fact is by no means a complaint. There are more video games coming out for PCs and consoles than ever before, and many of them are quite fun.
But this means that good, interesting, and uneven games alike are falling through the Ars editorial cracks more than ever before. How can we keep up?
One idea is Ars Frontlog: a new video experiment on our Twitch channel that, very simply, sees us tread water in the sea of modern game releases. The idea is that, on a regular basis, an Ars staffer will flip on a webcam and hit the “stream” button while catching up with semi-recent video games, particularly games that might otherwise escape our editorial calendar. You can either follow our Twitch channel to get alerts for when these videos will go live or just stay tuned to our traditional site, where we’ll post those recordings’ archives a few days later.
This week, I kicked the series off with two brand-new entries. The first, ($29.99, Win/Mac/Linux), is a Kickstarted sequel to the popular ’90s shooter series Descent. Like those classic games, you navigate underground tunnels and caves while piloting a “six degrees of freedom” (6DOF) hovercraft, which means you’re expected to aim and fly in all directions while fending off flying, laser-blasting enemies.
The hour-plus of that I played revealed a campaign mode with admittedly repetitive aesthetics but faithful, satisfying, and twitchy combat. That campaign content, complete with voice acting and a semblance of plot, has been topped off with a “challenge” mode, full of waves of increasingly tough baddies, and a simple online deathmatch mode, so there’s plenty here for anybody who doesn’t feel dizzy after engaging in 6DOF combat.
The second game I tested, ($19.99, Win/Switch/PS4/XB1), looks cute and clever at first glance, as it combines Metroidvania platforming with pinball controls. The game’s entire world is full of pinball flippers and plungers, and you control a dung beetle who shoves a pinball around while getting bonked all over an island paradise by these machinations.
The trouble, sadly, is that the game is slow to offer refined control options that let players tilt or nudge their way around tricky angles. My half-hour of play revealed a lot of repetition and momentum-slamming moments. Pinball enthusiasts out might sink their teeth into this kind of trial-and-error-and-error challenge, but we aren’t among them.
This is a test
Don’t expect regular scheduling for Ars Frontlog in the near future, mostly because we’re testing this series out ahead of our annual week-long trip to E3. But our ears are open to requests (and other Ars-on-Twitch) ideas.