Now Playing: Weekend Edition 2/8

It’s been awhile since we had a Weekend Edition post. With the hectic holiday (and post-holiday) season out of the way and our Games of the Year episode just around the corner, it’s time to embrace what 2014 has to offer.

Bravely Default

bravely default

Developed by Silicon Studio and Square Enix, published by Nintendo

Bravely Default had my attention when Edge called it “comfortably the best [Final Fantasy] since FFXII.” Bravely Default‘s Final Fantasy pedigree is clear from the get-go–both in Akihiko Yoshida’s familiar designs and the turn-based combat. However, Bravely Default shakes up the formula with a key innovation–the titular “brave” and “default.” Instead of just choosing to attack, cast a spell, or use an item, players are now faced with the option of choosing to default–to not attack this round and build up turns for later–or to essentially cash in all their turns at once with brave. Different characters in the line-up can brave or default in a single turn, adding an interesting twist to an old system.

Prior to its release here in North America, a demo was available that novelly acted as a standalone chapter, allowing you to not only learn the system, but carry over bonuses and items earned from playing the demo to the game proper. This is something Jaylee has taken more advantage of then I have, so I’m sure he’ll have something to say about it (and the odyssey he endured to acquire the game) in our inevitable episode.

The Wolf Among Us – Episode 2: Smoke and Mirrors

the wolf among us episode 2

Developed and published by TellTale Games (currently playing on Mac)

The second episode of The Wolf Among Us arrived this week to great anticipation here at Push to Smart. While discussing any of the plot developments that drive this episode forward risks venturing too far into spoiler territory, I can say that, while it lacks the first episode’s big cliffhanger, it shakes up the mystery for the better. As I’ve been working through my second playthrough, I’ve really enjoyed seeing how nuanced the payoffs to my previous decisions have been. Thus far, I’ve still obtained all of the same information in my investigation into Fabletown’s serial killer, and I assume I’ll ultimately end at the same place, but the way in which I obtain that information has been specific to the decisions I made in the first episode. It feels far more organic than my favorite Mass Effect visualization, and it encourages multiple playthroughs in a way The Walking Dead did not.

Threes

ThreesDeveloped and published by Asher Vollmer, Greg Wohlwend, and Jimmy Hinson. See more of the tiny trailer at Threes‘s website.

Let’s be real, Threes is what I’m actually playing this weekend. The product of three skilled artists, Threes is a deceptively simple, compact puzzle game in which you combine multiples of threes along a grid in order to achieve the highest score. There are more factors to take into account–for every move, another, color-coded piece is added to the board, and failing to anticipate it will result in a game over if no matches can be made. It taps into that compulsive part inside of all of us, but the beautifully minimalist, streamlined interface makes it less guilty of a pleasure than it has any right to be. It’s a lovely little game that represents gaming refined to one of its core concepts: unadulterated, puzzle-solving fun.

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