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The QueueFeb 6, 2024 12:00 pm CT

The Queue: The hook brings you back

There are few hooks that hook me harder than survival gameplay and cars. I can’t even begin to explain why, because I don’t know.

This is The Queue, our daily column where you ask us questions and we’ll answer as long as you get in first — and know how to use a wrench.


Q4tQ Any demos from Steam Next Fest you can’t wait to try?

I already played the Pacific Drive demo all the way through, and it was a total blast. There isn’t quite as much survival-style gameplay as I maybe wanted going in, but the narrative is really intriguing, and the car hook is a great one. I’m glad I demoed it, because the aspect of maintaining the car could be really clunky and annoying, but in this case it was fun, and also frustrating in the way you want it to be, if that makes sense. I’m definitely picking this one up when it launches in a few weeks.

I’m going to demo Botany Manor soon (today, tomorrow, something like that). I have always enjoyed this general idea and premise, of learning plants moreso than learning weird alchemical concoctions and combinations, though having that as a hook is also entertaining. I’m usually not all that into farming games, either, because they emphasize being able to stick any old seed in any old set of ground conditions, and as long as you keep it a little wet sometimes you get produce, which I tend to not enjoy because the emphasis is then on selling the produce. I’m not sure exactly how compelling the gameplay will be in Botany Manor, so it’s a great one for me to demo.

Also, the demo for Stormgate, the RTS from Frost Giant (a studio made up of former Blizzard employees from back in the day) is currently available, if you’re into that kind of thing. If you ever played the Warcraft RTSes or StarCraft, it looks… very, very, very (no I’m not paid by the word, why do you ask), very, very familiar and yet legally distinct.


Q4TQ: I have a lot of stuff today but I’m lacking energy

Same. Great question.


Q4tQ: as noted below, we can’t hide pants in WoW’s transmog. What would you think if that was changed so you could hide either pants or chest armor, but not both?

This is one of those duality of man issues. On the one hand, if somebody wants to hide everything and run around in that hideous Orc loincloth, I don’t really care. Other peoples’ transmog has no real affect on me and my gameplay, so if Blizzard wanted to open that up, more power to them. Maybe it’s a PVP thing, where if somebody wants to RP running around naked they should leave themselves open to getting ganked?

On the other, that seems like an incredibly weird thing to want to do, and maybe they could perhaps not. I’m not sure why people are clamoring for this, especially since there are so many half-naked armor pieces you could mog anyway. Maybe because it’s the only restriction left, really, so why not, right? Though, my counterpoint here is probably “but why.”


Q4tQ: Tell me a story! I want to know something that you still think about in a game to this day! A near miss, an epic victory, a tragic loss, a comedy of errors! Anything!

There are three game narratives which stick forever in my head, and they all capture the very broad theme of what it can mean to be human. Two of them I don’t really like discussing unless I know everyone has played it through, because uncovering the story bit by bit is part of what makes it haunting, and why it stuck with me. Just play SOMA and Immortality (though I’ll warn you the former has a few jump scares, and the latter has a LOT of nudity and realistic blood).

By contrast, though I could tell you all about the plot of the game and the themes it explores, there’s no real way to spoil Kentucky Route Zero as such. The writing in that game, the environments and how they shape the narrative, and how the gameplay itself is tied to the ideas set forth within the subtext, all work together to create the experience. It’s about the crushing grind of living, and especially how people are crushed, and treated like a commodity — very specifically, the themes of the concept of value, and what trash is, figure throughout. It’s about what we build on, who is buried and then built on, the ancestors who came before and what our responsibility to them might be, and how hope can be irrepressible, illogical, even through everything else. Above all, it’s about who gets to live the American Dream, who that dream destroys in its wake, and who is left behind.

And then, the ending.

I’m not religious, but there are few pieces of media which have destroyed me emotionally more than the last few minutes of that game. I’m not sure Cory was specifically asking to be psychologically destroyed this lovely afternoon, but that’s what he’s getting anyway.

Hang in there, Queue.

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