We had a brief conversation in our game group last Friday about video games, and I thought I would share the ones I am currently playing/interested in as demos are available for most and there's some interesting games out there.
Plants vs. Zombies - good goofy tower defense-like fun. The kids and I have enjoyed it a bunch. This is from the creators of Bejeweled and other casual time waster type games. The demo lets you get pretty far into the game, and then "Crazy Dave" gives you a talking to and tells you what you'll get if you buy the game. I like my purchase of it, but I wouldn't pay the $19.95 standard retail. I downloaded it off Valve's Steam online storefront for $9.99. At that price, I definitely recommend it if you like the demo.
Spectromancer and League of Heroes (addon) - With gameplay created in part (or mostly, it seems) by Richard Garfield, the innovator behind the Magic the Gathering trading card game, Spectromancer is a lot of fun if you're looking for something in the same vein - a card game representing the battles between you playing as a wizard, and some other wizards. The addon adds some new types of magic into the mix. This one is hard to explain, it does hearken back to Magic somewhat, but I like the gameplay better overall - it just seems more enjoyable to me. You can play it by yourself, against the computer in a quest mode, or against people online. Good times. The demo allows you to play an illusionist through part of the quest game, and a finite number of single duels. Then you have to pay to play. Also, the decks are all finite and included in the game - no purchasing of more cards or the like is necessary. I purchased from Steam, $14.95 for both the core game and the addon, I believe. http://www.spectromancer.com/
Finally, I was interested in checking into the indie computer RPG game scene. I looked at the Avernum series by Spiderweb Software and the Eschalon series by Basilisk Games. Both are at their core a turn based RPG experience. Avernum is heavy on history and story and seemed like a solid game, the player plays as a party of adventurers through the story. The downside is the graphics are wanting.
Eschalon Book II, on the other hand, seems more dungeon-crawly, and the player plays as a single character. The graphics are pretty good overall for an indie game, much better than Avernum in my opinion. If you could take the stories of Avernum and the game engine of Eschalon, you'd have one awesome game. Having to pick between the two, however, I think I prefer Eschalon, which seems to have a bit more of the feel I'm looking for. They all have free demos, and I have played a bit of each. I'm currently very tempted to start buying the Eschalon games, but time will tell whether I'll actually bite.
Our game night was a lot of fun. Old school OSRIC goodness. The AD&D game, I'm finding, seems to be a much more free-form experience than I remember. I especially enjoyed the players deciding to go guard a caravan on a journey (hex-crawl anyone?) and then getting into side adventures along the way. Compared to the last couple of weeks in a dungeon, the PCs saw more danger, but made much more money and experience. Fun!