I'm going to go ahead and take a wild guess that I wasn't the only one to catch a recent new episode of throne-based television. And let me tell you, as soon as it finished, the first thing I did... well, actually the first thing I did was check out HBO's cool Sigil Generator to put together a little something for the next time the JiG crew heads out to the Renn Faire. But the second thing I did was dive into the archives to find some middle ages-type fun. This week in The Vault we get medieval, with excellent action, interactive fiction, and strategy titles. Awesome is coming!
- Pillage the Village - Pillage the Village, the 2007 action title from XGenStudios, is, officially, the prequel to the classic Defend Your Castle. However, its premise could serve as the perfect prologue for just about any castle-defense game, as it finally lets you engage in all the looting and marauding that gets those villagers and magical creatures so angry at you in the first place. Launching the peasantry high into the air, then slamming them into their tiny thatch-roof cottages, may not be the most mature of gaming pleasures, but there's an undeniable schadenfreude-riffic appeal.
- Varicella - Quite a few games let you play the role of a hacking and slashing knight, or the king commanding an army. However, rare is the work that lets you play the role of master schemer, whose chosen weapon is not a sword, but rather intrigue: exploiting weakness, playing rivals against each other, and betraying your way to the top. Varicella, a 1999 piece of interactive fiction by Adam Cadre, is an exception. Set in a twisted modern version of an alternate-universe Palazzo del Piedmonte, you play as Primo Varicella, an excruciatingly mannered palace minister hoping to grab the power of regency following the king's death, at the expense of your only-slightly-darker-shade-of-gray competitors. The prose of Varicella is as hilarious as it is dark, keeping things enjoyable through the multiple short playthroughs it will take to ensure your plans properly come to fruition. Appropriately, it's a game where you win, or you die.
- Strategy Defense - An impressive 2007 trio of tactical titles from Belugerin Games, Strategy Defense succeeds in making the often-imposing strategy genre feel light-hearted and inviting. Don't be fooled by that adorable aesthetic, though: Strategy Defense is hardly a shallow experience, and gameplay ranges from Ogre Battle style turn-based battles, to real time tower defense, with an impressive selection of units and weapons to wield. And frankly, any game that features both magical lightning bolts and Sherman Tanks can't be all bad.
While we welcome any comments about this weekly feature here, we do ask that if you need any help with the individual games, please post your questions on that game's review page. Well, what are you waiting for? Get out there and rediscover some awesome!