So tonight, I played Dear Esther. Well, I think I played Dear Esther. I took to Twitter while playing it, actually, stating that I thought I was playing this game wrong. After finishing it, I'm still not even sure if I played it correctly or not, but regardless, I played, finished it and, well, that's about it.
For some reason, I thought this game was going to be inspirational, motivational or thought-provoking. Instead, I'm left feeling like I wasted a lot of time sightseeing and not doing much of anything else. If there was a message to pick up from the game, I didn't get it. Shame on me, I suppose.
I played it with headphones on, getting the full audible experience. I couldn't tell at first if the narrator was just speaking about random things, or doing his best Bastion impression and narrating what I was doing at the time. Pretty sure I figured out quickly that he was just reading letters or something like that, about a bunch of characters that had no context.
You see, you are just dumped on this island, with no explanation and no context for anything, letting you just walk around and "explore" this desultory, lonely and essential dead local. When I say explore, I mean just walk around looking at stuff, zooming in if you chose to, but never interacting with anything. And when I say walk, I literally mean walk. Just walking. There is no way to move faster - run, sprint, hurdle objects, swim, anything - just walk. This was easily the most frustrating part of this game, as the boredom sets in even quicker when you can't accelerate the game play any faster.
The graphics look really good, especially when you remember to bump up the graphics (which I didn't do for a while, to be honest). The scenery was great looking, but honestly, wasn't anything I haven't seen before, nor was it breathtaking. If I wanted to explore the outside, though, I would just go for a hike. At least I could travel at my own pace.
By the time I got to the ending, I was pretty much done with this game. Sure, the ending made a decent attempt at making the game have some sort of deep meaning, but really, I was so bored, it didn't do anything for me.
Maybe I am just being overly cynical because I'm on vacation in stupid-hot weather, but I know for sure I'll never return to this island to see if I missed anything. If I did, so be it.
When I stumbled upon Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams, it was featured on in the Steam store, on their feature sales page. For some reason, the name stood out to me, but I couldn't place it at all as to where I had heard it before. It definitely wasn't this game, because based on the title and the art accompanying it, it surely didn't seem like a game that would ever be on my radar.
The fact that it stood out to me, however, intrigued me enough to not simply pass over it like the countless of other games I have done since joining Steam. No, there was something different about this game, and even the description didn't help me place it in my convoluted memory.
And this is the exact reason why Wikipedia was created.
I looked it up, and immediately knew where I had heard the name "Giana Sisters." You see, back in the Commodore 64 days, there was a game that was released called The Great Giana Sisters. It was a platforming game, where the character was stuck in a dream world, inhabited by monsters, on a journey to collect a diamond that would wake her up from the dream world. The plot isn't what's important here, to be honest. The reason I know about this original game is because of it's first level.
You see, the first level drew inspiration from a popular game. Apparently, the developers of The Great Giana Sisters really liked Super Mario Bros. - A LOT - because the entire first level was an identical clone of Mario's first level, with diamonds instead of coins, and a few other minor changes. Even the block placement in the level was nearly identical. It was such a good clone that Nintendo caught wind of it, and let's just say, they weren't exactly thrilled. Apparently the saying "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery" doesn't translate will to Japanese, as they threatened legal action unless the game was pulled from store shelves. Thus, the run of the Giana Sisters was short lived.
Gaming history fascinates me. Because of this, I had to buy this new game featuring the fabled Giana Sisters. It's a platforming puzzle game, featuring a cool mechanic where you can switch between the sisters (who have their own individual abilities) on a the fly. And depending on which sister you are, the environment changes to you accommodate your character. With one sister, there might be a gap, but if you switch to the other sister, suddenly a bridge appears to help you get across. This concept of switching back and forth constantly to solve puzzles in order to reach the end of the level is really well flushed out, as the switching is fluid and never feels like a hindrance on the platforming.
The game itself is beautiful. The level design, environments and backgrounds remind me a lot of Trine, which itself is gorgeous. It's crisp, colorful and vibrant. Overall, it's visually stunning, all while managing to keep the game play top notch. Not many games know how to balance these aspects.
Oh, and I'm happy to report that the first level isn't a Mario rip-off. At all. They've come a long way.
Some games are way too over-hyped, and never live up to the expectations placed on them. After months and months of promotional marketing and self-perpetuated excitement, by the time the game comes out, it falls short of ever being what it was thought it would be.
This is something that happens in the industry far too often, unfortunately. It's hard to ever fully put the blame on someone for these issues, as many times the letdown is unavoidable. Call of Juarez: Gunslinger is the complete opposite of this problem.
Gunslinger flew under the radar almost undetected, silent and without any hype pretty much up until it was released. But the day it was released, it was clear to everyone who took a chance on it that this game was awesome. There was no hype to live up to, no expectations to meet. And oddly enough, even if there were, I have a feeling it would have by all accounts.
The game looks extraordinary, as the cell-shading combined with the realistic style looks amazing. It reminded me how much I enjoyed the visual style of XIII on the original Xbox. The environments are as engaging as you would hope they would be, even yielding points for object being shot (like pumpkins, cans and other things laying around).
The game play is pretty straight forward. It's a straight forward FPS, with XP to be earned and skill trees to be tackled. In this aspect, the game plays eerily similar to the Borderlands games, which by all accords, isn't a bad thing in the least. Going after headshots, long shots, running shots and combos when shooting people is extremely fun, and the thrill of racking up points left and right is enough to keep you engaged when the seemingly endless parade of enemies is feeling repetitive.
Above and beyond all else as far as the endearing qualities of the game is the narration of the game. The old cowboy telling the stories that you are reenacting does a phenomenal job, and I immediately thought about the game Bastion. Just like in that game, the game plays out as the narrator is talking, but also the narrator will comment on your game play. This a very easy way to keep the story engaging and entertaining without loosing the focus of the gamer.
Overall, this is an amazing game, especially for a $15 title. But I guess when there is no hype or pressure to live up to, it becomes easier to live up to those standards.
in 2012, Telltale Games pretty much dominated the video games dojo with the release of the episodic and highly successful adventure game, The Walking Dead. Granted, it was capitalizing on the ridiculous momentum and allure that the franchise was drumming up, using the buzz to its advantage. Between the television show and the comics, the franchise was clicking on all cylinders, and Telltale Games cashed in on it at just the right moment.
That's not to say that it was a cash-grab game and held no merit as a stand alone product, because it wasn't. By itself, it was a fantastic game, and critically one of the best for the entire year. But that's not to say that the built-in hype didn't help at all, because of course it did.
What's important to remember is that this wasn't Telltale Game's first rodeo. They have actually made a few point-and-click adventure games, all based on other, popular franchises. One of their games was Back to the Future: The Game, which I started playing tonight. While not nearly as good as The Walking Dead game, it's easy to draw comparisons and look back to see what went right and wrong back then, and how they seemed to take those lessons and apply them to zombie universe.
This adventure takes place after the events of the movie trilogy, making a new storyline for the popular franchise instead of going the easy route and just recreating the movie series. The voice acting is phenomenal, and the characters seem as lively and lovable as they did back in the day. One thing that is clear right off the bat is how dull and bland the backgrounds are. While the characters look great, they didn't put much time in creating a world that you feel completely immersed in. The writing is great, but the puzzles are very simple and less challenging than I hoped they would be.
And that's the story for this game. For everything it does great, it falls flat on another aspect of it.
Thankfully, they figured out this pattern when making The Walking Dead, because without the ability to forfeit pride for the sake of betterment of a project, success would never happen. So for everyone who absolutely loved The Walking Dead game, you should go back and play Back to the Future: The Game, and get a little perspective.
Usually, video games follow a fairly established set of rules and guidelines that actually qualify them as games. The basic of these guidelines is that there is a way to beat the game, a way to lose the game and always a specific goal laid out in front of you to accomplish. Not all games follow these rules to perfectly, and some just don't incorporate one or another of them. But for the most part, these are the fundamental blueprints for developing a game.
Then, every once in a while, a developer comes along and throws all tradition out the window and does their own thing. 99% of the time these will be smaller, indie developers who have less riding on whether or not they follow established guidelines or not, and they have a lot more freedom to experiment with unique and different types of games.
Tomorrow Corporation is the prime example of a developer doing whatever they want to do, just because they think it will be a fun experience, not because the industry dictates what should and shouldn't be in a game. Little Inferno is their game, and it is awesome.
If you like burning things for no real rhyme or reason in a fireplace. Yes, you heard me right.
Truth is, I bought this game when I first got my Wii U, as it was hailed as one of the best games on the eShop at the time. While the description of the game and the limited game play footage didn't exactly make a compelling argument for the game, but nonetheless, I took a chance on a game I knew almost nothing about - mainly because I wanted to support the eShop right out of the gate for the new system.
I played it and loved it on the Wii U. But tonight, I played it on my PC, as it was one of many games in the most recent Humble Indie Bundle. And because I knew the game backwards and forwards pretty efficiently at this point, playing through tonight was a breeze. In fact, I sunk three hours into it, but did absolutely everything there was to do in it. And every single bit of it was enjoyable as if it was the first time I played.
Literally, this game is as simple as I made it seem. You play as a kid, who is hunkering down in his house because of a massive snow storm engulfing the city To stay warm, he gets a Little Inferno Home Entertainment Fireplace. You get a selection of catalogs to browse a "buy" products with your gold coins. After buying, they are delivered to you, in which you toss them in your fireplace, light them on fire and watch the magic happen. And by "magic," I mean see what happens to each weird item when it is engulfed in fire. Yup, that is it.
You can unlock certain combos by burning specific things together at the same time, but ultimately, there is no real reason to do so other than to complete your list. All you really have to do is just buy and burn everything, before the "end game" eventually happens. That's it. Buy and burn, rinse and repeat. The fun is literally just watching things burn and smolder. It might not be for everyone, but for those pyromaniacs out there, there is finally a game for you.
But of course, "game" is a very lose term. Which is why this "game" is so great.
Adult Swim Games publishes some really rad games. Let's get that out there in the open right away, because honestly, it's true. I wrote the other night about how their marketing strategy got me to pick up and play Super House of Dead Ninjas, and how awesome that game is.
Well, after my great experience with that game, I looked into other games they had out. I already have Robot Unicorn Attack 2 on my iPad, which I will eventually play for this blog project eventually I'm sure. But there is another game in their catalog, one that is a free flash game, but also available on Steam for a few bucks also.
I am, of course, referring to Super Puzzle Platformer Deluxe.
The Deluxe version on Steam comes packed with bonus content, allegedly, making it worth your while to pick it up. I think they added a few different modes to it, but honestly, I don't know 100% because I jumped right into the paid Deluxe version.
I could probably Google it, but that would eventually lead to a Google vortex of searching, and I'm already distracted enough as it is.
ANYWAY, this game is fantastic. It is a platforming game where you control the caped hero, using his weapon that upgrades automatically as you level up, blasting falling blocks in what looks like a game of Tetris. Blasting individual blocks nets you a few measly points, but once you let the colors start matching up and making bigger sequences of blocks, the point totals skyrocket. Various obstacles fall as well, from spikes, to cannons, explosives and various other things meant to ruin your day. Every time you're hit, you level down, and once you're at the bottom tier, the next hit will be your last.
The levels never end, either, meaning it will continue as long as you can. And sometimes those make for the best types of games, challenging you to keep on going until you finally meet your demise. Of course there are high score leaderboards as well, giving you all the more reason to keep on playing, improving on your score each time.
The game isn't super aesthetic, but the simplistic, 16-bit style graphics work for this type of game play. This looks and feels like the type of game I could find in an old school arcade, and one that I would probably dump way too many quarters into. And that, my friends, is what I constitute as a good game.
Kudos to Adult Swim Games for publishing some awesome games. Who knew?
I'm a sucker. I can be talked in to anything, as long as the seller takes the right angle with me. Normally, I can be pretty hard-headed, stubborn and stuck in my ways.But if the right sales pitch comes around, i'll bite quicker than a starving great white shark at a water park. Today, it happened again.
My good buddy Chris (@HolyHeadShot) from Everyday Gamers, randomly suggested to me via twitter Super House of Dead Ninjas to play for this blog. Now, knew he had played this before and thought very fondly of the game, but despite all that, when he suggested it, I put it in my bank of "sure, I'll get around to picking it up, but for now, I have too much to play," where I have PLENTY of games stored. And then the sales pitch happened.
No, it didn't come from Chris. But after he tweeted about it, the twitter feed for Adult Swim Games replied to us both, reminding us that it was half price TODAY and TODAY ONLY to buy the game via Steam, and then signed off with one of the phrases I use more than I should: "JUST SAYING." Great, the actual publisher is now tweeting at me, backing up suggestions from friends of which games to play, reminding me the game is on sale, and then finishing with my own catch phrase? You won, Adult Swim Games. Good game.
So naturally, after I realized they had won the battle I didn't even know had started, I tweeted back to them saying I was going to buy, play and write about Super House of Dead Ninjas for my blog. And I also told them that, I too, was "JUST SAYING." They immediately Favorited by post, all but signing the other half of the contract I typed in blood.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not getting anything for doing this. I bought the game legitimately and am writing about it on my own accord, with no influence from the outside, no $20 handshakes and no pressure. I say all that because this game rocks. And I didn't want to seem biased when I stated that.
It's a 16-bit art styles, with sprites and everything, and it looks like something I would have played as a kid on my Super Nintendo, for sure. The controls are tight, the game play is fun and it has dead ninjas in it, for crying out loud. There isn't anything about this game that wouldn't make it awesome.
Sure, it seems like it could be pretty short, and the boss battles feel like weak version of Dr. Willy's robots from the Mega Man games, but that's not a bad thing, it's just a thing. Look, the game is fun. It brings me back with the retro-feel of it, and while it's a ninja game, it's not based on stealth, but rather speed and accuracy. This is great, because honestly, I can't handle another stealthy ninja game. If Ninja Gaiden was fun and not the hardest thing in the world, that would be this game.
So yeah, I liked it. And I got talked into buying it by the publisher directly. Because I'm a sucker. A sucker for great sales tactics, a sucker for twitter love and a sucker for retro-looking games. Deal with it.
First off, my Internet is STILL down. Thankfully I was able to record a podcast last night before the tech gremlins decided to wreck-shop on my Internet connection. Good news is my cousin was smart enough to realize that a DSL connection wasn't going to be suitable for us living together, so he went ahead and signed up for cable Internet already - we're just waiting for the hardware at this point.
So with that being said, I apologize for another blog post from my phone. But I still stand by the fact that this is better than nothing.
Anyway, I played Terraria. It's been a game that I've had on my radar for a while now, especially since it came out on the PSN and was announced for the Vita. One of my twitter-buddies, Travis, brought it up to me, because for one, he thought it would be a fun game for me to play for this blog project of mine, but also because he wanted to get it and was looking for people to play with. Well, I didn't pull the trigger on the PSN version, and since the Vita version isn't out yet, that can only mean one thing.
Yes, I got another game on Steam. It was on sale, so honestly that was the driving force behind my decision. As if I need to justify my compulsive buying to you guys. Ha!
So I played it. It's basically Minecraft on a 2-D plane, instead of in a 3-D world. I've watched my boys play Minecraft and watch enough YouTube videos about Minecraft to know the basics. I figured I could stumble my way through it. Apparently, I was wrong.
I sucked. Sure, I managed to defeat a bunch of baddies and collect a healthy amount of raw materials, but once I got the crafting menu opened, I was LOST. And if there is one thing I hate about games, it is when they make me feel like a moron. There are reasons that games have great tutorials, as much as we as gamers like to complain about them.
Apparently, the NPC that started next to me when the map loaded was supposed to walk me through the basics. Well, he did not. Maybe I was supposed to push something to make him talk, I don't know. All I do know is that he was a mute to me.
It's a game that I will WANT to learn how to play, but until I do some research and homework, or get my Internet up and running and play multiplayer, I'm going to be in the dark on this game.
Dark like the hole I dug that went down to an underground well where I promptly drowned. Yup. That's just how my day has gone.
Always digging my way out holes.
Tonight's posting is just about the game that I played, but more about just how cool this industry is sometimes, especially the independent side of it all. Playing on just consoles for my most of my gaming life, I've come to realize there are plenty of cool little success stories for the smaller developers out there, especially thanks to the PSN and XBLA, where the marketplace is wide open and ripe for the picking, especially in comparison to the store shelves next to the blockbuster, triple-A titles.
Now that I am officially a PC gamer, however, I'm realizing that making games and being somewhat successful at it is one thing, but when you can make those games be important to the bigger scope of of today's society, that is the true, more pure meaning of success.
Allow me to introduce to you, the Humble Bundle. Well, in this case, the Humble Double Fine Bundle.
This cool little program matches up games and/or certain indie developers, puts a package together and gives the buyer the opportunity to set their own price. Also, the buyer has the chance to decide where all the money goes to, and how much to allocate to the Humble Bundle site, the developer of the games (Double Fine in this case), or charity. Whatever amount you choose, you decide where every cent of your money is distributed.
The three games you get no matter how much you pay for this particular bundle are Stacking, Psychonauts and Costume Quest. There are incentives for paying more money as well, like if you meet the average of what people are giving, you get Brutal Legend, and if you give at least $35, you will get the yet to be released game Broken Age, when it is released of course. Oh, and $70+ will net you a cool t-shirt, if you are in to that sort of thing.
Because of how cool of an idea this is, and because I need to stock up on games to play now that the spring season is beginning to wind down, I went ahead and threw some money the charity's way. So tonight, I played Costume Quest.
This was always a game I heard a lot about, but never looked into it much. Turns out, it's a fun little game, where you are a kid trick-or-treating around your neighborhood until your sibling gets kidnapped, and you have to run around collecting candy and pieces of costumes in order to have some epic Voltron/Power Rangers-eque type battles. It's a wonderful looking game, and is surprisingly fun, but I don't thing it is controller compatible, which is frustrating because there are a lot of keys to press - and we all know how good I am at that.
Like I said, fun little game. But I am more happy that I helped out a charity tonight than I am to own another game. Just worked out this time that I was able to have my cake and eat it to.
Whoever said this PC gaming road wasn't a slippery slope into obsession was out of their minds. Actually, I don't remember anyone saying that, ever, because I'm pretty sure everyone that plays games on their PC knows how crazy of a rabbit hole this is.
Back when Diablo 3 was released, and seemingly everyone that I knew that was even remotely interested in games picked it up on launch night, that was the first time I can remember being curious about PC gaming. That game looked so awesome, so fun and so easy to play (mostly mouse clicks, not a bunch of keystrokes to remember). There was something intriguing about the grind of the game, the random dungeons, and the loot- oh, the loot! But despite how fascinated I was, I couldn't justify getting into PC gaming just for that game. I wanted to, but I couldn't. I just couldn't.
Then, during the big Sony press conference where they announced the PS4, they also dropped the bombshell that Diablo 3 was finally coming to the PS3 and unreleased PS4. You can't imagine how excited I was. At last, I was going to get to play the game that almost drew me into PC in the first place.
Well, now I am a PC gamer, and I don't need to wait for the console port of that game. I just need to buy the game, install it and get going on it. In the meantime, however, I noticed that Torchlight II was on sale on Steam yesterday, for a mere $6, as opposed to the normal $20 price tag. From all accounts, Torchlight II is an excellent first step in the dungeon-crawler type of PC game, and in some people's opinions, is better than Diablo 3. Well, since I have nothing to compare it to, I won't be able to say which one is better, but I can tell you whether or not I liked the game and if I think this genre is for me.
Yes. Yes, I did like it. I really liked it. Liked it enough know that I plan on playing a bunch more of it, and am definitely a fan of this style of games. Diablo 3, watch out. I'm coming for you next!
But in the mean time, Torchlight II. For me, the first thing I noticed was how well it ran on my laptop, which makes me happy in knowing that I picked out a good enough computer to run games at higher qualities. Second thing I noticed was how much I enjoyed just having to use the mouse. Sure, you have to push a couple of keys for random commands, but that's nothing in comparison to what I've seen some games play like. The constant "click click click" is funny, because I also made fun of it, but now, it's like white noyse to me. Crazy how things turnaround for you sometimes, isn't it?
Anyway, I didn't get much into the storyline, because I really didn't care all that much. I just wanted to crawl through dungeons, level up and basically Hulk-smash anything that got in my way. And honestly, that was perfect enough for me. I'm mentally invested into enough storylines in games right now anyway, so a few games that aren't story-heavy (or that are easily skipped over) are right up my alley.
Overall, yes, I really liked this game. And frankly, I am loving PC gaming. If only I had pulled the trigger on it way back when, when I first thought about it.
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Games played for project : 365