My progress for this month: Fnord’s profile

Because I’m terrible with keeping things like “currently playing” and my future plans consistent and up to date, I’ll just simplify things and make a list of my progress for the month, until I can come up with a good system.

If anyone is curious about my complete backlog, it can be found here

Games beaten
Heroes Chronicles Chapter 7: Revolt of the Beastmasters
Heroes Chronicles Chapter 8: The Sword of Frost

Games dropped
Alone in the Dark
DOOM 3
Goosebumps: The Game


Warhammer 40,000: Gladius - Relics of War

17 hours, 33 of 69 achievements

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Warhammer 40,000: Gladius - Relics of War is a rather streamlined 4X game. 4 races from 40k fight over a planet, and as this is the 40k universe there is only war. The goal is simply to wipe the other people off the planet.

As a war-focused 4X game, Gladius is really fun. It does a good job representing its source material, and it's a generally quite enjoyable experience. but it is a bit lacking in content. With so much less to do than in Civ, or even the developer's previous game, Pandora, having only 4 races does not quite feel enough. But still, fans of 4X games should check this out. Maybe wait for a sale though?

(Also, orks are the best)


Heroes Chronicles Chapter 4-6

21 hours, no achievements

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I've previously reviewed earlier parts of Heroes Chronicles. Everything said there is still true, these are just more Heroes of Might and Magic 3. If you decide to play these, beware of the second level of Chapter 5, it's really tough.


Her Majesty's SPIFFING

1.6 hours, 14 of 25 achievements

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I was, truth to be told, a bit disappointed with this one. The idea is charming. You've got a very British crew of two on board of a space ship, who have been sent out to spread the British empire. Expect a fare few jokes about British people, and their habits. Sadly I thought the game had a real over-reliance on breaking the 3rd wall. A really large portion of the jokes in here were 3rd wall breaking, and it did get old. The game also has very few locations, and while the locations are detailed with a fare few things to interact with, it really could have used at least double the locations. I get that they were making this one a shoe-string budget, but calling attention to the fact, repeatedly, does not make it any less of a problem.


Close Combat: The Bloody First

9 hours, no achievements

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This is another game I wrote a review for, so link at the bottom of the post! Finally Close Combat has entered the 3rd dimension!


Millennium - A New Hope

3 hours, 11 of 52 achievements

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So the girl wants to change the world because squirrels are nice to each other. Yep, that's the story.

Millennium actually started out well enough, even if it was a bit cliche. Your father has been hurt, and you need to run an errand for him. And this results in adventure!
The first few areas of the game are actually rather good. They don't overstay their welcome, and while the game errs on the side of easy, it's actually a pleasant little JPRG. And then the girl sees some squirrels, who are nice to each other, and decides that tyranny needs to be overthrown by removing democracy and invoking martial law. Yep, not making that up. Martial law according to this game is when a few skilled fighters step up and challenge each other for the throne, which makes everyone think that voting is a bad idea because fighting is cool. And that is how you beat tyranny!

And directly following this idea to overthrow tyranny by getting rid of democracy you have to cross a mountain, and here the level design goes from passable to awful. I checked a guide to see if it's just this area that's designed in such a way, and nope, the quality of the game just takes a nose dive and never recovers, so I'll not force myself to play any further, and thus I've not just marked this game as "won't play", but also the rest of the series. That's -5 games for my backlog for the price of one!


Review for Close Combat: The Bloody First

What an interesting month. I got approached by a review site to write some actual reviews for them. It’s a small site, so I’m mostly just getting paid in games, but hey, I don’t mind! I get free games, that are still rather expensive, and in exchange I must write 2-4 pages, which is not a problem, as I’m a fast typer.

Slay the Spire

30.2 hours, 19 of 44 achievements

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Slay the Spire is a rogue-lite deckbuilding game. Yep, you can make anything rogue-lite these days! Actually, this is a pretty good fit as deckbuilding games tend to be at their best when you don't have to live with your bad choices for too long.

Slay the Spire is amazingly addictive. Really, it nails that "just one more try" feel, and it's just a blast to play. Encounters are varied, and you've got a good selection of cards and relics to build around. It can be rather random though, early on you might get a few cards that works well for a specific strategy, so you'll get them, but then you never find what's needed to complete it. But the rounds are short, and it's easy to just jump back into the game after a failed run.


Heroes Chronicles Chapter 3: Master of the Elements

10 hours, 19 of 44 achievements

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So another Heroes Chronicles down. You can scroll down to my previous post and read what I had to say about that chapter, because this is just more of the same. That's not a terrible thing, but I would just repeat myself at this point


Battlestar Galactica Deadlock

13 hours, 21 of 26 achievements

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I wrote a more serious review for this game here:
https://saveorquit.com/2019/09/22/review-battlestar-galactica-deadlock/

It got a bit rambly, but it has pretty pictures, so please check it out!


Battlestar Galactica Deadlock: Resurrection

8 hours, no achievements

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And for this one as well, it's a bit shorter than the previous one, on account of this being a DLC:

https://saveorquit.com/2019/09/22/review-battlestar-galactica-deadlock-resurrection/


Dishonored - The Knife Of Dunwall

3.4 hours, no achievements

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It was 3 years ago that I played Dishonored, and now I finally got around to playing the DLC.

Good level design really carries this one. You've got several ways to approach every situation, predictable yet not simplistic enemy patterns and the locations feel like places where people could live and work. If you liked the original Dishonored, then this is a must play, it's very good!


Dishonored - The Brigmore Witches

3.4 hours, no achievements

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Slightly shorter, and frankly, slightly worse than the previous one, but still not bad. The locations feel a bit more linear this time around, and don't offer you quite as much in the way of interesting choices. If you have Dishonored, this one is still well worth getting, but something tells me this one was a bit more rushed than the previous DLC.


Hm, for some reason the links don’t seem to be working. Going to try to post them outside:
Review for Battlestar Galactica Deadlock
Review for Battlestar Galactica Deadlock: Resurrection

Bit of an eclectic mix of games this time around. Licensed action game, really outdated FMV game and a weird and mostly forgotten spinoff chapter to one of the most famous turnbased strategy games of all time.

Transformers: War for Cybertron

7.6 hours, no achievements
SG win

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Finally got around to completing this old SG win!

Transfromers: War for Cybertron is a 3rd person action game set in the Transformers universe. It takes place in the earlier stages of the war, before the robots reached earth, and functions as a bit of an origin story for Optimus Prime, and the Ark (the ship that they flew to earth)

This game is fun, but a bit of a missed opportunity. You've got big stompy robots who can transform into vehicles, but this particular bit was a bit under-developed. The vehicle mode felt like, for the most part, something you used to traverse longer stretches, while the robot mode was for fighting, and very rarely did it feel worth it to use the vehicle mode in fights. I wish they would have integrated this defining feature of Transformers more heavily into the gameplay (that said, in the old comics and cartoon, apart from the ones who could transform into tanks or fighter planes,most transformers stayed in their robot form during fights, but still, it would have been fun if they found some uses for the vehicle mode).

Another gripe I have with the game are the weapons. Why go with projectile weapons in a setting that so heavily favours energy weapons? And the weapons themselves are really what you would expect from any generic 3rd person military action game. You've got your shotgun (comes in 2 flavours), your assault rifle, your rocket launcher, grenade launcher, sniper rifle and so on.

The game also has a serious lack of enemy variety. There are two campaigns, one for the decepticons (evil) and one for the autobots (good), but the enemies you face are pretty much the same through the entire game. Small grunts, shielded guys you need to shoot in the back, big heavy guys with miniguns, annoying cloaked enemies, snipers and flying grunts. It really could use more enemy types.

That said, the gameplay is solid. While the level design might not win any awards, the different arenas you end up fighting in feel varied enough, and the gunplay is fun, if a bit generic.

So overall, it's a good game, just one that should have been so much more!


MegaRace

0.8 hours, no achievements
GOG version

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Now this is a type of game that could only have been made during a very brief period of time! MegaRace is an FMV racing game, and if you've never played one of those before, let me introduce you to the concept!

CDs were just getting popular among the general public, and suddenly game developers found themselves with a lot more space than they had ever had before. A floppy fits 1,44mb, an early CD 650mb! So what do you do with all that extra space you suddenly have? You fill it with videos of course! Filming actors (or people on the dev team, the boss's neighbour's gardener and so on) and making games out of these movies was easy enough, and so a lot of companies did.
And at roughly the same time, someone got the bright idea that you could just play games on top of these movies. And that's a good fit for racing games, after all you're only going forward, right? So what they did was that they just made a short movie for each track and then they defined where at any given point in the movie the player's car could be. Anything you can interact directly with and changed in any way is just added on top of the movie, and the movie itself plays at different speeds depending on how fast you're going. This of course resulted in a lot of limitations, as you can't turn around or in any way go off course. But on the other hand, these pre-rendered movies could look far better than anything the hardware of the time could normally produce.

And MegaRace did just that, you're racing on top of a pre-rendered movie, showing futuristic race tracks, while trying to shoot enemy cars. And between these races you get a wonderfully hammy performance by an actor, who's really giving it his all to ham it up (in a good way!)

MegaRace is a fun game. It's not spectacular, and had it been a longer game it would have overstayed its welcome, but it was a fun and very quick playthrough.


Heroes Chronicles Chapter 2: Conquest of the Underworld

14.7 hours, no achievements
GOG version (not actually HoMM 3 HD, but close enough!)

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The Heroes Chronicles series is a weird one. Back in 2000 & 2001 New World Computing released a series of standalone campaigns. The idea was that these would be sold for a lower price than the normal game, and thus would get more people to try the game. They worked as a bit of an introduction to the HoMM series. And they also filled in the gaps of what happened between Heroes 3 & 4. At launch these cost about 20€ each, but they were later sold in packs of 3 campaigns. Now to make matters even more confusing, not all campaigns were sold, if you bought a certain amount of them you could then download additional campaigns from their website (a website that obviously is no longer around). And because they messed up the release, chapter 5 (which as one of the free ones) could not be downloaded if you had any other version than the North American ones.

You can buy the complete set on GOG now, so the bit above is just some history. A further oddity about these is what they removed. These games just offer the campaigns, and nothing else, no skirmish or multiplayer. So these are just for those who have a hankering for more HoMM 3-style campaigns. And that at least they deliver. I've just beaten the first two (and I beat the first one a while back), but while the first one was really easy, the second one was a bit more challenging. Something that I think they do quite well with these, better than the base game ever did, was injecting more story during the levels. You frequently get text boxes giving more information about what's going on, often representing talk between important characters or observations from the main character.
Where I do feel that this campaign falters a bit is with making it clear what the mission objectives actually are. You're often supposed to find certain objects, and these are very easy to miss when you just move around the map. And the campaign makes heavy use of gates that require certain conditions to be met, one might require you to have visited a specific location, another might need a specific character to open it, and then a third one might need you to bring a few creatures of a specific type, and you don't know what these want until you visit them, and they do go overboard with them. Level 5 in particular is tedious due to this. But still, this game offered 8 above average quality HoMM 3 levels, so I can't really complain. Now I just need to beat the remaining 6…


Dang it, forgot to select the option that makes it clear that these are clicky! All of these are clicky, so if you want to see a mini-review, just click on them.

Heroes of Hammerwatch

42.4 hours, 26 of 92 achievements

Heroes of Hammerwatch is yet another rogue-lite, with randomly generated levels, persistent upgrades and all that jazz. There are loads of them on steam, I've lost track of how many I have in my steam library at this point, and I only have a fraction of all the ones on steam.

Heroes of Hammerwatch is also very good. It gives a nice sense of progression, and each region feels really distinct from each other, so there's a good amount of variety in the game, which really helps when you're going to end up replaying the same areas more than a few times. The game also does a really good job with the different characters. They feel distinct from each other and have their own playstyles, which gives the game a lot of replay value. This game is also not overly punishing. While it's not a cake walk, just getting through to the end is realistic, and it does offer you several crutches, in case you get stuck. Grinding for permanent upgrades is of course one thing you can do, but passing certain milestones with each class gives you a permanent buff to all classes, depending on the class you played (so for an example, beating a few bosses with the Paladin will give you a permanent armour boost to everyone).

And finally, this is a really nice co-op game. While it does not have a whole lot of unique co-op mechanics & interactions, the way the game is structured makes it work well in co-op. Working as a team really speeds things up.


Pyre

8 hours, no achievements

I was worried that Pyre would end up being boring when I first heard about it. It's a VN mixed with basketball, and I don't like basketball games, and I don't tend to care much for VNs either. But Pyre was good. Really good actually. You're playing the manager of a team of outcasts, who were exiled from their homes due to some crimes they had committed, and only by doing the "trials" can they escape. And so you go from match to match, face off against an opposing team, and between the matches you have somewhat lengthy dialogue sections where you get to know the characters. And the characters are compelling, they all feel fleshed out and interesting in their own ways.

I don't want to spoil the story here, but one thing that does harm it a bit is the games lack of difficulty. Losing a match does not mean game over, the game seems to want you to persist, even when the goings get tough. There's just one problem, I was never close to losing a match, not even once. And that harms the game because that aspect of the story does not work with the gameplay. And before anyone asks, yes, I did have several of those "challenges" that you can activate later going at once.


Baldur’s Gate: Siege of Dragonspear

20 hours, 39 of 68 achievements

An expansion for a game from 1998? Sure!

Siege of Dragonspear is an expansion to the classic CRPG Baldur's Gate, and it takes place almost directly after BG1 ends (so before BG2). So this story has no real impact on the overall BG plot.

Siege of Dragonspear is weird. You can tell that it was not made by the original team, as the style of writing is different, and the encounter design is very different from the original game. The encounter design actually reminds me more of Icewind Dale than Baldur's Gate (that's not a bad thing, I think IWD has superior encounter design). As for the writing, it's a bit hit or miss. I was never a big fan of Jaheira's 4th wall breaking comments, and they play this up a bit more. Only instead of being a direct 4th wall breaking comment, they make weird and unnecessary references, like one character might randomly quote the Beatles as her "idle" chatter.

4th wall breaking stuff aside, it's still pretty good. The conflict feels interesting, and fits in pretty well with the setting. And most of the side quests are given more backstory here than they did in the base game, it's not just random person needs you to do minor tasks, many of the side quests are given a fare bit of backstory, so in this regard it's more like BG2.

I think that's how I would sum this up. This does not feel like Baldur's Gate 1, it feels like a mix between BG2 and IWD, with some minor unnecessary things thrown in.

Oh, and if you're worried about the rumored "pushing a political agenda" thing…. there's one trans person in the game, they tell you about it in like 8 lines of dialogue, and that's only if you ask them about the significance of one of their possessions that you help them retrieve. People are just looking for an excuse to complain, it seems… Trans people exists in the real world, they existed back in the middle ages as well, I don't see how including one is in itself pushing a political agenda.


Age of Wonders 3

63.5 hours, 36 of 74 achievements

This is a game I started all the way back in 2014, and I beat the first campaign (both endings) in 2018. And now I beat the second campaign (both endings)!

I don't know why it ended up taking me so long, it's a great game. I guess the fact that these are some beefy campaigns might have been the issue. But I had no issues with playing the odd random map from time to time.

AoW 3 is a turnbased strategy game, in the same general vein as Heroes of Might and Magic or Masters of Magic. And it's a darn good one at that. While the main story is nothing to really write home about, the gameplay is great. Unlike HoMM (well, I guess apart from 4) your heroes are units on the battlefield, who level up and get stronger, and this gives a nice sense of progression to the game. You've also got a very nice amount of variety between different "classes". And that's one of the things that sets AoW 3 apart, you've got race and class here. Race are things like goblin, elf, orc and so on, and class gives you a set of different units and spells. All the races play the same and have the same set of units apart from one unique unit, but the units have slightly different stats and abilities (an orc will hit harder in melee but have lower magic resistance, a dwarf can cross mountains and so on), and then you've got the class which is the main thing that decides how you'll play, and the exact stats of the class specific units are also modified by race (an engineer has a blunderbuss (ranged weapon) and repairs mechanical units, but an orc engineer also hits a bit harder in melee, and a dwarf engineer can still cross mountains). All of this adds up to quite a bit of replay value for the skirmish maps.

I would say that AoW 3 is one of the best games of its kind. Well worth playing, and if you were one of the people who grabbed it when it was free, then give it a shot!


It’s been a little while since my last roundup post. This has not been the most productive backlog-tackling month… Still, I beat two decently-sized games. Well, one game, and one DLC.

Age of Empires 2: Rise of the Rajas

16.1 hours, no achievements

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The final DLC for Age of Empires 2, Rise of the Rajas deals with east Asia. 4 new civilizations (Malay, Burmese, Khmer & Vietnamese), and 4 new campaigns, all of which are quite good. Malay as a civilization is up there among my favourite AoE 2 civs in terms of just how fun they are to play.
In my last post, I talked about the African Kingdoms expansion, and a lot of what I said there still holds true here, the campaigns are better than those in the base game, and more inventive in general. And unlike African Kingdoms, the campaigns seem to have been better tested and polished in general. Units did not get stuck, and I did not find any leftovers from early versions of the levels. So thumbs up for this expansion, it's great!


Alicia Quatermain: Secrets Of The Lost Treasures

4.4 hours, 20 of 20 achievements

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This is yet another time management game in the vein of 12 Labours of Hercules. In fact, this is pretty much just a reskin. Yes, there are a few details that are different between them, but they are still really similar. I thought this one felt slightly worse than the Hercules games though, the levels felt like they were a little bit more haphazardly made.

At first when I noticed that the bad guys were basically Nazis without swastika (look at the obvious villain on the store page for this game) I could not help but sigh. Making the bad guys Nazis and just leaving it like that is generally just a sign of someone having no imagination. but then it dawned upon me that the main character is more or less a female Indiana Jones, and then it made sense. So I'll give them a pass on that one.


Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced edition

35 hours, 36 of 129 achievements

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It's been ages since I played the original BG, apart from a false start I had a few years back. And this was the first time I really got to experience both the Enhanced Edition content and the Tales of the Sword Coast expansion (which I did not have back when I played through the game for the first time).

BG still holds up surprisingly well. It has a few design issues, the balance is really poor and so on, but it's still fun. The main issue with Baldur's Gate is just that Baldur's Gate 2 does pretty much everything better, which makes this game look a bit worse in retrospect. Pillars of Eternity & Tyranny also both dodged some of the issues that this game has.

The main story is actually not all that good. You've lived your life in a secluded keep where the inhabitants were more keen on studying books and discussing things with each other than to go out into the outside world. One day your foster-father tells you that you need to leave, and so you do. Just outside you get attacked by an armoured man who kills your foster-father, and you now need to find out what's going on. And like any good RPG you quickly get distracted and start exploring random dungeons and tombs, and help farmers who have lost their cows. In terms of gameplay, the game is at least solid. Combat is tactical, you've got a wide range of options and the enemy mostly follows the same rules as you.

I did have a lot of fun with BG, despite knowing the story, and the Enhanced Edition content was mostly quite good (even though one of the new characters was super weak through most of the game. Monks in AD&D are among the weakest characters at low levels, and only get decent at around the max level that BG allows). And as for Tales of the Sword coast, the new areas were generally very good (apart from an over-reliance on traps, which is one of the things I never found to be very well implemented in the games that use this engine), but they were not really integrated into the main game in a way that made much sense. For an example you end up taking a long journey out at sea for some reason, even though your mission on the mainland is (supposedly) quite urgent.


Dinocide

1.3 hours, no achievements

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Do you like Adventure Island or the older Wonder Boy games? Then this game is for you! It's very similar to those old games. You need to constantly be moving forward, and picking up food, or otherwise your character will die. There's a meter on screen that tells you how close to starvation you are and every time you pick up something to eat it fills up a bit. The main difference between this and those old games is really the controls. Where in Adventure Island, the controls were overly slippery, here they are a bit too stiff. The levels are also a bit more complex. But the fundamentals are still the same.

This game is quite alright, but I feel that the price is too high for what you get. 10€ for a short, rather simplistic 2D platformer is too much to ask these days, even if the game does have a bit of replay value due to branching paths. This is the kind of game that's worth playing if you get it in a bundle, but it's not worth buying even for 5€.


Dream Tale

0.8 hours, no achievements

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Dream Tale is a simple 2D platformer about a child with a big head that's dealing with loss. I think. It fits the mold for those at least.

The gimmick in this game is that different types of stars give you different abilities. Some lets you jump in the air, others let you hover, and each have a limited amount of uses, but you can refill them by touching another star of the same type. It works alright, not really to complain about, even if the hit detection felt a bit sloppy.
The biggest gripe I have with this game is that you're expected to scour each level for keys, and you need to find them to progress. You can beat a level without finding the key needed, and in fact many levels have multiple different paths, which are mutually exclusive, and only one will have the key, so you'll have to replay levels several times. Had the keys unlocked optional stuff I would have been fine with it, but to be frank, I don't think this game is good enough to warrant replaying levels several times just to get those keys.


Third mini-rant:

Don’t you hate it when games force you to go back and do secondary objectives in order to progress? You’re at level 20 and suddenly the game puts up a roadblock and says “hey, you’ve not got enough secondary objectives done in the previous levels. Now go back and do those!” And worse yet when each level have multiple paths through and you need to just guess which one has the secondary objective in it, so you’ll need to replay the level several times just to find it.

I’m perfectly fine with games hiding bonus levels, upgrades, or other such things behind secondary objectives, but I never liked it when the primary path requires you to go back to replay past levels just in order to be able to go forward.

Note that I’m not complaining about things like how the stars work in Super Mario 64, where each level has multiple objectives, each giving you a star, and you needing a certain number of stars to unlock the next part, that’s a different thing. I’m talking about things like when games have regular levels, and each level has say an objective where you need to find a certain object, get a certain number of points and killing a certain number of enemies, and the game forces you to have to have completed an average of 2/3 secondary objectives on each level in order to progress

So the big steam sale is over, and I guess it’s time to make a steam sale haul post! This is the smallest one I think I’ve ever made. The sale did not exactly inspire me to spend much money.

  • Baldur's Gate: Siege of Dragonspear
    Baldur's Gate: Siege of Dragonspear

    0 hours playtime

    no achievements

  • The Room Three
    The Room Three

    0 hours playtime

    no achievements

  • Heroes of Hammerwatch: Pyramid of Prophecy
    Heroes of Hammerwatch: Pyramid of Prophecy

    0 hours playtime

    no achievements

  • Crowtel Renovations
    Crowtel Renovations

    0 hours playtime

    no achievements

So, just 4 things, of which 2 were DLCs.
I’ve been meaning to pick up Siege of Dragonspear for a while now, and now I finally did it. I’ve started a new Baldur’s Gate character already, and will be doing a complete playthrough of both the base game, the original Tales from the Sword Coast expansion, plus Siege of Dragonspear. I’ve played through Baldur’s gate once before, but it was without any expansions (I even have my CDs in that original paper case they came in)
The Room Three is, as the name implies, a sequel to The Room Two, and at that low price, it was hard to resist. Both The Room 1 & 2 were really fun puzzle games.
Heroes of Hammerwatch has been a game I’ve played a fare bit recently in co-op, and this DLC adds a new area plus a new class. The discount was not amazing, but Heroes of Hammerwatch has been fun enough that it’s still probably worth it.
And finally Crowtell renovations, which is a cute looking platformer that was removed from Steam a few years back after the developer submitted a summer sale discount a day or two too late, and Valve chose to nuke the game from the storefront instead of just not applying the discount, and then seemingly refused to talk to the dev (valve don’t take actions if
developers who post fake reviews, or actual harmful software get back on the storefront, saying that everyone deserves a second or third chance… but submit your discount a day too late and you’re the devil!). The game looks quite fun, and now I’ll finally be able to play it

  • Ms. Splosion Man
    Ms. Splosion Man

    0 hours playtime

    no achievements

Well that’s annoying. This month’s theme seemed like a great time to play one of my older won games that I’ve not got around to yet. Turned out that despite this game supposedly switching from GFWL to Steamworks in 2014, it still starts GFWL, and that does not play nice with Win10! So the game just locks up and I need to kill the process. Great. Guess I’ll not be able to beat this one then.

It’s been a little while since my last post, but I managed to beat some more substantial games this time around. Well, the most time consuming one was actually a DLC for an ancient game, but still.

Age of Empires 2: The African Kingdoms

20 hours, no achievements

It's impressive that a game this old is getting more expansions, but African Kingdoms is a relatively recent one, that gives you 4 more campaigns and 4 more civilizations. And this is good stuff actually! The two sub-sharan civilizations are among my all time favourite AoE 2 civs, as they're both flexible, but in different ways.

The 4 new campaigns are generally quite strong. They're better than the campaigns in the base game, and I would say that they're better than the campaigns in the first expansion, if not for one thing: They seem to be rather poorly tested. Conceptually many of the levels are great, but I found spots where units can get stuck, I found what I guess is leftovers from previous iterations of the levels and so on, and that's clearly not great. They're still well worth playing for anyone who has an interest in AoE 2 though. And it's nice to finally see a game deal with sub-Saharan Africa without it either being set during the modern or colonial era.


Kult: Heretic Kingdoms/Heretic Kingdoms: The Inquisition

13 hours, no achievements

Kult: Heretic Kingdoms or heretic Kingdoms: The Inquisition, depending on where you're from, is an old ARPG with an interesting twist. You're playing as an inquisitor in a fantasy kingdom, only you're not really an inquisitor in the traditional sense. Your job is to prevent any religion from taking root. And the game makes comments on this. It's refreshing to see a game actually talk about religion and religious views in a way that's actually rather sensible. Because this game does take a stance. It does not like dogma, and it's also critical of those who try to force their views on religion on others.

The game has two neat gimmicks. The first is that you can travel to the "spirit world" with the press of a button. The spirit world is simply mirroring the regular world, but most creatures in the regular world can't directly interfere with the spirit world, and the reverse is also true. Some creatures are able to exist in both at the same time though. The spirit world becomes a useful tool for dodging enemies, and in some battles you're encouraged to move in and out of it frequently.
The second gimmick is the "attunement system", which basically works like equipment did in FF 9, in that each piece has a skill attached to it, and by fighting while wearing that equipment you'll permanently learn that skill. Then you've got a limited number of slots for those skills, and you're encouraged to experiment a bit to find good combinations. By the end of the game I had managed to create a combination that was completely broken though. No armour (makes you attack faster), with a powerful bow, a skill that made me crit more often, a skill that made it so that I had a chance to stun enemies that I crit, and a skill that made it so that if I crit, I have 100% crit chance until I miss. This kind of broke the game…
I liked Kult. It's not a flawless game by any means, but it's fun. Well worth playing for ARPG fans at the very least.


OPUS: The Day We Found Earth

1.5 hours, 19 of 31 achievements

OPUS is a cute and rather short puzzle game, where you're playing as a robot who needs to scan solar systems in order to find Earth. You've got a bunch of candidates, and as you complete one a new one gets unlocked. And these all come with a clue, that gets progressively more vague as you go along. Early on the game might say "Look at these coordinates" and towards the end you get relative positions. It's never particularly challenging, but the game also tells a compelling story, which really makes the game worth playing.


iBomber Defense Pacific

4.1 hours, 17 of 25 achievements

It's a tower defense game. You know how these work. Enemies wander towards your base, you build towers along their path, and try to kill them before they reach your base. Rinse and repeat. Each level is basically a small puzzle, and you need to be efficient with your towers. There's nothing particularly great about this game, but nor is there anything particularly bad. It's just yet another tower defense game.


The Walking Dead: The Final Season

0 hours, no achievements

It's a massive bummer that this ended up being Telltale's last game, as they're showing some great improvements here. This is the first game since the first TWD that actually innovates. You've got some more interactive gameplay segments, you've got more exploration and so on. Don't get me wrong, this is still very much a Telltale game, it does not change the core gameplay, but it does tweak it. There's one thing I don't think was good about their changes though, and that's the introduction of collectibles. While collectibles is not inherently a bad thing, the implementation actually spoiled parts of the game.

This really is the final season, at least for Clementine and co. You get an ending, a proper ending that does not feel like it's building up to something else (unlike the last game, which very much felt like it). Clementine is 16 here, she's been caring for A.J since the second game, and he is starting to grow up a bit. So this game is focused on that, it's focused on who A.J. is becoming, and the effects of raising a child in such a harsh world. And for the most part it does a very good job at it. I can believe that A.J. really did go through a lot, he did learn different values than those who got to experience the world before the zombies, and it's interesting to see how others react to it.
This story is also more focused than Season 2, and that's a good thing. Geographically this game covers a very small area, and you get to know it in a way that you never could in Season 1 or 2. And this also means that characters are not really introduced and killed at a rapid pace either, instead you get to know a few key characters, and you get to see what these last 8 or so years have done to them.

This is a top notch game, a must play for those who liked the previous TWD games


Maybe I should give the TWD comic a try? I’ve got a few issues of it on humble.

I think I’ll give up on this month’s theme. The dropped game for this update really made me lose any and all motivation to play any more boat games. And can you believe this was the fixed version, and that the original was even worse? Now I’m almost curious about how broken that game was!

Squidlit

0.6 hours, 3 of 18 achievements

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A cute and very short little platforming game where you play as an octopus that needs to travel through some strange lands to save its village. As you might be able to tell, this game is quite heavily inspired by the original gameboy, and is using music and sound effects that it would be able to play, has a colour palette that's the same as the gameboy and even uses the same resolution. It's a simple gimmick, but it works. The only issue is that at some points some things blend in with the background, but it's not a common issue. Overall, this game was quite fun. One of those super cheap steam games that are actually worth playing.


Star Wars Episode I: Racer

3 hours, no achievements
Origin version

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I had forgot just how fun this game was! Star Wars Episode I: Racer is by far the best thing to come out of the prequel trilogies, and it's even one of the best Star Wars games ever made, with only the KOTOR series being better (and even that's arguable). This is a Wipeout-style racing game, where you play as a very fast hovercraft that need to navigate some tricky levels. One thing that surprised me about it, apart from how well it ran on a modern machine, was how easy it was. I played through all the levels, including the 4 bonus levels, and I only did not get first place once, and it was on the second bonus level. So yeah, that I guess is a bit of a negative, but overall, this game was a blast to play.


Minecraft: Story Mode - A Telltale Games Series

13.1 hours, 50 of 50 achievements
Well this was a bad idea

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What would you expect from Telltale making a Minecraft-based adventure game? Probably something better than this, to be honest.

Minecraft: Story Mode uses the very typical Telltale formula, set by The Walking Dead. It's clearly a game meant for a slightly younger audience, with a rather simple "save the world" main story. It does get a bit dark at times, and there are a few jokes that kids won't get (like they talk about dropping the f-bomb, that is to say the "Formidi-Bomb"). Had this been all there was to it, Minecraft: Story Mode would have been an inoffensive, but not very good game, with some charming scenes, but an otherwise forgettable story, but it had some major issues. Namely a plethora of bugs, and a story choice that I think was made because the first episode was free.
-Dialogue keeps cutting off. This is kind of serious in a story-driven game, when plot-important dialogue cuts off constantly. This was at its worst during episode 1, but it kept being an issue through the entire game.
-Flickering textures & models. This was a more common issue later, but there were some serious issues with flickering models & textures.
-Disappearing models. This mostly happened in the first DLC episode, where a cutscene that was meant to hold nearly 10 character models could end up only having 2-3.
-Characters "warping" from place to place. This happened during a bunch of cutscenes, most of which were from the DLC, where instead of walking from one place, characters would just instantly "warp" from one location to another. This was always a short distance, but it was still jarring.
-Facial animations were buggy. This was particularly true for bearded characters.
-The game would suddenly stop letting me interact with objects, which also happened when I re-loaded my save-file. Only way to fix this was to "rewind" to an earlier point in the chapter (at least the game let you do this). This was entirely limited to the first DLC chapter, but it happened twice there.
-The game would suddenly decide that all hotspots in a scene were for the same thing. If you had lava, a pig, a sheep and a door in a scene, the game could suddenly decide that no matter which hotspot you were trying to interact with, it would be the pig. This mostly happened in episode 5.
-Sometimes audio de-synced

I hope I got all of them. This game was in other words nearly as buggy as Telltale's Jurassic Park, and I was really tempted to moving it into my "broken" category on steam and never look at it again.

And about the story issue. The main story is limited to episode 1-4, with episode 1 going out with a real bang. But from hereon it would be quite hard to actually keep things interesting through 5 chapters. It would have been better to leave the end of episode 1 to around the halfway point of episode 2. Instead episode 5 is just setting up the DLC.

Overall, I would say that this is a safe skip. Had the game not been such a broken mess, I would have said that it might be fun for a child (one old enough to watch movies like Disney's The Hunchback in Notre Dame, but good grief, it's like Telltale was trying to make this their most broken game yet.


Vendetta - Curse of Raven's Cry

2 hours, 1 of 58 achievements
And I guess this one was worse...

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From one broken mess to another. Vendetta actually starts pretty alright, and showcases some good ship to ship combat, that is a bit more complex than what Assassin's Creed: Black Flag had to offer. But it's all downhill from there. The main character's voice acting is "alright", as is the main supporting character, but then after a little while you run into someone who seem's to have recorded their lines using a lower mid-range gaming headset in their bedroom. Combat also turns out to be rather problematic, as the game flat out refuses to detect hits against enemies who stand on any kind of sloped surface. Yep, if the enemy is standing on some stairs, or on a gently sloped gravel path or anything like that, you can't hit it! Also, combat against multiple enemies is pretty much broken, as the camera keeps spazzing out and even if you target on specific enemy, the camera will still start panning rapidly between enemies.
And this combat is supposedly greatly improved compared to the games original release! It should be noted that the original release of this game is sitting at a metacritic score of 27/100. And really, that's more than this release of the game deserves. Even Ride to Hell: Retribution works better than this thing, and I had to stop playing Ride to Hell because the game would not load in the stairs for a staircase.