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
The Dwarves
Ultima IX: Ascension
Funk of Titans

Games dropped


The Dwarves

7.7 hours, 20 of 34 achievements

The Dwarves, a game that should have been good, but fell flat.

The Dwarves is a party based RPG seen from an overhead perspective, with RTwP combat. It's similar to games like Pillars of Eternity or Baldur's Gate in this regard (although with a 3D camera).
Somehow the controls feel floaty. I don't think I would ever describe a game that's controlled like this as having floaty controls, but somehow this game does have that! It just does not feel good to control your party, and the dwarves slide around the place as if on ice (I think this has to do with how the game handles collisions. Characters can "push" each other)
The level design is lackluster. The game loves throwing loads of enemies at you (like 30-50 at a time!), but the best strategy is to not fight, instead just give your party the order to go to the exit, and they'll (usually) push their way through the enemies without taking much damage. Which is a terribly boring strategy, but it's the best one.
The game presents you with a large world map, with a lot of just empty space. The game even has a system in place that discourages you from going out to explore, as you use food with every step you take. Not that exploring is worth it anyway, there's nothing there. The map is just large for no reason.

The story is disjointed. It feels like scenes are missing. And I also suspect that it follows the book a bit too well at times, as characters die or leave in a way that would work in a book, but it does not work in a game. And towards the end everything just feels super rushed.

My guess is that the developers ran out of money or time halfway through development, and just had to push what they had out the door, with no time to properly test it, and thus they had to cut a lot of intended content. It's a shame, this game could have been good, but in the state it's currently in (and probably will remain in), it's a rather bad game.


Ultima IX: Ascension

27.4 hours, no achievements
Non-steam game

Ah, Ultima 9. It's been in my backlog since 2002, and finally I've beaten it!
Notorious for being a buggy mess, that breaks a lot of established lore and for over-promising and under-delivering. And somehow, I did not hate it. Let's get something straight, Ultima IX is buggy, really buggy, in fact I would not have been able to beat the game had I not used cheats, and I could not get the best weapon in the game due to a bug. I could also not fast-travel by boat to one location, as the game crashed on me when I did so, so I had to take the slow route there, and healing potions made the game unstable. The voice acting was often funny-bad, and sometimes just painfully bad. There were broken quest triggers, and in one specific fight between an enemy and an NPC, where the NPC was supposed to win, they somehow managed to make the enemy invulnerable, so the NPC lost, yet the quest actually continued as intended. The world is also surprisingly small, yet your slow movement speed makes it take time to travel.

But for a game released in 1999, it's still somewhat impressive. It's got a fully 3D open world, with lots of things going on, and despite its age, it still does not look horrible. In fact, it's one of the best looking games from that year. And the dungeons, except for dungeon 2 & 3 (which were very close to each other in terms of when you go to them) were actually fun.

I can't recommend this game, it's so buggy, and fans of the series justifiably dislike how it just disregards past events, and how it can't even get very basic things right, like what the last boss in Ultima 3 was (and Ultima 9 was made by lead designer of all the previous Ultima games. How could he not get that right!). But I had fun with it. The game was oddly compelling. When it did not crash on me.


Funk of Titans

2 hours, 10 of 21 achievements

Funk of Titans is a simple runner. Ever played games like Bit Trip Runner? Then you have a good idea of how this game will work. There's really not much to say, you're playing a funky guy who fights for funk against pop, rap & rock in a world inspired by Greek mythology. The game is incredibly upbeat though, and it's hard to not at least smile at its silliness. This is not a masterpiece or anything like that, but as far as runners go, it's a nice one.


This really is the short game month for me! Several more games beaten, all of them super short!

Rituals

1 hours, 7 of 7 achievements

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Rituals is a short point & click adventure, where you move through a stylized low-polygon world. The game has a very clear environmental message, but sadly, like so many other games that tries to have a message, it does feel far too "on the nose" about it, it lacks subtlety and nuance. I would have appreciated what this game was trying to do had it not basically been spelling things out. (Then again, the Starship Troopers movie was heavily criticized for being pro-Fascist at launch, a movie that kid-me found to be too a bit too obvious about its anti-Fascist/authoritarianism messages, so maybe you need to be this obvious….)

In Rituals, you're an employee at a company, a person who goes through your daily rituals, not really thinking about what the company does or the greater picture. But then one day something weird happens….


Dark Quest

8 hours, no achievements

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I'm going to consider this one to be beaten, even though in actuality I ran into a bug that prevented me from progression. It felt like I had seen everything the game had to offer.

Dark Quest is basically a single player HeroQuest, where you control the entire party of heroes. You fight your way through dungeons, and hope the dice don't let you down. The game does feel a bit less punishing than HeroQuest did, and enemies taken multiple hits to kill, but the basics are the same. Were it not for the bug, I would say that this is an alright, but not great game.


Detective Grimoire

2.2 hours, 7 of 7 achievements

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Detective Grimoire is a rather nice, if very easy, point & click adventure game, where you're a supposed to solve a murdery mystery. You do this by collecting clues, talking to people, and using the knowledge you have about the case to piece together information.

This game would make for a great introduction game for anyone who's new to the point & click genre. It's quite, funny, and really easy. For anyone with a bit of genre experience it will seem trivial though. It's also far too obvious who the culprit actually is. The game basically tells you what to look for right away.


Dollar Dash

2 hours, 2 of 20 achievements

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Dollar Dash is a dead multiplayer game that you can still play against bots. You're playing a thief, who wants to steal as much money as possible, and there are other thieves trying to do the same. So you fight over the money, using weapons that drops on the board. This would likely be quite fun with others, particularly after a few drinks, but against bots, it's rather dull.


Beat the Game

0.7 hours, no achievements

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Beat the game is a weird, kind of artsy, point & click game about someone collecting sounds (hence the name of the game). You're playing this strange looking lanky person, who collects items and listen to sounds, and that's basically it. There's one small map that you move across, and you can switch between day & night.
I'm not the target audience for this game, but it was not an unpleasant thing to play. I enjoyed the weird visuals and the games offbeat sense of humor, but being a person who does not really enjoy music, I did not like that portion of the game. Still, if this game looks interesting to you, then pick it up on a sale, it's probably worth it!


THE LAST BLADE

0.3 hours, 1 of 10 achievements

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THE LAST BLADE is a classic 2D fighting game that was originally released in the arcades back in 1997. I'm not great at judging fighting games, as I've got limited experience with them, but THE LAST BLADE seemed fine. The pixel art is outstanding, and even as a novice player, I was able to pull off some impressive-looking moves, which felt rather satisfying.
As this is am arcade game meant for vs. play, don't expect the campaign to offer much though. It's really short (less than 15min), and there's just a token story in there.


Crystal Picnic

0.2 hours, 2 of 10 achievements

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Crystal Picnic is kind of an RPG, mixed with an action/platformer. It's got some cute pixel art, and seemingly a cute story as well. But sadly the game falls short in the gameplay department. You move across the map like in a JRPG, and when you encounter enemies, the game switches to a 2D side-scrolling mode. And this is where the game falls apart, you've got foreground objects that obscures enemies, and you can appear right on top of enemies, which causes unavoidable damage.


Far Cry: Primal

9 hours, no achievements
Non-steam version

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It's impressive how short Ubigames are if you skip most of the side content!

FC: Primal was given as a gift to me by a friend. Making a FC game set during the stone ages was a good idea… in theory, but in practice it's a missed opportunity. If you've played FC 3 or 4, you know roughly what this is about. Big-ish open world, lots of side activities, outposts to capture, and a mostly forgettable main story (that sadly this time around does not have a fun main villain). Still, the fact that this is set during the stone ages does mean that a few things are changed. For one, animal encounters are more frequent and more dangerous, and you also don't have automatic weapons.

The lack of automatic weapons is something that makes the game a lot easier than the previous games in the series. Enemies simply can't dish out damage fast enough to be a serious threat, and in most cases they'll not even be able to chip away at your health. It's actually a bit disappointing how easy the game is.

One thing that I was a bit impressed by was the language they speak. It seems like they've made a simple, yet functioning language, that follows consistent rules. Well, most of the time. The "deluxe edition" character that gets added seem to break these rules when he speaks, and it's really distracting (speaking of which, don't bother with the deluxe edition, or apex edition as it's called here, the small quest line it adds is bad).

In closing, FC: Primal is not bad. It's a post FC3 FC game, and it sticks very close to the FC formula, even if it looks a bit different. It's also a bit less buggy than you would expect (not bug-free though, I got stuck in the terrain 3 times had had to fast-travel to get out, enemies fell through the ground a bunch of times, and animals fell from the sky quite often). But overall, it's a disappointment. It does not do a whole lot with its interesting setting, and while I was not bored while playing the game, I won't be remembering much of it in a years time. It's just another Ubigame.


Child of Light

10.5 hours, no achievements

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I really wanted to like Child of Light, but I did not…

Child of Light is a JRPG made by Ubisoft. It has a beautiful watercolour art style, a nice soundtrack, and a simple but cute story. But the actual gameplay really did not appeal to me.
Combat in Child of Light follows the typical JRPG-style, with active time battles similar to Final Fantasy 4. That is to say, that the game is not purely turn-based, instead depending on the characters speed, there's a bar that fills up, and when it's full the character gets to act. So what's wrong with it? Well, when you attack, a new bar fills up, and depending on the speed of the attack, this might take a little while. The issue is that if you get hit, you get knocked back 2/3 of the way to the bottom of your "normal" active time battle bar. In theory this sounds like a system that should add some interesting choices to battles. Do you think you have enough time to use a slower and more powerful ability? In practice the enemy attacks are generally staggered in such a way that using anything other than fast attacks means that you'll just have to hope that the enemy don't hit the character that's currently charging up a strong attack. It's just annoying. The game is, even on the harder difficulty, still really easy (I did not even die once), so this system really just adds frustration and annoyance to the game.

And that's a shame, because everything outside of combat is really nice.


Macbat 64

0.6 hours, no achievements

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Macbat 64 is a super short, and really easy game where you're moving around a 3D world as a low-polycount bat. The graphics is clearly inspired by the N64 era of 3D games (hence the name). All you really do in this game is collect things, once you've collected the things needed to do something, you hand them in to someone who will then give you something else, and finally you'll get a key. Rinse & repeat. The game is short enough for this to never become annoying though.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by Macbat. It's hardly a masterpiece, but it's a cute little diversion that has a fair price.


Lew Pulsipher’s Doomstar

0.6 hours, 7 of 14 achievements

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It's Stratego, IN SPACE!

Really, that's almost exactly what this is. It does a few very minor tweaks, that makes it a little bit more involved than regular Stratego, but really, if you like Stratego, you'll like this game, if you don't like Stratego, you won't like this one. If you've never played Stratego, here's a video on the game: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3R7d0A9ymwQ Now make the board a little bit bigger, and have a class of units that allows you to move two in one turn (thus revealing to your opponent what they are), and make it so that the "water" in the middle are now black holes that lets you make an extra move and you've got Doomstar.


Tompi Jones

0.2 hours, no achievements

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An awful platformer full of bugs, Tompi Jones really stand as one of the worst games of its kind that I've ever played.

During my 15min of playtime I had:
2 crashes
1 case of respawning on top of a deathtrap repeatedly, causing a death loop (this is a game with fixed checkpoints, there's no excuse for this)
1 case of managing to go outside the level
1 case of sounds "stacking" and repeating after a death, with each loop of the sound adding yet another instance of it, with a slight delay
1 case of the camera borking out, giving me a constant zoomed in view of my character, with the camera being placed slightly above him, pointing diagonally down (this is a side-scrolling platformer, why is this even happening?)

And also, to just put a cherry on top of this mess, the music does not loop properly, and the UI is awful.


POP: Methodology Experiment One

0.1 hours, 0 of 12 achievements

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Headache, the game. This game is full of flashing lights, annoying sound effects and generally obnoxious things.


Ku: Shroud of the Morrigan

0.1 hours, 0 of 21 achievements

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Why does the main character's footsteps sound like a handful of small firecrackers in a metal tin? Why can't I pick things up when using my gamepad? Why can the game only handle playing one sound effect at once, so when I walk, all other sounds effects cut out, and when something else happens that makes a sound, then, you guessed it, only that is heard? I guess some things will forever remain a mystery.


Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden

14.4 hours, 23 of 36 achievements

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Here is something I never thought I would get to see. A game based on the Mutant universe, that's not based on the dreadful Mutant Chronciles!
Mutant is a venerable pen & paper RPG series, that's been around from 1984, although it's undergone some major changes over time, going from being a post apocalyptic game with a few scattered settlements, to being basically post-ap in a 18-19th century setting, but with advanced technology scattered around, to cyberpunk to a weird and not very good Warhammer 40k knockoff and then back to 18th century, and now finally we're in a "shortly after the apocalypse" kind of setting. I would personally strongly recommend against the 40k knockoff era, and the cyberpunk era of this setting, they're just not particularly good (and not really connected to the rest).

Anyway, Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden is a party based tactical RPG, playing a bit like a mix between Xcom & Wasteland 2. You've got a small party of characters, and most of the game is you fighting your way through a hostile southern Sweden. Each character of course has their own strengths and weaknesses, and the game really encourages you to switch around, using the best character & the best equipment for the fight ahead. There are no random encounters or anything of that nature in this game, and an important strategy (at least on hard and onwards) is to try and take out isolated enemies in a silent way, as running in, guns blazing, will just get you overwhelmed. Doing this makes the game somewhat easy, but it gets easy because of smart play, which I'm perfectly fine with.

I had a lot of fun with Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden, and after beating it, I felt like I wanted more. That's generally a good sign.


12 Labours of Hercules V: Kids of Hellas

6 hours, 15 of 23 achievements

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Everything I said here is still true. This game changes very little from the previous ones. Still, I find these games kind of nice to play when I'm a bit stressed.


ABZÛ

1.6 hours, 7 of 12 achievements

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ABZÛ is basically an underwater walking sim. It's a short game where you, as a diver, need to traverse an underwater landscape, full of different sea creatures, that you have some very limited interaction with, while soothing music is being played. Really, that's about it. There are a few "puzzles" that basically boil down to "go to super obvious location, hit switch". Still, I did enjoy this game. The combinations of the visuals & music created a nice, relaxing experience


Warhammer: Vermintide 2

12.7 hours, 9 of 26 achievements

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Ever played a game like Left 4 Dead? Then you know roughly what Vermintide is about. You're fighting your way through a level with your friends, batting hordes of smaller enemies, and some larger ones.
In the grand pantheon of 4 player co-op games, Vermintide 2 holds up really well. Varied enemies, a solid melee system (very much improved over Vermintide 1) and characters that both feel different from each other, and can be made to play quite differently due to different specializations and equipment. It also has a functional story, that won't set your world on fire, but it does a good job contextualizing your actions. Yeah, I really liked this one!


Gunspell

1.4 hours, no achievements

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A bad match three game with some nice art, and very inconsistent difficulty (something tells me that the Free to Play version is incredibly pay to win…). Skip.


Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

1.4 hours, no achievements

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I know this one is considered a classic, but in my opinion it does not hold up particularly well. The controls, while much improved over GTA 3, still feel a bit off, and it's weirdly inconsistent in its minigames. You've got one minigame where you need to bounce a low rider, and here you use the numpad to do the bouncing, with up & down being inverted, and then you've got a dancing minigame which uses the exact same GUI elements, yet you use the arrow keys and here up & down are not inverted. The port feels rushed to say the least, and there was not enough good in here to keep me hooked, and make me overlook the flaws.


Bloodgate

0 hours, 0 of 22 achievements

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Continuing the trend of finding games where the servers are down, Bloodgate is a puzzle game that's reliant on online servers, for some reason. The devs did not even properly release the game, it never left early access, and yet they decided to take down the servers. At least the game is no longer being sold.


Another week, another update :P Some short-ish games this time around.

Cosmic Express

0 hours, no achievements
Non-steam version

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Cosmic Express was a really pleasant surprised. At its core, it's a rather simple puzzle game, you need to connect a few points together, and you can't let your line cross itself. I'm sure you've seen similar puzzles before in other games. But Cosmic Express takes this simple premise, and offers a few nice twists on it. Combine this with well designed puzzles that are not too hard, nor too easy, and a great presentation, and you've got a really nice little puzzle game! Fans of these types of games should absolutely check it out!


Ghostbusters: The Video Game

7.6 hours, no achievements

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As part of this month's theme, I decided to go for a game that got a lot of attention, 10 years ago. Ghostbusters: The Video Game. This is more or less a direct sequel to the original Ghostbusters movies, and continues the story of those. The actors who played the original Ghostbusters reprise their roles here, and from an audio-visual point of view, this game is very Ghostbusters in general.

Overall, this is a fun, but in no way spectacular game, that is carried by its theme. The level design is a bit bland, but it has some interesting enemies, and the fact that you need to capture the ghosts, not just shoot them, adds another layer to the game, and makes it more than just a mindless third person shooter.

While I said that the game is true to its source material, it has two major wrinkles: The weapons, and the locations. The first weapon you get is the standard proton stream, from the movies, and it does feel like it is what it's supposed to be, but the other weapons end up feeling out of place. You've got like a shotgun & a machine gun built into your proton pack. You've also got a slime gun, but I guess that one does not feel quite as out of place. Basically, these weapons don't feel like they're consistent with the logic presented in the movies, or heck, even the game, and stick out in a negative way. The game is also a bit too fanservicey, to the point where it loses its own identity. You re-visit several locations from the first movie, instead of new ones, because of a rather flimsy story excuse, and heck, even the story does not dare to stand on its own. I get it, this is a game for fans, but it goes overboard with it.


This game does not exist on steam, so no fancy banners here:
A way out

Wow, what an amazing game! A Way Out is a pure co-op experience, where you and a friend each play as one of two convicts who need to break out of prison. Both characters are connected to a third character on the outside, someone they want to take revenge on. I won’t spoil more of the story, because this is really something that should be experienced first-hand. And while yes, it’s a simple story, it’s well written, and both of the characters are sympathetic in their own way, and well rounded. The developers really did a good job differentiating the characters as well. Through the game you’ve got a lot of things you can interact with, and for many of them, the characters will do different things that are in line with their personality. It really does help flesh out the characters a lot. And that should come as no surprise if you’re familiar with the main person behind the game, Josef Fares, who is well known for his well written characters.
Sadly the game is a bit inconsistent in its quality. I loved the early bits of the game, where you and your partner solve simple puzzles, talk to people and interact with the world. It was very well done, but you’ve also got some pure action sequences, and these are not quite as good. Still, despite this, I would still say that A Way Out is a must play. Few games has got me as emotionally engaged in the story as this one, and had I played this last year (the year it was released) it would have been a very strong game of the year contender. In fact, I think this experience will stay with me far longer than the game I did say was my “game of the year” last year, Pillars of Eternity 2.

Glass Painting: Winter Art

0 hours, 0 of 16 achievements

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Developer broke the game with a patch, just shortly after releasing it, and never bothered going back to fix it. So this game is literally unplayable.


3 more games beaten. One is a game we’ve seen before, and probably will see again: EU4. There’s just something about that game that makes me come back to it, despite my usual aversion to replaying games. The other two games are metroidvania-like games, which is a sub-genre that I’m generally quite fond of.

Xeodrifter

1.9 hours, 9 of 17 achievements

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Xeodrifter is a bite-sized Metroidvania game that seems to have been made with the 3DS in mind. If you've played Renegade Kid's other game on Steam, Mutant Mudds, you know what I mean. The game has two "layers", and that you can jump between, which would create very neat 3D effect on a 3DS. Xeodrifter treats this as an upgrade, used to get past certain obstacles rather than a core mechanic though, unlike Mutant Mudds, where it was the defining feature of the game.
I enjoyed my time with Xeodrifter. It's short, not overly hard, but charming, and a good game for when you've got a metroidvania-itch, but don't think your itch will last you long enough to get through a 10h+ game. The main drawback of Xeodrifter, I thought, was the boss fights. They're all the same boss, it's just given some new moves each time you fight it, which feels a bit uninspired. Boss fights are often the highlight of Metroidvanias, but in Xeodrifter, they were just… there. At 10€, the game might also not quite be worth its price, but if you're a fan of Metroidvanias, then it's worth keeping an eye out for a good discount on it.


Europa Universalis 4

246 hours, 53 of 295 achievements

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Yes, I've beaten EU4 in the past, but I just beat it again! This time I tried playing as one of the games most powerful nations: The Ottoman empire. And wow, was that a different experience from the nations I usually tend to gravitate towards. Where usually I like to play medium-sized nations, where you constantly need to balance growth with not upsetting your neighbours too much, where money in the early game is tight and where there's always a bigger dog capable of taking a bite out of you, playing as the Ottomans was a pure power fantasy. Nothing could stand in my way, I was able to dismantle the Holy Roman empire, push Russia out of Europe, take Paris with ease… The world was basically split between four empires at the end of the game, me, who held most of Europe, and north Africa, plus the east coast of Africa, and parts of Asia (and had nearly 3 times the "development" of the second largest empire), the Mughal Empire, which held India, most of Siberia and was dominating most of China, Portugal, which had lost most of its foothold in Europe, but held all of South America, and Great Britain, which held the British isles, and most of North America, plus a few scattered colonies. In my game I also noticed just how taxing huge wars could be on my computer. During the first world war, which in my game happened in the late 18th century, every continent was involved, and it was me & the Mughal empire vs the rest of the world, the game slowed down to a crawl, with troops moving and fighting everywhere.
I also got more achievements than I think I've ever got from a single game of EU4. 15 in total, of which one is a very rare one, which only 0,3% of all players have (Parisian Pasha).

So yeah, this was a fun game of EU4, but next time, I think I'll go back to playing nations that can't just stomp on everything.


Steamworld Dig 2

4.5 hours, no achievements
Non-steam version

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If you've ever played the original Steamworld Dig you know roughly what to expect in this one. It's a Metroidvania-ish game where the main gimmick is that you can dig through most tiles. This creates a puzzle aspect, as while you can't jump & dig, you need to have your feet firmly planted on the ground in order to destroy a tile. And the games main resource, ore & gems, is something you get from digging through specific tiles, so you need to make sure that you don't cut yourself off from those riches by destroying the wrong tiles.

Much like the first Steamworld Dig, this is a neat game, and the digging mechanic gives the game an extra layer to think of. If you liked the first game, you'll like this one. Heck, it's probably even worth full price.


Akaneiro: Demon Hunters

3.0 hours, 41 of 41 achievements
SG win

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Akaneiro: Demon Hunters is an ancient SG win of mine. I thought the servers were down, but it turned out that whoever was responsible for paying for the domain forgot to do so, so the servers are up, but the game is not able to connect to them, without a bit of editing of system files. One of the devs posted on the forum that he had a fix ready to be rolled out, he just needed confirmation from the main guy behind the game, American McGee, to roll it out. Something that has yet to happen.

I doubt the servers will stay up forever though, so that's why I felt like I had to complete this game. Turned out though that this is not a good game. It's a hack & slash game with short levels, some rather nice graphics, and boring combat. The game is also a very obvious free to play game, with many of the drawbacks associated with that. For an example, you've got spirits that can follow you around. They disappear after a while, but you can spend some premium resources to make them follow you for longer, and give you a bonus. These spirits gain experience, and that experience is lost when they disappear. So ideally you want them to stick around for a while, so they can level up and buff you more. You've also got really high prices on permanent upgrades, which, of course, can be paid for with real money…

The game is weirdly balanced. Each level increases the expected player level by 1, so on level 1 you're expected to have a level 1 character, and on level 5 you're expected to have a level 5 character. But for some reason, towards the late game, the game skips levels, so you've got a level 26 and a 28, but no 27, which effectively creates grind walls. You can also replay levels on higher difficulties, which seems to be how you're supposed to do it.
I found a more efficient way of beating the game though. And that's suicideing. Run into a group of enemies, die, and then wait for the respawn timer to go down. There are no penalties for this, and every time you respawn, you deal damage to everything around you. The important part here is that you don't spend any currency on respawning faster, as that increases the cost of your next respawn, and the time it takes if you decide to wait, just die, wait, respawn, and die again. Isn't it great when the most efficient way of playing a game is to not play the game in the intended way?

So in conclusion, poorly thought out mechanics, pay to win, and the need to edit system files to even connect to the servers. Sounds like a great game, eh? It should be noted that this game still has a lot of intended features that were never implemented, and never will be.


Resident Evil 0

11.6 hours, 25 of 57 achievements

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I wrote a review for this game on steam
But if you don't feel like reading the whole thing, here's the short version of it:
I really liked Resident Evil 0. It does a good job at building a bit of tension, even if it's never outright scary. The puzzles in this game were quite good, even if they were not very challenging. Sadly the boss battles were lackluster, and the only one that was challenging was challenging for all the wrong reasons. Still, this game is great, and fans of the genre should absolutely give it a try.


Full Throttle

3.4 hours, 34 of 40 achievements

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Full Throttle is a classic point & click adventure game, by Lucas Arts. One I had not played before, but like all Lucas Arts adventure games, I've still heard a fare bit about it. Most of it was true, like how it's one of the easier Lucas Arts adventure games.

In Full Throttle you play as a biker named Ben, who's gang has been framed for a crime they did not commit, and you need to save them, and maybe also bikerdom itself!
The story is simple, but does the job well enough, but where this game really shines are with the moment to moment interactions with other characters. Lucas Arts had a way with dialogue which makes even their lesser P&C games memorable, and Full Throttle is no exception here. While this is not a laugh out loud slapstick game, like Sam & Max, everything and everyone is still a little bit "off", and Full Throttle has some funny moments that made me smile.
The remaster is also quite good. You can switch between the original pixel art graphics, or the new art on the fly, by just hitting F1, and while the old pixel art is indeed very nice (Lucas Arts were very good at pixel art at this point), the new art is also good, and I found myself sticking to it for my playthrough. A special mention should also go to the voice actors, who did a really good job in this game.


1 week from the last update. Seems like a good time for a new update, right? I’ve been continuing my journey through my backlog, playing some games that I activated ages ago, and then for one reason or another have not played yet. Oh, and I beat one expansion for a game that I have played before. Just look at all those dropped games though. I never knew my steam library was so full of broken games!

Hector: Badge of Carnage Episode 1

2 hours, no achievements

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Hector: Badge of Carnage is one of Telltale's older games, from the era when they made classic point & click adventure games (in episodic form). This particular game seems to have been one of those that they did on the cheap, just to have something released, as it's full of bugs. Like during the fade-in when you enter a new screen, if you click, the fade-in stops and the screen remains dark, or if you re-visit a place where someone is behind a door, and you can see their feet underneath the door, the door is not there, and you just see a pair of feet + very long legs standing there.

The humor in this game is very crude. And not in a clever way. The game will for an example have you give someone a sex doll, and then you'll see the character hump the sex doll while saying the name of the main character. Or you need to fish a key out of a poo-filled toilet, so you use a condom and a string. If this sounds like your kind of humor, then you might enjoy it, but to me, it just fell flat. It just felt like things were crude for the sake of being crude, and the whole joke being "Look how crude we dare to be!". Crude humor can work, but there needs to be a bit more to it than that. So can you tell I'm not a fan? I'm probably skipping episode 2 & 3…


Age of Empires II: The Conquerors

74.6 hours, 63 of 294 achievements

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And going from one bad game to one good game! Last month I beat the main AoE 2 campaigns, and now I've beaten the campaigns from the first expansion, The Conquerors (the only expansion the non-HD version got).

I had some complaints about AoE 2's campaigns, like how the difficulty curve was all over the place. The expansion fixes this, and the campaigns do get progressively harder, with the first mission being the easiest, and the last generally being the hardest. That said, the AI is very passive here, and it feels like the campaigns got too easy this time around. For anyone interested in AoE 2, I would recommend playing these campaigns first, as they feel like they'll be a better introduction to the game (maybe after the tutorial campaign).

There is one level that stands out in a bad way though. You're supposed to defend a wonder that you build, and the level starts with with a bunch of villagers surrounding a wonder that's not yet completed, and the game tells you to complete the wonder. If you do this, then there's a level trigger that causes a massive invasion to happen, and there's another massive invasion that lacks suck a trigger that happens at the same time. So doing what the game tells you to do means that you'll likely automatically lose. So the trick is to ignore the wonder, focus on the massive invasion that will always come, then gather resources, and surround the wonder site with castles, and then build the wonder. This way the level becomes trivially easy. Other than this stupid level, I really enjoyed the levels on display here. The variety was good, and there was a difficulty curve!


SOL: Exodus

1 hours, 9 of 53 achievements

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SOL: Exodus is a relatively arcadey space combat game, similar to say Wing Commander or X-wing. Only the physics felt really bad, and that just ruined the game for me. It works, it's just not very fun.


Chantelise

0.5 hours, no achievements

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Well this was a disappointment. Screenshots made it look like a Zelda-esque game, but as far as I got, it mostly borrows the "kill everything in the room to progress" mechanic from Zelda. Which is kind of tedious, when enemies are scattered all over the place. Move to one room, kill everything, move to another, rinse and repeat. Poor draw distance, and a bad camera angle does not make things better. Oh, and that low health beeping sound, give me the one from Zelda 1 over this any day!


iBomber attack

0.1 hours, 0 of 12 achievements

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Another game broken by a patch. The game stutters to the point of being unplayable, and according to the forum, this issue was introduced in a patch.


Serious Sam 2

0.9 hours, no achievements

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The steam version of Serious Sam 2 has a bug which can corrupt your save file. It's been there since day 1, and was never fixed. I guess I could download a save file from the internet, but eh, I can't be bothered, all these broken games are making me bitter.


Another update, that I’m writing more out of frustration than anything else.
This month’s theme includes playing games that have been sitting unplayed in your library for ages. This is how my luck has panned out thus far:

I’ve tried 20 games
9 of them I could play through without any major issues (although that’s not to say I did not discover bugs in them…).
1 of them was broken due to servers being down (in a puzzle game…)
2 of them had had patches released that broke the games (and which never received any patch to fix the mess they caused)
1 of them had a serious bug in it from day one that was never fixed (corrupts your save data, and it seems to be a very common one, if you go by what people say on the forum for it)
3 of them did not play nice with my modern OS/hardware
1 of them worked, but was based on a comic book series I’m unfamiliar with, and it was clearly not made for people unfamiliar with it
1 of them worked, but there was no way to rebind the controls and the controls it defaulted to on my gamepad were completely bonkers (and it’s the kind of game I’m not playing with a keyboard & mouse)
2 of them were just really bad, or annoying. Considering I played through Air Conflicts: Secret Wars and Kane & Lynch 2, that should give you an idea of how bad these were.

Third update this month! Wow, I’m on fire :P It helps when one of the games was 3 min long, and the other were short. This months theme really gets me to play some varied games, at least. I would not say that the games have been great thus far, but sometimes it’s nice to step out of your comfort zone and play something weird.

Hitman: Sniper Challenge

0.1 hours, no achievements

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It's a 3 min long game. You shoot a person, then you shoot his guards. There's a scoring system, which I guess could create some replay value, but I don't really feel like trying to aim for a high score, particularly as the scoreboard is down.

This game was given out to anyone who pre-ordered Hitman: Absolution, and was also given out during different promotions (which is how I got it), so I was not expecting much, but I thought it would have more than one target.


Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days

3.7 hours, 16 of 59 achievements

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Kane & Lynch 2 is a weird one. The first Kane & Lynch was really poorly received (and was involved in a rather big controversy over at Gamespot, where one person lost his job for giving it a low score). And despite this, they decided to make a sequel. Is the sequel good? Heck no, this is a bad game.

Kane & Lynch 2 is actually rather interesting to play. The game has a very unique aesthetic that it really commits to, even to the detriment of its gameplay. One might even call it a bit artsy in how it handles it (yes, I'm serious). Basically, you're playing more as a camera man, holding a low-quality hand-held camera that followed Lynch around. The screen is a bit blurry, there are visual artifacts and things that would upset a real world cheap camera of the era upsets this one as well (it also has insane camera bobbing, but you can at least turn that off). The game is also very grimy and ugly (intentionally so), which does help sell the idea that you're really a low-life violent criminal who ends up in bad situations that are entirely your own fault for being in.
The actual gameplay is bad. It's a 3rd person shooter, with really poor weapons. The early weapons are so bad that trying to hit something 10 meters away is nigh impossible, which actually makes the early game fights harder than the late game fights, where you have access to better weapons.

The game is really short. At less than 4h, this is the kind of game that you can easily beat in two evenings. Did I mention that this was a full priced game at launch? So they expected you to pay 50€ for a really short game, with an interesting style, and poor gameplay. These days you can pick it up for 1€ on most steam sales. And actually, if you have any interest in the game, I would highly recommend doing so. This game might be bad, but it is at least interesting, and it is worth paying 1€ just to see the unique things this games does.


Air Conflicts: Secret Wars

7.9 hours, 12 of 25 achievements

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Where Kane & Lynch was bad but interesting, Air Conflicts: Secret War is just bland and uninteresting. There's nothing seriously wrong with this game, it's a fully functional arcadey air-combat game where you fly around, shooting down enemies in about 50 very short missions. Everything works, but nothing is particularly exciting, and there's very little one could really say about this game. If you're really itching for an arcadey air combat game, I guess it will scratch that itch, but not much more than that.

One thing that really bugged me about this game is the song that plays when you're in combat. It's used in some other game, and I can't place it. I'm pretty certain it's a main menu theme, and not from the same developer or publisher. So the developers of this game apparently did not make their own music, they just bought it from somewhere else.


Avencast

0.1 hours, no achievements

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Game crashes when I try to start it, with an error message indicating that it's not compatible with my graphics card


Hitogata Happa

0.1 hours, 0 of 14 achievements

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The game stutters, and every time that happens, my gamepad gets unresponsive for a second or two. Which makes the game impossible to play.


Nikopol: Secret of the Immortals

0.5 hours, no achievements

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This game actually works. The problem is that the story is clearly written for those familiar with the source material, which I'm not. It's also very heavy on the pixel hunting. So instead of torturing myself with a game I can't enjoy, I just dropped it.


Midnight Club

0.3 hours, no achievements

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This game technically speaking works, but it has a pretty serious issue: You can't re-bind the controls, and at least the controls it defaulted to with my gamepad are completely bonkers. So I'm dropping this one as well.