Progress Report: November 2019
As the month came to a close I powered through a bunch more grinding to 100% some games that have been sitting in my library way too long. Despite the long list some of these were started months ago, it’s just a bit of a coincidence that I finished them all this month.
Tales from the Borderlands is easily my favorite Telltale game. It's got everything! A compelling story, heartwarming moments, hilarious skits, and a cast of unlikely companions who synergize incredibly well. If you're a fan of the Borderlands series, there are several cameo appearances and the lore of Pandora is further explored so I would so it's a must play for fans. Compared to previous Telltale titles, I generally found that I had more autonomy and that my decisions were actually meaningful.
Rhys and Fiona's back and forth bickering and retelling of events is done well. When one character embellishes some minor detail, the other is quick to call it out. Story reveals were unexpected, but often welcome, and because of the constant subversions, I was always on my toes.
I had some minor problems with the Quick Time Event sensitivity, and I found the detective portions a bit too slow paced compared to the rest of the game, but the game spaces these out well, so once you get past them, you won't see another one for some time.
The game ends on a high note with an epic final boss battle, that I'd rather not spoil, but I will say that all loose ends are tied up in a very satisfying conclusion.
Dust: An Elysian Tail is a fantastic hand drawn metroidvania with brawler mechanics. The animations are beautiful, really capturing the spirit of anime, in video game format. You can play the game however you wish, with your companion Fidget, even joking early on, to just mash the buttons, but if you can pull off combos, mobs will fall faster. The main story has you traversing 7 unique maps, each of which are hand painted.
The storyline is good, but felt a bit too restrained, considering it's about mass genocide of another race. You play as a Dust, your typical amnesiac protagonist who's trying to figure out who he really is. When you reach Aurora Village, you discover that General Gaius, the game's main antagonist, has been waging a campaign to exterminate the Moonblood race, and such to prevent further atrocities you set your targets on him.
Dust is incredibly nimble to control. Being able to fly across the map while auto targeting enemies made Dust untouchable in the sky. Once on the ground you have access to combo attacks and parries to quickly eliminate anything standing in your path. Single-handedly taking out an entire map of monsters in a single combo feels so satisfying.
Prototype 2 is an open world action adventure that plays most like GTA, but with mutants. The game is the sequel to 2009's Prototype. Set in a post-apocalyptic New York City after it's been ravaged by the Mercer virus, you play as the world's angriest man James Heller right as he is infected by the original prototype, Alex Mercer. He is then entangled in the ongoing war between Blackwatch - an organization dedicated to eradicating the virus, and Alex Mercer who is trying to spread it.
The game's three zones (yellow, green, and red) let you have a more varied playstyle depending on the area you're currently in. In the green zone, you will typically want to stay shapeshifted as security is tight and alerts will summon multiple attack choppers to chase you down, while the red zone is so far gone, most of Blackwatch will ignore you as they're too busy with other infected. There's a plethora of interesting side missions with story and upgrades unlocked for each discovery.
The game excels in game feel. In battle, your arms can shapeshift into various weapons and whether your pouncing with the claws, netting opponents with tendrils, or smashing tanks with the hammerfist, they all feel fantastic. Despite his mass, James Heller is surprisingly nimble and easy to control. Chaining together wall runs and glides to make your way across the map is fun. In the early game, getting exposed leads to some amazing chase sequences, where you must escape from helicopters before shapeshifting to blend into a crowd. This is no longer necessary late game as you can just use the Whipfist to hookshot yourself onto the chasing helicopters and take them out from the sky, but that's also pretty fun.
Playing with a controller is highly recommended, most of the time you will want to be sprinting, but constantly holding down the Shift key caused me some RSI issues, these went away when I switched to controller.
Overall Prototype 2 is a fantastic game, definitely worth checking out.
Mushroom Quest is a cute puzzle game of the Sokoban genre, where you push boxes around to navigate a maze. The puzzles utilize simple concepts in interesting ways, with some stages really training the analytical side of your brain. The design of the final stage alone is enough for me to recommend it, as it has so many different mechanics at play, all densely packed into a single 11 × 8 map. After a lot of trial and error when I finally got the solution, I felt like I was navigating a piece of art, every step that I made was deliberate and often served multiple purposes. Getting that final end screen felt incredibly satisfying.
My only minor gripe would be that level difficulty was a bit all over the place. Typically, level difficulty should increase over time, but many of the easiest stages were towards the end. I know this is going to vary from person to person and perhaps I just got lucky, but some of the later stages felt as if they should have been much earlier.
Overall Mushroom Quest is a fantastic Sokoban puzzler, and worth checking out.
This is essentially Derek Zoolander the video game. A simple, ridiculously beautiful game where you can't turn left.
Jokes aside, Nickervision Studios makes some amazing minimalist games that have incredible game feel. Righty Tighty XL's premise is simple: Deliver the white orb into the goal, but your avatar is constantly moving forward and the only control that you have is the option to make right turns. Dodge all other obstacles and try to get a high score.
What this game misses in depth it makes up for in polish, movement feels incredibly tight and the game runs very smooth. Having close calls net points, which rewards a riskier playstyle, and watching your score get closer and closer to your all time high is exhilarating. Righty Tighty XL is incredibly additive in a good way.
Faerie Solitaire lets you play Spider Solitaire with power ups. For what it advertises, Faerie Solitaire delivers 100%. I'm just not convinced that there's any need for this game however. What does Faerie Solitaire have over the classic Spider Solitaire preinstalled on most Windows machines? The answer is Grind, the core game loop of Faerie Solitaire revolves around grinding hand after hand.
Story Mode is boring and artificially stretched out, slowly drip feeding you bits of dialogue every 9 hands. The story isn't even good, the protagonist is annoying and incredibly unlikeable, constantly crying or running away.
Upgrades are expensive, you'll probably have to get through about 70% of story mode before earning enough money to buy all the upgrades. Considering the length of the campaign it's a pretty significant grind. Aura Ring is probably the most useful upgrade and synergizes well with extra undos once you figure out the trick to trigger a charge.
Challenge mode is difficult, but not because of anything interesting, rather the game just ramps up the level objectives presented in a typical game. For example, instead of filling the purple bar in three minutes, you must do it in one. You can cheese some of these stages by switching to Story mode to collect more Wild cards, but I think this was intended.
Getting 100% Achievements will force you to evolve all the pets (pets do nothing BTW), which is heavily RNG dependent as you need roughly equal amounts of the three droppable resources (Wood, Stone, and Magic). Variance was the killer for me, by the time I finally got the last Stone I needed, I had in the excess of 33 Wood and 39 Magic. Thanks to the statistics page, I was able to see I played through 625 hands of Faerie Solitaire before getting to 100%.
If you are looking for a casual Solitaire game, then Faerie Solitaire will offer you hours of consistent, if a bit boring gameplay. Does it really innovate much over Spider Solitaire? Not really.
Franky Lettuce is a simple puzzle platformer where you collect three drops sprinkled in a level before heading to the exit. You can get stuck a bit early on because of some badly colored platforms (grey platform on black background), but after that, the game is easy. All the levels fit on a single screen, so you can easily plan your route beforehand. There are no enemies, the only thing that can kill you is terrain. There's no real interaction with the world, most puzzles revolve around jumping to and from a new platform type.
Achievements are a bit interesting requiring you to perform an additional task (for instance not stepping on certain platforms), but you are only given a hint at what that task is. You get a notification at the exact moment when you fail the task, so even if you don't understand the clue right away you can figure it out through repeated failure. These are a bit hit and miss, with some later levels just giving you the achievement for completing the stage.
Franky Lettuce is a short mediocre puzzle platformer. While it does have some interesting mechanics in how it handles achievements, the game itself is incredibly safe and boring. With so many great options for the puzzle platformer genre (FEZ, Braid, Thomas Was Alone, Toki Tori), there's little point in playing this.
Destiny Warriors is an RPG maker game with a Ninja Academy theme. It's essentially trying to emulate the Naruto universe without infringing on the IP. Everything from the emo rival to the spirits residing inside each character is blatantly ripped off, but this is clearly intentional.
The writing starts off passable (as the game is just borrowing the storyline from Naruto), but it falls apart midway through the game, with the main character J.C. becoming so dumb, that they can only communicate by swearing. Towards the end I'm impressed that the game felt both too long and rushed at the same time.
The game does initially talk about missions and a ranking system, but this was never mentioned again which felt like a huge missed opportunity to have some side quests and do some world building. Instead the game is fairly linear, giving you small windows to interact with a limited overworld, but once a mission is started, that access is cut off.
Enemy level's scale with your party's average, so grinding doesn't really help, although having a few low-level characters to bring down your party's average level can let you sweep certain encounters.
As someone use to RPG grind, the encounter rate in story missions felt noticeably high. The actual battles themselves, are fun, once you figure out which spells/skills to use as there's a bit of resource management when dealing with HP, MP, and TP. There are just way too many encounters though.
What I enjoyed most was creating overpowered characters, as the game has consumables available in stores that permanently increase your stats invalidating any need to level up, and eventually the need for any equipment, as you can just buy your stats from vendors. Having maxed out stats and doing 10k+ damage to the final boss was awesome.
Overall Destiny Warriors RPG is nothing special. It's using stock RPG maker assets, consists of linear gameplay that drags on. It has the complete opposite of a unique storyline, and even accepting that, the writing degenerates over time.
Ballistic Protection is a tower defense game that failed to balance their weapons. Napalms are easily the best gun as they have splash damage. Enemy mobs don't have any resistances which creates a dominant strategy of just building napalms everywhere. Even with this strategy certain stages (Level 6 in particular) are still incredibly difficult, but without any satisfaction after finally clearing it. If your looking for a tower defense game play Defender's Quest or Bloons TD5 instead.
Broken Steam port of a blatantly pay to win mobile game. The PC port has had zero UX work done and is barely playable.
Dragon Kingdom War is a Match 3 puzzler inspired by games like Puzzles and Dragons. Each round you make sliding motions to shift tiles around, with the goal of creating combos of matches. Games like this, require tight controls, and this is where Dragon Kingdom War fails spectacularly.
Sliding via the mouse can be kindly described as janky. You will have tiles jump back and forth, and you won't know where your final placement of a piece will be until it's too late. Half the time it will be on the spot right before where you actually want it.
If you move your mouse too fast you can skip tiles, creating technically impossible moves that ruin any plan, but moving your mouse slowly is not possible for effective gameplay as you only have three seconds to do all the sliding for a round.
The game allows diagonal movement, but it has a hard time telling when you're doing this, making even basic moves like turning corners difficult, as it will sometimes think you are doing a diagonal.
You can clearly see the games lineage as a P2W title, with the premium currency diamonds in the top corner, and every time you lose a match (which will be often!) the option to spend diamonds to resurrect, but no way to earn diamonds outside of the main storyline missions.
I would normally say it was a missed opportunity here to actually integrate proper reward scaling for the Steam version, but it's clear from the broken controls that the developer was only tasked with making the game run.
I joined the Play or Pay challenge so for the following quarter I’ll be starting several new games.
- Gods Will Be Watching
- The Long Dark
- Final Fantasy VII
- Mini Ninjas
- Mythic Wonders: The Philosopher's Stone
I already beat The Charnel House Trilogy and The Wolf Among Us, but I’m gonna try to get them to 100%. I really like the ability to filter by user tags, it’s going to make choosing what to play has got a lot easier.
This game really seems right up my alley, cute anime girls and plants vs zombies styled defense strategy.
Progress Report: October 2019
Right now I’m playing three games. Faerie Solitaire a casual solitaire variant with grindy mechanics, Destiny Warriors RPG a very generic RPG Maker game that has a ninja academy (think Naruto) theme, and Slay the Spire an amazing deckbuilder game that I’ve fallen in love with. I’ll post reviews once I finish them. I’m gonna try to not take on more games until I finish one of these to avoid spreading myself too thin.
Kimi ga Shine (Your Turn to Die) is a free logic-driven psychological horror adventure game created by Nankidai and unofficially translated by vgperson. The story revolves around a series of death games where kidnapped players are forced to play a voting game where the losers die.
Content warning: The game deals with mature content and contains many graphic scenes of people being killed (some in extremely gruesome ways). After playing through the current version, I would say those scenes are generally required for the story and in general are done in a tasteful fashion, but they can be very shocking in the moment.
Kimi ga Shine is a point and click adventure game that plays like Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. You spend most of your time gathering items and clues to help you survive until the next majority vote game. During the majority voting game, each character is assigned a hidden role and the player has to use logic to deduce each person's role. This vote is where the games main crux comes into play, in the best case scenario two people die, in the worst case, everyone does.
Nankidai has done some amazing character and world building. Despite there being 12 main characters, each character has substantial time to be fleshed out. Some of this is even done posthumously. I think it's a right of passage for players to try and protect their favorite character. There is a lot of lore about the death game, its organizer, and how the participants are all connected that is slowly trickled out as you go through each chapter.
Characters generally play the majority voting game strategically; lying, cheating, and stealing at times to ensure they live during the next vote. Reaching a turnabout, despite all of this, feels amazing.
Got an invite into the Ghost Recon Breakpoint beta earlier this month. The genre of looter shooter has appealed to me less over the years, due to microtransactions becomng the dominant revenue model.
The game is visually stunning; I am shocked at how far graphics have come in 2019. The world felt lush and vibrant, all characters have amazing detailing that make each of them feel unique. I found it really cool that character customizations persist even in cutscenes, which now feel like part of the game rather than something prerendered.
The games emphasis on exploration was great for me. Despite being restricted to only three areas on the world map, there was a lot to see. From mountains, to heleports, to cold war bunkers, the map was litered with interesting locations to search for loot. Optional quests also emphasize exploring the world, interacting with certain quest NPCs will give the player three fuzzy clues about a treasures location, for example "Southeast of the Behemoth Defense Zone". Using the clues and the world map, players need to triangulate possible locations to search.
There were no microtransactions in the beta, but it's looming presence was felt constantly. From the mediocre drops despite hours of playing, to the amount of grinding necessary to reach the next step on the progression tree, you do quickly notice that "time-savers" will be available for purchase on the game's full release.
Overall for a AAA title, I would say Ghost Recon Breakpoint is solid. The microtransactions based model is not for me, so I will not continue beyond the beta, but I enjoyed my time and don't have any major gripes beyond those tied to required grinding.
Princess.Loot.Pixel.Again is a dungeon crawling platformer rogue-lite. It's got vast amount of loot and artifacts to collect and is fairly generous at letting you stack effects if you manage to survive all the monsters defending it. Each of the seven classes are fairly unique having their own pros and cons. This game is heavily inspired by the Binding of Issac, even going as far as having a cameo.
The drawback to this is that I constantly compare it to the far more polished Binding of Issac. The games needs a healthy amount of rebalancing. Deals with the devil rarely make you substantially stronger and bosses are far too meaty to give up health. The Binding of Issac solves this by making unique Devil only artifacts that are incredibly powerful, but Princess.Loot.Pixel.Again in contrast draws from the global pool.
Hitboxes need fixing, the Berserker's giant battle axe doesn't hit further than a Ninja's dagger, clipping right through enemies at time.
Finally the completely random generation of rewards disincentives anymore than the shallowest exploration. In one run, I blasted through some rubble to access a locked room that contained two more locked doors with a locked chests behind them, I was "rewarded" for all this resource consumption with some gold and health.
Princess.Loot.Pixel.Again does have that one more run addictiveness. I recently ended a run where I finished just 50 gold short of the "Line one's pockets" achievement and one friend short of the "Friends!" achievement, but the next day I was back at it, trying again. Would recommend for masochists.
SimplePlanes is a physics based sandbox game where you design and fly your own planes. The editor is fantastic and lets you make all sorts of customizations like the shape and size of your wings, engine type, and even weapon systems. There's a system to share your designs and I'm very impressed with how creative others are, flying around in a functional 355 DeLorean really made my day.
Personally I found most planes incredibly difficult to fly if your going any faster than 20% throttle, but the sandbox nature of the game lets you abuse the win conditions. AI controlled planes can't beat me in a race if I shoot them down from the start.
Pivot XL is a surprisingly addictive minimalist reflex-based dodging game that plays like snake. You control a ball that moves in a circular path, and have a single control that flips your axis of rotation, allowing you to snake across the map by timing your flips. Collect orbs while dodging polygons to progress, near collisions are rewarded with extra points so feel free to get close.
The music is great, but I die often enough that I can never hear the full soundtrack.
The controls are difficult so dying is inevitable, but you can get back in the game pretty quick and the fact that I just shrug off deaths is a testament to how addictive the gameplay is.
Cally's Cave 4 is a run and gun action adventure platformer. It's got many interesting mechanics like evolving weapons, weapon parrying to reflect enemy bullets, and a radar system that rewards players for clearing a map. Personally I feel the developers overdid it and the combination of all these systems takes away any challenge of playing the game.
The game is great for those looking to get a bit of a power trip as Cally is super overpowered compared to anything you'll ever face, but it gets stale once you realize that, even the final boss will fall in seconds against certain maxed out guns. Even if you do manage to keep your weapons underleveled, because enemy damage never scales, you would need to take 15 ~ 30 hits to exhaust your health by the end of the game, not even considering that you have 8 backpack slots to hold Chicken Fingers which full heal on death.
I found the story very generic and constantly references the previous games which I didn't play. Overall I think this game is more directed to children with it's incredibly forgiving nature, but it's got a lot of interesting mechanics which are worth checking out.
In Forest Harvester Simulator you drive around in a tree-cutting machine felling trees and turning them into lumber.
- Tree cutting machine feels nice to drive.
- Game has such terrible physics that it becomes comical at times watching my machine fly into the sky when tripping over a log.
- No variety in level design, a single map for all 9 levels.
- Extremely grindy with some levels taking more than 20 minutes of the same task (It's also possible to get stuck in certain objects which concerns me for the longer stages).
- Invisible walls with trees that you think you can cut beyond those walls.
- Level rewards scale badly, it's more worthwhile to grind level 1 than play other stages if you are trying to get gold to unlock base upgrades.
- The base upgrades are useless, which you quickly figure out after the first unlock. The base system has secondary resources that quickly invalidate all previous resources as you just convert everything to gold. Not having lumber requirements for buildings seems like a missed opportunity. Having gold has no actual effect on gameplay, just achievement unlocking.
Overall, I would say the game is strange and interesting, but shallow and not worth playing for more than 10 minutes. I am more disappointed than anything else, as the concept is novel and I feel like all the cons could have been hashed out with a bit of extra polish.
Progress Report: September 2019
Just got back from vacation and am settling back down at home. Played a lot of interesting games since I’ve been back, but this progress report has been very delayed considering the last post was from August 1st.
Looking at that post, the games I wound up played this month differed greatly than those I had planned. I tried again to get through Crazy Machines 3, and at least now I know why I dislike the game so much.
Each level in Crazy Machines 3 feels like it has only one possible solution that requires each component to be perfectly placed on the grid. The heavy restriction on what components I can use turned this game from sandbox to puzzle, but it fails at being a good puzzle. The solutions never have any revelation about interesting ways to use parts. Instead it's all about perfect placement of Component A so that it can interact with Component B.
This might have been fine for Crazy Machines 1, but there are far better puzzle games now and Crazy Machines 3 has clearly stagnated in the level design department. I would recommend watching GMTK's "What Makes a Good Puzzle?" video to find better alternatives.
The game runs awful considering how little they actually have to render. Each stage requires a substantial wait to load all the assets and exiting the game causes the executable to glitch out and crash.
Then there's the forced Social Media requests that it shoves down your throat after clearing a few stages. This is not a free to play game, stop asking me if I'm enjoying it, it's a bit disgusting to be subjugated to this.
Picked up the Dangonronpa Trilogy and the Zero Escape Trilogy during the Spike Chunsoft Sale. For Dangonronpa I did watch the anime a feel years back, so I’m hoping it doesn’t spoil anymore than the first game, although even finding small differences between the game and the anime has been interesting.
- Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc
- Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair
- Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls
- Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony
“Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors” was my favorite game for the Nintendo DS so I’m looking forward to playing the sequels.
Finally as with previous months I’ll end this post with some reviews for notable games I played.
Last Word is an amazing take on a role playing game without combat elements. Conflicts in the Last Word are resolved through discourse which is a clever puzzle game that I would describe as a more tactics based rock paper scissors. Without going too much into detail each move has a counter, but playing counters constantly is sub-optimal as positioning is just as important.
My favorite part of the game was not the discourse mechanic, but the discovery system. The heroine Whitty must reach a certain level of knowledge in a given subject to progress at certain points. You gain this knowledge by talking to people, there's a lot of interesting dialogue so even dead ends reveal a lot of interesting facts and lore. The ability to change discussion topics is probably the coolest feature of the game and makes reading everything even more enjoyable.
Last Word is not perfect however, it can be grindy if you are bad at the discourse combat system and the game contains missable content that forces a second playthrough if you are trying for 100%. That said there is a New Game+ mode that tries to alleviate the worst of these issues, as well as let you see what would happen if you manage to win the hopeless boss fights from your original playthrough.
Overall I loved my time with the game. It's got innovative mechanics, beautiful art, masterful storytelling, and is extremely polished overall. Highly Recommended
Pony Island is a fantastic metagame in the same sense as Frog Fractions. You play as yourself, playing a video game against a vindictive developer. The game is rigged against you, so cheat and hack your way to victory. The game is deeper than it looks so make sure to collect all the tickets and unlock the secret ending. It will totally be worth it.
Pichon is a cute platformer where your character is always jumping. This creates some interesting mechanics as you time your dips and hops to duck under spikes and get over hot oil.
You die in one hit, but the game is fast-paced and has lots of checkpoints so you will be back in the game instantly. Dying is generally painless as long as you're not going for a perfect run.
Most of my criticisms deal with achievements which looks like were designed to just pad the amount of playtime. Requiring 30 perfect playthroughs of each stage makes it seem like the achievements haphazardly added.
The game is primarily played with keyboard, with the exception of menuing which is done via mouse. This makes getting achievements frustrating as you have to switch to mouse to restart a failed run. Having a dedicated reset shortcut key would help.
Dialing is a cute 2048 styled Match-3 puzzle game. The games simplicity is where it shines, You control a rotating dropper that places numbered balls into center of the play area. If 3 balls with the same number are adjacent to each other they combine and the resulting number is doubled. The game is over when either you run out of rotations or the play area is full.
The game is very easy to pick up and needs no tutorial, as you play through the game you will learn a few advanced tricks that will get you a bit further. Creating combos reverses your rotation a bit so you can get more drops in. The game tell you what your next ball will be and if an area is full attempting to drop a ball in that area will let you swap it for the next ball.
The game has a nice persistent progression system that rewards you with more rotations so you are less rushed the more you play, but it doesn't ever feel unbalanced, as the real problem you face as you try to create larger balls like 1024 and 2048 will be running out of play area.
Road Doom is a solid bullet hell game. Controls feel great, game play is very fair, and the story is quirky and ridiculous.
It's got several difficulty options for masochists, but I found normal to be the perfect balance of challenging yet enjoyable. I would recommend this game to people looking to get into the genre.
E3.13CENTER is a strange and weird twinstick shooter/puzzle hybrid where you type your commands like "FIRE" and "SHIELD". The levels are well-designed and discovering new commands is fun. In my playthrough I kept comparing the game to Scribblenauts, constantly trying new words to see if there was any effect.
Once upon a death is a necromancy themed resource management clicker.
The idea is innovative and I love the art style, but the gameplay is terrible. You're essentially just idling as you create zombies and then smashing them into castle after castle. I can't tell if the game wants to be a clicker or an idler, but it does both terribly, the zombie summon rate is incredibly slow with no way to increase it, but it has no window mode and will pause if you minimize the game.
Upgrades to zombies take time, you can only upgrade one and a time, and there's no queue system so you have to be watching it constantly. There's no audio cue when a new batch of zombies are created so you need to check that regularly too. This means you are essentially clicking a few times, then waiting 10~20 seconds and repeating the process a few thousand times. Ridiculously repetitive as you will need at least 100 level 3 zombies for the final castle.
There's also no point in defending your castle from counterattacks (besides the achievement) as you only lose soldiers if you lose (with an upgraded ditch you actually come ahead sending all your units on the initial attack), not that losing resources would matter.
The game is poorly balanced, the only resource you will need initially is Metal and by the time you reach half way through the map you will likely have millions of resources and nothing left to upgrade.
The Town of Light takes you through the life of Renee a 16 year old girl who spent her teenage years in an asylum. This game explores the topic of mental illness and the abuse that patients suffered in the early 20th century. The setting - an asylum in Italy is vividly detailed, the story elements feel eerily real, and you will likely sympathize with Renee by the end.
Gameplay itself falls flat. Walking is slow, a lot of the puzzle elements don't have any explanation, and while there's a lot of objects to interact with, most serve no purpose.
The games atmosphere relies on entering Renee's memories to evoke horror, but these are my least favorite parts, because the developer tries to emulate film techniques to blend reality with the nightmare. Things like further slowing the character movement, washing out the color palette, and distorting the scene. I couldn't finish the game because I was getting motion sickness from the filters and room distortions.
Overall I didn't hate the experience, but I don't think it's worth going back. I would best sum up my experience as I would have preferred to watch the movie.
Progress Report: August 2019
Finally got down to categorize a bunch of my games. At this point I think my SteamGift wins are generally accurately categorized, but I still have a lot of work to categorize the rest of the games I own.
I’m surprised at the sheer volume of games I played in July. I completed all the theme goals and found some time to shrink my backlog a bit. Part of this is due to picking low hanging fruit, knocking out several short indie games the past month, but I sunk a lot of ours into AAA games like Prototype 2. I’m gonna wait until I finish this to review it, but I’m definitely enjoying it.
I bought the Crusader Kings II Humble Bundle just for Holy Fury, I’ve already purchased all the other DLCs previously, but it’s my most played game so I’m not too salty about the amazing deal new players get. If anything else there should be a surge of spicy new memes on /r/rCrusaderKings
For August I’m taking part in PAGYWOSG Fridays For Future event by playing Crazy Machines 3. I’ve played the game a bit last month and I think the transition to 3D didn’t really work, but I’m willing to give it another shot.
I’ve started travelling about a week ago and will be away from my gaming PC for most of the month. All of this will limit my progress as I juggle sightseeing, preparing for my return to teaching, as well as other personal projects. I enjoy playing indie games. so being force to play games that run on a potato won’t be too much of a hindrance
Finally I’ll end this month with some reviews for notable games I played.
Catherine Classic is a story-driven puzzle platformer. You play as Vincent Brooks, a 32 year old programmer that has to deal with the fallout after having a one-night stand with a Catherine that is very clearly not his long term girlfriend. The story is deep and tackles difficult topics of love and marriage, that at least for me, hit close to home. There are several side characters in the game with similar dilemmas. From Justin the ex-journalist who blames himself for the suicide of a ballerina he once wrote an article about, to Morgan the cop who wants nothing more than revenge on the criminal that killed his wife.
The puzzle component of Catherine surprisingly fits well with the story providing insight into Vincent's psyche through metaphor and allusion. I do have some gripes about how the controls invert when you are hanging behind blocks, but beyond that the puzzle components are solid, both creative and deeply connected with the story, although they are brutally difficult even on easy mode.
If you're a fan of strange and experimental indie games, STAY is gonna be right up your alley. It's full of interesting and unique mechanics, and while some do fall flat, the overall theming is well-thought-out.
STAY is a puzzle/visual novel hybrid that dives into topics of depression, anxiety, loneliness, and self-harm. It's got a very philosophical vibe to it, lots of symbolism in the chapter layouts and items. The games premise is an escape-room nightmare, where you interact with the protagonist Quinn, by giving him suggestions on how to escape.
The writing is superb, although a bit high brow and very clearly targeting a specific demographic. It's got a lot of references to 80s and 90s popular trivia that may go over your head if you weren't from that generation.
The game has lots of interesting mechanics. As you make decisions, you can monitor the effect they have on Quinn, there's status monitors for trust, emotional bond, as well as various mood indicators. Then there's the STAY/AWAY system. The games time continues even if you are away, and there are consequences for leaving Quinn alone to fend for himself.
I feel the area the game falters at, is it's puzzle implementation. I can see that the developers wants the player to struggle with the puzzles and not have instructions take the user out of the experience, but there's no hints or explanation. This works for certain puzzles where brute-forcing teaches you the mechanics. But for other puzzles like the peacock problem, if you don't have a key insight already, brute-forcing won't help you, and you will likely have to check a FAQ.
Another area that's weak is the death failure states. Quinn turns out to be an extremely squishy character and pretty much anything will kill him. After a few deaths, the game trains you to become extremely cautious about every decision, but even with changed play styles you will still die every now and then. After each death you have to replay the chapter, and there's no option to fast forward text, so it can get tedious in certain chapters with multiple death flags.
Overall the game comes highly recommended; it's got some awesome pixel art, high quality writing, and great music. By the end of the game you feel deeply connected to Quinn and his personal journey. It's definitely worth experiencing.
AR-K is an indie point and click adventure game with a great story, but falls flat with its point and click component.
The game excels in it's rich story telling, funny characters, and very interactive world. If you liked Monkey Island games, AR-K has similar humor.
The puzzles however are badly designed and will cause most players to look for a walkthrough. Upon finding the solutions I was constantly thinking "Well that's a roundabout way to solve this problem". Episode 1 lacks the guidance to even tell you what your current goal is, so you'll be stuck quite often. This coupled with the large map size and no acknowledgement that you have all the necessary items make the game frustrating without a FAQ. The second episode fixes a lot of these issues with the introduction of the narrator, but by then you are so used to using a FAQ that you might have read every solution already.
Dear RED - Extended is a short indie RPG visual novel where you uncover more of the story each playthrough. You play as Red, a girl seeking revenge on the person who killed her mother. The game lets you go about this revenge through truth or deception. There's very little gameplay, most of it just dialogue trees, but I found the concept interesting and the customized art charming.
If you've played modern Match-3 games, 7 Wonders of the Ancient World will leave you frustrated and angry.
I've lost count of the number of Match-3 games I've played and was excited to try out the original 7 Wonder's. It's a competent Match-3 game, but a few design choices make it an absolute slog to play through. Pyramid pieces and any gap in particular block row clearing projectiles. They also cannot be moved except by gravity so you can easily trap yourself when they reach the bottom two rows. Use enough power-ups and get a power-up that removes random tiles, I've had multiple of these fail to remove the single tile I needed to clear a stage. 7 Wonders is repetitive in every sense of the word, each wonder has 7 stages which generally have very little variation from the previous stage. If you run out of lives you need to restart the entire wonder. The difficulty ramps up by increasing the number of different tiles. By the fifth wonder you will have multiple no valid move board resets per stage. To get the board resets though, you need to clear every possible match on the board even ones that make you no actual progress.
Progress Report: July 2019
This is my first post for BLAEO. I’m surprised it took me so long to find this site as I always wanted to be able to write a bit about games I’ve recently played. I think the gameification of clearing the backlog is an awesome idea.
I’ve got a lot of categorizing to do, but for the month of July I want to bring more games from beaten to completed..
I bought Hand of Fate during the Steam Summer Sale, I’ve been interested in it since watching Total Biscuit’s video a long time ago, specifically the card elements.
Bardbarian puts a unique twist on the top down shooter, in that you can't shoot. You play as Brad the Barbarian who has become sick of fighting all the time, and decide to put some skill points into the bard class. Playing as a bard is no easy feat though, Brad has no offensive capabilities and must rely on recruiting others to do the fighting. His party will stay nearby targeting any foolish enemy that comes within range. If the town is to be saved though, Brad must keep his party alive by providing buffs and keeping them out of enemy fire.
Plantera is an addicting farming themed clicker. The games simplicity is it's strongest point, click on produce to convert it to gold. Use gold to buy more plants, bushes, trees, and animals. Buy land expansions to get farm workers who will pick up produce for you. You can easily lose hours to this game trying to build a gold farm empire. The Loot Hero cameo is pretty awesome too since he drops a boat load of gold on each appearance.
Octodad is a crazy physics game where you play a perfectly normal man that tries to fit in with an unforgiving society. This game will brings out your inner masochist as you struggle to get a grip on it's wacky controls. When I wasn't yelling at the screen, I was laughing my ass off at how ridiculous the game was.