One good game at a time... godprobe’s profile
My focus is on the games I’ve been wanting to play for years and simply haven’t.
No card idling, minimal achievement hunting.
Slow, but steady progress through the backlog.
My favorite games are those with an interesting story, well-voiced dialog, relatable characters, unique design style, memorable set pieces, compelling music, and above all: solid, satisfying, and well-planned gameplay that respects the player’s time – an ever-evolving progression or a consistent experience.
Anything five-starred on my (somewhat outdated) Backloggery page is definitely a favorite! :)
Roughly estimating an average game length of about ten hours (here’s a good reference point), conservatively playing one hour per day, five days a week, allows enough time to beat only twenty-six games per year.
These are my 26 for 2019.
I typically take the time to get immersed in the game world and exceed the usual HLTB times by a wide margin, so there’s a good chance I won’t make it. But… it’s a goal, and I’ll still try to reach it!
- GYLT (2019) - Beaten (Good ending, and all collectibles; not a must-play, but still mostly good; Stadia)
- Mortal Kombat 11 (2019) - Beaten (Story mode on Very Easy… it’s aight; Stadia)
- Emerald City Confidential (2009) - Beaten (missed one red button! can’t backtrack to find it… otherwise, surprisingly good, but not amazing)
- Moral King (2018) - Beaten (simple, short, but good full FMV adventure – German with subtitles – mostly linear, a bit corny, but the effort put into it is genuine and really not bad at all)
- Tomb Raider - Definitive Edition (2013) - Beaten (100% campaign, not including achievements, second time beating it; Stadia)
- Bacon Tales: Between Pigs and Wolves (2017) - Beaten (amateur, passable, meh)
- Icycle: On Thin Ice (2013/2017) - Completed (I have nothing but praise for this one!)
- The Red Strings Club (2018) - Beaten (definitely enjoyed this one; good writing)
- Digfender (2015) - Beaten
- Armed & Dangerous (2003) - Beaten (on Normal difficulty, discovering eight or nine of the tokens)
- Murdered: Soul Suspect (2014) - Beaten (missed two Bell Killer’s Story, two Julia’s Story, and plenty of Codex collectibles)
- Pink Rage Otome (2017) - Completed
- Abnormal world: season one (2018) - Completed
- Alice: Madness Returns (2011) - Beaten
- Sanitarium (1998) - Completed (used one UHS hint for ringing a bell)
- Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Adventures - Episode 1: Fright of the Bumblebees (2009) - Completed
- Sniper Elite (2005) - Beaten (finished all missions on rookie difficulty)
- Enslaved: Odyssey to the West (2010/2013) - Beaten
- Life is Strange: Before the Storm (2017) - Completed (achievements, not every story outcome)
- Overcooked (2016) - Beaten (main game and holiday levels)
- Merry Glade (2018) - Completed
- CHUCHEL (2018) - Beaten
- Postal (1997/2005/2016) - Beaten
(11 of The 26 for 2019; 18 games total)
(14 of The 26 for 2017; 17 games total)
Skullgirls mobile, SG wins, and anything from my 2019 list of The 26
LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga - 80+% now, aiming for 100% before moving on to LEGO SW:TFA
The Witcher - finishing up Act II
DiRT Rally - beating Delta times, 45 remain (also, don’t have anywhere to use my racing wheel for a while now…)
Dark Souls - Anor Londo, Ornstein and Smough
List errata – not recognized (yet?) on BLAEO…
- Lastworld VR (fka Survive) should be in the > Indie Royale / > Sigma lists (removed from store, and dev passed away)
- YOU DON’T KNOW JACK Vol.6 The Lost Gold should be in the > Steam Store list (Steam API issue???)
- A Camp in the Woods should be in the > Groupees / > Build a Greenlight 11 lists (removed from store)
- Silent Service should be in the > Fanatical / > Pioneer lists (Steam API issue???)
- March of War: FaceOff should be in the > Steam Store / > Free on Steam lists (Early Access?)
- Home Design 3D should be in the > Indie Gala / > Friday Special 27 lists (software, not game?)
- The Rockin’ Dead should be in the > Retail / > Amazon lists (removed from store)
- Heavenstrike Rivals could be in the > Steam Store and > Free on Steam lists (removed from store, server shut down)
Hmm… yep (checks watch), it’s 2020 already.
I made a new year post last year covering my general gaming backlog progress, but have been so busy with a new job (and career…?) that I haven’t even thought about doing that here until now.
My gaming progress this year is good though, I think. I bought into Stadia early, and I’m honestly enjoying it. Although it’s increasing my backlog further, it’s nice to play games my PC can’t run, and it’s been smooth… mmm… 98% of the time – 99.9% if you discount the times my internet connection has been the point of failure. On Stadia, I’ve re-beaten Tomb Raider, and newly beaten Mortal Kombat 11 (on Very Easy…).
Also in streaming gaming, I’ve been using Shadow occasionally, and beat Emerald City Confidential with that service (playing that Steam game on the phone for much of the time!) And although I’m nowhere near beating it, HITMAN has been fun to play on there as well (again, wouldn’t be able to play it on my actual PC).
Speaking of Android gaming, I’ve been playing the mobile version of Skullgirls for well over a year now, and still loving it. It makes me think I can actually play real fighting games (it does help for learning strategies, but PC Skullgirls still kicks my butt). Also, a great escape game series by some random dev on Android… “Mole House” is one of the collections, and the other collections are linked as “ads” in the main menu. The few actual ads in the game are unobtrusive enough that I can definitely recommend the games if you like something simple in the genre. It’s mostly just remembering patterns and figuring out codes, but it’s simple and cute. Great for just before bed.
I don’t know if I’ll do another “The 26” this year… just been too busy to even make a list of selections for it. Definitely still gaming though. Still tackling the ever-growing backlog…
Anyway, hope everyone’s 2020 is going good so far, and if not, I hope that it will only get better!
If I’d stopped buying games after 2014…
Recently, I’ve been tagging all my games here according to where they came from. My plight against The Backlog is woeful in the first place, but it’s interesting to see how it’s shaking out versus all the various sources of games. I wish I’d stopped to get a snapshot like this for 2012 and 2013, as the backlog didn’t appear quite as desperate then. But here it is in 2014, and I’ll try to remember to either post again when I get through tagging everything from 2015, or I’ll just update this post.
If you click through the title text to most of those lists, you can see the breakdown of exactly which store or bundle or whatever each game came from. As I continue to update them, they won’t be exclusive to 2014 though, and the SteamGifts one is already inclusive of every year up to the present (however, pared down to 2014 for the graphic here).
I think it’s interesting to see the worthy-of-my-time “value” I’ve placed on each of the bundle sites over the years though, since this playtime includes everything up to the present. I’m expecting my SteamGifts stat to get much worse, but I’m relatively happy with my Steam Store and Retail purchases. Gift / Trade / Other also includes a lot of developer or publisher free game promotions, so I’m kinda surprised that it also has decent playtime. Miscellaneous and Bundle in a Box stats look pretty good at first, but they have many fewer games in their lists. And it’s nice to see that – yeah, Humble really was the best of them. And I miss Indie Royale – they had the best names for their bundles!
Also… Bundle Stars… how in the hell do I have zero minutes across the board, apart from Shelter (yay!) and Woodcutter Simulator (wtf, me?!). Perceived versus actual worth-my-time value there was just… wow… (The “completed” game – The 11th Hour – is one I’d finished in pre-Steam days.)
P.S. I don’t card farm, so that hasn’t skewed the stats at all.
The Sea Will Claim Everything (2012 / 2016)#12 of 26 (2018)
The Sea Will Claim Everything (2012 / 2016)
More book titles in this game than The Elder Scrolls... and that's probably the main reason it took me nine hours to complete, rather than the seven HLTB claims for a completionist. Well... that and manually trying every single alchemical combination. This game is a difficult one to describe, but sits well with my ideals of what a good point-and-click adventure should aspire to, while not being a great point-and-click adventure. The only reason I can't call it "great" is because it's not overly... accessible. It is though... there's fast travel, and a decent-ish interface, but it's very wordy. It skips among many different sociopolitical topics, but conveys a general message of kindheartedness, and that's a mission statement I can get behind.
I like the game. I didn't check the achievements beforehand to see if I'd get one for reading every single book title or clicking on every single flower and mushroom. I'm very glad that there's not an achievement for either of those things. Play it more casually than I did, but do take in the character dialog, if it interests you. It's a great slightly-offbeat world to inhabit for a few days, and the impact you have on the world is enough for me to call the ending "good", while also being very aware that the world is fleshed out in other ways outside of the game. Recommended for point-and-clickers who like a good sociopolitical read with its whimsical and intellectual influences worn on its sleeve.
The Sea Will Claim Everything, and a smattering of other good adventure games, cost me only 99 cents from the (first?) Bundle in a Box Adventure Bundle in 2012, and sneaks in at number twelve of "The 26" games I had set out to complete in 2018. Almost half! :D (Edit: Also, between 2017 and 2018's lists combined, this finally is number 26! :D)
Please escort 2018 from the premises, and welcome your new overlord… 2019
It’s been too long since I’ve written anything on this site!
Here’s my personal gaming year in review:
- created my own text adventure game using SteamGifts as the platform: The Cake Factory
- managed to not become homeless, whilst still playing games on a decade-old computer
- and I beat or completed at least forty-six games this year
Twelve of my beaten/completed were from my list of “The 26” games it was my goal to beat this year, and I made decent progress in five more of those titles. Considering that the game-playing time I had available in the latter quarter of the year was exceptionally dreadful, I think I did okay on my backlog, but it’s still way out of control.
Saw many good people leave SteamGifts, and can’t fault them for it either; thankfully, many are also still on this site.
Looking forward to Cyberpunk 2077 at some point, and the eventual full release of Life is Strange 2. Still have many unowned titles that have released in the past years that I’d like to play, too, not to mention many very old titles. And I’d like to continue making games myself. Give me some time on that one… even The Cake Factory took about a year and a half, off and on.
Highlights and general recommendations for games I played in 2018 include Monaco (in co-op), Sonic and SEGA All-Stars Racing, Kathy Rain, L.A. Noire, realMYST, Dishonored, Human Fall Flat (in co-op), and The Sexy Brutale. Reviews for all of those are easily found linked from my BLAEO profile. :)
Currently trying to decide on my list of The 26 for 2019… will try to add more SteamGifts wins to the list, I think, and most likely all of the unfinished games from 2018 will make a return.
Play my… “game”?
Hello, BLAEO! It’s been a while!
I’ve been busy. In case you haven’t seen the reason for that already, please come check out..
…over on SteamGifts and– oh… right, we’re fighting backlogs here, not adding to them.
Well, you gotta have a backlog to fight to be able to fight the backlog, right?! …right?… right!
“The Cake Factory” is styled after the classic adventure game format, and is entirely text-based and self-contained within SteamGifts giveaways and SGTools (SG level 2 is required).
There’s lots of reading, and a horrible time-consuming thief puzzle right near the start. (Pro-tip: check out each giveaway’s comments to see if there’s Hintbook entry!) If you make it past that thief puzzle though, there’s lots of stuff afterward that you may or may not want to add to your backlog, and even if you don’t find the thief, there’s still a few decent giveaways in the Cake Factory’s offices.
So far, eight people have fully completed the adventure, and I’m quite happy with the positive feedback I’ve gotten!
There’s just about two weeks left before the giveaway ends and the average time to finish the adventure is around 4-6 days.
I hope to see you on The Cake Factory tour!
And feel free to ask me for help (here or wherever) if you’re stuck.
My SG Backlog…
It was nice to “finish” The Cake Factory (I won’t really be done with it for at least another two or three weeks), since I could finally play some games after crunching to finish the project up “on time” (just a few days late!). So I went through four of my more recent SG wins and managed to beat two of them…
- A Girls Fabric Face is not bad for a horror thingy. I don’t usually play these, but this one seemed more polished than some of the jump-scare crud that comes out. There are multiple endings though, and thus far I’ve only finished the (worst?) bad ending. Still, it wasn’t bad. Worth the hour and a half I spent playing it.
- Mad Combat Marines is pretty dumb. It’s like someone wanted to make GTA and decided to take the laziest route possible for everything. It took me less than an hour to get all seven achievements. Being able to drive in it actually came as a surprise, but like the rest of it, it’s just… clunky… I’d be proud of making it if I were ten years old, and I’d show it off to friends then, but I wouldn’t publish it on Steam. Except that Steam is a store full of garbage already, so why not?
…and thought I’d also mention the two that I didn’t beat, but were surprisingly good!..
- Eternal Maze doesn’t look very good from the store screenshots. It looks like a fairly boring game where you walk through corn fields. But playing it… it would be right at home on a smaller handheld system like the Nintendo DS or similar. It’s cute, it seems to actually have good gameplay (although I’m only four levels in of around 20), and the challenge is pretty decent. It’s actually worth a look for a simple puzzley time-killer game.
- Andromeda Wing looks and plays exactly like some of the better scrolling shooters of the 90s. The graphics are that pre-rendered smoothed-out “3D” goodness that was all over games of that era. And it’s neither too easy or too punishing (so far… only one full level in). Definitely enjoyed it.
No extra formatting!
Just need to write things down…
Might do a better write-up later, but for now (especially in the baking heat we’ve been having in southern California this week), I’m much too focused on other things.
Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing (2010) - COMPLETED!
26 hours playtime (Steam), 17:32:43 playtime (according to the game), 46 of 46 challenges completed – 100%ed the game!
It’s a great alternative to Mario Kart; lots of rubber-banding, but it’s tuned well and still feels like a challenge until you get it down. Once you do get it down, the in-game Challenges truly are a challenge at times, with the Bonanza Bros level being the most evil of them. Checked out videos for that one, and the final challenge (I ran out of patience), as well as tips for a couple of the secret challenges. Very fun, tons of characters, definitely recommended. Shame the console DLC bits and online multi-player never made it to PC.
Dragon’s Lair (1983) - Beaten!
2 hours playtime, 4 of 12 achievements
Never played this classic title until now, but a friend who grew up in the 80s piqued my interest in it a little over ten years ago. Finally picked it up in the sale and had a ton of fun with it. Lots of people seem to have trouble getting it to work right, and I used the Steam API to download and play the earlier-released version first. Either (old or current new) version runs about the same, but I did like the hinting indicator overlay on the older version better. I haven’t played it in the original style yet where there are no hint arrows/sword on screen to help you out, and I can only imagine just how many kids’ quarters this game ate up back in the day. The main character’s vocalizations, and the sound effects in general, were a surprise bonus of entertainment for me. Fun if you don’t mind repetitive frustration and mostly-smooth-but-not-always gameplay.
The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit (2018) - Beaten!
3 hours playtime, not all of the objectives completed
Love “Life is Strange”, haven’t played “LiS: Before the Storm” yet. Would have liked to see a little more dynamic response to the player’s choices, but I’m always relieved when a work with lots of dialog attempts to have a child as the star and doesn’t fuck it up (I’m looking at you, Phantom Menace). At the end, the way I played it, the square peg story jammed itself into the round hole ending, but prior to that it was very good, with great atmosphere. Looking forward to LiS2, and will finish all of the objectives before playing LiS2. (Game is also oddly graphically intensive, and complains about your system specs.)
Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition (2010) / Street Fighter IV: Ultra (2014) - Beaten!…?
4 hours playtime, 3 of 67 achievements
Held off on activating my Humble Capcom Bundle key for this for a long time because I hate having incomplete games, and there’s so much weirdness between editions of the same game on Steam (I also have the GFWL version, Street Fighter IV), and so many DLC packages. It helps that development has moved on to SFV at least. Finally read on the Steam forums that you can simply deactivate the “Ultra SFIV Digital Upgrade” DLC on Steam and the game will (redownload and) revert to SFIV:AE. Also read that that particular Humble key activates most of the AE content, as well as the Ultra upgrade. Hmm… and with the current DLC packages, that means I’d need to get “only” the Fantasy/2014 Challengers Pack, and the three Costume/Complete packs: Wild, Horror, and Vacation to have everything. And with the sale, this was all suddenly fairly reasonable price-wise. So long story short: game’s cool, and is probably one of my favorite editions of Street Fighter now, lacking only the slow-motion in-depth tutorials of Skullgirls to make it perfect. Played random characters through the story mode on Easy until I beat it – happened to be using Abel for that. I’m not much of an MP fight game player, but SFIV actually made me think about it, and I did play an online match and did okay.
Steampunk Tower II (2018) - Beaten!
18 hours playtime, 26 of 30 achievements
It feels very “tower defense” in pacing, although you’re only ever defending one tower with (eventually) up to ten emplacements. The story/English is horrible; truly godawful. (Oh, you betrayed us? Who cares, we trust you now to go spy on the enemy!) But the gameplay… is quite good! I was surprised. You slowly defend cities across nearly all of Europe, gaining new towers and upgrades along the way. The resources are balanced such that you might run short for a little while, but it’s easy to recover. The continually-invading enemy is a hassle, but makes for a better sense of the reality of the war; you don’t just one-and-done a city like it was just a game level. I’m extremely hesitant to make the remark that some of the sound effects sounded too familiar, as most of the game has a reasonably high production value in the art and audio department. The crappy story is my only major complaint, and some of the ways things are worded make it obviously a Russian production, but this doesn’t detract at all from the good balance and gameplay. (Oh, one last complaint: Ireland’s challenge level in particular, and one of the other challenge levels are badly designed, having slightly too great a reliance on randomness.)
The Rockin’ Dead (2013) - COMPLETED!
8 hours playtime, no achievements
It’s bad. It’s a classic point-and-click style adventure game. It’s not on the Steam Store anymore; doesn’t even have a Community Hub. You aren’t missing much. The inventory glut is terrible, half the puzzles are done for no particular reason, the story is stupid, the dialog is crap, the animation is terrible, the 3D models are amateur hour, the voice lines are delivered nearly deadpan, the only depth comes from the 3D glasses that are included in the physical retail version (it has a toggleable blue/red 3D mode), and even the settings menu is needlessly obtuse. Any redeeming qualities? It’s a full game, it’s better than a lot of the trash on Steam these days, and there’s rock chicks (which, as a hetero male who likes that aesthetic is, imho, a good thing). Hints used: plenty. Regrets: none.
Kung Fu Panda Showdown of Legendary Legends (2016) - Beaten!
The publisher has a habit of removing all of their titles from Steam, so I figured I may as well grab this one during the sale. As a bonus, I apparently don’t have to get any of the DLC… it’s… included… even though it’s also for sale on the Steam Store (don’t buy it!). I never played too much of Smash Bros., but that’s what this is. It’s mostly nice, but… the gameplay could be a lot smoother. Just play Smash Bros., it’s far and away the better game. If you don’t have Smash Bros., this is only worth it if you really really need to scratch that itch, or if you’re just a fan of Kung Fu Panda (I’ve only seen the first one (two?), but I like it well enough that I really did enjoy the game).
Convoy (2015) - Beaten!
The comparisons with FTL are good. But I enjoyed this more than FTL. Maybe because it was slightly easier. Slightly. Or maybe because of all the references to other properties of which I’m a fan (Firefly, Mad Max, Lord of the Rings, Doctor Who, Star Wars, etc.; there’s a ton of references packed into this game). You have your main vehicle that’s actually mostly helpless, and you have your other vehicles surrounding it, defending it, and dodging the occasional obstacle. Fights are tough at first, but can get a bit easier as long as nothing terrible happens. On the main map, luck is important. It’s unusual to have a long streak of bad luck though. At least, on Easy it was. Make sure to watch your fuel, and stop at camps to repair and upgrade your vehicles. The boss fight seemed unfair the first time I fought it. But (after picking up a good strategy for the latter part of the fight), I was able to beat the boss on my second encounter, although just by the skin of my teeth. Great game if you enjoyed FTL, good game if you weren’t sure about FTL, but were intrigued by it, bad game if you wanted nothing to do with FTL.
The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition (with hair patch); I really thought I’d beaten this long ago… I… don’t think I have though…. And I own a LeChuck t-shirt!
Mass Effect 2; I hate DLC - https://steamcommunity.com/app/24980/discussions/0/846940247828327831/#c2788173147734474995
Mass Effect 1 (re-playing it); I hate OCD…
Mud Runner: A Spintires Game; yep, just like Spintires, but a bit better; don’t know why driving around in the mud is so fun, but it is…
Renowned Explorers: International Society; never followed Total Biscuit, but in memory of his passing, picked up a recommendation; neat game, but haven’t gotten far yet
Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2!!; having so much fun with the GF… our restaurant has a guinea pig, cats, a guitar, and a velociraptor on the walls.
Zombie Night Terror; SG win! Really creative play-as-the-zombies game! Enjoying it a lot, but getting the challenges is tough!
Gang Beasts; ehh… play Human Fall Flat for a better time
Skullgirls; back into it due to my gametime on SFIV, definitely wish SFIV had Skullgirls’s training modes
Stick Fight: The Game; would be great if the spawn-a-second-uncontrollable-player-for-a-single-controller BUG (developers in denial that it’s a BUG) was not an issue
Goat Punks; king of the hill… meh… not bad, but there’s much better local MP games
The Club; I have a weird thing where I still want all the GFWL games… (they all still work for me, too; it’s just that you can’t buy DLC for them anymore)
El Tango de la Muerte; SG in! Interesting guitar hero-esque “dancing” game on a grid, but the musical timing prompts just don’t feel predictable enough, a matter of memorization instead of musicality, unfortunately
Sonic All-Stars Racing Transformed; quite possibly better than it’s precursor, but haven’t played a ton of it yet
Hope you enjoyed and/or hated the horrible wall of text! :D
Kathy Rain#10 of 26 (2018)
Kathy Rain (2016)
Ten down, sixteen to go for 2018! (What do you mean, "the year is nearly half over"‽‽‽)
Kathy Rain is an excellent modern example of the classic point-and-click adventure genre. It gets pretty much everything right, from the characters to the gameplay to the artwork. And while it doesn't manage to supplant any of my all-time favorites, it's a very solid entry and any criticisms I have are merely nitpicks or personal preference. And yes, there is rain in the game — although I don't recall anyone ever using an umbrella!
As the eponymous Katherine Rain, a rebellious, motorcycle-riding girl at college in the nineties, you learn that a close relative has just passed away. Your dorm roommate encourages you to return to your small-town home for the funeral, although you haven't been back there in years. There may be something more to the death though, and so... "A Detective is Born."
At the start, I didn't care for the voice of Kathy, but she grew on me pretty quickly as I played. The entire cast delivers their lines well, with good comedic timing where appropriate! If you've played any of Dave Gilbert's (Wadjet Eye / Blackwell series) games, he was the VO Director on this game, so you get the same quality here. The writing also does well at giving each character their own personality (although I would have preferred a different direction for the ending), and some of Kathy's lines are wonderfully snarky! If you have little ones around though, there's also some strong language to be aware of.
I think the two things I loved most about the game are the artwork and the pacing. The game does a wonderful job of managing your inventory and goals so that you are never overwhelmed by your options and are rarely confused about what to do next. (When in doubt, try the phone or the phone book — very 90s!) Although much of your time is spent conversing with other characters, it never got too uninteresting, and was broken up by a number of story- and context-appropriate mini-games or puzzles.I thought the computer software puzzles and a puzzle with a poem were both particularly well done! And as you conduct your investigation, the day wears on, and each new day is a good spot to save your game.
Every single pixel in this game is beautiful, and it's nice to see gorgeous clouds in an adventure game that aren't an obvious homage to Bill Tiller. Full Throttle undoubtedly gets a few inspirational nods though, and I think it's safe to say that there's a definite Blackwell influence. But the character designs, color palette, and backgrounds all feel very "Kathy Rain", and it's nice to have so much detail across the board in everything design-related in this game.
Lastly, since you're playing as a "strong female lead", you might expect a bit of feminism from the game. And it's there, but it felt natural, not at all out of place, and neither overdone nor preachy.
I'd been eying Kathy Rain for some time, and finally received it in the November 2016 Humble Monthly Bundle. After successfully herding it out of their backlog, EvilBlackSheep also shared their thoughts on the game, and Girlbeard gave it a recommendation as well! For the completionists out there: with regular savegames, it would not take me long at all to finish off the remaining three (hidden) achievements in the game. For point-and-click fans, definitely recommended!
Forgot this in the last update…
Antenna (2016) It’s free, and has fairly simple gameplay (once you figure out what the controls are, and whether or not they’re bugging out). It’s an easy, quick, 100%, but as a game I’d only recommend it if you’re fairly interested in radio signals; there’s a nice post on the Steam forum from a hobbyist about the various signals that are in the game.
IEXUX! IEXUX! IEXUX! IEXUX! IEXUX!
One year on BLAEO!
I know, I know, I mentioned this at the bottom of my previous post too, but soon there will be fewer than twenty-four hours left to enter!
L.A. Noire (2011)#9 of 26 (2018)
L.A. Noire (2011)
1947 Los Angeles, after the war. In the shoes of Cole Phelps, a by-the-book LAPD officer quickly moving up the ranks, you are assigned to cases that run the gamut from petty theft through to homicide. Taking one case at a time, the overarching story is slowly revealed with every case you close. When you arrive at each crime scene, you search the area for clues and interview Persons Of Interest, chasing them down if you have to, or taking them out lethally when they become a threat.
When you're interviewing a POI, you are often given a choice of whether to acknowledge that they are telling the Truth, to cast Doubt on their story, or, using the evidence you've gathered, to catch them in an outright Lie. Before playing the game, I had a notion from early player impressions that these three choices weren't descriptive enough and that seemingly-reasonable deductions would send Cole into a sudden aggressive tirade. While that's partially true (Cole always feels like he's repressing anger anyway), I think most of the reasonable choices resulted in the expected dialog. (I should replay the game and always accuse everyone of lying, for fun!...) Another small aspect of the disconnect may be due to the actors being unable to play off of each other while recording their dialog.
The MotionScan capture process used in this game is, without a doubt, its greatest technical achievement. Actors are recognizable, their expressions as they deliver lines truly helps sell every performance, and that helps the player in determining whether to cast an interviewee's statement into Doubt. However, the technology isn't without it's drawbacks; for one thing, it's cost-prohibitive, which is likely why it hasn't surfaced in any game since. Also, the actors are unable to move around while recording their lines, so the full body motion captures were recorded in a separate session, resulting in some of the head-to-neck connections feeling a little bit off, dragging otherwise excellent performances into a dip in the uncanny valley. For L.A. Noire in particular though, the trade-offs are worth it.
The other details in this game also impressed me on multiple occasions. Initially, I turned the graphics settings way down and still had performance issues, including missing many of the all-important facial animations, but I soon realized that the game had defaulted to DirectX 9 instead of 11. Once I switched that over, and closed my browser, everything ran smoothly, and reflections in the chrome of the cars, and the real-time shadows were great additions to the noire atmosphere. In particular, I remember pulling up to a chain link fence at night, with my headlights inches away, casting a giant chain link shadow across the ground. And the texture detail was also great, especially for small bits of 40's era novelties. I stopped at a completely non-interactive pâtisserie just to check out the window display. Physics glitches were rare, and never impacted my gameplay, but I did occasionally see cars inside of other cars.
Like other Rockstar titles, you're free to move around the city to discover landmarks and a few hidden collectibles (I only found a few while playing). You can also deal with a number of smaller crimes that get called in over the radio. Unlike other Grand Theft Auto games, you don't get to shoot everything; friendly fire is impossible. But you can run over city property and civilians without the department getting too upset. There are ninety-five vehicles to drive in the game and at first they all looked basically the same to me, but the longer I remained in 1947, the easier it was to spot cars I hadn't driven yet. For now, I'm still missing five, but there's a Vehicle Showroom available from the main menu where you can see the silhouettes of the ones you've missed.
So, a large 1940s city to roam around in as a cop, but how about the story? Each case is like a different episode on a show, and most of them are very good, and may have you doubting your hunches. Many of them build upon each other, and some of them build upon the main story. The acting is often excellent, with a few minor roles that are just passable; it's probably tough to act like you're actually lying, while trying to also "act" like you're lying enough to give the player a chance, if that makes sense. Some of the cases are rather graphic as well; this is not a game for younger kids. I liked that the DLC was integrated into the game naturally, playing out the same as any other case. And happily, you can re-play every case for a better rating if you missed some clues or botched an interview. The ending is apparently something many didn't like, but when Steam continually presents you with the headline "What's the most disappointed you've been by a game's ending?" in the Recent News that automatically shows up for each game in your Steam Library, you expect something really awful. In my opinion, it wasn't really awful, but could have been better, and was simply appropriate for the genre.
My only real complaint is with the tutorial bit. It let me fail the first interview without giving me a second chance, so I didn't understand how the Lie accusation worked for a while, and many of the "audio cues" it mentions are either way too subtle for me to have ever picked up on, or possibly even nonexistent. L.A. Noire cost me, somewhat sadly, only $3.86 ($8.99 BRL from Nuuvem) in early 2014. This game is worth more than that. Lastly, here are two additional reviews from your fellow assassins, Joe and Sadistic Chicken (who both got a 100% completion!), and if you've already finished the game yourself, here's a fun blooper reel I found on YouTube! (caution: spoilers!)
Some other interesting games beaten…
realMyst: Masterpiece Edition (2014) Originally released in 1993, Myst has definitely withstood the test of time. I remember lamenting its Mac exclusivity then, but it soon arrived on PC, and I played it all the way through …with the help of a guide. I never played 2000’s realMyst update, but with the recent 25th anniversary Kickstarter campaign, my interest was rekindled, and I finally revisited Myst Island. The puzzles are still great (and I don’t need a guide anymore), the world is still intriguing, and the acting is still a little cliched. Apart from missing the pleasant dithered fade transitions, I feel that realMyst: Masterpiece Edition replicates the original game rather well, with updated graphics and a new day/night cycle. Alongside Among the Sleep in a “10th Anniversary” bundle from MacGameStore, it cost me $4.71 in mid-2015. Someday, I’ll also revisit Riven – the only other Myst game I’ve played.
TrickStyle (1999) I played the demo of this hoverboard racer a long time ago, and was excited to get it in Indie Gala’s Friday Special 67 – $1.18 via group buy. The demo was a small area with a few challenges and two characters. The full game has nine characters (I only played with one…), and plenty of challenges that unlock additional moves. The course themes for the races are 2099 London, UK; Manhattan, USA; and Aerial Tokyo, Japan, each with five races and a Boss. The AI’s rubber banding is immediately apparent, making every race a fairly close finish regardless of time, but skill and course memorization are still definitely important. I beat the majority of the game in about four hours, but that last level… it’s tough, and added almost two hours to my playtime. Controller support is partial, but once I switched my Logitech F310 over to D-Input mode, and started the configuration with a keyboard, it worked great. I’d highly recommend finding the PlayStation manual online for additional backstory and the “correct” controller bindings. I didn’t try the split-screen two-player mode. I had fun, but would really only recommend it for nostalgia’s sake.
Forbidden Clicker Party (2018) As idle clickers go, this wasn’t terrible. It still wastes your time, but not for as long as most idle games, and the art really is kinda nice. This was one of several games included in Fanatical’s Hidden Gems 7 bundle for $2.49.
A pair of SG wins beaten…
Home Darkness - Escape (2017)
First off, this is not a hidden object game. On the Steam Store, it’s even officially described as “a classic Hidden Object game […]”, but the creator apparently has no idea what that genre actually is. This is more of the room escape style point-and-click where there are items in the room that you pick up and sometimes combine to move on to another area. Not bad gameplay, but absolutely not a HOG. I reported a misapplied tag for the very first time, but so far it’s still listed with the “Hidden Object” tag in the store. Anyway… the game itself is extremely mediocre. The scenes are all static, the music on a short non-stop loop, and near the ending there are no clues as to what needs to be combined with what; thankfully your options are limited at that point and so it doesn’t take long to make it to the nonsensical and unsatisfying end. Not recommended.
Cyberpunk Arena (2018)
If you want to swim around as a bikini-clad android with some very nicely-rendered sea life in a fairly small area with too much bloom where everything killable dies in two shots regardless of what weapon you use, then this is the perfect game for you. Feels like an asset flip, plays like an asset flip. The multiplayer component was useless while I was on (there may have been other players, or it might have been AI, but in either case they presented no challenge and rarely attacked). There’s a couple of very large creatures that you can’t kill, but there’s nothing in-game to indicate this other than them continuing to not die when you shoot them. Weapon variety sucks. Movement is slow, even as you slowly upgrade. It should take less than my 57 minutes of gameplay to get all 20 achievements, but I exited once and apparently that resets your achievement progress. It didn’t even occur to me until I visited the forums that this might be trying to capitalize off of CD Projekt Red’s upcoming Cyberpunk 2077 – it’s just so obviously not in the same league.
Some Android games beaten…
Realm Grinder (2017)
I went into this one optimisic, based on some reviews declaring that it was different from other idle games, more strategic, and I liked the nice fantasy-themed pixel art. But while the art is nice, and it is different, there’s no animation or audio, and it definitely still becomes a grind. At some point, the Wiki or forums become indispensable; although I’ve never used any “builds” other than my own, achieving some of the trophies requires knowing things that are too obscure without consulting the community. I do like that it syncs between Android and Steam though. One of my first posts here on BLAEO mentions being hopefully nearly done with the game with only two achievements to go. Those last two achievements, one in particular, took me another 10 months. And I’m still not at the (new, and continually updated) endgame. Will I keep it installed? Maybe…
Another Lost Phone (2017)
I haven’t played the first game. This one is from Humble’s 22nd Mobile Bundle. It was fairly short, but nice. I didn’t know what the theme of the game was going in, and I think the message it carries was presented well. There are some codes you’ll have to find in-game to progress, and I should have just kept retracing my steps for one of those, but found a hint instead. If you’re curious about whether the story has an overall positive or negative tone, I’ll include that in spoiler text here… evitisop llarevo .
Sally’s Law (2016)
I believe I picked this one up for free from the Play Store. I don’t yet own it on Steam. The gameplay is fairly casual, with a tiny bit of challenge. The story isn’t too deep, but it’s presented nicely alongside the gameplay. Worth playing in your free time away from a PC, and there are enough levels that it took me a couple of days to finish over a few short sessions.
Kathy Rain - The main update on this post was originally going to be about finishing this one, but time had other plans for me; it’s pretty great so far though!
Meadow - A very peaceful game where you wander around with other random animals (other players) in the world of Sheltered, communicating only with emoticons, and collecting flowers, mushrooms, and other items to get additional personal cosmetic choices.
Cities: Skylines - Installed for Steam’s Spring Cleaning event, I won’t continue anytime soon, only because I know I will get sucked in and spend way too much time on it!
I Am Innocent - A sometimes-frustrating mini-game played within an intriguing guilty-or-innocent storyline.
One year on BLAEO!
Has it really been that long? It’s taken me a while to get to another big game review on BLAEO, and I don’t know my exact join date, but my first post was on the 24th of May, so I’ve been on here for a little over a year now!
How about a little giveaway to celebrate?… I, E, X, U, X – you should know what to do with that!
Dishonored (2012)#8 of 26 (2018)
Dishonored is a game that builds a world. They almost could have called it Dunwall, after the city in which it takes place. But then it might be mistaken for an open world game (like other, elder, Bethesda-published titles named after regions). Dishonored is level-based, but gives you plenty of freedom in how you choose to handle that level. Covert stealthy assassinations, sabotage and trickery, outright open slaughter, or a completely bloodless approach are all on the table for the entire game. I was reminded of many different games while playing, and in this respect, it reminded me of the current Deus Ex games. (Even one of the earliest-encountered passcodes pays tribute to the Deus Ex inspiration.)
Every level in Dishonored has the mixed countenance of older British architectures overlaid with an intrusion of the Combine from Half-Life 2 (slabs of dark girders). And the designers wisely show off how great this style looks whether at dusk, noon, or midnight -- there's one area that you return to often that made these lighting decisions particularly noticeable. The levels are lengthy though, at least on a stealth playthrough. There are often multiple sections to traverse before you get the end-of-level stats screen, and if you're attempting a non-lethal run for the first time, that can start to feel a bit arduous.
I played the game stealthily, and non-lethally my first go around, and I don't recommend that. But part of that non-recommendation is because I began to have some sort of technical issue mid-way through. My settings would reset whenever I loaded a save (which is often, on stealth), and my achievements were no longer working. I'm not certain if this was a result of briefly switching to a keyboard for half a minute instead of a controller one day, having my Steam account open on another computer in the house, not running the game with Administrator rights, or just bad luck with a glitched savegame while rapidly saving and loading (I had one crash-to-desktop from that), but nothing I tried seemed to fix it and the settings not saving seems to be an issue a few people have had. So, my "Clean Hands" and "Ghost" achievements never popped, not to mention the Complete-the-Game achievement. Still, knowing the maps now, I will probably re-attempt those achievements later, but I'll be bypassing all the little nooks and crannies I took the time to explore on my first run. I haven't decided if my next playthrough will be that achievement attempt or a bloody massacre -- both are appealing options, and I still have the DLC content to play as well!
Dishonored also reminded me of the Batman Arkham series -- mostly because Dishonored has a Batman-esque "Detective Mode" called "Dark Vision" where you can see your enemies and important items through walls. I wish that ability wasn't so useful, since it renders the rest of the otherwise dark-but-vivid world a monochromatic sepia. Other abilities include an extremely useful "Blink" for short-distance teleportation, possession, and the ability to summon rats. These "occult" magic abilities were very reminiscent of BioShock, and you even have a mark on your hand like Booker in BioShock Infinite! Apart from Blink, the game lets you choose which (if any) abilities to acquire first -- another score for Dishonored's freedom-of-choice gameplay. I haven't used any of the more lethal abilities yet, and am looking forward to trying them out.
The giant whaling ships in the background, the fringe traces of the occult, the many books, maps, and notes to find, even the rats, and definitely the various characters you interact with (a celebrity voice cast that impressed me on seeing the credits) all work together to bring the world of Dishonored to life. I'm curious to know what other actions I could have taken that may have influenced the outcome of the story, and all of my questions weren't answered, but I was happy with the ending all the same. Arkane Studios did a magnificent job on this game, and as a result I'm that much more looking forward to playing Prey as well!
The complete GOTY edition of Dishonored (single key, of course) cost me $6 from Green Man Gaming in August 2014 -- sort of. A year before that, I won the Void Walker's Arsenal DLC on SteamGifts. But the non-DLC base game came from a very lucky price glitch on GamersGate in December 2012 when the Bethesda New Year's pack was $27.32 for a little while and additionally netted me Doom 3 BFG, Elder Scrolls: Morrowind and Oblivion, Fallouts 3 and New Vegas, Hunted, RAGE, and Rogue Warrior. (I later uselessly re-bought those two Elder Scrolls games because it was a better deal when finally getting the Skyrim DLC in a physical Elder Scrolls Anthology (also a single Steam key). In other words, I hate Bethesda DLC pricing, and I still view that price glitch as pre-emptively getting back at them for having terrible DLC pricing.)
The last time I played Dishonored was right after getting that pack and I only made it through the first level. Again, thank you to the BLAEO community for being part of the encouragement I need to get through the big worthwhile games!
Rusty Lake Roots (2016)
Recently acquired in the Humble Jumbo Bundle 11 at a BTA price of $4.90, I finished Rusty Lake Roots fairly quickly, in one sitting. It’s a great continuation of the mobile series (most of which I have played), and has a really nice focus on the people this time instead of black and white cubes. (Glancing at the achievements I missed, I think the cubes might still be in the game.) If you’re not familiar with the series, it’s basically a pleasantly disturbing and creepy room escape point-and-click type thing – a few simple puzzles and opening drawers and cabinets. I didn’t really like having to swipe the mouse side to side to scroll the scene, but the game was worth my time.
Factorio - Like Kerbal Space Program (of the past…), Factorio’s developers don’t devalue their game and I respect that. It’s been on my wishlist for years, so I just had to get it before the price increase. Liking it so far, although I didn’t expect to be controlling a character. Haven’t built a train yet, but I’ll be there soon in freeplay.
Monaco - This campaign just keeps going and going… it’s a bit exhausting. Where’s the ending?! Still fun though in local co-op, in short bursts.
Super Mario Bros. 3 - For a long time, my girlfriend has been better at this one than me (she grew up with it and I didn’t), but I might be catching up! We’ve made it to World 5 now!
Papers, Please - The Short Film is a good watch. Cool to see the game pretty much re-played in 11 minutes of nicely done movie.
A blurring of focus…
It’s my aim to focus on only one good game at a time, and I often play smaller titles in between. But right now I’m straying into multiple large titles, an old habit that left many games unfinished in years past. Dark Souls is on a slow burn for me, as I haven’t fired it up for a month now after a second visit to Ornstein and Smough to show my girlfriend how hard my face can be bashed against the floor. The Witcher is a bit slow, but mostly because it plays a lot like Skyrim (also unfinished) with a number of side quests piling up. Still, I’ve got steady progress with the White Wolf and will be on Act III soon – I’ve mostly cleared my Act II quests. But now I’ve also (re-)started playing Dishonored, and I’m liking it enough that it’s definitely pulling my attention from either The Witcher or Dark Souls. It doesn’t help that I’m playing as stealthily as I can manage, and non-lethally, which is taking a greater amount of time. So, as a result, I have no big titles from my 26 beaten for this update. But I did manage to beat these other three instead, two of which are even SG wins!…
HunieCam Studio (2016) / In Between (2015) / Human Fall Flat (2016)
HunieCam Studio: I haven’t played HuniePop yet (from the same developers), but if it’s similar to HunieCam Studio, I expect it to have an equally openly-sexual presentation while also remaining a light-hearted title. The subject matter is without a doubt definitely very adult, and the developers obviously aren’t going off of second-hand reports of what a cam show is. The true naughty bits are hidden though, which is fine – I was more curious about how Tycoon-y this game was. And it’s not. You have a limited number of turns to gain as many cam show fans as you can, catering to their fetishes and making your girls attract more fans through photo shoots. Most of this just happens with button clicks and no real fanfare. The challenge is definitely in the achievements, and I might go back to try a few more, but as a game, in spite of the cute sex-positive art, this one’s just a bit above “meh.”
In Between: Mostly, this game reminds me of Braid. If you liked Braid, you very well might like In Between. However, be forewarned that the subject matter of In Between is more morose. The basic gameplay is simple – press a button on one directional stick (I played with a controller), and gravity shifts to that direction. From there, like Braid, the developer expands on the concept. In Between will take you through five stages (evoking the stages of grief), with thirteen levels per stage, although only ten are required. It’s quite a nice game, and so a bit of a shame that the storyline isn’t really a happy one. (Also, it reminds me a lot of VVVVVV, since your main cause of death will be from all those dastardly little spikes on the walls!)
Human: Fall Flat: Nearly twelve hours in two days… not something I expected my girlfriend to put up with, but we had a really good time playing this one completely through in split-screen co-op mode. She had trouble for a while with some of the movement (she’s used to Mario and the basic D-pad in a 2D world), but did better once she switched to the PlayStation/X-Box style Logitech controller while I took the NES/SNES styled one. While you can “cheat” a lot in this game (finding alternate solutions by dragging things from other locations or climbing over walls and such), I found that to be part of the fun, and we mostly tried to solve everything legitimately anyway, keeping in mind that all of the puzzles are also meant to be solvable by a single player. Waddling around like toddlers grabbing onto whatever seems useful, we passed through a really nice variety of low-detail environments. We didn’t enjoy the boat stage so much, but it was a good challenge. Even if you’re not trying to sabotage each other (but more when you are…), it’s great fun, and it was also really nice to have two people trying to come up with solutions for things. Recommended!
Press Start to Continue…
Also, I made a new list for myself. It’s comprised of games that I’ve already beaten, but I’m still fairly interested in going back to. From that list, I re-played through Machinarium since I hadn’t beaten it since they added achievements. I like Amanita Design’s games in general, and I definitely still like Machinarium, especially since you get every single achievement just by finishing it. And so it gets to travel from Beaten back into Completed again!
GUN#7 of 26 (2018)
In 2005, Neversoft, the company most known for their Tony Hawk skateboarding games released GUN, a third-person western shooter. Unfortunately for Neversoft, a different company, most known for their open world GTA games, released Red Dead Revolver the year before, and I remember the comparisons being in the back of everyone’s mind when reviewing Neversoft’s title. As a PC gamer, the argument was moot – RDR was console-exclusive. But the comparisons still contributed to a general feeling of GUN being second best. As an ardent fan of Lucasarts’s 1997 western FPS, Outlaws, I still wanted to give GUN a try, and I finally picked it up in April of 2014, a few months before Neversoft closed forever. It was $5 on Amazon, and I used a gift card that I probably got from internet reward searches.
GUN, like Neversoft’s Tony Hawk titles, is not exactly rough around the edges, so much as smooth around the edges. It sacrifices detail for framerate, and eschews accuracy in favor of gameplay. The entire world is about the size of a decent theme park, and crammed into that space is Kansas, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and all the landscape of the 1800s in between including hoodoos, valleys, plains, mountains, rivers, canyons, and mines. Since the game is relatively short, the size of the world is actually very apt, and you don’t see the same location too often unless you’re also doing all of the side quests.
I feel like the designers had a list of everything they wanted in a western game and crammed as much of it in as they possibly could. In my first four or five hours, I had ridden horses, gotten into gunfights with (heavily stereotyped) Native Americans and other bad guys using pistols, rifles, and shotguns, caroused with whores, got deputized, rode a riverboat, trampled people and aggressive wild animals on horseback, raced a horse, protected a group of Chinese laborers, mined gold, drank liquor, cheated at poker, herded cattle, hunted bounties, got betrayed, lied to, and nearly killed numerous times, and finally got thrown into prison where me and my fellow inmates staged a prison break. A number of those things are one-off story moments, and others are things you’ll be doing a lot of, but GUN does manage to bring a lot of fun western tropes into its presentation. Being set in the 1800s though, some parts of the game feel heavily racist, but the main character has a generally good moral compass on that front.
Technically, the game ran very well most of the time on my Windows 7 machine, after using a widescreen fix and controller mappings from the Steam community. Your mileage may vary… I do remember the mouse cursor being way off from where it was actually focused in the menus, but once you get your controller mapped, this isn’t really a problem. Also, I definitely recommend using a controller for this game. This would be one of those games designed in that era where PC was something of an afterthought. Aiming may have been easier with the mouse, but there’s some auto-aim happening too, so it doesn’t matter too much once you get used to it.
I have a lot of nostalgia for Lucasarts’s Outlaws, but have never played any of the Red Dead games. GUN’s pretty great in comparison, but doesn’t quite have the heart that Outlaws did. I feel like traversing the story in GUN because it’s just plain fun, where in Outlaws I wanted to get to the end because it was important to the main character. But Outlaws is very dated now, probably hasn’t aged well, and isn’t (yet?) on Steam. Also, I not only completed the story for GUN, but even took an extra four hours to finish all of the side missions (HLTB times were actually accurate for once!) and completed the game to 100% because I just wanted to play some more. So, on PC, GUN is definitely not a bad choice for getting a western fix. Maybe play the Outlaws soundtrack in the background though.
P.S. Don’t leave the animal hunts to the very end – they’re one of the few things without a waypoint.
P.P.S. Save often, just in case.
P.P.P.S. You can drift your horse like a car.
Beat Party Hard Go on Android.
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