All work and no play makes ’drill a dumb boy mandrill’s profile

Hi there!

I’m mandrill and it seems like my plan for conquering my backlog is making a website for conquering backlogs. Instead of actually spending my free time playing games. Something is wrong about that plan, haven’t yet found out what that could be.

Ok, a little bit more serious. I pick batches of SteamGifts wins, because they deserve to be played. I keep mixing in other games that I’m in the mood for or that I recently bought – can’t restrain myself too much (and don’t want to). Oh and then there’s the monthly group themes, I like the incitement, so I play some of those, too.

Yes, it does get a little too much. There’s usually about 5 games I’m “currently playing”, and the site helps me being aware of that – well most importantly, it makes me think twice before abandoning yet another unfinished game :)

Pixel Puzzles 2: Anime

16 hours playtime

27 of 27 achievements

Mini update … another ancient SG win completed.

Not much to say about this. You probably know that game series. It’s just jigsaw puzzles. Not sure what’s distinctively “pixel” about them (don’t worry, no rant this time). I’m also not sure what’s “anime” about this one – I’ll have to take their word for it and assume those were random characters from random anime that I wouldn’t know. But really, they looked like arbitrary original creations to me, and the only thing, well, animated is that annoying hint-spraying fairy that always hovers above the exact pieces I want.

Now I’m confuzzled.

… well anyway, who doesn’t like jigsaws. Good to waste some time and give your thinking noodles some time off.

Oh wow, that short break from posting about completions took … 2 years already … huh.

The Last Door - Collector's Edition

4 hours playtime

16 of 16 achievements

When I first learned about this game – I’m not sure anymore, but that might have been when I “researched” whether or not to enter the giveaway – I had my doubts. Everyone was all about how great the writing was, but omg that art style.

Let’s start off with a semi-related rant. I have nothing against synthetic pixely looks. I mean, 320 by 200 was bleeding edge when I grew up. I really have a soft spot for games that summon the nostalgia. If they do it right. If. Because … those pixels … they don’t rotate. And they don’t scale. That just doesn’t make sense. If your game has “pixels” of random sizes turning freely and moving in smaller-than-grid steps, then you are doing it wrong and you are a bad person AND I HATE YOU. Seriously, that’s not an art style. That’s just a bad looking excuse for being a lazy artist. Also, FFS, if you decided you wanted to be a retro pixel guy, don’t wuss out and add high res stuff in places.</rant>

So, there’s obviously a reason for that rant. This game does all of that. The high res version of the main logo (that you can see on the thumbnail) was seemingly too much work to not use, so it’s plastered over a pixely background in the main menu. The “standard pixel” in the game is HUGE, no way to have readable text with that, so all text (and all UI stuff, iirc) is half-pixeled. And on 2 occurrences “pixels” were freely rotated (rain falling, photographs laid out). Now you might say “huh mandrill, calm down, it sounds like they did it right for the most part?”. And you are right, they did and I’m overly sensitive. Because they were really close to drawing a work of art but then signed it with a penis.

Because this game is actually great. There are so many bad Lovecraftian horror games – this one does its Poe/Lovecraft really, really well. The storytelling is great, the music is great, and the atmosphere is all there. And flaws aside, the art style really fits, too. The point & click gameplay is on the easy side, with unsurprising and logical “recipes”. When stuff fails, you get actual explanations why – those make it too easy at times, but I like that better than either failing silently or just working when it really shouldn’t (trying to cut wall carpet with broken mirror piece: “you can’t do that, you’ll cut your hand”). I might have played too many HOGs.

Oh and because having 14 out of 16 achievements bothered me, I cheated a bit and read one of those guides on Steam. Finding that one missing secret (and collecting the other achievement on the way) took 5 minutes – if you’re not too holy to cheat, I’d actually recommend doing that. Because that secret I missed answered an open question … with another question … in a cool and spooky way. :)

House of Caravan
House of Caravan

2 hours playtime

5 of 5 achievements


4 hours playtime

6 of 10 achievements

I finished two more SG wins today. House of Caravan was nice enough – I’ve seen this described as “drawer opening simulator”, and … it is. Not really much to do, but the atmosphere works well enough, so it was ok for the time it took to complete.
Putrefaction is awful. Like, really, really, awful. I’m not even sure why I forced myself to suffer through this. Completion would take another playthrough (beating it on insane doesn’t unlock the achievement for beating it on hard, because … that would be insane I guess), so I don’t think I’ll bother.


34 hours playtime

25 of 46 achievements

I finished DOOM and came close to completing all the single player stuff. I’m missing 4 or 5 collectibles and optional objectives, I hope to return to that stuff in the next days. Still missing a lot of multiplayer (and DLC, and arcade mode) achievements, but those can wait.
The game was great. I loved Doom 1 and 2 back in the day – and it’s baffling how much this feels like those. I played Doom 3 when it came out for, I don’t know, maybe 10 minutes, so I don’t know much about it, but I’m told it’s closer to Dead Space. Well this one isn’t. It’s fast-paced mindless slaughtering, and it’s so full of nostalgic moments, and it made me recognize so many things that I still remembered as clunky 2D pixel sprites … I was a little afraid they’d botch this game, but I really feel they didn’t. It’s a modern game, 20 years of computer graphics and gameplay happened in the mean time, but it’s all nicely added without losing the “spirit” of the game … Yeah I’m raving. I realize I’m probably a little over the top, and I’m sure there are lots of people who absolutely hate this game and say it’s nothing like 1 or 2 at all (definitely not like 3).
The shortest summary I can give for anyone who loved 1 and 2: The achievements for unlocking all runes and all weapon upgrades are named IDDQD and IDKFA. And those names are perfect: when you go back to the first levels after unlocking all that stuff, that’s just what it feels like. It’s just so much fun … (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, google it. And don’t tell anyone. Being too young is the only excuse – in my childhood, those were the true konami codes.)

So … this leaves me with 1 screenshot left for the monthly challenge. I don’t think I’ll find a game to grab this fast … meh, maybe I’ll just play some more DOOM.

Overlord II
Overlord II

39 hours playtime

no achievements

I completed Overlord II yesterday … Actually feels like the second time – when I abandoned my first playthrough years ago I can’t have been more than 1 hour from the end. Anyway, I didn’t remember too much and so I started over.
It’s a nice enough game. Setting out to wreak havoc with those pesky misbehaved minions is good fun, but the game isn’t particularly challenging. The solution to all the “puzzles” is pretty obvious, if you even care to call them that. It’s still entertaining, but it does get old after a short while. And … well I remember I really enjoyed Overlord 1, but 2 doesn’t really add anything notable, and the crude humor I enjoyed in 1 seems somewhat more silly in 2 – maybe it’s just me, but 2 made me groan about bad jokes just as much as laugh about good ones. Those elven dudes are particularly not funny. And those Roman guys weren’t either – I liked the whole setting a lot less than 1’s.
So … all in all the game was ok – doesn’t feel like wasted gaming time at all, but after Overlord 1 this sequel feels pretty unnecessary.

Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon
Far Cry® 3 Blood Dragon

12 hours playtime

no achievements

I forgot to mention why I picked up Overlord in the first place: I realized that this month’s theme was a good opportunity to return to some abandoned games that I knew would have the stuff I was looking for. Now, what better place to look for Lasers and Neon than Far Cry 3 Blood Dragonyeah ok I didn’t find that Neon. Wow, this game is really great.
I’m generally a bit uneasy with open world games – I mean, I would like to like them, and I usually enjoy them, but … they are just too much for my ocd-ish exploring perfectionism. Thanks to the sheer vastness most of them are so proud of, I tend to abandon these games after a short while, and every time that’s massively dissatisfying.
But this game … the world is much smaller than vanilla Far Cry 3’s (much too big and repetitive, see above) – as far as I’m concerned, it’s just the right size. And the game itself: This is so the perfect 80s trash action movie goodness. No wait. It’s trash action movie plus a heap of snarky self-deprecating sarcasm. It’s really, really great. If you enjoyed Kung Fury, you will love this game.
This game has Uplay achievements and I’m still missing the last one, so for now I marked it beaten. Will return to kill 2 more dragons shooting laser beams from their eyes, because why wouldn’t they sometime soon for the meaningless stupid Uplay 100%.

So … I think I’m at 14/20 for the theme now. Yay :)

The Darkness II
The Darkness II

19 hours playtime

50 of 50 achievements

I completed The Darkness II yesterday. I thoroughly enjoyed it – enough to play through twice (because, well, one of the achievements is finishing a new game+). I liked the graphics style. The weapons and skills make for a really fun mindless shooter berzerking experience. And the Vendetta characters (more achievements!) offer nice playstyle variations.

The story is ok, I guess; it could have been so much more, but it just wasn’t. At least it didn’t disturb the “mindlessly shooting” part. And at some points the story or some side stuff was really funny. (Well at other points it tried but wasn’t, at least not for me. But it didn’t fail too badly.)

Finally … negative stuff. Actually these are really big things, writing this I’m surprised that I still enjoyed the game as much.

  1. First thing that really bothered me was the low quality German audio. Compression artifacts and all that. It’s probably not even that bad, but … well, once you notice, you just can’t unhear stuff like that. This is not the first game with this problem – but the usual fix would be to just switch to English. Yeeeeah … can’t do that. I guess my key is region locked.
  2. What was actually a lot worse was the horribly broken blurry vision thing. See, there are moments in this game when the screen goes all blurry. At first I thought it would happen when I get hit and/or look into some light – that’s probably what it’s supposed to be, but nope, most of the time it’s unrelated. It’s not really depth of field either (blurred backdrop for the crispy stuff you look at). Whatever it is, it just happens, stays for a few moments, and then goes away completely unmotivated. It wouldn’t even be too bad, but …
  3. You hide from the light in this game. Lights are blinding and weaken you, so you do your best to get rid of all the lamps. This works great in the single player story. In the Vendetta missions … yeah not so much. The scene lighting is generally not as good, and there are so much more lights you just can’t destroy – you are forced to handle whole fights in the light, which is something you just don’t do in the single player. Ever. But the worst thing about this: Remember that broken blurry vision thing? … Yeah there are moments when you can’t see anything. At all. For 30 seconds. Because blinded+blur=whiteout.

I realize I spent more time complaining than praising (again), so I feel I have to repeat: I enjoyed this game, I don’t think it’s bad at all. And I made heaps of screenshots for 5 or 6 different things for the monthly theme, at some point I’ll have to decide which 4 I’ll use :)

Orion: A Sci-Fi Visual Novel
Orion: A Sci-Fi Visual Novel

3 hours playtime

no achievements

Looks like I finally played (and completed) a visual novel :) Douglas gave this to me (out of nowhere, thanks once more :) and I remember he said this was his favorite VN. Since this was my first, I can’t really compare it to others, and I’m really not sure what was just “the usual genre stuff” and what was specific to this one. Hum. I’ll just try to guess a bit :)

So … let’s start with the easy stuff: The art in the game was nice. I can’t really say much else about this – I liked it. There was voice acting for all of the dialogues, and I was surprised how good it was. When there are undertitles in games, I tend to skip through because I’m not always patient enough to wait 30 seconds to hear what I read in 3 – but for this game I hardly did that. There is no voice acting for inner monologue and narration though – but I don’t see that as a bad thing, I probably wouldn’t have had the patience for that.

I don’t think I can say much about the story without spoiling anything. Well I can say I liked it. The story arcs had completely different themes, I didn’t really expect that. I had thought this would be more about “branch off but return to the general topic later”, but it really wasn’t. Ummm … I also liked how some “meta aspects” were integrated/explaind in the story, but I really can’t say what I’m talking about, sorry :P I’m a little curious whether that’s a usual thing in VNs, but I guess I’ll just find out when I play another VN some time :)

Ok so … something strange happened and I have to tell someone.

I haven’t played Tomb of Tyrants in 9 months. But it seems Steam was pregnant this whole time and just gave birth to an achievement. Without the game even running.

To the Moon
To the Moon

4 hours playtime

1 of 1 achievements

I started and finished To the Moon yesterday. I had no idea what the game was about – I may have read, it seemed familiar, but I must have forgotten – and wow, that was unexpectedly great.

The game is labelled “adventure” in the Steam store, and it kinda is, but it’s so light on the “active gameplay” and so much focused on the story, it could just as well be a kinetic VN. (Disclaimer: I still haven’t played a VN, so that’s probably not what those are at all. … don’t listen to me.) I probably wouldn’t have played it (yet) if I had known before, but I’m glad I did.

… still have to play the two free “minisodes” for the game before I’ll mark it completed. Guess I’ll do that tomorrow, or maybe even today if they are really short. … and then, maybe I’ll play a real VN. Because writing this I realized I probably should, just so I know what I’m talking about next time. :)

Murdered: Soul Suspect
Murdered: Soul Suspect

12 hours playtime

46 of 48 achievements

Long time no post …

Didn’t really get much done this month, but I started playing Murdered: Soul Suspect sometime this week and just finished it. It wasn’t great, but I still liked it.
The story is ok, could have been great but turned out somewhat simple – it was a little annoying though that the main character is sooo slow in understanding what’s going on. I’m not sure if the authors just grossly underestimated the players, or if someone thought it would be a good idea to have the player solve the “mystery” literally hours before the character does. Stupid either way.

The collectibles in this game are a little annoying since there are no area specific counts – you don’t know if you cleared an area or where to look for missing stuff. Luckily the collectibles are rather easy to find, I got all but 4 without any backtracking. What’s really annoying is that some of them are missable (“investigation clues” count towards the achievements, you can’t repeat investigations but finish them without all the clues). There aren’t any savegames either, only the one autosave, so for the 100% I’d have to replay the whole game. Oh well. Oops, seems I was totally wrong on this. Well, some collectibles are missable once you triggered the final “chapter”, but that’s about it.

Anyway, all flaws aside it is still a very nice game and I enjoyed it.

I also completed Nightmares from the Deep 2: The Siren's Call yesterday, which is just your standard Artifex Mundi HOG – nothing really remarkable, but still nice. And finally, I finished Solar Flux last weekend – still a lot to do for the 100%, but it got a little tedious. Maybe some other time.

So … all in all that makes 3 SteamGifts wins removed from the backlog. Yay!