currently playing: plague inc evolved
i have my unplayed steam library categorized by which bundle they came from plus a general unplayed category for games i acquired by themselves. for the most part i choose my new games from the oldest bundles but i let some i’m more excited about skip ahead, and ignore some that don’t look interesting.
i didn’t really expect a game focused on typing to be much of a game, but wow did i ever enjoy epistory! the two-handed movement controls were pretty cool once i got used to them, and i appreciated not needing to move my hands when going into battle mode where you have to type words as fast as you can. i can type pretty quickly, but that’s less true when what i’m typing is a bunch of random words versus sentences or at least phrases. maybe that’s not true for everyone, so if you’re faster at typing random (usually short) words you might get the two words-per-minute achievements i didn’t.
from the title i expected the story to be about writing, or to at least have a lot of focus on story. while it wasn’t what i expected, it definitely pulled me into its world and the vague struggle it seemed to portray. i wouldn’t say i came out having experienced a story, but i definitely got to explore an interesting world. i definitely recommend this one!
my third time getting into eufloria came with me finally completing the story mode. i first started before eufloria hd existed with the regular eufloria and i think eventually got stuck and just stopped playing. then eufloria hd came out and i got it free since i had eufloria, so i started over with that and apparently got just two levels away from the end of story mode before getting distracted away with something else.
the visuals and sounds were the strong points of eufloria for me. it almost feels like a casual RTS but i basically always ended up waiting for my seedlings to build up to where i had more than my neighbor and then sent them in to fight — very little paying attention to what the AI was doing and reacting to it. i guess sometimes it’s nice to play something slower-paced, and eufloria is definitely relaxing and pretty chill. i didn’t get enough out of it to recommend adding it to your backlog, so this one goes on the mediocre pile.
since CAYNE is a free game similar to the non-free STASIS, i was expecting a fairly mediocre experience. turned out i liked this one better though! the isometric view for a horror game still mostly makes the horrors feel far away, even when your character is standing right next to something horrifying. the melted fuse puzzle stood out as an example of how would you ever figure that out on your own, but for the most part the others made sense.
i enjoyed the story and exploration, especially the twist at the end which had me wondering why i hadn’t realized it at the beginning. while the name CAYNE will mean something to STASIS players coming in, you definitely don’t need to play STASIS first. i’m not actually sure which game happened first chronologically.
i definitely recommend CAYNE to anyone who enjoys horror and point and click. it’s free, so you already have access to it!
pretty sure i got this one episode at a time before it came to steam, and finally got around to playing it. i think my experience with the blackwell series helped get me excited for another point and click starring a red-haired woman. in the first act of the first episode things were already pretty gruesome, and each episode had plenty of that. maybe a little extreme for some but it made sense in the story.
most of the cut scenes were in this really great comic book style, which looked so good i was a little disappointed to get back to the bad 3d of the playable game. it gets seriously ugly at points with characters moving awkwardly and faces and body parts stretching and overlapping to distraction. the voice acting occasionally didn’t sound natural or quite match the feeling of the story. it was inconsistent about when it let me skip dialog, and would pop up unnecessary tutorial text that stayed up long enough for me to read 3 times.
it did well with the important parts for me though — interesting murder cases and an overarching story i could really get into with good puzzles. it’s definitely not one of the more polished adventure games i’ve played, but i had a good time with it.
with all the dlc maps there’s really a lot here! i played the main story on all the campaigns but didn’t bother with the various challenge modes. i’m a little sad to be done with it! i won this on steamgifts and then bought a bundle that included it later, then a few years after that actually started playing it. like most tower defense there are a set number of towers and the first few levels each tend to give you a new tower type, then most of the levels after that let you have all of them. there’s the variation you’d expect in tower defense enemies and tower that work better / worse depending on enemy type. while i built mostly gun towers i found it was much more effective to work in some towers that did heat, area of affect, or air damage too.
i appreciated the companion’s voice calling out what was coming next or getting excited about towers being effective. it’s possible that made it even more satisfying to build an effective system of towers. while it sometimes frustrated me, the time it took to add or upgrade a tower made an interesting strategic element. i often found myself waiting for a gap between waves before upgrading, or upgrading towers from a group one at a time so i didn’t lose too much firepower by taking them all down to upgrade at once. eventually i started using the checkpoint feature to go back and try something different, which is a nice way to let you really optimize your design if you’re into that (i got more into that the further i got).
the biggest downsides for me were that the maps are 3d but all you can do is zoom in and out. sometimes it’s hard to tell if a tower spot is too high or low to hit the path (definitely went back to a checkpoint a couple times because a tower didn’t reach where i wanted it to). a few maps even have paths that are go underneath other parts of the map, and it would have been nice to be able to tilt the camera angle to check if anybody was there.
if you enjoy tower defense games and somehow haven’t tried defense grid you definitely should. i have defense grid 2 on my wishlist but who knows when my backlog will reach a point where it makes sense to buy it!
hacker evolution: untold is a lot like the first hacker evolution game but a little less good. it adds a deletelogs command which i like, but the story isn’t as interesting. not sure if this was in the first game too, but the menus are sometimes weird. you can’t actually select your save to load it using the keyboard; i had to use my mouse. it’s a mostly keyboard-driven game.
just as in the first hacker evolution, i found myself wanting to optimize how i played each level for the smallest possible trace. nothing useful on that server? don’t bother hacking it. found an exploit for a service i already cracked? restart and get the exploit first. it also has a lot of waiting for decrypt and crack commands to complete, which you can make better by upgrading your components, but then you might accidentally spend too much to be able to lower your trace enough.
i enjoy hacking games, but uplink does it a lot better than the hacker evolution series. i’m still planning to play the last game in the trilogy because a mediocre hacking game is still a hacking game.
i like to play horror games when the nights are longer. stasis was my first one this season, and i was looking forward to it also being point & click. it even says it was named best adventure game of 2015, so that’s probably a good sign. unfortunately the writing and voice acting were not very impressive, and the isometric perspective kept me further from the horror than i was hoping for. i was interested enough in the story to keep going though, and most of the puzzles were reasonable. i got stuck for a while not realizing there was an exit at the bottom of the screen and had a couple puzzles where i still don’t know why the item i ended up using actually made sense to use there. i liked the way that you could make the wrong choice or wait too long in a dangerous spot and die complete with an animation, but wasn’t impressed by the items you could use on yourself to commit suicide. the idea that the main character would choose to give up in that way fit, but most of the suicide animations didn’t actually seem possible.
statis is pretty middle-of-the-road for me. i wouldn’t recommend buying it by itself but if you pick it up in a bundle maybe give it a shot.
i extended my enjoyment of halloween this year by starting costume quest the week after. while costume quest didn’t live up to my expectations, i still had a good time playing through it and the included dlc campaign. the dialog wasn’t voiced and was usually on a timer. i think it would let you skip the whole thing but i wanted to read it all and it wouldn’t let me advance to the next line after i finished the line that was showing, so i had to just sit back and wait. each area of the game has you doing the same things, just with a different visual theme and some new costumes to choose from.
my favorite part is the costumes – each time i unlocked a new one i was excited to see what it would do in battle. battle stamps are also a nice way to change things up (my self-resurrecting unicorn who could resurrect other characters felt pretty unstoppable). since you’re mostly against the same enemies (except for boss fights) you’ll probably just pick the strongest combination and go with that, or maybe your first character will be whichever map ability you needed last.
overall i’d recommend playing this if you want to get a little bit into a halloween world that would almost certainly have appealed to you when you were trick-or-treating age. if you don’t care about the halloween theme though you can probably have a better time playing a different turn-based rpg.
the ball starts out showcasing its weird storytelling and not-so-good voice acting, but then it shows off its nice (though mostly the same color) graphics and gives you the titular ball. then the puzzles start, and the puzzles are the part that kept me wanting to play almost all the way to the end. it was a little too long to hold my attention the whole time. i played all the way through the campaign but then didn’t have any interest in trying out the survival mode.
it almost feels like a co-op game where your partner is the ball. that’s actually pretty cool and they do some interesting things with it like sometimes lock the ball out of reach and suddenly you’re defenseless and just really want it back. it doesn’t feel mean or anything; you just solve the next puzzle either without the ball or by guiding it indirectly and then you get it back.
the puzzles don’t appear to have multiple solutions and the gameplay felt mostly linear, but the puzzles were still satisfying. i recommend checking out the ball to anyone who likes puzzle games and doesn’t mind if they don’t really have a story.
i had some playtime in anodyne because it was one of the first games to get steam trading cards. hadn’t actually gone beyond the main menu until recently though. i always thought it looked interesting as it stared at me from the top of my badges page, so i finally decided to actually try it out. it felt like what i wanted the original zelda to be for me, which i never really played because i couldn’t save (maybe i should try it through an emulator though).
anodyne does great with storytelling, graphics / sound, and exploration. there’s even some extra exploration at the end to find additional cards using the last tool you get, but that was a bit too much exploring for me so i just used a guide. the only achievement i didn’t get is one about doing it again but within a time limit. i’m not much of a speedrunner.
while the length felt right to me, it might be a little short for $10. if it’s in your backlog though i definitely recommend giving it a shot, and if you’re in a position to buy more games i’d watch for a sale on this one.