The Call of Juarez Series

Read more “The Call of Juarez Series”

I’ve always wanted to try out the trilogy of the Call of Juarez western FPS games by Techland. It’s sort of another leftover from when I was deep into video games many years ago. I’ve had Gunslinger from 2013 in my Steam library for quite a while, and last week I bought the two oldest games from 2006 and 2009 cheap on sale. So with all three games in hand, I decided to try them out back to back.

I won’t be playing The Cartel since it’s not a western. Besides, it received a lot of negative reviews.

Call of Juarez

Developer: Techland | Released: 2006 | Genre: FPS, Western

Quite an old FPS by now, it’s the first in the series in Techland’s in-house Chrome Engine. Steam started the game in DirectX 9, but a tech site recommended I started an executable file for DirectX 10, since it would look a lot better in that. They were right – the lighting was much better, and the grass more dense.

When I published the first version of this blog post, I actually didn’t want to complete this game.

It’s not because the gameplay scared me away. Sure, it had its share of annoying features such as forced stealth, time limits, excessive reloading and bullet sponge enemies, but it didn’t seem too unfair and I still wanted to experience the game. However, there were issues of a more technical nature.

Still Playing PC Games

Read more “Still Playing PC Games”

I was reading a blog post I wrote two years and decided it’s time for an update.

So I didn’t dial down on playing PC games, eventually giving it up as I was pondering. As you can see in the latest couple of pages in this blog, I’ve actually played quite a lot in my recent Christmas vacation.

There has been a few changes for the better.

First, and probably most important, I’m getting better at making my writings shorter. Cutting to the chase and leaving out the fat. It’s a difficult art to master and I certainly overdid it for many years. I think I’m finally starting to find a balance that works. But it’s still work in progress, and probably always will be.

Another thing I’ve really learned is to leave games behind and not have this intense desire to complete it at all costs. This was exactly my biggest problem back when I was obsessed with PC games about twenty years ago. No matter how bad, how difficult or how amateurish, I absolutely needed to complete it. It was so important to me that I gained another tick in my spreadsheet of conquests.

Luckily, I’ve managed to shake that obsession today. It helps that many games I play are already very short, often less than 3-4 hours. But no matter the length, it really has to grab me before I decide to see it to the end. Another reason is that it helps reducing my backlog a lot. As most everyone else with a backlog, I also have a desire to eliminate it. I want to see what I payed for, even if on sale.

Verde Station

Read more “Verde Station”

Developer: Duelboot | Released: 2014 | Genre: Adventure, Facile

This one barely took an hour to get through – I almost put it in a Short Sessions blog post instead.

It felt crude and simple in the beginning, like a small fan mission for e.g. Half-Life. I woke up in a space station – all alone of course – and walked from a bed room to a greenhouse, then to a lounge, the kitchen, and back into the greenhouse. I was about to quit at that point, but then I noticed that something was different. Turned out that time had passed when looping through the sections.

This immediately made the experience more interesting. I kept circling around in the sections to observe the changes. This led to a new location and a surprise. And as a free game, I’d say the surprise is worth giving it a shot – just don’t expect awesomeness.

TIMEframe

Read more “TIMEframe”

Developer: Random Seed Games | Released: 2015 | Genre: Adventure, Facile

A very short walking simulator facile adventure. It took me about 66 minutes to get through it.

I spawned in the middle of a big desert area and had to find more than a dozen points of interest. Usually temples, cities and huge statues with an object to click for a screen of white text. Time was slowed down significantly and that gave me a few minutes to seek out two or three of the points before an asteroid brought upon the apocalypse. It was not possible to visit all points in one session alone.

Oh, the irony. I just came from Outer Wilds, another game that gave me limited time to explore before a celestial event annihilated everything – forcing me to start over again.

Now, the day after, I happened to play another game with the exact same core idea.

Tacoma

Read more “Tacoma”

Developer: The Fullbright Company | Released: 2017 | Genre: Adventure, Facile

I’d say this is one of the best of its kind, if you’re into walking simulators facile adventures.

As a female investigator I arrived at a big space station orbiting Earth. A crew of six had gone missing after a breach of oxygen and loss of communication, and it was my job to find out what happened. But due to the nature of this genre, it was pretty much devoid of actual puzzles or action.

I could enter three major sections of the space station in a specific order and play back AR recordings of the ghostly appearances of the crew members. It was even possible to rewind and fast forward while walking between their spacetime placeholders. Sometimes I could access their AR logs and mail system too. The only thing that required a little bit of attention was if a 4-digit code for a door was revealed.

I bet this game would be great with Virtual Reality goggles.

The Turing Test

Read more “The Turing Test”

Developer: Bulkhead Interactive | Released: 2016 | Genre: Puzzle, First Person

Another Portal clone. I really liked this one – it felt so polished. Objects could be lifted and rotated, but when you hit the same hotkey again, it was put back exactly as it was found – it wasn’t just dropped to be shuffled around by gravity like in other games. Handles could be moved when holding down the mouse button and then moving the mouse. And the watching robot had a wonderful “Jeremy Irons” voice.

It all made for a great first impression.

The actual gimmick was surprisingly unsophisticated. Instead of a gun with a magical superpower, I could merely suck or shoot energy spheres into large sockets. Sometimes also move a box with an energy sphere locked up inside. Both activated something, like a door, a bridge, a light laser – all the kind of stuff you usually find in these games. The puzzles were good and for the most part not too difficult.

At least up until the final two chapters where the bigger areas were dominating.

Subject 13

Read more “Subject 13”

Developer: Paul Cuisset | Released: 2015 | Genre: Adventure, Point & Click

Next up in my (barely diminishing) backlog was this adventure game by the creator of the classic platformer Flashback, which is probably why I bought it cheap on sale some years ago.

It turned out to be unremarkable, with a just touch of 3D viewing and ungraceful controls.

The game started with the attempted suicide of the protagonist, Franklin, who then awakens in a pod on an island where a robotic voice wants him to solve puzzles. There were four chapters lasting about 6 hours for me, starting in a laboratory and then continuing outside on the island itself.

Each of the chapters had typically 2-3 screens. Both the screens and most zoomed-in locations had a subtle touch of 3D viewing around an object, or at least a little bit to the sides. This was actually confusing in the beginning of the game and had me overlook some points of interest because they were hidden behind an object. Interacting with an object was also weird by having me open a few icons with a mouse button and then dragging the mouse in the direction of the chosen icon.

This reminded me of Fahrenheit that I tried recently, where something like this was also required.

Scanner Sombre

Read more “Scanner Sombre”

Developer: Introversion Software | Released: 2017 | Genre: Adventure, Exploration

Finally a game that made me very happy to still be a PC gamer. This one was fascinating and had me glued to the screen for the two hours it lasted. Sure, that’s not exactly long – but the main gimmick does get a little exhausting and so I was actually glad it wasn’t longer.

As a first person exploration game, I spawned in a tent in the bottom of an enormous cave system. The tent itself had the only static light in the entire game. Outside, I picked up VR goggles and a hand-held scanner. The scanner could be activated to shoot out a cluster of lasers for drawing dots on the walls of the cave. Holding the scanner in the same direction added more dots for more details.

It was quite clever and immediately made the cave feel deep, vast and unexplored.