Read more “Wasteland 2: Director’s Cut”
Developer: inXile Entertainment | Released: 2015 | Genre: RPG, Turn-based
Even though I never played much of the first Wasteland game, I still backed this one. It looked really promising, but the reports of it being difficult kept me postponing it – until today. And I’m happy to say that even playing it so late to the party, I was still grabbed by it and found it really atmospheric.
At least until California.
Taking place in a post-apocalyptic world, it felt like much more of an earnest successor to Fallout 2 than the games Bethesda produced after buying the rights to the franchise.
I played with the preset party featuring Pills, Slick, Bear and Cold-Eye. It started with General Vargas giving my party their first assignment as Desert Rangers – figure out how Ace died while putting repeater units on three radio towers in the wasteland, complete his job, and optionally revenge him. I made sure to accept Angela Deth as my fifth party member, and into the wasteland we ventured.
The atmosphere was excellent. The music and the ambient sounds were spot on, and the random radio calls from someone asking for help an excellent detail. In between the settlements I was traversing a larger map and it was important that our water supply would suffice. This is also where random encounters could happen, or we had to cross nasty clouds with radiation.
In the settlements themselves, it was typical party management and turn-based combat. It felt like I was allowed to move around further each turn than in other turn-based games, which was great for reaching cover behind crates or stones. I won’t get into too much of the story here, but the dialog with NPC’s were well written and their settlements had interesting quests and tasks to do.
Read more “Moebius: Empire Rising”
Developer: Pinkerton Road Studio | Released: 2014 | Genre: Adventure, Point & Click
I’ve completed the three Gabriel Knight games many years ago and gained a solid respect for Jane Jensen’s writing. That’s also why I backed the Kickstarter campaign for it in 2013. However, since its release it has received a mixed bag of reviews and it always had me avoid it in the Steam backlog.
Until now. And I confess that once again, it was originally my intention to play it for an hour or so and then dump it into my series about Short Sessions. The 3D models was not exactly doing it any favors.
But in spite of the mediocre walking animation, lip sync and those crazy eyeballs of persons trying to look behind their own ears, the story and the analyzing puzzles quickly grabbed me.
The protagonist, Malachi Rector, was a Sherlock Holmes kind of guy with a very high IQ. As an expert in antiquities with a photographic memory, he was sometimes hired to evaluate new antique findings, which he then ruthlessly declared to be trash. In spite of his elegant demeanor, he was sometimes belittling requests and sarcastically denounced objects around him. And he was regularly taking pills.
I immediately liked him.
Read more “Divinity: Original Sin – Enhanced Edition”
Developer: Larian Studios | Released: 2015 | Genre: RPG, Turn-based
It’s been a long time since I’ve played a long and relatively complicated CRPG. I think the last RPG with loads of skills and talents to adjust every level was The Witcher 3 in 2016. And if we’re talking party-based and isometric, I probably have to go all the way back to Neverwinter Nights 2 in 2014.
Suffice to say I’m a bit rusty when it comes to these RPG beasts.
Luckily, this game made it easy for me to grease those rusty RPG cogs. No doubt this game is a product of a developer who really cares about what they’re doing. Almost everything about it oozes of quality. Sensible windows with inventory, attributes and skills. Hotkeys and controls that for the most are easy to use and make sense, and tutorial tips that pops up right when we need their information.
You could even adjust number of auto- and quicksaves up to a whopping 25 files.
Read more “SpaceVenture”
Developer: Two Guys From Andromeda | Released: 2022 | Genre: Adventure, Point & Click
I was a Kickstarter backer on this one and was sent the game by the developers. For some reason it’s not on Steam, but I think I can guess why. If it’s what I think it is, perhaps it never will be. Why?
Because it’s a buggy mess with a daft user interface.
This was a game I really had to force myself to complete. The characters, the story, most of the puzzles, the humor and the graphics were all excellent. If only the user interface and bugs had not been a problem, it could have been a gem worth recommending to all adventure game fans.
The game itself was a spiritual successor to the Space Quest series, and it was even developed by the same two guys. Instead of a buffoon like Roger Wilco, the hero in this one, Ace Hardway, was more of a seasoned plumber with a rumbling voice. He reminded me of a similar character in the platform game Rochard. Ace also had a mechanical dog called Rooster with an extendable tongue for grappling things from afar.
Read more “Obduction”
Developer: Cyan Worlds | Released: 2016 | Genre: Adventure, First Person
This was a non-linear first person adventure made by the creators of Myst and its many sequels. I was a backer when it was announced as a Kickstarter campaign a few years ago. Although Obduction has its own story that doesn’t have anything in common with Myst, it didn’t take long before I discovered that it was very much a spiritual kinsgame. Cyan Worlds didn’t stray away from their field of excellence.
In this game, the big domes replaced the ages (or islands) in Myst, but they were just as environmentally diverse, and the world got bigger and more prone to me getting stuck, the more doors I unlocked.
After a quick abduction I arrived in a sandy canyon with bubbly pieces of human structures from various points of recent human history. A cute network of trolley rails were intersecting it all, and there were a lot of locked doors. No humans, except C.W., who only mentioned very broad tasks through a door window whenever I had made substantial progress. I had to figure out almost everything on my own.
It took me about 20-21 hours to complete this game. It could have been done in about 12-15 hours, but I was stuck for several hours on a couple of occasions. The world got quite enormous when there were three alien domes to navigate between. After unlocking a few doors and getting the trolley running on the rails, the general puzzle mechanic was almost always finding and opening more stuff.
Read more “Dreamfall Chapters: Book One”
Developer: Red Thread Games | Released: 2014 | Genre: Adventure, 3D
Completed the first book of five which took less than 5 hours. Maybe I’ll settle with that. Not sure yet.
I completed The Longest Journey and Dreamfall back in the day, but it’s been way too long. 12 years. I could barely remember the cliffhanger in the end of the previous one. The beginning with Zoë Castillo in a coma made me question why she ended up like that, as did Kian Alvane in jail.
At least I remembered April Ryan’s fate all too well. I was hoping she somehow survived that. 🙁
Book One was a relaxing and very easy third person game with mouse look. There were few inventory items, and they could be combined. Dialog choices were floating words with thoughts read out loud when hovering on them. There were also decisions to make that were clearly inspired by Telltale Games. Lots of finger-shaking indications about how this earth tilting choice would be remembered for all eternity.
I had a journal where experiences were dotted down, a sheet with profiles (which wasn’t updating quite as much as I would have liked it to) and RPG style goals in the side. Beautiful music too.
The graphics were excellent. Most of the first book took place in an open small city section of the cloudy Europolis where I could walk around and marvel at the busy life. No detail was spared, from colorful neon ads to overhearing discussions and wishing I could walk further than the force fields at the end of certain streets. It almost felt like being dumped into Deus Ex Light.
If anything, I was almost missing some more interaction in the city. I could access a cowboy street map or get a few words out of vendors, but not much more than that outside of quest tasks. It’s funny how this is a balancing act. Lots of things to do – Assassin’s Creed – and it’s too much. Too little and the city could risk getting stale and boring fast. It must be difficult getting this just right.
Read more “Consortium”
Developer: Interdimensional Games | Released: 2014 | Genre: RPG, First Person
This was an FPS+ on a big plane promising to be somewhat akin to Deus Ex, with multiple paths and dialog choices. I pledged $20 for its failed Kickstarter back when it was announced in 2014.
It turned out to be sort of a virtual reality game where I inhabited the body of a soldier on a hi-tech plane in the future, already flying high above the ground. Everything took place on this plane and it took me just over 4 hours to play through it, making it feel like a DLC for another game. In truth, the game is to be construed as an intro for a trilogy of games – the next one taking place around a big tower.
But truth be told, I’m pretty sure I’ll stop after this introduction as there were quite a number of things I didn’t like about it. The ironic thing is, bugs are actually not on that list. Playing this game so many years later means patches must have ironed out most of them.
Developer: Crescent Moon Games | Released: 2014 | Genre: Platform, Adventure
This was one of those I pledged to on Kickstarter. I played about an hour of this game before I had seen enough. The retro pixel graphics had a wonderful depth of 3D parallax and the atmosphere was generally excellent, held up by weather effects and some nice music. It reminded me a little bit of Forbidden Forest on Commodore 64, and quite a lot of Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP.
I was surprised about the level of complexity. Although the deer was mostly running and double-jumping, there were blocks to push, skills to put on an invisible action bar, even a quest about finding a monocle for an old man. I had to speed into bushes to see if it popped out of one. Speeding head on into things was also how most animals were killed. Hedgehogs, foxes, pigs, even human hunters – same attack. Or I could just jump over and outrun them. The deer grew older, the longer I went along without dying.
But dying is exactly where the game went wrong and I eventually didn’t bother to complete it. Although it did autosave here and there (mostly at the old mans huts) the distance back was way too long. At the end of the hour I continuously retried the same long trip half a dozen times, and I don’t consider myself all that much of a slouch when it comes to platform jumping. Okay, maybe sometimes, but not enough to warrant being punished by sending me that far back each time.
Abandoned after 0.9 hours.
|Diff / Cht
The Deer God
2014 Crescent Moon Games(0h 49m) 1
Read more “Broken Age”
Developer: Double Fine Productions | Released: 2014 | Genre: Adventure, Point & Click
I’m tweaking the format once again. Although I’ll keep it organized it in the same way as the last time, I’ll refrain from using headers to split up the review. I’ll also try to keep the smaller paragraphs in the minutia list only.
Here’s an adventure game that really succeeded in warming up and grabbing me in spite of a lackluster first impression. At first I thought it felt too much like a kids game. Bright colors, toys everywhere and a childish dialog. But as the first few hours passed by, not only did it manage to come up with a lot of great dialog, it also had that type of equivocal quality that Pixar animation movies also have – something of value for both kids and adults alike. The adventure game atmosphere became very solid across part 1 and 2, and the art style and animation was truly unique. In my mind there was no doubt about it – when compared to Broken Sword 5 or the Deponia trilogy, this was clearly the superior game. I didn’t even think I had it in me to like an adventure game this much anymore. I thought I had become irrevocably jaded.
As you can see in the screenshots, the art style truly was quite unique. It was also supported by a lot of excellent animations. Eyes blinking and gazing just like in Pixar movies (I love that stuff) and lots of extra details, such as only catching hold of a thing after fumbling around, almost dropping it. One thing I thought they overdid was the head scratching animation when choosing a dialog tree question.
The engine scrolled with detailed parallax and also zoomed very frequently, sometimes excessively when entering a new scene. The music was fully symphonic and of equally high quality. Orchestral music. Voices were delivered by a lot of top actors such as e.g. Elijah Wood, Jack Black, Wil Wheaton and Jennifer Hale. All in all, the presentation was top notch. If I had to put my finger on one thing, it would be the zoom level of characters in cutscenes. It was close up, as if it wanted to cater for the tablet people. On my big widescreen PC monitor, this was a bit much.