Cluster of Games, Part 1

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In an attempt to reduce my enormous essays on the games I play, I’ve decided to try taking a cue from my game series with short sessions and use the same format. Each of these types of blog posts will be a cluster of five games. Maybe it will only be for the really short games while the lengthy games will be getting their own blog posts – I’m not quite sure about that yet. Guess I’ll figure it out as I go along.

  • Among the Sleep
  • Beyond Eyes

More games will be appended here as I play them.

Playing PC Games

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Today I thought, why not let the first blog post of 2021 be sort of a rambling post. Some personal opinions, things going on in my life – you know, the purpose blogs actually served in the first place. In fact, I’ve been thinking about letting it become a regular series to take over the diminishing posts about PC games.

And then, what better place to start than with that – PC games.

Oh no, you might be thinking. This is going to be one of those blog posts where he denounces playing video games ever again. Well, not quite. Maybe. Sort of. It’s complicated.

The thing is, the past few couple of years it’s actually been a struggle for me to write these blog posts about PC games. Having to take abundant notes while playing, lots of screenshots, writing the blog post, inserting the right images. It’s not just playing a game as relaxation like watching a movie for me. I need to have this on the side to make PC games mean something special to me.

Recently, I’ve been asking myself a question. Have you actually enjoyed playing the latest five or ten games you played? I thought about that for a few days. At first I took a look at the blog posts I wrote about those games and admitted to myself that, why yes, I did get at least a little bit of joy out of playing these games. So, maybe it is still worth doing? Well, the problem is exactly the amount of work I just described in the previous paragraph. So what I needed to do was to ask myself the right question:

Does the joy I get out of a PC game match the work I have to prepare for its blog post?

Corpse of Discovery

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Developer: Phosphor Games | Released: 2015 | Genre: Adventure, First Person

Although this was another one on the brink of being called a walking simulator facile adventure, it had enough exploration with jump puzzles, goals in the distance, and the rare searchlight monster to avoid, to just about make it a proper first person adventure.

I was an astronaut alone in a small space station, which was a series of tubes with a blurry holographic communicator for messages from the wife and kids. There were also the typical lab, the greenhouse, the computer room and the briefing room. This part of the game was certainly facile. I could merely click a few hotspots for explanations and get a briefing for exploring the planet outside in a space suit.

The game had a smattering of Groundhog Day about it. I explored the vast areas of a planet running around, double-jumping – later using a jet pack that had to recharge after a few seconds – running towards goals that were each about a kilometer away. After finding about half a dozen of these, the space suit ran out of oxygen and I awoke back in my bed in the space station. After getting the next holographic family message, it was off to explore the next planet.

And so it adhered to this template for a total of six planets.

The Beginner’s Guide

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Developer: Everything Unlimited | Released: 2015 | Genre: Adventure, Facile

This was a short walking simulator facile adventure again by the same developer that also created The Stanley Parable. His style in level design and narrative was unmistakable right from the first few sentences. But where his previous games had a conscious focus on humor and sarcasm, this game was a little more serious. A least most of the time.

The developer himself narrated consistently all the way through the less then two hours it took to play it through. He told about his friend Coda and the small first person games he created, each presented in a linear manner with usually nothing to do but move forward and listen. Sometimes there was one door switch puzzle that was sometimes repeated, and I even had a rifle two times for a very short time.

There were 17 chapters (including an epilogue) and the levels were amazingly varied.

What I Played in 2001

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This is a new series related to my previous attempts at transcribing my diary sessions to this blog format. I did a couple of those starting with The Beginning of the Millennium (2000-2001) and then the two single posts about Outcast played in 2001 and Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare played in 2011.

Since it’s a lot of work transcribing the diary sessions, I’ve decided to make this series instead with just a sentence or two for each game, along with a small gallery of six screenshots and the rating bar from my page with all the PC Games I’ve played. The screenshots will be my own unless stated otherwise.

Short Sessions, Part 2

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This is another post in my series about the odd games that I would normally discard, but which I have decided to at least try out for up to an hour. It may have been free games, games given to me by a friend that had several keys of the same game to give away, or games that for other reasons just kind of popped up in e.g. my Steam library without me knowing how they ever got there in the first place.

  • Woodle Tree Adventures
  • Evil Pumpkin: The Lost Halloween
  • Orborun
  • SpaceChem
  • Kingdom: Classic

The Fall

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Developer: Over The Moon | Released: 2014 | Genre: Adventure, Side-scrolling

March 13, 2020

This turned out to be a side-scrolling adventure game with a smattering of cover shooter. The dark graphics and the strong ambient soundscape immediately reminded me of The Swapper.

I fell to a planet as what looked like an android or a robot, only surviving the friction of the atmosphere due to a nifty antimatter shield. I crashed through the surface and into a dungeon of underground corridors. It turned out the “robot” was actually a suit around a real human, but because he (?) was injured and now unconscious after the fall, the AI of the suit had taken over and was now in charge.

An autonomous suit walking around with a knocked out human inside. That was certainly unique.

The game was mostly an adventure game. I had to turn on a flashlight that could be moved around with a mouse, and only when shining on a hotspot did it go interactive. I could then use this item, use something on it, or use a network action which first had to be activated in my suit at a later time. In fact, the suit had a lot of cool abilities that were restricted and thus turned off at first.

Cradle

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Developer: Flying Cafe for Semianimals | Released: 2015 | Genre: Adventure, First Person

Inspired by the update in the previous blog post about The Talos Principle, I have decided I’ll switch to full diary style, adding to the same blog post as I play more sessions of a game. I realize this is quite uncommon – normally blog posts are a one-shot article and then never updated again – but I’ve already had exceptions to this rule.

Another reason is that I’ve never felt that I’ve found a really solid template for writing my impressions about the games I play. This new diary style can thus serve as another experiment in trying to find my voice.

Perhaps needless to say, there will be spoilers in this new diary style.

March 7, 2020

This game was only five years old? The way it started, i.e. in a window, maximum 2K resolution, options all reset and with a tiny menu text, made it feel older at first. For some strange reason the music was also turned down to zero. But other than adjusting all this, it seemed to work fine in Windows 10.

I “woke up” (whoever I was) with an amnesiac hangover inside a small Mongolian yurt, which is sort of a circular tent. Control was in first person with no body awareness. The level of detail in this tent was quite impressive. There was a ton of stuff to go through, picking up some things for my inventory. Left mouse click held an item in my hands at first, and a hotkey then put it away in my small inventory.

The Talos Principle

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Developer: Croteam | Released: 2014 | Genre: Puzzle, First Person

March 4, 2020

I’ve played a couple of hours of this first person puzzle game. It’s quite long – about 15-30 hours depending on your puzzle fu – and I’ve decided that the game is too samey to warrant completing. Also, I’ve heard a rumor that there’s a countdown in the end. Groan.

But other than that, I actually liked a lot about it. I’ve had it a long time in my backlog with comments about it being sort of a spiritual sibling to The Witness, but that’s not quite warranted. It has actually much more in common with the Portal series, spawning and moving stuff in small areas to get the sigil.

Playing as a robot in first person, I was spawned in environmental ruins that looked like the perfect home for Serious Sam. This was not too surprising as it’s the same developer. Using the same type of level design and even the fast walk and sprint speeds seemed a bit lazy to begin with, but it looked good and ran very smoothly in 4K resolution on my five year old PC.

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

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Developer: Starbreeze Studios | Released: 2013 | Genre: Adventure, 3D

This was a cute and easy adventure climbing/puzzle game I wish I could have completed.

UPDATE: This game was so endearing that I actually went out and bought a gamepad so I could complete it. And it was worth it. It had unique fantasy settings and a strong emotional impact. I’ve expanded the blog post.

The premise was quite unusual – a single player coop game. Now how did that work? Well, I controlled two brothers simultaneously, with each there own set of direction-and-action keys. Sometimes they had to help each other, like the big brother giving little brother a hand to reach an edge, or they had to cooperate, like moving something that required them both pushing the same pole.

The game had easy coop puzzles that I could usually figure out on the spot, which was lovingly relaxing. The story was also simple. An adult (probably their dad) was ill and the doctor sent the two boys on a journey to fetch the remedy. This took place in a fantasy world not entirely unlike that of the Fable series. We went through a village, fields, farms, dungeons, rivers, castles, and much more.

The game had a strong caveat from the developer that a gamepad was required. If you know my gaming habits from previous blog posts, you’ll know that I never used a gamepad. Always keyboard and mouse. I’ve completed a few games that were notorious for being neigh impossible without a gamepad, just to prove that it could be done after all – for example, ABZÛ.

However, after about a little more than an hour, I decided to bite the bullet.