Read more “Short Sessions, Part 1”
During my time on Steam, I’ve received the odd game here and there that didn’t necessarily align with my own taste in genres. 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.
Instead of just discarding these game straight away, I thought I might at least play them for about half an hour or so, now that I have them anyway. Who knows, maybe one of them would turn out to be a surprise that I would actually want to finish.
This will be the first in a series of blog posts.
- The Adventures of Shuggy
- Battlefield 3
- Canyon Capers
- Burnout Paradise: The Ultimate Box
- Rage Parking Simulator 2016
Read more “The Book of Unwritten Tales”
Developer: King Art | Released: 2009 | Genre: Adventure, Point & Click
I played roughly the first two and a half hours of this one before I called it quits. It was an oldskool point-and-click fantasy adventure with good voice acting and excellent backgrounds. It was also quite easy. You could hold down space to reveal all hotspots, and although inventory items were aplenty, the cursor only went red when something could be combined or used on a hotspot.
This also got rid of the dismissing comments for trying everything. Everybody wins.
In fact, the adventure game was so charming and relaxing that I understand all the praise it has received in reviews. I know this is starting to become a cliché, but had this been 15-20 years ago, I would have swallowed this game whole. But today, I’m worn out on adventure games and it has to offer something really special to keep me in the zone. And that was the problem with this game. Although it did have its moments of inspired ideas, there were not enough of them, and the dialogs were missing a little more of the reckless quality found in the classics.
In other words, the game was missing a bit more bite.
Read more “Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture”
Developer: The Chinese Room | Released: 2016 | Genre: Adventure, Facile
This was not just a walking simulator, but also the spiritual successor to Dear Esther from the same developer – one of the games that spawned that genre description.
And this time were were very literal about the first word in this game.
It was made in the same 3D engine used for Far Cry and Crysis. I explored a reasonably big English village totally devoid of people, with abandoned cars, still smoking cigarettes, and hot cups of tea. The game used a peculiar mix of a wide open non-linear town combined with the desire to lead me around in a linear manner, and to help with that, glowing “ghost” spheres were sometimes floating around, guiding me to new locations with more story to unveil.
The story was told in the form of placeholders made of light points representing the humans that originally had a conversion in various spots. Typically just a casual talk, a lovers quarrel or musings about a strange nose bleeding flu taking over the town. Most of these lasted barely half a minute or so and then I was on my way again, looking for the next scene.
Read more “Outlast”
Developer: Red Barrels | Released: 2013 | Genre: Adventure, Horror
I played over an hour of this horror sneaker, up until I was given an injection and put in a small cell. That was after the part where I had to restore power in the basement. I’m not a good demographic for horror games anymore, though. It takes a lot to scare an old geezer like me anymore. Sure, the jump scares can get me, but anyone can be surprised by a sudden shout in the neck.
Also, the hiding in the lockers reminded me too much of Alien: Isolation.
But the game was still well done. Good graphics, solid sound work, and the body awareness with hands and all was nice. Armed with only a camcorder, I could film stuff to take notes and switch on the night vision, which was frequently required in the often pitch black mental hospital. Sometimes there was a monster roaming an area, like the cellar where I had to turn on two gas pumps and a main breaker to restore power. Lots of sneaking and running around there.
There was a strange part in the beginning where I had to sneak past a few sitting brutes watching snow on a bloodstained television. They must have seen me, but they ignored me. I’m not sure if the fact that I had to do this was good design. If only I had felt the horror of this sequence.
Developer: Crows Crows Crows | Released: 2015 | Genre: Adventure, Facile
This is probably one of the shortest narrative PC games I’ve ever completed. It barely took 20 minutes for one playthrough. Good thing it was free.
It was made by the same developer that made the hilarious The Stanley Parable, which I enjoyed back in 2014. However, this small spiritual successor was not as funny nor as imaginative. It had a meddlesome narrator again, commenting on my good or bad choices, but there were barely a few rooms to navigate with doors kept closed until it was time to move on.
All right, there were perhaps a few mild laughs from continuously hanging up phones, and the idea of pulling levers and pressing buttons to keep the real video game player behind the curtains busy was a great idea, but the length and the few rooms barely made it feel like a small DLC.
I started a second playthrough to check out the tape recorder and the audition tapes, but they were a little too forced and boring for my liking. I quit the game as I entered the tiger room.
Maybe the novelty of The Stanley Parable has already worn off.
Read more “The Wolf Among Us”
Developer: Telltale Games | Released: 2013 | Genre: Adventure, 3D
It took me precisely two hours to complete the first of five episodes in this cel shaded adventure game from the creators of a similar adventure game for The Walking Dead. It used the same 3D engine and a lot of the same rules and a heavy focus on story and dialog.
I won’t be going into the details of the story much. Fairy tale characters are living in New York, some are morphed into humans, some still resembling the fantasy animals they were. I controlled Sheriff Bigby Wolf, investigating clues found at murder scenes and sometimes pursuing or fighting brutes in action scenes with lots of arduous QTE popping up all over the place.
Bigby himself reminded me so much of Wolverine. They could have been twin brothers.
The dialog is typically around four choices with a timeout of varying length. Sometimes it was too short for me to make a proper decision, making me feel like a slowpoke. A few times I even had a choice of two locations or actions to decide between, and it actually seemed like putting one of the locations on hold had grave consequences.
Read more “Associations: Teleporter Spheres”
In Obduction, the excellent first person adventure game I completed last month, teleporting between domes replaced the matter in the shape of a small sphere. This explained when discovering other spheres of solid rock with crevices in them – even if some of them didn’t have a teleporter device in them.
Here are two examples from the game.
Developer: Dominique Grieshofer | Released: 2015 | Genre: Platform, First Person
If you want a game with small and relaxing sessions to do once in a while, this is a great choice.
I did one session that took just a tad below half an hour, and it was easy and delightful. It’s a first person platform game with no story attached to it. Usually platform jumping doesn’t always work that well in first person, but it actually works reasonably fine here. Also, you can’t die in this game.
The purpose is to jump on a few pylons and step on a big red button to raise a set more from the sea, including another red button among them. Sometimes another pylon has a red cube to munch up. There are sometimes yellow elevator platforms or jump pads, and the wall jumping from pylon to pylon feels right. It is also possible (and sometimes necessary) to dive down into the water.
When all red buttons are activated, stepping on the last yellow one zooms up the camera for a view of the entire cluster. And if you also touch all the top surfaces (marking them with grass) you get fireworks.
To spice things up further, there are sometimes tubes that can swoop you to the other side of it, and some red buttons may be slightly hidden and require crouching or swimming up from below. However, they always have a red beam pointing into the sky so they’re always easy to spot.
The game is designed to be replayed. Maybe I’ll do it again later.
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2015 Dominique Grieshofer~30m 1
Read more “35MM”
Developer: Носков Сергей | Released: 2016 | Genre: Adventure, First Person
This game was full of surprises. It started out with a way too long slow walk through a forest, me and a buddy of few words, making it look like a boring
walking simulator facile adventure, but after the almost six hours it took to complete it, it had also been a real adventure game with objects to find, puzzles to solve, a railroad trolley to ride, and at times even a genuine FPS with a gun or an assault rifle.
Sometimes the game reminded me of I Am Alive, sometimes of INFRA.
It was a bleak first person adventure with a notebook for keeping tabs of inventory icons. Damage or fatigue had to be fixed with medikits or food and a flashlight needed batteries. My buddy usually dictated the direction to walk, but I was free to break off and explore the areas for loot. I could cut ropes on door handles for access or take completely pointless pictures with an old camera.
Sometimes a rare QTE made me mash buttons to complete a cutscene, like winning a fist fight.
The game honestly had too much exploration of areas for way too little loot. There were sometimes several houses or even floors in buildings where I had to search dark rooms for loot, yet too often it was rarer than finding visitors for this blog. There were also traps. After a few exploding deaths I learned to look for wires in door openings that could be cut with my knife.
After a few levels of solitude, my buddy and I started meeting people. There were no dialog trees, but there were often small talks, letters to read, a puzzle, or a task like finding a car battery to power something.
Then evil people started showing up.
Developer: Maxime Vézina | Released: 2016 | Genre: Puzzle, First Person
This was a free first person puzzle game akin to the genre that Portal and its sequel gave rise to. Just like Parallax, the also excessively white first person puzzle game I tried last month, it was devoid of any story and just felt like a series of training levels. I was actually contemplating leaving it for the same reason, but before I knew it, it was all over. It barely took even an hour to complete its eight chapters.
Each challenge room had a set of red piston surfaces I could shoot for them to slide out. Some I had to walk on, some could push me into the air and maybe onto a platform, another might give me a sideways boost. I had limited energy too, meaning that not too many red pistons could be out and about. Sometimes I had to look back and shoot a few to contract them.
The challenges were quite diverse. Some had me thinking about how to arrange the red pistons for me to traverse the room. Some blocked lethal red lasers. Other challenges had a timer for e.g. resetting doors or pistons, and those were of course my least favorite type. Especially a nasty room with a slowly rising grid of red lasers had me fumbling and dying repeatedly. I almost left the game at that point.
It was clearly the worst room in the entire game.
In the later chapters, a swirling corridor could turn the previous room upside down, although this was barely used twice. And as the game was about to end, a small smattering of a story suddenly appeared by having to shut down a reactor and then flee the electronic lava rising everywhere. Again dexterity was required, but it actually wasn’t that bad. After two or three retries I was past it, and it was often fun. The game also started having checkpoints in the middle of some challenge rooms.
I just wish the developer had also added one in the room with the rising grid of red lasers.
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2016 Maxime Vézina58m 1