Read more “Etherborn”
Developer: Altered Matter | Released: 2019 | Genre: Platform, Puzzle
Another short one. Took me less than 3½ hours. Not that I mind – I like short games these days. I’m trying to dry out my backlog, so it’s usually either that or a sample for my blog series about short sessions.
Etherborn was a third person puzzle platform game with a beautiful art style. The rules were actually quite simple. I could change the direction of gravity by walking around certain curved edges, changing floors into walls or ceilings. Gems picked up could be put in placeholders to e.g. slide out a bridge, swoosh in a piece of additional level structure, or raise a set of stairs from a pool of acid.
This was the second game I played with my Xbox One gamepad. The subtly tilted or skewed camera angles didn’t work well with keyboard and mouse. Good thing I’ve found my peace with gamepads.
For the most part I enjoyed this casual game. Apart from the brilliant graphics and a generally good feel of controlling the transparent silent protagonist, the music was also exquisite. I especially liked how the music moved into complex jazz chords in the the most intricate parts of the fourth level. That was fitting.
The game did have some issues, though.
Developer: thatgamecompany | Released: 2020 | Genre: Adventure, 3D
Being a PC gamer I’m quite late to this exploration game, but now that I’ve played it, I sure understand why everybody have been so excited about it. It was pure bliss. Like playing in an interactive series of the best wallpaper art you can imagine. No words – just amazing violins and cellos.
The basic rules were as simple as the controls. I could move (sometimes glide down sand dunes) and gain a limited floating ability by touching strips of living cloth. A strip on my back worked as an energy bar for it. Sometimes I reached and chimed at an altar and watched a history emerging on a wall.
I could meet other players too. There was no exchange – they were just sort of there.
The art, the level design and the lighting was fantastic. The hot desert in the beginning had layers of sand rustling across the dunes. As I got closer to a mountain, snow took over. There were even blizzards where I sometimes had to seek cover to avoid a setback. Later I also had to sort of sneak past big rock birds. If their spotlight found me, a laser beam blasted me backwards. There was no dying in this game.
It took me less than 2 hours to reach the end. Short, but definitely worth it.
Read more “Short Sessions, Part 4”
This is another post in my series about the odd games that I have decided not to complete, although I will at least try them out for up to an hour. This no longer just applies to free games or games given to me by a friend that had several keys of the same game to give away. It now also applies to games that I just didn’t feel like continuing. I want the game to really grab me before I want to see the end of it.
Read more “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”
A question I’ve been asked from time to time about my web site DeepSID is how the SID composers in the MUSICIANS folders have been divided according to the quality of their songs.
All of the composer folders in each letter folder inside MUSICIANS have received a rating from 1-5 stars. I then decided that a certain amount of stars, say 3, determines that the composer is at least okay, maybe even good. If the rating is 4 or more, it’s a great composer.
This was done because I needed this division for at least three features of DeepSID:
- The list of recommendations, available from a link in the top line.
- The “All”, “Decent” and “Good” sort options for every MUSICIANS letter folder.
- Jumping to a random composer of a decent quality from the front page.
I knew that judging the composers to fit these three features would be a sensitive area. Even a minefield. I thought for a while about how I wanted to proceed doing this. I really wanted to involve a lot of people, but there were complications. Let’s go through each of these.
Read more “Homesick”
Developer: Lucky Pause | Released: 2015 | Genre: Adventure, First PersonSpoilers: Puzzles
This first person adventure looked crazy good. Yes, it was mostly gray and samey corridors and dilapidated apartments, but the level of detail was marvelous. In one of the bigger halls, the wallpaper was coiling off the walls in the most convincing manner, I have ever seen in a video game.
It was also relaxing for the most part, although it wasn’t just a
walking simulator facile adventure.
I woke up in a bed in an apartment complex where the sun coming through the windows was unpleasant. Getting too close oversaturated the light in a hurtful way. Some corridors had too many windows and thus were impossible to traverse. The dilapidated state of everything made it look like something straight out of Pripyat near Chernobyl. Of course none of the switches or faucets worked.
And to make matters even worse, the papers and books found everywhere were written in gibberish.
Read more “Short Sessions, Part 3”
This is another post in my series about the games I only taste for an hour or even less. Originally it was meant for the odd games that I would normally discard anyway such as 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.
However, as I’ve grown even less enthusiastic about games, I’ve decided to expand this to whatever I just don’t feel like continuing, even if it’s a game I originally intended for a larger fate. The reasons may be many and perhaps sometimes even petty, but I’ve decided that I want the game to really grab me before I want to see the end of it. This also means that you may be seeing a lot more of these posts in the future.
Read more “Free Will”
One of the things I want to believe in is free will.
I understand the arguments by scientists claiming how everything could have evolved in a predictable manner since the big bang. It does make sense. Even down to the decision making processes in the brain and how we can’t see into the future, everything could still be set in stone. It’s a frightening thought, right? Even if you decided to test it knowing all this, that decision could still be set in stone too.
Among all the scientific books, articles and YouTube videos I’ve read and watched, there always seems to be a consensus that it’s either free will or determinism. It’s a little disappointing that some of my favorite scientists often vote for the latter, but as mentioned before – there are good arguments for it.
But what if it’s not as simple as a binary choice?
Sometimes I ponder the idea that epic proportions of complexity can somehow diminish determinism. After layers upon layers of complexity, the universe is so incredibly intricate that it doesn’t make any sense to think of determinism anymore. Although it’s still predictable, the information is so massive that you would not be able to predict all outcomes, even if you invented a computer the size of a galaxy.
Read more “RiME”
Developer: Tequila Works | Released: 2017 | Genre: Adventure, Puzzle
This charming third person adventure came very close to making me relive the pure fondness I had for PC games almost two decades ago. Now I understand why Nicouse found it so enchanting.
In fact, it was so beautiful and imaginative that I just can’t for the life of me understand why so many of the professional review sites mashed it down to typically a rating of 6-7. It’s a crime, plain and simple. A typical complaint is that the game feels too much like boring busywork solving puzzles barely challenging at all, but that’s not fair. Although it’s true that many of its puzzles were fairly pedestrian, the game really did its best to vary the rules and surroundings, and the level graphics were often epic and jaw dropping.
I wonder if some of those cynical game reviewers weren’t just worn down veterans?
The story was quite simple, almost non-existent, until the final hour of the 6+ hours it took me to complete it. A boy was washed ashore on a small island and I had to run around, shouting at figurines to make their energy empower an avatar in the middle. There was no dialog. It’s true what they said – the inspiration of games like Ico was quite apparent, and the climbing was virtually Tomb Raider.
Read more “Beyond Eyes”
Developer: Tiger & Squid | Released: 2015 | Genre: Adventure, Facile
Regarding brightness, this game was the polar opposite of Among the Sleep. Here white was consistently dominating the screen. It was short – about two hours, including one level restart because of a bug.
Rae, a little girl blind after an accident, had to go look for her friend, Nani – which was an orange cat. The game was quite unique in the way it used her blindness as a gimmick. I was walking her around removing white “fog of war” that was drawn depending on being in close vicinity. Sometimes, a noise in the distance could temporarily show a hotspot, like a woodpecker working a tree or a church bell. There were also permanent hotspots created by constant sounds such as a streaming river or a waterfall.
Most of the game was about finding my way through fields and a village, uncovering white fog. Sometimes she was smelling the cat thus showing where to go next, and there were very light tasks such as throwing bread for seagulls to get out of the way, or fetching a ball for another girl.
Read more “Among the Sleep”
Developer: Krillbite Studio | Released: 2014 | Genre: Adventure, Horror
This was a short first person horror adventure in control of a little toddler that could barely walk. After a birthday cake from mum and a later put to sleep, the majority of the game went through surrealistic set pieces with elements from the house itself. Most of the game was very dark with a lot of walking/crawling, sometimes with light puzzles like dragging a chair to climb on or finding “memories” for a portal.
I’ve said it before and I’ll repeat it again – I’m not really fit for horror games or movies anymore. I’ve become completely numb. I really should stop touching this genre.
Nevertheless I bought the game and I am trying to work through my backlog.
But in spite of the absence of screaming in my apartment, the game did its best with a spooky atmosphere, it didn’t go crazy with cheap jump scares, and the ambient sounds were really good. Humans that can still experience the feeling of horror may find a lot to like here.