Read more “Perspective”
Developer: Widdershins | Released: 2012 | Genre: Platform, Puzzle
Cute little puzzle platformer that only took me 1½ hours to get through. It’s free on Steam. User reviewers there claim it took them an hour or less to get through it. I also admit I was almost stuck a few times, but eventually I always figured it out. But take heed – this is no walk in the park.
The gimmick in this one was controlling the perspective for a 2D space guy. I switched between 3D mode for adjusting the perspective in first person, like lining up platforms close to each other, then switched back to controlling the space guy for jumping across. There were blue graphics for walking and jumping on, while all orange graphics killed the space guy if touched.
Read more “Trine 2”
Developer: Frozenbyte | Released: 2011 | Genre: Platform, Puzzle
I started this sequel shortly after adding a diary blog post about the first Trine, which I completed back in 2012. That was of course the reason I transferred that, so I could refer back to that blog post.
The sequel was basically more of the same, with only a few tweaks. It had the same trio that I could freely switch between – the wizard Amadeus, the knight Pontius, and the thief Zoya.
Again the wizard could conjure metallic crates out of thin air and also levitate the things the developers allowed me to move. The knight could smash through certain barriers, fight with a sword or a hammer, and protect himself with a shield that could have its direction adjusted with the mouse. The thief could shoot arrows with various strengths, and also shoot a grappling hook for swinging to the other side.
And again the graphics was total eyegasm, with lots of exquisitely animating details. It was brighter and more saturated – perhaps too much for some, but I didn’t mind that. It looked great to me.
The wizard could now both levitate certain objects and also rotate them with left/right hotkeys. There were puzzles with air blown out of pipes where I could levitate a bent piece of pipe, rotate it to fit properly, then attach it to blow wind in another direction. This could then lift a character upwards. This was a cute idea that made good use of the levitation ability. Later the pipes could also be used for fire.
Read more “Trine”
Developer: Frozenbyte | Released: 2009 | Genre: Platform, Puzzle
This is a post in a nostalgic series with transcriptions of my diary sessions of the games I played many years ago, translated and adapted from Danish. There will be spoilers in these diary sessions.
Once again I’m back with this series again after another long hiatus. I’m going to try a few snazzy things this time. First, I’ll let Google Translate turn the Danish text into English, since it’s probably much better at it than I am these days anyway. I still have to adapt it here and there, though. Second, I’ll post this with the publish date of when I completed the game. Hopefully that will make more chronological sense.
July 30, 2012
I managed to play the first 5 levels out of a total of 16 over two rounds today. Trine was a sideways puzzle platform game, but in a very nice 3D engine with good lighting (typically wavy and sliding all over) and with nice background music and themes. The game scrolled from right to left in levels with checkpoints (so no quickload) and it was also a little harder than what I had heard.
I controlled three characters which I could switch between in the heat of battle – a wizard, a thief and a knight. With a wizard I could draw boxes and later planks in the air that materialized and fell to the ground. Then they could e.g. be stacked or squash a skeleton. It was also possible to lift certain things up with levitation, such as a platform on rails in the ceiling. A thief could swing a loose rope shot up into certain selected pieces of wood under the ceiling, or I could fire an arrow – the longer I held the button, the more powerful. And finally, a knight could strike with a sword, protect himself with a shield against arrows and sword swings, and I could lift and throw heavy things.
Puzzles, platforms and the enemies along the way required regular switching between all three characters, but it often seemed like there were multiple solutions. Still, I often fell down in the same place and had to try again and again, and here the lack of quickload was quite annoying.
Read more “Never Alone”
Developer: Upper One Games | Released: 2014 | Genre: Platform, Puzzle
This was a cute puzzle platform game with a small Eskimo girl and a white fox. It sometimes felt like it was inspired by both ICO and Limbo. It could be played either as a true co-operation game, or single player by alternating the two characters. The latter worked well enough on its own.
The game itself was a side-scrolling puzzle platform in very convincing icy landscapes with a cold blizzard sometimes delivering gusts of wind that made it necessary to crouch down. Jumping and climbing was very easy for a while, in fact so much that it felt like it almost belonged in the facile adventure genre.
It didn’t last – it became plenty challenging.
Without spoiling too much, I was fleeing an ice bear on several occasions, a bad guy throwing fireballs, there were cooperation puzzles, even swimming through tunnels. The girl soon got hold of a bola to throw at targets – like ice to break it down or fragile wooden boards – which was also the only use of the mouse to aim her arm in the direction she wanted to hit. Everything else were keys only.
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.
Read more “Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons”
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.
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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Read more “The Swapper”
Developer: Facepalm Games | Released: 2013 | Genre: Platform, Puzzle
This was a platform puzzle game with very little dexterous jumping, at least across gaps. It was focusing on the story and the interconnecting puzzles, sometimes with more than one puzzle chamber available at a time. The goal was usually to obtain a few orbs from these puzzles to turn on something and proceed.
It had incredibly convincing graphics. Together with the overuse of blurry, out of focus surroundings and the strong echo/reverb on the sound effects, it made for a very dark and creepy atmosphere indeed. There were no monsters, but those from Aliens would have felt right at home here. No doubt about that.
Handcrafted art assets and clay was used to create the game levels.
I could clone up to four versions of myself that moved like I did, and I could swap my point of control with the other mouse button. Pads had to be stood on, crates pushed, red lighting prevented swapping, cyan lighting prevented cloning, and magenta lighting prevented both. Sometimes there were also air shafts. These rules created puzzle chambers that were sometimes quite challenging. It was also not uncommon that I had to clone and swap in a timely manner, usually while the clone was in midair.
There was a light story where I sometimes briefly spotted another astronaut that said a thing or two, I could pass by strange stones that “thought” a few lines of text to me, and apparently it all took place onboard an enormous spaceship.
However, I didn’t play much more than 1½ hours until I abandoned it. Somehow the game made me feel uneasy, like I couldn’t relax and have a good time when I played it.
UPDATE: I went back and completed the game after all.
Read more “Tiny & Big: Grandpa’s Leftovers”
Developer: Black Pants Studio | Released: 2012 | Genre: Platform, Third Person
This really was a paradoxical game for me – one I both loved and hated, all at the same time.
The game had absolutely charming art and sound. The graphics reminded me of a cute amalgamation of Borderlands and Psychonauts, and the music cassettes that could be picked up turned on the suitable band music. Tiny and Big had their grunts while the dialog was presented in black bubbles.
In short, Tiny was chasing Big who had stolen grandpa’s magical underpants.
The basic rules of the game were pretty simple. Climb and explore using three tools – a laser to cut up stones, a rope to pull towards me, and a sticky rocket mine to throw and detonate. To help with the pulling, I could also push like Lara Croft, only even bigger things. Cutting up stones was by far the most novel and ingenious thing about the game. A marker line could be twisted and then triggered for laser action.
Corners could be cut for walking where jumping was inadequate, or big poles could be cut and then pulled for creating makeshift bridges. Fully fledged physics were part of the 3D engine, making it important to be careful about how things tumbled down. This part of the game was so much fun, and the pulling and pushing added the perfect extra touch. It made it easy to tweak and adjust for jumping.
Throwing rocket mines was less useful. Sometimes it could help shifting a wall or a pole, but to be honest, I think I could have completed the game without that tool.
I don’t think I have played a more vertigo-inducing game than this, or if I have, it’s sure to be in the top five along with the worst from the likes of e.g. Tomb Raider. The many vertical levels with thin walkways or tipped pillars often made me lift my shoulders.
This is the kind of game I’m not sure I would ever go VR for.
Read more “Grow Up”
Developer: Ubisoft Reflections | Released: 2016 | Genre: Adventure, Platform
The sequel to Grow Home was much more of what made the first one so charming.
It was clear that although it was expanded in almost all directions, it was still built upon the same code base. Same climbing, same growing star plants, same graphical style, same rag doll animations. But where the first one took place on a small island and you grew one star plant into space, the sequel took place on a spherical planet with lots of floating islands around it, and four star plants could be grown.
However, growing star plants was not the objective this time around. M.O.M., the spaceship computer, had its parts spread all over the planet after a meteor storm, and I now had to find the crash sites. To help me a new assistant, P.O.D., could be used to view the planet from above, and it moved M.O.M. parts to a small moon using a magnet that I had to align like a seasoned oil worker.
P.O.D. looked like a satellite and sometimes also came with tutorial tips and observations.
Crystals could still be found for upgrading abilities, but these abilities were now initialized by finding “tubs” with expanding red parts. It made B.U.D. more of an Inspector Gadget this time around. The dandelion was now permanent and didn’t lose petals. Rocket jumping could be improved with crystals to actually lift me upwards, and the glider could be expanded with a jet boost.
I could also become a rolling ball but I didn’t use that one much.
You could argue that these improvements made the game too easy, but honestly it was essential now that so much more landmass had to be explored. Without the ability to glide and rocket boost around without the help of growing star plants, it would have gotten stale fast. So it was all good with me.