28 Apr

Sentinels of the Multiverse

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Don’t worry, Baron Blade is a total pushover.

So my video card died. Again. I must learn to respect lightning as it seems I live in an area very prone to thunderstorms. I looked around for games that I could play without a video card while waiting for the warranty claim to be processed, saw that this game was on sale and promptly bought it. It’s a straightforward adaptation of a superheroes-themed boardgame. Originally it was a multiplayer, cooperative game but on the PC the mechanics are so simple that actually playing it with other people would feel a little silly so it’s pretty much single-player only.

  • It’s a card game. Yay, I love card games! No deck building however. Each character, whether hero or villain, has a deck unique to him or her. You’re supposed to pick a villain to fight against, then from three to five heroes, plus an environment deck to represent where the fight takes place. This videogame version perfectly replicates the contents of the boardgame’s base set, and so includes 10 heroes, 4 villains and 4 environments.
  • The mechanics look daunting at first but are really quite simple since it’s just a race to drive the villain’s hit points down to zero before all of the heroes are defeated. Each round, the villain acts according to the text printed on his or her card and plays a card from the villain deck. Each hero then acts in turn, playing a card, activating a superpower and then drawing a card. Then a card from the environment deck is played. As is usual with this games, all of the complexity comes from the cards and how they interact.

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8 Apr

Papo & Yo

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Whoa, eat your heart out, Inception!

Yep, this came to my attention from the Feminist Frequency videos and I eventually bought it because my wife encouraged me to do so. I was very curious about what a mature, non-exploitative take on child abuse in a videogame would play like and so put it on my Steam wishlist. It’s a very short game so I’ll make this one short as well.

  • Gameplay-wise, it has both puzzle solving and some platforming. The puzzles are unfortunately on the easy side. All puzzle elements are clearly marked as being objects you can interact with by chalk lines so pretty much the first thing you do when you see something like this is to activate it and you’re never wrong in doing so. The platforming is pretty easy too though since some parts of it do require a sense of timing, it’s still harder than the puzzles.

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4 Apr

Anno 2070

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The ne-plus-ultra of eco cities! Okay, so I just wanted to use that phrase once.

Last year I wrote a post about I tried to play this game but failed. This year, after I complained about this on Broken Forum, someone replied that the Steam version should be fixed by now. ‘Lo and behold, it is and I can now download, patch and launch it successfully, all but confirming that my previous troubles were likely not my fault. So even though I’ve mostly lost interest in this and, wow, has it really been four years since this game was first released, I thought I should at least give it a whirl since I did buy it so long ago.

  • I’ve never played any of the games in this series before this and it doesn’t seem to have much of a tutorial so I was lost for a very long time. Eventually I figured out that it’s like a futuristic version of Settlers or something, and things got much better from there. One thing I found really puzzling about this design is that the population needs goods to thrive and effectively upgrade to higher level tiers but the production buildings themselves don’t require access to the population beyond the prerequisite of having a minimum number of the required type to unlock that building.

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25 Mar

Heroine’s Quest: The Herald of Ragnarok

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I have real combat so I’m an RPG!

One strange omission from my list of played games is the entire Quest for Glory series. I actually did play snippets of King’s Quest on a friend’s PC but I only really started gaming shortly after the first Hero’s Quest game was released. I heard plenty about it later on but since I never played the first one, I never felt tempted to play any of the sequels either. That’s why when I heard about Heroine’s Quest recently on Broken Forum, I was immediately interested. It is nothing more and nothing less than fan-led project to make a game in the exact same style with a heroine as the protagonist.

  • So let’s get this out of the way first, I loved it and was surprised that I did. It’s also a much more substantial game than I expected. True completionists will want to finish it with all three classes, but I believe that a first-time player going through it with just a single class will need over a dozen hours to finish it. I was also very pleased that there is full voice acting throughout. I was however disappointed by the low resolution. I mean I can dig pixel art just fine, but 320 x 200? Is it really cheaper or easier to produce art assets in that resolution instead of say 640 x 480?

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20 Mar

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 Full Burst

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Child Naruto is best Naruto.

I don’t consider myself to be a real fan of Naruto, but the anime was entertaining enough for my wife and myself some years back that we watched it for a while. We stopped after finishing the Pain Invasion of Konoha arc because there’s only so much anime that we can take and really having Naruto being acknowledged as a hero by the village seems like a fitting end. Of course Naruto is still such a high-profile property that it isn’t hard to more or less know what subsequently happened through cultural osmosis and that it recently ended.

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11 Mar

The Banner Saga

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What, no hexes? Fail!

The Banner Saga was a game that I’d considered backing on KickStarter but I eventually decided to wait for it to be released. When it did, its reception was decidedly mixed but after checking out its amazing art style I thought I’d give it a whirl. On balance, I have to give it a down vote but it’s a very close thing.

  • What I really, really love about this game is its art style. It’s cartoonish without being childish or over the top, retaining plenty of detail without straining the art budget with 3D models. Plus the animations are fantastic to boot. I really want more game developers to use art like this. This is certainly not a game for children, what with its grim and pretty tragic story, yet it doesn’t feel the need to have art that is all dark and gloomy.

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3 Mar

Remember Me

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It’s beautiful Paris with augmented reality technology!

Due to GamerGate, I now pay much more attention to videogames with female protagonists than before. I find that testosterone-powered male protagonists are more likely to bore me nowadays so I’m more inclined to find games that break that mold to be more interesting. Once Remember Me got my attention, what made me decide to buy it was an intriguing story centered around memory and its memory-remixing mechanic.

  • It’s a beautiful game, that is much is certain. It does get a bit on the nose about showing off just how beautiful it is. The game likes to take control of the camera for a grandiose upward sweeping view of the scenery. I also like how the augmented reality stuff like restaurant menus and names of shops and their opening hours adds detail to the environment. Most of the interior scenes are more boring, with an emphasis on a stylistic, high-tech look instead of trying to evoke real, lived-in, spaces.

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25 Feb

Papers, Please

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Check all documents, listen carefully for lies.

This game has won a ton of videogame awards and for once, I absolutely agree with the critics’ choice. I really have nothing bad to say about it. It’s a game in which you play an immigration officer who mans a border control checkpoint of a fictional country in the 1980s. Called Arstotzka, it’s an obvious send-up of a dystopian dictatorship with a vaguely Eastern European feel. Your job is to check through all of the documents of each and every arrival and to either approve their entry or deny them.

  • I can’t actually say that this was much fun for me but it is a fantastic and wholly original videogame experience. Part of it is because it simulates the tedium of just sitting in one place and checking documents so perfectly that it feels just like real work. What’s worse is that the amount of work is endless and you have a painfully limited amount of time each day in which to do the processing. This being a repressive government, you’re paid at the end of each day only according to the amount of work you do and you have rental, food and heating expenses for yourself and your family.

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