Alasdair Duncan is that bearded, bespectacled Scotsman that covers PC gaming that is not Fraser Brown. A long time Destructoid community member and forum moderator, he covers adventure, puzzle, FPS and all kinds of games on the PC. Watch, as he adds more games to his Steam library with only the vaguest hope of ever playing most of his games.
Alasdair has been gaming since his mother bought a Commodore 64 back in the early 1980's. He adores Deus Ex, GTA Vice City, Team Fortress 2, Borderlands, Super Mario Brothers 3 and all those weird indie titles on Steam.
You can meet Alasdair at places like PAX where he tries to convince people he isn't a) drunk or b) Irish.
So two months ago I said that July would be catch up month and that tackling the backlog would have to wait for a few weeks. Well those few weeks ended up becoming two whole months as the Steam sale went on and I was, once again, overwhelmed as to what game to play and where to start. I got mucked in with Far Cry 3ís Blood Dragon which I picked up in the Steam sale (that in itself will be a recurring theme); man that is a dumb, dumb game but also an exciting one. You can tell it was made on a budget yet it shows a surprising willingness to break from the main gameís story. The humour was reminded me of the best 80ís straight-to-VHS flick that I never saw. My buddy Matt is a connoisseur of that kind of stuff but I was never a fan of the ďso bad itís goodĒ type of flick but Blood Dragon clearly has itís tongue firmly lodged in itís cheek.
Next up was the second DLC for Dishonored, The Witches of Bridgemore which I was itching to get to after completing the previous DLC, the Knife of Dunwall, which doesnít end on a cliffhanger per se but does leave unanswered questions. Witches of Bridgemore does start off slowly by bringing Daud back to a place we already explored with Corvo but the latter levels definitely are an improvement. The last level with the teleporting witches and the spectral hounds is so tense and itís great to see what the plan of Delilah really is. After that I played Gucamelee which is a quality platformer with some metroidvania-esque elements. Love the art style, the meme-stuff wasnít really off-putting and the difficulty curve is aimed just right. At the end, I was getting frustrated at the last few bosses but overall itís a fun game you should check out.
I played Gone Home which I was eager to play as soon as I could. This style of game is something I want to see more of; personal, reflective and emotionally engaging. I felt a connection with Samís tale, despite being a straight, hairy guy; I didnít grow up in the Pacific Northwest region but I was a teenager in the mid-90ís and the tales of high school romance struck a chord with me. Sure, thereís some contrivances that have to be made; did anyone really leave such a paper trail in their house and hey, why do none of the bathrooms have any mirrors in them? Still, the story has stuck with me over the last few days and again, Iíd love to see more small-scale, personal experiences like this in the future.
Next up was Remember Me, which had been described as ďthe type of game that you should wait until itís on a Steam saleĒ but I think that grossly undersells the title. The customisable combo system was really interesting and the memory remixes were really interesting to work with. Yes, thereís a lot of fluff concerning the terms for basic videogame mechanics but at least thereís an attempt to make a cohesive and distinctive world. Some of the mechanics concerning taking out certain enemies were frustrating but I really enjoyed the game overall.
Iíve managed to finish Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs too, which felt short but was still scary. The tension I felt was really strong but I had some glitches with the game too, like how my monitor would go onto standby mode when it got too dark. It didnít have the same impact as the Dark Descent but how could it? A Machine for Pigs was a grim tale of apocalyptic visions of the 20th century.
So onto this month, I really want to finish games that I came so close to getting to the end but wasnít able to polish them. Iím still working on finishing GTA V but Iím willing to split my time between Rockstarís latest and another game from the backlog. Weíre entering a busy period of the year both with new games (and Iíve got quite a few gigs to go to) but I feel I can pull off another backlog challenge.
First up is Fallout New Vegas; Iím already deep into the game and Iíve completed the Old World Blues DLC pack but Iím also at the stage where Iíve pissed Caesarís Legion off enough, where theyíre just appearing out of thin air to take pot shots at me. It got really frustrating to the point where I just gave up but I do really want to finish the main storyline. If thereís time during the month, Iíll complete that and hopefully another DLC chapter too.
I got likeÖ. this close to finishing Alan Wake on the 360, I know I was right near the end but for some reason I just never pushed to the end. This was back when I was living in Australia, so Iím not gonna be able to just boot the game up again and complete it. Iíll have to do it all over again on the PC but Iím okay with that. Just donít expect me to collect all those bloody flasks again.
Shadowrun Returns really needs finishing; I kinda screwed myself over by buying stuff I really didnít need and so Iím at a stage where I have to recruit mercs for a mission and all I can afford are the cheap ones that offer very little help. I need to roll back and start from an earlier save or I could start again.
Itís a similar situation with XCOM; I had taken a path that left me with hardly any engineers and therefore unable to build any income generating satellites. Iíve restarted and have a good base already built. I feel like Iíve got a good hang of the mechanics now so Iím hoping Iím not going down a path that I feel is going to screw me up later on.
Strangely enough, I got about ⅓ of the way through Thomas Was Alone whilst I was at the airport waiting to go to PAX East this year. I really should play more of it, as the game runs just fine on my laptop and works well without a mouse and keyboard.
So thatís your options, post one game in the comments and Iíll do my best to finish that title off by the end of the month.
Failure! As much as I expected it, Dark Souls has kicked my ass this month. I've put in some hours in Dark Souls but I'm making slow progress. This is what I expected though, my friends have told me that Dark Souls is a game Iíll make slow progress with. I'm going to keep plugging away at the game but I'm taking a break from my backlog challenge for the month of July to take advantage of some newer games. I'm hoping to avoid a situation where I come to the end of 2013 and I've not played enough games to be able to contribute to my Games of the Year list.
With that thought in my mind, I went and played and completed Gunpoint which I enjoyed very much. Tom Francis has talked about his love of games like Deus Ex before and you could see that in the openness of the design. Even though there are probably only a few ways to complete a level, I felt the levels were open enough to allow different approaches. The controls felt tight and the story was engaging and even funny. I also managed to polish off The Knife of Dunwall which was a Steam weekly deal. Itís basically more Dishonored but considering that was one of my favourite game from 2012, thatís no bad thing. Aside from the last level which was a repeat of an existing level from the original, it was some good stuff.
So considering I've knocked off a fair few games off my backlog this year, I'm taking a break this month. With the Steam sale happening in July, I'm sure Iíll be picking up plenty of titles (budget permitting) and hopefully Iíll be able to get through a few of them. Iíve already picked up Rogue Legacy as it seems to be the game de jour and itís been fun so far. Thereís also Shadowrun Returns arriving at the end of the month too. Other games I'm looking to pick up are Far Cry: Blood Dragon, Papa & Yo and Monaco. So Iíll be back in August with a roundup of how I've done and with some more Backlog choices for you to pick.
If I thought last month was productive, then May was even better. Thanks to a pair of three-day weekends I managed to get plenty of games completed this month. First up was Singularity, which took me about 8 hours to complete. Itís a good game but itís kind of showing up now a lot of tropes which I'm starting to get tired of (audio logs, seeing ďghostsĒ or flashbacks, silent protagonists) but I did like the combat and the time manipulation device meant there was some fun and experimentation involved. The aesthetic was a little bit different but still fell into those videogame settings; labs, factories, sewers and so on. Still if you see it in the Steam Summer Sale for a few bucks, definitely check it out.
After burning through Singularity, I immediately moved onto Driver: San Francisco which as usual, I had picked up in the sale but hadn't even installed. Itís pretty good, the ďshiftĒ mechanic allows you to move between different mission types so the game had plenty of variety. Even at the end it got a bit bat-shit mental, it never got boring. Some of the stand outs involved scaring a car salesmen, smashing flyers for a nightclub event, and drifting underneath trucks to diffuse bombs. There were plenty of side missions but to be honest I did enough to get me some upgrades and never found them necessary. The story was fairly hammy but it was a nice mashup between Quantum Leap and Life on Mars. Plus is had a pretty great soundtrack (DJ Shadow, the Stooges, QOTSA, Cut Chemist, the Presets, LCD Soundsystem) and it took about 10 hours to complete. Again, if you see it going for cheap, then give it a go.
I did intend to play more games after getting through those two games really quickly but a couple of technical hiccups, working hours and general tardiness stopped that from happening. I've recently managed to get my PC hooked up to my TV, so I am all set up for Big Picture Mode. With that in mind, I've picked some big games this month that are well suited to playing on the couch. Now since these are all large games, please ONLY VOTE FOR ONE in the comments. Seriously my brain has a hard time with numbers...
Ok.... no seriously, letís do this.
So this is another title I have bought but not even touched. You have no idea how much I want to slap myself in the face every time I realise that. Still at least not Skyrim has been out almost 2 years, has had a legion of patches and mods released for it, so I guess thereís no time like the present.
I have played GTA IV to completion but I've not touched either The Lost & The Damned or The Ballad of Gay Tony (*slap*). I need to double check if these two support controller support but that should be a given considering the original gameís port origins. Also, I'm itching to try out the high-res mods for GTA IV, which my PC should run. Right?
Saints Row The Third was a THQ Humble Bundle purchase which I havenít played (*slaps again*). I really feel I should play this before Saints Row 4 comes out to see if itís going to be my thing. I think like a lot of people I had written it off as just ďcomedy GTAĒ but the reaction to Saints Row The Third was really positive so I do wanna play it.
I didn't get RDR when it came out as I was in the process of leaving Australia, so I didn't buy any console games at the time of release. Then when I was back in the UK, I procrastinated as I wished in vain for a PC release. I finally bought the complete Read Dead Redemption a few months ago and started playing it last weekend. Should I complete it this month?
So thereís your 5 choices; I think with the scale of some of these games, Iíll be struggling to fit in more than one in a month, so please only vote for 1 game. Feel free to comment on all the games but itíll make things much easier if you just say ďYes, play xxx as itís awesomeĒ. Leave your vote in the comments and Iíll announce a winner on Tuesday night.
Last month was a good result in taking on my Backlog; I took on three games, two old and one new and completed all of them. First up was Hard Reset, the old school sci-fi FPS. Boy, I tell you I havenít circle strafed in a game for quite some time. Hard Reset is real old school, a big array of weapons, no reloading, waves of small enemies to pick off... itís old school Quake and Doom with a grim sci-fi style. The story is told in some nice looking motion comic cutscenes (which are skip-able, bonus points there) but thereís not a lot of sense in them. Something about rogue androids and artificial intelligences running wild and the main guy swears a lot. I didnít realise it but in my first attempt at playing Hard Reset last year, I can really close to finishing the game. The free DLC did extend the game somewhat and I was grateful for being able to upgrade my weapons more to really waste the robots in the game. Recommend the game but be prepared to play it in bursts, maybe do a level at a time.
The next game I played was Mirrorís Edge which was recommended because it too was fairly short. The game looked great, despite some screen tearing and the fact that PhysX drivers made crowded scenes real laggy. I love the sense of speed and momentum you could feel once you got Faith up to speed, however the person that made enemies with guns so prevalent in the game needs a stern talking to. It was no fun bumping into a group of enemies and I died a heck of a lot more due to gunfire than falling to my death. I would like to see a sequel, maybe in a city thatís managed to shake itself from the oppressive government and Iíd love to see longer stretches of just running without complicated platforming, just for the sheer sense of speed.
I also played BioShock: Infinite this month which I was always going to do first up. I thought it was really good and whilst it leant quite heavily on the original BioShockís mechanics, I do want to go back and experience Columbia again soon. It looked and sounded stunning and I understand the complaints that the combat detracted from the experience as a whole but then again, Iím not sure what youíd replace it with. Where Irrational goes from here I have no idea, Iíll suppose weíll need to wait and see how successful BioShock: Infinite is financially and what the future holds for the franchsie. I like the idea of ďshockĒ representing a player either exploring the ruins of lost cities (the Von Braun in System Shock 2, Rapture in BioShock) or seeing the fall of a utopia (Columbia in BioShock: Infinite) but those themes could be explored in another game or with different mechanics.
So now onto the games I want to try and beat this this month; I started playing XCOM: Enemy Unknown in April too so Iíd like to complete that as well. Iím also wanting to play Donít Starve and Monaco as well, but I reckon thereís time enough to fit in a good story driven game into this monthsí challenge and who knows, I might be able to get two or even three games completed this month. Hereís your choices below:
I think the Ball may have been a gift and if it was, I apologise for not playing it sooner. All I know is that the Ball involves..... a ball. And Iíve seen some screenshots of some kind of giant lizard man and zombified gorillas. Iím not sure, I may have been drunk...... no, that does seem legit.
I got real close I think to finishing Zeno Clash back when I was living in Australia but I never did finish the game. It wasnít the strangeness or the sheer weirdness of Father Mother et al, but I think I was having some issues with the mechanics, specifically the melee attacks. But I did love the style and thank God for a first person game in 2009 that showed some real imagination. Just like Metro 2033, Iíd really like to play this before the sequel comes out.
Now that the sequel has been funded and will be on Steam, I should really finish Dreamfall: The Longest Journey. I got maybe an hour into it before maybe moving on. I remember feeling frustrated with the camera but I really should finish it; Caimdark highly recommended it and I feel it would make a good change from some of the games Iíve played recently.
Again, I think Singularity may have been a gift and I really should have played it already. All I know is that Singularity is better than average game with time control mechanics and some great Soviet aesthetics. I hope Singularity is one of those gems that sneaked under the radar at the time of release.
This was another game that was described as ďwait until it comes down in price before buying itĒ. Pretty sure I got Driver San Francisco in the Steam Christmas sale for a real good price but until I play it, itís money wasted. Iíve not played any of the Driver games since the PS1 days so I have no idea what to expect from the game.
So there you go, 5 pretty different games and Iíd love to get at least one or even two of them played and completed in May. Iíll be putting aside XCOM once the vote is over and Iíll be returning to it and other games throughout the month. Iíve got some big titles planned for the Backlog Challenge for the Summer months so stay tuned for that. Put your votes of which game youíd like to see me play before May the 2nd in the comments below.
Okay so that took longer than expected. At the start of February you voted that I should play The Secret Of Monkey Island: Special Edition for the first time. And play it I did but it took a whole lot longer than expected. So hereís my excuses; I kicked wrote a lot more for the front page of Destructoid than I have done in recent weeks, including a preview of the upcoming Sang-Froid - A Tale of Werewolves. Iíve also moved into a new apartment, so it took a few weeks of getting things in order, organising furniture and necessities like internet all sorted out. Plus, thereís been PAX East 2013, a great week afterwards in New York with Changston...
...but I finished the game and boy that is a real old school adventure game. After playing recent point and click games like Yesterday and Da New Guyz itís strange to go back to a game where thereís very little concessions made to the player. At least, thatís the impression I made whilst playing the remastered version of the game; having to manually bring up the inventory and the commands took a bit of getting used to once I realised thatís how I had to interact in the world. It took a while because, remember, no tutorial. Thereís also a fair amount of backtracking which was frustrating especially on Monkey Island itself. No way that could have been streamlined a bit so I wouldnít have to paddle back and forth from the North and South of the island?
That being said, Monkey Island is known for itís humour more than anything else and that still delivered. Whether it was the great scene where everything happens behind a wall and you have to watch Guybrushís interactions on the bottom screen. The one-liners and insult sword fighting are still great and Iím now wanting get the sequel to play at some point too. But I need to score off a few more games before I make some more purchases. With that in mind, I did buy and complete the first episode of Kentucky Route Zero. I love the art style and the really subtle audio design as well. Instead of it being like a traditional adventure game, youíre really kind of sculpting your experience as youíre doing, making it unique to you but still consistent with the overarching story. Iím glad Iíve got plenty of forthcoming episodes to come later this year.
So onto this monthís picks; Iíve downloaded more games that I really want to play and finish toute suite as the French would say (I bet Beccy is correcting me right now as I type this). Let me get this out of the way first: Iím playing BioShock Infinite first and foremost this month (actually just finished it about an hour ago). This was one of the few games this year that I said I was going to play before anything else and my copy has been sitting at my parentís house since Tuesday whilst Iíve been in New York. So thatís getting played but then what next? Itís up to you.
Mirrorís Edge was one of those titles that people kept saying ďOh, you should buy it when itís cheap and play it then,Ē Well I did the ďbuy it cheapĒ part but now I really want to play it. Especially now as Iíve gotten a new TV and hooked it up to my PC; Steam Big Picture mode ahoy!
I tried playing through Metro 2033 but I felt I botched an early stealth mission and grew frustrated with it. That being said I feel Iíve given the game a short shrift and should really return to it. I definitely want to finish it before Metro: Last Light is released. Which also reminds me that I still have to finish the Metro 2033 book I bought...
This was a narrow loser in the first Backlog Challenge I did at the start of the year, just missing out to Sleeping Dogs. I do really want to play XCOM as I want to get primed for play Total War: Rome 2 and Company of Heroes 2 later on this year and I really need to bone up on my strategy games.
My buddy The Toilet Duck (aka Aidan) said this might be a bit much for me to chew on in such a short month. Whilst Dark Souls has this really hardcore reputation, the way itís been described to me by my friends who have played it, is that Dark Souls just requires a slow and steady approach and plenty of patience. I do think itís a game that will take a while to play but I can see myself being absorbed in it once I get into it.
I got maybe... half way through Hard Reset shortly after launch before my laptop really started to creak under the weight of the graphics. It had done really well running the game for a while but hopefully I can get back into it and finally finish it because I was having a lot of fun with this old-school style gem.
So vote now, I'll keep the voting open until Monday 8th. Get voting and hopefully I'll finish a game this month!
So last month you kindly folks voted that I play Sleeping Dogs and scratch that game off my backlog. And play it I did, completing the single player, a fair chunk of the side missions as well as the Zodiac Tournament and Nightmare in Northpoint DLC packs. Overall I thought the game was good; the story was interesting enough and it managed to do a good job of conveying Wei Shenís inner-conflict. The voice acting was good overall and the representation of Hong Kong felt really vivid.
Some parts didnít feel as good as they could be; I kept being reminded of other games whilst playing Sleeping Dogs which isnít a good thing. Whilst I was fighting I kept thinking ďthis combat system is good but not as good as Batman Arkham Asylum or Arkham CityĒ. Whilst doing one of the chase/traversal missions I thought ďthis movement is good but Assassinís Creed games does it betterĒ. Aside from that, a lack of polish stuck out at me Often I found myself in a combat sequence with three identical enemies. I took a screenshot randomly of three identical woman just hanging out, completely at random. The radio stations were great; having a station that features two of my favourite record labels, Warp and Ninja Tune was a great move. But having the tracks skip between missions even though youíd only been out of your vehicle for a few seconds was frustrating.
Strangely GTA IVís Liberty City seems more cohesive and more identifiable as a place rather than Hong Kong in Sleeping Dogs but I still think the latter is a good game to play. It looks gorgeous on the PC with the HD texture pack and playing it with a controller feels like the right way to play. Since I finished Sleeping Dogs in the middle of the month, I felt I could get another big game finished before the end of the month. With the memory of me trying to cram games into the last few months of the year to be able to vote in Destructoidís GOTY for 2012 poll, I thought Iíd better play a 2013 release. So I picked up Devil May Cry DmC on Steam mainly due to the positive reviews. Despite never having played an original Devil May Cry game, I enjoyed the new title a lot. It looks great, the combat has a great flow to it and some of the levels and boss fights were really imaginative.
So now onto Februaryís challenge. Iím leaving 2012ís games behind for a bit so I can actually start to get into the depths of my backlog. I had a Garth Marenghi-esque revelation recently when I realised that Iíve probably received more point Ďn click adventure games than Iíve played simply for fun, and that was just in 2012. Lacking a PC for most of the early-mid 1990s meant that I missed most of the golden age of Sierra and Lucasarts adventure games; the Curse of Monkey Island was the first one I played, which I really enjoyed but the year after I played Grim Fandango which became a steadfast favourite of mine. Afterwards the adventure game genre seemed to decline severely in popularity but in the last few years thereís been a glut of great adventure games released. This selection of games matches old and new adventure titles that I really want to complete off my backlog.
I suppose we better start with maybe the classic adventure game. As I mentioned earlier, I missed out on a lot of early adventure games because my family didnít have a dedicated PC. My dad had a work laptop but he stopped my brother and I from using it after finding we had installed Doom on it without his permission. I purchased The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition with the intention of filling in some of the blanks of my gaming past but Iíve yet to play it.
The Dig was seemingly highly regarded at the time of release only to fade in the eyes of some as being over-hyped thanks to the involvement of Steven Spielberg. Iíve played about 45 minutes of this game but Iím willing to start up a fresh game and get laid into this one.
I always assumed Spielberg was associated with Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis because well... itís Indy. Again, I bought this with the intention of adding another classic point and click game to my library but like with the Dig I have barely touched it.
Resonance reviewed really well last year and I picked it up on Steam in the Christmas sale. I hoped it would simply sit on my laptop and be there whenever I was travelling or had some downtime during the year. But if you guys pick it, I will be starting it and finishing it by the end of the month.
Ben There, Dan That! and Time Gentlemen Please were so stupidly cheap that I had to buy them. And of course play them for about 5 minute before not touching them again just like about 80% of my Steam collection. So if you vote for this pair of games, I will be playing them both this month. That way I get two games written off for the price of one.
So there you go, 5 games for you to vote on. Simply put down which game you want me to play in the comments below, I'm going to keep the voting open until Sunday 3rd February at midnight when Iíll post a comment declaring a winner. Part of the reason I've picked these games is that I'm probably moving into a new place at the end of the month and all of these games will run on my laptop without too much trouble. Hopefully Iíll be able to get online and post my thoughts again but until then, get voting!