MASTER RACE IS MASTER RACE IS MASTER RACE IS MASTER RACE IS HURRRRRRRRR
Yeah, it's been a fun ride this past month and a half. Experiences that I simply could not get on the consoles were had, some new friends were made and some TF2 hats were bought. No regrets.
Some experiences were better than others, though. Won't you allow me to show them to you?
- Superbrothers: Sword and Sorcery EP
Originally only slated for mobile devices, this point and click/action/adventure game received enough praise and sales to justify a port over to the PC soon after it's release.
And it's praises were well-justified. Not every single one, mind you. But, it's certainly been a very uniquely stylistic, great and surprisingly funny adventure so far. The humor is all too reminiscent of the random yet subtle yet hilarious dialogue of Katamari Damacy. The protagonist is always referring to himself as "We." coupled with lines such as:
"We spied the solitary grave at the edge of The Perilous Precipice & we wondered what was up with that."
"We had retrieved The Megatome & Logfella was 100% ready to move it move it to the safety of his lodgings."
That first line came from a piece of the environment I had examined at my leisure. I could've just walked right past it. This gave the world that much more life, feeling like anything that looked interesting enough could be touched and looked upon with more detail.
Another surprising thing about the game is it's combat. I did not even expect to find a combat mechanic at all!
It's super simple (click either the sword or shield icon on-screen while timing them correctly) yet incredibly charming thanks to the neat perspective and the already mentioned great art style. I have only encountered a handful of combat situations thus far, but I assume it's more prevalent towards the end where things presumably heat up.
With some good music to round it all out, this is a game that's fresh yet familiar enough to hopefully not turn off many. It's a good thing I didn't wait too long to get this, or my feeble, radiated brain might've forgotten about it.
- The Binding of Isaac
As much as I've grown to really dislike them, I believe Kotaku's review said it best: ".. a wonderfully warped, Old Testament take on The Legend of Zelda.". That's about the best super brief description I've heard for The Binding of Isaac yet.
To specify, though, it's not really the entirety of the classic Zelda experience, just the dungeons. Which are the best parts!
Edmund McMillen and Florian Himsl thought that very same thing. So they decided to make it a whole game, randomize each experience by dozens of factors and give it a demented, cartoon flash game-y aesthetic and an underlying concept loosely based around passages from The Old Testament.
Poor Isaac must escape down into his mother's basement after said mother attempts to kill him. For it is the will of God himself, it seems. And boy was this game depressing as hell during my first several runs.
I know the game isn't supposed to be taken seriously. It's a bit of satire, a bit of straight funneh stufz, though first impressions were great but very gloom. That intro scene, despite it's cutsey art style, perfectly set the mood for what you'd think would be a very sad and dark story. And that mood carried over into the menus and the first several screens of the game.
Eventually, it sort of went away. But what stayed with me was the music. It was still hauntingly charming. I shouldn't have expected anything less from the now famous Danny B, composer for games like Super Meat Boy and.... Time Donkey.
The game's simple shoot the bad guys and collect pick-ups/loot mechanic is polished and with the aforementioned random nature of the game, it becomes incredibly addicting. Over the course of about 4 or 5 days, I played about 24 hours worth. And that's a buttload for a game like Binding of Isaac.
It also throws in little humorous touches here and there like the "arcade" where you can sacrifice a bit of health (by gently placing Isaac's body into a rusty grinder, of course) for some coins that you can then use on a slot machine that'll either give you nothing, more coins, items or just an enemy that you have to now deal with.
I play this game now like I play Rock Band: nearly ervyday. As if my life depended on it. That should entice you to give it a go, eh?
- Penumbra: Black Plague
Before this, I had tried out Amnesia: Dark Descent, made by the same developer. And Amnesia, in theory, should've been the better experience. Gameplay was more polished, better aesthetics, higher production values, more interesting story, but it didn't do what it mainly set out to do so well: frighten.
I know, right? Amnesia wasn't scary at all. I SAID IT.
It was creepy, no doubt. Even intense as hell. But I ended up finding myself having lots of fun, rather than having to look around for some clean boxers every 5 minutes. Most of the "frights" came from finding yourself in situations where you had to run away, and that's where I would have my fun. And when I'd have a chance for a breather, I'd laugh out loud and say something like "Damn! .... woo. Haha.".
I noticed Penumbra one day, and that it was made by the same dudes. And the description intrigued me. So, I gave it a whirl.
I was surprised to find out how much it was like Amnesia. I mean, it was literally Amnesia with a different story and setting. You had the same prop interaction, an inventory with a health display, a flashlight you had to keep fresh with batteries, the same aesthetic style, a monster you had to keep away from and so on. But I found it to be way creepier.
Though, the monster design leaves a bit to be desired. The one from Amnesia is definitely more menacing. Even after watching this, I find him (or.. it) sort of unnerving.
I'm at a point where the game is getting very very interesting. Twists, creeps and overall development. I'm really enjoying myself. Even though Amnesia is the better game, Penumbra is by far the better horror game. So, the obvious thing to suggest would be to try it out if you enjoyed Amnesia at all.
- Team Fortress 2
I've been into Team Fortress 2 since well before now. As a matter of fact, ever since release. Which likely tells you I was playing it on consoles for at least a while. I thought it was pretty damn fun, but I knew the PC version was vastly superior. So since the community was already dwindling down, I decided that once I completed Portal and HL2's "episodes", I would sell my copy of The Orange Box and wait it out.
If only I knew "waiting it out" would only take around, oh..... several years.
But it's been worth the wait. It's like I never left. During my first few games I was already back to whoring the Engie and Scout (and doing relatively poor with almost anyone else), taunting whenever possible and having a blast.
New things opened up with booting up the PC release, of course. I get to use sprays! I get to question my dignity over purchasing this piece of apparel "I just have to get"! More modes, more maps, player count increased... is this Team Fortress 3 or did Valve just really drop the ball on the console version?
Oh and these community mods are really something else. 1 V 10 with ponies on a samurai hut/snow-tipped mountain, anyone?
If there's one thing I hate about this game, though, it's that it can be pretty frustrating trying to find a good server (thank God for the Favorites tab). Oh and the team balancing does nothing but tick me off. Yes, putting me on the losing team will certainly do a lot, I'm sure. And then we lose. Ffffffffffff........
I shouldn't have to explain the game as I'm sure most here have at least knowledge of the game's concept, but if you don't, if you wanna try it out, it's free-to-play. And the best part is you don't need to pay a cent to get the core experience. You'll only be left out of a few very minor aspects of the game (which some players, annoyingly, make a big deal out of).
Honestly, I'm still having a hard time comprehending a game as awesome and full-featured as this being completely free.
Say it with me: We love you, Valve. So much.
- Dear Esther
Saving the most controversial for last. As some don't even consider this a game, but just interactive storytelling.
.... isn't that what a game is? Or at least can be?
Well, whatever it is, it's interesting at least.
Originally a Source mod from all the way back in 2008, it's since been given a huge graphical overhaul thanks to a little help from an ex-DICE employee and a 10 dollar price tag (though I bought it for 5!) for Steam and in a short amount of time the game was met with a mixture of complete praise and complete hatred. It even challenged the very definition of a video game for some.
I can easily see how someone may love it. On the other hand, I can just as easily see how someone could hate it. It's definitely not for everyone and, arguably, not even a game. But, I came away from it feeling pretty good.
It was different. Most of all, it was beautiful. But not because of the context, but because of the graphics and environments. They're overall gorgeous, occasionally photo-realistic and made my jaw drop one or two times. These are some of the most striking and well-designed environments I've ever seen. Without this, though, the "game" wouldn't have been much.
The story, while nice to listen to thanks to the great narration, is hard to follow. The dialogue can often be very ... wordy, sometimes for the sake of being so. Overly metaphorical and occasionally pretentious, it wasn't until after thinking back constantly, delving deep into every detail, finishing the game and looking up a few words on the Wiktionary that I was able to only sort of piece everything together. I got the gist.
I'm just as likely to have missed something as the story could be just straight BS.
BUT..... it is a fun listen, as I've said. And the environments are stunning, and there's far more of a game here than I expected after reading about how lacking it was. There's times where you can venture off the beaten path and the game's dialogue and some very minor events are ever so slightly randomized each playthrough. Although, unlike The Binding of Isaac, I'll be playing through this once or twice more just to try and further understand the story.
Surprisingly, there were even a few creeps to be had. Which brings me to how excited I am to know that these guys are at work on Amnesia 2. If the environmental design from these guys and the creeps/gameplay from Irrational combine well enough, this could be pretty fucking amazing.
If you're in for something different, I'd recommend no other game over Dear Esther. It's not perfect by any means, but I personally found it to be very interesting and at times visually stunning.
So there ya go.
What are some other games I should check out? I've got plenty in my Steam library I've purchased out of curiosity and the awesome Steam sales. I have tons more in my Wishlist.