Howdy everyone! It has turned into that time of the year when there are dozens of high priority games that are coming out, and I just want to buy and play them all! However, there is always a distinct guilt that comes with binging on new games: neglecting the games in the backlog quicker than you abandon a puppy once it becomes a dog. The other chief concern, besides guilt, is that hard drive space is a real concern, and rather than spend a hundred dollars to further encourage a terrible habit (I have drinking to do that!), I have instead decided to clear out the games. I have been applying visual management to my gaming life as well as my work life, and have changed to icon of any completed game to be a red X. Marking a game off and uninstalling it gives the whole process a great sense of closure.
37 installed games , 130 total. Going to be a looooong haul.
To avoid my own personal bias of 'nah, not in the mood for that right now', I am starting at the top of the list alphabetically. The first game this time around?
B is for Bastion:
Time played: 4 hours
Date Purchased: 2/2/2013
That voice. I mean seriously. It is pretty cool the way that the narration in the game works, and the voice makes the whole experience really kind of nice. There are a lot of ‘easter eggs’ you can get with it by performing certain actions - in one of the last levels I was still using the hammer and the dude referred to it as his best friend or whatever the callback to the beginning was. Very cool. As far as the non gameplay stuff, I really like the style of old timey guitar mixed with modern music stuff. Borderlands and Bastion pull this off very well.
I am a Dark Souls junkie, so the parry mechanic in the game had me pretty entertained. Basically, if you block right when an attack would hit you, you auto attack back for a lot of damage. Some enemies are easier to beat with this method, and occasionally the game can force you into a position where you don’t have a ranged weapon against a tower, so you have to block it or run past it. Some of the weapons also have a skillshot mechanic to them, where if you time your attack just right you get some bonus damage. All in all, this gives a great flow to the combat of the game.
I hesitate to say that the story was great, but I liked it well enough. The game uses rather broad strokes (The Kid, The Catastrophe, The Bastion), and I feel like it didn’t set up a lot of the plot in the best way possible. Despite all of that, I still felt like it was pretty cool, and it left me wanting to know more. Hey, protip: I love stories where a base level is explained to give interest, but you can do research to find out more. I never read all the fluff items in games though (data logs, video docs, writing on bathroom walls), but if I really like a game, I will look up stuff on the internet for it. Ah Grimoire Nier. Good times...Good, sad, horrible times…
Also, because that game has been out forever, holy crap that ending was awesome. It does everything my favorite endings do: The “you get a superpowered end game weapon that destroys everything” trope. Feels so good. I didn’t even mind how bad the ram sucked. And I don’t know what everyone else did, but carrying Zulf was absolutely stunning. I wont dwell on it...here….for some reason….but the entire scene was incredibly well done, and was the cherry on top of a great game.
So many weapons. I know it only comes up to about a dozen or so, and you can use two, but I found myself just using the bow and the hammer throughout the entire game. Some of the weapons seemed pretty cool, and if I would have upgraded them, they probably would have been pretty good, but why switch from my bread and butter? Plus, it does the super annoying thing where if you pick up a weapon, it switches out to the new weapon. I get that they want me to see the new weapon, and they give you the perfect situation to show you why you would want it, but...it isn’t upgraded, and it often gets you into the situation I mentioned above where you lose your only ranged weapon. Really frustrating. I was only happy to get a new weapon once, and that’s because it is designed to be an Egyptian God Weapon.
The hammer has a charge up move that you can do that is pretty much overpowered. How do you charge? You block. So you go from being invulnerable to dealing enormous burst damage, then back to invulnerable. Oh ok. Seems good. And when the enemies hit your shield, they stun themselves. The very end of the game had me one shotting each enemy using this completely safe tactic. This was made even better by the fact that it goes through armor, so enemies that are build just to block and take pot shots are now laughably simple. I also had an ability that made me gain life when I dealt damage, so I basically had to be bursted down for all my health, assuming I didn’t have time to use one of my 5 ‘heal me completely’ items. So, game’s super easy, right?
You would think so! But….the block isn’t perfect. If you counter an enemy with a parry, they can continue to move right through you and deal damage. This doesn’t happen if you just block. So the riskier action often doesn’t get you the reward that it should. Also, the shield tries to predict who you are blocking, and in an arena with four enemies, it picks wrong 75% of the time. I had one fight where I lost 4 health potions because my shield refused to block forward (preventing my charge, preventing my life leech, etc).
The difficulty is also really weird. Enemies feel like they hit super hard, and in later sections of the game this goes for double. Some attacks take out something like 80% of the lifebar. One section put you against two mini versions of a previous boss, which when in a pair are incredibly difficult to deal with. I wouldn’t mind the game being punishing if I wasn’t so overpowered, and the above mentioned shield issues didn’t exist, but it just felt wildly inconsistent.
Finally, WASD sucks. Eight directions aren’t enough. At the end, there is a precision jumping section that, while forgiving, is incredibly annoying.
Overall, the game was mostly enjoyable, but at times unreasonably frustrating.
C is for Capsized
Time Played: 96 minutes
Date Purchased: May 28, 2013
So, let me say this right off the bat: I didn’t finish this game. I made it through level 8, then just let it go. Here's the thing: I want to clear out my backlog, but I am trying to game to have fun. I don't want to become a slave to my entertainment, so if a game every crosses the line between fun and frustrating, it is just kicking the X and kicked off the list. It isn't worth it. There is going to be a theme in my backlog stuff which is “I hate everything in the humble bundle’. This is no exception.
This game has some pretty art, and the music is also well done.
The main hook of the game is pretty cool - you have a grappling gun that adheres you to any surface, or that allows you to fling rocks and stuff. This usually involves some kind of puzzle of ‘there is a boulder blocking the path forward, can you move it?’, but it is pretty fun. I liked to cling to the ceiling and rain down death like some kind of well armed chimpanzee soldier. You also occasionally get a jetpack which gives the same feeling. The game is fast paced, and almost feels like if Metroid met Contra.
The missions are varied throughout the game. Some levels require you to destroy statues, other require you to save teammates. It is all still pretty much ‘find X on this tile, kill everything in your way’, but it does break up the pace a bit, which is a good thing. Hooray!
There are also a wide variety of weapons for you to use, all of which have an alternate fire to them. Some are pretty satisfying to use, and you generally feel clever when you figure out how to approach a situation given your arsenal. There are also numerous powerups and secret areas, again calling back to the good old NES days with a modern twist, so some of you may feel right at home with it.
I really hope the story goes the way I thought it would where the humans are enormous dickbags to the aliens. The whole story gives a Spec Ops kind of vibe to it, where I realize what I am doing is totally wrong. One level has you destroying idols, another has you killing priests. I found myself yelling out things like ‘Yeah, screw your stupid religion, aliens!’ while playing, mostly as satire of how heavily this theme is played up. The whole thing reeks of a very ‘we are teh good guyz, shoot da alienz’ vibe. If it doesn’t go that way, it’s a missed opportunity. If it did go that way, it was a little hamfisted. Sorry.
The game sucks more dick than a porn star. Well, that isn’t quite true, but man, does this game annoy me. Where to begin? First of all, the visuals are nice looking, but a lot of stuff that shouldn’t blend together blends together. Like, for examples, enemies. Tiny, flying enemies that can kill you in a matter of seconds. That spawn from basically nowhere. Often times I felt like I didn’t even see what I was supposed to shoot before I died. So I just ran in a flamethrower the second time and hoped for the best. Protip: If the player doesn’t know why they died, you did it wrong.
Sometimes I knew exactly why I died! I would pick up a new weapon in the middle of a fight, it would auto switch to that weapon, then I would either die because I was expecting to use a machine gun, or because I would blow myself up with my newfound super cannon gun. Oh, yeah, you can damage yourself in this game. And you will. A lot. Shooting a gun at an enemy that is too close, pushing an object into yourself, or just not being able to master the oddly clingy controls - you character adheres to any surface as long as you are holding that direction, so holding right will cling to a wall instead of fall down and to the right like every other game ever made.
What else kills you, you ask? Well, in later levels, there are traps. Oh, cool, traps. Often, you see these traps ahead of time, and are able to notice that they have a pattern that you can dodge (assuming you don’t glue yourself to a wall). But sometimes, there are traps that just kind of show up, because you were out of range, walked on the ‘turn off switch’ and the traps start right after that. So you die for something you couldn’t predict. Wonderful game design! Then sometimes you have to play ‘find the no trap button’ for five minutes to advance.
Are you noticing a theme? The theme of ‘you die and it was mostly out of your control’? Yeah, me too.
Outside of that, the game ordinarily costs 10 dollars, and while it is a pretty game, that seems fairly steep for that price point. As I said, I made it about 75% of the way through the game before giving up, and that was in 90 minutes. A frustrating, muddy, short experience. Would not recommend.
D is for DOTA
Q: How do you make a diffusal blade? A: With a Diffusal blade. Maaaay be a glitch.
I swear guys, I just don’t understand how the mid lane works anymore. I’m playing as Ancient Apparition? Take mid against Sniper! Clockwerk? Take mid against Templar Assassin! In the second one I actually got off some ganks, which was weird, but man….I thought the mid was pretty clear cut for a carry to take, but I am not playing your grandpa’s DOTA anymore I guess.
I had one really fun game as a Skywrath laning in the offlane with a Sven against Viper and Lion. We had a system: Sven stuns, I drop Ulti, Viper dies. We must have done this three times before rotating to another lane to do it to other heroes. The communication required was minimal, but the results were huge. A PSA from taterchimp: talk to your teammates about ganks, before its too late. The first time the Viper saw the combo, he was blown away by the Skywrath nuke. Then he started complaining about stuns, then about DOTA, then his teammates, then on how we were ‘tryhards’, then how we lived in our mother’s basement. Long story short, he mad. Some of the other players made it into a fun situation though, either through goading, or non-insults. I seem to recall everyone saying ‘gl,hf’ at the start of the match, then Lion saying how polite everyone was in a pub. Then I told him his mother sucked dick in hell or something, with a winky face. It was good times. Love really can spring on the battlefield.
I also found the worst VS player in history. Dude did not let off his auto attacks the entire team, and was depriving me of so much gold. He later swapped himself at 10% health out with me, at 50% into the middle of four enemy heroes. Thanks for killing us both there.
Anyway, after 90 hours I think I am a little bit closer to the last boss. I’ll keep trying to get there!
(Also, that voice. Bastion announcer, I love you)