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Quick Reviews - Silent Hill: SM, The Stanley Parable, SteamWorld Dig


Silent Hill: Shattered Memories (PS2)

I played this game in a single day with two friends, and I would suggest this setting for optimal enjoyment. We had fun piecing together clues and puzzles together, and taking turns at the running sequences. It was the same kind of vibe you get watching a horror movie with a group - the scares are scarier, the stupid parts are funnier. All in all, a good way to play it. Oh, and I had never played a Silent Hill game before.

The  game itself was actually a fair bit better than I expected. I was the primary pilot for our little group, with the others choosing to observe most of the time and only really took over when I needed a break. The graphics are pretty fantastic for a PS2 game, which is a nice side effect of it coming out in 2010. It knows what it can do, and it pulls off an appealing art style.

The game was originally released on Wii, so I feel like it's safe to deduce that the graphics were downgraded a little bit for the PS2 port. There are also some moments that were clearly designed with the Wii in mind, but the PS2 controls do a good job of proving that these moments were superfluous at best. Unscrewing a panel by pointing at the screws isn't exactly enthralling stuff, but it doesn't really take away from the experience either.

I enjoyed the story, and found the therapy sessions in between chapters to be a nice touch. Exploring the world was the most enjoyable part of the game, with chase sequences adding a bit of intensity at different intervals. The chase scenes start to wear thin eventually, but by that point you're into the fantastic ending sequence and it doesn't matter anymore.


The Stanley Parable (PC)

This game presents an interesting idea and pulls it off well. You essentially navigate the game's first-person world as you see fit, choosing to either listen to or ignore the narrator as you see fit. Each run through the game is fairly short, but if you're anything like me you'll aim to find every possible path.

An important part of the game is the writing, and while the narrator is generally amusing there were a number of moments that fell flat for me. Still, there were a few very clever sequences that I'll probably remember for a long time.

There isn't really much gameplay here, but there's enough going on that I felt engaged... most of the time. There are a few moments that force you to wait around and listen to some narration or wait for something to happen. Though few and far between, these types of moments made repeated playthroughs a bit more annoying.

Regardless of everything, The Stanley Parable was an interesting little experiment in narrative and progression. The game found within the experiment is decent, and a few moments of true brilliance shine amid other moments that don't quite hit the mark.


SteamWorld Dig (3DS)

Side-scrolling action games have seen a resurgence in recent years, and games with any sort of mining theme are continuing to push their way into the market the wake of MineCraft. So it's only natural that a game other than Terraria would come along and combine the two. The execution here is sound, opting for a use of non-linear level design over total random-generated freedom.

Though overwhelming at first, you'll soon find yourself exploring the mostly-destructible world with ease. Jumping up any wall makes moving a breeze, and money you earn from mining is used to purchase upgrades that help you progress further and further into mine. Some of the limits placed on you can make progression move slowly, but the game feels so nice to control that I didn't really mind having to backtrack to a way to escape to the surface. It did get annoying at times though, especially if you're like me and turn back every time your inventory of minerals fills up so you can sell them off and buy upgrades. 

While it's easy to move around and progress through the mine, the game will make you pay if you don't think about what you're doing. Though frustrating at first, I soon came to appreciate the game's ruthlessness. It's never unfair, and really it's not even particularly hard, but it doesn't cut you any slack. You learn the game's rules, you learn how to deal with the enemies, you learn what will kill you. You have to, or you'll die. It ramps up nicely, though I did find that the second half of the game got easier as it went.

Overall, SteamWorld Dig feels like what could have been a successful game in the heyday of the GameBoy Advance. In 2003, this game could have been selling in stores for $40 and it would have been a good purchase. In 2013, it launched on the 3DS for considerably less and it's worth every penny. Though not a perfect game, I found enough to like that I have no problem recommending this game to anybody that can appreciate a good 2D action/adventure title.

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About Adam McDonaldone of us since 3:24 AM on 11.13.2011

I live on the west coast of Canada and like video games.

I got an SNES for Christmas in 1992 and haven't looked back (though I don't know many 4-year-olds that regress back to being babies).

I have some game-making abilities and am always trying to learn more.