Monday, April 21, 2014

No Game New Year - Progress Report

I continue to have a hard time finding moments to squeeze in game play, but here's a little bit I was able to accomplish:

To The Moon - This is a retro style 16 bit RPG that tells the story of a dying man who requests the help of a company to achieve his dying wish through his dreams.  It's all very sci-fi obviously.  It's available on Steam and I bought it because I had heard the story was good.  I'm afraid that up to this point I can't really agree.  You move slowly backwards in time through the man's life to gain information about him, and you learn that his wife is a little strange but don't know why.  Except it's really obvious almost from the start what's wrong with her, but the game treats it like a big reveal when you finally get there.  Throughout all this, the "gameplay" is just walking around and touching objects to collect colors so you can move further back in time.  I did finally reach a part that was a little more puzzle oriented, but the story is moving so slowly that I don't find myself very interested.  I may come back to this one eventually, but right now I'd rather spend my time playing other games.

Bioshock Infinite: Burial at Sea Part 2 - I played this the weekend after it came out.  I enjoyed the sneaking gameplay and most of the execution of the story.  There was something really fun about possessing a Big Daddy and watching him go to town on the Splicers in the area.  The only thing I didn't really care for was the end attempt to tie Infinite into the original Bioshock.  Not only does it throw Bioshock 2 out the window but it has the obvious marking of a retro-active change rather than something that makes logical sense.  Still, I enjoyed playing it.

Tomb Raider - I had picked this one up because I had heard a lot of good reviews about the story.  I should have spent a little more time looking up the style of game play.  I knew there were puzzles involved, which was fine, but there's also a lot of moments that rely on real time events and Lara's primary weapon (at least at the beginning) is a bow and arrow.  I hate real time events and I can't do FPS with a controller.  On top of this, Lara's "survival instinct" is just a ripoff of the detective mode introduced in the Batman Arkham games.  About an hour into this one I just wasn't having any fun at all.  Lara gets hurt a lot and there was nothing enjoyable about seeing her constantly beat up and having to urge herself on.  I feel like I wasted my money on this one.

Psychonauts - I knew this was a 3D platformer and therefore wasn't sure how far I could get in it.  I imagine I will hit a wall with this one eventually, but for now it's really fun.  The humor is really great and the levels creative, so that even when I had a hard time pulling off some of the jumps it kept me going because I wanted to know what was next.  I plan on coming back to this one.

Mario & Luigi: Dream Team - I may be stopping this one.  I got to a boss fight that's three enemies, and you have to defeat them all at once or they heal each other.  Multiple attempts, including some on "easy mode" all ended in failure, and I'm not having fun anymore.  I understand that in modern times they feel like they have to upgrade the difficulty on turn based RPGs to keep them interesting but I like the old way that relied on thinking rather than reflexes to accomplish the challenges.

Paper Mario Sticker Star: Having given up on the above, I put this one back in my 3DS.  I had started it earlier and got distracted by other games.  I mostly fiddled around this time reminding myself of the mechanics.  It has similarities to M&L as it has turn based battles that require real time response, but instead of leveling up and gaining abilities you use the stickers to fight.  Logically, some are more powerful than others.  You also use the stickers to solve puzzles, and I accidentally lost my poison mushroom sticker I needed to unlock a door, so I'm going to have to find one before I can move forward.  The gap in time since playing means I have no idea where I got the first, but that's just a quick google search away.

Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee demo - I had really enjoyed the original Abe's Oddysee game in this series, so I downloaded this demo ages ago to try out the newer version of the game.  Similar to the original, it's a platformer that is primarily about solving puzzles and rescuing the other inhabitants of Oddworld along the way.  Like Lemmings with platforming elements.  It's been ages since I played the first one, but this felt just as fun, with only a few minor annoyances because this is a 3D platformer instead of 2D.  I won't be purchasing the full game in keeping with my promise to not buy any new ones, but I enjoyed it.

Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time demo - I've never played this series before but I had downloaded the demo out of curiosity.  My fondness for Lupin III guarantees that I usually like thieves with a heart of gold, and the characters seemed cute and the game had an interesting set up.  But I found the controls annoying, with the double jump not working very well and Sly not going where I wanted him to.  Combining sneaking with platform jumping just wasn't enjoyable to me at all, and  I didn't even finish the demo.

Shadow of the Colossus - This was another one I had gotten free thanks to PS Plus.  I started up the game and I thought it looked beautiful. The animation was a little unnatural, but the backgrounds were gorgeous.  With no dialogue or narration in the intro, I thought the protagonist looked like a young woman, and I thought it would be cool to play as a female protagonist.  But then "she" started talking and was actually a he.  On top of that the story was a little bland - he wants to bring a woman back to life, and the gods speak from the sky and tell him he needs to kill the colossi in order to do so.  I then finally had control and immediately became frustrated.  The tutorial was minimal, and controlling the horse was absolutely terrible.  It also wasn't really clear where it wanted me to go.  After struggling and wandering around for about five minutes, I gave up.  Perhaps I was just tired after a long day, but there was nothing here grabbing me enough to make me want to figure  this one out.

Brothers - I heard a lot of positive reviews about this one, and so far I have to agree with them.  The puzzles are clever and the gameplay unique.  It took me a while to get used to controlling them with the two analogue sticks, and I often do find it easier to control one brother at a time, especially when there is jumping involved.  The main issue I have is that using the PS3 controller isn't very comfortable.  I got as far as the moment when the boys ride the hang glider, and found my fingers were far too tired to keep holding down the trigger buttons while also moving them back and forth to make the turns on the glider.  I'll come back to this one for sure.

Darksiders - Another PS Plus freebie I downloaded a while ago.  It's essentially yet another God of War hack and slash clone.  It doesn't take long for me to get bored with this style of gameplay.  However, the graphics and story kept me going for a bit, and for now at least I found it pretty simple to dodge the enemy attacks and hack away at them.  I like the style of all the demons and the concept of War working for the Balance and Mark Hamill voicing the Watcher that's with him along the way.  While certainly nothing spectacular, the game seems like a decent way to unwind for an hour or two.  I'll come back to it.

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