Remember Me, this futuristic Neo-Paris, and building your own combos

remember me original

First and foremost, this is Remember Me, the 2013 debut from Dontnod Entertainment, not the 2010 American romantic coming of age drama film starring Robert Pattinson and a forced, offensive 9/11 plot twist. Which I’ve not actually seen, but sometimes you really can’t avoid spoilers for anything in this day and age. Anyways, the game is its own thing, been sitting on my PlayStation 3 for many months now, and so far pretty fun, though I’m only up to Chapter Four at this point.

In Remember Me, you play as Nilin, an Errorist imprisoned in the Bastille Fortress and on the path to having her memory completely wiped by Memorize, a corporation that invented a new brain implant called the Sensation Engine (Sensen), which enables roughly 99% of the population to share their memories on the net, as well as remove unhappy ones. A mysterious man called Edge helps her escape the prison and reach the slums of Neo-Paris, where Nilin meets up with fellow Errorist Tommy. Between them and the turned bounty hunter Olga Sedova, Nilin has plenty of friends to help fill in her memory gaps and get her back on the path to revealing Memorize for all its evil and taking them down.

Gameplay is a combination of handholdy new Tomb Raider, that fluid, bouncy combat from Batman: Arkham Asylum, and…well, there’s no third thing to really compare its futuristic, atmospheric setting and tone. Not like Blade Runner, not like Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Remember Me does that really well on its own, offering hints of triumph and despair at the same time without forcing either down your throat. Either way, those first two attributes are far from perfect, but work okay enough to keep me going from one locale to another and see what bonkers big baddie Nilin runs into next or what trick of technology is on offer in this alley or that marketplace.

First, there’s exploration. Though saying that is not very accurate. Remember Me is extremely linear, with a main path to follow, but there are, on occasion, a side path to venture down, often to find collectibles or power-ups. Some areas come coupled with a digital screenshot of that area from a different perspective, highlighting where a hidden stash is, and it’s up to you to figure out where it is and how to get it–I don’t think I’ve missed any of these yet, they are effortless at best. When it comes time to climbing up stacks of crates and leaping from pipe to pipe just like Lara Croft…well, every single action is forecast for you with an orange arrow showing where to go next. You literally cannot get lost in these parts, and instead of using the environment to indicate these things or letting the player experiment, the game simply shows you where to shimmy, where to jump, when to climb. It’s mindless and disappointing, especially when you consider some of the neat-looking, neon-tinted locales ripe for exploring.

And then there’s combat, the solution to enemies. Players can create and customize Nilin’s combos in the Combo Lab, which uses four families of fighting moves called Pressens that can be reorganized by creating chains, earned through gaining PMP (Procedural Mastering Power). The four Pressen families are as so: “Regen” (healing), “Power” (damage), “Chain” (duplication and doubling of previous moves), and “Cooldown” (regeneration of S-Pressen energy). Evidently, Transistor took a note from Remember Me as there are 50,000 possible Pressen combinations. Anyways, this probably sounds a lot more complicated than it actually is, because, unfortunately, Nilin is rarely fighting one on one, and these combos require specific timing to nail, which is always ruined when two to three other enemy goons are trying to kick her from behind. You spend more time Batman-flipping and flopping from one guy to another than punching. So boo to that. I mostly get by with this astoundingly deep combo attack: Square, Square, and then Square again. You also get some special attacks like being able to repeatedly attack or perform a stunning shockwave, as well as able to shoot projectiles via the Spammer and Junk Bolt add-ons. I love the idea of building your own combos, but so far, the majority of the fighting scenarios aren’t set up for them.

Oh, and there’s memory remixing, though I’ve only gotten to do this once so far. Basically, you enter the memory of someone and start tweaking minor things to change it for the bigger picture. It’s a puzzle, and you can rewind and fast-forward to see how things unfold. A bit like Inception, which is just fine by me; hopefully I’ll get to do it a few more times before the credits roll.

So yeah, I’m not thrilled with the exploring or combat, and yet I’m going to keep playing. There’s just something about Remember Me, some remarkably neat ideas buried under blander by-the-book concepts to keep the game accessible to a wider audience. Plus, you get to play as a strong, non-sexualized female lead, very much capable of taking matters into her own hand, and that’s not something you come across too often in videogames. It should be appreciated, experienced. I’ll be back with more once I’m done with the game; based on the Trophies list, I think I’m about halfway through it. Get ready, Neo-Paris. I’m returning for more.

Every mission repeatedly in Metal Gear Solid: VR Missions

spot_g7-metalgearsolidvrmissions-1

It all began in Metal Gear Solid, right there on the main menu. Basically, you could take on 10 different tutorial missions all set in a Tron-inspired virtual reality that would teach Solid Snake–or rather you, the player–the ins and outs of being a sneaky, alarm-bypassing soldier. The idea behind this is that players were offered a chance to learn how to be Solid Snake outside of the game while not interrupting the main flow of the narrative-driven gameplay. Ironically, Codec calls from Mei Ling and friends during Metal Gear Solid‘s early hours would still happen, with them casually breaking the fourth wall to tell you how to save or crawl under a table and so on.

I found the 10 VR missions in Metal Gear Solid to be beyond easy. Even bland. I breezed through all of them without fault and then immediately found myself sad, wanting more challenge. Well, Paul, I say to myself, nodding and grinning and lightly stroking my somewhat out-of-control mountain beard, then I have good news…

Welcome to Metal Gear Solid: VR Missions, an entire game devoted to all things tutorial missions, as well as some of that crazy mindfuckery that we’d eventually really get to know Kojima for with the series follow-up of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. VR Missions is exactly what it says on the tin, adding 300 additional training missions for the stealthy gamers salivating for more. Oh, and if one finishes all 300 missions, “mystery missions” are unlocked, and there’s also three bonus missions where you get to play as the ninja Gray Fox. And some kind of photo-taking event that reportedly takes up your entire memory card. I’ll spoil y’all reading this now that I won’t ever see that stuff, as I don’t expect to cross even the 80% completion rate; as of this writing, I’m around 73% and really feel like I’m done with VR Missions, ready to move on in my Metal Gear sojourn to Sons of Liberty (the PS3 version with Trophies!).

VR Missions is divided up into four sets of missions, but only two of them are accessible from the very start: Sneaking and Weapon. Basically, you have to grind out access to other categories by completing a certain percentage of the ones you already have available. This often means playing the same mission twice, but now on a timed version, which is not very fun or even Metal Gear-like, but I’ll get to that in just a bit. For now, here’s a breakdown of what the game offers mission-wise:

“Sneaking” consists of 15 missions, most of which are lifted whole cloth from the VR training included in the original Metal Gear Solid. I ran through them in record timing thanks to having just played them recently, and then you get to repeat these same missions all over again in “Time Attack” form, “Socom” form, and then the dreaded “Socom Time Attack” form. For those counting along, that right there is already 60 missions of the much touted 300 missions.

“Weapon” tasks you with target shooting missions in 5 levels for each of the game’s main weapons. Yup, even C4. You basically take out both stationary and moving targets with a limited amount of ammo to chew through. Some are more puzzle-based than others. Then you get to do it all over again in “Time Attack” form, totaling 70 missions. If you add these plus all the “Sneaking” ones, you get 130 missions, nearly half the game’s content.

The “Advanced” section of missions is a little trickier, as you now have to use the game’s cache of weapons to kill guards and avoid alarms. Your only goal is to obliterate everyone, however you deem fit, which leads to more creativity than previous missions allowed. Unfortunately, before you can play the levels for the next weapon, you must first complete all five of the current weapon’s levels, which only got difficult for me when the Nikita and grenades were involved. Solid Snake is not meant to throw grenades, and I mean that.

“Special” is where VR Missions stands uniquely above itself, and it’s a shame that to get there you have to grind through all those timed modes and redundant missions. You won’t gain access to it until you’ve completed 50% of the rest of the game (around 150 missions). The first section of “Special” is “Puzzle” mode, where you need to use physics to knock off unreachable guards from platforms. Considering you’re using PS1-era physics, it’s not the easiest of tasks, but silly enough ideas. There’s some other stuff, but you need to be above 80% to see it, and alas, I’m not there. This means I’m missing out on the “Mystery” mode where you apparently solve Genome Soldier murders by examining rooms for clues. Oh, and those ninja missions, a fight against a giant Genome soldier (yes, I’ve seen the screenshot), and some kind of endurance run where you have to do like 10 missions in a row on one single bar of health, which I tried once and did not complete.

I was really excited about the idea of VR Missions and even enjoying everything early on, as seeing Snake leap triumphantly when you finish a set of missions was enough to fuel me forward, but as I quickly saw that I’d have to grind out missions to open up more to play…well, my enthusiasm dwindled. Especially when it came to the “Time Attack” forms of missions, which require Solid Snake to move fast and strike faster. He is a man that crouches, that crawls, that slinks around corners, so having him timed to kill X soldiers in X amount of time really makes you throw all that stealth stuff away and just run up to snap necks or pop silently with the Socom pistol. It’s certainly not at all how I like to play these games, and it certainly isn’t how the game was built; for example, try to crawl up behind an enemy, stand, and grab him, and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

VR Missions is not the most visually exciting game, as it is the same virtual reality setup from mission to mission. Sometimes it is gold-colored, sometimes light blue. Might even get green at one time or two. Strangely, you can still see the cold breath of Solid Snake and the enemy guards. The music is fine if limited, and all the voice sample cues come from the original Metal Gear Solid, so don’t expect any new story beats here, unless you find hidden layers in how many times Naomi Hunter can say, “Impressive, Snake.”

Again, I’m disappointed that most of VR Missions is the same mission, but on repeat, and that the really crazy stuff is locked away for a long, long time. I might end up looking some stuff up via YouTube as I’m just not interested in grinding out those “Time Attack” levels. A shame, but oh well–this isn’t a traditional game, more like bonus DLC for those that really love these kinds of challenges. Me? I’m ready to move on to Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, and hopefully I’ve grown stronger as a Solid Snake–but not Raiden–thanks to VR Missions. We’ll see, I guess.

The Deepest Sleep’s nightmare ends and begins anew

the deepest sleep capture

I kind of planned my playthrough of Deeper Sleep just perfectly to line up with the release of the third and final game in the trilogy, The Deepest Sleep, which came out last week. Alas, my weekend was busy full of party planning, party partying, and party recovering, so I only just got around to returning to the darkness last night. The sad truth is that all three of these games are small, quick adventures, ones you can burn through each of them in under 10 to 15 minutes if you really put your heart in it, and so I did my best to make this last as long as possible, and thanks to a game-stopping glitch, it definitely stretched my playtime.

Right. So, at the end of Deeper Sleep, you go down a dark well and find a terrifying “To Be Continued” screen. In this one, it starts with you trapped in a bed, then finding a flashlight, and then in some cult-like building with a bunch of seemingly random rooms to explore. Hmm, all right. Granted, you can always brush aside anything in dreams since reality-based reasoning has no place there. The Deepest Sleep feels both like a continuation in the series and its own unique thing, especially when you come across the newer mechanics not found in the previous two adventures.

I think you could die in Deeper Sleep, but I never did. Yeah, you’re impressed over my pointing and clicking skills, calm down. That said, I perished in my dreams at least four or five times in The Deepest Sleep, and these unfortunate failings stem from the fact that there is a time-based puzzle and stealth-themed bosses to avoid. Wait, is it true that if you die in your dreams…you die for realsies? Uh oh. Let’s not contemplate how I’m typing this blog post any further. Anyways, there’s one puzzle where you have to escape a grouping of three rooms swiftly or succumb to the Bottom Feeders, demons that thrive on darkness; naturally, I didn’t even realize this was happening until the YOU DIED screen popped up. Then you’ll come across a crazy-looking worm boss that can sense quick reflexes, so you have to tip-toe around it or get devoured, and these scenarios are tense and fantastic.

One of the final puzzles in the game revolves around collecting four chunks of stones with markings on them and placing them in a thing on the wall which, when put in the right order, will open a hatch and reveal a ladder. The order placement of the stones is determined by a drawing you find earlier, which is randomly generated, and I put the stones in the right place, but the hatch refused to answer. I even watched an online walkthrough where someone got the same pattern that I had, so I couldn’t figure out how to get past it. Granted, shortly before this stone puzzle, my Adobe Flash plug-in crapped out and I had to refresh the browser, so maybe that had something to do with it hiccupping.

The Deepest Sleep does some interesting things with its story to bring it full circle, but leaves a lot of room open for questions. Alas, they won’t ever get answered, unless scriptwelder decides to go back for more with The Deepest Sleep That Ever Deeply Slept.

Transistor’s futuristic city Cloudbank takes a Turn() for the worse

Transistor game final thoughts

It’s been several weeks now since I played and beat Transistor, and since then I’ve come to the unfortunate conclusion that Supergiant Games’ second outing is no Bastion II. You might already have suspected that based on the look and tone of Transistor, but everything else seems to shout “same mechanics, same style, same story-telling”…alas, it is not so. That’s not to say that Transistor on its own is not a strong, enjoyable experience, but when put side by side with Bastion, a game I absolutely ate up twice and then some, it stands fully in its shadow. Let me explain some more.

One can easily summarize Transistor‘s story, but to detail it out is a much harder task. Cloudbank’s famous singer Red is, without warning, attacked by the Process, a robotic force commanded by a group called the Camerata. During the fight, she’s transported across Cloudbank and gains possession of the very sword used in her assassination attempt, the mysterious Transistor. She takes the Transistor out of the chest of a dead man, but his consciousness and voice are now a part of the Transistor itself, along with Red’s voice. As Red searches for answers, the Camerata continues to track her across the city, demanding the Transistor returned.

Now, truth be told, I got most of that from Wikipedia. If you want to know anything deeper than that, sorry…I’ve got nothing. And I played the game for a few nights in a row, my face only inches away from my struggling laptop’s screen. Alas, the writing is not as sharp and memorable here as it was in Bastion, though I loved the idea of those interactive terminals, but that air of mystery really hangs about like a damning mist, thickening and making it difficult to see where to go. I’m okay with some aspects of the story being vague, but who Red is and why she is going after these people–and who these people are and are about–well…that’s kind of important stuff and shouldn’t be buried in menus or unlocked through superfluous means. In Bastion, you have to rebuild your safe haven, and you get a big choice at the end; in Transistor, you move from one locale to another, constantly fighting, constantly taking in clouded data, and then you have a showdown with, I guess, the person behind your assassination attempt, and I won’t spoil what happens after that, but you guessed it–it’s unclear.

Okay, so I wasn’t super thrilled with how the story actually unfolded in Transistor–or didn’t unfold, if you will–but at least the combat’s interesting. And fun, sometimes. A few fights felt overwhelming and punishing, and you really don’t get a moment to breathe even though you can pause the action. It’s a mixture of real-time combat and frozen planning, referred to as Turn(). Using the latter will drain Red’s action bar, which takes some time to refill, but allows you to plan out each movement more carefully. It’s really nice that you can take as much time as you want and erase previous decisions if things don’t look sunny and bright, just like with Fallout 3‘s V.A.T.S. Red earns what appears to be set experience points after each battle and can collect new powers, known as Functions, from dead victims of the Process. You can equip up to four of these and combine them in multiple ways to create unique and different effects in battle. I played around with the Functions often, swapping in new ones and attaching others elsewhere just to see how battles changed, and there is quite a lot of variety here. I think you need New Game+ to really see everything though.

Just like with Bastion, Transistor gets its monsters right. From the paparazzi-inspired bots that take Red’s snapshot and momentarily obstruct the screen to the shockwave-creating Jerks that will plow you down if you , they are all uniquely designed and each requires special tactics in battle, which makes for some skillful juggling at times. Early on in the game, you’ll find the beach hideaway, which acts as your training grounds zone, as well as a good place to kick back, listen to some sultry jams, and watch the cyber-sun set. I did not end up completing every challenge here, but I did most of them and always visited when the chance popped up. The time-based and plan-based challenges really give you a feel for some specific combat situations, though I wish they resulted in more than just a bump of XP.

As I’m sure we all remember, music and art were a powerful combo in Bastion, and that trend continues here too. The slick, futuristic lighting of Cloudbank presents a city built on power and elitism, while the music is somber and striking, always setting a mood. At any point in the game, you can press a button and have voiceless Red hum along to whatever tune is playing; a small detail, but a powerful one. I wish one could zoom in a little closer on the battles to see some of the monsters better. Oh, and there are these strange, lightly interactive bridging sequences that really show off Jen Zee’s painting skills.

And so I beat Transistor, saw the message that I could begin playing it all over again in New Game+, and quit right away. I haven’t loaded the game back up since. It’s not that I hated my time with it, just that I feel like I experienced everything it has to offer already, and it’s not like the story is going to radically change a second time through. True, it might become clearer, but the fault is then in the cloudy writing, and it shouldn’t take two playthroughs to really grok it all. Anyways, that return romp would be mostly to try out more Function combos in combat and such, but I think I saw–and tried–plenty along the way, with Spark() probably my favorite Function.

Well, as Rucks might say, “I’ll see you in the next one.”

If only Spyro the Dragon could burn the in-game camera to a crisp

spyro ps1 early impressions

Spyro the Dragon is a cutesy fantasy action-adventure game from Insomniac–y’know, the Ratchet & Clank folk–that I got to play demo-wise way back in the day when videogame magazines came coupled with demo discs or you could even drop five bucks at the local brick-and-mortar store for a retail disc containing a mighty selection of different games to experience. I have a bunch of these in my collection still because I made a vow to myself long ago to never get rid of or trade in anything. In fact, it’s this one here from PlayStation Underground Jampack that I’m talking about, which I guess I got some time in late 1998 or early 1999:

WP_20140714_002

For those that can’t see due to camera glare in the above pic, on this are demos for Spyro the Dragon, MediEvil, Metal Gear Solid, A Bug’s Life, CoolBoarders 3, NHL FaceOff ’99, NFL GameDay ’99, Rally Cross 2, Tomb Raider III: Adventures of Lara Croft, and Small Soldiers. Some classic titles there, for sure. Now, for me, a teenager with little cash to my name, spending five bucks ($7.99 for you Canadian suckers!) to sample a smörgåsbord of all games, ranging from sports to action to fantasy to RPG to racing, sounded a whole lot better than saving up for one big game that could potentially disappoint me. Plus, the natural idea behind these demo discs is that if I enjoyed what little nibble the demo could give, I’d probably like the full meal. Years later, the company Nintendo still has no idea how demos work, but that’s a post for another day.

SIDE NOTE: I’d love to do something here on Grinding Down with these demo discs of mine–I have about seven or eight in total–but I’m not sure just what yet. I mean, I guess I could simply deep-dive back into them all and write about playing these wee slices some fifteen years later, though who knows how interesting that would be. If you’ve got an idea for me to try, please do share.

Anyways, so far, my favorite thing about Spyro the Dragon, which I’m playing on the PlayStation 3 after nabbing it and others during a really good sale a few months back, is that it wastes no time getting into the mix of things. I can think of only a few other games that open just as swiftly and let you start playing before you can even speak a word–Jetpack Joyride and Scribblenauts come to mind first.

Okay, you ready for this. Spyro the Dragon begins with a short cutscene that can’t possibly last for more than 30 seconds. In it, a news team sets up an interview with a couple of dragons within the Artisan World, one of five realms in the Dragon Kingdom (the others of which include Peace Keepers’ world, Magic Crafters, Beast Makers, and Dream Weavers), which have lived in harmony for eons. Well, when the reporter brings up Gnasty Gnorc, a gnorc who lives within his own, sixth realm, one of the dragons describes him as an ugly, simple-minded creature who poses no threat to the Dragon Kingdom. Daaang. Those are fighting words, for sure. And yup, fortuitously, Gnasty is watching the live feed at that exact moment; enraged, he casts a magic spell that encases all of the dragons in crystal and sends out an army of gnorc soldiers to take over the realms. However, one purple dragon called Spyro, due to his smallish nature, is able to dodge the spell, and it’s now up to him to save his elders.

And that’s the gist of the story so far. You are the lucky wee dragon left alive, and you must save everybody us, and you do this by charging into the crystal statues and freeing the elders. Each of these older, bigger dragons has a name and something to say to Spyro upon rescue, but then they are gone in a poof. Rinse and repeat until you find all the dragons in a given themed area (36 levels spread across six worlds). Other than that, Spyro can shoot a small burst of flames from his mouth and jump and even fly a bit (though technically it is falling with style). You want to also defeat enemies and collect gems. More or less, it’s a very traditional character-dependent action adventure game, and there is nothing wrong with the premise to begin with.

However, in a game all about jumping and flying from one place to another, the in-game camera needs to work with the player. This camera is atrocious. Really just horrible, and you can only turn it left or right, not up or down, so if you are standing on top of a castle and want to jump to that smaller castle below, you kind of have to wing it (pun intended) because there’s no way to rotate the camera enough to see where you need to land. You can press the triangle button at any time to lock the camera directly behind Spyro, but this is only handy when you want to ram an enemy head-on with your horns.

Thankfully, despite the camera issues, Spyro the Dragon is a fun, harmless game. And it’s not too punishing, so even if you missed a jump due to not being able to see the land below, you can always try again. Interestingly, instead of some kind of health bar or string of hearts on the screen, Spyro’s health is visible through his butterfly companion, so depending on how that fella looks and acts, you’ll know just how many more hits our little dragon hero can take. You can save your progress at any of the statue spots where you’ve rescued an elder dragon, and most of the difficulty just comes from traversing, rather than fighting enemies or solving puzzles. Oh, and to tie this back to that demo disc above, I remember fondly being super impressed that Spyro could burn plants to a pile of black ash at the touch of a button, and it’s still an amusing thing to do many years later.

I’m looking forward to playing more when I can, as I also have Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage! and Spyro Year of the Dragon downloaded and ready for chomping. Not to mention Gex: Enter the Gecko, Crash Bandicoot, Crash Bandicoot 2, and Crash Bandicoot 3: WARPED. Yeah, I went a little crazy on the PS1-era mascot games during that sale. Not the worst mistake I’ve ever made.

Lastly, I’ll leave y’all on a fun tidbit about Spyro the Dragon–its soundtrack was done by The Police’s Stewart Copeland.

There’s just no turning back in And Yet It Moves

and-yet-it-moves-8

And Yet It Moves has been in my Steam library and untouched for a pretty long time. Specifically, since July 2011, which is when I got it and a bunch of other not-known-at-the-time indie games as part of the Humble Indie Bundle 3. Man, I can’t even make an estimated guess as to what bundle we’re coming up to now, seeing as that whole process has evolved from just the occasional bundle to weekly happenings and themed promotions and a store and bundles about books and music and whatever else you can think of. Anyways, And Yet It Moves is not the first name at the top of my list of Steam games, but it’s pretty close, which means I see it all the time when logging in to the client, so I’m glad I finally sat down and played through it.

Besides being a famous quote said by Galileo, And Yet It Moves is a puzzle platformer, one where you turn more than you actually jump. Let me explain. The game’s main nifty shtick focuses on moving the player character, represented as a colorful man made of paper with wavy hair, through an environment full of hazardous obstacles. At any time, one can freely rotate the entire game world with the left and right arrow keys, transforming walls into floors and moving things like boulders and broken branches out of the way. Your goal is to basically navigate the environment and make it to the end safely, and you’ll have to be careful how you turn the world as our little paper hero can’t fall from very high and ends up maintaining momentum even as everything around him shifts.

There’s no real story to follow or even a thin set-up in And Yet It Moves. You’re just this paper man, stuck in a rotatable world. That’s okay, honestly, but it probably wouldn’t have been too difficult to come up with some kind of conflict. Maybe the paper man wants to find out who made him, how he is alive, where this rotating power came from. I actually thought we were getting somewhere along those lines during the last few levels, where everything begins getting LSD trippy and unpredictable. Anyways, the game features paper collage-inspired visuals designed by Jan Hackl, which are a treat to behold and watch move behind and in front of other visual planes, and a beatboxing soundtrack performed by Christoph Binder that really becomes its own when the vanishing platforms appear, your jumps nearly timed to the drums.

I only ended up getting seriously stuck in one spot, where there is fire involved. Little ol’ me didn’t notice that the flames change direction as you tilt the world, so you need to position them just right to set other things blocking your path ablaze. Other than that, trial and error and persistence are the key tactics here. There are other game modes to try like time attack levels, but this never felt like the sort of experience one should rush, especially given how slow the main character moves.

Oh, and we can add And Yet It Moves to that list of games with fantastic, interactive end credits. It can stand proudly next to Vanquish, even if it doesn’t last terribly long due to the small staff behind it.

Let’s see, let’s see. So, from the Humble Indie Bundle 3, I’ve now gotten through two entire games–And Yet It Moves and VVVVVV–played Cogs for a wee bit, and have never even launched Crayon Physics Deluxe or Hammerfight. Maybe I’ll try to see what those last two are like sooner than later or maybe they’ll just have to be even more patient and wait a couple more years. I know, I’m so cruel.

Something continues to lurk in Deeper Sleep’s darkness

Deeper Sleep final impressions

I’m not going to deny it–I still think about Deep Sleep. It’s a really short, browser-ready atmospheric point-and-click adventure game I played last year that, by all means, should’ve just been a thing that ate up a few minutes of my day and then disappeared into a void, not worthy to take up space in my actual sliver of brain memory devoted to gaming. Trust me, over the years, I’ve dabbled in a number of instantly forgettable yet fun, small games, just things that you experience for a moment and then move on. In fact, Deep Sleep inspired me to try some of that very popular “talk and play games” video stuff, though I’ve not really done much else with that medium since.

Anyways, Deeper Sleep is the direct sequel to Deep Sleep, where you basically find yourself stuck in a waking nightmare. The original game had a wonderful sense of atmosphere, a murky, pixelated look, sounds that could shake you still, and some highly tense action moments where timing your clicks was vital to staying alive. I really loved it, but never moved on to the readily available sequel…that is, until now. Also, this is my fiftieth game beaten in 2014, and we’re only halfway through the year, so we’ll see if I can break one hundred or not by the time that big ball in New York City drops.

In Deeper Sleep, you go to the library to investigate more about lucid dreaming, seeing as you are now obsessed with the subject. Unfortunately for you, the world dissolves, and you find yourself back in the nightmarish stomping grounds from Deep Sleep. This time, however, you get to learn a bit more of the world(s) and its inhabitants through a prisoner and his various dialogue options though, when I think about it, that’s all this prisoner is there for, so could be totally skipped or missed by some players. Regardless, it is much of the same pointing and clicking and scouring of dark rooms for clues or items that can help you progress. I believe the inventory system remains the same, too, so it should be familiar territory for many.

Overall, I found Deeper Sleep to lack a clear goal, which, let me tell you, is basically descend down the well in the woods and see the “to be continued” screen. And don’t get killed by the creepy girl in the attack. However, in the original game, you didn’t want to be asleep, and so your goal was to find a way out, a means to wake up. Here, you are probably not surprised to find yourself back in this maddening dream-world, and all you want to do is find out more about it…but where and how is never explicit. Once you are able to unlock the door to the outside woods, the game sort of becomes convoluted, having you wander this way and that, and there are two paths that are extremely difficult to notice, which made puzzle-solving impossible until I looked up a walkthrough to see what I was missing.

The use of items always makes logical sense, such as putting batteries in a flashlight and combining thread and the sewing needle, and then using them on key parts of the screen is easy enough to figure out. I just worry that a few of the locations are purposely hidden and shrouded in gloom to force the player to initially miss them, elongating their plight. This proved extremely frustrating, as I felt like I was on a good track for most of the game until I hit the outdoors and that empty flour bag puzzle and had no idea how to fix the bag without thread; nope, going back to the room with the sewing machine resulted in nothing. Turns out, I had just missed a path four or five times in a row.

There’s a collectible this time around in the form of scraps of paper, which ultimately make up one complete note. These are depicted as tiny balled-up wads of paper, often in plain sight, but also easy to gloss over. I got 14 out of 15 by the end of the game, so yeah…no idea where the last one is hidden. Either way, it’s a decent thing to collect that also tells us a bit more about these lucid dreams, but also a bit of a cliché in the survival horror genre, as I think you pick up notes in both Slender Man and Daylight, as well as a number of others.

While Deeper Sleep doesn’t pack the same punch as the original game, both in terms of scares and exploration enjoyment, it’s still a worthy, entertaining adventure to see through to the end, and I’m very much looking forward to the release of The Deepest Sleep, the last in the trilogy, in just a few days.