Tag Archives: exploration

2019 Game Review Haiku, #37 – Northbound

Escape life, roadtrip
Stuck in bus, questioning day
No longer high school

And we’re back with these little haikus of mine. Go on, gobble ’em up. However, if you want to read more of my in-depth thoughts about these games that I’m beating, just search for them by name on Grinding Down. As always, enjoy my videogamey take on Japanese poetry, even if they aren’t instant classics, such as the works of Matsuo Basho, Yosa Buson, or Kobayashi Issa. Hey, not everyone gets to be that great.

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GAMES I REGRET PARTING WITH: LOST: The Game

Perhaps one of the big reasons why I adore the show LOST so much is because it was something my mother and I both watched, and after each episode, we’d e-mail each other with reactions or theories or to generally complain about how mean Ben is or what nickname Sawyer came up with for some other cast member. Good times. She got really into it during those early seasons; I can’t remember if she ever saw its conclusion before passing away in December 2010. At some point during the show’s popularity, my mother purchased for me LOST: The Game at her local Borders. Here’s the sad rub: I never played it, and by the time I was ready to move out of my studio apartment in Clifton, NJ, I tossed the whole thing away, cool suitcase and all.

Now, around this time, I did make some friends, and we played a lot of board games, such as every iteration of Munchkin out at the time, Talisman, Dungeons & Dragons, Catan, Chez Geek, Pimp: The Backhanding, Kingmaker, and so on. I just never felt comfortable bringing the game over or learning the rules by myself and then having to teach everyone; plus, I was still pretty new to the world of board games, and I had no idea if LOST: The Game was a good one or a bad one or even worth figuring out.

LOST: The Game was released on July 15, 2006 in the United Kingdom and August 7, 2006 in the United States. The game was designed by Keith Tralins, developed through MegaGigaOmniCorp, and published by Cardinal Games. It is a hybrid strategy/social/role-playing game set in the world of LOST that, if you’d believe, is somewhat similar to many solo games I play now, such as Fallout: The Board Game and Discover: Lands Unknown. The game allows you to assume the role as a character from the show in your attempts to survive on the Island and features many of the elements involved in the first few seasons of the TV show, including mysteries, alliances, and the “Smoke Monster.”

There are 75 hexagonal Location tiles that make up the main playing area for LOST: The Game. There are two types of tiles: 30 Shoreline tiles and 45 Inner Island tiles. The location tiles are set face-down randomly to ensure that each experience with the game is unique, just like with Catan. The tiles can be arranged in any fashion the player wishes, as long as the Shoreline tiles are on the outside edge of the board because why would you put water in the middle of the island. Also, how did a polar bear get out there? Anyways…

Here’s how it plays, as far as I can tell. Players are randomly dealt a Starting Character, such as Jack, Locke, Kate, and so on. You cannot play as Desmond, and for that sin alone this game deserves to be stuffed down a hatch and forgotten for good. On each player’s turn, they must move all of the characters they own to an adjacent tile. If the location tile their character is located at is face-down, they flip the tile face-up and follow its instructions. If a Fate card is drawn, they must immediately deal with any Encounters or equip any equipment; however, they may choose to hold an Event card for later use. Characters may also attempt to lead neutral characters at their location. If another player occupies the same location tile, the players may attempt to engage their opponent’s characters to lead them, steal their Fate cards, or steal their equipment.

You win LOST: The Game when:

  • One player leads all characters on the Island
  • A Starting Character’s win condition is fulfilled
  • Another win condition decided upon by the players prior to the game (whatever that means)

Right, so it doesn’t sound like the most intricate or complicated board game ever designed. We’ll give that award to Scythe. Still, I wish I had my copy now because I’m more familiar with this style of gameplay, and it is something I’m curious about, as LOST is never not spinning away in the back of my mind. There wasn’t a lot of attention given to the game’s art or look, other than it coming packaged in a briefcase and using images from the show, and that’s a shame because a more stylized version might have convinced me to keep it for the long run. Oh well. Perhaps I’ll run into it again down the road. Y’know, when we all go back to the Island.

GAMES I REGRET PARTING WITH is a regular feature here at Grinding Down where I reminisce about videogames I either sold or traded in when I was young and dumb. To read up on other games I parted with, follow the tag.

2019 Game Review Haiku, #31 – The Wind

Creepy atmosphere
Listen to the wind, follow
Effective chills here

And we’re back with these little haikus of mine. Go on, gobble ’em up. However, if you want to read more of my in-depth thoughts about these games that I’m beating, just search for them by name on Grinding Down. As always, enjoy my videogamey take on Japanese poetry, even if they aren’t instant classics, such as the works of Matsuo Basho, Yosa Buson, or Kobayashi Issa. Hey, not everyone gets to be that great.

Search Anoxemia’s horrific ocean floor for a way out

I purchased Anoxemia at the same time I got Subject 13, and I played it for a bit before quickly losing interest. Both were relatively cheap, in terms of money, and so it didn’t weigh too heavy on my shoulders that I barely gave this a shot. Well, I’m trying to clear up some space on my Xbox One–y’know, so I can download more games I won’t get to right away–and I popped back into it the other night to see if it could hook me. Alas, it did not, and that’s a shame, because I love spooky underwater exploration, and this has that in droves. It’s just not fun to either play or control.

Anoxemia, which, for those that don’t know, is a condition of subnormal oxygenation of the arterial blood. It’s also a story-driven exploration game from BSK Games that puts you in control of scientist Dr. Bailey and his operations drone ATMA. Together, you’ll search the ocean floor as you discover and extract samples from the bowels of underwater caves. However, danger lurks in each passageway, everything from poison drifts to powerful ocean currents, leftover mines from the war, and mobile machines running haywire. Oh, and there’s also the ever-present risk of running out of oxygen. Fortunately, ATMA can help guide you to your destination using a few special tools and upgrades.

Initially, Anoxemia greets you with some stylized 2D drawings with some simple pan and scan animation, which does a good job of setting up the horror-driven story. Here’s a twist though…you don’t really control Dr. Bailey directly, instead using ATMA like a mouse cursor to make him follow along. Your main goal now is to steer ATMA forward and collect oxygen, energy, and contaminated plant samples. This all happens in a 2D platformer-esque fashion, except you are underwater, so everything is slow and swimmy, and there’s a lot of waiting for Dr. Bailey to catch up and perform the desired action. He needs to also dodge water mines, cannons, rocks, and lasers, which is not easy because, again, you aren’t controlling him directly.

The levels are relatively short, but there aren’t any clear instructions on what you are supposed to do. Death comes quick, and there is no checkpointing–at least not where I was early on–so you have to replay the level all over again from the start. Imprecise controls were mostly the reason Dr. Bailey bit the big one. As far as I can tell, you need to collect everything to proceed, while also not running out of oxygen or energy. Or getting hit by laser beams or heat-seeking machines. It’s a pretty tough game, and I think it knows that; throw in the dark, murky visuals, which do look great at times, but often obscure a lot of the environment, and you have a recipe for frustration.

Anoxemia also greatly lacks in giving the player any sense of progression. In any game, whether it is a platformer, an RPG, a first-person shooter, giving players the sensation that they are moving forward, making progress, is key to creating a successful game and keeping people hooked for more. Unfortunately, Anoxemia counters this by providing players with little variation in the maps and activities performed in them. Honestly, I couldn’t even tell when I was moving from one level to the next, and it felt like Dr. Bailey and ATMA were stuck on a ocean treadmill, going through the motions but ultimately getting nowhere. Also, the Achievements don’t provide any clues as to what you can or cannot achieve.

I’ll never know Dr. Bailey’s fate…though I suspect he’ll go through a good amount of torment before his finds the surface and makes it out alive. If that. Me? I’m not a masochist by design, and so Anoxemia has been uninstalled from my Xbox One. Maybe I’ll watch an online playthrough down the road, but for now I’m content with what I know, which is that ATMA moves forward and then, ten seconds later, Dr. Bailey faintly follows; I do not like that.

2019 Game Review Haiku, #20 – Fairy Song

Explore peaceful world
Cute aesthetic, fly around
Hundred percent fail

And we’re back with these little haikus of mine. Go on, gobble ’em up. However, if you want to read more of my in-depth thoughts about these games that I’m beating, just search for them by name on Grinding Down. As always, enjoy my videogamey take on Japanese poetry, even if they aren’t instant classics, such as the works of Matsuo Basho, Yosa Buson, or Kobayashi Issa. Hey, not everyone gets to be that great.

2019 Game Review Haiku, #11 – Storyseeker

A strange, quiet place
With talkers, whisperers, ghosts
Explore leisurely

And we’re back with these little haikus of mine. Go on, gobble ’em up. However, if you want to read more of my in-depth thoughts about these games that I’m beating, just search for them by name on Grinding Down. As always, enjoy my videogamey take on Japanese poetry, even if they aren’t instant classics, such as the works of Matsuo Basho, Yosa Buson, or Kobayashi Issa. Hey, not everyone gets to be that great.

2019 Game Review Haiku, #4 – Where is 2019?

Hunting the new year
Strange world, solid platforming
I found seaweed, yay

And we’re back with these little haikus  of mine. Go on, gobble ’em up. However, if you want to read more of my in-depth thoughts about these games that I’m beating, just search for them by name on Grinding Down. As always, enjoy my videogamey take on Japanese poetry, even if they aren’t instant classics, such as the works of Matsuo Basho, Yosa Buson, or Kobayashi Issa. Hey, not everyone gets to be that great.