Tag Archives: PC

2014 Game Completed Comics, #1 – Gone Home

2014 games completed 01 - gone home facebook

Every videogame that I complete in 2014 will now get its very own wee comic here on Grinding Down. It’s about time I fused my art with my unprofessional games journalism. I can’t guarantee that these comics will be funny or even attempt to be funny. Or look the same from one to another. Some might even attempt to be thoughtful. Comics are a versatile form, so expect the unexpected.

2013 Game Review Haiku, #46 – Deponia

2013 games completed Deponia

Want off trash planet
Solve some tricky puzzles first
Hope you hate English

These little haikus proved to be quite popular in 2012, so I’m gonna keep them going for another year. Or until I get bored with them. Whatever comes first. If you want to read more words about these games that I’m beating, just search around on Grinding Down. I’m sure I’ve talked about them here or there at some point. Anyways, enjoy my videogamey take on Japanese poetry.

Simple polygon shapes become more in Thomas Was Alone

twa1_2273556b

A small spoiler right up front, but Thomas is actually not alone for very long in Thomas Was Alone. Sorry, I know. You probably didn’t see that coming, and now your world is crumbling down. Wait, here’s a few more juicy tidbits:  his full name is Thomas-AT-23-6-12, he is a red rectangle, and he is searching for companionship. Just dropping knowledge bombs over here like boom, boom, boom.

As a puzzle platformer, Thomas Was Alone is pretty standard stuff. Maybe even a bit basic in the early levels. Despite being a simple geometric shape, you can jump to climb up and across platforms, with the end goal always trying to reach a shape-specific door somewhere near the end of the level. As you progress, Thomas meets some other shapely friends, like Chris, an cynical orange square, and John, a tall yellow stick-shape. I’ve met a couple more shapes too, but I won’t spoil them all, especially if there are more to come. Basically, the different shapes can jump at varying levels of height, and you have to use Thomas and his friends cooperatively to get over some platforms and hit those doors up. That seems to be the meat the puzzles, unfortunately, and the early levels are beyond easy, finishable in mere seconds.

What takes Thomas Was Alone above its lackluster gameplay mechanics is Danny Wallace, the game’s narrator. He also helped the game earn a BAFTA Games Award. He tells the story of each shape created by a company called Artificial Life Solutions, which experiments on artificial intelligences, and really gives them life, despite them being, without a doubt, geometric shapes with the ability to jump. It also helps that his British accent is calm and commanding, reminding me of the narrator in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It really does help make the somewhat mindless, at times, platforming all the more enjoyable.

All that said, I’ve run into a hardware problem, one that is growing more frustrating every day. I prefer to play platformers with a controller; hush now, it’s how I grew up with them, bouncing Bubsy, Mario, and Sonic to and fro with the push of a button rather than the click of the mouse. I also find using a d-pad or analog stick provides better precision when timing jumps and landings. Your mileage may vary. However, when I plug in my Xbox 360 controller into my laptop to play some Thomas Was Alone, the controller only seems to work 20% of the time. I’ve found restarting the game with the controller still plugged in to work every now and then. But not consistently. And I refuse to play any other way. I do not believe my controller is on the fritz, as it works fine on the Xbox 360, and I was able to load up Super Meat Boy through Steam and start jumping from wall to wall with no problems. Not sure what the deal is, and the game does support controllers, but it’s been touch and go.

I hope I can get this controller stuff figured out, as I’d like to see Thomas Was Alone to the end. Not to see if the puzzles change much, but I want to know what becomes of these shapes. These square and rectangles that have opinions and qualities and desires. That probably sounds crazy, I know, but that’s just how good of a job Wallace does narrating them. Oh, and I do wish the game had Steam trading cards.

2013 Game Review Haiku, #11 – Dinner Date

2013 games completed 11 dinner date

Drink your dinner down
You sad, dead speck of nothing
She is not coming

These little haikus proved to be quite popular in 2012, so I’m gonna keep them going for another year. Or until I get bored with them. Whatever comes first. If you want to read more words about these games that I’m beating, just search around on Grinding Down. I’m sure I’ve talked about them here or there at some point. Anyways, enjoy my videogamey take on Japanese poetry.

2013 Game Review Haiku, #7 – Sugar Cube: Bittersweet Factory

2013 games completed Sugar Cube Bittersweet Factory

Jump, flip, be real cute
Did not collect all the gems
So Sugar Cube died

These little haikus proved to be quite popular in 2012, so I’m gonna keep them going for another year. Or until I get bored with them. Whatever comes first. If you want to read more words about these games that I’m beating, just search around on Grinding Down. I’m sure I’ve talked about them here or there at some point. Anyways, enjoy my videogamey take on Japanese poetry.

Save your daughter and as many flashlight batteries as possible in Ascension

ascension impressions

Bundles, bundles, bundles–you can’t turn right without walking into one these days. That can be, at times, a bit annoying, especially when one has wallet issues or an ever-growing backlog, but the latest bundle shouldn’t be a problem for anyone with a working computer: The Free Bundle. Yup, that’s right. Free. No minimum, no “beat the average price” tier rewards. Just a list of some indie games and the buttons to download them. Currently up are six games, of which I’ve downloaded the four I’m most interested in: Ascension, Celestial Mechanica, Abobo Big’s Adventure, and Treasure Adventure Game.

For today’s post, I’ll be talking about the first one mentioned there. Before I begin, I have to state that I think it has an unfortunately generic name, as Googling “Ascension” brings up a rather popular CCG or talk of the forthcoming God of War: Ascension. Nothing for the indie game comes up on the first page of results certainly. Oh, and there’s totally an XBLA indie game of the same name out there. Ultimately, I think Atticus Ascends would have been a better title, but that’s just me. Otherwise, it’s hard to track anything down about the little indie horror stab in the dark. To get the screenshot above, I had to navigate to the developer’s website, and even then there was not much in the form of media, but that’s just a small gripe from my perspective. If I was to ever do a second post on the game, I’d have to take screenshots as I played for myself–the true horror!

Ascension is surprisingly good. Well, at least I was surprised at the quality of the gameplay, the look, the controls. Just about everything, except the story, which is kind of by-the-books. It’s a psychological horror game where you play as groundskeeper Atticus, who has brought his sick daughter Viola (or is it Violet?) to work on the day of a terrible accident. Separated from her, he must find his way back before something else reaches her first–dun dun dunnn. You control Atticus, wandering floors of some building, reading notes left by others, searching for items, like flashlight batteries and key cards, and avoiding zombie-like monsters by sneaking past them in the darkness. Or maybe killing them with an axe; I’ve not yet figured that part out.

The game has a really nice look to it. Cartoonish, painterly at times, but capable of style, with great lighting effects from your flashlight, especially when it begins to dim and weaken from low batteries. A nice touch. All text is dished out in a lackluster typewriter font, with the typewriter sounds to boot, which leads me to question who is telling the story here: Atticus or an unknown author. Some scenes, like saving your game or speaking with your daughter, are presented in a larger shot than traditional gameplay. These are nicely done and help give more dimension to the characters. In the end, I just wish there was a map. Lone Survivor had one, even if it was a riff on Silent Hill 2‘s apartment building maps. It helped nonetheless.

I played up to the part where Atticus has to navigate through the Cold Storage area. Without a map, I quickly became lost after so many hallways and doors, and then the monsters kept killing me despite the ax I was wielding. Holding your breath only works if they haven’t seen you, so the moment you are spotted, it’s kind of over. Death isn’t a complete end, but it does throw you out of the loop for a bit. I might hop back into it again and try once more; I don’t expect it to be a very long game, but I might need to read up some more on how the combat works because I don’t think I have it down well enough to survive. Anyways, again, Ascension is good and free, so go download it from the Free Bundle (31 days to go!) or the developer’s website. And conserve your batteries; I mean it.

2012 Game Review Haiku, #39 – Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP

2012 games I completed sworcery

Find the Megatome
Work with moons, enter dreams to
Vanquish antlered ghost

For all the games I complete in 2012, instead of wasting time writing a review made up of points and thoughts I’ve probably already expressed here in various posts at Grinding Down, I’m instead just going to write a haiku about it. So there.

2012 Game Review Haiku, #35 – Red Faction: Armageddon

2012 games completed red faction armageddon

Corridor after
Corridor of aliens
To boringly shoot

For all the games I complete in 2012, instead of wasting time writing a review made up of points and thoughts I’ve probably already expressed here in various posts at Grinding Down, I’m instead just going to write a haiku about it. So there.

2012 Game Review Haiku, #23 – Shank

Glad to see Kill Bill
Get its own videogame
Great art, prosy fights

For all the games I complete in 2012, instead of wasting time writing a review made up of points and thoughts I’ve probably already expressed here in various posts at Grinding Down, I’m instead just going to write a haiku about it. So there.

The first hour of Stacking will not blow your stack

I know the gaming industry is currently bloated and over-saturated with games based on hopping into Russian stacking matryoshka dolls and plots hanging on oppressive child labor and puzzles solved by flatulence, but if you could find it in your heart and busy schedule…please check out my coverage of Stacking‘s first hour. It’s a fun time. The game and the review.

I actually wrote that coverage some weeks back, and since then I’ve come to beat the game as a whole. That means I can speak a bit more about what happens after the “emphatic yes” answer to that oh-so-critical question at the end of the post. It’s not a terribly long game experience, but I padded Stacking out a bit by searching for special dolls, different answers to puzzles, performing hijinks, and generally just exploring the levels and looking at all the adorable details instead of immediately moving on with the storyline. There’s a lot to see and experiment with, and that’s part of the charm, that it is paced to your liking. Between this and Costume Quest, Double Fine has created some great “introductory” videogames for friends and family members that you might want to get interested in playing a game. They are safe and still quite rewarding.

Overall, story in Stacking is more about style than telling, which is a small slight. It’s predictable but acceptable, with a beginning, middle, and end, but it’s how it is presented via silent film style that really keeps you watching. Little Charles Blackmore meets a wide range of dolls, and the larger they are, the more intimidating. I think my favorite is Cromwell the Terrible, capable of giving anyone and nearly anything a royal wedgie. The final fights switch things up, requiring you to have previously paid attention to doll powers, as well as know how to play rock, paper, scissors. Nothing too challenging.

I do have another complaint to add though, one that is really only discovered in the later levels. Well, honestly, they are too big. Not in the sense that you can get easily lost, but when you have to traipse back to the beginning part to find one specific doll…it can really feel like a sojourn instead of a skip.

At some point, I’m gonna hop back in to clean up some Achievement-related tasks and give the DLC The Lost Hobo King a try. I am expecting more of the same–which is fine–but if the gameplay of “solve X puzzles to complete level” gets mixed up even the tiniest of bits…well, that’d be a great surprise. I’ll be sure to let y’all know.