Tag Archives: Steam summer sale

Windosill’s interactive environmental objects are a joy to click

gd early impressions windosill browser free

At some point last year while I was deep into Alto’s Adventure, the stylishly difficult endless snowboarder with runaway llamas, and conducting research on it for this blog post, I discovered a sensory-tingling clicky sojourn called Windosill, which clearly had an impact and influence on Snowman’s developers. Not necessarily from a gameplay perspective, as Windosill is all about logic/illogical puzzles and clicking around and less about collecting escaped llamas and nailing that third backflip in a row, but certainly from a visual standpoint. There’s a colorful, crispness to the flat, almost childish shapes in both games, and I think the simplicity works great and adds a surprising amount of character to the environments and their surrounding objects.

Anyways, I only played the first few levels of Windosill for free via the game’s website. I filed it away in my brain as a delight and something I should check out fully…y’know, down the road. Well, that finally happened. I got a copy of the game on Steam during the most recent summer sale for $0.98, along with Lilly Looking Through, Disney Mega Pack: Wave 2, and Voodoo Garden. I’m only calling those additional purchases out here so that I don’t forget about them because, until I just went through my purchase history now to figure out when I had acquired a copy of Windosill, I totally forgot about them. Oops. That’s the trouble these days, if you are me.

In short, Patrick Smith’s Windosill is a puzzle game with no instructions or words, other than the title screen text. You’re left to figure out how to unlock each level’s door and move the main character, which is a wooden, toy locomotive, on to the next level by sliding it through the opening. Which, by the way, is immensely satisfying. The end goal is the same for each level, but the journey to it varies greatly. You’ll have to interact with numerous items in the environment by clicking on them and seeing what happens. It’s all about experimenting and being curious, observing what happens when you click once versus holding down the mouse button or holding it down and dragging. What’s nice is knowing that everything you need to unlock the door is contained in the single level, and you will eventually solve the puzzle. It’s more of a drag, tug, and spin adventure game than a point and clicker.

Windosill is joyous. The game’s tone is friendly and dreamlike, and there’s a absurd creativeness to each environment that will leave a smile on your face and keep you guessing moment to moment. I both didn’t want to complete a level and also was super excited to see what came next. Each object you encounter, whether it’s a big ball on a tiny stem or a window in the wall or a plain-looking cone, has character, with its own weight and ability to be squished or stretched or manipulated. I messed with every single thing I could. I had some minor problems playing this on Steam rather than an iPad when trying to stretch or spin some items intensely or drag the cursor too far to the edge of the screen. Nothing major, but it definitely seems better designed for a touch-based interface. Evidently, the iPad version also has a sketchbook gallery, a level selection, and a translucent mode that allows players to see how levels are put together with 3D polygons. That’s pretty cool.

There’s a bunch of other strange, click-heavy freebies to try out on Vectorpark’s website, which certainly all look intriguing and similar to Windosill. However, with this sort of experience, where discovery is better than completion and experimentation is king, I might need to pace myself accordingly. Otherwise, I’ll end up in an alternate universe where I’m tugging, poking, twisting, flicking everything in my path, and no one wants that.

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BEEP combines physics and platforming with cute robots

beep early impressions gd

Remember when I went balls-out crazy over the summer during the Steam Summer Sale and spent an astounding $0.74 on a bundle of four games? And then I only played one of them, the cute yet challenging Out There (Somewhere)? Yeah, I remember that too. Congratulations, we both have good memories. Except that I also promised to try out the other three–Polarity, Beep, and Camera Obscura–sooner than later, which were words written five months ago. I think I need to look up the dictionary definition of “soon” before I ever use the word again.

Beep tells the story of a lone spaceship that has been gliding through the emptiness of interstellar space for, like, ever and ever. An automated factory within this ship prepares a fleet of robotic explorers in search of gold nuggets–one of my sister’s least favorite words–that will help advance their race. Don’t ask me how, I’m not a robotic explorer. Gold also unlocks newer planets to explore. When arriving at a planet, a robot is deployed, and the player gains control, using platforming, physics, and laser beams to collect the necessary nuggets and reach the end safely.

Your little exploring robot in Beep–which I’m not totally comfortable writing as BEEP though that’s how it appears over at Steam–is mega cute. I mean, look at it. Anyways, it moves on wheels, which does affect how you climb up over some ledges or whether or not sliding is an issue on slanted slopes. The first few levels, namely on the Perilous Plains, slowly up the difficulty, but mostly introduce elements like moving platforms to climb on and dealing with antagonistic robots at a good pace. However, I found the little robot descending underground into dark sections with limited light and tricky jumps a bit too much early on. You do hit some checkpoints in the levels, which means restarting isn’t too punishing, and you can just keep trying over and over.

The graphics and bouncy tunes keep everything feeling easy and safe, even if it can get a little challenging in some parts. At first, I mistook Beep to be a prototype or student project–shame on me–but the graphics eventually fade to the background as you find yourself concerned with tossing defunct robot bodies out of your way or lowering a platform just so in hopes of being in line of sight of a nugget and using your anti-gravity gun to bring it closer. Using that gun to hurl rocks and dead enemy bot bodies with force is really fun, though it can bite you in the butt if you aren’t careful where you are aiming. For example, I wanted to hurl a dead opponent up and over my little robot explorer’s head into the gap behind it–you know, like a cool action hero–but instead tossed it directly into it, knocking both off the edge. Yes, I laughed, but I also quickly learned my lesson.

Beep‘s got some pedigree behind it too. I don’t know specifically who, but it comes from the minds of former LucasArts and BioWare employees and is clearly inspired by games like Cave Story, Yoshi’s Island, Trine, and Half-Life 2, all of which I’ve actually played in my lifetime. I’m enjoying it so far and expect to chip away at it slowly. I also can totally see myself just sitting on the level select menu, which is simply a solar system you can fly around and bump into drifting meteorites and such, all while a thumping, Blade Runner-like soundtrack plays. The shocking truth is that I really need to load up other things on my laptop other than Time Clickers.

Five things make a post, and Suikoden III is an undeniable PlayStation 2 classic

gd bought suikoden III again on psn

Activity on Grinding Down has been sparse as of late, which is pretty much par for the course when it comes to the summer months. Truth be told, between moving from one state to another, working, burning the midnight oil, frowning over piles of paperwork, living a life, and eating up several episodes of House of Cards on Netflix every night, I’ve not been juggling many games at once, continuing to focus on my current mainstays: Pokémon Shuffle, The Bureau: XCOM Declassified, and a handful of mobile entries, one of which I’m not even ready to openly admit to “playing.” What a tease!

Anyways, here’s a few–well, five, if the title of this post is to be believed–short topics I have enough words to spew about. Perhaps I’ll get back to longer, more traditional posts sooner than later, but I promise to make no promises. Except for that promise.

Onwards!

Steam Sale Has Shipped

I always imagine myself going crazy and buying game after game after game during Steam’s annual Summer Sale…but that never seems to happen. It should, as there are plenty of great sales, and I checked in on the marketplace at least once a day, almost pulling the trigger on Grow Home, but nope. This year, I spent a total of $0.74 for the Developer Alliance bundle, and of them, I’ve only got to enjoy one outing so far. The other titles are at least installed on my machine. Also, I tried out that weird meta “keep on clicking” mini-game about monsters battling, but had no idea really what the point of it was, other than contributing to unlocking additional sales.

Well, there’s always the end-of-year Holiday Sale to look forward to. Maybe I’ll spend over a dollar for that event. Maybe I’ll finally grab a copy of Grow Home before 2015 concludes. Maybe.

Welcome to tactical alien shooting

Naturally, I have a longer, much more detailed post in the works for The Bureau: XCOM Declassified, but the videogame-musing words have not been very forthcoming these last few weeks. Anyways, I finally beat this last night, but the final fight took–ready for this–nine attempts. Seven with my team of agents that I’ve been playing with since perhaps the second or third mission of the game, which was frustrating as the last fight seemed designed to undermine every one of their abilities. Instead, I had to swap out my generic-but-loyal dudes for two other dudes with different classes, and yes I totally understand that these are personality-less soldiers, but, to me, to CIA Agent William Carter’s journey as a whole, it made more sense that his long-standing comrades should’ve finished the fight with him than these newbies. Oh well.

The Flame Champion once more

The Suikoden franchise, as much as it hurts to write it, is dead. And this time, there’s no late-game manner of reviving it like there was with a certain Young Master’s friend. Clearly, Konami doesn’t even want to make videogames anymore.

Thankfully, there’s been a few gasps of air over the last couple of months with the bringing of Suikoden II to the PlayStation Network as a digital download. This fantastic trend is continuing, with Suikoden III popping up this week for fans of Konami’s star-studded RPG series to eat up. Yes, I purchased a digital copy immediately for a whopping $9.99; y’all might remember the time and length it took me to finally snag a (used) retail copy, but it turns out that my used discs are a wee bit scratched and unreliable. Now I don’t have to worry about that, though I’ll have to start the adventure over. Methinks I will once I get through Final Fantasy IX.

What in the world was that?

I burned through a guessing game on my non-fancy Windows 8 phone the other week called What in the World?, which basically presents you with a category, a low detailed drawing, and a bunch of letters at the bottom. Your goal is to guess what it is, and, for the most part, the answers are pretty obvious. Harry Potter, Madonna, Paris, Spider-Man, and so on. I struggled mostly with celebrity names and automobile brands, but if you get stuck you can use power-ups to remove unused letters or even put several correct letters in their final places. In the end, I unlocked all the Achievements and then deleted the thing from my phone.

Quote the raven

Once again, I’m tasked with making room on my fledgling of an Xbox 360, as I’d really like to download Just Cause 2 and see some chaos unfold. But first, let’s complete some other Games with Gold freebies from my hard-drive. Like…um, The Raven – Legacy of a Master Thief. Well, Episode 1 at least. It’s a point-and-click adventure game…on a console. Grrr. So far, I’m glad that this was free, but generally once I start something, I need to finish it, even if it is only the first episode. My favorite subtitle typo currently has been about a train patron when she “looses” her purse, but the next line contaiedn the correct use of “lose.” Can’t win ’em all, the creators of The Book of Unwritten Tales.

That’s all for now! I have to go find some lady’s lost purse, as well as trick a violinist into opening up his violin case. Videogames–am I right?

2015 Game Review Haiku, #36 – Out There (Somewhere)

2015 gd games completed Out There Somewhere

Time those jumps, fix ship
End boss is out there somewhere
Don’t ignore the trees

From 2012 all through 2013, I wrote little haikus here at Grinding Down about every game I beat or completed, totaling 104 in the end. I took a break from this format last year in an attempt to get more artsy, only to realize that I missed doing it dearly. So, we’re back. Or rather, I am. Hope you enjoy my continued take on videogame-inspired Japanese poetry in three phases of 5, 7, and 5, respectively.

Your broken spaceship’s parts are Out There (Somewhere)

out there somewhere gd early impressions

Well, the Steam Summer Sale kicked off the other day, and so far, I’ve produced a haiku about it, as well as bought a bundle of four games for $0.74. I’d also like to note that the money used to purchase this bundle was generated from selling digital trading cards on the Steam marketplace, so this is a big win–in my mind–from multiple angles. The Developer Alliance bundle, which was marked down to 95% off, contained the following, all of which seemed interesting and were not already in my library at the time of purchase: Polarity, Beep, Camera Obscura, and Out There (Somewhere). Today, I’ll be waxing on and off about the last listed title there, but I do expect to try out the other three sooner than later.

Out There (Somewhere), a name that feels like it should be attached to a long-lost Asimov short story, is an action-based puzzle platformer clearly inspired by adventures like Cave Story, Super Metroid, and Portal. See, you play an explorer named Yuri stranded on a dangerous alien planet after your spaceship is damaged. Low on fuel and in desperate need of key spaceship parts, your only hope for escape is to explore and see what this planet holds. Thankfully, you have a teleportation gun, though its use is limited based on your environment. I’ll explain.

In this platformer, you can jump, as well as shoot your teleportation gun, which fires a ball of blue light. Technically, that’s you. Once that blue light hits a surface, you’ll be instantly transported there. Of course, there are some exceptions, as different colored beams of light will get in your way: red cancels your shot, blue will teleport you like any other surface, and green takes you for a ride first. This is where a lot of the puzzles come into play, figuring out how to get from one place to another using your gun. Often, you’ll have to factor in momentum too when landing a teleporting shot. Fairly early on you’ll acquire a more weapony gun, a real pea-shooter, which will help you take out enemies like bats and monster slime thingies; alas, having two different guns confused me at first, and I ended up firing the wrong one at the right time far too many times.

Evidently, I’m a sucker for games where every screen you traverse gets a name. I loved this in VVVVVV and You Have to Win the Game, and I like it here as well, though the screen names, so far, are not highly titillating (for example, Basement). The story is fairly thin, but enough to go on. As you explore, you’ll come across NPCs in the form of alien treefolk; they don’t say much, but there’s an Achievement for speaking to every one of them, and so I’ll do it. However, Out There (Somewhere) is more about the action and nifty mechanics, and the difficulty curve is surprisingly tough–but rewarding.

Part of me is bummed to learn that Out There (Somewhere) was released back in 2012. That means I’ve been missing out on this good, wholesome, teleport-your-body fun for three years. There once was a time when only a handful of games came out, and you could keep track of them all; now, not so much. Well, I’m glad then that this Developer Alliance bundle for the Steam Summer Sale caught my eye, and I’m looking forward to checking out the other titles, but only after I finish Yuri’s mission. For the meantime, I have to get back to work, and by that I mean collecting those vital spaceship parts with style.

There is no story in The Tiny Bang Story

gd the tiny bang story final thoughts

I think I ended up getting The Tiny Bang Story in one of the first Steam sales I ever participated in, grabbing it because it was über inexpensive and had a fantastic, whimsical art style, similar to Machinarium. I then allowed the casual point-and-clicker to sit quietly and ignored in my Steam library for a good while, eventually giving it an unsuccessful go during my Extra Life stream this past October. Yeah, turns out, playing slow-moving, atmospheric puzzlers does not make for thrilling entertainment, nor does getting stuck in the opening chapter because I couldn’t locate X, Y, and Z. Still, something was there, and so I returned to Colibri Games’ indie mosquito-catching simulator recently to solve every puzzle it contained.

But first, here’s the most disappointing thing about The Tiny Bang Story–there is no story. At least not a solid narrative throughout. Sure, there’s some light setup, but it is just window dressing for…item gathering and random puzzles. See, life on Tiny Planet was pretty relaxing until a great disaster struck–a meteor, that is! Now everything is a mess, and it’s up to, the player, the one with the power to click a mouse button, to restore Tiny Planet back to its peacefulness. You do this by fixing a variety of machines and mechanisms, as well as collecting hidden jigsaw puzzle pieces. That’s the story, and that’s all you get. The rest is left up to your imagination because you’ll get absolutely zero clues no matter how many times you click on those characters.

The gist of the gameplay involves clicking. Click on stuff until a sidebar pops up to tell you what to collect and how many in order for the selected item to work. In reality, The Tiny Bang Story is a very pretty “find the hidden items” game, the kind my mother and I used to play together on the Nintendo DS. There’s no time limit to any of the puzzles, and the game autosaves at nearly every turn, so if you are tired of straining your eyes in search of that one, teeny, tiny light-bulb you can always come back to it later. Which I did. Many puzzles are logic-based while others just ask to you click around enough times; I found a few to be initially difficult because, since there is no story or even text in this game, I did not know what was desired. I struggled the most with the puzzles based around sliding or rearranging tiles because I’ve never been any good at those.

Okay, besides the lack of story, I do have another peeve to pick: the hint system is tedious. In games like Professor Layton, you can collect hidden coins in the screen to spend on clues to help you solve puzzles. That idea is here, too. Sort of. On every screen you visit, there are blue mosquitoes that softly buzz around; if you click on them, you’ll collect them in a bubble at the top right corner, and once you have enough, you can summon a single mosquito to circle around a specific area if you missed something or don’t know where to click next. Fine, fine. Except clicking on the tiny bugs is harder than you first imagine, and then you quickly realize you’re going to need to click on far too many of them just to get a single hint. Like, I think maybe at 14 or 15. No thank you, I’ll just look up an online walkthrough.

Now, while many of the puzzles were hit or miss, the enchanting soundtrack was always spot on. After you complete a chapter, you get to play with the jigsaw puzzle pieces you collected along the way, filling in the picture of Tiny Planet itself. These moments are so soothing that I found myself moving each piece into its slot slower and slower, not wanting it to end. Some might see this as a rather boring task in a game, but the soundtrack and visuals work in unison here to really create something atmospherically pleasing. Plus, the picture in the puzzle moves–kind of like photos in the Harry Potter universe–which helps keep you immersed in completing it.

I thought The Tiny Bang Story was going to be something else, a more narrative-driven adventure game. What it ultimately is isn’t bad; in fact, I had a pretty good time in its kooky and unexplainable world, especially playing around with those jigsaw puzzle pieces at the close of every chapter, but I think this means I need to whet my point-and-click adventuring appetite and finally get around to Beneath a Steel Sky or To the Moon. Or just be content that I recently played Botanicula and it was everything I wanted it to be.

The sounds, saunter, and signing off of the Steam summer sale

This has been my first Steam summer sale. And by that I mean the first summer to come around where I have a computer capable of running some videogames. Not all of them, mind you, as my ASUS laptop can only do so much, but most, and most definitely all the indie or previously downloadable-only ones, which I prefer over the AAA titles. For those, like Batman: Arkham City and whatever the latest Assassin’s Creed game is called, I’d rather play them on my Xbox 360 than have to deal with slow downloads, configuring a controller for my laptop, and tweaking settings to get it playable.

And so, here are all the darlings I was able to snag during the crazy affair:

  • Terraria (purchased for $2.49)
  • Portal 2 (purchased for $4.99)
  • Tiny Bang Story (purchased for $2.50)
  • Trine 2 (purchased for $3.74)
  • Fallout: New Vegas – Ultimate Edition (purchased for $9.99)
  • Stacking (purchased for $3.74)
  • Torchlight (purchased for $3.74)
  • Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (gifted to me by Greg Noe when on sale for $2.49)
  • Monkey Island Complete Pack (purchased for $8.74)
  • The Witcher: Enhanced Edition (purchased for $2.49)

That’s a total of $42.42 spent, which is not bad. Also, the answer to life, the universe, and everything…twice. I think that is a win no matter how you look at it.

Of my new purchases, I’ve played a few, but only sparingly. I loaded up Terraria to see if it worked and…yup, it did. Think that game requires some time and devotion to get into. I also did the same with Fallout: New Vegas, just to see how it runs on my laptop; fine, fine, and it is quite a change to go from watching a loading screen on the Xbox 360 for minutes to blinking and missing them on the PC. The biggest reason for buying that game all over again–not just because I love it so–is mods, so I’ll have to look into which ones are the bees’ knees. Stacking‘s a lot of fun, and you’ll be able to read more about that once I finish up my coverage for The First Hour. And then there’s Torchlight, which I’ve fallen back into hard. You see, when I first played it on the ol’ Xbox 360, I struggled with being able to read anything, and so it was mostly guesswork as to what items and weapons to equip, taking away a lot of fun inventory management. Yes, I said fun inventory management. But on the PC, everything is spectacular, and all that text is mine to devour and ponder and make decisions upon. I’m loving it all over again. Plus, it was a whole lot cheaper than buying Diablo III.

I hope to try out the other games I got before the world implodes, but that’s probably just wishful thinking. If you can help, please help.

So, how’d you make out with this year’s Steam summer sale? Share your purchases and good deals below!