Tag Archives: Unity

SUPERHOT’s time only moves forward with the player

We’re a few months into 2018, or twenty-great-teen as the kids are callin’ it, and I’m finally cool enough to play SUPERHOT. Y’know, that mega indie hit from…well, it originated as an entry in the 2013 7 Day FPS Challenge, but was a full release on consoles and PC in 2016. Strangely, right now, the game is everywhere you look–it was a freebie for March’s Gaming with Gold on the Xbox One, which is how I acquired it, it was a freebie last month for Twitch Prime’s new Free Games with Prime program, and it’s currently one of the games bundled in Humble Indie Bundle 19. My lordy-loo. I guess there is just no avoiding it at this point. After all, SUPERHOT only moves when you do.

Okay, some setup, of which I will absolutely nail down the mechanics of this game, but not its narrative. SUPERHOT is an independent first-person shooter developed and published by the appropriately named SUPERHOT Team. The game mostly follows traditional first-person shooter mechanics, with you trying to take out enemies shooting bullets at you. The twist to all this is that time within the game only progresses when the player moves. Remember when Neo in The Matrix used bullet time to his advantage? It’s like that, but always. This often creates unique opportunities for the player to assess their situation and respond appropriately, turning each gunfight into one massive, slow-crawling puzzle wherein you’ll dodge a bullet, punch a dude, grab his gun out of the air, and shoot him in the face with it before a second goes by.

Now SUPERHOT‘s story…exists on several metanarrative levels. First, the player plays a fictionalized version of themselves sitting in front of a computer receiving DOS prompts, getting a message from their friend who offers them a supposedly leaked copy of a new game called superhot.exe, claiming that the only way to access it is with a crack. Second, launching the game immediately thrusts the player into a series of seemingly unconnected puzzle-combat rooms via different points of view, all based around killing hostile red dudes via the cool time slowdown method, after which the game glitches out and disconnects. After this crash, the player’s friend sends an updated version of the .exe file, which is apparently a new version of the game that fixes the “glitches,” and you go further down the rabbit hole, doing as the large, blocky text on-screen says because…that’s what a good videogame player does. Look, it’s something of a connective tissue, and that’s fine, but story is not at all the reason I’m playing SUPERHOT, nor what I will ultimately remember about it five years from now.

Visually, the developers got lucky. The game is presented in a minimalist art style, with enemies in ruby red and weapons in stark black, in contrast to the otherwise white and gray environment, which has the effect of everything popping before your eyes, especially those red bullet trails. I suspect this look was picked because it was quick and easy to implement during its days as a jam baby, but it really works great to boil SUPERHOT down to its essentials–an area, enemies, and all your tools to kill them quickly seen. When you shoot a red guy, he explodes into a bunch of polygons, like a window breaking, and it’s super satisfying to both see and hear. Once you successfully survive a level, the game replays all your actions like a mini action movie trailer, and you can save and edit the replay into GIFs and such, if that’s your thing (it’s not mine). Oh, and one can’t forget the classic bit of the booming “Super, hot!” voiceover that loops after you’ve obliterated every red dude in your way.

I enjoyed playing SUPERHOT; the playing of it was enjoyable. I didn’t really understand a lot of stuff around the edges or what story it was trying to tell, but that didn’t diminish the fun I had from slowly dodging an incoming bullet, throwing my empty pistol into the face of a red dude, catching the shotgun that they tossed upwards, and unleashing a spray of bullets in their direction, all within the blink of an eye. Every room was a puzzle, open to interpretation, and I played a few challenge levels and endless mode after the credits rolled, but it lacked something the frenetic, bouncy campaign had, nor did it do anything new. I’m glad I got to finally play SUPERHOT, and if you’ve not yet…well, it’s time to stop time, get yourself a copy, and start slowly making your way to the complete and total domination of red dudes.

Advertisements

2018 Game Review Haiku, #23 – SUPERHOT

SUPER HOT, SUPER
HOT, SUPER HOT, SUPER HOT
SUPER HOT, SUPER

For 2018, I’m mixing things up by fusing my marvelous artwork and even more amazing skills at writing videogame-themed haikus to give you…a piece of artwork followed by a haiku. I know, it’s crazy. Here’s hoping you like at least one aspect or even both, and I’m curious to see if my drawing style changes at all over three hundred and sixty-five days (no leap year until 2020, kids). Okay, another year of 5–7–5 syllable counts is officially a go.

My Laptop Hates These Games – November 2017

Well, I suspected this was coming, but my laptop is currently knocking on death’s door. Which totally makes sense, seeing how out-of-date it is and old in technology years and running Windows 10 with all its little might despite being designed to probably never do so. Anyways, I’ve been slowly backing files up and using an even older, less technologically advanced laptop in the meantime, one which sees a lot of error message pop-ups upon booting to the desktop and also doesn’t like to play many games built in Unity. Granted, it can play some things, like Samorost 3 and Mythic Wonders: The Philosopher’s Stone and others, but not everything. So at least this brand new feature of mine can continue marching forward because there’s always a laptop out there, hating on games.

Actually, no. This may or may not be the last edition of My Laptop Hates These Games, as I’m getting a shiny new laptop soon. In fact, it might have even arrived by the time this post goes up. Now, I went with one that was more focused on running my drawing tablet and art programs than playing big AAA games, as I’ll save those grandiose experiences for the consoles. Still, we’ll see if it is able to run the miscellaneous indie thing here and there. Stay tuned regardless to see if this feature runs once more at the end of December.

Onward though to the few games I tried to play this month, but was unable to…

Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms

I’ve become less enamored with clickers as time goes on, and they really need to do something to hold my attention or come at the concept of an idle game from a new perspective. Like Plantera, which asks you to be more involved in the going-ons of your growing garden. I don’t know if Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms, an official Dungeons & Dragons idle clicker game, does any of that, as the game simply refuses to run. According to its description, this freebie challenges players to assemble a party of champions and master the art of formation strategy. I assume there’s some clicking involved.

Over the Moonlight

When I tried to launch Over the Moonlight, I immediately got an error message that says the game I’m trying to run requires a 64bit version of Windows. Huh. It also then provided a link to some information about acquiring a refund, but I’m pretty sure this was a free download on the Steam store and so no biggie though it seemed like a neat and calm walking simulator through a purple-and-yellow landscape at night.

I Am Here

I Am Here, not to be mixed up with I’m Still Here which I played earlier this year, was a big download, which turned into a big letdown after not getting it to run after all that effort. Also, it’s a narrative driven exploration game focusing on mental health and social change, something not touched on enough in games of all shapes and sizes. According to its description, you play as Karen, a successful writer in her earlier days, as she searches for her missing partner. To do this, you’ll explore your surroundings to experience memories of her past and discover the struggles Karen and her partner faced as a gay couple in the 1960s. I might try to revisit this on my forthcoming newer laptop because the subject matter and look of the game call out to me greatly.

Forever Space

Forever Space from Pinhead Games looks like a somewhat traditional point-and-click adventure game with a definitely unique style to it. There’s cartoony mixed with 3D environments. Greg Winston and four other crew mates begin a volunteer work program on Space Station Capricorn, but it doesn’t take long before they notice something isn’t right and the station’s Overseers become difficult to find. This evidently results in the crew becoming suspicious of one another. The plot sounds intriguing, and I love me an adventure game set not on the planet Earth, but this refused to run, though I was able to listen to some of its audio against a black screen before uninstalling the whole thing. Guess we’ll never know if it was more than paranoia.

My Laptop Hates These Games takes a quick look at the titles that kind of, only sort of run or don’t run at all on my ASUS laptop. Here’s hoping that some of these, specifically the ones that looked interesting, come to console down the road. Y’know, those gaming machines where nothing ever goes wrong and every game runs perfectly without ever crashing or freezing or glitching out. Maybe I’ll play these there or in 2056 when I get a new laptop that is, even at that point, still somewhat obsolete.

Warning: enter Vault 713 at your own risk

fallout-shelter-29

I waited a long time to play Fallout Shelter; I probably should have kept waiting. This free-to-play mobile room manager from big ol’ Bethesda was revealed and released to the world–well, for iOS devices–in June 2015 during the company’s E3 press conference. It later came to Android devices in August 2015. It never came and never will come to those that use a Windows phone despite that making some degree of sense. You might not know anyone in that last category, but if you are reading these words and follow Grinding Down, you at least know one sad soul–me. Well, it recently made its debut on Xbox One (and PC).

Allow me to run down what you do in Fallout Shelter since there’s no story to follow, save for whatever adventures you create in your brain as you tap and drag and force people to breed with one another. Basically, you build and manage your own Vault as an overseer–a.k.a., the never-questioned ruler of this nuclear safe haven. You guide and direct your Vault’s inhabitants, keeping them happy through meeting their essential needs, such as power, food, and water. You can rescue dwellers from the wasteland and assign them to various resource-generating buildings in your Vault, using the SPECIAL statistics system from the other Fallout games to key you in on their strongest abilities. Your dwellers level up over time, increasing things like health points and how good they are at producing resources. The number of Vault dwellers can grow two ways: waiting for new survivors from the wasteland to arrive at your doorstep or by pairing a male and female dweller in a living quarters room to, after some time has passed, produce babies.

Some other things exist to mix up the waiting on rooms-on-timers gameplay. You can take a risk and “rush” a room to completion. If you’re successful, you’ll get the resources right away, as well as some bonus caps. However, if you fail it, badness arrives in the form of fires, radroaches, or attacks from raiders. There are challenges to be mindful of, such as equipping a dweller with a weapon or gathering up X amount of food, and completing these will earn you caps or lunchboxes, which hold randomized loot. Once you build the Overseer’s room, you can send your people out on quests to find better items (weapons, armor) and caps. Everything takes time, and that makes way more sense for the mobile versions, but after sending out three people to shoot some wild radroaches I found myself staring at a bunch of rooms that wouldn’t be ready for harvesting for at least ten minutes with nothing else to do. Fallout Shelter is a game of waiting, which is not what I want when I plop down on the couch to play something.

On the Xbox One, navigating around the Vault is done via the thumbsticks. This can be a finicky process, and I once accidentally spent caps on removing boulders after the cursor jumped too far from the room I really wanted to select and gather resources from. This wasn’t the worst because, yeah, eventually I planned to clear them rocks, but I wanted it to be my decision, on my schedule. You can zoom in closer to the rooms to see some funny if frivolous bits of dialogue from your dwellers. The majority of the game is driven via menus, and accessing them is thankfully pretty simple and easy to use with a controller. That all said, I’m not a huge fan of the combat; it’s basically hands-off and hope you get some good invisible dice rolls like you’re back battling cliff racers in Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, which is frustrating to witness. Here’s a true scenario from my time in Vault 713: a teeny tiny radroach nearly depleted my level 14 dweller’s health as she missed shot after shot after shot with a decent hunting rifle. Blargh.

I should have mentioned this earlier, but it’s pivotal towards my future progress in Fallout Shelter, of which there probably won’t be any more, so here we go: my Xbox One is broken. Or perpetually breaking. One of those. Some time after Black Friday last year, something happened. My “pins” disappeared from the front dashboard with a message saying, “Sorry, we can’t show these right now.” Then I discovered that I could access the store tab, but nothing I clicked on would work. I could mash the “A” button to no effect. Same goes for a lot of the advertisement tiles on other pages, unless they were tied to the Internet Explorer app. I tried doing a hard shutdown, unplugging my router, resetting the WiFi connection, and checking for further updates. Nothing seems to work. I am not interested in a factory reset, and I’ve managed, for the most part, to survive. I can still access apps like Netflix and Twitch and download those Games with Gold freebies by logging in on my Xbox 360 and adding them to my account. Lifehack central, y’all.

However, the other night, after gathering enough food, water, and power to keep my people beaming with happiness, I saved and shut the game down. A message came up that said the game was trying to sync my save with the Cloud, and so I let it do its thing, not wanting to mess anything up. Which never seemed to finish. Five minutes went by, then ten. Then twenty. Then thirty. There’s no way a game the size of Fallout Shelter takes that long to sync save data that is probably as big as a Cheez-It crumb. Unfortunately, I couldn’t wait much longer and simply closed the console down as it was. When I tried to load the game up the next day, it couldn’t find my save even though it is also on my console’s internal memory, and the screen that shows your three save slots just spins infinitely, unable to find anything. I can’t even start a new Vault. This happened over a week ago, and I still can’t access Vault 713. And I was one room away from unlocking the Achievement for building 25 rooms. Grrr.

I could probably download Fallout Shelter on PC and either start again or see if my save in the Cloud carries over. I could, but I won’t. I’d rather play the Dead Money DLC from Fallout: New Vegas again. Or test my luck out in the wasteland proper. I thought I’d be more bummed about this, but there are a zillion other pieces of digital entertainment available at my fingertips.

Case #31 will have you going in circles

47507-shot0.png-eq-900-500

There’s something undeniably amazing about Case #31, but it’s actually unfortunately a sub-par gaming experience, severely hampered by things like pace and grammar and competent controls. However, the hint of goodness–possibly even greatness–is there, but you have to travel around in a circle for a good while to even begin to see it. There’s a fluidity to this wee game that is striking, like a mix of Bastion‘s levels zooming up from nowhere and Puppeteer‘s puppet show aesthetic, with background and foreground elements plopping down and getting pulled away as if all on strings. It certainly plays within the jam’s theme of “a game on a single screen,” wherein the screen is, more or less, stationary, but the dressings change to alter its look.

First, the nitty gritty. Case #31 was developed for Ludum Dare 31 in 46 hours using Unity3D through a team of six people. It revolves around–see what I did there?–a murder mystery in a dark, seedy town, though it ultimately feels like an unexplained excuse to shoot some cops. Basically, you, as a detective, end up upon a dead body and ultimately become a leading suspect, resulting in no other choice but to shoot down cops and make a break for freedom. Possibly answers, too, but I never saw Case #31 to completion despite several restarts. I’m writing most of this post a few days after actually playing Case #31 so it doesn’t bode well for the narrative when I can’t really remember any vital details.

The controls are fairly limited. You can move left and right with the arrow keys, sliding along the screen as if being carried by a merry-go-round. You can also jump with up or duck with down, as well as shoot your shooty thing. That’s kind of it. Your goal is to push forward to the right without taking too many hits. Unfortunately, there are no checkpoints. Or perhaps they are spaced far, far apart and I never hit one. Either way, once you die, you start over from the very beginning, which means button-mashing your way past the grammatically poor dialogue to test your skills again at shooting men of the law while not taking any hits yourself. It’s disappointing and off-putting, which is why I closed my browser after buying the farm three or four times.

In the end, there isn’t much here in Case #31, but a single strong concept. That said, it came in fifth place for the overall jam. With better controls, varied gameplay, enhanced AI, and copy-edited text with a more engaging story, this could be something really cool. I’d love to see a game with this style on the Nintendo 3DS, as the moving, cardboard cutout background elements would look stellar with the 3D slider turned up a bit. Until then, I’ll just go round and round and round, and you can do so yourself by giving it a go.