Did you know vanilla ice cream is the king sh** of fu** mountain? I won't even pretend this blog is anything more than a diary at this point. Games I played in the last 6 months or so!
Portal 2 - An amazing sequel: builds upon the first one, and improves in every way. Aperture feels more real and ridiculous - it got funnier and scarier at the same time (Cube meets Cabin in the Woods meets Douglas Adams). I loved all the hilarious small talk by Wheatley, GLaDOS and Cave Johnson, the founder of Aperture himself. I liked light-bridges, levitation rays, the gel gimmick = all great additions to regular portal puzzles. Extras are seriously cool too - a separate co-op campaign (with split screen!), free mods & puzzles made by the community, the level design tool itself, comic book prequel. "Well done. Here come the test results: You are a horrible person. That's what it says: a horrible person. We weren't even testing for that."
Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines - A "World of Darkness" adaptation which truly does the setting justice. Source engine still makes it beautiful after all these years, while fan patches squash any and (almost) all bugs. Work and love put into it by Troika team shines in every detail. While exploring LA (Santa Monica, Downtown, Hollywood and Chinatown), I got to know all of the clans and factions and felt like I was really a part of it all. The whole experience is incredibly immersive and rewarding, with many choices and possible outcomes. One of my favorite RPGs for sure!
Diablo 3 - I gave it another try and finished it together with the expansion. I have to say, all the modifications that came with Reaper of Souls make sense, and the campaign itself was a step-up too. After finishing the game with a witch doctor, I gave wizard a try and had a lot of fun. I'm curious to see where they take the story next. Will we find out more about Covetous Shen...? Visit Xiansai...?
Bastion - Steampunk noir on 'shrooms! This is an ARPG with tons of style. Collecting different melee and ranged weapons (+ upgrades) and using them with special skills makes for diverse fights & interesting tactics. The lore is surprisingly thought-out - the more the story develops, the more you are surprised how much sense it makes, and how much you care what happens to the characters and Caelondia. Beautiful, beautiful music changes from energetic tunes to sad ballads. The whole soundtrack for this game is amazing and complements the whole thing perfectly. Visuals are charming and hypnotizing; hyper-reality of Bastion is magical and inviting.
The Book of Unwritten Tales - I believe the working title was Monkey Peninsula 6 Online: LeChuck's Absence (jk). First, the environments. They are freakin' gorgeous, 3D rendered and nothing short of breathtaking. Distinct areas (Wilbur's hometown, the big city, temple, wild lands) will make sure your eyes don't get bored. This game has some unbelievable visuals and every area was obviously made with a lot of love and patience. Next, level design. Really good overall, but some areas drag on a bit too long to be honest (temple, I'm looking at you) - then again it's not that big of a deal. The voice acting & music is top-notch (I did play it in German though). Puzzles are usually very well done, nothing too frustrating (although I remember some unfortunate pixel hunting). Often funny, always ridiculous! The colorful plethora of playable and unplayable characters is astonishing. All of them are unique and interesting, my favorite being the Critter. The only problem I had was with Nate and Ivo - he's a bit irritating, with too many *wink wink, nudge nudge* jokes; she's yet another female character who's sole purpose in the game is being a trope, used as a catalyst for other (male) characters. Both Nate and Ivo are written in a rather boring and superficial way, which I wouldn't even be mentioning considering the type of game we're talking about, if they weren't the main characters with whom you spend most of your time with. Then again, they're supposed to parody fantasy MMO's and the tropes of that genre, so I guess it works out. I just hope they do a bit more with them in the sequel!
Shelter - A very new experience for me. I was playing a badger, trying to get my young ones to a safe place. Visually unique, different environments like forests, hills and meadows have an interesting, powerful feeling of being lost in a familiar place. Every once in a while this awe is disrupted by real danger. Water, fire, predators and hunger took my children away, one by one... But I persisted and managed to get one single offspring to safety (I won't lie, tears were shed). Man what a weird and captivating game.
Lara Croft & the Guardian of Light - Played it in local co-op and had tons of fun. This isometric ARPG spin on the franchise is a success if you ask me! It felt like Tomb Raider, but it also felt fresh. Achievements and artifacts weren't that well incorporated - they feel rushed and unbalanced. If you're not a completionist though, fear not: you will get your money's worth! Looking forward to the sequel.
Tomb Raider - After the aforementioned spin-off, I decided to play the newest TR. I went into it mildly interested, not expecting too much. The 2013 game left me amazed! Everything - visuals, audio, level design, fighting, puzzles, collectibles - everything was done right. And the action sequences were incredible. The island, the Solarii, the Sun Queen... it all reminded me of Lost, but in a good, "first two seasons" way. Loved it!!
Alice: Madness Returns - I played the American McGee's Alice before, and while I thoroughly admired its aesthetics, its level design and fighting mechanics were a bit lacking and definitely didn't age well. Afraid they would repeat the same mistakes, I ventured into this new iteration of Wonderland carefully. Luckily, not all my fears were confirmed. Level design is similar but better, fighting is more strategic and combo-based (with occasional hiccups but still), and dialogues are as witty as ever.The new engine allowed the game to look incredibly magical, with uncanny environments and horrific creatures abound. And while I encountered some of the creatures throughout the game (few times too many), every chapter was unique. started as a trip through a lush green forest and ended as a trip back to his terrible factory. started on a polar ice cap and ended underwater in a fish city whose inhabitants were secretly slaughtered for the theater. was a far East inspired attempt to reach the Caterpillar by saving origami bugs from their real bug enemies. was a visit to the new Queen in the old Queen's castle. was a big, colorful, dangerous playground with creepy babies and nightmarish cellars. Every chapter was interrupted by a real world sequence, which depicted a dark and sinful in which Alice was trying to find out about her past. In the first game Alice was trying to conquer her inner demons, outbest the destructive alter-ego that is the Queen, and take back her own mind in order to regain sanity. In this game, Alice is trying to beat real life "demons", people who keep the terrible truth from her and work for their selfish goals. She finds out all previous Wonderland bosses and arch enemies are now her allies - the enemy lies elsewhere. She is trying to stop the & save Wonderland, not destroy it. All in all, Madness Returns is a solid, beautiful game and a worthy sequel. One thing is still true - just like its predecessor, it has this slight discrepancy, as if the gameplay and storytelling are slightly out of sync. It's almost as if at certain points, gameplay practically stands in the way of McGee's storytelling. I'm not sure what would resolve this occasional loss of momentum... less repetitive fights? Less fighting overall? Be that as it may, it seems we will not get an interactive continuation of the story - the third installment will come in the form of a (kickstarted!) movie.
Bionic Commando Rearmed - I played it years ago and never finished the last level. This time I persisted, and when I finally brought down the final boss, I felt like the supreme king, ruler and chancellor of the universe. Nothing like beating a tough platformer. In this one you don't even jump! You just use a grappling hook. A true hommage to the NES original, with an amazing soundtrack and a unique visual style. As soon as I find the time, I will try out the darker 3D sequel - can't wait!
Rock of Ages - One of those games you can't really put a label on. What genre is it? Strategic racing squash'em up. It's funny, eccentric and utterly ridiculous. The boss fights are on the easy side, and strategy boils down to using as much "blowers" as possible, but the campaign never stops being fun. Haven't tried the multiplayer, but it's bound to be interesting for at least a while!
Little Inferno - Another unclassifiable game. You burn stuff in your fireplace. That's it. You burn stuff. You try to get all of the combos, unlock new items to burn (there's also a short genre change at the end)... Boring, right? Wrong! It's like one of those bubble wrappers - you just can't help popping another one. And another one. And another one... And just like their previous game World of Goo, Little Inferno packs a well-places not-in-your-face critique of some aspect of modern living into a bewildering, creepy story. This time it's all about social networking!
Hearthstone - As far as collectible card games go, I played a lot of Pokemon, Kongai (on Kongregate) and Magic the Gathering (on Steam). After trying out Hearthstone, I can easily say it's my favorite one. I'm seriously hooked - Blizzard, as much as I hate to admit it, did it again. They took a well known formula, used it in one of their franchises and made the whole concept better. It's slick, balanced, fast, challenging and rewarding. Considering I didn't spend any money and I still feel I constantly get a lot out of it, I'd say it's my favorite Blizzard game to date.
Magicka - It was made with multiplayer in mind. It's an action RPG with basically no loot - you choose a robe, you get a weapon (if it sucks you exchange it for the one your friend dropped when you "accidentaly" killed him with landmines) and then you do what you came here for - you experiment with spells! I love the magic weaving mechanic (the whole thing reminds me a bit of Loom) where you have to combine elements to produce effects. I love the humor and pop/geek culture references. I hate Cthulhu. I hate the bastard so much. :)
Final Fantasy XII - Finally! I stopped playing it two years ago, literally one dungeon away from reaching the last boss - the Pharos part was so tedious I gave up. I enjoyed it this time around, slowly making my way up the tower and leveling up Basch, Vaan & Ashe. After that I did a few hunts and then faced the evil Vayne Solidor, squashing him like the long-haired douchebug he is (dyswidt). This one is definitely in my top 3 Final Fantasy games!
VVVVVV - Finished it again, this time collecting all of the trinkets. Damn it's fun! And punishing. Mostly fun though.
I tried out a few MMO's again. It's like I'm trying to get into the genre again, get that feeling of immersion I got from Guild Wars 1, but it's not really happening. Final Fantasy XIV was fun for about 30 hours (magical number when it comes to MMOs it seems). I really enjoyed exploring the green and lush Gridania with my little healer. I visited the other two big cities and wandered a bit off the beaten path, but there simply wasn't anything pushing me to delve further. I played the trial version of WoW: Mists of Pandaria, and while I mildly enjoyed exploring the Pandaren island, I can't imagine the rest of the game pulling me back in. Next I tried out Secret World, and while it really mesmerized me at first, I was eventually put off by the UI, unintuitive quest log and various technical issues. I will definitely give it another try when I buy a stronger PC.