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lim_ak Blog

A Little Bit Of: Evoland

Changing landscape.

Evoland.jpg

Finished this one since I made the video, second half is decidedly less awesome. While the Final Fantasy style combat a fun nod when you run into it, it never really develops and there are way too many random encounters that it gets really annoying. There's probably a reason why it's balanced differently in modern games.

There's a Diablo style dungeon later on that is pretty terrible and I'm not just saying that because I don't like that style of game. It does sort of highlight how much work goes into making that kind of game not boring and tedious. It does sort of make up for it by having some pretty funny loot drops but it plays like ass.

They could probably have cut out a good hour of the game (the game is about 3-4 hours long) and it would probably have improved it a lot. It's a funny game to play because of the references it makes. But it does remind that the games it steals from does what they do so much better than Evoland ever comes close to.

A Little Bit Of: Retro/Grade

Musical Missles.

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Been far too long since I've made one of these. I have unfortunately been busy doing other things. Some of which was actually productive other things not so much. Lets see if I can keep up with making videos on a semi-regular basis, lots of cool things sitting on my PC that I'd like to play.

Anyway back to talking about Retro/Grade in many ways it's a straight up rhythm game with an interesting art style. But the choice to use a shoot-em-up as the backdrop actually works out really well. All of the shots that go into your ship are timed to the beat and while that's really good using that timing to also dodge the bullets from the left of the screen can be really difficult. Playing on a keyboard might also not be the best way to play the harder difficulties as demonstrated by my rather splendid failure at the end.

It's just very difficult to change between so many lanes using just up and down arrows, I suspect that it would work out pretty well if you did have a guitar controller but I don't have one lying around handy at the moment. I kind of wish that there was a bit more distinction between all the stuff happening on the screen. It gets very busy on screen very quickly and it makes it difficult to parse out what you need to be doing and that makes actually playing the notes on time in the right places harder than it probably should be. There's probably a balance between making a rhythm game shiny and flashy without making it so crazy but there's a little bit too much shiny stuff in Retro/Grade and it makes me wish they toned it down a bit in spots.

Hopefully I'll be able to get videos up in some sort of schedule again but it's hard to say. Lots to play and not enough time to actually try out all the stuff I want to. I've also tried to write like 3 different editorials over the last month or so and just ended up throwing out all of them. Meh maybe I'll go back to those at some point but for now back to well trying to be productive I guess.

A Little Bit Of: The Bridge

Leap of faith.

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While the game does make use of some optical illusions it doesn't make itself an integral part of the puzzle. This is mostly because the puzzles have been about the physics of the world more than the illusion of how do you manipulate the physics so all the pieces of the puzzle where you want them. The physics nature of it does lead to some awkwardness, especially when you're trying to get a key around the outside of a curve. Tilt too much and the key falls off into the ether and too little and it doesn't move at all.

I also wish that the character movement and the tilting was just a little bit faster. My annoyance with puzzles games is when you know the solution but it takes far too long to execute it. I feel like if the character was just a little bit faster it would have alleviated that problem I had with it. Unfortunately as with any about physics and puzzles that would probably affect the solutions to some of them so here I am instead just complaining about it.

A Little Bit Of: Retrovirus

Scanning for targets.

Retrovirus.jpg

Forgot to post this yesterday. Oops! Anyway back on topic, this is a bit of a weird game because there really isn't much like it these days. It's a call back to games like Descent where you play a shooter with full range of motion in all axes. The most similar game I've played in recent memory is Shattered Horizon. I really like their fake computer look to the game, the first level also has a pretty great fake Windows desktop to start the game off with.

The shooting itself is decent, I haven't got deep enough into see how many more weapons there are or how complex the upgrade system gets. But it does look like there's going to be some variety in there. Playing a few other shooters recently and there's an odd lack of weight behind the gunfire in Retrovirus, which while it makes sense in context of the game makes it stand out a bit from more modern shooters. Enemies being able to attack you from all directions also makes the concept of taking cover a little tough. I would've liked some way to mitigate damage that didn't involve just running into a pipe to choke point the enemies. Some of the combat spaces give you lots of room to manoeuvre in but some are fairly small which makes dealing with the more punchy enemies rather tough.

A Little Bit Of: No Time To Explain and other things.

Raptor heads.

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Well this is a rather big swing from the abstract Proteus. This is a platformer that gets away on humour, randomness and just general madness. Mechanically it's decent, it's not the best platformer out there. There isn't a whole lot of precision when using the gun to boost you to different places, usually the level design works to compensate for this but in a couple of places it asks you to do too much precisely without really giving you the tools to do it and it ends up with one or two really terrible levels. The same goes for checkpointing, usually it's great but there are a couple of instances later in the game where it's just terrible and just ends up being horribly frustrating.

On the flip side you end up travelling through time shooting a spaceship piloted by a giant crab. A shark that grows tentacles when you blow up it's tail and for some reason there's a side scrolling shooter with dinosaurs. It goes through each of these quickly and fluidly and it keeps up that pace of progression that you just kind of go with it. Suddenly being a bullet hell shooter, makes sense in the world of No Time To Explain.

In other goings on, I went to the Gamespot Crysis 3 IMAX thing in London, that was kind of neat. It really is a giant bloody screen. As for the game itself, it seemed alright. Not quite enough time to form any solid opinion on it but what I played of it seemed to be following in the much smaller areas that were par for the course in Crysis 2 in comparison to both the original and Warhead. It was farily early on but it's not the most encouraging first look for me. I definitely don't enjoy shooters as much as I once did and a lot of that was because I burnt out on it, so the less it feels like a run of the mill military shooter the better and I can't say I really got that feeling from it. Also the EA people at the event there were really weird, really insistent on not changing any settings or opening menus. I tried to look at the customization stuff and was promptly told to just play the game, tried to turn on subtitles because I couldn't hear what on earth I was supposed to be doing told the exact same thing. For a game that's almost out that just striked me as odd. 

A Little Bit Of: Proteus

Walking into the four seasons.

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Bit of an odd one this week, an experimental exploration game. It's an interesting game that's probably worth seeing even if you end up thinking that it doesn't succeed at what it tries to do. It probably could've done with a bit more in the way of music and sound than it does do, it ends up sounding a little sparce at times. Perhaps intentionally so but a bit more in the way of ambience could've added a lot to the experience.

Don't have a whole lot more to say on this one, clearly not a game that everyone is going to get something out of. But a game that I'm glad exists.

A Little Bit Of: Antichamber

Combine with equal quantity of chamber.

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A game that has been in development for a long time. I'm sure there were some real doubts that this game would ever come out but it's out now and is rather excellent. It's kind of a really cool looking world, very minimalistic with bold single colours around the place. The soundtrack isn't standout but the ambient nature of it is really important at leading you on in the right direction as well as giving you information about this world that you're in.

The puzzles themselves haven't been massively taxing, but they all require a bit of a knack to it. You have to expect to try things and use what you've learnt before. The most important of which is don't trust what you see and that the space of the world won't be the same just because you stand in it. It's hard to say more without spoiling the game but you should go play this one. I don't know how long the game is, from the size of the wall probably longer than the timer of 90 minutes which makes me wonder what the heck that thing is on about. So yeah that's Antichamber, one great big mystery to mess with your head.

A Little Bit Of: Strike Suit Zero

No one can hear you explode.

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More Kickstarter games are being released. So that's awesome. Still lots more that are still in the works but things like this, FTL and Giana Sisters are showing that this is a totally viable way of getting your games funded and finished. That said this game suffers from having some really dull missions. It's mechanically sound, the act of flying a ship and transforming into a mech to destroy hordes of enemies is great fun. Having missions that have you escort a frigate against an almost unstoppable hoard of enemies that while pose no threat to your tiny little strike craft enjoy blowing up your frigate long before you can deal with them all.

Escort missions sucking is nothing new, but I certainly wish that Born Ready games had put a bit more thought into it. It also doesn't help that the missions go on for a long time. Some of this is in part of how missiles are balanced so that you conserve ammo while you're doing your objective. If you do die you're restocked at the checkpoint in theory making it easier to complete that particular section.

Overall I think that it's a good game, I'm still only about half way through, I've gone back to re-do some of the older missions to get those unlocks. The mission I got stuck on seems to be neigh impossible at the moment and there's no menu thing I can change that will tell my ally to die less. Maybe none of the later missions have escort parts in them and are totally awesome and there have been missions that were a good deal of fun. But there have been too many sections that drag down the fact that the combat is rather a lot of fun and that's a bit of a shame.

A Little Bit Of: 10,000,000

Three's a match.

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This game is also on iOS and Android and ultimately I think those platforms fit 10,000,000 far better than the PC. So if you're looking to get this game and can get it there you should probably do so. That said, it works totally fine on PC, the problem really is just one of depth. You're probably not going to get a whole lot out of the game compared to something else just sitting at your PC but as a game to play for 10-15 minutes put down and then pick up again later it's a good time.

It's a very simple game, beyond the match 3 game there isn't a whole lot more. A lot of the rest of the mechanics and systems are all just background, to be good at 10,000,000 you just have to be good at matching 3. That part of the game is really well done and the way that the way that the top screen adds a great deal in terms of getting you to think really quickly. But in the end it just doesn't compare to something like Puzzle Quest which was just a much better combination. 10,000,000 is just a match 3 game plus a little bit, which makes it a really good way to kill a shot break every now and then but not so great for a prolonged sit down.

A Little Bit Of: Conquest Of Elysium 3

And the dead shall rise.

ConquestOfElysium3.jpg

Probably one of the worst looking games I've done in this series. Behind the fairly bad looking graphics is a fairly deep strategy game. The aspect of managing your empire is fairly light, you just walk an army over a key location like a town or farm and it'll be captured and it'll pay you resources every turn. But most of the different commanders have their own specific resources, the undead can capture graveyards to expand their undead hoard whereas demonologists will also collect sacrifices from local towns.

It makes it fairly interesting in that a lot of the races aren't competing directly for a lot of the same resources. So if you're the undead you want to raise more undead to bolster your forces but if you spot a dwarven empire nearby it might be worth capturing and holding mines which while not directly useful for your forces are incredibly valuable for the dwarves.

The thing that has bugged me most about the game is how little in game help there is in the way of just how to play the game. Yes there is a pdf manual that comes with the game but it's lengthy and complex and full of a whole lot of stuff that when you're first starting out don't need to care about at all. So spending the first 10 games or so just losing in the first 20 turns without really learning anything, not so awesome. But after learning the basics and playing a whole bunch after that it's pretty fun.