Posts Tagged ‘2014’

Probably Archery Review

Probably Archery Featured

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Developer: South East Games
Publisher: South East Games
Platform: PC – Steam

Video games are often hard for people who haven’t grown up with a controller in hand. Those of us who have been gaming for many years often overlook this reality. It’s only when games like QWOP or Surgeon Simulator 2013 come out that both gaming and non-gaming types can be on equal, wobbly ground. Probably Archery is another one of these extremely difficult to control games. Only this time, you’re an archer.

Probably Archery gives players control of the left and right arms of their avatar. Arms are moved pretty freely from shoulders, elbows, and even rotate wrists. Switching between shoulder or elbow control is handled via button presses, as is moving to left hand. The left hand holds a bow which means you often have to get that in the right (or rather, least horrible) position before shooting arrows.

It actually isn’t too difficult to get a feel for the control scheme if you play enough, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be hitting bulls-eye all the time. For me, it was quite hard to gauge exactly how the arrow would behave when launched. Sometimes the arc seemed too high or too low, but perhaps the realization of how it works will come to me in time.

Probably Archery Featured

The best feature of Probably Archery is that the developers crammed in multiple game modes to accompany their silly controls. You can shoot static targets or moving ones, a noose, or a swarm of strange men. Perhaps my favorite mode is where you shoot an apple off the head of a muscular man whose own head is a much larger apple. If you think that’s funny then you’ll likely love the rest of the humor inherent while playing.

With all that said, it does feel like even the variety of modes can’t cover up the fact that it’s a simple archery game with wonky controls. Multiple modes deal with the pinpoint accuracy or swarm style and there’s not much else variety to it. Still, Probably Archery is entertaining. If you end up with a copy then head into online multiplayer so I can finally play with other awful archers!


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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Octodad: Dadliest Catch Review

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Developer: Young Horses
Publisher:
Young Horses
Platform: 
PC – Steam

Octodad has been doing a fine job so far assimilating himself into a life with a normal human family. Nobody suspects a thing! Unfortunately, things don’t stay perfect for long. In Octodad: Dadliest Catch, you’re in charge of keeping up the charade.

It’s anything but a simple task, though, considering Octodad’s eight slippery appendages. The main grab of Octodad: Dadliest Catch is its controls. When you want to walk around, you move each “leg” one at a time. Grabbing things and whatnot is done by maneuvering your right arm and executing those sticky suction cups. It’s as hard to describe the whole process as it is to actually perform at first, but it becomes manageable quickly enough (hint: use a controller if at all possible!). With the crazy physics and controls, there is some frustration with getting to certain points and platforms, but that’s what makes Octodad: Dadliest Catch so fun.

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The other half of Octodad: Dadliest Catch‘s appeal lies in its story, writing, and characters. As mentioned previously, as Octodad, you must get through events in his life while maintaining his persona as a normal human. This means going to the grocery store and taking your family to the aquarium (the latter of which Octodad thinks is a crime against sea-manity). All of it is just as wacky as controlling Octodad.

Your initial playthrough in Octodad: Dadliest Catch will probably only last you about two or three hours. Thankfully, there’s always co-op mode, which allows two players to control Octodad, and a plentiful amount of mod levels on Steam Workshop to keep you busy!

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I had a lot of fun during my time with Octodad: Dadliest Catch. Despite my frustrations with getting Octodad to get where I wanted him to go, the humor and fresh concept kept me going and kept me entertained.


Pink Score: 3.53 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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Serena Review

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Developer: Senscape
Publisher: Senscape
Platform: PC – Steam

Are you hungry for video games but short on cash? Out of nowhere, a game by the name of Serena popped up on Steam for the price of only… zero dollars! This was fairly surprising given that it’s an adventure game and not a free-to-play MMO. After finding out it was an adventure game and apparently had references to classic titles, I had to give it a shot.

Serena plops you into a dusty old cabin as a possible amnesiac who reminisces over his homely possessions. He knows the woman he loves is named Serena but she’s not there. Where did she go and why can’t he remember a thing about her? As you play, story tidbits are slowly revealed, giving you a better sense of what’s going on.

The game takes place in a 3D space but is entirely driven by pointing and clicking. By examining objects you can hear the protagonist ramble, sometimes remembering things, other times simply musing. He has a lot to say about each item so it’s definitely worth listening to all of the lines. Some have complaints about his voice acting, but I found it fitting.

Serena Featured

The cabin, despite being small, is rich with mementos and histories worth investigating. Visually, it looks great too. The windows, dirtied with grime let in the light in a truly creepy fashion. Seeing everything in a dark brown and grey helps set the mood as well. Audio outside of voice acting is also nice, if usually transparent. It’s obvious a lot of love went into this project.

After clicking on specific objects, you trigger a new “stage” to begin. No, you never leave the cabin but after events are triggered it leads to entirely new things being said about the items in the cabin. It might seem weird to some but proves to be a very effective way to tell a story. Serena takes most from half an hour to an hour and a half to complete, but still made me feel quite bad after completing it. I just wish the ending hadn’t been as abrupt.

That said, I can’t believe the game is free. Other short titles definitely exist on the service and have a fee. Since Serena is free it is incredibly easy to recommend. It’s a relatively brief experience, moody, and even those who don’t like it shouldn’t feel “ripped off” by experiencing it. My time with the game was not wasted in the least and I hope others are willing to give it a try too.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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Strike Vector Review

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Developer: Ragequit Corporation
Publisher: Ragequit Corporation
Platform: PC – Steam

One of my earliest memories of console gaming was being exposed to Star Fox on the SNES. At the time I was simply astounded. To my youthful brain, this was a game that had CGI on par with films! It just couldn’t get any better than this – could it? Of course, over the years graphics have become much better but there hasn’t been a ton of growth in regards to futuristic aerial dogfighting. Strike Vector is one game that promises an old school feel where fast reflexes are integral. But is it just the game I was looking for?

That question is a bit silly, but only because nothing could stand up to that moment of childhood awe. All the same, Strike Vector has already developed a devoted following of skilled pilots. What have they found so enthralling? It’s likely the high level of skill required to do well in matches. Simply flying requires being able to judge distances while flying through small pathways. Fighting requires much more of the player, such as learning how to make tight turns and dodge enemy fire.

How do you learn the various tricks of Strike Vector? I must advise against jumping straight into multiplayer because you’ll likely die spectacularly (and regularly) without ever getting comfortable. Instead, head into an empty single player map. All maps are available in this mode and have no enemies, human or AI, meaning you’re free to test the capabilities of your craft and its weapons (this also means there’s no single player campaign). It might also help to learn where various item pickups are on the stage as they’ll have the same positioning online. Finally, check out the third person and cockpit viewpoints to see which works best for you.

Strike Vector Featured

Testing out the various weapon loadouts is helpful to make sure you’re comfortable with the configuration. Some people love homing missiles but others prefer to shotgun their way through enemies. Whatever the case, once you figure it out, you can spend more time on how to most effectively use those weapons instead of continually cycling through them, becoming a master of none.

Online play is hard at first because flying alone in a single player map is much different from entering an almost full match with players everywhere. It also is no help to beginners that the stages, as gorgeous as they are, happen to be fairly compact and full of small areas to fly through. There are a handful of online modes and team deathmatch is both my favorite and least favorite. That’s because when you die by crashing into a wall (so, not being harmed by an enemy) it still counts as a loss – and it’s a loss to your entire team. It’s stressful to feel like you’re the one directly contributing to a team’s failure!

If Strike Vector sounds like a ton of fun then you’re the audience they desire. Players must be willing to lose a lot and practice to become truly skilled. For more casual players this isn’t the game to pick up. It’s fast, unforgiving, and even a bit stressful when entering online matches. After deciding which type of gamer you are then you’ll know whether Strike Vector is for you.


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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Broken Age Act 1 Review

Broken Age Featured

Broken Age Boxart

Developer: Double Fine Productions
Publisher: Double Fine Productions
Platform: PC – Steam

Once upon a time, point and click adventure games were king. Then something happened – shooters became popular. With shooters, and many other genres, video games were pushed further, with more interactivity and better graphics. The point and click games of yore fought on, but fell out of favor with most people over the years. Then, Telltale Games made waves with The Walking Dead and the genre was cool again. Finally, innovative developer Double Fine ran a Kickstarter for a new adventure game and garnered an amazing 3.3 million bucks. It appeared adventure games were no longer dead.

Finally, the Double Fine Adventure Kickstarter has borne fruit via Broken Age. However, only Act 1 is available right now, with the second act still being worked on. So what can be said about a game that was so tremendously anticipated by many? It likely won’t live up to your expectations. That doesn’t make it a bad game, of course! Well, let’s get into this review already.

Broken Age is split into two halves. One is the story of a young woman named Velouria (shortened to “Vella”) and a teenage boy named Shay. Players choose which story to begin with and jump right in. Although it is possible to swap between them at any time, it doesn’t seem to serve much purpose. It’s easiest to just play one story first and then go for the other, which is what I did. Vella’s part appears the longer, and much more interesting, half.

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Vella’s story starts as something called a Maiden Feast is about to start. It is quickly revealed that the town fears a  huge monster named Mog Chothra and that the only way to sate it is by offering up the best girls of the village. Unfortunately, Vella was chosen to take part. Unlike the others who all seek to be eaten, Vella recognizes the inherent wrongness of the situation and wants to fight back! Along her journey she meets many characters and solves a good deal of puzzles, although almost all of them could hardly be considered puzzles.

Shay has a completely different life. He lives by himself in a space station with only a sentient, overly-watchful computer and machines to interact with. For all intents and purposes, his world is a foil of Vela’s. Instead of the looming fear of death, he is protected completely from any and all danger. Shay’s life of repetitive nonsense is interrupted one day and finally his story starts to become interesting. Unfortunately, there are even less puzzles in this section and even less characters to meet.

One of the most exciting things about adventure games is the witty and intriguing characters you’ll come across while playing. Many point and click games fail in this respect, but since Tim Schafer was at the helm here, most expected something great. Somehow, Broken Age manages to not be that funny. The writing is good, but it doesn’t feel all that special in most cases. It seems like personalities are very subdued, when they exist at all. Thankfully, the voice acting is phenomenal which makes it so that listening to dialogue is never a chore.

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The most impressive aspect of the game is the visuals. Simply, this is one incredible-looking title. The art style makes everything seem like you’re watching a pretty picture book come to life. Animations are smooth, if sometimes repetitive, and help bring the experience to life. Locations have a great sense of design and fit with the themes of Vella and Shay’s stories. If I had to guess where a lot of the Kickstarter money went, I’d say it went into art.

As was hinted at earlier, though there are a lot of puzzles, most aren’t particularly difficult. Some players have lamented this point but it doesn’t seem bad to me. This is an adventure game being marketed to a massive audience – many of whom probably have never played a classic adventure game. Making puzzles as easy as possible keeps players moving and free of frustration. Just know that if your enjoyment of point and click games comes from intriguing puzzles that Broken Age will not scratch that itch.

All in all, Broken Age offers a meandering first half of an experience that becomes interesting right near the end. The story ends just as things start to get interesting and there’s no specific date for when we’ll get to play act 2. As gorgeous as the game is, there seems to be a distinct lack of personality. By that I mean the characters are mostly transparent task givers rather than true “characters” in the sense of being memorable. Perhaps we’ll see that change in the second half. Mostly, I just want to see how this story resolves itself. I’ve got my theories about what will happen, but we must all wait on Double Fine to see how everything turns out.


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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KAMI Review

KAMI Featured

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Developer: State of Play Games
Publisher: State of Play Games
Platform: Mobile – iOS PC – Steam

Puzzle game fans are not lacking in choice when it comes to games they can play. The genre is simply saturated with games of all varieties, from rhythm/music based puzzlers to a multitude of match-3 titles. KAMI isn’t like most popular games and instead focuses on the task of making an entire screen one color. This sounds easy until you get presented with multi-colored screens with complex patterns and only have a few moves to complete them in. So, KAMI is just the kind of puzzle game some are looking for – one that’s simple to understand but very hard to complete.

At first, it might seem like KAMI is easy. Over the first few stages you are presented with screens that only have two or three colors. It’s not hard to recognize which color you should slap down to make the whole thing one color. Of course, these are just the tutorial stages. After that, the game quits taking it easy and requires a more thoughtful approach. Where should you click and with what color? Most stages require some degree of practice (and a little guessing) until finally figuring out their trick.

The game certainly gives you a hand. At the start of each new puzzle section it always starts off with one that will teach you how to solve later puzzles in the section. Unfortunately, the first puzzle is always the easiest, meaning you’ll need more than that information to complete the rest. Each always requires you to finish at par or one move over it. Anything more and you’re greeted with a big “fail” sticker! There’s a hint function available but unfortunately it’s a little odd. It grants 10 credits every 24 hours which means you’re limited in hints per day. This is simply a holdover from the mobile version, since there is no way to “buy” more credits on Steam.

KAMI Featured

No discussion of KAMI is complete without talk of the visuals. The game is gorgeous! It is styled after paper (“kami” itself is a name of a type of origami paper) and the simplicity is very appealing. When you lay down a new color, the corresponding paper pieces all fold away in unison. It’s a very relaxing experience thanks to the light sound effects and attractive color combinations. Perhaps the only odd part is that no music plays during puzzles. Maybe this was to allow players to focus, but a gentle background track probably wouldn’t hurt.

If you’re not a fan of exerting your brain over games then run far away from KAMI. It’s tough, but satisfying for players willing to get into each puzzle. There are 63 puzzles in all, 18 of which are premium (pay) content from the mobile version. Those who want to buy KAMI should definitely grab it on PC and let their brains get to work!


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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