Oct 29, 2013

Video Game Reviews @ The Temple

The Walking Dead – I love TWD comic. I’ve been subscribed since the 40s or 50s, I think. It’s a crazy book with some really crazy stuff in it, but it’s very good. The TV show is hit or miss, sometimes it tries to do what the comic does and it doesn’t fit the medium. Some times it steals from the comic and that’s the only reason it’s good. It has moments of brilliance (the first episode still stands out as fantastic), but it is largely just an easier-to-digest version of something else that is better. But still, I've been waiting impatiently for this game to get cheap enough to buy it, felt like forever. It finally did, and it is very good. There are a few hiccups, but otherwise it’s one of the best games I’ve played in quite a while, or at least one of the best experiences. This is an adventure game, mostly text dialogue boxes and clicky events. It’s a tiny bit wonky, not exactly buggy, but a few funky animations or weird edits that are distracting. And there are a few times where the constraints of the game are really annoying. Sometimes you don’t know a decision is going to mean what it means. There were times when I didn’t want to do something, but it was the only choice. I’m yelling to myself that I should just do this instead of that, but that’s not an option. That’s an inherent flaw to these kinds of games. But to be fair it doesn’t happen that often in the main game. It happens a couple times in quick succession in 400 Days, which was more frustrating. But besides those issues, as an experience and a story, the game is fantastic. The main story is really captivating, and plays out with a style reminiscent of the comics. I was completely wrapped up in the characters and some decisions were truly hard. There are moments that are oddly introspective. It’s just a game, none of these people are real, but the good/bad decisions were so much more weighty than silly Mass Effect style morality scales. I’ve not played any game that dealt with moral decisions in such a real and non-quantitative way. You don’t have 5 good points and 10 bad points. You just make a decision, and that has consequences. That, again, can be frustrating when you feel like you were forced to choose between 2 stupid choices. But most of the time it feels real and important. There are also moments that are heartbreaking. The kid in the attic? Man, that got to me pretty good. This game told a story like most games never can, better than a lot of other story-telling media for that matter. I’m super happy I finally played it.

X-Com: Enemy Unknown – Another game I’ve been waiting to go on sale. This one is a lot of fun. It couldn’t be much more different than TWD. It is certainly a game, very light on the story. Aliens attack. Then you kill them. End of story. The game is fun. I was never crazy into the tactical turn based stuff in the good old days. I’m not even sure I ever played an X-Com. I played others, jagged alliance for instance. But it is a lot of fun. I, thank jesus, did not play on ironman. I was actually considering it, but boy that would have been a bad idea. Too much unknown stuff that would have destroyed me. Even going through again, which I may or may not do (maybe I’ll wait for the DLC), I’m not sure I could pull off ironman. So, given that I had the opportunity to reload a mission if I really borked it, the game was great. It looks good and plays well. There’s a good amount of variety in what you can build and use to change up your squad. Though honestly I ran out of time and resources to diversify much, and ended up focusing on stuff I thought worked. But it was still a lot of fun, just not enough for me to sink another 25 hours in without the added content of DLC. So hopefully when that gets cheap in 6 months I’ll come back and play again.

Orcs Must Die 2 – Meh, this was kind of disappointing. I loved the first game. It was cute and funny, but a new kind of game play that was a blast. This one, unfortunately, doesn’t seem to add anything new. I played as the girl, because I liked her charm person spell more than I liked headshots. But besides that the game played out exactly like the last one. Maybe I didn’t explore enough into some of the new traps, but they didn’t seem that interesting. There were new weapons and buffs, but still nothing that cool. I used charm person, wind belt, barricades, dwarves, elves and acid spray. Throw in a spike plate or a freeze vent here and there, but still nothing new. I didn’t have that much fun, I just wanted to get through it. It’s not that they did anything wrong, I guess I just didn’t need more of the same, bummer.

Shank & Shank 2 – These games are side-scrolling beat em ups. It’s pretty violent, that’s kind of its thing. The art is stylized and cool. The two games play very similarly, though the second one is much much improved. I kind of wish I never played the first one, just the second, I think I might have a more favorable impression. Not that the first one was super bad, the second one was just much more polished. Though the games were well done, I wasn’t super into them. I was pretty ready to get done, even though they each only lasted 3 or so hours. Of course you could go back and do trophies and harder modes and getting costumes. I did not.

Aquaria – This is basically Metroid underwater. It’s really well done, actually. It looks nice, has its own aesthetic, is fairly intuitive. So if you are in to the Metroid thing, then it’s pretty good. And doing the whole thing underwater is an interesting gimmick. Unfortunately, I didn’t end up loving it. Partially, the metroid thing is just tiresome. All the back tracking and wandering around trying to see what key I have for what door is boring. Eventually I ended up looking online for walkthroughs because I just didn’t want to spend hours searching every corner until I found the right place. I’m not sure if it’s just me, or if the game is somehow boring, I’m going to assume the former, because I think it was very well done.

Terraria – Not sure how to decide when to review this. I guess now that I’m bored? It’s 2D minecraft. It’s fun, it’s endless, I started building a little community of houses, I started digging deep into the earth, then I got bored. And then the October update just happened to come out, but then I bought a couple games on Steam and haven’t played it since. It’s fun and all, but just like Minecraft I didn’t have the patience to go too far. Maybe I’ll poke my head back in later.

Papers Please – This game is great. You are an inspector at a border checkpoint for some ex-russian bloc type country. Nominally you are just doing your job, checking passports, looking for discrepancies, etc. With each day on the job, there’s an increasing number of rules, required documentation, etc. But you have a family, and rent and food is effing expensive. So maybe you take a bribe here or there to help keep the heat on. Then someone shows up with a sob story, needs to get into the country or some horrible thing will happen, but if you do that, you’ll get punished. And there’s some rebels, you can choose to help them or report them. There’s all these little choices, I guess there’s 20 different endings, I only got about 4. But you certainly get in to it, I got very single minded about my goals. Toward the end, when someone showed up with bad docs and was wasting my time when I could be processing more people (and therefore making more money), I literally said “Well then get the fuck out of my country".” Out loud. Great game.

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