17 August, 2014

Keepalive: Dark Scavenger, Jazzpunk, Marlow Briggs, Rochard

written by Blain Newport on Sunday, 17 August 2014

Dark Scavenger (4 of 5)

Dark Scavenger is basically somebody's really weird D&D module / Fighting Fantasy book. Observe the character designs below and the choice offered.

Your choices may involve combat. They may not. They may earn you loot. They may not. At the same time as I've gotten used to the drip feeding of rewards in most games, I like feeling like my brain is at least semi-relevant to the proceedings.

The loot has it's own weird subsystem where you can choose to turn most pieces of loot into weapons, items, or companion characters. You have to make many of the choices without much information, but I always seemed to find ways to make it work and occasionally felt clever for finding ways to combine items and attacks.

For me the game succeeds on it's strangeness. It tries at world building and does okay. It tries at character building and does okay. It tries at a creative combat system and does okay. It tries to walk a line between seriousness and humor and does okay. But stuff like making a companion out of a toaster kept me wanting to see what craziness was next. And starting the game over with overpowered loot will let me see different choices and make for a fun "tourist mode" romp.

Jazzpunk (2 of 5)

Jazzpunk doesn't try to walk a line between seriousness and humor. It's mostly humor with as weird of undertones as they can manage.

Yeah. Humor. The ads for Jazzpunk are better than the content of Jazzpunk. They try, and there are some fun ideas in there. But it felt very plodding. Every gag was a discrete event that just sort of sat there. I suspect it's a combination of limited technical chops, limited resources, and partly the surreal vibe the game is shooting for.

I appreciate the effort and hope the dev learns and improves, but I just didn't feel this one was ready for prime time.

Marlow Briggs and the Mask of Death (3 of 5)

Marlow Briggs was on sale for 99 cents during the last Steam sale. A God of War style game for 99 cents? I had to give it a shot.

Yep. That's a God of War style game all right. There are even some enemies that the player can beat into submission and ride around on. It's a direct lift, minus the gore and breasts, which I didn't miss at all.

And it's got some spectacle. They didn't have enough money to animate all the cut scenes so they do a sort of bullet time camera flyby. Those parts don't quite work, but for the price the production values are still ridiculous.

While it is just another character action game, and some of the death trap bits near the end kill the pace a bit, I loved seeing a positively portrayed minority as the hero. Marlow Briggs' character doesn't really get developed, but he still comes across as a likeable everyman hero who just happens to be black.

Rochard (3 of 5)

Rochard is the name of the main character, who is a miner. The game's writing is a bit better than that pun, mostly. And it's gameplay is a bit better than its writing.

I suppose I should have said space miner instead of just miner, but I don't know of any games about normal miners. There's certainly enough to learn in terms of the engineering, tools, and dangers to make a compelling game about normal mining, but to my knowledge no one's been willing to commit to it yet.

This game is a somewhat actiony / somewhat puzzley platformer that never really made me feel clever or excited, but introduced mechanics frequently enough and had enough of a story to keep me going. It also didn't hurt that I started catching up on Patrick Klepek's wonderful Giant Bomb's Interview Dump Truck podcasts during the puzzle sections, so your mileage may vary.

10 August, 2014

Keepalive: Xenoblade Chronicles, Stacking, Thief, Dark Scavenger, The Last Remnant

written by Blain Newport on Sunday, 10 August 2014

Considering it's been three weeks, I haven't really played much. I had a lot of work and an internet outage. I still have a lot of work.

Xenoblade Chronicles (4 of 5)

I finally finished Xenoblade at a little over a hundred hours. The creatures and landscapes were great. The story and characters were above average. And the combat was decent. I wish the female characters had been stronger and had more respectable looking armor. Overall, the game was a really nice vacation. I still suspect I will eventually pick up a Wii U largely to play the sequel.

Stacking (3 of 5)

The art and aesthetic was great. A fair amount of the game itself felt too leisurely for its own good especially when there was backtracking.

Thief (3 of 5)

I didn't mind Thief, which I half expected to considering the reviews. The game let me feel sneaky, which was fun. But the lengthy animations which slowed down the action and the uninteresting characters which left me indifferent to the story tried to detract from that simple joy. It's a good thing I'm so simple.

Dark Scavenger

Dark Scavenger is a strange, comical, sci-fi, fantasy, point & click adventure RPG. The strangest part of the game is the loot system. Most loot you find can be "crafted" into a weapon, tool, or companion. And there are certain combats and hazards you can bypass if you have the right weapon, tool, or companion for them. It's novel.

Novelty is fleeting. But it's necessary to keep everything from feeling worn out. I spent some more time with The Last Remnant, and the only thing that made me smile was the fact that one of the characters had a ridiculous stat increase.