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Oct
19th
Sun
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I can’t touch anyone.

This has been bugging me since I started playing Watch Dogs. When I see the man playing trumpet at the park, I can’t tip him. When I hear that someone’s father has cancer, I can’t transfer money into their account—though I can drain their already meager savings further.

And now, these crying people, I can’t hug them. Not that I should—not that Aiden Pearce should be in this space at all. But I am, and I want to hug them. I want that so much more than the ability to do harm, but it’s all I can do.

Oct
11th
Sat
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S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl

From the first moments the game oozes atmosphere. The Zone is quiet, desolated and strange. Even the abysmal Polish localization can’t destroy that feeling. Over time though the shooter aspect of the game overshadows the rest. Enemy groups get bigger, smarter and better equipped. You kill them, get new weapons and repeat in the next area. You can talk with other stalkers, but they seldom have something interesting to say. Anomalies become yet another hazard to be avoided. Stealth seems underdeveloped and is not a viable strategy in most cases.

The virtual spaces and their atmosphere were enough in the beginning to keep me interested, but the lack of substance in other areas of the game discouraged me to play more. I put it away after a few hours.

Two articles about S.T.A.L.K.E.R. that are worth a read:

Oct
10th
Fri
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The Walking Dead is not difficult in a typical game’y fashion. Its puzzles are very light and quick time events can be repeated until done right. The game highlights a different type of difficulty: making decisions. Will you be nice or rude to this newly met person, are you going to tell the hard truth or a comforting lie, will you save this person or the other one. The game doesn’t make it easy either. Most decisions have to be made within a time limit and inaction is treated as another type of decision. It’s unforgiving, forces you to go with your gut and then question yourself. Was that the right thing to do? Would you do the same thing next time?

Story branching resulting from those decisions is clever: sometimes does affect the outcome and sometimes not, but if you play the game just once you will never know. While the general direction of the story cannot be affected, the details can. Consequences also range from moment-to-moment stuff to those that span multiple episodes.

Movement scheme is atypical for an adventure game. Instead of point-and-click you move around directly. I think it was the right choice, certainly more natural for consoles. Combined with QTEs that require you to span a button or quickly aim this interface makes the experience much more immersive. When you have to cut someone’s leg having to actually make each swing happen by pressing a button again and again… it’s repulsive, to say the least.

That brings us to the meat of the game, so to speak. Not surprisingly a zombie game is full of gore. Jump scares are intertwined with disturbing and shocking themes. The atmosphere is usually pretty gloom. If your group is not chased by the living dead then they are trapped, starving or sick. All of this makes you appreciate the calm moments so much more. Each chance to chat with a fellow human being is precious. Fortunately dialogues have solid writing and are nicely voiced.

All in all, it’s been a great emotional experience.

Oct
9th
Thu
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One Finger Death Punch

This is fun in short bursts. The whole game is built around one mechanic and that’s very relaxing. You know exactly what you sign up for when you start the game. Fighting in One Finger Death Punch is all about timing. Concentration and quick reflexes are key. It’s one of those games that’s easy to pick up, but hard to master. It has a Zen-like quality to it which I enjoyed quite a bit.

Oct
8th
Wed
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Some screenshots from Stick It to the Man!

Oct
7th
Tue
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Stick it to The Man!

Groovy puzzle platformer. Light on reflex platforming and more focused on exploration, humor and riddles. It is a wild ride into the minds of people living in a paper world. Like Psychonauts - game’s obvious influence - its humor is self-referential and clever, while peeking into minds of others is thrilling, and can be scary sometimes.

Geoff Thew in his review gives great examples of the type of humor you can expect here:

Stick It to The Man is an eminently sly and self-aware game. This is a story of paper men living in a sidescrolling world, and they know it. The hazmat container only drops in the first place because the paper airplane carrying it falls apart in a storm. Ray always forgets how much jumping is involved in his morning commute, but when lost he remembers that the way home is to “go right, and then go right, and then pretty much keep going all the way to the right.” This is classic adventure game humor with a sharp edge, and it’s riotously funny.

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Oct
6th
Mon
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Oct
5th
Sun
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Oct
3rd
Fri
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Już jest! :-)

Już jest! :-)