Lotheneil vs. The Backlog Hydra, Ep. #23
I’ve said I’ll be here with my weekly updates unless an apocalypse happens - and it did last week. Well, not for the world or even for me, but my comp decided it had enough. 4 days in IT service and two parts replaced later I’m back - with a tiny game I was keeping for a rainy day like this one.
A tiny RPGMaker product that aspires to be something more - with its basement-indie feel (literally hand-drawn graphics, resembling digitalized pencil drawings), and dystopian theme. The world of "Suits" is as bleak as its visuals - the whole world dominated by a couple of corporations, that couldn't care less about things like law, morals or people's welfare. We meet our character just as he graduates from a business school and is about to enter that world, and during the course of the game he slowly sinks into that twisted setting.
I have to admit though, that I did not exactly get the message the game apparently tries to convey - perhaps due to it being watered down by a lot of popculture references, perhaps due to lack of even an illusion of choice or seeing negative consequences of main character's actions.
There is nothing to write home about when it comes to mechanics either - just your general RPGMaker style. Still, for the price asked for the title (less than a dollar) it is quite an entertaining little game for a few hours.
Status: complete All achievements unlocked - not that it is any problem when you consult the guide every now and then or do some exploring.
Lotheneil vs. The Backlog Hydra, Ep. #22
This week I sank my teeth into a certain Chinese RPG - as tends to be the case with the genre, it took quite a lot of my time. Finished it, though :)
Chinese RPG, with strong emphasis on narrative - in fact I would call the title a mixture of visual novel and RPG, in this order, with a lot of mythology mixed in. The plot, as it is often the case, starts with a simple villager in a tiny town, and ends with saving the world from incoming apocalypse, with a lot of exploring, character development and drama in between.
Too bad the gameplay part is completely uninspiring, repetitive and boring. I had an impression that dev wanted to make a movie, throwing in some interactive elements as an afterthought, only for the sake of calling their product a game. Which wouldn't even be that much of a problem, if not for one element:
Translation. It's just horrible - full of spelling and grammar mistakes that make conversations hard to comprehend at times, and some parts are not even translated at all.
On a positive side, the title offers beautiful music with distinct Chinese feel (or even vocals) and quite nice, if not breathtaking visuals. Not a masterpiece by any means, but still offers a captivating story and some sense of novelty. Worth looking into, though I'd suggest waiting for a sale.
Status: beaten - I definitely did not feel like grinding for achievements and I've missed some sidequests.
Lotheneil vs. The Backlog Hydra, Ep. #21
This week was quite busy for me and I feel braindead at the moment… so the report is quite brief. Oh well, better than nothing… I think :)
A very solid tower defense game with setting that brings "Once Upon a Time… Life" series to mind. By building towers along the lines we defend human body from bacteria and viruses. Well developed game mechanics (several level of tower upgrades, additional global bonuses and even levelling up a hero that walks around the map helping stationary defense destroy opponents) make this title worth playing for any enthusiasts of the genre.
Status: complete - even though there are three more achievements to obtain, they are of a typical mindless and useless grinding variety - not worth my time.
And the steam hydra has found my wallet and robbed it. As a result, Tales of Berseria and Darksiders 2 proudly join my backlog :)
Lotheneil vs. The Backlog Hydra, Ep. #20
That was one busy week, so I had neither the time, nor the presence of mind for anything requiring a lot of time or thinking. Ended up finishing two small and simple games. Still, -2 to backlog :)
A mixture of FPS and exploration game. We end up on a remote planet, tasked with finding the origin of a mysterious signal. Armed with guns and (a bit later) ability to take control of nearby robots, we explore the area, fight with robots belonging to two opposite fractions and look for clues in areas marked on a map. Taking control of beacons lets us respawn next to them in case of destruction, and bunkers - in addition to above - grant new weapons and tools.
Small, simple but quite fun indie game. Just do not expect complex mechanics or deep story.
Status: beaten. I've finished the game but could not be bothered to explore the map fully and gather all collectibles.
As the name suggests, solitaire-type game with some additional elements - like simple story (with plot twist that is obvious almost from the beginning), building your own town that gives some bonuses, or catching and raising pets, that is done mostly in the background. Like halfway into the game I've realised, that I've played it already a couple of years before, but the non-remastered version (this one adds better graphics and some balance and QOL elements), yet I decided to carry on - the game may be simple, but still ended up being quite absorbing.
Status: beaten. I've finished the whole story, achievements remaining require mindless grinding I was not interested in.
My wallet is still trying to hide from the Steam sale, but it is just a matter of time before it is found and robbed blind :)
Lotheneil vs. The Backlog Hydra, Ep. #19
With the last title beaten, my ABC Challenge project list is now complete. Yay! I’ve planned it to last for a year, finished in four months. It says something about me… probably that I spend way too much time playing video games :) For now I’ll stick to ad-hoc backlog killing, but perhaps I’ll do some more organised projects in the future. Anyway, this week’s targets:
Lane-type tower defence game. You plant aggressive plants (with a wide variety to choose from, so you can adjust the selection to your gameplay style, stage type and enemies) to keep zombies out of your lawn (and pool… and roof). Simple idea, easy mechanics and a lot of fun. Oldie but goldie.
Status: beaten - campaign finished, but I did not feel like delving too deep into other modes.
I really have no idea how did that game get 'Very positive' rating on Steam. I must have played a different title or something - as for me it was mediocre at best. Simplistic gameplay with no plot to talk about, childish protagonist, annoying main character's VO, clunky controls with some odd hitboxes and dated-looking graphics. The only positive thing about the title were varied and quite challenging puzzles - every level offered new types of obstacles to overcome. Still, I do not recommend the title, especially for non-bundle price - as it is extremely short to boot, completing it took me 1.5h.
Status: completed - all crystals on all levels found - finding all angel statues was neither exactly hard nor time consuming.
If I was to compare this title with any other title, it would be RiME - both share the genre (exploration game with platformer and puzzle elements) and visual style. AER adds overworld free flying element, while being less refined as far as plot is concerned. Still, it was a nice and relaxing little indie game. Way too short to recommend at full price (especially that it has no replay value), but a quite good pick in bundle.
Status: completed - some exploration, a little bit of reading and all achievements are mine :)
A casual puzzle game. Stages look similar to match-3 titles, but instead of moving gems (or vegetables in this case) the player needs to draw a rectangle with the same vegetable in every corner. Between stages we have access to the shop with some items to help us along the way. Easy to learn, fun and quite addictive (at least in short sessions, as it tends to get repetitive).
Status: completed - all stages completed, there is no side content.
Fighting game with DC superheroes. What more can I say. I'm quite poor at fighting games, never cared much about competitive gameplay, studying every frame of every move and honing one's skill for years. This one was no different - as odd and funny as it may sound, I just wanted to see the story - which was fairly detailed and interesting.
Status: beaten - as stated above, I've finished the campaign and battle modes for all 30 characters, unlocked all costumes and called it a day. I've never even tried an online battle - did not fancy getting my rear part handed to me :)
Lotheneil vs. The Backlog Hydra, Ep. #18
The last title of the Challenge Me! list completed and the ABC challenge is almost wrapped up too. Yay me :) While lists are nice, I believe I’ll do some ad-hoc backlog killing for a while afterwards. Targets of this weeks were:
A survival game in cartoony isometric style a majority of people here most probably know. It's really fun to explore the world, find new ways to interact with environment and build a sustainable base. After some time it got a bit boring to me though - while I won't claim I've discovered everything the game has to offer, after learning most mechanics and building most tools to be able to survive more or less infinitely, the game become quite repetitive.
Status: beaten. As I wrote above, I've discovered most main mechanics, created a sustainable base (in survival mode), found Maxwell's doors and walked through them. After that I've considered the playthrough finished and called it a day. While the game was really fun at first, after some time I've got bored with repetitive actions.
Your average part of the LEGO series - some running around destroying things for studs, some easy puzzles, cutscenes rehearsing main events of the books/movies' plots in pantomime. As I am not exactly an avid fan of Harry Potter series (though potterverse fanfics remain my all-time guilty pleasure) I don't know the plot of latter parts of the series too well - and LEGO games in general, and this one in particular is not known for their attention to story - if you don't know what should be happening in the scene you see, you won't really know what's going on. Adding to that significant performance issues of the title (large FPS drops for no particular reason, and judging from Steam reviews I am not the only one suffering from that), I'd recommend the game only for the most die-hard fans of J.K. Rowling's works.
Status: beaten. I've finished the main plot and had no urge to even start playing in free mode to gather collectibles.
Lotheneil vs. The Backlog Hydra, Ep. #17
This week I’ve decided to get down to the games selected for me by 86maylin (thanks again :)) as a part of the Challenge Me! well, challenge. 4/5 finished, with one dropped title and one kind-of-cheated. Not that bad I suppose.
A simple (but not simplistic) puzzle game. You start with a map of specific region and a couple of stations. Your task is to create a working metro system that allows its inhabitants to travel to their chosen destinations, creating new routes and redrawing existing ones, placing bridges or tunnels and sending more trains and carriages to cater for growing population. This title is definitely an "easy to learn, hard to master" type.
The biggest issue of the game is its - sometimes unfair - randomness. Location and variant of the station to spawn is selected at random, so you may end up with one located in inconvenient place that everybody an their mothers want to get to - which leads to unavoidable bottlenecks. Furthermore, a bonus for each new passed week is random too - so you may have no possibility to build tunnels or bridges on a map with a lot of rivers for several weeks. Even though the game offers significant number of maps with unique problems requiring specific approach (an extensive river system, large distance between stations, smaller than usual carriages or particularly large number of passengers), after some time the gameplay does become repetitive. Still, it's a really nice little gem worth playing.
Status: beaten - all maps unlocked and played. There are achievements for finishing each map in a specific way (like using no more than 2 lines or 1 tunnel), which are quite challenging and require a lot of strategic thinking and some luck - a level of game mastery I was not inclined to gain.
A mixture of tabletop game similar to Talisman, card game and Arkham-style brawler. Moving between encounter cards, the player needs to make decision how to proceed, which may lead to gain or loss of resources and equipment or battles with opponents. After resolving encounters properly new cards can be gained, and later used in consecutive plays. The goal of each game is to reach the boss card and beat him.
Unique setting and gameplay style, unpredictable outcomes of each encounter that do not seem unfair to the player, challenging but manageable difficulty level and stylish visuals make the title definitely worth playing.
Status: beaten - all bosses (including the final one, I won't give the details to avoid spoilers) beaten. I did not feel like beating every single encounter to complete the deck though.
A point&click adventure game with open world-ish feeling and programming elements.
I really tried to like the game and immerse myself into its unusual setting. I failed. It just throws the player (together with the main character, Sebastian) into an unknown, surrealistic town, populated with odd individuals and give only the vaguest pointers on how to proceed. It's up to the player to explore various locations, talk to people and get his bearings in the environment he ended up in, and later - use his programming skills to directly alter it.
The problem is - the game failed to captivate my interest enough for me to want to explore and learn the town's secrets. Locations are bland and undistinguishable from each other and conversations with NPCs seem boring and pointless. With no pointers and specific goal to aim for you end up walking around aimlessly, hoping to find that one action that will push the plot (or what poses for it here) forward. Perhaps the game gets more interesting later on, but after four hours of gameplay I've just had enough. It was not fun for me in the slightest and with no story to speak of I wasn't even curious how will it end. It looks like the devs tried to experiment and create a new experience, but in my opinion that experiment has failed. Miserably.
I thought I have a full version of the title. I was wrong - in fact my backlog contained the first free episode only. It was still a really fun experience, if a bit shorter than I assumed. I'm definitely looking forward to playing the rest of the game, will pick it up on some sale :)
Status: completed - Well, I've completed the first episode (all photos collected) - so I'm marking the title blue even though I did not see the rest of the game yet. Will do, though.
Lotheneil vs. The Backlog Hydra, Ep. #16
Ladies and gentlemen - the Backlog Hydra strikes back. With vengeance never seen in the history of my backlog assassinations before.
Targets W and X of my ABC Challenge project list shot down. The latter is my SG win, so I’ve even managed to fulfill requirements of the monthly theme :)
Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War - a typical RTS set in Warhammer 40k universe. The only distinguishing feature is the fact, that your units are organised in squadrons that can have officers and heavy weaponry (if researched beforehand) assigned, which allows some customization and specialization.
Status: complete. Completely linear with no side content whatsoever. I’m not interested in multiplayer (which might be dead anyway).
Pixel Heroes: Byte & Magic - roguelike-ish game with turn based combat, retro graphics and quite high difficulty level (with lethal randomness typical for the genre to boot). Don’t get me wrong, the game is quite nice, but I’m really not a fan of the genre.
Status: beaten. I’ve finished one campaign just to warrant ‘beaten’ status and called it a day. Another title saved from the red trashcan by ABC project only.
Backlog killing looked promising… and then a total disaster called the Fanatical bundles happened. I am now a proud owner of quite a few new titles, namely:
- Celestian Tales: Old North
- Chinese Paladin：Sword and Fairy 6
- Dragon Sinker
- Empire of Angels IV
- World’s Dawn
- The Gate of Firmament
- Batman: Arkham Origins
- Injustice: Gods Among Us Ultimate Edition
- Mad Max
- ICY: Frostbite Edition
- Forward to the Sky
- The Signal From Tolva
Yup. Quite a lot. A song for today: either “Neverending story” or “Mission impossible”. Your pick :)
But first, to make things a bit more interesting, I’ve decided to join ‘Challenge Me!’ thread. Thanks to one brave soul (thank you, 86maylin) the gauntlet was tossed and thus a new Challenge Me! list was created. As always, wish me luck! ….I’m so going to need it :)
Lotheneil vs. The Backlog Hydra, Ep. #15
Target V of my ABC Challenge project list shot down. This week was busy and tiring and I’ve even managed to catch a cold somehow to boot, so thinking straight is still not my strongest suit today :)
Verdict: positive A nice slasher-type game with some stealth elements and larger battles. It gets a bit repetitive after a while - you are doing basically the same over an over: reach a specific location, kill enemies stationed there, free the people, find a new commander, do an easy quest for them and go to shop to buy some things every now and then - rinse and repeat. The most interesting elements are the battles over larger fortifications, where you make your way through minions towards commanders, calling dragons to burn some groups of enemies every now and then.
Status: completed While there are a couple of achievements I’ve missed, they either require playing on higher difficulty level or exploring every nook and cranny of some locations for collectibles that serve no other purpose - so I don’t care about either in the slightest.
Lotheneil vs. The Backlog Hydra, Ep. #14
Yet another week has passed, quite successful as far as backlog killing is concerned. Two more targets off my ABC Challenge project list beaten, codename T and U - including Tales of Symphonia, he title I was looking forward the most. And by no means I was disappointed, quite the contrary. It was one hell of a ride, the game dragged me in and did not let go until credits were displayed :)
Verdict: strongly positive Mature plot, interesting characters, detailed world with a lot of tiny (and not so tiny) things to do - classic jRPG at its best. I have to admit Tales of Symphonia is the first title of the series I’ve played, though definitely not the least - as from what I’ve gathered, what captivated me the most: mature topics, diverse characters and factions with their own goals and agendas on both sides (with no clear division between allies and enemies or good and evil) are characteristic for the series as a whole.
Note, that technical issues mentioned in large number of reviews are mostly fixed now, and the game is fully playable and stable nowadays. Just do yourself a favour and install the unofficial patch (ToSfix) to get rid of the remaining issues like improper aspect ratio.
Status: beaten Fully completing the game was never going to happen and I wasn’t going to even try. The title offers character titles (giving them stat bonuses or costumes) for various deeds - starting from finishing a battle with all-male team and ending with talking to all women (like 200 of them) in the whole game or refraining from using healing items during battles until a specific point approximately 15h+ into the game, there are also achievements for completing monster and item compendiums (which means fighting and scanning every opponent and finding every item, respectively). This type of achievement hunt does not fall into my definition of entertainment. I’ve finished the game with all subquests I knew about and was able to do with plot decisions I’ve made, though.
Btw: I have a question: which of the remaining ‘Tales of’ series titles you’d suggest playing? Unfortunately I have no access to PS3/4, so anything either released on PC or on any system with working emulator would be preferable, please :)
Verdict: neutral A mixture of FPS and tower defense in sci-fi setting. A couple of weapons, tower types and perks to choose from, and the rest is building towers, walls to create a real labyrinths, then running around the map shooting hostile things before they reach glowing orbs you protect. Not a bad game, but nothing extraordinary either. Contrary to my favourite title of the genre, Dungeon Defenders, character progress is very limited, though towers and perks give enough variety for the player to tailor them to their own playstyle. Still, after finishing the campaign (16 maps with a very simplistic plot not even worth mentioning here) I didn’t feel compelled to play further. On a positive side, the title offers some nice visuals and the fact it is not set in another fantasy world is refreshing as well. The game offers co-op mode for up to four players.
Status: beaten As mentioned above, finished the whole campaign and called it a day. Left feats of strength (that give opponents bonuses and more exp for the player) and survival modes for the sake of achievements alone.