Lotheneil vs. The Backlog Hydra, Ep. #10
Another week, another title off the ABC Challenge project list. Same old, same old :).
Verdict: mildly positive As the name suggests, indie game strongly inspired by Quest for Glory game series. It offers a very similar gameplay mechanics - a mixture of point&click adventure and RPG elements, but with a little less… heroic protagonist. We meet out main character, Roehm, as he escapes the room of a baron’s daughter being caught in flagranti. After reaching a small town of Volksville he stumbles upon a pile of trouble: in form of bandits, monsters and malevolent cult seeking an artefact of great power. Coerced into doing some dirty work for various individuals by reward promises as well as blackmail, he’ll learn more about the valley’s past and its shady secrets than he ever wanted.
The title is a tribute to classic adventure games in general and Quest for Glory series in particular. So if one is not a fan of either - he’ll probably find it hard to get over with the title’s cons (namely slow pace, transition issues, simplistic and boring combat system, debatable humour quality and quite poor VOs). The game definitely does have a certain charm to it though.
Status: beaten I’ve finished the game as a Sorcerer. While there are still secrets to uncover and new missions and locations to see as Brigand and Rogue, due to excessive amount of backtracking which results in slow pace of the game I don’t really feel like starting another playthrough.
Lotheneil vs. The Backlog Hydra, Ep. #9
This week just one target off the ABC Challenge project list, assassination of target P confirmed. Well worth the time consumed though, that was definitely a case of quality over quantity :).
Verdict: positive As a boy with psychic powers we visit minds of various individuals and travel through them in 3D platformer style, gathering collectibles and helping them solving their problems by performing specific tasks. As some of the people whose minds we visit are asylum inmates, we are in for trips to some really odd places. Contrary to release date (2005) visuals look pretty modern (apart from cutscenes) and the title has no problems with launching in FullHD resolution. Definitely worth playing for level design alone, though the game does suffer from issues with controls and perspective typical for 3D platformers.
Status: beaten I’ve finished the game, but gathering all collectibles was way too much for me - there are quite a lot of them and some levels are really complex.
Lotheneil vs. The Backlog Hydra, Ep. #9
ABC Challenge project coming along very nicely - 4 targets (L, M, N, O) off the list, not bad if I may say so myself.
Verdict: positive Another instance of the LEGO series - if you know one of them, you generally know what to expect from all. This one contains scenes from Peter Jackson’s movies recreated in the LEGO style (with some gags and situational humour characteristic for the series), lines from original dialogues, items to collect (that duplicate some characters’ skillsets) as well as QTE element in form of fishing minigame.
Status: completed Yes, I’ve really completed the game - including all collectibles, characters and achievements. And had a lot of fun doing that.
Verdict: mildly positive I really like Double Fine games - while often not perfect technically, they offer design elements that stand out of the other representatives of the genre. Be it music and aesthetics of Brutal Legend, matrioshka-style of Stacking or world setting of Psychonauts, they always have something unique to them. Massive Chalice at a first glance is a simplistic version of XCOM series. While this statement is not exactly untrue, it offers one distinguishing element - dynasty building and toying with eugenics to create perfect army candidates. The campaign takes place in span of 300 years while lifespan of our subjects is 60 years on average, and elderly people are not suited for battle due to diminishing statistics. We need to keep arranging marriages to ensure a steady influx of trainees for the army and equipment development team with the best possible stats and skills.
Status: beaten I’ve finished one campaign on Normal and called it a day. As there are a lot of randomized elements (from starting characters’ traits, through attack targets to random events) each campaign is different. Moreover there are two more difficulty levels. I did not feel inclined to start another playthrough though.
Verdict: neutral leaning negative Low budget 3D RPG that feels more like a single player MMO due to bland plot and abundance of fetch quests. As a boy or girl, whose sibling was killed in childhood, we become a champion of one of nine of the ancient Greece gods and are tasked with retrieving a stolen artefact (and beating other champions in the process, as the gods decided to make a show of the whole ordeal). The winner is to have their wish granted - so our character hopes for resurrection of their sibling. What follows is uninspiring trip through various areas, killing hostile animals and monsters. And a lot of boring backtracking. Move along, nothing interesting to see here.
Status: beaten And extremely rushed in the second half of the game. Another title that did not fall into the red trash can only due to the ABC project.
Verdict: mixed An odd case when I can feel that the game is actually good, though completely not for me. Roguelikes are one of the genres I find completely no fun in - while there is some minor element of story and character progression I usually look for in games, randomly generated world gives a generic feeling and equal randomness in gameplay takes control from the player (despite the best decisions and skills you can lose due to getting poor loot and especially strong opponents). The fact you need to proceed to the right all the time, while making the gameplay more unique, makes it more stressful to me.
Status: beaten I’ve killed the bad guy once and called it a day. I know there is much more in game to discover, but I don’t really feel like doing this.
BURP! said the backlog after devouring the following acquisitions:
- Space Hulk Ascension Edition (SG win)
- Halcyon 6: Lightspeed Edition
- Mini Metro
Bad Humble Bundle! Selling good games for peanuts and disturbing my elaborate plans of conquering the backlog hydra! But I won’t give up!
Lotheneil vs. The Backlog Hydra, Ep. #8
And another two targets off ABC Challenge project list - assasination of targets J and K confirmed.
Verdict: positive What can I say - it’s a classic point&click title every fan of the genre should know. While the visuals did not age too well (18 years in the game industry is an awful lot of time after all), the story still captivates player’s attention.
Status: completed No optional content whatsoever, just the story, player and puzzles :)
Verdict: strongly negative A tiny studio decided they’ll create a RPG game strongly inspired by Fallout 1/2. What could possibly go wrong? The answer is short (and not really surprising) - everything. The plot is not only extremely bland, but full of holes as well - you often feel you are not getting enough information not only to immerse yourself into the world, but even to be able to follow the main plot (the title is extremely linear with no side content). More than once you get an objective “gather information” - and have fun running around the WHOLE game world looking for correct npc to talk to. When Steam forums contain questions about how to proceed with nearly every quest, developers definitely did something VERY wrong. Other game elements are not better - poor visuals, simplistic equipment and character development systems (you get 5 stats and some passive perks, but honestly if you create anything else than melee weapon warrior you’re asking for serious trouble, as ammunition for guns is scarce, and there are no ways to utilise high perception or euridition skills). And the worst offence of them all - during the course of the story, the game strips you of all belongings to force you into stealth episode. Not only there is no button to toggle walking (rather than noisy running) and you have to click close to your character, which is extremely accident prone, but the items you’ve lost are gone - FOREVER. I consider it completely unacceptable in any RPG game. Oh, you’ve got that pretty unique katana? Say bye bye to it now, as we want you to experience another clunky stealth level. Bleh. And after all that that dung the game presents you get an ending… that consists of one conversation and explains nothing. Avoid like a plague.
Status: beaten From approximately a half of the game I was rushing towards the ending just to finish the game and be done with it. There are some achievements, but save for a few they have no descriptions and titles aren’t exactly informative either. I have no idea how to unlock them, found no guide and to be honest - do not care in the slightest.
Lotheneil vs. The Backlog Hydra, Ep. #7
Two more targets off ABC Challenge project list - assasination of targets H and I confirmed.
Because I’m a lazy person, I took advantage of kubikill’s bar generator - it’s a way too good tool to let it gather dust in some abandoned corner of the webspace :).
Verdict: neutral leaning negative RTS with some RPG elements - some missions are played with main character only, or with a small entourage with no access to the base of operation, there are some fedex-like quests where you can get some new equipment and experience levels give passive stat bonuses. Towards the end of the game the hero gets so powered up, that creating an army, even if it is offered, is unnecesary - he can happily steamroll through the whole map on his own. The game has two main problems though - the gameplay was boring and repetitive, which bundled together with uninspired plot and arrogant know-it-all main character required a lot of patience and fortitude on my part to finish the title.
Note, that contrary to a lot of oppinions posted across the internet I had no technical problems with the title whatsoever.
Status: beaten There are no side activities apart from the main plot, so I could have just as well marked it as ‘completed’, but considering I’ve rushed the last third of the campaign and didn’t care about Skirmish mode in the slightest, green it is.
Verdict: positive A very decent tower defense game, if not exactly innovatory. We build towers and shoot down the creeps coming the way of our HQ, gather money to buy more towers before stronger enemies arrive - rinse and repeat thorough 22 levels times 3 difficulties. One mechanics that stands out is option to dig in the towers, that changes their attack range from circular to narrow cone. Towers can (and should) be rotated in this state, which makes the gameplay a bit more engaging than it is usually the case.
Status: beaten Finished on Easy, there are two more difficulty levels each stage can be beaten in, but I’ve got slightly bored with the game towards the end - as the gameplay is quite repetitive. I’ll probably go back to the title someday to complete it though.
I caved and bought myself Humble Monthly bundle. But I simply could not say no to God Eater 2 (that came with the first instance of the series for free) and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. I’m still unsure what to do with Civilization: Beyond Earth (replacement for Mafia III, that was no available in my region for some reason) as I’m not exactly a huge fan of the genre. We’ll see.
Lotheneil vs. The Backlog Hydra, Ep. #6
ABC Challenge project is coming along nicely, elimination of targets E, F and G confirmed. And I’ve even managed to finish one more unrelated title.
A little indie game that aspires to classic isometric cRPGs like Baldur’s Gate or Divinity series. Unfortunately, and completely understandably, it’s nowhere near that league. It offers pleasant, a bit cartoony graphics, diverse locations, simple, but coherent story and interesting (and humoristic at time) dialogues.
On the other hand, the title was, at least to me, very simplistic. There is next to no character development - every level you get two points to add to 4 statistics (strength, dexterity, intellect and vitality) - and that’s all. Majority of character power comes from equipment - it gives access to three active and two passive skills. Due to that system there is no feel of development and empowerment, but at the same time inexperienced players can delve into the story without the risk of making poor character build decisions - everything is reversible. The title is a mobile port, which results in quite clunky controls with a lot of drag and drop mechanics. Inventory UI could use an overhaul as well, as currently you have a long list of items to scroll through.
This title may serve as an introduction to RPG genre, or something to pick up to catch a break between more challenging and complex games. It is not extraordinary in any aspect - predictable story, decent, but not breathtaking visuals, next to non-existent character development, poor UI and mobile-like controls and fluid, but devoid of any advanced tactics combat. One mechanics worth mentioning is crafting - you can find various ingredients scattered around the world (from ores to herbs), then use them to create food, potions, as well as several types of weapons and armours. Recipes can either be found or bought, or just discovered through experiments. Nothing you haven’t seen in other titles, but still stands out of the overall simplicity.
Verdict: neutral leaning positive The game definitely has its shortcomings, but still is a charming little indie gem worth considering - especially for the price requested.
Status: completed. All subquests finished. The title has easy achievement set - just playing the game nets you all but two, and there are no dreaded grindy ones.
I was looking forward to playing this game as it reminded me of good old Master of Magic I spent a ton of time like 20 years ago (really? geez, how does the time fly). Civilisation-like mechanics in fantasy setting where magic played a large role was a really pleasant experience - or so does my nostalgia tell me. Fallen Enchantress, while offering similar gameplay, throwing in some quests, hero development and equipment system for a good measure, did not appeal to me though.
The title offers two fabularised scenarios (one with honest plot and cutscenes, the other just with some conversation popups) as well as freeplay mode, where you can select your race, create a character and set map details (size, number of quests and monsters on map, opponents etc.). And while the story is what I tend to look for in games the most, the latter mode was much more enjoyable.
Scenarios are just awful. One takes place on a series of small areas, where you move your team from point to point doing quests and fighting monsters and the city development part is very limited. The other offers one large map with several allies and enemies as well as some kind of a main quest you need to complete in order to finish it. Apparently - as the map bugged for me and nothing decided to trigger - so I’ve just beaten all hostile races and called it a day.
Verdict: neutral leaning negative For me the title is just mediocre. Bland maps, uninspired combat mechanics offering few tactical options, that makes battles get boring really fast (fortunately there is an autobattle option), clunky equipment system and terrible scenarios. Freeplay does give quite a lot of fun, but without anything to drag the player in and keep him interested, only the most hardcore fans of this type of games stay with it for longer.
Status: beaten. First scenario completed, the second would be if not for the bug I’ve mentioned, two maps finished. Enough for me.
I thought I had a full game, guess the free first chapter got into my backlog somehow. Oh well, it was still fun, if short.
In general the title is a simple platformer. We play as Grimm, a short, ugly, disgusting being, that is strongly opposed to the cuddly and sweet worlds of fairy tales. So he walks through the scenery, transforming everything into dark and twisted versions of themselves.
And that’s what generally the game is about - walk through every corner, paint it grey, change inhabitants into zombies or other bloodthirsty beings, do some easy platforming and move on. Full version consists of 23 well known fairy tales to mess with, the first free episode features “The Story of a Boy Who Went Forth to Learn Fear”
Verdict: neutral leaning positive This game is odd. Some may argue it is more of a walking simulator than platformer, as no skill whatsoever is needed. What stands out in this title is an idea, setting and unusual, cartoony graphics. Worth playing the demo, though I’ll pass buying the full version, at least until it gets heavily discounted or bundled.
Status: complete It was really short and there is nothing much to do. I didn’t even have to explore too much to find all the collectibles.
Small casual time management game, in which you control your own restaurant - buying equipment and composing menu, but above all - serving your customers. Cooking each dish requires inputting a specific key (or gamepad) combination, proper timing (to take the pan from the fire before whatever is on it burns to cinders) - or a combination of both. As the customers are not the most patient around, the game requires both precision and speed.
What stands out is the fact, that game difficulty is highly scaled - not only the dishes wary in difficulty (and you can compose the menu as you see fit), but depending on your accuracy the number of customers arriving next day will change.
This is one of the ‘easy to learn, hard to master’ games, and it definitely has something addicting to it. Gameplay is fast and fluid, muscle memory kicks in really fast - so you learn proper combination by heart really fast and stop thinking about controls altogether. I really hate grinding and grindy achievements, yet I’ve obtained 100% of them - including ‘Serve 15k customers’ one. Recommended to all not opposed to the genre.
And no, 44h logged here were not spent this week only - I’ve been playing the game in and out for the last couple of months :)
Verdict: positive It is a specific type of game not everyone finds entertaining, but if you’ve played and liked some (mostly flash based, like ‘Papa’s’ series) games of the genre, definitely give this one a try.
Status: completed. 100% finished. This game just has something addicting to it, that invokes the famous ‘one more turn’ (here: day) syndrome.
Lotheneil vs. The Backlog Hydra, Ep. #5
When you get down to playing some more quality games (rather than picking whatever can be shot down the fastest :)) you can expect two things - a lot of fun and significant drop in progress speed. Today just one finished title, but I definitely did have fun beating it.
Letter D of my ABC Challenge project:
What I usually seek in games the most is a captivating story, unique setting and a living, breathing world. Darksiders excels in none of those things - the plot serves as nothing more than a driving force to push the game forward, and the setting, while definitely interesting, is not exactly unique either. The title is your average TPP slasher/action game. And a really entertaining one. It is the gameplay and mechanics that really shine there - eye-catching, fluid and flashy combos, diverse locations, environment puzzles and tools to overcome them (starting from wings, through anchor chain, ending with a portal-like gun), horse riding, shooter elements - you name it, there is a high chance it is there. A solid and noteworthy representative of the genre.
Verdict: positive. If you’re looking for an action/slasher game, Darksiders has everything you may need.
Status: beaten. I didn’t feel like replaying the game on higher difficulty levels nor exploring nooks and crannies to look for missed collectibles.
Lotheneil vs. The Backlog Hydra, Ep. #4
Hello again ladies and gentlemen, another week in backlog assassin’s office has passed. ABC Challenge project is coming along nicely, two targets off the list:
The game is a beautiful postcard from a harsh fantasy world, inspired by Skandinavian myths, with its charming art style and music. We take control of a group of people, fleeing from invading army of golem-like enemies. Constantly on the move, we take care of supplies and morale of the group, making - sometimes harsh - decisions and fending off attackers, while slowly immersing ourselves in the world, learning the region’s history, lore and characters through conversations and event descriptions. And that the game delivers perfectly.
On the other hand, the gameplay just seems to lack essence to me - battle system, character development, characters and even plot are on a lackluster side. For the first half of the game they were extremely bland, conversations empty and pointless. As a result, I couldn’t bring myself to care for the characters and the plot failed to spark any emotions in me. The events picked up the pace in the second half, only to stop abruptly at the end (the title is a first part of a trilogy and it definitely shows).
Verdict: neutral leaning positive. This game is not for everyone. A bit like a work of art - definitely pleasant to look at, but without real practical use.
Status: completed. The only achievements missing are related to higher difficulty settings. Not worth the effort in my opinion.
I was really looking forward to playing this game. I have a fond memory of another title from the same studio, Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale - a really entertaining and (back then) fairly unique mix of dungeon crawler and item shop managing sim. Chantelise did not live up to the expectation though. It takes one aspect of Recettear, dungeon delving, dumbs it down removing any character development system (statistics are present, but are affected by equipment only), switches perspective to 3D and pairs all that with simplistic plot and platform elements - the camera, unruly at times, does not help with aiming jumps in the slightest. As the title was released in 2006 (Japanese version, EU and US are dated on 2009 and 2011 respectively) audio and visuals are nothing to write home about either. Generally speaking - I did not like the game at all.
I have to admit honestly that some nostalgia for Recettear I’ve used to play like 10 years ago may have had an impact on my opinion on Chantelise. And yes, I am aware that contrary to western releases, in Japan Chantelise was older than Recettear. Still, I can’t find any element that would really captivate me or even stand out from mediocrity. Only for die-hard fans of slasher-type action games.
Verdict: neutral leaning negative I was bored to death with this title. If it wasn’t a part of my ABC challenge, it would be tossed into ‘Won’t play’ trashcan like halfway into the playthrough.
Status: completed. Main plot, optional area and all secret chests collected. I don’t believe there is anything more to see in this title.
2018 ABC Challenge list
As you may know already, I've joined the fun of the ABC challenge. This post just serves as a master list and showcase for my achievements... or lack of thereof :).
- Games will be played in order.
- Deadline: end of 2018.
- Other games can be played in between (or in parallel)
- Games will be played from the beginning, regardless of prior progress.
- Games will be beaten or completed. If faced with technical difficulties (title not launching or crashing in specific place, game-breaking bug, losing save data from the last 30 hours etc), or extreme boredom the title will be switched out.
A - Alpha Protocol
B - The Banner Saga
C - Chantelise
D - Darksiders Warmastered Edition
E - Ember
F - Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes
G - Grimm
H - Heroes of Annihilated Empires
I - iBomber Defense Pacific
J - The Longest Journey
K - Krai Mira
L - LEGO Lord of the Rings
M - Massive Chalice
N - Numen: Contest of Heroes
O - One Way Heroics
P - Psychonauts
Q - Quest for Infamy
R - Risen
S - Sudeki
T - Tales of Symphonia
U - Sanctum 2
V - Viking: battle for Asgard
W - Warhammer 40000: Dawn of War
X - Pixel Heroes: Byte & Magic
Y - LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7
Z - Plants vs. Zombies GOTY Edition
As you can see, some letters are blank - I have no games that start with those at the moment. Those will be filled in case I acquire titles that fit during the year, and failing that - anything that contains the letter specified. All letters populated now. Some minor cheating was necessary, but we have what we have :)
Wish me luck!
Lotheneil vs. The Backlog Hydra, Ep. #3
Another week, another report coming in :)
I’ve decided to join the fun of ABC challenge and created my own list. I’ve chosen for each letter the game I’m looking forward to playing the most, disregarding the HLTB completion time. As I’m a RPG fan, the list ended up containing some seriously long games… hopefully I manage to beat it by the end of the year :). Time will tell. So far 1/21 done.
They’ve told me the second instance of the series is better. They’ve told me it has better visuals, character development, faction system, new mechanics and functionalities. And they were right. What they did not tell me, is that the camera is still extremely unreliable, dialogues neither interesting nor funny, characters still one-dimensional and irritating and, what’s the worst of it all, quest are extremely uninspiring and fedex-like. Rather than exploring new areas, fighting monsters and developing your characters and tactics, you run around the main hub (that is located in one, if large, building) for hours, doing heroic deeds like baking a doughnut for princess or talking a woman into adopting an orphan. Yawn thrilling.
Verdict: negative While the title does have some redeeming qualities, its awfully, painfully bland and boring.
Status: dropped. Why? My patience, depleted by the first instance already, reached its limit. Nothing in the title hooked me enough to compensate for its shortcomings to carry on.
This game is pretty mediocre when it comes to gameplay mechanics, location design, AI or graphics. It delivers one thing perfectly though - a living, immersive world painted in shades of grey, full of diverse characters with their own agendas, choices with meaningful and believable outcomes. And secret agency and espionage setting, of course :) There is no room for black-and-white, allies-versus-enemies diversification - whether someone is going to help or hinder the character depends on his previous actions and their goal similarities.
Verdict: mildly positive. The game hooks you on the world of espionage and international conspiracies and does not let go, expertly hiding its shortcomings, though if the setting is not right up your alley, other elements will not make up for that.
Status: completed. All endings seen, vast majority of missions completed (apart from some minor mutually exclusive ones), vast majority of dossiers completed.