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I'm close at finishing Sanctum 2, which was gifted to me by a fellow goger.
Awesome community, thanks!
The Journey Down: Chapter One aka one if the nicest looking adventure games “since Kaonandodo was around” – a stylish mix between Grim Fandango and Blade Runner

Thanks to <span class="bold">Ghorphm</span> for gifting me this game
I have a huge backlog of adventure games but decided to play this one right away since it's a gift and I was excited about it

This is a very short and easy game, ideal for casual players or people who are burned out on harder adventure games and in need of a more relaxing experience. I can even recommend this to people who normally hate adventure games. Chapter One took me only two hours at a leisurely pace and without skipping any of the nicely voiced dialogue which features some funny accents like Jamaican English.

All the puzzles are logical and while a select few of them are creative, there aren’t any particularly original ones. If you’ve played many adventure games, you can see the solutions coming from miles away. This is not a bad thing however and the game is so well designed that even inexperienced players shouldn’t stumble over hurdles due to obstinate and awkward game mechanics.
There's the obligatory “connect the electric current” puzzle which you can find in Machinarium and just about every adventure game out there. The one in The Journey Down however is so easy that even a 6-year old kid could solve it in no time. In another puzzle you have to control a crane but if you don’t solve the puzzle instantly, the main character simply kicks the control box and the puzzle is bypassed that way. I felt cheated out of the opportunity to solve the puzzle on my own. Why can’t the game let players experiment and play around with a puzzle for as long as they like? In A New Beginning, they implemented a better feature: If you want to skip a puzzle there, you can click on the fast forward button. I used that only once so as to not brake the flow and keep up immersion and then reloaded the scene and solved the puzzle after completing the game.

Controls are easy: Left mouse click to view/interact and holding down the left mouse button to drag an object from the inventory onto another item or a hotspot in the scene. The game doesn’t feature hotspot highlighting but every object that can be interacted with is clearly recognizable making pixel hunting completely unnecessary.

As for the story, there isn’t much happening in Chapter One as things are kept mysterious. The story as of yet seems fairly generic but there is potential for more interesting things to happen – I haven’t played Chapter Two yet as that is sold as a separate game.
The graphics and setting are where The Journey Down really shines. Some of the background paintings are so beautiful that I spent minutes just looking at them without playing. The colors and compositions are brilliant, reminiscent of Syd Mead’s gouache cityscape paintings for Blade Runner. One of the shots in the opening cutscene of The Journey Down is genius and I got immersed into the game immediately thanks to the style and mood.
The weird looking characters are based on West African masks of the Chokwe and Makonda cultures. Hollow-eyed but full of character like the Mexican death cult figures in Grim Fandango. When I was around 10 years old, I visited a museum exhibit about Yoruba twin figures - another West African tribe- which inspired me so much that I drew humans in this style for about two years so I felt right at home with the unusual art style in The Journey Down.

At full price, I feel the game is a bit expensive considering its short playtime but if several chapters were to be offered as a bundle at a good discount, I highly recommend you to try the game even if you’re an experienced adventure gamer and worried about being bored due to the easy puzzles. Gameplay substance is very light, yes, but presentation, characters and mood make up for that and if the story turns out to become more interesting in later chapters, then there’s no reason to pass this one up.

Full list
Post edited October 28, 2014 by awalterj
Home Sheep Home 2
A The- Lost-Vikings-clone starring three sheep from the famous Shaun the Sheep series. Unfortunately most of the time this game is completely boring. When you develop a puzzle game, it might help to create at least some levels where the player has to use his brain for longer than five seconds to come up with the solution. In this game, you always know what to do and if you have to replay a level, it's only because you didn't time an action correctly. I still completed all story levels and most of the bonus levels, but I don't feel like going back to unlock the rest of the stuff (which just means I have to play some of the levels with perfect timing again or I have to look for some secret spots without knowing where to search).

Another note: As much as I like the graphics of this game (they are really pretty), I absolutely think that if you create a game with Shaun and his friends, it should be done in claymation.

Complete list of finished games in 2014
Consortium: The Master Edition. I had my share of technical issues with this game, mainly a bug (that has since been fixed) that prevented me from being able to see inventory items, to five minute long loading screens (once in game there are only two or three loading screens and they all take place at the end). Despite those issues I had a LOT of fun with this game.

In short, it's a whodunnit game set in the near future, taking place on a large aircraft (plane, not space ship) with a bit of an open world (or open plane, if you prefer) feel as you can wander where you please generally. It features some action sequences but the bulk of the game is based around solving the whodunnit, making use of an innovative dialogue system and it has a large amount of choices/consequences. With a game with this amount of dialogue it's a relief that the writing is quite strong, the conversations are believable and each actor has a clear unique personality (aided by excellent voice acting). It's set in an original universe and there is plenty of lore to learn, but it's not thrown in your face, you have to do your own reading. As mentioned previously it's full of choices and consequences so you'll get several unique playthroughs out of it, extending its life far beyond the four to six hours that it takes to finish.

All in all I have no trouble recommending this game and I myself will be replaying it in the future.
Post edited April 04, 2015 by NoNewTaleToTell
Combat Wings: Battle of Britain

Not too shabby for bundle fodder, even though technically the game is shite. None of the cinematics would play video, only audio. Missions had very little variety. There was hardly any challenge ever. The game was barely 3 hours long. Voice acting was awful, there was only one voice for all the Germans and they would repeat the same things over and over again. Rockets were effectively useless. Enemies would always suddenly appear before your eyes when the script told them to. Flying felt very arcade-y, for example there's no such thing as stalling. The plane behavior would switch from realistic to arcade during boot-ups. And finally, it didn't matter if I crashed my plane once the victory conditions were met.

But even so, the game was pretty fun to play, because even if there wasn't any real challenge, it was fun to shoot down enemy Messerschmitts. It's as simple as that.
I'm marking Ichi off the list. Not bad as a bundle game, but not much to it after a number of puzzles. I'm quitting at level 50 and a few dozen fan levels under my belt. IMHO, these types of games are fun for a day, but offer little reason to go back. Puzzle lovers will likely disagree.
Wasteland: Now I see why Wasteland plays such an important role in history of RPGs. First of all, the game was made in 1988, freaking 1988!!! Yet, I felt totally immersed playing it, not less than any of the Fallouts. But there are also some issues with the game. First of all, the save system. If you don't constantly back up your save file (you only have one and overwriting is mandatory) it is very likely you will find yourself in a "game over" situation, which will make you want to bang your head off. So, if you are planning to play this, KEEP MAKING COPIES OF YOUR SAVE FILE!!! This was a big negative point for me, I have found myself CTRL+ALT+DEL'ing the game many times so the game did not save my progress where most of my party was dead.
There are also some issues with the clues in the game. It is a sandbox game (as sandbox as it gets for a 1988 game), but you will need to make notes of many dialogues. So it was a game to be played with a notebook in front of you. But the clues are not very obvious and you find yourself in a map trying to figure out if you should talk or kill NPCs or using perception on every square so you are not missing stuff.
If you play the game with a state of mind, where you know this is a hardcore oldschool RPG, you will definitely be satisfied. Otherwise, Wasteland might disappoint you.
Finally, the soundtrack which came with the latest patch made the game 5 times more playable. Absolutely beautiful.

List of all games finished in the last years with best and worst games played in each year
Halfway Review - Part 1

A charming turn-based sci-fi strategy game that hits the sweet spot in almost every regard. If you like delicious pixel art, squad-level tactics and are looking for something that’s simple with just enough depth to keep you engaged for about 15 hours and runs perfectly fine on any budget laptop, look no further than Halfway.

Graphics & Sound:
I bought this game right after watching the trailer, relying on my first impression and intuition rather than checking reviews on the net. The beautifully done graphics with crisp sprites and soft lighting effects and the atmospheric Blade Runner style soundtrack caught my attention right away. The soundtrack has 24 tracks and is superb, not just for an indie game but by any standards. And in terms of pixel art, it doesn’t get much better than this and Halfway looks mighty pretty compared to visually similar indie games like FTL or Sword of the Stars: The Pit. There is no voice acting but sound effects are well done, so full marks for presentation.

The game plays like butter with an almost self explanatory intuitive interface. Everything can be done via mouse but for extra comfort you can use WASD to pan the map around, ALT to highlight interactable objects, SPACE for the actions menu pop-up and ENTER to end your turn. Easy as cake. Enemy movement phases are quick so even impatient players should have nothing to worry about.

I’d describe this game as “casualcore” – easy to learn but offering enough depth and challenge to not bore experienced players. Ideal for players who only have time to play in short bursts. Halfway is streamlined but not dumbed down. The controls are simple and most missions take around half an hour, making this an ideal game for strategy fans who don’t have the time to play overly complex long games of the Paradox Interactive variety but still want a challenging experience.
It’s almost impossible to please everyone: Beginners could find some of the later missions rather hard and veterans of the genre will find the game overall too easy. Out of 30 missions, there was only one that I had to restart several times, it was a tough mission because you could only bring two required characters and one of them was a new addition to the team and therefore not yet fully combat effective. All in all, the difficulty seemed well balanced and felt just right to me. The game has only one savegame and only saves between missions, this seems limiting but works perfectly fine.
Good news for masochists: The developer is working on a Game Mode+ that will be a lot more difficult.

Update: Game Mode+ is now available, just check the corresponding box in the "Mods" option menu and the game will become a lot tougher, great option for a replay but -not- recommended to first time players! Review of my completed game mode+ playthrough here

Story & setting:
Regular run-of-the-mill dystopian sci-fi material, you wake up from cryosleep aboard a big spaceship named the Goliath and everyone has turned into space zombies. Sounds familiar?
The story felt a bit too uninspired and the dialogues were rather underwhelming. Halfway is kind of the opposite of Final Fantasy VI: In Halfway, you quickly read through the dialogues so you can get to the next battle and in FF VI, you quickly fight the battles so you can get back to the interesting story part with all the wonderful characters. That doesn’t mean Halfway isn’t enjoyable, I found it a very immersive experience but the immersion came from elements other than the story.
Halfway follows a fixed storyline like Incubation and Gorky 17 so progression is linear except for a select few instances where you can choose to go on optional side missions. It makes no difference in which order you complete those side missions or if you complete them at all but I recommend not to skip them because any extra gear and stimpacks go far towards making your life more comfortable during the harder missions – of which there aren’t many.

Stereotypical but not as memorable as in Jagged Alliance. Are you going to remember any of Halfway’s characters the same way you remember Ivan Dolvich from Jagged Alliance? Probably not but that’s a fate most strategy games share with Halfway. These are not the Baldur’s Gates you’re looking for, if characters are very important to you than you might be better served with an RPG.
Halfway is a straightforward bare-bones strategy games with no RPG elements - unless you count upgrading physical attributes via stimpacks as role-playing.
There’s conflict and arguments between some of the characters in Halfway but it has no effect on gameplay and the dialogues aren’t particularly engaging. The main character and team leader in Halfway is your generic Caucasian male middle-aged war veteran who is disciplined and a man of few words - as seen in a million games and movies. You also get the crazy professor with white hair, the hacker tech guy with hipster hair and the obligatory token black guy with lots of muscle – useful muscle as he can carry one and a half times as much stuff as everyone else, making him the one character I brought on every mission whenever possible. And of course there’s the cold and badass female sniper akin to Maya from Shadow Watch, Rachel Rutherford from Incubation etc.
I don’t hold any of this against the game, riffing off common stereotypes may not be highly original but it creates familiarity which makes it easier to assign a specific combat role to each character – they’re not your real life friends after all but chess pieces in a strategy game. You don’t bring Josh the hacker on a mission just because his hairstyle is cool. That being said, I turned 4 of the 8 characters into dedicated snipers, not because I like to be a cheesy player but because the weapons are unbalanced in this game and strongly biased towards sharpshooting. I even turned the main character into a sniper despite the fact that his passive skill improves accuracy for assault rifles and not sniper rifles so that was a bit of a metagaming choice but I’m sure most players are going to do the same thing.

Character skills and progression:
Every character has one active and one passive skill, you can’t upgrade these skills or choose any additional ones. You upgrade your characters via stimpacks which you find in crates. Each character can be given a total of 5 stimpacks so you can’t turn team leader Morten who is mandatory on all missions and 1-2 of the other characters into superhumans and leave everyone else at turd level, instead you must balance things out a bit more. Also, many missions require you to bring along certain characters by default so you while you can pick your favorites most of the time you can’t completely neglect anyone in terms of upgrading. There is a reason for this which I’m sure is obvious to guess but I won’t spoil it – but don’t worry, the game doesn’t kill off any of your tediously upgraded team members Aerith style, this much I can tell you.
Post edited November 09, 2015 by awalterj
Halfway Review - Part 2

Tactical gameplay:
Each character gets 2 action points per round similar to XCOM Enemy Unknown. In Halfway, you can do a whole variety of things with those 2 action points:
You can walk the full distance your agility allows, using up both points or you can mix and match between action and walking or vice versa. Actions that cost one point are:
-shooting – unless you want to increase aim which costs both action points
-throwing a grenade
-using a special character-specific skill
-using a medikit on yourself or a team member
-giving an item to another team member
-activating retaliation mode

Retaliation mode: unlike XCOM’s interceptive “reaction fire”, this is just a return fire mode and it’s slanted against you – when you’re behind a corner and shoot at an alien that is in retaliation mode, it will fire right back at you before you duck back into full cover but if the aliens shoot at you when YOU are in retaliation mode, the aliens can duck around the corner and your retaliation shot goes nowhere. Unfair, yes, but otherwise the game would become decisively easier.

Cover plays an essential part in Halfway. There’s 3 types of environmental cover you can use: half cover which reduces an enemy’s chance to hit by 15%, full cover which reduces by 30% and hard cover such as pillars and corners behind which you are safe, unless you peek out to take a shot as mentioned above. You can’t blow up any structures as in UFO or move around crates as in Incubation , everything is fixed in place here.

Variety is rather simple with only a handful basic types and some variants. A.I. is acceptable, melee zombies show at least minimal tactical awareness by using corners to hide from direct fire so they can pop around the corner and attack in the next round. Eventually, they’ll come at you Imhotep style so you can lure them into well defensible bottleneck positions – just send a scout to make the enemies chase you. Same for the ranged enemy units, they know how to use hard cover but will often come out in the open to die in your sniper fire. The A.I. is much more predictable than in UFO where aliens would do all kinds of random and often hilarious things and you were never really sure if they were insanely smart or incredibly stupid.
Enemy action in Halfway feels more like Advance Wars or Incubation, meaning that as soon as you see the enemy you pretty much know what they will do, making the challenges more like strategic puzzles than dynamic tactical warfare.

Mission design:
Unfortunately, most missions look and feel the same and hardly any of them have a memorable layout. The last mission has an interesting design but the entire game up to that point is an endless series of pretty but generic spaceship interiors which you sweep until you killed all enemies and then loot the crates. There is some variation in the nicely drawn tile sets but the level layout is about as interesting as the random cruise ship missions in Terror from the Deep – albeit smaller and more fluid to play as you won’t find yourself tediously searching for that last alien that’s hiding in the most remote and random corner. Missions in Halfway are compact in size so that’s a strong point.

There is a very decent variety of firearms which are available in three categories: Short range pistols and shotguns, mid range assault rifles and long range sniper rifles and railguns.
Unfortunately, the weapon balance isn’t designed all too well. Short range and mid range weapons feel decisively underpowered compared to sniper rifles so you’ll end up giving sniper rifles to half your team and they’ll do 90% of the dirty work 90% of the time. The game doesn’t require the player to make use of all 3 types of weapons and their tactical roles to the fullest so I feel a bit of potential has been wasted here. Shotguns and assault rifles aren’t useless, they are just imbalanced and I hope it’s something that can be fixed –if not in Halfway than hopefully in a sequel.
As for grenades, they are quite useful and require no skill to throw so you’ll always hit the target. In the later part of the game you find a stronger type of grenade that you can’t buy in the store. Even the weaker grenade is quite expensive but you don’t need to buy anything aside from ammo in the store anyway. At the end of the game I had a massive surplus of 5800 energy units, that’s the “currency” you use to pay for supplies. You gain energy by recycling (=deleting) unneeded gear from your inventory, a nice and simple system.

At around 10-15 hours this is a shorter strategy game, personally it took me closer to 20 hours but I’m a rather slow and meticulous player, always looting every single last crate in every mission and being rather stingy and careful in my play style just because I’m paranoid about my supplies running out end-game. If you too are an Uncle Scrooge player and hopeless loot hoarder, no need to worry: There is plenty of ammo and gear to be found, unlike Gorky 17 you can buy ammo and medikits when you’re at the base between missions. I hardly ever had to buy anything aside from a handful of ammo boxes towards the end of the game.
Ironically, I brought the fewest gear with me for the final battle because I didn’t realize it was the last mission. Rather than restart the level and arming myself to the teeth with extra ammo etc for the big showdown, I decided to go with the flow and switched to an aggressive, almost reckless style which interestingly worked out well, only two of my guys died and it happened to be the ones I didn’t like anyway. I must add that there is no permadeath in Halfway, after every confrontation your dead team members are resurrected with 1 HP and when you get back to the base after the mission, health goes back to 100%.

You can replay the game to focus on using different characters than in your first playthrough which will require you to come up with slightly different tactics. Not terribly different though as you’ll most likely turn half your team into snipers again and since special abilities have a cooldown time of several rounds, battles mostly consist of positioning your team smartly and firing from behind cover, rinse and repeat. I wish short and mid ranged combat wasn’t so underpowered compared to long raged combat, that would increase replayability a lot. But the missions themselves are a bit too uninspired to warrant the effort – even if you choose those few side missions you didn’t get to play the first time around.

Final thoughts and rating:
My first impression of the game was 4.5 stars. Once I noticed the imbalance in the weapon types and was about halfway through the game when the levels start to feel repetitive, I felt it was more like a 4 star game. But then the last third of the game increased difficulty a bit and now after completing the game and weighing in all factors, I decided to give this game 5 stars and my full recommendation meaning I consider it to be worth a purchase even at full price.
A big compliment to the developers and I look forward to anything they release in the future.
Post edited October 30, 2014 by awalterj
Oct 30 - Arctic Adventure (all four parts)

Nicer than Pharaoh's Tomb in several ways. Places that cause blocks to appear and disappear are always marked now instead of sometimes being hidden. There were only 1 or 2 spots where you could get trapped in a level and have to restart. The world map was an interesting addition, perhaps a Commander Keen influence? All-in-all pretty solid CGA platformer. There were some very frustrating levels, but overall a blend of difficulties. Part 4 seemed to have several levels from the previous parts.
adambiser: Oct 30 - Arctic Adventure (all four parts)

Nicer than Pharaoh's Tomb in several ways. Places that cause blocks to appear and disappear are always marked now instead of sometimes being hidden. There were only 1 or 2 spots where you could get trapped in a level and have to restart. The world map was an interesting addition, perhaps a Commander Keen influence? All-in-all pretty solid CGA platformer. There were some very frustrating levels, but overall a blend of difficulties. Part 4 seemed to have several levels from the previous parts.
Out of interest, which of those three games did you like the best? Personally, I think I liked Monuments of Mars the best - Maybe because I'm a sucker for sci-fi stuff, but also maybe because it was the only one not made by George Broussa(r)d :P

One thing that gets me about Arctic Adventures is the colour palette - why not use the high-intensity palette? Surely that would give a more 'arctic' feel to the game. And maybe swap out the black background for a blue? See below for comparisons:
Monuments of Mars and Arctic Adventure are too close for me to say which I like more.

Arctic Adventure's palette did feel a bit off after playing the other two. I didn't like part 4 very much. It generally felt slopped together with several levels reused from previous parts. Levels completely filled with horizontally moving platforms that bounce off of you if you don't hit them just right really suck. Those levels gave me the most trouble and I think there about 6 of them. Sliding on ice blocks is also not much fun, but that wasn't nearly as bad as the moving platforms.

If the controls in Monuments of Mars were a bit smoother (that might be the DOSBox emulation though) and the collision detection nicer (I got stuck in walls and floors several times), I think this would be a clear first place. The levels were well done and there was a decent challenge to it. It does have a nice sci-fi look and feel that worked pretty well for CGA. I enjoyed the story for this one the most out of the three. The other two were a bit too tongue-in-cheek for me. I think the graphics were best in this one, too.

I didn't like Pharaoh's Tomb much because of its invisible trigger blocks that you needed to find in order to progress and to top it off, some triggers block the exit, which I absolutely hated. I felt like having lives in this game was an unnecessary bother. The collision detection was just awful, though I think this is mainly because the graphics didn't fill up the square how I would have wanted them to in order to make the collision square more visible, especially for the moving obstacles.

Funny enough George Broussa(r)d's Arctic Adventure from 3drealms's site installs as "Artic Adventure". :)
Post edited October 30, 2014 by adambiser
I've just finished Unreal. What can I say? It's a genuine classic. The game is smooth and flawless on a technical level. The settings can be easily maxed out on modern computers, giving us beautiful vistas in a nice variety of environments. The level design is simply masterful: with big and complex levels, the urge to explore is always there. The atmosphere is great throughout, with a compelling story and a welcome sense of continuity between levels. Enemy AI is still great nowadays, making combat fierce and unrelenting. Add an excellent selection of weapons with dual modes of fire and you get a real masterpiece in the FPS genre.
Next on the list MUST be Deus Ex. Then possibly Penumbra: Overture and Painkiller. Maybe even Portal 2.
So I just finished Legend of Grimrock 2

All in all it was a nice game. After a bit of acclimatization time, the outside world proved to be really beautiful and a nice change in between the dungeons. And in general I found it is a great looking game. Only the day night change was sometimes a bit annoying, since it was like this: After spending "hours" under the earth in dungeons, finally happy to reach the surface again thinking "yeah I'll see daylight" you came out of the dungeon and it was in the middle of the night :D
The puzzles were quite good, most of the time with a bit of logic and after finding all clues it was not that hard to figure them out, but some puzzles could also be quite hard or were relying on trick questions which was really nice. Also lots of secrets to be found, I am sure I missed some since sometimes i just wanted to kill some monsters and not look at every wall for a button to open a secret room.
The fights were ok, most monster could be done without loosing to much hp after figuring out how they acted, but also the bosses could be sometimes hard and saving often never hurt. I enjoyed the different monsters and there techniques except for one which I find quite unfair (but not telling here, don't want to spoiler^^). Important here was for me to change between the different regions since sometimes I was stuck on too difficult monsters so I went somewhere else and came back later.
The only mechanic which I still find annoying is the starving thing but yeah... that's just me and finding an amulet which prevented one of my party members from starving rescued me so often I lost count :D

To sum it up. Nice game, I had a fun 25h which it took me to complete the game on normal diffculty with finding around 80% of the secrets based on complete maps I had a look at after finishing.
I just beat Warlock 2. I have a 32-bit computer, so I only played a small world. And it was HUGE. It took 11 hours and over 200 turns to win.

I like it better than Warlock 1, but I still haven't played [edit: all of my DLC for] Warlock 1. And since my PC is 32-bit, I think I'll wait until I upgrade in a few years to try Warlock 2 again (and I'll get the expansions and DLC in the meantime).
Post edited October 31, 2014 by Tallima