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Blackguards. You know, I had real high hopes for this one, as I loved the Drakensang games, so I'm familiar with the rule set and actually quite like it. Not sure what went wrong with this one for me. It could be the lack of actual exploration in the game. You go from one point to another on the world map and get... into a battle. And then you do it again. And again. No exploration, no finding something hidden along the way, so looting someone's house when they're not home, nothing. There's no interaction in buildings/maps at all expect during battles.

When you reach a city, you have a scene in front of you with no way to interact except a handful of icons on the scene, representing talking to a merchant, innkeeper, alchemist, etc. No walking around from place to place. No looking into alleyways or poking around in old ruined buildings, no running into an unexpected battle with street thugs, etc.

And the battles themselves... better hope your hit percentage is 95 at the least or you're going to miss. A lot. I know I said I like the rule set, and I really do, but I honestly don't recall the preponerance of missing in the Drakensang games when your hit percetile was lower than 95%.

Having said that, I still played through to the end because there was a story there, and I was actually interested enough to want to see how it played out. And the voice acting I thought was really quite good. So kudos there as well. This was enough to keep me slogging through, but I admit that somewhere around the end of chapter 3 I finally said "screw it" and cheated my party into God Mode so I could just breeze through the battles and further the story.

So, yeah, good voice acting, not a bad story line, and I quite liked some of the characters. But I doubt I'll play it again, and I'll probably avoid Blackguards 2.

Full List.
Post edited June 21, 2015 by Coelocanth
skeletonbow: snip
OldFatGuy: Yeah, I don't see anyone completing Skyrim and doing everything in 200 hours either. I've got 325 hours in, and I'm NOT EVEN CLOSE to being done. Nowhere near it. I've got almost half the map still unexplored.

Yeah, I'm anal. I go everywhere, talk to everyone, look in everything, etc. etc. It's the only way I know how to play. Plus, it's what I learned playing RPG's of the 80's. You never knew what insignificant little item or place turned out to be critical to completing the game.

I haven't played that game now in over six months, so I fear I've forgotten so much I may need to start over. I may never finish Skyrim. This may be one game that is just TOO MUCH.
Yeah, I totally turn over ever pebble in case there's something under it. If I see a mountain top, I *have* to go there or I feel I might have missed something. It's very challenging but I literally stood on the very top of the highest mountain peak in Skyrim. It's next to impossible to get up there, but I am next to impossible so I got up there. Just below the very peak is a nice little surprise - the notched pickaxe which I had heard rumour of somewhere but didn't know if it was true or where to get it but - voila, top of throat of the world mountain peak. :) I'll totally play through Skyrim again some day, it was a lot of fun.

Technically you can play it forever as far as I know as there's no actual "The End, You Win!" screen. :) Basically, once you defeat Alduin, that officially is the end of the story AFAIK and I defeated him so I guess I won. :) It was a wonderful experience to say the least all around, and at the time I would have said it was the best RPG I've ever played hands down. Now that The Witcher 3 is my main game currently, I'd say Skyrim was the 2nd best RPG I've ever played though. :)
On a Roll 3D

Nice little action platformer. A little resemblance to Sonic, but not nearly as cool. On the other hand, not nearly as frustrating, as you can choose to start with 9(!) lives, and when you run out you can choose to start the new game at any level/area you've gotten to. I ran out on the 4th boss, then just continued playing from there. Once I beat the game, I started from the beginning again, and this complete playthrough took me only 1 hour 22 minutes. If I had had to start from the beginning every single time, I would've just quit out of frustration, as I had with Sonic 1 years ago, so I am 100% in favor of this mechanic :)

I think went on to get all the achievements, which after those two playthroughs didn't take very long. Total time spent on the game - about 5 hours.

On a Roll 3D could still be improved though - it only has a single resolution (1280x720), very few graphics options (not even antialiasing) and freezes for me whenever I try to change it from Full Screen to Windowed. Control-wise I played with 360 pad, and it worked great except that for some reason button B was not mapped to Back/Cancel in menus as is the norm, and for most options had the same effect as button A (OK/Select), which cost me some progress once when I accidentally quit the game while trying to cancel out of the menu...
Post edited June 21, 2015 by kalirion
Guacamelee! Gold Edition

I got a hankering for a Metroidvania game and between Guacamelee and Valdis Story, I decided to go with the former, as it seemed more interesting with its Mexican-like aesthetic/setting, as opposed to Valdis Story's more typical fantasy setting. Now, I'm not a big fan of the character/monster design (they could look a little less flat), but at least the game is colourful and has some nice background and animations. The music is also nice, even though it lacks a bit in the action department.

Taking control of Juan the Luchador, you'll have to fight your way through Calaca's evil forces in order to rescue El Presidente's daughter and prevent him from messing up the world of the living and the world of the dead. Like other Metroidvania games, you'll be exploring a variety of locations and gain new powers that both allow you to tackle the forces of evil easier and to explore previously-unreachable areas. The game's combat is reminiscent of beat-em-ups; you can punch, use a special move (like the totally-not-shoryuken) or perform a throw. It certainly can be satisfying tossing a skeleton on a group of others, knock them down, grab one of those who are down and toss them as well on the others. True to other beat-em-ups, a friend can also join the action to cause even more mayhem.

Guacamelee is lacking, though. For starters, there are not many enemies to fight, even if the game is using some reskins. Seeing the exact same enemies that you fought at the beginning, also appear at the end, with the only difference being a shield that you must break before you can damage them, is disappointing and leads to the combat becoming predictable, even when you gain new powers. Speaking of the combat, I really didn't like that the game forces you into an arena, whenever you meet monsters, which you must destroy before you can proceed further ahead (I also didn't like it when Mirror of Fate did it). It makes the locations you are travelling to feel less alive with activity and emptier. Sure, you might say that it fits the "Luchador" theme, but then again, where is the ring? Why couldn't they keep it this way only for the important monsters/bosses?

The game is also pretty easy. Since the enemy patterns/damage don't change in the later game, the game tries to get you with superior numbers and by putting shields on those enemies, which isn't particularly effective, especially when you don't even need to worry about dying (you'll just respawn one screen behind). You also gain health by destroying enemies, which makes you care even less about keeping an eye on your health. Add a second player to the mix and the difficulty goes down the drain completely. Sure, there is a hard mode but, as usual, it is locked till you complete the game.

Exploration also suffers a bit as the game's locations aren't particularly interesting and/or plentiful. Sure, they are colourful, but I can barely remember anything about them, aside the canyon and the giant tree (did we really need 3 temples?). Something else I didn't like was the backtracking. Sure, it comes with the Metroidvania territory, but it still fell slower than necessary. Part might be that Juan isn't exactly the fastest person in the world and part might be the empty places with barely any enemies in them, making a trip back to a previous area boring. Yes, there are landmarks that allow you to travel from one location to another, but they aren't available in every location.

With that said, Guacamelee was an enjoyable little game, but its flaws prevent it from reaching the heights. I doubt that the Super Turbo Championship Edition will fix the flaws I mentioned above, but I will give it a shot as well.

Full list.
Post edited June 23, 2015 by Grargar
Finished several choose your own adventure games I picked up from some Humble bundles...

Sorcery 2 - A continuation of the first Sorcery game, it's got good writing as well as nice artwork. However, it can be a little limiting because of the map interface. With the map interface, it may seem like you should be able to explore in the order you want, but you can still only go to preset places based on your current situation.

Judge Dredd: Countdown Sector 106 - As a fan of Dredd, this was a good game set in that universe. However, there is an end goal to be achieved, and I just stumbled across it at the end. There's not a lot of control over where the story goes, but it doesn't feel as directed. Repeat plays would probably improve the overall experience.

Trial of the Clone - This was the favorite of this set of CYOA games, it's written by the author of Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, so if you like that style of humor, it is present in large quantities here. I played through the game in a couple of ways, and it many branches that go in unexpected directions. Highly recommended for the humor.
Nightmares from the Deep 2 - The Siren's Call

Hidden Object Games are a weird genre. I can see their appeal as casual adventure and puzzle games - you can breeze through a story without ever getting stuck, you always know what to do next and you can often do several things at the same time, which keeps you motivated to just do this one thing and then maybe that other one and after that next and so on, and all of these things are pretty easy but satisfying, because of all the nice sounds and pretty (if often tacky) colors and all that sparkling and sense of achievements and whatnot, the essence of a casual game. And I have to admit even though I can see it's a rather shallow experience, I also find it hard to resist and it can be fun when it's done well.

If I'm not mistaken, The Siren's Call was the sixth HOG I played and the fourth I completed (after The Cursed Heart, Angelica Weaver and The Tiny Bang Story), so I'm slowly getting an idea about conventions, strenghts and weaknesses, and while I acknowledge that the Nightmares from the Deep series is most probably at the top end of the genre, with good production values, nice enough stories and all in all good casual gameplay, and I quite enjoyed The Siren's Call, maybe even more so then The Cursed Heart, it made me think about the genre as a whole, and especially that big elephant in the room: The worst thing about Hidden Object games are the Hidden Object screens! There, I said it. Not because I find the idea of looking for hidden objects on the screen so horrific, but because - ironically - they are so badly implemented in the games that they feel more like a distraction from the games than a part of it. It's like taking a break from the casual adventure, to do something quite different and unrelated all of a sudden. Because they hardly ever make sense, not even within the conventionally non-sensical adventure plot and puzzle logic.

So with this in mind, The Siren's Call actually does seem to innovate a bit (from my limited perspective on the genre, at least compared to the first game) and does address this problem in part, even though the experiment doesn't quite succeed, IMO. Firstly, it offers a different kind of Hidden Object Screen, one that doesn't list the words for the objects you have to find, but displays their shapes, which to me seems more in line with the overall visual nature of these games. And it gives you a reason why you need to find them, even if it's vague and follows obscure and silly adventure game logic, but at least it does follow some logic. You identify the items on the screen and then pick them up to use them on other items in a sequence of small inventory puzzles that ultimately result in you getting your hands on that one item that you need to advance your adventure. So far, so good. But those new HO screens don't replace the ones where you have to match object to their description for no reason whatsoever, they alternate with them. So you still have to deal with those HO screens that feel out of place and rather tedious to me.

That's why the developers, Artifex Mundi, came up with another new idea: allowing you to skip the HO screen by ... playing a game of mahjong instead. Which is a bit less annoying, but at the same time it makes even less sense than the HO screens and has nothing to do with the story. It's also not challenging at all, because if you run out of pairs, the game just shuffles the remaining stones and lets you continue, so you could just as well let the computer play for you. (Although that might have been my fault for playing on Casual diffculty, not sure if higher difficulties would make it more fun.)

So that's a lot of text already for a simple and casual game like this, but while I didn't really mind those issues all that much, they still made me wonder how much better even those well done HOGs like Nightmares from the Deep could be, if they dropped those distracting HO screens and just concentrated on the hidden object puzzles that are already part of the regular gameplay (like examining each room for objects you can interact with etc., or finding parts of objects you actually need instead of random ones). The Tiny Bang Story was a bit better in that regard compared to the other HOGs I've played (although - again ironically - that one was lacking in terms of story). I'm not sure if that sounds ignorant, for there must be players who actually like those screens, I just don't get why, if they're so badly integrated into the stories. Why not play a game that only consists of HO screens then, without a story? And I wonder if there are any casual adventure and puzzle game combinations like this that actually do tell great stories, as opposed to nice but very simple and forgettable ones ...

This is a very good Hidden Object Game with only minor issues that you probably won't mind if you're looking for a casual HOG. I found it fun to play, even though I still can't help but wonder why this genre is so huge and so insistent on repeating a convention of mixing together rather disparate elements in a way that makes no sense to me ...
Post edited June 22, 2015 by Leroux
Elliot Quest. I was just bitching on the "games playing" thread about how difficult the optional bosses in this game are, but as it turns out a few hours of trying and failing while learning to play good defense was really all that was needed. Once I had the right idea, I took care of the bad guys and then swiftly completed the game.

Anyway, this game is really good and GOG should totally get it. Graphically it's alright. Sort of reminded me of Treasure Adventure Game in its use of "fake 8-bit" style. The graphics are not amazing or anything, but they're designed with excellent clarity and the gameplay is where this game shines. My major gripe is that in the tougher portions of the game you need to get used to rapidly switching to your items/magic menu and then back to the game and it gets kind of chaotic. Something to shorten that would have been appreciated. But that's really the only major issue; the rest of the game is fine as a sort of Zelda 2 riff.

Recommended that you should take notes on the game. You don't need a whole notebook like in La Mulana, but just jotting down where certain locked doors or currently impassable obstacles are so you know where to head after getting a power up would make the game go by faster, so you won't be like me, wracking your brain over where to head next because you forgot where "that one thing" was.
Halo Spartan Assault

The game is a twin shooter based on the Halo universe, the sounds, weapons, enemies, vehicles, etc was faithful for the franchise and it kind of brought some nostalgia so that's a plus.

I was having some troubles with the controls since i needed to change my weapons by pressing shift and randomly it would bring up the Steam Overlay (when it should be shift+tab), the vehicle controls were also terrible, mainly on the tank where i was getting confused with directional movement.

What else can i say, the story is bland so you won't even pay attention to it and the missions are pretty much attack/defend/reach point, but for me it's perfect for those moments where you need to burn some time, they're lenght is short (around 3m each) so i only played 1 or 2 missions at the time.

For what i paid (almost 2€) it was worth it but i wouldn't say that is a must have (even for Halo fans).
Just finished Toren. I'm happy I got this in the sales because its short and a little rough around the edges in presentation and gameplay. The story is nice I guess as well as the artistic vision but I think I need a little more from my computer games I play.
Game Dev Tycoon
I enjoyed this a lot, though I am of course a fan of sims. This was polished and cute, with enough to do to keep you busy over 35 years of career. I finished 4 times, 3 of them recently. Each time I finished with a higher score and I finally unlocked one of my remaining achievements on the last playthrough. I have several left, but I may or may not return at some point in the future. I grabbed it in the last Humble Winter Sale and it was well worth it to me. The most fun part was naming my games. You know, a vocabulary sim on a Nintendo with a kid audience was M.O.T.H.E.R.F.U.C.K.E.R. and getting far sillier and more profane from there. :)

12 Labours of Hercules
Played the "Relaxed" difficulty straight through and had a lot of fun. I think I only had to repeat one level (that was a bit more interesting than all the others) to get all achievements. I restarted on the higher difficulty and about 3 or 4 levels in I reattempted for 3 stars several times on the same level without getting it and figured if Relaxed was fun and Expert wasn't, then that was more than good enough to call it a day.
EDIT: Thankfully the voice acting only appears in cut scenes and there are only about 4. Not exactly sure how they determined a developmentally-challenged person imitating a grizzled miner from the southern half of the United States was the go-to guy, but hey, here you go...

full list
Post edited June 23, 2015 by budejovice
Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet (Linux)

"Knytt" meets "Mars Attacks" meets "Metroid".
Really great style and smooth gameplay. Totally overlooked Metroidvania with neat design and a low difficulty perfect for playing after a day of hard work.
I love this game, GoG should get it and everybody should play it.

The only bad thing is a bug with the hook that doesn't let you detach it from an object, in order to free it you have to change your tool sometime (which is only a button press anyway). Unfortunately the hook is the most important tool in the two multiplayer modes which makes this bug a bit of a problem there.

The Original Strife - Veteran Edition

One of the final games based on the id Tech 1 engine, Strife tries to differentiate itself from other shooters by adopting RPG elements like a quest system, the ability to talk to NPCs, shops, and (limited) stat progression. It also has an inventory system, as well as featuring hub-levels, but both of these ideas already existed in HeXen (the inventory also existed in Heretic). It also features an interesting setting, as it takes place in the future, but the game sports both medieval and futuristic architecture, while the villains resemble a monastic order (in fact, they are called The Order and their basic troops are named Acolytes).

Like Doom, Strife is still very much a shooter game. Unlike Doom, the level progression is mostly reminiscent of HeXen's hub-like nature, with the important difference that you can return to any level you want (aside some exceptions). Regardless, you'll have to shoot through the majority of the levels to complete the game. Sure, there are some levels/quests that can be completed without raising the alarm, but these are the exceptions and not the rule. In your way will stand enemies, both organic and mechanical in nature, from a typical lowly soldier in medieval armour, to bipedal robots that shoot rockets and flame. To face them, the game offers you an interesting mix of typical and not so typical weapons. On the one hand, you have something like the assault rifle or the rocket launcher, while on the other hand, you have something like the crossbow or the mauler. Some of those weapons have a secondary usage through alternative ammo, like the crossbow which can shoot poison bolts, in addition to electric ones (the crossbow with poison bolts, along with the punching dagger, is the only weapon you can use without raising the alarm and/or alerting the other enemies). That's all fine and good, but what about the shooting itself?

Well, it's not that great. But let's change subject for a moment to talk about the limited level progression. In Strife, you have two stats; stamina and accuracy. Both of these stats are increased by 10 (for a maximum of 100) each time you accomplish a specific quest. Stamina increases your overall health, as well as making the punching dagger more powerful. Accuracy, on the other hand, increases... well... the accuracy of your weapon and, let me tell you, without any accuracy upgrades, you'll see your initial weapons shooting all over the place, which can be really annoying when you're trying to hit enemies like the stalkers (what an irritating sound they make!) or roof turrets. It's especially infuriating with the rocket launcher, as it's one of the few weapons that can deal damage from afar (it also doesn't help that it's slow as snail and that it doesn't really have much splash radius). Even with accuracy upgrades, you'll still find that your shots don't exactly land where you are aiming at, which can make fighting roof turrets and stalkers far more of a hassle than is necessary. At least, the enemies have nice death animations/explosions, which takes away some of the frustration from fighting them.

Even with all this annoyance, though, the game still isn't particularly difficult (even on hard), as most enemies can't deal enough damage to you and you'll be finding armour/health packs at an alarming rate (you can even buy them as well). Ammo might be rarer and in fact, you might be in danger of running out of it in the beginning, thanks to your terrible accuracy wasting all those bullets, but the more you progress in the game, the more plentiful it becomes (and again, you can also buy ammo at the shops).

Overall, I can't help but feel that the non-shooter elements of the game aren't particularly interesting, while its shooter elements needed some work to make the game more enjoyable. As it stands, it's easily the weakest out of all the commercial id Tech 1 games, though I do give it points for trying.

Updated list.
Post edited August 11, 2015 by Grargar
Alchemy Mysteries: Prague Legends

point and click adventure/ HOG with mediocre plot and horrible voicing. Otherwise a decent HOG and puzzler. Low res scenes are frustrating. But the overall game experience flows better than most and the puzzles and backtracking aren't quite as forced and random as other games.
DarkBase 01
I only became curious and tried the DarkBase 01 because of the internet drama about the game and its developer.

This was my first reaction after I've completed the first levels:

"I've played the intro level and the first three levels so far and I have to say that it is neither a very good nor a very bad game. It could certainly need a little more variety when it comes to weapons, level design and enemies and some of the degign choices are dubious (e.g. you can see the secret rooms on the map), but on the other hand the game has a very nice soundtrack and it certainly isn't boring.

I wouldn't pay the full price for it and I have played much better freeware games in the past, but I have also played much worse and buggy commercial games.

Don't think the game and the developer deserves any hate or insults, but I also think the developer overreacted when he insulted the whole gaming community. He should ignore the stuff that isn't constructive and use the rest of the feedback to make the game better (the potential is there)."

Now that I've finished the game I have to say that it was worse than I've first thought. The gameplay stays the same all the time. There is one new monster in each level, but even if they look different, they are all the same. The story doesn't make much sense and ends with a cliffhanger.

But worst thing is that there are a lot of bugs. When monsters get to close, you can no longer hit them (when it happens in a corner you will die no matter what you do and how often you shoot at the monster). There are tons of invisible healthpacks, key cards and point packs and in the last few levels there are also invisible monsters (I'm still not sure if this is intended. If it is, it's one of the worst design decisions I've ever seen) There are also health packs and data tapes in places which you can't reach. And sometimes when you touch a monster you character "teleports" to another place in the room.

I still don't think it's the worst game I've ever played (it isn't by far) and I don't regret playing it, but I think it's definitely not worth the price the developer asked for (it's €6.49 on Desura) and I can understand that people who pid the price are annoyed by the quality of DarkBase 01.

Complete list of finished games in 2015

Edit: Thank you to Impaler26 who gifted me a copy of DarkBase 01!
Post edited June 24, 2015 by PaterAlf
Murasaki Baby on my PS Vita.

Another game I got thanks to Playstation Plus program. A very nice game: you're guiding a strange little girl through levels to find back her mother. You're guiding her litterally, since you have to hold her hand and stretch her arm to make her move. Plus she has heart-shaped balloon that in fact represents her life: should the balloon deflate or be pierced by something, game over.

It's a puzzle game, not a platform game. You have to find was to interact with other characters, the surroundings or the Murasaki Baby herself to make her progress through the level. A nice touch is that it uses all the features a PS Vita has to offer: you guide her by the touch screen and sometimes to have to change the background image with the touchpad at the back of the console. Each background has an effect when you press the touchpad ; for example, there's a level where you have regularly to change back to a certain panel to prevent her balloon to deflate completely. Simple, but quite nice, actually.

I love the art style, it reminds me of some underground american comics (like Lenore, the Cute Little Dead Girl by Roman Dirge) but I can also understand if some people don't like it. It's a matter of taste.

The game is short, count 3 hours max to finish it, but it's nice. The "puzzles" will be easy-peasy for veteran players, but I found it refreshing, so it was perfect for me!

All in all, a very nice game, and I'm happy to have had the occasion to play it!

So far in 2015: