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<span class="bold">To the Moon (+ the Holiday Special Minisodes)</span>

Another long overdue must-play from my backlog. For some reason, I had played most of Kan Gao's games (Do You Remember My Lullaby?, The Mirror Lied, and even the more recent A Bird Story), but never got to tackle his "magnum opus". Probably because, while I recognized the merits of those games, none of them really grasped me. But boy, the story was completely different this time around: I enjoyed it from beginning to end... and beyond, with the 2 mini-sodes that act as an appetizer for the upcoming sequel. The story is obviously tailored to play with your feelings, but it still gets away with it. I admit to having cried, and yes, that was during the 'log scene in the carnival'. But above all I loved its bittersweet ending, and the hypothetical moral dilemmas it poses (like, would you hire SigmundCorp in your final moments?)

As others have pointed out before me, the gameplay is minimal and clunky at best. I didn't mind having to click the mouse or press a key after every line of dialogue, but the lacking UI did eventually get to me (e.g. the pathfinding is abysmal so you often have to click several times to get the characters where you wanted them to go from the start). The engine is probably the one to blame for most of these shortcomings, but still I don't think the game suffers much from it, if only because it sports some of the most beautiful graphics and music found in an RPGmaker game ever. Especially the music, which is accountable for a big percentage of the tears the game has provoked since its release.

Even though the obvious protagonists of the story are John and River (and probably another one whose identity I won't reveal to avoid spoilers), I grew fond of Drs. Rosalene and Watts, all the more so after playing the minisodes. Both of them are supposed to return in Finding Paradise, but I've just discovered it will also feature the boy from A Bird Story, so nice way to tie up all your narrative universe together, Mr. Gao!

My list of finished games in 2016
Grabbed By The Ghoulies (Xbox One)

Working through the Rare Replay collection, that's 3 down, 27 games still to go. Ghoulies is an original Xbox game that was upgraded to widescreen and a graphics update for the Rare Replay collection. Honestly they probably could have saved their effort, it's only an average game.

I was misinformed about the game in several ways. I thought it was a simple beat-em-up adventure game, and I'd heard it is really easy. People that say it's easy must have quit after the first 30 minutes. As it actually gets quite frustrating and I would not class the game as a whole as easy- mainly because of the camera and controls. The game is actually a completely linear series of challenge rooms. You walk into the room, the door closes and you solve the challenge or puzzle to open the door to progress.

It's repetitive, the character is slow, the combat is poor. It's not as funny as it wants to be. But there isn't actually anything terrible. The game probably is the definition of just average.
Post edited July 14, 2016 by CMOT70
World of Goo

World of Goo really is an amazing puzzle/building game with some unique ideas. Game starts easy, but in later levels more and more new elements and different types of Goo balls get introduced and keep the game interesting and challenging.

There is also an interesting, consumption-critical story (that is a little vague though and reminds me of Little Inferno). Even if it didn't come to a completely satisfying end, it was still nice to have a story (there are many puzzle games that don't even try to tell one).

In sandbox mode my tower reached a height of 21 metres before I ran out of Goos. Could have tried to build it higher by removing some Goos from the structure and put them on the top, but I liked what I built, didn't want it to collapse and so I left it alone.

Complete list of finished gamees in 2016
magejake50: Just finished Chaos Theory the other day and I have to agree, playing Double Agent atm and I'm not really enjoying it.
Thiefer: I still quite enjoyed Double Agent, but the PC port is lousy. The JBA base portions were a great mix of deviousness and time management. It was my second time going through the game, and I discovered some surprising things this time around; one of the JBA base missions can be completed in a rather unexpected but awesome way, and there's a secret mission at the end of the game depending on certain decisions you make in earlier missions.
I completed Double Agent, but the game I had was glitchy. The base portions were great though I don't know what their obsession was with setting missions in fully lit areas, also that woman on the bus in that one mission, she just had to get trapped between 3 snipers... If the secret mission is the one on the boat after the credits, I got that one on my first run through. I was actually so tired of trying not to kill anyone, I just killed everyone in the last two missions, which felt so satisfying...
<span class="bold">You Must Build A Boat</span> (Android)

Got it with the latest Humble PC & Android Bundle, both for PC and mobile platforms, but decided to play it with my phone as this type of game is clearly more suited to a touchscreen.

It's basically an iteration on EightyEight Games's previous title 10000000, i.e. a match-3 puzzle game with some action and RPG elements sprinkled on top. The meat of the game are the dungeon runs in which you encounter different types of monsters and chests, and you need to beat/open them by matching 3 or more sword/staff/key tiles. Fail to do that and you'll get progressively pushed back towards the left side of the screen. When you reach it, the run ends. Between runs you're be able to improve your weapons, recruit captured monsters (they give you passive bonuses), acquire valuable artifacts (more passive effects), drink potions to modify the conditions of your next runs... and up to several things more, depending on how far you've reached in the story (the titular boat gets bigger and bigger as you progress, and new NPC rooms can fit in it).

While I wouldn't recommend playing it for hours on end, it's perfect in short bursts, so yet another one to add to the games-to-play-when-commuting list. Sessions longer than, say, half an hour can become tedious, although some new elements that weren't present in 10000000 (e.g. traps, randomly varying conditions in the dungeons, the world being divided in different sections, etc.) help reduce its monotony. I'm not sure I'll keep playing this game for very long after having beaten it, but for the time it's still installed in my phone, so odds are in its favour. Daily challenges and a New Game+ mode being unlocked after the first playthrough might have had something to do with that decision. :)

My list of finished games in 2016
<span class="bold">DreadOut</span>

DreadOut is an episodic psychological survival horror game developed by Digital Happiness and it's available on Windows, OS X and Linux. Available demo here, also the demo is available on Steam.
The core gameplay involves fighting ghosts by using a camera to take their pictures, similar to the Fatal Frame series, which I never played because of being a console exclusive.
There are quite a few game breaking bugs that have pushed me to finish this title so late. Still this is the Fatal Frame I never had and always wanted to play.
I'm looking forward to getting DreadOut: Keepers of The Dark, which is a new standalone game, on the next Steam sale, or on would be nice as well.

Complete list of games finished in 2016.
Golden Sun (GBA)

Another game that I started in Winter and forgot to complete done with. Golden Sun is a rpg series on the Gameboy Advance with the first game released 15 years ago. You play as a group of kids (Because age doesn't matter in rpg's) born with the gift of Psynergy, which allows them to casts spells to help them in their adventure, to stop some people from ending the world. The battle stage attempts to look 3D in an unique effect where the camera faces whoever is attacking, it looks pretty good for a Gameboy game. As well as navigating through caves and battling foes you also need to use your Psynergy to solve puzzles, these usually help in acquiring Djinn, creatures that power you up and allow you to summon creatures into battle. The gameplay is fairly simple at first, but you do need to learn the mechanics fairly well later in the game, music is memorable, Story is good however I am annoyed that it ended on a cliffhanger. Of course I should probably get the sequel to this game, you can actually transfer save data from the first game to the second to give you bonuses. Anyway I would recommend this game, it's not too expensive, and I think it might also be out for Wii U as well.
magejake50: Golden Sun (GBA)

you can actually transfer save data from the first game to the second to give you bonuses. Anyway I would recommend this game, it's not too expensive, and I think it might also be out for Wii U as well.
Yeah, Golden Sun is amazing. If you don't transfer when you get the characters back into your party they will be at a lower level than they should be.
Secret of Mana

It's a Co-Op JRPG originally for the SNES, there are no random encounters, you just happen upon enemies in the field and fight in real time. You have 3 characters to choose from, A warrior, A Sprite and a Female Fighter. This originally presented some problems when I tried the multiplayer with my friend as we both wanted to be the warrior. The game is good fun, though it does get annoying for the first hour or so when you never have enough money for revives. I did most of the game in Single Player, the AI is... ok, they will often get stuck on obstacles and are no where near as competent as a human player, especially in certain boss battles. The game is still enjoyable on single player, though the real fun is in the multiplayer, if I had a 3rd controller I'm sure it would've been better. I would highly recommend this game.
Today I finished another Fallout: New Vegas DLC, Lonesome Road. I chose to nuke both the NCR and Caesar's Legion.

After visiting those two blasted locations and collecting the spoils, I'll be ready to finish the game.
<span class="bold">MIND: Path to Thalamus Enhanced Edition</span>

I'm completely in two minds about this one. On the one hand, its visuals are stunning (even at the limited visual settings my ageing rig allows) and most of its puzzles are ingeniously designed and force you to think outside of the box. But on the other hand, it's got too many faults. Now, I've played the Linux build of the Enhanced Edition, so the following criticisms may not apply to other OSs or the original version:

· The narration (subtitles included) didn't work most of the time. I only got to hear the main character's monologues in the first introductory level and in another couple of occasions throughout the game. I suspect they should've triggered whenever I found one of those glowing floaty things, but they simply didn't. This was particularly flagrant during the ending scene, in which I couldn't move and all I could do was trying to activate all the "narration triggers" that appeared around me... until I was suddenly driven to the main menu (game finished, I guess?)

· Controls were a little clunky, especially when holding orbs/balls: sometimes they just fell off my hands for no apparent reason, and when I wanted to put them in a particular spot I just couldn't release them in place, I had to throw them away.

· I was stuck for a good while in a level because one portal didn't behave as it should. Fortunately I found out it was a glitch thanks to a thread in this game's forum here on GOG and I could finally complete that level.

· The mouse didn't work in the game's menus, I had to navigate them with the arrow keys. A minor annoyance for sure, but an annoyance nonetheless.

Apart from the aforementioned bugs/glitches, I couldn't help but noticing a certain air of "half-bakedness" about this game. Maybe it was because of its poorly designed menus, or because the chapters and levels felt barely connected to one another (though I'm aware this feeling could very well be due to the lack of narration), but on the whole it seemed more like an Unreal4 tech demo than a full fledged game.

Finally, I've read many people complaining about the alleged 'enhanced edition' looking worse than the original version. I really couldn't say, because the original version isn't available on Linux and with my hardware I probably wouldn't be able to tell the difference anyway. But what I definitely noticed (by watching a couple of gameplay videos) is that the ending had been totally changed. And by "changed" I mean a kind of final boss battle has been completely removed and replaced by a barely interactive final cutscene (the one I mentioned in the first bulletpoint above).

I also read somewhere that this Enhanced Edition features 4 new secret levels and a new alternate ending, so it's possible that the final boss battle hasn't been removed after all and that I somehow managed to unlock the alternate ending. Could be, but honestly I'm not enthused with the idea of replaying everything from the start just to find out. I guess this kind of makes clear which one of the two minds I'm actually more inclined towards, doesn't it?

My list of finished games in 2016
The Lake House - Children of Silence

From time to time I like to play a Hidden Object Game and when I this one at Game Giveaway of the Day today, I thought I could give it a try. The story was quirky and made absolutely no sense, but besides that it was ok and had some nice (but of course casual) puzzles. I would say that it was relaxing entertainment for about two hours.

Complete list of finished games in 2016
Red Faction: Armageddon - Path to War DLC

Played it two years after completing the main campaign. This lead to two problems: (1) Something that happened in the last two years messed with the abitlity to start a new game; no matter whether it's the main campaign, new game+ or this DLC - the game will crash if you try to start a new game. In other words: Red Faction: Armageddon is currently broken on Steam and would be unplayable if it wasn't for some guy on the forums who supplied savegames for the start of all levels. So by downloading that, I was able to play the DLC nevertheless, since loading savegames still works. And (2) I've mostly forgotten the story of the game, so it's hard to tell whether the DLC added anything worthwhile to it. But my suspicion is: no, not really.

The DLC consists of 4 different extra missions that are somehow tied into the main story, either a prequel or about some events that happened parallel to the main story. You don't really learn anything interesting though. The first mission has you fly some combat ship, the second mission drive a tank. Both of them are very short (~15 min?) and utterly boring. Just follow the tunnel and shoot at everything that shoots back until it stops, with no real challenge involved. The other two mission have you play as Mason on foot, so you get to use the regular fun weapons like magnetic gun and the repair tool again and you can try to complete your upgrades, if you didn't unlock all of them in the main campaign yet, which is cool. But other than that, these missions are fairly uninteresting as well. The end of the third mission also managed to annoy me, because it wanted me to do something very specific within a short time frame or die and start over at the last checkpoint, all the way back. And while there is constant hand-holding, to an almost ridiculous degree, it still didn't manage to communicate what it actually wanted from me. All in all, it took me between 1 and 2 hours to play through the whole DLC, and only because I had to repeat that last part of mission 3 several times before I was able to finish it (checking a walkthrough on youtube), and because I played slowly and occasionally lost orientation for a bit depite the hand-holding and tunnel structure.

My verdict: Skip it, it's not worth it.

(And I say that as someone who kind of liked the original campaign, two years ago, despite all the hate the game gets from fans of the series.)
Post edited July 18, 2016 by Leroux
Just beat Valkyria Chronicles on the PS3. I really liked it.
Anomaly 2 (from Aveweto's GA)

For the first few levels I was prepared to write this off as a graphically-well-done-but-uninspired "reverse tower defense" (or "tower offense" as the kids are calling it) game. I mean, the dialogue is meh, the plot is whatever, and the first few levels I could beat in my sleep.

And then, suddenly, levels 5-9 suddenly ramp up both complexity and difficulty to something quite impressive, forcing me to actually think more carefully about optimal pathing, squad composition, and then executing various morphs and use of power abilities on the fly.

I was actually delighted when the game shook me out of my ultra-safe strategy and forced me to run around killing machines as quickly as they spawned. While I've played through the campaign, and am "done" I'm at least slightly tempted to try replaying it on higher difficulty.

The last 4-5 levels are more intermediate, with both mission 13 & 14 having special mechanics of their own.

All told, the campaign took about 9-10 hours. Probably could've blown through it faster if I'd played other games in the series before, or focused on completing the maps as quickly (vs. as thoroughly) as possible.

A pleasant surprise.

There is a multiplayer (one side plays the towers and the other the invaders) but I'm rating this just on the single-player as I don't co-op or matchmake much if ever.