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muntdefems:
You sure are on quite a roll lately!
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Cavalary: You sure are on quite a roll lately!
Nah, just clearing up my 'reviews backlog'. I've still 5 more games to report here. :P
<span class="bold">Zenith</span> (played on Wine)

Well, this one got an individual mention in Jim Sterling's Top Ten Shittiest Games Of 2016 video. I don't really think it's that bad, but it's admittedly lacking in many respects, e.g.:

· You can only save at checkpoints.

· The combat is rather dull and doesn't involve any tactic other than slashing and dodge-rolling.

· The levelling system is quite bland: the main character's stats don't improve (for that you need to acquire better gear in order to improve his attack power and resistances), and he can only learn some unremarkable abilities.

· The story is extremely linear, except for a while during mid-game when you get thrown into an open overworld where you can indulge in grinding side missions if you like (at the risk of forgetting where you were supposed to go in order to move the plot further, as there isn't any kind of journal or quest log to remind you).

· Besides this kind of self-inflicted confusion the story can get a bit confusing all by itself, with many strange faction names and a lot of implicit lore, though that could just be one of this game's many jokes/parodies...


But all these shortcomings notwithstanding I still had a good time with Zenith, mostly for its story and humour. It's a silly game and doesn't pretend to be otherwise. Some of the jokes are references just for the sake of referencing and they are not that funny (or funny at all), but most of them are so absurd and over the top that made me burst out laughing like no other game in a long time. So yeah, I may be a bit biased in its favour because it's one of the few games out there available in Catalan (although the texts are laden with typos and orthographic errors), but I cannot speak ill of it. It's not the best narrative ARPG by any stretch, but still I think it's worth playing, especially if you like lowbrow humour and can grab it on sale.


My list of finished games in 2017
<span class="bold">Tetrobot and Co.</span> (Android)

Contrary to its prequel Blocks That Matter, this game has no platforming elements and focuses solely on the puzzles. The new Psychobot protagonist can fly, so it can move freely inside the damaged Tetrobots it needs to repair. This new control method makes Tetrobot and Co. perfectly suited for touchscreen devices, so despite owning it for Linux and for Android I decided to give it a go with my tablet.

After beating it, I'm tempted to say that this is a nearly perfect puzzle game: its basic rules are easy to learn, but it's really difficult to master all the tricks and intricacies needed to complete it. Well, I mean 'complete it' in the '100% it' sense: there are 3 memory blocks in every level but, while you need to collect some in order to unlock more batches of levels, you are not forced to get them all. In fact, the acquisition of some of these elusive blocks are the biggest challenges in this game... if we don't take into account the actual Challenges, consisting on beating a selected level having collected all 3 memory blocks, plus ending it with a certain number of blocks of different materials in the Psychobot's inventory. I'm not ashamed to admit to have checked a walkthrough a couple of times after accepting my defeat against a certain Challenge. Additionally, the levels are masterfully designed down to the slightest detail: every wall, corner, or pipe elbow is there for a reason and nothing has been put there just because (which is something you can sometimes use to your own advantage).

The art style is much more detailed than that of Blocks That Matter, but it maintains its cuteness and cartoony style (and so does the music and sound effects). The story is minimalistic at best but compelling, and there are a lot of funny references here and there. The references are mainly to be found in the names of the levels, but also in the names of the clients that send their bots to be repaired and their descriptions. And I think the devs had a bit of fun teasing <i>Seasons after Fall</i>, their next game which looks gorgeous and I hope it gets released here on GOG someday.


My list of finished games in 2017
Post edited February 22, 2017 by muntdefems
<span class="bold">Cubway</span> (Android)

Here's a free game I found on Google Play that interested me and it looked expressly designed for mobile devices. "Good thing", I thought, since the PC version is Steam-only (and, I might add, non-free). After completing it, I must conclude that maaaaaybe touchscreen controls are not the best option for it, even though it only requires two buttons. You see, precision is of the essence in Cubway, as it basically consists of navigating a small red square through 50-something levels while trying to avoid all sorts of static and moving obstacles. The square can only move in straight, predefined directions (that's why only two buttons are required), and more often than not you need to stop just a few pixels away from a deadly obstacle. To make matters worse, there are some levels in which the square moves automatically, and your only agency over its movement is reduced to pressing the screen/a button in order to make it stop. Considering the damned square slightly accelerates as it moves, you can understand how easily can a playing session result in utter frustration.

But frustrations apart, I still had a good time with this game. Most levels are cleverly designed, some of them to challenge your reflexes and quick reaction time, others to put your patience and accuracy to the test. I particularly liked the soothing soundtrack, which kind of counterbalances the stress produced by the gameplay. The art style with strong art deco influences is pretty cool too, and the way the background becomes progressively visible as your red square makes progress through the level.

Something I didn't like that much are the motivational-like quotes shown between levels, that seem to come straight out of a $1-bargain-bin self-help book. Yeah, I didn't care much, nor didn't I pay much attention, to the spiritual narrative than underlies this experience.

The game has 3 difficulty levels. I tried them all but I honestly couldn't find any real difference. From what I could gather later on, I think the difference between Easy, Normal and Hard is the ending you are gonna find after you beat all the levels (go figure). Now, I only beat it on Normal "difficulty", but I think I got enough of it. For a while, at least.


My list of finished games in 2017
And two free games to finally bring my 2017 log up to date:


<span class="bold">There Is No Game</span> (Android)

Ultra-short game (less than 30 minutes to complete it) I discovered on Google Play. Later I found out it was the winner of a Newgrounds game jam, which of course can be played it there. The theme of said game jam was 'Deception', so neither the game title nor its gameplay come as no surprise: the game, via its deep-voiced narrator, tries to convince you that it is not actually a game and that there's nothing to do in it. Of course, your job as the (non-)player is to prove it wrong all the while you try to break everything down. As I said it's very short, but funny and entertaining. Recommended.



<span class="bold">Awake</span>

Following 01kipper's recommendation I downloaded this short point'n'click adventure, which was also created for a game jam (this one didn't win though). It presents an interesting story and some nifty mechanics that I won't explain either, because I agree it's better to jump right into it knowing as little as possible. Highly recommended too.



My list of finished games in 2017
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Daliz: Dark Forces 2: Jedi Knight

One of the best shooters I've played. Played this in 2001 or something, but never completed it until now. The level design is great! Unfortunately the lightsaber fights suck and most of the time using force powers is not worth the hassle.

JK: Mysteries of the Sith

Again, great level design. Not many lightsaber fights which is a very good thing IMO...
...until the last 3 levels which were lightsaber-only. Most of the enemies there are so annoying and hard that I had to savescum through it. Great expansion pretty much ruined by the endgame enemies.
Agree about Jedi Knight...I had played it in the late 1990s and replayed it last year; obviously graphics and AI are very dated, but the level design is really brilliant, still great fun.
I stopped playing Mysteries of the Sith in the penultimate level when I got killed repeatedly (in two or three hits) by one of those white tiger-like monsters...and had no idea how I was supposed to fight that thing.
PC:
+Pony Island

A deliberate game. It's not exactly the best on the gameplay front as there is little on that, but the game tries to spin the idea of humans versus devils in an extremely interesting way. They decided to make an arcade game using the cheerful facade of ponies and butterflies to hide the fact that it is one of their many ways to torture you. To get out of this eternal torture, with the help of another lost soul, you both must work on hacking your way out and sometimes going along with the devils' plans. Because if there's one thing the devil is really sloppy at, it's coding for games.

I'd say it's worth the asking price of $5 on Humble Bundle simply because of its unique concepts. For an idea involving devils, its horrors come from the fact that you're trapped in the game ready to receive their eternal damnations and the really unsettling setting, but it doesn't rely on cheap jumpscares at all. Moreso the better.

Satan, please get programming courses.
Ryse, Son of Rome

Visually stunning (I wish all the games would be so beautiful), ran smoothly on my computer despite seeing quite a lot of people having framerate drops, easy to use (the controls are simple to understand), action-packed, but...

yeah, it's quite an empty shell. Way too short, it feels like you play the synopsis of a large-scale action game and not the action game itself.

Nevertheless, I'm happy to have played it, even if I know I won't replay it and won't play the multiplayer part (which might be totally dead, now).

So far in 2017: https://www.gog.com/forum/general/games_finished_in_2017/post15
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morolf: Agree about Jedi Knight...I had played it in the late 1990s and replayed it last year; obviously graphics and AI are very dated, but the level design is really brilliant, still great fun.
I stopped playing Mysteries of the Sith in the penultimate level when I got killed repeatedly (in two or three hits) by one of those white tiger-like monsters...and had no idea how I was supposed to fight that thing.
Yes, those are the worst. My tactic was first force destruction and then dodge and swing with the secondary fire swing. Funnily they were easier to defeat in smaller areas whereas in the bigger areas they were harder because they leap so far.
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morolf: Agree about Jedi Knight...I had played it in the late 1990s and replayed it last year; obviously graphics and AI are very dated, but the level design is really brilliant, still great fun.
I stopped playing Mysteries of the Sith in the penultimate level when I got killed repeatedly (in two or three hits) by one of those white tiger-like monsters...and had no idea how I was supposed to fight that thing.
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Daliz: Yes, those are the worst. My tactic was first force destruction and then dodge and swing with the secondary fire swing. Funnily they were easier to defeat in smaller areas whereas in the bigger areas they were harder because they leap so far.
You have my respect for defeating them...I actually got frustrated with the very first of them when he killed Mara (at full health) in two or three hits and I couldn't even get a counter-attack in. That was simply above my skills level. But part of the problem imo is that MotS lightsaber mechanics just don't work that well for that kind of gameplay. Probably would feel very different in Jedi Outcast, that kind of level would work much better there imo.
Virginia

First of all, this game was generously gifted to me by HereForTheBeer. Virginia is a really interesting game, great vibes from the 90’s like X-Files and has a David Lynch feel to it. I like the story a lot and how the game changes scenes is pretty cool, it has a good pace and I think they solved the walking in an elegant way. There is no voice acting or text dialogue yet it manage to communicate everything in a subtle but effective way. Music is great but there’s no OST as far as I know.

It’s difficult to find anything bad to say about Virginia, it has a great story about an FBI agent and it’s all about the storytelling.
Post edited February 25, 2017 by amund
Persona 4. Finally done. I started this last year and ended up taking a break from it for a few months for reasons that had nothing to do with the game's quality (my save game indicates I spent somewhere around 60 hours on it?). I went back and forth on comparing it to the previous game in the series but I think I have a slight preference for the third game. This one is more refined and stylish, as sequels tend to be, but I prefer the pulpy action-horror vibe of the third game compared to the...kinder, gentler feel this one has.

I'll probably do the new game plus mode eventually but I need a bit of a break from this series for now, I think.
Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight. I played the first game a while back and although I didn't finish it, I thought it was a pretty good Cave Story wannabe. This one is a very assured Metroid clone. Doesn't really do anything new with the genre, but it plays well, has some challenging bosses that will make you improve your skills, and it's got a nice amount of personality. I like the odd details you come across, like a man grieving in a cemetery whose body is draped over the tombstone next time you visit.
<span class="bold">Clever Girl</span>

Free and short amateur game I discovered in this week's Extra Credits video. It's about a woman travelling in time back to the dinosaurs' era and getting stranded there after the time machine breaks down on arrival. With the only help of her bow and arrows, she'll have to defend herself of many hostile dinousaurs while she tries to recover 4 essential parts of the time machine in order to go back to the present.

As I said it's an amateur game never intended for commercial release, but still it looks and plays way better than many games that are released every day and are actually asking for money. It probably uses pre-made assets (although I don't know for sure), but they are all stylishly consistent with each other and with the environment. Plus the heroine has three types of arrows with different properties at her disposal, which introduce some nice mechanics the player needs to learn how to use in order to progress.

It's beatable in less than an hour and its replay value is non-existant, but it's a nifty little game that's worth a try.


My list of finished games in 2017