Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Dear Esther: A Review.

Ah, Dear Esther...

Not gonna lie, this game will either be two things to you. If you are not patient and not thrilled at the thought of taking a SLOW WALK through some scenery, while listening to pieces of a very broken someone's ramblings, with ample forced walking time between ramblings to think over what he is saying, this is NOT the "game" for you.  It will turn out to be one of the most boring things you've ever bought and you will quickly wish you had bought a few burgers instead.

It must be said, just to make things perfectly clear, there is NO INTERACTIVITY in the entire "game" besides using WASD to walk around(no run key), and mouse to aim where you are looking.  Clicking the mouse button simply zooms in a little bit on whatever you are looking at to examine it more closely.  No items, inventory, no puzzles to solve or people to talk to.  Not even zombies to run from or combat of any sort, not even a run button for those times you go the wrong way and need to walk back in silence(voices only trigger once per play).

There is a good reason for this, but I cannot explain it here lest I destroy what Dear Esther sets out and does so well.

Dear Esther is not a "game" in the traditional sense.  I think the best description of it would be "an activity that allows the player to explore and listen to a very broken man, while trying to make sense of what he is saying, with visuals that help support or add a physical backdrop to the audio."  In short, it's a jumbled audio book that you physically walk through at your own pace, that also relies on the scenery and sometimes which route you took through it to support telling it's story.

The fact you walk through it yourself and can choose to look deeper into things you come across helps distinguish it from what a movie can provide, while the otherwise stale lack of interactivity helps keep you from being distracted from the emotional roller coaster the story seeks to convey.  The fact most of the lines are randomized helps make each visit unique, while also revealing a bit more about the deeper meaning of Dear Esther as an entity.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Indie Royal Bundle

Normally I wouldn't recommend buying games when they are not even out yet, but for these 3, make a big exception.

For 3 more days you can buy alpha access, and then when the games are finished you own all three! This pack is so worth it just for Towns(a majesty meets RPG dungeons) and Wyv & Keep (A two player co-op puzzle action platformer with from the looks of things, very devious puzzle design).

Current asking price is 5.08 as of this posting, but even for 10(the recommended bump the price down asking price) it's a steal.

I'll let their own page speak about what the games are and the three developers behind it on it's own.  They've said it so well I don't want to just repeat it here.  But do check it out this weekend if you've got a spare bit of gaming cash, as if even one of the games appeals to you this is very worth the cash.

The three games are also relatively clean fun.  There's some minor cartoon violence(sprite characters dying, minecraft style "deaths" of low quality 3d models in 3079), and both Towns and 3079 might be a bit over younger players because of their heavy emphasis on RPG stat management.  But it's hard to fault the games at this price.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Square Logic Rocks

If you want a good clean logic game, check out Everyday Genius: Square Logic.  It will test the logic part of your step by step puzzle solving without tossing complicated rules, math(the game will do all the maths for you, leaving you with the logic decisions), or chance based puzzles at you, and it will last you a long time.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Skyrim: Elder Scrolls 5

A lot of people have been playing this massive game called Skyrim: The Elder Scrolls V, myself included.  It's got so much content and story quests, it will honestly take me several years to get through it all.  Most of that time may be because I like playing a sneaky character.  Regardless of the reason, none of you want to wait several years to hear about it, so I'm posting a blind mini review based on my 20 hours of playtime so far.

Skyrim is an Open World Action Role Playing Game, in the most open, literal interpretation of the term.  Like Oblivion, and every Elder Scrolls game previously, Skyrim contains a massive world.  This world is populated by npcs who literally "live in the world", complete with daily/weekly activities they do, some legal, some not so much.

A quick note to parents.  This game is rated M, and I heartily support this rating.  By a "living world of NPCs", the designers literally made a world, everything good and bad included.  This world contains exactly everything questionable you'd expect in a fantasy setting world, from bars full of people who "look for the ladies" to very violent betrayals and brutal death "critical hits", and a strong case of racism.  In the world, there are very few NPCs who would stand up for "what is right", and many of the quests force the player character to choose the "lesser of two evils" with no good "Everyone can get along" ending.  Bethesda went for a very realistic world, only stopping from putting something in the world if it would threaten an A rating and prevent selling the game.

Skyrim's world is very much an adult world, and combined with the ability of the player to pretty much do whatever they wish to do in the world(for good, evil, or sometimes neither or both), this isn't a game for younger kids to play.  Honestly, a lot of the gameplay mechanics and storylines for the quests deal with adult topics anyway.  I would only buy or let an older kid play this if you are truly comfortable having them deal with such topics.

Having said that, the fact Skyrim has such a detailed world is one of the main reasons it has become so popular.  Very few games dive this far into detail, or put this much effort into literally dropping the player into the world and asking them "where do you want to go, and what will you do?".