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    Superliminal (PC)    by   dkirschner       (Jan 20th, 2022 at 10:20:22)

    Superliminal blew me away. This actually wasn't on my wishlist. I thought it looked pretentious (my fault for being judgy). But I'd been curious about the size/perspective-shifting mechanic and when it popped up on Game Pass, I figured I'd try it. Picture me with a smile plastered on my face (punctuated by occasional furrowed brow of confusion) the entire time.

    Adjectives describing playing Superliminal that I said aloud include "ridiculously cool," "so fucking cool," "trippy/a trip," and "inspirational." Seriously, the end is like therapy. As soon as I completed it, I started it over with the developer's commentary (which I plan to finish later), and got some insight on how purposeful this therapeutic angle was from the beginning.

    The game reminded me in style and tone of Portal and The Stanley Parable, though the gameplay for me was wholly unique. You're led through surreal surroundings and have to manipulate the sizes and positioning of objects to proceed. You can make objects bigger or smaller by shifting how you are looking at them relative to other stuff in the environment. It's not necessarily easy, which is a commentary (as the game points out later) on how difficult it is to change your perspective, especially as you get older, and see things in new ways. I'm pretty sure toward the end there is an area with "cigarettes" that is meant to make you think about breaking bad habits.

    New aspects of the perspective-shifting mechanic are added over time, such as making it work with the addition of doors, changing your own size, manipulating objects that emit light, making objects "pop" out of the environment, and so on. The game is short (3.5 hours for me), so these new elements were pretty constant. You're never using the same trick for too long before it tosses a new one at you. These usually aren't explained (which led to a few cheats on YouTube), but when you figure it out (or look it up) you're like, "OH MY GOD!" and then you have learned a new trick!

    Yeah, so I absolutely loved this. Highly recommend.

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    The Pedestrian (PC)    by   dkirschner       (Jan 19th, 2022 at 08:46:02)

    The Pedestrian has a unique style. You are a stick figure in 2d puzzles, the faces of which are on the surfaces of other objects (road signs, monitors, architectural blueprints, etc.). As you solve puzzles, you sort of move throughout 3d areas (a university campus, subway, apartment building, etc.). There is a huge twist at the end that opens up far more complex puzzles that I am sure will be featured in any potential Pedestrian 2.

    The puzzles themselves are very clever and become very challenging. I definitely experienced my share of frustration, but when I finished a puzzle, I usually didn't feel like a genius. They are typically set up like this: Your stick person begins on one piece of a puzzle. That piece has doors on the top, bottom, left, and/or right. There are other pieces too. You have to connect the pieces of the puzzles together by drawing lines between doors, through which you move your stick person. You'll have to find and move boxes (to gain height), keys (to open doors), wires (to power elevators, lasers, and other things), and various batteries. Once you connect puzzle pieces, you can't change the lines between doors or else the whole puzzle resets. And the lines are 1:1. Each door can only be connected to one other door.

    So, this means that there is a lot of trial and error, especially later in the game. For at least the first half of the game, the possible combinations of doors are few enough that I could play the whole puzzle out in my head, then do it and exit. Later, it became too complex for that, and I would inch toward a solution, moving my stick figure and making connections a little bit at a time, before either solving it or realizing there was an error and resetting it.

    This was fine (it's a puzzle game, after all), but there was one mechanic that I hated so, so, so, so, so much. Occasionally, puzzles will have these pieces with windows. These allow you to layer puzzle pieces and like...toggle the foreground to fall through a window and into a different puzzle piece. This is usually either done to get somewhere with no doors or to avoid a trap. I had such a hard time figuring out how exactly these windows worked. One puzzle in particular had like 5 windows, and I was trying to layer them like 3 windows deep, switching in and out of puzzle mode (where you manipulate the connections and pieces) and platforming mode (where you control the stick person) trying to fall just right to avoid lasers.

    That was the first thing I looked up on YouTube. I wound up looking up several solutions on YouTube because I was getting frustrated with the windows, and whenever I started a puzzle that had a lot of pieces (especially if any had windows), I'd tense up, turn off the game, sit there, think, "No, I can do it," load it back, try and fail a lot, get frustrated, turn it off again, turn it back on, stare at the screen, and finally go to YouTube. Props to the people who made videos about this.

    And that's my experience with The Pedestrian. Overall novel puzzle platformer with puzzles that increase substantially in difficulty, a cool style, and an interesting narrative premise.

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    The Forgotten City (PC)    by   dkirschner       (Jan 18th, 2022 at 10:02:19)

    What an interesting concept. You awake on a riverbank, are led into old Roman ruins, and discover an ancient city with inhabitants through a portal. They live under "The Golden Rule," which I first discovered when doing what I ALWAYS do first in a first-person RPG like Skyrim. (You'll probably do the same thing and if you haven't read about the game, you'll be as intrigued as me!).

    Thus you are plunged into the mystery of what exactly The Golden Rule is, who created it, and how to get out of the loop caused by someone breaking it. The game itself is pretty straightforward. You explore the city and talk to its inhabitants. You pick up and follow "leads" (quests) that unravel the mystery, until you get to one of four endings (you can and should see them all through; the last one is especially rewarding, if a bit tedious to get). The game guides you through the mystery and does a good job making sure you know what to do and where to go.

    The game was originally a Skyrim mod, so it looks and plays familiarly. The facial animations are pretty bad (often funny-bad) and the voice acting can be slow, but I was nevertheless immersed in the city's environment. Some little holes or oversights are apparent. For example, right at the beginning, you meet a character who doesn't want to tell you her name. Fair enough, I said. But when I opened my journal, my character had recorded her name. And it turns out her name is a REALLY big clue as to her identity and a clue to other parts of the story, which I guessed part of really, really early on all because the journal told me her name when I shouldn't have known. That was a bad oversight!

    You'll be listening to a lot of dialogue, all well written and often philosophical and thought-provoking. It's rare that a game makes me really think deeply about some moral or philosophical question, but this one did, namely, how do we know the difference between right and wrong. It doesn't necessarily present arguments between characters in the most believable way, but I can look past that for what it is aiming at. Later in the game, you get a bow, which opens up some light action and platforming parts. I wouldn't say that the game is in any way difficult. It felt like a well-paced exploration.

    I have to compare this to Outer Worlds, which I recently played and didn't like all that much. The main reason I didn't like Outer Worlds is that the loop is forced on you. In The Forgotten City, you control when the loop happens and you usually trigger it on purpose. You start back at the same place, as in Outer Wilds, but it's quicker and easier to get back to what you were doing. In Outer Wilds, the loop doesn't change anything. It just resets you. It doesn't open new avenues for you, except that you have knowledge that you didn't have in the previous loop (but which you had gained anyway even if there were no loop). In The Forgotten City, the loop resets the city's inhabitants, so you can lead them down different conversation paths, intervene in their actions, and so on in order to change things. The interweaving and accumulation of these changes in their knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors is what drives the story forward. I just found this all so interesting to see unfold! It's not a perfect game, but I'd recommend it for a cool story told in a different way (especially if you like Roman/Greek/Egyptian mythology).

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    Star Wars Battlefront: Elite Squadron (DS)    by   jp       (Jan 17th, 2022 at 15:52:34)

    Weird how I just picked this up again and played a bit, but had no memory of having played it (8?) years ago?

    I must have played about an hour and a half last night and it definitely moves along fast, with lots of action, and no real breathing room. The story (so far) is quite predictable (one twin goes bad and the other good) and the different classes - with their different weapons and power ups are more interesting than I expected. As soon as a new class was offered I switched over to use it, assuming that it's weapons/powers would be well suited to the upcoming levels and I was not disappointed in this.

    I'm surprised at how easy the game is? But, I don't recall if there are difficulty levels and what I chose if there are. I must say it's a technically very competent game and I appreciated the lock-on targeting that the game has, and the fact that the camera works automatically (and pretty well) in keeping you focused on what you're targetting. Circle-strafing worked wonderfully.

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    Igor: The Game (DS)    by   jp       (Jan 17th, 2022 at 14:46:09)

    What a strange game.

    I think it's based on an animated movie and at least one of the game's listed creators (license holder?) is a film studio. The game also has a charming art style that, I would guess was developed for the animated film, with weird/interesting characters as well...a zombie rabbit, a brain in a jar, etc.

    The game itself is really strange in this context. You're the titular Igor and you want revenge (and the girl) on your former master, so you create a new creature (Frankenstein's monster) from parts, and enter it into fighting tournaments. You start with freebie parts and you can later craft better parts from items you get from defeating random monsters that appear in different parts of the map.

    Initially there are only like 3 places you can go, with two more serving as places to go to have a random encounter with a monster that'll hopefully net you some raw materials. You use the raw materials in your workshop and you have to buy plans from a shop in order to even make them. By my arithmetic, you'd need 4 wins against a random monster, plus another win elsewhere to have enough money (40 coins) and parts (16, 4 per fight). This seems quite a slog to me, especially since the fights aren't all that easy - and can take quite a bit of time even as they play out..well, mostly the same.

    Fights are basically a match-3 style puzzle battle. Your monster is fighting another monster and as you match-3 you fill up jars, one for each body part. Then the jar reaches a threshold you can tap it, and trigger an attack using that body part. The more you fill it up, the stronger the attack.

    That match-3 part I'm not sure entirely how it works (in terms of matches leading to how much of the jar fills up). You always get a two-part "pill" and each pill half can be in one of 4 colors (red, blue, yellow, green). However, the matches don't happen when you get three of a kind, but rather when a regular color part of a pill comes into contact with a "energy" pill of the same color. Sometimes half of the pill is an "energy" half. If it doesn't collide with it's same color (energy or regular), then nothing happens, it just sits there on the playfield and could presumably come into play via future combos.

    So, combos are good - but in practice I never saw them result in a huge impact on the filling the jars side of things, so I was a bit disappointed by that. It turns out your monster also has a bunch of stats, so maybe that's playing some role in all of this? (a different monster might fill the jars more effectively from combos?)

    So far I made 3% progress in the game - lost a few battles and was kind of underwhelmed by the prospect of having to play more battles, grind my way to better resources, but play effectively the same game over and over with little variation and...it just felt too slow to keep my interesting. I should take a look at youtube videos just to see if there's anything more to the game? There are at least 12 un-active locations on the map that I presume do something interesting, but who knows?

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    Recent GameLogs
    1 : dkirschner's Nobody Saves the World (PC)
    2 : dkirschner's Superliminal (PC)
    3 : dkirschner's The Pedestrian (PC)
    4 : jp's Igor: The Game (DS)
    5 : jp's Call of Duty: Black Ops (DS)
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    1 : root beer float at 2021-11-21 13:15:48
    2 : hdpcgames at 2021-10-23 07:42:58
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    4 : Oliverqinhao at 2020-01-23 05:11:59
    5 : dkirschner at 2019-10-15 06:47:26
    6 : jp at 2019-04-02 18:53:34
    7 : dkirschner at 2019-02-28 19:14:00
    8 : jp at 2019-02-17 22:48:06
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    10 : U1 at 2018-11-15 11:13:56
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    Random

    Nexuiz (PC)    by   dkirschner

    Unfinished, no one playing.
    most recent entry:   Sunday 2 December, 2012
    Hopped in Nexuiz to check it out. I know it's based on an old Quake mod, which means hyperfast space shooter. That part is right on. It seems pretty obviously unfinished though. I don't know why it was released on Steam already and included in this THQ pack I bought. There was one game online with 32/32 people, no idea who, then maybe 6 or 7 with 0/32, and that's all the games. Since no one was playing, which isn't a good sign, I did bot practice.

    The bots, on easy, zigzag like maniacs and are hard enough to hit. I got a few frags, and they killed me a few times. The game looks alright. The sky is blindingly bright for some reason. The environmental draw distance is way too near. I had it on medium and it was drawing things real close to me, which always made it look like enemies were moving where there was no one there. Phantoms! The guns were completely stock, nothing special. Yeah, it's just a super basic fast Quake-style multiplayer FPS. The dude who makes it really needs to polish some and add more to it! I only saw that it has deathmatch and capture the flag. I saw only a handful of guns, and the level I was on didn't have much going on.

    Also one time my character just started jumping. Just like he'd eaten a pixie stick or something and was hopped up on sugar. Jump jump jump. He wouldn't stop, and I finally had to restart so he'd quit jumping. That was weird.

    But the music is really good.

    So, deleting! Maybe this'll be more playable in the future, but I'll stick with the whole bunch of better FPSes out there. Speaking of, Unreal Tournament is super cheap on Steam this weekend.

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