Games I’ve been playing this week (Episode 1)

New weeklyish round-up of games I’ve been playing!  I bought the Humble Indie Bundle part trois when it was around, and I’m just now getting around to playing those.

Onward!

VVVVVV (PC, $5)

VVVVVVery ScreenshottyWhy did I not buy this game when it came out?  I played the demo and thought “Oh, another masocore platformer, no thanks.”  I am so dumb sometimes.

First of all, it’s not that hard, except for a couple of the extra trinkets.  The challenges are immediate and obvious, and figuring out what to do is less difficult than just carrying out those actions.  Most of the obstacles are restricted to a single screen, which increases the immediacy of the challenge and eased my frustration significantly.

Second, it’s charming as hell.  Not only is the dialogue strangely upbeat (and not ironically, really), but the design is fantastic. Every important room has a bizarre name, which also helps to navigate, and Terry Cavanagh, the creator, put every effort into making this a detailed, immersive game.  One thing that really struck me is that every single enemy is different and never reused.  It gives a personality to every room that screenshots and small pieces of the game can’t reveal.

And finally, the soundtrack is incredible.  Chiptune lover or not, the music is just…awesome.

So yes, I was stupid not to buy it for, what, two years?  But don’t be stupid like me.

I might write a post on this later.

Epic Dungeon (XBLIG, $1)

Epic ScreeninationEpic Dungeon is billed as an Action Roguelike.  Okay, I’m making that up, but it should be if it isn’t. Basically, you get to pick one of four classes, which differ in their starting stats and specialized skill, then dive to the bottom of a dungeon and…win?

It has a lot of the mechanics of a roguelike (randomized weapons/potions/scrolls, perma-death, tile based movement), but does away with the turn based gameplay and makes everything realtime.  This shows the true colors of a roguelike, which often involves steamrolling everything in your path until you reach a difficult level and having to slow your pace and strategize.

I beat it on Normal the other day, which may color the below comments, but I did have some problems with it. There’s no food limit, so I didn’t see any impetus to move on from the current level, as you can’t starve. The one resource that drains away, the light from your lamp, is actually unimportant if you’ve already explored the level and infinitely replenish-able from shops.  Combined with the fact that you can buy a skill that auto-regenerates your health, you can grind away into infinity and become extremely powerful.

…actually, that’s probably it.  I wish there was more enemy variety, but for a dollar it’s hard to complain.  The sequel Cursed Loot, which came out a few days after I bought this, may address the problems I had.  Also, it’s a dollar too. I’d say there’s no reason to buy it. Also, try turning off the gore…it’s super distracting.

Of course, if you’re ever looking for an authentic Roguelike experience, try Crawl.

P.S. I can’t link to these games, because the Xbox site sucks so bad and their search function doesn’t seem to work for Indie Games.  What? I hate Microsoft.

Oblivion (Xbox 360)

The Oblivion ExperienceI am going to assume you know what Oblivion is.

I am always surprised at how much this game sucks.

I mean, it’s a great game, really.  I love wandering around and exploring ruins, finding strange things in the woods, picking flowers.

But the game sucks.  Admit it.

I’m talking about vanilla Oblivion here.  You know the one, where levelling without keeping a detailed log of your stats actually makes the game harder or nigh-impossible.  Where everyone’s face looks like it was hit by a truck covered in cheese graters.  Where every wolf and bear that you see runs mindlessly toward you and tries to kill you. Where, eventually, every lowly bandit that demands 100 gold is fully equipped with the best armor in the game.

It wouldn’t be so bad except the game tries so hard (SO HARD) at being immersive, and then takes every possible chance to break that immersion with weird glitches, crap dialogue, untenable AI and a horrible progression system.

If you removed every NPC, every enemy, every scripted event and piece of dialogue, the game would be a perfect simulator of an empty, immersive world.  A flower picking simulator, if you will.

But without any mods or additions, this game is a flower picking simulator trying to be an RPG.

So that’s it!  If you’re reading this, I’d be interested to know what games YOU are playing…I’m always in need of good games.

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  1. #1 by bengaming on September 1, 2011 - 6:07 PM

    I always enjoy reading about games other people are playing; there really aren’t enough blogs about it!

    I can’t say i’ve played any of those games (even oblivion i know..), however the elder scrolls series really does interest me (i cannot wait for Skyrim).

    I’m currently playing Dawn of War: Dark Crusade (big fan of RTSs), and always have played Trackmania Nations Forever. Both of these games have been my favourite games for so long now.

    I do intend to buy Starcraft 2, and also wait for Skyrim :D Don’t know about you but Skyrim is looking like a powerhouse compared to Oblivion :)

    Nice topic though man!

    BenGaming.

    • #2 by Clint Emsley on September 2, 2011 - 10:43 AM

      Dawn of War is such a neat game! I like that it’s an RTS that drops most of the micro-managery stuff. This is a strange suggestion, but have you ever tried Liquid Wars? It’s an older game, but it feels like a super high level RTS. Basically you control the general direction of a liquid army, and try and kill/convert the other armies. Good way to burn 30 minutes, and strangely deep.

      I’m trying not to get too excited about Skyrim, as I would like to wait until the price drops before I buy it. But from what I’ve seen, it looks pretty cool.

      That Trackmania game looks rad…I’ve never tried it, but certainly will when I get a chance.

      I’ll try and make this a weekly feature, so keep checking back! :D

  2. #3 by bengaming on September 2, 2011 - 7:25 PM

    I’ll check out Liquid Wars, it actually looks pretty cool; i like different games :D

    I do reccommend Trackmania, i wrote a massive Trackmania Driving Guide, so if you do start playing, check that out!

    I’ll check back for more, it’s a good topic to have :)

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