A Little Bit Of: WARP

Stealth puzzle games, not usually my kind of thing but it's quite fun.

I rather enjoyed this game, well after I plugged a darn controller in. The keyboard and mouse controls are beyond garbage. If I can't use a mouse cursor on the menu at some point I'm going to wonder why is it even rendered at all. More importantly why can't I use it! Yeah, plug in a controller for this game, you might actually be able to like it that way.

With that aside though I did enjoy what I've played of it. Playing as a kind of murderous teleporting orange blob kind of has an appeal. And I do enjoy the fact that when you explode a person you get covered in blood, which then falls to the ground when you next teleport. The puzzles are also largely well made, there was the odd occasion where I just sort of felt like I was cheesing the guard AI but some of that was probably me failing to see a better option. And when you get more powers you do have plenty of options around it does take some getting used to actually using them all.

Also activation of this game is about three times more complicated than it should be. Did I mention bad PC ports irritate me? Charming game, annoying trappings.


A Little Bit Of: Vertex Dispenser

More indie bundle goodness!

This is a rather good action strategy thing. That probably gets even more hectic playing than just these fairly early chapters. You have to try to make triangles to claim territory that can defend. You need to paint vertexes different colours so that you can cast your higher level powers more often. All the while fighting an opponent that is trying to do the same thing. It seems like a recipie for madness. But it's actually ends up being pretty fun. I'm sure that setting up your territory to get different colours will become more natural as you spend more time with the game.

One thing that I didn't mention during my video, but didn't notice until I was getting the voiceover track put in. There's very little sound in the game. I actually thought I had messed up my recording, but there is music but there is very little in the way of actual sound effects. Given how much is going on at once though that might be for the best. Still some audio feedback would have been nice.


A Little Bit Of: DLC Quest

Parody Games!

Ah DLC the wonders of the current generation of games. While obviously the game's purpose is comedy and it succeeds rather well at that, the game itself is kind of whatever. There are some companies that really get DLC and put out really fantastic post release content, others not so much. Some guys do a mix of awful and great. It's clear that this is still a really new thing in the industry by just how it's being pushed in different directions. To use the current favourite whipping game, look at Mass Effect 3 and compare it's day one DLC to how Mass Effect 2 did it with the Cerberus Network.

It wasn't even that long ago. Then you have on disk content that's going to be unlocked at a later date, on one hand to get around the online restrictions that Microsoft and Sony have over their platforms and the other to just tie content to either more money or cross game promotion. Basically it's a collossal mess right now. I have hope that it'll equalise at some point but it's still going to be a while off. I just hope that we won't end up in a pretty anti-consumer sort of place because at the current pace it's not out of the world of possibility.


A Little Bit Of: Gratuitous Space Battles

I made it over the 15 minute mark! That didn't at all happen because I didn't realise the time. Not at all.

This game again isn't the best thing in the universe to attempt to show over a short period of time because it really is a whole lot more complicated than that. There are unit formations to think about, how ships should cover each other, maybe have one ship as your command ship to paint targets for your back, set fighters to retreat back to carriers so they can repair themselves instead of just going to their doom. And then you have the whole other complicated side of it of setting up each ship type to work in battle, do you make a powerful all round ship or do you get different ships to specialise in different tasks.

I personally have a pretty min-max design to my fleet, so everything is setup to do one individual task. Which unforutunately for me makes it rather vulnerable once the main ships are destroyed. If my anti-shield ships are taken out and the enemy still has strong shields on half it's fleet the rest of my guys are pretty dead. And that's one thing that I actually rather enjoy about the game, it really makes you think about how to setup your fleet and how it works, and if it doesn't work you generally get a feel over what you should be tweaking in order to defeat the enemy.

Unfortunately this trial and error approach doesn't work for the campaign mode simply because the penalties for losing your fleet in that are just super harsh. you generally don't get enough income to replenish your forces after a major defeat and even if you do win and if you've taken significant losses it's pretty much just as bad. While it's somewhat realistic I guess, I really don't think that it plays to the strength of what the game as a whole is. And that is striving for fleet perfection against an enemy.

One last thing is that Positech's next game Gratuitous Tank Battles has just opened up a paid beta at http://www.gratuitoustankbattles.com/ so go check that out if this game has interested you at all.


A Little Bit Of: Really Big Sky

More dual stick shooters! This time with added side scrolling.

A game that when I started playing it I really didn't like. Very trial and errory when you start playing it, which in a shooter like this means death. Lots and lots of death. But once I learnt some of the things that the game was doing like, flipping around to drill through planets and some of the boss patterns it actually became way more enjoyable. Also there's a pretty large upgrade system which means your ship stops being complete rubbish after a couple of games.

There are also quite a few different game modes, I only unlocked them after recording this one so I haven't quite had a chance to try out all of them yet. There does seem to be the 'insane' game mode which'll probably mean death, with extra bullets and lasers on the side.

There's also your sarcastic and insulting commentator who is actually quite funny. So all in all quite a fun game, you'll need to spend a bit of time with it to get past the instantly dying bit.


A Little Bit Of: Scoregasm

Ah dual stick shooters, where would we be without you.

In fairness this is actually quite fun and it has some lovely little querks to it, like mice that try to kill you because they think you're cheese. But there are lovely random things like that and it also has a campaign with multiple endings of which I have seen none because I have died before I got there. The music fits the style of game that Scoregasm tries to be and while it isn't exactly the best looking shooter out there it does have some style to it, like giant waves of bullets you have to defend against. Also there are apparently collectible biscuits so, nommm...


A Little Bit Of: Dear Esther

Here is something pretty different and unique.

I'm not really going to say too much here. The game is about 90 minutes long and I've just put up an 11 minute video of it. Needless to say that given the nature of the game pretty much everything and anything in the game is a spoiler. This is really more of an experience given the way that the whole thing works with the narration and the fact that there really aren't any game mechanics. That said exploring this island and just seeing what is around and the history to the place.

It's all very mysterious because you're kind of given no direction or backstory whatsoever. You start on the island and you walk with nothing but a lone voice to tell you about the world, not even guide you. But at the same time it's just full of wonderful little details that if you go through a second time you will just notice and just adore just how purposeful everything is from the little snippets of dialogue to the objects strewn an abandoned lighthouse. It's also just a very beautiful game, and I don't mean that from a technical or whatever standpoint.

If anything that I've said about this game interests you at all you should probably play it. It's short and probably not the best value proposition in the world but it is probably one of the most special games that will be released this year and I can say that pretty safely even though it's only February.


A Little Bit Of: Fractal

A fun little casual puzzle game this week.

A game where you make hexes and push them around in order to make blooms which then explode and give you points! This is a very simple game on the surface but there are things that can make it much harder to deal with like the introduction of multiple colours. The game some lovely art even though it is very simple. There's more than enough there to draw you in and the way that blooms explode and if you make combos the info text just makes what you did just seem awesome.

The lack of online leaderboards especially for arcade mode seems like a weird ommission to have. It's definitely something that would have allowed for some interesting competition because the game already has a pretty robust scoring structure to it.


A Little Bit Of: Sequence

Slightly late with this one. Oops . Luckily the video ended up being pretty small so I actually have it ready for today.

Real mixed feelings on this one. On one hand you have a really interesting combat mechanic which I would love to see how it works on either a guitar controller or dance pad. And on the other you have a kind of super grindy dull RPG which is a shame because that core is really cool. I say dance pad because the rhythm part kind of looks like 3 separate DDR grids that you swap between and then hit each arrow as it comes down, I don't actually think it would work on a dance pad because there is a heck lot more going on.

You swap between your defence, mana and spell grids. The defence grid prevents you from taking damage, when you cast spells you need to hit the sequence on your spell grid and well mana is probably self explanitory. It makes for an interesting balance of I just cast this spell, so do I continue casting it and take a bunch of damage or just wiff the spell so I don't die. And you kind of have to constantly make decisions like that in only a few beats. I kind of don't want to see how insane it gets on the harder difficulties because on the medium setting I was having a pretty rough time of it and some of that wasn't even during a boss battle.

The rest of the trappings of Sequence I'm much less enamoured by. The equipment and crafting seems like a cool idea but the fact that crafting costs you XP and has potential to fail just seems like it was designed purely to make the game artifically long by just forcing you to grind out enemies. The game's broken out into 7 floors and I did like 12 battles before getting to the boss, the problem is that I was fighting the same 3 dudes over and over again just to get the loot drop I needed to craft the key to the second floor. It sort of bodes poorly for the rest of the game really. Also I'll let the video speak about the voice work for me.

Anyway I might play more of it and this time not with a 360 controller, seriously I can't hit up and down on a d-pad at the same time, but it's a cool combat mechanic and I would like to see what Iridium Studios come up with in the future.


A Little Bit Of: Dustforce

Gong Xi Fa Cai! Welcome to the year of the Dragon. Also I'm finally making one of these in a timely fashion when the game is released .

I haven't had as much fun playing a game like this since N was just a flash game, and yes that includes you Super Meat Boy. While the comparison isn't exactly right, but the way that the movement flows in all of those games has the same sort of feeling. It also manages to make sweeping floors and dusting walls about a billion times cooler than it actually is in real life so that bit's fun.

Unlike the afrore mentioned games you can actually attack back with a heavy and light attack, I for the most part just spam light attack till they die, but as the replays show that's not actually the best way to do it. By moving over dust and beating up dust infected enemies you increase your combo meter and to get an S rank in finesse you need to never drop that combo for the entire length of the level. Getting an S rank for completion you get for clearing all of the dust from the level.

So you have this really cool aspect of trying to double S rank the levels while also setting the best time you can, which for me isn't actually that good. One of the things I dislike about Dustforce is that rather a lot of the game's harder levels are locked off at the start, which is fine but the way you unlock them is by double S ranking the easier levels. Which is no easy feat to do. So you could probably get by without actually seeing some of the harder levels. Apparently only 2 people have managed to double S rank one of the levels.