Well, slim pickings this week. Two games, Sword & Sworcery and MacGuffin's Curse, and I can't even finish the first one because it takes a lunar cycle to complete. (No, really.) So this week, it's just one formal review and one informal discussion about a weird game. So, what actual reviews do I have? (Link leads to the review.)
MacGuffin's Curse: So many crate-pushing puzzles. Overloaded with crate-pushing puzzles, actually. If you like crate puzzles, you'll get your money's worth. If you're lukewarm on crate puzzles, the snarky writing and somewhat intriguing story might reel you in.
And now for my thoughts on Sword & Sworcery: while I'm still finishing the Steam version, I completed the iPad version when it was released a year ago. My rating for it matches what the other reviews on the site say: I'd give it 4 stars. However, like Dear Esther, it aims for a particular audience that isn't looking for a game so much as an experience.
Sword & Sworcery's combat is very basic (just timing-based blocking and attacking) and its puzzles involve figuring out what order to click/drag certain objects in. Those alone aren't the reason to play it. You play it for the ambience, the music, the writing, and most of all the slow pace.
The pacing is the most interesting part of the game. Compared to most games, it feels relaxed & leisurely. You slowly walk across the screen past sheep and rabbits, through old gates and across waterfalls, as lilting music plays in the background. The writing is a mix of ambling descriptions and modern slang that sounds like either a hippy J.R.R. Tolkien or a mellow Tycho. Even the boss battles feel slow-paced, with long pauses between the frantic sword-swinging and blocking/dodging. The only hectic sections I remember were the ones where the deathless spectre chases you. It's an adventure game that's... relaxing.
The episodic splits and dependence on the lunar cycle seems to emphasize you're supposed to pace this game out and savor it. Each section takes about 30-45 minutes each; at the end of each one, the Narrator suggests you quit the game for a while and return later, then the curtain closes. At the halfway point of the game, you learn the moon phases influence the dream world where the last 2 Trigon pieces are stored. Not the in-game moon phases, the real moon phases. There's an in-game way to change the moon phase, but that only appears during certain moon phases. You can also change your computer's date, but the game says that's cheating. (It even has an achievement to shame you for it.) It certainly feels opposed to the game's style: take your time, enjoy the sights, no rush (even if it takes a few weeks), because once you're done with the game, it's over.
I'd recommend it to anyone that's looking for a casual adventure to play whenever they want to relax and enjoy some good scenery & music.
Which game would I keep playing? Sword & Sworcery, of course. I haven't finished it yet, and I've had my fill of MacGuffin's crate puzzles.
That's it for this week. Perhaps next week will have a larger crop of games to review.