Archive for May, 2010

Humble Indie Bundle Update!

Posted in Uncategorized on May 9, 2010 by lintspeed

I wrote yesterday about the Humble Indie Bundle, which just got even niftier with the addition of Samorost 2 to the bunch. So that’s 6 indie games for whatever you want to pay. There’s just shy of 2 days left in the deal, and there’s really no excuse not to go for it. (Note: any who have already purchased the bundle get Samorost 2 as well; it should be on your download page already.)

I’ve played a bit of Samorost 2 at this point, and it’s a great addition so far. I’m a bit of an adventure game junkie (my 2009 GOTY was Time Gentlemen, Please!) and Samorost 2 is a bizarre and lovely point-and-click affair. It’s hard to write about these kinds of games without ruining them, but there’s an early puzzle involving a monkey, a bug, a fly, and a spiderweb that delighted and surprised me. It’s a very simple game so far (referring to elegance and lack of complexity, not difficulty), but it replaces some of the overwrought designs of more complicated adventure games with the joy of exploring each level just to see what will happen, and then stumbling on some ingenious little effect that is the beginning of a solution to an elaborate puzzle. It’s those “aha!” moments of finding the thread that unravels the whole tapestry that make adventure games wonderful, and so far Samorost delivers.

You can buy it direct from the developer for five bucks, or you can buy the whole Humble Indie Bundle for five bucks (or less!)

Quickthinks: May 8, 2010

Posted in Uncategorized on May 8, 2010 by lintspeed

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, and for once it’s not because I’ve been procrastinating about maintaining the blog. I just haven’t been playing many videogames lately, and when I have it’s been for tiny (one hour or less) chunks.

Life’s been busy. I’ve been reading, writing, and attempting to teach myself to read French. But here’s what I’ve been playing lately, when I have the chance:

More Desktop Dungeons: I have this game installed on just about every computer I use regularly, with each one at a different stage of completion. I still love it, though I’ve died three times now on the final boss of the normal dungeon due to my laptop’s touchpad mistaking my attempts to move my cursor as a click. It’s great lunch break entertainment at work, which is also where I have the most unlocked. Some of the more advanced classes throw some really novel wrenches into the works, in terms of overall strategy. My favorite so far is the Bloodmage, which had me preserving as many of the blood patches dead enemies leave behind as possible, even forgoing further exploration of the dungeon to make optimal use of them.

Outcast: This one will almost certainly get a full post (or several) at some point. I’ve begun a playthrough of this overlooked classic that’s just recently been released on Good Old Games. It’s a game about a space marine, but the twist is you actually have to talk to the aliens. A lot. There are shooty bits, and so far that’s a lot of fun, but it’s clear even after only about an hour of play that this game is about exploration and worldbuilding as much as it’s about action. There’s even been hints of that RPG staple, Moral Choice. Outcast and the next game on this list have got me thinking quite a bit about open-world gaming, my previous aversion to it, my recent embrace of the style, and what makes a great open-world game.

Fable 2: I hated the first Fable and so far my attempts to get into the second have been largely abortive. I rented this one out of curiosity; any time a game is highly praised, even if my past experiences with the series are only so-so, I get curious. The only thing that’s kept me interested so far is the ongoing economy bit. I’m thinking I’ll pop into it one more time to see how much money my character has accumulated while not playing, buy up a few more properties, and then return it. Maybe in a year I’ll rent it again and see how much imaginary money I’ve made by not playing the game.

My main problem with the Fable series is its flippant and often insulting tone. I don’t mind humor in my games (see my unabashed praise of Brutal Legend), but I do mind when the humor so completely clashes with the other aims of the story. Fable seems to want to have its tongue in its cheek about its epic story and then have the epic story too. That combined with the relative brainlessness of the combat never manages to hold my interest long. Perhaps “hate” is too strong a word for what I feel for Fable. “Bored” is more like it. I have never been more bored by a series of games in my life. Still, the economy and Sims-like character interactions are enough to keep me curious. At very least, I might leverage my current strategy of not playing it into making enough gold to buy everything in the game.

The Humble Indie Bundle: Buy this now. There’s no reason not to. It’s a pay-what-you-will bundle of small (but by no means short, or shoddy) indie games for Windows, Linux, and Mac, DRM-free. You also have the option of specifying how the “what you will” is divided between the developers and two charities. The games are World of Goo, Aquaria, Gish, Lugaru, and Penumbra. There’s only 2 days and change left in the bundle, so jump on it. Even if all you can pay is a dollar, it’s more than they’d be getting from you otherwise, right? Of course, you’ll want to pay more.

World of Goo: This is the only game out of the bundle that I owned previously, and I bought it when 2DBoy had their own “pay what you will” sale. It’s a clever physics-based puzzler where you guide these adorable goo-balls into the goo factory pipes. The mysterious sign-maker weaves an odd narrative through the levels, which are full of character and challenge.

Aquaria: This is a beautifully drawn Metroidvania-style, “explore, upgrade, and shoot” game set underwater. I’ve not played much of it, but I’m a sucker for Metroidvania done well, and from what I’ve played this is exactly that, with a novel song mechanic reminiscent of Ocarina of Time to boot.

Gish: Not played it yet. I’ve heard good things, and I’ll hopefully be able to edit this post with some impressions before the Humble Indie Bundle goes away. But seriously, that’s no reason to wait.

Lugaru: See above.

Penumbra: Played a little bit of this today, and I’m still only so-so on it. I love the weightiness of exploring the world in the first-person and pulling out drawers from desks by dragging my mouse, and pulling back on the mouse to swing a hammer in place of simply clicking and getting a canned animation. I hate how oppressively dark it is. It’s a horror game, so it’s supposed to be dark, but even after adjusting the gamma to be brighter than the recommended “when you can barely see this room” level, I found that poking around in the dark was making me nauseated. It was the middle of the day and there was some unavoidable glare on my monitor though, so I’ll give it another shot when it’s dark and see if I fare any better. I do like atmospheric horror, and while it’s been light on horror so far, there’s been some great atmosphere.

So what about you? Been playing anything interesting lately?