Game 156: Dark Souls

If you had been wondering why I hadn’t posted in a while, this beautiful 60 hour behemoth was to blame (and maybe a little writers block for Far Cry 3). This game dripping in a brilliantly hopeless atmosphere, tight combat, and an approach to gameplay that makes you really think about each action made not for story but more so the environment doesn’t take you by surprise and murder your face.

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Game 155: Far Cry 3

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A game with a well-designed engine, interesting characters, fun and intense gameplay, and arguably an interesting meta-narrative about gaming as a whole, Far Cry 3 was a game that I had quite a blast playing through. It made me think quite a bit about game design as all the mechanics worked together beautifully and encouraged a wide variety of fun play styles while frequently giving the player new ways to tackle each challenge presented to them.

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Game 154: Mega Man Battle Network 2

I have a close friend of mine who is very into Mega Man, mainly the Legends and Battle Network series. Recently, since he knows that I have little experience with the Mega Man franchise, he lent me his old GBA and a handful of the Battle Network games. He didn’t have the first one, so I kicked things off with the second in the series and soon got dragged in by the fantastic combat system.

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Game 153: Artemis Spaceship Bridge Simulator

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A group of my friends and I put together a game night recently and one of us suggested that we play Artemis. A few of us had heard it before and we were pretty excited to get the chance to play. Artemis is pretty much exactly what you would want from a Star Trek game and while it isn’t official, you can definitely tell that the creators had that exact design plan on the mind.

Artemis is a game where you and a bunch of friends all control a starship. You have your Captain giving orders yet having no direct control himself; you have Engineering in charge of rerouting energy and repair teams around the ship; Communications is in charge of picking up side quests, taunting enemy ships, and demanding surrender; Helm is in control of maneuvering and docking the ship, and Science has the job to scan everything and plot the next course while keeping an eye on the sector as a whole.

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Game 152: Antichamber

When you return to where you’ve been, things aren’t always as remembered.

I find this game weird and Killer7 is one of my personal favorites. Is it a puzzle game? Is it an experience to make you live out proverbs? Is it just a developer who likes to mess with players? I’m not quite sure, but I will say that it is very interesting and if you like seeing what kind of bonkers things can be done with the medium of games, try this one out. Seriously.

The game looks like raw Unreal Engine, but it manages to give the game it’s own interesting, if rough, aesthetic of clinical whites filled with unsettlingly vibrant splashes of basic geometry. Sometimes the elements in the game don’t work as they should, and often times the game doesn’t do the best job of conveying its bonkers mechanics, but that’s somewhat to be expected of a game that thrives off of confusing the player which it does very well.

Even late in the game when you’re doing pretty well at understanding and scraping up the last areas that you missed, the game still manages to throw wrenches in the very way that you experience the world which I imagine may be frustrating for some, but for me I find incredibly compelling.

Probably the best example of this sort of thing is the fact that the game loves to change things when you’re not looking. you may be wandering down a hall, realize it’s not going to anywhere new, turn around and find yourself facing a giant red pit that most definitely wasn’t there before.

This game is definitely an experience and the less you know going in, the better. Go play it if this sounded cool. You can probably get it pretty cheaply and I would love to see what else this developer makes.

Game 151: Saints Row: The Third

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This game is awesome. This game has a lot of issues. This game is a blast to play. This game has nagging things that bother me throughout.

So like everyone else on the internet, I love Saints Row 2. I played it a bunch when it came out at a friend’s house since he was a fan of the first game that everyone kinda forgot existed at this point and then picked up my own copy to enjoy a while back. This third installment continues the progression of making things more silly except this time the jump is big enough that it finds it difficult to keep itself grounded in the somewhat serious and enjoyable characters that the second game did so well. Additionally it ends up doing to the plot progression curve what Spinal Tap does to a volume knob and it seems to want you to play around in its sandbox city while making it less convenient and meaningful.

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Game 150: Dota 2

Game 150! Whoo!

Back when League of Legends had its rise to popularity, I tried it out. I stuck with it for a while because my friends played it, but they were such a higher level than me that I rarely played with them and when I did I really had very little idea of what I was doing and lost quite a bit. That was my first experience with the MOBA genre and I just thought I didn’t like them. They felt too much like strategy games which I also never really got into likely because I didn’t start gaming on PC until the end of high school.

Years passed and one of my friends became nothing short of infatuated with Dota 2. He tried to get me to play and after enough convincing I gave it a shot if only just to humor him. This time it was different, likely because by this point I had experience with competitive gaming (fighting games specifically) and I was able to think of the gameplay mechanics in more competitive terms. From my first few moments with the game I was able to see things differently and was slowly able to piece together how the game was structured. Then after about 40 hours of playing I felt like I actually understood what on earth was going on.

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Game 149: Crysis 2

Eh, it’s okay.

Crysis, the game born out of the need for one company to stretch its graphical capabilities as far as possible without simply creating a fancy tech demo had a sequel. I didn’t play the original, but this was in the Humble Origin Bundle not too long ago, so I decided to give it a shot and I had a pretty decent time with it.

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Game 148: Papo & Yo

1) Play Papo & Yo

2) Try not to feel

3) Feel a lot

This game has some of the best use of mechanics as metaphor I’ve seen in a long time. It’s a short game, but it has wonderful environments and aesthetics, enjoyable puzzles, and a dark story line exploring the relationship between a child and his abusive alcoholic father, the father clearly represented by the monster itself in the child’s imaginary world that you play through.

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Game 147: Rogue Legacy

A game with tight controls, a fun premise, a huge upgrade tree, and a good sense of humor, Rogue Legacy was a wonderful game to play through that constantly provided a fun challenge. With the wonderful 16-bit Castlevania-inspired aesthetics/gameplay and music sounding an awful lot like Danny Baranowsky’s, this game is clearly not above taking some inspirational cues. That said, the concept of how death is handled as you travel through the castle is unique as far as I can tell. When you die you are dead, but your posterity pick up your quest where you left off with a newly-generated castle. Each heir to your family name has interesting traits that affect gameplay such as sucking at casting spells or having OCD and getting mana from breaking everything or even more ridiculous things like fear of chickens or being nostalgic and seeing everything in old-timey vision.

The game is hard, downright brutal at times, but when you die it never feels too disappointing because it gives you the chance to upgrade your skill tree with the gold you earned in the last run. As I progressed, unless my run was downright abysmal I was usually good enough to get at least one upgrade. That said, I did die exactly 177 times before beating the game.

If the game isn’t quite hard enough for you or you’re insane there are challenge mode versions of bosses that crank the difficulty to absolutely insane levels with fixed characters. These are more BS versions of the already interesting and pretty well done bosses (although the second one is already pretty BS).

Rogue Legacy is simple, challenging and if any of this has sounded interested you, go play it. It’s cheap and well worth the price. Go support these guys, they deserve it.