Steam Stash: Part 2

The Steam Summer Sale is over. Thank goodness. Things were starting to get out of hand. I ended up buying 17 games, but on the bright side I only spent $52. Final games take:

Blackwell Bundle (4 games)
Don’t Starve
Deadlight
Monaco
Prison Architect
Shadowrun Returns
Spelunky
The Swapper
Syberia 1 & 2
System Shock 2
Talisman
To the Moon
Warlock – Master of the Arcane

I talked about a few that I had a chance to play before. Here are some thoughts on others I’ve dedicated some time too.

Blackwell Legacy & Blackwell Unbound

The Blackwell games are a series of old school point-and-click adventure games first released in 2006. They revolve around a family of mediums, the Blackwells, and their ghostly helper, Joey. Their job is to help ghosts that are stuck on this plane of existence to realize they are dead and move on. I’m actually surprised I had never played any of these before, since I’m a big fan of point and click adventures, despite most of them being full of completely illogical solutions to problems.

In Blackwell Legacy you play as Rosangela who, at the start of the game, has no idea she’s a medium. So the game is not only about helping ghosts come to terms with their deaths but also about Rosangela coming to terms with seeing dead people and having Joey be a permanent fixture in her life. I enjoyed the game overall, but my biggest problem was with Rosangela. She was very socially anxious, and I didn’t like playing as her. This did get better throughout the game though.

Blackwell Unbound is the second game in the series, but is a prequel. In this game you play Rosangela’s aunt Lauren, who I liked a lot more. She was fiery, but also (after a life of having to solve the problems of ghosts) very jaded. Her relationship with Joey had been established already so there was some good back and forth between the two of them, whereas in Legacy Joey and Rosangela has just met and things were awkward. Unbound is dragged down a bit by some terrible voice acting in a few supporting roles though (seriously, young people pretending to be old people just doesn’t work). Otherwise, it was an enjoyable adventure game with a fine narrative and good dialogue. I’m looking forward to playing the next games in the series.

Monaco

I should really read before I buy, I didn’t realize this was a co-op only game. I spent some time in a lobby waiting for a group to form, then played a level and had to wait in another lobby. That ended my Monaco experience. Need to get some friends to play with if I’m going to try this again.

Shadowrun Returns

Shadowrun is an isometric RPG (like Baldur’s Gate), but it has a cyberpunk theme. I’ve only put in an hour or two so far, but I’ve had a lot of fun with it. What I’ve seen of the story is intriguing. The main character is a shadow runner – a kind of unofficial investigator/contractor/get shit done whatever the means type. You’ve been hired by your now dead ex-partner to solve his murder. The game so far is quite linear, which I don’t have a problem with. There are some optional quests but they don’t distract too much from the main storyline. The talent/skill system is fairly straightforward, but the class system is still a mystery to me. I chose to be a shaman, but so far I have no idea what it is that makes me a shaman. I’ve never cast a spell or anything.

The combat is tactical turn-based, and immediately reminded me of XCOM. So far I’m really liking the game, I will definitely finish it and may pick up the next campaign as well.

Spelunky

This is an action-adventure platformer and I didn’t like it at all. It just seems like a really bad port. Trying to get a good resolution to play in windowed mode was an exercise in futility. I got stuck on the character selection screen and wasn’t able to select a character for a while. When I finally got in I found that playing this with a keyboard is awful and the default controls seems designed to make me angry.

Just when I think I’m turning into a PC gamer, something like this happens to bring me back to my console-loving reality.

A lot of people whose opinions about games I respect like this game, so I’d suggest picking it up for a console and skipping the PC version.

To The Moon

To the Moon is a narrative-based Indie game. The premise is about granting dying wishes to people by creating new memories for them. Two doctors, Rosalene and Watts arrive at the house of Johnny, the dying man who wants to go to the moon. They need to traverse his memories back to the time he was a child in order to implant the wish to go to the moon, with the assumption that his brain would then create those memories and he could die happy.

I had heard nothing but good things about this game. For me, good story is the basis of a good game (at least for an adventure or role-playing game – Rayman doesn’t need a good story). Also, I’m a sucker for quirky indie games. Unfortunately, I hated this game. Let me tell you why.

Johnny’s story, as seen by the doctors in his memories was actually quite poignant and moving. It dealt with all kinds of interesting themes like old age, mental health, regret, memory, love, secrets. And it dealt with them all fairly well. So what was the problem? It was the doctors. Johnny’s memories on their own were a lovely story experience, but then we have these annoying doctors, cracking jokes, making comments, being jaded. Dr. Watts especially was a dick. They just didn’t shut the fuck up. Reading their dialogue got old really quick.

Though the doctors were the most egregious problem they weren’t the only one. The controls were bad. Sometimes clicking an object would move you to it, sometimes it wouldn’t. The cursor placement was weird. Of course, controls weren’t a huge deal since 90% of the game was just clicking though dialogue. I don’t have a problem with games being more about narrative than gameplay, but in this case I felt that watching this like a movie would have been move rewarding than having to move and click. There are completely inconsequential tile flipping puzzles that you need to do to travel from memory to memory. Near the end of the game I guess the developers felt like they needed to jam some gameplay in and there was a short frogger-like shooting sequence which seemed entirely out of place. Also, the game had an unhealthy preoccupation with roadkill.

If they could have told Johnny’s story without the annoying doctors making quips all the way through, I’m sure I would have liked this game more. As it was, I was just wanting it to end from about the 2 hour mark onward. There is a sequel planned, but it centers around those same two doctors, so I’ll be skipping it.

4 responses to “Steam Stash: Part 2

  1. One interesting thing about To The Moon (which doesn’t help with how you disliked the doctors, mind you) is that the narrative experience is actually different depending on which doctor you choose to play as. Like the major events are all the same, but some of the dialogue and conversation flow varies if you’re playing the woman doctor versus the man doctor. Not a huge game-changing difference, but one I found interesting. I didn’t dislike their dialogue as much overall, but I found their pragmatic / business-minded discussions a good addition (I felt it kept the story grounded in reality, as if reminding us that it was a simulation and what the actual situation was), but I did find their joking around annoying – that felt insensitive.

    I own Shadowrun but haven’t had a chance to try it, it sounds interesting though!
    Rades recently posted..Minipost: Watch the sky burn

    • I thought that might be the case. I played as the female doctor, I wonder if I’d consider the male doctor’s conversation flow more or less annoying (I can guess).

  2. WhyteTyger

    Monaco can actually be played alone. When you are in the menu to pick which stage to play as, I believe the “p” key will change whether you are in online or offline mode. In offline there is only one character on the screen at a time, but you usually have a number of “live” (represented by how many other criminals you’ve unlocked) that will take the place of the first if you should die. I’ve only played it solo so far, though I can see the appeal of the thieves different abilities in a multiplayer game. If nothing else, getting a hang of the controls and the like through solo play might be good before starting a heist with others.

    There should be a list of user-created levels near the bottom of the stage select screen as well, and someone has made two excellent tutorials to show off the different characters abilities, and their items. They helped me bunches.