Monday, November 19, 2012

Hero U: Rogue to Redemption Kickstarter Ending Soon

Hey all!  The creators of the underrated and generally unheard of Quest for Glory series and also the edu-puzzler Castle of Dr. Brain started a Kickstarter to make another game called Hero U:  Rogue to Redemption.  It's ending soon (16 hours to go) and needs another $21,000 to be made.  If you have any love for those old games, even if you only love them out of nostalgia, give your money to them.

If you don't know what Kickstarter is, it's quite simple and I think the way the majority of good video games will be made in the future.  It's crowd-funding, where a person or group presents an idea or even a prototype.  Then you the funder choose from different money tiers and get the corresponding reward.  Now, this isn't a guarantee that what you funded will come to pass, and they could simply make off with your money without producing anything.  However, from tried and true specialists like Lori and Corey Cole, you know they're going to keep their word and produce yet another fun and funny adventure game.

Just in case the picture link above doesn't work you can check out the Kickstarter page here.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Unfinished Review: Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP

I picked this little gem up in the Steam Canadian Indie Bundle along with some other sweet games which I don't remember.  I don't remember them because SB:S&SEP is the only game I played from the list.  Well I played Shank for about a minute before I realized it's meant for a gamepad and uninstalled it.

Considering I have a deaf roommate I will have two separate verdicts which I'll give to you right now.  If you're deaf I wouldn't suggest this game.  It might be cool with it's psuedo-Zelda-y/LucasArts-adventure-game-y gameplay, but the 'EP' on the end of the title kind of says it all.  The music by Jim Guthrie is amazing and I can and I have listened to the soundtrack for hours on end (which came with the game at no extra cost!).  It also has a really quirky art style which is enjoyable and quite unique.

I'm not really sure how to express how awesome this game is, because it truly is a sum of all parts.  The tiny things in it like clicking on the water to make splashes or the subtle musical changes or the expressiveness of a single pixel come together in just a fantastic mix of game.

Plus, it's full of video game mythos, which is always a plus.

From a technical standpoint, I have a few issues but it certainly doesn't detract from the experience of the game.  After each chapter has been finished it tells you to take a break and then sends you back to the main menu.  I'm alright with this if it only gave you the option of continuing on.  However, from a purely work ethic point of view this is quite good as once I'm back to the main menu I just quit and get back to doing what I should be doing.

Clicking isn't as intuitive as it should be for moving your character across the screen, but really it's a minor problem. 

A gameplay issue I have is that there is quite a bit of backtracking like in all adventure games, but really the visuals and the music make it seem like less of a chore, and more of the adventure.

One cool user interface thingy is the spinning record at the title screen.  If you click and drag the record, you can control the music that's playing.  Quite fun, but it would have been nice if going counter-clockwise played the music backward, and depending on the speed at which you spun the record would change the tempo of the song.  But any sort of interactivity on menus is always a plus.

So again, if you're deaf, this might not be such a fun game, but if you can hear music then check out this game.  It's short, only five hours or so (and I still haven't beaten it, being only at 54% clocking in around three hours), but I find that the shorter a game is the better the quality is, and that certainly holds true for SB:S&SEP.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Unfinished Review: Dark Souls (PC)

So I rarely finish games nowadays.  But I love writing game reviews.  So my dilemma was solved by just writing a first impressions review.  I'll get a lot more reviews out this way!

So for my first one I decided to write about the incredibly long Dark Souls:  Prepare to Die Edition.

I wasn't going to buy this game as I heard bad things about the keyboard/mouse set up, which is the main reason I play PC games over console.  But then it was on sale for $20 bucks and my roommate had a wired 360 controller so I took the bait.  And I'm glad I did.

From a purely technical standpoint Dark Souls on the PC gets a D+ (I put F- at first but that goes to the game Stolen which has an even worse set up for PC than Dark Souls; hmm, maybe I'll go back and try it with a controller...if I didn't throw the disc in the trash).  Almost everything is terrible, from the controls, to the resolution, to how many unskippable intro logos there are (which also appear if you quit your current game and head back to the menu; big user interface faux paus).  However, these things are easily fixed with a roommate's controller and a nice mod from Durante on the Nexus.

While the controls aren't as solid as they could be, it's very workable, and the gameplay simply makes up for that.  For those who don't know, the main concept is this:  you kill things and they kill you.  Alot.  I mean alot, alot, alot.  You will die more in this game than all others combined, even VVVVVV.  It's aggravating, it's frustrating, but unlike most other games, it's exciting and you can't wait to die again.

I think the biggest fun factor of countless deaths is this:  once you kill an enemy you get a certain amount of souls.  Souls are how you level up and buy things in this game.  They're pretty important.  But you can only level up at the checkpoints which are in-game bonfires, which also heal you completely.  Oh yeah, also once you rest at a bonfire, all the enemies respawn (except bosses).  That's right.  ALL.  RESPAWN.  ENEMIES.  ICE CREAM.  But if you die before you make it to the bonfire to level up you lose all your souls!  That sucks!  But if you make your way back to where you died you can retrieve your lost souls.  But if you die along the way, those old souls that you lost are gone.  Forever.  So far the biggest haul of souls I've lost is 10,000.  But I didn't get mad.  I didn't throw the controller.  I just thought of a different way of going about kill more bad guys.  This is genius.  

But let's diverge to the leveling system a bit.  I hate MMOs because they're nothing but grinding and it's unsatisfying because leveling up to 15 should give you more than just the ability to sprint.  Leveling up in Dark Souls honestly doesn't feel very important.  If you're not skilled at pressing buttons, or your finger slips, or something else grabs your attention for just a second, the simplest enemy can kill you.  Leveling will help you dish out more damage, making killing lesser enemies quicker, but dying is as easy at level 20 as it is at level 1.  So here's the thing.  In Dark Souls, there is nothing but grind.  But you're not grinding to gain more power.  You're grinding to best yourself at how quickly and efficiently you can kill the same enemies over and over again.  It truly is a skill based game, where the slightest mistake can cost you everything.

Let's talk about story, as usually the story is my favorite part.  I'm not sure if Dark Souls has a story.  You're an undead person.  You start off in a dungeon, or undead asylum.  Then you kill stuff.  And there's a dragon. And you have to ring two bells?  I don't know.

So, Dark Souls doesn't have a story.  But it doesn't need one.  I think it actually would have been nice if they didn't have those intro cutscenes or talking or anything.  The game just opens with you breaking out of the asylum and hacking things up, because that's what this game's is all about and that's the only thing it needs to be about.

I'm close to 20 hours into it.  My cool deaf roommate who loaned me his controller is about 100 hours into it.  He says he's only about one fourth of the way through though.  I will not finish this game if it's that long.  Just like I didn't finish Skyrim (funny thing, both Skyrim and Dark Souls run on the Havok Engine, and they came out one week apart).  But Dark Souls has been the most exciting game I've played in a very long time.  

So Final Verdict - GET THE GAME!!!!
If you have an Xbox 360, you should get this game.  If you're a PC gamer, get a hold of your roommate's Xbox 360 controller and plug that bad boy in and get Dark Souls.  You won't regret it.  Unless you don't like good games.