Game-related ramblings.

Month: March 2012

Indie Time: Stealth Bastard

I’ve been meaning to play Curve Studios’ Explodemon! ever since it was ported to PC, but I haven’t gotten to it yet. I did, however, find time to play their more recent Stealth Bastard, which has the advantage of being completely free. With the tagline “Tactical Espionage Arsehole”, Stealth Bastard asks the question, “why do stealth games have to be so… slow?”

Why, indeed.

Taking It Easy

In my last post, I mentioned that I’ll likely be playing Skyrim for a while. This is partly because Skyrim is a huge game with tons of different things to do, and I anticipate I’ll want to try most of them, probably playing a few different characters in the process. But another reason is that Skyrim is a game that encourages the player to relax and take things slowly as often as it provides action-packed adventure. Sure, there’s plenty of places to explore and enemies to fight, but you can also visit a city and just talk to people, or craft some items, or hang out it the tavern and get drunk.

In a recent play session, I did nothing but read books in-game. One of these triggered a side quest, but for the most part they were just there to flesh out the world, and provide a bit of history. I’d just finished traveling the wilderness, so it was nice to take a break in one of the cities and just read about things. I learned a lot too. I learned about the history of the Nords in Skyrim, about the other cities I haven’t visited yet, and about the events that happened in the time since the previous game (turns out quite a lot happened, and I now view the world in a very different light). It’s a rare thing for a games (single-player games, anyway) to provide this kind of break from the action, and it’s something I’d like to see more often.

Skyrim Storytelling

I’ve finally started playing Skyrim, but I wasn’t sure what to write about it. It’s not exactly an obscure game, and there have already been a slew of great reviews for it, so there’s not much point in adding my own at this stage (plus I’ve only just started playing). So far the game has been pretty much what I expected, and I’ll be playing it for a while, so there will be less time to squeeze in other interesting games to post about.

I considered writing about tweaking (and I still might), since I’ve been doing a lot of it and I think it’s an interesting aspect to certain games. But going into Skyrim right after To the Moon means my mind is still on narrative structures, and I’ve been noticing certain things in Skyrim’s approach to narrative that I wanted to write about first.

Indie Time: To the Moon

To the Moon first got headlines because it features some music by Laura Shigihara, famous for writing and performing the Plants vs. Zombies theme song. But then it kept getting headlines, on its own merits, and by all accounts is not only excellent but also fascinating. I’ve been looking forward to playing it for a while.

The premise of the game is simple. At some point not far in the future, the technology exists to alter a person’s memories, essentially rewriting their lives. Since this process is so disruptive, it is reserved for people on their deathbeds, to help them realize their final desires. In the game, the player follows two doctors from the Sigmund Agency of Life Generation, as they enter a dying man’s memories and attempt to fulfill his last wish: to go to the moon.

Loose Ends: The Missing Link DLC

I don’t usually buy DLC (that’s downloadable content, for those unaware). A lot of it strikes me as silly, like new character skins or some in-game items available for a few dollars. Not things I’m interested in. Then there’s DLC that adds quests or new areas into an existing game, which seems destined to be awkward — an obviously tacked-on affair that doesn’t gel well with the main game. More reasonable are the DLC offerings that are essentially the expansion packs of old: new levels, or separate game areas designed to be tackled after the main game is over. Still, I would need to really like a game to go for one of these, given how many other games I have to play.

But in the case of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, I did really like it, enough to grab it’s DLC add-on, The Missing Link.

Roguelike Updates: New Versions of DoomRL, Dungeon Crawl and Brogue

Several of the games I’ve covered in my Roguelike Highlights series have recently received some major updates. First up is DoomRL v0.9.9.6 (read my highlight of DoomRL here). DoomRL is, of course, a roguelike based on Doom, and the new version is the first to include a graphical tileset (although the original ASCII graphics can still be used). The graphics, incidentally, are made by Derek Yu, the same man responsible for Spelunky. There are several gameplay and balance changes as well; the full changelog is here, and you can see some shiny new screenshots here.

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