Transistor

Read more “Transistor”

Imagine if you took an isometric action RPG with a smattering of Robotron, changed the action to be mostly like V.A.T.S. from e.g. Fallout 4, added great Art Deco parallax graphics, a sword with staccato comments, and atmospheric music that often have singing on top as well – and you basically have Transistor.

It took me about 6 hours to complete this one but I was seriously considering abandoning it after an hour or two. The combat was innovative and polished but was still problematic for me. The gist of the game is a turn-based part where you stack “functions” (abilities) in a limited queue and them fire them off with super speed, making you feel like The Flash. Then comes the sour part. The queue needs some time to recharge itself and you are extremely vulnerable as things are now real-time. Because of the huddling nature of the confined combat areas, it’s easy to get pummeled left and right, even when zapping around with a teleport ability I earned early in the game. This goes back to me wanting to kill as many off fast as possible, and if my queue doesn’t deliver enough damage, I may take too much damage in the real-time part. Emptying the health bar temporarily burns out an ability slot, forcing me to use other means of attacking. Burning out all attacks of course means death.

For most of the game, this system just didn’t click with me.

Diary Games: Outcast

Read more “Diary Games: Outcast”

This is a post in a nostalgic series with transcriptions of my diary sessions of the many games I played from 2000 and onwards, translated and adapted from Danish.

All images are courtesy of MobyGames and shows the best 512×384 resolution.

April 19, 2001

I’ve had the original CD-ROM of Outcast for a while, but my DVD drive wouldn’t acknowledge it. Now I had a plan. First I installed a 317 MB alternative version from a “collection” and ran it. It started without problems but was very limited – no speech, no movies, no CD audio music. Then I renamed the folder and installed the original CD version. As usual it wouldn’t recognize my DVD drive. I then copied the executable file over from the limited version and hey presto; I now had an original that worked with my DVD drive with all music, movies and speech intact. Then I deleted the limited version.

Played a little bit of the game. I managed to get through the training level in the beginning where I had to sneak past my teacher Jan. The game had to be run in the penultimate resolution of 400×300. The best, which was 512×384 or something like that, was stuttering too much. Somewhat disappointing on a 1,2 GHz PC, but at least it ran reasonably well in 400×300 with all graphical details set to high. The game looks old fashioned today because of the low resolution, but I also know that it’s a long and challenging game. Some reviewers say 50+ hours – try comparing that to the 10-15 hours of Heavy Metal: F.A.K.K.². There are also sub quests and even sub quests within sub quests. It might make the game confusing and introduce the non-linearity I’m not comfortable with yet.

Nevertheless I will now give it a chance and then we’ll see. I paid a lot of money for the original game.

Diary Games: The Beginning of the Millennium

Read more “Diary Games: The Beginning of the Millennium”

This is a post in a nostalgic series with transcriptions of my diary sessions of the many games I played from 2000 and onwards, translated and adapted from Danish.

In fact, this is the very first one with the first play sessions in 2000. As is the case with so many hobbies just like this one, it started in a casual manner and only gradually became more serious. It wasn’t like hitting a switch and suddenly I was writing hundreds of lines in each session.

I started writing diaries about my life in 1996 and have kept it up since then. Games were rarely mentioned as something I played one evening. I wasn’t really into gaming until I had sort of an epiphany with Gunman Chronicles, as you can read here below. In the end of the 90’s, it was mostly about coding and composing. I did complete Rama, Sanitarium and the first three Tomb Raider games in the end of the 90’s, but their sessions were sometimes months apart and the comments very brief.

Although better for the following ten games, the descriptions are still plain and the details few. However, it gets a lot more interesting in later blog posts as I dig deeper into my diaries. Later I also started grabbing my own screenshots, but for this blog post they are all courtesy of MobyGames.

Alone in Space

Read more “Alone in Space”

Developer: Butterflyware | Released: 2016 | Genre: Adventure, First Person

I completed this first person action adventure in less than 4 hours. I woke up alone in a desolated space station on a stormy planet and had to find my way off. There was an abundance of corridors with tilted chairs and a ton of boxes that gave the game a very samey look. Most of the areas were mazes and there were connect or sliding puzzles to open doors, pass codes to find in big widescreen log screens, stationary lasers to cut doors open, sizzling magenta anomalies to traverse carefully, and much more.

I’ve seen reviewers on Steam pushing down the walking simulator stamp, but that’s not fair. Yes, there are sizable periods of time where you’re not doing much else than traverse a maze, but there are enough puzzles and dangerous passages to make it a real game. In fact, some of the dangerous passages even got me quite aggravated. There are no monsters or humans to be found, but the anomalies zapped me dead until I figured out how to throw down a metal bolt step by step to find my way through the parts that didn’t zap me. There was also a section with flaming gas leaks where I kept coughing and had to crouch or close rooms to kill the flames, and enough coughing meant death. Lightning could sometimes zap me dead in a corridor if my timing was off. There were a couple of sections with the air being sucked out fast.

And of course, don’t get in front of a stationary laser.

Technobabylon

Read more “Technobabylon”

Developer: Technocrat Games | Released: 2015 | Genre: Adventure, Point & Click

This was an excellent AGS cyberpunk adventure game, at least as good as (if not better than) Beneath a Steel Sky and Gemini Rue. After the fifth Broken Sword I thought I was through with adventure games, but this game managed to fondle gray adventure cells I thought had gone extinct. All it took was the right futuristic setting, the right story, and the right puzzles – along with great voice acting.

Part of the reason I liked this game so much was also that none of the areas (or chapters) were too big. Less than half a dozen screens and for the most part even less than that. The inventory was usually also small, rarely were there enough items to make a second page necessary. It made for a nice balance where nothing felt too difficult, yet it wasn’t so easy that I could just stroll along.

That being said, I never felt the need for a walkthrough.

Backlog/Checklist Web Sites for Video Games

Read more “Backlog/Checklist Web Sites for Video Games”

As a creator of a backlog/checklist web site for video games myself, of course I need to keep track of what the competition looks like. It’s only natural to check out whether your own stuff can hold its own. Sure, I have a ton of my own ideas, but maybe a site supports something I hadn’t thought of.

Besides, I can see in my activity log they are also checking out my site. What goes around.

But what really is a shame is how unknown these kinds of sites are. Apart from the two usual suspects, Backloggery and HowLongToBeat, it truly is a niche. Whenever someone talks about the concept in forum threads, you can be sure that at least one of those two sites will be mentioned. Anyone else among truly nice sites are practically never linked to, unless a lonesome cowboy fan happens to stop by.

So I’ve decided to list what I have found during these years, no matter how it may affect visitor retention on my own site. I’ll try to keep the listing of sites relatively objective since I’m a player too.

Into the Mists of Pandaria

Read more “Into the Mists of Pandaria”

So I finally gave in and went back to World of Warcraft to check out Mists of Pandaria – the expansion right after Cataclysm. Curiosity and nostalgia got the better of me. Last I played this game was about 6 years ago. In fact, the last report about it should be right here in the 2011 line of blog posts.

If you’re wondering how it’s like to level from 85 in 2017, in a time where two more expansions may have affected the balance of health and damage, look no further. It was all solo – no dungeons or raids.

And I can say right off the bat that it was too easy, even for a jellyfish like me. I can’t for logical reasons say if it was always like this or if the two later expansions and all their patches have affected the balance. I sure hope it was harder when the expansion arrived in 2012. I played my main Retribution Paladin and I could kill almost all solo enemies in approximately two ability attacks. Typically a judgment and then a follow-up. Solo enemies also did really weak damage to me, typically a total of much less than 10%. I rarely bothered with healing spells, food or bandages. The only place where it felt like Blizzard finally turned the tides was right after going through the wall gate into the north area of Townlong Steppes. There were a few mobs here that actually smacked my health bar down for me to see an actual gap.

But alas, it turned out to be the exception that proved the rule.

My Endeavors in World of Warcraft, Part 4

Read more “My Endeavors in World of Warcraft, Part 4”

This is part 4 in a continuous series about my time in World of Warcraft, from when I started playing in 2005 and onwards. Part 1 is here in case you missed the beginning of it.

May 2005

Izz from our guild (a level 42 Priest) and I went to Arathi Highlands where I managed to close a couple of elite quests. First we killed the stone giant Fozruk (he was easier than I thought) and then we entered Stromgarde Keep to get the artifacts in the tower. Here we found a Paladin and a Warrior had just wiped. I resurrected them both, and as thanks they helped us both get the artifacts. It’s in situations like these that the game really shines and shows when an online game can be really fascinating.1 May 2005

One thing I have skipped so far is that I wanted Bricaard to be a great enchanter. I had increased this skill meticulously by disenchanting a lot of gear and buying materials from the auction house.

I managed to buy the final reagents at the auction house and was ready for a trip to Uldaman to reach the enchanting master. Degaul and Sebastianus from my guild lent me a hand, and we quickly found the inconveniently placed woman. I bought the artisan level and trained from 225 to 250 using the reagents, thereby squeezing all the recipes available out of her. Nice keeping it to just one trip.3 May 2005

After a few short visits here and there in Azeroth, I went to Hinterlands and picked up quests. The town Aerie Peak used new building prefabs I hadn’t seen before. There were planes and tanks inside. I killed trolls and found a lot of feathers. After delivering the quests I dinged to level 51 and was finally able to get the new buff spell Blessing of Kings. It could increase all the attributes of a player with 10%.

My Endeavors in World of Warcraft, Part 3

Read more “My Endeavors in World of Warcraft, Part 3”

This is part 3 in a continuous series about my time in World of Warcraft, from when I started playing in 2005 and onwards. Part 1 is here in case you missed the beginning of it.

April 2005

I bought some plate armor at the auction. My level 40 paladin now had more than 2000 hit points and was getting close to 3000 armor. I redefined the keys Q for my mount and E for Seal of Command.

Along with Danes from my current guild we started a chain of runs in Scarlet Monastery, a big place that was split up in several smaller dungeon instances. The journey there was actually quite a hassle. We started in Southshore, rode past the magical sphere of Dalaran, swam through a lake with small islands, then rode through a low-level Horde zone with a couple of lethal “Level ??” PvP soldiers on our tails.

First we visited the Graveyard (the smallest with no quests) and then the Library. It went well for a while but on the way out we pulled too many. Here I tried using Divine Intervention, a timed shield of immunity to protect another player from harm while the enemies run back. Throwing this spell was always a suicide on my part and the other player was then supposed to revive the fallen party members afterwards.

Unfortunately the guildies didn’t know about this mechanism and we just wiped anyway.

Another not so cool thing was that our pulling player did so using his character instead of a ranged weapon or spell. Nevertheless it went better in the Armory and we even killed the boss Herod. As he died it started pouring in with several dozens of additional enemies, but luckily they were not elite and could be exterminated with area of effect (AOE) spells. We did okay – but there was still a lot to learn.

My Endeavors in World of Warcraft, Part 2

Read more “My Endeavors in World of Warcraft, Part 2”

This is part 2 in a continuous series about my time in World of Warcraft, from when I started playing in 2005 and onwards. Part 1 is here in case you missed the beginning of it.

March 2005

After getting the guild tabard for Bricaard (it made me look like a royal knight) I helped my friend Marc with my priest for a while, but it was boring doing the same quests again that I had already done with Bricaard. It was probably the first good hint that leveling alts wasn’t really for me.

Bricaard then went to Duskwood, the third zone that took place in an ominous dark forest with undeads. I was together with Bulwai most of the time, and he told me about a Scandinavian guild that he was also a member of. All of the members were grownups and there was a friendly tone. Unfortunately the guild leader was on a ski vacation, so I had to wait a while in case I wanted to change guilds.

Questing with Bulwai in Duskwood was great some of the time, but it wasn’t always fantastic.