Night Shift

Developer: Brandon Brizzi | Released: 2014 | Genre: Driving, Adventure

I just completed the driving adventure game Night Shift. That was weird. Seriously weird.

It took me over two hours to complete it, which seems to be twice as long as it should probably have taken me. But it took a while to get used to the general weirdness and what the game really wanted me to do. It wasn’t just driving along the road – in fact, this was not about racing at all.

It was about getting the sun back.

The goal was to get a flame from each of six puzzle challenges which was made extra weird in the way I had to leave roads to find the next one. In between these puzzles there was a gray sphere showing the flames I had collected so far, rotating around it. Imagine finding this sphere first time with just one flame around it, knowing nothing about what’s going on. That’s how the game is.

It wasn’t completely void of tips, though. Sometimes a white ghost was standing around and if I drove close to it, it offered a light tip as a text line in the bottom of the screen.

Screenshot

The challenges themselves typically revolved around lighting street lights with an extra strong beam of light from my first person car. I could also eliminate other ghost cars with this flashing. Glowing butterflies could be placeholder hints, and sometimes I had to align things in a way that never quite got entirely clear (this was the part where trial and error took over). There was even sort of a different realm that the game shifted to whenever I was out of battery power. This was also used in a couple of puzzles.

More power was obtained by driving close to white ghost trees.

Whenever I was on the “right track” the looping music samples built up to get the sensation of things rolling. Both the use of music and the car itself gave a solid 80’s vibe, and completing the game played an animated piece. This animation was very nice, but I had hoped I could have driven up the sun-rising road while watching the dawn grow stronger. I think that might have worked quite well.

The game was weird, the 3D engine with sprites was deliberately retro (it looked like it belonged in the mid 90’s) and the goals frequently confusing, but I could also see that the game had a certain charm.

TitleLengthDatesDiff / ChtSaveScore
Night Shift
2014 Brandon Brizzi

2.4h

1

2019-03-31
2019-03-31
6

To see a page with all the PC games I have played – along with an explanation of the abbreviations – click here.

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

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Developer: Infinity Ward | Released: 2007 | Genre: FPS

This is a post in a nostalgic series with transcriptions of my diary sessions of the games I played from 2000 2011 and onwards, translated and adapted from Danish. There will be spoilers in these diary sessions.

I’m back with this series again after quite a long hiatus. The previous entry was Outcast, a game I played and wrote about in 2001 in my diaries, and then translated to a blog post in July 2017. Originally I decided to abandon the series mainly because I was convinced I didn’t have any other readers but myself, but also because I wasn’t really sure the diary sessions of 2001 would be up to par. This was a point in time where 3D games was still a novelty to me and thus a lot of the session texts were somewhat naive.

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Now I have this idea that I will jump past about a decade of diary sessions, up to 2011, and continue from there. There are several reasons for this. It would close the “hole” between my first failed blog attempt in 2011 and the revitalization in 2015, and it would have session texts from a considerably more experienced gamer, an older me with more games under my belt to compare with.

Dropping the blog in 2011 was followed by going from MMORPG back to single player games, with sort of a brief digression with Portal 2, and then this game – Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. This game was special at this time because it managed to kickstart my single player hobby.

But what is even more interesting is that it almost failed at that to begin with.

MIND: Path to Thalamus

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Developer: Carlos Coronado | Released: 2014 | Genre: Adventure, First Person

This was a first person adventure game with more or less surrealistic vistas, and puzzles typically involving moving and dropping “nerve clusters” that looked a little like tumbleweeds. How to use these balls is actually a spoiler, so as always I will discuss the details of this in the spoiler section below.

It took me about 4½ hours to get through it and I liked a lot about it. Especially the way it looked. Just like Deadfall Adventures, the level environments and the graphics were definitely the high note of this game. A few levels were even so pretty it made me forget myself for a minute or two upon arrival. Puzzles were for the most part okay, but sometimes involved some traipsing – and there was no sprint button. It also had a smell like being a borderline mod for an FPS. It had a very basic title screen and there were glitches.

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But even so, I still had a good time completing it. The idea of using the balls was cute and made for relaxed puzzles, apart from a few overdone exceptions that I will mention in the spoilers. If I went back in time knowing what I know now, I would definitely play it again.

Grow Up

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Developer: Ubisoft Reflections | Released: 2016 | Genre: Adventure, Platform

The sequel to Grow Home was much more of what made the first one so charming.

It was clear that although it was expanded in almost all directions, it was still built upon the same code base. Same climbing, same growing star plants, same graphical style, same rag doll animations. But where the first one took place on a small island and you grew one star plant into space, the sequel took place on a spherical planet with lots of floating islands around it, and four star plants could be grown.

However, growing star plants was not the objective this time around. M.O.M., the spaceship computer, had its parts spread all over the planet after a meteor storm, and I now had to find the crash sites. To help me a new assistant, P.O.D., could be used to view the planet from above, and it moved M.O.M. parts to a small moon using a magnet that I had to align like a seasoned oil worker.

P.O.D. looked like a satellite and sometimes also came with tutorial tips and observations.

Screenshot

Crystals could still be found for upgrading abilities, but these abilities were now initialized by finding “tubs” with expanding red parts. It made B.U.D. more of an Inspector Gadget this time around. The dandelion was now permanent and didn’t lose petals. Rocket jumping could be improved with crystals to actually lift me upwards, and the glider could be expanded with a jet boost.

I could also become a rolling ball but I didn’t use that one much.

You could argue that these improvements made the game too easy, but honestly it was essential now that so much more landmass had to be explored. Without the ability to glide and rocket boost around without the help of growing star plants, it would have gotten stale fast. So it was all good with me.

Grow Home

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Developer: Ubisoft Reflections | Released: 2015 | Genre: Adventure, Platform

It took me just a couple of minutes past 4 hours to complete it, and I loved it.

Such a charming climbing game, with the low polygon style making for great vistas with almost all of the grown stems and floating islands in view. The goal in itself was simple – find red flowers on the massive star plant and grow them towards energetic islands. Connecting to all of these special islands would grow the mother plant itself. Reach 2000 meters and its main flower opens, grab a star seed from it and win.

Implementing this required a lot of climbing with left and right mouse buttons, which reminded me a lot of the old arcade game Crazy Climber to begin with. The robot in control, B.U.D., was essentially a rag doll and it made for deliberately weird climbing at times. Keep on rollin’, baby.

Screenshot

A side goal was to find crystals growing on islands and in caves. This wasn’t just for collecting as it also increased my powers; jumping, a zoom-out camera, and a limited rocket boost. B.U.D. made cute winning sounds whenever I manage to grab a crystal. Another side goal was to drag plants, fruits and animals into one of the checkpoints for analysis. This gave more text to read about them in a data bank.

Cute, but not all that important. Crystals and growing was the main concern.

Helping with the climbing, I could also grab a dandelion and use it for floating as a parachute. The flower slowly lost its petals while floating, so it was a limited ride. Later a leaf could also be used for gliding, but I preferred the dandelion. Jump off an island, float back towards its side, then grab hold and climb.

Deadfall Adventures

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Developer: The Farm 51 | Released: 2013 | Genre: FPS, Adventure

This was an FPS from 2013 with puzzles to be solved by an ancestor of Alan Quatermain. It took place in 1938 in Egypt, Arctic and Mayan ruins, and usually together with Jennifer, a female partner. It was all very Indiana Jones. Together with waves of Nazis, it made it feel like Wolfenstein meets Tomb Raider.

It was also an unremarkable game in many ways, with a B-movie plot featuring cliché-riddled dialog and stereotypical characters. The fights were simple and predictable, but luckily also not quite as common as I expected. There were a lot of calm moments solving puzzles or finding treasures. The latter could upgrade my health, marksmanship or my flashlight, but it honestly didn’t feel like it mattered much.

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At the bottom line there were a lot of flaccid elements of this game to give it an equally mediocre score, but at least the level design was almost worth the price of admission. It wasn’t phenomenal – get up close and some circles were octagons – but from a distance, the environments actually looked quite nice.

But the game design wasn’t always solid. There were a lot of cutscenes without interaction for many levels, then about halfway through I suddenly had to hit keys and mouse buttons in what the game considered a typical QTE. That was late for this change of heart. Most puzzles were easy and took only seconds to solve through, but there were confusing exceptions where the solution was pretty obscure.

Same thing about finding the treasures for upgrading my abilities.

Quote of the Day

I can’t play an MMO as a single player game these days. I find it oddly, echoingly lonely to explore a vast world without having the buzz of guild or buddy chat quietly in the background.kedaha, Quarter to Three forums

I’ve been able to solo some of the later expansions of World of Warcraft lately, but I do feel this problem in every MMORPG I touch these days.

In fact, probably the main reason I got so much into EverQuest 2 in 2008 and even tried raiding was that I got headhunted into good guilds that immediately spawned some good chat and companionship. Without that I would probably have given up on the game.