Dreamfall Chapters: Book One

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Completed the first book of five which took less than 5 hours. Maybe I’ll settle with that. Not sure yet.

I completed The Longest Journey and Dreamfall back in the day, but it’s been way too long. 12 years. I could barely remember the cliffhanger in the end of the previous one. The beginning with Zoë Castillo in a coma made me question why she ended up like that, as did Kian Alvane in jail.

At least I remembered April Ryan’s fate all too well. I was hoping she somehow survived that. 🙁

Book One was a relaxing and very easy third person game with mouse look. There were few inventory items, and they could be combined. Dialog choices were floating words with thoughts read out loud when hovering on them. There were also decisions to make that were clearly inspired by Telltale Games. Lots of finger-shaking indications about how this earth tilting choice would be remembered for all eternity.

I had a journal where experiences were dotted down, a sheet with profiles (which wasn’t updating quite as much as I would have liked it to) and RPG style goals in the side. Beautiful music too.

The graphics were excellent. Most of the first book took place in an open small city section of the cloudy Europolis where I could walk around and marvel at the busy life. No detail was spared, from colorful neon ads to overhearing discussions and wishing I could walk further than the force fields at the end of certain streets. It almost felt like being dumped into Deus Ex Light.

Screenshot

If anything, I was almost missing some more interaction in the city. I could access a cowboy street map or get a few words out of vendors, but not much more than that outside of quest tasks. It’s funny how this is a balancing act. Lots of things to do – Assassin’s Creed – and it’s too much. Too little and the city could risk getting stale and boring fast. It must be difficult getting this just right.

ABZÛ

Completed this one yesterday. It was short – just shy of two hours.

It was a marvelous underwater diving adventure, swimming among fish, whales, squids, jellyfish – all the ocean can offer, and lots of it. I was often more or less engulfed in an explosion of color and life. It was also very easy. If it didn’t happen 99% underwater, many might call it a walking simulator.

Apart from exploring the oceanic areas, I could free small bots that could later help me remove an organic net to a passage. I could click on ocean floor pools to free a specific species, or collect shells. Even meditate on a statue. The only action marginally resembling using my brain was that some areas needed me to use two gadgets to open a door. Typically spinning chains attached to each side.

Sometimes I could also hang onto a larger creature for a bit of speed (usually wasn’t much of an advantage) or hit schools of fish in the flow of a tunnel. These tunnels popped up between areas from time to time.

Screenshot

One thing that surprised me a little was that it actually had a shred of a story and purpose. It wasn’t just an ocean floor simulator. I found portals leading to a ghost temple where offering a light sphere grew a coral stalk and opened a door, I started encountering mechanical triangle structures, and I even befriended a big white shark. It was all subtle and fit in well with the rest of the game.

Except perhaps the exploding triangle mines. I could have done without those.

Apart from the nature of our hero – which I won’t spoil here – probably the biggest surprise in the entire game was that I could get up and walk around in temples toward the end of the game. Not much – typically just to activate something and then back into the water. But still. Didn’t expect that one.

The music was absolutely flawless. Symphonic and often with choirs. Sometimes the strings reminded me of old Tomb Raider games, at other times I thought of the adventurous encounters in The Abyss.

I completed it using a mouse and keyboard. Sometimes I fumbled up and down, but otherwise it was fine.

TitleLengthDatesDiff / ChtSaveScore
ABZÛ
2016 Giant Squid1h 52m 1
2018-12-08
2018-12-08
9

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

Closure

Played a few hours of this one.

It’s a colorless puzzle platform where only stuff being lit has substance. Darkness means falling and dying. The goal is simple – reach a door somewhere else, and sometimes bring a key to unlock it too. To help me out with lighting I can bring light orbs, place them in pedestals that sometimes move the orb somewhere else, turn hinged spotlights to shine elsewhere, and more. No enemies to dodge.

And sometimes I had to swim through water, but no oxygen was required.

After a brief tutorial with a four-legged creature, I came to sort of a hub with a choice between 3 x 24 doors with levels. Some static, some bigger and thus scrolling when needed. For each hub, the creature turns into someone else. One looks like a miner, one a woman, and one a small girl that even starts out in her room in a house. Music was much better than I expected – no chiptune stuff here.

Screenshot

I had trouble running it in 3840×2160. It showed a quarter of the screen with menu controls out of reach and I had to edit a configuration file to fix it. I then settled with a resolution of 2560×1440.

Most of the levels were reasonably easy and could be completed in a minute while some had me stumped for a few minutes. The game had a creepy atmosphere and I was constantly afraid of exploring with a light orb and suddenly falling. Hitting a lower level never meant death (no matter how far down) but falling into the black abyss meant retrying. It was also possible to lose a key or a barrel, forcing me to restart.

One thing I thought was very cute – definitely the charming gimmick about the game – was the way I could walk or stand on wall structures that were only partly lit. Because the continuation of the wall piece was in darkness, it didn’t exist and I could pass through. It took some getting used to, especially when having to follow an orb transitioning to somewhere else.

I never found out what the clock I sometimes found meant.

TitleLengthDatesDiff / ChtSaveScore
Closure
2012 Eyebrow Interactive

8h

2

2018-12-05
2018-12-06
8

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

Consortium

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This was an FPS+ on a big plane promising to be somewhat akin to Deus Ex, with multiple paths and dialog choices. I pledged $20 for its failed Kickstarter back when it was announced in 2014.

It turned out to be sort of a virtual reality game where I inhabited the body of a soldier on a hi-tech plane in the future, already flying high above the ground. Everything took place on this plane and it took me just over 4 hours to play through it, making it feel like a DLC for another game. In truth, the game is to be construed as an intro for a trilogy of games – the next one taking place around a big tower.

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But truth be told, I’m pretty sure I’ll stop after this introduction as there were quite a number of things I didn’t like about it. The ironic thing is, bugs are actually not on that list. Playing this game so many years later means patches must have ironed out most of them.

Anomaly 1729

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This was a third person puzzle game with inspiration from games such as Portal and Fez. At times it also felt like a distant sibling to Tron 2.0. I controlled a robot finding my way through chambers of blocks. A hub area filled with blocks led to secluded chambers where I had to puzzle my way to an exit door.

There were three major areas in the game, each concentrated around a hub. The first was dominantly blue with square or rectangular blocks. The second was more cyan with pentagon blocks. And finally the third was blood red, surrounding a big structure with ability-draining fields that had to be turned off.

Screenshot

The robot could shoot orange or blue energy from each hand (mouse buttons) and jump on the blocks. Red jump pads boosted me away or blue gravity wells sucked me in, and their type could be switched with a shot. Later, blocks and platforms also floated on beams. Platforms of this kind had a certain pattern they went through, while the blocks could be started and stopped with a shot. Smoldering platforms were also used although thankfully sparingly, as they disappeared in seconds and always made me frantic.

Inside

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Spoiler warning! I will pretend that you have already played the game.

This game was so permeated in atmosphere it was almost dripping from it, but it also helped that it was the very first game I played on my new 32″ Acer Predator XB321HK monitor, and in 4K of course.

It was very similar to Limbo, the previous game by the same developer. So much so that it almost felt like Limbo II. Again it was a platform puzzle game mostly scrolling to the left, and again I sometimes had to run for my life from evil men in a story without a beginning. It even started in exactly the same way – here’s the kid; now go. No backstory or tutorial for you.

Screenshot

Where Limbo was almost all black and white, Inside had a very faint use of color. The kid in my control was wonderfully animated, especially considering that he didn’t have a face. Music was rare. Most of the time it was a humming ambient sound to complete the feeling of an amazing atmosphere. And the controls were incredibly sparse. Move, jump and interact. Sometimes interacting in a direction.

Warlords of Draenor

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It didn’t take another 6 years to play the next World of Warcraft expansion like it did last time, more like 6 months or so. It helped that the theme was more interesting, the garrisons were enticing, and again it was another free expansion because of Legion being the one the masses focused on at the moment.

And most importantly, how did Draenor compare to Outland?

Outland in Burning Crusade (left) versus Draenor in the alternate timeline in Warlords of Draenor (right).

To get one thing right off the bat, I liked Warlords of Draenor more than Mists of Pandaria. There really is something to be said for how the darker story lines and enemies befit the game. I thought Pandaria was an interesting departure, but at the end of the day I feel more at home fighting orcs and demons in sinister landscapes. And Draenor had some amazing looking zones too.

Retrospective Games

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Earlier this millennia, I was obsessed with computer games. I played them almost virtually back to back, and today I am both proud and ashamed at the same time that I have completed more than 500 games on the PC. These days it has calmed down to an idling breeze – I barely play one game a month anymore.

The weird thing about this gaming hobby was the way it started. It wasn’t something that came over me as soon as I could hold a joystick. In the 80’s and 90’s, I was almost solely into programming and composing music on home computers. Games just passed me by, and for the most part barely noticing them.

But as is the case with many hobbies, the desire to program and compose eventually turned to dust. I then fiddled a bit with playing and collecting Half-Life maps, created a few of my own, but ultimately also gave that up. The year was 2000, and that’s where I turned to PC games and had an epiphany.

It was like hitting a switch, and I was on fire.

To begin with I played a lot of the contemporary games. No doubt the 3D revolution was part of the reason I was finally grabbed by games, but as I got even more involved in this hobby, writing long diary sessions about each completion, I started to wonder about the classics I had missed out on.

I was judicious enough to reach back in time, fetch a lot of the great ones from before 2000, and complete those too. Some I even had to dig out of the bottom shelf of video game shops.

It had its advantages. I bought a lot cheap – way back when Steam was just hot air. Physical boxes.

My Endeavors in World of Warcraft, Part 6

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This is part 6 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.

There’s been another change this time. I’ve decided to convert all the diary text to past tense and not have any of the blockquotes anymore. It makes it easier to adapt and split up text into more paragraphs.

July 2005

Bricaard was getting so prominent in the guild that I barely had time to do my own stuff anymore. I harvested the usual bout of herbs in the three zones I usually visited, but during this a couple of guildies invited me to help them out with various elite quests. Later I wanted to farm highborne undeads in Winterspring. I was invited then to UBRS but declined, but as the raid plans were changed to LBRS they repeatedly tried to invite me again. And later, Sino tried to invite me to a run in Dire Maul.

Doing UBRS/LBRS and Dire Maul could be okay, but I didn’t want to do them 24/7.

I tried various methods of farming to gather money for my epic mount quest. Some ogres in Deadwind Pass dropped money and loot, and were relaxing to farm. I quickly stopped farming blood elves in Azshara, however, after I discovered that they could heal themselves. I really despised that because of how long it took for a paladin to wear them down. A few satyrs nearby were better targets, but their loot was on par with the ogres, and they were closer to Ironforge. I also did another round in the three zones harvesting herbs. I don’t think I have had so much stuff for sale at the auction house at once. Unfortunately it was a slow process. I only reached 170g this day, and I was at 110g a day or two earlier.

There was a long way to the 400g I needed for the epic mount quest.

I helped Gast and Argethon kill Hexx in Hinterlands and release the captured gryphon pup. Then it was time for a genocide in Felwood. I joined Tamako, Stovamor and Saphire and we all went crazy killing teddies. The goal was to increase the reputation for the Timbermaw faction, and we also managed to wrap the green bar around from unfriendly to neutral. Unfortunately we needed to wrap the bar around a few times more before we could at least talk to the Timbermaw and buy formulas and recipes from them. It also got old fast just circling around the same green pond killing the frequently spawning teddies.