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Indie Games

Review – Scoregasm (PC)

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Charlie’s Games | 10.07.2011

Hey look, another indie game pretty twin stick shooter full of neon lights and fast paced action.  Scoregasm was included in the Indie Royale Difficult Bundle a few weeks ago, notable because it allowed gamers to get the game for Steam before it’s been officially released for Steam.  The game still isn’t available on Steam, nor does it have a store page yet.

2011-12-01_00001 It’s still available elsewhere, just not on Steam.  It’s made by the same guy who made Bullet Candy.

The gameplay is pretty straight forward, fly your ship around and shoot in different directions destroying hordes of enemies.  It’s similar to Beat Hazard or Geometry Wars, or even, Asteroids.  You do have the limitation of your movements being trapped within a small confined area.  The game’s main draw is it’s progression system.  The more enemies you shoot in a row without dying, the larger the combo you build up.  Depending on the size of your combo you will unlock different stages to move on to.  The fun part is, you can choose which stage to go to next.  Each one is labeled by it’s difficulty so if you’re wanting to try something easier for a bit, you can pick the Easier stage, if you suddenly have a desire to challenge yourself, you can slip into a much more difficult stage, assuming you managed to unlock the higher difficulty.

2011-12-01_00004 This does lead to the game’s only real flaw, if you break your combo at all, there is a good chance you won’t unlock anything.  The goals tend to be high enough that when your combo breaks and drops to zero, there probably aren’t even going to be enough enemies to make the stage goal combo.  The stages are quick though so replaying them isn’t too hard.

It’s a good game all around, and certainly a fun game of it’s genre.  The progression system is definitely pretty unique which helps make the game more enjoyable.  It’s still probably mostly a game for bullet hell fans, which is a bit of a niche genre.

Scoregasm is available on the Scoregasm Website.

Review – Runaway: A Road Adventure (PC)

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Péndulo Studios, S.L. | August 28, 2003

So Adventure Games are a bit different than your other game genres.  You often can’t lose and the emphasis is more on the narrative than the “gameplay”.  It’s much closer to being like an interactive novel.  That said, the story can make or break an adventure game easily.  I’ve done a bit of history already here on my plans for upping my intake of Adventure Games.  No need to cover that ground again.  Runaway was the first title I chose in this push, it’s a title I’ve been sitting on for a fairly long time in my queue of games and I like the 3D cartoon style graphics it presents.

ScreenShot080 I’ll also preface this by mentioning I used a walkthrough to get through this game.  I am a bit of a novice when it comes to this sort of game, though I hope some of the problems I encountered in this title are not the “norm”.  i get the whole idea of searching the scene for objects and examining them, collecting clues and useful trinkets.  I also get the idea of having to sometimes get creative with items.  My issue with how this is handled though are with some of the mechanics more than anything.  There are several points where you talk to a person or give them an item, and your next step is to leave the area, then come back to talk to the same person again.  Personally, this feels a bit counter intuitive.  You successfully complete a step, you’re unlikely to put redoing that step very high on your list of “where to check next”.  This could easily lead to some wasted effort looking for clues and feels very much like an excuse for the game to reload a scene or dialogue set more than a need of the plot.  It’s a very computer logic reason more than a story plot reason.  The game is also inconsistent with this as occasionally you are told “come back in an hour” and the game goes through this action of leaving and returning for you.

ScreenShot070I also had some issues with item detection when scanning some scenes.  The one that really sticks out is finding a key near a train locomotive.  I knew the key was supposed to be there via the walkthrough, I even knew where it was supposed to be in the scene, but I still had trouble finding it and it didn’t show up on the ground visibly.

Also there are a few fairly annoying leaps of logic that one must take to get past certain obstacles.   This leads to a bit more trial an error methodology than figuring out where to go based on clues.  For example the idea of making bullets out of lipstick tubes is a little bit of a stretch.

ScreenShot114 Fortunately, the storyline is pretty good.  There are surprisingly few holes and conveniences in the plot and it’s interesting enough to keep the player interested.  The basic premise is, Brian, the character you control, accidentally hits Gina with his car as she is running from some Mob guys.  Brian feels responsible and gets tangled up in Gina’s affairs as they trace down the secret to an old crucifix Gina has.  Secrets are revealed as Brian and Gina get closer to the truth and must work to thwart the Mob goons hot on their trail.  It closes out nicely as a stand alone plot but could easily lead to the plot of the second game of the series.  I am looking forward to playing the second game as well though I’ll be holding off on that for a bit. 

ScreenShot106 The presentation is also great as well, though there is one major flaw which I’ll get to.  The graphics are nice and decently animated.  I do have some issues with the inconsistent feel during some of the later cut scenes where they seem to have used a few mixed techniques to make the scenes.  The shadow technique actually makes the 3D models look particularly terrible.  Everything is fully voice acted as well, and it’s done very well, which helps hold the story together all around.  My chief complaint is in the cut scenes and their length.  If you’re playing this game, make sure you block out some time because you’ll often encounter cut scenes without any warning and there are several which last an upwards of 20 minutes.  These tend to occur between chapters but I think there may have been one in the middle of one of the later chapters.

I also am giving some of my general difficulty with the game mechanics some benefit of the doubt in that I am not excessively familiar with this genre of game.  Runaway feels like it is a bit more of an advanced title.  I found it to be very enjoyable and look forward to the second game, which i hope may not have quite so many of the logic flaws and lengthy cut scenes.  It’s probably not a good title to pick up as an entry level title to the Adventure Gaming genre however.

Review – Faerie Solitaire (PC)

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Subsoap | 03.15.2009

Solitaire is a game that has like 500 zillion variations.  In fact, Solitaire is more of a genre of card game played alone than a type of game itself.  Faerie Solitaire, as far as I know, isn’t based on a previous “classic” style of Solitaire, but then, the reference material surrounding this game isn’t real plentiful.  It certainly isn’t the standard 7 piles, flip 3, collect Ace through King solitaire.

2011-09-23_00001 The basic card game works as follows, cards are laid out on the playing field in various patterns and the player gets a small stack to flip through.  You flip through the cards and play cards off the field in consecutive ascending or descending order, depending on what’s on your stack.  So if you flip a 5, you can pull a 4 or a 6 off the field and put it on the 5, then proceed to pull say, a 5 or 3.  You can only pull cards off the field that do not have other cards on top of them.

There are also some fantasy elements to help make the game more interesting beyond a simple card game.  Completing stages helps you free captive Faeries.  You also collect eggs and gain little pets, though the pets don’t really seem to DO anything.  Each round also earns some cash which can be spent to buy power ups such as Undos or pre flipped cards.

2011-09-23_00006 The gameplay itself is actually a lot of fun.  It’s just as mindless as Solitaire but it also has quite a bit of complexity involved.  You can proceed on without clearing the field for a Perfect but you won’t earn as much money.  Planning out combos and patterns becomes more essential as you get into higher levels.

There are also strategic elements added via other game mechanics.  Occasionally there will be cards trapped behind Ice, Fire, or Plants.  In order to play these cards you have to unlock them first, often by clearing out a stack somewhere on the board.

Overall, Faerie Solitaire is a solid card game.  Granted, if you’re not into computer cards you’re not going to enjoy it.  The whole Faerie theme may also turn some people off thinking the game is “too girly”, but the reality is, it’s much more “Generic Fantasy” than “Girly Faerie”.  Also, for the most part, the Faerie aspects can be completely ignored if so desired.

Faerie Solitaire can be found on Steam here.

NOTE: This game is also available on other platforms such as iOS.