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Been playing Among the Sleep and it's fucking marvellous! The first (and only) time so far I really regret not backing a Kickstarter campaign (they held their fundraiser about a year after the initial Kickstarter boom, when I was already avoiding new Kickstarters since I was still waiting for all the other projects I backed to deliver and due to becoming wary of the practices of some of the indie devs, especially when it comes to releasing DRM-free versions to the general public). Only downside is the short length. It's a game that will leave you wanting more, both in a good and in a bad way.

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I had never played the Simon the Sorcerer games before and had heard some mixed things about them,

but I just played and completed the first one (and hooray, I did it without going to the hints even once  :lol: )

 

This was easily one of my favorite games, I really, really enjoyed it...

 

I'd put it above games that are usually put ahead of it -- I liked it better than Full Throttle,

Sam and Max, and in some ways I liked it better than Grim Fandango (the best parts of

GF are truly excellent, but I found it dragged a little in the beginning).

 

To me it's in the same league as SQs 1,3,4,6 and Monkey Island 1+2,

So I'm now looking forward to playing Simon the Sorcerer 2...

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I've beat Tex Murphy: Tesla Effect twice now (and, I'll reiterate, I fucking loved it). Granted, when you try to recap the plot to your wife as part of your "using adventure games as bedtime stories" thing, the plot does tend to fall apart in certain places, and it can't all be because I forget details. Anyway. I still loved it.

 

I'm on to Still Life now, by the people who bored us to death with Syberia. This one looks much more interesting, being that there is actually more to do than tinker with gears and machinery, and that there's a gritty murder mystery to solve.

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Right now, I'm still playing Minecraft, Quest for Glory, Syberia, that I started a while ago, but I'm stuck on a puzzle so I took a break, and Space Quest IV.5, which is pretty confusing and a little bit strange compared to the original Space Quests. I'm also stuck on a puzzle on the Ipad version of Monkey Island, and I'm waiting for SpaceVenture to come out. Considering the fact that I don't play too much video games, I have enough for the year.

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I need to buy that at some point. It looks fun, and they deserve credit for what they did to counter piracy.

 

Apart from playing the waiting game after finishing The Last Door (the next episode is coming soon), I've been playing quite a bit of Papers, Please. Which is arguably more entertaining than it should be. Quite thought-provoking too.

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Apart from playing the waiting game after finishing The Last Door (the next episode is coming soon), I've been playing quite a bit of Papers, Please. Which is arguably more entertaining than it should be. Quite thought-provoking too.

How so? You just deny everyone, right? ;)

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< insert Pete Tole comment about immigrants >

 

I've been playing strategy games mostly, as there seem to be quite a lot of "Theme Park"-inspired games from indie developers that are really quite complex and well-thought-out. I suppose the relatively modular design pattern makes it the kind of thing that one or two guys (British gender-neutral usage) in a virtual office can hook up reasonably quickly to a working standard, and then build up from there. The graphics can be more than a bit simplistic, but they do a job.

 

In that vein:

 

Prison Architect (Alpha, in the Steam sale) - a brilliant prison sim, where you have to balance rehabilitation and humane living conditions with safety and riot control.

 

Gangsters (GOG, Win95) - the original version from the 1990s, a very deep simulation though a bit overwhelming and with a very dated interface.

 

Total Extreme Wrestling (Greydog Games) - in which adolescent boys relive the fantasies of running the WWE in 1998...

 

Spacebase DF-9 (Alpha, Steam) - haven't played this in a while because it's a bit of a resource hog on my creaky old laptop, but it gets better with every alpha.

 

Dwarf Fortress (Bay13) - the daddy of the "let's model supply and demand of kangaroo biscuits" sim. It's ridiculous the amount of detail in this, and even more ridiculous that it uses and ASCII character set to represent the gameworld. MENTAL. Oh. And it's free. Even more mental.

 

Really want to look at Xenonauts, Rimworld (no, that's not a Pete Tole creation either), and FTL. But I'm waiting for my new job to start and it's associated pay cheques before getting a new PC and some of these games to... er... test it out. Yes. That will convince the wife...

 

Anyway, if you like strategy games at all, definitely look at Prison Architect. If you like them but have no money, download Dwarf Fortress.

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Gabriel Knight 20th Anniversary Beta

 

Not the unmitigated disaster I anticipated, but it‘s still quite an unoriginal by-the-numbers remake and whenever it differs from the original game, it‘s usually for the worse. Can‘t blame anyone but Activision, though, they were the ones who apparently insisted on remaking GK1 instead of doing something new. (Hell, spending the same budget on an episodic „Gabriel Knight mini-adventure“ would have been preferable to the highly ungrateful task of remaking one of the very few Sierra games that absolutely does NOT need a remake) It's by no means a bad game, but the main motivation for making it seemed to be for it to be successful enough to warrant a GK4. And frankly, with the current hostility towards adventure games in the gaming media and the potentially problematic content of GK1 in particular (A game featuring a womanizing white guy fighting an evil voodoo cult? Cue faux outrage!), I can't see that happening.

 

 

Bioshock

Hell has frozen over! 2K finally removed all the online activation requirements from Bioshock, enabling DRM-refuseniks such as myself a chance at exploring the world of Rapture.

Unfortunately, this is about the best thing I can say about it. Even considering the lukewarm-at-best reception it was given amongst Looking Glass affictionados, I was surprised at what a tedious, deadening experience this turned out to be. All the elements for greatness are there, but Irrational (with the pressure of a $20million+ budget on them and their 2K overlords looming) can‘t figure out what to do with any of them. Unable to decide whether to create a „proper“ follow-up to the ingenious System Shock 2 or a generic horror shooter, they try to have it both ways, resulting in a painfully mediocre mess that can‘t hold a candle to its predecessor.
 

 

Quest For Infamy

After the mind-numbing tedium of Bioshock, playing a more light-hearted and fun game was sorely needed. Loving the atmosphere so far, the soundtrack is fucking BEAUTIFUL and having a public execution by Guillotine within the first couple of screens of the game is always a plus.

Also, big props to Blackthorne who, despite already making good on his promise of a DRM-free version by distributing direct downloads via Humble, provided backers/pre-orderers with GOG and Desura keys. Big thumbs up for that!



On the back burner: Gray Matter finally arrived on GOG, but for now I‘m busy with QFI.

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I beat Still Life last weekend. The game was alright -- absolutely beautiful looking, good soundtrack, kind of lame dialogue (probably as a result of being translated from French to English), hammy Canadian actors pretending to be Americans, ridiculously hard fucking logic puzzles that seriously bogged the whole thing down. Oh, and what a fucking rip-off of an ending. I know Brian "Demodulated" on Twitter loves it; he can have it. If I'm playing a murder mystery, at least give me the satisfaction of letting me know who the murderer was. The game just ends with you shooting the killer, he falls in the river, and that's it! Oh, there's a little epilogue that says that divers have combed the river and can't find the body -- that's fine with me; that's exciting -- but at least let me know who the fucker was!

 

I was on my way to play The Last Door and actually got through episode 1, but it's on hold until next weekend where my buddy Leonard (we co-wrote the SQ novel Lone Voyager together) comes to town. We're gonna turn down the lights, have some red wine, and see if this thing can scare us. Last time we tried a horror game it was Project Zero for the PS2 (Fatal Frame for you Americans) and we nearly shat ourselves during the opening sequence. That game was SCARY and the story still haunts me to this day. Too bad the game itself was so outrageously difficult. I basically had Leonard play the game while I watched and made useless suggestions.

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What‘s this? Normally it takes me ages to finish even a single game, now I managed to complete FOUR games in a single weekend? Welcome to...

Fronzel's #2deep4u pretentious artsy fartsy shovelware weekend quadruple feature

 

Dear Esther

The original 1st person walking simulator! Explore barren hebridean beaches while pompous purple prose narrations will make your ears bleed.

Pretentiousness: 10/10
Actual gameplay: 1/10
Visuals: 6/10 (Most of the locations look like an episode of Baywatch, but set in the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. universe. The cave looks absolutely stunningly beautiful, though)
Fun: 1/10
Music: 6/10 (A mixed bag, but the tune that ends the game is genuinely great)
Replayability: 4/10 (Surprisingly lots of it for a game that has no actual gameplay due to fairly randomized texts)
Hours of gameplay: 1
Base price: €7,99 (Credit where credit's due: Apparently thechineseroom does not partake in Steam's regional ripoff and doesn't equate the $9,99 US-base price to €9,99)
Minutes of gameplay per Euro: 7,5
Overall: 3/10

 

Gone Home

Serious GOTY contender because it deals with angsty teenagers.

Pretentiousness: 3/10 (The story might be a nonstop barrage of cliches, but the writing is actually quite enjoyable and the game works as a nice subversion of horror tropes.)
Actual gameplay: 6/10 (You can pick up most objects, allowing for quite a bit of emergent gameplay, if you're creative enough.)
Visuals: 6/10 (Most of it looks decent enough. I wonder why the doors look like they have to withstand a nuclear blast)
Fun: 6/10 (Could have been improved if the player had been able to pick up that RoboCop VHS tape and watch that instead.)
Music: 0/10 (Your mileage may vary. One of my favourite gameplay elements was dropping the various tapes of shitty Grrrrrrl music into the nearest wastebasket)
Replayability: 1/10 (If you played it once, chances are you‘ve seen it all)
Hours of gameplay: 1,5
Base price: €19,99
Minutes of gameplay per Euro: 4,5
Overall: 6/10

 

The Novelist

Think "The Shining" and subtract all the axe/roque mallet murders and supernatural elements that bogged down the original.

Pretentiousness: 4/10 (More pretentious than Gone Home by virtue of dealing with a family of three and two of them are artists. Likewise, the child will only be able to reach true happiness if you encourage his inner artist.)
Actual gameplay: 3/10 (Walk through a tiny little holiday refuge and click on notes strewn throughout the rooms until the chapter ends. Rinse and repeat.)
Visuals: 4/10 (Appealing CEL-shading look, unfortunately there's not a whole lot of it to see, due to the location being so damn small.)
Fun: 6/10 (The story is strangly gripping, but the repetitive gameplay gets exhausting even in short doses.)
Music: 5/10 (Take a piano, hit a random key every five seconds or so and add heavy reverb to the recording. Voila!)
Replayability: 8/10 (You get to make some choices at the end of each chapter which greatly influence the rest of the story, rendering this a game that encourages repeat playthroughs even if the gameplay itself is lacking.)
Hours of gameplay: 2
Base price: €14,99
Minutes of gameplay per Euro: 8
Overall: 6/10



Mountain

It's cheap, it's DRM-free, what's there not to like?

Pretentiousness: 7/10 (Tim Schafer likes this, which automatically adds a bonus two points to this rating)
Actual gameplay: 1/10 (You can turn the camera and scroll out. You can also surf for porn on the internet while "Mountain" plays in the background)
Visuals: 3/10
Fun: 3/10 (Strangely enough, this game might be more fun when you're not playing it and instead have it run in the background, only to return after some time to see what has changed. Kind of like a 2014 version of a Tamagotchi)
Music: 3/10 (You can use your keyboard as a xylophone)
Replayability: 3/10 (It's possible, but why would you?)
Hours of gameplay: ?
Base price: €0,99
Minutes of gameplay per Euro: Depends entirely on how much of it you're willing to take
Overall: 2/10

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I liked Gone Home myself. It's a neat little piece of interactive fiction, but Dear Esther I find pretentious and overly melodramatic.

I do think that there's a demand for interactive stories like Gone Home is. At best they can work like nice, choose your own adventure style of narratives and deliver emotional impact watching a movie might not be able to do in the same way. I have some at times argued if they should be called games at all, but that is an entirely different matter.

 

And on the topic matter what am I playing at the moment, XCOM. I played the original a lot and I must say I like the new one as well. I know some fans of the original have complained about it, but personally I think it's pretty well modernized take on the original game and doesn't steer that far away from it either.

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Currently getting my fake retro on with Shovel Knight and Quest for Infamy.  Shovel Knight is a great tribute to the NES platformer games of yore, and I'm on a second playthrough of it on a harder difficulty (because it's fun and there's some achievements I thought might be fun to try and get).  QfI has been good fun as well, although I never played any of the QFG games back in the day.  I was purely won over by the demo and pre-ordered it as a show of support and because devs gotta eat, ya know?  I didn't know which class to pick so I randomly rolled Rogue and I just reached Tyr for the first time a couple nights ago.

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Recently I've been on a mixed diet of games consisting of the following: Luftrausers, Moto Racer, Aliens VS Predator, Papo & Yo, Mark Of The Ninja, Race The Sun. I'm having great fun with each of those, which kind of prevented me from making a lot of progress in any of them.

 

Luftrausers and Race The Sun are great arcadey fun. Moto Racer is an enjoyable retro racer. The beautifully designed Papo & Yo is definite proof that you CAN successfully marry important social issues to original gameplay without it resulting in a game that is either preachy, dumbed-down or both of these things. As a massive fan of the Thief-series, I was looking forward to Mark Of The Ninja, which uses Thief-like stealth in a 2D platformer. It looks great, but I'm having difficulty with the controls, which would probably work a lot better if I had a gamepad.

I also went full tabletard and got Bridge Constructor from Humble. The HUGE "Share on facebook"-button kind of betrays what kind of audience this game is going for, but I'm afraid I must admit that I'm having fun.

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I finished Maniac Mansion for the first time a couple of weekends ago, and I've been playing through the game Vohaul Strikes Back in the past week. Once I finish VSB, I plan on starting Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders. :)

 

As far as consoles go, I'm currently playing Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga for the Game Boy Advance.

 

Talk to you later!

 

JDHJANUS

Josh

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I've been playing The Journey Down (chapters 1 and 2) for the most part.

 

Last weekend, I played the freeware game Mudlarks, which was a pretty fun little ghost story. Lost of dry British humor, too.

 

I also played through two of the three retro fan games I talked about on the last podcast episode -- Replicated and Decision of the Elders -- with great apologies to Vonster D Monster, whose Lost Chapter game completely and utterly crapped out on me. Turns out there's a patch for the error I encountered, and I was too dumb to notice it right there on the friggin' website.

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I started playing the first Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars, as I hadn't played it before.

 

I know this is meant to be a classic, and it's well done, but I'm already getting a bit bored with it...

 

It feels like there is a LOT of story and talking, talking, talking, and I feel like the puzzles are kinda

obvious things just to move to the next talking part.

 

Though maybe I'm being harsh on it and need to play it some more...

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For me, what makes BS1 good is the incredibly snarky humor, first and foremost. It's something the series sadly lost as the sequels piled on.

 

If you want my advice, stick with George's incredibly languid walking pace and see if the mystery doesn't grab you. If it hasn't by the time you hit Spain, you can probably give it a miss, then.

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Quake

 

The gog version has a little workaround so you can play it with the original Reznor soundtrack. At the risk of sounding like a huge NIN-fanboy (which I haven't been for around 8 years now): With the soundtrack playing in the background, this game has aged remarkably well. I also quite enjoy the level design: The levels are just complex enough to be considered intricate and just small enough to never overstay their welcome. I'm halfway through the game and I'm having a great time so far!

 

 

Metro 2033 Redux

 

Abandoned after 82 minutes. Godawful Cowadoody clone with STALKER aesthetics. Better play STALKER instead.

 

 

FEAR Extraction Point

Never cared much for the base game (which was basically you running through the same location for 8 hours while the incessant jump scares got awfully stale), but this one was surprisingly fun. There seemed to be some variety to the levels and everything seemed to move along at a much brisker pace.

 

 

Flatout 2

Probably my new favourite racing game (not quite sure if it beats Super Mario Kart, but it's getting damn close). After having played Flatout 2, playing any other racing game in my library - even those I used to enjoy - feels surprisingly underwhelming and stale.

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I've been going through the Dark Forces/Jedi Knight games again for the first time in years. On hard difficulty...mostly. Without cheating. HARD. Currently on Mysteries of the Sith. I forgot how annoying handling the lightsaber in Jedi Knight/MotS is. Much more fluid in Outcast and Academy. I may move on to Outlaws after that. Never did play through it.

 

The Jedi Knight Enhanced mod is pretty nice, though. It puts higher res textures and higher poly models into the game (mostly ripped from Jedi Outcast assets, it seems). It messes up in Mysteries of the Sith, though. And then of course there's the unfinished 6-level demo of the Dark Forces MOD for Jedi Academy which is beautiful. I don't think I ever played through the 6 level demo actually, only the 3 level demo. I'm excited to get to that again. I also found a neat mod that adds many more character creation options for Jedi Academy. Only for human males, however. Some of them too much like Anakin Skywalker (whom I hate), but still neat for some extra options.

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Ahhh, Jedi Knight! The game that taught me the joy of virtual murder!

 

Speaking of virtual murder, I finished Quake. Even 20 years down the road it's excellent stuff.

 

 

Supreme League Of Patriots, however, isn't...

 

I got this since it was published by Phoenix and I quite liked what they did with Cognition and the Jane Jensen games. Now, I must admit that I nuked it from my HD after a mere 8 minutes. Technically, it's quite nice to look at. But the writing... goddamn, the writing... You click on random shit and you get this MASSIVE block of text. And there's something like 3-4 punchlines in each of those and every single one falls flat at best and makes you feel physically ill at worst. It's soooo unbelievably long-winded and unfunny.

 

One example: The main guy has a poster of Charlton Heston in his bedroom. Click on it and, guess what: random NRA joke! "You're not one of dem NRA gun nuts, are you?!" Topical! And since that joke was so incredibly funny, they have the other character rephrase the exact same joke: "I liked him in "10 Commandments", when he came down the hill and said "From my cold dead hands!""

 

Like, "Bowling For Columbine" came out how many years ago? Charlton Heston has been dead and buried for how many years now?

 

It's lazy, embarrassing, groan-inducing stuff. Avoid.

(Or get it, play it for more than 8 minutes and let me know if this brief assessment is doing a great injustice to the rest of the game)

 

 

edit: Been googling a bit for reviews, came across this:

and-another1-800x453.jpg

 

More proof that the writing in this game is rubbish. This reads like a Fronzel forum post.

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