Updates every Thursday!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

MirrorMoon EP

Genre: Adventure, Indie

Developer: Santa Ragione

Publisher: Santa Ragione

System: Linux, Mac, Windows
 When I first opened my eyes the console stood silent. Glowing pink buttons begged to be pressed, switches to be flipped. I was just following orders. Soon the console hummed. The screen came to life. I inserted the eight-track. In a flash of light I found myself on the planet surface. My planetary array arm fidgeted, waiting to drag and rotate the celestial object above. It would have to wait. It needed more strength. There was a pyramid ahead. A blue prism that stood out against the red waste. I approached it, ever wary of the black moon above watching me like some sort of eye or something. On a pedestal sat one of the crucial components for my arm. A small orange-red pyramid floating with magical power. As I drew close it flew up and snapped into place on my arm. I wandered.

Not too far off in the distance, to the east, I think, was another blue shrine. Many pillars, in two rows, leading to an ethereal monolith. Another pedestal waited inside with my next arm upgrade, a series of blue bars that revolved around the orange-red pyramid. I looked again at the black sphere in the sky. Upon it I saw a white arrow, like a mouse cursor. And the most peculiar thing happened. When I moved, it moved. And when I stopped, it stopped. And when I went toward the blue pillars...dear God. It's as though the moon mirrored the very rock upon which I stood!

I resolved to discover just what was going on. I scoured the surface of the planet, looking for signs of a story, but could find nothing. I did, however, discover that my planetary array arm could indeed roll the moon above me so that I could discover other landmarks of note. And my arm could also shoot light beams to the moon, which, as you might expect, appeared upon my planet as well. I could use these to navigate the dark and seemingly endless red terrain.

With this discovery, I made my way to the small, round temple that held the final piece of my arm, a blue disc that fit into the back of the arm and allowed me, if you believe it, to drag the moon above to a different location. I latched on to the moon and pulled it away, revealing the sun behind. The planet became bright and tall, shadowy rocks appeared that turned white when I glided through them. Above, the rocks turned white as well and were given names: Pillars of Yuri, Pillars of Neil, and so on in that fashion. When all of the pillars had been turned white, the planet began to send out a strange wave.

Several moments of experimentation followed. I dragged the planet to the epicenter of the wave, hoping it would do something, but it did not. I rotated the planet so that the waves mirrored each other, but nothing happened. I rotated so that the waves would be on opposite sides, but to no avail.

What dystopian hell is this?! Cursed to forever wander this barren rock, a lonely child lost to his people? Who the hell are my people anyway? Who am I?!

Happy Thoughts: I don't know if this game was meant to be existential, but it brought me to that line of thought.

Sad Thoughts: I just want to know what's going on.

The Bottom Line: This game is very strange, but also fascinating. It does a fantastic job by giving you just a tiny push and then encouraging you to explore. I still have no friggin' clue how to go beyond where I stopped, but I can't say I wasn't sort of sucked into the puzzle-like aspect of the game. Enjoy, if you can.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag

Genre: Action, RPG

Developer: Ubisoft Montreal

Publisher: Ubisoft

System: PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Windows

We all know how I felt about Assassin’s Creed III or, at least, we can all find out by reading it here. But when I found out they were making a fourth game I felt I had to suck it up and play through the rest of ACIII. Guess what. My initial prediction of what to expect from Assassin’s Creed III was actually pretty accurate! You climb buildings, you assassinate people, etc. But what really made the game stick out of the series were the ship battles. Well, guess what again. Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is entirely ship battles! Apparently, Ubisoft read my review of ACIII and decided to pack more action into the beginning of ACIV. The game opens with the main character, Edward the shiny, in the midst of an epic skirmish the likes of Horatio Hornblower. The decks splintering beneath his feat, the cannon smoke still hanging in the thunderous air, shipmates yelling pirate-y phrases, “Y’aarr, the bar wench be loose from the rigging. Tack the main anchor and weigh the sail!”

And you’re told the helmsman has been killed.

It is time.

With a take-charge attitude fueled by adrenaline and rum, Edward grabs the helm and charters a course of destruction through choppy waves and broadsides. Vessels explode when they so much as glance at your ship. It’s almost as though the fight is supposed to be easy. But when the last ship sinks, you realize it was all for naught. The ship’s magazine has caught fire and with no Penthouse a crew of murderous pirates cannot go on. A fiery explosion ensues and we cut to Edward talking to his…wife...? Well, “lady-friend” anyway. Here we learn that his plan is to become a privateer (pirate!) to make his fortune. Plot set.

Meanwhile, back in the present day 18th century Caribbean, Edward awakens beneath the surface of the water surrounded by debris (pronounced deh-briss). As it turns out he is one of only two people to survive the naval battle. The other is a quickly dying assassin, who, by the way, showed up earlier aboard the ship. I didn’t mean to leave that out. They exchange pirate pleasantries before the assassin suggests they play a hardcore game of hide and seek using the island on which they washed up as their boundaries (Desmond’s room is off limits). Edward counts to twenty and they bound off into the jungle completely forsaking the rules of the game.

And that is where I called it quits.

Happy Thoughts: It seems that they’ve finally dropped the whole Desmond Miles story line. Thank god. I am so tired of jumping into the future for an alternate story line that just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

Sad Thoughts: So help me if my character suddenly wakes up as his future self I am going to lose it.

The Bottom Line: Did you like Assassin’s Creed Whatever? Do you like pirates? I think this is going to be fun.

Images provided by the internet.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


Genre: Action, Adventure, Indie, RPG

Developer: Crackshell

Publisher: Crackshell

System: Windows, Mac, Linux

If I judged every game I played based on the first ten minutes starting with the moment I opened the program I would probably review half of them as shit. I wanted to jump right into Hammerwatch’s multiplayer, because I felt it would lead to a more interesting review of the game, but, like many gamers, I have a friend that uses a Mac. And Apple and Hammerwatch do not get along very well. In fact, you need to install an additional program that Mac users seem not to trust, which sounds silly since Macs are impenetrable fortresses.

Anyway, about an hour of fiddling around with this problem and we were good to go. We logged in and chose our classes. I went with the Warlock, a robed figure with a staff and a penchant for stabbing creatures with a short, poisoned, dagger. The warlock is best known for having the most health of the four classes and his ability to cast a lightning ball of doom that electrocutes everything in its path and does massive amounts of damage. In other words I took the overpowered class. OK, that’s probably not fair, because the ranger shoots arrows endlessly and poops bombs that make it easy to run away from enemies while dealing a lot of damage. Not fair.

The game begins in a dungeon – or a castle, I guess – and you are told that the bridge you just crossed has been destroyed and, well, that’s it, good luck. No tutorial explains the controls, no popup lets you know how to fight. This may be different in single player mode, and I suppose you can look at the keybindings, but if it weren’t for my good pal Sean I would have died in about ten seconds. I know this, because that’s about the time a cloud of bats came flying at me. I had to think fast, LIGHTNING BALL! The bats fried like a shattered egg on a sidewalk on a steamy summer day. It felt good.

Next came a wave of beetles, LIGHTNING BALL! Guess we’re serving up toasted bug-flesh for breakfast. Beyond those were the larval spawn of venom-spitting worms, LIGHTNING BALL! Piece of cake. I’m getting hungry. Then came more bats, LIGHTN- out of juice. RUN! So you can’t just spam your special ability, which makes sense, I guess. Instead, you have to get good at using your main ability (stabby stabby poison dagger) until your energy recharges or you eat some energy crystals, but once you get that energy back…LIGHTNING BALL! AH HAHAHAHAHA! BURN! BURN!

Happy Thoughts: Hammerwatch is very rewarding in that it is not easy. The controls are stupidly simple, but getting good at the individual classes can be difficult. That poison dagger work takes finesse.

Sad Thoughts: I never thought I’d ever hear myself say this, but the Mac version needs to be fixed. The least they could do is mention the need for an additional program on Steam.

The Bottom Line: If Hammerwatch posted itself on a dating site it would probably look like this: Fun, pixelated, dungeon crawler seeks nerd for a magical night. Friends welcome.