Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Curious Expedition Impressions

My feeling towards this game were mixed at first, and to be fair, they are still mixed.  With around 9 hours under my belt--my feelings are a mixture of confusion, wonder, stress, and excitement.  I feel like these are completely appropriate and capture the sense of exploration into the unknown.  This is much better than my initial reaction of frustration and annoyance.

There are still a great number of things that could be done better in this game, but damn it if it isn't an addicting experience.  You choose a famous likeness to start-- each has their own perks to start with.  There are various forms of currency in the game and the most valuable forms of currency is your sanity.  Out on an expedition with no end in sight, after days of no rest, and being pursued by wild animals could drive even the hardiest adventure a little loony.

The maps (and therefore movement) are hexagon-based.  The maps are randomly generated offering almost limitless adventures.  The point of these adventures is to become famous, but there is no point in being famous if you aren't around to enjoy it.  You must survive as well.  All movement takes effort which is calculated in time, sanity, and resources.  For example, moving through a jungle tile costs more sanity and time than moving through a grassland tile.  However, this can be mitigated by the use of a machete.  Wherever you try to move you will always be informed of the cost of that move first.  In addition to this, there is a lot of number crunching that you are not privy to through the course of the game.  You can also do things such as resting at a local village or get drunk to restore sanity.  My words of advice are to bring lots of whiskey with you. 

As an explorer you explore, make discoveries, loot shrines, and piss off the locals.  The ultimate goal of each level is to find the golden temple to exit the level.  There are various items you can use along the way to ease your travel, but make no bones about it-- this is not an easy game.  It's not especially hard per say, but it has no problem with screwing you over at the drop of a hat.  The discoveries and artifacts that you bring back with you can be kept, sold, or donated to a museum.  Doing these different things have various benefits like fame, money, or bonuses on your next expedition.  These choices can make or break your explorer, so choose wisely.  You can also choose a bonus perk at the end of each expedition that stays with you until your untimely demise.

You have a compass that is always pointing in the general direction(s) of the golden temple.  At the start of a level it is entirely inaccurate and bouncing around all over the place.  As you uncover more of the map the compass becomes more accurate--supposedly.  This is my one big problem with the game.  While this is one of the ways the game offers up difficulty, I have learned to almost completely ignore the compass on later expeditions.  The needle wavers from north to south or worse-- sometimes it's well over 180 degrees even after I have uncovered the majority of the map.  This makes finding the golden temple blind luck at times.  It does, in its own way, add a layer of strategy to the game because it forces you to analyze the map itself for the most likely places the golden temple may be.  However, when the needle is swinging around wildly only to point directly at it only AFTER I have discovered its location makes me question the value of the compass in the first place.

Granted, this game is in early access. It is at alpha 12.1 at the time I am writing this, so they have a lot of time to fine tune a few things.  If this impression sounds overly critical that is not my intention.  This is a fun little game with the potential to be great.  These are my thoughts on the matter.  I will continue to log more hours with the game as they seem to be updating it on a regular basis (and they are meaningful updates that affect how it plays).  If you are interested-- check it out on Steam.  It's already very addictive, so you can't go wrong-- just be prepared for a learning curve and a lot of whiskey.      

Friday, June 19, 2015

Duck Game Impressions

Duck Game had been a game that almost made me purchase an Ouya just so I could play it. When I first heard the news that Duck Game was coming to Steam I jumped out of my seat with excitement. Though the Duck Game you remember from Ouya is not the same Duck Game on PC. Duck Game got a whole lot better and has a lot more content.

Duck Game features a single player mode. It's fun I guess, but who is really buying Duck Game for the challenges?  You should do them since it helps you get the hang of all the mechanics in the game, but that's about it. Also, you can unlock certain hats only by playing these challenges in single player.

The real reason you purchased this game is to kill your friends online. You can play with teams of two or free for all for up to four players. This game is really more fun as a free for all game. You can set the map types and weapons. The real magic of the game is playing random maps with random weapons. That way there aren't any real advantage for any one player since you are always switching it up.

The objective of Duck Game is simple-- kill your friends one by one until your the last duck standing. If you are the last one standing then you receive one point. It only takes one bullet to kill you, so be careful with all your shots. Intermission tallies up the score after so many rounds which lets you know who is in the lead. The first person to reach ten or greater at intermission is the winner. If there is a tie then it's one tie breaker match.

Duck Game is not only fun, but just makes you laugh non-stop at the shear stupidity of it. When you press B on the gamepad you let out a "quack" since, of course, you're a duck. You can quack at any moment and time. But do you know whats better than quacking? Hats.  Hats are better than quacking.  What makes this even better is choosing your hat before you start the game. These hats can make you look like a giant log, hamburger, frog, monster, and even a double beer hat. Each has it's own unique quack animation that makes the most uptight person laugh out loud. You can turn off the quack button in custom games, but why would you do that?

Another point I need to mention is the level creator. Not enough maps for you? Stop complaining and create your own madness to play with your friends! It's easy to create levels with the tool and nothing is more fun than a level full of grenades and explosives!

Duck Game is the most ridiculous online shooter for 2015 (so far) and it's probably not getting any crazier than this. It brings the magic of the Ouya version to your PC with more weapons, but the same Duck Game you remember (Or don't?-- Seriously, who bought an Ouya?) You can purchase the game right now on Steam.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

High Strangeness Impressions

I have been a fan of action RPGs and Zelda games growing up.  Most games don't compare to the magic that I grew up with until now.  As the title implies, High Strangeness is probably the strangest game I have played in awhile. It meshes both 8-bit and 16-bit worlds into one game. The power to switch between both 8-bit and 16-bit is a game-play mechanic that doesn't get old!

All of this crazy power comes from the magical skulls that were brought to this world by The Keepers. The Skulls were meant to enslave mankind, but a prophecy told that one day someone would save mankind and use the skulls to banish The Keepers for good. This person happens to be a normal kid who loves metal music and attacks his enemies with CDs and a flash light. The story is deeper than that, but I am not here to spoil anything. This is just to give you an idea of what's going on. Also... did I mention there's a pompous talking cat!

Each skull you acquire to battle The Keepers contains a power. One lets you stun enemies and another lets your create blocks.  The most important one allows you to travel between worlds. What I mean by that is traversing from 16-bit to 8-bit and back. The majority of the game will be figuring out how to reach certain platforms by switching between worlds. In addition to this, certain enemies can only be killed in a particular realm (8-bit or 16-bit). By killing enemies you can upgrade your powers and acquire new ones. Each skill maxes out once you have upgraded it to level three.

The most impressive aspect of the game is the world it puts you in. Whether you are playing the game in 8-bit or 16-bit, it really feels like it is one cohesive universe in which you exist. Another great part of the game are the cut scenes explaining the back story. These portions have backgrounds hand-drawn like a teenager in high school.

My one gripe with the game has to do with the game-play.  At times I wish the game was more of a challenge in the action department. The enemies are varied, but it was lacking in the boss battle department. They have interesting concepts, but for most of the bosses all I had to do was drop dynamite and they would just run over it.  I could avoid getting hit at all times and was never really challenged. It wish I was forced to attack the bosses in some other way or with certain weapons. Thankfully the boss battles are not the majority of the game.

If you like solving puzzles by traveling through alternate worlds then you will probably dig this game. It's not the hardest game in the world, but the story is captivating and it has a few good twists and turns along the way. The game is available on Wii U and on Steam!