Posts tagged ‘review’
PID is a newish indie platformer from a company with the amazing name Might and Delight. Two things I usually like together, however PID suffers a bit from the unity syndrome. The unity syndrome is when an indie game bears such similarity to another unity game that one simply feels one is playing the same game. In the case of PID it bears a resemblance to the equally excellent Rochard. Both are 2d platformers done in Unity only with remarkably different storylines, aesthetics, and play mechanics. PID involves a boy who over sleeps in an intergalactic school bus and finds himself immersed in the politics of an alien world. The game features co-op with both players using the same pc which is cool, but unlikely for someone like me.
PID is the story of various distractions, as the game begins our protagonist is looking for a bus back to his planet, only to be promised one in the first few minutes and then to discover that the old man in question is merely delusional, and a bus can only be caught from in town. From there PID grows into a gravity based platformer. Kurt, the plucky Pixar like protagonist of this surrealist epic, quickly acquires the ability to shoot two little gravity beams that will either send him up or to the side. These abilities aren’t terribly exciting, Rochard for features a gravity mechanic as well, but so far the game has made rather good use of them. You will flip plates, have to time throw to levitate boxes, and occasionally lob one into a tube to deal with an enemy.
And that might be where the game’s problems begin. PID has great surrealist design. It reminds of Windowsill:
But where Windowsill’s joy was the discovery of its surrealist mechanics PID is sadly more mundane in its play style. Kurt will be avoiding a surprisingly mundane group of machines in the castle level (confession I have not made it out of the castle yet). However the later parts of the castle introduce some creepy automatons that stalk Kurt through levels and have to be dealt with bombs, lasers, or other methods. These newer enemies suggest the game gets much more involved later. Truth be told I enjoyed the dining room levels quite a bit, because they reminded me of Mickey mouse in castle of illusion which was a major game for me when I was younger and the sitting room where I now reside is turning out to be wonderful as well. But PID initially in sound track and over all vibe is a bit of downer, propelled by jazz / surf rock bass lines the game’s opening levels seem almost sedate and the world around PID is often standing still.
Despite this, or maybe due to a love of platformers, I plundered through the first levels in a two hour binge arriving this morning at a really cool boss fight which involved smashing plates. I can only tentatively recommend PID, it’s design is fabulous, but the play mechanics are only now building to something truly exemplary. Might and Delight might have produced a gem, but nearing the end of the first section I am only now starting to get intrigued. The story, which in the trailer sounds awesome, is another problem, while an interesting idea it lacks execution and often falters in places, PID is a great could have been with story. The sound track only gets darker as one plays which is strange because PID is so much a game of surprise, it’s world is fairly original and it’s story book premise have great potential, but hey I haven’t even reached this guy yet: so who knows what is has in store. So to recap: it looks like a unity game, that same ethereal glow resounds around the game’s graphics. The world is greatly realized, but the enemies only become interesting towards the end of the first section. The game’s hook is gravity manipulation which works like lobbing a soft ball, it doesn’t quite have a fast pace to it, but it does lend to some ok puzzles.
Available from their website or Steam.
I have to admit, the rogue like games such as Diablo have never quite appealed to me. The games don’t really involve skill as much as button mashing and a rather annoying bit of inventory management. Skyrim is a similar species of loot and power. Neither game type has quite appealed to me, but Torchlight (unlike Diablo) has always had that indie sheen to it. It is the work of programmers and designers genuinely in love with the form. It also eschews the more serious tone of Diablo for cartoony graphics which is necessary when making a fantasy game about loot, after all part of Diablo or Torchlight (or even Skyrim) is how you dress. The serious fantasy tone doesn’t go down to well when you put on fairy wings and punch chickens to death for an hour. The game has essentially no strategy, if you pick a certain ability and it go awry, you can generally just blast your way away, heal a little, then pick off the enemies one by one. What Torchlight, Diablo, and Skyrim excel at is power. The games are consistent realms of challenge, but also consistent realms of ability. You are always leveling up in these games, and a high level character is powerful. Creeps don’t run away from you, they still attack in droves, and your high level dude or dudette mows through them like a new gigabytes on an ipad on a restricted data plan. Torchlight is essentially a mall. The game’s architecture is captivating, holds one in place, the game is social now (up to 6 player co-op is required in the beta) and you can even trade items now. You share space with other players, frag with them, and loot with them. In other words Torchlight has become what many games increasingly are: a place to socialize. It’s relaxed game play (you only really struggle on elite difficultly and even then in dungeons with lots of creeps) and emphasis on collection means that in multiplayer games there are often pauses while another hero unburdens his or her loot on an unsuspecting pet. Pets are your backpack / minor weapon of war in the game. Each character comes with a pet and the pet in turn holds loot, sells loot, and attacks enemies. Pets can also be fed fish to turn into even more dangerous denizens when needed. The pauses give you time to rearrange things, fuss with the latest Armour styles (I seriously have trouble giving up my short skirts for long unappealing pants) and possibly engage in some type of Chaucerian sub-plots in the game. Sadly, the later is ignored as an option, but could become part of the culture of the game. The game makes for an excellent place for chit-chat and showing off new abilities and loot. That said, Torchlight is also a runway. What the co-op really does is allow you to share your creation with others. Heavy ability use becomes the norm, special attacks role out, you strut your stuff on the dungeon floor.
I have yet to really grasp what these games are about. Loot perhaps? But I see high-level players just ignore it. Socializing? but many of my raiding parties are silent. In fact I find myself digging into the game play in order to find challenges. Yet, the game is addictive. I have played the beta so much that I have two maxed out accounts and comrades to the gills. Rogue likes are waves of power trips, once you’re up you find enemies more challenging and you’re down again, challenge sets in and for awhile you have to run and gun and dash and heal and then another level comes up and you’re on top again. It is my conjecture that Skyrim, Torchlight, are essentially hallucinations that appease a consistent need for power. They provide (primarily male) egos with a needed sense of control of their environment while also providing tons of opportunism for consumption. They are regulated environments (like malls) that lack the unpredictably of games or the events of cities, they are fantasies, a collective dream scape of steam punk selves, a place of becoming, they’re like the little fantasies you have while reading fantasy novels, you as a hobbit, you as a necromancer, an alien, a rabbit, a dream eating butterfly. Literature has produced a million dreams in its readers, it’s only that just now have all these fantasies popped in CAD systems, formalized into rule systems, made their way into code. Games such as these are essentially boyhood fantasies put into systems, screens, the flesh of pixels. They don’t work as games, but as a hallucination, they can induce prolonged periods of game play. What they lack though the is instability, the possibility, our own imagination places in literature’s memetic off shoots. As a self driven narrative Torchlight falters, you make rare decisions and have no real ability to speak, but it can let you become something. A fragment of an imaginary self, and your friends can come along too. One day we’ll figure out the mathematics of stories, and then games like this will shine.
p.s. I am enjoying torchlight a lot more than Diablo 3.
The game begins procedullary, minecraft algorithimically creates a world for you. One that’s topography reminds of adventure games, but aesthetically draws from the graphics of pc gaming origins. Minecraft is cutely and a tad nostallgically stylized. The game contains a binary night/day, these two states modulate the game, day allows you to mine the surface night forces you to mine inside. I found myself creating shelters which ended up being mine shacks, each house a stairway to the 19 or so levels below. When you reach the end, you hit bedrock, i managed this with cobblestone pick axes. You can’t break bedrock.
Video games potentially have narrative by the throat. They place story over an abyss of interactions, as games like heavy rain prove, we still like stories quite a bit. Minecraft’s narrative is never acknowledged textually, no one actually tells you to find shelter, no chorus like muse directs you to the next point, rather the possibilities of play drive the game forward. Even the levels differ per user, the game fills out the nonlinear possibilities of gaming by using an initial binary to drive yiu forward and a child like joy of creation to keep you around.
Minecraft has become popular because of its creations, that the game provides a perfect yiutube portrait, but after the first day the game itself offers few surprises. The day/night binary becomes teduim after you manage to create a house, the exploration becomes repetitive although i remember making it to an island where the mountains hung in air and building a little chateau on a cliff overlooking a lake. The game is procedullary brilliant, keep mining and you’ll run into a hidden cave, a lava pit, and then the inevitable bedrock. Get on a boat and you’ll sail through the oceans only to find continents, it’s the exploration i enjoyed the most, i just wish i could craft a new spawn point, restarting in my sandcastle gets old.
Minecraft is second life, but with out a monetary system and parred down to the joy of bricks. I find myself trying to find new things to do in it, tonight i might try to sail around the entire world.
Note minecraft is in beta and might contain quests amongst other additions in the future.
Pattern recognition continues to be my favorite gibson novel. Darkly mysteriois it caught the social malfunctions of the creative class while taking us on a very real quest. The follow up books in the series have inflated the characters to cartoons, and the apex of spook country was a major let down. Zero history is a combination of the two previous books thoughts. It commits the cardinal sin, somewhat unavoidable in gibson, of hurling a world that looks increasingly super human at us, part of what made pattern recognition work was the surprising humannesss of the scale followed by the surprise of the ending, spook country built to a largely dissapointing close, zero history’s finale is flawed its prep for milgrim’s exchange an eternity that ends up leading almost nowhere. It also ends with a clear build into the next novel in which hubertus bigend will obviously sprout wings and fight manga characters. Gibson doea continue his colloquial discussion of ideas, theories of branding and the military, addiction (gibson is still an addicting read), and of course the cleverness of a ceo able to buy out indie rock icons and then leverage their wuffie to find whatever he desirses, bigend’s manipilations are rather coy what he wants from milgrim is amother mater. Gibson’s portrayl of creative culture’s increasing abstracation from the lower class continues to climb or maybe it’s just the way he makes the pop cultural musings and lifestyles of our times seem so dire as if a really exclusive pair of secret brand pants could really provide some type of eureka a break through in urban theory that in turn would make somone rich, this is an author who sees pyschoanalysis as a tool as much as heliim balloons and custom made darts. Mr gibson thank you for your women. Loved heidi and the hotel. Ramble off