Friday, October 2, 2015

The Friday FREE GAME Feature! Ep36: The Terrible Old Man (H. P. Lovecraft)

The Terrible Old Man is a point-and-click adventure horror title, based on the H. P. Lovecraft short story of the same name.

I'll get my only complaint out of the way - this game isn't very long. Being based on a short story, there's not much source material for the game to really work with. I am glad to see that the game at least remained relatively faithful to the story instead of padding it for more content. 

There are numerous Lovecraft works that would make for interesting games, many of which are much longer than The Terrible Old Man. It leaves me to wonder why this particular piece was chosen to be adapted into a game over others? Maybe it was just a favorite tale of the developers. Perhaps it was more of a "proof of concept" to see if a story would work as a point-and-click adventure? If so, I think it came out pretty well and hope they decide to make more adaptations.

The gameplay itself was standard adventure fare - gather information, find and use items at appropriate times, etc. I liked the hand-drawn art style and the facial expressions were equal parts comical and disturbing, which helped play up the unusual atmosphere.

Hardcore point-and-click enthusiasts will find The Terrible Old Man to be lacking depth, but fans of H. P. Lovecraft should enjoy checking this one out for the novelty.

Friday, September 25, 2015

New Tags Added!

Quick technical announcement:
I added a few more tags today to all appropriate posts. You can now browse content tagged by:

  • Game engine (such as Unity or Game Maker Studio)
  • Available platforms (Mac games, Linux games, PSP games)
  • Game perspective (2D, 3D, isometric)
  • Controller compatibility and a few more. 
I didn't add a 'Windows games' tag as all games on here (at least so far and in the foreseeable future) are Windows-compatible.

I'm also trying to find a way to improve the tag/label page - I realize it's pretty messy-looking.

The Friday FREE GAME Feature! Ep35: Stories of Bethem

Classic Zelda-style adventure for the PC or Android!

Stories of Bethem captures the look (and most of the feel) of the classic Legend of Zelda titles. Instead of a magic sword, you harness the powers of elemental magic to break objects and slay enemies.

The game begins with a rather lengthy backstory and control explanation. The intro can be skipped and dialog can be sped through via button presses, which is great when replaying the game. You begin with no weapons or attacks of any kind, but a witch quickly gives you your first spell - a wind blast. She then sets you out on a quest to find a number of magical objects.

Puzzles are heavily featured throughout the game, many of which involve pushing rocks to open paths or cover holes. In addition to damaging enemies, your wind spell allows you to break barrels and bushes to reveal treasures and hidden paths... but using the spell drains magic points. You can find items to regain MP or wait for it to slowly recover, but early on you can go through MP pretty fast as you use it for attacks as well as exploration/puzzle solving. This slows down play somewhat until you can begin recovering health and magic at save locations.

Some of the puzzles seem fairly tricky - I had a hard time figuring out a few of them and for the sake of the episode explored other rooms once I got stuck. I didn't get too far during the video due to the puzzles, but that means they at least pose some challenge which is good. I'd like to see what other types of spells and items become available later in the game, so there's a fair chance I'll continue playing for a bit.

There's nothing impressive early on in Stories of Bethem, but I'd like to take some more time with it. The story, gameplay, art style and controls all seem okay from my first experience.

Friday, September 18, 2015

The Friday FREE GAME Feature! Ep34: Tankya's Adventures

Shoot cannonballs at monkeys on a tropical island in this 3D platformer!

Tankya's Adventures - The Curse of Zoltar is a 3D platformer reminiscent of the PS2 era. You play as the feisty Tankya, who enjoys brawling, drinking and relaxing at her island home. The monkeys of the island have seemingly been hypnotized and are out to capture Tankya. Your job is to free the monkeys of the curse (apparently by beating some sense into them) and locating the source of the trouble.

The art style is colorful and cartoony, and overall the game has a quirky charm about it. Unfortunately, this title suffers from horrible controls that will frustrate you to no end. Tankya often enters a "combat stance" that prevents her from sprinting (and sometimes jumping or moving at all). I couldn't find a reliable way to leave the stance via keyboard/mouse - a button press on the controller seemed to toggle it, but then she couldn't move. When you die, the game remembers your last input and respawns you doing whatever that was, meaning you might just walk backwards off a cliff with no control over it. 

The boss at the end of level 2 was actually pretty cool from a design perspective, and I imagine the rest of the game features more interesting characters/bosses... if you can access it. After the second level, I couldn't figure out how to go any farther. The map had a large blacked-out area that never opened up, so I assume this might be a demo of some type. If so, then in a weird way I'm kind of grateful as this is one game you'd definitely want to try before purchasing.

To sum it up, Tankya's Adventure is full of charm and potential, but it's wasted due to terrible controls and horrible bugs.

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Friday FREE GAME Feature! Ep33: Tessallation

Loop through time with brain-teasing puzzles, evil refrigerators and flipping squirrels!

Tessallation is a Portal-inspired 3D puzzler that uses a time rewind/replay feature to overcome its various obstacles. When you rewind time, your past actions overlap each other allowing you to help yourself. It's a cool mechanic that oddly makes the title both a single-player and "co-op" game.

The controls are pretty straightforward using a standard WASD setup. 'T' toggles the time feature, right click begins another time loop and left click interacts with objects as appropriate (picking up or throwing things, hitting switches, opening doors, etc.). Jumping feels a bit floaty at times, but it doesn't seem to cause any problems. The game is aesthetically pleasing with bright colors and a quirky character who seems to have a Rubik's Cube for a head.

The title is not without its flaws though. A glitch on one of the earlier puzzles involving a floating platform nearly broke the game (as I couldn't solve the puzzle because of it), though a little creative thinking was able to save the day. I also had the game crash on me at one point, though to be fair I think that's a bug from an older version of the Unity Engine as it's happened with other titles.

If you can get past that one glitchy platform, Tessallation is a pretty neat puzzle game. It will certainly test both your timing and your ability to plan ahead.

Friday, September 4, 2015

The Friday FREE GAME Feature! Ep32: The Wizard's Lair

Roguelike dungeon-crawling RPG fun!

The Wizard's Lair is a no-frills graphical Roguelike title. The game tends to strip much of the clunkier bits found in Roguelikes, which also reduces the complexity a little. For example, your inventory is a short list with a description of what items do (so there's no need of having to identify things). You have to manage hunger as well as HP, but a number of items provide amounts of both. 

The title plays very smoothly and you can use either a controller or keyboard and mouse. It's doesn't feature any fancy graphics or amazing GUIs, but they do the job well enough. There's no in-game music, but many of the sound effects are classics from other oldschool titles (or they sound incredibly similar).

In all, The Wizard's Lair is a streamlined Roguelike that's fun to just relax with. The simplified system could serve to ease new players into the genre without being overwhelmed with stats and rules. I found it pretty enjoyable, wanting to descend "just one more level" (several times) before stopping.