Sunday, May 31, 2015

Introducing Spellweaver - F2P Digital Card Game!

Spellweaver is a free-to-play digital card game that's going into open beta June 15!

If you'd like to know more about the game, check out their site:

I'm livestreaming Spellweaver throughout the week on my Twitch channel, usually starting after 5pm ET.

Friday, May 29, 2015

The Friday FREE GAME Feature! Ep19: Argskin

This week's game is The Provinces of Midland - Argskin, a non-combat RPG that plays much like a 3D point-and-click adventure.

The game begins with a cutscene showing a gathering of cultists in search of a book and an artifact. The group's messenger brings some bad news, and the leader kills him. We then fly over the area where the game begins, the town of Deloras and are introduced to our hero who has returned after a long journey.

You quickly learn that things have changed while you were away - bandits have settled in the outlying wilderness, thieves have infiltrated town, and the king has docked a warship in the harbor in preparation for what might be the arrival of an enemy ship. In addition, you need to gain reputation with the townsfolk so you can become a captain of the guard and gain access to the harbor. If this sounds familiar, it's because this is almost the exact scenario you encounter early on in Gothic 2. A little later on I learn that criminals are sent to some nearby mines... I wonder if it's protected by a magic barrier?

Speaking of which, it seems Deloras itself has a magic barrier around it. While on a quest to pick up some wood from the forest, I'm stopped by an invisible wall. There's no explanation as to why I can't go past the river (which even has a bridge), but I simply can't cross it... at least for now. I assume that once you get farther into the story the area becomes accessible, but why a noob wall? Couldn't there at least be a fortification or something to show "hey, you can't go here yet"?

Inside town, there's dozens of NPCs that don't want to talk to you and buildings full of items you can't interact with. I'm all for open exploration, no quest markers and all that (remember, Gothic 2 fan here), but if you're going to go that route you need to do it right. Give more dialogue to the lesser NPCs, like name-dropping an important character you should go talk to. As for the items, allow players to take them (with consequences for getting caught).

Anyway, I'm not sure what to make of The Provinces of Midland - Argskin. Frankly, I'm curious to see a bit more of the story (mainly to find out if there's any more coincidences) and to find out if I'm ever allowed to cross that bridge!

Friday, May 22, 2015

The Friday FREE GAME Feature! Ep18: 404Sight

404Sight is a parkour platform runner made by graduate students at the University of Utah to show support of net neutrality.

It's a short game, but it does what it sets out to do very well. The game is mostly fast-paced, but there are some points (particularly towards the end) where you have to stop and make sure you're going the right way. Many levels feature alternate routes and shortcuts, allowing you to replay the game in hopes of a faster time. In addition, the levels load seamlessly so you can just keep going!

You can play with keyboard & mouse or a controller - I found KBM to be easier to handle, but that might just be personal preference. Either way, the controls were responsive and easy to understand.

The game has several cool mechanics that I found interesting. You have "ping" which you can toggle that allows you to see and use/avoid important features (like fast lanes, slow lanes, and the purple jump things). You can often leave ping on, but crossing slow lanes or inhibitors (red areas) while active slows you down and can kill you because your speed and health are essentially the same thing. If you have enough speed, you can also use a dash-type move (like something from Sonic the Hedgehog) to destroy inhibitors.

The visual style of 404Sight is quite cool with lots of bright neon lines everywhere contrasting over an otherwise monocolor cityscape. It reminded me heavily of Tron, and that's a plus in my book.

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Friday FREE GAME Feature! Ep17: Yet, I despise him

Yet, I despise him is an action platformer with a story! 

I was pleasantly surprised by this game. Platformers live or die based on level design and responsive controls, and this title does both quite well. 

The levels are short but challenging, which I prefer over easier but repetitive layouts. Like all good platformers, the obstacles look impossible at first but get easier as you keep trying and learn what your character can do. Checkpoints are placed fairly throughout the zones - just enough that you're happy to see that chicken!

I had issues getting the guy to shoot the direction I intended sometimes, but that may have been due to me using a controller keymapper (opensource software antimicro). It was a minor issue though, as the bosses were still beatable despite the somewhat awkward shooting. Speaking of which, the boss fights were pretty enjoyable. Each one presented new challenges and used the classic "boss patterns" to look out for during the fights.

The story isn't amazing, but it's more than you get in many platforming titles. I haven't finished the game yet to see if there's a payoff to the build-up between the main character and his feelings for his father.

In all, Yet, I despise him is a decent action platformer with great level/boss design and good controls, making it a perfect way to spend an afternoon!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Pathfinder - Create Your Own Worlds!

It's been quite a while since I've mentioned anything about Minecraft, and due to various reasons I took a decent break from the game. It looks like 1.7.10 is the current standard for the majority of mods and I felt it would be nice to see what's going on.

I went looking for some modpacks using Hardcore Questing Mode as a guide to get players into learning the mods. The success of Agrarian Skies really put HQM at the forefront, and the mod is now a popular addition to dozens of packs. I'm really happy to see this because HQM can help motivate players who may be unsure or even uninspired to continue with a particular world/pack.

Over the last two weeks I downloaded roughly 10 different packs that were using HQM. Some were focused on magic, others on tech, and many were a mixture of both. Focus aside, most of the packs were so similar that it was hard to really see much difference between them. There was one that stood out for me though, called Pathfinder (found on the FTB launcher).

What Makes Pathfinder Different?

The Friday FREE GAME Feature! Ep16: Zeitgeist

Zeitgeist is a brain-teasing puzzle game about placing gates, teleporters and other tiles so you can get marbles to their proper destinations.

You have to place tiles so that things happen in a specific order, otherwise the marbles will run into an obstacle and be destroyed. It features a tile pool to the right with a "video-playback" menu to solve each puzzle, similar to games like Contraption Maker. I really like the use of tiles here as opposed to more free-form placement, as it ensures the puzzles aren't about pixel-perfect precision. The gameplay is easy to grasp at the start, and there's a definite learning curve as you go through the levels.

Unfortunately, Zeitgeist seems to lack any audio components which is unusual and makes it feel unfinished. It would've been nice to have included a couple of sound effects at least. I haven't toyed with the editor, but it looks like you can load up puzzles. That means the possibility of sharing levels with others exists, which extends the amount of time you could play this game (at least in theory).

Zeigeist is the perfect example of a title that has great mechanics and some nice features, but could use a little more polish. The addition of sounds and a way to access player-created levels in-game would really help make Zeitgeist more than an afternoon of brain-teasers.

Friday, May 1, 2015

The Friday FREE GAME Feature! Ep15: Echoes+

Take the classic "Asteroids" style game, crank it up to 11 and you have Echoes+!

This shooter features six game modes, four difficulty settings, a handful of powerups and an achievement/challenge system for extended play. The controls handle perfectly and for the most part the game is simple but effective - shoot stuff, grab goodies, repeat.

Echoes+ is a feast for the eyes with neon-colors and explosions everywhere. The sounds and music are lively but not distracting, which is important because you need to stay focused. Thankfully everything is easy to see, so you're not going to be cheapshot by 1-pixel bullets. The UI is classic and clean, but Echoes+ adds a few visual cues to inform you of important info (such as your energy and number of bombs), which really helps when things are getting fierce.

Echoes+ is available on a fair range of platforms (Steam for Win or Mac, OUYA, fireTV, Xbox) and is just plain fun, so go play it already!