Friday, June 26, 2015

The Friday FREE GAME Feature! Ep 23: Broken Dimensions

Broken Dimensions is a Portal-style puzzler with a twist of horror, created in five weeks by a team of students at DADIU.

This is a fantastic game, and I'm very impressed with what the team accomplished in such little time. Broken Dimensions was clearly inspired by Portal's level design in that each area teaches you some new tricks using the game's fundamental mechanic, but in a way that lets you discover the application on your own. 

You're guided by a ghostly figure that claims to be helping you out, but it doesn't take long before you realize she's not quite what she seems (GLaDOS, anyone?). In several areas you can find scrawled warnings, likely left by other children who happened to wander in (or perhaps Ratman). You end up using a box here and there to complete the puzzles and continue in the game (Companion Cube). I suppose one could also draw comparisons between the candy and cake, though to be fair you actually get the candy many times while playing.

While the game takes a lot of cues from Portal, Broken Dimensions has an important difference that makes it a unique experience. The fundamental mechanic involves you twisting the perspective of the map in 90-degree angles so that the objects and obstacles in the room (as well as what surfaces you can walk on) shift. I'm not sure whether you're rotating the temple or altering gravity, but it has the same net effect and is a damn cool power - it's like making the entire world a giant Rubik's Cube! This is a great mechanic that I'd love to see more of. If anyone knows of another game that does this, please leave me a comment!

I'd also like to point out that the levels in Broken Dimensions are aesthetically pleasing. The temple is lined with mysterious and gruesome depictions, giving you a sense of unease and leaving you to wonder when you'll face the same fate. I feel more attention was given to the temple than the game's two main characters, but I'm actually alright with that. I spent more time looking at the environment for ways to solve the puzzles anyway, so I'm glad they focused on making it look good.

Broken Dimensions has two flaws, and I feel they're connected. It's a short game, and one can finish it in about an hour. It also lacks a save option (probably due to it being so short), meaning you can't put the game down and pick up where you left off. This isn't normally a problem, but if you experience a crash or have to stop playing all of a sudden, you have start over at the beginning.

To sum it up, if you like Portal and want to try out a different game mechanic, play Broken Dimensions!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Spellweaver - Shenanigans ON TRIAL! Ep1-9: To The Limit

Assassins abound as Sam gives me pointers and I learn the difference between "playing" a creature and "putting it on the field".

Friday, June 19, 2015

The Friday FREE GAME Feature! Ep22: Jet Gunner

Run and gun action with this NES-inspired shooter!

Jet Gunner pays tribute to those classic NES-era action titles like Contra, Code Name: Viper and Bionic Commando. You play as a soldier with unlimited ammo and a jetpack, shooting everything that moves while dodging enemies and an array of projectiles. You find power-ups along the way that change your weapon or provide you with a "drone" that can increase your firepower. 

The jetpack has a limited use but refills over time and lets you reach normally inaccessible areas (which the game has many of). The jetpack is fun and gives a lot of room for level design options.You're given a rather large looking health meter, but with everything coming at you it doesn't take long to deplete. You get knocked back when taking damage - and as any oldschool gamer can attest, this can often push you off a platform to your death. By today's standards that might seem cheap, but it feels right at home here. Learning patterns and accounting for knockback was a big part of progression in these games.

Growing up with the NES, I appreciate the gameplay and aesthetics of Jet Gunner, which captures the era and genre wonderfully.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Friday FREE GAME Feature! Ep21: Path of Shadows

Manipulate the darkness as a ninja brought back from the dead in the stealth adventure Path of Shadows!

This game is really good. The cell-shaded art style makes you feel as if you're inside an anime title. There's no UI overlay and the only important information is cleverly attached to your character in a non-intrusive way. You're free to explore the levels as you wish (though they are rather small) and you can summon a raven to lead you in the right direction instead of having a map or waypoint system (which is a great design choice). 

You're given a number of special shadow abilities, allowing you to sneak around undetected, locate enemies behind obstacles, teleport, assassinate and hide your victims. You can even distract guards by jingling bells. Your character has a couple of weaknesses - light sources deplete your power and you can't fight if detected - which makes for some interesting scenarios.

Sadly, Path of Shadows is really short with only three levels before the game is over. I understand that the developers have made a spiritual sequel to the game, with Path of Shadows serving as a way to introduce people to it. Giving out a cool game for free and then promoting a jam-packed sequel is a pretty common practice these days and I think it's a brilliant tactic (You Have To Win The Game and Treasure Adventure Game being two positive examples). Path of Shadows is more of a working demo than a full game, however. The third level ends with a "this is just the beginning" statement, then disappointingly cuts to the credits.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Spellweaver - Shenanigans ON TRIAL! Ep1-2: Questionable Plays

Here's game one using the trial deck drafted in the previous episode. There were a lot of cards I haven't used much yet, so I make a lot of questionable plays as I learn how they work together.

The Friday FREE GAME Feature! Ep20: 48 Chambers & GLOB

It's a Desura arcade double feature this week!

First up is GLOB, which has an interesting mechanic - to progress through levels, you need to activate/deactivate platforms and walls using various button presses. Unfortunately, the game suffers from terrible controls and collision detection to the point of unplayability. It's a shame because the core mechanic looks quite fun.

The second title is 48 Chambers - a game that tests your speed, timing and finesse as you move a ball through various obstacles. There's three different game modes to choose from, including a casual mode that offers infinite lives (which is a blessing for new players). The controls for this game are pretty responsive, though it seems the ball takes a little time both to speed up and stop which will inevitably get you killed quite often until you get the feel of it. I would normally oppose a design choice like this, but in this case it makes the ball feel more natural. If you like a challenge, 48 Chambers has you covered!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

10 Win Trial!

My first 10-win trial deck. Pretty OP!
In between IRL things, I got in on some free Spellweaver Trial action, and ended up going 10-1 with this Rage/Corruption deck. It was chock full of removal, direct damage and annoying dudes.

Suffice to say, Spellweaver and Hearthstone have at least one thing in common: When drafting, always pick Fireball!

Spellweaver - Shenanigans ON TRIAL! Ep1-1: The Draft

A recent trials run I had while streaming. Here's the draft - the games are on the way!

Also, trials are currently FREE until the end of closed beta! I'm taking that opportunity to get more familiar with trials all week (so expect a lot of streaming the next few days).

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Opening 30 Spellweaver Packs!

A clip collection from a semi-recent stream where I opened 30 Spellweaver packs. Pack Hype!