Friday, July 31, 2015

The Friday FREE GAME Feature! Ep28: Lair of the Madhat

Diablo-style hack 'n' slash action with Lair of the Madhat!

This game isn't bad, but it is quite short and relatively easy. I beat the game in about an hour and I don't recall even dying. The gameplay is about what you'd expect for the genre, but there's no inventory system. You only keep what you can hold, and potions are used immediately on pickup. The art style is well done and may be the most impressive thing about this game. As a student project, Lair of the Madhat looks pretty good - as a real game title, it could use a bit more content and polish.

Friday, July 24, 2015

The Friday FREE Game Feature! Ep27: God of Thunder

This week is a classic Zelda-inspired adventure game from 1993, God of Thunder!

I'll get my gripe out of the way now - I'm not a huge fan of the hammer. It feels so slow waiting for it to return. While that's similar to Link's boomerang in Legend of Zelda, you don't play the entire game using it and it can pick up items on the ground (which the hammer cannot). I also didn't understand how to switch between magic items, but that's pretty much my fault for not looking at the manual first (yes, old games had their own manuals you actually had to read once in a while).

I'm pretty pleased with the rest of the game, though. There's puzzles scattered throughout the levels, some of the enemies are pretty interesting and the dialogue is jam-packed with humor (even breaking the fourth wall at times). Fans of the original Zelda should give God of Thunder a try!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Friday FREE GAME Feature! Ep26: Zuma's Revenge

The popular Match 3 title Zuma's Revenge is currently available for free on Origin.

I don't really have much to say about this game. It's not a bad title, but perhaps I wasn't really in the right mood to enjoy it this episode. There's a number of new features and tricks added that make this more enjoyable than the original Zuma, such as the leaping ability and variety of shots. It's not my favorite Match 3 game though - I personally prefer Bejeweled or Ironcast.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Top 10 Neutral Hearthstone Rares (As of BRM)

Here's part two of the series - this time discussing the top neutral rares of Hearthstone, chosen by usefulness.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Top 10 Neutral Hearthstone Commons (As of BRM)

With all the new players joining Hearthstone via mobile devices and numerous expansions to the game, it's time to look at the top cards (and why they're good)!

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Friday FREE GAME Feature! Ep25: eCity

Feeling nostalgic for Sim City or wanting Cities Skylines but can't afford it? Try out eCity!

If you've played the popular city simulation/management games, eCity makes you feel right at home. Choosing a map, placing objects and even the music style all feel very familiar - and there's nothing wrong with that. The UI is minimal and functional, allowing you to easily see and manage your city. The game lacks any tutorial, but includes an adequate information section that can be easily accessed.

I was somewhat surprised by the lack of transportation options. Basic roads are used for everything, with only bus stops being tacked on to those. No highways, trains, subways, etc. really limits creativity in city building. Thankfully there are several types of industry and shops you can build, and the game also includes mobile and internet infrastructure.

It's not the biggest or best game in the genre, but eCity does what it sets out to do quite well. For a free title, that's pretty good!

Friday, July 3, 2015

The Friday FREE GAME Feature! Ep24: Blackthorne

Test your wits and reflexes in this classic cinematic platformer from Blizzard!

Blackthorne is a blast from the past, originally released for MS-DOS and the SNES back in 1994. The game features some minor puzzle solving and gunplay alongside the jumping, climbing and rolling you'd expect from a cinematic platformer. You play as the prince of an enslaved kingdom who has returned to free his people and seek revenge on their captors. 

Your primary weapon is a shotgun which deals with the basic enemies fairly well, but does little against the larger foes. For that, you'll use a variety of items scattered throughout the game (mostly hover bombs). You (and your enemies) can dodge most attacks by simply hiding against a wall, and combat typically involves patience as you duck in and out of cover trying to score hits. This is a fun idea at first but gets repetitive fairly quickly, though I feel it was probably better than employing a simple shoot'em'up style of play. My biggest complaint here is that you can't draw your weapon while in cover, which doesn't seem like that big of a deal since you can use other items while hidden.

As with most games of the genre, Blackthorne has a few control quirks that can sometimes be annoying to deal with. For example, attempting to take cover while directly under a ledge will instead make your character grab for that ledge (and probably get you shot in the process). While these situations are fairly rare, they are still frustrating when encountered. Taking into account the age of the game though, I feel it's forgivable. In a similar vein, NPCs can stand in spots that force you to talk to them instead of what you were attempting to do, like climbing a ladder or reaching for a ledge. Blizzard provided an interesting answer to this by allowing you to shoot the NPCs if you don't feel like waiting for them to move! This was pretty much unheard of for games made 20+ years ago.

Overall, Blackthorne is a fairly enjoyable title. Fans of cinematic platformers should give it a try, if just for the sake of experiencing a classic in the genre.