Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Friday FREE GAME Feature! Ep76: Electric Highways

A first-person journey through a bizarre virtual world...

Electric Highways is an exploration game set in a future where people live almost entirely in a virtual reality on the web. You play as a virtual engineer taking a final look at your current project before it goes live.

I was interested in trying this game because I enjoyed The Mask Reveals Disgusting Face - a horror game made by the same developer (Zykov Eddy). As with TMRDF, this title also features visually striking and atmospheric environments. Each level is unique and interesting to explore, with decent overall pacing. I was expecting there to be more puzzles, but looking back I think they would've only slowed down the game with extra backtracking. As it is, Electric Highways is more of a walking simulator with a character that actually moves at a decent speed.

While the game has a great visual style with a decent splash of mystery and weirdness, I wasn't too keen on its ending. Unless I missed something, it felt really ambiguous and left several large unanswered questions... which might be exactly what was intended. I feel that Electric Highways may be one of those games that focus more on the journey than the destination, and there's nothing necessarily wrong with that.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

The Friday FREE GAME Feature! Ep75: Rayman Origins

Platforming fun available for a limited time via Uplay!

Rayman Origins is a polished platformer that features a cast of silly characters, bright and colorful settings, and a fair amount of environmental interaction.

It's obvious that a lot of care and work went into this title, as it's a quality game. It has a cute, cartoon art style and is packed with humorous moments and animations. Even the premise of the game is rather silly - Rayman and his slacker buddies end up snoring so loudly they actually wake the dead. The characters all seem to speak pig latin, further adding to absurdity of it all.

Style and story aside, the game has excellent controls, level design and pacing. You gain access to new abilities, areas and alternate characters by collecting items and saving your friends scattered throughout the game. You can switch characters and look at your progress in between levels by going back to the Snoring Tree (where you begin), which is thankfully accessible with a simple button press. Completionists can get their fix by finding all the secrets and collectibles, which seems to be the real challenge of the game.

In short, Rayman Origins is a fun, high-quality platformer with a lot of charm.