May 27, 2011

Dilogus, Terraria, Detectives, & Kings

The last post I made was intended to be a series with a second part forthcoming. The second game I was intending to feature was Terraria, a 2D adventure game that features mining, building, and spelunking that can be done online with up to 8 friends. I intended to write about the game in the same manner in which I covered Project Zomboid and give a few expectations for the game, but there was an internal leak of the code with Terraria which led the developers to release the game early on Steam. Thus, the game is already out and is well worth the $10 bucks. If you have three friends, the four pack makes it even cheaper.

I've been rather busy this month, with several new developments that have me rather excited. First things first, the wonderful guys at Digital Arrow have hired me to be their Press Officer for their two upcoming games, Dilogus - The Winds of War and inMomentum. Dilogus is still in development and as such I'll be getting to reveal lots of lore, screenshots, and developer info over the next coming months.

May 15, 2011

The First Templar Review

[Short Disclaimer: I purchased The First Templar solely as a co-op romp, which I played with a friend. The game is completely capable of single player action, but I have not played through the game by myself with the AI controlling the second character.]

The Good

- All three playable characters have unique combos with plenty of varied skills
- Levels switch between action and puzzling to provide a break between the two
- Storyline is historically accurate in relation to the Templar organization (history geek!)
- Customizable character outfits with amazing textures

The Bad

- Guest players cannot assign XP points to their character by themselves
- Facebook integration seems broken for now
- Voice acting ranges from competent to "Wtf were they thinking?"
- Stealth mechanics are a little iffy and seem to work sporadically

I'm going to lay all my cards on the table up front. I'm a history geek and I have a bad habit of getting really excited about history games regardless if they're pre-destined to be mediocre. The last history game that snagged my money and provided me with lukewarm gameplay was Rise of the Argonauts. I left the game feeling somewhat disillusioned and wishing I hadn't plunked down the $25 for that tale, despite the historical setting. Thankfully, The First Templar doesn't count itself among the list of many historically based titles that have disappointed me.

April 26, 2011

A Few Projects I've Been Following (Part 1)

If you follow me at all on Twitter or read anything I write at least once every few months, then you know of my love for indie games. Indie games are able to break barriers and go beyond what large, commercial productions can do because their creativity isn't stifled and their companies--if there is one--aren't mismanaged. For this reason, many of my favorite games that have been released over the past few years have been indie projects, and many of the upcoming releases I am most looking forward to are as well.

I've got two projects I'm going to talk about, so I'll be splitting this post up into two different posts. I feel both of these projects are equally deserving some spotlight attention simply because of their innovative design and the gameplay that has been featured so far. Both of these are in early alpha phases so it's likely lots of gameplay changes will take place, but I think it speaks to the nature of a game when you can see an alpha build and get excited enough to want to pre-order immediately.

April 21, 2011

Monster Tale Review

The Good:
- Unique forms for Chomp add a lot of depth to the game
- Chomp can master moves to use them between different forms
- Ellie's moves offer a lot of variety for defeating monsters
- Gorgeous scenery and graphics that are not overly re-used

The Bad:
- Lots of backtracking makes gameplay tedious in places
- Monsters respawn during said backtracking
- Story is pretty mediocre compared to Henry Hatsworth

I think I'm probably a sucker for games that feature companions. When I saw the first few trailers for Majin & The Forsaken Kingdom, I was excited to be able to play a game where an AI companion would assist me. Monster Tale features the same concept, but instead of toddling along behind you and constantly tripping over his own feet like Majin, Chomp is a sort of Pokemon companion to Ellie in her Metroid/MegaMan style world.

September 29, 2010

Hydrophobia Review

Hydrophobia has been on my radar since early E3 demos showed some of the gameplay footage. The problem with footage is that it can look great. Spectacularly stunning. But when you get your hands around a controller and actually start playing the game, well that's a different matter entirely. Manipulating the water to defeat your enemies in a variety of ways is definitely a fresh idea, but it lacks the polish and finesse to make a final product that is actually worth paying the fifteen dollar admission price.

Players take control of Kate Wilson, a systems engineer on a hijacked city-ship known as the Queen of the World. A terrorist group calling themselves the Malthusians have taken over, scrawling their motto "Save the World - Kill Yourself" all over the ship, conveniently including pieces of alien looking code known as ciphers required to unlock certain portions of the ship.

August 29, 2010

Elderlands: Bringing Back Retro Gaming

While most people got their first taste of online gaming through early MMOs such as Meridian 59 and Ultima Online, I was a little bit late to the party. In fact, it wasn't until the early 2000s that I actually realized there were games you could play online with other people in a persistent environment.

My first MMORPG experience was with a tiny game called Dransik. It was an open beta isometric affair in development by Jason Ely, who was a former Ultima Online dev gone indie. I played from open beta all the way through the commercial release of the game with several fond memories and plenty of friendships still cemented outside the world of Dransik.

A big part of having fun in Dransik was making your own fun, since the few quests that were scattered about the game were usually broken or completely worthles, aside from the guild charter quest which required a ton of effort both from yourself and six other people. When I finally finished the quest line, I formed a guild with the tag HELL, which stood for Hell Hunters. HELL was mainly about player harrassment. We were one of the biggest troll guilds in the game and while I can't say I'm proud of that fact now, back then it was insanely fun.

August 28, 2010

Faster Gmail Search With CloudMagic

I use Gmail as my primary email service and while the search is robust, it's not nearly what it could be. I found CloudMagic via an article on and even I wasn't looking for an alternative search for my email, when I tried it out I fell in love with it. It's smart, intuitive and indexes emails quickly, making it a snap to set up and use.

July 24, 2010

Alien Fortress 2: The Future

This past week has been a good one for Steam users. If you aren't aware, Black Cat Games was absorbed by Valve and commissioned to release an updated version of their Alien Swarm game for the Source engine instead of Unreal. I'm not really sure how long the project has been in development, but I recently found the time to sit down with it and I found it highly enjoyable.

However, being a big Team Fortress 2 fan, I couldn't help but feel the game had taken inspiration from the best class based first person shooter on the market and re-cobbled the classes to fit its shoes. Alien Swarm features four different classes, each with two different characters for a total of eight characters to choose from. The classes are Officer, Special Weapons, Medic, and Tech and while the class diversity is somewhat lacking compared to TF2, each class could potentially be shoe horned into the game with the exception of the Spy.

July 22, 2010

Party of Sin: Looking Good!

Party of Sin is an Xbox Live Arcade game that is currently in development by CrankShaft Games. They've been hard at work on their project since I first learned about it in March and over the course of just a few months, they have really been chipping away at the style of the game. Watching the development of games is something I have always enjoyed because of the drastic changes that can occur, so developers who document their process well will always receive tons of attention from me in this regard.

The first few updates on the website explain the process of designing each character, with Greed, Lust, and Pride each having a unique process. The over all design of the characters is interesting and I've always enjoyed seeing how people arrive at different designs. Concept art is one of favorite things to behold because of the many changes characters can go through. The CrankShaft team really has their work cut out for them, because they are personifying each of the seven deadly sins.