Antichamber – Game Review

AntichamberAntichamber is an unique puzzle game. I say unique because I’ve never seen anything remotely like it. In a way, it’s as unique as Portal was when it was first released.

In an ordinary puzzle game you’ll often see a puzzle, and then be expected to solve it. If you have more puzzles, you’re expected to complete them in a very linear fashion. You always focus on the end. You want to complete. To solve.

Well, guess what, Antichamber couldn’t care less.

2013-07-11_00004When you start the game you spawn at a special room, which I’d call the entry point, allowing you to spawn at any chamber you have visited so far. This room also facilitates the game’s settings menu and every sign you’ve collected.

Yep. The game has no real menu. If you press escape, you simply get teleported back to the entry point. Hold escape to quit. So Antichamber doesn’t even behave like an ordinary game.

But it gets worse (better!). Antichamber defies everything from geometry to common sense. But how do you play such a game? Easy! Keep progressing!

Antichamber consists of a series of chambers and corridors, which on visit allows you to travel back to them whenever you wish. This is a part of the game, because some paths will get you stuck – and that’s okay! Everything in Antichamber is okay. In fact, you can’t die! There is no concept of loss, error or defeat in this game. You have progress and you have being stuck.

Being stuck isn’t so much in a problem, really. When you cease to progress you can pick another route to explore instead.  And then you’ll be finishing the game, chamber after chamber.

AntichamberI loved Antichamber. I loved the non-linear take on a puzzle game. I love how the game defies geometry. I love how it defies reasoning, while still – in its own way – being rational. Lessons you learn in the game will come in handy at a later time. I love how all your actions, not only those directed at solving the situation at hand effect the game. I love how the focus isn’t on the actual end, but on the journey.

Did I get stuck (as I often do in games containing puzzles)? Yes, but never for too long. I only got really stuck once, because I thought that I wasn’t able to solve a puzzle. The game usually makes it very clear when you have to complete another chamber prior to the one you’re in. If you get stuck at Link in a Chain Reaction, do keep at it. Or just look up the solution online. It’s one of the very few “real” puzzles.

What would I rate this psychological puzzle game? I’d rate it 6/5. It deserves an impossible score, because it’s an impossible game. It’s pure awesomeness in every aspect and I hope I’ll see another game just like this one. I think I still have some things left to explore… you know what I mean when you play it. It gave me 8-10 hours of gameplay, and I’m sure it’ll give me at least another 5 in replayability.

McPixel – Game Review

mcpixelMS-Paint mixed with some drunken developers? Well, McPixel is your new favorite superhero – saving a pixel world from utter destruction!

In story mode, you have a couple of stages, and every stage consists of multiple sections… each with a set of maps. The goal of every map is to stop it from blowing up into pieces. Simple enough?

Not so. The game will mess with your mind, hence the warning when you fire the game up! Check it out:

mcpixel2The style of McPixel is very entertaining. Everything from the poor MS-paint-style to the humorous puzzle solutions will make you laugh. It’s a game meant to be enjoyed. You’re not forced to play all the levels from A to Z – you can jump freely. There’s never any pressure on you to think and try to come up with solutions. You’re supposed to try some crazy idea and see how it works out, because it’s impossible to guess anyway!

Once you’ve completed a set of levels, you’re able to replay them and try to find all the gags. In story mode, each stage has a locked section which can be unlocked this way.

Anything negative? Well… the soundtrack will bore you to death after a while.

I’m giving McPixel 4/5, because it tries to be a simple and hilarious game – and it succeeds!

Gemini Rue – Game Review

Gemini RueSet in a universe reminding me of Blade Runner, Gemini Rue delivers an incredible story while using the least amount of pixels possible!

I’ve had this game for a long time without finishing it. Perhaps I got it from a Steam indie pack sale. At the time of purchase, the game seemed uninteresting and tough to navigate. I gave it another chance a couple of days ago – and I loved it!

In 320×200, you’re going to see some beautiful pixel-craftmanship in work. And don’t worry, the game engine can scale this base resolution up for you, giving you more pixels if you choose. I’d say the “poor” graphics are to be seen as a feature, because it contributes to the overall feel and story. It’s very well done.

As for gameplay – prepare yourself for a great puzzle game. The game has two perspectives, where one is you being a cop looking for your brother. The detective-style works well in a puzzle game. It all comes together into a great game with excellent story and storytelling.

Some puzzles are fairly easy while others are very challenging. There’s a couple of walkthroughs on the internet in case you get stuck (and become frustrated). Overall the puzzles are well designed, and I don’t think I ever had to run across the map to fetch something I missed or such. But prepare for some pixel-hunting. Probably the only downside with the game (and graphics).

Controls are simple. Left click to move, right click to open inventory or perform actions. Double click to perform your last action on whatever you clicked on. Actions are eye (look at, elaborate), hand (do, use, take), mouth (speak) and foot (kick, stand). It takes a while getting used to if you’ve never played this type of game before, though.

Gemini Rue gave me about 5-8h of playtime. As for rating, this game is getting 5/5! I loved the story and how it was told, in combinations with the puzzles.

English Country Tune Review

English Country TuneSo English Country Tune is quite a strange name for a puzzle game, but then again… it is quite of a strange game after all.

This puzzle game consists of multiple ‘worlds’, where each world is a puzzle game of its own. You are in control of a thin platform, able to move around in a 3D-block-world, but your goal and how the game works depends on the world in question. Perhaps it is to push one or more red balls into a designated area, or push blocks off the map.

I got it as a part of a humble bundle and checked out the Steam key for it. The trailer on Steam gives you a pretty good idea on what you get to play.

This game really caught my attention, and I’m rating it 4/5. I really wasn’t expecting something requiring this much thinking.

On the down side, the game doesn’t have much of a sound track. Aaaaaand you need to complete an entire world before you unlock another one… so prepare for quite a bit of frustration if you get stuck. YouTube saved me some headache.

Fractal: Make Blooms Not War Review

FractalI got this puzzle game cheap on Steam. I don’t think it syncs with the cloud (yet?) because every 15-minute session I play this game consists of me playing the first levels over and over.

Fractal is simple, you click to push hexagons around on a grid, and when you match 7 or more in a shape you get points.

The graphics are nice and really beautiful. And the audio changes depending on what’s happening, so that’s kind of cool. Everything just comes together.

I find it a little repetitive. After a few levels you get another colour to keep track of. Perhaps there’s more stuff later on which I haven’t found yet.

I’d rate it 3/5, but then again I’m not really a fan of these games. Nothing wrong with it, but it never got me interested.

Cubemen Review

Cubemen Cubemen is a tower defence game with a nice twist. Instead of building and placing towers you build and place units. Units are non-upgradable, and you have quite a few to choose from.

I got it on Steam, but I know it’s also available via the iOS App Store. It’s a simple game and I bet it’s nice on a tablet device. Yet I think it’s lacking on the PC.

After a couple of maps it becomes a bore. It’s the same thing, over and over. Perhaps I’m just dumb, but I can’t even tell what’s going on sometimes. The graphical style of the game is neat, but how do I recognize different enemies? Speaking of design, why can’t I see all the health bars?

If you like the simplicity, then it’s a great game, though.

I’d rate it 3/5. It’s a cheap and simple game which could easily last some 2-3 hours. Plenty of gameplay material if you enjoy it.

Bastion Review

Bastion
Playtime: 6h, easily replayable another 6h.
Genre: Adventure
Rating: 8/10

Such a great game, with such an awesome narrating. Story and art comes together to form something very well.

The levels are beautiful, and said to be hand-drawn. The levels feature a lot of detail, and an unique style. As you play, the world forms around your character, which makes it that much more interesting when it comes to exploring the map. You don’t know if you can walk a certain path, until you’ve tried.

Talking about art – the music is great. It blends very well in with the rest of the game. You can listen to the soundtrack out of the game, and really enjoy it. At times you might hear the same track over and over, but it really doesn’t matter.

So yeah, it’s a great view, but what about gameplay? Well, Bastion features nothing unique here, but it performs very well. You have a primary and secondary weapon (select and mix as you want) together with a “secret skill”, which is some kind of combat ability. You want to use that shield of yours a lot, and time it well, as you can counter incoming attacks and retaliate. Fights are fast-paced and requires skill in order to be efficient.

I appreciate the story and how it’s being told. Throughout the game you’ll hear a stranger narrating what’s happening as you go along. You are, in a way, experiencing the story as it’s being told. It’s a great approach, and Bastion does it exceedingly well. Without this, Bastion would be just another 3rd-person adventure game.

Positive:
Great art and music.
Challenging levels.
“Proving gounds” testing your abilities.
Replayable (you can even bring all your previous gear with you into a new game!)
Great story.

Negative:
The optional reflection-levels might get a little repetitive.

Bottom line: An amazing single-player experience.

Artemis Spaceship Simulator

A friend of mine introduced me to this great game (or perhaps simulator) called Artemis. The official site can be found here.

It’s a game meant for six people using six computers. There are five stations/consoles, each of which requires one player. The sixth player would be the captain, coordinating the ship and executing strategies. It’s meant to be played at a LAN or similar, but it’s also possible to play over the internet. Trust me though, it’s way more fun to play when you’re all in the same room.

I thought the game would be hard to understand, seeing as it’s labeled as a simulator. To my relief, I was wrong. It actually only takes one round to understand how it works, which is great. Simple to understand, but hard to master.

It sells for $40, which isn’t that much considering it’s the price for the entire bridge. If you’re unsure weather to give it a go or not, you could try the demo which is downloadable on their site.