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Child Of Light and AJLARSR, May 6th 2014 Edition

Child Of Light

Child of Light would seem to be targeting a younger audience, with adults welcome to tag along.  Ubisoft managed to capture a lot of the visual and aural appeal of JRPG style roleplaying games because it's a joy to be treated to many hand-crafted environments and hauntingly beautiful (if repetitive) soundtrack.

Also introduced is a novel mechanic where you control a "firefly" with a secondary controller (your mouse or a gamepad) and it acts like a companion character that you will either control yourself (enhancing your gameplay) or give to a friend so you can play together.
On the downside, Child Of Light is not quite as good as most SquareEnix classics.
  • The most limiting factor is that you are restricted to just two characters at a time in combat (not counting the firefly), although you can switch them between the rest of your party at will.  
  • There's a lot of bothersome retread if you want to go for the completion angle of trying to uncover all the secrets, and grinding your characters can be tiresome.  
  • The dialogue is... well, they're not going to win any poetry rewards for just rhyming everything, but I guess it adds a certain something to the atmosphere.
Still, it's hard to complain.  This game will set you back $20 if you buy the basic game and the only DLC for it, The Golem's Plight.  Yes, there are other DLC for it, but they're just in-game buffs and, frankly, unless you play on hard difficulty and suck at these kinds of games, there's no way you'll need to purchase into that.

A Jaded Look At Recent Steam Releases, May 6th, 2014 Edition

I'm expecting a far shorter list this time, as I've some more fastidious rules in place:
  • "Pablum tier," reserved for pretty mediocre games, gets just a short one-liner.
  • "Fossilized tier," reserved for games over 3 years old, I'll just mention the genre.
  • "Automatic Boycott tier," reserved for games over 3 years old that the publishers are advertising as new, just gets the publisher mentioned.
Alright, lets do this.

Interesting Tier

I find myself actually interested in playing these games.

  • The Desolate Hope - A mixture of several different gameplay styles: platformer, 8-bit overhead dungeon crawler, JRPG style battle, ect.

    A difficult game to describe, I don't know if it's at all worth playing, but I bet its worth experiencing.  Check out those outrageous technological visuals and rather nifty soundtrack.
  • Full Bore - "A block puzzler with an exploratory twist, Full Bore throws the player into an open world of crumbling mines, arcane ruins, and technological wonders with only curiosity to lead the way."

    Full Bore looks like it could be every bit as charming as Cave Story, but this time you're playing a boar - go figure.  Not so much bullet hell this time, instead you're going through a number of interesting environments involving block puzzles.
  • Sir, You Are Being Hunted - Open-world stealth sandbox.

    Equal parts scary and comedic, you spend your time in this game lurking about an alternate dimension that is just lousy with robots wearing the finery of British gentlemen.  They're hunters, you see, dapper sportsmen after the most elusive and fascinating of prey... it's a fox hunt, and you're the fox!  Can you turn the tables on them, and escape?  Maybe, maybe not, but you'll have a lot of fun plumbing procedurally generated British countrysides regardless.

Semi-Interesting Tier

A fairly good effort, but I can see why I won't be playing these games.

  • DreadOut - Third person 3D horror game, IndieGoGo raised almost $30k to develop this game.

    DreadOut doesn't look bad, if you like horror games about running around dark environments being spooked by supernatural horrors.  I'm not sure what it says for the standards of gamers who essentially just want to wander a haunted house.
  • Sweezy Gunner - Pretty straightforward 2D, open-ended shoot-em-up, looks well featured and has a lot of goofy enemies.

    I guess Multimedia Fusion is pretty similar to GameMaker, because this is the kind of game I'd expect to be made in the latter.  I'm not particularly in the mood to play a "eye melting, brain bending, mouse squeezing 2D shoot em up," but if I was, Sweezy Gunner might be pretty high up on my list.
  • Planet Stronghold - "Sci-fi roleplaying game with a turn-based combat system."

    With a name like "Planet Stronghold," I was really hoping this would involve building a stronghold on a planet.  Nah, it's actually a fairly-robust tactical combat game with a cast of anime characters, crafting system, old school turn-based combat (JRPG style), relationship system, and so on.  Winter Wolves makes a lot of games like this.

    A fun time could be had here, but you should probably expect something along the lines of a menu-driven experience like you'd expect from a browser game.  Personally, I don't have time for another grind.
  • Level 22 - "Gary's Misadventures: Action, logic, and stealth at the office."

    A heavily-stylized top-down isometric 2D game where you play Gary, a guy late to work who has to sneak in without anyone spotting him.  This is actually pretty cleverly done, with lots of nifty sight gags.  But don't expect it to be the best stealth experience out there, it's actually an Android import.
  • Farming World - Farming business simulation.

    Farm World looks a lot like Transport Tycoon, to the point where I had to triple check it was not a re-released 1995 game... nope, it's new!  I guess that's fine, provided the game is actually made well... I'm hearing mixed reports on this.  Apparently it lends a bit of Facebook conventions to its gameplay mechanics, much to its detriment.
  • Chaos Domain - 2D Platformer Shooter

    Chaos Domain is basically Contra, upgraded to 2014 technology.  If you like those kinds of games, it looks great, and probably plays just fine.  Alternately, play Strider.
  • GunhoundEX - 2D platformer Shooter with JAPANOMATION

    A re-release of an 2013 PSP game, I guess it's technically new now that it's out here.  Gunhound XP is a "PSP cult hit," and for good reason: look at that nifty mecha action!  This is about as good as 2D side scrolling shoot em' ups can get.
  • Cinders - "A mature take on a classic fairytale with a heavy emphasis on player choices and role-playing." 

    Cinders is a visual novel with pretty great visuals, there are worse things to do with Game Maker.  A 2012 game, does it play well?  The reviewers really seem to like it, but I'm not sure if it's $20 good.

Pablum Tier

These games seem rather lackluster.  Are the developers just too new at game design to make something better, or are these deliberate sell-outs trying to get sold with some kind of dumb gimmick?  You decide.
  • You Have To Win The Game - It certainly brings back memories of playing Apple IIe games... what makes you think I'd want to do that again?
  • 8-Bit-Boy - I doubt you'll find anything here that Super Meat Boy didn't do better, but I guess it's technically more if you aren't getting enough 2D platformers.
  • Famaze - "A Retro Puzzle Adventure"  Famaze is basically a decent iPhone game looking so inadequate on the PC that the developers thought they had to put cell-shaded artwork that appears nowhere in the game on the front in order to sell it.
  • Akane The Kunoichi - Ninja-themed 2D platformer whose protagonist has boobs, OMG!
  • The Dungeoning - I hear this is a pretty good Spelunky with RPG elements, but I can't see what it does that Rogue Legacy doesn't do better.
  • Project Root - You know, I'm not too impressed with most shoot em' ups, but I'd be willing to play a 360 degree top-down shoot em up like Project Root because they're relatively rare beasts... too bad this one is infested with too many technical issues.
  • Mr. Bree+ - Fantasy-themed 2D platformer whose protagonist is a pig, OMG!
  • GunsZ 2: The Second Duel - Another Korean cyber-cafe brawling game, they just want your money, fork it over... at least this is the sequel to one of the best games in a lousy genre.
  • Into The Dark - Ultimate Trash Edition - A deliberately bad game that should have no problem being called deliberately bad, this is basically the modern gaming equivalent of dadaism.
  • Jet Car Stunts - A simple 3D racing game involving jumping your "jet car" from platform to platform and failing to land properly time and time again: hurray for physics?
  • Black Rainbow - The categories on Steam call it "point and click" and "adventure," but I know a hidden object game when I see one.

Fossilized Tier

These games are over 3 years old.  Whether or not they're any good, the question remains: why are we even looking at them now?  In many cases, it may be a struggle to even get many of them to run on modern computers.
  • Putt-Putt Goes To The Moon - 1993 Kids adventure game
  • Kingdom Elemental - 2008 Fantasy tactics game.
  • Eurofighter Typhoon - 2001 Modern-themed combat flight simulator.
  • Actua Soccer 3 - 1998 Soccer game.
  • Freddi Fish 2: The Case of the Haunted Schoolhouse - 1996 Kids adventure game.
  • Pajama Sam 2: Thunder And Lighning Aren't So Frightening - 1998 Kids adventure game.
  • Freddi Fish and Luther's Water Worries - 1996 Kids adventure game.
  • Putt-Putt and Pep's Dog on a Stick - 1996 Kids adventure game.
  • Spy Fox 2 "Some Assembly Required" - 1999 Kids adventure game.
  • BloodRayne Betrayal - 2011 2D inclusion to the BloodRayne series.

Automatic Boycott Tier

These publishers put out games that are over 3 years old, but advertised them as new releases on Steam this week.
  • Meridian4, for misrepresenting Haegemonia games from 2001-2003.
Overall, a pretty lackluster week, but still a few stars shined through.  Sir, You Are Being Hunted has jumped to the very top of my wish list, and may well be purchased before the week is out.


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