Leggo my Legos: The Sequel

Leggo my Legos: The Sequel

Previously on: Steamcomplete beat Lord Business in a flurry of Lego studs and laser beams. Sadly the world was still full of stupid people that needed help.

Remember how I said how I like to 100 percent complete Lego games? Well, I dipped back in to play in the HUB worlds and find those unlockables. Like I said in an earlier post, none of the HUB worlds–Brickopolis, the Wild, Wild West, Cloud Cuckoo Land, and the Octan Tower–have any characters or gold bricks to actively unlock, leaving me with only the red bricks.

The red bricks unlock abilities that are basically built-in cheat codes. You can get stud multipliers that stack up to x3840, extra health and invincibility, and ways of speeding up tedious tasks (drilling, repairing, etc.). These are geared towards people like me who want to go beyond the story levels. It’s tough to collect enough studs to everything without an excessive amount of grinding, so the game helps you out as long as you are willing to earn the privilege.

I wish one of the tasks was to teach the citizens of Brickopolis the concept of priorities. While giant mechs and superheroes are tearing the city apart a few blocks away, all people want to do is treat you like a lost-and-found. The crazy cat lady lost all of her pets. You go around the city finding them in the most…unlikely of places. One was trapped in a Portajohn. Another got itself locked in a bakery. I wanted to find one trapped in a bag–I’ll let you figure out why.

These cats have to be super-powered, not only because they managed to get away from this manic cat herder, but because of their complete disregard for physics. If I found them on top of a skyscraper and immediately jumped to the ground–because I am the only Lego who apparently is made from one, unbreakable piece–the cat would follow suit. I know that they always land on their feet, but the saying must not mention their shattered kneecaps.

Another guy asks you to find his drill even after you do all of his work for him. It’s a trap, no meme intended. After drilling for him and then coming back after saving the world, I had forgotten that I had already helped him. I spent forever hunting for his elusive power tool before realizing my mistake.

Now back to saving the world with the power of words. Basically one of the only appropriate job paths for a Creative Writing major like me. Stay tuned.

Leggo my Legos: Lord Business’ Revenge

Leggo my Legos: Lord Business’ Revenge

Previously on: Steamcomplete beat Lord Business in a flurry of Lego studs and laser beams. Sadly the world was still full of stupid people that needed help.

Remember how I said how I like to 100 percent complete Lego games? Well, I dipped back in to play in the HUB worlds and find those unlockables. Like I said in an earlier post, none of the HUB worlds–Brickopolis, the Wild, Wild West, Cloud Cuckoo Land, and the Octan Tower–have any characters or gold bricks to actively unlock, leaving me with only the red bricks.

The red bricks unlock abilities that are basically built-in cheat codes. You can get stud multipliers that stack up to x3840, extra health and invincibility, and ways of speeding up tedious tasks (drilling, repairing, etc.). These are geared towards people like me who want to go beyond the story levels. It’s tough to collect enough studs to everything without an excessive amount of grinding, so the game helps you out as long as you are willing to earn the privilege.

I wish one of the tasks was to teach the citizens of Brickopolis the concept of priorities. While giant mechs and superheroes are tearing the city apart a few blocks away, all people want to do is treat you like a lost-and-found. The crazy cat lady lost all of her pets. You go around the city finding them in the most…unlikely of places. One was trapped in a Portajohn. Another got itself locked in a bakery. I wanted to find one trapped in a bag–I’ll let you figure out why.

These cats have to be super-powered, not only because they managed to get away from this manic cat herder, but because of their complete disregard for physics. If I found them on top of a skyscraper and immediately jumped to the ground–because I am the only Lego who apparently is made from one, unbreakable piece–the cat would follow suit. I know that they always land on their feet, but the saying must not mention their shattered kneecaps.

Another guy asks you to find his drill even after you do all of his work for him. It’s a trap, no meme intended. After drilling for him and then coming back after saving the world, I had forgotten that I had already helped him. I spent forever hunting for his elusive power tool before realizing my mistake.

Now back to saving the world with the power of words. Basically one of the only appropriate job paths for a Creative Writing major like me. Stay tuned.

Nevermore, Nevermore

Nevermore, Nevermore

I’m just going to start this off with a spoiler warning. The game is so story-based it is impossible to talk without spoiling something. Read at your own risk.

With all of the talk about police reform in today’s media, all we need to do to train incoming detectives on the police force is set them down in front of a point-and-click mystery game and force them to solve it without any walkthroughs. After spending three hours trying every single item in their inventory on every nook and cranny of the screen only to realize they are supposed to be combining objects instead, they will have no problem with combing through a crime scene. In theory it teaches people to think creatively. In reality it teaches them to be happy that real life is not that tedious.

After playing the first of three acts last winter, I sat down to finish The Raven: Legacy of a MasterThief. The protagonist, Constable Zellner, feels like a dumb-downed version of Agatha Christie’s Poirot. Oddly enough, one of the characters is also an elderly writer of mystery novels. Hmmm…

Anyway, this is game is identical to the play style of what I grew up on. I played every Nancy Drew, Sherlock Holmes, and Agatha Christie computer game I could get my hands on–and still do. While these drew me in, letting me look past some of the less-than-intuitive puzzles, this one did not start off that way. My guess is where before I had protagonists I already had a connection with–and one that built with each game and pop culture reference–this one had a leading man who felt blase.

After getting into the second act this week though, I wish I hadn’t quit so soon. In case you did not heed my warning, spoilers start here.

You gone? Lord, I hope not.

Halfway through the second act, you find out who the thief is and he shoots you. The screen goes dark. I counted to five, afraid I had ended up with the wrong ending somehow. But then the game goes back to the train station where it all started, and I’m placed in the shoes of the Raven’s lackey. Sadly at his point, I was falling asleep at my keyboard and had to be up for work, but I spent the whole day wanting to come home and keep following the story. I was willing to shake my mouse all of the screen looking for those three pixels that would trigger the riddle I needed to solve as long as the story kept going.

One of the worst cases of this needle-in-a-haystack hotspot search was towards the end of the game. Adil, the thief’s errand boy, is on the roof of the museum, figuring out how to pull off the heist with only the content’s of the backpack given to him. I had accessed the security sensor by prying open the skylight but needed something to damage it. I’m standing there in full-on climbing gear with nothing but a dirty rag, a cloth bag, and a stick of chewing gum. Turns out way over there in the corner, I am supposed to be able to see water dripping and wet the rag with it, but it was next to impossible to see. I use two monitors, one of which is actually a 32″ TV, and I still could barely make out these water droplets.

That’s what most of the puzzles were. I don’t mind environmental puzzles, but I am used to having some brain teasers thrown in for good measure. While it was certainly more realistic to play in a world where not everyone uses logic problems instead of actual combination locks, it just didn’t feel as fun.

It comes down to that argument about how realistic a game needs to be. This is a case where I am more than willing to suspend my disbelief for a variety of puzzles, but not everyone may feel that way. Some may admire this take on the genre. Both work, and both are fun; I prefer feeling like I solved a mystery, not like I stumbled into a solution.

Regardless, the ending blew my mind. Seriously, if you don’t want spoilers, stop it right now.

Man, I hope you’re here to bask in the twists and turns.

After all of this time, it turns out you were the thief. At first I called bullshit. I spend hours in this guy’s head–how can I not know?

First the man who you spend the last half the game believing it to be was merely a henchman himself. He was creating a sloppy burglary to try to lure the real thief out of retirement. When this man shot you, apparently you were wearing a bulletproof vest, anticipating his tendency for violence. Then you realize that Zellner became a cop–or whatever the general term in Switzerland is–to be on the inside. This way he can spend his time investigating the impostor without ever drawing attention to himself.

It is even more convoluted than that, but after turning it over in my mind for a while, I can dig it. Seriously, play it for the whole story. Or at least watch a playthrough. It’s outstanding. Not too often does one of these games really surprise me with the ending. Either I see it coming or it is not that exciting. Worse, sometimes it is based off a novel, but the game twists the narrative to try to make it a surprise–I’m looking at you, And Then There Were None. 

Now I really am at a loss as to what to play next. Maybe I’ll pull names out of a hat. Stay tuned.

Nevermore, Nevermore: The Raven Review

Nevermore, Nevermore: The Raven Review

I’m just going to start this off with a spoiler warning. The game is so story-based it is impossible to talk without spoiling something. Read at your own risk.

With all of the talk about police reform in today’s media, all we need to do to train incoming detectives on the police force is set them down in front of a point-and-click mystery game and force them to solve it without any walkthroughs. After spending three hours trying every single item in their inventory on every nook and cranny of the screen only to realize they are supposed to be combining objects instead, they will have no problem with combing through a crime scene. In theory it teaches people to think creatively. In reality it teaches them to be happy that real life is not that tedious.

After playing the first of three acts last winter, I sat down to finish The Raven: Legacy of a MasterThief. The protagonist, Constable Zellner, feels like a dumb-downed version of Agatha Christie’s Poirot. Oddly enough, one of the characters is also an elderly writer of mystery novels. Hmmm…

Anyway, this is game is identical to the play style of what I grew up on. I played every Nancy Drew, Sherlock Holmes, and Agatha Christie computer game I could get my hands on–and still do. While these drew me in, letting me look past some of the less-than-intuitive puzzles, this one did not start off that way. My guess is where before I had protagonists I already had a connection with–and one that built with each game and pop culture reference–this one had a leading man who felt blase.

After getting into the second act this week though, I wish I hadn’t quit so soon. In case you did not heed my warning, spoilers start here.

You gone? Lord, I hope not.

Halfway through the second act, you find out who the thief is and he shoots you. The screen goes dark. I counted to five, afraid I had ended up with the wrong ending somehow. But then the game goes back to the train station where it all started, and I’m placed in the shoes of the Raven’s lackey. Sadly at his point, I was falling asleep at my keyboard and had to be up for work, but I spent the whole day wanting to come home and keep following the story. I was willing to shake my mouse all of the screen looking for those three pixels that would trigger the riddle I needed to solve as long as the story kept going.

One of the worst cases of this needle-in-a-haystack hotspot search was towards the end of the game. Adil, the thief’s errand boy, is on the roof of the museum, figuring out how to pull off the heist with only the content’s of the backpack given to him. I had accessed the security sensor by prying open the skylight but needed something to damage it. I’m standing there in full-on climbing gear with nothing but a dirty rag, a cloth bag, and a stick of chewing gum. Turns out way over there in the corner, I am supposed to be able to see water dripping and wet the rag with it, but it was next to impossible to see. I use two monitors, one of which is actually a 32″ TV, and I still could barely make out these water droplets.

That’s what most of the puzzles were. I don’t mind environmental puzzles, but I am used to having some brain teasers thrown in for good measure. While it was certainly more realistic to play in a world where not everyone uses logic problems instead of actual combination locks, it just didn’t feel as fun.

It comes down to that argument about how realistic a game needs to be. This is a case where I am more than willing to suspend my disbelief for a variety of puzzles, but not everyone may feel that way. Some may admire this take on the genre. Both work, and both are fun; I prefer feeling like I solved a mystery, not like I stumbled into a solution.

Regardless, the ending blew my mind. Seriously, if you don’t want spoilers, stop it right now.

Man, I hope you’re here to bask in the twists and turns.

After all of this time, it turns out you were the thief. At first I called bullshit. I spend hours in this guy’s head–how can I not know?

First the man who you spend the last half the game believing it to be was merely a henchman himself. He was creating a sloppy burglary to try to lure the real thief out of retirement. When this man shot you, apparently you were wearing a bulletproof vest, anticipating his tendency for violence. Then you realize that Zellner became a cop–or whatever the general term in Switzerland is–to be on the inside. This way he can spend his time investigating the impostor without ever drawing attention to himself.

It is even more convoluted than that, but after turning it over in my mind for a while, I can dig it. Seriously, play it for the whole story. Or at least watch a playthrough. It’s outstanding. Not too often does one of these games really surprise me with the ending. Either I see it coming or it is not that exciting. Worse, sometimes it is based off a novel, but the game twists the narrative to try to make it a surprise–I’m looking at you, And Then There Were None. 

Now I really am at a loss as to what to play next. Maybe I’ll pull names out of a hat. Stay tuned.

Steam Complete: The Tutorial

Steam Complete: The Tutorial

I will come right out and say it: Steam is an infinite black hole from which there is no escape. Finishing one game–even one level–deludes you into thinking there is a way out, an end to the madness, but then six more games fly at you from all of the different sales. Suddenly the void becomes dark again.

I grew with video games as one of my many escapes. If it had nothing to do with reality, it was for me. But with Sony and NIntendo fulfilling my needs, I never ventured into PC gaming except for some point-and-click adventure games and Solitare. It wasn’t long after I left for college with a MacBook Pro in hand that I discovered the endless bounty in the Steam store.

Having grown up with games being a major purchase usually only made on birthdays or with report card money, I was astounded by the concept of full-fledged games for bit-sized prices. Between Humble Bundle and the summer sale, my collection grew even though I could only play a tenth of what I was buying.

After graduation, I invested in my first custom PC. But what was initially excitement to start playing all of these games I had collected turned into a classic case of frozen by indecision. So since I hate feeling like a digital hoarder, I’m staging my own intervention. Well, if you can call forcing yourself to seriously amp up the amount of time you spend playing video games a path to rehabilitation. Whether it helps me curb my Gotta-Catch-‘Em-All mentality or knocks me further down the rabbit hole, I will be chronicling it here. It is sure to be amusing since my shopping habits have landed me with more than a few things that are going to be a personal drudge (sports are meant for real play, not clicking!).

The rules?

1. I plan to complete at least every level or every story. I will only be playing for perfection right now if I feel inclined to.

2. The few sand box games I have will most likely be played for the achievements. I still have to figure out how to deem the beast of Civ 5 complete.

3. Any commentary is not meant to a formal review, just my impressions or experiences. Think narration and conversation over straight-forward reporting.

Now to give you an idea of the relative Mount Everest I am staring up at, here is a tabulation of how many games I have to play:

Below is an inventory I took of what I have queued up for this challenge:

Puzzle/Platformer: 27
Horror: 2
Simulator: 2
Story/Exploration: 3
Adventure: 23
Arcade/Shoot ‘Em Ups: 5
RPGs: 9
Strategy: 9
Action: 30
Total: 110

Out of all of these, I have started at least 38 of them in some capacity, even if that means I played them for five minutes. Stay with me while I tell the tale of a PC gamer’s most intimidating task.