“Just” finished Torment. The only thing I regret is not playing Planescape: Torment first/again, because it’s like 10 years since I played that game (yeah yeah, uh the irony of my memory being gone…). A closer comparison might have been nice. Anyway, since it’s always easier to talk about the bad stuff, I’ll start with that.
Number one annoyance must be, that the game doesn’t show how far a character can move during a turn, so a lot of moving with the mouse cursor is necessary, to figure out the edges. It’s especially annoying during long crisis moments, in which all characters have to move (e.g. the “heist” on the alien space station…).
Overall this game doesn’t have any big bugs, especially none which would break quests. Okay, I didn’t encounter any. Who knows if quests can’t break, given the many possibilities… Thus, the general high polish of the game makes the peerless dungeon without doubt the buggiest part of the game. I entered it, started fighting drones and “had to” leave again, because all my resources were already drained from previous adventures (and I couldn’t have known that shutting down the consoles would heal me). When I returned after resting, all robots were still dead/destroyed, but their bodies were still moving around a bit, as if they were still alive. When I opened a door after a crisis occurred, the game crashed, which was my sole crash in the entire game. After restarting and reloading I got through this by finishing the crisis first before opening the door again. As soon as I got out of this place, I never encountered such a problem again.
The pathfinding managed to get the last castoff stuck in 2 or 3 places. This too never happened to me again, after leaving the first city.
At one point I had to unequip and re-equip an item, before the effect of my newly selected concentration skill (neutralizes negative effects of bonded items) became active. Pretty sure that’s what happened.
The ending epilogues were the only thing where I outright thought it was done badly. First, the epilogues are displayed simultaneously to the ending credits (who thought that was a good idea) and each text has a “next” button beneath it, which naturally made me think I would have to click this button to move on to the next one. Second, that’s not the case – after some time, the next epilogue will show up without warning (so the next button is ultimately only there to skip text). I couldn’t read one of the texts, because I expected I would have all the time in the world to do it. So for the next bits I speed-read everything, to make sure I wouldn’t miss more info.
But again, all in all incredible polish. They definitely stepped up their QA since Wasteland 2, this game was riddled with bugs on release day.
So on to the actual game then! I don’t think there’s all that much to say, since, once again, I feel confident to state, that they simply delivered the game they promised during their campaign. To this day, not a single crowdfunding campaign, I participated in, disappointed me.
Torment is deep, detailed and interesting. From start to finish. Is it possible to find stuff in it for nitpicking? Sure, but what really matters, is that they got it mostly right most of the time. And they sure did.
I’d like to mention, that Torment: Tides of Numenera is as different from Pillars of Eternity, as Planescape: Torment was from Baldur’s Gate. That alone is another win.
I absolutely expect inXile to throw out some patches/improvements for this in due time and I’m definitely playing the game again in the future. Yay!
PS: It took me 59 hours (says Steam) to complete the game, as far as I know I played all quests in the game and I tried to actually read everything. I didn’t hurry and focused on enjoying myself.
A lifetime ago I really wanted to play Sanitarium and I even bought it on GOG (years ago), but to this day I haven’t touched it (shocker). So this is the position from which I’m judging that Stasis appears to be kind of similar to it (I swear I had no idea the wiki page even mentions Stasis!). “Nowadays” the majority of games are either first or third person 3D OR outright throwbacks like Thimbleweed Park, who actively try to be reminiscent of games of another era. So by default it’s almost rare to get any game which deviates from these few formulas. Devs only seldomly try to mix genres or apply a genre to any unusual, varying format. Certain top down views are “always” real-time strategy, but rarely action and 2D views from the side are adventures, but not e.g. strategy games.
So here comes Stasis as an isometric adventure game, in a tonally dark science-fiction setting, which could be compared (in the broadest sense) to something like Dead Space. The game has no action sequences, which might be a little odd, given the setting and for some gamers this might even detract from the atmosphere (as it’s supposed to be so dangerous at times), but I prefer no action to action which is implemented poorly, so things could be much worse, as far as I’m concerned.
The only negatives that I have to think of, which definitely should be pointed out, are that there is no reliable consistency between cursor icons. What I mean by that is, that certain actions have their own icon, so obviously a player will just assume without an interaction icon, they won’t be able to interact – WRONG. For no reason whatsoever, the game abandons its logic at several points throughout the game and items with the “look at”-icon can and must be clicked regardless, to progress even. It’s obviously annoying to be stuck because of that. I can also see no reason why this wasn’t fixed in a patch at some point, since this seems to be a good example for something, which should (after all) be relatively easy to fix. I’m curious to find out, if their newer games will be improved in this regard. It is not obvious to me if this is just an oversight or intentional bad game design.
I liked the game more than enough to also start playing Cayne. This game seems to take place in the same universe and I’m eager to learn, if it will shed some light on issues, Stasis remained too ambiguous about.
This game is def one of the craziest titles I’ve ever played, which is – of course – awesome, but then there are the other parts which are just frustrating. These elements further split into bad design and being a bad port. It’s impossible to overlook, that this game wasn’t developed for PC. A menu which can be used with a mouse, is too much to ask. Simple tasks are therefore much more of a hassle than they should be. For general problems, which go beyond the port, there are situations in which the camera isn’t free and is fixed towards a certain path, while there still can be lootable crates on the sides, which isn’t all that much fun to play. The worst crime in this game however is, that there are several boss fights which demand hammering the left mouse key like a madman. This button mashing madness should be banned from all of gaming. But even so, I hardly ever saw such a severe case. At one point, I was about to uninstall the game, because no matter how much I tried to break my mouse, the boss fight wouldn’t continue. I finally got through it after failing like 10 times and I’m sure it was just dumb luck. There are several theories floating around why that is, but nothing definitive. Honestly, this should be patched out (of course I know it won’t be – just saying).
There are problems in the core game as well. What let me down a little, was that several of the episodes (the game consists out of 13 major missions, who are separated from each other like episodes in a TV show) aren’t even embedded in any kind of time frame. What I’m talking about is, that they could be in any order and it wouldn’t matter. So there isn’t even something resembling a coherent story. The story bits that are there, don’t make much sense and it constantly feels like there is something essential missing. I haven’t done any “research”, if there are maybe any “companion pieces”, which might elaborate a little bit on what the game delivers, but even if there are, the consumption of additional material should never be necessary to make a piece of art work. It should be able to stand on its own. I’m not sure if KiD achieves that. Not for people who are looking for more than just a hack’n’slash.
This extends to the characters. Most of them are very unusual, but it’s never explained why they are the way they are, how they got their abilities […] the player learns all of it as a surprise during missions, there aren’t even any hints prior to them doing “it”. None of these things are properly set up or foreshadowed in any way.
This game has aliens, unicorns, trains are coming alive, vampires, cyborgs, magic, people with 16 arms […], all of it without any explanation or introduction. If the handling was much better than it is, this game could be the craziest ride imaginable.
The art style is very noteworthy however and with all the mentioned crazy stuff as a tie-in, Killer is Dead delivers something gamers don’t get to see every day. This is certainly why I finished it, I didn’t do that for the insane button mashing or the general controls.
This game is for everyone who wants to see something different, it delivers that much in massive quantities. I just wish it could have been bundled with better gameplay and a slightly deeper story, then it really could have been something special.
VA-11 Hall-A takes place in (like so many… things) some sort of futuristic dystopia with hackers, artificial intelligence, […] aaand you are a bartender. Other than in the typical game, the player doesn’t explore the world by running around in it, but rather hangs mostly around the bar and the world is experienced by following the stories the guests tell, who walk in from the street. All the player has to do, is to follow these conversations and mix and serve drinks. With this formula, the protagonist’s catchphrase can be fulfilled: “Time to mix drinks and change lives.”
Of course this can fail in a bunch of ways. However, doing it right definitely pays off.
On the surface this might not sound like the game I’d normally wish to play, but I found it to be strangely endearing and relaxing. The real highlight however is, how well pretty much all of the characters are written. Out of the last 10+ games I’ve played, most wouldn’t even try to be anywhere near such well thought-out characters. VA-11 maybe didn’t have a massive budget to blow on big ‘splosions, but it sure became a fine example of what you can do without one regardless.
I’m guessing I’ll play it again soon, because I read there will be a free “expansion” of sorts which will add a prologue. :)
When Ron Gilbert pitched Thimbleweed Park, one of the things he said, was that he wanted it to be, in a way, like a game from the Maniac Mansion days, which was just now discovered. That’s kind of how Mars: War Logs feels. Like a game Obsidian made ~10 years ago on a budget, but only now did someone discover it. So for people like me, who are into such games, this is a good thing, simply because there are no more games like this. I’ve already played most of them. This is a relic of sorts.
There is a lot of potential in this game, lots of great stuff, which is often unpolished or imperfect in a way which can almost feel unfinished. The combat is acceptable, I’ve definitely seen worse over the years. :P
The setting is good (MAAARS), there are some good characters (Roy was badass in a way that wasn’t annoying, Mary was my kind of crazy and Innocence was strangely endearing) and some choices can lead to an ending which I found satisfying. I think I finished all quests which took me 16 hours (according to Steam).
The game really made me want to play Bound by Flame, simply because it’s from the same dev.
I’d really enjoy a direct sequel to MWL, but I don’t think this is in the cards. Also, there is Technomancer, which is seemingly set in the same universe. I should probably check that out as well. :)
Mad Max had the potential to be almost as great as TW3, if they had “just” added a ton of proper story missions. Instead a massive amount of activities was dumped on the wasteland, which are essentially a brutal grind. Another great source of disappointment is the option to build up strongholds into what should be powerful fortresses. Except from the obvious options each upgrade delivers, it’s entirely meaningless. At one point in the story a stronghold is attacked, but whether it has no upgrades or all of them is irrelevant. It really shouldn’t be.
The game is worth playing regardless, because almost everything else is fun. It’s worth noting that this game runs incredibly smooth, it’s almost like watching a video, even on my machine (the typical gamebros on youtube have phones with more power).
The most impressive part was to me, that next to all (I’m especially including and referring to the minor, non-mission sites that only contained some meagre loot) of the countless places throughout the wasteland seemed to be unique locations. This is so very rare. Another reason why I’m so sad they couldn’t get more out of this fantastic framework. It all could have been so glorious.
After the main story was done, I immediately stopped playing the game, because then it made even less sense to continue grinding for anything. So I didn’t use Max’ original leather duster and shotgun once, which only becomes available after completing the campaign.
What is also completely messed up, is that the two characters who are murdered so horribly before the last mission, are alive again when the game “continues” after the ending credits. That’s one of the things I dislike about open-world/sandbox games in general, but it’s of particular bad taste here.
During the game I often wondered, how it would have been, if inXile’s Wasteland 2 would have been done in this engine/world. It could have been a fantastic fit.
PS: Not once did I have to refuel the car, even with 0/10 points in the “save gas” ability. So this one is super important. :P
PPS: I have no idea why the screenshots turned out so dark, the game itself was really bright during my sessions. I don’t think I ever experienced this before. Normally screenshots look exactly like the game did.