This is where you can read any of my irregular wafflings about computer gaming. The whole point of this blog is to help motivate me to properly finish games, whether they be recent ones or older ones I played when I was younger that I never managed to beat.
28th November 2016 - Brothers & Transistors: A Tale Of Two Games
2016 has been a bit of a slow year for completing games, so recently I sat down to rush through two shorter games from a couple of years back that have quite a good reputation out there on the t'interwebs.
Up first was Transistor, a game by the same people who made Bastion. I could certainly feel a bit of a Bastion-like influence in this, but for the most part it was a very different game, especially the combat.
Battles can be fought in real time, or you can pause and plan out your attacks using something called Turn(). Using Turn() lets all your planned actions activate before the enemy can react, but then puts your skills on a cooldown until Turn() is ready to go again, leaving you very open to attack. I struggled quite a lot to get used to either form of combat, until later in the game when I had unlocked a nice selection of functions which allowed me to use Turn() to plan out some very powerful combos. Though I had struggled with the earlier bosses, by the time of the end boss fight I was so ready that I smacked him around with barely a scratch in return.
The story was a weird one. A lot of the lore was hidden in text files and messages that get unlocked as the game progresses, and as I was blitzing through the game I didn't care for any of that, and am not really sure about many things. The general gist was that some bad guys called the Camerata (who may have actually been good guys?) were trying to use a special sword called the Transistor to help rebuild the city, but lost control of it, and it ended up spreading something called The Process: machine-like things that are now taking over the city and killing everyone they can find.
You play as Red, a famous singer who has been rendered mute, I assume psychologically, after an attack on her life instead claimed that of her lover, whose essence was then sucked into the Transistor. Red now has control of the Transistor, from which her lover still speaks to her, and together they set out to try and destroy the Camerata and The Process.
Yes, as I said, it's a weird one.
I had quite a few issues with the game to be honest. Firstly, I couldn't get it running smoothly. Even forcing vsync on in the nvidia control panel, or trying some weird command line option I found online, couldn't stop this from stuttering around all over the place. Made me feel a bit sick.
Real time combat was pretty much unplayable for me. Red's abilities are not supposed to have a cooldown in this mode, to make it a viable option in addition to the Turn() system. However, all the attacks I tried had massive wind-up times, or a good second or two afterwards where Red wouldn't do anything, and I kept getting hit by return fire.
Very often during Turn(), the game would indicate I could do enough damage to kill an enemy, but when I unpaused and unleashed the planned combo, the enemy would be left with quite a lot of health left. Either I was missing something, or there was some strange shit going on there.
Using the jaunt function was also frustrating. This is like a dash or blink move, but sometimes it would only jump to maximum distance while other times it would let me dash a shorter distance. Sometimes it would let me dash over walls, and sometimes it wouldn't. It was a pain.
I can't really write about this game without talking about its music, especially after Bastion's was so good. Unfortunately, while it suits the game and is perfectly adequate, I just didn't find it as "cool" sounding as Bastion's music. While I would be quite happy to listen to any of Bastion's songs, there are only a couple of the lyrical pieces from this one that I have imported into my library.
Red thinks she's She-Ra
Planning to take out the Jerk
There's always time for pizza
The fight against The Spine was the hardest one
WTF is going on right now?
Spanking the end boss good and proper
Next up was Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons. This was an interesting little platformy-puzzle-thing where you control two brothers at the same time, one with the left stick and one with the right. I was surprisingly ok with this, and could control them both simultaneously for the most part, as long as I kept the left-stick brother on the left side of the screen and right-stick brother to the right. If they ever got mixed up for any reason then my brain would soon get all muddled and I'd have those kids running in completely the wrong directions.
The plot is simple, and follows the brothers as they set out to retrieve a cure for their dying father, after losing their mother before the start of the game. Along the way they meet all kinds of weird and wonderful characters who will either try and help them or hinder them.
It seems to be known mostly for being an emotional narrative-driven game, and I've seen reviewers online gush about the effect it had on them. Call me cold or soulless, but I didn't get that much of a response from playing it at all. I guess the biggest reason for that was the length of the game. As it only lasts about 3-4 hours, there's not really much of a chance to get invested in the characters at all, especially as they don't even speak (or at least, speak in a language we can understand).
The end of the game also annoyed the hell out of me. For a start, the main villain, who up to that point had already displayed incredible feats of strength and agility, gets absolutely destroyed by two little children in very quick fashion. Just wouldn't happen. And to top it off, the writers of the game came down with a bout of sheer Lord Of The Rings-itus when a weird owl/cat creature shows up out of nowhere to save the day and fly the cure all the way back to the starting location so that the father can get it. I just didn't understand how that creature even knew where the kids were to go and help. Had me groaning with disappointment to be honest.
Narrative issues aside, it was a perfectly fine game to play through, barring a couple of little irritations. Mostly, I hated how the camera kept rotating automatically all the time. I dearly wished it would just stay pointing forward. Also, it wasn't always clear when I had to keep hold of the interact buttons or when I could let go of them. Quite often, a cutscene would start as I interacted with something. Sometimes, this cutscene would play even if I let go of the button, but other times it would cancel the cutscene and I'd have to start it again. A minor quibble, but a quibble nonetheless.
Overall though, definitely worth a playthrough, but like Transistor, it's highly unlikely I'll ever play it again.
Troll dude throws them kids off his front lawn
To me. To you. To me.
The brothers have a goat race
Someone's been playing Trine
I wanna go for a ride on that!
Not one for the arachnophobes
These two games are not the only two I've played since the last update. Though I wasn't expecting to go straight into Witcher 3, that's exactly what I did. Sadly the story failed to grip me and make me keep going back to it, so I haven't got very far yet, and it's been a good few weeks since I last played it. I want to get back to it again soon and hopefully get addicted.
I was incredibly happy to find its controls had none of Witcher 2's problems, and even though it's a newer game, the framerate and performance seem better than its predecessor. Good stuff in that regard.
Roach tries to climb the fence
I find her interesting because she's a client and she sleeps above her covers. Four feet above her covers.
Griffin proving a problem
Oh Geralt you naughty boy
This place seems inviting
Boxing a bear
One slice or two?
Come on then, Wild Hunt scum!
A while back I also started playing the chaotic mental insanity that is Broforce with Scoob. This old-school-looking game fills the screen with bullets and explosions as you try and reach the end of each level, playing as characters that are not-so-subtly based on action heroes from movies and TV.
It's actually quite hard, mostly because it can be hard to tell what's going on with all the fireworks and destruction on screen. We'll get back to this at some point, and hopefully get through it all. But don't hold your breath.
Scoob brings the pain
Dropping off some packages
Let's hope there's some dude with a sword I can shoot