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25th July 2016: Bonding My Fingers Together

It's been longer than usual since I paid this blog any attention, but that does not mean I've not been playing any games. In fact, I've been diving into quite the selection.

Up first was strange puzzler Sokobond. In this game, you have to move atoms around the level in order to try and get them to all bond together in the right sequence. Sounds simple enough, but trust me it wasn't. Now I quite enjoy puzzle games, as they give what's left of my tiny little brain a bit of exercise, but this one wore me down. I didn't play it in massive bouts either, but rather played it for fifteen minutes or so here and there over the course of a few weeks. Though I swept through at least half of the game fairly quickly, it soon reached the point where it was a grind to get passed each level, and whether I would even complete a level in a session became unlikely. Eventually, I reached a selection of levels, all over on the right side of the table for some reason, that I just couldn't be bothered to spend any more time on, and hunted for the solutions online. I know, I cheated, but I would never have gotten through it otherwise, as I was ready to call it quits.

What am I doing here?

What am I doing here?

You even learn things at the end of each level, not that I was paying attention

You even learn things at the end of each level, not that I was paying attention

As far as I could get unaided

As far as I could get unaided

30th September 2015: What A Blockhead

Today I bought the latest Humble Bundle, being number 15. I've purchased four Humble Bundles before this one, and was a bit angry with myself when I realised that I'd only tried six of the games from the previous four bundles. That is not a good ratio.

There are a few games from this bundle I quite fancy having a bash at, and I started with Q.U.B.E., a game I'd never heard of before but was immediately intrigued by due to its interesting looking puzzles.
In some respects, it's similar in appearance to Antichamber, which I also really liked, but the puzzles in this were far easier to get my head around. To complete the puzzles, you use special gloves to manipulate coloured blocks, which in turn allows you to reach new doors and elevators that open up as you progress.

It starts off really really easy, but a few of the later puzzles had me scratching my head for a while. Mostly because I couldn't see the end goal of the puzzle rather than not being able to figure out how to get there. Happily and surprisingly though, after two and a half hours of play, I reached the escape pod and the end of the game, all without looking at any help even once. That's pretty good for me I think.

Reading up, in the original version of the game that was released a few years ago, there was no actual story and it was just a puzzle game. This version though is the director's cut, which adds narration explaining that you are an astronaut with amnesia who must defeat the strange maze in order to save the world. Yes, it's weird, but whatever, I liked it. It was short and fun and activated what's left of my brain for a little while.

Things start off very simple

Things start off very simple

Things start to get more complex

Things start to get more complex

Man, I wrecked this place

Man, I wrecked this place

I escape the maze

I escape the maze

7th August 2014: Ending Stauf

It's been nearly twenty years since I first played the 7th Guest with my mate Dave on my very first PC. Hours and hours we sat there, putting up with the annoying doll maker Stauf and his bizarre house of horrors, bashing our heads against the screen in a vain attempt to get through all the puzzles. Somehow we got up into the attic, and on to the last puzzle, which we could not finish. I don't think we could even figure out what we were supposed to do to complete it, and the game went unfinished for nearly two decades.

A little while back, we started playing it again, but it was on Dave's iPad version and we didn't get very far. This did however reignite the desire in me to finally see this damn thing completed, so I booted up my GOG version at last.

I'm still kind of hazy on the whole plot of this game. You seem to play as the spirit of a little kid who broke into Stauf's mansion years ago only to be hunted by the six guests who were staying there, as Stauf has promised them all their desires should you be delivered to him. You go through the building solving Stauf's puzzles, and witnessing ghostly flashbacks showing what happened in the past as all the other guests began to turn on each other.
By the end of it, it seems that your puzzle solving skills as a spirit in present day somehow save the kid when he was alive years and years ago.
I think. I could be wrong.

Well, I guess a rock solid plot wasn't what people were looking for when this originally came out in the early 90s. I think people were more interested in the freakishly weird mood of the game, and its technical aspects. It's considered to be quite revolutionary due to its cut scenes, 3D exploration and its CD-ROM release, and a lot of people on GOG are still giving it good scores. For me, despite enjoying it years ago, I would now struggle to recommend it to anyone that's not played it before. In fairness, it barely even deserves to be called a game, as it's just an array of puzzles, some that are very similar to each other, with very cheesy story bits in between.

Whatever I think of it hardly matters now. It's done, and gone, and I'll never have to think of it again...

Stauf sure likes his dolls

Stauf sure likes his dolls

Cake or death? Or cake of death?

Cake or death? Or cake of death?

Ha ha, goat face

Ha ha, goat face

Such wonderful acting

Such wonderful acting

Missing your chess pieces there dude

Missing your chess pieces there dude

Go on, stroke that tongue, I dare you

Go on, stroke that tongue, I dare you

The other six guests

The other six guests

This bastard actually scared us when we were kids

This bastard actually scared us when we were kids

You should see a doctor, seriously

You should see a doctor, seriously

Bye bye Stauf, at long last

Bye bye Stauf, at long last

24th February 2014: Humble Bundle To The Rescue

Just recently got the chance to play through a game I've really wanted to play since its release about a year ago, in the form of strange puzzle game Antichamber. Up until now, it had only been available on Steam, which I still don't have an account for. But the recent release of Humble Indie Bundle 11 gave me the opportunity to finally give it a DRM-free bash.

It's a first person exploration and puzzle game, with one of the most bizarre visual styles you're likely to see. Puzzles mostly focus around manipulating coloured blocks with several different gun-type tools that you find as you wander through the maze of brain-frelling madness. But you'll also come across things like invisible obstacles, walls and floors you can freely pass through, things that don't exist one minute but then do the next, and all kinds of other craziness.

I enjoyed the game for the most part, especially the first half, but the puzzles seemed to get less imaginative the more guns I got. The two main gameplay problems were the tiny reticule, which I very often couldn't even see in order to aim properly, and the fact that every now and then the frame rate would severely drop. I don't know why in a game with such a minimalist graphic style. Maybe the game was loading something in the background. Whatever.

I have to shamefully admit that I had to go looking for help for a couple of the puzzles. It wasn't necessarily that I couldn't figure them out, but rather there were mechanics in the game that I didn't realise existed. Most of the time the game would give you subtle hints about what to do when encountering something new for the first time, but sometimes it wouldn't. I guess I shoulda played around more.
But it's all good, as it's another one down.

This game is balls-out crazy

This game is balls-out crazy

Rearranging some stuff

Rearranging some stuff

Craziness around every turn

Craziness around every turn

Time to get outta here

Time to get outta here

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