Friday, July 30, 2010


Risen is a very fun open world action RPG with elements of a MMORPG and an enjoyable hard core twist. It was developed by Piranha Bytes, the creator of the Gothic series and is available for the PC and Xbox 360.

Unlike most RPGs, Risen rightly labels magic as a rare and unique ability; And the ability to use it is guarded by a strict upper class of magicians. Fortunately, everyone is still able to use magic scrolls (they play a big part in the puzzle solving). Because of this it is hard to become a magic user, and even if you follow the strict path of a mage you will only become powerful late in the story line.

Their are three different paths you can follow through the story line. These are not strict nor do you have to pick one from the beginning, or even stay with one that you pick (up to a certain point). Every class has their advantages and disadvantages and even their unique plot and missions.
Classes, in order of difficulty to acquire:
  1. Criminal - Swords and Axes
  2. Warrior of the Order (Paladin) - Staff and Basic Magic
  3. Mage - Advanced Magic and Basic Magic
Note: All classes are able to use the normal weapons: swords, axes, and staffs, to varying degrees of proficiency.

One big difference between normal RPGs and this one is the levelling up system. When you level up you do not get any skill/stat increases but points that allow you to pay trainers to increase your stats/skills. This was quite an annoyance to begin with, but after I got used to the system I started to appreciate the realism this added to the game. Along with the normal magic/weapon skills in the game are some MMORPG like skills including forging and skinning. They do not go into the same depth as real MMORPGs but are useful none the less.

The battle system is pretty much the same as what you would expect, but the PC version does not include a manual lock-on. This adversely effects almost every battle that includes more then one person, as you are constantly being auto-locked onto an enemy behind the one you are currently fighting.


Hammerfight (formerly Hammerfall) is a physics action adventure game available for the PC on Steam. It is one of the most innovative games I have ever played, and that is saying a lot. The graphics are good, very good actually for such a small title. Additionally, it has a branching plot that is universally praised and adds quite a bit or replayability. The physics are great and quite a lot of the environment is destructible.

You play as a little battle copter thing, moving it around with your mouse, with a 2D side view. You can attach various battle implements to your machine {shields, swords, maces, guns, throwing weapons} and your main attack method is flying in circles at the right speed and angle to swing the weapon and hit your opponent. Their is a lot of skill involved; It is not easy to get the weapons swinging properly and their are different ways to go about trying to do so. Additionally, your weapons can be used to disarm your opponent or to block their strikes; Hitting an enemies weapon just right and with enough power can knock it off of their ship, giving you a huge advantage; And your weapon is the most sturdy and indestructible part of your ship and is excellent at blocking and deflecting blows. Also, instead of going for a strong hit you can try to push the enemy into a wall, damaging him and lining him up for a devastating attack, or another foe, damaging and entangling then both and throwing them out of position.

The main game consists of a series of area battles, some with hordes of enemies poring into the area, others with a few hard enemies, and still others which are boss battles. Periodically you are asked to make a choice, your answer dictates which path you follow; Additionally, how you do in some battles and challenges dictate your next branch. In addition to the main game their are a few very fun mini games, that will give you weapons and upgrades if you do well in them for use in future mini games or the main game. The most notable of these mini games is one modelled after a simplistic version of baseball and another similar to soccer. And if you are interested in multiplayer you can play with up to four mouses hooked up to one computer.

The weapons are very diverse and interesting. Not only can you add singing stones to add special attributes to your weapons, but all the weapons play very differentially to begin with. The swords are very sharp but short, you need to get closer to your enemies and will not be able to build up as much energy in your swing. While conversely the maces, in general, are connected to your machine with a chain (which enemies can pass though) and are blunt and heavy (in general) allowing you to give a huge punch to anyone in a wide circle around you. Multiple weapons/armour can be attached at the same time, the limiting factor is mostly their weight, the more you pile on the heavier and therefore slower you will be. The game is moderately loot/upgrade based, you can acquire weapons and upgrades by either winning them in a match, picking them up from your fallen enemies, or buying them. These weapons are stored in your own personal armoury, with a stop for one of every weapon in the game.

Note:  A "version" of Hammerfight (Hammer Wars) has been released on the PSP, by a different developer. This game has differences from the original and I have never played it. This review is based solely on Hammerfight for the PC.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Whispered World

The Whispered World is a point and click adventure game released for the PC in 2009. It features: hand drawn graphics that make up the beautiful environments and characters; Traditional adventure puzzles that are mostly well done and while a little simple are better then average; And an interesting story and likable characters.

You play a sad pessimistic bumbling clown named Sadwick. Who in a chance meeting with a kings messenger is entrusted with saving the world. In his quest he is accompanied by his trusty friend Spot, an unusual caterpillar who is able to change into many different forms (which are unlocked one by one on your quest).

The Autumn Forest
The graphics are what drew me, and kept me hooked, to The Whispered World. They are very beautiful and varied; Ranging from an ancient magical forest all the way to the dangerous underground fortress of the Asgil. The graphics really look like the graphics of a movie, which I have never seen in an game before. Actually, overall the game really seemed very movie-ish. The plot and gameplay made me feel like I was playing a interactive movie, more so then even games that have claimed that title before.

Kalida`s Island

The puzzles while somewhat simple are intuitive, with some notable exceptions.
Non Intuitive Puzzles(Light Spoiler Alert):
  • At one point you have to use a mouse to get a object that is out of reach, Sadwick makes fun of this bizarre scenario but you still have to figure it out and do it.
  • At one point Spots fat form is used to light a room, I think this might be a mistake as he has a form far more suited for this.
  • At one point you have to use Spot in such a way that you will think should kill him. It turns out he is invincible, or nearly invincible.
  • At one point you attach a furry creature to a club to make it better for hitting gongs.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Mt. is a free indie simplistic mountain climbing game. It is procedurally generated from the name you give it for the mountain. One interesting thing to notice is that the entire mountain it generated, not just the left side which you climb; And you can skip the end point and go to the right side if you want.

Your goal is to reach the flag on top of the mountain. you do this by jumping and use of a bungee cord. The environment is only a few very different shads of grey, minimalist to the extreme, but I still find I am interested to see what is around the next corner. It is very simple but it is quite fun.

You can stand stationary on any surface, as long as your legs are pointed towards the ground.

  • Jump - Left mouth button to jump towards the mouse cursor, the farther away it it the stronger the jump.
  • Drift - When in the air the wasd keys will allow you to drift in any of those directions, note up almost cancels out gravity, but not quite.
  • Bungee - Hold down the right mouse button either below your man and you will go int bungee mode. Now you can use drift to build up enough momentum to get you where you want. To exit release right mouse button.

The game can be played in a browser or downloaded here.

Note: Some of the generated worlds are more "fun" then others. The most interesting world I have seen so far is named "fun", but unfortunately it is only the right side mountain that is interesting.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Memorable Games

This blog post is dedicated to memorable games. I think we all have a few games we just cannot forget. Strangely enough, for me these are not even the best games I have ever played, they were very good but something made them particularly memorable. I think this memorable quality is best explained away by a combination of both quality and innovation.

This post was inspired by Ben304's recently post on Messiah (my all time most memorable game). In which he stated is was also a very memorable game for him. Also in my list of memorable games are Robot City and Dark Side of the Moon, both classical adventure titles I played sometime before attending high school.

I do not think I could do a better job then Ben304 in explaining Messiah, so I will not try and will just leave you a link to his article.

Robot City:
Robot City is a classical adventure game published for Windows 95 in 1995. It is based on a Isaac Asimov series of the same name. What makes it unique is the conversation puzzles. Many of the obstacles in the game are robotic in nature, for example you need a robot to do something or a robot in blocking your path. You must use the three laws of robotics to convince them to do what you want.

Dark Side of the Moon:
Dark Side of the Moon is very complex classical adventure game. It is a science fiction murder mystery, in which you play Jake Wright, who is out to figure out what happened to his uncle. I particularly like all the neat gadgets you use in game and for the interface.

The game environment is huge with many rooms and corridors to explore. The plot has lots of twists and turns, keeping it interesting. and the puzzles are challenging.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Plane Weaver

Plane Weaver is one of the PAX 10 winners this year. It is a short 3D platformer, but if the cut scenes are any judge future games in the series (if their are any) could feature action as well. It is set in a world were machines powered by human souls have taken over. The graphics are very well done and are steampunk in style.

You play a human named Silke who is able to transform into two other forms, a spirit and a demon. Her human form is good for general platforming as it can run and jump. The demon is slow and cumbersome, but is strong enough to push objects around and can shoot some projectiles to break machinery. The Spirit form cannot even propel itself, but will be propelled around by breezes and steam and will move through grating as easily as open air.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Mirage is new indie game that while it might not be technically feature complete, it could be considered a full game. It is an action exploration game, with emphasis on the exploration. Never since Knytt have I felt such joy from just exploring the game world, and Mirage is far more beautiful in my opinion.

The environment is not quite dark but more grey and alien. And it is very detailed and beautiful for a indie title. You play as a swarm of shards of glass and you fly around this environment exploring and fighting monsters.

It does suffer from some technical issues, apparently the graphics is tied in with the physics so if you set the graphics too high you might not even notice anything except that the game becomes unstable. Fortunately, it is hardly noticeable, graphically, when the setting is lowered.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Action 52

Action 52 was a cartridge containing a collection of 52 games released for the NES and Sega Genesis. It is also almost certainly the most expensive game ever released for the system. At "less then $4 a game" the cartridge totals to $199. Unfortunately, every single one of those 52 games are good examples of the worse games either system has; And that is not even considering all the bugs and similarities the games all share. In fact it is quite notorious for it poor quality and rarity, and is even sought after by game collectors because of this. For a more in depth guide into the Action 52 I would recommend the Angry Video Game Nerd's review of Action 52 (1, 2).

Currently, their is a Action 52 game remake competition and a few games have already been released. I think it was a great game collection to set a game dev competition around, it has a wide range of genres and themes to choose from and all of the games are so bland that it really leaves everything up to the developer. Quite a few of the released games are quite good and since the competition has hardly even started, I for one am eagerly awaiting the other games completions. Most prominent in the collection of currently finished remakes are the games Jigsaw and Illuminator.

Jigsaw is a action platformer themed around construction. The enemies are construction tools and the player combats then using his trusty nail gun. In addition to combat the nail gun is also useful in the platforming; Up to 3 nails can be can be in play at a time and then they hit collidables they stick into them, making a small platforms and triggering the switch if applicable. This platform making and switch triggering can create some complex logic puzzles latter in the game.

Illuminator is quite unique, and does not fit well into any genre, but I would say it is a strategy action game. The game is divided into a series of houses filled with progressively harder and harder enemies; The enemies being varied demons, poltergeists, and other monsters. But the real enemy in this game is the dark. The houses all start out almost completely dark, the only light coming from windows and electronic devices. This light does not illuminate the house at all but does allow you to see any monsters passing by. To light up the house you can use your flashlight and collect numerous light making devices and plug them into electrical outlets around the house. Your flashlight's battery empties when in use and recharges when off, and has two levels of charge that when reached and activated will release progressively bigger beams of light. In addition to illuminating your enemies, light is also your weapon against them. In general, if a enemy is touched by light strong enough it will die, but some enemies take multiple strong flashes to kill, and the glowing red and blue orb enemies are rather unique. These glowing enemies are easy to see, even in the dark, but present a unique challenge. The blue ones need to have light directed at them for an extended continuous period of time to kill, while the red ones are impossible to kill and are attracted to light. To complete a house enough enemies must be killed to open up the portal to the next level.

Download links (Jigsaw, Illuminator)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Kings Quest: The Silver Lining

The Silver Lining is a free unofficial continuation to the Kings Quest series. The Kings Quest series, made by Sierra Entertainment, were classical point and click adventure games until the last instalment Mask of Eternity which was very combat heavy. The Silver Lining goes back to its roots bringing us another classical adventure.

The road that lead to the release of The Silver Lining was a rocky one, and until recently it looked like it would never be released at all. It has received two separate cease and desist notices; The first cease and desist was from Vivendi and the, after they merged, from Activision.

The Silver Lining is episodic, with What is Decreed Must Be being the only one released so far and with five episodes planned in total:
  1. What is Decreed Must Be
  2. Two Households
  3. My Only Love Sprung From My Only Hate
  4. Tis In My Memory Locked. And You Yourself Shall Hold The Key Of It
  5. A Thousand Times Goodnight.
It has quite high production qualities for a indie game. The graphics are in 3D, and are quite good. The voice acting is better then some commercial games and at the lease not distracting from the overall experience. Also when wandering around looking at items/places their is always a huge amount of information/backstory that the narrator can give you if you want to sit through it all.

In general it has a atmosphere of classical adventure overhanging everything, but with more modern production values. And I think it will be a great addition to the series, and hopefully inspire more fan made additions to old, but not forgotten, IP.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Rein is a very short 2D point and click puzzle adventure game. Made by Darius Poyer using the AGS engine. When I first saw it I liked the arts style. Latter during play, it struck me with its realism.

You play how you would act in real life more then in any other game I have played. Solutions are logical, and if you already know the solution you can go right to it instead of being required to tread a narrow path dictated to you by the game.

Their is one part of Rein that in many games would be considered a bad design choice, but I think it works well in this game, and that is "random" death. Their are a few locations in the game that unless have already played the game you are pretty much guarantied to die, Luckily you always restart only a few seconds back. To me this really seemed to make the statement that in real life you are not always given fair challenges.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Teppoman 2

Teppoman 2 is a 2D stealth action platformer. It is in some Asian language, but it is OK as the plot is pretty sparse. I assume, you control a skilled commando out to kill some evil guy and find as many bananas as possible on the way. It is moderately short, but very challenging, so you will be playing it over and over again before anyone could expect to beat it. But this repetition of levels does not get boring since even level you have beat before can be challenging but still go by very fast.

The controls are the most unique aspect of the game. The player can do many complicated acrobatics, and needs to, to progress through the levels. All of them are done with combinations of the movement keys (left, right) and the jump button. But interestingly, the more complicated acrobatics can be quite hard to pull off with the simple controls. Somehow though, it is not frustrating, it is just one more skill that is fun to learn.

When encountering a level for the first time you will likely spend most of your time just studying the screen coming up with strategies and likely exclaiming, this is impossible, their is no way I can get past that; But then you do. The result is a satisfying, challenging, and very addicting game.

So if you are interested download it.

  • Arrow Keys - move
  • Down Arrow Key - open chest, pick up weapon/item
  • Shift - jump (start lvl)
  • Control - shoot, stealth kill
  • A - drop weapon
  • F2 - reset game
  • J - suicide
  • Dash - quickly tap left or right twice
  • Glide - jump immediately after dashing
  • Skid - press the opposite directional key after dashing
  • Reverse Jump - execute skid, then press the jump key quickly
  • Body Surf - execute a glide from high ground, then hold the jump button to body surf on any body of water (muddy and clear)
  • Wall Jump - pressed up again wall in the air, press jump
  • It is possible to skid almost off a platform to get over enough for walls that go right to the edge
  • It is possible to use a bombs blast to send you flying to otherwise unreachable areas, but is only needed to get one banana
  • Two bananas are available on every normal level, one on boss levels
  • You must collect enough bananas to continue playing past the two (middle of game) boss battles. Five by end of level 5, and 15 by the end of level 10
  • Bullets can activate levers
  • Hidden passages become gradually more visible the closer you get to them (2-3 tiles max sight distance)
  • Will not grip ladder if shift is held (don't forget this when jumping up or over to one)

Coming up with the strategy is half the fun, so do not watch too much of the provided video.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Babylon 5

Babylon 5 is a science fiction TV series created by Joseph Michael Straczynski. Overall it has a similar concept to Star Trek, particularly Deep Space Nine. But in practice it is quite unique.

While Star Trek can be overly preachy for some I believe Babylon 5 asks far more questions then it tries to answer. Star Trek can also be accused of being overly human centric and pro human, I do not think this can be said (at least very strongly) of Babylon 5. One thing they do share in common are quite a few actors, including Lwaxana Troi and Pavel Chekov.

The Babylon 5 universe spans two TV series (Babylon 5, and Crusade), 7 movies (The Gathering, In the Beginning, Thirdspace, The River of Souls, A Call to Arms, The Legend of the Rangers, Voices in the Dark), numerous novels and even a few games; And manages to be a very complex, interesting, and diverse universe.

I really love the different races and groups in the Babylon 5 universe. While all of them are interesting I found two of them particularly interesting, the Telepaths and the Technomages. In Babylon 5 telepaths come from almost all races, but the ones shown are almost all Human. They are often looked upon with fear and hatred by non telepathic humans and are derogatorily called teeps. Because of this fear the Psi Corps was formed to control the human telepaths. Technomages are a multi raced group of cyborg technicians, they employ technology to simulate magic. They are very well done and have many interesting tricks while never doing anything outrageous and unexplained.

Personally, I am a huge fan of complex fictional universes that take many books/films/TV series to outline properly. And while I have seen many, Babylon 5 is my overall favourite universe of all time.