The death of the Lent 2013 Steam Game Back Catalogue Challenge

My Lent 2013 Steam Game Back Catalogue Challenge managed twelve days out of forty. That is… not cracking really, but the reason I stopped was because suddenly first trimester absolutely shatteredness hit, and I spent all my spare time sleeping instead of playing games. Pregnancy does that to you.

It was good fun though, and I discovered some great games that I’d neglected. Of course, I only finished two (Dear Esther and Botanicula) but I also particularly loved Aquaria and will be going back to The Blackwell Legacy too.

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SGBCC Day twelve – Eets

This is day twelve of my Lent 2013 Steam Game Back Catalogue Challenge.

Eets is billed as Lemmings-esque gameplay, but I just couldn’t get into it. Maybe I just haven’t given it enough time. Maybe I was expecting something else. Maybe I just can’t get myself into the right mindset any more. Maybe I just didn’t get far enough into the game to let it shine – I have to admit I didn’t make it to an hour of this one before getting really, really bored.

See, Lemmings always let you feel like a genius for solving some of the levels. You got the feeling that there were several solutions, and you found one of them, or a new one. Eets, from what I have seen, seems to have one, rigid solution. And it just wasn’t as charming as Lemmings always was.

Maybe I’ll search out some gameplay videos on YouTube and hope they inspire me to have another go. But this one didn’t gel with me at all I’m afraid.

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SGBCC Day eleven – Dustforce

This is day eleven of my Lent 2013 Steam Game Back Catalogue Challenge.

This is clearly becoming a bit of a theme. Sadly I was unable to play Dustforce as it just resulted in error messages. Perhaps I’ll be able to fix them at some point. On that note, I managed to sort out Chantelise, so have managed to write a bit about that instead.

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SGBCC Day ten – Dungeons of Dredmor

This is day ten of my Lent 2013 Steam Game Back Catalogue Challenge.

Dungeons of Dredmor is the kind of game that I will never be any good at. In fact, I will probably never even be mediocre at it – however I will definitely be able to have fun with it.

Roguelikes are good for me, because I’d otherwise get to a point where I’d feel so demoralised about repeating the same bit over and over again dying in new and pathetic ways that I’d quit and never start it up again. But through the twin virtues of random levels and snarky comedy, I’ll keep coming back for more.

I have played for about an hour, including the tutorials (there are several). I think I managed four games within that time, only once getting further than level one. That time (the second game I played) I got as far as level three – I suspect through sheer luck more than anything else.

It may be some time before I manage that feat again – I earned the dubious honour bestowed by the achievement reserved for those who somehow meet their death during the tutorials – such is the level of my skill.

It’s worth noting however, that I did the tutorials last. At that point I learned all sorts of things that would have helped me survive. Oh well! Next time, eh?

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SGBCC Day Nine – Dear Esther

This is day nine of my Lent 2013 Steam Game Back Catalogue Challenge.

I knew that I’d like Dear Esther but I was worried about pacing. About getting lost. About hours of wandering, having missed the right turning, not spotted a cave, getting bored.

I needn’t have worried. Steam tells me I just played this for 92 minutes – which will have inevitably included at least a few toilet breaks, snack stops, and checking on Polly, and there were only a couple of moments where I felt I was back tracking. It is, in retrospect, actually very linear – that, or it’s signposted perfectly.

There are, now, lots of screenshots. I’m going to attempt to hide them beneath the fold in case you are spoiler-averse – though these can’t really spoil anything. I took care not to include any text. But if you want the locations to be completely new to you, maybe you don’t want to look. I’m pretty certain it won’t hurt much though.

Continue reading

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SGBCC Day eight – Chantelise

This is day eight of my Lent 2013 Steam Game Back Catalogue Challenge.

Today’s game was Chantelise – A Tale of Two Sisters, an ARPG. I was really looking forward to this because I don’t really play many games like this, so it would be an interesting change.

However, this happened:


Sad times.

EDIT – I got this working a couple of days ago and had a go.

This game is several things. Charming, hard, and impossible to control. They keyboard controls are a pig, and to be honest it’s not much better on a controller – though that does at least make it marginally easier to control the camera. It does make you realise how spoiled we often are with intelligent camera angles in games. No such luck here – it’s a camera that points at you from a fixed distance at a fixed angle, no matter how much you turn, unless you manually move the camera yourself. This means you are often attempting to fight things off screen with no idea of what or where they are until you can spin the camera.

I seem to recall Recettear being similar, though I don’t remember it being quite this bad. Perhaps I didn’t get as far with the combat in Recettear, since there were other things to be doing – perhaps that diluted the annoyance somewhat. There’s not really much else going on here – no twist like in Recettear – but the magic gems is a neat idea. Enemies drop different coloured gems when defeated, which you can collect and combine to perform magic spells in combat.

The difficulty level pretty much requires several playthroughs and reattempts at each area – a desire that’s increased by the hidden chests of treasure in each area. They are unlocked through all sorts of mechanisms – destroying all the torches, hitting particular boulders, ignoring all enemies and killing the last one first – all sorts of odd little mysteries.

So, there is incremental replayability here (which is probably quite essential as I suspect I’m nowhere near good enough to get to the end!) – I’m just not sure if the difficulty will be too much of a barrier to me playing this much, since it’s more than likely to be weeks between my attempts.

I shall give it a go though.

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SGBCC Day seven – Cargo! – The quest for gravity

This is day seven of my Lent 2013 Steam Game Back Catalogue Challenge.

Today’s game was Cargo! The Quest for Gravity which I remember being quite excited about – perhaps because the weirdy little people and the island setting made me think of Black and White which fired off the nostalgia.

However, this happened:


Sad times.

EDIT – I fixed it on the 21st February. And had a play. This is the most absolutely bonkers thing I have ever played. You know, I’m not even sure what’s going on.

You play as quite a strange character – the engineer Flawkes, who is constantly put down as useless. Here she is:


She looks really moody. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her without that bemused yet also apathetic expression on her face.

The game is all about FUN. That is, a resource generated by these weird little naked guys:



These guys generate FUN by, well, having fun. Which they do by singing songs, catching a ride on your vehicles as you ride them, and, erm, being kicked. Obviously.

There appears to be all sorts of peril for the little lemming-esque dudes – such as walking into propellers, and being squashed by penguins:


And for some reason, when they start having lots of fun, things fall from the sky – like this ice cream cart which knocked me out:


I continue to be utterly confused about what is going on.

I suspect, going forward, that a large part of the game will be vehicle construction. You are, after all, an engineer, and can construct vehicles from all sorts of bits that you find lying around or can purchase from the guardians of the island. However thus far I seem to be incapable of putting two pieces together without a blueprint to help me.

I do think I will play the game again, beyond the slightly more than an hour I put into it tonight, but it is so completely weird I’m not even sure what I’ve done so far. I just sort of… bumbled, collected, kicked, build, drove, raced, and caused some terrible disasters. And I seem to be rapidly running out of buddies.

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SGBCC Day six – Botanicula

This is day six of my Lent 2013 Steam Game Back Catalogue Challenge.

Botanicula is lovely. It is very recognisably Amanita Design’s handiwork, visually, audibly, and whimsically. It is actually difficult to describe it without simply saying “lovely” over and over again.

I’m fairly certain I played it for more than the allotted hour today, but it’s so utterly pleasant and imaginative and – well, lovely – that it felt beyond relaxing. I spent the majority of the time sat with a wistful smile, occasionally punctuated by a wry grin.

There are plenty of little hidden joys – creatures that you discover through exploration, interactions and charming animations that keep you interested. It’s a simple point-and-click adventure, but it never feels like a chore. Even the bits that you’d normally consider mindless clicking somehow felt more mindful. There were several moments where I honestly thought I was clicking on things just for the joy of clicking them and seeing what happened, then something occurred to help my bunch of tree creatures on their quest. It feels serendipitous rather than convoluted.

I suspect you may get more out of the game if you understand Czech – the creature’s names (Soukac, Brouk, Tykvovec, Hrouda, Zavod and Tocnak amongst many others) sound like they may or may not mean something or allude to something. I don’t really feel like I’m missing out but it would be interesting to know if this adds another layer of whimsy for those in the know.

I could quite happily play this all night, but I’d better not.

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SGBCC Day Five – Bob Came In Pieces

This is day five of my Lent 2013 Steam Game Back Catalogue Challenge.

Bob Came In Pieces is the kind of game I love in theory.

You are a little space dude with a little space ship that got battered to hell when you crash landed on a planet that looks suspiciously like the earth, except I don’t know who built these convoluted tunnels. You collect pieces as you go to add to and repair your ship – the pieces that you add (and how you configure them) changes your physical appearance (appendages and so on), power, weight, speed, manoeuvrability, and so on. So it’s basically a little puzzler about how to reconfigure your ship (aka series of interconnected pipes and engines) to solve little environmental puzzles.

However, while it’s nice that awkward manoeuvrability has plot justification (your bits are wrong, of course you handle like a sack of, um, pipes), that awkwardness just bugs me. You know how sometimes when you’re trying to time a jump just right, and you have to have a million goes, and it’s almost frustrating but it’s a good frustrating because argh just one more go I nearly nailed it this time aaagh! No I’ve nearly got it, another go? This wasn’t one of those times. Not for me. It was just irritating.

I would like to have another go, perhaps on a day when I’m marginally less irritable, to see if actually I’m being unfair on poor Bob. After all, it’s not his fault he resembles a badly assembled spider – it was after all me that built him that way. And I want to build him better, I do. I just need to be better at moving him around because most of the time I just want to smash him up again.

Sorry Bob.

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SGBCC Day 4 – The Blackwell Legacy

This is day four of my Lent 2013 Steam Game Back Catalogue Challenge.

Sadly, I can’t play The Blackwell Legacy. Not today. It doesn’t work with my monitor setup as when I try to do anything on the right hand side of the screen (including access the options menu) it actually clicks on the desktop and exits the game.

Oh well.

One day, perhaps, I’ll try again when I only have one monitor connected – but I have too much work on really to fart around with it at the moment.

I shall spend a little time playing some more Aquaria instead.

EDIT – I could of course just play it on my laptop.

Or so I thought. Two days of wrangling with the Steam client and Windows Update later, and I do!

This is quite timely, as another installment in Wadjet Eye Games’ Blackwell series has just been announced. I can now have a genuine opinion about whether or not I should get it beyond “ooh, that seems like a good price!”

So, I played it. It is point and clicky in that you point and click at things – to look at them or do something with/to them. But I have not come across any object hunts or convoluted puzzles as yet. I was briefly baffled by how to distract a lady playing a flute, but assumed I was missing some object or other (this is how genres can poison your logic with fluffy contrived game logic). On my way out of the area expecting to go on a pixel hunt for a mystery item, I observed how something moved, thought “ha! I wonder if…” – and lo and behold, the puzzle was solved. With real world logic. I am yet to find out if this is a sign of things to come or if I have just been eased in gently.

You play as Rosa, who appears to be an antisocial reporter for a local newspaper. Her aunt has just passed away, and she has inherited something that, thus far, she really doesn’t want. The environment is really nicely drawn. Completely pixelly, but still very evocative – Washington Square Park in particular, on day one, looks lovely.

Unless I’m missing something, you can’t pause or quit or view the options menu when you are mid-dialogue – whether scripted or chosen. This means my laptop timed out when I had to take a break, and I have no idea what it has done with my scant progress. I wanted, more than anything, to shut the damn music up. In the end I shoved the laptop in another room for a while, where it inevitably shut itself down.


But you know what, I don’t really mind if I do have to play a bit again.

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