Play a game from your backlog for at least 15 minutes, then come back and tell us about it here.
Choose any game from your backlog.
Play the game for at least 15 minutes.
Tell us how your introduction to the game went, and how you felt about it.
Decide whether you're going to continue playing the game past your introduction, or whether you'll put it aside for good.
Meta: I make a lot of "ask" posts, but I've been thinking more and more about something like "task" posts or "event" posts. This is the first in a few that I plan to try out to see how they go over with the community.
Game Played: The Black Watchmen
Time: 4 hours
Continue? Very much looking forward to.
How to describe this...? Take The X-Files, the basics of interactive fiction, creative puzzle types from escape room places, and about two dozen browser windows. Then, shake well. The result will be conspiracies, government science experiments of dubious morality, cold war history, secret societies, an undercurrent of occultism... the first four hours of this one have been quite a trip.
The game bills itself as a "permanent alternate reality game" and so far the moniker feels earned, as more than once I have stopped to wonder what is actually real and what isn't. Much of it has been built on historical events and references that exist within that wonderful sphere of things that definitely happened but you can't quite believe that they did.
The gameplay so far has gone pretty much like this: as an agent of The Black Watchmen, I'm given documents that contain information, and in order for me to proceed I need to make sense of that information, usually by exiting the game window, opening my browser and doing some Google searches, reading Wikipedia articles, and also accessing some websites and Facebook profiles that the game makers have created. When I arrive at an answer, it's usually a code, word or phrase that I need to enter into the game. If I get it right, I get to proceed in the story and get the next task. And for the most part so far, all of it has been pretty nicely and thematically done, with only a couple of tasks so far feeling a little forced.
At the very beginning, the game lured me in with its hints of connections to a 19th century occult society that I remember having been very fascinated about back in my teens. About an hour or so later, I found myself youtubing a 20-minute documentary from the 1940s about a historical Soviet experiment where they bring a decapitated dog's head back to life. Not because I needed really to watch it in full, but because it was fascinating, as well as frankly quite horrifying. Somewhere in between, I also read quite a bit about coffee and Canadian ice-hockey. I have deciphered codes, rebuilt corrupted data, hacked websites, social engineered people, and more. At one point, I went through a fictional person's credit card bill, ended up cross-referencing it with Wikipedia data on certain real-world events, and came up with a pattern that ultimately gave me her login password at a fictional company's website. It took me half an hour to figure it all out and hack in, but it felt great to pull it off.
It's not the first game that I have played that uses the real world and the internet as its canvas and playground. But it might be the first one that really works for me in this genre. The ones I have played before have usually been great concepts but lacking a little in execution. But with this one, I have so far been hooked. I think I'm starting to be about a third through the story, but now that I look at the Steam page, it seems like this is just the first season of two, plus there are additional DLC stories as well. I'm curious to see where this experience takes me.
I can't remember where exactly I left off with The Black Watchmen but I enjoyed what I played. You did a great job of capturing how robust the puzzles are, as you spend far more time alt-tabbed out to your browser surfing a mix of fake and real sites than you do actually utilizing the game interface.
The only complaint I had was that some of the email addresses you were supposed to contact were down when I played. I don't know if this was an irregular interruption or if they simply stopped maintaining those, but I ended up having to search up what the emails would have said had I gotten the intended responses rather than bouncebacks. Still, it's noteworthy that this is the kind of game that has you sending real emails from your actual email address as part of its puzzle solving!
My playthrough got interrupted not because I disliked the game/puzzles or burnt out on them, but it stopped because my computer died. I didn't get a replacement for a little over a month, which was too long to let the game sit without playing it. That gap killed my momentum and saw me forgetting about a lot of the game's story and lore, so I didn't feel right in trying to pick it back up, which is disappointing, as I was really enjoying it.
That's a pity. For me, all web pages and email accounts have so far worked without issues. I have actually also noticed that there probably are more websites now than there used to be: some entrepreneurial individuals appear to have created websites for some of the search keywords, I assume to catch page visits and get ad revenue. I'm not sure how lucrative that business idea can be considering the apparent player numbers.
After playing a bit more yesterday, my main complaint about half-way through the game would be the way that the game processes the answers. It seems like there is always one, and only one correct way to input an answer, and sometimes it's a bit infuriating when you know the answer but it takes time to figure out what exactly about the answer to specifically input as the answer. One puzzle needed me to figure out what sticks out in an lab order, and it took me a long time to find out that instead of writing in the item's name, I had to write in its weight. With my brain wired in a way where I'm perfectly capable of creating connections between things that don't have them, if I try the most obvious answer and it doesn't work, it will lead me down a weird rabbit hole of all sorts of really creative connections, each step taking me further away from the answer that I already had, just didn't know how to input.
Still, I'm curious to see how the case ends and if the rest doesn't disappoint, I'll definitely look into the other games by this developer.
Game Played: Grip: Combat Racing
Time: 45 minutes
I can't believe I slept on this as long as I did. I let it sit in early access for a while since I don't love playing games that are still in development, and then I never got around to trying it out once it fully released.
For those unfamiliar, this game is a spiritual sequel to the Rollcage racing series released back on the original Playstation. The gimmick to the games is that your car has wheels bigger than its body, so it can flip upside down and continue driving. You can also drive on walls and ceilings, allowing for much more interesting pathing than your standard racing game.
I put many, many hours into the originals, gleefully driving around to Fatboy Slim's absolute stunner "Love Island", and I'm happy to report that Grip, as a successor, did pretty much everything right. Every building block is there: cars that flip over, blazing fast speeds, multi-path levels, satisfying weapons, pumping drum 'n' bass soundtrack. Even the tracks are stylistically reminiscent of specific Rollcage tracks, so the game is activating my nostalgia quite strongly despite being entirely new and modern.
For those that never played Rollcage, the game is giving me Star Wars Episode I: Racer mixed with Wipeout (sidenote: I really need to update my references, these are all games from the 90s). It's fast, futuristic, and fun.
Also, it's yet another game that works flawlessly with in Linux using Proton. I'm am nothing short of floored with how many games I can play through that I, technically speaking, shouldn't be able to given my choice of OS.
I'm in the middle of the Spyro and Crash remasters, but this is going to be a good palate cleanser for when I need a break from both of those.
I've never heard of this one but I just pulled up some gameplay on YouTube and I see the parallels to the 90s games you mentioned. Looks like a lot of fun. One thing's bugging me though: if your vehicle is traveling forward and then flips upside down, won't its wheels be rotating the wrong direction now? Do they explain this in game, or just handwave it away?
Lol, I actually had a whole paragraph about that exact issue that I deleted before posting this!
You're definitely right. The wheels would propel the car backwards if it was done in the real world, but it makes for far better gameplay when implemented incorrectly. As far as I know the game never directly addresses it. I simply suspend my disbelief and chalk it up to being a nonsensical game mechanic, like how you can run full-speed into a wall and not injure yourself or how nearly every character in every game with waist-high fences is unable to climb them.
Quite coincidentally, this game just went up for a free weekend on Steam, so if anyone is interested in trying it out now is a good time to do so.
Game played: Ziggurat
Time: ~3.5 hours
I installed and tried Ziggurat (Steam page) yesterday, after meaning to get around to it for years. It's an old-school-ish rogue-lite-ish FPS, where the levels are randomly generated, you find random weapons/items, get random perks as you level up, and so on.
I played it for about 3.5 hours total over a few different sessions, which was 4 separate runs. I died fairly early on twice, died to the end boss once, and beat the boss once. Runs that make it to the end seem to take about an hour, even with generally trying to visit every room on a floor before finishing it.
Overall, it isn't a bad game, but it's just not very interesting. All of the weapons, items, and perks that I've seen so far are quite basic and there isn't much variety. In my runs I probably found about 10 "staff" weapons total (you can only carry one), but they were all just the same two: a choice between "wide spray attack" or "rapid fire". Most of the perks you pick from when leveling up are basic upgrades like "more mana", "get back more health from potions", etc. I haven't really seen anything that makes for a significant play-style change.
New items and perks are still unlocking after each run, so I definitely haven't seen the "full game" yet, but it's already feeling tedious to me, and I'm not going to keep playing for many hours more just in the hope that I eventually unlock enough to make it interesting.
The biggest issue for me overall is probably that even though there's a decent variety of room styles and enemies you can fight in them, it pretty much all just comes down to playing the same way. Almost every combat room ends up involving running backwards/sideways in circles while everything chases you and you slowly whittle down the horde. It's basically "circle-strafing: the game".
Because of that, I mostly just found myself wondering why I was playing this game, when there are so many other games with better shooting and encounters that I could be playing instead. Even just going around and doing random quests/events in Destiny 2 would be a more interesting FPS experience, and there are a ton of other FPS games with more compelling design that I haven't played yet.
I felt similarly.
In fact, I'm still waiting for a roguelite FPS to come along and grab me, and I've tried out a ton (off the top of my head: Ziggurat, Immortal Redneck, Tower of Guns, MOTHERGUNSHIP, Paranautical Activity, Wasted, UNLOVED, and probably others I can't remember). Many of them seem to be chasing parts of the Binding of Isaac or Rogue Legacy formulas, but nothing I've played has had the staying power of either of those two genre icons.
While I certainly enjoyed most of these titles initially, that's mostly because running around and shooting at things is intuitively enjoyable. None of the games felt like they had enough to keep me going though, other than the carrots of permanent unlocks which made me feel like I was playing simply to grind for in-game goals more than I was playing to enjoy the gameplay.
For a good rogue-like FPS, try Void Bastards.
I'd never heard of this before, but it looks great! Added bonus: System Shock 2 is one of my favorite games of all time. Thanks for putting it on my radar! I wishlisted it and will likely pick it up in the winter sale.
It's a third-person shooter roguelike, not a first person shooter, but have you given Risk of Rain 2 a try? I only picked it up a few weeks ago but already have 20+ hours played. It's pretty solid and a ton of fun co-op.
It's on my wishlist, but I'm waiting for the full release. From everything I've seen, it does look like a good candidate for scratching that particular itch.
TBH I didn't even realize it was an Early Access game, and I think that says something about how polished it feels already. But personally, I love Early Access games, since I enjoy playing them periodically in their unfinished state and then going back to them a few months/years later to see how they have changed. I find the development process really interesting to witness like that. However, I totally understand that's not for everyone and waiting for the full release is probably smarter, especially since there are so many other games out there to play that are in a finished state already. :P
Yeah, I really like the idea of early access and think it's valuable for lots of games (many need the cycles of funding and feedback that such a model enables), but for me personally, playing the incomplete game erodes my overall enjoyment of it.
That and, like you said, I already have plenty of other games to play -- hence my backlog-focused post in the first place. :)
Game Played: Lumino City
Time: 93 Minutes
This is a very lovely looking point & click adventure / puzzle game, and the story starts off interesting... but unfortunately that's about all the positive things I can really say about it.
The characters were all incredibly annoying, their personal problems were contrived and tedious to solve (often requiring just walking back and forth talking to each of them multiple times)... the world puzzles were unintuitive and poorly explained, and even after you solved them often didn't make sense... and worst of all, the game itself was really buggy, often locking up between screen transitions, requiring exiting to the main menu and reloading the chapter to continue. :(
Game Played: Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor
Time: 30 Minutes
u/Whom's comment in the Steam LGBTQ+ games sale made me recall that I already had this game in my library. So this was the kick I needed to give it a shot.
I made it through two days of the game, and short of walking around and incinerating things, it's hard to get a sense of what I'm supposed to be doing.
So, I know things that the game wants me to collect (for example, I need to get things to get rid of the skull), but it's not doing a good job of telling me what to do or what in particular to collect. So I spent 30 minutes feeling a bit lost, wandering around, and buying, incinerating, and selling things.
That said, I'm in love with the way the game looks. I probably just need to pull up a video of someone playing to understand it a bit more? Maybe I just missed something.
Time: 51 minutes
Continue: Probably when I've got a break to fill.
Game loads fast, single levels are short and fast-paced, that's a good recipe for a game that can be played to fill whatever free time I have. Meanwhile the main game I've been playing, Rust, on this slow HDD takes like seriously 20-30min to get fully loaded into a server.
JYDGE is a pretty fun game, gets almost bullet-hell-like the way I've been playing it. Feels like a great twin-stick thing, should dig my Steam Controller out. Only played through the first act but I feel like there's a good amount of variety already with the amount of mods I've scraped together. The game's main gimmick seems to be the mods and how much they can adapt to or change your play style. Definitely looking forward to play around with more of them as I progress. Large parts of the levels are also destructible, it's kinda fun to break down a wall to a room full of enemies and surprise them all from behind.
Game Played: Mari0
Time: 20 minutes or so
Continue: Maybe eventually
Adding a portal gun to mario sounds cool on paper but I found it difficult to use the mouse to control the portal gun in addition to the already two-handed controls that mario has. Plus messing around with the portal gun kept making me hit the level's time limit.
Maybe I'll come back to the game eventually to see if remapping the controls and practising more with the portal gun can overcome those problems, but for now I'm setting the game aside to continue my RCT2 playthrough.
I found it far more enjoyable to watch a tool assisted speedrun of Mari0 than to actually play it.
Game Played: The Adventure Pals
Time: 1 hour
This one actually hasn't been in my backlog for very long (it was in the August 2019 Humble Monthly, and though I wasn't a subscriber at the time, I got the game from a friend who didn't want their copy). Nevertheless, I used a random game selector and it chose this from my library, so I gave it a go.
First impressions are that it reminds me of Castle Crashers and Battleblock Theater in terms of art style, so much so that I wouldn't be surprised if the games share artists/devs. On paper the game is a platformer with some simple combat, but its charm is through the roof. Everything is cute and interesting. Your first "adventure pal" is a giraffe who gives you a mid-air glide by helicoptering his tongue. Later you get a pet rock who you can throw to trigger switches. I think it's aimed at a young age group (and would definitely be great for kids), though there are some more adult in-jokes thrown in (e.g. you meet some stoner foxes and help them recover stuff for their "stash").
The game is polished, beautiful, and has lots of great little touches (your character leaves a confetti trail when jumping). Platforming and combat are fluid and feel really good, and I've thoroughly enjoyed what I've played so far. I don't know how much staying power it'll have since it's already feeling a bit repetitive, and I question whether there'll be enough in there to see me through its ~10 hour runtime, but I also acknowledge that I'm not exactly the target audience for a game like this. I think it would be absolutely wonderful for children. It's bright, lively, fun, and adorable.
Kind of off-topic/meta, but what do you think about making this a recurring (bi-weekly/monthly?) topic, @Deimos? I absolutely love the concept, and I think it really has potential to help everyone here to finally start working through their backlog of games... and, frankly, I need all the help I can get with that! :P
I like the idea of making it recurring, though I think an interval on the longer side would be better. In my mind there's nothing stopping people from trying out multiple games and making multiple top-level posts (I was planning to do that myself with a new game this weekend), so I feel like it might have a longer shelf-life than some of the other threads we have. Monthly feels like the right amount of time to me, though again, I'd only want it implemented if we feel like there's enough support for it.
If we do implement it, I think the idea of adding in some flavor might be good too. Over on Steamgifts there's a group that does a monthly backlog thread and they always have very creative and interesting parameters to meet, often based on a theme. For example, this month's criteria (theme: Oktoberfest) are:
I don't think we need anything quite so specific or formalized, but it could be fun to have different genre focuses or selection methods for each time the topic goes up.
Yeah, I was planning on playing a few more games in my backlog as well and posting here about them too, so that's why I figured longer intervals made more sense, especially since this topic is a bit more of a time commitment than most other weekly discussion topics.
I also really like the idea of the themes too, but I am not sure if the recurring topic system can really handle things like that very easily right now... so these might have to be done manually anyways.
Either way, this topic recurring (in any form) gets a big thumbs up from me. :)
Edit: Oh actually, this might work for adding a "weekly theme" to these eventually, @kfwyre.
Allow Jinja templating of scheduled topics (if it's safe)
Game Played: F.E.A.R
30 minutes1 hour
This will probably be my last one of these for now so that I don't overextend myself into too many games at once.
I don't love horror games but I always get the itch to play a few around Halloween each year. F.E.A.R has been sitting in my backlog for years now, so I figured it would be a good place to start.
The game's a horror FPS and is, from what I've played, quite reminiscent of Half-Life (minus the aliens). The first half hour introduces you to the story and does a lot of haunted house-style spooky environmental moments (flickering lights, moving objects, etc.), with a few minor jump scares thrown in for good measure.
I don't know that I'll continue past what I've played because I don't know that the game is going to do a whole lot more than what I've already seen, and the story has yet to really grab me. I don't love this genre of game, so I don't know that I'm the type of gamer to really appreciate the game's lauded enemy AI and gunplay.
I'll probably play another 30 minutes or so to see if it has more to offer, but this is one that I'll probably put aside for good.I played for another half hour and am moving on.