Sunday, January 18, 2015

Defense Grid 2

I picked this up on the kick starter campaign, because the first one was the best tower defense game I'd played.

The voice acting is quite good, despite what they're saying being a very thinly stretched plot. The amount of audio exposition that happens after the level is beaten, messes with the pacing. I understand why they did it -- it gives you something to listen to, while checking your scores against other people, but it makes the level that you finally beat with a gold medal require you to wait a few more minutes before moving on. I only played the game on the Hard difficulty, so by the time I finished the level, I was kinda done with it. There is also a lot of text that is given to you at the start of each level, which will not make sense for over half the game.

They added three new features to the game, and removed flying units -- which helped focus the game to a ground based defense model. The first is boost towers, which allow you to cheaply route the enemies without having to build a lot of unnecessary gun towers, and they also allow buying a boost to the tower that you build on top of it (more damage, more score for enemies killed around it, or stealth detection). It was a nice touch.

The second thing they added was upgrades that you have a chance of getting at the end of beating a level. The upgrades affect a specific tower, and you can choose which upgrade to put on each of your towers before starting a level. My personal favorite upgrade was the tachyon ones, which slow down enemies when you hit them. Second to that was the one that changes the targeting to hit the strongest unit, which was great for cannons or missile towers.

The last thing they added was the ability to purchase extensions to the map, so you have more places to build, or more paths to route the aliens. It's not always clear how it's modifying the map, but after a few quick purchases and rewinds, it all makes sense.

I'd highly recommend picking it up. It was an improvement to the first.

Also, if you're confused on the new scoring system you should check this discussion. Defense Grid 1 used a rating system of remaining currency + X per core you still have + sell value = total score. Defense Grid 2 is similar, but not as transparent. It makes sense when you think about it. You score better if you can build a more efficient defense.

The typical graph for scoring in any level.

My strategy for the last level. Surprisingly it took only 2 rewinds to get to this setup.

Friday, January 9, 2015


Picked up the GOTY version on Steam, but I likely won't have time to play the DLCs.

I was interested in playing another stealth game, since the last one I played was Deux Ex: Human Revolution, but it can get quite tedious, and I'm hoping to finish more than one game a month.

The controls are very fluid, the graphics well done and nicely stylized, the story is good although slightly predictable, and the voice acting is superb.

I started out going with stealth, then switched to murdering everyone to speed up the game. In a level load screen, I see a tip that says that killing people makes the world more chaotic and more rats and ghouls will exist in the new levels as a result. Hmm, must try to avoid killing people unless necessary. Also, I should avoid knocking people out near a swarm of rats, which will then eat the unconscious person...

The runes and bone charms upgrade system they have is pretty neat. You can pick up to 10 bone charms to be active, which give small perks (move faster in stealth, breaking glass is quieter, mana potions give you more mana, etc.). For the rune powers, I went with the blink ability early, and it was very useful. Also, getting the sight power has been amazing -- I can find all of the money and interactables much more quickly, so I can buy more upgrades and get through the game faster. It's almost like the Batman vision. After that I got faster movement, time dilation, possession, and shadow kills. Okay, possession is really sweet. For the levels with dogs, you can possess the dog, run through most of the level, then leave the dog and finish it up quick. Very good for getting through this quickly. Blink and the vision allow you to regen the mana spent on them naturally, but possession and slow time take more mana than you regen, so you have to keep drinking elixirs.

Also, I remapped the keys very early so that the heart, blink, and vision were 1, 2, 3. The rest of the hotkeys map to items that kill things which is less of a priority. I can also mouse wheel to them. Or just straight up kill them with my sword, which is by-far the easiest thing to do.

I started this game in April 2014, played a bit in August and just now finished it up in January. It took just a bit under 20 hours to complete the game. I'd highly recommend it for anyone that likes a good stealth game, where you don't have to play stealth. I think they force you into stealth much less than in Deux Ex: Human Revolution.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

SteamWorld Dig

This is a quick review because I have a baby on my lap, and don't want to forget to post this.

I picked up for free via PSPlus on PS4.

I beat this game in 5:11, every minute was enjoyable.

The story is simple, the controls are smooth as butter, the graphics are beautiful, and the progression is extremely well paced.

I highly recommend playing it.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Legend of Grimrock 2

So this is one of the few games that I actually pre-ordered. I usually don't do that. I usually wait for a Steam sale, or at least a 50% off discount. This game I couldn't wait for. I occupied a bit of time by playing the ORRR2 mod for the first game.

The gameplay is just what I loved from the first one. Grid based movement and tactics. The enemies are extremely difficult if you play on hard. I was unable to get past the first boss after 10+ attempts. I switched to normal and that felt like enough of a challenge.

If you find a gold key, make sure you don't waste it. If you don't mind some spoilers, you can at least choose what to spend it on by checking this Steam community page

Same for potions. You can spend your ingredients early, or check what they can become by checking this Steam community page

The puzzles are a very good improvement, which is amazing because the first game's puzzles were so good. One of the nice differences, is that you are usually given a glimmer of something that you just need to find a way to get to. A chest hidden behind trees, or in a location you'd have to drop down to, or find a secret door to reach. I really like this because it narrows down the amount of tedious wall checking that was involved in the first one. You'll still check walls, but usually with a purpose.

The graphics and very well done. All of the animations and monster variation from the first were quite enjoyable. They also added a new angle of tactical combat, with some enemies attacking while turning, and others doing a fast side-step and then attacking, or even enemies that can jump and flank you. Lots to learn and enjoy.

The bosses in the game were nice, but one of the bosses in particular I considered to be a bit of a test of patience. The poison gas boss was really annoying if you did not have poison resistance. It also summoned minions if you didn't take out the key points, so you have to prioritize that as soon as possible. I spend easily 30 minutes figuring out a pattern, then another 20 getting it right and getting out before being overrun.

The last boss of the game felt like a huge improvement from the first. Minor spoilers continuing here... Make sure you're geared for lots of normal damage, stock up on potions and healing crystals, and be prepared to dish out lots of damage quickly. Anti-venom potions and speed potions would also be good. He does tons of damage, and spawns minions the entire fight. Beat him down as quickly as possible without being too risky. He tends to hit you back pretty quick. I found the cannon worked decently well for good hits from across the field, but hitting him up close with heavy weapons works really well too. I'm not sure if anything comes after mummies, but I killed him before the mummies...

Overall I would highly recommend this game to anyone that played and enjoyed the first. It's fabulous.

And now for some pictures. Sadly almost all pictures of the game contain spoilers because you can see the gear images.

November 24, 2014

I went back into the game a while back, and kept digging for secrets. I apparently missed a few large areas of the game somehow... I found the last of the shards, an extra few boss fights, and the real ending. It was well worth the effort, and I'm glad they gave us so much with this game. Thanks Almost Human Games!

Saturday, September 20, 2014


Anodyne looked really appealing in the pictures, good art style and Zelda like.

The puzzles are good, but if felt a bit lacking in that you don't get that many items, so you end up reusing the same trick quite a few times per dungeon. Also, the same layouts/tricks seem to come up quite often. If you see a lock, and have a key, but there is another path, you have to go down the other path first, because there is a second lock a few rooms past the first lock.

Some of the puzzles were much more abusive than Zelda's puzzles, but you do get checkpoints that you can spawn back at if you die. And you'll die a lot... You also get warp gates quite often, so you don't have to spend a lot of time manually backtracking. This was an awesome feature.

The boss fights were almost usually trivial, because I could just swap hits with the boss until I won because I had more hitpoints. I think only one or two fights I had to actually use tactics. The last fight was one of these.

The characters and dialogue in the game are anywhere from simple and random, to amazingly creepy. Like, wow that's creepy. The ambient sounds usually helped with the creepy factor.

The controls are pretty good if you use a controller, but the Android on screen controls were almost impossible for some of the fighting you have to do in the game.

You will have to collect cards to finish the game. All of them. So don't skip any if you see them. The warp gates light up when you have found all the cards in that particular area.

As far as length, it took about 4.5 hours to beat completely. Some of that was a bit tedious, but overall it was enjoyable.

The good:
Good blend of puzzles and exploration keep you entertained throughout
The visuals are really good when they're good

The bad
The visuals can be really bad in some areas, and this is done on purpose.
It gets very creepy at parts, maybe just from a dark sense of humor?
The twitch jumping and bullet hell rooms were not even remotely enjoyable. They were probably the weakest point of the game. For this alone, I am extremely glad I switched to a controller on Steam instead of attempting to finish this on my Android.

These kinds of screens happen too often...

You find red bugs that give you an extra hit point.

This pretty well sums up how often you'll die. By the end I think I died over 30 times. Sometimes just to get back to a checkpoint faster though...

Friday, August 22, 2014

Savant - Ascent

Picked this up in the Humble Bundle: PC and Android 9

Very solid anime look to it, and animated beautifully.

Music is mostly dubstep, with a few varieties. It works extremely well with the gameplay.

The gameplay is basically an arcade style game, and everything blends perfectly together.

The levels are hard at first, but as you pick up CD pieces, you get a few new abilities. By the time you get 4 abilities, you have enough to finish the game. Each time you finish a level in story mode, it remembers your progress and you can continue from there.

The game is quite short. I finished it in just 25 minutes, but I enjoyed every minute. Highly recommended if you already have this in your library -- as most people that follow the Humble Bundles do.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Euclid The Game

It's actually quite neat going back to something you learned so long ago. That is, until you get horribly stuck on level 20.

Never before have I had problems falling asleep because of an unsolved Geometry problem...