Rock of Ages 2: Bigger and Boulder

Rock of Ages 2: Bigger and Boulder

Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of playing a game called Rock of Ages. I had owned it for a very long time but had never played beyond a few levels because I had found it fun but I wanted to commit to it. When I did complete the game, which was very fun, I was surprised to find that a sequel was being released shortly. Fast forward to the end of August, and it’s finally here! If you’re familiar with the first game and looking for the short review here it is: go play this game. It’s everything the first one is, but better. For those wanting a bit more, read on!   Rock of Ages 2 (and the original) are games where you roll a giant boulder into the door of your opponents castle, trying to break it down. These rocks take time to carve, and so you’ll spend the time between by building structures to protect your door. Things like giant walls, cannons and hot air balloon bears. Yes, bears suspended from balloons are a thing and give a short glimpse into how weird the game can be. All the art assets are using classic works of art, cut into “paper dolls” so they can be animated. The levels are all inspired by various forms of artwork from Dali to Van Gogh and while you roll around classic pieces of music play along side. The entire thing feels like a Monty Python animation and it helps since the game has a very similar sense of humor.   To keep things fresh, the game also has...
Little Inferno

Little Inferno

Little Inferno, from the guys who made “World of Goo”, is another game set in a world dominated by industry. But instead of going up against this indomitable machine, you face a deadlier foe: lethargy. You see in this game, you burn things. In fact, you burn everything. Burning things gives you money, which you use to order new things to burn. Combining different things gives you greater rewards, and that’s the trick: finding the best combination of things to burn. All while this is happening, you’re getting letters from a friend who as a way of finding out more about the world that is beyond the fireplace. That’s where the simple game mechanics give way to excellent storytelling.   The world is on the verge of apocalypse. Ever present snow threatens to freeze everything solid, leaving no survivors. It’s a poignant issue, especially comparing now to when the game was released. The notes you get hint that a long period of time is passing, a theme the game plays heavily upon. The game isn’t long (a casual estimate would be 3ish hours) but after reading all the notes left for me and seeing the end of the game, it feels longer. A difficult separation to describe, but one used to great effect.   Something I don’t see online, and I’ve searched quite a bit after beating the game, is what the game means. The narrative is simple enough to follow, but after beating the game I felt like there was more implied than what was given. Theories that passed through my mind were “am I in purgatory or...
No Man’s Sky

No Man’s Sky

The last time in recent memory that a game created as much controversy as No Man’s Sky. If you’re interested in what I think of the hypetrain and all those broken promises, well just go look up totalbiscuit. The idea that the devs were less than responsible with their hype train pretty much sums it up for me. I think that if this were any other game, based on the promotional materials provided, gamers would have cautioned each other. “No Pre-Orders” and “Don’t believe the bullshots” are common phrases before release, and instead people embraced these things with No Man’s Sky. But if we strip away what was promised and only look at what is presented, what sort of game are we left with? What core gameplay mechanics can we boil the game into, check our crucible and see if we can find that elusive rare material: fun. If you’re not familiar, a quick rundown: No Man’s Sky is a procedural (but not randomly) generated universe which contains a bevy of flora, fauna, races, elements, planets, moons, stars and civilizations. This means as you wander about, you have no idea what you’re going to come across and unless someone else was there first (which is unlikely) you can even name your discoveries. At least in theory you can name them because apparently Hello Games didn’t implement semaphore locks in their databases, meaning an offline player can name something because they never got the notification it was already named. Weird game design choice, in my opinion. So that’s what exists, but how is the player left to interact with it?...
A Story About My Uncle

A Story About My Uncle

I’ve enjoyed many a game that were short and linear. Portal, Papo and Yo and Grandpa’s Leftovers were all great experiences with each one crafted around a very solid core mechanic. With Portal, we had the eponymous portals. With Papo and Yo, the giant monster switching between rage and peace. With Gandpa’s Leftovers we had the delightful ‘geometry slicing’. Add to that list one ‘A Story About My Uncle’, the best web-slinging game since Spider-Man (and probably the only one not carrying that title).   Beginning with the narrator, a father, telling his daughter a bed-time story we are dragged into a world of wonder located in an ephemeral ‘somewhere’. From caverns to floating islands, ice caves and the uncles cabin, we zip along as the narrator describes for his daughter a grand adventure about searching for his inventor uncle. Of course, needing to navigate this Jim Henson-esque world you need a certain mechanical mobility and to that end you use an energy whip. It delivers you from one solid surface to another. Limited energy keeps you from just staying aloft forever, although upgrades to the gauntlet and other gear enable you to expand your movement repertoire and you’ll need to as late in the game will be some rather devious puzzles (although nothing too strenuous for most gamers).   While the game isn’t all that long (3-6 hours, depending on skill level) and has a very limited cast of characters, it feels very well polished and iterated upon. The puzzles are never unfair, the game never leaving you with the need to know what happens next and aside from...
52 Week Challenge – Week 17 – World of Goo

52 Week Challenge – Week 17 – World of Goo

World of Goo is another one of those games that I purchased forever ago, and never got around to beating. Oh, I beat the first ‘world’ but I sort of ended it there. It’s a puzzle game and a very tough one at that. Nothing that will melt your skull but some puzzles will certainly take more than one attempt. The big problem with writing up this game, is that there isn’t anything new here. Everyone (or mostly everyone) knows World of Goo and if they want to play it or not. It’s nothing revolutionary (although at the time it was) and there’s nothing other than a good solid puzzle game here. If you like good solid puzzle games, you probably have already played and beaten World of Goo. If not, go give it a...