Steam

On Firewatch

Despite the best efforts of my video card and Windows 10 to stop me, I recently completed Campo Santo’s Firewatch, an adventure game. It’s become the favourite thing I’ve played in the past year, I think, partially for its design, but also for the way it’s unafraid to put story first, mechanics second.

The game takes place in Wyoming’s Shoshone National Forest, a wilderness of almost 10,000 square kilometres. It’s 1989, the year after the calamitous Yellowstone fires, and you play the part of Henry, a bearded, chubby dude (voiced by Rich Sommer, Mad Men‘s Harry Crane) who takes a summer job as a fire watcher to place some distance between himself and his life’s problems.

(I don’t want to explain the problems too much – there’s a surprising amount of determining your own variant of the story in its opening minutes, and they’re certainly emotional.) (more…)

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Farewell, Handsome Jack!

Today was the day I finished playing Borderlands 2.

Well, let me clarify. It’s the day I finished the main story and reached the New Game Plus mode. It’s a point I’ve reached after playing on and off since before Christmas, and according to Steam’s inbuilt counter, I’ve spent just over 100 hours reaching this point.

That’s four-and-a-bit days straight. (more…)

Don’t go into that sawmill: some thoughts on Anna

I’ve just finished – well, in the early hours of the morning – Dreampainters’ game Anna. The timing was probably pretty suitable because it’s considered a survival horror, though really it’s better described as some manner of walking simulator set in an increasingly weird sawmill.

The story is fairly twisted and unclear – it follows the death of a woman named Anna (yes, she of the title), whose relation to you is as yet unclear. It becomes more clear through the game, though not much more, as madness is a bit of a feature, and there’s not really any such thing as a reliable narrator here.

The Extended version features a possible eight endings, which increase in terrible-ness as the game continues. So it’s possible to NOPE out of the game soon after solving a desultory door-opening puzzle and receive what amounts to the ‘good’ ending, while pursuing the story to its end guarantees a Pretty Bad Time. (more…)

The Typing of the Dead: Overkill

There’s a certain perverse joy found in killing digital zombies. They’re people, but they’re monsters, so it’s OK to annihilate them because if you don’t, you become one. Fair enough.

It’s something that’s fuelled a lot of games of late, but nowhere perhaps more enjoyably than in the rejig of The House of the Dead: Overkill called The Typing of the Dead: Overkill, which I picked up for cheap on Steam a while ago, but have only just been able to move to the top of Mount Backlog for its moment in the wintry sun. (I figured I needed a break from crowbars and headcrabs.)

The main attraction of the game is that it is fantastically over the top, even by the fairly low-culture standards of zombie media. Basically, it’s presented as an adults-only grindhouse-style series of films, with all the out-of-focus film, bad sound and clichés which go with the territory.

Let's all go to the lobby.

Yep, down to the Intermission sign. (more…)

Exploring The Old City

Today marked my first completion of a game on my newly-built Steambox.

(Catch-up: Steam is a very successful online games marketplace/management tool which I’ve successfully used to enable a virtual hoarding proclivity while simultaneously ameliorating my physical collection, so win-win I suppose. Anyway, the company is in the process of creating PCs for the lounge-room – called Steamboxes – and I recently built one of my own which, miraculously, didn’t catch fire. It’s named after Stephenson’s Rocket.)

The game I completed was Leviathan: The Old City, which has copped a lot of stick for being nothing more than a walking simulator. (more…)