#20 – Thomas Was Alone (PC)

It’s a rainy day so it’s a good time to wrap up some of these indie games I’ve got lying around. Thomas Was Alone was recently ported to PSN and featured in Humble Bundle 8, which prompted me to give it a go. I’ve had it for a while, but I’ve got a whole mess of indie games thanks to Humble Bundles and Indie Royales and Indie Galas. Just ludicrous amounts of indie games, and not enough time to sort through the winners.

Thomas Was Alone is a winner. It’s a simple puzzle platformer, using colored rectangles to represent AIs in a computer system. The story follows Thomas as he meets other AIs and they generally cause catastrophe for this computer system. The outside perspective comes from quotes that appear at the beginning of each chapter, but what makes Thomas Was Alone more than just a simplistic platformer is the narration in game. Each of the AIs has its own personality and motivations and abilities. Thomas can jump, but Claire can flow in deadly water. Using these abilities, the task is to get each AI to a particular spot in the level.

Without the excellent narration and music, this game would be fairly unremarkable. I wouldn’t have kept playing without it, but I don’t think the game was designed to be a fantastic platformer. It’s a competent platformer that stands out because of the story elements that accompany it.

4 out of 5 jumping quadrilaterals

#19 – The Swapper (PC)

“The Swapper” is kind of a dumb name, but this game is excellent. It is parts the movie Moon, parts Metroid, and parts Braid. It takes place in space, you’re (almost) alone, and it relies on clever use of simple mechanics to solve a bunch of puzzles. It just over three hours long, and the puzzles involve cloning yourself a lot and transferring your consciousness to your clones. That’s probably about as much as I should say about it. If you liked Braid, get it. It scratches that Braid itch very well.

5 out of 5 talking rocks

#18 – Tiny & Big in Grandpa’s Leftovers (PC)

This is one I started a long time ago, and just got around to finishing. It’s a puzzle-platformer, in that you do a lot of running around and jumping on things, and you use a cutting laser, grapple, and rockets to chop up the terrain to get to where you need to go. It’s fun and physics-y and it’s got a great cartoon style. It’s not very long, but it’s a little frustrating in parts because sometimes the physics don’t behave like you want them to. I plummeted to my death a lot. And every boss fight is the same. You use your laser to chop up things being thrown at you. All in all, it’s a pretty enjoyable diversion but could have used a little more polish.

3 out of 5 underpants gnomes

#17 – Far Cry 3 (PC)

This took me way longer than it should have. I blame work, and the drive-in theater, and being an adult for interfering.

Here’s what I like about Far Cry 3:

  • Exploring jungle ruins
  • Hunting animals
  • Light stealth gameplay
  • Vaas

Here’s what I didn’t like about Far Cry 3:

  • Wanted: Dead missions
  • Heavy bad guys make my guns feel ineffective
  • Crap ending

Content-wise, there is way more of what I liked than what I didn’t like. The worst part about the ending is that it feels like they were close to something magnificent, and blew it. I think that might be worse than just being bad from beginning to end. Overall, I really enjoyed it because I picked the parts that I enjoyed and played those, and I skipped the rest. I did a couple of the Wanted: Dead missions and decided that they sucked so I skipped them. I loved all of the Path of the Hunter missions. Hunting rabid dogs with a flamethrower is hilarious.

Four out of five burning dogs, running through the jungle.

Giving up

I don’t actively quit on games often at all. I’m far more likely to get bored and just stop playing them, or jump on something new before finishing what I’ve already got. But I very rarely give up on a game on purpose.

I’m probably not going to finish Resistance: Fall of Man. I got it because it was cheap and I’ve heard a lot of good things about Resistance 3 and I wanted to start the series from the beginning. But Resistance was a PS3 launch title, over six years old, and it has aged poorly. It’s a fairly good looking game, but it seriously lacks color and the gameplay is very bland. Then it has a problem with checkpoints being too far apart, and where I am in the game is getting fairly difficult. So now it’s not exciting, and it’s not fun.

So instead of forcing myself to play something I’m not enjoying over and over until I get through it, I’m giving up. I read the plot synopsis on Wikipedia, and I’ve started Resistance 2, which is a better game so far. I’ve got way too many other games to play to suffer through something I’m not enjoying.

#16 – Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon (PC)

Blood Dragon is amazing. It’s just what I needed right now. I’ve been a little busy with the house and finishing up this semester. It’s been rather hard for me to sit down and concentrate on a single game because I feel like I’ve got so much else better to do. Blood Dragon was developed in six months on top of the Far Cry 3 assets. It doesn’t look like Far Cry 3, but it plays in a pretty similar manner. It’s just over five hours long, which was perfect. I’ve read a few reviews that say it tries too hard, and I didn’t see it. It felt like a great homage to low budget 80’s sci-fi.┬áIt’s parts Terminator, Predator, Robot Jox, GI Joe, Robocop, Hardware, and plenty of other references I’ve forgotten or missed. I loved it.

Cats and dogs in the new house

Today, we moved the cats in. I’ve got experience in jamming uncooperative cats into travel containers (one time, Genghis got out, and when I tried to get her back in, she peed on me) so I wore my motorcycle jacket and gloves for the process. Sure enough, all of the cats put up a valiant fight, Genghis most of all. She may be tubby and sleep almost all day, but she’s at least half ox and very stubborn.

As soon as we let them out at home, Old Fat starts exploring like she owns the place, and Genghis and Gozer find the underside of the bed. While this 9000 year old cat is walking around and seeing the house and not paying any mind to those three dogs, Genghis and Gozer spend almost the whole night under the bed. Since Katie and the dogs have gone (mostly) to sleep, Gozer has come out and looked around, and Genghis has found a nice spot in my office.

Our house is pretty big and we’ve got way more rooms than people, so in picking out what to do with the rooms, we’ve designated one as the cat room. It’ll be where we put the food and litter box and some cat related stuff. When we brought the cats home, we hastily threw some of the necessities in there, but we haven’t really worked out the dog-proofing part yet. See, Chester is a notorious cat turd connoisseur, Harley loves the taste of cat food, and Fawkes just likes to mess with cats sometimes, so it’s in our interest and in the cats’ interests if we could have a safe room for them to eat and poop in.

For now, we are accomplishing this through monitoring of the dogs. They’ve been pretty good at staying near us, as they usually are, but since Katie has gone to sleep, Chester has decided that he needed to guard the cat room. You know, in case Harley decided she wanted in there, as if that old dog could do anything to stop her but growl and fart. After I caught him trying to sneak in to grab a late night snack and shooed him into the bedroom, Harley has taken up the charge of defending the cat room.

We might be able to fix this with a cat-climbable gate, but that old cat isn’t as spry as she used to be. Or a cat tree with a pad big enough for at least the food. A lot of my ideas center around the whole cats climb better than dogs idea, except Old Fat isn’t a great climber or jumper anymore. We’re just stuck on how to dog-proof a room from a large-sized dog, a medium-sized dog, and a cat-sized dog, while keeping it available to the world’s oldest cat.

What am I doing?

Moving!

Okay but I’ve been half-heartedly playing Resistance: Fall of Man, Guacamelee, and Vanquish on PS3. Resistance is underwhelming but it was a launch title and actually quite old at this point. Guacamelee is beautiful and fun but I think I’ve either encountered a bug, or I’m stuck. Vanquish is sliding around on rocket boots.

I’ve also recommitted to finishing Darksiders 2. Jake finished is not that long ago, which reminded me that I never finished it myself. I thought it was because I’d gotten stuck in it but I loaded up my save and found that I’d just stopped playing.

Here’s the thing. I loved Darksiders. I love to tell people it’s the best Zelda game ever made, because it’s the only one I finished even though it’s not actually a Zelda game. It’s so close it might as well be. Anyway, it’s fantastic. Darksiders 2 isn’t bad, but it’s different. It’s a little more loot-y and a little more grind-y and kind of less Zelda-y. And I think one of my mistakes is that I started on Apocalyptic (hard) difficulty, and I can’t go back now because I’m over 16 hours into it and dying on most large fights at least once.

But everything is going slowly because I’ve been trying to get this house closed on, which I did today, and spending this weekend moving. I might not even have internet again until Monday or Tuesday, which is kind of a bummer. Oh well, awesome house!

#15 – Infamous (PS3)

Infamous came with my PS3, as well as Infamous 2, Uncharted, and Uncharted 2. It was the first game I played on it, and the first of those four that I finished. It does comic book style really well. The story is largely told through comic book framed cutscenes. There’s a morality system where you can choose play either a hero or a villain. Your power is electricity, and you can either use that to revive civilians and restrain bad guys, or suck the life out of them. Often the “good” choice is to sacrifice yourself to save others. Actually, that’s pretty much the only choice. It’s pretty much always damage yourself, or let someone die. It doesn’t get much deeper than that, but it doesn’t have to; it’s a comic book. The ending is a pretty good surprise, except it leaves a bunch of loose ends. It even goes so far to acknowledge those loose ends, so I guess the devs were pretty confident in the probability of a sequel. For being not a huge fan of open world games, I’ve been completing an awful lot of them lately.

4 out of 5 lightning bolts

#14 – Bioshock Infinite (PC)

The less I say about Bioshock Infinite, the better it is for you who has yet to play it. It looks great, plays great, has an engaging story, and builds a world more immersive than most games I’ve played. I’m mad that I’m going to have to wait a million years to get another game like this. You don’t need to play Bioshock or Bioshock 2 to get into it, even though they’re also fantastic. Just get it.

5 out of 5 mechanical George Washingtons

Ne Cede Malis