Cave Clutter: Playing on the edge

It’s that time of the year again, when I take my two week late summer/early fall vacation and do my best to do absolutely nothing but relax and play games. Although a week has already passed and I’ve spent a good chunk of it working on this blog and writing posts at a rate that’s unheard of for me. I’m actually ahead of the game, scheduling posts to be published in the future. I honestly have no idea what’s gotten into me but at least I can count this as being productive?

Luckily I have enough games to keep this vacation overall unproductive, just as it should be. Games such as…

Mirror’s Edge

Another game I picked up when it was on sale, I wasn’t sure what exactly to expect from it. All I knew was that the story was written by Rhianna Pratchett, the main character was female, and there was going to be a lot of parkour.

I was really surprised by how good the game is. I know it was originally made for consoles but the controls for PC are pretty intuitive. I did run through the tutorial twice just to get a better handle on the keybinds and the pacing. Speaking of the pacing, there are some times when you have to make some pretty quick judgements. The game tries to highlight objects you can use in red, but not everything is included and I noticed that sometimes the highlighting is buggy. I often had to run through areas a couple times before I got through without dying. Thank goodness there’s no real penalty for dying because I did it a lot. I’m almost certain that my death count hit the triple digits. Now I know that I will never try parkour in real life because I will most certainly kill or severely injure myself. And that’s even without people shooting at me.

I have to say that Faith is a pretty amazing main character, what with the amazing feats she can perform and her own attitude. The box art is a profound understatement of what she’s like.

Generic pretty female with city backdrop
Generic pretty female with city backdrop

Really EA, you couldn’t go for a cover that has Faith doing something awesome? Like punching an armored man out?

faith-punch

Or doing a crazy wall running stunt while evading bullets?

faith-chase

Tell me that last picture wouldn’t have been a fantastic cover that encompassed what Faith and Mirror’s Edge is really about.

But putting that aside, I’m happy to say that I completed the story mode of the game and I’m now looking forward to Mirror’s Edge 2.

Dragon Age: Origins

I started off strong playing DA:O, completely intent on finishing it and making my way through Dragon Age 2. But then my interest just sort of…petered out. I think I’m pretty close to being done as well. All that’s left is to find the dwarven Paragon and then all of the ending stuff. It felt very repetitive somehow. I mean, I love RPGs but if I had to fight yet another pack of darkspawn, I was going to die of boredom. My combat basically consists of pressing 7 buttons in a row, waiting for them to come off CD, then pressing the same buttons again. Every single fight. If I’m lucky, there’s a caster I can interrupt with a special 8th button…one that also has a long-ass CD. Maybe it’s because I’m playing a rogue but it feels like there’s no urgency or strategy. I could auto-attack the mobs and the outcome would still be the same. I suppose I could switch to my party members and micromanage them but that doesn’t sound too terribly fun.

The point being, I made a good chunk of progress on this before I got bored, and I’m hoping to get the drive to complete it over the next week or so.

Endless Space

Other than some brief games of Civilization: Revolution with some friends, I had never played a 4X game before. I didn’t even know it was a genre until I saw Endless Space on sale and looked it up. In the end, the part that I took away from the Endless Space description was “space exploration and colonization” which sounded like a lot of fun to me. I played one game that lasted three hours, and it was three hours of “I really have no idea what I’m doing, why are you fighting me, we are a peaceful people”. The tutorial is really just some screenshots pointing out which panel does what and there was a lot I had to figure out as I was going along. I think before I play it again, I’ll try my hand at another (simpler?) 4X game like Civ5 in hopes that it’ll teach me the basic playing strategy, which I can then apply to Endless Space and not feel like I’m drowning in a million panels. Other than that, it has pretty graphics and a nice soundtrack.

Lantern Forge

I learned about this game when I saw a Steam friend playing it for hours on end and I decided to see what was so interesting. I only have 3 hours playtime under my belt but I think I get the gist of it. It has the sandbox/survival/crafting/building aspects that are reminiscent of Minecraft and Terraria. Additionally, it has RPG-like skill trees along with weapons and armor that give you bonuses to certain stats (and there’s also a mana pool and our old friend, the character sheet). Oh yes, and the darkness and underground is where scary things spawn so be prepared to make a lot of torches. There’s also something about being about to build a town so you can get merchants, but I haven’t gotten that far yet.

Forgoing my usual choice of a melee or ranged character, I decided to try the magic tree, mostly because cotton for light armor was easy to find and a magic staff dropped relatively early. I found it quite powerful and fun to play. I usually kill anything before it has a chance to touch me. Copper, the first tier of metal, seems rather rare but I haven’t explored underground more than two levels so far.

The controls are a little strange and take a while to get used to. Fore example, instead of the arrow keys or WSAD, you click and hold your mouse in a direction to make your character walk that way. When I want to move backwards, half the time I end up opening the skill window instead because I keep hitting S.

And here’s a tip for you: build a gardening bench so that you can turn crops to seeds. Don’t be like me and think you need to exploring further and further just to find something to eat.

Transistor

I’m probably a bad gamer because I’m playing Transistor before Bastion. But here we have a sci-fi setting where a woman, who walks softly and carries a big-ass sentient sword, goes around fighting robots and generally kicking ass. How could I resist something like that? The backstory is a little fuzzy for me but it’s different and interesting enough to keep me wanting to go from one plot point to another. I really like how the combat isn’t “how fast can you mash these buttons” but that you have periods of time where you can pause and plan out your moves. Some of the fights are challenging bordering on frustrating but overall, it’s good at keeping me on my toes.

One thing I don’t like however is how you lose an ability when you die. It would be fine if you could immediately replace it with another ability but you have to wait until the fight is over to do that. And losing Dash() is especially hard on me because now it’s a lot more difficult to avoid taking damage from enemies and I die even quicker the next time. In fact, I lost so many abilities during the fight with the Spine that I ended up doing most of my damage with Ping(), the only ability I had left. It was a long, gruesome battle, let me tell you. However, I believe I’m close to finishing as I think I only have a couple of bosses left to go. I’m interested to see how the story ends.

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