Playtesting: June 2012

Something I had been anticipating finally happened a couple weeks ago – I got bored with playing the Mass Effect franchise.  After an eight-month stint with Oblivion (which I was trying to plow through in preparation for Skyrim), I decided to blow through ME1 & 2 before the third game came out in March.  To put in perspective how attached I got to those three games, I just now (two days ago) bought Skyrim.  I played through ME1 once, and ME2 & 3 twice in about four months’ time.  There were just so many options in the world, and in those 3 different ways you could go – and the third way, neutral, could go any thousands of ways depending on the personality/decisions of the person playing the games – that I found enough to keep me very interested through two almost complete play-throughs.  I started that third play-through (Paragon) of 2 (I wanted to skip 1 and use the little genesis/creation comic instead) and almost immediately wanted to put down the controller and walk away.  Luckily, since I own the games, I can come back to it anytime, and probably will one of these days!

The last few weeks have been hectic with getting everything together so I can blow the currently popcorn stand I’m inhabiting and move in with some of my two-and-four-legged buddies.  In 5 days, that will become a crazy reality.  To distract myself a little bit from the emotional fur flying around, and the stress of trying to make sure the packing and moving will go smoothly, I’ve been play testing some X-Box Live Arcade games to see if there’s anything that’s the right combination of relaxing and challenging for some light gaming.  Instead of the usual immersive experience I seek out with games, I’ve been wanting something I can pick up, play for half an hour or forty five minutes and put back down.

SIDEBAR/ Weirdly, I’ve been seeking out the exact same thing in a book, in a sort of sideways way.  I do have one Kindle book from the library that I’m almost done with, but mostly I’ve been re-reading some fantasy books I’ve owned forever, and have read at least 3 or 4 times.  I really want to make no big commitments to anything until after I move, not even a book! Really, reading these books is like a big ol’ brain tranquilizer, not at all thought-provoking or challenging. /SIDEBAR

Anyway, here are some of the games I’ve been playing recently, and what I think about them.  Maybe you’ll find a good little time-killing game for yourself!

1. Solar 2

Maybe someone out there remembers the first Solar game? If not, Google it, it’s a fun little browser game now, if you want to kill a few minutes.  Both games were developed by Murudai, which does not seem to have done much else of note, but has made a good little game in Solar 2. Instead of me explaining the game to you in great detail, scope out this game play:

The game is essentially about the universe, from beginning (Big Bang!) to end (Black Holes!), and all the broad strokes in between.  A die-hard astronomer will be pretty disappointed if they’re expecting detailed examinations of the science behind stars and asteroids and solar systems, or realistic physics.  With a very soothing background soundtrack as your soporific lullabye, you zip around a seemingly endless open universe as an asteroid, star, and, eventually, black hole, alternately slamming into things or sucking them into your orbit in order to advance to the next state of being. An entire round can be played in about half an hour.  Also, since every round is different, and there are many, many hidden “tasks” the snarky, invisible narrator has left around for you, replay value is pretty high.  Plus, it’s only $5.oo on the arcade, so why not?  You can also download on your computer, via Steam.

2. ilomilo

Source: Telegraph.co.uk

This is definitely a “girl game,” or a game for people who are primarily in it for the cute.  There are, however, definitely enough little puzzles and 3D challenges to keep me interested.  Add in a romantic, loose background story about two loves (Ilona and Milton… Ilo and Milo!), and you get a game high on the adorable factor.  I definitely downloaded the full version of this one.  It’s pretty, well-designed, and fun without being especially difficult. A great casual game that provides enough plot to not be entirely abstract. However, I haven’t gotten very far into the game, so who knows?  This one could very well have me throwing the controller across the room towards the end (just kidding, I would never do that to my X-Box). Plus, Ilo and Milo are pretty cute, huh? This one was developed by Southend.

3. Warp

Source: Gamer Halt

I plan on devoting an entire post to Trapdoor‘s other game this year, Fez.  I played Fez first and, having fallen in awful, terrible love, I wanted more, so I went around and looked at anything else the makers of Fez were associated with.  I immediately came upon Warp.  In Warp, you’re an adorable little alien who has been captured by scientists and experimented on.  You have the power to “warp” into objects smaller than you and “frag” them into a billion little pieces.  Film canisters of data, metal barrels, laser beams… human beings?! Yes, yes, as opposed to Fez, which is entirely devoid of enemies and violence (but rife with creepy owls and shit), in Warp you can straight up kill those asshole scientists that gave you the reverse alien probe.  You don’t just kill them, you jump into their bodies, vibrate your little alien body around, and make them explode from the inside out, leaving only a big, gory blood splatter.  For all that, Warp is mostly smooth, straight lines, and kind of cute when it comes right down to it. I mean, come on, he eats giant gummy bears! And murders people! Awesome. Get this game, it’s quite good.  Almost a little Portalesque, come to think of it.

Hey, this has been fun!  I’ve been trying a few more games here and there, so maybe in a month or so I’ll do this again with three more games.

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