“Hmm. I see now how the mining lamp works against me, insofar as stealth is concerned.”
It’s deadly hot down in the tunnels, but that’s okay, because they strapped a thing to your chest which makes it cold.
You’re a miner. Your day starts when you step into the portal on the Martian surface, and step out at a cavernous steel enclosure deep underground, one of the many subterranean safe-zones carved into the red rock. The worst part of your day is when you hop down your own fresh-dug shaft and fall, fall, fall for what seems like ages before you hit the floor of your current dig site with a resigned thud, the auto-stabilizer in your jetpack having slowed you.
The best part of your day is when you fly back up this shaft like that rocketeer from The Rocketeer (which is an oldie you probably saw on holotape, or something), fast and light and, for a moment, it almost seems like you could crash through the cave ceiling and burst out somewhere, anywhere, else. Maybe the place where the water comes from, the streams that turn into small waterfalls which support alien life even here, miles separated from the sun.
But, you can’t. You can’t dig up, you see. So you step back into the portal, and out onto the surface with its empty shops and empty streets, populated by a few small, chittering robots that only pay attention to you when you plink at them with your pistol. When you come back up it’s light out, sometimes, and sometimes it’s night.
Owen asked me to have a look at how The Inner World is holding up since the adventure game received a much-needed patch the other day. A good three months after its release, and nearly two since I weighed in on the bug-ridden iOS port of Studio Fizbin’s acclaimed PC adventure game, and I can now safely say that I’ve completed The Inner World, and that the game seems to be in a state where, well, it’s actually possible to finish it at all. “Most likely” possible, that is.
Bear in mind this is device specific (I’m on a 3rd-gen iPad), and that while the game is certainly in a better state than when first released, it’s still not bug free. I encountered a few more conversation-breaking hangups while working to reach the conclusion of this fine, fine tale, mostly when I made the innocent mistake of trying to activate something from the inventory while a character was talking. (Gods forbid!) Still, nothing that a quick reload—helped by The Inner World’s generous auto-saves—couldn’t fix.
So. It would seem this lighthouse is important. Probably.
Playing Tengami makes one realize just how seldom it is that a game shoots for tone above anything else. Sure, other titles might evoke certain moods in turn, favoring one particular vibe over another in the course of a six-to-eight-hour experience; horror games come to mind. But few are as consistent, and as unwilling to sideline the “feel” of a place in exchange for “game-ness,” as this digital pop-up-book themed around traditional Japanese artwork. It’s a calm, introspective game, and one that’s less concerned with stumping the player than it is with imparting itself to them. Many of Tengami’s “puzzles” could just as easily be called “attractions”, and the game’s cleverness stems out of a holistic desire to have its storybook world fully realized by a curious hand.
All things to keep in mind when you’re dropping f-bombs at a magical floating cherry blossom, and at all things—animate or otherwise—that would keep you from obtaining such magical floating cherry blossoms. So okay, there are a few real stumpers here.
Some—and this could depend on the day of the week—consider the sight and sound of two fresh slices of bread popping golden-brown out of the toaster one of the sweetest things one can wake-up to. To others, those carb wedges might as well be two grainy tombstones ready to accept the lukewarm butter-substitute slabs presaging a day’s inevitable failures. Mornings suck sometimes, is the thing here.
Toast Time feels like a game by and for that former sort of person. To the grumblers and serial breakfast-skippers of the world, it says “Hey, what if we were to shoot that piping hot bread-product right at the extra-dimensional goblinses trying to spoil your day?” And “Hey, what if that toaster had a big ol’ smirk on his face, and could fly around your kitchen. And maybe he should wear a Santa hat.” Also: “Hey, are baguettes explo- WOAH.”
Toast Time, if I’m honest, may have had a bit too much coffee.
Well, that was one hell of a Super Bowl party. Yep. We should leave before the authorities arrive.
Baldur’s Gate II has returned from the year 2000, popped out of a slightly sinister time capsule and magically conjuring itself onto your iPad (after you’ve expelliarmus‘d a couple of gigs of pirated HBO shows to make room for it). And it knows just how to enchant the nostalgia center of my brain.
“Ah, the child of Bhaal has awoken…” The sinister baritone of David Warner whisks me away on a billowy cushion of villainous condescension and cryptic asides, and I’m back in it, back in Athkatla and downright pleased that this veiny mage is torturing me with arcane lightning while I’m sat in a man-sized birdcage. Oh, you charmer, you.
Of course it helps that I’m really sat on the couch, relaxing with a brew and taking in the easy beats—goblin fight, evil duergars, clones, ‘couple thief scraps—of Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition’s opening dungeon. And, more than anything else, that’s what this port to iOS of the classic RPG has going for it: the same old charm, mixed with a brand new accessibility. Sure, there are some wholly new additions to the formula (which are surprisingly not terrible), but for the most part BG2: EE is just your old pal Balduran cruising around in a slick, new, colon-sporting whip. Or, maybe, a friend you never knew you had—until now.
“Two roads diverged in a–OH HELL DO THOSE SQUIRRELS HAVE KNIVES?”
What Tree Wars most readily accomplishes is making one realize just how strangely logical a war between squirrels and beavers would be. You know, because the former live in trees and the latter, like, knock ‘em down. Quaint and curious war is, and all that. *cough*
The second-greatest thing Tree Wars accomplishes is making sure the player stays completely absorbed in its sundry, semi on-rails battles between those nutty freedom fighters and the presumably angry beavers trying to gnaw their trees away. In the moment, regardless of what that moment entails–always. Question is: should you want to be so transfixed? (And, also: whatever happened to Nick Bakay?)
“Yeah, you can still pet the rabbits guys. Just, *sniff* just don’t turn around…”
There’s a hasty, poorly-reasoned argument to be made that we’re all just trying to be gods when we play games. Gods as fathers, mothers, masters, lawmakers, lawbreakers—all-powerful, all-knowledgeable and all-important, essentially. This power fantasy is all the more explicit in post-Diablo action-RPGs, what with that genre-refining game’s quite literal treatment of human-seraphim relations.
In Unity Games’ iOS action RPG Archangel, you’ll call flames forth with a swipe of your finger, freeze foes with quick flicks of arctic wind, and raise the dead by drawing sacred circles of regenerative magicks (the “k” makes a difference). All the powers of the cosmos are manifest in your digits. And damn if you won’t still manage to screw everything up–like a mortal–anyway.
“I’m talking to you, Sid Philips! We don’t like being blown up, Sid. Or smashed, or torn a- actually, I guess we are doing all that stuff on our own anyway, and it *is* a bit fun. Nevermind.”
I’m a little cupcake driving a rubber duck through soup. There’s a helicopter shooting missiles at the dining room table, you see. Now I’m a ninja behind the wheel of a WWII-era army jeep, and I have to get the donuts because… because there are donuts in front of me, you see? Pretty soon I might be an evil motocross gang leader piloting a biplane, a greaser zombie operating a tank without the proper licenses, maybe even a certain Evel Knievel-style daredevil by the name of Joe Danger.
I will also be concussed. Or at least as much as any of the plastic toy stunt persons (and stunt confections) in Joe Danger Infinity can be concussed. The latest entry in the Danger series is, in line with its predecessors, a reflex-testing, reaction-time-shortening, on-rails racing/score-attack mashup with the schmaltzy 70s CMYK veneer of an old Knievel comic. It’s also been designed specifically and exclusively for iOS, which means… well, no, you’re still going to crash and burn a bunch. You’ll just know it was your fault.