Monday, July 8, 2019

Games I've played in the past month (still A LOT)

I've still been doing way more computer game playing than review writing, although I may be in the process of inching my way out of my reviewing slump. We'll see.

FYI, Steam is in the last few hours of its Summer Sale - I recommend taking advantage of it if any of the games I mention below look good to you.

The games I'll be going over this time around (in alphabetical order):
  • Armello
  • Baba Is You
  • Blush Blush (yes, again) 
  • Cheeky Chooks
  • Chook & Sosig: Walk the Plank
  • Donut County 
  • Nekojishi
  • PickCrafter
  • The Room Three
  • Slime Rancher
  • Unheard

This is a digital board game, not my usual thing at all. And I suck at it. But I'm enjoying it anyway.

This game is what you might get if you crossed Disney's Robin Hood with Game of Thrones. There are various animal kingdoms/clans, and each one is trying to kill the increasingly corrupt king before all the other ones can manage it. You can choose to play as one of eight heroes (there are DLCs that can increase this number), each of which has their own strengths, weaknesses and special abilities. Depending on your play style and your character, there are multiple paths to the throne that you might pursue during a game. You can win by killing the king, cleansing the king's rot, killing the king after obtaining more rot than him, or surviving to the end of the game with none of the other heroes having managed to kill the king (he dies "naturally" of rot) but with more prestige than any of them.

I'm still figuring things out. At the moment, I'm cycling my way through the various character choices, trying to figure out which one best fits my natural play style. At some point, hopefully I'll understand what I'm doing well enough to successfully play as any of the heroes, but I'm a long way off from that.

I've played three games from start to finish, all against the AI. I played my first game as Amber the rabbit and failed miserably. As much as I like Amber's character design, I'm apparently too much of a brute force fighter to properly make use of her. Every character and Bane on the board killed me if I so much as looked in their direction.

I played my second game as River the wolf and did a little better. I liked River's special ability, which automatically zapped one of her opponent's Health points when she engaged them in battle. I thought she might be my best match but decided to try playing as Brun the bear in my third game, and ooh that was a good decision. If Sana (the female bear character) hadn't swooped in and killed the king, I'd have gotten the prestige win that time around.

I haven't decided yet whether it's worth it to me to get any of the DLCs, but I can say that I'm enjoying this more than I expected to. Crossing my fingers that I eventually get a better handle on what I'm doing.

Baba Is You:

This is a simple-looking puzzle game with retro graphics. In most of the puzzles, you play as a creature named Baba. Each puzzle screen has various words on it, as well as various objects and environmental setups. The words are important: they tell you what sorts of rules currently apply and allow you to change the rules. "Baba Is You" means that you are Baba. When you move around the screen, you are moving Baba. But if you change that phrase to "Wall Is You," you are now the wall, and moving around the screen means literally moving the wall. You have to be careful, though. Sometimes trying to change a phrase can result in conditions that make winning impossible, or that make you cease to exist. Thankfully, you can undo moves or restart levels as often as you'd like.

I love the way this game forces players to think outside the box and really consider what a particular puzzle's conditions mean. A few of the puzzles have felt forced (there were a few times when I thought of nice solutions but was then told by the game that those solutions were not allowed), but for the most part I've been enjoying this. The lack of a story or any sort of goal beyond "solve the next puzzle so you can solve more puzzles" means that it's a little easy to stop playing and forget about it for a while, but I'd still recommend it. Sometimes games that encourage you to play for small chunks of time are nice.

Blush Blush:

[This is one of the few free games on this list, although it does have an in-game store where you can buy things like additional crystals.]

I posted about this back in June. One new thing since then: another guy has been released, Ichiban. I haven't maxed him out yet, and at the rate things are going, it's going to take several weeks (it's tempting to buy more crystals, but nah, I'd rather save my money for other things). While I loved Ichiban's animal form, I have to admit that his human form annoys me a bit. I prefer Nimh's brand of awkward dorkiness to Ichiban's. But hey, I'm still playing, and I'm looking forward to seeing what the final few guys (and their animal forms) are like.

I like this game enough that I briefly considered giving the developer's other click game, Crush Crush, a try. Crush Crush is like Blush Blush, but with women instead of men, an Adults Only patch, and, in my opinion, less visually pleasing artwork. In the end I decided I just wasn't interested, despite the fact that Crush Crush is also free.

Cheeky Chooks:

[This game is completely and utterly free. Like, there isn't even an in-game store.]

This is a charming casual game in which you buy chicken eggs, hatch them, and then buy stuff for the resulting chickens. The chickens lay eggs which you can sell for money that lets you buy more eggs, supplies, and goodies for your chickens. There are two different mini-games that pop up as you play. In one, pumpkins generate on the screen and you have to click them as quickly as you can. Your adorable chickens can help out as well (and seem to enjoy doing so!) - the more chickens you have, the more you can opt to just sit back and let the chickens do all the pumpkin destruction themselves. The other mini-game gives some of your chickens fancy hats. You have to find and click on all the hats. The more chickens you have, the harder this is to do.

I really liked this game. It provided several hours of cute and mostly relaxing entertainment. Unfortunately, once you've unlocked everything there is to unlock, accomplished all the in-game and Steam achievements, and acquired all the different types of chickens (except the Legendary ones that are no longer available), that's pretty much it. You can continue to watch your chickens go about their lives, but there's no goal beyond that.

Even so, I highly recommend this to those looking for a game that's low-stress, relaxing, and cute.

Chook & Sosig: Walk the Plank:

This is an adventure game where you play as a cat named Sosig playing a roleplaying game with a bunch of oddball friends. I haven't gotten very far in it yet, but it seems nice. A little heavy on character conversations (gameplay is frequently interrupted by the characters chatting about whatever just happened in their roleplaying game), but nice. I'm currently stuck on a puzzle that requires me to use a pair of scissors. I just acquired the scissors, but now it turns out they're too rusty to use, darn it.

It looks like this is the latest in a series of games available on, none of which I've played.

Donut County:

This game begins in the aftermath: an entire town has ended up underground, swallowed up by a mysterious hole that one of the townspeople is blaming on one of the raccoons that own a local donut shop. Everyone who got swallowed up by the hole ordered donuts just prior to the hole appearing. Gameplay involves controlling the hole: you start off small and gradually get bigger as you swallow more and more things. Eventually, you gain the power to shoot stuff out.

For the most part, I loved the brightly colored artwork, weird humor (the Trashopedia was amusing), and simple gameplay. There are a couple annoying bits, though: I hated the soup part (you had to shoot ingredients into the soup while avoiding swallowing up bugs) and the boss battle (yes, there is a boss battle).

The game is short, only about 2 hours long, even if you're terrible at the boss battle like I was. Still, I felt it was worth it. There was something satisfying about swallowing up everything in the town (the destructive appeal of Little Inferno, without the bleak dystopia), and the ridiculousness of it made me smile.


[Another free game.]

This is a m/m Chinese visual novel. I expected it to be coy about it, like the gay subplot in the Love 020 TV series, but it's very direct: readers find out very early on in the game that the main character is gay (but probably hasn't told his family?) and has spent time looking at gay porn in the past.

I haven't even finished one full playthrough yet, but it seems decent. You have to have a certain tolerance for furries and the idea of furry-human romance: all of the main character's romantic options are gods/spirits who take the form of cat-men.

I don't really see how the romance can end well, considering the guys are all spirits without physical forms of their own, which is part of the reason why I've been dragging my feet on continuing. I'm not sure how much tragedy I'm able to handle right now.


[This game is free, with the option to buy things in-game. From what I can tell, progressing in the game doesn't require you to spend a dime. All you need is patience.]

This is a clicker game where the only goal is to collect things. You use picks to collect resources, which allow you to craft items that can help you to collect even more resources. You are occasionally interrupted by Creepers (which can allow you to collect more resources) and Bosses who battle you via mini-games (and provide you with even more resources if you manage to defeat them). I refuse to put any money into this game, but it's nice to open it up occasionally and see how many more things I can craft and level up.

The Room Three:

This is a continuation of the previous two Room games. The story is a bit of a mess, so, if you wanted to, you could opt to jump right in and start with this game, although I feel like it's probably better to ease into the gameplay by playing the games in order. This third game is less narrowly focused than the previous two, and a little more difficult because of that - there are whole rooms and buildings you need to navigate in order to solve the puzzles. There are also multiple endings. I've only managed to get one so far (I'm still resisting looking at a walkthrough).

I love that the various devices in the game generally feel like they could exist as beautiful and complicated physical objects in the real world. Granted, no one in the real world would ever create locks and puzzle boxes this strange and complex.

This entry in the series adds a new (I think?) gameplay mechanic, a lens that allows you to zoom into spaces that would normally be too small for you to enter. It's nifty, but all of that zooming in and out occasionally made me feel a bit sick.

Each new game in this series has been better than the last (although I do wish they'd get a better writer - the story tying everything together is terrible). The Room Three had gameplay that reminded me of the first Myst game, only better in some ways - its Hint system meant that there was almost never a time when I had no idea what I should be fiddling around with. The Hint system's drawback is that the game can occasionally feel too easy - but if that's a problem for you, you can always turn the Hint system off. And the final stage of the game, unlocking the other possible endings, doesn't include any hints at all.

Slime Rancher:

Capture various kinds of slimes, corral them, feed them whatever specific thing they like to eat, and then sell their poop so you can buy more stuff.

This game is cute. Easy to get into, but with aspects that can be difficult. I made a huge mistake early on, putting multiple types of slimes in a single cage and feeding them multiple types of food. I woke up the next day to chaos as horrible black monster slimes tried to take over my whole ranch. I hadn't bothered to read all the guide info but still managed to find a way to destroy those suckers before they ruined everything. I'm a little more careful about how I corral my slimes and feed them now.

I'm still very new to this game and haven't explored too many areas yet. I've seen enough to know that several of the useful slimes are dangerous - some of them have spikes and roll around when they're angry or revved up, and some cause little explosions. My ranch is still devoted solely to harmless slimes, but I'm gradually building up the courage to collect more difficult (and more profitable) ones.


In Unheard, you play as a detective using an usual new crime-solving tool, something that lets you overhear the audio in various cases. You walk around the crime scenes, following characters whose names you don't yet know and tagging them with their names as you learn them, listening to the things they said so that you can answer several questions pertaining to the cases.

The mysteries aren't really anything special, but the gameplay is interesting, and I enjoyed gradually finding out what happened in each event. Some of the questions were a little difficult to answer, even after following every character, but there were no penalties for answering the questions wrong, so it was possible to brute force the few difficult ones.

I'm glad I knew, going in, that this was going to be a fairly short game. Even so, I was disappointed when, instead of allowing me to solve more crimes, the game suddenly cut in with a weird little twist. It didn't come out of the blue - the entire last case was designed to set it up, and there had been related cryptic lines of dialogue up to that point as well - but it felt really abrupt all the same.

Also, FYI, if you have hearing issues you will likely have problems with the game. There are no subtitles (and the developers made it clear in a comment on another person's review that they had no intention of ever including any because they felt it would ruin the gameplay - personally, I disagree). On the plus side, like I said, you can brute force the answers if necessary. Also, headphones are an option. Just be careful - several of the cases have moments where bombs go off. I found that I preferred to listen to the audio over my computer speakers, even though it made hearing some lines of dialogue a little harder, because the louder noises bothered me too much otherwise.

The game includes additional downloadable content (possibly an additional case of some sort), but unfortunately that's still Chinese-language only. Here's hoping the developers eventually get it dubbed into English. There are two achievements in the game that are tied to this additional content, so that's something to be aware of if you care about 100% Steam achievements.

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