So it’s been a while since I updated on my backlog clearing progress… and that’s because there hasn’t really been any. In fact, I have most definitely taken backwards steps. Thanks to the closure of a nearby Blockbuster store and my occasional self control issues when it comes to buying games during Steam sales, I have now added a fair few titles to the list. We’re only onto part 3 and I’m already getting the feeling that this will never end.
Thankfully I’m starting to get into the swing of PC gaming once again and it started not with a game but with a film about games. Indie Game The Movie is a brilliant insight into the minds of the creators of some of the best indie games to be released in the past few years. It tracks the various stages of three indie games, Fez, Braid and Super Meat Boy and the challenges they face and overcome during production. It’s commendable the amount of time, money and energy that these guys put into getting their indie games released. I’ve never really put any thought into it before as I don’t know much about the process of making a game, but boy did these guys put in some serious effort.
I’ve recently returned to my backlog for one main reason, that being I am now an engaged man and have almost zero disposable money to spend on the things I usually do, but thankfully I have a massive pile of games just waiting for me. When once my backlog seemed like a dream of games that I wanted to play but never felt like I had any time to, that dream is now becoming reality and I have available to me a library of retro and indie titles worth hours of enjoyment. With the objective of this article surrounding completion I thought it was only best to start back where I left of with Max Payne 2 and Braid.
Both of these games are taking me a while to get back into properly. Braid because I basically reached the limit of my understanding of the puzzle mechanics the last time I played it and each stage is now progressing very slowly through trial and error. And Max Payne 2 because I find the story very uninteresting and the gameplay rather repetitive. While in the first Max Payne the slow motion, side jumping bullet-time style of shooting was innovative and engaging, I’m finding that in Max Payne 2 it feels as if it’s outstayed it’s welcome becoming tiresome.
So in between these two, I decided to try my hand at something new. English Country Tune is another cubed puzzle game and a very hard one at that. I’m enjoying it a lot as I tend to do with puzzle games of this nature and have managed to clear two sections so far, let’s just hope my brain power doesn’t let me down in the future. Dear Esther is about the only success I have had recently regarding completion, and I would be pushed to even call this a game. As beautiful and thought provoking as it is, the entire ‘game’ consists of pushing the forward button whilst you listen to the narrator unravel the story of the island you inhabit and the character you are controlling. Without spoiling anything I found the games plot to be interesting but also a wasted opportunity. A bit more depth, more mystery and more length would have pushed Dear Esther to the next level for me personally and it’s a shame it was all over so fast.
Hopefully I will continue to shorten my Steam backlog in the coming weeks and bring you guys more insight into my gaming habits as this episode feels like it has been more of an update than anything else. I recently purchased Age of Empires 2 in the Steam sale, which is one of my all time favourite games so if nothing else I will certainly be playing that.
Another week on and I’m still going strong, must be some kind of record for me. This week I’ve mostly been playing Bastion (see below), which I enjoyed so much I ended up finishing it in a couple of days. I also added another game to the completion pile and finished of The Secret Of Monkey Island: Special Edition. Max Payne 2 and puzzle/platformer Braid took the place of these games and I’ve enjoyed what I’ve played so far.
Max Payne 2 has received some obvious updates from the first game, mainly the graphics and slightly altered bullet time abilities, but has still managed to keep the noir story telling and dark themes that made the previous game so unique. Having just started this game I’m eager to find out what kind of mess Max will land himself in this time. In Braid you play out the classic tale of saving a princess from a ferocious monster. The story is explained in stages at the start of each world in text form and whilst this is not the most exciting way to convey the tale, the story has been well written and is just as engaging if you take the time to read it. Braid‘s puzzles revolve around the manipulation of time, with each world allowing for a slightly different effect. I’ve already encountered some very tough puzzles and have the feeling I could be playing this one for a long time yet.
Game of the Week
This weeks game of the week goes to the brilliant Bastion. I ventured into this game knowing nothing of the gameplay mechanics or story, only that it had received some great reviews when it was first released back on XBLA. Within an hour I was hooked to the wonderfully narrated story and the way that the gorgeous game world literally unfolds before your eyes. As good as the story and its delivery by the narrator is, my favourite part of the game is the customisation. Just as the world unfolds before you, the customisation of your weapons, upgrades and buffs (known as spirits) are slowly released to you as you complete objectives within the storyline. You can even customise the difficulty you play at allowing foes faster reaction times, regenerating health and a variety of other abilities. Bastion may be short and fairly easy but I have thoroughly enjoyed my time playing it.
In other news I recently discovered Backloggery (pictured above), a super handy website which allows you to list and organise your backlog of games into neat little piles. You can include games from a multitude of platforms and sort them into unplayed, unfinished, beaten and completed categories. Your overall progress is depicted by a neat little percentage bar across the top of the page. You can also add comments to each game explaining what you still need to do if you happened to stop playing the game mid way through the story/completion of achievements etc. I definitely recommend this to anyone who has problems keeping on top of their backlog of games.
I figure “Braid” qualifies easily, and with good reasons – one of them surely being the brilliant artwork. Which has now, indeed, been released for free by the artist David Hellman. Notice that this decision was made just a few days after the PC release, while Xboxers got nothing. This clearly demonstrates that the PC is superior. And that Jonathan Blow / David Hellman are awesome.
The demo for the upcoming release of Braid was put online earlier than intended by GamersGate today. The demo for Jonathan Blow’s indie game was meant to go online tomorow, the same day as the full game was made available accross a variety of sites .
The smash Xbox Live Arcade hit Braid finally has a PC release date, on the 31st March you will be able to purchase Braid on Impulse, the digital distribution service from Stardock. It is available for pre-order right now for $19.95.