Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Steam Summer Impressions II

On to the next games I promised to review!

Vigil: Blood Bitterness
This is a strange game. There's no getting around that. The first thing you notice is its striking visual style; the world is rendered in black and white, with the occasional golden-yellow for emphasis. So far I've only seen it used for blood. This is a neat look that drew me to the game. One graphics choice they made does confuse me: the menu items that are not the "focus" (currently selected item) appear blurred, which, while clever, both made me wonder if my settings were wrong and made it that much harder to read. I wear glasses so I don't have to deal with this, thank you.

The first problem I encountered was that my screen went black inexplicably. By Googling a little, I discovered that this game was made to run on Windows XP/2000 and doesn't play well with anything higher. To view videos (cutscenes), you must be playing in window rather than full screen, which the game must be periodically forced into by pressing Alt+Enter. Fair enough, though it seems like such a basic problem that when releasing on Steam (in 2007, I might add), that the developer may have cared to fix it, especially since videos serve as key gameplay clues. Once you see these videos, they are all subtitled. I am told that the audio has people muttering in French, but no sound appears to be working for me.

Vigil is a point and click adventure game, with the left mouse button used for movement and the right button used for actions. The game is divided into acts, and there is no saving in the middle of an act. The story promises to be dark - what I understand so far is that I eat the faces of my slaves and something about leaving the castle to purge the evil that has descended upon my brotherhood. Gotta say, so far I'm not looking like the good guy, so I'm not so sure about this evil business.

I admit, I only just finished the first act, which is rather short, but took me several tries to do due to confusion over what I was supposed to be doing. This isn't a genre I've played much of, and the video problems had irked me already. However, I am somewhat intrigued and will be returning eventually to see where on earth this story is going.

First impressions, in a nutshell: Odd game hindered by compatibility issues with newer versions of Windows and an unclear beginning. Story is interesting enough to invite more play, but it will take a backseat to other games for the moment. With this in mind though, I wouldn't shell out more than the couple of dollars I did for it.

Gumboy: Crazy Adventures / Crazy Features
I haven't played this game much, and I have no idea what I'm doing. I believe I'm playing through tutorial levels, but they have done nothing to increase my understanding of the gameplay. Gumboy is a strange creature, and so far I've rolled around collecting shiny things and making it to an exit, but I haven't managed to learn how to do simple things like jump reliably. I've turned into a starfish for some reason and come across something that makes me sticky but didn't seem to have an immediate use. I'll admit that I'm missing something (namely the point), but I don't think I should be this confused after playing a few levels.

I keep trying to make myself go back to it and play more so that I can write a better review, but I just don't want to. There are so many other games I have that I actually have fun playing. But I made myself go back and redo the first couple levels just now, since I felt guilty writing that, and the game has started to make more sense. The tutorial screens seem poorly translated and are a little confusing. Apparently I can only jump when I've eaten a "hiccup seed" and I turn into an "air star" and a "water cube." This has helped marginally, even though I still have a frustrating amount of difficulty getting him to go where I want.

The graphics are best described as whimsical, though I find nothing cute about Gumboy or his other forms so far. Not sure if I'm supposed to, but the style is not particularly endearing to me. Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference between background objects and ground, which is confusing.

First impressions: A confusing game that is slightly less so on a second pass of the tutorials, the sheer ease and amusement of rolling around to collect shiny things may be of some fun later, but I have more compelling games to be playing.

By my first impressions of these two, I'm glad I enjoyed the other two games I got in the pack (Obulis and Chains), so I still feel like I got more than my money's worth. These will surely get another chance, but first impressions, as they say, are everything. I'll be back soon reviewing games that I've had much more fun playing!

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