Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Steam Summer Sale = Impressions!

Let's get this straight from the beginning: I'm not a computer gamer. While I did get my gaming start on RTSs such as AOE and AOM and played my first Legend of Zelda on an emulator, hardcore PC gaming has never been my thing. I got a copy of Steam when they had Portal for free as a promotion, since I don't own an Xbox. Because I am more competent with a controller than with a keyboard and mouse, I ignored Steam for a few years. I got a real profile when Jeremy gave me Super Meat Boy (fantastic game, btw) and in the past few days, he pointed out to me the Steam Summer Sale. Now I have 11 games in my profile and am happily checking back every day when the sale games change. An addict in the making.

So, similarly to what Jeremy did over winter break, I'm going to give some initial impressions on the games I picked up. Here's the list:
  1. Obulis
  2. Chains
  3. Vigil: Blood Bitterness
  4. Gumboy: Crazy Adventures / Crazy Features
  5. Braid
  6. Magicka
  7. Torchlight
  8. Trine

The first thing I thought when I saw Obulis was, "Hey, this looks a lot like Cut the Rope." And the concept is, in fact, similar. There are a series of colored balls scattered on the stage or hanging from chains and rods. You have to disconnect the chains and rods to get the colored balls into the corresponding pots. The similarity to Cut the Rope stops at the premise. The gameplay in Obulis is physics-based, and you have to use timing and transfer of momentum to solve each level. It also has elements such as moving platforms and slingshots.

Of all the games I picked up, Obulis is the one that I've played the most. Part of this is due to its simplicity; the game was very easy to learn and it quickly gets to interesting puzzles. The other nice thing is that at any time three to four levels are available from the map, so if you're stuck on one you can easily move to another. It's also been easy to play with my laptop trackpad, which is a bonus because I'm traveling at the moment and left my mouse at home.

Overall, this is a fun, accessible indie puzzle game that is well worth its sale price (bundled with the first four games on the list for $5). There are four maps with 50 levels each, and I just found part of the "Sun Stone" which will unlock harder levels later, so there's a good amount of gameplay to be had. The game also allows for four separate profiles, so your friends can play and have their progress be separate. As a bonus, the game's graphics are beautifully done and the music has a neat, Egyptian feel to it.

The premise of Chains is simple yet familiar: link the colored balls into chains of three or more. I was underwhelmed by the description and went in thinking that I would be doing the same old thing that so many other games have done. Chains proceeded to take my expectations and laugh in their face. This game is also more physics-based and each level has a different goal, from the usual "Clear this many" to "Clear enough to keep the gate from falling" and "Keep the stream flowing for five minutes." These physics-based levels bring a fresh approach to the basic idea as you frantically try to keep up with the incoming stream of colored balls.

I've played Chains the second-most, again because it is easy to pick up and easy to play with my laptop trackpad. It would probably be easier with an actual mouse, though. My only gameplay issue is in the way that chains are selected: you click on the first one and drag your mouse to add to the chain, which is all well and good until you want to cancel a chain. To do that, you have to backtrack, which is often too complicated an operation for time-sensitive levels and other times is irritating and easily screwed up. This is a minor annoyance that doesn't detract too much from the gameplay.

There are 20 levels and I've completed the first 5. It appears to be a short game, but a few levels, namely The Gate and The Stream, have given me a hard time, though a mouse may have mitigated some of that difficulty. It also keeps high scores in terms of longest chain or longest survival, which multiple users can compete for, possibly giving the game some replay value. Overall, it's a fun, addicting twist on an old favorite.

That's all for now! I'll be back later with thoughts on more of the games above (once I get back to my mouse), and I'll likely add to the list in the next few days of sales. :-)

No comments:

Post a Comment