Yes, yes, I’ve been slacking, I know. Almost three whole months since a post here, I done goofed. I was planning on adding an addendum to the Humble Indie Bundle V post talking about the extra games they ended up adding to it, but I only got about halfway through writing it before I kinda fizzled up and stopped. I was also planning on writing a post discussing Battlefield 3, since I was playing that heavily for a while there, both on 360 and PC. That may or may not show up here at some point, I’ve not completely ruled it out yet, though I haven’t played much of the game in the past few weeks.

There are other games I have been playing though, ones that are certainly worth talking about. One of those is Dust: An Elysian Tail, the final game in this year’s XBLA Summer of Arcade and, arguably, the only decent game to come out of that promotion. The Summer of Arcade has definitely fallen from grace these past couple years.

Dust is an interesting game, because it does so many different things, and it does most of them really, really well. It’s even more impressive when you factor in that the vast majority of the game (with I believe the exception of music and sound) all being the work of a single dude. Basically, this guy, Dean Dodrill, wanted to learn to program and to make a game. So he did. And he did it incredibly well. Dust is a labour of love that has been in development for four or five years, and he got lucky and the game was picked up by Microsoft.

Your sidekick, “Fidget”, is a flying rat-cat-bunny-thing. Yeah…

It’s worth noting, that the game’s character design has been met with fierce contention online, being that all the characters in the game are “furries”. Not just anthropomorphised animals like say, Sonic the Hedgehog, or Disney’s Robin Hood, but that very particular style of animé-esque animals that is apparently so common on DeviantArt. Furry porn is also a thing, which seems to be feeding into people’s distaste for the art style. While to me, the logic of “porn of it exists, therefore it’s bad” is retarded, the other, more grounded criticisms of that particular art style being of low-quality or “amateurish” I feel is not completely without merit. Personally, the character design doesn’t affect my enjoyment of the game, but I figured it was worth mentioning, since there’s so much heated discussion over it. If furry art isn’t your thing, maybe try the demo before deciding to buy.

Animé animal people or not, however, the game is simply stunning. Dodrill comes from a traditional art and animation background, and it definitely shows. The game is simply gorgeous to look at, especially in motion. The lush painted backgrounds, the great enemy designs, and the absolutely amazing and perfectly fluid movement and combat animation makes Dust simply a joy to look at.

Oh, and one of the characters is your sword. Your sword talks. A TALKING SWORD.

That aside, I think I’m going to hold off on talking more about the game until I’m finished with it. I’m a good six hours or so into the game, and it doesn’t feel like I’m even that far into the story. There’s a good amount of side stuff to do, and it’s easy to just go off exploring and seeing what you can find.

Yup. This is Counter-Strike alright.

Another game I’ve been playing a lot of lately is Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, the latest iteration in Valve’s ever-enduring FPS franchise. Not a whole lot has changed. This is still some pretty Counter-Strike-ass Counter-strike, only now it’s all pretty and looks like a modern game. Mechanically though, the game is, for the most part, the same as ever, aside from some small changes to guns, maps, and the internal workings of the game such as hitboxes, etc. My previous CS experience is very limited; four hours or so of Counter-Strike: Source, and almost all of that was a gungame mod of some sort. CSGO, however, I’m very much enjoying, having put almost 35 hours into it thus far. I never really got into CS in the past for two reasons. One: Almost everyone who plays CS has played CS forever. And in a truly skill-based shooter like Counter-Strike, new players are going to get stomped on, repeatedly, by the veterans who have been playing for 12 years now. Two: Mods. Mods are a good thing, I’m definitely not saying otherwise. However, in CS:S, they are completely rampant. It’s almost impossible to play vanilla CS:S, since almost every server has some sort of gameplay altering mod installed, whether it be weird gamemodes, changes to the money system, or some of the truly terrible user-made maps. Finding a decent, populated server, that just has the regular game with regular maps is nigh on impossible, and for a new player, that is generally not going to keep them playing. Maybe that’s why I’m liking CS:GO so much. It’s still new enough, that the silly mods and crappy maps aren’t showing up quite yet.

That aside, the game plays fine. I’m not in a position to comment on how well Valve has implemented the shooting mechanics, recoil, hitboxes, and all the other things that the competitive players care about. The general consensus thus far seems to be that they’ve done a good job though, so take that at face value, I guess. Regardless, the game is hella fun, especially with a couple of mates. There’s even native support for gungame (now called Arms Race, which in all honesty, is an infinitely better name than gungame ever was), if you’re a little intimidated by the core, no-respawn modes.

Aside from that, I haven’t been playing too much. I did acquire a 3DS since my last post, but that probably warrants a post all of it’s own. So expect that in the future. Or not. Who knows. In case I don’t, here’s a tl;dr: System is good, 3D is annoying and usually gets turned off.

One last thing: Revolution, the company behind such games as Beneath a Steel Sky and those Broken Sword games I love so much, are developing a new, 2D Broken Sword game, and it’s on Kickstarter. I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited for a game in my entire life, and I sincerely mean that.

Joe out.

Here’s a little something about me: I love point-and-click adventure games. However, I’m not particularly versed in the genre, so to speak. I’m like that kid who says he’s a huge fan of a band, when in reality he’s only actually heard a couple of tracks off of a greatest hits album. The first two Broken Sword games, Shadow of the Templars and The Smoking Mirror, respectively, are two games that defined my childhood. If I were to make one, they would both appear pretty high in a list of my favourite games of all time. They’re two games that I know like the back of my hand, having played through them many, many times throughout the years. Anyone who has an interest in classic point-and-clicks who hasn’t played them, should play them. My bias aside, they’re generally considered to be among the best classic adventure games ever made, the first in particular often finding itself in best-of lists.

"Life went on around me, but the explosion was to change my life forever."

Point-and-click adventure games are among the few types of video games that, in my opinion, generally age pretty well. Good 2D art will always age better than bad 3D graphics, and there’s not much room for improvement on the basic point-and-click gameplay of classic adventure games. And because the main focus of adventure games is the story, which obviously doesn’t “age” in the same way that other aspects of a game would, means that adventure games are generally much easier to enjoy years down the line. With other types of games, playing them after they’ve aged isn’t always easy, due to the lack of gameplay features and innovations that’ve come since and that we’re used to and often can’t look past. Not to mention the old-looking graphics in the case of 3D games (go back and look at some early 3D games from the mid-to-late-90s, that shit ain’t pretty). Adventure games generally don’t have that problem.

So, why haven’t I played all that many adventure games? Truth is, I have no idea. Another thing about me: I love a game with a compelling story, which makes it all the more strange I have played all that many of these games, what with compelling stories being the main focus of them. This is something I plan to correct, with a reasonable number of point-and-click adventures sitting on my massive backlog of games.

In fact, I’ve already started. I played through Beneath a Steel Sky last week, a very highly revered game by Revolution, the same dudes who made those Broken Sword games I love so much. Because of that, I figured it would be a good place to start. That and the fact the game has been completely free since around 2004 or so. I would like to pick up a physical copy at some point, since I love having physical copies of games. The day gaming becomes purely digital will be a sad, sad day. But that’s a story for another day.

The plot and setting are of BaSS is pretty different than that of Broken Sword, although Revolution’s charm and humour are definitely there. Steel Sky is set somewhere in a dystopian future in Australia, where most of the NPCs have ridiculous British accents. The game is worth playing for that alone. Some of the voice acting is absolutely hilarious. While the scope of the game is pretty limited compared to their later offerings (Steel Sky only being Revolution’s second release, after Lure of the Temptress, another game on my hit-list), the world is surprisingly well realised, even if the majority of the game only takes place in a handful of different areas.

The game isn’t terribly long, but then again, most classic adventure games (to my knowledge) aren’t particularly long. I can plough through Broken Sword in a couple of hours tops. The puzzles in BaSS are also pretty well done as well. Not super-easy, but not so hard that they make my primitive brain struggle and resort to a guide. The game, for the most part, does a decent job explaining what you need to do to continue, which is good because, in a story-focused game, more often than not the only thing I want to do is see more story. So, I guess I could call that a recommendation. If you have any sort of interest in adventure games and you haven’t played Beneath a Steel Sky, you really owe it to yourself to play it. And it is free, after all. Hard to argue at that price.

As for other games on my adventure hit-list? There’s certainly quite a few. I bought the remake of The Secret of Monkey Island off XBLA way back when, and got a couple of hours into it, though never finished it, so I probably owe it to myself to see that one through, as well as the second game which got a similar makeover. I plan to get around to playing the games that Tim Schafer is known for as well: Full Throttle and Grim Fandango. I’m actually eyeing up a copy of Full Throttle on eBay at the moment, and I’ve been trying to get an original big-box copy of Grim Fandango, though the past couple auctions have slipped me by, and the buy-it-now listings are a little more pricey than I’m willing to pay right now. One day though. One day.

As for more modern day games, I’m a couple of hours into Gemini Rue, which was on sale a little while ago on Steam, and I’m definitely enjoying that, even if it does have a pretty clunky combat mechanic. I’ve heard great things about the Blackwell series by the same guys as well, so I’d love to check them out. I also want to play some of the games by Pendulo Studios. Giant Bomb recently did a Quick Look of Yesterday and that definitely looked like something I wanted to play and I hear their back catalogue is of similar quality.

Having said all that, I currently have a fucktonne of other, non-adventure games on my backlog as well, which I would love to get through. I haven’t been doing all that much gaming lately, even with the amount of free-time I generally have. I’m often plagued by lack of motivation, and sometimes it’s almost as if I enjoy reading and talking about video games more than I enjoy playing them.

Maybe I’m just getting old.