Playing the Witcher

I haven’t been much of a video game player since my teenage years, all things considered; my partaking of the form has been occasional and not nearly as comprehensive as the way I keep up with roleplaying games, literature, comics or even boardgaming or cinema. The last time I played a PC game made this decade I was less than impressed, so that didn’t start any new era of computer gaming for me.

I recently got a new computer – a rare event for me, as despite my tech support duties I rarely get new equipment for myself. As a matter of curiousity I took another stab at a considerably recent game with the new machine, and have thus been playing Witcher now for about four days, all told. Let’s talk about where computer RPGs are going, here. Read the rest of this entry »


What My Father Taught Me #2

We played a second session of the new Gloranthan Solar System campaign last Saturday with Sipi, Tero and Esa. The place was “Living Room” in Iisalmi once more; a nice restaurant, although I’m detecting a hint of newness there – time will tell how their atmosphere starts developing as the mainstream crowd finds the place. The actual session was relatively laid back in terms of drama, but the style and atmosphere were fine, and I would expect the events to gain in speed later on. Read the rest of this entry »

My new Solar System campaign

Last weekend we started a new roleplaying game campaign with some friends from Iisalmi (a nearby town from where I live, that). The idea for me was pretty much to get out of the house and play something with low stakes and no immediate game design concerns; bonus points if the game would endure a bit, at least half a dozen sessions. My roleplaying gaming has been pretty shallow and sparse for the last six months or so due to people moving about and me being too harassed by other stuff to work for it; luckily we’ll get a chance now, the next session has already been scheduled for this weekend and the intent is to play weekly or at least regularly for as long as the campaign takes. Read the rest of this entry »

Recommending Manufactoria

Once more with feeling, a browser game review! My brother Jari recommended Manufactoria to me, and after completing the game I have to say that this one certainly deserves some recognition. I also have a bonus feature inside.

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Recommending Browser Shareware

I thought that I was done with my browser game reviews, but I’ve been continuing to play, and I’ve encountered an interesting phenomenon – browser shareware. These games operate at a rather high level of ambition, and are in fact available as stand-alone applications for pay. The browser version of the game is just a marketing device to hook the player into paying the 10ish dollars or so that these games seem to generally cost. This is interesting, as shareware isn’t nearly the phenomenon that it used to be even ten years ago, and these games have to compete with a cornucopia of excellently thought out free games.

My brother Markku recommended Creeper World to me a while back as is his wont. The game’s full name is Creeper World Training Simulation, which – alongside the ambitious plot – sort of hinted at the game’s shareware nature. I found out about the shareware angle after finishing the free Flash game; it was amusing, I hadn’t considered the shareware approach myself for browser games. When I stumbled on Now Boarding (or rather, Now Boarding Episode 1) yesterday and found out about its similar shareware angle, I had to conclude that this is apparently a feasible model. However, a shareware browser game needs to be really good to compete with the likes of Space Game – do these two games have what it takes? Read the rest of this entry »

Recommending casual games

I thought that I was finished with my series of browser game reviews, but perhaps I’ll do one more yet.

“Skill games” are the genre that to me seems like the linchpin of the popularity of browser games in general. They are the perfect casual games, and always have been, long before browser games existed and the genre flourished in arcades and home computers. The casualness is well affirmed by the uncaring attitude that gamers tend to have towards these games; I myself almost didn’t notice that I should actually write a bit about these games as well if I’m supposed to be reviewing the browser game media in general. Considering how much I’ve been playing these games while trawling through the browser game selection, it only makes sense to highlight some of the ones I’ve returned to several times. Read the rest of this entry »

Recommending Game Poetry

My series of browser game reviews continues with another title Markku linked for me.

Small Worlds, according to its title screen, is apparently some sort of casual game contest competitor. This is easy to believe, as the game is certainly pretty casual. It is also exactly the sort of minimalistic, concerned design that I’d make myself if I were in the computer game business. I’d compare this with Hey Wizard! I discussed earlier in that both are platform games with a minimalistic bend; it’s just that this is much more minimalistic than Wizard ever, making it the extremist wing of browser minimalism. Read the rest of this entry »

Recommending Tower Defense Games

My series of browser game reviews continues, this time with the seminal genre of browser games.

Tower Defense games are perhaps more than any other single genre characteristic of browser games – so much so that many of the games reviewed so far in this series of mine actually had clear tower defense logic in them: a passive player against actively attacking enemies that come in waves, with the player improving his defenses as best he can in between. I have no absolutely clear favourite within the genre, but I definitely recommend checking it out – the specific game could be Desktop Tower Defense, Gemcraft or something else entirely. Read the rest of this entry »

Recommending Forever Samurai

My series of browser game reviews continues with a quite current game – apparently it was published just a couple of days ago. I certainly wouldn’t have stumbled on it if I weren’t writing these reviews and doing background research for them.

Forever Samurai is a simple and beautiful side-scrolling fighting game from Pixelante Game Studios (AKA Evan Miller, not to be confused with Auntie Pixelante) that is set apart by an immaculate sense of style. The game is not very long, but it makes up for this with intense action and a suitably challenging difficulty level. I’m not an easy customer for action games, as they usually fail to reward me sufficiently to keep me invested, but the carry-over of experience points and gradual increase in my own skill of play keep me nicely with the game here. Read the rest of this entry »

Recommending Sonny

My series of browser game reviews continues.

The two Sonny games are console adventure games (CRPGs, as they’re called) in style, closely akin to Final Fantasy and the like. Now, I don’t remember that I’d have spilled my full invective against the genre here at the blog, but those who know me might have heard me say some very unflattering things about the combination of passive consumership, bad writing and atrociously grinding gameplay typical of this Japanese genre of games. Thus it is all the more surprising that I actually like Sonny – it might be the best game (series) in the genre that I’ve ever played (depending on how you define the boundaries of the genre, anyway); and it achieves this by being sensible and matter-of-fact about the core activity of this type of game, rather than by pushing out into other types of game like some other good runners do. Read the rest of this entry »