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 »

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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Playing Doom with a source port

Doom is in retrospect probably my favourite video game insofar as real play hours can be used as a measure. For a couple of years in the mid-90s it was a solid baseline for my gaming; not a memorable experience of art like Ultima Underworld or some of the other games of the era, but a staple that defined the well-balanced action game for me. This includes Doom II, Heretic and Hexen, which are all basically variations on the theme.

I installed Doom last week out of a random impulse, as has been my wont through the last couple of years now and then. I’ve been gearing up to play the Inferno (the third episode of the original game) on Ultraviolence (the fourth difficulty level), mostly because I played through Knee-Deep in the Dead and Shores of Hell (the first two episodes) a couple of years ago, I seem to remember. Inferno is hard, though! I might have to gather some momentum by looking at Shores of Hell again; I’m not quite convinced that I actually finished it last time I had the game installed. Perhaps a run through that will hone my rusty skills enough to allow me to finish the Slough of Despair (the second level of Inferno) with some ammunition left. Read the rest of this entry »

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 »