Browser-based games haven’t garnered much attention from me in past times. I think that’s due to a bad experience playing Ogame where I was obliterated the moment my noob-protection ran out. I like the idea of long-term gaming; waiting for hours for upgrades as opposed to seconds, such as is common in more conventional RTS titles. Ahh yes, RTS games. That I’m more familiar with. Not competitively at all, mind you, but I’ve enjoyed some days of AoE, and Warhammer 40K (my first PC game was Total Annihilation…). Never in that time did I bother getting into the Anno series (which admittedly appears to be more a city-builder title like SimCity… which I have also played), and I have no idea why. Somehow I had just missed the entire existence for the series, and upon participating in the closed beta for Anno Online, I feel fairly remorseful for that.
A Valley Without Wind 2 is a game I don’t quite understand. Before giving it a shot I discovered from the Steam Store page that it is a blend of the “best qualities of old-school platform-shooters and turn-based strategy games,” to which I had no response. I love the idea of mushing genres together and seeing what results, and AVWW2 (one of the ugliest acronyms I’ve ever seen) certainly got me confused through this description, but in actuality it’s pretty clear. There’s the turn-based meta-game where players select where to send their character, then the actual platform shooter gameplay that occurs within each turn. One of them is definitely more fun than the other, but in each form I still find it hard to understand what I’m doing. Nonetheless, they work well together for those strategically-inclined gamers that want to put on their action boots for a bit. I’m not sure it works the other way around.
Poker Night 2 (hereby declared as PN2) is, as most would probably be capable of deducing, the direct sequel to Poker Night at The Inventory (it’s still at The Inventory, but I guess that’s not as important now), and this time around we’re dealing with Claptrap (Borderlands), Sam (Sam and Max), Ash Williams (The Evil Dead series) and Brock Samson (The Venture Bros). Along with GLaDOS (Portal), these are the characters you’ll see the most of, with cameos by Captain Reginald Van Winslow (Tales of Monkey Island), Mad Moxxie (Borderlands) and Max (Sam and Max). As “The Player”, players are forced to endure less-than-exciting hands of poker to listen to the banter between this motley crew, which is really the only reason to play Poker Night 2, and even then… eh.
Monster Loves You! is a thing.
It’s… yeah, it’s a thing. People who grab this title and open it up will find themselves making decisions for a monster-thing (which to be honest, never actually shows affection towards the player) that will allegedly influence its future and somehow the development of its personality. They’ll choose “adventures” at random, some of which are as trivial as “this person is being bullied, you should help them”, and others as trivial as “you are fighting with this person over what to have for dinner”. Less uninteresting ventures can be easily found in the Steam Store page description, so I’d presume they’re in the game somewhere, though nothing anywhere near as exciting as “Devour[ing] Little Red Riding Hood” was ever found on my screen in the two and a half playthroughs I’ve given this… thing. Somehow fitting into the categories Adventure, RPG and Simulation, I’m left with an overwhelming wonderment as I ask myself how in the hell Monster Loves You! has been considered a game at all.
The Bridge is a neat little puzzler that demands similar levels of mind-bending-ness as Portal and Antichamber, with the average player probably spending a lot of time staring at their screen struggling to work out how to progress at particular points. Hopefully, otherwise I’ve embarrassed myself. There’s at least five hours of gameplay to be worked from a single playthrough of the whole game and I doubt there is any room for replayability since the satisfaction of outsmarting a puzzle can hardly be replicated when you already know the answers. That’s not all The Bridge offers though, with an aesthetic appeal and aura of intrigue guaranteeing that this little title stands out from the crowd of indie-puzzlers.
Shattered Haven (not to be confused with Shattered Horizon) is a zombie game, though a fresh take on what I’ll call the ‘genre’ of zombie games. Instead of facing against hordes of the infected undead with assorted firearms and blades, players of this title will be laying iron-laden traps to pick off Grays one at a time (by the way, Grays are zombies. They‘re deathly allergic to iron.). It’s been nine years since ‘That Day’ (as every NPC will tell you. Seriously, don’t they have anything else to talk about?), and Darrell and Mary’s surprisingly comfortable lives are shaken all up when their daughter Lela is lost and their home is overrun by Grays in an event that truly escalated quickly. Within ten minutes of starting the game their home is lost (or their haven is shattered, huh?) and they venture to save Lela, no matter what evil spirits they have to ignore along the way, although if you play single-player you’ll find that Darren does all the work and Mary just follows along in her invulnerable way, being of no use. Now that the story’s out of the way, let’s get to how the gameplay goes down.
Very few games have polarised gamers as much as the first Dead Space managed to when it was released back in 2008. Despite receiving mostly praise from critics, Dead Space had the unfortunate timing of being released in the middle of one of the most disappointing eras for horror gaming, as the genre mutated from orthodox survival horror into a more action-oriented jump-fest. The series’ first instalment managed to successfully retain the all-important atmosphere from golden age survival horror games while introducing a far more action-packed combat system than the genre was known for, however came under significant criticism for being mundane and repetitive in every aspect.