Movin’ on up!

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Those of you who follow me on Twitter would probably already know that I have been writing for GamersSphere for some time. You might also know that I have been trying to get my own monetizable blog running for some time. The simple fact, it seems, is that I do not have the time between a busy work schedule and other life commitments (you know, like marriage) to get a site of that nature up and running on my own. Does this mean I will never make anything off my work? It is my sincere hope that I will, but I feel the best course to income, at this point, is to take what I have and contribute it to something that already has a solid foundation.

In this case, I am referring to Gamers Sphere. This crew of skilled and fun people has been kind and accepting of my work and my beliefs. Let’s be honest, most sites would not want too much Crotchety, but I hand it out by the pound. GS has encouraged me to do things my way in the name of diversification simply because they are open-minded and some of them genuinely like my sense of humor. So, to avoid doubling my work and making life harder on myself and my dear wife, I am going to start writing explicitly for GS. Let’s face it, if I don’t move on I really will just end up a crotchety old man with a free blog! I have already started putting up my work on GS, but the big change here is that I will no longer be maintaining this blog space. Thank you to all of my  readers who have been with me since the beginning! You ladies and gentlemen have been great so far, and it is my earnest hope that you will continue to work and game with me over at my new home! I mean, I will still be doing the same thing I always do, just over in a new location! In addition to my regular writing on indie games, I will also be writing about news, AAA titles and mainstream culture. I am already playing through The Evil Within and I will be doing a stream of the game very very soon, if I haven’t done it already! I will be maintaining my Twitter, Facebook page and my Tumblr feed, those places will just start directing you to my work over at GS!

With this move I only expect to better myself as a writer and game critic. Thank you to all who have stayed with me this long and let’s keep gaming! And always remember to Be Crotchety!

Watching

I just want to say congratulations on your birthday.  Watching this girl grow from the little one that I knew… what? 7, 8 years ago?  It has been very touching and having people like these in my lifemakes it all worthwhile.  Thank you for having me and happy 14th birthday!

Dev Discussion: Modern Gaming and How it’s Evolving

consolevpc

 

Today I will feature a discussion that I happened upon on the internet.  Developers were having a heated exchange about an age-old argument that most often causes bloodshed between gamers.  For the sake of constructive intellectual exchange, I will curb my PC bias and look at this objectively.  Note also, Console v PC.  I will make fun of Mac gamers.  That is comedy that writes itself.

Gamers often get into heated debates over which is better: PC or Console gaming.  Console gamers often cite titles and communities as the strongest factors favoring console gaming, while PC gamers will fill your screen with chart after chart displaying the raw power of a PC compared against consoles, or grab screenshots to illustrate the visual differences between the graphics.  While each side certainly has a compelling argument, which really is better and , more importantly, where is it leading us?  This exchange focused more on the evolution of the various facets of the industry, rather than an argument over which is better.  Joining the Crotchety Old Gamer in the discussion, we have three fine gentlemen: Joe Yeats (@ProceduralJOYE via Twitter), a developer from the UK currently working with Autelia LTD on Human Orbit, a procedurally-generated simulator about shaping a computer-controlled utopia.  Max Krieger (@MaxKriegerVG via Twitter), an Indie Game Developer from Chicago and student at DePaul University.  Drake (@DMODP via Twitter), a programmer, designer and writer.  I came late into the discussion, but some very intriguing points were made.  Feel free to join the discussion in the Crotchety Gamers United Steam group!

Lightly paraphrased, Max said that the time-proven model of Mac vs PC illustrates why Console and PC gaming will coexist.  While Drake and myself were somewhat confused by the statement, Max was happy to provide a more detailed explanation on his viewpoint:

“[…] In this age where computing platforms are all headed in the same direction, the differentiating factor that will be key to platform sales remains the image and curated experience of that platform. I used Mac OSX as an example because it shows how illogical this thinking can be – OSX is really cumbersome for a lot of simple tasks, doesn’t play nice with industry standards, and only runs on a very closed line of hardware, but people lap it up because of the image it supports: a creative, media-oriented one that strives for intuitive use over flexibility. Make no mistake, I am not an Apple/OSX fan, but they’re one of the biggest proven examples of the curated platform image in the modern tech industry.”

Max does make a good point.  Essentially, he is saying that the biggest difference between the PC and console crowds is the image they use to represent themselves.  With the development of the Steam Machine, this viewpoint was never better supported.  Steam started as a PC gamer’s wet dream, but recent implementations in the retailer (such as Big Picture mode) reveal a strong push toward console gaming.  Not to mention, the fact that the Steam Machine plans to license its construction out to third parties, which will create a variety of hardware builds, make it a bit of a frankenstein PC-esque Console.  With companies bridging the gap between the two worlds, one has to wonder when the differences will be declared null and void.  Drake had a similar thought process, but with a different approach.

co-exist

 

Drake also did me the favor of elucidating his view:

“The reason people often side with one or the other and not both is […] because they’re polar opposites. They have their own unique control schemes. Consoles and computers are polar opposites not [just] because of their difference in controls, but in their difference of experience. First, [PC gamers] don’t have to move to a different part of the [house] to experience games. They’re right there on the same machine we use for work, surfing the web, social media, etc. Second, [PC gamers] can open windows […] for reference material […] but this is also good from a social standpoint. [PC gamers] can take screenshots and post them [on the internet], we can respond to [people] on our favorite social network, etc.”

So, as you can see, Drake has a solid point, too. Despite consoles, such as PS4, recently enabling access to other forms of media and direct internet streaming capability with the touch of a button, there are still a myriad of things that PC’s can do that still remain unavailable to Console gamers on just their consoles.  Drake continued, elaborating on the features of the console camp:

“I feel consoles are the extremist response-time choice. […] For response-time challenges, the question is: Who can execute the highest number of actions in the shortest amount of time? It provides a completely different experience from computers.”

My personal experience with computers, however is totally different.  The mouse offers pinpoint accuracy while playing a game.  How can you get more direct than pointing at it with your mouse? The answer is getting a touchscreen and pointing yourself.  Of course, Drake had his own response to this:

“[…] A controller’s reaction time is far more demanding. It’s more than clicking a billion times a second. It’s about hitting the right buttons at the right times and getting your fingers everywhere they need to be without looking down at [the device]. Console games often assume the player’s really good at this activity to the point they make [players] do everything all the time. [Console gameing] is about just doing.”

Of course, I would offer that this depends on the player.  I grew up on PC gaming first, so the ‘WASD’ model is practically gospel for me.  Sure, different games have different controls, some even have demanding hotkeys, but use of them is up to you.  You can customize the experience to your own play-style, and the majority of games tend to use the keys immediately adjacent to the ‘WASD’ keys for additional actions where applicable.  Not to mention, the sticks on a controller can’t be as accurate as a mouse.  A mouse is literally point-and-click.  Controller sticks are more indirect.

Joe’s thoughts on this topic were a bit of a combination:

“It’s obvious that some genres are better aided by certain input hardware than others. This is certainly the case with simulators and strategy games, which usually do better with a keyboard and mouse. I don’t think it’s necessary to expound on this.”

Max largely agreed with Drake’s assertion of their differences, but had his own interpretation of how this affects gaming.  The tech he refers to is more the innards and less the interface devices:

precisely

 

Max got more specific in explaining this part of his thought process:

The Playstation 4’s success also may owe itself to [platform image], but it’s too early to tell. Sony has always given the PlayStation brand a mild sense of curation by endorsing or even producing avant-garde titles on the platform, moreso than any other console maker in history. Going forward, this curation may end up being the PS4’s largest difference when PC hardware overtakes it again at an equivalent price point.”

Around here, Joe had some relevant input on the topic:

“The technical boundaries between a console and a desktop machine have become increasingly blurry over the years – but we’re all still pretty sure what they each are and when we make a decision about how we want to play a game, we know how to compare the ‘desktop experience’ to the ‘console experience’. We all know that we can hook our PC up to the TV and use a bluetooth controller for a ‘console-like’ experience: but most of us aren’t going to do that. The reputation and image of the formats has been accrued over a generational time period – we couldn’t shake that easily and there may not even be a good reason to do so (even if all games were available on all platforms). When I play a game on a console, I know that it has been tailored for the specific controller that I’m using, for the hardware that it’s running on. I can expect a reliable game experience without having to faff around. The experience has been designed for me down to the slightest detail. I don’t even have to tweak the graphics settings. I just need to switch on, plug in & tune out.”

The conversation gradually drifted in the direction of mobile gaming.  Drake disagreed that mobile gaming had a different target demographic and said that it targets everyone, presumably everyone with a mobile device.  Of course, just in the virtue that targeting “everyone with a mobile phone” is a task achieved differently than targeting “everyone with a specific console”, it logically follows that it is a different target demographic.  In fact, because of the similar situation of iOS v Android, console and pc gamers might find themselves on either side of the mobile discussion depending on their devices.  In this way mobile almost has a market that is totally separate from, but still noticeably influence by the gaming market comprised by PC and Console gamers.

Of course, Drake also touched on a separate issue that abounds in the mobile gaming market: the quality of games:

greatmobile

Now, before someone starts cluttering the comments sections with cries of Angry Birds adoration, Drake is referring to the fact that simple, casual games, like Angry Birds, currently dominate the mobile market.  And while he is right in that great mobile games are hard to find, they are far from non-existent.  The greatest example of a mobile-specific game that uses its functionality is Ingress.  Read about that game here.  And Ingress isn’t the only one, but, to my knowledge, it is the first.  Windows phones will be able to play QONQR, a game that wants to be Ingress, and X-Tactics, a game that is just like “Fuck Ingress!  And now for something completely different!”  Of course, location-based games are certainly not the only angle mobile gaming could take.  The fact that progressive-thinking developers have tried, and failed, to make augmented reality games more accessible overall shows that we are still a long way from making it work effectively, even with Google Glass.  So, Drake definitely has a point with mobile games being “designed to waste time while you [wait] or short experiences.”

Of course Max breaks back in and asks for a thought experiment:

“[…] If all consoles disappeared overnight, could mobile [gaming] fill their place? Yeah. But they’d have to cater to both convenience and involvement – two contradictory ideas that dilute platform image.”

This is true, but if gaming were to be forced onto mobile devices, I find it believable to find games evolving to replace what was lost – FPSs utilizing the mobile device in question combined with the player’s surroundings, RPGs that focus more on tap-controlled characters, etc.  In short, mobile games wouldn’t stop being the simple, casual games, but these types of games would be joined by an overwhelming number of widely varied games and genres.

There was more discussion about Mac OS vs Windows, of course.  This piece of the discourse was meant to display how the image-focus model has affected other markets aside from gaming.  Max posited that Mac OS continues to sell primarily because it does “normal user” better than Windows. He continued saying that Windows tried to retake that ground by creating Windows 8.  This undermined the “pro” part of Windows, which upset their users. Then, when Windows repaired the alterations to their OS, the image of a “jack-of-all-trades” OS persisted. Max maintained his standpoint, saying “image is everything.”

Max’s final thoughts on the discussion were pretty broad, but still relevant.

“Ultimately, I believe that the current trend of consuming media in any environment is one that will plateau once our near-omniscient media viewing capabilities lose their novelty. It’s an undeniable phenomenon that certain forms of media are better consumed in certain environments and settings. The biggest obstacle to a unified platform for all gaming is not the tech, nor the interface, but human nature itself – not something that can be so easily overcome. Nobody expected the PS4 to be doing as well as it’s doing right now, and I think that alone is proof enough that human nature has a lot more twists left in the evolution of gaming tech than we expect right now.”

Drake came from another angle, though, saying that games are a form of media.  And if there is one thing that is true now more than ever, it’s that people want their media no matter where they are.

everywhere

Joe broke into the conversation here, pointing out the relevance of the feature of PS4 where it can be played remotely from the Vita.  Drake admitted that he hadn’t tried it, but named a relevant issue with that right off: not every PS4 owner has a PS Vita.  Drake also suggested that the Vita isn’t the best handheld to carry around with you.  Joe threw in some more thoughts of his own regarding the PS Vita.

noway

Drake added saying that it really needs to be a native experience that still feels extremely great. But to do something like that, you’d have to take the ‘app’ structure and generalize the controls, then change the controls so they cater to every device the game might appear on.  He had a lot to say about this especially, and there was also a considerable piece of discussion about porting.  That will be included in another piece since this one is long enough already.

If you’ve made it to this point, please remember, I am interested in hearing your thoughts on this topic!  Come join the discussion on my Steam Group, and let’s see if we can get some interesting exchanges started!

Flem, Sticky Little Preview

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This game is the most adorable game about a booger I have ever played.  Your main character is a little pixel snot, and the style of this game reflects the silliness having such a main character implies.  Its retro-style pixel art and chiptune music make it feel like a long-lost classic from the SNES, but its divergence from the usual recipe of those older games is what makes this game so much fun.  It is also a title appearing this week at Gamescom in Cologne, Germany at the Unity 3D stand.

Flem is a booger.  The first title I saw when I loaded the game read “One day in your nose…”  The tutorial takes place in a little alcove of someone’s nose where other little boogers teach you everything how you will interact with the game.  First there is your basic movement: left, right and jump.  The most important feature of movement is the roll.  Using roll is similar to running in that it increases speed, but it’s a toggle, so you don’t stop rolling until you hit the button again.  When I started, I was as careful as I could be; but once I realized how to progress in the game, I realized I had to step it up.

Final goals tend to define a game, and the goal here is timing.  Each level is a timed race to get past treacherous terrain, flora and fauna.  This is why I found myself rolling through most of the game, since you need to make a good time to progress.  I died a lot, mostly because platformers are not my strongest suit, but also because this game’s squishy exterior is only skin deep.  This is not a forgiving game.  Sure, each level is short, but that doesn’t change the fact that starting from the beginning every time is a pain.  I have cursed Flem more times than any other game in such a short period of time, and he can really be fucking frustrating, too.

Behold! The nostrils!

“What the actual fuck..?”

As you roll along through the game, you encounter a variety of obstacles, with the most common being spikes.  Spikes are literally fucking everywhere.  It’s like Flem got launched from the warm safety of the nostrils into a nightmare world of demon spikes and bizarre animals.  I wouldn’t call the creatures in this game enemies, since you don’t really fight them.  By all means, this game is almost Buddhist in its treatment of other creatures.  That I have found, there is no means to kill enemies, mostly because that is not what Flem is about.  Rather than sterilizing the environment of it natural fauna, you are tasked with slipping by them.  And they are weird.  There are yellow jumping bugs (dust mites, guess), cactus-like plants that launch pellets into the air, flying purple bugs and a myriad of other obstacles, but again, you are not there to kill anything: you just want to get past quickly.  At the end of the level, you’ll be graded, and the faster you completed it, the better your score.  Of course, there are only three scores, noted by different-colored gems.  One of the biggest points of frustration are the buttons to continue the game.  For now, it seems selection randomly flickers from one button to the next, making it equally possible to restart, continue or return to the menu by accident.  It’s really annoying, but in a preview this early, it is good to see so few flaws.

In order to get past, you are given some interesting abilities, too.  One of these abilities is gathering up little purple bubbles to float around.  Of course, there is a gauge that displays the amount of time that you have to hover, which can be refilled by grabbing another purple bubble.  This gets difficult, too, since your ultimate goal is to get to the end quickly, not to collect pick-ups.  There are also orbs that give you speed boosts, let you jump and these are trickled into the game slowly enough that you get a handle on them, and the game ramps up the difficulty at a rate that is challenging and still fun.

Older games have a more specific motivation with an interference-oriented goal.  Mario would vanquish goombas, beat on turtles and kick Bowser’s butt to save the Princess.  Flem is a booger.  He isn’t nearly as committed to combat as the suspenders-clad knight of the Mushroom Kingdom.  There isn’t even a definable enemy, just this sense of displacement that drives Flem onward.  In the very beginning, rather than some foe drawing you out into the world, you are launched out of the nose by a sneeze.  It’s a beginning as goofy as the main character, but it sets a tone of enjoying the pixels of the game rather than selecting and neutralizing targets.  As I have come to expect and enjoy from Norway, there is a talent for creating a fun environment that you pass through and enjoy, rather than tear through like a tornado full of missiles and chainsaws.  I’ll bet that’s the next sequel to Sharknado.

What the fuck is with all the deadly spikes?!

What the fuck is with all the deadly spikes?!

The art in this game is spectacular, despite the simple concept.  The tutorial, which is currently pretty basic, is delivered alongside a gallery of pictures that seem to tell the story of dissenting opinions between the denizens of the nose.  Some ended up leaving, others stayed to cultivate some kind of snot garden.  The music is always whimsical and echoes the style of the environment.  It’s not some kind of modern, pulsating techno-mix of chiptunes; it’s just plain simple bit-tunes suitable for a game on the SNES.  I would expect this title to appear on Ouya and other simple platforms.  Alongside those, Henchman and Goon are trying to get this game voted up on Steam!  I would expect this to be another fun little title for a low-ish price, so go vote it up on Steam and lets play!

Of everything that bothers me about this game, nothing drove me up a fucking wall like the spikes lining every single wall in sight.  I mean seriously!  Is the world descending into the worship of some bizarre demon-god that covers everything in tiny spikes?!  What would the point of that be?  Does he want you to just be permanently uncomfortable?  I mean, spikes are spikes, but at this size it might be, at worst, like laying on toothbrushes.  That might even tickle.  It’s like the world was infiltrated by the most effectively strategizing and bizarrely quixotic aggressor in the world.  Maybe he was invented by Woody Allen?  I dunno, just seems like something he might imagine.

The Polynomial, Psychadelic Space-Out

headerI am a huge fan of space shooters, but this one is less a space shooter and more a spaced-out shooter.  This is a title I recommend to anyone on LSD or Acid, because it is intense as hell.  Of course, I recommend anyone with Photosensitive Seizures avoid this title altogether.  I am photosensitive in general and this game made me feel a little nauseous and headachey after about an hour of gameplay.

First, keep in mind that this game is a sort of space shooter.  You are in a spaceship and there are wormholes, but that is about the only thing this game has in common with space, real or theoretical.  Click the left mouse to fire a stream of plasma and steering is a bit difficult due to low gravity.  When you start you are a bit slow, enemies are tough to hit and, if you put the game on insane difficulty as the game instructs, you’ve died a couple of times already.  That’s ok, honestly, I have yet to discern any real point to this game outside of “get a fuck load of points.”  That is ok, though.  It is a good bit of trippy-ass fun.

dashing through outer space in my plasma-shooting ship!

dashing through outer space in my plasma-shooting ship!

There are three other types of entities in this game aside from you: ghosts, flowers and nom-noms.  Everything has a reticule around it in-game, though, so locating them won’t be too too difficult. Your allies are ghosts.  These beautiful beings look the way a child might imagine a soul or angel.  They have a central orb with fluttering wings and a vaguely defined look.  They’re tough to spot with just the naked eye, especially against the shimmering spaces of the game.  If you fly through them, you’ll heal your life-bar and gain a speed boost.  Finding your life bar is a challenge of its own, but it is the solid bar at the top.  The green/red bar on the right of your aiming reticule is your velocity bar.  No numbers, just visual approximations.  The other entity type is the flowers.  These don’t really offer boosts, but they do help you hide from the enemies.  They are more defined than the ghosts, and have a colorful interior.  I am pretty sure they don’t move, either.  They’re like nebulas that keep you from detection.  You enemies are nom-noms.  These guys look like someone took one of Mario’s Big Chomps, covered him with neon lighting and started a light-stick rave party inside.  These guys go around mauling your friends.  They eat the ghosts and it’s your task to kill these fuckers.  And it is tougher than it sounds, too, even on normal.  Aside from chomping down on ghosts, they will also shoot plasma bolts at you.  This is frustrating, especially when you start off, since you are slow as shit.

OooOoO! So pretty!

OooOoO! Ghosts are so pretty!

Yes, those are snowflakes in that picture.  When I got into the game, after it explained how I play, I went through a wormhole into this area that had a big-ass Christmas tree on a big red ball that throbbed to the pulsating trance of the music.  It was cool, especially when it played Christmas music, but it’s FUCKING JULY!  Whatever.  I guess it has just been a long-ass time since I last played this game.

Now, if you want to speed up from your initial slow-as-sex-in-a-pool-of-molasses speed, you have to either fly through ghosts, which can be tough to manage, or find the power-ups.  There are three of these things as well.  One boosts your speed, as you might’ve fucking guessed.  But it doesn’t just boost your speed, it more than doubles your speed bar, so getting these whenever you can, even if you think you don’t need it is always a good idea.  I am pretty sure this will temporarily stack after flying through a ghost, so it will be enough to keep enemy fire off you for a bit.  Your next power-up is the power… uh… power-up.  This one makes your plasma deal spectacular damage.  After grabbing this beast, you’ll mow through nom-noms like nothing.  The last one is auto-aim.  Just center your reticule on your enemies and let the power-up do the rest.  Normally with all the flying about and such, you have to lead your enemies to (hopefully) hit them and land a kill.  This power-up makes all that so much easier.  Just get them in the dotted circle and they’re toast.

OM NOM NOM!

OM NOM NOM!

I said there are wormholes, right?  Fly through one of them if you are tired of the area.  I was sick of the Christmas-themed area and wanted to get out into the greater game.  It was well worth it.  I was greeted by a wide range of procedurally(?) generated spaces full of scintillating beauty.  I really cannot say enough about that.  It says it is a fractal shooter and it really is.  Every space is shaped by invisible fractal variables that paint a spectacular picture.  The choices of colors are also really nice, but can be headache-inducing.  Its look makes Polynomial feel like another game that remembers how we were told games would be “in the future” when we were kids growing up in the 90s or the 80s.  This game really is great, and gives you a chance to just zap some dudes, no strings attached.  The music often has a highly-required trance feel to it, but sometimes you will get some really elegant piano music that really vibes for you.  It’s pleasant. I would call this a really artistic spaced-out shooter that lets you enjoy yourself and really vibe to the music.  Well worth a play and I would even say it is well worth the 6.99$ asking price on Steam.

What really pissed me off about this game?  Everything is shiny and neon colored, sparkly and pretty.  Some fucker hid the goddamn wormhole in the Christmas area, so I was fucking stuck in that section for fucking ever!  A lot of times you will find yourself just struggling against the graphics to see anything, and it gets really aggravating at times.  They have a map, but it is kind of 2D, so it really feels like it is for the look rather than any kind of useful fucking help what-so-ever.  Whatever.  I will just go off and play something that makes a lot more sense and requires me to do inane tasks rather than letting me explore shiny and beautiful space-scapes.  That should chill me out.  Who am I fucking kidding.  That will never happen.

3 Dead Zed, Brain-Munching Puzzler!

3dz_logo

 

Some of you will remember a title on the SNES released by some small time company (snowstorm? hailware?) where you play three vikings.  Each of them have abilities that the others did not, and were able to overcome a variety of obstacles.  Individually they would be easily overcome but together they were an indomitable, mead-swilling force of nature that would punch its way through any level mechanics.  I remember playing this title with friends years later (like 4) in high school.  More than the fact that this game was a release by the creators of one of my favorite childhood titles about mutual human-orc slaughter, I was amazed by how much fun this game was even while we were in the heat of our PS2 and N64 glory.

3 Dead Zed, like that lost title, shares many of the same basic theories and elements, even if it differs in its appetite.  Specifically, this is a game about three brain-munching heroes (?) that fight there way out of the stomach of their metaphorical mother.  It’s a lot of fun.  Technically there is only one main character with three sides.  You have three zombies smashed haphazardly into one and the ability to swap between forms.  Each of the forms has its strengths and weaknesses.  Your primary for is standard zombie: he runs, he drools, he eats brains.  You control this character to pick up small objects, attack people, and generally be a zombie.  The second form is the fast zombie.  He wears a cape, goggles and possibly also a diaper.  I mean, it’s either a diaper or underpants.  Either way, this guy runs really fast, jumps really high and is lanky.  He can crawl into vents as well.  He is unable to attack anyone, though, and takes hits as well as a tin foil bumper.  Your final form is that of a strong zombie.  This she-hulk of an undead murder-machine can pick up large objects deal devastating damage, knock in walls tear up floors, and generally make holes where they normally don’t exist.  She also takes damage really well, wading through corridors of toxic gasses, absorbing magazines worth of ammunition like a giant, green bullet sponge.  Granted, you will need every last bit of that damage resistance since she could only move slower if she were going backwards.

Cause moderation is for pussies

Cause moderation is for pussies

Should you find yourself on the receiving end of hostilities, you might want to grab the nearest scientist and pop the cork on those fresh, juicy brains.  Collecting brains is how you heal yourself, so there are usually a number of useless scientists around.  Some are even elderly, too, so that’s fucked up and hysterical.  After a while, though, you become completely inured to the slaughter of the elderly.  While there are some combatants at first, you soon find yourself knee-deep in the entrails of security guards and zombie-focused death squads out for your gooey, yellow blood.  Among these perils, there are also the myriad of unfortunately-placed buzzsaws, smashing pistons, burning lasers and guard-bots.

In some other games, you will have to face down a company filled with faceless and unethical scientists that created some monster that duplicitously promises you cake.  In this game you are the monster created by unethical scientists that thought cake would work in the beginning.  Yes, they throw a party for you to celebrate your graduation from testing.  Honestly, these morons have it coming.  After wading through an ocean of organs, your characters find themselves unraveling the sins of an obliviously evil organization.  Among the skeletons in their closet is a project that mysteriously involves forcing tin-foil hats onto magical teleporting cats.  Granted they have the tell-tale deedly-bob of an extra-terrestrial animal.  There is also the fucking teleporting.  That is a pretty obvious fucking sign.  Throughout the game you can locate abandoned work stations.  After tearing apart the occupant, you can listen to voice logs about various topics: feral cats, the zombie project, turning you into some kind of slave.  You know, the usual.  These desks allow you to figure out what terrible machinations brought you to this state.

Nobody likes going to this guys' fucking office

Nobody likes going to this guys’ fucking office for performance reviews

The art style of this game is jarringly comedic and smacks of John Kricfalusi’s, the creator of Ren and Stimpy, influence.  There is a sort of measured insanity alongside generous mediocrity, too, which makes me flashback to Office Space.  Not to mention the music is a lot like something you might encounter in an elevator.  All of these elements combine with the puzzles and obstacles to create a game that gets you laughing and having fun when you don’t want to tear apart a printer in an open field.  Gameplay is fluid, too, and you find yourself swapping forms mid-air at some points to climb a ladder here or avoid a whirring buzzsaw with relative ease by the end.  The challenges scale well, too.  The first area is an office, and it goes from easy to hard in the matter of seconds.  For a game about eating brains, it sure does demand you use yours a lot.  It’s not just soaring through levels of insanity, there are some puzzles that your just won’t get right away.  Then you go “O fucking duh!” and complete a puzzle that gets you past 70% of the obstacles in the area.  After the office you go into a factory setting where things get pretty easy.  Honestly, for the office I spent a good 6 hours in there.  The factory was 2 hours at most.  Granted, after you get used to the game, things seem a lot easier, so there is the acclimation factor.  Once you are fully acclimated, however, the game takes its fucking liberties in the last act.  I am not even sure what kind of fucking place I am in at this point, but it is tough as shit.  I die no less than twice every minute or two.

I love the way this goofy fucker runs

I love the way this goofy fucker runs

Another fun part of the game is the fact that it is fully voiced, even if the voice actors were convinced 3DZ’s primary playerbase would consist of deaf people.  I also noted a few bugs here and there, but not enough to make a real difference.  Overall, this is a great game with a dark and quirky sense of humor.  Every challenge you come against has a logical solution.  I was also frustrated to discover that the game is programmed to work with mouse and keyboard and the xbone controller, but not a DS4.  I am not springing for the xboner, so I had to play it on mouse and keyboard.  But the PC controls are responsive and simple, so it wasn’t that big a deal.  In a lot of places where bigger developers might have slacked off, Gentleman Quid Studio showed its tact and capability.  At the reasonable price of 5.99$ on Steam, this is a great game that is hard to beat, especially to the puzzle-lover.  Not to mention it takes a fun twist on zombies and makes them into something I might consider having as a stuffed animal.  Not to mention it is nice to have a fucking indie game that has enough balls to just fucking release.  Not pre-release, not episodic.  Just fucking out there.

Among this game’s features, I was most aggravated by the puns.  In a fucking game where you main the elderly and have three people mashed into one zombie, the unconscionable puns were my biggest fucking gripe.  That and the lack of fucking dualshock 4 support.  Bastards.  Maybe next time they will be more considerate of those who don’t want a media center instead of a fucking gaming console.  Whatever.  I will train some ninja monkeys to hunt them down, perhaps.  I am still working on a number of other deceptively cuddly animals to murder people in the middle of the night.