Zeno Clash 2: Much More ‘What’, Equal Parts ‘The Fuck’

ZC2_logo

 

Zeno Clash 2 is a perfect example of what happens when an imaginative group of talented developers find a publisher and can make a game the way the always wanted.  Granted, it is fucking bizarre as pink dancing hamsters in tutus tearing apart two cows having a threesome with a Scottish midget, but there is just as much fun and blood involved as the above description.  This game is fun.  It is a ton of fucking fun heaped into a bizarre surrealist world and topped off with guns.  Not to mention, the storyline is interesting as fuck.

So Ghat makes his comeback in this sequel by doing the opposite of what he did in the first one.  Literally, the fucking opposite.  Where before he was trying to kill father-mother and break up the family in order to avenge FM’s baby-thieving, now he is trying to save FM from a much-deserved ass-kicking and reuniting the family.  I honestly think this guy just likes to fucking beat shit up and kill motherfuckers.  I mean, that is what he did as a Corwid, and he hasn’t changed anything but the fact that now he no longer wears a mask.  I would hypothesize that this shows that Ghat is willing to face who he is and give into his dark, true self, but that would almost be too fucking involved.  I think he just likes to fuck shit up.

City of Halstedom, pronounced Hal-stom.  See also churning homestead of wanton fucking insanity.

City of Halstedom, pronounced Hal-stom. See also churning homestead of wanton fucking insanity.

Halstedom has been taken over by the North Golem, Kax-Teh.  You know, the guy you brought to Halstedom to deal with Father-Mother?  The North Golem, the guy with the Rubick’s cube from ZC, has built a jail, the colonnade-adorned head building, to incarcerate criminals in the town.  Makes sense, guy’s a natural fucking philanthropist.  Except one thing.  These people have no idea what this concept of “law” is.  It is literal anarchy.  Whoever wants to rule can, if they can get enough support from other thugs and people in the area.  So he is literally forcing these foreign concepts of law and order onto a city of people that have trouble with the concepts associated with a can-opener.  They are children, and he is ruling them with an iron fist from his head-palace using concepts none of them can understand.  Very little about any of this makes much sense.

With FM behind bars, you would assume that everything should be alright in the world, but Ghat is a more motiveless malignancy than Iago, so he gets tired of starting bar-fights all the time.  Luckily, Rimat, a woman wearing a rice paddy hat from FM’s family, decides to start some shit.  See, after everyone found out about FM’s treachery and baby-stealing, the North Golem told them who their real parents are and where they could be found.  Many went to him, but a few did not.  Rimat was one of those who didn’t.  Her opinion was that you cannot change the past, so she cannot change the fact that she was raised by a giant, hooded man-bird.  And, honestly, she has a compelling point.  This is something that many adoptees have to come to terms with, but Rimat, given the chance to go back to them, prefers to stay with the familiar.  She chooses to stay with those that she grew up with.  Very interesting.  So together with Rimat, Ghat helps to break FM out of jail and seek out the various members of the family.

After they’ve found all their brothers and sisters, they then turn their goals against the golems.  As it turns out, the golems are just the servants of some infinitely wiser entities, and they were put in place to keep the Zenos from leaving their land of Zenozoic.  The term “zenos” is used to describe anyone from this place, too.  I would want to keep these guys out of my backyard too.  I mean fucking look at them!

Ugly is a polite term for these people

Ugly is a polite term for these people. I mean, the police force wear flour sacks on their heads leaving you to imagine the horrors beneath!

Above is one of my favorite features of this game.  Normally, the gameplay is something like a free-roaming RPG, but there will be these areas where you’ll be pitted against a ton of enemies.  Unlike other games such as Half-Life 2 or any FPS by Flying Wild Hog, these arenas are not resolved with a sword or by gutting people with a machine-gun.  These battles are most often resolved with combo attacks and flying double-fist strikes.  Massive battles like this are resolved like street thugs would back in the 1920’s:  Everyone has a nasty brawl and the victors are the ones who are right.  Sometimes you will have some assholes sitting back, picking people off with a rifle or a grenade launcher, but hit them hard enough and they will drop it.  Of course, if there are weapons like rifles and grenade launchers, why even get into pitch brawls like that?  Simple, the guns in this game are few and far between and there isn’t oodles of ammo laying around.  It’s actually somewhat realistic in this way.  Of course, why not grab a club?  Those are around too!  This game forces you to deal with someone via fisticuffs.  Weapons that you have to strike someone with, including guns without ammo, will break and shatter.  The most reliable way to deal with your issues is to beat them to a bloody pulp with your bare hands, as God intended.

The landscapes in this game are absolutely magnificent and always always always have elements that make you curious, intrigued and outright confused.  As you wander these landscapes, you might be wondering if you are on Mars.  Actually, the game gives you ample reason to believe that it might be Earth, but the game has numerous regions.  Each region can be explored and explored freely.  Some are more open than others, but each area has its own unique look and feel, and each area has its secrets and stashes.

The two-headed monkey riding on the back of a fire-spitting vulture made the muculosaurus in the desert seem low-key.

The two-headed monkey riding on the back of a fire-spitting vulture region made the muculosaurus in the desert seem low-key.

Two features adding to this are stashes and skill points.  Stashes are places where you can find items (food to heal, totems to fill the special attacks meter, weapons etc) which fulfill a variety of uses, mostly combat-oriented.  These stashes look like giant, horned clamshells and function much the same way as chests.  The art director for this game should be drug-tested hourly.

The other feature are the skill point totems.  These appear as skulls hanging from a crude stand and can be found nearly everywhere.  A couple time I revisited regions only to find a new skill totem that wasn’t accessible without equipment I found elsewhere.  These totems are well-hidden too, almost as if they hired someone from Flying Wild Hog to put in the secrets.  When you interact with these totems, half the present skulls disappear and you get points equal to the number of skulls obtained.  Once you have the points, you can go ahead and start pouring them into the various skills: health, stamina, strength, leadership. Health is health, stamina dictates how many punches you can throw before getting weak, strength is how hard you hit.  Leadership is the most interesting skill, though.  Throughout the game, you will switch out between various characters that will help Ghat and Rimat on their journey.  The higher your leadership, the more powerful the allies that you can recruit to your quest with you.  These guys are useful, too, especially when you find yourself suddenly confronted with a massive mosaic of faces as seen above.  You will be fighting ALL those fuckers, often in close-quarters.  With little space to run and twenty mother-fuckers trying to kick your ass, you will need some friends to mix up the melee.  I poured nearly all of my points into leadership.

The skills are accessible from the map screen, where you can also find some collections.  There are a variety of things to collect, all of which are random and make little sense.  They are a ton of fun, and when you play, you’ll likely see how they add their own pieces of flavor to this game.

Make a left at the canyon filled with testicle-chinned shrimp, pass by the butthole-licking tribe of barbarians and we'll arrive at the city of mechanical, two-headed monkey people.  Remember to pack sandwiches!

Turn left at the canyon of testicle-chinned shrimp, pass foot-collecting barbarian tribe and arrive at the city of mechanical, two-headed monkey people. Remember to pack sandwiches!

Do not play this game thinking you will not be saying “What the fuck” every five seconds.  This game is just as whacky, if not moreso, than the first, but its gameplay is memorable and awesome.  I honestly hope they take this formula and apply to a remake of Double-Dragon or Final Fight.  Can you imagine what it would be like to have a fighting-style free-roaming first-person RPG like this one in a vast post-apocalyptic, future cityscape where gangs tear eachother apart?  You could have some guns in there, but they might be so rare that they are almost a form of currency, so battles are largely solved with blades and fists.  Just food for thought to give Ace Team.  This game itself is a hell of a thing though.  It feels like the greater narrative of morality and law being waged by the golems is the true story, and the rest of the world is made to be ridiculous so a seeking mind is almost forced to latch onto the golems and interpret their story.  Then Ghat comes in and fucks shit up, believing, I guess, that true freedom requires the death of law.  Whatever you glean from this game, it is likely to be memorable.  And the best part is that its Special Edition currently on sale for 2.99$ on Steam, although it is deserving of every cent of the 24.99$ usual asking price.  Go get it now! Seriously!  It’s fucking awesome!

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Shadow Warrior, Better the Second Time

SW_Logo

 

As with movies, games that were remade from an older title fall into two categories: epic or fail.  Shadow Warrior takes the material from the unrepentantly indecent original and sculpts it into an experience that adds to and surpasses the original.  And the way they did it is what makes this so awesome; Shadow Warrior uses the same corny sense of humor, but tempers it with a snarky, demonic sidekick. Devolver Digital has recreating an old washed-up title down to a process as simple as “give it to Flying Wild Hog.”

When SW kicks off, you main character is driving down the street listening to The Touch by Stan Bush.  People seem to like those songs from the 80’s, but not everything out of that era is worthy of remembrance.  Shit, not much out of the 80’s and even some of the 90’s is worth remembering, so this guy listening to some shitty 80’s music in a badass car on the way to a deal is a little off-putting.  Honestly, at first I was like, “God, please don’t tell me that’s the main character.”  But this game is filled with demons, so despite my pleas of “don’t make me play this guy”, I was forced to play as Lo Wang. I let out a nervous giggle and soldiered on.  Of course, this was the only thing that I, as a gamer, found distasteful about the game.  Its humor, on the other hand, is another story entirely.  If I were asian, I might be pretty deeply insulted by most parts of this game, but the way the game also makes fun of the original seems an attempt to apologize for it.

SW_powah

Huh, they misspelled “POWAAH!”

 

As with most games, the first level gives you an idea of what to expect, and it is fucking awesome.  It’s about an hour worth of slicing enemies to tiny pieces with a katana as they shriek and gush blood all over the carpet.  Your katana behaves like a magical limb-detaching wand, and at first I was really surprised by how horrible and gory the game is.  That lasted about 10 seconds before I was laughing my ass off at how ridiculous it really was.  2 parts Tarantino, 2 parts Jet Li and all Wang, baby.  It also displays how good at hiding shit in plain sight FWH really is.  At one point there is a statue behind glass in one of the main corridors, and I walked past it wondering why it was the only glowing statue in the whole place.  This statue is one of several types of collectibles that the game hides from you: money statues, bowls of blood, Ki Crystals and fortune cookies.

The statues give you money, but are not the only source of funds.  The other source is an ancient chinese method called “finding that shit lying around.”  As you collect money, the game totals it and lets you use it to buy ammo and upgrades for your weapons.  There are 3 different upgrades per weapon with 6 upgradable weapons: a pistol, machinegun, shotgun, crossbow, flamethrower, rpg.  One of the things I love about this game is a logical conundrum that I call the “Dimensional Sphincter Improbability”.  Essentially, unless you have a magical asshole that also links to an alternate dimension where you store all your weapons, it’s highly fucking improbable that you can carry an arsenal this vast.  Hard Reset, FWH’s inaugural title, solved this issue by making these weapons varying configurations of the same two weapons.  Shadow Warrior just stores these weapons in an off-screen pocket dimension that follows Lo Wang around at all times.  Of course, this game makes no apologies, and why should it?  It is a remake of an old, less-than-classic game.  Fuck logic.  Your first weapon, though, is the best.  The katana is an awesome part of this game, and you start the game dicing people up and flinging shuriken.  There is one problem with all of this.  The money has the square hole, which is distinctly Chinese, but the katana and shuriken were weapons of Japanese origin.  This game is a bizarre cultural amalgamation of two cultures.  Maybe the enemies in the next game will come from Korean lore?

The next big K-pop group, "Puppets of a Delusional Overlord"

Massacring these blood puppets was more fun than my ethics should have been able to tolerate.

Next, you have the bowls of blood.  This part makes me a little uneasy, and I filed it under “shit I won’t think about too much.”  Every once in a while, you will come across a secretly ensconced bowl of blood suspended by demonic power on a spiked shrine built of the corpses of your enemies victims.  So, naturally the first thing you do is drink it.  At least, I assume you do, and I am pretty sure it is never outwardly stated exactly what Wang does with it, but what else is there to do with it?  Rub it all over your body?  Either way, you get these bowls and they grant you Karma, which, in turn, is used to upgrade yourself with all kinds of abilities.  I spent the most of my first karma points on Ki attacks with my sword, which are badass attacks that allow you to cut through demons like lightly-chilled tofu.  These attacks are rewarding as fuck, too.  Get off a good divider of the heavens attack and your enemies basically explode while is great for taking off legs.  Your enemies will crawl off a bit, which makes it easy to deal with their friends then come back for the karma of beheading them, too.

Ki crystals are giant crystals that glow with ki power, something that fuels the demons’ magic.  Luckily, it also allows you to use Ki powers like self-healing or making a defensive bubble.  While not overtly useful, if used properly the powers become as deadly as the attacks.  Each of these collectibles allow you to buy new weapons, powers and abilities that make gameplay deeper and more entertaining.  The best part is that the abilities flow perfectly from gameplay, and the controls are beautifully intuitive.  As soon as I had the abilities mapped to my brain and the controls, I was ripping through enemies.  When I was finished, their army was measured in liters rather than kilograms.

After a battle, every arena tends to look like this.

After a battle, every arena tends to look like this.

Finally, there are these fortune cookies. Each of them gives you 5 health, which is nice, and then slips you a Confucius-style joke that will make you face-palm so many times your head will turn black-and-blue.  Generally, the humor of this game is pretty terrible, and it would even get to a point that is indecent, but the demon in your head makes it a little better.  He is an ancient, which is some kind of immortal asian demon.  The one you befriend is named Hoji, and he was banished from the shadow realm.  His story is one of Romeo and Juliet turned Pygmalion and Galatea, but with a dark twist.  He provides some comedic levity to balance your character’s ego a little.  With Hoji by your side, there is someone to keep Lo Wang from being the same person he was in the first game.  At one point he even says “Sorry, I used to be a prick.”  In the context of the game, he could be referring to his recent personal catharsis, but it also feels like a reference to that previous life.  Given the fact that this game also has more Easter eggs than grocery stores in late March, it’s not too much of a stretch.

Your enemies are also a throwback to that old time, when Nukem was the duke and consoles were for kiddies.  Many times, this game just throws you into fights where you are like “o shit I’m gonna die” and the entire time I was having flashbacks to plays of Descent and Doom.  Your first enemies are humans, but the game is fast to switch them out for an army of demons.  And those old games seemed to have a habit of throwing demons in as a foe for shooters.  I mean, look at Quake.  I had no fucking clue what the fuck I was even fighting, and the recent(ish) Quake 4 changed over to aliens instead of demonic foes.  Honestly, whatever.  Shadow Warrior made it cool to kill demons again and gave me as much of a thrill as Bioshock did.  Then there are these massive bosses that the game throws at you.  I played a little Duke Nukem Forever, and the giant-boss battles were just a little too… Duke.  They seemed so focused on the fact that the boss was massive and it played well enough, but it was just uninteresting.  Just felt like I was firing bullets into a river to dam in an attempt to damn it shut.  I didn’t feel  badass, just felt like damage control.  Boss battles in this game follow a sort of rhythm and you can measure your progress visually.  You also feel badass at the end for taking down this giant enemy.  It doesn’t feel one bit frustrating and is well done.  The battles are the same method as those found in Hard Reset, and I greatly enjoyed them.

Alongside the enemies, the game takes numerous flares from old-style games, like the card-key search.  Back in the days of Doom, it was standard procedure to be sent out after a set of keys to the complex you were running and gunning through.  Lo Wang finds himself running through arenas of foes searching for colored shrines to destroy in order to get past mystical demon seals.  It really brought me home, and I feel like this is an experience that new gamers will enjoy while old gamers can get all nostalgic.  On top of all this, Shadow Warrior had a spin-off game with Viscera Clean-up Detail: Shadow Warrior.  That is another indie gold mine and a lot of fun, so check it out.

Obligatory scenic screenshot

Obligatory scenic screenshot

Every ounce of this game screams with a righteous fire that burns through every expectation that I had.  It is a vein-bursting experience with fun gameplay, amazing music and a storyline that plays an artful, melodramatic chord against the game’s wang-fueled humor.  The game is ridiculous and over-the-top in a way that made old kung-fu movies so popular.  It doesn’t matter that this game is goofy and ridiculous, it is still a lot of fun, and in a lot of ways it is a shrine to the old generations of PC games and a fist-bump to their players.  It almost feels like I just sat down with the developers, had a few beers and talked about the “good old days of PC gaming” and how gamers nowadays wouldn’t understand.  This they would understand.  And it is really something special, even though it is so, so ridiculous.  Not to mention, the game leaves one of its main enemies wide open for a sequel.  Zilla, your former employer and demonically-enhanced lunatic, escapes in a helicopter.  You slice the other guy’s throat, though, so you get that satisfaction.  This game is 39.99$ on Steam, and I whole-heartedly endorse paying this money.  I got the game when it was on sale, so I lucked out, but it is a title you are guaranteed to enjoy.

With all that being said, the thing that boils my blood over this game is its developers.  Seriously!  How dare they make something so good!  This sets fucking standards!  They literally have made 3 fucking games.  FUCKING 3!  A game where you shred through hordes of demonic minions with righteous blazing fury, one where you blow your way through level after level of robotic minions that are spliced with human bodies and … a game starring a pink panda and a yellow lizard.  Ok, so that last one is still in development, but I am totally fucking serious.  These guys should be given some other old-school titles to revive, like SiN or Blake Stone!  I feel like the only fucking guy that even remembers Blake and his battles with Aliens of Gold!  Shit!  Oh well, I am sure all that is just around the corner, Devolver Digital just needs more money for properties acquisition.  I wish I could just give them money.  LoL!  Be so much easier than waiting for games to come out.

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.

Q-Bert Rebooted, Reviving a Classic

QBERT

 

When I was a kid my parents had a Commodore 64.  It was this huge beast of a monitor with a fucking keyboard you could kill a man with.  I never played NES becase I was too busy with the awesomeness of this thing.  It’s 8-bit graphics and massive display loomed over us as we poured hours into it.  We played The Hulk, a game where you typed commands to the green rage machine as he was tied to a chair with a bomb ticking to destruction.  Incidentally, Hulk could not cry for mommy.  Hulk not know mommy.  We played Centipede and Space Invaders, but none of them hooked me in like Q*Bert.  I had no fucking clue what Q*Bert was, but I figured he was an alien like ET.  He hopped around this mountain of colored blocks, of which I never made it past the first or second levels, and was continually thwarted by these fucking green dudes, pink snakes and bouncing red balls.  But I tried and tried.  It was the first love-hate relationship I had ever known.  This machine was forgotten when we got the SNES, relegated to the back of the attic.  I remember that we would still use the monitor years and years later for Nintendo 64 and Xbox, when Halo 2 came out.  It was the last game I was to play on it before the last lights in the machine finally died out.

Nowadays my cellphone has exponentially better processing power than that stone-age piece of machinery, but nothing aggravated me more than the games it presented me with.  Modern games are much easier, walks in the park by comparison.  And some asshole had the idea to reboot Q*Bert.  I fucking hate you guy.  Not because this ruined a game from my childhood, it didn’t.  More because this game ruined my tiny little mind with a rage I had never before known, and now it’s back.  Just as frustrating as ever.  And I love it.  You could even skip this article to the last paragraph and not miss much, just a great time and fun and love for a character from my childhood.  Yup!

The two faces of the insidious little space-invader

The two faces of the insidious little space-invader

Upon loading up the game, you will see that Q*Bert has given you the option of torture.  Play the original arcade game (not recommended for the feint of heart nor the weak of constitution) or the modern game mode.  Q*Bert is a game about jumping on blocks to change their color.  Somebody put this fuzzy (?) little alien on it, basically so it would sell, I’d wager.  Now, when you choose the modern game mode, it eases you in.  First level, jump on blocks to change the color, avoid some balls.  No big.  Then they add the snakes and the rainbow discs.  When you see the pink ball fall from the top, you know it’ll turn into a snake, rather than just falling off the edge of the board.  Hop onto a rainbow disc, though and it’ll carry you to the top.  I guess it was those discs that really made me think he was an alien.  They’re like his little UFOs you know?  But then shit gets really aggravating with these little sunglass-clad green dude that change the color of your blocks.  AND THEN there are these little horned things that chase you around the board alongside the snakes!  Shit gets frustrating pretty easily.

Q*Bert’s newest features involve a character select screen where you can pick which alien guy or girl you want to play.  Given you’ve had time to amass some gems, you can choose any of a number of cool and fancy Q*Berts, so I chose this Q*Nicorn that farts out a shiny rainbow everywhere it goes.  Magical!  There is also a level progression screen, which has asteroids a various locations that require a certain number of stars to progress.  Each star is obtained by finishing a level one of three ways: finish the fucking level, finish the level by a certain time and finish the level with a certain number of points.  I found myself quickly cursing at the screen as some of the early levels have you jump on the blocks twice to get them to the appropriate color.  Then those fucking green dudes come along and ruin EVERYTHING!

I'm going to kill your family you little green shit!

I’m going to kill your fucking family you little green shit!

It really is a rage-inductively fun game, if you are into puzzlers.  Q*Bert is a classic puzzler that will really make you consider the path you take to traverse a given field.  Needless to say, a straight line is never the fucking answer.  This early videogame is one that makes the challenges of the Portal franchise seem like an over-narrated piece of cake.  While Q*Bert Rebooted steps you up gradually to the insane scramble of the original game, it still employs new elements of gaming to make you want to bash your monitor in.

There is also something really odd about Q*Bert.  While his original form looked a little wary the rebooted version of Q*Bert looks positively concerned.  His eyes have this look like he’s thinking “Are we really going to play this again?  You really sure you want this?”  Just look into the furrowed brow and saucer eyes.  He looks saddened by something and reluctant to even exist.  Granted, when you fuck up, Q*Bert curses his head off so bad, that it needs to be censored.  And why shouldn’t he?  His life is one of coloring OCD, jumping on blocks to make them just the right hue while he’s dogged by snakes, falling balls, green dudes that FUCK UP HIS WORK REGULARLY and who knows what else!  Seriously there are no words that can fully encapsulate my rage for those slick little green shits.  Then it hit me.  When you Game Over Q*Bert says “bye bye”.  This makes sense since you will be walking away from the screen to count to ten and squeeze a stress ball into flaccid submission.  But what else does he say, huh?  That’s just alien gibberish, right? FUCK NO, MAN!  Q*Bert is saying “What’s the object of it all” impassively implying that he knows it’s all pointless.  Like he knows that jumping on blocks and being constantly driven by your OCD to make everything perfect is a crappy way to live.  That’s pretty fucking heavy coming from a simple puzzle game, like some shit I expect to find in Q*Bert’s suicide letter after he jumps off the level for the last time!  But he can’t even kill himself since he’ll just be put right back up on top to continue.  Like his very existence is one of pure resignation to the fact that he must (not can, wants to, chooses to, should, would, likes to) but fucking must complete these boards.  But why?  Why does he have to?  My guess is that if you beat the game, Q*Bert will be left in peace to do what Q*Bert does when you’re not making him color blocks.  I guess that would be hang out in the endless void of space, just hopping around.

Shiny gems almost make the futility of life seem bearable.

Shiny gems almost make the futility of life seem bearable.

So I guess you might have skipped the rest of this article since we all know what Q*Bert is really about. ::: whistles innocently :::  So, yea, it’s a fun game full of great colors, cute characters and shiny objects.  Give this to children, cause like, I played it as a kid, and I turned out great!  Good times!  Great price, too!  Only 4.99$ on Steam to support a classic of videogaming!  Go and get it!  Honestly, there is nothing about this game that would ever make me mad.  Those green guys can be a little frustrating, but hot dog!  You’ve got to have some challenge, hey?  So go on, get this title and don’t say I didn’t warn you… about the great time you will undoubtedly have!

Dear Game Informer: You’re a Fucking Asshole

gibastard

 

Game Informer is a major gaming magazine that is apparently written by assholes.  Now, the reason I receive it is because my wife got the Powerup rewards card at Gamestop.  This was when she got our 3DS ‘s and Pokemon X and Y.  I pick it up and peruse it whenever it comes in, and it often shows me some surprisingly good indie games I hadn’t yet heard about.  But this month was different.  This month I got to pages 28-29 of the July 2014 issue and was met with this woven monstrosity called “The Indie Game Flowchart”.  I would tell you that IndieDevs are the sole reason for true ingenuity and without those with the balls to run free in the capitalist wilds, there would never be any innovation or progress in gaming at all.  We would all be playing COD and WOW rip-offs.  This is a rage article of crotchety proportions, so if you don’t like it, fuck off.  Game Informer needs to sit down and shut the fuck up.

This article, written by some mimsy tart named Joe Juba, has this text blurb to start you off:

If you want to make an indie game, you need to be driven by passion.  Maybe you want to tell a personal story, or experiment with a never-before-seen genre.  Realizing this dream might require years of work and your life savings, but it could be worth the struggle.  What is your reward at the end of the journey?  Follow our flowchart to find out.  You might earn instant credibility, vast wealth, or cheap statuettes from an indusrty awards show.

– Joe Jube, Game Informer, Issue July 2014, Page 28

You might think “O, that’s not so bad!  He just gave the indie devs some credit for drive and passion.  Not to mention experimenting with genres and some other things!”  Honestly, sure, he does, but then he cheapens it with a giant flowchart that mocks the entirety of Indie Developers and what the real goal is as an IndieDev.  While the article is a comedy-rag with sarcasm dripping from its pages, one should keep in mind that comedy is a form of philosophy where they cause you to laugh by showing you the truth (in this case Juba’s perception of the truth) and making you see it in an entertaining light.  Just watch Louie C.K. or George Karlin.  Hell, nearly every comic uses elements of real-life in their shows, and that makes them artists in a way.  This is just flat-out mockery of a people who have no real centralized way of responding.

Here is the map of mockery so you can follow along

Here is the map of mockery so you can follow along

At start is says “So you want to be an indie. What is the first priority?”  Move on to the first offense, “Fun, good gameplay“.  The next box after that just says “wrong” and directs you to the other option out of the gate “A cool art style.”  Now stop right there you fucking pricks.  Did you just see that?  With a quick flick of the goddamn wrist, this slimy little fuck says that indie games as a whole do not have fun, good gameplay and rely on art style.  FUCK NO!  I can name plenty of games off the top of my head in varying genres that have great gameplay with great art all the way to shit art and fabulous gameplay.  Minecraft, for instance, has arguably simplistic art.  Most Super Nintendo titles had more advanced textures.  The gameplay is the redeeming part of this game, and spawned several genres.  THAT was the work of one fucking guy in a goddamn basement, NOT the result of the industry’s method-at-large, which is typically “who fucking cares how mindless the gameplay is, just art it up with pretty graphics and fantastic visuals so that no on notices.”  Want another?  Sure.  Hard Reset.  That is a game with some pretty graphics, great ambiance and an artistic method of doing cut-scenes in a comic book style.  The gameplay, however, is a ton of fun, allowing you to blow shit up and use a variety of weapons with the same two “guns” and elminating the question of where you keep that bazooka.  Sure, the story is a little confusing at times, but Half-life 2 had as much story as a mass-murderer does.  Shit, Call of Fucking Duty has less story, but that is punching the retarded kid there.  I don’t know where Joe Juba thinks he gets carte blanche to say what he wants about the indie culture, but he is writing for a major fucking magazine.  That, along side his little opening to this masterpiece of douche-baggery, automatically takes away any credibility he truly has with the indie culture.  But he goes on, so, too, must I.

From that box you also see “it needs…” You can go to “blocks like minecraft” and that takes you to the minecraft clones.  This path ends in the Copy-cat award, success by association.  That is a bit funny, but the devs in those games are getting a little short-changed.  Often, the best way to get to new shades of genres are to take the major genre elements of something successful and apply them to other facets and ideas not explored by the majorly referenced work.  This is done all the time with fantasy, with Lord of the Rings as a start, and brings you to people like George R.R. Martin writing dark fantasy worlds that owe their lives and allegiance to Tolkien.  The next major issue I have with this article of short-selling +9000 is “first-person..” leads to “shooter” which leads to the David and Goliath Award, Call of Duty will destroy you.  STOP RIGHT THERE YOU SHITTY LITTLE FUCKFACE!  So, you’re telling me all first-person shooters are in direct competition with COD?  Your taste in games obviously has a diversity comparable to Iceland’s gene pool.  One massive collection of similar-looking people with a few sharply-contrasted elements floating around to emphasize the main body.  Hard Reset and ZenoClash are two indie FPS’s that are nothing like COD and thank god for it!  These titles add elements of diversity to a stagnant pool of genre degeneracy that is characterized by vastly acclaimed titles like Call of Duty, Modern Warfare, Black Ops, Battlefield…  Seeing some similarities?  And the best part is, the moment that this genre drifts away from the Call of Douchebags FPS standard of “kill da bad guy soljers” it drops in funding, quality and standards.  Don’t believe me?  Thief.  As if I needed to expound further this guy does a way better job at explaining the game’s shortcomings than I could here.  And he tries to defend it with lengthy diatribes of legitimately interesting discussion about how the game could have been better.  Genre diversity is a must, and indie FPS’s offer way more in this respect.

Another off-shoot from that “cool art style” box leads you to “A living painting. Like Braid, but with…” and this section leading to the ‘Too Indie, What about gameplay?’ endpoint that dominates the center of the first page.  This placement is no fucking accident.  This is the way that mainstream gaming stereotypes the indie gaming culture.  I do appreciate their implication that this is the home of the extremist indie games, and thereby not the bulk of them, but this still puts a smear on the community as a whole.  These are apparently the representative items of indie culture that the most people will understand and, thus, it is in a plce that the most people will read, with the bulk of readers giggling a bit here then moving on to their Culla’ Doodie circle jerks.  In this section they include Braid, and a number of weird modifiers.  They also catch these outliers by having First-Person also lead to “Pretentious Interactive Narrative Experience“, which is arguably a way of saying “artistic game experience”.  But another place first-person takes you is were you bought by Valve, in which case you end up at the “Gamer darling Award, Please stop saying the cake is a lie” or elsewhere.  If you say no, it moves on to the next page and “years later”.  This implies that every indie title will take years to complete.  This brings you to “Perfect! You project has the green light! When will it release?”  Two options after: One year, which leads to a delay show at PAX then the second selection, which is two years.  Then another delay show at PAX, and then four years.  This means, fuck you, even if you think that your game will release in a year, after years and not getting bought by Valve, you’ll actually take four years and tons of personal delays to make your game.  That is degraging.  Sure, it may happen to some, but this seems to imply that indie developers cannot adequately structure time schedules.  Because the major industry has ben SOOOOOO fucking good at doing that! Right?  By the way, what was the release date of Half-life 3 again?  Whatever, just play Duke Nukem Forever and you’ll start to get an idea.  In fact, just read this fucking Cracked article.  That should tell you.

But let me skip over to another point of contention.  Following side-scrolling games takes you to the inevitability of “Wait a minute… are you already a major developer?”  One option (No, then keep at it!) takes you to the aforementioned “years later” situation.  The other 2 are “Does Double-Fine count?” and “Yes”.  Yea, you see where I am going with this now.  This gets you to Nice Try, Decades of experience isn’t indie.  FUCK YOU!  You sit there and say that to me?! I wanted to just type a string of random angry characters but quivered with rage for a few moments instead.  Where do you get off saying that indie developers cannot have decades of experience? Do you realize that Sword of the Stars was made by people from Rockstar?  Just because they have been around for a while, doesn’t mean they are not indie.  My understanding is the Double-Fine got to mainstream game dev and backed out because they wanted, I don’t know, some GODDAMN FREEDOM!

Moving right along, there is this other endpoint of Indie Foul! That’s not how this works.  Among the things that lead here are third-person roguelikes with crop-farming and carefully crafted dungeons and collectible creatures.  That takes you to “Look, I don’t know what “roguelike” means”  There are also apparently Third-person roguelikes with spaceships and no permadeath, which also leads here.  Fuck you.  Now we need perma-death in spaceship games to be good?  Fuck you.  My angriest path here leads through the thoroughly convoluted “third-person zombie survival games funded by independent modders who have a well-organized business plan”.  This is apparently no one, as this goes to Indie Foul.  fuck you. again.  The option aside a well-organized business plan is apparently “who get massive community support” and this just has to be a joke.  Having these as separate options basically states that crowd-funding is not part of a well-organized business plan.  Honestly, asking the gaming community to fund your project isn’t the most sure-fire way to get it done, but Kickstarter is for gamedevs that have great ideas and none of the money required.  So I also suggest that, yes, crowd-funding can be a good element of a well-organized business plan.  Other ways to indie foul include an old-school RPG inspired by some N64 RPG’s with retro sprites that was considered as an Ouya exclusive.  There is also a mainstream audience that leads to Indie Foul, but that tells me that this guy thinks the main element of “indie” gaming is that only a couple assholes like it.  This is even more heavily implied by the statement that aiming precise challenges at a few dozen masochists will be enough to get your project the green light.  I am not sure which planet this Joe Juba asshole comes from, but it is one where “indie” means “pretentious dicks that think they know better” rather than, you know, independent.  Indie games can be aimed at mainstream audiences.  The retro style that many take on these days are made to appeal to what a lot of us older gamers played as children.  Oh, I am sorry, not every spoiled-rotten little rat bastard was able to buy games when I was a kid.  In fact, when I was your age, playing games made you the socially awkward nerd that got beat on.  On last path that takes you to Indie Foul! is Border Control Simulator.  I would say this is a jab at all those weird simulator like Rock Simulator, Streetsweeper Simulator and Papers, Please, but those games are a new genre that deals with allowing you to literally live different aspects of real-life.

So now your game is finished.  There are now three results for you left, having dodged the sweeping two-page morass outlined by some ass.  The only thing left is the name.  Three options: First, you can go with something slimy and geometric, like “Gooptahedron”.  The next thing is “that’s free to play, isn’t it?“.  The only selection is yes, or hell yes.  This leads you to the Zero Credibility Award, Money (is not equal to) Quality, which is the only place Joe Juba deserves to be classified.  Granted, he starts off with that whole gooptahedron crack, but this is the only location on the indie flowchart that features free-to-play games.  I can think of a couple really good free-to-play games.  Immediately I am reminded of Gear Up, a multi-player tank-shooter.  So, tell me, you relentless shit, are you saying that all F2P indie games have zero credibility as indie games? Fuck you, again, indie is not about money, it is about independence.  The other two options out of game-finishing are a weird sentence fragement and a single vague word.  Your game is then a success.  Either you say Fuck it, I quit, where you earn the Something Fishy Award, Don’t forget to cancel the sequel and the most insulting thing on this shit-sheet: “beg for money on Kickstarter and try again.”  Yup.  BEG for money you worthless little worms!  Then you can go back to start to begin again.  O, and you remember how, apparently, it takes four years after previous years of delaying to get it done?  Yea, that path leads here, too.

Now, if you read all the way to the end of this article, I give you a lot of credit.  This is a long wall-of-rage-text article with few visual stops.  The point I am making is as follows:  This convoluted two-page spread is just an insidious mockery that attempts to rob the indie gaming and indie developer community of its main source of undeniable respect.  Indie Devs want freedom.  Freedom from major developers to develop as they please, without the back-burner rejection that these types of games would receive from mainstream companies entrenched in the FPS standard, or whatever standard they prefer.  Indie means independent, and that scares the mainstream companies and their little turd-sniffing employees, such as Joe Juba.  Not because they think  we want to be like them and want the money that comes with it, but because we want nothing to do with them, we want to do what we want, and accept the money that comes with it.  This is where indie developers get their real power.  Alongside the fact that indie games are the testing ground for new and interesting concepts that push the industry forward and bend the boundaries of virtual experience like minecraft, which spawned crafting games and survival games like Rust.  For this reason, Indie Gaming is the source of true gaming diversity.  We don’t want our options to be between WoW, CoD and Assassin’s Creed without recourse.   We’re not a bunch of pretentious dorks sitting in a corner of a lunchroom wearing goofy glasses and handlebar mustaches making fun of the “cool COD kids”.  We are a collection of like-minded individuals that are tired of the same old horse shit that mainstream gaming presents.  We are tired of graphically fluorescent games with shit story lines or inept game-play.  We are ready to take gaming into our own hands.  And that scares the ever-loving shit out of them.  If I ever needed physical proof that mainstream gaming resents the indie community to the level that you might call it hate, this is it.

Pseudo “Game” Art: Proteus

proteuslogo

 

Calling Proteus a game is incorrect.  All you can do is walk around, look and listen.  This game has existed long enough, however, where I do not feel at all bad about telling you everything I experienced in it, because let’s face it, it was fucking weird.

When you load up the game a screen like that above will appear.  You click the island to start and dive in.  Every time you start up Proteus, the island is different and you are offshore a good distance.  After the long swim (which feels like it is supposed to build anticipation) you come to shore and you start to get an idea what you just bought.  Everything is in saturated colors and the visuals make Minecraft look like a graphical powerhouse.  Everything is in these bizarrely basic Atari-level graphics.  But that is not the cool part.  Obviously.  What’s so unique about Proteus is that it is about wandering around and discovering.  The things you discover aren’t cool loot or terrifying enemies, they’re sights and sounds.  Strangely, at a lack of other stimuli, you then start to react to the game emotionally, which makes it a more deep and tactile experience.

I came ashore in Proteus and there were a bunch of pink trees with leaves falling from them, which made a beepy drifting noise as they fell to the ground.  Walking further I found a frog and chased him up a hill where I found the ruined towers.  This tower had a weird chiptune bag-pipe music.  That’s the best fucking way I can put it.  Walking up to the thing I noticed my screen blink black.  When I turned around, I was elsewhere on the island.  I stepped away from the imposing broken-looking structure and found a path, which bordered a forest.  Just inside the forest was a flock of birds that bloop when they peck the ground.  I figured they must be chickens.  If you walk too close to them, they’ll chirrup before skittering off, tinkling the whole way.

I walked along the path and found nothing of particular fucking interest.  By this time it was getting late in game, and my natural gamer instinct kicked in.  “Fuck!  The zombies are going to eat me!” but the game lilts softly as night falls, making comforting and sleepy noises.  Really pretty, and no zombies came out looking for my brains.  I’ll tell you what I did find, though.  Fireflies!  I heard weird little bloops that came and went and looked around only to find little lightning bugs flashing here and there.  I wandered around for a bit and saw some sparkles like falling stars in the distance, spinning and writhing.  I got there and found a mass of spinning sparkles.  As I entered the circle, it condensed and formed a portal.  Already time was flying by around me, so I stepped inside the portal.  I was at the same place, but it was a little different.

 

Ooo! Sparkly!

Ooo! Sparkly!

So after wandering around more I found a circle of totems, these made a low whirring noise and the stars pulsed wildly like they were exploding then retracting then exploding again.  Eventually this stopped and a storm rolled in.  Nothing in this game seems to follow any kind of logical sense, though.  There are simple effects and things that react to your presence (standing stones that shoot sparks and make a noise as you walk by, animals to chase) but nothing all that interactive.  At one point I went through the portal and came out into a sad autumn land with a graveyard.  Seriously.  I am pretty sure it wasn’t there before, but it had a bunch of sparkles everywhere.  I also noticed that clusters of sparkles would pulse into existence, then disappear.  When I left the graveyard to search for the portal again, I saw ghosts playing peek-a-boo with me behind trees.  Weird.

Finally I entered the portal again and came out into a desolate snowy waste with dead trees and over cast with clouds.  It began to snow a little, which added some sound.  There was very little, and this took away most of the fun of the game at this point.  I went around and there was very little of interest, so I looked for the totems again.  I couldn’t tell if it was night or day, since the sky was blocked out.  I felt claustrophobic too, and wanted to get above the low-hanging clouds.  When I found them, the totems were emanating a weird chanting noise.  Suddenly I began to float upward.  The chanting got louder.  I saw the mountains, a huge fucking tree I found earlier and went to those landmarks, but I kept moving upward.  A couple falling stars whished past me as I drifted up and up toward the moon.  Finally my eyes began to close slowly until the screen was black.  And the title screen slowly loaded up.

I have to assume this game is some kind of weird analogy for life, you start off fresh and new and everything seems to be in a state of springtime.  You step into the portal and time whooshes by and then it is summer.  Summer is full of more weird shit, there are some bees and the sun is pulsating hotly.  Step into the portal again and it is autumn, the world is full of trees dropping leaves and death.  There are spirits and ghosts and I even found a graveyard.  Step in again and the world is dead.  You find the place of passage and you pass through the clouds, out of sight and into the heavens.  Yay, fun.  I wish I had dropped acid or ate some ‘shrooms.  Might have made the game that much more enthralling.  Of course, I would be the fucker to find the only way to fucking die in a game about looking around and listening to everything.  If you want to play this game, it is available on Steam for 3.99$ due to the Steam Summer Sale.

It is hard for me to recommend that anyone else buy this game.  I liked it, it definitely made me feel something different.  But this is not something for standard gamers to buy.  It is weird and experiential.  You will find things in here that are neat and fun.  Everyone will feel something about this game, whether it be hatred or ecstasy, but to say it is a good game would be a vast overstatement.  Art is to be looked at, enjoyed and explored, and with more than just a few key clicks.  Don’t buy this game if you are looking for a fun little game to waste some time with.  This is not that.  It is more like a visual and auditory vacation from everything else that leaves you on one side of a massive wall or the other.  Do not buy this as a game, buy it as a piece of art, for it is to be enjoyed lightly, perhaps over a pipe of some strong weed.

Whooshy comets go whoosh!

Whooshy comets go whoosh!

In a game with music and bizarre visuals where I always had one eye-brow quirked, I still found something to be angry about.  And that is the fucking reviews on Steam.  Seriously!  It is like everyone is taking some fantastic drugs and loading this baby up!  Everyone seems to agree this is a game you come into just to wander around and enjoy being away for a while.  You get sent to a pristine island of singing things and happy-happy times!  Not to mention, this game has better scores than games that work harder and give you more.  But I have another theory!  This game is actually the waiting room that demented gods send their human sacrifices through! Each day in game is how long it takes in the real world for them to send another one through.  And at night you are sent to the next level of this insane purgatory!  Finally at the end, you are so bored out of your mind that you are happy to let the world melt away and drift into the air to be consumed – mind, body, spirit – by your god(s).  Take that, you hippy-ass art-as-experience pricks.

Unbridled Shenanigans in the Dungeons of Dredmor

dredlogoIn anticipation of Steampunk Empires by the same developer as this title, I decided to give another dungeon run, for old-time’s sake.  Dungeons of Dredmor is another game that I wish existed when I was a kid.  In a way, this game did exist when I was a kid, but this is a modern reincarnation of those games it takes after whose places it takes over.  Surely, it couldn’t have existed when I was younger considering many of the elements of what makes this game fun, but that is ok.  We have it now, so let the shenanigans begin!

Take Zork: Grand Inquisitor, Diablo, a dash of Lovecraft, and the combined shenanigans of Ghostbusters, Firefly, Monty Python and you are still only getting started.  Dungeons of Dredmor is a pixelated masterpiece that splices click-to-kill dungeoneering with the humor of a by-gone era.  Then they add in all kinds of fun and exciting features that make this a game you are sure to play for hours on end.  Its pixel graphics and isometric view allow this title to have the complexity of gameplay that make it one of my top “do not uninstall” games.  Its procedural dungeon designs, loot and enemies also make it fun in a way that only slaughtering hordes of monsters in a dark, dank dungeon can deliver.

When you start you make your character, and the options to do so are pretty mind-boggling.  The three standard types of character are there: Mage, Rogue and Warrior.  But every character you create will be a combination of all three, whatever the division of powers.  As you level up, this division will fluctuate between the classes.  There are 45 skills that you have to choose from at the start, after you iron out your difficulty setting.  These range from polearms, shields and wand lore to archaeology, mathemagic and emomancy.  I wish I had time to talk about all them, but I don’t.  My favorite combination so far starts me off as a rogue that drives toward a magician as he levels.  When you select your skills, you have to pick apart the grand list of 45 fucking abilities and whittle it down to your 7 favorite.  At first you might pick all the neat ones, but that will get you killed.  You might avoid crafting, but that will also get you killed.  My favorite combination so far is definitely Staff-fighting, wand lore, fungal arts, alchemy, tinkering, rogue scientist and archaeology.

I like this combo because the abilities cooperate well.  First off, I just like the staves.  They tend to add defense and crushing, so it makes for a fun fight, if they get close.  My main skill is wand lore.  This is a tough one to focus on, though, because you will find yourself out of wand parts (and inventory space) by the 3rd level.  So, you will need something to back yourself up when enemies close in.  Fungal arts and alchemy work together well as alchemy lets you draw resources from various fungi that you cultivate on the bodies of the dead.  This gets you a number of good secondary weapons right at the start.  Tinkering is good, even if only for the bombs you can create.  These fuckers will take out an entire room, and there are mines too, if that is what you’re into.  Rogue scientist is a steampunk mish-mosh of tinkering, wand lore and alchemy that gives you some good hold-out moves and catches the bonuses of those three disciplines and lets you benefit from them.  Archaeology is a good way to get some miscellaneous experience.  Killing monsters is good and well, but I am not looking to be that guy that is grinding his ass off to get to a place where he can fight further down.  To put it into perspective, using Archaeology I have gotten to level 9 and I just started floor 3.  Yea.

These skills extrapolate out to the character’s 28 stats.  Yea, 28.  So, you can see how diverse in abilities you can make your character.  My character is a rogue-based wizard, essentially, and as such has remarkable dodge and counter-strike.  He also critical hits and gets haywire hits (magical crits) on a regular basis.  Of course if he gets hit, he dies fast, but I can make life potions, cultivate healing shrooms and there is also food as a final fall back.  I don’t like to let enemies get close enough to need fight hand-to-hand.  But when I do, I beat them with a big fucking stick.  Literally.  That is what the animation looks like and I love it.  Only thing about that I take issue with is I feel there should be a more face-crunching sound effect, you know?

levelup1

… will it keep me safe?

Once you get down to the dungeons you will notice that there is a vast variety of enemies from diggles and undead aethernauts to evil vegetables and flying, spell-casting skulls.  It is mind-boggling all the foes you will flay, but it never gets old.  Especially when you hit the zoos.  These are rooms filled wall-to-wall with enemies.  They could be as small as a former monster-collector’s personal burial chamber or as vast as ancient cisterns.  In the end, you will shit yourself when you bust the door down and pray you have some good AoE attacks.  For me I blast them with my acid wands, save up my Odious Puffballs and toss in a couple acid flasks.  Mosolov Cocktails in this game (basically molotov cocktails) also leaving a lingering fireball that other enemies walk through.  Bombs will also help out and kill giant holes in the crowd, but it is seriously just a monster convention in there.  IF you successfully complete the zoo without dying, you will receive a powerful loot item, too.

Each floor has its own theme, too, but you will always see the diggles.  These little rubber-nosed bird-creatures are omnipresent in the dungeons, so Dredmor must’ve personally subsidized them.  Either that or they breed like cockroaches and act like subterranean pigeons, infiltrating every crack and crevice they can find and reproducing like dirty, little, drill-nosed rabbits.  Dredmor, in case I forgot to mention him, is the ultimate boss of the dungeons.  I think I am supposed to kill him at the end, but I haven’t seen that guy yet.  When the game first came out, you had to beat the game before you could load after death. Yep.  So when you died, the game would delete all your save files for a specific character.  It was infuriating, but the rush after getting to the lower floors was unparalleled.  Today I was able to play after dying once, so either the DLC that was released allowed me this feature, or I beat down to a level where I could unlock said feature.

Who ordered the large anchovy pizza?  Was it you Greg? You fucking DICK! We all agreed on pepperoni!

Who ordered the large anchovy pizza? Was it you Greg? You fucking DICK! We all agreed on pepperoni!

This game references almost every facet of popular sub-culture that it will make your head spin.  It has more video-game/movie references than every season of Big Bang Theory and Family Guy combined, past present and future.  There are Zelda and Braid jokes, Dragon Ball Z get one in, Firefly quotes echo through the dungoens, skill trees mimic the life and times of Indiana Jones, stats are named after Pirates of the Carribbean slang and I swear there are Monty Python jokes lingering around each corner.  You spend your days counting Zorkmids and you character’s portrait even decays exactly as in the original Wolfenstein 3d at the same levels of health degredation.  Conan the barbarian, emos, vegans: you name it.  It’s fucking in there.  There are also a number of puns that mostly only the British should get, but they’re obvious enough to be funny to us Yanks, too.  Overall, this game’s treatment of sub-culture and popular culture references are so far-reaching, expansive and awesome that this really is a gamer-culture work of art.  Every time I play, I find more references and jokes, too.  It is truly remarkable.

Then there are the little things that fill in the corners of this piece quite nicely.  Everything else is procedurally generated, why not the side-quests?  You pray at the shrine of Inconsequentia, the Goddess of Side-Quests.  Place your weapons on the Anvil of Krong for nice upgraded loot items.  Gallivant through the hordes of monsters wearing a roadcone and liederhosen.  I can’t say anything comedic.  I don’t need to.  This game is hilarious as hell all on its own.  Play through this title and you will be equal parts amazed, entertained and pissed that you missed so much free time indoors.  Buy Dungeons of Dredmor complete on Steam now for the summer sale!  That shit only runs you 2.93$ for the DLC that isn’t fucking free!  Just go get it.  This is one that you’ll be glad you bought.

Among all the games I have played so far, this one shines on top of the pile like a star, but it still has its rough spots.  What is it this time?  I played this game for FOUR FUCKING HOURS and only got to the 3rd floor.  You have to be ready to commit a good weekend to this game just to get far enough to even fucking smell Dredmor!  I have owned this title for literal goddamn YEARS and I have played it on and off and never ONCE saw the guy.  That fucking perma-death element went a long way toward keeping me away, but now that I can reload after death, I should be able to get that bastard.  Of course now I feel like a piece of shit that can’t hack the lower dungeons without dying once!  And what did I get killed by in my last play on that deep, dark level in an alternate dimension? Hmmm?  A GODDAMNED BUFFED-OUT DIGGLE!  The mickey-mousey comedic enemy of the ENTIRE FUCKING GAME!  You have no idea how hard and loud I raged.  I was in the army at that point and my roommates thought I was giving birth to a fucking watermelon out my ass.  AGH! Whatever, I am killing me some fucking buff-assed diggles this time.  Ain’t nothing gonna stop my fungus-eating, stick wielding, wand-sliging Titus Cezarius!

I have never felt more satisfied in this game than the first time I saw this screen, shaking and drenched with the blood of my enemies.

I have never felt more satisfied in this game than the first time I saw this screen, shaking and drenched with the blood of my enemies.