Friday, August 30, 2013

Review: The Binding of Isaac

[caption id="attachment_1355" align="aligncenter" width="300"]the_binding_of_isaac_by_pixel_league-d54e2gp By Pixel-League on dA[/caption]

Isaac and his mother were happy until the day that Isaac's mother started hearing the voice of God. God told Isaac's mother he was corrupted, so she took away everything from him including his clothing. God told her that wasn't enough to save his soul, so she locked Isaac away in his room. Finally, God called on her to sacrifice Isaac, to show that she loved Him above all else. His mother's reply? "Yes, Lord."

The Binding of Isaac is based on the eponymous biblical story  of Abraham and his son Isaac where God asked Abraham to sacrifice his only son, but spared Isaac in the end because Abraham had been willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for Him. Unlike biblical Isaac, the Isaac in this game isn't about to stand for that. He escapes to the basement where he fights his way through various level of horrors. The player takes control of a naked, crying Isaac as he fights through the basement using his tears. Along the way, the player picks up various objects that usually help, though some hinder, Isaac's quest.

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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Tempest Plays The Binding of Isaac: Holy S#@%!


No pun intended on the title.

I just finished The Walking Dead Season One and its DLC 400 Days over the weekend, so I figured it was time to start on another new game. Well, another indie title, that is (even though I'm not quite sure if Telltale falls into the indie category). I've been playing various indie games around the "big titles" that I'm playing right now because I've managed to snag so many.

Usually, indie games are much shorter than the bigger titles I'm playing, or at least, that has mostly been my experience with them. The only indie game that I've played that took up a pretty good chunk of my time was Bastion. I'm not saying there aren't more out there that are lengthy. I'm just saying that I haven't encountered them, and I'm not opposed to encountering them. This method has been working out pretty well since I want to get my "to-be-played" stack under control.

I've sort of been going in alphabetical order through my PC "to-be-played" pile with priority being given to games that I really want to play right now. After completing Anna, The Binding of Isaac was up next. I'd actually been on the fence about this game for a long time until the Steam sale. I'd finally decided that I didn't need it when it went on sale. I'm weak against a Steam sale, so I snatched it up.

First, this game is a bit difficult, especially when paired with my lack of coordination where the controls are concerned. When I first died, I had no clue that I was starting from the beginning. I thought I was starting from the same level. You're not going to even believe how much I freaked out when I realized that wasn't the case. You die and start all the way from the beginning of the basement. However, it's not demoralizing enough to just start you all the way from the beginning. Oh no, they have to change the level on you every time you die. You can't "learn" a level because it's never the same if you die, even the boss can change.

It was that moment when I said: "F*** DYING!" and proceeded to die nine thousand more times after trying to be a bit more careful and strategic with my attacks. I had so many near wins, but near wins just aren't good enough, sadly. Why am I still playing if it's so difficult? I'm enjoying the challenge. Yeah, I've had some near rage quit moments, but nothing would be right in the world if I didn't rage at least once during any given game.

Besides, I like the fact that it keeps you on your toes, even if I do want to flip my computer at times because of it. I also started playing with my controller thanks to Joytokey, which has made the experience much, much better. I managed to get pretty far before calling it a night yesterday, I think, but there's still so much I need to do. I've only earned 13 out of the 80+ achievements the game has. I can see myself racking up some serious hours in this game.
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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Tempest Plays The Walking Dead Season One: Episode Two

Since I last posted about this, I've switched blogs and consoles. I started playing this game on my Xbox, but I've continued it on my PC. I made all the same choices in episode one of my PC game as I did in my Xbox game with one notable exception. I chose Doug for the different perspective. I do plan to finish my Xbox playthrough, where I'll probably continue down the road of very nice Lee. I'm not playing Lee to be a total jerk on PC, but I am making some "harsher" decisions on my PC playthrough that on my Xbox playthrough. Spoilers after the jump.

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Monday, August 26, 2013

Review: Anna Extended Edition


I have finally beaten Anna Extended Edition. Anna is a psychological horror set in the mountains with most of the "action" taking place in an abandoned sawmill. A college professor's mind is haunted by a woman he claims not to know. These hauntings lead him to the sawmill where he takes the first step in reclaiming memories lost.

Anna's story is told through visions, books, snippets of ghostly dialogue, letters, and various objects found in the abandoned sawmill. The story becomes very curious the further you venture in, if you stick it out. I liked the concept of the story even from the beginning, but it wasn't until I was nearing the end that the story really seemed to gain some steam. Even though I managed to get an ending where I learned the whole truth, parts of the story were still confusing or just not addressed. Some of those unexplained moments I felt added to the atmospherically creepy vibe this game had. Other moments just seemed to lack follow through and left me a little befuddled.

With the gameplay, I still think many of the game's puzzles are a game of chance rather than logic. The notebook provides great insight on things you need to do when the protagonist encounters information that he feels may be useful later in the game. On others, though, you're really just clicking around while hoping something happens. As I neared the end of the game, though, I felt like the puzzles did stop being less about chance and more logical.

Another element I liked, but feel was fundamentally flawed, was the "intuition" system they used which is something like questions and theories the protagonist has, but how it's supposed to be used isn't very clear. Honestly, I can actually see some players thinking you don't use them for anything at all. That is a very important part of the game that is probably the easiest to overlook. It's a part I would've overlooked if I hadn't stumbled on utilizing it.

In a surprising turn of events, I ended up liking Anna more than I thought I would by the end. That's not to say that I didn't still have extreme bouts of frustration with it, but sticking with it didn't turn out to be the terrible decision I feared it would be. Thankfully, it didn't crash on me again after I complained about that in my last post. That allowed me to immerse myself in the story more without worrying about if it was going to die if I even looked at it the wrong way. It may even turn out to be a game that I revisit one day with the intent to 100% it (I am 6 achievements away from that goal).
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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Tempest Plays Thomas Was Alone: But They're Jumping Blocks

Thomas Was Alone

Thanks to the Humble Bundle weekly sale, which has about 1 day left as of this writing, I was able to acquire this game along with a few other indie games for a few bucks. I'd been eyeing it for some time, but whenever I thought I'd take a chance on it, I'd back away slowly because I wasn't sure if I'd enjoy a game, even a platformer, about jumping blocks. Ten bucks isn't much money, but I'm a parent. I drive to work everyday. I pay bills. I have other interests. So, spending ten bucks on something I might not like is sort of a big deal to me when it could've gone to some other use. I've been doing my best to play more indie games lately, so these Humble Bundles and Steam sales have really been great for helping me to indulge that interest.

Thomas Was Alone is actually a very charming, engaging game. When I read the description about the game being about friendship, I said to myself: "But they're jumping blocks!" Now, I'm saying: "Emotions, what are you doing? This is absurd. These are jumping blocks that you're attaching my feelings to." It can't be helped, though. Danny Wallace's wonderfully expressive narrating has really brought this game alive for me along with the simplistic visuals, soothing music, and puzzle-oriented gameplay.  I always say that I'm only going to play ten minutes of this game, and before I know it, an hour has gone by and I'm still playing.

I may try this game with my oldest to see if he'll like it. I think he'll love the story, but I'm not so sure about the actual mechanics of the game since I typically try to stick to the PC games he can use a controller with. This might present a new way for him to challenge himself.

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VGM: Yesterday When I Was Mad (Jam & Spoon mix) from Lumines Electronic Symphony

Full version of Yesterday When I Was Mad (Jam & Spoon Mix) by Pet Shop Boys as heard in Lumines Electronic Symphony.
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DNF: McPixel


The DNF tag is where I dump all games that I stopped playing for whatever reason. Sometimes, I come back to them. Sometimes, I don't.

McPixel is an action puzzle game. You have twenty seconds to stop a bomb from blowing up in various situations. This game was part of the weekly Humble Bundle that included Botanicula, Thomas Was Alone, Amnesia : The Dark Descent, and The Showdown Effect. There was an option to download and play this game on Android devices, so given what I already knew about the game, I thought this would be great to play on my phone when I was short on time.

As much as I tried to like this, I just couldn't. I was so annoyed with it after about 10 levels that I wanted to throw my phone phone somewhere and forget that I'd ever heard of a McPixel. What did I hate? I don't know. It wasn't the graphics since I'm not a graphics snob, and it definitely had nothing to do with how crude it is. I'm just not sure what's to blame for this lack of interest in this game. I was just annoyed with it.

This will probably also go on my DNR list as well. DNR stands for "Do Not Resuscitate." It's where some of my unfinished games go to die.
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Monday, August 19, 2013

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Tempest Plays Anna Extended Edition: Frustrations, Frustrations, and More Frustrations


I'm a huge fan of horror movies, shows, and books, but I'm not much of a horror game fan for whatever reason. I'm not exactly sure why, but I tend to avoid most horror games, especially survival horror, but that's another story. If I'm going to play anything in the horror genre, I prefer that it be more in the style of a interactive fiction/puzzle rather than an action based game. That's not to say I haven't played and enjoyed more action based horror games. I have, but just not as much.

Anna seemed like it would fit my personal preference, but this has been one frustrating journey with this game for various reasons. To be fair, I'm still in the process of playing this game. As of this writing, I'm just now getting to the second floor of the cottage. I've already managed to unlock one of the endings for the game. I wanted to quit there and wash my hands of the game, but I pulled up my big girl panties and reloaded my last save. I want to give this game a fair chance, and I want to like this game. I do. I really, really do.

This constant crashing is my biggest complaint, and probably the reason I have so little patience for the other things that irk me about this game. There was a moment there on the first floor where I was freezing every couple of minutes to the point that I was almost in a blind rage. I am an intense person, and I have intense emotions about everything. When I say I was in a rage, I was in a RAGE. It would freeze when things were shifting in game. It would freeze if I moved the camera quickly. It would freeze if I breathed the wrong way. The fact that I was even able to stick that out is one step from amazing.

Next, what the heck is going on with these puzzles? I'm a big fan of puzzles and games that prominently feature puzzles. I could spend hours lost in a puzzle game. Anna's puzzles aren't difficult more so than there's very little clue about what you should do. It's not that I need a game to hold my hand while I try to figure out what to do, but so many of the puzzles are basically just a game of click and pray instead of a path of logical steps. I will say that some of the puzzles, the ones that did follow the logical reasoning path, were pretty brilliant such as the leaf puzzle (SPOILER ALERT), which has been my favorite so far.

It isn't all bad, though. Anna isn't so much of a scary game, but I say that as a longtime horror fan who is probably not as sensitive to certain elements of the genre. For me, the game is just atmospherically creepy, and there's nothing wrong with that. I enjoy it. There are a few cheap shock moments, but most of the events have been interesting more than scary.  The story, while a little broken in places, has an eerie vibe that continues to grow more curious as you unlock pieces of the story.

My main concern with the story, though, is that people might not understand what's going on if they're not reading the protagonist's journal. I'm not a fan of games relying on the journals/codex to tell the story. I always read them, and I know I shouldn't worry about other gamers not reading them. However, I'm one of those gamers that still feels like the story should be understandable through gameplay with or without the journal/codex.

Right now, I don't know if I really want to continue with this game or not. I'm stubborn and I hate starting games and not finishing them. I'd rather finish them, even if it takes me a million years to do it, but when I do quit something, you know it had to hit a point where I just couldn't do it anymore. With two games coming out this week that I've been anticipating, Anna might find itself on the back burner.

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Friday, August 16, 2013

VGM: Build That Wall from Bastion

Just finished my second playthrough of Bastion last night. That game has an amazing soundtrack. This is one of my favorite songs from the game. People who have played the game will recognize it as the song Zia sings in game.

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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Mom Approved Gaming: Bastion

I thought I'd highlight some games that I've been playing with my children that might not necessarily be considered "kids' games," but have been enjoyed by both my children and me. Also, I may talk about kids' games that have actually appealed to us (the adults) as well. For reference, I have a son and a daughter, age 7 and 4 respectively, as of this writing. Being that they live in a household with gamer parents, they're turning into mini-gamers themselves. We try to limit what they play to age-appropriate games, but obviously, there are some games aimed at older gamers that we feel they can handle. Bastion is one of these games.

I don't think I ever get tired of singing this game's praises. I purchased this a year or more ago during a Steam sale for a little over a dollar. This game was worth that and more. The story follows a silent protagonist known only as the Kid as he navigates through his devastated world after a cataclysmic event called the Calamity. He goes in search of supplies and survivors for Bastion, a safe-haven where survivors are supposed to meet up in case of events like the Calamity, while facing various beasts. The story is narrated by another survivor who sends the Kid in search of cores needed to power Bastion.

Kids will enjoy smashing and shooting things with the various weaponry in this game, and the cartoon-style graphics (beautiful hand-painted environments) make the world colorful and eye-catching. The game on normal isn't overly difficult, neither does it demand much skill, but there is a "no-sweat" mode that does away with the lives and just allows players to soldier on without restating an area if they die. The game supports a gaming pad (we used an Xbox controller in our case), which comes in handy since the WSAD can be a little tricky to maneuver for kids.

Warning: There are some mild references to smoking and alcohol drinking, but again, not so obvious that a child would know that's what's going on. The Kid can access past memories by clicking on an object that sort of resembles a hookah, and many of the Kid's passive abilities come in the form of spirits (alcohol). However, neither has the kid actually engaging in these activities on screen, and the spirit bottles will just look like ordinary bottles that kids might see in other games, and they'll possibly equate the bottles to other things. My daughter thinks the hookah pipe looks like a perfume bottle, and she thinks the kid is being knocked out by perfume. Also, since this is a bit of a beat-em-up type game, there is cartoon violence, but nothing overly extreme.

Depending on the age of your child and what you feel they can or can't handle, they may not get all the nuances in the story, but they'll be able to grasp the basic concept of what happened and what they're trying to accomplish in the game. While the story is heartbreaking, it's done in a way that doesn't make it overly graphic or too grim to handle even for younger kids. You may find your kid emotionally invested in the story and the Kid's plight as they help him shape this world and find out more about the events leading up to the Calamity.
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Monday, August 5, 2013

[Game Thoughts] Analogue: A Hate Story

Analogue: A Hate Story was one of those impulse buys during last year's Steam Summer Sale. While the screenshots didn't do much to inspire me, the premise seemed a bit interesting, and it was only a couple of dollars. So, I figured why not. If I didn't like the game, it would be no big deal since I bought it on sale. I'm pretty terrible about buying games on Steam and then forgetting about them. Recently, I said I was going to start cleaning out my catalog. Okay, this will be my second attempt at that. I said that last year, but then, Mass Effect 3 was released and with its release, all my ambitions were lost.

Analogue is more of a visual novel with the story being told in a non-linear fashion as the player unlocks more of the ship's logs. I was able to do two complete playthroughs in one sitting and unlock all the Steam achievements for it.The description of the game says that this is the story of a ship lost in space. In the 25th century, a ship was sent into space in hopes of creating an interstellar colony. The ship disappeared, but has finally been found 600 years later. It's only inhabitants are two AIs named *Hyun-ae and *Mute. The player can decide to explore what happened on that ship or do the simple assignment they've been tasked with and end the game.

I'm not going to say that description is misleading because it technically isn't, but this game ended up being an emotional rollercoaster of a ride that I wasn't really expecting. It's a very emotionally driven story that revolves around a "saying" found in the game: "Men are honored, women are abased." With that in mind, the treatment of the women in this story might be off-putting and disturbing for some gamers. This is intentional since it is a commentary on gender equality. Anyone who knows me knows that topics like that are very relevant to my interests. And yes, this (what happens with the women) is very important to what happened to the ship and its people, but I do advise caution for those who might be triggered.

I have two chief complaints with this.

This is more a sympathy complaint, but the console system can be a bit tricky. I can see where using the system might be confusing and frustrating for some players, even using the "help" command can be a little vague. This might cause many gamers to not fully experience the whole story as they'll complete the easiest objective and move on from the game unsatisfied. Personally, I thought it was fun to figure these things out, but I majored in Computer Science. I love tinkering with consoles.

Also, I think the art might make some think this story is sillier than it really is. Admittedly, I sort of felt that way about it and worried that I was going to get some gross story with the sexualized schoolgirl thing. I think that makes it easy to overlook or keep pushing to the backburner, which is unfortunate since this is a very thoughtful story.

Playing this now was apparently the perfect time since Hate Plus will be released on the 19th of this month. Also, the creator Christine Love sounds like someone to keep an eye on with her twitter bio stating: "I write games with too many words in them about women and queerness and technology. Please, let’s work hard together to make the world a cuter place!"
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This blog is a mishmash of thoughts, pictures, and rantings among other things about games I've played, games I will play, and games I am currently playing. From time to time, I may post book reviews that I've written that are about different games and/or game worlds. Feel free to recommend games or add me on the platforms I've listed. I don't do competitive multiplayer much anymore, but I'm always down for some co-op these days. I'm usually DigitalTempest everywhere unless otherwise specified.



PSN: DigitalTempest | XBL: DigitalTempest | Steam: DigitalTempest | Raptr: DigitalTempest

2016 Reading Challenge

2016 Reading Challenge
Tiara has read 6 books toward her goal of 52 books.

Tiara's bookshelf: currently-reading

The Elfstones Of Shannara
tagged: upcoming-reads, currently-reading, 2016-audiobook-challenge, classi...
Gardens of the Moon
tagged: currently-reading, fantasy, z-narrator-ralph-lister, 2016-audiobook...

Tiara's bookshelf: read

really liked it
Review to come.
tagged: 2016-star-wars-reading-challenge and 2016-audiobook-challenge
The Girl from the Well
liked it
More reviews @ The Bibliosanctum TL;DR Review 2.5 to 3 stars. Not badly written… I’m just disappointed by the squandered potential. I’m going to reread Anna Dressed in Blood to make myself feel better about this Longer Review: T...
tagged: 2016-women-of-genre-fiction-reading, horror, and young-adult
Thirteen Reasons Why
I don't think this quite captures the complexity of bullying and suicide, and some of the issues that Hannah started facing toward the end of the novel really seemed to detract even more from the feelings she was going through by having ...
tagged: young-adult, popsugar-2016-reading-challenge, 2016-audiobook-challe...
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
liked it
Spoiler free review to come.
tagged: 2016-star-wars-reading-challenge
The Phantom of the Opera
really liked it
tagged: classic-horror, classics, audiobook, 2016-audiobook-challenge, horr...

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