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strawdonkey

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  1. 41. Sorry, James Had this on my wishlist for ages, and was gifted it as part of RLLMUK Secret Santa in 2020. Which, if you've never participated in before, you totally should because it's the best. I went into this game expecting an atmospheric narrative-driven adventure, with puzzle bits; instead it's mainly a sequence of puzzles with a bunch of narrative on the side. You're given a pile of encrypted files as part of your job and have to decrypt them by completing puzzles which, as a very lazy comparison, are a little bit Picross - you get to place white and black cubes in spaces on a playfield, and have to make the pre-placed blocks connect to a specific number of blocks that share its colour along its horizontal and vertical axis. As with most puzzles, it's a big nightmare to explain in the abstract so it's much easier to provide a picture of one of the later levels: Each file contains conversations between "Eliza" and someone who is not the person they originally intended to speak to, and then you are expected to unravel the story from reading these snippets. The not-Eliza part of the conversations remain garbled unless you complete the puzzles to decrypt it at the first time of asking with no mistakes, which is alarmingly difficult as soon as the puzzles get even remotely complex. I usually found that I'd be able to fill 95% of the puzzle in without too many issues (though not up to the exacting standads of the perfect decryption) and then just have to take stock and fiddle around with the last bits to get the puzzle solved. Even after finishing there's a ton of unanswered questions, and the writing is either translated slightly wonkily, or it could be deliberately slightly unnatural and stilted. There's what feels like a brilliant moment at the end of the first section of the game where Eliza, out of nowhere, goes "These conversations creep me out" following several messsages' worth of explicit content. And then, after that, it's back to chatting as if nothing had happened, which suggests it's not a plot point at all. There's also a few bits of ARG-like elements to the game, including not being given your login details in-game and having to visit the Steam page to get them Still - the puzzles are great, the atmosphere and music are great and even if the writing doesn't quite hit the mark there's still a ton of intrigue in the game. Did I mention that the messages are private and you're not meant to read them? Oops
  2. I'm sure I played a bit of this on mobile when it first released a few years ago. It seemed alright - extremely similar to Hearthstone mechanically.
  3. 40. The Adventures of Elena Temple Saw a friend talking about this and that they'd had a lot of fun playing it, so grabbed it in a sale for something like 50p. It's an old-school platformer with a paper-thin story about how it was released on a huge number of failed systems but gained cult popularity after being included in an emulator collection. Sadly the story and the variety of systems you can play the game on don't have any meaningful impact on the game, which is a shame as it'd have been fun to have to switch to a different version to tackle a particular puzzle/etc. It's a short single-screen platformer in which every screen is its own little puzzle. You need to escape from the tomb you've fallen into, and to do so have to explore and collect coins and gems, and can't escape until you've collected a majority of them - which means you have to solve a bunch of the mini-puzzles, which usually involve plotting a route around each screen and using your gun to kill enemies/break vases (which often contain coins) and factoring in the collection of ammo pickups, since your gun can only hold two bullets and you can't hold any reserve ammo. The platforming and design is old-school in design but not quite as frustrating as the games it apes. There's little things like the fact your character sprite is exactly as tall as the corridors they walk through, and the platforming areas where you have to traverse areas with a lot of spikes above you, that require you to plot a less direct route in order to make sure you don't jump into the spikes. It's almost refreshingly old-school rather than frustratingly old-school. It took me an hour to get through it with nearly all the treasure, and that involved a fair amount of backtracking because I was originally not bothering to pick up all the coins as I went, until I found the guy that wouldn't let me past until I had 99
  4. 38. Princess Remedy In A World Of Hurt 39. Glittermitten Grove Princess Remedy is yet another Steam "Overwhelmingly Positive" discovery - and it's free! It's reminiscent of a ZX Spectrum game in design, though kind of more how you remember them rather than how they were - the colour clash is absent, it runs smoothly and looks great. You play as Princess Remedy, a "healer" who comes to the surface like an angel to heal the ailments of the populace - ailments that include forgetting their name, having too many legs or only being five years old (and upon successfully healing that person, they proudly exclaim that they are now six). Healing is achieved by shooting enemies until they're all gone, like a twin-stick shooter without the right stick. It's short, full of tiny and stupid gags and if you're that way inclined there are hard and master modes which are extremely difficult. I got through about 25% of the game on Master before having to give up due to the skill level required being way too high! -- Glittermitten Grove is a fairy-resource-management simulator where all your fairies leave every fucking winter becuase you've run out of food. Eventually when exploring you'll find a mysterious door and behind it is the start of Frog Fractions 2, manifested as a mix of ZZT and Dark Souls where everything is weird and people leave messages about butts on the floor. I won't go into any more detail because it's one of those games where experiencing it is a huge part of the joy, but I had a great time trying to figure out exactly what on earth was happening, and despite being ridiculous throughout there is an enormous amount of brilliant design choices that will really reasonate if you too have made the life choice to play lots of videogames rather than doing something useful with your time. That said I think I preferred the first one. That's also free on Steam and I'd definitely recommend giving it a crack: https://store.steampowered.com/app/1194840/Frog_Fractions_Game_of_the_Decade_Edition/
  5. 37. Sayonara Wild Hearts Bought this on launch, played each level to completion once, got frustrated because the rhythm action bits felt like they were off-time and didn't touch it again. I love rhythm-action games so everything feeling a bit "off" really put me off at the time. Came back to it to see what I was missing and had a 180 of opinion on it - got all the gold ranks and had a great time. It's been so much better second time around - getting used to the timings and learning the stages so that it's not just an endless cycle of restarting, and being able to get through the tracks in one go is a hurdle that you have to get over before the game really opens up and starts being more enjoyable and less frustrating. Looking forward to trying the mode where you play the whole game in one go; not going anywhere near the mode where you play the whole game in one go with just one life
  6. 36. Forza Horizon 4 I'd been really looking forward to playing Forza Horizon 4 after hearing so many good things about it. It's my first Forza Horizon bar a few hours on FH2 and there's tons to love - it looks great, it feels like there's an unlimited number of cars available, the handling model is good, and yet I found myself getting really annoyed at the game each time I played. The main thing that I found extremely annoying was that nearly every time something gets added to the map - and this happens a lot - there are unskippable voice clips that play. This wouldn't be a problem if you could still look around the map/use the other menus/drive while these were playing, but instead it removes all control from the player for the duration of whatever comment is being read out at the time. The script is not so good either. Similarly the game likes to throw unskippable cutscenes at you, and even DLC adverts which were probably the most maddening. I've no idea if that happens in the non-Game Pass version of the game. Add to that the giant loading times - sometimes opening the pause menu alone can take five seconds, let alone restarting an event or switching car. I am playing on an XBox One and understand these aren't issues on Series S/X devices though, which would definitely smooth things over significantly. The other issue was that for a game which mainly relies on point-to-point traversal, doing that quickly becomes not much fun as soon as you unlock a fast car. Staying on the track is optional, which is funny the first few times you plough through a low wall and across a river instead of making the turn as planned, but traversal of places I wasn't familiar with quickly became an exercise in enormous property damage and rewinding a lot. The main traversal problem I had though was the NPC traffic, which serves only to make the traversal more annoying as you can't possibly hope to see it coming at 180mph, and serves to ruin your race runs by being in the way all the time. The Sat Nav/driving line also can't decide whether it wants you to drive on the left at all times and take corners at a responsible speed, or just gun it, which can be confusing on such a large map. The problem is clearly me rather than Forza - other than the unskippable stuff, all the problems I had with the game are deliberate design choices and part of the Horizon games' DNA. I've still had a great time playing it, and the events that are more than just driving from point A to point B such as the showcases and the Top Gear missions are superb. Outside of that it's a map with infinite icons, and no clear way to progress other than Doing All The Things. Hearing London Elektricity and Chris Goss on Hospital Records Radio talking about level 4 of the cross country series where only the best of the best are invited is fun; having no way to progress that other than doing more driving was a bit annoying (and there seem to be 25 levels of these so who knows what the calibre of opponent will be if they're all monsters at level 4). I made it on to the Horizon Roster, did a few more events and gave up; I expect it would be more fun if I was playing with friends or had fewer other things I wanted to play as well. I've downloaded Forza Motorsport 7 and am hoping that provides the more focused and less frustrating experience I wanted from this. I will miss the off-roading stuff though.
  7. 35a. The rest of the Cube Escape Collection games As with Seasons, can't really say much without spoiling the plot (which sort of makes sense but also is completely bonkers), or the puzzles (which are usually really good, albeit I did have to use a guide a couple of times, usually to find that I was doing the right thing but slightly in the wrong fashion). If you like room escapes and/or old point and click adventure games, this will be right up your street. My only real complaint is that even after nine individual games, the plot is still left on a cliffhanger; it would have been nice to have everything wrapped up in the one collection, but looking on Steam there's about four or five more games so time for a bit more investigation. Maybe the next piece of the puzzle is figuring out what game to play next. It's only four quid at full price too. https://store.steampowered.com/app/1292940/Cube_Escape_Collection/
  8. I did, it was really good (but probably not an ideal first Persona game).
  9. Are any of them classics? I'm tempted.
  10. 34. What Remains of Edith Finch 35. Cube Escape: Seasons I've been meaning to get round to What Remains of Edith Finch for years and I'm kind of kicking myself that I didn't play it sooner. It constantly teeters on the edge of scarcely believable. Everything about the world feels like it's hanging by a thread, about to crumble and yet as you make your way through the house everything just keeps juddering on. The fact it's playable and you get to take in the house at your own pace felt like a real strength to me - there's something about taking scenes in for as little or as long as you need to that feels like a real strength of the "I guess this is a game?" genre. My partner came in halfway through me playing it and I was completely unable to explain what had happened prior in a way that made it sound remotely engaging or sane, and I think part of that is down to the incidentals that you get from playing (though I'm probably awful at explaining things too). The storytelling is wonderful and the voice actor for Edith is absolutely superb. -- The Cube Escape games were apparently once free Flash games and they still feel like it. Seasons is a multi-part room escape with some really clever and inventive ideas, and I can't go into detail about any of them as they're all massive spoilers. Very surreal and slightly unnerving. Picked up the Cube Escape Collection on Steam for a pound or two in the last sale so am looking forward to getting through a few more of them.
  11. I bought this around launch and had an amazing time with it - short enough to be really replayable and had a lot of fun lowering my completion times.
  12. 33. World End Economica: Episode 2 Like hte first episode, not a decision in sight, but directly follows on from the first game and then just stops at a cliffhanger meaning you have to buy the third bit becuase the place it ends is extremly unsatisfying Jokes aside I've really enjoyed the constant melodrama mixed with mild education about the stock market and I'm invested enough in finishing the story that I'll likely pick up the final chapter at full-price rather than wait for a sale to save a fiver.
  13. One go through on the demo was enough to make me very excited for this. The microgame where it had me was simple and brilliant.
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