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Steam's Potato Sack Part 1

Steam's Potato Sack Part 1

  08:13:53 pm, by   , 784 words  
Viewed 13653 times since 03/04/11
Categories: Games

Yes, it's another post that mentions Steam, but on the other hand it's a post that isn't about Skyrim, so give me a break here.

Steam has become the standard for the online purchasing of games, much as Amazon has become the standard for the online purchasing of books. The reason is that it works, you get what you want, and - critically - it's often cheaper. This post is entirely about something that happened out of an attempt at buying some cheap games. Just remember that I'm not employed by Valve, and am in fact the one person on the planet that didn't think Half Life 1 and 2 were perfect games. Personally I found them a bit dull. Anyway.

Steam had a sale over this weekend. It offered 13 "Indie" games in a deal where you could buy the lot for 75% off. In terms of pieces of paper with Her Majesty on them, this meant a total price tag of £108.87 was taken down to just £27.22 so I went for it. The main reason I did this was that the deal included "Amnesia: The Dark Descent", which is something I've wanted to play, so I thought it was a good idea to, essentially, buy that for full price and get 12 free games. I've wanted to play that one since Yahtzee's review, a review he followed up by giving the game fourth place in his game of the year list. No, I'm not turning into a Yahtzee fanboi, but I loved Saints Row II after I bought it on the strength of his review, so I'm giving another one a chance.

Let's pick three of these games at random and talk about those, then I'll end up with a proper look at Amnesia, since it's the one I bought the set for.

AaAaAA!!! - A Reckless Disregard for Gravity
This is the worse game I've ever played in my life. The idea is that you jump off some structure and have to freefall past weird, free-floating buildings before landing in a designated area. You earn bonus points by "hugging" buildings (flying near them) or "kissing" them (gently bumping them). Basically, it's a flying game where you have to imagine you're falling rather than moving forward, and it's simply not fun. Why is flying close to a building fun? Why should I bump into it? Garbage. Don't bother with this one. No, seriously, it's crap.

The Ball
While loading, the game proudly tells you it's based on the Unreal Engine. It could be the original version for all I can tell, because the graphics are pretty basic for this day and age. However, the idea is fairly original in a sort of Portal-esque way. You've been stranded in a deep hole and find a weird glove that can either attract or repulse a huge Ball. That's... it. You have to use this ball to overcome the various hazards you will encounter during your escape from the hole. This might mean sending the Ball through lava, or over spikes - things you can't experience for yourself - or using it to smash down walls to access new areas.

Now usually I like this kind of game. I loved Portal, for instance. But the trouble is that once you've done the first few challenges, it's just more of the same. People remember Portal for the Cake meme, and forget that after the a while the game involved nothing more than trial and error because you were bored with it. Ditto this one. If you like logic puzzles then you'll probably love this.

Having just slagged off logic puzzles, you might be surprised to see me give a good write up to a game entirely about logic puzzles. Cogs has several different types of game, but they all involve you moving things around to allow MacGuffin X to move from A to B. This can involve moving cogs to allow motive power to be transmitted along a gear system; steam to be transmitted along pipes, and various other things. There are music challenges later, and I have to confess that I didn't reach those because I wanted to write this before going to bed. To unlock the later levels, you need stars (and it is always stars), and you get those by completing earlier challenges quickly and with few moves. This adds the crucial element of fighting against yourself - because even if you get stuck on a later level you can go back and improve your score on an earlier one.

I played this for only a few minutes, but already I love the steampunk look to the game, and I know I'll end up playing it right through.


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