Date: 10 September 2016
I am always a bit nervous about mobile games. So many of them are just cash cows and don't really have content. I read somewhere that this might not be that type of game, so I gave it a shot. First, I’ll address the good bits about the game. The graphics are actually decent for a mobile game. Battle animations are pretty cool (in the style of Final Fantasy). I can tell they adopted a lot of the animations from FFXIV, but a company can steal from itself, right? The combat system is decently complicated. It’s not really about luck, as you have to think carefully before acting.
Now, on to the negative points. There just is not a lot to the game. The majority of the content is dealing with your “cards”, which seems to be a feature of a lot of poorly conceived mobile games. The story is weak, and there are just too many menus and ways to deal with your cards. You really need a manual to get a handle on everything. There are also a lot of in-app purchases, though these are optional and you can play through the game without them. I am pretty sure I could get away with never paying, but I can see why people would want to. I would much rather pay $30 and get a full Final Fantasy game that happens to be on mobile, than a ‘skinned’ Final Fantasy-like mobile game. Also, no mobile game should send you notifications when you haven't played. It incessantly reminds you of its existence: “You haven't played in awhile. You really should come back and pay *cough* I mean play *cough* again”. In the end, it’s a mediocre time waster at best.
Date: 04 September 2016
Should I give this game a lower score? I'm torn. While the mythology is kind of fun, and I like the creativity with regard to the world-building, the puzzles are way too obtuse and glitches abound. Many of the puzzles in this game do not follow any sort of real logic. In addition, some really poor decisions went into their design. For instance, in one 'age', you literally have to stand in one spot for 15 real time minutes until something is triggered. It's asinine. I clipped into the floor many times, particularly when trying to get out of the water. Oh...the water. There's one puzzle in which you have to swim against the current in order to reach an island. You have to be very specific when selecting your entry point and angle, otherwise you end up floating away from the target and have to spend about five minutes (not exaggerating) to make another attempt.
It's a game that perhaps never should have been made and certainly is a love letter to fans of Myst rather than a sensible title in its own right. I like the extension of the Myst mythology and perhaps spent far longer on this game than I should have as a result. However, sometimes it's time to hang up your hat and play something else in the backlog.
Date: 03 September 2016
Obduction is the latest game from Cyan, which made Myst and Riven in the 1990s. What's nice about Obduction is that it feels like its own game and isn't necessarily dependent upon the legacy of those 'classics'. There are a lot of subtle nods to the previous games, but nothing about those references makes the game inaccessible to someone who either didn't play or did not like Myst, Riven, etc. Certain sound effects, environmental items and the use of FMVs act as little easter eggs to those who have played the other games.
Obduction is a puzzle-adventure game, meaning that the story unfolds as you open up more of the environment and interact with its features. The graphics are unnoticable, which I guess suggests that they're good, as I felt immersed in the world. The system spec requirements are a bit ridiculous, though. With greater optimisation, I feel that they might have done a better job getting the game to run nicely on more modest setups. The puzzles are logical and not necessarily infuriating in the way that some of the more obtuse puzzles of Riven were. Still, there are a couple of times where there are not enough substantial environmental clues to give you a clear idea how to progress. However, generally speaking, there is a great sense of satisfaction when you actually manage to crack a puzzle. The sense of discovery is pretty immense in this game.
The game's biggest problem, and it is one of both design and implementation, is that a few late-game puzzles are heavily reliant on going back and forth between environments and various nodes. I followed the developers' advice and installed the game on my SSD and the incessant loading times when "linking" to different areas was annoying even then, given that I had to do it so frequently. I can't imagine what it would be like to play the game off of an HDD. All in all, though, it's great fun. It's been a long time since I've sat down and played straight through a game (over a few days) without being distracted by something else. It might also have been down to the fact that I was without internet for a while, which provided the excuse I needed to focus solely on a single player experience like this one. Anyway, Obduction is totally worth your time and maybe consider picking it up when it's 25% off.
Date: 13 April 2016
XCOM is a fantastic turn-based strategy game, filled out with base-building, resource management, and research trees. It's difficult and unforgiving - the AI will punish every mistake - but proper planning can get your squad safely through any encounter. Among the few complaints are occasional glitches and late-game balance (with levelled-up soldiers and kit, missions become almost too easy). Overall it's a fun, challenging game that any strategy fan should play. I've just finished the game for the third time, and it has now surpassed Monaco as my most-played Steam title. On to playthrough number four...