Make No Wonder is a pleasant little game of exploration and crafting, set in a wilderness seemingly patterned on the developer's home of Newfoundland. You start with a handful of resources -- enough with which to build a campsite -- and others are scattered about the map, which is obscured except for the immediately surrounding area.
Quite a lot of different things can be crafted, but recipes are revealed only when you have the necessary resources Discovering them is part of what makes the game interesting, of course -- exploration not only of the map, but of the parameters of the system.
The Wager reminds me a bit of Strange Adventures in Infinite Space, Digital Eel's excellent game of space exploration. In The Wager, however, you are exploring an archipelago in a sailing ship, rather than a stellar arm in a starship. The basic dynamic is similar, however; you encounter things that earn you money, and must earn enough by the end of the game or you lose. In Strange Adventures, this is because you are in debt; in The Wager, there's supposedly another adventurer doing the same as you, and you must discover more valuable stuff than he. (This is entirely notional, however, since you never encounter an island and are told that someone else got there first.)
It has a pleasingly retro look, like a DOS game from the late 80s in EGA graphics, and the occasional little narrative bits are entertaining. Indeed, I could easily see this game being a commercial hit in 1988 or so. Mild fun, but not bad, particularly for a game originally done in 72 hours for a Ludum Dare (though expanded a bit afterward).
Submitted by TheDustin on Thu, 02/10/2011 - 19:51.
Huh, that picture looks pretty terrible. My little brother could draw better than that, and he's legally blind, arthritic, and also a tad dead. Aw, that Dustin artfag is reviewing again? Figures. He'll no doubt jabber on about how this little shitty platformer is "so fucking punk" because the author put absolutely zero effort into it. I'll humor him though, just so I'll have ammunition to say something snarky in the comment section.
Just as I figured. This game blows. The jump is floaty as hell, don't these punkfags play Mario? Whoo, I can shoot with "X". These spastic NPC's don't shoot back, he'll probably spout some bullshit about how it's "telling of the medium that when players are given the choice between violence and inaction, they will inevitably choose violence". Big fuckin' whoop.
Fuck. I game overed. Stupid controls. Restart.
Do you know what, fuck this game. I'll just leap off the first platform and end this pitif... woah, what's this dot for?Secret area, huh? Nifty. I guess I'll have to scope out the rest of the review below the fold.
Think of this as a hi-Rez, lofi take on You Have To Burn The Rope, but then don't, because the title is most likely just a way of being as minimal as possible while side-stepping all the commentators from shouting "not a game!"
It's better to feel of it than think of it.
You explore a space that seems like it should be illogical, Zork-style, but is actually quite logical. The use of shaders distorts your depth perception so that you almost expect to be deceived. A white noise cascade building based on your proximity to the game's spheric playground layers the expected warp with a sense of apprehension, which you summarily conquer through the usual hunter skills, now lost in space. It strikes a good balance of that passive, floaty, "this is so art, I'm like, immersed maaan" feeling that many art games of the 3d variety endow, and an active sense of accomplishment associated with quality in traditional game design. One wonders if these malicious, jagged vertices were hand-crafted by Increpare or concocted by some kind of chilling algorithm, or if he perhaps laid ground-work procedurally and then went into the code and manually tweaked an integer here, and integer there, to imbue it with a chronic sense of psychosystematic malignancy.
Not wanting to find out, I found the artifacts and breathlessly scrambled to get the hell out of there.
Submitted by sebastian sohn on Thu, 09/23/2010 - 01:25.
Ancient Trader is a casual pick-up-and-deliver game on the high seas. It is one of the many modern interpretation of the 80's classic Apple ][ game, Taipan. You and three other (AI) players are captains of trading ships and your goal is find the three mystical items that are scattered throughout the various undiscovered ports, with which you will locate and and beat the boss sea monster. The one that beats the boss is the winner.
You manage your shipping and exploration operations with one sailing ship with basic attributes. You can upgrade your ship to move more spaces per turn, increase cargo capacity, or improve your combat prowess. Your primary source of financing upgrades is arbitrage. You find a port that offers a low price in one of the three commodities: fruit, tea, or spice, buy them then sell them at another port that at a higher price. Once you find a few good ports you will get tempted to "gold farm" by repeatedly trading between few those ports only to upgrade your ships rather than exploring new ports. This can cost you the game because you must balance exploration and upgrades. You need to find the find the three mystical items: book, compass, and sextant to locate and defeat the boss. Furthermore, you have three different types of weapons, and thus you must visit multiple ports to upgrade weapons. Having upgraded weapons is mandatory to the beat the boss and keep other players and minor sea monsters at bay.
What I like about Ancient Trader is the fine balance it has. Trading is a breeze because the commodity prices are shown on the map next to the port, hence you do not have take notes on the prices because they do not change and are always visible. I like trading but I do not like it when it gets repetitive. Over-trading is not an issue because there is immense time pressure from the AI players -- a race to beat the boss, hence there is no time for gold farming. One must balance between the intermediate goals of having a faster, stronger, or larger (cargo bay) ship and then balance those goals to the long-term goals: find the three artifacts and upgrade the weapons to fight the boss.
I found this game to be a good casual game, easy to pick up and and play. Even the combat system is simple; it is rock-paper-scissors with modifiers. I kept playing Ancient Trader because the choices were meaningful and I wanted to find better ways to reach my goals. I recommend this game, especially if you have an Xbox 360 because it is a great multiplayer strategy game that anyone can play. The icing on this cake is the art — it is gorgeous.
I wonder how selling short could be implemented in these pick-up-and-deliver type of games. In the real world financial markets, you can do a reverse transaction called shorting - selling high of borrowed oranges then buying the oranges back at a lower price to return the borrowed oranges. The price difference between the selling and repurchase price would be your profit.
This is going to be the shortest review I've ever done.
Cactus is beyond a genius. You can't fully appreciate it unless you either play this on 'shrooms during a blizzard or decompile it and realize that it's just 2D sprites with shaders and layering tricks that are systematically deranging your senses. There is a way to win but there are many more ways to lose yourself against the pall of infinity, and I recommend you do so. It's easier than going to Peru and drinking Ayahuasca with the shamans, and much more Scandanavian.
Submitted by TheDustin on Wed, 03/10/2010 - 10:07.
Anna Anthropy continues her degradation into commercial work --which began with the tightly-crafted squealer When Pigs Fly -- and I couldn't be happier. With her latest release she moves away from the masochism she's infamous for and instead weaves a tale of a lone space traveler. It's, dare I say it, actually pretty charming. While the lack of bondage is suprising her knack for marvelous game design (which is apparent in her earlier games and level design lessons) is still intact. Selling out hasn't been this well-crafted or fun.
Where has a title that reminds one of some extremely obsequious attempt at being avant-garde, it particularly reminds me of Crispin Glover's What Is It?, a film with a lot of mists where he wears Elizabethan garb and worships ennobled people with Down syndrome. Inel's title is more accessible than that, it's fundamentally a maze game with a quadra-partite level design scheme, each of the four corners of the maze allows you to access the congruent corner of one of three other mazes. The aesthetics utilize powerful lighting and procedural animation to give the game a sense of ambient cloud, bathed in varying depths of light, with a maze made up of trans-physical tiles that can be reshuffled by the vacuum like a deck of Mahjong tiles. It evokes the same kind of feelings one can get for paid cash from titles like Flower, but there's a certain simplicity here that bears note.
This game is fresher than a Snapple, do you remember Snapple? It was in tight competition with Lipton Brisk. This game is brisker than a cute animal wielding a bazooka, who must be brisk lest he take too much risk.
We've already established that retro is a sort of cancerous fetish and/or celebratory exercise in practical limitations, it's one or the other, or both. We've seen retro sweep over the platformer genre like a plague of locusts, devouring every possible variation on physics, level design, goal-orientation, character development, and aesthetic. The term Metroidvania has been viciously defiled, mutilated strung upside down in a mock crucifixion. Now Zelda-style games are being descended upon, we can only expect a skeleton to remain in the wake. But for now, it's time to feast!
Submitted by TheDustin on Wed, 11/04/2009 - 23:14.
Minimalism. This game embodies the idea. From impressionistic graphics to a streamlined verbset of move and jump, this game does away with all unnecessary aspects of design and lets its superb ambiance and atmosphere shine through. I want to say La Monte Young would be proud, but the lush orchestral pieces probably wouldn't be to his liking. I dig them though. I dig this game, and you should play it.
Journey is a charming Japanese dojin game in which you play a pith-helmeted archaeologist attempting to recover all artifacts from a particular underground complex. It's not particularly challenging, at least for experienced platform players, but it is cute, and there is a bit of puzzle-solving involved in figuring out connections between areas of the game world.
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