Designed by Kieron Gillen and funded by Britain's Channel 4, The Curfew takes place in 2027 in a UK dominated by "the Shepherd Party," which plays on fears of terrorism to impose near-absolute control over its citizens. They do so through gamification; you earn "citizen points" for obedience, and lose them through disobedience. Earn enough, and you can be a "Class A" citizen; its not clear what this gets you, other than jumping the queue at fast food joints.
The developer says "Attr-X is a pointless game," and, well, he has a point; indeed, under most definitions of 'game' it does not qualify as one, since there are no objectives, either inherent or self-imposed. Think of it as a software toy, therefore.
You move about a rather large virtual world (arrow keys to move and strafe, RMB to change direction and mouselook). It is an eerie and nicely conceived virtual world; nothing like photorealistic, but also not the Tron-like setting we've become used to in many indie 3D titles. It has an abstraction, but beauty, to it, a sort of surrealist virtual world. And the world is surprisingly large, for one created by a lone-wolf developer; indeed, there are subway stations at certain locations so you can move easily from one area to another. There's also a day/night cycle, so lighting changes dramatically over time.
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 sebastian sohn on Wed, 06/08/2011 - 06:36.
Tetsuya Miyamoto has done the impossible: He has made math addictive. Miyamoto believes in "The Art of Teaching Without Teaching" and created KenKen, ("wisdom squared" in Japanese), to fool children into solving unnecessary math problems. KenKen raises math abilities: Miyamoto's students enter Japan's top middle schools and dominate national math competitions. The rules are simple. As stated on kenken.com:
Submitted by sebastian sohn on Tue, 05/31/2011 - 05:48.
"Most modules [scripted adventures] are too wordy. In my experience, modules tend to be more trouble than they are worth. One of the reasons for modules is to save the referee's [game master's] time, but if the referee has to spend hours studying a module, what's the point?"
Furthermore, Geoffrey McKinney, one of the judges, says scripted adventures, have become bloated. Citing that Dungeons & Dragons co-creator, Gary Gygax's first adventure, Castle Greyhawk was two pages, one for map and other for the 18 bullet points. Join the fight against module bloat by enlisting in...
The One Page Dungeon Contest is level design contest for creating a scripted RPG adventure that fits on one 8.5x11 page. All information, the map, story, encounters and more have to fit in one page. Sort of writing a haiku, short and sweet.
Sissy's Magical Ponycorn Adventure is an indie graphic adventure designed, art directed, and with voice talent from Cassie Creighton, with Ryan Creighton as technical lead. It was created in 48 hours at TOJam, a Toronto-area indie games jam, using the Untold Graphic Adventure System, a technology built on top of Unity by Untold Entertaiment, for which Ryan Creighton works.
The graphics are child-like crayon drawings, animated in a somewhat blocky fashion reminiscent of time-stop animation; the gameplay is in the classic point-and click graphic adventure style. Though there is an inventory, puzzles are straightforward, and there is no inventory combination.
The backstory is that you are Sissy, and you love ponycorns, which are far cooler than ponies or unicorns, because they are ponies AND unicorns. Orange Boy gives you five jars in which you may collect ponycorns, and through a series of scenes, you must solve some puzzles to do so, often opposed by monsters such as a scary tiger and a lemon that nastily threatens to spray lemon juice in your eye.
While the game is short and can probably be accomplished in ten minutes or less, the nature of the animation, the story, and the charming voice acting make for a highly effective game.
Kudos to Ms. Creighton who, at age 5, can surely look forward to a long and successful career as a games auteur.
Submitted by sebastian sohn on Tue, 05/24/2011 - 13:28.
Pickomino is simple dice game by Reiner Knizia. The game consists of sixteen domino-like tiles with cost values of 21 to 36 on the top portion and worm victory point value icons, 1 to 5, on the bottom. The game also includes eight six-sided dice with standard 1-5 pip values and a worm icon instead of the 6. Each turn a player rolls dice and choose which same-value dice to set aside, then roll the reminder. Thus if you roll a set of two 2-pips, three 4-pips, and three worms, you can set aside one of the three sets. The worms count as 5-pips, and at least one worm die is necessary to buy a tile. You cannot pick a set of dice with pips that you already have set aside, making Pickomino a press-your-luck game. You can buy any tile that adds up to your dice pip count or less. If you roll the exact number, you can steal from another player's top stack. Who ever collects the most worms is the winner.
K.O.L.M. is a remarkable little game, for a number of reasons. The graphics are odd; tiled, but with a sensibility out of Gustav Klimt, the music a curiously serene piano piece despite the (by late game) frenetic nature of the platforming action. The game does an excellent job of introducing new capabilities for your character -- starting with the conceit that you have neither legs nor eyes, initially, so that the level is blurry, and you can only flop slowly about, but adding more capacities over time. Quite often, you see something you want to get to in a level, but cannot, until you develop some new capability, and must backtrack to get it.
Initially very simple to play, difficulty ramps up slowly, with increasing challenges both in terms of enemies and platforming skill. It never reaches masocore levels, however.
A to B is a minimalist physics puzzler in which (as you might expect) your goal is to get something from A to B -- in this case a ball. Each level gives you one or a set of tools to place in space: walls, trampoline walls, a speed booster or reducer, and a thingie that flips the direction of gravity.
Despite the stark, empty nature of the environment, it's tricky to solve each level, but by no means brain-curdling. The one bit that seems a bit counter-intuitive is that when you start the system moving, the ball launches as if tossed up in the air -- and you have no control over direction or power. Your only means of manipulating the system is the placement of tools, which is okay, but it's not always feasible to anticipate the direction or power of the ball's initial launch. You pretty much have to do a first try to gauge this before solving.
I just realized that I haven't reviewed a platformer in a while, which is totally inexcusable. In my defense I'm still smitten with VVVVVV. Terry is about to release the final version shortly, to tide you over till its release I'll direct you to this little gem of a game. Jumper 3 was lovingly crafted by Matt Thorson, half of the development crew of the impeccably-fun RunMan: Race Around the World. I called RunMan a gamer's game and it holds true here as well. If you dig platformers you shouldn't pass this up, it's a blast.
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