Passpartout: The Starving Artist (Mac): COMPLETED!

Caterpillar of the Painting Community

Ah, the life of a French artist, living off his art, being French. Literally being some sort of frog like a racist stereotype. In Passpartout, you are this frog painter, and it’s your actual art that you sell.

Well, I say art. With tools even Microsoft Paint would sneer at, it’s not easy creating a masterpiece. Thankfully, as it turns out, whatever algorithm the game employs to determine the value and demand for your painting seems unconcerned with skill and it’s more about colour and complexity, depending on your customers.

Take George, for example. He’s easily pleased. My simplistic pictures of legless caterpillars with giant eyes always sold to him. Mary, however, would sarcastically comment on their lack of complexity and Don simply couldn’t abide the colours I used.

After experimenting with colour schemes and shapes, it seems the more realistic the picture the less chance I’d had of selling it. Generally more abstract shapes (big blocks of cheese went down well for a while), cartoony characters (a number of pictures staring a muscular crab sold for a high price) and those ever loved caterpillars allowed me to progress.

By the third act, it was clear that my clients just wanted grey pillys with big eyes, so I plied them with many variations on the same theme. Eventually I created one that was grey and red, and the massive bid I received for it basically completed the game for me. Which is just as well, as after five hours of creating things that either didn’t sell or were virtually the same as previous paintings, I’d started to flag. There’s probably a message in the end sequence where Passpartout is said to have become very rich, but I suspect he was just a caterpillar sellout and drank himself into oblivion to save the agony of 50 years of repeating himself.

Here’s a load of my “arts”, for your perusal:

You Have to Win the Game (Mac): COMPLETED!

So I did.

A relatively simple platformer, that sits somewhere between Jet Set Willy and VVVVVV, You Have to Win the Game was a random choice to play for five minutes and I got a bit hooked on.

It’s pretty short, not too difficult, but after about half way through I decided to buy it (for just a dollar) even though it’s free just so I could “own” it permanently in Steam.

And then I went on to Lose the Game (when you complete it the first time), and after that Win the Game (the second time, after finding the secret code).

Enjoyable and not too stressful. I don’t think I’ll be able to track down the last few things I’m missing to get from 95 to 100%, but it was fun getting as far as I did.

80 Days (Mac): COMPLETED!

“That’s it! Back to Winnipeg!”

This was a continuation of a playthrough, my first playthrough in fact, from several months ago that I forgot to continue. Previously on 80 Days, I’d managed to get a train into a dead end somewhere in the American east, and had to head north-west into Canada to find another route.

With some bad luck, I boarded an airship from New York that was heading for Reykjavik since the route to London direct was far too expensive and there wasn’t enough time to obtain the necessary funds. This airship was slow, however, and I had to ditch all our luggage to board – I was hoping this wasn’t an issue as we were nearly home!

Once in Reykjavik, there was another airship heading to London which I mistimed while unnecessarily (as it turned out) obtaining money from the bank, and so a later trip was taken. A three day journey on day 77 – would I make it?

Of course I would. Just!

(Oh, and you can view my journey on the inkle website, here)

Thirty Flights of Loving (Mac): COMPLETED!

There aren’t 30 flights, and very little loving.

Thirty Flights of Loving is a narrative discovery game seemingly built on the Quake 2 engine. At least, it said quake2.exe had crashed when it died for the third time during playing.

The plot seems to involve some sort of smuggling? Perhaps alcohol during prohibition? Maybe weapons? It’s not very clear. You and your two friends/associates/lovers (well, one of them is anyway), in Tarantino out-of-order fashion, go to a wedding, fly a plane, have a motorbike accident, get wheeled on a cart through an airport, and shoot lots of cameras hanging from balloons.

OK, you don’t actually do most of those things as they just happen around you, but it’s still most peculiar.

Did I enjoy Thirty Flights of Loving? Sort of. Although it crashed a lot. It was only about 20 minutes long, but I got it for free and so can’t really complain. I’d wasted money or time on it.

Things I’ve been playing recently

All games. All the time. GAMES.

Well, where “recently” is “any time in the last couple of months” and “things” is “games I’ve not completed as I’ve already posted about those”. In no particular order:

Spec Ops: The Line (Mac)

This was free, but only if I played it enough to get £1 credit back from Green Man Gaming. At first, I really struggled as it misdetected my PS4 controller and everything literally spiralled out of control – see this video, in particular from the 7 minute point:

With that fixed (I used a mouse and keyboard instead), I then worked through the first level, or mission, or whatever. It’s OK, but nothing special. It’s also difficult to play with an Apple mouse, because you can’t click the left and right buttons at the same time. I don’t know if I’ll play it more.

Paper Mario Sticker Star (3DS)

A lot of people seemed to be quite negative about this, but I’m really enjoying it. It removes almost all of the RPG elements (perhaps this is why it has the reputation it does), but the story and the combat are great and it looks lovely. Also, that Wii U one is out now and I thought I’d do this while waiting for that to magically appear in my possession.

Letter Quest Remastered (PS4)

Incredible Boggle/RPG hybrid. You’re given a bank of 15 random letters, some worth more than others (sort of Scrabble-like) and you make words out of them. The more powerful your word, the harder your attack is on your foes. You can level up abilities, making 6 letter words worth more, or double letters more powerful, etc. and it’s very addictive.

Assault Android Cactus (PC)

I set my Steam Link up again and this is one of the titles I played, having heard good things and getting it for virtually free in a recent Humble Bundle. It’s not bad, but I don’t think – so far at least – it deserves all the praise. It’s just a quite bland twin stick shooter with average graphics but with some great characters. I’m enjoying it, but not as much as I expected to.

Lego Dimensions (PS4)

I actually bought this a while back, but still had Lego Marvel Avengers on the go. With that finished (although not 100%ed) my daughter and I broke it out and yes – it is excellent. Jumping from world to world (we’ve had The Simpsons, The Wizard of Oz, Ninjago and Doctor Who so far) is great, and the references to other Lego games (such as the Joker Titanbot rematch) are awesome too. Playing shuffle-the-characters on the portal is less fun, though, but we’ve negated that a little by moving the portal to the sofa between us.

Pokémon Y (3DS)

With over 70 hours on the clock now, and still about 30% of my Pokédex unfilled, there’s a lot of game here. Not least when you consider I “completed” it at around the 35 hour mark.

Apartment 666 (Mac): COMPLETED!

Nope.

It seems that I lied in this post where I said I wouldn’t play Apartment 666. Because I did play it. And I completed it. Go me!

I struggled a bit though. Not in the “it’s too scary” way that I was expecting, despite it making me jump a few times. No, it was the fact the game was waaaay too dark for it’s own good that I had problems with. Three times I reached a point where it was too dark to see, and I had no idea which way I was facing or which way I needed to go. All I could do was quit and restart from the last checkpoint.

apartment 666

Hiding items you interact with in this impenetrable darkness didn’t help either, and nor did the jerkiness. As for the game itself, it was short, badly voice acted, and the sound mix was all over the place. Since atmosphere is the only thing Apartment 666 was aiming for, when all these things fought against it the game is ruined.

Not fun. Not interesting. Not even that scary. I can’t tell you the plot (because of spoilers), bar that you effectively repeat, with slight differences, the same short walk through your apartment over and over. I’d avoid it, if I were you.

apartment666__8_ apartment666__11_

One Night Stand (Mac): COMPLETED!

One night, presumably not in heaven.

One Night Stand is a graphical adventure game, which starts off when you wake up in bed with a sleeping girl, but you can’t remember how you got there.

one night stand

There are 12 endings, 10 of which I’ve now seen, each one reached depending on how you interact with the girl and the objects in her bedroom before you inevitably leave. You can poke around in her purse and on her laptop to try and find her name, or question her to find out more about what happened the previous night.

It was interesting, but although I think I got the “best” ending, it’s still not ideal – you part on good terms, as friends, but nothing more. I’m pretty sure the girl drugged me, but I can’t prove this and none of the routes through the game I took seemed to show it for sure. One came close, when she went nuts at me and asked if I thought that was what she did, but I ended up kicked out the house soon afterwards.

And there’s the ending where you steal her knickers, leaving wearing them. Ace.

one night stand

Sakura Spirit (Mac): COMPLETED!

Foxy lady

It’s a common story – man enters judo competition, finds shrine, warps to parallel world, meets two boob-woman soldiers obsessed with him, meets two boob-woman fox spirits also obsessed with him, all the women get accidentally naked every seven seconds, and then four bad boob-woman slime spirits turn up and it’s up to you and all the friendly boob-women to save the day!

All interspersed with barely-covered boobs, barely-covered bums, and lots of conversations about knickers.

Sakura Spirit

It sounds like filth, but in actual fact, it’s really very tame. The story is nonsense, the dialogue is full of spelling mistakes and is embarrassing for non-sexy reasons, and it’s not actually much of a game at all. It’s a picture book with one (or maybe two?) decisions that need to be made, neither of which appear to affect anything bar the following couple of sentences.

Sakura Spirit

Having four women constantly undressing for you either accidentally or on purpose but at the same time both they and you are in a state of permanent bashfulness isn’t as sexy as it sounds (not least because nothing is ever actually exposed anyway) and frankly it just gets in the way of the story. Which also isn’t very good. It’s a Carry On film set in ancient Japan, with fox spirits instead of Barbara Windsor.

And no, I didn’t buy it. And neither should you.

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McPixel (Mac): COMPLETED!

Not as bad as the film Pixels, maybe.

Filling the five-minutes-here-and-there hole left by Gunpoint, is this – McPixel. It’s sort of like Warioware in that you’ve only a few seconds to complete each level, but different in that you have more seconds, and that to win you mostly just randomly click on things with little or no logic. A speed point-and-click adventure game, if you will.

McPixel 2016-08-03 at 16.43.43

McPixel is funny, and I mostly enjoyed it, but too many of the levels involve finding an almost imperceptibly different background tile, or a few indistinct pixels to click on, sometimes in combination with other unrecognisable items in order to beat them.

I can’t recommend it for anything more than novelty value, unfortunately, but since I got it for free I’m not going to complain too much. And I completed it (although didn’t stretch to the bonus and DLC levels), which counts for something, perhaps.

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Missing: An Interactive Thriller – Episode One (Mac): COMPLETED!

I’ll tell you what’s actually missing: the rest of the game.

Missing: An Interactive Thriller, is rubbish. Not so much the game itself, which is very much in Zero Time Dilemma/Room Escape style only with actual full motion video, more the fact that this is it. Episode One, it seems now that I’ve finished it and looked for the next in the series, is all that they’ve made, or will ever likely make.

missing

It’s not a fantastic game, as the puzzles are mostly too simple, or too vague (needing you to move the pointer over everything), and there are a few “CLICK HERE!!!!!11!!1” QTEs which don’t quite gel with the rest of what’s going on, but it isn’t really bad. The acting of everyone bar the main guy is poor, and there are pangs of Night Trap about it, but I did enjoy it enough to want to play the rest.

Which won’t happen because there isn’t any. So I can’t really recommend it any more than I can the first chapter of a book.

missing

Gunpoint (Mac): COMPLETED!

The irony is, you don’t have a gun to point. At least, not until near the end.

Considering all the games I’ve completed in the first half of 2016, I’ve been a little bit lax recently, it would appear. The main cause is, of course, the fantastic Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE (which I’m over 55 hours into now), but I’ve also been catching up on demos on the Wii U and 3DS – I may post about those later.

Gunpoint, however, is something I’ve been playing off and on over the last week. Each level is pretty short, and you can save whenever you want (and if you die you can rewind a few seconds, which is a great feature), so it lends itself well to a few minutes play every so often.

The aim of the game is to infiltrate various buildings and retrieve/destroy/plant evidence or computer files, with the overarching plot relating to you being a freelance spy with hugely powerful spring boots working for three different sides, to various degrees, in a murder case. A case you’re involved in yourself, leading to bizarre situations like having to recover CCTV footage may contain evidence that would incriminate yourself.

Gunpoint

Each level plays out with three main skills. You can jump really high, or far, and use this to scale walls, smash though windows, or pounce on guards. You can (after the first couple of levels) hack electronic devices too, rewiring the building so that, for example, a light switch now opens a door, or a security camera calls a lift. Finally, you can punch (and later, shoot) guards, although to score highly you need to be silent, undetected and refrain from violence.

Gunpoint

Far from being a platform game like the superficially similar The Swindle, the emphasis is much more on puzzle solving, with often many solutions – sometimes clever, sometimes funny. Wiring up a motion sensor to a plug socket so that one guard electrocutes another elsewhere in the building never ceases to entertain. As you unlock more abilities (such as more powerful jumps or additional gadgets), more solutions present themselves. I realised that I could, on a very late mission, use a light switch to trigger a guard’s gun for instance – and he merrily shot his own guardchums.

Gunpoint isn’t a long game (three hours, perhaps?) but it’s clever, makes you feel clever, and is genuinely fun and funny. If only I could remember, like most of my Steam games, why I own it.

There’s Poop in My Soup (Mac): COMPLETED!

Waiter…

Yes, the game is really called that. Yes, you can defecate in someone’s soup. You can also do it on their heads. And on dogs. And everywhere. That’s the idea.

It’s a totally stupid concept but since it was just 52 pence (in fact, less than that as I had some free credit) on Steam I bought it, played it a lot, poo’d everywhere, got all the achievements, and have now classed it as completed.

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The Temple of No (Mac): COMPLETED!

No no, no no no no, no no no no, no no there’s no temple.

Well, I say Mac, but in fact it’s a web browser game built in TWINE. It’s a narrative discovery game in the same sort of vein as Gone Home and Dr. Langeskov, The Tiger, and The Terribly Cursed Emerald: A Whirlwind Heist, the latter of which is by the same people.

Temple of No

As it’s TWINE, and therefore basically a text medium choose your own adventure, it isn’t as technically impressive as those other games. The story is fun, self referential and sarcastic. It’s short, I’m not sure it’s possible to not complete it (unless you just quit, I suppose), but it’s definitely worth a play. And it’s free, so you’ve no excuse. You can find it here.

Emily is Away (Mac): COMPLETED!

AFK BRB

Emily is Away was an odd one. On one hand, it was very easy in the sense that you can’t really fail and it’s pretty short, but on the other hand it appears to be impossible to get a good ending. I’m not sure I missed anything, as I played it through a few times and although you can get different endings, none of them I’d suggest were “good”.

Emily is Away
Ho ho ho! That ceiling joke!

The game I’ve played before which is most like Emily is Away is probably the iOS game Lifeline. Whereas that played out like a Choose Your Own Adventure in real-time over a course of a few days, Emily is Away is real-time multiple choice AOL chat-alike played out one chat per year over five years.

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You’re Emily’s friend, and you chat about music, school, college and friends. Depending on your actions, your relationship with her can be platonic, unrequited or temporarily requited (it seems), as you live apart for your college years and she ends up in a strained relationship with Brad while you offer advice from afar. Will she see your advice as interfering, helpful, or with an ulterior motive? That’s where the sometimes ambiguous multiple choice comes in.

Ultimately, all my attempts ended up with me being miserable, her being miserable, or both of us being miserable – and with us losing our friendship completely. See, no good ending. Actually, there’s an early tip-off that there’s no good ending when Emily tells you she’s really into Coldplay. That probably tells you a lot about Emily.

Emily is Away
Yeah we do.

It was an interesting game to play, and since it’s free (or “pay what you want”, if you want) it’s definitely worth a look. Just don’t expect any sort of happy ending.

The Beginner’s Guide (Mac): COMPLETED!

As long as we’re together
The rest can go to hell

I’m going to keep this short, because not only is the game itself pretty short, but it’s something you have to experience and play yourself, rather than read what I have to say about it.

Beginner's Guide

The Beginner’s Guide involves a walk through a number games written by the (presumably made up) Coda. The narrator tells you about them, Coda’s likely state of mind at the time, and various other facts about the simple games as you progress through them. There aren’t really any puzzles, there’s very little shooting, and each “game” is very short and mostly simple.

But, as usual in games of this type, that’s not the whole story. The narrator has more than just a history lesson to talk about.

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I enjoyed it, although not as much as either The Stanley Parable or Dr Langstrom, with both of which The Beginner’s Guide shares DNA, but it’s worth the 90 minutes or so I spent on it. It’s just a shame it crashes so much on the Mac!