Lair of the Clockwork God (PC): COMPLETED!

After Devil’s Kiss, this was the Main Event. A new Ben and Dan adventure game, and long awaited followup to Ben There, Dan That and Time Gentlemen, Please. Unlike those games, there’s a whole load of platforming mixed in with the point-and-clickery, as Dan has decided exciting indie platformer adventures are the in-thing, and Ben’s insistence on examining everything and refusal to jump even the smallest amount both clash and co-exist in a unique hybrid of styles.

But it’s not the new platforming, or even the old adventuring, that make the game one of the best indies I’ve played in a long time. No, it’s the clever puzzles and the heavy hit after heavy hit of comedy that never once lets up. The new mechanics mainly streamline the inherent slowness of the point and click genre, which is great, but the shakedown of tropes from both genres provides fodder for puzzles and quips alike.

This pretty much explains the level the humour sits at.

The characters, situations and items and you come across through the game are varied and silly. Some are a stroke of genius, with spoiler-free standouts being the Daily Mail reader thinking Ben is a dirty foreigner, the yoofspeak section when Ben and Dan are too old to get into a nightclub and can’t understand a word the kids are saying, Ben calling Dan “pickle” and asking if he needs help in an especially tricky platforming bit (and Dan getting increasingly annoyed with him), and use of what appeared to be a bug. And the whole Sonic the Hedgehog-y platforming section that Dan has to do as Sonic would but Ben adventures his way around by manipulating the respawn process is inspired. I’d love to explain more but it’d solve puzzles for you, and you really need to do that for yourself.

More like Green Bottle Zone amirite

Humour aside there’s still a very good game here. The platforming isn’t quite the Super Meat Boy/Celeste/VVVVVV that in-game (and maybe also game-dev) Dan perhaps wants it to be, but it’s perfectly good enough. The item use and combining (sorry, it’s crafting now) bits are at least as good as any you’d find in Monkey Island or Thimbleweed Park with equal parts weird, unusual, and gross. One of the “items” in Ben’s inventory is his own bladder, for example, and yes – there are toilet and non-toilet related puzzles associated with it.

It’s an excellent game, and even if you’re not a fan of point and click games I implore you to play it anyway. The comedy is good enough to carry the game, even though it doesn’t have to as the game is good enough without it, and that’s something even the big boys of gaming with teams of writers don’t manage. I’ve not laughed out loud this many times at any game ever.

Devil’s Kiss (PC): COMPLETED!

Firstly, I just want to say that although this is a PC game, I played it via the Steam Link app on the iPad. Actually, it’s more complicated than that, but it’ll do for now.

Secondly, this game came free with Lair of the Clockwork God – a new platforming/point and click hybrid game from Size Five Games. It was a surprise simultaneous release with that game, but instead of being either of those two styles, it’s a visual novel telling the story of how Ben and Dan met at high school, and the immediate adventure they had there.

It’s very short and has no challenge whatsoever, but it was funny and, of course, it was free. And there’s a section set in the toilets.

Toripon (PC): COMPLETED!

You have to find and take photos of all the birds in a flat. I found, and took photos of, all the birds in a flat. And some other things, some of which it seems you need to take photos of in order to unlock more birds.

I’m not sure what else there is to say about Toripon. You can get a copy here if you too want to find, and take photos of, all the birds in a flat: https://theladyvictoria.itch.io/toripon

This one had a knife.

I Love You Colonel Sanders (PC): COMPLETED!

Yes, absolutely taking the Japanese dating visual novel genre and tying it up with KFC was a sensible idea. Especially when the aim is to romance the big man Sanders himself. Only what’s this? He’s a young man with a fashionable goatee, and doesn’t look like a bad guy from Dukes of Hazzard?

As a game, being a visual novel, it’s pretty limited. There are a few choices you get to make, most of which don’t seem to have much of an effect but some basically cause insta-death without warning. It’s a short game too, about half an hour in length unless you’re a slow reader, so you barely get to know the cast of bizarre and ridiculous characters who make up the staff and students at the cooking academy the game is set in. The teacher is a dog and a classmate is some sort of pressure cooker, for instance.

It’s silly, a bit creepy, and implying KFC is the height of excellent cuisine throughout grates a bit, but for short free nonsense it was worth a play. I think.

Murder Dog IV: Trial of the Murder Dog (PC): COMPLETED!

Murder Dog Day Afternoon

Imagine if Phoenix Wright consisted only of the courtroom bits. And the graphics were all photos of plasticine and paper characters. And Phoenix Wright was a murder dog who had murdered thousands of people. And you can murder the jurors during the trial. That’s Murder Dog IV: Trial of the Murder Dog.

No, I don’t know if there were three previous games.

The aim of the game is to get Murder Dog acquitted of his obvious crimes. He is defending himself, and also appears to be narrating the game at the same time, so it’s a little unusual to follow. He can examine and present evidence, or destroy it. He can question witnesses, go on a killing spree, and lie through his teeth. It also appears that Murder Dog used to be a police dog whose job it was to murder people. Bad people, presumably.

I played through it twice (it’s very short). I was executed the first time, and had my conviction overturned the second time. I didn’t get away scot-free that time though, as I was jailed for 5 years on a lesser charge of tampering with evidence or something.

‘Tis a silly game.

Nekopara Vol. 0 (PC): COMPLETED!

Catatonic.

What. The. Hell.

Nekopara is a barely interactive “story” about a load of cat girls and the mundane things they get up to while their master is out of the house. Such incredible events such as making lunch! And cleaning!

There’s supposed titillation when it’s bath time, but it’s just awkward and creepy. Maybe that’s the point.

I did get all the achievements though, with most of them being for petting the catgirls. That’s pretty much the only interaction this “game” has. Should I bother with Nekopara Vol. 1, which I also have?

BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea Episode 2 (PC): COMPLETED!

I’m Batman

Who’d have thought that Episode 2 of Burial at Sea would end up, essentially, being Batman in Rapture? Batman as in the Rocksteady series of recent titles. Well, it is. As Elizabeth (spoiler?) you sneak around in the shadows, generally avoiding combat. You use air vents. You get a vigour which essentially gives you detective vision.

burial at sea

Not only that, there are some large rooms where you have to hang from gargoyles, or something. And drop down behind foes and silently dispatch them. Hmm.

That said, it’s the story that’s the main point of the game. What, you were playing it for the mechanics? You’re doing it wrong, in this episode especially. It’s not about the fighting, it’s the sneaking and finding and getting to the end.

Little of which I can talk about because of big spoilers. That, and how I’m not completely sure what actually happened at the end there. I did like the link back to the original BioShock and how this tied in with it though.

And that’s BioShock all done.

BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea Episode 1 (PC): COMPLETED!

Darling it’s better
Down where it’s wetter
Take it from me

Erm. Well that was a thing, wasn’t it. I was expecting the fight at the end with a Big Daddy, and I think I was right about who Sally was, but I didn’t expect… Booker. Wow.

But is he that Booker, or a different one? Is there an unending list of Bookers and Comstocks throughout the multiverse? And which Elizabeth is she?

And what does this mean for Episode 2? So many questions.

BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea Episode 1 (PC)

Just a quick mention of this, as I’ve only played about 90 minutes and it’s supposedly less than twice that long. As I enjoyed BioShock Infinite, and I found a cheap copy of the DLC, I thought I’d give it a go.

It’s confusing. Elizabeth doesn’t look right. Plasmids and Vigours have become mingled into one thing. Rapture feels weird.

think that Sally, the girl we’re looking for is basically Anna from Infinite (and therefore Elizabeth), so presumably this is a parallel universe retelling of the same story? Maybe?

Also: Cohen is a bad, bad man.

Monster Loves You! (PC): COMPLETED!

Monster in my spawn pit

Uh. I’m really not sure what to make of this game. It was pretty funny, so there’s that. The story was unusual, following the decisions you make on your life’s journey from tiny swimming lifeform to fully grown monster, but there wasn’t a lot to it.

monster loves you

The closest game to it, that I’ve played in recent years at least, is Hatoful Boyfriend. There’s the similar story-and-multiple-choice-reaction thing going on, and the many ending resulting from this. Most choices affect one of each of your monster’s stats: Ferocity, Kindness, Cleverness, etc., and the events involve interactions (and possible consumption of) cats, children, other monsters, and so on.

At the end, you’re tested to see if you can ascend to become a monster elder, or whether you’re destined to dissolve and become one with the spawning pool for a new generation of monsters. I ended up with the latter.

monster loves you

Bioshock Infinite (PC): COMPLETED!

Them being “Tears” is funny because one of them has Tears for Fears playing in it.

Warning: here be Bioshock Infinite spoilers. Read not further if you wish to remain in the dark about the plot and ting.

Those OK with spoilers, proceed.

Bioshock Infinite

Remember in the first Bioshock game when that “Would You Kindly” reveal made you go woahhhhh? Bioshock Infinite doesn’t have that. Not to the same degree, anyway. Part of the reason is that the backstory and twists, if you could call them that, are drip-fed to you in mainly in the form of audiologs supplemented by the odd happenings regarding tears you come across and some seemingly out of place dialogue here and there.

The first suggestions that things aren’t what they seem come about in the form of music, where a barber shop quartet stops by to sing some Beach Boys, and a brass band strike up with an instrumental version of Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. Not in keeping with the 1912 setting. Coupled with Elizabeth’s ability to open tears – one of which shows Paris in the 1980s – it becomes obvious some sort of time and/or dimension jumping occurs and technology (like many of the guns) and music are pulled through.

Bioshock Infinite

Later, you jump to alternate realities yourself, with Elizabeth’s help. With exposition from the “twin” Lutece scientists the game essentially becomes an series of episodes of Sliders.

So what I have pieced together, is this: DeWitt has a baby daughter, which he gives up to pay off his debts. He forgets about this, however, although part of him remembers her – Anna – died, or was lost, or something. The baby is given to Comstock, who is the “prophet” who creates the flying city of Columbia, and grows up to become Elizabeth, the daughter of the prophet.

Bioshock Infinite

Now, other places no doubt have a full breakdown of everything, but ultimately (in my ending, anyway), it is revealed that DeWitt is Comstock. Rosalind Lutece and her other-reality “brother” Robert have made Anna/Elizabeth into a conduit between realities, and they are able to travel freely between realities to further their aims. The city flies based on one of their experiments too: An audiolog from Rosalind says she made an atom levitate, and if not an atom, why not something bigger – like a city. In fact, it doesn’t levitate. It just doesn’t fall. Erm.

Confused yet? Well, what about when Elizabeth opens up a door into Rapture? Here is the killer line. No, not DeWitt’s “A city under the ocean? Ridiculous” which was funny. The other line, from Elizabeth: “There’s always a lighthouse. There’s always a man. There’s always a city.” BOOM.

Bioshock Infinite

That’s right. My reading of this, is that Rapture is just another reality’s Columbia. Andrew Ryan is just another reality’s Zachary Comstock. The reason the whole game felt like the same damn story in a different place, is because it was the same damn story in a different place.

Woahhhhh.

There’s more to it all than this, including who was from which reality, but that’s my take on it. Other places explain more. Once you know DeWitt is Comstock, some things make more sense too. Slate, for instance, is incensed that Comstock proclaims he was at the Battle of Wounded Knee. He says he was not, and DeWitt (who was there) agrees. But since DeWitt is Comstock, it makes sense.

Anyway. That’s the plot. What about the game?

Bioshock Infinite

I’ll put it this way: Bioshock Infinite is a great story punctuated with pointless, annoying combat sections. The wonderful trap-setting from Bioshock 2? Gone. What remains are horrible skyrail-heavy fights, mostly useless “vigours”, and never enough ammo. Honestly, I think Bioshock Infinite would have worked much better as a straight narrative discovery game.

Still, I did enjoy it overall and will look out for the DLC being on offer.

Bioshock Infinite (PC)

To infinity, and, well, there’s nothing past infinity.

Finally, after much configuring and tweaking and getting a wireless adaptor for the 360 controller, I managed to get my Steam Link working both reliably and without cables all across the lounge. Which means, in my mind, I now have a new games console and an instant library of hundreds of games I’ve collected over the years and barely played.

Bioshock Infinite is one I picked up ages ago, probably in a Humble Bundle (that’s where most of my games come from), but was still on the lookout for a 360 or PS4 version to play on my telly. Now, I don’t need to!

bioshock infinite
Not creepy at all. Uh uh.

I’ve played about 4 hours of it so far, working my way through Columbia, rescuing Elizabeth, taking photos of toilets, that sort of thing. It looks very pretty, especially since I realised my iMac can handle running the game on the highest possible graphical settings, with blue skies and stuff, but there’s something I can’t quite put my finger on that’s missing from the game.

It’s all a bit linear so far, with “free roaming” only bolted on for those who wish to explore. There’s quite a bit to explore, but the rewards are pretty poor. The “vigours” I’ve collected up to now are pretty dull – one is a grenade, essentially, and is useful, but the other two are very underpowered. “Murder of Crows” seems to do little but distract, and the possession vigour isn’t a patch on the berserk darts from Assassin’s Creed.

These are negative points, but minor in the scheme of things. I don’t know what is making it feel a bit poor, but hopefully things will improve and it’ll go away?

bioshock infinite
Everybody’s dead, Dave

Another observation about Bioshock Infinite is that it isn’t Dishonoured. I remarked when I played that game that it felt a lot like Bioshock, and the world of Bioshock Infinite feels a lot like that of Dishonoured. So far, Bethesda’s game is the better of the two despite coming an year earlier. We’ll see.

As for where I am – I’m just working through Soldier’s Field. It’s been very easy until now. Does it get harder?

bioshock infinite
“He’s on fire!”

Oh! And I think I’ve figured out why they exist already, and why The Prophet can “see” the future, but hearing the barbershop quartet singing Gold Only Knows by the Beach Boys, and a brass band playing Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, when the game is set in 1912, was a little… awesome. And confusing. The way it just permeates your subconscious and you realise what you’re listening to. That bit where Tears for Fears plays though – that pretty much explains it.

Viscera Cleanup Detail (PC)

Am I missing something, or is it really this dull and tedious? Funny as it might appear, dragging bits of carcass around and using the worst mop ever is actually dire.

Putting stuff in stuff is an excercise in futility since the controls and physics combine to make every manual handling action catastrophically imprecise. No sooner have you put a leg in a biowaste bucket, you’re cleaning up as it flails comically, spewing blood everywhere and leaving you back at square one.

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.

Beware Planet Earth (PC): COMPLETED!

I can moooove moooove mooooove any Martian

I continued playing this again a few days ago having “paused” almost exactly a year ago. I think I’d struggled on a level and lost interest, but it is actually a very good tower defence game. I resumed it part way through Autumn (the game is split into four chapters, one for each season), and quickly progressed to Winter, where I ran into difficulty.

Beware Planet Earth

It’s just so damn hard. In the final season, you have to deal with your weapons freezing, and although you get an item to help negate this later on, it’s not cheap and uses up precious space on the map. Eventually though, I made it to the end boss who was surprisingly simple – or not surprisingly, considering a power-up you’re given right at the end.

I can definitely recommend Beware Planet Earth, especially if you like this sort of game. And it has a toilet in it, so what more can you want?

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