A Short Hike (PC): COMPLETED!

Another PC game? Why yes! Because it’s not on anything else and I’ve a Steam Link set up and it was free on the Epic store and I wanted to play it and life finds a way.

It’s a gentle little game, where you play as a bird who needs to hike up a mountain. Doing this is made easier by finding golden feathers, some of which are scattered about and others from completing tasks, which allow you to climb further or flap your wings to fly higher.

The fishing and “star shaped hole” digging are very Animal Crossing.

There’s no danger, and it’s not difficult, but it’s lovely and the pixel art style (which, if there’s something wrong with you, you can turn off) that makes it look and feel a bit like a DS game is great.

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.

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

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.

Monster Loves You! (PC): COMPLETED!

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)

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.