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.

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:

Currently Playing, January 2018

Not Your Usual Lazy Catchup Post

As an alternative to a catchup post, here’s a catchup post. Only it’s more to declutter my game playing mind after a flurry of new games obtained over the Jesus Birthday Period. Got that? Right.

So for Christmas I got four Switch games – Splatoon 2 (which I’ve covered already), Super Bomberman R, Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2 and Fire Emblem Warriors. Because my wife is the most excellent of wives. I also got a free copy of The Lego Ninjago Movie Video Game (also for the Switch) just before Christmas thanks to some supermarket loyalty points.

In addition, I got quite a bit of eShop credit, and spent a bit of that on Gorogoa (also covered) and a game I’ve had my eye on a lot, Blaster Master Zero. I also accidentally bought the Ghostbusters and Lego Batman story packs for Lego Dimensions.

Oh, and because I had some Steam credit and because Cool Ghosts made me want them, I’ve picked up Passpartout: The Starving Artist and The Norwood Suite. Like most games they may sit unplayed until I buy the Switch version in the future instead. Ho ho.

Mainly, I’ve played Splatoon 2. I completed single player, and have reached Level 4 online.

With my daughter I’ve played quite a few matches of Super Bomberman R and I’m pleased to reveal that whatever was “wrong” with it at launch has now been fixed. Aside from the graphical style (which has never been good since they stopped using pixels), it’s Bomberman. And Bomberman is great.

I’m not actually sure I remember what the issues everyone had with the  game back when it came out now, but I’m not seeing anything now. It’s fun!

Once I finished Splatoon, I moved onto (again with my daughter) The Lego Ninjago Movie Video Game which as well as having the most ridiculous game name ever, is actually a little different to other Lego games. You have lots of fighting moves at your disposal, and instead of red bricks you have XP to obtain that levels you up giving you “powers” to unlock in a sort of skill tree. It’s early days yet (we’ve only done the first few levels), but I’m liking it a lot so far.

And finally, I’ve played a bit of Passpartout: The Starving Artist. Yes, I know I said it’d probably sit unplayed – and it might yet – but it’s quirky and silly and I love making crap art and selling it for peanuts. I mean look:

And of course, I played some more Stardew Valley, but as I posted the other day, I consider that “completed”.

Other than that, I got given a few games by @IndieGamerChick as part of #indiexmas. First up, was a game called Gunmetal Arcadia Zero. It’s by the same team as You Have to Win the Game, which I coincidentally, played, enjoyed and completed recently. This game is a lot like Zelda II and Castlevania II, and has a familiar NES feeling to it. It’s pretty good so far.

Also from her was Kid Tripp for the Switch. Yep, she (and the devs, Four Horses) gave away a Switch game! It’s a simple “forced runner”, but with lovely blown-up pixel graphics. There’s a nice rhythm to each level, albeit not a “musical” rhythm like, say, Bit Trip Runner, and it plays well. It’s just so very, very hard.

Finally, another game (also from Four Horses) is Digger Dan DX for the 3DS, a homage to Boulderdash. Judging from the number of levels, it’s huge! I’m enjoying it so far.

And that… is everything. I think! Phew, eh? For now, I’m going to try and slim this lot down to a couple of titles just to make it manageable. Ninjago will be one, and for the moment at least, Passpartout will be the other. Find out soon if I actually do this or not!