Friday, 27 February 2015

The Long Dark - Episode 5 - A Wet End

And thus ends my Longest Dark lets play, for now at least.

I had a good time and was really intensely engaged especially during my long trek to try to find food, but without a story mode right now this has a very limited appeal, not that thrilled by just trying to see how long I can last.

Definitely going to keep an eye on the game though, shows a fair amount of promise and definitely interested in seeing what a bit more direction will add to the experience.

The Long Dark is by Hinterland Games Inc, find out more at

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Völgarr The Viking - World 1 - All The Lizardmen

Völgarr is a norse themed platformer by Crazy Viking Studios. I picked it up as part of the Adult Swim bundle but didn't actually start playing until seeing a friend stream it and get really into it.

Unlike the other difficult platformer I play, Völgarr is linear, in fact I find it leans pretty heavily on foreknowledge allowing players to reduce some of its difficulty because a well placed spear throw can eliminate foes before they would otherwise be seen.

The game also is extremely light on check points. When you die you are sent back to the start of the level. If you don't finish a world before you quit, you are sent back to the beginning of the world, which I feel makes it a pretty poor candidate for a regular lets play.

So here, you see the beginning of a kind of ultimate newbie run. Whenever I die, I fade into the next run that passes that point. You basically will see the first time I pass any given challenge, not necessarily the best way, but a way that will work, once anyway.

Basically going to put these up in any convenient Monday/Wednesday/Friday slot until I have finished the game. So there may be some gaps depending on how long later worlds take me to beat.

If you want to find out more about Völgarr the Viking, please go to

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

There Came An Echo / Episode One / Calling Corrin

I backed There Came An Echo on Kickstarter and as long as I have done things correctly, this should be out as the game launches. I backed mostly on the strength of some friend's love of Sequence, the previous game by Iridium Studios. I haven't played much of Sequence, but I did enjoy the humour and like the idea of someone using DRR to build a completely different kind of game.

I am really keen to find out how everything unfolds, it is great to see developers try new approaches to controls and systems. One of the features I find most interesting about this game is the constrained, but user editable vocabulary. You can add your own alternates. I am definitely taking suggestions, especially for alternate character names.

There Came An Echo is a tactical combat game with a twist. It is built to be controlled by your voice. Find out more at It is available on Steam for $14.99

Monday, 23 February 2015

The Long Dark Episode Four - The Long Trek

I think it is the last couple of episodes where The Long Dark really grew on me. It evokes desperation really well. I was being very careful to look for food as my supply and situation grew increasingly desperate.

The desperation really engaged me and generates stories I really want to tell, even if the story is ultimately that time I started right near some wolves and was eaten while running for shelter.

Really feel like things are looking up for me this game, despite still lacking a building I can set a fire in or a good source of food. For the moment though I am not starving and can warm up a little. That is a kind of progress right?

The Long Dark is by Hinterland Games Inc, find out more at

Friday, 20 February 2015

The Long Dark Episode Three - I Had It So Easy!

I seriously had no idea how easy I had it on my first life until I had the ones this episode. In its current state The Long Dark doesn't seem to try to have a specifically gentle or hard introduction. You are just planted in a random location on the selected map, at a relatively random time of day (you can spawn towards sunset apparently), in whatever weather conditions have been generated.

So you can spawn right near a pack of wolves, who then eat you, or at the end of a snowy foggy day with no shelter in sight.

Interestingly enough as a result of these very painful experiences I felt much more engaged with the game, they were definitely punishing and unfair, but they were also very unusual experiences and they were over fairly quickly so I could start over.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

The Long Dark Episode Two

Having played a bit more Long Dark now I am surprised at just how gentle the game was with me here. The trapper's homestead and the camp office are two great locations, full of gear, food and gear to keep me going.

And then I throw it all away with an expedition I really didn't need to make at the time, at least I don't think I did, I could have spent some time reclaiming wood and materials in the cabins and tried putting up the snare again to catch food.

I am still far from an expert at this game, but really appreciating the stories you get to tell about it.

The Long Dark is a survival game set in a post societal collapse Canadian wilderness. It is by Hinterland Games Inc, find out more at

Monday, 16 February 2015

The Long Dark Episode One

And so begins the fight for survival. How long can I last on the edge between starvation, freezing cold and thirst. Can I figure out where to find food and how to avoid wolves?

The Long Dark is a survival game set in a post societal collapse Canadian wilderness. It is by Hinterland Games Inc, find out more at

When I say survival I mean just that, survival, at this stage at least this is not a game where you ever are expected to get substantially ahead of the curve. You are never meant to feel too secure because starvation, thirst and cold are always around the corner. Unlike Minecraft you can't just set up a shelter whenever night falls, or build yourself a small farm in which to grow food, nor will food keep forever.

Friday, 13 February 2015

The Star Realms Diaries Episode Two - Rematch

Jarenth and I had a lot of fun recording our Star Realms game last time so we thought we would do it again, show off how varied the game can be given how much depends upon building off that trade row.

And I guess we did, but this is definitely my least favourite kind of Star Realms game, the kind where I critically misread the board and the amount of damage my opponent was building up until far too late. Jarenth pays a lot more attention to the starting colour distribution than I do and here it paid off in a lot of cheap high damage yellow cards that I in no way found a counter to. If I had read the situation better I could have at least split some of those damaging cards with him and we could have beaten each other down until one of us won.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Drunken Robot Pornography - The Cleanest Game on The Internet

Today I am taking a look at Drunken Robot Pornography by Dejobaan Games. It is much much tamer than it sounds.

You are a man taking responsibility for giant robots that are destroying Sky Boston. It is up to you, your sentient starfish suit, your jet boots and your gun to take out this mechanical marvels before things get out of hand.

It so far at least has 3 different game modes:
- Kill titans
- Reach a particular score by shooting things and collecting pick ups
- Reach a particular score by collection and depositing alcohol

Definitely more of a fan of the first mode rather than the later ones, though it is always nice to have a bit of variation. Every level has a time limit and they also tend to be chock full of little drones intent on killing as well as those giant robotic titans.

This really drops the time commitment of this game, any given attempt will last at most the time limit of the level, the longest of which is about 4 minutes. But unlike in their other games like Aaaaa! For the Awesome, this game is completely linear. if you get stuck on and sick of a level you can't move on to a different one, you have to keep trying until you succeed.

This barrier made it pretty easy for me to lose interest in favour of other game. I definitely enjoyed my couple of hours playing this game, but not sure I am likely to go back any time soon.

Monday, 9 February 2015

ADOM - Ancient Domains of Mystery

Today we are trying out ADOM - Ancient Domains of Mystery, one of the older roguelikes that is making its way over to steam with a fresh coat of paint.

My friends and I spent a surprisingly large number of hours playing this in high school, both at home and on the school computers. I don't actually remember any of us finishing it though. I know I got close through rampant save scumming and other forms of cheating and I remember one of my friends getting a character up to the level cap at 50 but even the basic ending eluded us.

It was kind of frustrating to learn that there are a number of advanced endings that require a fair amount of foreknowledge, ensuring that you get the right items before key points. Trying to avoid killing cats, marking down the first thing you ever killed so you know how far through the infinite dungeon you have to go.

This game has a surprisingly detailed control scheme that allows for some interesting interactions, but it does lead to some rather strange and comical results.

For example if you are sufficiently tough, you can abuse a low alchemy skill, for some reason incompetent alchemists can make any two liquids explode. It is an amazing supernatural ability, I distinctly remember mixing orange juice and water to take out a shopkeeper. In the video my character starves to death over the course of a couple of days despite having several meals during that period. I guess it is important to remember that detailed mechanics does not mean realistic simulation in any sense.

I really like the new tiles and the ability to use the mouse driven interface, it just seems kind of counter-intuitive that a game that wears inaccessibility on its sleeve should get this kind of a UI uplift, it'll help new players, but I am not sure how much.

I should mention I recorded this just before I headed off to Australia. The times I have tried to play it since I found out that bizarrely, on the steam version you have to be online to launch the game. It kind of put a damper on my desire to play more of it again, I suspect that it is simply an oversight on the creator's part, but I wasn't really in a position to ask him at the time.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Massive Chalice EP29 - The Massive Finale

Here we are, the final battle. My heroes, wave after wave of enemies and one giant cup that I need to protect. Honestly at this point it isn't even a challenge.

Large numbers of enemies are met with rage, explosives and the ability of most of my heroes to flat out vanish before the enemy can come looking for them. We are in the best of all possible timelines here my heroes have been at high level for ages, every item they have ever needed is at their fingertips and they can even replenish their explosive flasks straight from the chalice!

I don't even get to show of the cool thematic stuff that happens when you lose heroes in this fight, or at least I wouldn't if I hadn't also recorded this cool bonus footage. Other than the difficulty, which I must admit is at least partially due to this particular run stemming right from the initial backer beta, I really love the thematic content of this fight.

It is a last stand where your heroes ancestors ready to help them should they fall. Standing guard of the chalice you zoom into at the beginning of every fight, beating back the demons of time as they advance on this most important of objects.

I really like the idea behind the very final twist, in some ways it undercuts the player's success but it rams home that this game is about the inevitability of time, at some point all things will come to an end and all we can do is fight to ensure that end is pushed back for as long as possible.

The inevitability of loss is the thing I have enjoyed most in this game, in other tactical games I am the kind of player who will reload and replay a fight because I lost a squad member. Here I am willing to face the loss and move on because even if they survive the battle, the loss of heroes is inevitable, they cannot and will not live forever, eventually even without ever losing a battle the loss of land and keeps is inevitable. Time cannot be stopped.

I had a great time playing and recording Massive Chalice and I will definitely continue to track its progress through to its release and probably will play through it again at that point. I don't think I will do another Lets Play of it though, I am very happy to let this one stand.

Tune in next week for a series of one of episodes where I try out games sitting in my Steam library.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Ranneko Plays Sunless Sea

Sunless Sea is a survival exploration game set in a gothic fantasy setting by Failbetter Games. As the beginning text says, "Three decades ago, in the reign of Victoria, London was stolen by bats. Now it lies a mile below the surface."

Fortunately for the player, this new location for London is not without its own advantages, for example there is a big black sea a mile below the surface with plenty to explore, full of strange islands, people and mysterious sea life, often of the large and dangerous variety.

It is a setting full of mystery, horror, romance and text. Oh yes there is a lot of text in this game, the video itself has a lot of unrehearsed reading of this text too in it. It makes me aware of just how little time I spend regularly reading out loud, it is surprisingly easy to stumble.

That said I really like the text in this game; Failbetter games is really good at writing interesting stories that hint at further secrets to discover. I backed this game due to their reputation from their existing Fallen London game, which at the time I hadn't actually tried for myself. Since then however I have spent more time than I am really comfortable expressing engaging in this subterranean world where squid-shaped men roam the streets and Hell is a real place that is capable of establishing embassies and its devils are capable of quite politely bartering for your soul over a cup of tea.

I really enjoyed the hour or so I spent here with this game, though I don't think my captain here has much of a future, she seems to be really bad at managing money and supplies and I don't think it will be too long before the crew get a little too hungry and the fuel runs out. The game itself says to expect many deaths before victory and it will be interesting to see just what I am able to pass on to my successor.

I guess my main complaint is that looking through the shops in London I assumed that there would be actual trading to do across the Zee, I pictured myself buying and selling goods in every port, trying to pick what would be profitable to pick up, but not many ports seem to be interested in buying and selling anything other than the occasional supplies. Especially few are willing to both buy and sell goods making any trading route very one-way. I get the sense that you really are just meant to explore which makes you an unofficial part of the admiralty´s fleet rather than a real merchant captain. I can tell it will be a few tries before I can work out how to actually keep ahead financially.

Hopefully though the game will keep me interested long enough to find out how.

Sunless Sea is currently in early access on Steam for €19.99 or $18.99US depending upon your location, enters full release at 5:30PM GMT tomorrow.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Massive Chalice EP28 - Setting Up the Finale

Just one last fight before the game is over.

I have to say that I was not exactly surprised to find out we need the cadence present to finish the game. It would have been pretty disappointing if we just hit the end of year 300, the chalice charged and zap, the game is over. It wouldn't feel complete with a finale fight.

Plus of course there have been threads on the Doublefine forums talking about the final fight, which also gives it away somewhat. The final fight brings in a rather interesting and cool hook which I will go into more next time on the blog.

When recording this episode I was kind of impatient to get to the end and get to play out that fight, most of the strategy level decisions have lost their impact knowing that I no longer need to shepherd future generations towards the final confrontation. It renders a lot of things that previously felt very satisfying to kind of pointless busywork as I let my keeps and other buildings fall empty and direct my research down deliberately fruitless aims.

It seems oddly appropriate given the entire aim of this society from my time with it has been holding out against the Cadence, as victory and relief grows closer the struggle itself loses the same appeal and intensity it once had.

On Friday it all finishes and these people can work out what to do with their lives.

Monday, 2 February 2015

1 Year In Sweden

Today makes it one year since I arrived bleary eyed into Copenhagen airport where I was greeted by my partner and taken on the train to the town I have lived in for the past year.

I can't say that it is at it's most attractive at the beginning of February, cold, dark and full of dead looking trees but without the snow that would make that look kind of pretty. It was pretty clear that I was going to be living in a very different climate the one one I had grown up in. It was not exactly a surprise but not an ideal introduction either.
This is actually from the end of March, but I think it gets the point across
It has been an interesting year, getting used to a place, a new culture and a new language.

Sweden is a relatively easy country to speak only English in, you just have to be happy not being able to read any official documentation. Fortunately they are also pretty keen to have immigrants learn Swedish, they have free Swedish For Immigrants/Svenska För Invandrare (SFI) classes that I have been attending. At this point I can confidently say that I am better at it than I have been at any other non-English language I have studied. Unfortunately I can't say that particular bar was set particularly high.

One of the most interesting things about adapting to a new culture is realising just how many things and practices you thought were normal and relatively common aren't. I wasn't expecting to find Vegemite, Tim Tams and Kangaroo meat in stores here or anything, but by the same token I was expecting to be able to find beef sausages, proper bacon and plain peanuts without difficulty. This has become a new interest of mine when talking to other foreigners, "What did you expect to find in supermarkets that wasn't there?" I feel you can tell a lot about a place from the products you see in its supermarkets.

The distance from family and friends has not been ideal, Skype and Facebook help and we have had people come and visit which has been great, but in the past year there have been births and deaths within my family and it really sucks that I haven't been able to be there for them in the way I would like.

Making friends is not nearly as easy as it was back in Australia. In Australia I had the advantage of growing up there, school and university both were environments where I was constantly mixing with people of a similar age and interests and I don't quite have the same situation here. I really miss the casual social contact I had from weekly gatherings with friends and being able to rustle up some multiplayer gaming when I wanted. Time zones mean that spontaneous multiplayer is much hard harder now and it turns out that the gamers I have met here don't actually play much of the kinds of games I like playing.

Massive Chalice EP27 - Forgetting Your Rage

Despite having researched the equipment that lets me ignore special damage like the wrinkler and lapse attacks, I've never really bothered using them. The goal has been to try to put down lapses and just stay out of range of wrinklers.

The special damage does mean that they are always a threat though, I am never really comfortable with the idea of ending my turn visible and in range of any of them.

This is especially true at level 10 because there is there is no XP buffer one hit from a lapse and suddenly you lose your awesome special level 10 skill. It is pretty painful and  I have no idea how forgetting the skill will work for Mad Bomber and Chalk One Up, would I lose the damage boost I have built up or would my alchemist suddenly lose 5 vials?

Regardless, we are getting ever close to the end of the game, this series will finish up on Friday.