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August 5, 2016

My Top 12 Steam Discoveries

So, it’s not exactly a secret anymore that I own a Steam account now. At first, I was reticent about it because I didn’t want to spend a lot of money there, I was kinda sick of hearing from everyone around me about how great and amazing and good it was (you know, the Frozen Effect), and also I had no idea if I would find anything there to interest me. I’ve been a Nintendo guy my entire life, it’s pretty difficult to take up a new way to play games (like moving to another console, or move to PC gaming) when you’ve grown up with one company.

And yet, I found. Oh, did I find a lot of interesting games. With minimal spending, and taking advantage of the Steam summer sale, I managed to get a whole lot of games for a fairly reasonable sum. Going by recommendations, interesting TVTropes pages, and in general looking for games I either knew about or heard friends were playing. I made many interesting discoveries as a result. And I decided to start the fourth year on Planned All Along on a happy note by telling you about many of the discoveries I’ve made! Will these be reviewed sometime later? Maybe, maybe not. I will probably start reviewing Steam games at some point. I hope I do and it brings me more readers. Until then, enjoy this little list I put together.

12. Legend of Numbers
Stupidly addictive Facebook casual games! I fell into Candy Crush, then it was Pepper Panic, and a few others… I’m well aware of those, and I don’t consider myself less of a gamer for having played them. Addictive? Yes. Free-to-play? Yes. In fact, you’ll notice many of these games are free-to-play, because my first steps on Steam were to download as many free-to-play games as I could get. Mostly MMOs. Then I broadened my search and got a few casual games… but the only one that really struck me was Legend of Numbers, where lining up three of the same number results in the addition of these numbers appearing on the grid in white (three 1s =3, three 2s = 6, all the way to 8s = 24 or 9s= 27). Then you need to reach certain goals by combining these white numbers together, always combining a number with another of itself. It’s an interesting game, but not one to spend dozens of hours on.

11. AdVenture Capitalist
More stupidly addictive games, this time idles and clickers. AdVenture Capitalist is actually three “management” clickers, one for Earth, one for the Moon, one for Mars. Same concept as other clickers; restarting after being relatively far in nets you a bonus currency (angels) that serves to increase your profits and give you bonuses. I really should stop wasting my time on Idle games. First I had Clicker Hero, then Cookie Clicker, now this! Oddly enough, it is the game I spent the most time in… but that’s because I let it run in the background while I listen to music and do other stuff – among others, when I write reviews. That’s the advantage of Idles. The disadvantage is that you end up going back to see its progression every few minutes, like a social media addict does with Facebook or Twitter. Wait, let me check mine… Ah, nothing new. Good! What was I talking about again? Oh, right. The thing with Adventure Capitalist is that it’s three-in-one (not counting the bonus events!), so it’s even MORE addictive. Well… the reason this and Legend of Numbers are so low on the list is that they remain on the low end of interesting games on Steam. Everything that follows will be much better.

10. The Game
On my quest for free-to-play games, I downloaded really all kinds of things. turns out to be one of the first games I ever downloaded, because I liked the idea of a PvP version of Snake. The whole idea here is that you’re a worm gobbling up dots and bugs and growing, but you can’t die by hitting yourself (unlike the original Snake). You’re moving in a room with other worms, so you need to avoid them, because hitting them will kill you. If you kill another worm, you can gain a neat bonus in points by gobbling up the dots it left behind. There are many modes available and I found my time in this game fairly enjoyable as I was still a newbie on Steam and didn’t yet know better. To this day, I still go back to it sometimes, for a few minutes.

9. Team Fortress 2
I have yet to play this game more before I can discussing it in greater depth, but chances are that, if you have Steam, you know this game – scratch that, if you got anywhere close to the Internet, you know this game. Its popularity is simply incredible. And I can see why. Even though I downright sucked on my first time playing, I really enjoyed it. It could be annoying to face some of the tougher opponents, but after a while I started getting the hang of the controls. As soon as I have less on my plate, review-wise, I’ll go back to play it some more. The comedy around the game seems to be right up my alley. Only downside, I’m really not good at FPS in general, due to hardly ever playing the genre before (I largely prefer a platformer or an RPG), so I still need some practice when it comes to aiming and shooting. I’m sure after a few more matches I’ll spend a LOT of time in this game. Plus there’s that crate I got for free, and I need a key for it…

8. Undertale
I’m putting this one low on the list because for one, it’s not a personal discovery (I knew much of what the game had to offer already), and I’ve already discussed my experience on another post on this blog. There isn’t much else I can add, really; I like the characters, the inclusion of multiple paths means it’s possible to see many facets of their personalities, and every action from every character is justified in a way or another, which is probably the most important thing in storytelling ever. I’ve completed True Pacifist and am perfectly satisfied with it. Honestly, I could probably go on and on about it, but everything that could be said has been said, so I don’t think throwing my voice among the millions of other Undertale fans would make any difference (despite my previous post hoping to change some things… yeah, I can get contradictory like that sometimes). So yeah, great game, great story, but I won’t talk about it much more. Unless it can get me a lot of views… What? Can you blame me for doing a bit of clickbaiting after more than three years writing this goddamned site and still not making any money? Can you blame me???

…Oh… Sorry, I think I lost it for a moment there…

7. You Have To Win The Game
I had never heard about that game before I downloaded it. It seemed interesting, I took it. One of those things you get on a whim, in the hopes that you’ll enjoy them. Really, the same thing that happens when I have too much choice at the local EBGames for my Wii console and I pick some games that I never heard of before, and end up liking them – or hating them, thank you Anubis II. You Have To Win The Game is an extremely challenging experience where you start off with little to no abilities, in a world where spikes abound and enemies are indestructible. First you gain blue and pink platforms that let you cross dangerous areas, then you find the power to jump twice, then the power to cling to walls… and while you still remain a one hit point wonder, at the end the game becomes a lot more interesting – not to mention that password section at the end, which is a superb idea. A game that I truly recommend, as long as you like having your nerves tested by something of extreme difficulty.

6. Clockwork Tales: Of Glass And Ink
One of my first actual purchases on Steam was this game. I had about 4 dollars to spend, so I took one of the first things that seemed interesting at that price. Clockwork Tales: Of Glass and Ink is a fairly normal point-and-click adventure with puzzles and elements of hidden object games. It’s not trying to reinvent the genre, it’s just trying to be entertaining – which it’s meant to be, it’s a friggin’ video game. This story takes us into a steampunk world where agent Evangeline Glass is attempting to find where her friend, Professor Ambrose Ink, is being held captive, all while attempting to solve the mystery of the unnatural earthquakes plaguing the surrounding towns. It’s not very long, it has most of the standard puzzles, it has collectibles as well as different difficulty settings… and, once again, the entire universe around Evangeline has this bizarre hard-on for puzzles of all kinds, especially on doors that should function with normal locks! I still don’t get that. If you have a thief who’s smart enough to solve your puzzle, you can kiss your expensive stuff goodbye! Anyway, it’s nothing spectacular, but it’s a lot of fun and I was entertained. And I will probably try to play through it again someday on a higher difficulty setting.

5. RPG Maker VX Ace
Is it cheating to include one software that isn’t technically a game? Screw it, I’m doing it anyway. I’ve always liked to download the free, “trial” versions of RPG Maker. I may be a reviewer, but I enjoy the thought of making my own stories, and perhaps my own games. As I discovered, it’s an awful lot of work, seeing as it took me 24 hours to program about 10 minutes of playing time, and that’s because I haven’t tried to get my own resources yet! And I am not really creating my own story either, I’m building a game out of a webcomic I follow that has the potential to become a really, really good RPG. A webcomic so big, I could probably give this game 20 hours of gameplay at least, on the basis of side-quests alone. Thing is, with the trial versions I would always build silly little games about beating up enemies that get stronger, and little to no plot. Now that I have bought the full version of an RPG Maker, I am actually trying to get something serious made. I spend a lot of time looking online for solutions to the problems I encounter while programming. Anyway, I got that one for 11 dollars at the Steam summer sale, and I hope any of you people out there with great game ideas someday get the chance to buy this software, at a reduced price, and maybe try your hand at game-making!

Without a doubt the biggest game I have downloaded from Steam, and the only such large game I’ve kept. TERA is also one of the few MMORPGs I’ve tried so far, and I still go back to it every once in a while. The visuals are breathtaking, the difficulty is correct so far (not that I’ve done much so far, I’m only Level 16 at the moment) and I’m slowly discovering it, whenever I have time to do that and there isn’t another game taking my attention away. I personally went with a Baraka sorcerer, in part because it’s the complete opposite of what I usually play, and in part because I like the idea of playing a guy who looks tough but turns out to be a magic user. The truly important boss battle I’ve had so far took me well over thirty minutes because I haven’t yet made friends in it so I haven’t joined a guild… I’m not used to that MMORPG stuff yet… so maybe I will at some point. Though before I get in-depth with this one, I’ll probably go through a lot more games.

3. The Beginner’s Guide
The Mysterious Mr. Enter brought me to this one. I had already heard of David Wreden and The Stanley Parable. The Beginner’s Guide had a concept that really intrigued me as soon as I heard about it. On the surface, this is only a walking simulator that goes through multiple levels ranging from boring to psychedelic, with the occasional puzzle or section with a weapon; meanwhile, David “Davey” Wreden acts as the Narrator and tells us about the maker of these games, a mysterious person known as Coda, and their odd relationship. I’m trying my best to avoid any spoilers here, but I’ll say this much: It’s a short experience, about an hour and a half, and the plot twist will make you doubt all of the games you’ve played in the collection. More like an interactive film, really; and it’s the kind of game that has to be played a few times, with different settings, to get the full experience. But I truly recommend it. I just don’t want to spoil it. Just trust me; it may be tedious at points but it’s good.

And it has some really weird moments, like that human
with a cube for a face with "LISTEN" written on it.

2. South Park: The Stick of Truth
So many games are now available for me to buy thanks to Steam. Fallout 4, Call of Duty, DOOM, Far Cry, GTA V… I kinda want No Man’s Sky when it comes out, too. But one game I never thought I would actually buy is South Park: The Stick of Truth. This RPG, written by Trey Parker and Matt Stone and filled to the brim with references to the show’s 17 seasons (at the point when it was released), sees most of the child population of South Park in the middle of a LARP and they treat it as serious fucking business. We play the New Kid (who’ll be called Douchebag no matter what you name him) as he gets thrown into this adventure where some of the most memorable villains of the South Park series will somehow decide to strike, and people treat it like it’s a normal everyday thing. So many sidequests, so many battle elements that are interesting, so many places to visit (even Canada! We can get poutine in this game, for Christ’s sake! That gets a point in my book!), so many items that are references to the show… I could go on and on. I never thought I’d laugh so much, really; farts tend to lose their comedic, um, flavor, after you’ve heard too many. I suppose the sheer absurdity of the world around is one of the reasons to be playing this game? I found Jesus after a game of hide and seek and became pals with him! How’s that? I also like the slight edge of deconstruction brought by the game and its RPG mechanics. It’s mostly relegated to jokes, but dammit, this game has thousands of jokes.

P.S. I am a Butters fan!

1. Unturned
The big discovery! Since I started off with free-to-play games, one of the things I found was Unturned, suggested by an online friend. It’s a survival game, another genre I’m not used to… I was intrigued by the Minecraft-like blocky style, and wanted to see just how complex the game was. And boy is it complex. You start off naked in one of three places and must survive zombie attacks by entering houses (windows and doors all mysteriously vanished from the world), dressing up, gathering food, healing items and crafting materials in order to build everything you need. All while taking into account noise, proximity, your level of hunger, thirst… I could go on and on… By cutting trees, you get wood to build walls, doors, windows, you can make your own base and then create a miniature farm so as to never run out of food… You also need to take into consideration the available space in your pockets, backpack, etc. A surprisingly complex game for such a simple style, and I really like it – even if I’m nowhere near close to surviving 24 hours in that world. Best I did was, like, 4 hours. And I’m going to try again as soon as I can.

Well, this concludes this list. Starting today, the 2016 Rio Olympis are getting athletes from all over the planet to compete for medals. Therefore, I will be discussing the first game in what is now a one-every-two-years tradition at Nintendo: Mario’s team and Sonic’s team meeting to duke it out at the Olympic Games. Well, okay, I will be discussing the first game for the Wii. Be sure to be there!