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Every Wednesday, at 7 PM on Twitch, I'm playing Steam games for you.
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Wednesday 29/03/2017: Clockwork Tales: Of Glass and Ink

September 9, 2016

Steam Pack 1


So, now that I have a Steam account, I can discuss games that are available to the entire Steam community. Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to go out and buy these games. I simply hope these quick reviews either encourage you to try these games for yourself, or convince you to never try them. Once again, fairness is my rule; I have to be honest with the games I’ll be reviewing. This means that if there’s something I don’t like, I’ll point it out, regardless of the game’s current score. Same if there’s something I enjoy. Take my opinion with a grain of salt; it’s just my opinion, and it’s not like I nearly have enough influence to sway large crowds to the way I view these games. If any game deserves a longer review, I will reserve a whole post (or multiple posts) to it.

AdVenture Capitalist


Not much there is to say about this one: It’s an Idle game, so basically you can leave it running in the background while you’re doing something else, and that’s pretty much the only reason this game will rack up more playtime than any other game in your collection.

Novemseptuagintillion? That's... 79illion!
You start on Earth; you are a new hopeful young investor, and you start building your empire with lemonade stands. Then, once you get richer, you get to sell newspapers. Over time, you become the owner of car washes, pizza places, donut shops, shrimp boats, hockey teams, movie studios, banks and oil companies. Every upgrade to each investment gets more expensive, so as time goes on you end up having to pay millions, even billions or trillions to get more money from each investment. After a while, you might start collecting Angel Investors; those appear to you after a while and will join your “team” when you reset. Each angel gives a 2% cash bonus to all investments, which doesn’t seem like a lot, but at 50 Angels, you already double your profits. Not to mention that after a while, you’ll also end up with millions, billions, trillions of angels… while you’ve reached decillions, undecillions, duodecillions in cash… Yeah, all clickers do that. They reach crazy numbers, all the way to the goggle (1 followed by 100 zeros). It went that way with Cookie Clicker, it went that way for Clicker Heroes (except for that one, the characters’ Damage also went crazy high).

This trtip to Mars better be worth it.
It cost me a freaking trillion, after all.
After you’ve collected a few trillions, you can unlock the Moon and Mars. They need 72 hours to open, though. However, once they’re open, you now have access to three Idles in one. The Moon has a slower rhythm in the rise of investments, mostly due to the bizarre way some investments increase in value later on. Meanwhile. Mars appears to start slow but rises very quickly after a moment, so chances are that you’ll finish Mars first, then the Moon, and finally you’ll be left to complete Earth.

There’s a bunch of ways to have the investments rise faster: Buying tickets, each approximately 1000 times more expensive than the previous one. You can convert 10 tickets into a Golden Ticket, which will add a X7 multiplier to one investment. If all of a planet’s investments are boosted that way, you can pay more tickets to boost the whole planet even further. Then, if you’ve got money to waste, you can spend some of your real-life cash to get much-needed boosts through Gold Bars. But of course, that’s only if you really want to… Like a lot of free-to-play idle games where buying with real money is only an option, a time comes where the game doesn’t pick up enough speed unless you do grab some real-life cash.

Just because it's Christmas doesn't mean you have to
stop making money. Many companies make MORE
money around Christmas anyway.
Of course, because three idles in one aren’t already addictive enough, AdVenture Capitalist’s developer, hyperhippo, will often release special events that may allow you to get more free gold bars, more money, and so on.

As addictive as this game may be, you know it’s an idle clicker game, so no matter how long you spend playing this game, there will never be much of an actual payoff. You can hope for one, but the truth is that you will probably never get any. But it goes with the genre, so you should be expecting that. It’s really something that you can only see as a little time-waster, or something to run in the background while you’re doing other stuff. There’s nothing wrong with that, but if you prefer actual games, then you should just skip this one.

Current price: Free-to-play. (Pay-to-win?)

Adventurer Manager


For a town with a castle, it's pretty damn empty.
In this retro-styled pen-and-paper tabletop RPG recreation, you are given the task to rise an army of heroes and send them on various quests. Everything has to be taken into consideration: The positions of your characters in battle, their endurance, their class (spellcasters and archers at the back, smashers and fighters at the front!), the perks you obtain by upgrading your castle, the power of the monsters encountered, the equipment, the special moves, the stats… It’s a LOT of stuff to keep in mind. This emulates pretty closely the feeling you’d get from a regular tabletop RPG. However, in this case, you have no limit to the number of adventurers you can have – although you can split them into multiple teams and send them on various missions.

At least there's quite a bit of adventuring to do here.
The 8bit art is pretty good, but sometimes confusing. Since everything is done in the same style, it’s often difficult to know where every character is. Another problem I’ve run into when playing is that the content of the window seems to be bigger than the resolution on my screen, so in the case of a full enemy party, the last enemy is slightly out of the frame.

I should also say that not many things are explained to the player. You can hire as many adventurers as you want, but you have no say on their original stats, and you can only choose whether you want a man, a woman, or if the gender doesn’t matter (I always pick that option, because all the adventurers in this game are nondescript enough. For the record, my highest-level character is a bearded dwarf woman, and she kicks all asses). On top of that, many stats are abbreviated, and you might not always know what each stat is, or what they affect in the game.

That's one overbearing enemy there.
It’s a pretty tough game to get into if you’ve never played tabletop RPGs, and even if you have, sometimes you might not be sure how to get everything to go as it’s supposed to. The game saves automatically, so don’t be afraid to lose progress. A lot of effort was also put in the game when it comes to the 8bit sprites of the characters, as all unlockable characters have sprites that change when you add or remove equipment from them.

All in all, this game isn’t terrible, but I’m afraid I am not accustomed enough to all these factors, and I don’t find a lot of interest in it. Some interfaces could have been polished or ameliorated. The RPG elements are alright, and so is the Management Sim aspect, but the two combined might not be to everyone’s tastes.

Current price: 4.99$ USD

Airscape: The Fall of Gravity


Pits? They are the least of your troubles.
Let's just say we won't run out of laser-roasted squid
on our plates anytime soon.
A little family of squids gets abducted from their calm reef by aliens. Next thing we know, an orange one finds itself able to live outside of water, with a helmet filled with water on its head, and it must navigate dangerous levels filled with booby traps, mines, and hateful robots. Would all be fine and good, if this squid didn’t have only one hit point… but don’t worry, we have endless reserves.

Take the elastic gravity of Mario Galaxy and apply it to a 2D platformer where the screen rotates with the character. Add to this water sections, a lot of parts requiring timing and precision, and you get a devilish little game that will be a joy to play – as long as you don’t get fed up with the difficulty, anyway – and a pleasure to watch. This game looks great. The octopi are well-defined, the opponents look very alien. The soundtrack is pretty cool, too; the current level theme gets drowned out a bit when the character goes underwater, which is a neat idea.

It's all an elaborate death trap. The robots are not
enough? Here's lasers! Not enough? Here's missiles!
Not enough? Suspended mines!
There’s a part of puzzle to this game, as you have to retrieve up to three spheres in every level, some of which are fairly well hidden. There are timers on some of those spheres, so even if you, say, manage to save yourself with a checkpoint, if you don’t get to that sphere in time, you’re better off restarting the level. As a One Hit Point Wonder, you have to avoid every single thing on the way. Some reviews call this game the Dark Souls of platforming, and… I freaking believe them. Holy crap this game is hard. To borrow the catchphrase of the Dark Sould community, you damn better Git Gud. You can easily die upwards of a thousand times here, if you aim to beat the game’s 60+ levels. And of course, you also need to find all the secret levels… Of course, you don’t need to rely on a single squid, you can unlock four more as you progress, and each of them has a special ability; as an example, the purple one can hover.

To reach these floating islands, you have to pass under
the lasers below, avoid a lot of robots... Just wait, later
levels also have fireballs!
You can play this with your gamepad or your keyboard, so that’s nice. Arm yourself with a lot of patience and determination, because you won’t be beating this one anytime soon. Especially if you attempt to get all spheres and find all hidden levels!

It’s a good game, even though I’m pretty sure I will never be able to beat it. It’s a cool idea that is well-executed – all you need is the motivation to carry through after all the lives lost. I would say that the scree always spins to follow the change of gravity of the octopi, and that could be dizzying for the player – or sickening, perhaps. There’s a lot of material to keep a player busy here. Looks great, music’s nice… perhaps a tad too expensive, if you’re not sure you’ll play it long enough to justify the price, maybe you should wait for a reduction.

Current price: 9.99$ USD

Auditorium


It's like a more complex form of the light-redirection
puzzles in some games.
A music game unlike any other! Auditorium is truly a unique experience. In this puzzle game, each level has a stream of unheard music coming out from an area, like a wind of notes. You are given circles with arrows in them, and when these circles touch the stream, whatever notes met that circle will go in the direction of the arrow. You need to bring that stream of notes into containers, which will play the music as it passes into or near them. You can’t change the directions of the arrows, but you can move them around at will and resize the circle around them, affecting the beam of music slightly… or drastically.

Soon enough, we are introduced to colored bubbles and colored containers, and the music must be colored in those bubbles before it passes into the containers of the corresponding colors. Most of the puzzle is, where do I place these, and how big must I make them? Also, what are those new bubbles? As it turns out, after every set of 5 levels we get a new gameplay mechanic, which you must then adapt to. Bubbles that make the music spin around? Sure. Unmovable dots that split the music stream? Eeyup. Bubbles that speed up the music stream to make it reach its destination faster? Indeed. Double-color containers? Yep. Portals? Why the Heck not?

And all this time, a world’s music never ends. The musical tracks add themselves to the mix as you fill the containers. The only way to get the whole orchestration of the tune is to complete a level. There are 15 worlds in this game, and it’s an experience more than anything else.

One of the advantages is that since many puzzles have more than one solution, sometimes you can find a solution that omits one or another of the bubbles, and yet the end result still works. Unfortunately, for many of these puzzles, you will need to do some mind gymnastics to figure out where the flow is going to pass. Let’s see, the flow orbits around in this bubble, will get into that colored circle, then hit that container, only to go into a portal and hitting the other side, another color bubble, to a container, then it’s back in the portal, then that thing will speed it up, and then this one will send it back and I just went cross-eyed.


By world 7, this is what the playing field looks like.
Whoa.
The puzzles are incredibly well thought-out and complex, forcing you to think outside the box frequently. The downside is that sometimes you need excellent precision when placing the bubbles. Every pixel seems to count in some puzzles. The visuals are wonderful, so much color speeding left and right and around the screen. And the resulting music is simply fantastic. You earn that amazing orchestral track.

The game contains over 60 levels, so if you feel like trying something unique, go ahead and play this game. It doesn’t have any additional modes, and if you’re really smart you can beat it in 3, maybe 4 hours. It’s a neat game to play between the bigger, more famous titles.

Current Price: 6.99$ USD

Alright, so these were four games I wanted to talk about but couldn’t dedicate an entire post for. I’ll be making more Steam Pack articles later on. Next week, I will finally release that long review of Mario and Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story. Be sure to tune in!