While I’m getting some future reviews ready, I’ve decided to do another Steam Pack.
I think I’ll stop doing these. If I review short games after this Pack, instead of grouping them in sets of 4 games, I’ll just post each review as it’s done. This should allow me to play games and review games, without waiting to have 4 in line ready to be reviewed. Plus it’s going to be faster. With each article being a single review, it’ll also be easier to find a review of a game, and it’s also going to be simpler on my end overall.
And today, there IS a theme: The red/blue contrast, surprisingly popular in puzzle games (but not unheard of in platformers and other genres). The games today can all be called platformers to some level, with a clear puzzle element added to them. Let’s get into it!
Out There Somewhere
I love games that try new things. I’m not sure what to call this one. It’s a bit Metroidvania, a bit puzzle platformer, a bit exploration.
|It doesn't take long for the game to pull off the kid gloves.|
|Pretty blue color... it must be friendly.|
|Blue, red... green wasn't part of the deal!|
|My screenshots are kinda dark...|
The retro-inspired graphics and the soundtrack are also quite charming. And of course, the devs aren’t cruel; you have infinite lives and each screen is a save point – it may be tough, but it’s as fair as can be.
Really, the biggest barrier is the high difficulty; other than that, it’s a very good game. It’s not expensive, either; just about 1$!
Once again, a game utilizing the red/blue contrast, except this time it focuses more on puzzle than platforming.
Developed and released by Bluebutton Games on November 4th, 2014, Polarity is about you, a hacker in first-person, tasked with collecting data in a highly-secure virtual vault for a huge company paying muchos dineros for your services. Every level is a bit on the platform side, involving some walking around, but there are also puzzles to be solved. You can grab cubes and toss them into switches of the corresponding color in order to activate effects, pull platforms, so on. You can also press Q or E to switch between red and blue. You must learn to switch between colors at the proper times. The first level shows that you can only pass through something if you’re of the same color. Red lasers kill you if you’re set to red, vice versa for blue. Same for barriers – pass through a red one while set to red, pas through a blue one when set to blue. Things get tricky when the game introduces these barriers as walkable platforms – you need to remember to be set to red while walking on a blue platform lest you want to fall off, and blue while walking on red.
|These are the data cores. Grab three per level.|
|It all looks a bit samey all the time.|
Then again, remember that these places are supposed to be programs.
|We have green now??|
For the most part, I felt like the difficulty in this one was just right – not too easy, not too tough. I didn’t have to stop very often to find the solution to a puzzle. The data fragments were also, for the most part, fairly easy to find. One of the annoying elements is that you must sometimes throw a cube in order to make it land on the switches that will activate effects. That’s cool if you’re not too far, but this! How could I have known that there was an activation pad up there?? I can barely see it!
The soundtrack is pretty decent, and the graphics are basic but just detailed enough for the type of game that this is – no need for super-detailed environments. Everything looks clear and nice. It’s a tad annoying that one can’t beat the game completely unless they beat the co-op levels, but the solo campaign (both main quest and bonus levels) offers plenty for a player.
So far, we’ve had puzzles and platforming. How about we add some parkour to it? …No, bad idea.
|Runing on walls is always cool too, I guess.|
On to the negatives. For starters, I wasn’t joking about the difficulty; this is roughly the difficulty curve I’ve experienced over the first world’s levels. Granted, the game contains only 13 levels, but the increase in difficulty is insane. Something like this.
|The unseen, highest points of the difficulty graph are called "I want a|
refund", "Fuck this" and "Literally impossible on purpose".
|The game also has a few glitches. One of bthe annoying ones|
is when I walk into a portal in the hub to get to a level. It
won't work unless I step out and re-enter it. Just WHY.
|The magical parkouring is long and tedious.|
If only it wasn't such a pain in the ass...
|Oh good! Deadly electricity now!|
I needed that... not.
|You don't know these things can kill you until you|
encounter them. These things are motherf...
I was actually looking forward to this game, I even bought it because it sounded interesting. I had no idea it would be so annoying. It could have been done better; keep the difficulty, work on better controls, improve some technical elements… but as it stands now, this game is terrible.
Ending today with a bit of a puzzle element, some platforming, but mostly exploration and, most importantly… a small touch of horror.
Scanner Sombre is a creation of Introversion Software and was published to Steam on April 26th, 2017. The concept is as simple as it gets: You are set to explore a mysterious cave in complete darkness. You brought nothing to help you, no rope, no hooks, and no flashlight. Instead, you have a VR headset and a scanner that will “paint” dots of colored light all over the walls. The colors serve to indicate what is close to the protagonist and what isn’t; if it’s red, you’re practically next to it, or standing on it. Further is yellow, then green, and at a distance it’s blue. From warm to cool colors. It makes for a very contemplative, interesting experience as you practically paint your own path, making your way through complete darkness and avoiding chasms and other deadly areas, with minimal storytelling to top it all off.
|That statue wasn't there when I walked on that bridge earlier.|
Holy bajeezus almighty! What the fuck was that?
Ah yes, I remember now why I don’t play horror games; I’m a wuss. Movies are fine, but the added interactivity of horror video games does a number on me. It’s a good thing that Scanner Sombre turns out to be absolutely beautiful to watch, or I wouldn’t be playing it again. Really, there are times where it’s breathtaking, even if you’re technically just looking at dots shaping up the place, like some kind of pointillist painting.
|That thing doesn't look like just an old cave wall.|
Now if I could just pass by the dead spirits in the water… (Before you ask, yes, I managed to go further and beat the game. There’s so much more to see past that point, additional upgrades, detailed environments... just gotta get past that scary part first.)
|A later upgrade lets you see all kinds of important things|
such as pipes... steel beams... grid doors... elevators...
|...pipes... steel beams... grid doors... elevators...|
the deceased bodies of mining workers and cave explorers...
And thus ends the twentieth (and final) Steam Pack! From now on, quick game reviews will be posted on their own instead of getting bundled up like this.