3 Games That The Agent Has Been Playing for The Last Month

I’m not sure why, but it seems that I’ve been losing interest in the triple-A gaming scene as I grow older.

Maybe I’m just bitter about how “games were better back then.” Perhaps I’m just legitimately more interested in what indie developers are doing. There’s the real chance that I’m just busy out of the house more often these days and I spend more time with cheap, free-to-play fare on my phone. Whatever the reason, I find myself drawn away from big budget releases in favor of indie games, classic re-releases, and mobile games these days.

And since I’ve been having a ball with taxes, family issues, and the like, let’s take a simpler approach this week and look at a few rapid-fire impressions from some games that have been holding my attention lately.

Ōkami HD

Scary!… but also pretty…
Source: PC Gamer

Let’s start with the classic re-releases, shall we?

I first played Ōkami on the Nintendo Wii and forwent the PlayStation 2 release thinking that the Wii motion controls would be better suited to a game centered around accurate brush movements (go ahead and get the giggles out now, a-holes; I’m sure it’s hilarious in hindsight), but the limited screen resolution made it very difficult to enjoy. After, a game about literally creating art should be, at the very least, pretty to look at.

The HD re-release addresses both the control and presentation issues I had in the past. There’s still a degree of challenge to accurate brush strokes, but none of that jittery nonsense from the motion controls. Plus, this is one of the few times I’d argue that an HD graphics overhaul was worth re-buying the game. Again, the one thing a game about art needs to get right is to at least look nice.

Other than that, it’s the exact same game as before; just as much fun and just as rich is Japanese folklore (so there’s this 3-part Kabuki theatre dance based on the folktale of Orochi on YouTube that you should totally watch…).

Reign of Bullets

Did somebody say, “EXPLOSIONS?”
Source: Steam

Next, the smaller indie stuff…

So, of the games I’ve been playing, I’ve been playing this the least – not because it’s bad, but because it’s better suited as a time waster and I’ve had little in the way of time to waste.

The story is kinda cute; a giant corporation literally drops a freeway on your garage and you go vigilante to take it back. Reading the passive-aggressive tweet storms between you and the bad guys over who has the worse business practices is amusing if nothing else.

The game also features tons of customisability as you earn new weapons and upgrades for your ship. But, as I said, it’s a time waster; You’re going to want to have some free time to dedicate to grinding for cash and parts. That kind of gameplay is good for when you want to just not think about stuff, but I find I’m not exactly the kind of person that enjoys not thinking.

Blustone

 

Prepare combat sequence for ludicrous speed!
Source: Google Play

And lastly, naturally, we come to the mobile game that I wish was more fun for me than it actually is.

Made of equal parts RPG and Idle Clicker, Blustone is pretty straightforward; you build a team, train them up, and tap on the screen ’till the bad guys go ‘boom.’

The problem is that, like most RPGs I’ve played, it starts out fast-paced and exciting, but slows down quickly to a slog of a level grinder. Plus, I found myself kinda distracted by the blatantly cutesy fanservice (how many bunny girls do you need, game?).

That said, there was ONE character that got a laugh out of me; an ice skater named Yuri (Get it?… Her name is Yuri… and you can say that she’s “on ice.”).

Advertisements

The Agent Reviews a Game: Space Shooter: Galaxy Attack

This blank, boring promo offend ALL of my senses as a graphic designer. But as for the game…
Source: Google Play

Well, color me surprised. Here I am, hunting for the ONE good mobile I can enjoy, and it was hiding right in front of me.

In my defense, everything about Space Shooter: Galaxy Attack screamed, “don’t play this; it’s garbage and we REALLY didn’t care about it beyond a paycheck.” Every piece of promotional material attached to this game is some of the most bland-looking, generic marketing wank I’ve ever seen. Even the title is so generic, I had to review and analyze screenshots like they were courtroom evidence just to make sure I wasn’t looking at footage from a different, equally generic looking game.

That said, when I actually got to playing it, I was surprised at how well it held up.

As the title ham-fistedly tells us, Space Shooter: Galaxy Attack is a space-themed shooter. You may recall my frothing at the mouth rage towards the last mobile shooter I played. Well, I was able to detect a trace of enjoyability through my fury-blurred vision and decided to look for other shooters to try in the hope that they would correct the mistakes of Fastlane. And, for the most part, Space Shooter nailed it.

The controls are AMAZINGLY responsive. My main problem with  Fastlane was that it didn’t actually track your finger which led to a lot of easily avoidable deaths. Space Shooter wins by default by having your ship lock to where ever you tap your finger, allowing for tight maneuvers and rapid response to threats.

And by god are their threats to be had. This game is just shy of a Touhou Project level bullet hell shooter – especially when you get to the boss fights and SUPER ESPECIALLY in Boss Fight Mode when they get amped up to eleven.

Oh yeah, there are multiple modes to play. There’s a ‘story mode’ (in the loosest sense as there is no plot) with three difficulty levels -Normal, Elite and Veteran. Boss Fight Mode has you rechallenging the bosses in the story with new ridiculous firing patterns that put your skills to the test, the Arena and Trial Modes give you a chance at snagging glory on a global leaderboard, and Endless Mode gives you a chance to grind some coin out of the alien menace to upgrade your ships.

Honestly, speaking of Endless Mode, that may be my only hang up with this game so far. Endless mode is WAY too easy. With a fully powered-up ship, I can cruise through over 200 waves while barely even touching the screen to steer. It’s pretty obvious that it exists only for level grinding.

Really, the thing you’re going to want to play this game for is the PvP. Yeah, this has a competitive multiplayer mode where you and a friendly rando from around world race against the clock to snatch the highest score. I thought it was totally mindless at first, but there’s actually a fair amount of strategy involved. What the fastest way to clear this wave to pull ahead of your opponent? Do you stick with your favorite ship to clear waves faster or grab the ship change power-up for a quick point boost?

As for the ads and pay-to-win shenaniganry I railed against in my Fastlane review, they are all completely optional here. Yes, there are buttons urging you to buy other games everytime you die, but they’re incorporated into the game over screen directly so as to be as unintrusive as possible. And if there ARE long video ads to watch, the game gives you the option to ignore them if the promise of extra coins or reviving your ship doesn’t appeal to you. Even the prices in the in-game store were more than fair; the starter pack is a steal at 99 cents.

This isn’t the sort of game that will hold me for long periods of time and it doesn’t compare to the big budget or even indie PC games I prefer to spend my time on. That said, I can’t state enough just how amazed I was that this seemingly hokey game that looked like it was made just to rake in a quick buck turned out so good. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good mobile game to hold you on a long road trip or waiting room visit.

I guess the lesson to be learned here is that the ol’ chestnut of ‘less is more’ really does hold true in the mobile gaming market.

The Agent Reviews a Game – Fastlane: Road To Revenge

“THIS ISN’T GTA. NO SIR. NOTHING LIKE IT. ROCKSTAR GAMES? WHO’RE THEY?”
Source: Google Play

Uuuuugh… This year was even worse than the last. It’s been a year of terrible politics, rising ignorance, and shifty practices in all of the most crucial parts of our lives. I mean, I know it’s unrealistic to expect the world to form a Xanadu Bureaucracy of the Seraphim Incorruptible, but we could at least TRY to be reasonable and work towards a mutual benefit.

Basically, what I’m getting at is that I need to beat up on an easy target to make myself feel better before we get to 2018. So, please forgive me as I continue my futile search for a REALLY good mobile game.

Fastlane: Road To Revenge can be easily summed as, “what if GTA was also The Fast and The Furious and we make it a top-down Shoot’em Up?” And honestly only the last third of that sentence has any appeal to me and was the only factor in me installing it on my phone (other than the fact that I was without my PC for a month and needed some form of entertainment).

Now that’s not to say the premise is wholly bad, merely that it’s shallow. This seems to be a running theme among mobile games; story and character development are tertiary to simplistic gameplay to entice potential players and *gag* microtransactions to line the dev teams pockets. There’s IS a good story to be told here about gang violence and the criminal underground told through the aesthetic of automotive culture. The problem is that it’s a story that’s been done before and the fact that it gets sidelined makes me think that the folks at Space Ape Games are well aware of that and just wanted to get it out the door ASAP.

But what about that gameplay though? Well, it plays well enough. As stated, it’s a top-down Shoot’em Up in the same vein as the old school arcade shooters I grew up with like Galaga1941, and one of my personal favorites Dragon Spirit. You hop into your ride and race through your rival’s streets shooting up enemy cars for cash to improve your car and take back your city. On paper, it sounds quite exciting. But in practice…

Well, first off, your movement is limited; your car seems to be fused to the bottom third of the screen. this wouldn’t be a problem normally as you would want to as far back as possible to give yourself ample time to dodge incoming attacks. But the screen is so small and the action moves so fast near the end of a level that you can’t react in time and you’ll have to start over from the beginning.

Now, you’d think that this would be mitigated somewhat by the use of that nifty health bar in the upper left corner of the screen, right? NOPE. That’s only for ramming other cars. Everything else – barriers and missiles – are a one-hit kill. Oh sure, regular bullets don’t insta-kill you. But they only seem to show up when you’re already dodging traffic and do so much damage at that point that they might as well be fatal.

The hell of it is that none of this would be a problem if I could just control myself properly. You swipe your finger to steer yourself around, but you expect that to mean that your vehicle tracks your fingers position on the screen. Again, NO. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve swiped my finger between incoming missiles or stopped going to one side only to STILL grind against a wall and got screwed and killed by terrible tracking.

The only way to survive the onslaught is to upgrade your car and power-ups. Granted most of the stuff can be bought with regular in-game cash – stronger guns, power-ups, armor, ETC., but better vehicles and spreadshot guns which you NEED to make any progress are locked behind a paywall. Oh, you could level grind for DAYS to try to get the gems to pay for them or sit through the “optional” ads that pop up EVERY TIME YOU DIE hoping to get some, but let’s be honest with ourselves – you’re expected to buy them directly and pay for the privilege of in-game progression.

This is easily the most frustrating game I’ve ever played on mobile. It’s a shame too because it could have been a fun time waster if nothing else. But between the weak story, unfair difficulty curve, janky controls, and money-grubbing tactics, this is a game I’ll be happy to leave behind. Thank god this was a free download or I might have actually gotten upset.

Three Games That The Agent Is Playing Now: Chrono.gg Edition

Well, I’ve been keeping busy these last few day with Halloween preparations and new management at work (we actually have a meeting about it today, so I have to make this quick), so I’m just going to put out one of my short and simple lists today because I’m not a fan of not having anything for you all on Thursdays.

So, I’m going to talk about the games that I’ve been playing lately… but with a twist. The catch is that all of these games were obtained through Chrono.gg.

For those that have not yet heard, Chrono.gg is probably one of the most useful resources a PC gamer and Steam user has at their disposal. Every day at noon (Eastern Standard Time), they have a new flash sale with one game marked down at a ridiculously low price – often 50-90 percent off the original price.

Even if there isn’t a game on sale that day that you’re interested in, it’s still worth logging in to check because you get daily coin rewards that you can use to get other games FOR FREE. These games are sold in limited quantities and new games get added every two weeks. So, there’s always a reason to show up every day.

So, today, I’m going to give this amazing service some free publicity by showcasing the games that I got through them that I haven’t been able to put down.

Loot Hound

Some of the most consistently enjoyable games I find on Chrono.gg are simple time wasters that are useful for just chilling out after getting home from work. Hence why I keep coming back to Loot Hound.

You play as an enthusiastic treasure hunter/dog lover in search of random bobbles and bric-a-brac. You have to train your three dogs – Marley (who specializes in digging through rocky terrain), Wifi (who’s small enough to fit into small hidey-holes) and Mr. Anderson (who can scare off stubborn wild animals in your way) – to be the best loot hounds they can be while dodging park security.

There’s not much in the way of strategy; the answer to any problem often boils down to use the right dog for the task and make sure they’re trained up properly to overcome obstacles. But, I can appreciate a game with a simple premise if it’s done right. And this game is just so bright and cheery with a light-hearted sense of humor (at one point, your dog will dig a steak out of the dirt and the game will call it “GROUND Beef”) that it’s quickly becoming my go-to title for unwinding at the end of the day.

Odallus: The Dark Call

Shifting away from bright and cheerful for just a second, let’s have some fun with old school, dark gothic fantasy.

Odallus: The Dark Call is a lot of things. It combines the level progression of Ghouls & Ghosts, the branching paths of Demon’s Crest and the overall visual aesthetic and many combat mechanics from classic Castlevania games. You’d think that would be a case of the game trying to do too much at once, but if you can ignore the clumsy writing and dialog, it plays extraordinarily well and handles exactly like you would expect a retro throwback game would.

By the way, I didn’t pick those three game comparisons at random; the developers REALLY want you to know that they were inspired by those games in particular. In addition to ripping the overworld map directly from Ghouls & Ghosts, they recycle a lot of art assets from various Castlevania games and modeled quite a few bosses from baddies in Demon’s Crest. What’s more, when I bought this from Chrono.gg, it came bundled with three DLC skin packs – the Vampire Hunter, the Royal Knight and the Red Gargoyle.

Creative bankruptcy aside, this is still a fun play and was a steal at only two dollars.

Plasma Puncher

Ending back on the cute and silly, I’ve heard of Endless Runners, but this may be the first case I’ve heard of an ‘Endless Beat ’em Up.’

Plasma Puncher puts you in the role of a lone white blood cell fighting off a seemingly endless army of viral infectors. It’s your duty to fisticuffs every one of them into oblivion and save the body you call home.

As you progress, you’ll have to upgrade your little badass antibody, learn how to use various power ups to maximum potential, and quickly acclimate to new enemies with every incoming wave that alters their strategy. It’s pick-up-and-play style of game that still provides a fair amount of challenge.

If you seek out any of these games today, this would be the one I’d recommend the most.

The Agent Reviews a Game: Seek

I know; it feels like I just reviewed a mobile game. But I was so genuinely happy to discover this thing that I had to share it with you.

So, I’ve been on the hunt for AR games (short for “Augmented Reality) to encourage me to get out of the house and stave off the twin demons of idleness and depression. You’ve seen me discuss AR games here before in the form of Ingress and Pokémon GO. However, those games are a bit too competitive for a someone looking to game while taking a leisurely stroll. I need something that turns a walk in the park into a fun, casual treasure hunt.

In otherwords, I needed Seek.

Seek is simple enough to understand; there are digital ‘treasure chests’ scattered throughout the world and you need to find them and claim them. The chests come four colors that correspond to their rarity and, by extension, the quality of the stuff you find inside them. Rarer chests will also require that you have keys to open them. The rarer the chest; the more keys required.

And what do you have to earn from these chests? How about REAL WORLD LOOT?

Yes, the chests are filled with in-game items for the most part like keys, in-game coins for purchases, and doublers that boost your potential rewards when you open a new chest. But you can also find stuff like big discount coupons, gift cards, free mail-in prizes, and even ACTUAL MONEY PRIZES.

Now, let’s not kid ourselves; unless you have the speed of Mercury, the endurance of Atlas, and half the outdoorsman skills that Bear Grylls THINKS he has, you aren’t going to be paying your rent with this game. However, the potential of free stuff is a tempting enough promise to get almost anyone out and moving.

Also, remember how I said in my last mobile game review that I hate it when a game forces me to play on its schedule to be any good at it? Not the case here. There are regular log-in rewards that take the form of a free chest every seven hours. However, the rewards are already awesome in-game goodies that you need for better loot with no need for a cumulative build-up. So, if you’re too sick or too busy to go out that day, the game is understanding enough to sit and wait for you until you get back.

If I had any real complaints about Seek, it’s that it – like seemingly every AR game that boils down to a scavenger hunt – doesn’t make full use of its AR aspects. I was expecting to have to use my camera to scan the world for my hidden bounty, but it turned out that the answer was always, “look 20 to 45 degrees to your right.” Honestly, you’d be better off turning off the AR camera to conserve your battery life.

Basically, if you use AR gaming as a motivator for physical activity like I do and need something more friendly and more rewarding than an occasional gold star sticker, you may find Seek to be a great match for you.