Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Games We Play: Broken Sword, Broken Age, Gone Home

Over the past few months, Hunter and I have played a few more adventure-y type games, mostly with him manning the keyboard and me sitting next to him helping with puzzles. So I thought I'd share my feelings on them in some sort of "mini-reviews," for fun.

Broken Sword

This is an old-school adventure game I got from a Humble Bundle. It's a mystery game involving the Knights Templar taking place mostly in Paris, although you also travel to Spain, Ireland, and Syria. Hunter read Foucault's Pendulum shortly after we finished the game, so many of the people and places referenced were familiar to him. You alternate between play as Nico, a French reporter, and George, an American tourist. It's pretty standard adventure game stuff, although one advantage it has over a series like King's Quest is that you can't die or mess things up irrevocably, which is nice. A disadvantage, at least for people who don't play and love adventure games, is that the puzzles can be hard. For Hunter, who wasn't raised in this genre quite as much as I was, some of the solutions just didn't make sense. I, on the other hand, usually thought, "of course you would do that how does it not make sense?"

The story was mostly pretty fun, although the ending left something to be desired. There are more games in the series, and I own two of them, so perhaps I'll talk about them sometime in the future. If you LOVE adventure games, this is a great one to play. If that isn't your genre, then Broken Sword might bore or annoy you.

Broken Age

This is a Kickstarted game in two "acts." I actually did the controls during the first act, since Hunter had already played it. As you can see from the above picture, there are two main storylines: a girl in  a pretty low-tech world who is scheduled to be sacrificed to a monster, and a boy on a pretty weird spaceship.

I'm not going to give anything away about how these two stories are in the same game, but I will say this: I was so immersed in the story that I wasn't even trying to figure out how the two were related. Which, I read a lot and I am always trying to figure out the ending, and I'm typically pretty good at it. But here, I didn't want to or need to because I knew the story would guide me there. To me, that says a lot about the quality of the game because I wasn't thinking about the fact that I was playing a game, I was just going along with it.

There are some trickier puzzles (particularly in the second act) and again, if adventure games aren't just a part of the way you see the world you might have trouble with them. At one point, I suggested that Hunter do something which he thought made no sense, but it was correct and to me it totally did make sense. However even if you aren't an "adventure gamer," the learning curve is pretty low, the art is gorgeous, and you can't die or mess things up. Of the three games in this post, this is definitely the best.

Gone Home

So, it's debatable whether Gone Home is even really a game. Let's just say it's an interactive story. You play from the perspective of Kaitlin, a girl arriving home after spending time in Europe. No one is in her family's house, and as you explore the rooms you figure out why. It's set in 1995 with a great Riot Grrl soundtrack featuring Bratmobile and Heavens to Betsy and the retro details are great. The story unfolds as you find objects throughout the house: notes, documents, and audio diaries that help to explain why no one is home.

There is no skill level involved in this, no reflexes or problem solving or anything. You literally just walk around the house and look at and find things that tell a story. We finished it in probably under 2 hours, in one session. I will say, this one was slightly harder for me to sit there and knit, because there is so much to read. Chunks of the story are revealed through audio, but a lot of it is papers you pick up and read. If this sounds even remotely like something you would like, I would check it out because it is really good.

And those are just the single player games... maybe one of these days I can post about Diablo III, or Hearthstone, or the card games we play...

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Born on the Bayeux, Part 4: The Last Few Pictures

So, 2 months later, I finally post the last pictures from our trip to France. I'm hoping to be able to post more in the coming weeks, since Sadie is now going to a playgroup three days per week, which gives me a little more time to myself. I miss her so much, but it is nice to be able to use the computer without her pulling me away.

We started out in Amiens, where we had spent the night. Of course, they have a cathedral there as well:

And this cute little alleyway canal, which we both thought looked like something from a medieval fantasy videogame type setting.

There is also this tower that's pretty clearly designed by the same person as the modern church from the last post:

Our last stop for the day was in Laon. There is a big church up on a hill. 

So, it took a long time, but that's our trip to France!