Author Topic: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread  (Read 59539 times)

Offline bobdog

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Re: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread
« Reply #465 on: August 14, 2017, 07:31:21 AM »
Even though I received The Crew free as part of being a Uplay member, I don’t think it overly colors my perspective on the game’s value. In my mind, the most important thing about a racing game is that it is fun and doesn’t bore you, and The Crew does not disappoint.

The base story about revenge upon a racing gang is handled well, but as an open-world game, you’ll have plenty of things to keep you occupied as you build up your vehicles and skills. What sets The Crew apart from all other racing games that I’ve played is that it really does encapsulate the broader contour of the lower 48 U.S. states. And having driven through 41 of them myself, I can verify that the look and feel of every area you enter are as close to authentic as a game can deliver. Yes, some areas are squished into smaller pods, and it only takes 15 minutes actual time to drive from Miami to Dallas, but for the most part, this is a faithful rendition of America.

What makes The Crew unique is that you are actually playing as a single player in a multiplayer game. The opening map of the states shows you all the other drivers currently online, and at any point, you can interact with them – maybe joining them in heist runs or helping them escape the police. You can obviously befriend other folks and start your own crew (which I didn’t). Or simply race one another unplanned on the streets. At one point, I was trying to set a speed record through a downtown, and you have to jump over a bridge as part of the activity. One player parked himself right in the middle of the bridge and it was hard to miss him, so you’d bat him about 1,000 feet high while you’d go in the drink. Sometimes these can become annoying, but other times they were fun.

I spent hours upon hours trying to gather parts of cars that I could then bring back to my shop. Sometimes, drivers who have the “Calling All Units” police expansion would zip in with Lambo police cruisers and immediately take me down. But even as frustrating as that became, I could simply choose to do something else.

The sheer diversity of activities kept The Crew fresh for me. If I wanted to build up some car levels, I’d go do some long runs. If I got bored or pestered by other players in the game, I’d go do some story missions. Overall, I really enjoyed this one and think it’s probably the best of this type of story-based racing games. 8.2 out of 10

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Re: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread
« Reply #466 on: August 21, 2017, 08:35:51 AM »
Normally with these types of resource games, I get wiped out really quickly. But Fallout Shelter brings something different to the party. A FREE download through Steam, Fallout Shelter actually brought back memories of playing Fallout 3 and New Vegas … big time.

Like all time-management games, you need to invest in certain components to ensure your population survives and thrives. Most critical are food, water and space – without each, you can’t expand your population (capped at 200 inhabitants. To get “new” citizens in your vault, you can either try to broadcast to the outside world and see who shows up, collect “special” citizens from bonus events, or do it the old-fashioned way, by getting your citizens to copulate.  :love:

Each citizen may have increased stats in one of seven S.P.E.C.I.A.L. areas, or you can train them. The more efficient they are in various areas, the faster they’ll increase your resources. The more resources you have, the more citizens you can bring in, and on and on it goes.

In between clicking on the rooms once a task is completed, you can send individuals out on lengthy sojourns. You also can send teams on various objectives out in the Wasteland. Both of these take time, which you can speed up by using Nuka Cola (a limited resource). Generally I would start a game, start some team objectives, and then log in later in the day, upon which time the teams would have reached the right location.

You’ll also get random occurrences such as fires breaking out, raiders/zombies/rad-scorpions/etc. attacking your citizens, and even the Vault Guy showing up in “Where’s Waldo?” fashion.

Once I successfully reached 200 citizens, I felt like I’d wasted enough time on this one. Not bad, very addictive, but probably not the best use of your time. 7.4 out of 10

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Re: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread
« Reply #467 on: August 28, 2017, 10:47:52 AM »
As long as you understand that Insecticide: Episode 1 is the first of a two-part series, and that Episode 2 will never be created, you can go into this game with pretty low expectations, especially as you can probably pick it up on a Steam sale for 49 cents.

That said, Insecticide is not a bad little adventure game. It’s got action platforming sequences, more slowed-down noir detective scenes, and some often challenging puzzles to complete. The whole feel came off as a relative of Telltale’s Sam & Max games, although certainly not as dense or complete. But still, it had that sort of feeling to it.

The core mystery is to find out who is introducing soda bombs to the insect world, so you track down clues and suspects, and then you often have to chase them across several maps to get an answer. Unfortunately, without Episode 2, we never learn a side mystery about our main character’s past.

At 3 hours, it’s a quick play, and it’s cheap to boot. 7.2 out of 10

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Re: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread
« Reply #468 on: September 04, 2017, 09:27:42 AM »
The Magic Circle is So. Freaking. Clever!!! This game is a send-up of the game development cycle, and spoofs and satires everything from Kickstarter to quality control to Let’s Play blogs to overall fandom (and over-the-top fandom). It’s a first-person …. something? … that manages to put you in the boots of a game tester for a title that is the 3D reboot to what was originally a text adventure.

Unfortunately, you’re caught amongst the machinations of the game’s three design leads: the original writer/designer who just can’t seem to get over the hump, the art director who just wants to publish the game by deadline, and a new intern who was in love with the original game and wants to bring it back. As the tester, you are in the middle of every change, until the art director gives you “ghost” powers so that you can help complete the game.

The ghost powers come complete with helping to rewrite the story, characters and enemies – all without you employing a weapon of your own. You can stun enemies, and then reconfigure their core attributes; say, making them love you and hate another enemy, or giving them special abilities and fighting styles. And you’ll pick up these abilities that you can then distribute to your growing menagerie of squadmates. Go crazy and experiment – it’s all good!

After supposedly vanquishing the “villain”, the whole tempo changes, and now you’re attached to a stage demo that will be shown at a computer games expo. Again, the game satirizes what goes into some of the games that are shown, and how some might often be empty shells, but just good enough to hope that the developer will get some additional funding. You are required to make a few more editing choices to ensure the demo goes off the rails.

But then the game doesn’t end there either! Instead, it now asks you to create your own version of the game, with some pre-built assets like map pieces. Then you’ll need to add enemies, treasure, health, music and story elements before ultimately being scored as ready to ship the game. Finally, you’ll see the intern from before actually do a Let’s Play of your model, bringing the whole thing full circle. Oh, and did I mention that Stephen Russell of Thief fame is the primary narrator?

I was constantly amazed at what the game both asked me to do, and also allowed me to do. And it’s relatively short at around 4-6 hours, so it’s a quick play. 8.5 out of 10

Offline bobdog

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Re: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread
« Reply #469 on: September 11, 2017, 09:25:58 AM »
Quadrant is more of a poor-man’s version of Half-Life 1’s Black Mesa, if that game had gone the true horror route. Set in 1979, you are part of a hazmat team asked to restart a base on lockdown. Only after you’ve spent some time inside do you understand why the base is on lockdown – all relating to finds from the most recent lunar trip, which had some very surprising finds. It seems we’re not alone in the universe after all.

The game is a slow burn, but mostly leads you to where you need to go via lighting, open doors, etc. You can try to open doors but most are locked, although you can also open cabinets and desks and find papers, slides, fuses and a few simple weapons like pipes.

The graphics are not AAA quality, but I felt the game did capture the horror mood really well. When I encountered the first enemy, the music, sounds and shadows effectively gave me the willies, and the hair went up on the back of my neck. That’s some good pacing right there!

Eventually, you encounter about 4 or 5 enemy types, and it’s best to either sneak past or run away, since you don’t have a weapon of any kind. As you get further along in the story, you may be able to access a hidden room (save all those fuses!) that will help you decipher the weird alien language – some of which is used to lock doors. You’ll also exit the building on several occasions, but will need to return for another unfinished task.

Overall, Quadrant is not a great game, but if you let yourself steep in the horrific atmosphere, it can be a decent game. 7 out of 10

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Re: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread
« Reply #470 on: September 18, 2017, 09:20:09 AM »
Cradle is such an odd first-person adventure game. Set in a future Mongolia, you awake in a yurt and must figure out who you are, why you’re here, and what exactly has happened to the world. You can open doors, move things around and read a plethora of materials – some of which is germane to the plot and most that isn’t.

The game provides a task list for you, but doesn’t hold your hand otherwise. The first task is that you have to make some stew. So you have to find a note that tells you which spices are in which order on the shelf. You have to search for a knife to cut down some fruit. You have to find where the fruit is hanging, and then you somehow have to get it down (find a nearby branch and throw it). And tasks continue from there.

The atmosphere and graphics are gorgeous, with eye-popping colors both inside and out. Just a little ways away, a huge structure sits, with colorful banners popping in the winds. You will have to go back and forth numerous times, so get used to it.

Your overall goal is to reawaken the female robot/android on your shelf, as she may have information about your past. So you need to find various parts either outside your yurt, or in the huge structure. Once there, you will have to participate in a weird virtual mini-game that’s sort of like Minecraft. The rules change each time, but generally you have to find and collect a specific number of certain colored blocks.

The finale, like the rest of the game, doesn’t hold your hand. There are no easy answers and you’ll probably want to visit a discussion board to see what others thought about it. I’d say that’s actually what the game’s designers envisioned, as a way to extend the thoughts on trans-humanism that the story portrays. This is definitely not an adventure game for those who aren’t willing to seek out the answers, or who need lots of clues, but it will make you think. 7.7 out of 10

Offline bobdog

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Re: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread
« Reply #471 on: September 25, 2017, 03:41:31 PM »
I really liked Sandmason, which is a first-person mining puzzler – sort of a hybrid of Portal, Red Faction and Minecraft. You are a miner and must seek out special metal deposits in a variety of locations and situations. You have a mine gun that will allow you to extract dirt or pile it up. You also can create a triangular “force field” that can be used to block areas or even to span distances. Finally, you have a flare that you can shoot into dark areas.

Your goal in each of several dozen levels is to find the exit. But you also want to look for the metal deposits and for special power-up orbs – both of which can give you extra health, excavation sizes, storage, etc. Along the way, you may have to open locked doors, or somehow fling yourself across a molten lava lake, or build a bridge connecting one stalactite to another. It was all a lot of fun, but also caused some hair-pulling if you’re a perfectionist and seek every secret.

Enemies are mostly environmental hazards, but also include large slime creatures (which the forcefield is perfect for). Possibly the worst part of the game is if you accidentally take dirt from an area where maybe you really needed it; i.e. if you need to create a tunnel from one location to another. But overall, the gameplay is really solid. You can find this for cheap, or try out the free demo if you’re on the fence. 7.7 out of 10

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Re: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread
« Reply #472 on: October 02, 2017, 07:46:27 PM »
I just can’t recommend White Night, and I even got it on sale. I wanted to like the extreme contrast vibe with the noir feel, but the gameplay is just too plodding to waste time on. In the first “chapter”, after a car accident, you move at a snail’s pace to try and find a key to the front door of a huge mansion. Once inside, you are finally able to move faster, but that’s only a temporary relief.

The main problem is the constantly switching camera angles, which throw off your direction sense. On numerous occasions, I’d move towards the right to try and look at something, then the camera angle would switch so that now I’m moving out of the scene again and back to where I originally started. You literally can only go a couple of paces, stop all movement, let the scene change, and then start moving again a couple of paces, stop all movement, let the scene change, ad infinitum.

Games like this just piss me off. This is only for the patient and only on an extreme sale. 5.9 out of 10

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Re: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread
« Reply #473 on: October 09, 2017, 09:37:53 AM »
I’ve been waffling for probably 4 years about getting Venetica, until Steam finally gave me such a great price that I couldn’t resist. My hesitation was that the game looked hack-and-slash like God of War, which aren’t really my favorite type of game. If any reviews had told me that the game was essentially a second cousin to Gothic and Risen, I would have immediately leaped, because those are two of my favorite adventure RPG series.

As the story starts, you play as a young woman named Scarlett and your medieval mountain village is attacked by an unknown force. While you fight valiantly, your boyfriend dies, and you and the survivors are chased across a long wooden bridge to another mountain village. Once you wake up from a dream where you learn that you are the daughter of the actual entity Death, your mission truly starts: you have to free the land from the influence of a necromancer and his determined followers.

The first large map in the mountains serves as a trainer for what you can expect for the rest of the game. You learn how to fight from a local strongman. You explore ruins, abandoned houses and a mine to find special treasures. And once you obtain a special item, you are brought back to the dream world, where your boyfriend gifts you with a new skill to access the ghost world beyond our own.

From the mountains, we make our way to an inn along the coast, and then across the water to a back entrance to the city of Venice. This culminates in our first boss battle against one of the necromancer’s flunkies and opens up Venice. Once inside Venice proper, we meet many new characters with more quests, more treasures, more trainers, and more gear to buy and sell. From several city sections in Venice, we’ll also investigate a dirigible and even another foreign land altogether.

Venetica really does have that Gothic/Risen (and even Witcher) feel to it, both in the level design, fight sequences and overall themes. Levels vary from mountainous terrain to beaches to cities to underground, and each kind of winds around so that you can often end up where you started, or you can look down/up at where you need to go next. Small treasures (and even treasure chests) are hidden all over. Graphically, it feels a lot like Gothic 2 or Risen 1 in layout and design. And although the game is not truly open-world like these, it does have some large map sizes.

The fighting is very similar to both those games, but it adds the element that when you are at the end of your arc, you can hit your attack button again to extend another round of damage, sort of like in Witcher. Also, you must use separate weapon types for worldly and magical foes, just like Witcher.

As an RPG, you can increase certain abilities over time. You’ll also gain key abilities at core moments of the story, when you see your boyfriend again.

The villain’s motivations are understandable, and you realize why his adjutants are all in with his plan. But there is also humor scattered throughout the game to lighten the proceedings.

I really enjoyed my journey through Scarlett’s world. I know I’m scoring Venetica sort of high, but if you like Gothic and Risen, I think you’ll agree with me that this has the same “bones” to it. 7.9 out of 10

Offline bobdog

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Re: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread
« Reply #474 on: October 16, 2017, 09:27:06 AM »
AR-K: The Great Escape is the third of four episodes in this adventure game series. I understand the first two episodes, which I have not played, are very mediocre, and either way, The Great Escape provides a rundown of what has happened to date.

You play as Alicia, and you live on a utopian spaceship where all your needs are met. But at the end of Episode 2, you went to investigate the mysterious, supposedly non-existent Sector 8, and fell down a garbage shaft. When you awake and start Episode 3, you have to get out of the garbage bin, and formulate a plan to escape back to the upper levels.

Sector 8, in a nutshell, sucks. It is the hidden part of the spaceship on the lower levels, providing all the energy and resources for the utopia above, but built upon the backs of laborers who are worn down and lead dreary lives. You are assigned a position on 16-hour shifts, and any deviation from that position will result in even longer shifts. That makes it pretty hard to escape! Fortunately, one of your friends from up top followed you down to Sector 8, so working together, you can start defining ways to get out.

Puzzles are mostly understandable, and what you say to people will often help your tasks immensely. Several of the tasks were quite fun and stretched my mind, including a murder mystery that you can help solve.

Graphically, the animated characters, backgrounds and cut-scenes are very effective. Music, sound and character voices are all rendered very nicely as well.

This episode was pretty good, but also short at around 3 hours of gameplay. Definitely worth it on a Steam Sale. 7.6 out of 10

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Re: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread
« Reply #475 on: October 23, 2017, 11:57:09 AM »
Pillars of Eternity marked game studio Obsidian’s return to the isometric RPGs that initially made them successful. Created through the support of more than 75,000 Kickstarter backers, the game features lots of nods to previous works like Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dale. And, to be sure, there is whiff of nostalgia for these types of games, which were the norm before fully 3-D rendered worlds became possible. It’s definitely simpler and less-expensive to create RPGs with static maps, rather than the Skyrims, Fallouts and Witchers.

So Pillars does coast slightly on the nostalgia button, but it also delivers a brand new experience. Where Obsidian’s previous games were essentially Dungeons & Dragons clones or offshoots, Pillars brings in a world with unique new playable races such as the Godlike, who are unable to wear any head coverings. You’ll also be able to employ pistols and rifles, next to swords, wands and crossbows. Finally, you can restore a castle and make it your own, providing you clear out all the critters in the caverns below.

At the heart of the story is a magical disaster that is causing children to be born as soul-less Hollowborn. You too have been changed as a result of magical intervention, and are now a Watcher, able to converse with people’s souls. As you build your party, of which you can take 6 on the road at any time, some of these folks will ask you to focus your efforts on solving this disaster, as well as other personal agendas.

My quite honest assessment is that I got bored playing the game, and I couldn’t wait for it to wind down and end. Maybe that’s due to the lack of 3-D stimulation and interaction, which is simply a shortcoming on my part. But I’ve played the recent Shadowruns, which also were isometric affairs, and thought they were involving and interesting. And maybe it’s the D&D background, but I still enjoyed the recent Dragon Age Inquisition. I can’t really put my finger on it, but I was just waiting it out to see how the story ended.

Along the way, I got into many adventures. Every map may have 2-4 offshoot maps for inns, dungeons, buildings, etc., that you can explore, with more people tasking you with things to do. So my gripe isn’t that there wasn’t enough to do in my 64 hours of play time.

Oh, right, I remember what I hated most about the game … the user interface was SOOOOOOOOOO DAMN SLOOOOOOOOOOW. You want to reload an earlier map? Give it 10 seconds and the interface will finally come up, allowing you to load or save a game. Now click on LOAD GAME. Give it another 15 seconds, and the list of save games will appear. Click on the one you want (which are only auto-saved upon entering a new map location), and give it another 15 seconds to finally appear. This mind-numbing and lengthy process always absolutely pulled me out of the game, so that any enjoyment I might have been feeling was replaced with anger and resentment.

You know what else I hated? Capping me at the 12th level, when I still had another 15 hours of playtime ahead of me. Granted, my party did make it out of all but one battle intact (the toughest was “something” underneath your castle), so I guess I can’t fault the parity too much.

I also hated that the only way you could heal your hit points, even in battle, was you had to camp or sleep in a bed somewhere. The game used two measures to indicate loss of hit points. The most common was to lose your Endurance, upon which you might also lose hit points as your Endurance went lower and lower. Finally, if you Endurance dipped to zero, you would get knocked out. If you were still attacked afterward, your hit points would then begin to suffer. Either way, I didn’t really like this method of determining your overall health.

The new races and types of characters were interesting, your crew’s back stories had weight to what they were trying to accomplish in their lives, and the overall story about possibly returning children’s souls in the wake of a feud between gods, was substantial.

I just wish I had liked it all just a little bit more. 7.9 out of 10

Offline bobdog

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Re: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread
« Reply #476 on: October 31, 2017, 11:09:51 AM »
Lara Croft GO is a mobile version of the “classic” Tomb Raider experience, requiring you to get Lara from one side of the map to the other, with you (and your enemies) moving only one space at a time.

It did take me a couple of minutes to figure out how the controls work, but you have to click-drag your mouse on Lara to direct her in various directions. To push/pull levers and buttons, or to throw spears at enemies in direct line of sight, you click on those areas with the mouse. I imagine you’re just using your finger on a mobile version of the game.

LC GO benefits from a callback to the past Tomb Raider “feeling”, with Lara investigating dark, damp caverns and temples, while gathering special gems and trinkets in each map. Sometimes the treasures are hidden exceedingly well, so that you have to “Where’s Waldo” all over the screen to see the hint of a shiny golden pot poking up from a corner.

In the meantime, you have to discover how to get past snakes, spiders and lizards, either by outwitting them or killing them outright from behind or the side. And when you die, maps return super quick so that you don’t waste time trying the next set of moves to see what works. Toss in spear traps, crumbling walls, boulders and more, and Lara has her work cut out.

At the heart of the base game (there is an additional episode to a volcanic region included), your foe is a huge dragon-snake, who tries to snap at you along the way, until a final tense showdown that requires you to use everything you’ve learned to defeat the beast and find the main treasure.

I admit that sometimes I would generally know what to do, but couldn’t think how to get there. Have no fear – the game handily includes a step-by-step guide to what moves to make in each level. And if you feel like you’re past a hurdle, you can turn the guide off. It was immensely helpful in a number of occasions.

Lara Croft GO is a short (3-hour) game that requires you to solve a variety of puzzles, all under the back drop of the classic games in the series. Recommended, especially on sale for the short length. 7.8 out of 10

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Re: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread
« Reply #477 on: November 06, 2017, 08:45:33 AM »
The Park is ultimately another disappointing 3-hour “walking simulator” with no true gameplay actions. You are inside a dilapidated amusement park, searching for your son, who has run away from you. But other than reading old reports and riding some of the rides, there is no real interaction.

That being said, The Park does provide some true scares – mostly as effective jump-scares, but later in the story, we touch upon more supernatural scares that would affect any parent. The story meanders a bit, but I can see where the developers were going with it. At first, you are frantic to find your son, and then as time creeps by, you become enraged that he keeps running away from you.

But maybe there’s an alternative reason he is running away? That’s what The Park tries to insinuate within its storyline of lost loves, poor parenting, mental therapy and substance abuse. There’s just enough creep factor to keep you glued to the story’s unfolding tentacles.

Toss in a disturbing antagonist who keeps appearing, seemingly at random, and you’ve got a decent, but not great game. I wish there were more to it than reading and walking and listening, but if the price is right and you’re looking for some scares, The Park might be for you. 6.9 out of 10

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Re: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread
« Reply #478 on: November 14, 2017, 09:43:47 AM »
Armikrog has a unique art style, being created primarily out of clay and natural objects that the designer has constructed – it’s a bit like a clay-mation picture like Wallace and Gromit. As stories go, you’ve been trapped on a planet with your crazy, older, and much larger brother. And to escape, you’ll have to tackle a number of extremely difficult puzzles.

I admit I probably watched a Youtube video for puzzle answers much more than actually playing the game, so that tells you that either I’m not very smart (  :hammerhead: ) or that the puzzles are HARD. [It’s the latter, actually….  :smoking:) ] For example, after training you twice in how to use a sliding-piece puzzle, a later version flips everything backwards and adds a dozen more pieces to the mix to make it near impossible. For that one, I had to rewind the YouTube video about 20 times to make sure I had the MORE THAN 40 MOVES in the right order.

There were some kind of interesting parts, as you have a pet named BeakBeak who can enter smaller holes and grab gear for you. And when I did complete a puzzle on my own, I did feel some elation. But since the majority of puzzles were really, really challenging, those feelings were few and far between.

Definitely designed for puzzle masochists who don’t mind wasting hours of their lives on what is ultimately a 2-hour game. 6.3 out of 10

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Re: Bobdog's Mini-Reviews Thread
« Reply #479 on: November 20, 2017, 10:04:18 AM »
Traverser is actually a cute little game. You play as Valerie, in a world whose story reminded me of Arx Fatalis: the sun is dying, and humanity has escaped underground to survive. Your town consists of a floating “island” deep below the Earth’s surface and near the glowing core, with gravity on both an Upper and Lower level. The Upper level is where the rich live, but on the Lower level, the poor must survive amidst deadly fumes close to the Earth’s warming core. And the only people able to navigate between the two levels are called “traversers.”

Graphically, the game has a cartoony sort of perspective from both character and level design. The game also is played from a forced isometric perspective in that you can never swing the viewpoint around, but you can go closer to your character by scrolling the middle mouse button.

But the story is where Traverser shines. After a few small missions to learn about your community, you go to the Traverser Academy and obtain a Traverser glove. This glove allows you to pick up objects from afar and move them up or down, or closer or farther from you. The glove also allows you to traverse the Upper and Lower levels of the city. When you return home, you learn that your father has been kidnaped, and he has left a note for you to find a friend. This friend, in turn, enrolls you in the “Resistance”, made up of people who are sick of the status quo.

But no Resistance is formed without struggle. So you must free trapped prisoners, sneak into bases, and finally topple the town’s mayor. Along the way, you can try to find optional secrets in the form of letters, as well as small flying microbots that carry messages. All of this will then lead to you heading upward to the surface, at which point you will learn …. Well, don’t want any spoilers, do we?  :smoking:

I enjoyed Traverser, although the point of view got a little wonky sometimes. But overall, the challenge was good, including some inspired boss battles, and the story was meaty. Recommended. 7.3 out of 10

 

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