Tiny Thief

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Just recently finished a playthrough of Tiny Thief, a point and click adventure game with really, really pretty explosions. If you were looking for something that’s nothing like Tilt to Live to play while you wait for Tilt to Live to come out, boy is this your game! There’s a lot of imaginative set pieces here, and a great sense of style and humor. I spent more time than I’d like waiting for people to walk across the room, but ultimately I had fun sneaking and tapping around for secrets.

Categories: What We're Playing

The Unfinished Swan

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If you have a Playstation 3, you can demo the Unfinished Swan for free from the Playstation Store.  The puzzles and mechanics are all really creative, and the whole package is just weird, and captivating, and beautiful to play. I found it really inspiring. I give it three and a half swans, with the half swan being sort of clever joke.

Categories: What We're Playing

Adam Plays Oculus Rift

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Here’s a short clip of me trying out a horror demo on the Oculus Rift, a VR headset for games. What you see on the monitor is what’s in my left and right eyes.

Categories: What We're Playing

Get your swerve on

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Whit Trebella was the man responsible for the first original music our games ever had. He scored Code Red, Frostbite, and Viva la Turret in the original Tilt to Live, and went on to provide tunes for a ton of great iOS games like Velocispider and Casey’s Contraptions.

Through sheer force of will he one day sprouted the ability to code, releasing his own sliding puzzle game by the name of Polymer. His new project is out today, and it’s a twitchy avoidance game called Pivvot. Seeing as how anyone reading this blog is probably into twitchy avoidance games, you should definitely check out this trailer and give it a shot. It’s like Super Hexagon on a race track.

Categories: What We're Playing

Guacamelee & Year Walk

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I believe that Guacamelee for PSN was made specifically for me. Samurai Jack’s artwork, Smash Brothers’ combat, Metroid’s exploration, and a Mexican theme. I. Loved. This. Game. Download it on your Playstation 3, or at least enjoy the soundtrack and dream about what could have been.

On the iOS space, Year Walk (universal app) is the most recent game to catch my attention. I know it’s been out a while… I’m usually late to these parties. As you can gather from the trailer, it’s a super-atmospheric, dark, exploratory, puzzle game. I’ll admit I had to look some puzzle solutions up, because the designers expected me to be much more clever and patient than I actually am. I think the highlight for me came after I reached the end, because that’s when I started digging through their companion app (which is like a mini encyclopedia for the game) to make sense of what just happened. It’s a neat structure, the whole two-app thing, but it sort of hides the story away outside of the game, and I don’t know if I’m in love with that. All things considered, it engages your brain muscles and gives you lots of neat stuff to look at. Well worth picking up.

Categories: What We're Playing

What We’re Playing – Oct ’12

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Adam the Artist


I picked up Lili for the iPad recently, a game developed by a team of former Epic employees. I like to imagine them working on Gears of War, constantly pitching flower-based game mechanics. “What if instead of a chainsaw machine gun, you jump on their backs and pick flowers? Why won’t anyone listen to us? We quit.”

Aside from being very pretty for an iPad title, they’ve created a world that’s genuinely fun to explore. The combat mechanic’s pretty straightforward. It’s tactile and it fits the device well, but it’s not really the core of the game. I had just as much fun wandering around talking to people.

My biggest gameplay qualm was with the last area, Mill Hill, which had some ridiculously tough enemies. So much so that I ran out of buffer items, and just gave up and switched to easy mode. I wonder if that was intentionally to get people to buy IAP, or just a bad progression of difficulty. Or maybe I just suck, but those guys felt impossible to topple without LOTS of items.

Alex the Codesmith

is a busy man this month.

Categories: What We're Playing

What We’re Playing – Aug ’12

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Adam the Artist

I actually found an app all on my own for iOS, which is, like, unheard of. It was in the App Store’s “What’s Hot” section while Outwitters was being featured. The icon intrigued me, I tapped for details, & the screen shots closed the deal. So that’s what that feels like, I thought.

Shellrazer is a war-turtle-riding simulator from the guys that made N+, which Alex and I used to play together. I’m not sure how well this one will work on an iPhone, but on iPad it was perfect for me. You stack some guns on top of your turtle, throw some perks on those guns, and mow down goblins and gun towers and sheep-mounted knights. The difficulty gets pretty nuts towards the end, so paying attention to which guns work best on who and what perks you need becomes really important. I had a blast.

Alex the Codesmith

I’ve been on a PC gaming kick as of late, meaning more than Starcraft 2. Every now and then, especially after a major release or between projects, I tend to go through a lot of games. I usually don’t even come close to beating them. I’ve kind of gotten over the nagging “completionist” in me. If a game offers a decent amount of entertainment for a reasonable amount of time, I’m happy. Maybe it’s a sign of getting older…

In any case, one game I picked up during the Steam Summer Sale was Anno 2070. Very cool city building game with insane amount of depth. The selling point for me was the ability to play in the same ‘world’ with friends, either as separate cities or sharing a city. Provided for some good times.

Another game I’ve sunk a decent amount of hours into was the Arma 2 mod Day Z. It’s in alpha so ‘buggy’ doesn’t really begin to describe the quirkiness of that game. But it’s definitely playable and extremely difficult. The concept of being put on a vast landmass to survive on your own, avoiding zombies, and other players was really compelling. Death in this game is permanent. You start from square one when you die. You could be a month into the game, miles north into the territory and have a bad run in with some zombies, starve to death, or get killed by some bandits (other players) that don’t like the way you looked at them. From a design perspective, the game is fascinating. It’s a multiplayer game where paranoia between players is truly real, and even though there are weapons not everyone is rushing to point X to up their kill/death ratio. Killing another player in this game has a unnerving effect (at least on me). If you manage to kill someone (either by accident, defensively, or just by being a griefer) the consequences are huge. You could have potentially wiped out weeks if not months of another player’s playtime with a single shot (click of the mouse).

And finally, I’m currently pretty into Tower Wars by Supervillain Studios. It recently came out for PC on Steam. I’ve never been a big Tower Defense fan (mostly from fatigue of the game type), but this game was refreshing enough for me to be genuinely interested in the nuances of the tower interactions with the creeps. Having 2v2 and 3v3 co-op head-to-head is kind of what clinched it for me (again). Good times had by all.

Categories: What We're Playing

What We’re Playing – July ’12

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Adam the Artist

I’m one of those weirdos that still turns on his Wii once in a while . I couldn’t find a better way to word that. Anyway, the virtual console is a nostalgia factory, so I bought Paper Mario and Super Mario RPG. It’s surprisingly easy to get me to buy old games all over again.

I found another iOS title that hooked me pretty hard, and it’s free so you should check it out. Project 83113 (which is a terrible name, because I have to think really hard to type it) is a bullet hell platformer with swipey slide and jump controls. They take some getting used to, but it’s comfortable as long as you aren’t trying to stand still. It’s a bullet dodging game, so… I don’t think I was supposed to be standing still anyway. Each level has highscore goals and hidden objects (GOD I love hidden objects) so there’s nice replay value to be had. I’m a sucker for a good platformer.

Alex the Codesmith

Alex is playing House Hunter. It’s a very dull and time-consuming game where you try to buy a house in Atlanta.

Categories: What We're Playing

What We’re Playing – May ’12

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Adam the Artist

I recently finished an XBLA title I’d been itching to play since GDC, Bastion. Their creative lead gave a talk on atmosphere in games that I really enjoyed. At the end of the game you’re presented with two pretty heavy choices which determine your ending. That’s not unusual, but what I really loved about the way they approached this was that none of the endings is “right”. The game just asks you to consider what you would do, without “gotcha” consequences for choosing wrong. It’s also a fun hack n’ slash with a lot of imagination, so you should pick it up if you haven’t already.

On iOS lately I’m mostly playing the Outwitters beta. And I tried a few bad games that I can’t recommend.

Alex the Codesmith

I actually turned on my Xbox 360! I did it to play Awesomenauts for a couple hours. It’s a 3 vs. 3 side-scrolling DOTA/Team Fortress mash up. Hilarious fun and love the style. Definitely worth checking it out if you’re looking to play a fun multiplayer game with some buddies.

On the iOS front I highly recommend checking out SpellTower if you haven’t already. Do it.

Categories: What We're Playing

What We’re Playing – Mar ’12

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Adam the Artist

Silent Hill Downpour is finally out, and the reviews I’ve seen are split pretty evenly between love and loathing. I’m about 5 hours in, and though it definitely has its share of blemishes (read: haunted police cars), I’d say Vatra gets it. It’s an interesting character-driven journey in the tradition of SH2 (though it feels less mature so far), and it does some clever things to evolve the series gameplay-wise. Opening the town up into more of a sandbox experience was inspired (but all the choke points and dead ends are pretty discouraging for me).  I think I’ll always have a soft spot for this series, because these are horror games that at least try to approach things seriously.

On iOS I keep coming back to Beat Sneak Bandit, a stealth/rhythm/puzzle game from Simogo. It’s beautiful, clever, and it won Best Mobile Game at the 2012 Independent Games Festival. I don’t have the best sense of rhythm, but this kind of one-more-try gameplay does a pretty good job of sucking me in.

Alex the Codesmith

I managed to find time to play and ‘finish’ (although I don’t think that’s the right word as I think it encourages multiple replays) Journey. The newest game from thatgamecompany (makers of flOw and Flower). The game is an amazing piece of work. And my experience with it was quite fascinating.  They definitely took lessons learned from their previous games and have applied them masterfully here in regards to flow, control, and feel of the game. I recall starting the game out and going through the first few segments by myself. Other than the gorgeous graphics, there wasn’t much else that was keeping me interested and my patience was wearing thin. Then another journeymen’s head popped up over a hillside and then within a few short minutes I understood what TGC was aiming for with this game. They’ve done something really special in terms of making a single player game feel relevant outside the bounds of the game. It’s hard to explain, but once I experienced the feelings and emotions that Journey had me go through with fellow travelers it made me giddy for the future of this platform and the single player ‘experience’. Although, Journey felt much more closely to a work of art than a game to me. In terms of mechanics and story the game is pretty shallow, but what they accomplished with their laser focused premise of Journey I think will stick with me for a while, and I think will serve as an excellent reference for designers who wish to raise the bar in the ‘experience/interaction’ category of game design.

I, sadly, haven’t been doing much exploring on iOS. I’ve been coming back to the usual staple of Disc Drivin’ and Scramble with Friends. I flirted with Draw Something for a bit before letting it go. I appreciate what it’s done and was able to prove. In a marketplace where conventional wisdom tells you that you have to have traditional game mechanics and victory conditions to be successful, Draw Something turned that convention on it’s head and showed us how many people there really are outside our insular ‘gamer circle’ waiting to be entertained.

Categories: What We're Playing