Little Inferno Non-Review

There’s almost no point in rating this game.  The only thing that would qualify it as a “game” is the interactive nature, while it admits at the very beginning there are no scores or lives, only the glimmer of a “story”.  But more importantly it’s what you take out of the short time you spent with it.  Over a few hours you’ll burn hundreds of items in your virtual fireplace, knowing there’s no point, knowing the laws of consumption are horribly unsustainable, and even knowing the world you live in is a dying freezing microcosm.

Being a part of the Humble Bundle is the perfect distribution platform.  I don’t think I could justify spending $10 on it, and I don’t think it wants you to.  It makes an active effort to question why you are spending time with your “Little Inferno”.  As you stare at the fire, the game questions what the purpose of the main character’s life is, and it’s only after awhile that you realize it’s been you whose been staring into the fire the entire time.


little inferno fireplace

You would think Dishonored and Deus Ex would play similar

The premise is basically the same- you sneak around, kill some people, but try not to.  Yet they feel as different as cutting open a box with an exacto knife vs. trying to stab an avocado without holding it.  One is precise and surgical, while the other flails about. It works for each in their own way, one being set in a gorgeous futuristic setting (even when it’s supposed to be dirty), and the other looking like the scenery is decaying as you play.

An Exacto Knife
Not so much

Reasons why the world of Deus Ex is better than the real world

In Deus Ex:
Detroit is the world’s coolest city
I would live here
I would live here
I wouldn't walk by here
I wouldn’t walk by here
You can literally hack anything
Helicopters can fly you anywhere in the world
Bionics look awesome. I would have robot arms
Sarif Eye
One thing that’s worse:  It’s either night or the weather sucks, constantly (same with Blade Runner)
night blade runner

Yakuza 3 and the Art of Fishing

I once read that the first Yakuza was a Japanese version of GTA3.  I never played the first, but if its’ anything like the third, than I wonder how much that writer was paid by Sega to say that.  It’s about as far away, while still being in the same genre, that a game can be.  You could even make the case it has more in common with Max Payne 3 than any grand theft auto.

One of 10+ mini-games
It’s about winning with style

I’ve developed a pattern with Yakuza 3.  I play it when I don’t want my games adding any drama to my life.  When I don’t have the mental space for long-term x-com ironman strategies, or meeting up with friends on Borderlands 2.  Because despite what the name says, Yakuza 3 has about as much to do with fishing as it does gangster life.

I don’t know what engine it’s running on, but the game looks damn good, especially considering it’s almost 3 years old.  * Just checked – it’s the Magical V-Engine from Cyberware Inc.  It’s also used on Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2.

Why you should play Crimson Shroud…

Crimson Shroud is such a simple game that it makes you want to make a game.  There is no animation (besides your table-top like pieces falling over), but the story/dialogue adds more life to the characters than other games with an abundance of animation (even a solid game like Fire Emblem Awakening leaves you feeling cold in comparison).  This is also the reason why it’s deceiving,  even if you were to emulate the mechanics exactly, you would be no closer to making a good game.

The game is less joyous.  But the image fits.

It’s no surprise; Yasumi Matsuno has created perhaps some of the best written games ever.  Tactics Ogre has a darkness and intensity that buries it in a depth few other games I’ve ever played can begin to compete with (Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne perhaps).  While Vagrant Story is an aesthetic marvel on all levels.  Crimson Shroud isn’t as stellar in any of these ways, but it’s staying with me in the best kind of way.

Two Very Different Games

I’ve been playing a decent amount of Borderlands 2, which has in most ways been incredibly enjoyable.  But this enjoyment really only comes in the multiplayer, and with my friends indisposed I’ve taken a break to play LA Noire.  As a gap it’s an interesting experience.  I can’t say I love the way it “feels”, but it’s a good game to play after you’ve been rampaging around a foreign world for a bit too long.  It’s calm and calculating, the sort of thing you want to play after you’ve had a crushing day, allowing you to avoid further stimulation.  It’s not a weekend game; it’s a night game, best played in bits.

You have to stare gore straight in the eye.

On the grind with Puzzle Quest 2

Puzzle Quest 2 is so far, pretty much exactly what I expected, if more underwhelming.  It’s like a less ambitious version of the original.  Which already left me queasy after I marathoned through it.

The difficulty just doesn’t seem high enough.  You’re rarely at risk of losing a match.  And when you are it feels arbitrary, because you’re more likely to lose against a random skeleton as your are against a boss.  The biggest bummer so far however is that every match feels the same.  Maybe it’s the character (Assassin), but every match is a struggle to build up enough magic to combo out the opponent in the same big magic strike.  It doesn’t really matter which opponent it is.  Some take more of a beating, but it’s always: combo, stick with a dagger, rinse and repeat as needed.

Spec Ops: El Linea

I’ve been marching through the campaign of The Line.  And I can see why the game hasn’t sold really well.  Compared with a game like Max Payne 3 it just lacks a lot of that polish.  But who can blame them.  The credits after Max Payne were ridiculous.  There must have been a thousand people credited.

But perhaps it’s only a promise of what could be, but there is something to it.  It doesn’t really escape this demi-god fantasy where you literally kill hundreds of people, and that’s the big flaw as I can see it.  Granted you’re a Delta operative, but you’re still just a man.

The story is cool enough that it propels you forward long after I would have normally stopped playing.  The next evolution of this, as I see it,  is a game where you can only take lives rarely, not only because of the moral implications, but because the physical fatigue and cleverness of other humans wouldn’t allow it.