Posted tagged ‘Sunday Demo’

Sundemo

June 19, 2011

Welcome to this weeks Sunday Demo. I know it’s been a while, but let’s get on with it. So what’s this weeks game? Dungeon Siege III, demo available now on Steam or Xbox360. Let’s get down to it.

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I played this demo on both the 360 and my PC. I’ll be covering it mostly from the PC perspective, as that’s really the one I care about. The first thing you’ll notice about Dungeon Siege III, without even starting a new game, is that it was designed around the consoles, with the PC being a port. The next thing you’ll notice is the graphics, which are far and above any other Diablo style Action RPG game out now. Of course they’ve decided to make the game very dark, visually. My guess is that they made the game this dark to appease those people who complained that Diablo was too bright, but they might have overdone it a little. Often I couldn’t tell what was going on, and adjusting the gamma just made everything look washed out. Still, I am truly impressed by the visuals on Dungeon Siege III.

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The next thing you’ll probably notice is that it controls like a retarded cripple elephant. I understand wanting your game to be unique, but taking everything good about action RPG controls and throwing them out the window is not the way to do that. The WASD controls will move your character and swivel the camera, but pressing right goes left sometimes and right others, depending on if you are pressing up or down at the time. It’s downright confusing and stupid, so you’ll most likely use the mouse to move around Diablo style. Of course, that’s if you can get past the fact that you won’t use the mouse buttons for anything but combat and movement. What does that mean? Well if you see some armor on the ground you’d like to have, you’ll have to walk near it and press E, not left mouse button. Things only get more confusing from there.

You press F, not C, to look at your character, I isn’t used for inventory, and you don’t aim at what your cursor is targeting. Instead the game chooses what enemy you are aiming at, based on what direction you last walked in. That means, if you want to run away a bit while firing, you’ll only be able to fire in the direction you are running. This get’s VERY frustrating when you’re surrounded by enemies and trying to pick off that ranged caster that’s destroying you. Instead the game will auto lock on anything in between the two of you, and you’ll have no choice but to kill that target first, or run over to the caster.

Combat is another interesting change from the traditional Diablo style games. You’ll fight small waves of enemies, usually four or five at a time, and until you get another squad mate you’ll be dying often, at least until you figure out the clunky, stupid controls. On the console they work fine, but for a PC game it should be a crime. The combat gets pretty intense, and it forces you to switch between AOE stances and single target stance, as well as a defensive stance used to heal yourself or gain buffs. I really enjoyed the combat, when the controls weren’t interfering, but it was pretty difficult in the early going. Once I got access to a companion though it became much more manageable.

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Overall the game was pretty fun, if a bastard of a PC port. The biggest complain I found, other than the terrible controls and UI, was the map system. You get a small minimap which you can make SLIGHTLY bigger, and that’s it. Have a quest and no idea where to go? Go F yourself, cause you’ll be wondering around with absolutely no idea where you’re going. The only thing that saves this from being the HORRID problem is that the game seemed pretty linear, at least from the demo, so it’s a little more difficult to get lost. I’ll pick it up, but I’ll probably wait for a Steam sale.

Sunday Demo: Winter Voices

January 10, 2011

WinterVoices

The name doesn’t make sense until you jump into this odd, episodic game.

I picked up Winter Voices for this weeks demo mainly because the cover art looked pretty. I’m not kidding here, but that’s the point. To randomly pick up demos and give them a try. When I picked up the game I didn’t realize that it was episodic and that the demo was just the first part of the prologue. Does this episodic game need to have it’s show cancelled, or is it destined to keep you coming back for each new episode?

Winter Voices starts out like an RPG, which I was kind of surprised about. You are a young woman in a very small village, with no option to change your sex. This isn’t a deal breaker by any means, but being a man it can sometimes be difficult for me to get behind a female avatar in an RPG. I’m sure the ladies in the audience understand.

WinterVoicesCharacter1

You must choose from one of three professions, and the game says that it will play out drastically different depending on your choice here. Sadly for the first time player there are really only two options, as the third is only for veterans. You might scoff at that, but until you’ve played the game you won’t really understand why it’s important to listen to the game when it tells you to pick on of the other two professions if it’s your first time.

WinterVoicesCharacter2

Next is the stat select screen. You’re allowed to allocate fifty points into any of six stats, but again until you play the game you won’t really understand what some of these options will do for you. Memory for example increases the XP you receive, but also increases the damage you take. When I first read that I was a little confused as to why having a better memory would cause you to get hurt more, but it all makes sense once you get into the game.

After that you’ll pick an avatar for your character ala Baldur’s Gate, then generate the 3D model your character will use. You don’t have a ton of options, with three or four outfits with different colors and a handful of hairstyles, but character creation is not what Winter Voices is about. The narrative is where Winter Voices things it’s strength lies, and it may later on in the game, but from my experience it is the combat sections that really made Winter Voices stand out.

Story wise you play a young woman whose aloof father has just died.

WinterVoicesDadDead

Right there. DED.

The art style is something to behold, the cutscenes done in a ‘painted’ comic book style and the main game in a unique, washed out style that really caught my eye. It controls a lot like Fallout with an isometric camera and a point and click interface. The resolutions leave something to be desired as there are only five or six. I had a large black border around the game world, like old Ultima Online, but it didn’t bother me as the game uses that space to hold the UI elements.

Once you enter the game world you’ll quickly get into your first combat situation, and you’ll realize how different this RPG is from other games in the genre. For instance your combat seems more focused on escaping, not fighting. You’ll gain abilities that will help you get away, or prevent damage, and I assume that eventually you’ll be able to fight back, but you couldn’t in the demo and I think the game is better for it.

WinterVoicesSkills

Winter Voices has a pretty crazy looking skill tree with tons of skills. Each one is pretty unique and it’s fun to figure out how you could use each one.

You won’t just be spamming a flee button either, you’ll be navigating the battlefield like in Fallout, with a certain amount of movement points per turn and a grid to walk on. Your job is to figure out how to use your skills and abilities, as well as the terrain, to get away from the enemies without taking enough damage to kill you. This includes both setting and avoiding traps as well. Luckily you get an ability early on that allows you to find traps, if you want to waste a turn to do so.

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It’s important to realize that Winter Voices is not a traditional RPG. It feels more like an adventure survival horror game at times, and though it might not be unique it certainly was a new concept to me. The presentation is pretty amazing for the $5 price tag, though the dialog and spelling could have used a few more checks before it was released. At times it almost feels like a foreign title, which it is, but the translation is acceptable and can be intriguing at times.

One thing I wanted to touch on quickly was the save and loading system. Any RPG could learn a thing or two from it, especially the Western RPGs like The Elder Scrolls and Gothic. When you load a game, you are presented with a list of characters. You choose which character you want to load, then it will show you all of the saves that were made for that character. This would have been a life saver with Oblivion, and there were even entire programs developed to better organize Oblivions terrible save system.

WinterVoicesSaveScreen

In short this is one of the best demos I have tried since starting the Sunday Demo Review. I highly recommend at least giving it a download, and at $5 per episode I’m going to enjoy tearing through the interesting story and gameplay style for a while, and the episodic nature of the game means I won’t be getting tired of the mechanics by the time I finish, and I’ll be drooling for another go by the time the next episode drops.

Sunday Demo: Nimbus

January 2, 2011

It’s that time again. Time to dig through Steams demo section and bring you my opinions. So far we’ve had pretty good luck, but will it continue with this Sunday Demo? Let’s find out.

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The Nimbus demo doesn’t have much story, and I’m guessing it’s the same for the full game. The demo opens, Mario Bros style, with a big bad arriving and stealing your…purple ship companion thing… anyway, this gives you all the motivation you need to start rocking your little jet engines. Except you don’t have any, or any other way of propelling your ship through the levels except for what you find along the way.

Nimbus is an odd mix of racing the clock, puzzle solving, and high score coveting. You’ll try to beat the high scores of you, your friends, and worldwide leaderboards. There is a small amount of customization available in the demo, allowing you to pick a different look for your ship, or a different color contrail, but it’s pretty simple and shallow.

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You’ll take your ship around an overworld much like Mario 3. Certain paths will be open or closed depending on whether you have completed a certain objective at a branching path world. The graphics of the overworld are charming, reminding me of old school platformers, and in particular Sonic The Hedgehog. This is pretty fitting, seeing as the sense of speed you can experience in Nimbus rivals anything in a Sonic game.

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The unique spin for Nimbus comes from your lack of propulsion. Unable to thrust yourself, you must ride currents, bounce off of certain platforms, or fire yourself out of cannons. It’s a fun concept, though it can get frustrating when you can’t figure out exactly what you’re supposed to do to complete a section.

You do have a break, but you’ll only use it on the one level that tells you to. Otherwise you’ll fly as fast as you can, bouncing off of everything you can while trying to reach the end of the map. Sometimes there will be a golden coin to collect, and it’ll be hidden or out of the way, forcing you to decide whether you want to go for it or just finish the level.

I’m not exactly sure why all of the indie games I’ve played recently are obsessed with puzzles, but Nimbus follows suit. You’ll spend more time trying to figure out the sequence of events that will send your ship flying through the level, than actually playing the level. That’s not to say it isn’t fun, it is. It’s just that I’m a little sick of puzzle games in general.

Overall I thought that the Nimbus demo was pretty enjoyable, and if Steam has another sale and I can find Nimbus for under $4 I’ll pick it up. It seems more suited to be an iPhone, PSP or DS game than a full fledged computer game, so I can’t really recommend it at the normal price of $9.99.

Give the demo a try if you’re bored, but it’s nothing special enough to warrant a download just to experience. With cute graphics, fun ethereal music, and an interesting take on the platforming puzzler, Nimbus is fun but ultimately nothing special, and it’d be more compelling on a handheld platform.

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The Sunday Demo

December 20, 2010

I hate when games come out that don’t have demos. It really pissed me off and makes me feel like they are hiding a poor game, hoping for ignorant purchases instead of informed decisions to sell their games. Sadly I have to admit that I still don’t get around to playing all of the demos that are available, so I’ve recently decided to change that. This will hopefully be a weekly thing where I play a demo, and let you know what I thought of it. Here we go:

VVVVV

VVVVVV

VVVVVV has a terrible name. I’m sure that it’s actually kind of clever if you are the developer and understand exactly where it comes from, but I’m not and I don’t, and I think it sucks. Terrible name aside, I found the demo for this game to be pretty enjoyable.

The graphics, as you can see from the screenshot above, evoke an Atari feel as far as the platforms and the pixelized hero are concerned. The backgrounds however are vibrant and highly animated, though subtle enough not to distract from the exacting gameplay. I’ve also never felt so sorry just from a sad face. The emotion the main character expresses is surprisingly good.

The sound is also designed to remind you of old Atari or NES music, and for the most part it’s fine. There are times when the beeps and boops will hit a terrible pitch that made me want to mute the game, but other than those few instances the music was acceptable.

The gameplay is where VVVVVV really stands out. Like Bionic Commando back in the day VVVVVV removes your ability to jump. Unlike Bionic Commando, VVVVVV chooses to allow you to manipulate gravity instead of using a stupid little grappling hook. VVVVVV utilizes only three buttons, left, right and space. Space inverts gravity, allowing you to walk on the ceiling or floor depending on what you need. You’ll use these simple controls to navigate insane mazes of spikes. Luckily the developers included numerous save points, and you’ll instantly respawn just inches from where you died, allowing you to try, try again until you get it right without punishing you too badly for your mistakes.

The controls were sometimes unreponsive, either shooting your character much farther than you meant to go, or not changing gravity when you press space. The first issue might have to do with the game utilizing a keyboard for platforming. I love PC gaming, but a keyboard does not offer the precision necessary for most platformers. It’s acceptable, but not a great idea. Perhaps the full game will have gamepad support, but I seriously doubt it based on the very sparse menu and the utter lack of options in the demo.

Overall I thought the game was pretty fun, and at $4.99 on Steam it’s a game I’ll be picking up come payday. I highly recommend anyone who enjoys good platforming at least check out the demo. While it can be frustrating at times it’s a unique game that is a lot of fun.

Have you played VVVVVV? Let me know what you thought of it in the comment section.