Stranded Review

Note: This review was written entirely sans PR materials and research; ordinarily, we pride ourselves on diligence and copious amounts of background research, but due to the game’s clear intentions and sensibilities, chose to approach this review differently.

The single worst thing about adventure games – the one aspect that is also almost wholly unique to them – is being stuck. (Worse still, in fact, is knowing when you’re badly stuck.) For players, after all, adventure games are all about progression; for developers, they are all about managing it.

The genre on the whole is a curious balancing act of controlling tempo, pacing, difficulty, balance, and the flow of information.

Peter Moorhead’s Stranded, then, is supposed to be

“[…] a minimalist adventure game that foregoes dialogue and puzzles to focus on atmosphere, mystery, and exploration; it is both a love letter to classic point & click adventures, and an experiment with the fundamentals of the genre.“1

To read the store page like the Devil does the Bible, then, according to the quote the fundamentals of adventure games are 1) dialogue, and 2) puzzles. From what I could gather, Stranded has neither of these things. Hence, it would be perfectly fair to state that Stranded is either a piss-poor adventure, or it isn’t one at all. Love letter? More like breaking up with emoji. (more…)

  1. http://store.steampowered.com/app/295250/ []

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The Samaritan Paradox Review

The Samaritan Paradox, a relatively new commercial AGS adventure game by Faravid Interactive’s Peter Ljunkvist, published by Screen 7, is a story about a story. A refreshingly Swedish one, too. The game’s protagonist, Ord Salomon – ‘ord’ is Swedish for ‘word’ – is a shut-in PhD student of literature, rotting away at a failing thesis, with worried friends, until he chances upon the daughter of a prominent dead Swedish author.

Salomon, a hobbyist cryptographer obsessive-compulsive about signs, instantly begins to solve the apparent secrets contained within the dead author’s final work, “The Last Secret,” which also functions as the key to the writer’s complicated relationship with his daughter and family. And to a large inheritance that could also help Ord repair his finances.

As is obvious from the get-go, The Samaritan Paradox has all the makings of a splendid detective game; it has a beautiful look and feel, with expertly crafted (especially animated) pixel graphics, and a highly under-used locale in the cold reaches of the Nordic to boot. A philological adventure – who would have wagered? (more…)

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Full Mojo Rampage Review

Over the Top Games’ new roguelike-lite, Full Mojo Rampage, is quite the voodoo soup, one that has been slowly bubbling away in Steam’s dangerous “Early Access” section since late 2013. The game, having finally reached its boiling point in May 2014, is now out, and we are about to find out just how tasty this crazy concoction is.

In the game, players are cute, big-headed voodoo apprentices, performing tasks for their chosen voodoo gods, Loas, by fighting against hordes of things that go bump in the night. The game is what you’d call a ‘twin-stick’ shooter on the consoles. Here on The Slowdown, of course, we don’t have to use dirty words like that, as the game plays perfectly well on a mouse and a keyboard, too.

From the get-go, it’s clear that the game’s gotta lotta mojo to it. As soon as the outrageous, monochrome cartoon intro starts playing, and the background music strikes the ear as both catchy and personable, players are no doubt being served with a helping that is both charming and funny. In-game, then, Full Mojo Rampage is simple and approachable on the one hand, and challenging and varied on the other. (more…)

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Gone Home and The Reality Effect

Gone Home.

Gone Home. This was The Fullbright Company’s famed “Story Exploration Video Game,”1 a game that I had been aching to witness, to dissect, and to analyse.

This, I already knew, were a Critic’s Kinda Game – one that would absolutely speak both to my ludological and narratological interests… only, the increasingly massive amount of criticism (reviews, articles, critiques, and commentaries) had begun to pile and fill up my Pocket feed, my RSS subs, and my Twitter timeline; first, to the point of my hesitation, then, to mild discomfort, and finally to a kind of destitution.

I really did feel, for a moment, ashamed of not having tackled the popular game on this website. We seemed like such a good match.

I guess you could say that I think we both owe it to each other.

Minor spoilers below.

(more…)

  1. http://thefullbrightcompany.com/gonehome/ []

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Shipwreck Review

I recently stumbled upon a really good video game trailer:

The above video, then, is a launch trailer for Brushfire Games’ new indie game Shipwreck. It is as WYSIWYG as you get! In buying this new game, you get the following:

  • Neat and tidy pixel graphics
  • Atmospheric console-style ‘retro’ music
  • Well-balanced, honed gameplay
  • Fun mechanics and a good difficulty curve
  • Zelda! Zelda! Link! Link!
  • I.e., A solid little game.

Interested? Read on, for more commentary on the game’s mechanics, qualities, and genre:

(more…)

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