Crawling dungeons in the ‘Legend of Grimrock’

Last played: 2013

Previous playtime: 12 hours

‘Legend of Grimrock’ is an old-school style dungeon crawler RPG with a lot of puzzles. To confess I haven’t played any classic titles like the ‘Dungeon Master’ or others, so when I first purchased and played this game, it was the first of it’s kind.

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The artwork in the beginning is really beautifully drawn.

In ‘Legend of Grimrock’ you have a group of four adventurers who are thrown in a dungeon without any equipment. Your adventurers must travel through maze like dungeon floor by solving puzzles and killing various enemies. As you sink deeper and deeper after each floor, you face more dangerous enemies and harder puzzles.

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“I think I’m too lazy to do my own mapping…”

You may choose to create your own characters or you may begin your adventures with a pre-made team of heroes (which are well balanced) .

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This mostly what you’re going to be seeing for first 5 floors (after that the theme changes).

Even though you play in a first person view, your heroes are actually standing in a square-like order. The order is the same as seen in the lower right corner (see pic): upper ones are in the front when facing forward; and if attacked from the side, those on that side take the hits.

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“Burn! Burn you damn giant snail!”

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“Oops…” HINT: Don’t use fire when facing walls or gates…

The battle is actually quite boring and slow, but hectic. It’s executed in real time and you have use a mouse for each hero to individually attack. Especially spells take way too much time, because you have to remember and select right runes for different kinds of spells to work. If you don’t want to die from enemies attacks, you mostly have sidestep and attack them before they attack you. The bigger the enemy the longer you have to do this.

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Each character has it’s own inventory, stats, experience and skills. Somewhat sadly the skills are bound to the character’s class (e.g. a wizard can only learn magic type skills).

Even though you have face multiple enemies in each floor, it’s the puzzles that make the game fun. How will I reach the next floor? For your help you may find runes scribbled on other wise all same looking walls. (Clicking will translate them to English, so no worries in there..).

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“Choose your fate. Perish in this cell or pick up the torch.”

The deeper you travel, the harder puzzles. Some are very annoying, because they are timed. Some are there just for your doom.

I recommend saving often, since checkpoints are infrequent.

Playing the game again after all these years first felt fun and exiting, but then I remembered that the rest of the game would be just basically just the same over and over again: sidestepping with monsters, finding keys and pushing buttons. It had been fun the first time, but to play the same game again..? Not this one.

Looking forward to playing the sequel though. What I’ve seen it looks fantastic and I hope there’ll be some new puzzle types and monsters.

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An hour of gameplay gives you just a taste of what the game has to offer.

Playtime for the review: 1 hour

Current status: Won’t play again

Ps. I just have mention that ‘Legend of Grimrock’ games are developed by a small Finnish game company ‘Almost Human Games’. Hyvää työtä! (Good job!)

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The Witcher: A game you really want to play, but just can’t…

Last played: 2012

Previous playtime: 2 hours

‘The Witcher’ game series is supposedly one of the most popular fantasy themed RPG’s. It is based on a novel series of the same name and has sold over 25 million copies. The first installment however seems to be a lot less popular than it successors.

The story and concept of the game series has always seemed interesting to me, but to be honest, I have never played either of the sequels. The first game however, I have played (well started to, to speak the truth). Twice. So this will be my third try.

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Watch the intro cinematic video. It is pretty sweet.

Like in most games, when starting a new game you must choose a difficulty; and like most games ‘The Witcher’ offers you three options. I always choose the middle one: ‘normal’, ‘medium’ or whatever it’s called. I presume that it is the difficulty the game was originally designed to be played.

In addition to choosing the difficulty in ‘The Witcher’ you may choose how you control the game’s camera.

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The ‘keyboard + mouse’ is your basic Over-The-Shoulder view: turn the camera with your mouse and move with W,A,S,D keys.

In ‘mouse’ control however you just click on the ground and the camera turn with you.

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Since you can switch between camera modes I decided to try both of them. And after playing awhile with each of them, I found it to be most enjoyable to switch between the modes depending on the gaming situation: ‘mouse’ control while exploring and ‘keyboard’ control in battle to get a better feel.

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Quite a big difference, I’d say…

The combat itself takes some getting used to. It is very tactical and all about timing.

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You make most damage with chain attacks aka. clicking when your sword cursor is in flames.

You may switch between three combat styles: ‘Strong’, ‘Fast’ and ‘Group’; each which has it’s advantage depending on the opponent. Luckily there is an active pause on the game, so there is time you switch between the combat styles and the camera mode.

All in all ‘The Witcher’ is a really heavy game. The combat seems simple compared to the other aspects of the game, like the ‘Alchemy’ or the character development.

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But mostly it’s a heavy game because there is just so much story. It took over 20 mins from launching the game to taking the first steps with the character. After almost 2 hours of play, I’d finally learned the basics of the game, killed about 15 enemies and reached ‘Chapter 1’. It seems very little for that amount of time.

To me the story seems interesting, so I’ll try to go forward with the game, but it is going to take a lot concentration and will. By now I’ve only seen a scratch of the actual gameplay. There seems to be a lot of it, but by far it’s been mostly story. Right now I’m too exhausted to continue the game, there has just been so much to take in…

But as I’ve already tried to play this game twice before, this time will probably end the same way: I want to play the game, but just can’t because it’s too heavy.

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If anything, I want to collect these cards!

Playtime for the review: 2 hours

Current status: Will try to continue...

Rewinding back to playing ‘Braid’

Last played: 2012

Previous playtime: 3 hours

Puzzle-Platformer ‘Braid’ was the first game I purchased from the Steam Store. Friends had talked good things about it and I bet it was on a pretty sweet sale.

That was in 2012; I played the game for two hours and haven’t played it since. Looking at my old save, I’d say I had completed about 1/3 of the game. Starting a new game deleted all the previous progress (I have now later learned that it is possible to access other save slots through the options menu).

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The opening scene is really beautiful.

For some odd reason you begin with a ‘World 2’ (perhaps the world you begin in is considered number 1..).

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Entering a world will show you a cloudy room with books: that tell you the game’s story throughout the game, and with doors: from which you may enter the actual levels of the game.

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The levels are about collecting puzzle pieces by solving, well, puzzles in order to get to them. First look at the game gives you the feeling of a just an ordinary platformer game, but in reality jumping in platforms is just the way to solve the puzzles. The kicker of the game is that you can rewind at any time. Missed a jump? Just rewind and try again.

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“Died again! I’m so terrible at jumping… Let me just rewind a bit and try again. Practice makes perfect!”

It was fun to realize that after all these years, I had forgotten how to solve even the easiest puzzles. It was so fun to play the game again, that I ended up playing it for three hours straight!

It was really fun, until it wasn’t fun… At some point it became so frustrating, that I cursed more than my boyfriend, who was playing ‘Shovel Knight’. In some levels, even if I was sure how to solve the puzzle (I even googled it to be sure), if my timing was just a one millisecond off, I would have to try again. And again and again… And thus I remembered why I never finished the game.

Even if ‘Braid’ has this really great game design, that you can go back to every level later and get the collectable puzzle pieces, I got too frustrated around the same part of the game as in my last playthrough, that I had to quit playing.

I guess now I’ll wait for another four years to play it again, because like I said: ‘Braid’ is a really fun game, until it isn’t.

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“Well, of course she is…”

Playtime for the review: 3 hours

Current status: Will wait until I forget the puzzles and then play again.

Fractal: Play games, just not maybe this one…

Last played: Never

‘Fractal: Make Blooms Not War’ is a casual type puzzle game. This is one of the games I’ve even installed on my computer. I think I got the gamekey free from somewhere, and I was just happy to get another game to my account. But back then I was playing ‘Skyrim’ so I never started this game.

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The game has three different modes: ‘Campaign’, ‘Arcade’ and ‘Puzzle’. To get to play the ‘Arcade’ or ‘Puzzle’ modes you first need to complete the first level of the campaign. And that was easier said than done.

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“So how does this game work? What am I supposed to do?!”

This the first level. “Make blooms. You have 22 pushes to get enough points to pass the level”: this much can be seen in the bottom corners. Nothing else is explained, but what is in that picture. Took me sometime to even figure out how to ‘push’.

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“Yey! Something happened!”

I kept trying to figure out what I can do: is it the white ones I should click or the dark grey or lighter grey.

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By some accident I got some points: 7/21…

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Level 1 and I failed miserably…

I tried, and tried to figure the game out, and by some miracle I managed to get through the first level.

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“Finally a Bloom! But what do those numbers mean..?”

The next level was entirely different: bigger and green. I still wasn’t really understanding the game mechanics. Click an empty space and you get more coloured hexes.

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“Good luck sweetheart indeed…”

It wasn’t until level three that the game told how the coloured hexes behave.

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You can click on an empty space next to a coloured hex and the arrows will show you which rows are being pushed by new coloured hex tiles.

With each new level I eventually understood more and more about the game. If a coloured hex reaches the outer rim (the darker tiles) the hex will disappear. The more ‘blooms’ you can make with a single push, the more points you get. Later you get levels with two colours, which must be ‘bloomed’ separately, and levels where there are ‘explosive tiles’ that possibly (I’m not really sure..) make a bigger ‘bloom’.

A one thing I never figured out is, what is the logic on how new coloured hexes appear after ‘blooms’. I played till the level 8 and stopped, because it just isn’t fun to play a puzzle game which you don’t understand.

But there was still the ‘Arcade’ mode and ‘Puzzle’ mode to try out.

I decided to start with the ‘Arcade’ one. There where three choices: all which had a timer and tiles that I had never seen before.

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“What are those moon and lighting tiles?!”, I screamed and randomly pushed everywhere in panic…

Being even more confusing than the campaign, I decided that the ‘Arcade’ mode was not for me at all.

So what about the ‘Puzzle’? Would that be even worse, since I didn’t still yet understand how the game worked.

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“There seems to be plenty of puzzles. Let see how terrible they are..”

Starting with the first one I have say: this playmode should have been the campaign or the tutorial or at least be unlocked from the start. It starts so easily that all you got do is make one single ‘bloom’. This was what I expected of the game. Learning the game mechanics with one level at a time.

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Note: This is not the right way to solve this…

The puzzles get more complex each level and that way you learn how the game is played most efficiently.

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The ‘Puzzle’ mode seems like worth playing, but otherwise ‘Fractal: Make Blooms Not War’ is not the type of casual puzzle game that you want to play for the 15 minutes while waiting for your pizza or something: which I think is the type of game it could be.

I might finish the ‘Puzzle’ mode if I ever the get the hang of how the new hex tiles appear after making ‘blooms’.

Playtime for the review: ~30 minutes

Current status: Most probably won’t play again

All hail the mighty Dragonborn! Or should we still?

Last played: 2014

Previous playtime: ~30 hours

Second game I added to my Steam account was ‘The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim’. This was also through a CD-key. I had previously played ‘Oblivion’ from the Elder Scrolls series and liked it a lot (never played the main story though. I wonder what it was about..), so when my boyfriend bought Skyrim I was very excited.

Before this I had about 30 hours of playtime with the game. I actually thought the number would be much higher since I really liked the game back then. I can’t really remember what kind of character I was playing, but I do remember that I got bored with the game after getting the ‘Heartfire’-DLC. Building a house and trying to gather resources for, just ruined the game for me.

I’ve been thinking about going back to the game and starting it over for a while now, so now would be as good as time as any.

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Seeing the title screen and whole beginning scene brought back fond memories.

I’ve never really related to the Argonian or Khajiit races and last time I think I played as an Wood Elf, so I decided to go with a human race. I was in the mood to play just a regular warrior, and reading the description of the Redguard, it seemed like the perfect choice.

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As the character creation is just selecting the looks of your character, I just selected one of the presets, changed the sex and hair colour (always liked darker skinned characters with white hair) and that was it.  Naming the character has always been hard for me: although you never really even see the name anywhere, so it might as well  be ‘Poop1’, I like giving characters proper names. This one got the name ‘Ra’quel’: which was just the first thing that popped into my head.

The beginning scene was just as awesome as I remembered.

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(I laughed remembering the mod that replaced dragons with Thomas the Tank Engine…)

Although it’s very long and I kept thinking “Let’s go already..” (which is ironic since that what the NPCs kept saying too..), games that start right in the middle of the action are fun.

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But do not try killing yourself, or you end up back to watching your beheading again.

After learning to move and jump, by running through the yard by following whom ever the games tells you to follow and avoiding the dragon, you end up in front of a keep. There you have to decide if you want to go inside with the imperial: who just tried to behead you, or the Stromcloak: who was just about to be beheaded for his crimes. This time I picked the latter, but whom ever you choose you end up getting your first gear.

Your basic inventory is easy to use, but the rest of the character menus are bit confusing at the first sight.

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On what are these numbers based on?

What actually bothered me the most, is that you have magic skills right from the beginning. I wanted a character that doesn’t use basic magic, yet my character can. How does she know how to use it? In my mind her backstory was that she had just been an ordinary person before becoming a prisoner.

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This part being the tutorial they leave a lot of thing unexplained. They teach you basic use of inventory and items, how to kill, how to pick locks (which I’ve always liked) and how to sneak, but that’s about it. After escaping from the keep, you are left alone and told “Go that way”.

There were lot of things I had forgotten about the game. For example that killing the last enemy in the area shows you a cool slow motion final blow animation.

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This one had a lot of blood…

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… because it bothered me that this one didn’t have any.

After the hour of playtime with Skyrim, I don’t think I will be playing it again. Nowadays I seem to want more freedom in creating my characters in Role-Playing-Games. Skyrim might have been a great game back in the days, but I think I’m into different kinds of RPGs now.

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Anyone else ever wished there would be an option to hide the helmet? Why did I choose a cool hair, if I never get to see it…

Playtime for the review: 1,5 hours

Current status: Won’t play again

In the beginning there was… A Game of Thrones – Genesis

Last played: 2012

Previous playtime: 15 min

Remember the time when you went to a store to buy games for your PC, then you came home with a nice DVD-case, put into your DVD-drive and then it started to make a loud whirling sound. I can’t remember the last time I even inserted a disc into my PC’s drive. But back then that was the only way I knew how to play videogames. That was until I bought ‘A Game of Thrones – Genesis’. This game offered me a chance to install a program that I wouldn’t need to use the disc every time I wanted to play. And that is how I got my Steam account.

Buying the game was an impulse decision: loved the series and at the time my favorite game was ‘Age of Mythology’. A game combining those two; what could go wrong?

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This is how long I played the game back then: 15 minutes.

I tried it and it seemed horrible. It just wasn’t what I expected. And I just left it, never to be played again…

Until today.

This was a game I did not want to try again. But I promised myself to try each and everyone of my games, so what was I to do…

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“This game has multiplayer! There must be thousands of players to compete against…”

If I remembered correctly, the game had been confusing and complex: so I should start with the tutorial and get it over with.

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“So there are four parts to this tutorial. Let’s begin with the first one.”

The tutorial explains how to use units and and how to acquire alliances with other villages and castles. You are playing as the Targaryens against the Lannisters. If there are any differences between the houses is not revealed.

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“Uu! A minimap!”

To acquire an alliance you have a unit called ‘envoy’. You can send it to a nearby town and then they are your allies and you establish a trade route with them. But your opponent can also send their envoy and steal your pact with the town. But then you can send a spy there and make a secret pack with them, so that the opponent doesn’t get any money anymore. But alas! So can they! But then you can marry a noble lady to the town so there can’t be any secret alliances. But wait! There are assassins that can murder the ladies! And so on and so on…

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“At least there was some battle..”

Completing the tutorial took me an hour! And I felt so bored I wanted to quit it multiple times. As I had promised each game an hour playtime , I wanted shut the game and delete it once again from my computer: this time for forever.

But to be fair tutorials can’t really be considered as the actual game. Therefor I decided to try out the campaign too.

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In the campaign you play as Nymeria, who has sailed to Westeros with her army to conquer the land.

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“This looks much better! The map is way more interesting.”

What surprised me was that the campaign teaches you the same tactics of the gameplay as the tutorial. But not as boringly and it made me feel like there could be some point to the gameplay and not just back and forthing with the opponent.

I only played the first scenario, because the tutorial had drained me completely, but later I may actually go back to the game and finish it.

So ‘A Game of Thrones – Genesis’ has become the first of many games that I have judged way too early, and I won’t delete it from my account just yet.

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(How did I get these achievements?)

Playtime for the review: 1,5 hours

Current status: Will try a little more, but probably will not play after that

 

How did I end up with so many games!?

I’ve had a Steam account since 2011. I have over 250 games registered on my account; with Family-Sharing on with my boyfriend, the number of games available comes to near 1000. Then I also have an account on GOG and  Uplay; containing about 50 games in total.

That is a lot of games for a person who doesn’t even play everyday. To be honest: I bet I haven’t even launched half of them. Usually I just keep playing the same games. Switching between them. But at least some games I have finished (well main stories, but that counts, right..?).

So how and why so many games? Reason is simple: sales and bundles. Games these days have become so cheap that just the slightest interest or friend’s recommendation get you to buy them. Even if you never actually start them and give them a chance, they still haunt your account’s library.

But now I’ve decided to try them all out. Each and everyone of the games will get playtime from 30 minutes to one hour to prove their worth. Starting from the game that made me get a Steam account, to the most recent games that I’m most likely to purchase in the future.

Here is my library at the moment:

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Please don’t make me play that GoT -game…