Papers, Please

May 1st, 2013 by becky | 1 Comment | Filed in Free games, Review

Be sure to vote for this game on Steam Greenlight!

Luis sent me this game the other day and the first thing I did was watch a video review, and then last night I figured I had to try it out for myself. Papers, Please is a “dystopian document thriller,” involving careful scrutiny of passports, border control documents, and immigration paperwork. It is one of the most satisfying and fun games I’ve played in awhile. Despite sounding like it’d be dull, what with checking over paperwork and matching up inconsistencies, it’s actually surprisingly compelling and challenging. AND you can download the latest build for free!

I’ve also played Lucas Pope’s other game, Republia Times (which you can also play for free here). My favorite thing about his games is how he presents social commentary in a way that isn’t judgmental or leading, but instead he simply lays it all out and allows you to come up with your own conclusions yourself. Pope has indicated that the idea for the game came from his own travels and experiences with border control, and how it might feel from the other side. In terms of moral choices, you have the power to let people in who don’t have the proper paperwork, or the power to not let in people who do have the proper paperwork. As the creator stated, “One of my motivations for making this game is to exploit the player’s morals and give them tough choices.”

Tough choices like confiscating passports makes the game far more morally ambiguous than today’s “good versus evil” games.

During my playthrough, I encountered a man with all his paperwork in order. He informed me his wife would be coming after him, and asked me to be kind to her. After he left, his wife entered the booth. Unfortunately, while she had a valid passport, she did not have a valid entry permit. I asked her about this, and she pleaded for me to let her in anyway. The choice presented was really tough, and far more emotional than the usual “good vs. evil” choice presented in most games. Here, neither choice was really correct, I just had to do what I felt was best, and I chose to let her in and take the reprimand.

The game mechanics are extremely satisfying. Clicking the stamp to approve or deny someone, moving documents from the desk to your work area, and noting discrepencies are all smooth, fluid, and easy. The graphics remind me of old-school pixel art, but without the limited palette (though within each sprite, the palette is limited, just not within the entire game). The simplicity of the graphics combined with the muted colors really remind me of old Soviet propaganda posters, which are some of my favorite designs throughout history. The game feels stark and very cold, and the atmosphere makes the moral choices somehow feel even more compelling.

To be perfectly and sadly honest, I didn’t think this game was going to be worth buying when it comes out for real. I figured the novelty wouldn’t outlast a few hours. But today I’m already itching to play it again. I was actually really surprised at how interesting it is. I definitely think Lucas Pope is a fantastic game designer with a great attitude, and I definitely voted for it on Steam Greenlight (and you should too!).

(as an aside, if you are at all interested in the development or process of games, his dev log is quite interesting!)

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9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors

September 4th, 2012 by becky | 1 Comment | Filed in Article

Over the weekend I bought 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors for the DS. I can’t even describe how good this game is. I had tried it out on a friend’s copy awhile back and only played the beginning (not even finishing the first puzzle) and I found it to be tedious and slow. Keep in mind the first thing I do when I start a new RPG is crank the text speed way up – the fact that you can’t do that in this game made (and makes) me very irritated.

Okay, I’m going to give VERY slight spoilers of the game that won’t ruin the story, but will ruin the premise, so if you want to go into this game knowing absolutely nothing about it (as I did), stop reading now.

999_Cover_Art

So anyway, I actually started playing and got past the first part and now I can’t set it down. The premise is that 9 people (persons) are kidnapped by some person in a gas mask and put aboard an old (think Titanic) cruise-liner. The windows are boarded, the doors are locked, and the characters have 9 hours to escape from the ship before it sinks. There are, however, numbered doors – 1 through 9 – and the characters come across sets of these doors (the first set they find is 4 and 5), and must pass through them to find door 9, and when they go through door 9, they’ll escape. Sounds simple enough, right?

Except for one problem – each character has an assigned number as well. And they must pass through each door 3-5 people through each door, and the digital root of their numbers must add up to that door’s number.

Example: Person 3, 4, and 7 decide to go through a door. 3 + 4 + 7 = 14, 1 + 4 = 5, so they can only pass through door number 5.

Characters from 999

The realization of what this means hit the characters hard when they realized that the 3-5 rule meant they would have to sacrifice 4 people along the way at least, because not everyone could pass through the last door together. When this realization hit, I nearly threw my DS (this is what I do when something happens that I find to be amazing).

So basically this is a game, a game of life and death, a creepy game where I don’t know how and I don’t know why, and I have grown to like and appreciate all the characters, and each are completely different and memorable, and 4 of them have to die.

Not to mention at more than one point, they will come across doors where the numbers don’t work out.

It’s utterly brilliant. If you enjoy visual novels, puzzle games, or even just a really good story, and if you can find a copy of this online or at your local game store, pick it up, because it’s worth it.

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Guild Wars 2 is having some launching issues

August 25th, 2012 by Becky | 1 Comment | Filed in News

If you bought your account early, you might already be aware of this. Today is officially the first day of “Headstart Access”, and the Arenanet team even launched a few hours earlier than their scheduled time! Unfortunately, if you tried to log in from the EU since nearly the beginning, some places in the US, or anytime now, you’re probably expecting some connectivity issues.

Me, I was able to log in for about an hour starting at 1:45am eastern, but then I decided to log out and log back in at 2:30am because my guild was experiencing some issues. Big mistake. I haven’t been able to log back in since (tried until 3:30, then again at about 7:30, and again now, and still no dice). Honestly, it’s alright – I’m not at all upset about it. I’ve got other stuff I have to get done this weekend – all I really cared about was 1) getting into the server of my choice and 2) nabbing some sweet sweet character names, and I was able to do that (whoever already claimed Encyclopedia Brown, you’d best be careful because Bugs Meany is on your trail, mate).

(just in! I was able to log in as of 11:10am edt)

The best part of all of it was the Twitter posts. Arenanet shut down their forums while all of this went down, for obvious reasons, so the only recourse was to pester them on twitter.

It’s hard to be a gamer, guys.

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Tactical RPGs

August 16th, 2012 by becky | 1 Comment | Filed in Article

Lately I’ve been debating about whether to just force myself to get into Tactical RPGs or not. By tactical RPG, I mean games like Jeanne D’Arc, Final Fantasy Tactics, and Fire Emblem – turn-based, grid-based strategy games with RPG elements. These games have become increasily popular in the past ten or so years with RPGs.

I feel like I’m missing out on a ton of really amazing JRPGs because I avoid this genre of game. I’ve always been a fan of old-school RPGs – turn-based (or ATB based), stat-based Final Fantasy/Suikoden/Tales of/Dragon Quest style. Nowadays, everything tends to lean to either Action RPG (which I love), hybrid tactics (like Radiant Historia, Ultima, and Valkyria Chronicles), which I tend to avoid for the most part, and Tactics RPG (which I hate), so I’m missing out on a ton of really amazing series, like Devil Survivor, Disgaea, and Fire Emblem.

I have the GBA Fire Emblem from the 3DS Ambassador Program, and my brother gave me a copy of Jeanne D’Arc, so I won’t be risking anything to just force myself to actually give them a fair shake. I’m not really into anime but for some reason JRPGs have a strong place in my heart, and I want to play all of them! I loved Radiant Historia, at least, and Devil Survivor hits all of my sweet spots in terms of what I love in a game, aside from the tactics. I really want to like them!

There’s a sneaking suspicion I have that perhaps I just don’t like tactics games because they tend to be fairly difficult. I once watched a friend play Fire Emblem for the Wii on the hardest difficulty, and it was like watching a really scary movie – so tense that you want to close your eyes, but you can’t look away either because you need to know what happens next, and then when it’s finally over, you feel like a ball of adrenaline and you can’t relax for hours.

I’ll definitely report back after I’ve put a few hours into Fire Emblem. Do you like these types of games or not? If you like them, what are some good games I should try to ease myself into this genre?

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Steam Summer Sale is beginning

July 12th, 2012 by becky | Comments Off | Filed in Links, Short

The Steam Summer Sale just started. Get your butt over there! They’re posting new sales every 8 hours.

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