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Disappointed with Q.U.B.E., Indie Fund

April 14, 2012

The Indie Fund, which I’ve mentioned previously, is a funding initiative created by a few indie developers, notably Jonathan Blow (Braid), the co-founders of 2D BOY (World of Goo), among others. The support from Jonathan Blow alone is enough for me to want to keep an eye on the games that the organization backs. Back in February, I discussed their second release, Dear Esther, which I decided was interesting and important to the game community, but did not appear to have much lasting value. This past week, I finally got around to playing Q.U.B.E., the first game backed by Indie Fund to be released, which came out at the beginning of January. I bought the game very shortly after it came out because I trusted the opinions of the developers behind Indie Fund. But it seems that my faith was misplaced, because Q.U.B.E. proved to be a frustrating, simple, and ultimately dissatisfying puzzle game.

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One Life, One Journey

April 8, 2012

In last week’s post, I exalted Thatgamecompany’s latest PSN game, Journey, for the wonderfully personal experience it gave me (I use the word ‘wonderfully’ in spite of—or, more truthfully, because of—the feelings of longing and loneliness I felt afterward). I have never felt anything like I did during or after playing. Why then, at the end of the post, did I tease that perhaps I would never play Journey ever again? This week I will explain myself and present my new philosophy for approaching these rich gameplay experiences.

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A Romantic, Tragic, Lonely Journey

March 31, 2012

The gaming world has been abuzz about Thatgamecompany’s latest PSN title, Journey. When it was released on March 13th, I was already itching to play it. I had done my best to avoid learning about the game so that I could play it with a fresh and open mind: all I knew was that the game begins with you starting off in a desert with a mountain in the distance, and the only logical step being to go toward it. That—plus a few screenshots—was enough to pique my interest. To my dismay, my schedule was packed with work and assignments, so I had to wait nearly two weeks to play it. Finally, last Sunday I was able to carve out the time at night to play. So, volume turned up and lights off, I began my journey.

Mine was a beautifully tragic experience. I caught a mere glimpse of what it could have been for me, and it haunted me. But before I explain that, I should speak a little about the game, for the uninitiated. If you’re at all interested in playing the game, please skip this post until you’ve played it: I do believe that going in knowing as little as possible is the optimal approach. Furthermore, I can say with great certainty that you will not fully understand this post or how personal my experience was until you’ve played the game for yourself. Here be spoilers.

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Lone Survivor: A Breakdown

March 28, 2012

As I mentioned this weekendLone Survivor, the newest game from indie developer Jasper Byrne, came out on Tuesday. There’s been a new launch trailer which you may enjoy if you haven’t heard much about the game yet:

Now that it has been out for a couple of days, today I’d like to discuss a few things about the game, namely my analysis of its meaning, and what parts of it I think were particularly well-designed. Naturally, you shouldn’t be reading this post if you plan to play the game, but if you’ve had a chance to play it already, then sally forth.

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Preview: Jasper Byrne’s Lone Survivor

March 24, 2012

I had the privilege this week of playing through Jasper Byrne‘s newest indie title, Lone Survivor, which comes out next Tuesday. I have many thoughts to share on the game, but most of them would spoil your own experience with it if I shared them now. Thus, today I will be speaking briefly about the game, leaving a more complete analysis for Tuesday or Wednesday, once the game has been released.

Before I begin, I would like to suggest that you consider not reading this at all, and to play the game fresh, knowing as little as possible about the game before you play. Personally, I think that this is the best way to play any game (or see any movie), but if you’re not sold yet on the idea of Lone Survivor, or aren’t concerned about how much you know beforehand, then read on.

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NightSky: Great Design in Unexpected Places

March 20, 2012

I first noticed NightSky when it came out on Steam about a year ago. The trailer, embedded below, captures the essence of the game, which is really all about rolling a ball to solve some physics-based puzzles. It seemed to me like a fun distraction, so my interest was piqued. I didn’t obtain the game until the end of last year—I think I got it from Indie Royale—but when I did, I was surprised at how well-designed it was. In fact, the whole experience was sublime, with the gameplay, ambient music, sound effects, and visual design all working together to craft a surreal and calm world, which helped to quell the frustration from the particularly challenging puzzles.

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Why I Don’t Like Minecraft

March 12, 2012

I spent Saturday night playing a few games at my apartment with a friend: Left 4 Dead 2, Realm of the Mad God, and, to cap off the night, a few hours of Minecraft. I hadn’t played Minecraft for many months (since 1.0 came out), but this weekend’s play session reminded me why I stopped, and why I’ve grown to dislike it. For the record, I’ve played it for about 65 hours: by comparison, my most-played game on Steam—Fallout: New Vegas—clocks in at 54 hours. Sure, I haven’t played nearly as long as other players, but the point here is that I’ve given it more than a fair shot. And after all these hours, as much as I recognize the appeal of the game, I have more negative feelings than positive, and I’d like to finally voice them here.

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