Monthly Archives: August 2015

Poison in Ranstotzka

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I can’t believe I didn’t notice that I would be reimbursed if I were to move back to a class 8 apartment, I just assumed that I would still have to cover the moving costs and in doing so I completely missed the lack of the minus sign in my summary. It is embarrassing to realise the financial hardship I have experienced the last few days would have been entirely avoided if I had just read my daily finances slightly more thoroughly. No wonder I am such a terrible inspector. I cannot keep doing this, continuing in this role for much longer will result in destitution, starvation and the doom me and my kin.

Ezic have asked me to dirty my hands, I just have to apply some powder to a very particular passport. Somehow I agreed to it, they are agents of change and I am already irrevocably tainted if the government ever learns of my connection with them. I must proceed. I am sorry, so sorry. Papers, please.

Tranqs in Ranstotzka

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The ministry of admissions is a bizarre and strange organisation at times. Apparently they have decided that despite the frequent terror attacks on this checkpoint men are needed elsewhere and I must assist in defending the checkpoint in any future incidents. I guess they figure that given the mandatory service all male Ranstotzkan’s must go through, they can rely on my hopefully not too rusty gun handling skills. I am of course hoping against hope that there won’t be call to use it in the future. At least it is merely a tranq rifle better to knock out these terrorists and to bring them to justice.

The rate at which I am making mistakes only seems to be increasing and between that and the higher rent of the Class 7 apartment my finances are looking pretty dire. Moving was a mistake, if only I could afford to move out. My son’s birthday is coming up and I wish I could afford to buy him a present. I am a terrible border inspector.

Indie Wonderland: Tembo The Badass Elephant

TEMBO THE BADASS ELEPHANT. Take that, every other video game animal mascot! You’ve all been replaced in a single fell swoop. Sonic the Hedgehog? Bubsy the Bobcat? Daxter, the pantsless weasel slash secret Precursor? Mario the plumber? Irrelevant, irrelevant, irrelevant, irrelevant. I genuinely think Game Freak has reached the pinnacle of mascot-ing, here. Tembo The Badass Elephant For All Video Games, 2016.

No, I actually haven’t played the game yet, why do you ask?

It’s true, I grant you, that Tembo’s titular first outing may very well suck. That’s always a chance! I just don’t see how that would have any bearing on my immediate and total love for TEMBO THE BADASS ELEPHANT. People still love Banjo and Kazooie, and their ‘most recent’ game was apparently terrible. And the less said about the aforementioned blue speed rodent… I strongly believe that, no matter the outcome of today’s review, Tembo The Badass Elephant is a character design that will stand the test of time. Part pachyderm, part commando, all badass. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Tembo in the next set of Smash Brothers DLC.

Still, this review column is ostensibly for reviewing full games, not for gushing about cool character designs. Can Tembo The Badass Elephant, the game, live up to the expectations set by Tembo, The Badass Elephant? High though these expectations may be?

Only one way to find out!

(Spoiler levels: Narrative, medium-high. Mechanical, high.)

(Game source: Gift from a friend.)

After the break: Tembo The Badass Elephant. I… I think I actually used all my good lede jokes in the opening bit? Then again, I don’t know if anyone even reads these things. Just continue to more Tembo, okay: it’s what you guys want, and it’s honestly what I want as well.

Crime in Ranstotzka

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In the Ministry of Admission’s unfailing wisdom and willow like approach to current events I now have to keep an eye out for most wanted criminals that apparently are constantly crossing our border. Perfect yet another thing to keep track of while also trying to make sure every other piece of documentation is accurate. That combined with both sides of an apparent espionage war are really fraying my nerves. I am making more and more mistakes as everything mounts up. At this rate this job will bankrupt me and then where will my family be? Starving, cold and sick.

They could at least give me most wanted posters I could put on the back wall rather than forcing me to keep the paper open on my desk, but I guess they want the criminals captured rather than merely scared off. I do not like the direction things are taking, but what can I really do about it? I am just a border control officer, my job is just to say “papers, please” and ensure every single little detail is correct whilst getting as many people checked as possible each day.

Ranmerged – Time To Go

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With this episode our time with Submerged is at an end. There are still plenty of secrets to collect to fill out the story of the city, and in fact I did that in a stream the same day Submerged came out. I am definitely up for discussing what the cities story is, because some of the later stages are… odd, I can’t say I am totally confident that my interpretation is correct because some of the events that I think it talks about do not seem physically possible.

I found it kind of strange to see Miku and Taku’s backstory catch up to them inside the city, it just seems odd to have the game relay information I already have. I know what Miku did in the city, I was there I was controlling her at the time, those events are not a revelation, in general game backstory that gets revealed through play doesn’t go past the beginning without there being something new to say. Maybe it is for a returning player who just wants to look at the story rather than play through it again?

I definitely did not see the final twist coming, frankly it feels pretty deus ex machina, the remnant absorbing the changes, reverting Miku and allowing the pair to leave. It feels like a bit of a cheat to give the player a happy rather than a bitter sweet ending. Ultimately like many exploration focused games like these the story and sense of place are what the game relies on, if they grab you from the start you are likely to have a good time, if they don’t, then it is probably best to give it a miss. I was pretty keen from the start, based on the art style, the concept and my misplaced assumption that it was set in Sydney. I definitely had fun playing through it, I hope you had fun watching.

Ranmerged – Face Your Fears

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As Miku collects the supplies for Taku she slowly becomes affected by whatever is in the water and plantlife of this area. The implication is that this is the kind of thing that happened to the literally faceless Remnant that you see wandering around the city. They are definitely interested in her and her brother, but not interested in a direct confrontation. You will literally see them run and dive off of buildings rather than interact with her. It makes me wonder if in the original version of this game’s design they were intended to be treated as wandering monsters on the way to collect supplies. Instead they exist as a mysterious but obviously present observing force, like a less creepy version of the G-Man.

By this point I am very convinced that we are heading for a tragic ending. Taku may survive this and leave but I fully expect Miku to spend the rest of her days in this town slowly becoming one of its long-term inhabitants.

Indie Wonderland: The Swindle

Size Five Games’ The Swindle has been on my radar for a while, now. You guys know I try to go into games as blind as possible, but from my Twitter-following of the ineffable Dan Marshall, I couldn’t help but be exposed to bits and pieces. And so help me, I liked what I saw from that exposure. Procedurally-generated stealth-focused heisting game? I do love me some heisting, particularly of the Actually Stealthy variety. Give me your Monacos and your Invisibles Inc over your Paydays any time. I’m not ashamed to say I was looking forward for another good session of grabbing moneys and dodging lines of sight; some day, in the far future, I would engage on that swindle.

And then, all of a sudden, it appeared for purchase. Like a thief in the night. And in that moment, I knew what had to be done.

(Spoiler levels: Narrative, low. Mechanical, medium-high.)

(Game source: Bought it myself.)

After the break: The Swindle. But does the title refer to the gameplay… OR THE GAME? No, sorry, that’s incredibly mean of me, that’s not even a good joke. It’s the gameplay.

Ranmerged – Postcards from the City

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I really like the postcard feature, it fits very well with this kind of exploration heavy game. It also is obviously designed to encourage players to share nice screenshots that just happen to have the Submerged logo emblazoned on the bottom right hand corner. I wonder how frequently it will be used, I hope at least it will be used by more skilled hands than mine.

I did learn to appreciate the unlocked camera that it provides, later on when I was focused in collecting more of the secrets this game hides I used it to get a better viewing angle around corners and over ledges to try to find the right paths. An unlocked camera can be a very useful tool.

Ranmerged – Taku Needs Hopsital

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Somewhat unsurprisingly Taku continues to need supplies, really he needs a hospital pity there isn’t a functional one to be found in this city. There is a ruined one on the outskirts though, definitely work a look for one of the supplies we need. As I mentioned last time, it appears that the city in this game is entirely fictional. That I cannot find anything about Saaftinge Hospital on Google certainly seems to back this up, it seems that the name is a reference a place in the Netherlands known as the Drowned Land of Saeftinghe, which is hardly going to have modern looking buildings in it.

I continue to enjoy the look and feel of this game, the ruin is a pretty peaceful place. I do have some quibbles about plants that grow directly from concrete with no root system, there are many places where it is abundantly clear that the plants have been placed purely to look good from the boat. Plants that are growing out of bare concrete railings, plants growing in air and trees growing on a thin concrete slab with no sign of a root system. Most of the time it is fine but it definitely grates at points..

Ranmerged – First Time in the Big City

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I am taking a brief break from Papers Please because I had the opportunity to play through Submerged by Uppercut Games, obtaining a copy via the big red Press This Button if you want a promo key. The thing that first caught my eye for this game was the thumbnail for the trailer (which frustratingly appears to have changed). This thumbnail shows the ruins of a bridge that looks remarkably like the Sydney Harbour Bridge, that combined with the Screen Australia logo made me leap to the inaccurate conclusion that this game must be set in a post-apocalyptic Sydney.

I have never seen a game that would let me wander around Sydney, let alone a post-apocalypse version so I was really eager to get my hands on this game. That this assumption turned out to be completely unfounded is by far my greatest disappointment from this game. Instead I had to cope with a mysterious, fictional city whose history was available to me only through collecting books that would provide me with individual images I could piece together to tell its story. It turns out that I am definitely weak to this kind of thing.