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biosynth8

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  1. There are many good things to say about this game. From the technical standpoint, it‘s very well made, the graphics are fine, there are almost no bugs and everything works as it should. That‘s quite a lot for a modern game. Still, I was angry at this game most of the time while playing it. While the game is generally sound, it‘s troubled by many design choices, mainly not knowing where to stop. Less content would have done the game a serious favour. First, there‘s the music. Like much in the game, it‘s very Myst-like, but lacking the more dramatic tones of that series. It amounts to a monotonous plinking all the time, everywhere. The game would have gained a lot by more silence and more ambient noise instead of this constant barrage of muzak. Then there‘s the story. The idea is good in general, but the execution fails on several levels. The developers didn‘t feel confident enough to design moving character models, which is fair enough with a small team. Telling parts of the story through narrated letters is a good workaround. Telling other part through a talking, flying green orb is not. It made me feel the creators‘ inability or lack of time, while just a disembodied voice might not have. It doesn‘t help that this character is meant to gain your sympathy, but feels very hostile. It tends to appear out of the blue and starts nagging at you. At some points later in the game, it‘s also responsible for some very slow and tedious scripted sequences, combined with making you do some minor menial fetch quests. The worst part is when the game stops for a ten minute story monologue presented said glowing blob with a cave wall power point presentation. You are told all the background of the game in one overly long sequence instead of hints along your journey. And in the end you don‘t even get to see what happens at all. You just have to take the characters‘ words for it. At least there‘s an ending where you are given the satisfaction of seeing the green orb sulking and muttering. It also takes the puzzle island idea from Myst – but you never leave that island. Besides some rusty tunnels and a brief underwater section you are always in the same environment. Well made, but boring after some time. There are a few good puzzles in this game. I just got the feeling that they are almost all at the beginning and then decline in quality. After three quaters it starts throwing pipe puzzles at you and requires you to play a game of Mastermind. This is also where the game starts to become just a long narrow tube of puzzle after puzzle. There‘s nothing in between anymore, every piece of tunnel is just another puzzle, no environment, nothing. It would have done the game good to cut out most of the weaker riddles for some exploration – since ther are many very weak puzzles. As I wrote, you get Mastermind at one point, along with other well know riddles. On the other hand, most of them are way to tedious. Many require an ungodly amount of running around just to check what you are doing. Some aren‘t even riddles, but just list of easy to mess up chores. Brewing potions was the worst offender here, in my opinion. Many others are repeated in different difficulties, something I could have completely done without. Sometimes you get what feels like tutorial puzzles. A general theme of the puzzles is, that the solutions often seem to be a bit too long to be fun. If you have to dechipher runes to enter into a doorway, you don‘t have to enter four or five, you have to enter eight or ten. This is especially infuriating in cases where you allready have the solution, but the game wants you to repeat the same process several times. It seems like the developers had a serious case of horror vacui with their puzzles. The game feels like the they wanted to cram every kind of puzzle, short of crosswords and sudoku, into it. (They even inserted a joke about that, I‘m not going to spoil.) It feels like the they wanted to keep the player in the game as long as possible. But this really harms the experience in my opinion. In the end, I went from room to room hoping I wouldn‘t find another easy to sovle but time consuming and click-heavy puzzle. Quality over quantity would have been the solution - and the developers show that they can do the quality.
  2. Shine: Die Angst hat einen Namen is a German horror-themed fmv-game from 1996. It generally recieved bad ratings and I've yet to talk to someone who as actually played it. I only knew it at the time because there was some kind of demo on a CD in a magazine back then. I couldn't start the demo for some reason, I only could access the individual video files. They were gruesome, strange and absolutely trippy. Having nothing from the story to connect them in any way made it even more insane. Two or three years ago, it came back to my mind and I bought a copy on ebay. I never managed to run it on a modern machine with emulations. So I have just the weird ideas of those haunting contextless videos. Maybe it's the best it remains that way. It's more mysterious, while the game is probably just bad. Maybe I can use them in a short story. If you want get an impression of the game, here are two videos: https://www.kultboy.com/testbericht-uebersicht/6108/
  3. Everyone likes S.T.A.L.K.E.R, but I don't agree with this guy in several points: Fist of all, Stalker is a terrible example for a faction system. His only point is that all the factions are relatable. Great. What does it mean in the game? Nothing. The factions don't influence the story progression in Shadow of Chernobyl, they are basicly a minigame in Clear Sky and play no real role at all in Call of Prypiat. He even says it correctly that there are no real moral decisions in the game. I get that he likes the idea that all sides have a point, but that's easy to do if it doesn't matter in the end. Furthermore, he makes exactly the opposite point I gave in my example with Elex: He dislikes faction systems because they tend to make you choose the lesser of two evils. I can't understand why this is supposed to be a bad thing. I just think this is realistic. If you're not the leader of any faction and forced to work with them, you'll just end up with their goals, not yours. The great thing about Elex is that you have many ways to decide, but no decision is going to be a good one. There's no lesser evil, you just pick the evil you like. If you think one of the factions might have the right idea, you probably missed something or are an extremist yourself. I think he mixes some points up there, because with mentioning Bioshock he's on the right track. This is a game where you can either choose to be a monster or an angel. No grey areas and the moral decision is so utterly obvious that it's painful. I can completely agree here. But I don't get why he is complaing about games only offering bad solutions to problems. Stalker only escapse this situation by having no faction-specific endings! Otherwise it would be exactly the same as, say, in The Outer Worlds.
  4. I like this one. It's silly, clunky and buggy, but the atmosphere is very nice and it reminds me a bit of the old "Last Half of Darkness" games. You die every few minutes from going in the wrong direction or touching something you weren't supposed to touch. The puzzles are rather simple, but at least among the first few there are some that are clerverly integrated into the environment. I would recommend it on sale for people who are into atmospheric, slightly broken puzzle games.
  5. I played some of Wasteland II, but can't remember much of it. The moral system didn't strike me as especially interesting, as it concerned mainly tactical decisions. Plus, as far as I remember, most missions do have a "right" way to play them. Most of the time it's still "play a good samaritan or murder everyone".
  6. I really liked how much this video emphasized the importance of fantastic architecture in games. There simply is too little of it. Even fantasy games don't dare very much in this category. After the great and often alien architecture in Morrowind, both Oblivion and Skyrim were a disappointment architecture wise. Sci Fi games tend to have very few setpieces and fill everything else with tunnels and machinery.
  7. This post may contain massive spoilers to Prey (2017) and Elex. I just finished Prey (2017). I think it's generally a good game. Rushed in some areas and tedious in the end, but generally good. What really made me think, though, is the system of moral decisions it has. That sucks. Of course, it can be argued, that it's not as bad as in Bioshock, which is probably Prey's half-brother. However, since the gist of the game is that it's one giant test of your humanity, it's kind of more important. In most cases, the game makes you decide whether you help people or not. Save someone by completing an extra objective or don't. If you don't help, sometimes the people die, other times they will just be disappointed - but you always miss out on game content and rewards. On the meta-level the decisions don't come down to moral ones, but whether you want to spend more time in the game or rush through it faster. Whether you want to know more of the story, or whether that's not important to you. And even inside the game world, the decisions are rarely difficult. The game balantly asks you whether you want to be a monster or not. It's similar in many games. Even ones that have more nuanced worlds, like the Fallout series, make it hard for the player to play as an asshole. Most of the time, the "evil" decisions are just kicking puppies, figuratively, but also literally. If you go by the healthy moral compass of a human being, you end up as the knight in shining armor. Evil decisions are generally wrong, good decisions right. Does it have to be like that? I don't think so. However the only game I know that did it in a decent way is Elex. Now, it's not really a good game, but I think they nailed that aspect. Few people played it here, I assume, so I'll explain the basics. You play as a guy who was recently kicked out of a faction of technologists who brutally murder people to extract a drug from them that grants special powers and keeps their emotions down. Since you don't have access to a constant flow of the drug, your emotions come back. How they do, that's for you to decide. I think that's a clever way to have a blank slate RPG-character without the amnesia trope. Instead of a karma meter, the game keeps track of your "coldness": Emotionless, utilitarian decisions count as cold and raise the meter, emotional decisions, whether from anger or compassion, lower it. The good thing is, that this never tells you whether your decision was right or wrong. For example, early in the game you find a man who is trying to care for his brother who was turned into a monster. The human decision is to keep quiet about it, since the local authorities would kill both of them. If you do that, the monster brother kills the other man anyway. This "moral" system is set in a world filled with assholes. There are five factions that can be summarized as bigots, bullies, supermacists, terrorists and mass murderers, and you get to decide whether you want to ally with the first three. I've read reviews of people who complained that they stopped playing because they hated all the factions. Well, that's the point! When I played the missions of these factions, I found myself constantly trying to screw them over while still meeting the mission requirements. Sometimes that works, sometimes it gets back at you later. Even the first companion you get in the game only stays with you if you help him frame the cold blooded murder he comitted on an innocent guy. I the end, I agreed with that, took him back to the camp, ratted him out and killed him. There I realized it: In this game playing as an asshole has a point. Often you only have questionable options and you'll have to go with the one that helps you with your own goals. If you try to be the good guy all the time, you are not only going to get used, you are definitely going to make things worse for everyone. Because the people giving you quests lie to you. I find that really fascinating. What do you think? Is there any game that implimented something similar?
  8. Search for Zomb's Lair. There's a package including a virtual machine with Windows 95. It's almost impossible to run any other way. I wish I could run my German version again, I really liked the voice acting. Those weren't spiders, they were aggressive plants. They don't appear before quite late in the game actually. If you have come that far, you almost got it. But that's also the point where you have to start messing with the environmental controls. Come to think, I guess you can beat the whole game in less than two or three hours.
  9. Checks all the boxes of things to have in a modern rouge lite. The same basic map gameplay you have in other titles from Fictorum to Void Bastards. Somewhat real time combat but on a tiled field, which makes it strangely static. The plot is interesting, but after an hour or so I came to the conclusion I can have a much better experience by just reading any sci fi novel.
  10. It takes endurance to get into it, I guess. I was scarred off when I got attacked by bats in the beginning.
  11. My first impression: A cheap, buggy mess without any real story. The "alchemy" is so obviously stolen from Full Metal Alchemist that it hurts.
  12. I'm going to try this right now, since its less than 3 Euro. I haven't played a really interesting first person game since P.A.M.E.L.A..
  13. Man, that was a buggy mess. I bought it back in the day and tried very hard to like it. It was an open world game at a time when this feature alone was something special. The colorful, tropical, South American setting was cool too, when so many other games were brown colored military shooters. I think I deleted and re-installed it eight times. I just couldn't believe that there was nothing for me to like in this game. It was a patched re-release, but everything felt unfinished.
  14. I fondly remember "Hard to be a God" by Akela, released in 2007, based on the Strugazky brothers' novella. Not only am I a fan of the source material, the game also fell in my favourite categorie of games that are kind of bad but charming and unique. It's a top down action RPG set in the future but on a planet that is currently in the renaissance/early modern era. The thing is, that it starts with the aftermath of what happened in the book. If you haven't read it, the game spoils the ending (which is kind of a big thing), but the proceedings of the game would be much more suprising for you - if the press releases and trailers hadn't spoiled it beforehand. It had a more or less half-assed system where you had to combine certain parts of clothing and armour to pose as people from different factions. The fighting system was interesting, with a lot of force behind the weapons, but it was buggy and tough as nails. The graphics, as with everything from Akela, were dated, both ugly and nice. There was also "Galactic Assault: Prisoner of Power" by Wargaming.net, also from 2007, also based on a novella by the famous Russian brothers. It's a turn based strategy game set in the same universe (Noon Universe) as "Hard to be a God". However, this time the planet is somewhere in a dystopian atomic age, with several totalitarian states warring against each other. Again, the story takes place some time after the novel, this time it plays out events that are hinted on in later books of the Noon Universe. However, if you haven't read "The Inhabited Island" (or seen the 2008 movie) you won't understand anything from the story. Not that it matters, as it is only told with voiceovers by bored actors. However, it's a very solid strategy game and I started playing it again recently as it's on GOG now. Even the early missions can be very though.
  15. I recently watched "Silent Running" with Bruce Dern again. It has a lot of similarities in plot and setting and Alan Russell is definitely a bit modeled after Bruce Dern's character Freeman Lowell. Russell even has a poster of that movie in his house. The funny thing is, that it actually went that way: The movie Silent Running was the inspiration for the construction of the ill-fated Biosphere-2 project in Arizona, and Biosphere-2 was the main inspiration for BioSys.
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