POF Archive: March 2016

I have been writing this drivel for decades. Browse through my archives by clicking the links below.

Shadowrun Returns on PC (7/10)

Shadowrun Returns

I was initially drawn to the isometric art style of this turn-based RPG. My hope was that it would play like Wasteland 2 but I wasn't sure what to expect. The combat is similar, but it has nowhere near the depth and strategy. I some ways that's good. Shadowrun Returns feels much more casual and less nitpicky with things like ammo and inventory management. But, even though it's party-based, you only really control the development of your one character. The other combatants are just expendable hired hands with little to no backstory.

As a smaller, episodic type game it works well. The game…

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Sun, 03/27/2016 - 19:48

Home on PC (3/10)


At first you'd think Home was a retro-looking point and click adventure, but that would be giving it too much credit. It's really one of those trendy, arty indy games that supposed to be a deep meditation on interactive storytelling. In other words it's a bore. Like Dear Esther or even Photopia (although Photopia is actually good). The pixel graphics are neat and it seems to be a nod to Atari's Haunted House in the way it treats stairways and the use of atmospheric sound. It's just not fun to play. Thankfully it takes less than a half hour to finish, so good riddance.

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Thu, 03/24/2016 - 21:58

Bulletstorm on PC (8/10)

Bulletstorm Kick of Death

I went into Bulletstorm not knowing anything other than I heard there was a lot of cursing in the dialogue. Well, that much was true. This is a first person shooter based around the mechanic of building elaborate kills in order to score points. The points can then be used to buy ammo and upgrade weapons. Higher scores can be had by utilizing your grappling tether or your powerful kick to throw enemies into the various sharp objects that litter the landscape. After a while, much of the novelty is lost, trying to manipulate bodies as they drift by in slow motion. It doesn't help that there…

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Tue, 03/22/2016 - 22:19

The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia by Michael Booth (8/10)

Billed as a travelogue, this book covers the culture, politics and history of the Nordic countries from the perspective of a British ex-pat. While overall the book is positive about the region, it does a good job pointing out the consequences of the much lauded welfare state systems. The key take away is that, in exchange for cradle to grave comfort, you lose the spontaneous and unpredictable character of wild west capitalism. Gone are the weirdos and visionaries. In its place is bland food, suicide, unemployment, and an economies teetering on collapse should the price of oil change... but at…

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Tue, 03/22/2016 - 12:43

8 Diagram Pole Fighter (9/10)

This is a gorgeous martial arts film which features an all-star cast of Hong Kong action heroes (most of which are killed off in the first five minutes). The lone survivor, Gordon Liu, escapes to become a monk and plot his revenge (isn't that always the case with Mr. Liu). Unlike The 36th Chamber of Shaolin, training isn't the focus here. It's mostly about him overcoming his rage and so he can be centered while he bashes the teeth out of his foes. There's an annoying, unresolved subplot of the 6th brother who goes insane and "8 diagrams" doesn't seem to have anything to do with what is…

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Tue, 03/15/2016 - 09:51

Shardlight on PC (9/10)


Wadjet Eye continues their run of solid point and click adventures with their latest, Shardlight. This may be their best looking and best sounding game yet. You play as Amy Wellard, a member of a lower caste in a city recovering from a nuclear-scale bombing. On top of the misery of scavenging for food and dealing with the iron rule of "The Aristocracy," you also have caught a case of the green lung for which vaccinations are in short supply. The plot is pretty linear and avoids that open, branching middle that adventure game devs of yore seemed to love. Really, we are just here for the story…

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Mon, 03/14/2016 - 20:00

The New One-Armed Swordsman (8/10)

The One-Armed Swordsman was a good, arty swordplay epic with a lot of character focus. The sequel ditched the character stuff and focused on bloody sword fights. This third film in the series is on par with the second. Apparently Jimmy Wang Yu was tired of acting with an arm tied behind his back so the title character has been replaced with David Chiang (who can at times look the spitting image of Barack Obama). So, reboots are not a new thing. This attempt to restart the franchise is okay but misses what made the original a classic. The whole story as to why he lost his arm is completely…

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Sun, 03/13/2016 - 17:00

The Five Deadly Venoms (7/10)

Master is worried that his five former students are too powerful and may do evil so he sends his goofy-haired final student off to stop them (but with the caveat that he must team-up with one of the venoms in order to defeat the others). This makes no sense, but once the ball is rolling it doesn't matter. The five venoms begin to reveal themselves by slipping into their unique fighting styles but, rather than becoming an all out brawl, the story becomes an ancient Chinese courtroom drama. In this version "Your honor, I object!" has been replaced with kicking and a series of torture devices…

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Sun, 03/13/2016 - 16:28

Technobabylon on PC (8/10)

Cyber-club in Technobabylon

Wadjet has produced another solid point and click adventure game that makes up for its somewhat lackluster predecessor, A Golden Wake. This one is a sci-fi, cyberpunk thriller in which there is a killer on the loose "mindjacking" his victims' memories.

I never quite understood the appeal of cyberpunk. My experience in the genre is limited mostly to The Matrix movies and a fruitless attempt to play Neuromancer on the Apple IIgs. Thankfully, most of Technobabylon takes place in meat-space with a focus on criminal investigation and dialogue. At various points in the game you control one of…

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Sun, 03/06/2016 - 23:04

Five Fingers of Death (8/10)

A rather brutal kung-fu flick centered around competing schools in the lead up to a fighting competition. Lot of spraying gore and a couple eye plucking scenes earn this one its "R" rating. The main hero has an inflexible, emotionless baby-face but the story and secondary characters are decent and more than make up for the wooden acting of the lead. This one is noteworthy for using the same alarming synth sound that Tarantino used to denote revenge in Kill Bill (turns out it's the theme from the Ironsides TV show). in this case it's to denote his glowing iron fist technique.

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Fri, 03/04/2016 - 12:24