Robert Wm. Gomez's

Video Game Reviews

Here's where I keep track of video games I have played. I rate the games on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being "highly recommended" and 1 being "forget this game and go read a book or something."

Ultima Worlds of Adventure 2: Martian Dreams on MS-DOS (8/10)

Martian Dreams

Martian Dreams is built on the same game engine as Ultima VI. Much like that game, it is much less of an RPG and more of an adventure game in which you are wandering through the world, talking to NPCs, and combining objects to solve puzzles. You're not really building up and customizing your character here. Sure there's combat and leveling up, but it doesn't really feel like it matters much.

The most important part of this game is the story and the world it's built around. Martian Dreams takes place a fictionalized the late nineteenth century setting in which space flight is a reality. Dozens of historical luminaries from the era have all been accidentally sent to Mars and it's the player's job to find them all and get them back home. Along the way the real-life talents of the characters will come in to play: George Washington Carver knows botany, Louis Comfort Tiffany know glass making, and Sarah Bernhardt knows, um, stage make-up. The only human villains are the evil monk Rasputin and the anarchist Emma Goldman.

Tomb Raider II on MS-DOS (6/10)

Tomb Raiding Too

This game is part of a Tomb Raider three pack at GOG.com. I tried to play Tomb Raider 1, but I had already played the vastly superior remake, and I felt no need to revisit the same game but with bad controls and visuals. I would like to think that the second game has some technical improvements on the first, but it's still clunky as hell.

Nex Machina on PC (9/10)

Nex Machina

Nex Machina is the (almost) official follow-up to Robotron: 2084 or, as I like to call it, the greatest arcade game ever created. If you watch the credits you will see the Eugene Jarvis was the creative consultant for the game. As far as I'm concerned that means this is Robotron: 2085 (we'll ignore Smash T.V. ... NOT canon!).

It's just as frantic and twitchy as ever, and the core game play remains the same: shoot everything that moves and save the humans. There is a far greater variety of enemies, boss battles, and the graphic effects are stellar. Improvements include lots of hidden collectibles, a variety of secondary weapons, the ability to dodge, and lots of differing level designs.

Layers of Fear on PC (4/10)

Layers of Dolls

Another walking simulator but this time with a horror theme. The whole point of this "game" is to make your way through an old haunted house and get hit with a jump scare every four minutes. At first this is very thrilling. After the fiftieth time, not so much. Technically there are about three puzzles in the game. Mostly you encounter a lock, look around the room, get hit with a jump scare, and then see the combination in the aftermath. On top of this, the story is lame and required too much effort searching around for notes and clues for me to care. Glad I didn't have to pay for this one.

The Witness on PC (9/10)

The Witness

The Witness is from the same developer who created the superb Braid. It feels like a cross between that game and Myst. Once again the game play centers around puzzle solving, but instead of time manipulation, you are solving mazes. I know what your thinking, "Mazes? Are you kidding me. Ever since the 'Twisty maze of passages, all alike' mazes have been the bane of every video gamer's existence." At first I thought the same thing. The first dozen puzzles are so easy that I assumed this was just going to be another boring walking simulator with challenges thrown in just to extend the experience a few more minutes. But then you encounter the next set of mazes which sprinkle in a few new rules (which you have to discover on your own) and things start to get more challenging. Get a little further, then you have an epiphany and realize not everything is what it seems. Perspective and your place in the 3-D environment start to matter. At that point I was sold and fully immersed myself in the world (this would make an incredible VR game).

A Story About My Uncle on PC (7/10)

They was shootin' lazers!!!!

A Story About My Uncle is a game based entirely around a single game mechanic, a grappling beam. Players shoot a beam at a distant surface, they are pulled towards the target, and then they must use inertia and timing to fling themselves towards their goal. That's about it. We've seen this before in just about every Zelda game, so this is nowhere near as revolutionary as the one-mechanic behind the extraordinary Portal.  Still, when it clicks, swinging across a map and carefully timing your shots can be thrilling.

Cursed Mountain on Nintendo Wii (7/10)

Cursed Mountain Limited EditionThis "limited edition" version was one of the first games I bought for the Wii. It's been sitting on my stack of unplayed games since June of 2011. At the time, I didn't know anything about it beside the fact that it was really cheap (Amazon order history says it was $8.99!). It comes in a tin case (like Metroid Trilogy) and includes with a DVD and CD soundtrack. Turns out, I shouldn't have put it off for so long and it's actually a decent game.

Okay, it's decent by Wii standards. That means the usual control annoyances, bland graphics and simple story-lines. What it has going for it is a unique game world and premise. You play a mountaineer in the Himalayas on a quest to find his lost brother who disappeared in a search for a mystical artifact.

Wolfenstein 3D on MS-DOS (6/10)

Wolfenstein 3D

As with most of the great shareware titles of the 90s, I played the free episode of Wolfenstein 3D a gazillion times but never bothered to buy the complete package. Once again with thanks to GOG.com I have been able to finally complete in its entirety. This is the progenitor of first-person shooters and the basic game mechanics are still pretty solid. Its main problem is that of repetitiveness. There are only four kinds of enemies to fight. That isn't including the bosses at the end of every episode which all have a unique sprite and some even have an elaborate death sequence:

Wolfenstein Death Cam

But even those bosses all kinda fight in the same manner.

Beneath a Steel Sky on MS-DOS (5/10)

Beneath a Steel Sky

I think this is considered by many to be one of the best point and click adventure games of the early nineties. I can see why people remember it fondly. The cyberpunk setting is unique (if you don't count Neuromancer or just about every CD-ROM title from the same era), the production is impressive, and the game is massive for a point and click. At the time of this writing it is still offered as a free game on GOG.com. Unfortunately, I felt it to be a bit too oblique and meandering.