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."

Watch Dogs on PC (6/10)

Fake Chicago

Ubisoft only knows how to make these open world games with paper-thin story lines and lots of side challenges that don't amount to much. I had already played the sequel (which I got for free) before I had played Watch Dogs (which I also got for free). Apparently, if you wait long enough, all Ubisoft games will eventually be free. I knew what to expect going into this: lots of "hacking" which consists of vaguely Pipe Dreams style puzzles or, more often, just holding down the "Q" key. My main reason for not passing on this was the prospect of exploring a virtual Chicago. Turns out in Montreal they think Chicago is surrounded by rolling hills and filled with exploding steam pipes.

Star Trek: 25th Anniversary on Ms-DOS (7/10)

Star Track Computer Game

I remember watching my housemate play this game quite a bit back when we were in college. I don't think he had the CD-ROM version—which included voice acting from the original cast. Luckily this GOG.com version has all the recorded elements (and none of the weird DOS set up problems). Yup, there's nothing like hearing an aged, breathy-voiced DeForest Kelley read mediocre video game dialogue!

Destiny 2 on PC (6/10)

Destiny 2

I've been playing this off and on for the past few months. This is supposedly designed as a multiplayer experience and have been playing it as such. The campaign is not at all interesting narratively. It has something to do with a bad guy with a space hare lip controlling an orb thing that grants powers to the good guys. I lost interest in the first cut-scene.

Deadlight: Director's Cut on PC (7/10)

Deadlight!

This one was a freebie from GOG.com of which I knew nothing about before playing it. Turns out, it is a 2.5-D platformer—meaning, it's a 3-D rendered game but you only move in the standard two dimensions of a classic platformer. I'm not a huge fan of platform games, I'm not very good at them. Thankfully this one is slow-paced, not too twitchy and yet, it's not quite a puzzle platformer either. There is just enough action and thinking to keep an old-timer like myself interested for a few hours.

Dishonored on PC (8/10)

Dishonored Stealth Kill

A while back I gave this game a spin during a Steam free weekend and ended up setting it aside I guess because I couldn't quite grok the stealth mechanics. On this second go around I've realized that it's all about using your magic skills for just about every encounter. In fact, by the end of the game the player is well-nigh invincible will his arsenal of teleportation, mind control and time dilation. I'm too old to be wasting my time mastering a video game, so I welcome it when games feel like they get a little easier as I go along.

Spelunky on PC (4/10)

Spelunky will bore you

Games journalists (I can't believe that's really a thing) seem to love this game, I thought it was tiresome. Every game a new world is generated that you're supposed to jump around looking for treasure, secrets and rare upgrades. If you die, that's it. Permadeath. A game for shut-ins and the insane. So, why didn't I like it? My problem is that I don't find you basic platform-game mechanics all that interesting and, without a narrative hook, I lose interest fast. Believe me, I tried to like this one but no thanks. Sayonara, uninstalled-ed!

Eye of the Beholder on Ms-DOS (7/10)

Big ol' space squid gonna get you! Eye of the Beholder, Screenshot

Eye of the Beholder is a real-time RPG dungeon crawl that borrows heavily from the mechanics of Dungeon Master. It's a completely mouse-driven experience in which the objects in the environment can all be used, picked up or thrown with a click. Combat is also real-time and is generally just a mad scramble backwards as you click your various party members' weapon hands and hope for "good rolls".

While the fights are frantic and fun, the real meat of the game-play is exploration, mapping, and puzzle solving. I went through a dozen sheets of graph paper drawing out each floor knowing full-well I could just grab the maps from the Web (the GOG.com version even includes a complete hint book). As tedious as it might sound to modern gamers, the act of plotting out the layout is oddly satisfying. I wish it could be done in-game à la Etrian Odyssey, but, if it's any consolation, I now have 11 floors worth of half-erased, taped together graph paper maps that are suitable for framing. Perfect for any lair!

The Crimson Crown on Apple ][ (8/10)

A Fortress Looms across the Chasm

This sequel to the classic Apple ][ adventure game Transylvania has you returning to the same locations as the first game once again to fight the evil Vampire. The game is twice as big and is a bit more refined. I played the updated 1985 version of the game which runs on the Comprehend game engine which is probably the best implementation of a text/graphics hybrid adventure system. You can use a few prepositions and, in this game, you can command other characters to complete puzzles.

Transylvania on Apple ][ (8/10)

A Menacing Werewolf in Transylvania

Transylvania is a hybrid text/graphical adventure originally for the Apple ][. This was a big hit back in the day and was ported to just about every other 8-bit machine. I loved these types of adventure games but was really, really bad at them. In hindsight, most of them were brutally unfair and prone to the bad game design cliches of the era such as instant death and guess-the-verb puzzles. Still, I remember seeing screenshots of that menacing werewolf in issues of Softalk or A+ magazine and wanting to try this game.