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."

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.

Red Steel 2 on Nintendo Wii (8/10)

Red Steel 2 Box ArtWe are already two generations beyond the Wii and I am still getting caught up on all the games I've been wanting to play for years.

Red Steel 2 was the first big title to take advantage of the Wii Motion Plus controller. For some reason, the prospect of a motion controlled sword fighting game was always a big thing. I think Red Steel 2 comes close to fulfilling that nerd dream. It still is a bit of a waggle freak-out during hectic fights, but, when it's focused, the motion controls work very well. This is a massive improvement on the previous game in the series.

Rage on PC (5/10)

Going Down to Brown Towne

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. This game is the epitome of bland first person shooters and Id Software should know better. They still seem not to know that there are colors beyond brown. There are no attempts at originality here. The post-apocalyptic setting is like a colorless, un-fun Borderlands. The barely-there plot is a rehash of the Fallout fish out of water structure.

Minecraft: Story Mode on PC (6/10)

Minecrafty

I thought it was Game of Thrones, but this is definitely the weakest Telltale release. I don't mind that this is geared for children, but the thing that makes Telltale games work is difficult choices. I felt all the decisions in this game were pretty obvious and didn't have broad ramifications. Also, when you have Patton Oswald and Pee Wee Herman as your lead voice actors, you'd think there'd be a bit more room for comic hijinx. Alas, this is not the case.