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."

Torchlight on PC (6/10)

Torchlight

Torchlight is a game that has been resting on my back-burner for a long, long time. I got it for something like three dollars during a Steam sale many years ago and played it off and on since. It's basically an updated version of Diablo, a game which I played through once and thought was just okay. The whole concept of hack-and-slash with the goal of loot collection just doesn't appeal to me. Without a decent story it's just mindless clicking and inventory management.

Saints Row IV on PC (8/10)

Saints Row IV

Saints Row IV is an obvious rip-off of Grand Theft Auto all the way down from the open-world mechanics to the gangster themed plot. In realizing this, the makers of Saints Row opted to differentiate themselves by completely disregarding the gritty realism of GTA for an insane sci-fi fantasy plot twist in IV. Aliens have destroyed Earth and the last remaining humans are the Saints gang leaders, all of whom are trapped in a Matrix-style virtual world. The game never takes itself seriously and is filled with amusing quips and plot moments. As the game progresses you begin to overcome the simulation, causing it to glitch and pixelate and giving you unstoppable super powers.

Dragon Age: Origins on PC (6/10)

Dragon Age - Origins

Man, this game was a bit of a mess. I guess I wanted it to be a Baldur's Gate style tactical role playing game with all the characters and story of Bioware's other big RPG, Mass Effect. Well, despite the zoomed-out tactical battle mode, this is not an Infinity-Engine style game. Most of the game is played in a stilted third-person view with super-wonky controls. You can zoom out, but you aren't allowed to pan around the battlefield much. Eventually I got the hang of it, but I had to put the game aside for a while out of sheer frustration.

Gemini Rue on PC (8/10)

Gemini Rue - Rainy Street

Gemini Rue is another enjoyable point-and-click adventure from Wadjet Eye that has a sci-fi noir theme. Having gotten used to the click for any action mechanism of other Wadjet games, I was a little thrown off by the strange "actions" pop-up interface. You click on a hot-spot and then have to chose whether to use your eyes, hands, mouth or foot. I eventually got used to it, but the few times I was stuck in the game, it was because I forgot I had a "foot" action that I could use.

Primordia on PC (9/10)

Primordia

Primordia is an absolutely beautiful point and click adventure from Wadjet Eye Games. Besides the graphics, it has a lot going for it: a unique sci-fi setting, fun and interesting characters, great ambient music and a some nice voice acting performances.

The story is essentially an object quest that slowly reveals the back story of the world and the main character. This one is a bit more puzzle-centric than other Wadjet games I have played. That's mostly a good thing, but there are a few moments that didn't seem fair.

The Shivah on PC (8/10)

The Shivah

Having finished the wonderful Blackwell series, I wanted to try some of Wadjet Eye's other offerings. The Shivah was the company's first foray into commercial games, but this isn't the original version. This graphical overhaul was from 2013 and it visually matches the quality of the final Blackwell games.

The Shivah is most noteworthy for its unusual subject matter. How many other games have the player assuming the role of a mystery solving rabbi? Well, besides Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortext Strikes Back.

Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions on PC (10/10)

Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions

The original Geometry Wars was one of the purest, most exhilarating gaming experiences of the post-arcade era. It combined the visuals of Tempest with the frantic, twin-stick shooting of Robotron 2084 to form a thoroughly modern point-driven shooter. The Wii exclusive sequel Galaxies added level variety and the great risk/reward mechanic of collecting geoms to increase your point multiplier. It's still the game that I play the most on my Wii.

The third game in the series builds on the Galaxies formula but with the mind-blowing twist of moving the game grid onto curving non-euclidean surfaces. The result is nothing short of spectacular.

Tomb Raider: Anniversary on PC (7/10)

Tomb Raider: Anniversary

This was a rare case in which I finished a game that I had started years ago. I really enjoyed the Tomb Raider reboot that Crystal Dynamics did back in 2006 with Legend. I played that game as a freebie back when Game Tap was in its hey day and started Anniversary shortly thereafter but only got about 2/3rds the way through before it was taken off the free list. I only recently got it as a $1.99 game on Steam with the goal of finally finishing it.

The Blackwell Epiphany on PC (9/10)

Blackwell Epiphany

The fifth and final Blackwell game continues in the series' tradition of thoughtful and interesting adventures that are light on the puzzles and big on character interactions. Technically, the games have come a long way. The graphics are top-notch and the voice acting is much improved. The games still are running on the freeware AGS (Adventure Game Studio) platform, which has its limitations. But, for the most part, these last few games in the series have been on par with the Lucasarts games of old.

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