R-Type Dimensions (PS3): COMPLETED!

Well that came out of nowhere and has now gone whence it came very soon afterwards.

R-Type Dimensions is one of this month’s PS+ titles, and since my daughter stole the Switch this evening I thought I’d have a look. And I looked, and played, and completed it.

It’s R-Type, as in, the original arcade game. Only you can press R1 and swap between original graphics and music, and new graphics (a new art type, if you will, oh ho ho ho) and music – much like how you can with the Monkey Island remaster and Wonderboy: The Dragon’s Trap. As it’s just the original game, it’s short and it’s impossible.

R-Type was always too hard for me to complete, but it’s one of a relatively small number of games in the genre that I enjoy. Thankfully, you get infinite lives here, and I needed over a hundred of them to complete the eight levels. It was fun. Some of the baddies are impossible to hit. And that’s that.

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Sam & Max: The Devil’s Playhouse – Episode 1 (PS3): COMPLETED!

Since Minecraft: Story Mode was disappointingly adventure game free, I was in the mood to play a proper one. Luckily, I picked up the whole series of Sam & Max: The Devil’s Playhouse some time ago, so it was all there ready to go.

And it’s so much better than the other game. There are actual puzzles. People to properly talk to. Items to find, combine, use and so on. And no QTEs or combat! Excellent.

In this series, which continues on pretty much directly from the previous one (good lord – was that really nearly six years ago?!), Max has gained psychic powers, each enabled by a Toy of Power. There’s one to let him see the future – just enough to hint at a solution to something but not necessarily solve it – and one to teleport to any telephone he has the number for. It makes for some clever and unusual puzzle solutions, not least the one where you have to get rid of a gorilla from outside a building.

As before, it’s pretty funny too. Even Sam just slapping Max out of the way all the time never gets old.

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Sam & Max: The Devil’s Playhouse – Episode 1 (PS3): COMPLETED!

Since Minecraft: Story Mode was disappointingly adventure game free, I was in the mood to play a proper one. Luckily, I picked up the whole series of Sam & Max: The Devil’s Playhouse some time ago, so it was all there ready to go.

And it’s so much better than the other game. There are actual puzzles. People to properly talk to. Items to find, combine, use and so on. And no QTEs or combat! Excellent.

In this series, which continues on pretty much directly from the previous one (good lord – was that really nearly six years ago?!), Max has gained psychic powers, each enabled by a Toy of Power. There’s one to let him see the future – just enough to hint at a solution to something but not necessarily solve it – and one to teleport to any telephone he has the number for. It makes for some clever and unusual puzzle solutions, not least the one where you have to get rid of a gorilla from outside a building.

As before, it’s pretty funny too. Even Sam just slapping Max out of the way all the time never gets old.

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Catherine (PS3): COMPLETED!

Contrary to some of the information I read about this game before playing it, and indeed the suggested content based on the box art, Catherine is not a game of nudity and boobs. In fact, if you were to buy the game for titillative purposes I’m afraid you’ll be sorely disappointed.

catherine cover art
That’s your man Vincent there, trapped between a rock and a hard place.

That’s not to say the subject matter doesn’t make an appearance, as it does albeit in a just off screen or implied form. No, the game is about men cheating on women and coming to terms with this by becoming sheep and playing block pushing games in their nightmares.

Vincent is a man who is being pressured into marrying Katherine, his more successful long-term girlfriend. He’s not sure that’s what he wants yet, and this triggers a series of events where he’s haunted by these block game dreams, and finds himself in a relationship with the mysterious Catherine who he meets at his regular bar. As the game progresses, it’s clear Vincent doesn’t seem to have much of a say in what’s going on with Catherine, and once Katherine reveals she’s pregnant, things get complicated.

As Vincent spends his evenings drinking at the bar, we find out that other men who also drink there are having nightmares too. Nobody can remember them, but you – as the player – soon realise who the sheep you keep meeting in your dreams are. Sheep who die if they don’t make it through their nightmares, as reported by the grizzly news reports the next day.

One half of the game is the interaction between Vincent, his friends and fellow barflies, and the two women in his life. The other is the block moving and climbing game. The aim of these sections is to reach the top of a tower of blocks, by pushing and pulling them into position not completely unlike in the game Pullblox. Some blocks can’t be moved, others break if you stand on them, and other still explode, have spikes, push you, or otherwise cause problems on your ascent. As you climb, the lower blocks disappear meaning you can’t just stop and think for too long. At the end of each night there’s a level where you’re additionally chased by a demon of some kind who can thwart your progress, or kill you.

I’m not often one for block pushing games (and I’ve commented on the horror that is adding sokoban-style levels to games before), but this is a little different, and for the most part fun. A few levels were frustrating, including a later one where your climb can be stymied because of random blocks causing progress impossible: No amount of planning will let you past, but you have plenty of lives to play with, you can undo moves, levels are pretty short and most have checkpoints, all of which help.

As for my playthrough, it took around 12 hours and I completed it with the “I’m a good boy but lost my woman anyway” ending. Apparently this was mostly down to the choices I made during the final section of the game (you have to answer relationship questions after each level), so there’s a chance I might replay that bit and try for something better. Or maybe I won’t? Catherine is a decent enough game, and certainly more than worth the £1.60-ish I paid for it on PSN, but I’ve so many other titles vying for my attention I’m not sure I can justify another runthrough.

catherine

If you like slightly frantic puzzle titles with bizarre storylines that make you feel like a bad man, you’ll probably like Catherine. If you just like boobs, then there’s not enough here for you I’m afraid.

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LocoRoco Cocoreccho (PS3): COMPLETED!

A short post for a short game. LocoRoco Cocoreccho was a disappointing item on the PS+ free rental list this month. Not because it’s a bad game, more because it’s was already almost free and it’s very, very short.

It’s charming though, and reminded me a lot of Hohokum. Of course, it reminded me more of the PSP LocoRoco games, but this plays much more like Hohokum than those. Perhaps this game was a source of inspiration for Hohokum?

Er, so the game then. Or “interactive screensaver” as I think it was even sold as. You vaguely guide little blobs around flowers and platforms and water, waking up other sleeping blobs and jiggling the controller to make things move. Wake up enough blobs and you can move on to the next area. In the final area, you shoot your collected blobs at baddie spider blobs. And then you win. All while the blobs sing at you.

And I won! Yay?

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Rain (PS3): COMPLETED!

I started this just before my PS4 arrived, but went back to it today to finish it off. It’s reasonably short, and plays a lot like Ico or Papo & Yo, with some puzzles and a bit of platforming.

The “thing” is that the boy you control is invisible, and can only be seen when the never ending rain is landing on him. Under shelter, he’s hidden from both baddies and you (as in the player) – step out into the rain and his water soaked outline appears. The same is true of most of the baddies as well, and splashing through muddy puddles can reveal you even when hidden – until you take a bath or a swim to wash the mud off.

It’s quite a clever idea, modifying a standard hide-and-seek mechanic seen so many times before, but making the character you’re controlling so difficult to see (even when technically visible) can make things frustrating. Even more so when you’re finally joined by an equally invisible girl – frequently I forgot which one I was controlling and ran the wrong way. Not great when you’re being pursued by The Unknown, a bizarre giant creature who seems intent on killing both of your for reasons, well, unknown.

I sort of enjoyed Rain, but I was glad it came to an end when it did. It looks great, with all the apparently 1950s French streets you roam, and the classical music soundtrack is fantastically haunting, but I think it exhausted its ideas just before the game finished. Well worth the free rental, though!

Things I’ve been playing recently (Part 2 – PS+ Stuff)

Lots of PS+ stuff has been building up over the last few weeks. I’ve played most of them (except the PS4 games, obviously), so here are some thoughts.

tumblr_noo3xkiczm1svmpf2o1_1280Race the Sun (Vita)

It’s a bit dull, really. It’s sort of like Deathchase but with upgrades and nothing to shoot. I’ve played it for an hour or so but it’s not grabbing me.

Tower of Guns (PS3)

A nonsensical FPS where you progress through randomly generated levels containing lots, and lots of guns. Looks a bit rough but is surprisingly good fun. The way the abilities and weapons unlock are a bit of a pain though.

tumblr_noo3yawnnb1svmpf2o1_1280Murasaki Baby (Vita)

Impossible to control. You can’t realistically use the front and back touch panels of the Vita at the same time (in fact, I’d argue you can’t use the back at all even by itself), so I’m not going to get anywhere with this. It sort of looks nice, but it’s unplayable.

tumblr_noo4116vri1svmpf2o1_1280MonsterBag (Vita)

It feels a bit like a point and click adventure game, but it’s too random and vague how you progress. Not really enjoying this either, so that’s in the bin now.

tumblr_npl64hy0wp1svmpf2o1_1280Futuridium EP Deluxe (Vita)

Like a cross between Race the Sun and Uridium (which it “borrows” for its name), but not as much fun as either. Like Race the Sun you fly into the screen, like Uridium you fly over (and under, and through) various, er, spaceships? and shoot things. The things you shoot are often hidden. You have to find them all in time or you die. It isn’t good at all.

tumblr_npl7gqesmg1svmpf2o1_1280Super Exploding Zoo (Vita)

A puzzle game with a great premise, but flawed execution. Rescue exploding animals from aliens, using them to blow up walls and sacrifice themselves to defeat the aliens. Thing is, different animals have different skills and there’s no way to tell, say, the penguins to kill themselves for the cause without also telling the monkeys – who you may need later to climb a wall. Far too many times did I die due to not having enough control. Ah well.

Dishonoured (PS3): COMPLETED!

That was brilliant. Like, properly good and everything.

After last time, I had to rescue Piero and Sokolov, who had become best of chums and created a massive arc pylon between them. I had to get them some bits for it, but once active I wiped out (well, put to sleep) everyone in the area. That was pretty good.

Then it was off to some island to rescue Emily. On the way, I had a nice friendly chat with Samuel, as usual, but just before I arrived he turned on me, told me I was a terrible person, I’d killed too many people and he never wanted to see me again. Which was a pretty quick turnaround on his thoughts about me, since he’d only just been back-slapping me as the second coming or something. Bizarre.

More bizarre was how, as we pulled up at the jetty, there was a fish flapping in mid-air, which Samuel’s boat pushed along out to sea as he left. Um.

So the final level was where my previous actions played out. I’ve since read that if I’d been more careless, and less murderous, throughout the game, I’d reach the island in “low chaos” circumstances – daylight, low security, that sort of thing. Instead, due to my early game stabbings (I stopped doing that so much nearer the end) it was night time and, supposedly although I saw very few, dripping with guards.

Without spoiling the end, I mostly Blinked or Ratmurdered everyone en-route to the lighthouse where Emily was being held, and easily took down her captor quietly from behind. The end!

You know, I’m really looking forward to Dishonoured 2 now. And you know what? I might just have a PS4 by then to play it on. No wait. I’ve said too much.

Dishonoured (PS3)

Several years ago, I played a demo of this at the Eurogamer Expo. It reminded me a lot of Bioshock, which I loved, and gameplay wise sat halfway between that and Assassin’s Creed, which I also love. I knew I was going to have to buy it.

For various reasons, I never got round to it. Then, a little while back, it got added to PS+ and I thought I’d finally give it a go.

And it’s been fantastic. I love the slightly steampunk, slightly Fallout apocalypse setting. The powers are great, especially Blink and the rat summon. The story is interesting and the characters are well above average. I’m really enjoying it.

At first, I struggled with trying to stay stealthy. I’m not a fan of hide and seek games, despite my love for Assassin’s Creed, so staying in the shadows and taking out enemies in a non-violent manner was difficult. I’d heard if you kill too many people, you end up with the bad ending, so I didn’t want to aim for that. Once I’d been told that really, the bad ending isn’t really bad and the good ending isn’t really good (they’re both just different viewpoints or something – I’m not that close to know for sure yet), I stopped worrying when I got spotted and just took out the bad (or good?) guys whichever way. Sure, I tried stealth and hiding, but if it went wrong? Who cares.

With that little revelation, I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Game.

Apart from the TallBoys. I don’t seem to be able to hurt them at all, even when shooting their oil tanks, supposedly a weak spot. Ah well, I can just skip past most of them with Blink instead, which is actually more fun.

Another thing I’ve been enjoying is the variety in missions. In particular, the one where you have to get up Dunwall Tower and take down the Lord Regent (I chose to upend him via propaganda, rather than slitting his throat) – lots of great areas in that level. Also, the mission at the house party. That was fantastic – eavesdropping and exploring to find out which of the three Lady Boyles was the one you needed to off, then tailing her to the bathroom and knifing her behind closed doors. And then running away. Awesome.

I’m closing in on the end now, having just returned to the Hounds Pit after some… unpleasantness.

The Unfinished Swan (PS3): COMPLETED!

That was both different to, and shorter than, I was expecting. I’ll admit, I’d not read much about The Unfinished Swan, so knew very little outside of “you throw paint on walls”. Turns out that’s just the first ten minutes of the game and the entirely white walls/floor/everything premise is mostly ditched afterwards.

Instead, you get water to spray around, vines to grow, dark areas to brighten, blocks to build, and so on. It’s surprisingly varied with each particular skill lasting only ten or fifteen minutes before you move onto the next one. Yeah, I was done in 90 minutes. I was expecting at least another hour.

Not that there was anything wrong with that length of game, of course. It’s full of more cleverness than most 20+ hour games, and the story, which is fairytale in nature, is good. The reveal at the end was quite unexpected too.