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Tag Archives: Puzzle games

Review: Portal & Portal 2

Recently, I was asked to stream the Portal games. Of course, they were games I was interested in, but never had the pleasure of playing. Ok, that’s a lie. I was terrified that I would rage harder than I ever have at a game. I have always loved puzzles but there is a level of frustration that comes with them that can send me through the roof and fast.

However, I almost never say no to streaming requests and I almost never say no to Vanri’s streaming requests. Also, I had the honor of interviewing Ellen McClain so I should play her game. Right?

Portal

You awake in a cell with a robot talking to you. Not the oddest start to a video game thatm_img_27895 I’ve played but I’m down, let’s do this. Your character, Chell, is tasked by GLaDOS, to go through a series of tests. At the end of these tests you will be given cake. The tests start out simple enough. Go here, do this, place that here, make it to the exit. Wonderful. Then you receive the portal gun. You shoot it at one location, shoot it at another and create a portal. It’s hard to explain but what you are doing is creating a direct connection between two points, no matter the distance between them.

The whole point is to complete the tests set before you by GLaDOS. It will require finding ways to open the exit, usually by placing a companion cube on a button that will open the door. Usually. You will have to do so by creating portals, unlocking, opening, redirecting and a LOT of jumping. No two puzzles are the same. The rooms are vastly different but with a sense that you’ve been here before, since they all look the same. Each puzzle growing harder, more death rays to avoid, disgusting water not to drop into and making yourself a little motion sick once you figure out how to gain momentum.

These tests continue as GLaDOS taunts you, belittles you and throws everything except the kitchen sink at you (not for lack of trying). I, surprisingly, moved through the game with relative ease. Getting stuck once or twice, frustrated once or twice. Nothing too terrible. You do face some enemies, turrets, and obstacles that will kill you. I did have to restart a few levels a few times.

o2hhbvqI found the game oddly relaxing, fun and challenging. I looked forward to streaming it and not giving up. I came out with a sense of accomplishment and a renewed respect for actors everywhere. Ellen is a WONDERFUL person and GLaDOS was a TERRIBLE, if not hilarious, robot. Only amazing actors will make you love them and hate their characters.

All in all, it is a wonderful game with a great story line and interesting puzzles that will make you think. The twists and secrets throughout the game keep you guessing.

(Pro tip: Listen to the ending credits song.)

This is a MUST PLAY Game!

Portal 2

This time you awake in a cozy looking hotel room. A smaller robot rushes in and disasterportal-21 immediately strikes. I was tickled to hear the voice of Steven Merchant (and JK Simmons much later in the game) as the environment was literally coming down around me.

This sequel is a much bigger game with a much bigger story line. You go through so many twists and turns that it’s hard to keep up. Your gun doesn’t change but you get new things to play with, like paint! I’m also terrified of falling and, my Goddess, did this game love showing me that I could fall to my death OFTEN.

Now… let’s talk about frustration. Every ounce of it that I thought I would feel with the first game, I felt it tenfold in Portal 2. I got frustrated often, found myself having to look up several answers online and even scared people in my chat. Oh yeah, that happened. They ran.

The game is harder by far, longer for sure, and left me with more questions.

It is also ripe with hilarity, insults and opportunities to curse. So many opportunities.

There is a LOT to this game that is hard to talk about without giving away major plot points. It is wonderful in that it isn’t what you expected or thought it would be. The story takes turns and actually plays with your emotions a bit. You leave the game unsure of what just happened and wondering, what’s next? I doubt that question will ever be answered but how my brain plays with the possibilities.

This is a SHOULD PLAY game if you don’t get frustrated easily or don’t mind scaring your neighbors.

Review: Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

Review: Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

Developer: Starbreeze Studios
Publisher: 505 Games
Release Date: Aug. 7, 2013
Platform: Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, iOS, Android and Windows Phone

Brothers-A-Tale-of-Two-Sons

I may be late to the boat on this, but I finally got on it and I have to say I am glad I didn’t miss it! Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is a game I’d have never gotten myself. I’m not particularly into just straight up puzzle games and it seemed a bit boring compared to my usual onslaught of FPS and horror games. I have to say that I am delighted to find out how wrong I was.

What’s it about?
Well the gist of this game is the mother of these two brothers has died, leaving them with only their father. The father then gets sick, threatening to leave the two brothers orphaned if they do not find a cure. The boys go out on their own to retrieve a potion that will help save their father’s life and, through that, go on an amazing adventure that takes trust and teamwork for them to survive and accomplish their goals.

What did I think?
From the simple description, you might think it was perhaps easy and pretty boring. Though the game only took me around 5 hours to play, I can say for certain it was neither simple, nor boring. One part that threw me off for a moment was the mechanics. This is a controller based game; one side of the controller controls the big brother, the other baby brother. This, for me, was a unique addition to the game. This controller setup can be a challenge to figure out. Once you get used to it, however, it is a major part of the game and helps you feel connected to the characters.

As I said in the beginning, this was not a game I would have picked for myself. The fact that it is a puzzle game would have put it far down on my list. A friend gifted this game to me and I played it for them. Getting that chance to do so made me mentally invest in one of the most beautifully crafted and emotional games I have ever played. You will feel the feels with this game and once you get to the end it is a satisfying finish.

The puzzles can be a challenge because you not only work one brother but both simultaneously to accomplish a lot of things in this game. Figuring out how they both work together sometimes can be a struggle, but not so much so that it becomes frustrating. This is good since I will give up pretty easily if it gets to be ridiculously hard. Usually, if I can’t shoot it or kill it somehow, it is not worth my time. This game, being out of my comfort zone, did a perfect job at keeping my attention and not making me want to give up.

I am gonna say the replay value is probably moderate. There are challenges you can accomplish which is part of why I am going to be playing it again, but also just for pure enjoyment of playing and exploring the world that I was hesitant to explore the first time around is appealing. The fact that is a short game also makes it very approachable when it comes to replay as well.

One last note, this game is BEAUTIFUL. How the creators tell this story visually, how they do dream sequences and just everything. It is a trippy experience in parts and just an amazingly stunning one everywhere else. You get time to take in the sights at various benches throughout the game and I highly suggest that you do just that!

I could gush over this game for a long time, but really you have to play it to really understand what a little treasure it is.

Do I recommend it?
It is a wholehearted yes from me! Yes, I would recommend it. If you get the chance to buy it, please do and take the 5 short hours to play. You can get it on Steam, Xbox One, and PS4 consoles for around $20. I think it is well worth the price.