Verdun 1914-1918

There’s nothing funny about war. Especially one of the most bloody conflicts in modern history. The Great War. World War I. Or as Americans called it the European War. On the eve of the 100 year anniversary of such an occasion, we have Verdun, a game in which you can play as a World War I soldier. People have been clamoring about for a World War I video game since all anybody released were WWII FPSs. They screamed that there was an oversaturation of WWII games and there were plenty of other wars to choose from so why not try the first one?

I’ll tell you why because World War I was not meant for video games. I’m not a tactician or a historian or really even much of an enthusiast but a combination of history classes, hundreds of hours of various Civilization games, and a bottle of whiskey will allow me to explain the brief history of modern warfare. For awhile, everybody lined up all orderly and then sort of ran at each other. Pointy sticks were the weapon of choice. Then someone invented guns but we didn’t know how to use them the right way, so everybody kept lining up but this time they would shoot each other. Then World War I happened and people kept lining up until some French guy was like “Fuck this, I’m digging a hole,” and then everyone else started digging a hole, and basically everybody just sat in a big hole staring at each other until they exploded or died from mustard gas. Also everyone had athlete’s foot. So if you feel like sitting in a hole waiting for your own death come on down to my basement- er, Verdun, a World War I game.

For a more accurate depiction, watch this short documentary entitled Benny Hill in the Trenches.

Anyways Verdun promises to have all the excitement that a war can have in which both sides agree to stop fighting and play soccer over Christmas break. If you somehow haven’t heard of that story well go ahead and Wikipedia it because it’s true. OK fine I’ll do it for you: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_truce.

Soldiers asleep from pure boredom

Anyways, Verdun is an Early Release Game and it’s currently 66% off and $6.45. If you have a large interest in World War I and have always wondered what it would be like to be on the front lines go ahead and give it a shot. It’s one of those games where people have 200 hours in it and say “not recommended.” Verdict: Skip it.

Viscera Cleanup Detail

Have you ever wondered about the aftermath of Doom or Serious Sam or Duke Nukem or any of the number of games in which a lone man destroys an entire alien invasion? No? Me neither. But these guys over at RuneStorm did. Somebody’s gotta clean the mess, and that somebody is you. Look, I was a janitor one summer. I don’t want to go back to that life. And that’s why I can’t play Viscera Cleanup Detail without violent flashbacks and crippling bouts of PTSD. Not from the hundreds/thousands of innocent human lives wiped out by the alien menace, but moreso the hundreds/thousands of minutes I wasted on my life pretending to sweep cement. Granted I spent more time doing donuts in a golf cart than I did actual scrubbing of anything. But I did have to drive a tiny car that polished the floor, and that was pretty boring.

In Viscera Cleanup Detail you scrub the floors and the walls and whatever with your tentacle mop of justice. It’s a pretty good mop, to be fair. Something that a Shamwow-slinging Scout would be proud of. Olympic divers use it as a towel! You know the Germans make good stuff!

If you order now he’ll throw in an extra beating absolutely free!

There’s also a trashcan which you can carry around and put trash in. Yes, that’s right folks, you can pick up trash and put it in a trash can. Not since Half Life 2 have we been able to PICK UP TRASH AND PUT IT IN A TRASH CAN. Thank you Viscera Cleanup Detail, for the chance to relive the community service that I had to do one time that involved me picking up lots of beer cans and throwing them into a bag. That’s really what this game is. It’s not just a custodial arts simulator. It’s a real life simulator. Somebody else got to have all the fun and you know who gets to clean up? The person not invited to the damn party that’s who.

The physics is actually pretty funny in a Surgeon Simulator kind of a way, except maybe not quite as ridiculous. It doesn’t feel like you are wasted drunk so much as you are an alcoholic who hasn’t had quite enough Wild Turkey in his coffee so he’s still got the jitters while he’s working. You know what I mean? No? Ahem. Anyways, the whole game is pretty funny, and I guess that’s the point of it all. It also looks decent because of the Unreal 3 Engine which was probably a good choice for an alien genocide aftermath. Seriously though, that’s the gameplay. That’s it. There’s no aliens that will jump out at you whom you must beat to death with your mop. My sink is full of dishes that need power washing. I should probably deal with that before Viscera Cleanup Detail.

Pranksters!

This game is in Early Access which is usually a big turn off but it’s complete enough to play without being annoyed. You can also clean with your friends I guess. However it’s still a janitor simulator, and that’s either your thing or it’s not. Viscera Cleanup Detail is currently 40% off and $4.79. It’s hard to call this a deal but the devs say once the full version is released it will be more expensive. If you just want to mess around for awhile you might want to check out the murderous Santa version of this game called Viscera Cleanup Detail Santa’s Rampage. It’s only $1.49. But this one is a personal preference kind of a thing. Verdict: Skip it.

ibb & obb

ibb & obb is a game that has been downloadable on consoles for awhile, and has just recently been released on Steam. It’s got the almost-completely-expected stylish flair that we have come to love in indie games. This time, the look of the game is reminiscent of some kind of minimalistic Oh the Places You’ll Go Dr. Seuss sequel that never happened. The mild color palette is so soft and the music so soothing that the whole experience was almost enough to put me to sleep. If you ever wanted to know what it was like to shrink yourself down and hop around the living room section of an IKEA, now’s your chance. 

People love this game. And I get why, it has a cute, funny art style and easy to get into gameplay. The music is nice. It’s definitely one of those games where you need a friend to fully appreciate it. The co-op aspect is similar to the co-op of Portal 2. Minus the portals and adding inverse gravity. ibb & obb was definitely built with two players in mind though, and in fact the double pack is only an extra dollar, which makes it a little bit easier. Unless you don’t have a friend that will play with you in which case you are basically screwed.

Anyways, I did manage to co-op this game and it’s all very nice and relaxing and fine but it’s a little bit boring. There’s nothing wrong with it specifically- basically ibb & obb uses a few concepts of physics in an interesting way like so many of its indie game brethren. In this case it’s jumping through holes in the ground so sometimes you fall up and sometimes you fall down, and  you have to use momentum to fly around obstacles and whatnot. And this is how you solve puzzles. But there’s not a whole lot more going on.

the problem is how do you decide who is on the bottom and who’s on the…nevermind

If you have a friend who you like to co-op platform with, split the $5.99 double pack deal, it’ll probably be worth it. Otherwise, wait for ibb & obb to go on sale for like a dollar because that’s definitely going to happen at some point. It was free on PSN one time. Free! So that’s the price comparison we’re looking at here. Verdict: Skip it.

Syberia II

Syberia I and Syberia II are pretty cool. And by cool I mean cold. Because they’re set in the ice cold world of some mystical snow land called Syberia. I always wondered about this game because it had the kind of hot, kind of weird looking woman on the box that kind of looked like a classy Lara Croft. Maybe it will look familiar to you too.

See what I mean? She has that weird 90s prerendered digital look that Lara Croft often had on two page spreads in Computer Gaming World back in the day. The USA Today calls it “…A Solid Pick.” Now that’s what I call a glowing review right there. A solid pick for what? Obviously not the Best Adventure Game of E3 because JustAdventure already made that declaration and those guys LOVE adventure, it says so in their name, they probably don’t even like Indiana Jones because there is too much Action mixed in with their Adventure so I  think we should trust their review.

Basically, you wander around a frigid Winterland pointing and clicking your way onto a train, and then off of a train, and then some other stuff happens, and you get to live with penguins for awhile and ride on top of a woolly mammoth at which point you get to spar with a bunch of sabretooth tigers jumping and biting all over the place just like that scene where the the T Rex fights the raptors in the museum in Jurassic Park. FYI/Spoiler Alert: Some of that stuff might not be true, I can’t really remember.

The biggest complaints people have with this game are that the puzzles are either too easy or too hard, which is probably true and the biggest problem with any kind of point and click adventure game. The other complaint is that it’s unrealistic. Which is probably the worst possible complaint about a FANTASY GAME. There’s no penguins in the arctic you say? Yeah well there’s also no woolly mammoths. And there sure as hell isn’t a half goat half seal creature. Another reviewer complained simply that it was physically impossible for a robot to operate using only a heart. Welp, you got me there. Sorry, Syberia II. I guess the fact that your name is spelled a different way is really just a typo and not an indication that this is a fictional location.

That bed was made for boning

Anyways, if you love point and click adventure games you might as well try Syberia II, or possibly Syberia I. The sequel is in fact a sequel but there is a nice recap of the first game so playing through the first isn’t required. The game looks and feels surreal and the story is pretty interesting. It’s also only 99 cents so you won’t be breaking the bank. 99 cents! If you don’t like point and click adventure games then Syberia II will probably not change your mind. Verdict: Buy it.

Dishonored

Steam daily deal today is Dishonored from our friends over at Bethesda and also Arkane Studios. Bethesda published and that’s how we like it in these parts. Have you played Fallout New Vegas? It’s like everything that was fun about Fallout 3 only better in every way. That’s right, I said it. New Vegas is better than Fallout 3 in EVERY WAY. Ahem. Now that that’s out of the way. You might remember Arkane Studios as the devs who make sequels to popular games that are relatively different than their predecessors, and generally critics and fans don’t remember them so fondly. The two big examples: BioShock 2 and Call of Duty: World at War. Neither of these examples were bad necessarily but they weren’t the same games as the originals and were not as good. 
All they needed was another chance at an original triple Ayyyyyy title and they got it with Dishonored. Dishonored, for all in tents and porpoises, is a solid game that dreams big and never quite reaches the lofty heights it aims for but is still really good and ultimately leaves you wanting more. As well as wondering more.
The coolest part of the game is probably the environments and the world that has been created. This includes the lore, which is where the originality in the writing comes through. It’s an alternate reality type situation where the world runs on whale oil, and technological advancements are abound due to combustion. But the whales are also magical, and none too happy about getting speared. Also they have weird tentacles or something but you really don’t get to see them. Sadly, the whales, their fisherman, the magical bones they leave around, and a massive plague destroying the population of the city all take place mostly in the background of the main story. Books of lore left around are actually worth reading which is always a nice change, especially in an FPS. But nothing you learn really has anything to do with the storyline- which is a mere kidnapping/revenge/government overthrow tale. Each locale and mission teaches you more about the world around you, but ultimately this information is only useful because it’s just cool. And it is cool, but it would be way cooler if the plot was intertwined with the details.
There is another whole world/dimension where some cocky asshole lives that you get to visit, he gives you powers and it’s weird and trippy and surreal but you don’t spend enough time there to get completely acquainted. This too could have played a much bigger role in the story.
The game can be played in many different ways, although I recommend stealth because it gives time to really soak up the ambience and to gather all kinds of interesting backstory- you sense a theme here? You have a sword and a gun and a crossbow with different darts. I didn’t fire my gun a single time my whole play through, although I did use multiple darts every now and then. But there’s just something about teleporting behind someone and stabbing them in the neck and then teleporting up onto a rooftop for a quick escape. You hardly have to talk to any assassination targets if you don’t want to. There are scripted events that can be completely bypassed if you so choose.
Combat itself is fine, if a little bit clunky. But that makes stealth all the more fun. The key is to actually use the special abilities to vary the experience more, and to find the most interesting ways to take out targets.
Dishonored is definitely not perfect. It’s a flawed gem that gets better the more effort you put into understanding the world you are in. At 75% off for only $4.99 it’s a hell of a bargain. And definitely better than the sum of its parts. Verdict: buy it.

Steam Daily Deals Youtube Channel is Open

Sure, the first video might not be a Steam Daily Deal. And sure, the name of the site might be Steam Daily Deal, and that might also be the topic of every post. But technically TF2 is a daily deal every day because it’s free. So it’s all the more fitting. Anyways, more to come.

From Paris With Games/ E.Y.E.: Divine Cybermancy

Apparently the French are good for more than just wine, cheese, and fine dining. Yes, apparently the City of Lights (I heard that’s what they call it) is a hotbed for game development. After all, Peter Molyneux is French right? And he made Fable and Black and White. WRONG. Because I just looked it up and according to Wikipedia he is apparently British. I thought at the very least he was French Canadian but nope. So scratch him off the list.

If you just click the From Paris With Games button it automatically takes you to E.Y.E.: Divine Cybermancy which is perfect because it is the cheapest game on the list and also one of the more interesting ones. First of all it is $1. That’s reason enough but let’s get into it. At first glance Divine Cybermancy reminds me of an FPS from a bygone era. It uses the Source engine which is usually, but not always a good sign, but everything is dark and angular and circuity. The walls are are all as massive as the rooms are. The aesthetic is cyberpunk, and I mean pre-Matrix cyber punk. The characters look like some combination of special forces/medieval knights/Final Fantasy. And the game plays mostly like the severely underrated dystopian Christian Bale movie Equilibrium in which said hero saves puppies and blows away government agents in helmets.

Combat is pretty much like that except not quite as fluid and also you have a sword and you can fly around and cut people up. E.Y.E.: Divine Cybermancy is also really complex, in more than one way. For one the translation is awful and it might be awful on purpose. It definitely makes it hard to tell exactly what is going on but it only adds to the intrigue! There are also a million different stats you can choose to level up and it is relatively unclear as to what exactly the stats do, Dark Souls-style. For example there is a stat called Mental Stability, and the description of it states that higher Mental Stability raises your Mental Stability. Helpful! There is a video tutorial system but it is also unclear how to tell which video to choose when. But you don’t really need them it’s more fun to wander around and bang into stuff until you figure it out. S.P.E.C.I.A.L., this is not. There are also loads of special powers to use, some more confusing than others.

Christian Bale is: some guy in a suit made of tin cans

E.Y.E.: Divine Cybermancy is currently on sale for one dollar. You should definitely buy it. Because it is ONE DOLLAR. If you’re into FPS RPGs it’s worth a shot, it’s a little rough around the edges but you just gotta pretend it’s a better looking game from 1998 and then it becomes pretty cool. Plus there’s co-op. Verdict: Buy it.