Space Incident

Space Incident is a very, very short adventure/management game with various possible endings. Free on Kongregate, but paid on Steam, this little game by Vogd3 has a lot of potential packed in a rather disappointing package.

I read the introduction and it sounded promising: You play as the AI of a ship stranded from Mars to Earth and have to help the crew figure why you’ve suddenly stopped and get back on track to return to earth with hopefully no casualties. I was expecting something pretty big, so I was a bit disappointing in finding that playing through it once takes less than an hour in whole. In fact, once you’ve played through it once and read the options, any consecutive plays to unlock the various endings end up being pointless and taking less than ten minutes. I wasn’t motivated enough to run it more than twice.

Now, the art of the game has that typical retro pixel style. I have a love-hate relationship with pixel games: I know how hard it is to do pixel art and how much time it takes, yet at the same time it seems people do it less out of a “retro” look and more out of a simple “too lazy or poor to hire a proper designer” reasoning. The pixel art works quite well for this little game, though, and I’m really fond of the detailed ship backgrounds, but I’m not into the way the characters look, at all.

The music is pretty basic, sort of background sound effects, and though it’s not bad, after a while I just muted it because it annoyed me. The menu, btw, is pretty simple, having only a few options, and at the end you’re shown all possible endings, which include various combinations of who survives and what happens to the ship.

Interaction with the characters isn’t of your own choice. The characters, each which have various levels of needs such as hunger, psychological state, tiredness, etc, must want to talk to you in order for you to interact, and are otherwise autonomous, making their needs almost pointless unless you send someone who is starving into space and they have no time to come back. The only need that truly comes into play is when they start panicking, because if you don’t deal with it the right way they go into a temporary full-panic suicidal mode… but it’s not like you can actually do anything about that after you’ve botched calming them down, so…

The options offered in dialogue are poor and pretty obvious on which way they will lead you with the person- if it’ll help or not. The characters themselves all kind of blend in with eachother, at least two out of the three do (and the third is just annoying), and the story in a whole is, although not entirely bad, also not at all imaginative. In fact, it kind of leaves the only interesting thing (the reason behind why they were stuck in the first place) without a proper answer.

And finally, the english text… ah… it seems alright for parts of it, but suddenly the punctuation will be off by a bit, or the translation in whole, grammar and spelling alike, were outright bad.

At the price tag of a whooping $7 (on sale at the time of writing this), there is no way I could recommend it as worth it. But as a free casual game it’s actually not all that bad.

2.5/5

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Capsule

Capsule is a very short (1 to 2 hours at most) immersive game that comes with quite a few warnings, and I can understand why. The developers warn anyone with claustrophobia, misophonia, or other similar phobias not to play the game. And why? Because this is truly one game best played in the dark.

If I had to put it in a category, I’d say Capsule has a slight feel of a minimalist puzzle game; but the truth is, there’s really no puzzle to it – at least not gameplay wise.

The story, however, does make you wonder even though it is at its core an immersive survival game.

The story goes as follows: You wake up trapped in a capsule, only able to experience the outside world through the radar on it. You don’t know what’s happened, but you have an idea of where to go to start the journey into finding out…

Although you’re thrown into the game with barely an idea of what to do, for this particular case the lack of a proper tutorial beyond how to move is actually not hindering, because controls and story are so minimal you really can’t go quite wrong… even if it did take me a while at first to get my bearings.

You have oxygen and power to worry about, a radar burst, a bearing, and a distance to your target.

Each level you reach a destination, where you have more of the story develop in the form of messages which often give you a new direction in which to go. You have to be mindful of the hostile environment while making your way to the next destination, but watch out for your power and oxygen! You might fall short and die of asphyxiation!

The look of the game is ultimately minimalistic. You can only see the radar of your capsule, a pixelated screen through which you move with the arrows and send a sonar wave with the space bar.

The blueish color is very pleasant to look at, and the flicker of the screen manages to make it quite immersive, particularly if you do play with headphones and in the dark!

The sound effects, though simple as well, help further the atmosphere of it all, and the feeling of immersion. The breathing, the static, the beeping… Even when on my first round I played it with the lights on and during daytime, I could easily forget that I wasn’t actually in the Capsule.

I have to say that because of its immersive aspect, it adds a whole level of ‘horror’ to the game that you shouldn’t overlook. Dying the first time was truly terrifying.

However… and there is a small con: it’s that the game becomes a little bit boring once you get a hold of the whole bearings/distance and when to restock oxygen and power not to die. So basically, once you get the hang of it things get a bit easy. But the game is so very short that, honestly you won’t even mind.

I think this a very nice, atmospheric game – simple and minimalist, if you’re into psychological type of horror you will definitely enjoy the hour of play. If you like jump scares in your horror, steer clear. This is real horror right here.

The Ships of Earth by Orson Scott Card

Las Naves De La TierraThe Ships of Earth (Homecoming Saga) by Orson Scott Card
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Boring. It was slow slow slow slow slow, and then things got interesting only at the end; and it ended in what seemed to be a bit of an abrupt way, much like if the book had been meant to go together with the next one and not as a standalone.
To put it briefly, the first 7 chapters could have easily just been summed up into one, and save us the boring read to get to the actual interesting parts.

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Alien Swarm

 

Data
Break Up
Game: Alien Swarm
Genre: Action
Developer: Valve
Publisher: Valve
Release Date: Jul 19, 2010
Platform: PC / Played on Windows 7
Overall rating:  8/10
Graphics: 8/10
Controls: 7/10
Level/Puzzle Design:7/10 (but very few)
Sound: 7/10
Story: N/A
Replay Value: 7/10 (with friends only)
Community: Terribly Low

 

Review

I feel like this is a really underrated game. It’s a shame people almost no longer play this game, because I just really enjoyed it. It’s light, it’s cool, and it’s sci-fi. And it’s -not- FPS (though I hear you can make it go into first person view). Unfortunately, during the time I had it installed and played there weren’t any other people to play with, but that doesn’t make it any less fun, as you can go into single player mode. Even the default offline/single player mode was fun… for a while.

The game is a pretty typical top-down shooter with a leveling system to acquire better upgrades and weapons. It’s actually quite nice, if not overly original (group of marines hunting down bug-like aliens). The graphics and sounds aren’t anything to write home about, but they’re not bad either.

I do wish it had more maps and levels for offline/single player as well and/or online solo maps for beginners, though, because as far as length it’s quite short, and after playing it over and over on your own it gets rather boring. I know you can manually install different maps, but it just becomes a hassle, as the game doesn’t have workshop integrated.

This is really a game best enjoyed playing with friends, and that’s how I recommend you play it if you’re interested.

And the best part of all? It’s free! ;)