Epic Fantasy Battle 4

Epic Battle Fantasy 4 is another game I picked up during the Steam Summer Sale.

Epic Battle Fantasy 4 Logo

Summary

Epic Battle Fantasy 4 is a turn-based RPG adventure game. The game is light-hearted and funny, with the story revolving around Godcat, the patron goddess of cats.

You control four characters, which are customizable to fit your play style. You can pick and upgrade their skills, armor, weapons, and accessories to boost the stats/abilities you want. The game has a heavy focus on elemental damage, so you switch gear and abilities semi-frequently to counteract your opponents’ elemental biases.

Epic Battle Fantasy 4 Battle
Fighting a battle

Review

Epic Battle Fantasy 4 is a pretty good game, especially for the $2.99 I picked it up for during the Summer Sale.

The map is a grid of over 100 different screens. To prevent the player from wandering into areas beyond their difficulty, there are obstacles (rocks, tree stumps, broken bridges, etc.) that the player can only get past by unlocking the necessary items (hammer, axe, ladder, etc.). I thought that was a smart way of handling that problem within the game world.

Epic Battle Fantasy 4 NPC
Chatting with an NPC

Regarding gear, I liked how the gear you acquire doesn’t become obsolete with new gear. Each piece of gear is good in some situations and not good in others. Because of this, there is no ultimate gear set and you need to switch out your gear to suit the current situation.

For being made by one developer, Epic Battle Fantasy 4 has a surprising amount of depth to it. It has an interesting combat system, mini-game puzzles, tons of achievements, a great soundtrack, and a large amount of content. It’s funny and fun and kept me entertained for hours. My biggest critiques are that the highest resolution is 1280×800 and that it doesn’t have controller support. If you like RPGs, I recommend giving it a try.

Want to play?

$11.99 on Steam or play a free demo on the developer’s website

Inferno

When my mom and sister started reading Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol, I thought I’d join them and read it at the same time. I accidentally picked up my copy of Dan Brown’s Inferno instead, without realizing I was reading the wrong book. Whoops! 😛

So a decade after my last Dan Brown book, I finished Inferno last week.

Summary

InfernoInferno is Dan Brown’s 4th book about Harvard professor of symbology and iconology, Robert Langdon — this time, centered around Dante’s Inferno. The story begins with Robert waking up in a hospital in Florence, Italy with no knowledge of how he got there. His doctor, Sienna Brooks, tells him that he is suffering from amnesia after getting shot in the head the night before. When the assassin shows up to finish the job, Robert and Sienna flee and try to piece together what happened, leading them on a thrilling race against time.

Review

Thankfully, reading the Robert Langdon books out of order doesn’t matter, so there weren’t any problems with reading Inferno before The Lost Symbol.

The core idea of Inferno is that we are seeing rapid, unsustainable population growth and some argue that it is going to cause our extinction within 100 years if we don’t act now. That, coupled with the idea of transhumanism, made for a thought-provoking read. I was shocked to learn that half of US pregnancies are unintended.

I know Dan Brown gets a lot of criticism, but his stories are gripping and fun to read. One of the things I really like about his books is the blending of fact and fiction. I enjoy googling all of the art, buildings, and people he references in his books as I’m reading.

While I enjoyed reading Inferno, there was one thing that drove me nuts: I couldn’t understand why the antagonist left his series of clues. I get that there wouldn’t be much of a story without them, but I really would have appreciated a motive for doing so. The ending also felt a bit weak to me.

Oh, and I learned that “doge” refers to more than just the internet meme; it was also the title of Italian city-state rulers in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. That made for some funny visualizations while I was reading. 😛

Coma:Mortuary

Coma:Mortuary (Episode 1) is the first part of an adventure/horror trilogy. It was released last month and I got it from a friend during the Steam Summer Sale.

Coma:Mortuary

Summary

Coma:Mortuary is about a guy who tried to commit suicide via car accident after his girlfriend died. He miraculously survived, but fell into a coma, leaving his soul trapped in the world of the dead.

Review

Horror games aren’t really my thing, but I decided to give Coma:Mortuary a try anyway. After some unnecessarily shaky cutscenes, I found myself in control of the character in some sort of cave. I spent the next 15 minutes or so slowly walking through the world while listening to dialogue. It’s not like I was exploring the world, either — just following the path at a snail’s pace. Occasionally, I’d see some wriggling corpses or ghostly silhouettes.

Coma Mortuary In Game

And then I died. Without any idea why. The screen just faded to black and after a few seconds, I got a screen that said “You are dead!” with the options to resume the game or quit. Umm okay. So I resumed the game and kept walking. By this point, I had some limited options on where I could go, so I went a different way than before. And then I died all of a sudden. Again. And that’s when I called it quits.

The good: The graphics and atmosphere are great. The flashlight effect looks good, too.  The voice acting doesn’t suck.

The bad: The first ~15 minutes of the game are painfully slow and you don’t have any freedom; you just keep walking along the path and listening to dialogue. There was a tooltip right at the beginning for how to interact with the environment, but I never saw anything I could interact with. Maybe I just didn’t play far enough. The sudden, unexplained deaths made me finally give up on the game.

TL;DR The game creators know how to make a game look good, but gameplay sure sucked. I wouldn’t even recommend it for the $0.59 it’s currently going for.

Want to play?

$0.59 on Steam (90% off during the Steam Summer Sale)

The Color of Magic

The Colour of MagicThe Color of Magic is the first book in the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett.

Summary

Rincewind is a cynical wizard (although he failed as a student at the Unseen University) who unintentionally gets caught up in adventures. When an odd and naive tourist named Twoflower shows up in Ankh-Morpork, he hires Rincewind as his guide. The rest of the book tells of their adventures with sentient homicidal luggage, a great fire, tree nymphs, magical swords, dragons, sea trolls, and a city on the very edge of Discworld.

Discworld itself is a disc-shaped world that is carried on the backs of four elephants, who are all standing on the shell of an enormous turtle as it swims through space.

Review

The Color of Magic felt shallow to me; the characters lacked depth and the book was more like four short stories than one cohesive novel. That being said, I liked the absurdist humor and I enjoyed the book well enough that I’m going to continue on with the series.

It helped that I knew going into it not to have my expectations too high. From what I’ve found, most people think the first few published books in the series are relatively weak and they generally recommend that people start with a later book like Guards! Guards! or Mort instead.

They Breathe

The Steam Summer Sale is going on and with that comes gifts of weird games from my friends. This time around, one of those games was They Breathe.

They Breathe

Summary

They Breathe is an action adventure game with a dark story and hand-drawn art. You start the game as a frog, floating above the water on a log. Once you dive below the water, though, it’s a mad scramble to get enough air bubbles to stay alive, especially because you aren’t the only creature under the water.

Review

There aren’t any instructions. It’s up to you to figure out the controls and how to play. The game is pretty simple, though, so it works.

They Breathe Moose
What is a moose doing underwater?!

The game is really short — about half an hour long. It also auto-saves, so that if you die, you don’t have to start over from the beginning. Well… unless your game glitches like mine did and your frog ends up off-screen somewhere between life and death. Frog limbo renders the game unplayable without ever reverting to an auto-save. I had to close the game and start over from the beginning. 🙁

Like most people, I thought the game was… strange. I think it’s worth the $0.61, though, especially since it has Steam Trading Cards.

P.S. There is a twist to the creatures that you’ll probably discover by the time you get to the bottom.

Want to Play?

$0.61 on Steam (69% off during the Steam Summer Sale)

The Martian

The MartianThe Martian by Andy Weir was originally self-published in 2012 until Random House picked it up and re-published it in February 2014. I kept hearing praise for The Martian after the re-release, so I was excited to read it myself. I actually finished it a month ago, but I’m behind on blog posts right now. 😛

Summary

A fierce dust storm causes the crew of the Ares 3 mission to evacuate after only 6 days on Mars. As they’re leaving, NASA astronaut Mark Watney is impaled by an antenna. Assuming Watney has been killed (and unable to verify it because of the storm), the rest of the crew is forced to leave without him. By a stroke of luck, Watney survives, but he’s left alone on Mars with limited supplies and no way to contact Earth.

Review

loved The Martian. Loved it. It had me hooked from the first sentence: “I’m pretty much fucked.” It is thrilling and hilarious and a great blend of science and adventure.

Mark Watney is in an impossible situation, but his sarcastic sense of humor and MacGyver-like problem solving skills keep the book lighthearted in spite of the danger Watney is in.

The Martian is definitely my favorite book I’ve read so far this year and I’d probably list it among my favorite sci-fi books ever. I highly recommend it!

The Alchemist

The AlchemistLast week, I read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, which is an international bestseller about a journey of self-discovery. It’s also pretty short (~200 pages), so I blew through it.

Summary

The Alchemist is about the journey of a young shepherd as he travels from Spain to Egypt to fulfill his “Personal Legend.”

Review

I have family and friends who loved The Alchemist and encouraged me to read it, but I was left underwhelmed and uninspired.

The Alchemist reads like a fable. The writing is very simple, the characters lack depth, and Coelho beats you over the head by repeating the same themes and phrases over and over and over again. While the simplicity might make the book accessible to a broader spectrum of readers, it really turned me off.

When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.

Its initial message was essentially “follow your dream,” which is admirable. However, Coelho writes that one’s dream (“Personal Legend”) is some unchangeable, unquestionable thing which we can only see clearly in childhood. I didn’t buy that at all. Furthermore,  he says that if you want your dream to happen hard enough, the entire universe will conspire to fulfill your individual desire and it will help you along the way with things like beginner’s luck and omens. Then, he started throwing out concepts like “The Soul of the World” and “The Language of the World” and other nonsense. Uff da.

There’s also a ridiculous subplot involving Fatima, a young woman whom “the boy” (the main character is always referred to this way) meets while travelling in the desert. The two fall in love immediately upon meeting and when the boy leaves shortly thereafter to pursue his Personal Legend, she accepts that it is her role as a woman to wait behind while her man goes out to fulfill his dream. Oi.

Maybe The Alchemist is just very polarizing. I know a lot of people have found it inspiring and life-changing, but it really did nothing for me.

Shelter

I got Shelter as a gag gift from a friend. Shelter is a survival adventure game in which you play a mother badger, protecting her cubs. I spent 20-30 minutes playing it this evening.

Shelter Menu

My first impression: wtf they made the menu super hard to read.

Once I was in the game, I assumed the role of mother badger with 4 cubs. There was a 5th cub who was greyed out and not moving (sick, maybe?). I found some sort of root vegetable nearby and fed it to the greyed out badger cub, which made it start following me like the others.

Shelter Family Portrait
Badger Family Portrait

I found my way out of the linear tunnel and into the open world (welcome to the game; here, do some walking for a while). Once out of the tunnel, it showed me how to headbutt apple trees to make them drop apples for my cubs. I wandered around the world for a while headbutting apple trees and picking root vegetables for my cubs, unsure of what that was really accomplishing.

One annoying thing about the game is that the tree tops often got in the way of the camera, making me temporarily blind.

Shelter Fox
Badger Cubs Eating a Fox Corpse

Eventually, I encountered my first wild animal: a fox. I leapt forward, killing the fox, and my cubs devoured its corpse. Then, I got to an open area with a large, artsy bird shadow moving around. Before I realized what was going on, the fracking bird dove in and carried off one of my cubs. :O

Shortly thereafter, I tried to mess with the settings, but accidentally ended up exiting the game (like I said, the menu is hard to read). There was no apparent way to save the game and evidently saving wasn’t automatic either. When I relaunched the game, my progress was gone and I was prompted to start a new game. Bah.

So… I wasn’t really impressed by Shelter. Graphics weren’t very good, the camera had issues, and there wasn’t enough direction in the game. Run around a mostly uninteractive linear map headbutting trees and hiding from birds? Sorry badger cubs; you’re on your own.

Hammerwatch

The Steam Autumn Sale started today! I picked up Hammerwatch while it was one of the flash deals earlier. It’s a hack and slash action adventure game where you wander around a castle killing enemies, either solo or co-op.

There are four classes to choose from: paladin, wizard, ranger, and warlock. Each class has a basic attack and a special mana-using ability and you can pay for upgrades from vendors scattered throughout the castle. Movement is done with WASD keys and attacks use the arrow keys, which took a minute to figure out.

Hammerwatch

I spent an hour or so playing 3-player co-op today. On our first attempt, we were figuring things out and blew through our lives faster than we probably should have. For our second attempt, we decided to give ourselves infinite lives. 😛 I was disappointed that the castle was the same as before; a randomly-generated castle would have made the game more replayable.

Fighting The Queen
Fighting The Queen

In our second attempt, we made it to Hammerwatch’s first boss: The Queen. She was a LOT harder than the mobs we had encountered up to that point. We died a bunch before defeating her, so we were glad we had given ourselves infinite lives.

So overall, Hammerwatch is okay… worth the $3-4 I spent on it, but not a game I’d really recommend.

As for games I do recommend, Skyrim and Terraria are both 75% off right now. ^_^

Terraria Announcements

Two exciting things happened today for Terraria:

1.2 Release Date

The long-awaited 1.2 PC update will be released on October 1st (source). Possible upcoming features include waterfalls and fountains, paints and dyes, more types of ore, a minimap, new biomes and monsters, a revamped character menu, and a plethora of new weapons and decorative items.

Terraria Demo - Getting Started
Getting started in the Terraria demo

Terraria is available on Android

Although the official announcement probably won’t be until tomorrow, the mobile version of Terraria is now available in the Google Play Store. You can demo the game for free, but you need to pay $4.99 to unlock the full game (which lets you save your progress, customize your character, etc.).

I played around with the demo briefly on my tablet and it seems to work pretty well on a touchscreen. There are joysticks on the left and right that control movement and tools/weapons. Accuracy can be a little tricky sometimes, but you can zoom in and there’s also a zoomed-in view thing that helps. There was a glitch with the sound, though, where it stopped playing partway through the demo. That seems to be a common problem, so hopefully they’ll fix that soon.

Terraria Demo - Crafting
Crafting menu in the Terraria demo

From what I can tell, it seems like the mobile version is really close to the full game, not a dumbed down version – though I did hear that there is no hard mode.

Get it on Google Play