ORION: Prelude

ORION: Prelude - Logo

Summary

Survive waves of dinosaur attacks in this multiplayer sci-fi FPS game.

Review

Right off the bat, I have to say that first-person shooters aren’t really my thing… but at 49 cents, I figured I’d give it a try anyway.

I played ORION: Prelude with Nick on co-op survival mode for about an hour. You pretty much just run around and shoot dinosaurs. In between waves, you can buy weapon upgrades and augments to beef up your character. You can apparently also spend real money if you’d like to customize your character further.

This game would benefit from a little more direction in where to go and what to do, especially for first-time players. We also had a few bugs. I got stuck in between two boulders for a couple minutes before we found out there was a way to teleport out. Somehow, other players were able to join our password-protected game. Not sure how that happened.

ORION: Prelude isn’t terrible, but I wouldn’t really recommend it either. At the price, though, it’s certainly low risk if a dinosaur FPS appeals to you.

ORION: Prelude

You might like this game if you like…

  • First-person shooters
  • Shooting dinosaurs in the face
  • Jetpacks
  • Being picked up by a pterodactyl and dropped to the ground
  • An assortment of weapons

Want to play?

$0.74 on Steam (25% off during the Steam Winter Sale) (I got it for $0.49)

PixelJunk Monsters

The Steam Summer Sale started today! Be sure to check it out over the next 11 days for great deals on games.

PixelJunk Monsters Ultimate

I picked up a 2-pack of PixelJunk Monsters Ultimate today for $3.39 — a steal! If you only want 1 copy, it’s $1.99.

Summary

PixelJunk Monsters is a tower defense game that was originally developed for the PlayStation 3. It was ported to PC as PixelJunk Monsters Ultimate last year with improved graphics, more levels, and a random level generator.

You play as an island native (called “TikiMan”) who has to defend his home from waves of monsters. You stop the monsters by building various types of towers in the place of trees. There are the basic arrow, cannon, and anti-aircraft towers, but you can also unlock more towers (like the tesla coil). You spend the levels running around as TikiMan building towers, collecting the coins and gems dropped by monsters before they disappear, dodging monsters (if you get hit, all your coins go flying!), and dancing on towers to upgrade them.

PixelJunk Monsters Level
Playing one of the levels in PixelJunk Monsters Ultimate

Review

I first played PixelJunk Monsters on the PlayStation 3 5-6 years ago and it quickly became one of my favorite tower defense games. The graphics are cute and polished, the music is great, gameplay is entertaining and fun, and I love that it supports co-op.

I’ve only spent an hour playing the game on PC so far, but it seems to be more or less the same as when I played it on PlayStation 3. Using a mouse felt a bit clunky to me, but I was delighted to see that the game fully supports controllers. The controller experience felt a lot better to me.

Want to Play?

$1.99 on Steam (80% off during the Steam Summer Sale)

Orcs Must Die! 2

As it goes with Steam sales, I bought Orcs Must Die! 2 by Robot Entertainment during the Autumn sale a few months ago and hadn’t gotten around to playing it until this week. I really liked the original Orcs Must Die!, though, so I knew I’d get around to playing the second version eventually. 😉

Playing Orcs Must Die! 2

Genre

OMD!2 is a strategy tower defense game (which I love), but it’s also a third-person action game, which is a fun genre blend. Players use traps, weapons, and spells to defend fortresses from waves of orc attacks. My favorite feature of OMD!2 is that it added co-op, so Nick and I can play together.

Character selection
Character selection

Characters

When you start the game, you get to pick between a male War Mage (from the original game) or a female Sorceress (a new addition). For the most part, it doesn’t seem to matter which character you choose, but there are some unique items and traps for each character. In general, the War Mage relies more on weapons, whereas the Sorceress relies more on spells.

Upgrade system
Upgrade system

Upgrade System

What’s really neat about OMD!2 is that you can customize the game for how you want to play. OMD!2 introduced a new and improved upgrade system that awards skulls for completing maps. The skulls are then used as a currency in the spellbook, where you can buy and upgrade weapons and traps. If you like to have strong defenses, you can use your skulls to get better traps. If you prefer the action aspect of the game, you can improve your weapons. Or you can do both! 🙂 You can even use skulls to buy costumes for your character.

Overall Thoughts

Orcs Must Die! 2 is quickly becoming one of my favorite games. It added some really nice features like co-op, a new upgrade system, and even weekly challenges — not to mention the new campaign, enemies, and items. I highly recommend OMD!2, especially if you’re a sucker for tower defense games, like me. 😉

And if the $15 (game only) / $25 (complete pack) prices intimidate you, just wait for it to go on sale. I think Nick and I paid $10 total for 2 complete packs during the Autumn sale. The game is well worth the regular price, though!

Magicka

Magicka is an action-adventure game I bought through Steam.

The Story & Game World

Magicka backstory
Magicka backstory

Magicka takes place in a fantasy world called Midgård that’s based on Norse mythology (bonus points for that!). The backstory is that there was once a powerful wizard called Grimnír who tried to harness the power of all Magicks. Grimnír was part of the Order of Magicka, a group of wizards who were entrusted with protecting the secrets of Magick and preserving peace in Midgård. Well, when the other wizards found out about Grimnír’s plans, they felt threatened and had him imprisoned at World’s End.

Players start out a wizard university, where you first meet Vlad (who is totally not a vampire, as he will frequently remind you). Vlad is the senior tutor at the university and he sends players on quests throughout the game.

Vlad, who is certainly not a vampire
Vlad, who is certainly not a vampire

I love the humor and light-hearted atmosphere of the game. One of the spells players can cast is called “Crash to Desktop,” which causes a random character to instantly die. Other examples of Magicka’s humor are a city named Dunderhaed, NPC’s who think the best place to hide during a fight is in the gunpowder storage, and bosses who say things like, “AAARGH!!! Loss of blood… my only weakness!” after you kill them. Even the tooltips can be funny; one tip says, “Chuck Norris isn’t in the game, but if he was, you would’ve already lost!” I love the in-game references to other games, movies, and pop culture, too.

Gameplay

Choosing your robe
Choosing your robe

When you start the game, you get to choose your wizard robe. The robes change your appearance and give you different traits, staves, and weapons depending on your choice. The staves and weapons don’t make a big difference since you can swap them in the game. The traits (like elemental resistance, increased HP, etc.) are perhaps worth paying attention to, but I doubt their impact is game-changing. Well, unless you pick a robe that is resistant to healing and gets healed by lightning instead or something. I picked the Tentacle Robe due to its sheer ridiculousness.

Wizards drown in water (have to freeze it to cross!)
Wizards drown in water (have to freeze it to cross!)

What I think makes Magicka different from other games I’ve played is its spell-casting system. It reminds me a lot of Alchemy, where you create things by combining different elements. When you start the game, it exposes you to the 8 different elements (water, lightning, life, arcane, shield, earth, cold, and fire) and teaches you how you can combine them to cast spells. You can cast a fireball, for example, by using earth and then fire. Some of the elements combine when cast after each other, too (water with fire produces steam and water with cold produces ice). Opposing elements (like lightning and water) cancel each other out. Furthermore, you can’t use lightning if your character is wet and if you’re on fire, you can put out the flames by casting water on yourself. You use the keyboard to pick elements (each element is assigned a keyboard key) and you cast the spell by clicking one of the mouse buttons and optionally holding shift. Special spells (Magicks) are cast with the spacebar. It takes a little while to get used to the controls and spells.

Crossing beams to create a more powerful beam
Crossing beams in to create a more powerful beam

One nice thing about Magicka is that it supports multiplayer. I have only played co-op, but there is also a versus (PVP) play mode. Playing co-op can actually be a little tricky. It’s easy to accidentally (or intentionally!) kill your friends with area of effect (AOE) spells or if they move in front of you while you’re casting. You also have to be very careful about crossing spell beams because when beams of opposing elements cross, it’ll cause an explosion. At least dying isn’t a big deal and it’s quick and easy to revive your friends.

Overall Thoughts

Magicka is fun, challenging, and light-hearted. It takes a little getting used to and you’ll probably die fairly often, but then you just try again. Experimenting with the elements and learning new spells is an aspect of the game I really enjoy. I definitely recommend giving Magicka a try!

Trine 2

Trine 2 Characters
Trine 2 Characters

Trine 2 is another game I picked up during the Steam Summer Sale. It’s a sidescrolling puzzle and action-adventure platform game… and it’s as visually attractive as it is fun to play.

Characters

You get to play as each of three different characters in Trine 2:

  • Amadeus (the wizard) – He can grab and move objects and conjure boxes and planks.
  • Zoya (the thief) – She can shoot arrows with her bow and use her grappling hook to move around.
  • Pontius (the knight) – He uses his sword and shield to defeat foes in combat and he has a hammer he can throw.
Trine 2 Wizard
Amadeus (Wizard)
Trine 2 Thief
Zoya (Thief)
Trine 2 Knight
Pontius (Knight)
Each of the characters has its own health meter and you can switch between characters on the fly (as long as the character isn’t dead). Health is restored at the various checkpoints in the game.

The Rest of the Game

The game world is really pretty. It’s full of detail and vibrant colors, which I love. There are some fun and interesting world objects, too, like giant snails and frogs that you can interact with.

The game world is full of obstacles and puzzles to challenge players, too. For instance, one recurring puzzle involves watering plants to make them grow. The player needs to find the water source and manipulate the game objects in such a way that the plant get watered. Other challenges include fighting goblins when they show up, getting across ravines filled with spikes, rerouting steam jets, and dodging fireball-spitting plants. There are also occasional boss fights, but for the most part, I find them to be rather anti-climactic.

Trine 2 Skill Tree
Trine 2 Skill Tree

To challenge players further, the levels are filled with objects for players to collect. There are glowing vials throughout the game that generally require some clever thinking to acquire. When the player collects 50 vials, he/she earns a point for the skill tree. The points can be spent on things like an increased number of conjured items for the wizard, fire arrows for the thief, and charge for the knight. Players can also find hidden treasure chests, which contain paintings and poems that tell more of the story.

A really cool feature about Trine 2 is that it supports online co-op, so you can play with up to two of your friends. When you play with other people, you each get to play as one of the characters (you can switch characters if you want). This lets you do some pretty neat things like using the wizard to fly the other characters around on planks and boxes.

Trine 2 Co-Op
Trine 2 Three-Player Online Co-Op

Overall Thoughts

I love Trine 2. 🙂 It’s fun to play and it’s such a beautiful game. I really like that you can play co-op, too. Highly recommended!