Contraption Maker

Contraption Maker

Summary

Solve puzzles with ridiculous Rube Goldberg machines using lasers, crocodiles, flying saucers, zombies, and more. In each level, you are given an objective (like, blow up the pumpkin), a partially completed contraption, and a set of parts to add to the contraption to complete the objective.

There are 160 official puzzles and thousands of user-created puzzles available via the Steam Workshop that you can play single-player or co-op multiplayer with your friends.

Welcome to Contraption Maker

Review

Contraption Maker is a fun and goofy puzzle game. The puzzles haven’t been terribly challenging, but I haven’t gotten to the hard difficulty puzzles yet (or any user-created puzzles). I’m not a fan of the cartoony and childish look of the game, but I get that it’s meant to appeal to kids as well as adults.

At $1.49 for two copies of the game, Contraption Maker is a steal. It includes Steam Trading Cards, so you’ll even recoup some of the cost. It’s a good game and I recommend it (especially at the current sale price), but it’s not one of my favorites.

You might like this game if you like…

  • Rube Goldberg machines
  • The Incredible Machine computer game series
  • Motors powered by hamsters
  • Physics
  • Solving puzzles
  • Feeding bowling balls to bears

Want to play?

$1.49 on Steam for two copies of the game (90% off during Steam Autumn Sale)

Humble Jumbo Bundle 2

The latest Humble Bundle, Humble Jumbo Bundle 2, is packed full of great games (including some of my favorites) for the low price of pay-whatever-you-want.

Humble Jumbo Bundle 2 Games

Pay $1 or more for:

  • The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing – Complete Pack
  • Deadlight
  • Galactic Civilizations II: Ultimate Edition

Beat the average for:

  • Terraria
  • THE KING OF FIGHTERS XIII Steam Edition
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Legend of Grimrock
  • PixelJunk Eden
  • Orcs Must Die! 2 – Complete Pack

Pay $15 or more for:

  • Age of Empires Legacy Bundle

I have played almost half of the games included in the bundle: Terraria, PixelJunk Eden, Orcs Must Die! 2, and Age of Empires.

Terraria is an action-adventure sandbox game that’s kind of like a 2D version of Minecraft. If you don’t have it yet, it’s worth beating the average for this game alone.

PixelJunk Eden is a minimalistic platformer puzzle game by the same company that made PixelJunk Monsters. It is colorful, beautiful, and relaxing — not one of my favorite games, but definitely one that I enjoyed playing.

Orcs Must Die! 2 is a super fun combination of trap-based tower defense and third-person shooter. Highly recommended.

The Age of Empires Legacy Bundle includes both Age of Empires II and Age of Empires III, which are real-time strategy games. AoE2 is set in the Middle Ages and is one of my favorite games of all time. AoE3 takes place during Europe’s colonization of the Americas. It’s been almost a decade since I’ve played AoE3 and I think I liked it all right, but that it was a let down after AoE2.

I’m most looking forward to trying out Crusader Kings II, a medieval strategy game with a sense of humor that was published by the same company as Magicka. I’ve also heard great things about Legend of Grimrock, a dungeon-crawling RPG.

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

Portal

So I finally got around to playing the original Portal game last week. I know, it’s about time.

Portal logo

Summary

Portal is a 3D first-person puzzle game that won all sorts of awards for its innovative gameplay. You play as a laboratory test subject who is challenged and chastised by an artificially intelligent system known as GLaDOS. A special portal gun lets you place two portals, which allow objects to pass between them. With the aid of the portal gun, you use your wits, creativity, and physics to get through the series of test chambers.

Portal
One of the Portal test chambers

Review

Portal is a brilliant game that uses a unique mechanic to create fun, physics-based challenges. On top of that, the story is interesting and I love the sense of humor.

I highly recommend Portal, because it’s amazing. The biggest criticisms I have are that it is short (only a few hours, although the advanced maps and challenges give it some replayability) and single-player only (Portal 2 added co-op).

Want to play?

$9.99 on Steam

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)

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)

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)

TUG Early Access: Alpha 0.5

A year ago, I helped fund TUG, a multiplayer open world sandbox RPG, on Kickstarter and I just got my Steam Early Access key! Since it’s in alpha, it’s pretty crude right now, but it’s fun to see how it’s coming along.

Current version (Alpha 0.5.3918) feedback

TUG Bamboo Forest
Bamboo forest

The good:

  • The procedurally-generated worlds are pretty neat and varying.
  • You can interact with the environment and use resources to craft tools and weapons.
  • Multiplayer support!

The bad:

  • There isn’t a tutorial or tooltips yet. I figured out how to gather resources on my own and eventually figured out how to open my inventory (by pressing “E” for some reason), but crafting is not at all obvious. Thank goodness for a helpful wiki! 🙂
  • The drain on hunger felt excessive. My poor little character kept starving while I was figuring things out.
  • No 3rd person camera view yet, from what I can tell. It’ll be in the finished game, though. Hurrah!

Overall, I think TUG has a lot of potential and I’m really excited about it. They have lots of really cool ideas (like characters that change and grow based on their diet and how you play them) and I think the finished game is going to be awesome.

Early access trailer

Want to play?

Get early access to the game + the full game at launch for $9.99 on Steam.

10000000

10000000

10000000 is a hybrid RPG/Action/Puzzle game that combines match 3 puzzles with fighting monsters and improving your character’s gear and skills. You wake up in a prison and the goal is to score 10000000 points so you can escape.

Gameplay

10000000: Dungeon
Running a dungeon

Move rows and columns to match tiles while your character runs through the dungeon battling enemies, opening chests, and unlocking doors. There are several types of tiles and each have different effects when you match them:

  • Swords/Staves: physical/magical damage to the enemy you’re fighting
  • Shields: defense against enemy attacks
  • Keys: unlock chests and doors
  • Backpacks: chance at getting an item
  • Stone/Wood: gain some amount of that material (used for repairing and upgrading the castle)

Because of the different matching effects, you really need to pay attention to the board and what your character is doing or you could waste a good damage effect when you’re supposed to be unlocking a door. I like that twist on the classic match 3 game, because you have to plan and save your combinations. You still need to act quickly, though, because the game is time-sensitive.

10000000: Upgrading
Upgrading my weapon

You can also have up to 3 items at a time, which you get from backpacks and chests. They can be used at any time to do things like transform some of the tiles into another tile or give you more time.

At the beginning of each dungeon run, you’re also given objectives to perform a certain number of matches, acquire a certain amount of resources, etc. When you complete the objectives, it rewards you with resources.

Between dungeon runs, you can upgrade your character with the resources you’ve earned. Wood and stone are used to repair and upgrade rooms in the castle (blacksmith, trainer, staffmaker, etc.). You can then spend your gold and experience to upgrade your gear and skills in the rooms.

Review

I bought 10000000 when it was on sale for 99 cents earlier this month and I started playing this morning. I’ve played primarily on my tablet so far, but I also briefly tried it out on my phone (it looked and played the same as on my tablet).

10000000 is a clever combination of match 3 and dungeon crawler and the result is a fun game that’s well-suited for mobile devices. It also doesn’t have ads or require any special permissions, so that’s a plus.

Want to play?

$1.99 on Android and iOS | $4.99 on Steam

The Humble Sid Meier Bundle

The Humble Sid Meier Bundle

The latest Humble Bundle is a collection of Sid Meier games. Of them, I’ve only played Civilization V, which is now one of my favorite games ever. I’ve heard good things about Civilization III and Civilization IV, so I’ll probably pick up the bundle to see how they compare to Civilization V. Railroads! is supposed to be a pretty decent game, too.

Pay $1 or more for:

  • Civilization III Complete
  • Civilization IV: The Complete Edition
  • Ace Patrol
  • Ace Patrol: Pacific Skies
  • Railroads!

Beat the average for:

  • Civilization V
  • Civilization V: Gods and Kings DLC

Pay $15 or more for:

  • Civilization V: Brave New World DLC

I highly recommend picking up up the bundle for Civilization V alone and I’m sure the other games are great, too. 🙂