Game Diary

24 09 2014

Tonight I played Gridlands, it’s the second game from doublespeak games who brought us A Dark Room. Gridlands is a spiritual successor to ADR in that it is a mash up of a resource gathering game and something completely different, this time round it is a match three puzzler.

There are two phases, day and night – your little character toils away during the day carting the resources you gather about and turning them into buildings.

These building upgrade your resources – during the day phase the most useful upgrade is to the food that gives your little character strength back after all that heavy lifting. Every move you make pushes the sun across the sky a little further, so getting cascades helps you gather more in the time allowed.

Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 5.13.07 AM

Then the night phase, each resource turns into either a sword or shield for your little peon to carry or into something that summons a monster. The higher the resource had been upgraded in the day phase, the more powerful the protection or monster. Your shield and sword wear down with use so you have to keep matching. Unlike in the day phase only killing monsters pushes the moon onwards. The other factor that makes the day different from the night is that there are collectible power-up that are gathered from chest occasionally dropped by slain monsters.

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Survive the night, and all the resource tile convert back to their day phase appearance, this allows for some tactics – I chose to ignore gathering wood and metal during the day so that there would be plenty of swords and shields for me to use in the night.

Once you get about half way, the game adds a new goal, much like A Dark Room. There is a way of summoning a mini-boss and then later a final boss battle. It is also possible to max out all the building types, but there is no reward for doing so that I could see. There is a small amount of waiting around as the peon dawdles back and forth building things, but on the whole this is not a timer watching game, despite being called a ‘time-waster game’ by its creators.

Other games I played this past week:

Whist

Classic trick taking card game.

Hohokum

I finally got round to figuring out how to put money onto the Playstation and buy the game. I’ve been excitedly waiting for this game to come out since about 5 years ago when I played an early demo version in a pub after (I think) Eurogamer.

I played a bit of it at Mild Rumpus earlier this year, but this is an exploring game that means you need to give time and attention to it to get the most satisfaction.

You play as the Long Mover, a multi-coloured snake like being, who flies around the worlds it finds interacting with whatever choses to interact. You can speed up or slow down and (I think) that’s it. All other abilities are part of the world that you’re visiting, usually activated by bashing your head into them.

It’s a beautiful game, filled with secrets and charming animations hidden as rewards. There is a tinge of darkness to cutting through the cheery stories and characters, hearts get broken, partiers get electrocuted and excess crumbles into decay.

The navigation of the levels is as much a memory puzzle as anything else – unlocking a new level brings you closer to looping back round to one of the two central ‘menu selection’ areas (which do not look or feel in any way like a menu, this is just what I’m calling them).

You can just wander around admiring the scenery, but there are actual tasks and challenges that take you deeper. So far I have rescued a baboon like create, destroyed a treasure room, altered a future and instigated a wedding, freeing my fellow snakes as I go.

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