If you game on the PC, it’s not hard to get a massive collection built up for very little money if you’re not particular about what makes it in there. Steam sales will aggressively discount games. Humble Bundle can get you a curated collection for very cheap, and if you get their Choice option they will shove 60-some DRM free games right in your face. If you’re on Amazon Prime, they will give you 5 games a month through Twitch. The Epic Games Store drops at least 2 free games on you a week. So yeah, my PC backlog has become unmanageable, really. Hell, this month’s Humble Choice has two games I’ve specifically had my eye on for a long while, and I can get those and 8 others for well less than the MSRP for each, and I’ve been refraining because I don’t want my Steam list to grow anymore until I’ve actually played a bunch more of the games on it. When I was a cub owning a game was a big deal. You thoroughly explored that game, you came to know it better than your own reflection, you mastered it as much as a gawky little kid that sucks at everything can master anything. Nowadays, at least as far as the PC goes, it seems the various game makers and distributors want you to have a library rather than having explored every little thing; I don’t think many expect you to actually play all the games they’re throwing at you.
But that’s not how I roll. I like to play all my stuff. And lately, I’ve been motivated to do so. I’m still keeping up with that focused run-through of playing all my games that I’ve done all my years, although yeah, I’m needing to adjust my expectations to deal with all these random-butt games that I’ve built up over recent years on my PC library. And apparently, how I deal with that is I just change the rules so that I’m not expecting myself to give a full playthrough to any game I didn’t directly play through and we go from there.
So, in any case, lately, in addition to the games I’d normally be playing, I’ve also been trying out many of the random games I’ve been picking up through other means. So here’s some quick judgements on some of the games I’ve been playing lately that I don’t think I’m going to end up doing a full post about. Some of these I’ve given a full playthrough, some have just been a quick try, but either way, I’ve got words to put on them, so here you are. I’ve been starting at the top of my various collections, so if you’re wondering why so many of them have titles that would pop up near the top alphabetically, well, there you go.
A Normal Lost Phone
This is a quick little experience, kind of has an interesting idea. Essentially, you find someone’s unlocked phone, and rather than turning it into anyone, you start snooping to try and figure out whose it is. Turns out, judging from recent messages on there, the guy unexpectedly disappeared. So you have to read his texts and emails and break into his apps and dating profiles and other stuff to try and figure out what’s going on. I like its approach to puzzles, they hit the right spot to me where I was never stuck and constantly able to figure the challenges pretty quickly, but they still took enough mental work that I felt rather accomplished in doing so. I ended up rather hating the game, though, because it’s rather preachy. Yes, being trans is a difficult thing fraught with a great deal of challenges and bigotry that I’m sure I do not understand because my knowing personal exposure to trans people has been rather limited, but an unnuanced black and white strawman-filled take on the subject that wants to hammer you on the head with the “feel the plight of trans people” hammer over and over is going to irritate me to no end even as I agree with the central thing it’s trying to push. And it’s preachy in a way that’s just going to galvanize the base, make the people that already agree with it feel better for agreeing with it, without actually adding more to the subject matter or approach anyone on the fringe. There were a couple of times I missed out on puzzle clues because I got tired of wading through walls of text on how horrible the strawmen were that I just stopped looking at the things that point in a direction. Also, I take issue with the ending, the same way I did with Gone Home’s. Spoiler: dude just ghosted his family because they’re homophobic. At least he’s got more reason that Gone Home’s couple, but either way, ghosting your family for anything but avoiding actual danger is a sick, horrible thing to do to them. Yes, I would say that’s worse than the homophobia. Treating it like a romanticised ideal bothers me a lot.
I’ve heard this described as underwater Journey. I haven’t played Journey, so I can’t really speak to that, but if you have, hey, maybe that means something to you.
So, you may call this a walking simulator, except there’s very little walking in it. Usually you’re swimming. You’re a diver exploring the underwater wildlife of an area, and sometimes exhibiting the strange power to create sea life where once it was missing. You explore underwater ruins, solve a few ‘find the switch/drone/item’ puzzles to open doors, and go through a bit of a minimalist story that’s surprisingly well-presented for having no dialogue and only one real character. Overall, it’s really just a relaxing, chill experience, one that does bring you some tension but otherwise has a rather meditative quality to it.
Yeah, it comes first alphabetically, but I don’t have much to say about it and I didn’t want to lead with this so it goes down here. You manage a small team of space station wreck survivors as they head into an escape pod, trying to keep them alive and have them find or develop new items to increase their odds of survival until sheer random chance inevitably kills everybody and then you wonder what the hell that was all about and uninstall the game. Not recommended.