Short Reviews of my Steam Summer Sale Games

This is the last day of the Summer Sale on Steam, with lower prices for selected games. In those 10 days, I bought some games that either I heard of or was planning on buying — or, in the very end, ‘cause they were really cheap. The ones I got:

  • Solar 2: I did an early review of it already but it kinda dropped in the background after getting other games. It have a good sense of humour (IMHO) but some missions suck sometimes. The idea of allowing the player to change gameplay options only after completing some missions is really good, though.
  • BIT.TRIP.RUNNER: Again, I did an early review of it but I’m somewhat frustrated with the current level I’m playing. Reason? It’s 3 times longer than most levels and going back to the start after failing really punishes you there. Not to mention that the first “health bonus” is far away from the start, so you keep hearing the base tune for too long. But I still stand on my early review: It’s really well done mix of side scroller and music.
  • Magicka: Who hasn’t heard about Magicka, the crazy, funny, isometric game about… erm… magics? I got it ‘cause it seemed really fun while watching videos of it on YouTube (specially the ones with TotalBiscuit and the Yoggcast crew) but I didn’t go too far in it. The controls get really confusing after a while and the lack of explanations on what would happen when you mix spells is a major let down.
  • Trine: One of the things I bought just because it was cheap. This is a side scroller/puzzle solver game where you play with one of three characters — a warrior, a magician and a rogue/archer — and you can freely switch between them, while trying to reach the end of the level. The graphic quality is amazing, but most places I wanted to reach where really hard with my motor skills and it got so frustrating that I haven’t touched it anymore.
  • Audiosurf: I got Audiosurf after hearing about it for a loooong time. Unfortunately, my expectations didn’t met the game in some mid point. No, there is nothing wrong with the game, it’s just that watching incoming blocks while keeping one eye in the blocks you already have is harder than I thought — or realized, for that matter. One nice touch here is that the in game help options really explain how the maps are generated, so understand why a map works in some way.
  • Sanctum: This is really a nice concept: A FPS with Tower Defense. You put tower to stop enemies reaching the core (your base in other tower defense games) and, when ready, you switch to your guns and help the towers. This game got high points with me for two reasons: 1) It’s a tower defense game and 2) It got a sniper rifle and you can easily just camp — something I really did love doing in Unreal Tournament (and the fact that it uses the Unreal engine probably helps here).

Now, if only I could be one of the 100 people that would get 10 of their games from their wishlists…

BIT.TRIP Runner, Early Review

This Steam sales period is going to make a hole in my wallet, even if I’m paying just nickels for most games these days. The latest I added to my list was BIT.TRIP Runner.

BIT.TRIP Runner can be described part memory game, part a listening exploration. Let’s break this a bit.

The memory game I talk about is that it’s a side scroller with fixed obstacles. As long as you remember that you have to jump some obstacle, which will have a ducking obstacle next, you should be fine. That, by itself, it’s not that interesting, but the visuals used in the game are. You’ll be playing with a blocky character, much like those 8-bit games from the 80s, but with a complete 3D look over the top of it. Even bonuses, shown as a pile of gold bars, look much like you’d get in Pitfall, but they spin in 3D.

For those who played games in the 80s, this is seriously fun looking. It meshes the nostalgic look of those incredible unpowerful machines with today’s top looks. The references to Pitfall don’t stop in the looks: After collecting all bonuses (the gold bars) across the level, you get to the bonus level, which looks a lot like Pitfall.

The similarities with Pitfall don’t stop in the looks: The music completely stops on those bonus levels. Which brings us to the second point of “listening exploration”.

BIT.TRIP Runner have a slightly base song playing in the background. As you get health power ups, the song gets more complex, adding more tones to it, and your character gets a blurring/cape/speed visual (and it’s just visual, you don’t actually speed up).

(Unfortunately, those are health levels I got. There is one that is full as shown in the “Pitfall” mode, but I kinda missed a screenshot of that. I’ll update this once I get all levels.)

The health power ups don’t do anything besides the blurring/cape/speed visual: if you hit something, you have to restart the level. That’s the highest punishment for failing to jump: you have to start over again. And the music beat resets to the first tune, which is a bigger disappointment than having to start over again. I probably quit the game twice just because the music was in a really awesome mood and I had to start the level again.

On top of the base tune, every time you do something the game expects, like jumping an edge or destroying a crystal on your way, the game plays a note, varying in tone. If you jump, say, 4 rocks in a row, each one will play a single note, with some different tones for each, making it not boring (‘cause you’re not hearing the same thing over and over again). Even the gold bars, the bonuses, change slightly in tone when you pick them up. And you can imagine how things go when you have to jump over a rock, kick a crystal, duck an enemy and pick a gold bar.

The question now is: Is the base song any good? I find it highly entertaining ‘cause it’s the kind of techno/beat song I like. But, if it serves as reference, I caught my mum tapping her feet on the rhythm of the song at some point.

I clocked 2 played hours this weekend in this game and I couldn’t finish the first of the three zones in the game. From what I saw, each zone have its own theme but, again, I didn’t pass the first one. And, from the menus, it seems the last map on each zone is a boss level, but I’m kinda stuck in the map just before that (the map is huge — to give some idea, the number of gold bars bonus, which usually goes up to 25, is 93 on this map.

Ending point: Replayability. As I mentioned, the maps are fixed, as are the bonus maps so, when you finish the game getting everything, there is nothing more you can do, as you can’t reach a score higher than that. But the music is really entertaining and with your gameplay adding another layer to it, with the slight changes, makes it replayable just to re-hear the songs — which, again, are not that bad.

If you can find it still on sale on Steam, go for it.