Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

I feel mildly ashamed that I let Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons sit in my Steam library for over half a year, fully knowing that it was a very good title that does not consume too much time (it is about 4 hours in length). Brothers is a third-person adventure game developed by Starbreeze Studios; It follows the journey and adventures of two brothers as they struggle to find a cure for their ill father. You can play technically Brothers with either a keyboard or a controller but I would highly recommend using a controller.

Single player co-op is probably the best wording that I can use to describe the gameplay: You control two brothers simultaneously to solve puzzles and progress within the game. The left stick and left trigger are used for one brother, the right stick and right trigger are used for the other. It is a control scheme that feels unique and is used to full advantage narratively to the point where Brothers is probably one of the few games to offer a near perfect marriage between narrative and gameplay.

One of the beautiful aspects about this game is that it tells a story with zero dialog. There is no flavor text, there is really no user interface, and all voices in the game are spoken in a fictitious language (ala Simlish). Aside from 2 or 3 diagrams showing the player how to use the controller, there are no in-game explanations and very little plot exposition; The entire story is dictated through action, body language, and tone of voice.

It is a gorgeous looking game with a stylized cartoon aesthetic, meaning that it probably run on just about anything. I guess if I had any criticisms it would be that the puzzles are satisfying to complete but not entirely that difficult, probably at least partially due to many of the puzzle mechanics being repeated quite often, such as the climbing puzzles, and the lever puzzles, etc. The controls are a bit awkward when the camera shifts around or really, any situation where you are forced to use the left stick to control the brothers on the right side of the screen and visa versa. I did not feel that the this detracted from the game experience, but it is worth noting.

If you can catch it on sale, Brothers literally costs a couple of dollars at most. It is still well worth picking up even at full price.

Clash of Clans [iOS]

After hearing about Clash of Clans on and off for about a year or so, I finally gave in and downloaded it (free-to-play). I guess what I expected was something akin to Rage of Bahamut or Guardian Cross, in that I was assuming it would be yet another thinly-veiled in-game purchase money making scheme with mechanics no more complicated than tapping one or two buttons every x seconds/minutes. I was pleasantly surprised with what I found instead: Clash of Clans is a decently polished and well fleshed out free-to-play resource management/base building strategy game. It’s kind of like a multi-player tower defense game.

There are 3 resources to manage: Gold, elixir and gems. The latter of which is available for in-app purchase (also obtainable in small amounts via unlocking achievements). Units, buildings, and upgrades cost a x amount of either gems or gold to build on top of a build time. Gems can be used to refill your gold and gems or to complete buildings instantly; That is, at least to my understanding based off of 3 days worth of play, the extent of the monetization in this game. There’s no invite referral bonus and there really isn’t any player tradable in-game currency or economy. I also don’t feel like I am being pushed to buy gems since everything within the game at this point is easily achievable by just playing the game or waiting for upgrades/buildings to finish. I guess, the mere fact that I felt compelled to dedicate an entire paragraph to basically say that this game doesn't feel like a scam says something about the state of mobile gaming, but whatever.

I don’t know what the Clash of Clans end game is like since I have not yet joined a clan. As of now it’s a pretty fun game. So if you are looking for something like this, I would highly recommend giving Clash of Clans a try.

The 2014 Steam Summer Sale

  • Posted on: July 4, 2014
  • By: Keiya
  • Category:

Another Steam Summer Sale has come and another Steam Summer Sale has gone. I used be be super jazzed about the Steam sales during the first and second iteration but at this point, I am fairly certain that I have graduated past the point of caring beyond checking  Steam once or twice a day. I highly suspect that this newfound lack in interest is mostly in part to me already owning virtually every sub $5 title that I could really ever want and well, not really having that much free gaming time.

There is a Steam library calculator floating around on the internet somewhere that is quite good at depicting the sad reality of having purchased hundreds if not over thousands of dollars worth of games and not having played many of them. On paper, my played status isn’t too bad; The site stated that about a third of my library has not been played. If you factor out all of the games that I have played for under 10 minutes, then it is probably  closer to half of my library, which isn't too great. I did end up buying two things. So this year’s haul:

Borderlands 2
I stopped playing Borderlands 1 about the time that I realized that it was effectively, a cheeky FPS non-massively multiplayer version of World of Warcraft; grindy questing mechanics and all. That said, it is clearly a game that was designed to be played in co-op versus single player and I probably should have played it as such but the disadvantage of picking up multiplayer games way past the peak is that there is frequently no one to coop with. Dave and I picked Borderlands 2 up during the Steam Sale: More of the same but more fun with other people.

To The Moon
I didn’t know too much about this game other than a handful of the YouTube streamers that I watch had said that the story was pretty decent if not kind of sad and that it was made using RPG Maker. Technically speaking, I am unsure if I can really classify To The Moon as a game in the traditional sense since I am not sure if it even has a failure state at any point. Regardless, this is probably one of the only games that I played and finished immediately after purchase. Gameplay is pretty basic to say the least, but I really enjoyed the story and the music. It was also only around $2.

Sims 4 Neighborhood Details

Cautiously excited about The Sims 4 as it seems to be, at least according to the limited information that they have released so far, a blend between The Sims 2 and The Sims 3 which was exactly what I was hoping for. Each world will be divided into 5 neighborhood, each neighborhood having a distinct feel and characteristics. I think the example given during one of the interviews was somewhat akin to Hollywood and Bel Air being neighborhoods that are fairly different than each other but exist within the same city.

Each neighborhood with have up to 5 different lots which can either be residential or commercial. Public spaces are not considered lots and are persistent in that sims will continue to simulate even if you are not present. From my understanding, a public space would be something like an outdoor park whereas a commercial lot would be something like a gym. There will be a “short load” between words, neighborhoods, and lots. Really pretty interested in knowing how short.

Though 25 lots seems like a pretty small size for a world, sims will have the ability to travel between words while retaining personal information (such as belongings, relationships, etc). So, that is actually seems pretty nifty. On the other hand, it sounds very similar to what they did with Sim City in terms of scale: Multiple small cities on a single map for the sake of improving simulation. Simulation appears to be persistent across all zones within a world (world -> neighborhood -> lots and spacing between lots (public places). I am not sure if simulation persists between worlds.

Apparently for jobs, sims will walk off the neighborhood and come back later that night. There was something about a “big surprise” that they weren’t ready to announce so I guess careers and rabbit holes are up in the air at this time.

Odds and Ends: June 7th 2014

I guess June is turning out to be a fairly heavy media month in the sense that I have more free time and there are actual things that I want to watch and play, yay!

  • Orange is the New Black season 2 is out on Netflix. I am impressed by the Netflix originals; For some reason I had half expected them to the half-assed web series. If the other Netflix originals are anything like OITNB or House of Cards then I look forward to watching them.
  • Space Brothers is quite good: I’ve been marathon viewing this show on Crunchyroll for the past week or so. I’ll probably write a separate post about this series at some point.
  • As stated previously, I am currently playing Transistor and Wildstar; The above two shows, primarily the later being the reason why I haven’t beaten Transistor yet.
  • I am eagerly anticipating the arrival of The Sims 4 (in fall?) but am really interested in seeing or at least hearing about gameplay that isn’t just related to building houses or creating sims. EA has seemed suspiciously coy about providing any details about core gameplay (genetics for example). Even though it will most likely be a blatant money trap, I will most likely still play it and still enjoy the crap out of it.
  • I picked up Protector of the Small (young adult fiction) for my Kindle because I have a soft spot for coming-of-age fantasy stories. It’s a fairly predictable but good story following Keladry, who wishes to become the first female knight.
  • Just realized recently that I kind of skipped over the Liveship Traders Trilogy, which apparently was supposed to be read between The Farseer and Tawny Man trilogies.
  • Pretty sure this game was made specifically for me.

On a general tangent: About a month ago I was bored and checking on a few things and ended up impulse registering a vanity domain, because it was “on sale.” I am not sure what else to do with this site at this point.