When do you give yourself permission to look up a hint while playing an adventure game? You can’t do it each time a difficult puzzle gets in your way, because you’ll deprive yourself of the endorphin rush when you come back the next morning and solve that doozy on your own. Puzzles are weird that way. Even when you put them down, something in your brain keeps doing the work.
But you also can’t never look up a hint, unless the game just “clicks” with you, like Myst did for me in college, when I finished it over the course of a single day, hint-free. That’s the only time I’ve ever done that, and yes, I am bragging about it.
I always knew I had these tendencies. It’s why I declared Invisible, Inc. the best game of 2015. Times are tough for people like me. If you ask Bruce Geryk, wargaming expert, for a computer wargame recommendation, he’ll ask to get back to you later. There aren’t any good computer wargames, because computer wargames are in the business of concealing information. (The discussion of why they do this is for another time, but it’s either because of “immersion,” “giving the computer a fighting chance by making the rules not-human-readable,” or both.)
In Brogue, gold means nothing. There are no shops. Gold has no weight and no value. And yet gold is in there. It’s in there because, for the 99.99999% of Brogue players who will never win the game, and that includes me, the amount of gold you have when you die is the sole determinant of what your final score will be, and where your nameless, classless, raceless character will end up on the high score list.
When the game starts, create a ranger character — it’s the most versatile class. Then proceed to the general store to stock up on supplies. Get plenty of healing potions and as many +1 arrows as you can carry.
It’s okay that you’re doing this.
In stage one of the pirate dungeon, the skeletons have a standard attack pattern. If you memorize it, you can time your attacks so that you hit them when they’re most vulnerable. You’ve already applied to a job today, so this is totally, totally, fine. Really. Once you reach level 2, it’s important to add points to agility because that’s going to make your attacks hit more often.
Only buy equipment from Nylar the Elf — he has the lowest prices. Look, you have to allow yourself to relax and have fun once in a while.
The Alien film series never got a good video game, unless you count Alien Vs. Santa Claus Vs. Bartman Vs. Punky Brewster, which I don’t. Sega (and, I guess, a developer (?)) aim to change that with Alien: Isolation, which follows Ripley’s daughter (?) whom we never knew existed before (?) as she attempts to find out what happened to Ripley (?). Honestly I’m about 90 minutes in and I’m not sure what happened or is happening, and I’m a huge fan of the first two movies. There’s no manual, and the opening cutscenes don’t make it clear, so maybe I was supposed to get the backstory from reading reviews? I haven’t dug deep into any Alien: Isolation reviews because, like Tom, I try to avoid reviews for things I know I want to experience. (Tom plugs his ears, closes his eyes, and chants “I can’t hear you I can’t hear you” during movie trailers! Did you know that? Fun Tom fact! But did you also know that if YOU don’t do that, you’re cheating yourself out of experiencing art the way it was meant to be experienced? It’s true! Never watch movie trailers, and you should probably avoid game trailers too!)
Anyway, the point is, obviously WE know what the alien is, but I don’t know whether the protagonist knows what it is. She should, right? Because it’s been 15 years (?) since her mom tangled with the beast, and don’t they have e-mail in the future? Or are they still on microfiche? This is a very ’70s future, after all. It seems like the alien is a big mystery to her. Maybe I’m supposed to have watched Alien right before playing this game. I’m not asking for MORE exposition per se — there’s plenty — just BETTER exposition. I’m a writer, hire me for the sequel.
The game is stylish and creepy and so far I’m digging it. I just give the exposition zero stars. I’m not sure what that works out to on Metacritic, but I know it’s under 50%.
This week, I return to the Playboy Mansion in an attempt to play board games with attractive women and defeat the nefarious Dick Rosenzweig. I am successful at neither pursuit. Plus: ta-tas! Seriously! They’re unsheathed, and they’re spectacular.
It’s been a hot week here in Los Angeles. Of course, I’m talking about the time I’ve spent at the Playboy Mansion. This shameless cash-in was developed by Cyberlore (!!), who also made Majesty. Unlike Majesty, Playboy: The Mansion combines America’s two favorite things: The Sims and titties. I guess that’s three favorite things? Anyway, let’s see if this game holds up. One thing’s for sure — it takes place on a 2D map, so it can’t be worse than Planetary Annihilation!
For the first time, I’m returning to a game for another Let’s Play. And it’s the one that started it all: Kingdom: The Far Reaches. This capricious fantasy murder simulator has just enough knuckleheaded charm to keep me coming back. It’s like a turn-based Dragon’s Lair, which is no surprise, since Rick Dyer worked on both games. And, like Dragon’s Lair, it made short work of me yet again. I said a lot of bad words in the process.
In the late ’90s, I saw Spycraft littering more bargain bins than there are humans in the United States. And yet, today it’s regarded as a pretty solid adventure game that tried to do a lot of things, and was good at most of them. Plus it’s got tons of FMV, which no ’90s game was good at. Add those ingredients together and you’ve got a recipe for what I hoped would be a fun Quarter to Three Let’s Play. Was I right? Click that big fat “Play” button and find out.
Hey, I’m playing a modern game! Well, sort of. This is a “reboot,” to use a term typically reserved for Hollywood and I guess also computers, of the beloved 1987 adventure game, Shadowgate, which was ported to every system under the sun. There have already been a few lackluster Shadowgate follow-ups on your grandfather’s video game consoles like TurboGrafx-16 (a side-scrolling beat-em-up!) and Nintendo 64 (something involving polygons!), but this one promises to be the real deal. It was funded on Kickstarter, and designed by the two old dudes who brought us the original Shadowgate, a game I played and loved. Will it kill me promptly? It wouldn’t be Shadowgate if it didn’t. Only one way to find out.
After the rip-roaring success of my Let’s Play video last week (upwards of three comments!), I’m going to do these more frequently. Now they’re going to be every Thursday, until I get bored. But why would I get bored? Video games are fun, and some of them are sexy! Like this one. It’s Voyeur, from 1993, a time without software content ratings. So they were free to jam-pack it full of sexy sex and turgid boners. Watch this video of me playing the first part of Voyeur and see what I mean.
Hi there, my name is Tony Carnevale. For years now, America has been clamoring for me to record video footage of myself playing through Kingdom: The Far Reaches while I say silly things about it. Clamor no more, for here it is!
This version of Kingdom: The Far Reaches was released in 1995, as a repackaged version of a 1984 game called “Thayer’s Quest”, which was originally released in arcades and for a home laserdisc game console called Halcyon that only had two games ever. That even makes the Wii U’s library look vast! Join me on my quest to, uh, save the kingdom, I guess. And also to figure out what the hell is going on.
I’ll be doing one of these videos each month, playing a different game each time. See you in September!
Well, I signed on to do five of these Nethack diaries, and this is the fifth, which is good, because in order to find new things to complain about I’d have to keep playing the game.
I’m kidding, of course. There are a lot of things I like about Nethack. It’s fun to imagine how thrilling it must have been to college students in 1987, clandestinely passed around on floppy disks or played on a library terminal. The immaturity of the Internet and absence of Google would have made knowledge of the game’s countless spoilers a rare commodity, to be drunkenly shouted by one engineering student to another in crowded small-town bars with lenient carding policies. Gorgeous coeds would get into yowling, hair-pulling catfights over who deserved to fellate the most proficient Nethack player.
I could be romanticizing things a bit. My own first exposure to roguelikes was Nethack’s predecessor, Hack, which I acquired on a Fred Fish disk for my Amiga in high school, long before I discovered beer or coeds. I played it endlessly, dying in more ridiculous ways each time, never really getting the tiniest grasp on how anyone would actually go about winning the game. But then I had an excuse: I knew one other guy who played it, he was as clueless as me, and we had no way to learn about the game other than trial and error. In 2011, all the secrets of Nethack are at my fingertips online, but I still don’t know how to win. I’ve played without spoilers for so long not out of some kind of hyper-morality, but just because Nethack spoilers put me to sleep. I’m certain that interest in playing a game and interest in learning a vast range of counter-intuitive facts that are, for all intents and purposes, separate from the game itself, are two different interests. While some people may have both of those interests, I don’t. And thus, I will never win Nethack.
While that was fine for me in high school, in my old age, I’m less patient with this random, mysterious, goofy game that will kill you on a whim. Maybe I’m distracted by all these coeds and beer.
I’ve started a new game as an orcish barbarian. One thing I’ve run into early on is an altar. Your character can gain benefits from his god by sacrificing his kills on these things. This altar-sacrifice “feature” is shared among many roguelikes, including Dungeon Crawl, frequently cited as the most “user-friendly/modern/fun/not stupid/actually playable” example of the genre. And I wonder if anyone actually likes doing it? It just feels like homework to me. You’re an adventurer exploring a dungeon and thwacking baddies, I get the allure of that. But to then pick up your victims and lug them to an altar for brownie points just feels like taking out your recycling, and it’s about as much fun.