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Recent reviews by Estranged2

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17 people found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
55.2 hrs on record

1) It's really a nice touch when the characters can't voice their thoughts because they don't have the inner strength to do so. "I'm too scared or ashamed to say or do that" -> this is really interesting design and worth exploring further.

2) There were some surprising and dramatic moments that, contrary to convention, made it seem that your characters are vulnerable and not invincible. Unfortunately, there are only two of those moments, and they are not enough to change the rest of the game.

3) Good facial animation, lyp sync, lighting, and wonderful art. (We don't count Garry Winnick's ♥♥♥♥♥♥ art that can't blend in with the good art made by the real artists). Anyway, if you see something badly drawn (inventory items, secondary characters, the world map) that has jarring colours, boring shapes, lack of volume and material definition, you know it's drawn by Winnick. Still, his stuff is under the sanitary minimum so the real art done by Mark Ferrarri and Octavi Navarro remains good overall.


1) None of the freedom, consequences and living NPCs that Maniac Mansion and Zak McKracken had.

2) Bad writing that heavily relies on parody and "jokes" as an excuse for how weak the dialogue is. (Shows you how weak Ron Gilbert's writing and storytelling is by modern standards).

3) Mediocre, but difficult puzzles (in the second half of the game). Solving them doesn't feel satisfying (I'm saying this as someone who solved every single one fairly). They're just not interesting or meaningful even though they are better designed than the ones in Broken Age.

4) Nihilistic, disappointing, meaningless and shallow story. I've seen other stories deal with the same subject and they are much stronger both morally and philosophically. Here... it's cringeworthy.
Can be considered a spoiler, but you should better read it. All this work to make a gameworld and characters that inhabit it... and then tell the player - actually, this isn't real, this is just a videogame, it's all fake, you have wasted your time. You invested in this world emotionally, but it's all worthless.
Oh, and by the way, because these characters aren't as real as you, and because their existence is limited within the game constraints, it's better for all of them to just die and for their fake world to burn. This is how the murderer in the story also justifies his murders, but then this same nihilistic motivation is used by the main protagonist. And then you're told - oh, wait, even that's not possible, you can't really destroy the gameworld and that's sad. That's the level of philosophical and ethical maturity the author has. Disgusting.

Last, but not least, this is a total violation of the contract between player and creator. You trust that the creator won't suddenly say "Oh, I'm tired of all this, you know what, ♥♥♥♥ it" and throw his story in the trash. I can't understand what thought process made Gilbert and the others to believe even for a moment that such a choice is going to be okay.

Anyway. I'm finally done. I don't think I'll support another Ron Gilbert game ever again. I'd support something else by David Fox, though, but sadly, I don't think he'd make another "Zak McKracken" (that is, another living and breathing adventure that doesn't follow the bad convention established by Gilbert in Monkey Island - convention, followed by everyone else until the genre got completely stuck in the mud with the static, boring, unresponsive characters and unconvincing worlds that this type of design generated).

I will play some more modern and old adventure games though, to remove the bad taste.
Posted January 5. Last edited January 13.
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73 people found this review helpful
4 people found this review funny
5.3 hrs on record
Maniac Mansion is unlike almost any other adventure game (except for Zak McKracken). The reason is that the NPCs in the game are alive. They have their own goals (get food, get mail, check out suspicious events), they can catch you, you can die or lose important items. Actions have real consequences, and there's even choice and different endings. The trailer above is very adequate and demonstrates some of that.

The reason this game is so alive is the scripter David Fox, the same designer who did Zak McKracken and was heavily involved in the recently released Thimbleweed Park. Even though he's not the official game designer, he's the one who loves to make NPCs have their own virtual theater with daily routines, reactions to your actions, etc.

This is also the first game that introduced mouse based interface and cut-scenes (in 1988). Sadly, the later games of Ron Gilbert and LucasFilm Games ended up being way more static, lifeless and fake, with NPCs that don't move, and player actions that never punish you, but at least kept the exploration and meaningful puzzles we can find here.

The modern port of Maniac Mansion is very good. It supports mouse, multiple saves, and different graphical versions of the game. Of course, it's the fan made ScummVM, but it's great nevertheless.
Posted December 19, 2017. Last edited December 19, 2017.
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6 people found this review helpful
76.1 hrs on record

If you have played BioForge, Ecstatica, Alone In The Dark 1, or Little Big Adventure, you know what 90s action-adventure games feel like. This genre had extremely deep gameplay, combining everything you can put in an action or an adventure game - puzzles, scripted events, stealth, action, simulation, anything.

Unfortunately, it's also a very inaccessible genre, because it can express a lot with its gameplay, but also demands a lot from the player - attention, comprehension, tenacity. Coupled with cumbersome interface, these games fail. Just like Flashback / Fade To Black creator Paul Cuisset couldn't communicate with modern players with his rather creative game AMY (which sadly flopped and was universally hated), 2Dark also suffers from trying to do too much with its interface (managing inventory, aiming a gun, equipping items in your hands).


WIth that said, for me, 2dark is a wonderful experience. It's quite similar to Hitman in some levels - you have a social simulation that you have to disrupt, but your objective is not to kill someone, but instead, to save kidnapped children (some of which don't want to be saved, or are too uncontrollable - but it's not an annoying escort mission, don't worry).


2Dark is an amazing experience so far. It's very weird that I don't care about the bugs, or the abysmal English translation, or even about scoring points, or game mechanics. I'm completely immersed in the situation and the moral dilemmas it presents. It feels very real and reminds me why I started to like playing videogames in the first place.

Frederick Raynal also has the ability not just to convince you that a situation is real, but also to constantly surprise you. Every situation and location in the game is unique. Almost every character model is unique - everyone is a unique person. The variety of obstacles and the variety of ways in which you can handle them (you should really exercise your imagination about how you can distract the NPCs or create conflict among them) is just amazing.


Of course, you won't enjoy this game if you don't have the same priorities as me. If having a fun, accessible experience is more important to you than seeing certain ideas and emotions simulated in a game, then you're not going to enjoy 2Dark at all. The game is demanding, it needs you to understand very well what you are doing and to invest time and effort.

It's also a very disturbing game that trespasses a cultural taboo (suffering and death of children).

Last, and a little unrelated, I recommend playing the game with a gamepad. Even though managing your inventory is way slower with a gamepad, the more natural movement of the character justifies this tradeoff.
Posted April 13, 2017. Last edited April 13, 2017.
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15 people found this review helpful
4.9 hrs on record
Local co-op doesn't save the data of the second player. OK then, I bought it for my wife as well, but system requirements are increased compared to the first game and it doesn't run on her laptop. Again, local co-op doesn't work properly. Would they pull that off on the PS4? I don't think so. Considering the greatest puzzles in Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light were co-op only, this is a huge deal breaker. Also, the character's abilities are worse (in terms of puzzle & interactive potential) than the ones in the first game.

I feel terrible for giving a Lara Croft game a negative review, but they really treated their customers badly with this one. Sadly, it probably has nothing to do with the work of the game team and everything to do with politics and corporate mediocrity. With that said, I recommend that you play Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light (the previous game before this one), and play it with a friend until the very end, it gets better and better.
Posted December 15, 2016. Last edited December 28, 2016.
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17 people found this review helpful
2 people found this review funny
31.0 hrs on record
One of the best puzzle games I have ever played in my life. The puzzles are interactive, varied, elegant and interesting! Preparing traps for your enemies, monsters inadvertently helping you or foiling your plans, weird chain reactions...

There are also new levels that introduce totally new gameplay, never seen before in other versions of the game. I'd say the authors chose very interesting ideas to explore in the new level pack.

The overall style of the game demonstrates the beauty of minimalism, both in graphical aesthetics and in game design. And, sadly (or happily?), Lara Croft GO manages to be way more Tomb Raider in its core than the current "Miss Uncharted" main game. You will find a lot of genuine homage to the original Tomb Raider games anywhere you look, from the ambient sound to the main menu, but most importantly, the gameplay is pure gold.

NOTE: Gamepad recommended for best experience.
Posted December 5, 2016. Last edited January 4, 2017.
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13 people found this review helpful
2 people found this review funny
120.8 hrs on record
This game is not for everyone. It is as close to the 90s Tomb Raider games as you're going to get. With some Metroidvania pollution, but still.

The game doesn't tell you what to do, how to optimize your controls, what is the meaning of the stuff that you see. Explore the interrelated, interconnected space. Think. Think some more. Celebrate every room you get access to. Get stuck. Figure it out or abandon the game like the millions of mediocre people whose mediocrity has led games to race to the bottom - trying to appease and cater to the lowest common denominator.

Last, but not least - boobs and booty. Being so gratuitous in the current media and political climate is actually a very bold move.
Posted October 28, 2016. Last edited November 26, 2017.
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3 people found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
13.9 hrs on record
I got stuck. I almost made a refund because of the incorrect claims in the negative reviews. Then I started quickly solving the puzzles that seemed "impossible"... and it turned out they are very easy once you understand what you're actually doing.
So I decided to help anyone who's on the fence and has read the negative reviews.

- It's not true that the game doesn't slowly introduce you to the basics
- It's not true that the game doesn't have different locations with different gameplay themes

- IT IS true, that the game gets difficult very, very quick
- IT IS true, that if you believe that you are smart, and in reality you're not, the game will crush you without mercy

- It is not true that the puzzles are complex, but random. No, they are very meaningful, but if you're not smart enough, you won't be able to understand the meaningful pattern behind the solution, even if someone shows it to you. Just like any other difficult logic game, you have to visualize what you want, your final goal, and what prevents you from getting there, but here you also have to rely on your spacial reasoning and that's differently developed in different people.

There's a risk that the game may not be for you. Have you finished "English Country Tune" or "Stephen's Sausage Roll"? What about the hardest secret levels in "Sokobond"? Was the last level of "Open Doors 2" relatively easy for you? What about any Alan Hazelden game, like "Boxes love boxing gloves"? You didn't need a walkthrough to get through "The Witness", did you? If the answer to any of these questions is "Yes", than go ahead. If not, try the demo. (There is a demo, even if it's not on Steam). And don't give up immediately. Give it time. Good luck.
Posted August 10, 2016. Last edited August 10, 2016.
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20 people found this review helpful
29.3 hrs on record
You are a small, vulnerable child in a dystopian society. You are a fugitive. You must die. You will be killed without mercy even though you're just a kid. Or, you'll experience something far worse than death.
Your crime - you're not a puppet. You can try to pretend that you're a puppet, but it won't help you in the long run. They are coming for you.

Arnt Jensen's INSIDE is an experience, very similar to Eric Chahi's Another World. Loneliness, fear, cruel and sad death. Noone speaks, the world is mysterious, you can build theories in your mind about the society and nature that you see until the next scene shocks you, disproves you and turns everything upside down.

The character animation is the best one ever made. It combines complex simulation with attention to detail, so the boy can react to any object in the dynamic environment in real time. Unfortunately, most people will be too blind to appreciate this unparalleled artistic and technical achievement.

The interactivity, the story, the world, the drama, the horror, the emotional experience, the deeply psychological gameplay are far superior to the ones, found in Playdead's previous game, LIMBO. The game is relatively short, but it's also a unique, once in a lifetime experience; games with similar quality are released once in a decade. INSIDE can change the way you think about games, or it can remind you why you started to like games in the first place.

Given its uniqueness and outstanding quality, INSIDE is worth twice its full price. What I mean is that even if you buy it at full price, you're actually getting a very good deal.

I see nothing confusing about the ending, and even nothing tragic about it. Emotionally, it's very similar to the way ICO ends, and (to some extent) to the way Another World ends. Philosophically, it's closer to themes found in the Penumbra and SOMA series, which makes me wonder whether nordic devs have a soft spot for these themes, just like they have a soft spot for horror.
Posted July 14, 2016. Last edited November 23, 2016.
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1 person found this review helpful
68.8 hrs on record
This game is not for everyone. I had a love-hate relationship with it until, somewhere around my 5th ray in the sky, I started to truly appreciate it.

I appreciate that The Witness shows, through gameplay, how mathematics can stop being something abstract (iPads with lines) and can actually permeate the whole environment and the whole world. (For example, it's not a coincidence that Blow included hexagonal rocks and mountain pillars in the sea - these are actual natural formations on Earth that demonstrate how geology comes from mathematics, and the shapes are also featured in puzzles.)

With time, you may discover the layers that connect the environment with the line puzzles, and this, in turn, can help you recognize math as the building block of everything around us - landscape, nature, architecture, moving mechanisms. Starting to understand this connection gives us power over the world, but in the end (entering the mountain) we find the world more confusing than before, the final truth out of our grasp. (This reflects Blow's personal beliefs, and partially, history of science when we entered the quantum realm).

Braid, another game made by the same author (or shall I say, "auteur"), was also about a scientist seeking the ultimate truth. And while, for various reasons, I don't really like Blow's worldview and his games so much, the truly amazing thing about him as a designer is that he has this reductionist approach to design, where gameplay must always express and serve a particular idea and everything else must be removed. On Steam, the game even has only 2 achievements. "Finish the game" and "Do more than finishing the game". Really inspiring that Jon Blow makes money by sticking to his principles instead of succumbing to cheap tricks used in other games.

He also likes subtlety, perfectionism and beauty which also makes me respect him so much. But he never allows graphics, no matter how beautiful and detailed they are, to distract from the point of the game. Which makes the beauty less distracting than most AAA graphics I have seen.

Another thing the game does with you is that it teaches you to see things that were in front of you the whole time, but you couldn't recognize them, because you were ignorant. Your perception and understanding changes as you learn new things, and you unlock new locations with knowledge, not with physical keys.

Appreciating the ideas, expressed in the game (even if you partially disagree with them, like I do), requires some background outside of games. It also requires looking for the subtle connections and their meaning - if this were a book, we'd call this "reading between the lines". You may find some of this stuff pretentious, but some of it is meaningful. Also, some sections are enjoyable on a very primal level - the space and the movement in the swamp forest houses, for example, or figuring out the mathematical operations behind the tetris-like puzzles and the way they reflect on real world contraptions.

Unfortunately, there are also some very annoying and tedious sections, especially the Sun Temple and the Japanese Temple (designed by one of Blow's artists). They are very unellegant, contrived and fat as puzzles. Because the frustration and boredom in the game is way more than its meaning and beauty (which are not guaranteed to be experienced by most players, on top of that), I cannot recommend the game with a clear consciousness.
Posted March 6, 2016. Last edited March 11, 2016.
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No one has rated this review as helpful yet
20.3 hrs on record
The first game I've played that makes science fun while being relatively accurate. Sokobond represents stylized, interactive chemistry. It has simple, easy to understand rules (sokoban + chemistry bonds), and at the same time, it has challenging, engaging puzzles. Also, Sokobond is one of the few logic games that explores creating and destroying structures in a really satisfying way (Pudding Monsters is another gem that does that).
Posted January 22, 2016.
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Showing 1-10 of 30 entries