Tuesday, December 24, 2013

steam sale grab bag

steam sale grab bag part 1
steam sale grab bag part 2

i finally participated in my first-ever Steam sale! If you're a regular Steam user, you know that it regularly offers pretty hefty discounts on games during the holidays, and you might wonder how I've managed to not take advantage of it even once. I'd had no major issue, but a couple of things were keeping me. #1 was that I was trying to only support physical media. Now that some games only come out in download form, it's not as practical. #2 was that the sales didn't used to apply to games I wanted. With the sales becoming bigger, it's finally starting to touch a few of the games I was looking at.

I rewrote that entire first paragraph multiple times. The photo below was originally meant to go with it, but no longer applies. I like it so much I'm not removing it.

Pictured: Me after a shower and shave
This isn't about my stubborn retail habits as much as it is about the lovely games I was able to pick up. In no particular order, I picked up Gone Home, Hydrophohia: Prophecy, Dear Esther, Sleeping Dogs, and Counter-Strike: GO. They were priced at $9.99, $0.99, $4.99, $4.99 and $3.75, respectively.  And yes you did read that right: one of them was 99¢. With all of the art updates I've been doing, it's been a really long time since I gave impressions on anything but the stuff I draw. Let's do something about that.

1. Gone Home

This game is an indie darling, which is often not my thing. I don't necessarily have anything against indie development, but the projects are usually not "grand" enough to hold my attention. This game has a 1.5 hour playtime; I started it after putting my clothes in the wash, and finished before the dryer went off. What this game lacks in scope, it more than makes up for with character and story. It's the type of game that's difficult to rate without spoiling; I'd wanted to do a full review, but couldn't for that reason. The "jist" should be fine. Here's a video too:

It's first-person game, and the basic premise is that you've returned to your parents' home from a trip abroad, to find the house unexpectedly empty. It's a throwback to the old days of 1990, when your own curiosity was expected to drive a game experience. You spend the game looking around the house, finding clues, keys, doors and documents, trying to find out why the house is empty. It normally sells for $19.99 which, truth be told, I think is a bit much for such an absurdly short game; it's both the shortest and most expensive game in this roundup. I wouldn't buy it at the full price, but if you catch it on sale, I definitely say go for it. There's more to this game than meets the eye, and it's totally worth it. You'll just have to take my word for it.

2. Hydrophobia: Prophecy

This was a game that I've been curious about for a while. Prophecy is the retooled, revamped, and 70% newer version of Hydrophobia, released on console generation 7. The big draw to me was the water physics, which I'd seen a demo of a while back. To me, it beat out even the likes of the original Bioshock in terms of just how real it looked. Water environments have always had a special appeal to me, maybe second only to ice environments. The game is set in a flooding facility with a dynamic water level. The developers really did a good job in making your heroine react differently to the water as it rises and falls. She'll react differently to the water depending on whether she's on dry land, knee-deep, waist deep, or submerged.

It performs like your basic cover-shooter, and your basic puzzle game. It's your run-of-the-mill, 7/10, 7th generation game. The story is meh, the dialogue is meh, the action is generally good but occasionally flawed, and the puzzles normally boil down to finding "key X" for "door X". Definitely not a bad game; I got some solid enjoyment out of it. It also ran surprisingly well on my computer considering the excellent graphics and water effects. The main character is a bit flat, and her "Cortana" support character is too. I also really, really can't place her accent; the game has a lot of Tomb Raider Legend-style wall climbing, and I think maybe Lara Croft is what they were going for with it. It's a relatively short game, too, clocking in at only a few hours. Nothing to write home about, but a dag-gum steal at $0.99. Definitely worth the cash if you have a thing for water effects.

3. Dear Esther

Haven't played it yet. Womp-womp.

4. Sleeping Dogs

Played it, but not enough to review it. Womp-womp. It's a legitimate, full-sized, open world retail game unlike the other purchases I made for this bundle. Like Dear Esther, maybe I'll revisit them in their own proper article once I finish them. I did manage to get an hour or so in, and what I've seen is promising.

5. Counter-Strike Global Offensive

It's kind of difficult to know what to say about this one. Counter-Strike Source came out in 2004, and this is a sort of ... I don't even know. It feels practically identical to Source. It looks like Source, feels like Source, smells like Source... Just a sec, I'll check Wikipedia.


Yeah. It's not like it's a revamping, or retooling of Counter-Strike the way Source was. It's still running on the source engine, they're still using a lot of the same maps and weapons, and there isn't too much deviation from the original play style. They added some stuff, like some of the weapons are using new models, the player models are more detailed and varied, and you can do stright-up deathmatch (instead of missions). All of the maps are brand new (some are old maps built with new assets, others are from scratch) but for the most part it's the same old CS. It's not like that's a bad thing, but considering that it's not that much different, I'm a little confused as to just what the point is. I gotta check Wiki again.


Ooooohkay. I just checked Wikipedia again and it looks like what happened was, Global Offensive began life as a port of Source to consoles, and wasn't really supposed to be anything else. That makes sense, and explains why so much of it feels the same. They'd been looking to bring Source to Xbox, and saw an opportunity to throw some new stuff in, then released it as a full game. Now that I know that, a lot of pieces of it are more understandable. The main menu is broken up in a funny way, like it's more simplistic. The in-game weapon selection menu is also wheel-shaped, most appropriate for the analog sticks on an Xbox or Playstation. Gotcha. Welp, for what it is, I can't really complain much.

I'll throw some links down at the bottom for your convenience. Be a dear and let me know if any of them break.

Gone Home: http://store.steampowered.com/app/232430/
Hydrophobia: http://store.steampowered.com/app/92000/
Dear Esther: http://store.steampowered.com/app/203810/
Sleeping Dogs: http://store.steampowered.com/app/202170/
Counter-Strike GO: http://store.steampowered.com/app/730/

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