Civilization 5 (5 hours): Still haven’t caught up on the blog posts. Still entirely consists of games with Dan and Dave. Dan gifted me the latest expansion pack during the Winter Steam Sale, so I may fire up a solo game. Time will tell – I still have a ton of indie games from Humble Bundles and even games Dan gave me for my birthday last year like LA Noire.
Little Inferno (2 hours): I got this game as part of a Humble Indie Bundle. I was looking to play some games for which I had the soundtracks from the Humble Bundle sales. I prefer to play the games before listening to the soundtracks to keep from having the game spoiled by track titles and also to experience music the first time as it was meant to be experienced – as part of the game. I don’t remember which game I actually wanted from the bundle, but it wasn’t this one. However, this one quickly found itself becoming a contender for best game I played in 2013.
Visually, it became almost immediately apparent that this game was developed by someone connected to World of Goo. (Another indie favorite of mine) As I learned more about the world of this game, it became apparent that it had similar themes to explore. Both World of Goo and Little Inferno are big on slowly unfolding an understanding of the world that the protagonists just haven’t put together before. The Goo Balls didn’t know what was happening to them and both the player and his/her neighbor in Little Inferno are in the dark, ironically. Both games are also commentaries on the excesses of Corporations. Little Inferno expands this to include the ridiculous terms of service and other walls put up by corporations to protect themselves – even if they are creating an inherently dangerous product. Less subtle is the commentary on rampant consumerism and disposable items because you buy items simply to burn them in your furnace. (eg asking people to buy a new iPhone every year and throw the old one away) It also comments a bit on Global Climate Change with a bit of corporate-induced naivete of how the Little Inferno is contributing, if not the precipitating event. Oh, and there’s also commentary on the Free to Play gaming model as you have to wait for items to be delivered and you can “pay” with stamps to get them to arrive sooner. All this from a game in which you’re burning stuff in a furnace.
However, my favorite part of the game was the fact that it asks you to make combos by burning more than one thing at once and you have to suss out what to burn based on puns. Here are a few screenshots illustrating the puns:
I finished the game the following day, in January. The game has a pretty interesting ending – an epilogue that took me by surprise and is completely different than the game that proceeded it. I can’t imagine this game costs more than $10 full price. I think it’s worth it, especially if you can get it at any kind of a discount. Even at full price you’re getting twice as much entertainment as the average movie for the price of a movie ticket.
Poker Night at the Inventory (1 hour): I never would have bought this game on its own because I know nothing about poker. But I bought a Telltale games Humble Indie Bundle and so there it was when I needed to kill some time while waiting for my Linux computer to upgrade to the latest version of Fedora. I wanted to play something new, but something that wasn’t narrative-based so I went with this game. In an unprecedented move for me, I ended up with 7 achievement s on the first playthrough. I also won Strongbad and Heavy’s non-money bets – weird glasses and Heavy’s gun. I’d seen my brother, Dan, play the sequel, so I had an idea how the game was going to go. Maybe it’s my setting – middle chattiness setting – but I felt like the sequel was both chattier and less likely to repeat. I only play for an hour the first night, but I was already hearing repeats of bits. Also interesting, (and, again, it may be my settings) for the most part they only spoke between hands, not while playing; unless I took too long to make a move. That doesn’t mean I didn’t like the bits. I especially liked Heavy calling Strongbad “Little Heavy”. I was sad, however, that there was no Patrick Warburton. He is my favorite modern voice actor and he’s in the sequel.
On the plus side, I did learn how to play Texas Hold ‘Em. It’s actually a pretty interesting variant since everyone gets to use the center pot to make their hands. What I don’t yet know (but I’m sure the Internet could help with in a jiffy) are the different types of winning hands. It’s been described to me a bunch of times with regular poker, but it’s one of those things that never sticks in my head. So I mostly played based on making pairs and triples (which I don’t even think is a thing). Since you start out with only two cards of your hand (rather than the entire hand in regular poker, as I understand it), so far my strategy has involved staying in if I had a high card and folding if I only have low cards. There are some modifications like if no one raises before we see the first bunch of cards then I usually stay in to see what happens. So far it worked well enough. On my first night of playing I was the last guy standing in 2/2 rounds in Normal difficulty setting.
English Country Tune (4 minutes): Again, looking at games I had Humble Bundle sountracks to. The part of the game I played was essentially Sokoban and I suck at Sokoban, so I quit the game pretty quickly.