The SAD Project – Day 25 – Ziggurat

Here we go, back in the saddle again. Choo choo.

The rather surprising winner of the assorted sampling of games I’ve tried over the last few days – as in, I’m opting to rev it up and take it for a spin over the others – is Ziggurat.

zigg3

Ziggurat is a first-person roguelike shooter somewhat reminiscent of Hexen, between its fantasy setting where you shoot wands and spells and staves instead of guns and its fast-paced oldschool run and gun gameplay where sprinting and strafing in circles take precedence over ducking from cover-to-cover.

It has fancier graphics than those FPSes of yore, but isn’t above the amusing reference, as seen in this random effect tagged onto a room – “Nostalgia – Big ugly pixels.”

zigg4

Everything goes pixelated, and for a moment, you’re back in time. Not to mention, struggling a bit to focus to kill enemies with the unexpectedly incremental difficulty.

zigg1

Usually, it’s a little more pleasing on the eye to look at.

The roguelike component comes in with randomized rooms, somewhat randomized enemies (easier types of enemies appear near the start of the game, harder ones show up as you near the final boss), and a bunch of random weapons and skill perks and room complications.

Bad randomization can easily make for a nonsensical and/or unfair roguelike, but Ziggurat seems to have found an intriguing balance that makes the game far more addicting than I first would have imagined.

On normal (read: roguelike hard) difficulty, I don’t tend to last long beyond the first or second level, sacrificing scores of characters to the permadeath roguelike gods, but each failed run somehow tempts me to try again.

On my ninth run, I swapped it to easy difficulty (read: probably normal mode for more casual gamers) and managed to get all the way to the fifth floor and the final boss with not too much problems. It felt almost a little cheaty. That feeling kinda went away after I used the wrong strategy on the last boss and frittered away too much health to outlast it for a win.

It’s possible that the next easy run I do might result in victory, but I find the normal difficulty a little more addictive in terms of posing an almost-but-not-quite challenge.

Kill you it might, but Ziggurat feels fair, on the whole. The enemy types are plentiful and varied, and they follow set, if complex, patterns. They trip you up easily when they start to gather up en masse, but there’s always the feeling that you could get the hang of their patterns, or just stumble onto a good strategy of taking care of them without taking damage – if only you could just move in a certain way, with a certain timing, or figure out which specialized weapon to use for the job.

zigg2

Carrots (yes, there are demonic carrots in this game) tend to run straight at you and start gnawing painfully at your ankles. So it’s in your best interests to backpedal and shoot them from range, hopefully before they come within melee reach.

Except when they become larger glowing acidic carrots, that explode into acidic puddles as they die. And now you’ve got to think about having enough room behind you, or space to maneuver to avoid the puddles.

At the end of each short randomized dungeon, lies a boss that is also picked from a random table. Yikes. Yet another set of patterns to figure out. Yet another temptation to keep playing when one inevitably dies and has to start over, and see a new yet familiar sequence of gameplay.

Advertisements

The SAD Project – Day 3 – Goddamnit, Sarge

I have been in the mood to revisit sci-fi alien shooters.

I have two main games for this top-down shoot-all-the-aliens genre:

Alien Breed 1-3, of which I can never seem to get beyond the first game, not because it’s bad, but because it’s slower-paced and more story-oriented with seemingly a lot of ground to cover, so I never finish it before getting distracted by another game.

And Alien Swarm, which came out as a free game on Steam some time in 2010.  I -loved- that game in its heyday. It stressed an amazing amount of thinking person’s teamwork and strategy, between the different classes (officer, tech, heavy weapons guy, medic) and the friendly fire (please don’t) and the need to wait in locales for some machine to trigger (hoorah sentry guns) mixed with the need to be on the move or run out of ammo and be swarmed to death.

It was also pretty durned hard on its higher difficulties. I will never forget the spectacular Insane difficulty achievement run, which I somehow managed to PUG, with two Ukrainian guys who also really really wanted it, and a string of randoms as the last filler. We played the campaign mission multiple times over, at least a dozen, ever so increasingly refining our strategy more and more efficiently until final success. The three of us became a really well oiled team before the night was done.

It also took pretty much all the desire for teamwork out of me at that point, having hit the limit of what could be achieved (imo) in PUGs.

When Brutal difficulty came out (one step higher than Insane), I wussed right out – feeling ever so keenly that pang of wishing for three other friends in the same timezone, with the same level of skill in perfect lockstep with each other and desire to play the same games at the same time – and never went back to Alien Swarm.

To my surprise, checking it out today, I find out that a new updated Alien Swarm: Reactive Drop just launched this year in April 2017.

It has the same campaign and classes, with apparently added improvements.

Supposedly it supports up to 8 person multiplayer, though I haven’t tried that yet. (That sounds amazing, if hellishly chaotic with friendly fire *smirk*)

There’s a lot more campaigns than the basic Jacob’s Run that the first game came with.

alienswarm3

And doubly amazingly, it also supports singleplayer with bots, with the ability to both give bots basic instructions, manually fire team-based skills with buttons, and hotswap from character to character to take over, while a bot helps out with the consciousness of the character you just left.

Imagine that. However you want to, or like to play, it gives you the option and the control. With tons of difficulty levels.

Free game.

Why more people aren’t playing it, I dunno.

Of course, the bots could stand a bit of improvement here and there…

alienswarm1

I picked a random new campaign, selected some characters at random, and trundled through the map, mournfully realizing that I’ve forgotten entirely how to play this game and trying my best not to friendly fire the bots (who do not exactly make it easy with their erratic movements.)

We wind up at the climax of the mission. I’d picked up a chainsaw, and was gleefully taking up position on the stairs besides the Officer bot (Sarge), creating a lovely chokepoint with which to slaughter aliens.

Unfortunately, Sarge ran out of ammo, and decided the best thing he could do was wade into the fray and melee the aliens. Right in front of my chainsaw.

Which spinning constantly with my very held down mouse button.

I saw his hp plummet, not exactly sure if it was ME slicing him to bits, or the dozen aliens on him pummeling him back.

Reflexively, I let go, turning the chainsaw off, backing up in confusion, turning it back on, trying to surgeon slice aliens around but not into the absolute chaos…

alienswarm2

It didn’t quite work out.

Goddamnit, Sarge.

The SAD Project – Day 2 – Predator Pew Pew

predator1

You probably guessed this one was coming.

I set up a bunch of buy orders for Tier 6 materials and the remaining orrian truffles last night.

When I next logged back in, everything was ready for the grand assemblage. Aka, clicking and dragging lots of materials out of hoarded storage, visiting some NPCs to buy one item or another with one currency or another, mystic forging some things and crafting some others with the correct alt that had 500 leatherworking or 500 huntsman.

predator4

predator3

That’s one shiny item icon.

predator2

I took it out for a spin.

Immediately, I was like, “Why has this NEVER come to my attention before?” “Why hasn’t anyone blown whistles and banged drums and made a immense furor to this world about this sweet sweet gun?”

You know what’s most striking about it?

Its SOUND.

(Disclaimer: Not my video. Pretty much the only one on Youtube that lets the rifle speak for itself without loads of commentary. And it’s amazing how many are dated from 2013-2015, with very few Predator videos after.)

It has a reverberating laser pew pew sound that at first seems a bit at odds with the looks of the sniper rifle, but sounds immensely epic in scope and befitting that of an item with legendary status.

The second awesome thing is the fiery projectile that comes out of the rifle. Besides looking awesome, it also lights mobs you shoot on fire, and they die with the special flaming death animation that the fiery dragon sword skin also produces.

In a way, it’s good that I didn’t realize this until -after- I made the legendary.

Because I’m not sure I would have been able to wait as long as I did, and would have spent a lot more money/effort chasing it.

All’s well that ends well. Everything got prioritized nicely, I’m now the happy owner of Rodgort, Kraitkin, a set of legendary heavy armor, and the Predator, and I feel like the tension of the last year or so with immensely long term goals hanging over my head has wound its way to a close.

I feel like I can close the book at the end of this GW2 chapter, so to speak, and just dabble or putter around with much shorter term goals that were being put off (e.g. various Living Story chievos, try to get into fractals -again-) and/or wander off to other games.

Sometime in the future, I intend to idly creep my way towards stuff like Astralaria, Chuka and Champawat, a set of legendary light armor and so on, but that is a long way off, so no need for any concrete plans as yet.

Plans are for the end stages, to kickstart myself into actually doing things (like put W, X, Y  and Z into the mystic forge and click buttons, which I’d otherwise put off).

For now, I’m happy to have no more long term plans or ambitions.