Open Sorcery

Here’s another deliciously cheap yet good game on Steam sale:

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Open Sorcery is a primarily text-based interactive fiction game written in Twine, with judicious amounts of pauses and scrolling text, sound effects and the rare picture for narrative impact.

You play an elemental firewall (the game title “Open Sorcery” a pun about open source code) on the verge of gaining a kind of sentience.

The world cleverly mixes a dose of technological computerese with a shade of the elemental fantastical – where aetheric firewalls protect against possibly malicious spirits formed by the base elements of water, air, earth, fire, life, death, love and fear.

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Along the way you meet various characters and interact with them, developing relationships and occasionally taking surprising twists and turns, depending on your choices.

One of your first encounters is with a Air-Chaos spirit, an impish poltergeist.

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This is a screenshot of my second playthrough, and you can see I have a new option learned from the first game – where I decided to speak to it and it challenged me to a riddle contest.

Solving its riddles three made it throw a bit of a hissy fit, but also successfully persuaded it to leave peaceably.

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Besting it also taught me a new element, Chaos, that I could utilize alongside my basic Fire.

The lovely thing about Open Sorcery is that nearly all of its choices it offers you are significant choices – story changers in their own right. You can take matters into your own hands, consult with your creators, use what you’ve learned in earlier encounters and some of these might just come back to roost in the following days.

The poltergeist, for example, came back to the place I was guarding and extended an invitation to meet his queen Titania… but which meant I, a firewall, would have to leave the place I was guarding. Something which just might end up flagging me as malfunctioning to my creators.

Talk about awareness emergence, AI sentience and tricky choices.

For a Twine game, it gets non-linearity right. (I’ve played one too many Twine games which are mostly linear exercises in clicking the one-and-only next highlighted word.)

By the end of your first playthrough, you’ll be aware of the paths you didn’t take, especially if you peek at the achievements that hint to the other possible story branches and endings.

I don’t know that I’m raring to go and play through too many more times – the repetition may get to me sooner than later – but it does say something that I’m immensely content with the first ending that I got.

On the whole, it doesn’t try to twist your choices out from under you. What you choose is generally what you will get. The impact comes from the tradeoffs of that choice.

If you spend Fire to solve a problem, you will naturally be weaker for having spent that energy, which might no longer be available to solve a second more pressing problem. If you take matters into your own hands, you should not be surprised if that independence freaks people out. Yet if you fall back on humans to solve your problems for you, you might never discover potential new learning/growth opportunities and relationships of your own. And so on and so forth.

For anyone interested in some choose-your-own-adventure narrative, this is a nifty game. Short, sweet, some replayability, and currently 66% off on Steam.

(Caveat: it’s gone down to 75% before, but we are literally talking about the difference between $0.99 and $1.35. For around a dollar, this is a fun experience.)

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My Steam Award Nominations

It’s been three days since the last GW2 patch dropped and I haven’t even set foot in the story chapter or the new map yet.

Why?

  • Beyond suffering a mild, low-level crisis of the faith in terms of where my life priorities are going;
  • being distracted anticipating the upcoming Breach League in Path of Exile (launching Dec 2-ish);
  • and gleefully indulging in a spur of the moment Steam sale purchase of Hitman;

I took up starting a new Expert Mode world in Terraria last week to try out version 1.3+.

I can quite confidently state that it deserves the following:

As proof, I submit my Hours Played as recorded by Steam:

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Beyond noting that I spent a lot of time on simple but fun grindy mini-MMOs and idle breeding games, nothing even comes -close- to the hours spent in Terraria. Not idling, I assure you.

Next up, an oldie but a goodie:

Honorable mention: Blackwell Epiphany (It’s the last game in the Blackwell series, which I rhapsodized about. When you play five games with a set of characters, it hits you in the feels when it comes to an end.)

I went for something completely different for the next one:

Eh, everybody’s going to vote some version of Civilization anyway, right?

Alpha Centauri wasn’t on the Steam menu. Looking at my played time, the -honest- answer would probably also be Terraria, but apparently you can’t vote a game for multiple categories. So I went for the game of the moment.

Bought three days ago, and already at 11 played hours…

My rationale is to highlight this strange oddity of a stealth sandbox game that -encourages- you to wait globs of time doing nothing (ie. waiting for NPCs to move into position or to the next part of their pattern so that you can act) and get the entire multiple part mission -complete- before you quit for the night… which is easier said than done when something goes wrong and multiple save/reloads come into play.

Well, yes, theoretically one could just save and come back the next night where one left off… but, who does that, really, when there’s an outstanding target to be headshot/garrotted/poisoned/otherwise offed in an entertaining manner.

A really broad interpretation is possible for the next:

I have a strange sensation that proponents of the “hard, painful, masochistic mindblowing challenge” school of thought will set a Dark Souls game on the throne.

But you know, I read “crazy plot twist” and I’m going the “whoaaaaaaa, this started awesome and unique but what did we suddenly just smoke, my mind is expaaaaanding far out, duuudde…”route.

Honorable mention: Her Story is also pretty mind-expanding.

This one took a while to figure out – I apparently don’t play that many games with outstanding villains:

The Batman: Arkham variants were briefly considered, for their rogues’ gallery full of villains, but ultimately… the Joker man just wants to watch the world burn. He doesn’t need a hug. He’s villainous through and through. Sorta like Sephiroth.

Shadow of Mordor, though… ha. Sauron, The Bright Lord, you, the orcs, everybody needs a hug.

Honorable mention: The Masked Kidnapper from Tales from the Borderlands. He needs a hug too. Cos…reasons. (That you will know, if you finish the game.)

I -was- planning on voting Batman: Arkham City in, to reflect all the time I’ve spent chasing one Enigma achievement or side challenge or another. I -was- going to mention Skyrim’s many mods as an honorable mention.

Then out of the blue, while clicking on the voting button, this lil classic came to mind.

Nobody plays Magicka to be wannabe wizards defeating the dark lord of darkity dark. It’s all about the ARSE mines and murdering your friends.

See the date? October 11, 2012.

Released on Steam: October 9, 2013.

I remember when it was being Greenlit, nyah. So yeah, I totally found it first. And don’t you ever forget it.

(Everybody’s just gonna go vote ARK: Survival Evolved, I’m sure.)

If Goat Simulator doesn’t win this category, I’m going to be very very surprised.

Hell, even it was the game that first came to mind for me, though I’ve never bothered to buy it or try it.

But you know me, I can’t do things easy. I was going to think of something completely different. Preferably from a Steam game that I own, and love enough to recommend.

One word. “Pig.”

I couldn’t think of a funny ha-ha category. So I went for something safe that still served the purpose of showcasing some of the most played games on my Steam list.

Sleeping Dogs was an unexpected gem that never quite got its day in the sun. Hell, it took me two posts before it sunk in that I really kinda liked it.

Mind you, it’s also the Best Game That Doesn’t Exist Anymore, because they’ve apparently replaced it with a “Definitive” edition, while I made it a point to vote for the original version.

Aesthetically, the original has a dramatic vividness of color contrast that got obliterated by overzealous reality-recreation of Hong Kong fog. In my opinion, anyway. See for yourself and decide:

So those are my Steam Award nominations for this year.

What are yours?

Holy Jumbo Humble Bundle!

Oh man, I am excite!

So excite I r losing powers of grammar! N speling…

A whole host of games that have been on my Steam wishlist for a long time just came together in one super mega awesome Jumbo Humble Bundle 6.

I practically threw money at the screen when I idly checked out the website this evening.

For $12 USD, I got:

Grey Goo – an RTS I’ve wanted to check out for some time, but was holding back due to mixed reviews

Magicka 2 – a sequel that never seemed as well-received as its predecessor, but that I was also interested in checking out some day

Warmachine Tactics + Mercenaries DLC – another mixed review game that trended towards negative, but which I was keen on checking out due to its miniatures background

Shadowrun Chronicles: Boston Lockdown – apparently some kind of semi-disappointing multiplayer-esque game ostensibly set in the Shadowrun universe, but what the hey, at this price point, can’t hurt to try it and dump it if it sucks

Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas – a relative unknown to me, but is apparently Zelda-like, and might pleasantly surprise

Dreamfall Chapters – some kind of adventure game. I didn’t really like The Longest Journey, never tried Dreamfall, but I’m perfectly open to seeing if the universe clicks with me with their third game

I “lost out” on Shadowrun: Dragonfall – Director’s Cut, in that I already owned the game a long LONG time ago, but this is a stellar standout RPG in the fantasy cyberpunk Shadowrun universe that anyone should give a go if they haven’t yet.

And there’s apparently more unrevealed games coming soon, which would be an utter bonus icing on top of the cake thing, whatever they are.