New obsession this week - Dungeons of Dredmor! Expect to see a lot written on this $5 gem in the future. I also finished Apollo Justice as promised, and invested some research time into a few mobile games.
Games of note this week:
1 - Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney
2 - Dungeons of Dredmor
3 - Professor Layton & the Unwound Future
4 - Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee
5 - Starcraft II
I bought Starcraft II the day it was released - just a few days over 1 year ago. I was a huge nut for the original game, and I wasn't disappointed by the sequel. And yet - Starcraft II has sort of failed to really ignite my fires the way I had hoped it would. I think it is likely that is simply a function of time - Starcraft came out when I was in college and could devote lots of time to playing it, while Starcraft II has come out at one of the busiest times in my career. But I also think the game focus shifted a bit too heavily towards the early game, and that never sat exactly right with me.
Another way to phrase that complaint might be that air units just haven't really come into their own the way I wish they would have. Starcraft's air units were very strong - worth the tech investment. But Starcraft II's air model is more in line with ground units - which means that there often isn't a compelling reason to favor one over the other.
Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee
Is there a word for wanting to enjoy as an outsider something that you created in the past - but were too closely involved in to really appreciate at the time? Because I need that word to describe my recent love-affair with G:DAMM. Playing through the game at each difficulty level is really fun, and I've been able to re-teach my fingers all the old movements. Even reading the manual was a blast. (I wrote the manual, as well as the Prima Guide)
Professor Layton & the Unwound Future
With Apollo Justice out of my DS, I need another time-sink. Starship Defense will probably come back into my fold soon, but thus far this week I've switched back to the third Layton game. The puzzles I've run through in the past few days have been mostly of an interesting new variety where you manipulate objects to find an arrangement which matches logical clues. It's a grid-free logic puzzle of the kind I used to adore when I was 8 or so.
The story is ridiculous of course - much like the second game. The mini-games are decidedly worse, though I continue to play them dutifully. I think I'll skip out on the fourth Layton game, if and when it arrives. Brain-teasers like these are old hat to me, and the game wrapper around them just isn't very interesting. The first game was a pleasant novelty, but I don't think there is much here for me now.
Dungeons of Dredmor
This is the first Rogue-like to actually work for me. I don't know why I've never been able to invest time in Rogue-likes - they have all of the elements I most enjoy in games - but something about them has always prevented me from really diving in. I adore Dungeon Master & Chaos Strikes Back. Desktop Dungeons was (is!) brilliant, but it's a different sort of creature.
Dungeons of Dredmor, though, has everything going right for me. And it's just $5.
My first few games quickly ended in tragedy, which is to be expected. I tried a few random skills, made sense of healing & mana regeneration, got used to the interface & silly door interactions, and felt optimistic. An early experiment with vampirism left me feeling cold - in fact I didn't reach second level with any of my first 5-6 characters. But then I found a system that was really working for me - and that character is still going strong at level 9. I styled him after the Paladin character in Magic Kingdom for Sale: Sold! Armor, Shield, Mace, Crossbow, High Critical Chance, Smithy, Psionics. (Get it?)
The skill system works as follows - each character level you get a skill point to increase one of your seven skills - each has between 3 and 8 abilities to unlock. It's a "flat" skill tree, which means you can get level 4 smithing before touching any of your other skills, if you like. My Paladin upped his shield skills and Critical Chance early on, and indeed excellent defense has made my survivability much greater. I've found a Smithing recipe for a great mace - and I'm collecting the required components.
Not wanting to rest of my laurels, I created a second character in parallel named Swift - a Vampire (no healing except through life-drain) with Increased Mana Regen, Fire Magic, Golems, Viking Magic, Scholar, and Dodge. I jumped first at increasing my Mana Regen again, and then got the Vampire skill which allows me to drain corpses for more health. I had a few close calls in the early game, but now I'm dispatching death with abandon.
Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney
The last case in Apollo Justice ties everything together very nicely. It includes most of the characters we've met along the way, and even points back to Phoenix Wright. Unfortunately, it ties everything together by keeping us (the player) in the dark. The original game brought everything together in a forward-looking way which didn't feel rushed. But this game is obviously denying us information all throughout the game, so that a bunch of secrets can be revealed all at once in the final case.
The game is also much, much easier than previous titles. I made only a few mistakes, and half of them were not even punished! Perhaps Capcom was trying to simplify the experience to help draw in new players?
I rushed myself through the game a bit, to make sure that I could pass it along to my daughter. I can only assume/hope that she'll be more forgiving.