Cult of the Fiver | May 2014

##Poker Night 2

Cult of the Fiver: Poker Night 2

Return to “The Inventory” – a mystical place where your favorite characters go to relax between installments of their franchises. Here, no-limit Texas Hold’em is the name of the game. Can you outsmart Brock, Claptrap, Ash Williams, and Sam to take home mega (virtual) bucks and unlock all sorts of fun goodies?

Poker Night 2 is worth your $5 because… holy crap, did you read that list of characters? I didn’t even mention that GlaDOS is the dealer. If you think Portal, Venture Bros, Borderlands 2, Army of Darkness, and Sam & Max are the least bit funny, you’ll have fun with this game. There’s a bunch of unlockables for PC players of TF2 and Borderlands 2 as well. The game has evolved significantly since the first one. It’s a lot less annoying to get the unlockables, you can spend tokens to unlock new stuff for your table, there’s a whole special “skin” for each featured game that changes the look and the dialog… I could go on, but suffice it to say you should give this one a shot if you’re at all interested in these franchises and playing cards.

But don’t pay full price for Poker Night 2, since… honestly, this is a game I’d pay full price for. I kind of wish there was an Android version, because I think I would be willing to play this on the go. After a while, a bit of the banter gets old, and there’s no option to turn it down/off like there was in the first game.

The $5 Deal: Amazon w/Steam DRM | Steam | Humble

Quick Tips:

  • Buying drinks for other players increases the rate at which they will give you hints via their tells.
  • If you equip a full set of unlockables from a particular franchise, special stuff happens!
  • Each player has a different strategy. For instance, Brock is generally aggressive, and will call even in situations where he doesn’t have good cards. Claptrap is a bit of a wild card – he’ll bet heavily on random cards, so it’s hard to tell if he has a good hand or not from his betting.
  • Watching a poker tournament with commentary can help you improve your game. Texas Hold’em is a very well studied game, so knowing what hole cards are good and which are bad is a big help.

Dustforce

Cult of the Fiver: Dustforce

Dustforce is a precision platformer along the lines of Super Meat Boy. In it, you’re tasked with clearing a level (literally) of dust, while doing so quickly and stylishly. There is a set of janitorial crewmembers you can choose from, each with different abilities.

Dustforce is worth your $5 because… if you’re into the precision platformer genre, this is a really good one to play. The controls are tight, and the combos feel good. Parts of it even feel more like a 2-D side-scrolling brawler coupled with a platforming game. It’s weird, but in a good way.

But don’t pay full price for Dustforce, since… I don’t really have a reason why not. I suppose if you’re playing for score or you don’t have a lot of love for this genre, you might not feel like you’re getting your money’s worth.

The $5 Deal: Amazon DRM-Free | Steam | Humble

The Sims 3

One day Will Wright decided that modeling an entire city was cool, but what about modeling a single person’s life? And thus, a billion dollar franchise was born. The Sims 3 is the (wait for it) third entry in the series where you micromanage a tiny person’s life from childhood to death, helping them achieve their life goals while avoiding setting them on fire.

The Sims 3 is worth your $5 because… it sits in that “uncanny valley” of realistic games where things are just real enough to let you draw comparisons to reality, but so unreal that the situations become absurd. For instance, my sim spent an hour converting cheese (just cheese, mind you) into macaroni and cheese using a cutting board. Then she turned on the stove and promptly caught herself on fire. Then the fire department arrived, and she chatted them up while the kitchen burned because she was feeling like her social needs were not being met.

But don’t pay full price for The Sims 3, since… it’s too much micromanagement to be truly entertaining. If I want to follow someone around the house and remind them when it’s time to pee, I don’t need a game for that. I have children. Plus, there’s a lot of non-intuitive stuff about the game. There’s a bunch of tutorials, but they don’t really explain things very well.

The $5 Deal: Amazon w/Origin DRM | Steam

Quick Tips:

  • Keeping your Sim’s mood up and fulfilling their wishes gives you points you can spend on perks, which allow you to neglect their needs without causing problems! Yay!
  • A quick way to get the basics of a new skill is to buy and read a book. You can get books at the bookstore, surprise!
  • Tinkering with and repairing objects in your house can teach you how to upgrade them so they don’t break or never need cleaning.

Just Cause 2

Cult of the Fiver - Just Cause 2

Rico is some sort of US government agent, sent to a remote island nation in pursuit of another rogue agent who was sent to destabilize the corrupt local government. Or whatever. The game is really about blowing stuff up. Lots, and lots, and lots of stuff up. Just Cause 2 is really a third-person free-roaming sandbox game that gives you some ridiculous tools and the freedom to wreak havoc with them.

Just Cause 2 is worth your $5 because… there are few games that give you this much value for the money. This game is huge, bigger than practically any other sandbox game before or since. There’s thousands of collectibles, hundreds of unique locations, tons and tons of guns, vehicles, and challenges. The chaos you can create is tons of fun. The parachute and grappling hook combo are craaaazy fun. The PC version can be modded to make it even more nuts.

But don’t pay full price for Just Cause 2, since… the dialog, voice acting, and plot are pretty dumb. Luckily, they’re a tiny part of the game.

The $5 Deal: Amazon w/Steam DRM | Steam | Humble

Quick Tips:

  • Learn to use the parachute and grappling hook to sort of “parasail” your way across the island. It’s easily the fastest and most reliable form of travel.
  • Seriously, mod this game. There are awesome mods out there that let you fly, give you crazy weapons, and make the game overall more fun.
  • Once you get the hang of the game and the combat, take over a small military airstrip. Many of these have helicopters parked at them, and once you’ve cleared one to 100%, the guards don’t spawn on sight anymore. You’ll always have a free set of air vehicles and ammo available.

Gnomoria

Cult of the Fiver: Gnomoria

Gnomoria is a “god game” where you control a small group of Gnomes embarking into the wilderness in search of a new home. You’ll have to keep your Gnomes well taken care of while preparing for the inevitable invasion from hostile outsiders.

Gnomoria is worth your $5 because… it’s Dwarf Fortress done right. If you’ve ever played Dwarf Fortress, you know it can be an impenetrable game with a lot of useless bobs and bits attached to it, but it’s also crazy fun and addictive. Gnomoria strips off most of the impenetrable parts and keeps the fun bits intact. You’ll still probably need a guide to get started, but things click a lot faster. The interface is very intuitive. Despite being prerelease “Early Access” software, it’s stable and feature-rich. Even if this were the final version, I’d still recommend it.

But don’t pay full price for Gnomoria, since… again, here, I don’t really have any qualms with recommending this game at full price. I think I blew $2 on it during the last Steam sale and came away happy. If you like the Dwarf Fortress or Evil Genius formula, but you want something a little less intimidating, this is an easy pick. I would like to see mod support if it isn’t in there already. I could see myself spending a lot of time with this game.

The $5 Deal: Amazon w/Steam DRM | Steam | Humble

Quick Tips:

  • At the outset, try to set aside a large amount of land for farms and groves. Forage everything around you, and plant as many seeds and clippings as you can. These resources take a long time to grow, and you’re going to need a lot of them
  • Before you can really craft decent beds, you’ll need the bones of some animal or enemy. You can kill the first yak that is born to get some.
  • Dark underground areas will tend to spawn enemies. You’ll need to explore underground for metals and gems, but try to keep these areas either well lit or walled off once you’ve exploited their natural riches.

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