Thanksgiving 2014 is upon us! Let's show everyone our l33t moves in OlliOlli, head home for the holidays with Gone Home, reclaim the homelands with Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet, escape in-laws... err.. zombies in Teleglitch, and stuff ourselves with bullets in Tower of Guns.
OlliOlli is the natural (d)evolution of games like SSX and Tony Hawk Pro Skater. Trick down challenging two-dimensional, linear skateboard paths across dozens of different courses, with challenges, collectibles, and multiple game modes to play.
OlliOlli is worth your $5 because... if you like these sorts of skate/snowboarding games, OlliOlli is a fun way to scratch that tricky itch. If you're new to the party, it can be a decent way to get into the genre without the added complexity of those titles. There's a plethora of courses and modes to try out, and the soundtrack is awesome.
But don't pay full price for OlliOlli, since... it's punishingly difficult. Just finishing some of the later courses on the basic game mode can be an exercise in frustration. Despite my previous experiences with the genre and a willingness to replay the same tracks over and over again, I was still unable to finish the game.
- Pressing A right before landing (or down right before grinding) gives you a "perfect" landing, gives you a short green glow, and most importantly increases your speed slightly.
- If you're having trouble with a track, consider hitting the landing button early - you can still get a "sick" or "OK" landing by pressing A or down pretty early, and that can help somewhat in areas where you need to go a bit slower or where the timing is difficult.
- Staying up as high as you can on grind rails tends to make the game somewhat easier. A lot of obstacles can be avoided simply by staying off the ground.
Gone Home is the story of a suburban American family, as viewed by the eldest daughter who is returning from some time abroad. Although the game is played from a first-person perspective, the game hews closer to an adventure game that has very few puzzles.
Gone Home is worth your $5 because... it's a unique experience, with a touching story. Despite the low level of interactivity in the environment, it still manages to pull you in with its atmosphere and the complex yet relatable story the game is trying to tell.
But don't pay full price for Gone Home, since... it's not really a game in the traditional sense of the word. It's more along the lines of interactive fiction. If you're looking for something with deep game mechanics or with a lot of replay value, this just isn't it.
- There are a ton of useless objects in the game. If you pick something up and it doesn't immediately look interesting, chances are it's just there for flavor.
- Nevertheless, touch interesting objects, flip them over, and be on the lookout for audio diaries.
- Some interesting stuff can be found under beds and in trash cans...
Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet
Part Metroidvania and part dual stick shooter, ITSP tells the story of a lone UFO attempting to free its homeworld from an invasion of shadowy, tentacled beasts. Explore the planet, collecting upgrades and new weapons! Fight tough bosses and solve interesting environmental puzzles!
Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet is worth your $5 because... it nails the exploration elements of Metroidvania games, with interesting environments and fun puzzles to solve. The art style is really interesting and unique. The various upgrades are fun to mess with, and for the most part feel unique.
But don't pay full price for Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet, since... combat's really not that fun. I found myself running away more often than not. Sometimes checkpoints are really close together, and other times they feel too spaced apart. This game was designed for controllers, but there are a variety of weapons that would be helpful to have on a quick-key system.
- Scanning obstacles with your radar dish marks them on your map, as well as telling you what specific tool/weapon is used to interact with it.
- The saw blade weapon is very useful in combat. I'd almost say it's the most powerful weapon in the game against most foes.
- Collecting certain hidden powerups will boost the power of the "gun" weapon, while others will increase your maximum health. Both of these are very useful for survival in the late game.
You are a low-level worker for some faceless future megacorp, on a science station researching military mutants and also long distance teleportation. Predictably, things go horribly wrong and you find yourself trapped with a bunch of killer... everything, trying hard to survive despite the aforementioned "everything" trying to kill you. The game plays as a top-down dual-stick style shooter with survival horror elements.
Teleglitch is worth your $5 because... it's a unique take on survival horror, roguelikes, and dual stick shooter genres. Surprisingly, this combination of disparate genres produces a very compelling game. The game isn't scary, per se, but it is tense owing to the limited ammo and inventory capacity.
But don't pay full price for Teleglitch, since... it can be frustrating to start over every time you die, although getting to certain levels activates the ability to get an advanced start. Despite the roguelike trappings, there are a lot of fixed elements in the game. For instance, the first level always has a shotgun and sticky launcher you can find. There is a limited roster of rooms that are just randomly arranged every time you play a leve.
- There are secret rooms hidden on each level. Look for areas where you can kind of see through the walls, then shoot the weak wall to destroy it.
- If you don't aim prior to pressing fire while holding explosives, you'll put them on the ground rather than throwing them.
- The way your character holds the gun effects the way in which shots will fly once fired. Keep this in mind so that you can more carefully aim.
- You can eat canned meat to get your health above 100%. The empty cans can be crafted into plates that can be used for armor.
Tower of Guns
Tower of Guns is a classic style first person shooter with somewhat randomized levels and RPG elements. Each level is a series of rooms, packed to the gills with robots that shoot lots and lots of bullets. At the end is a boss that takes a bunch of punishment to take down.
Tower of Guns is worth your $5 because... it harkens back to the Quake era of first person shooters, where shooting stuff and running around like a crazy person was the ultimate in gaming entertainment. The somewhat randomized levels and RPG elements increase the fun of the game. Making progress towards unlocks and a fresh experience every time will keep you coming back for more.
But don't pay full price for Tower of Guns, since... the randomness can sometimes bog the game down. For instance, many secrets require that you have extensive aerial maneuverability. If you haven't found jump upgrades, though, you'll be left out in the cold. Being limited to one gun per run is kind of a bummer. The game really needs a high score or hall of fame feature to make repeated game completions more interesting.
- Most of the guns will feel underpowered at the lowest levels. Collect blue items to level them up and unlock their destructive potential!
- While most pickups time out after a while, the tokens, items, and weapon mods do not.
- Sometimes it's a good strategy to move around the room and take well-timed shots, while other times it is good to find a quiet corner to snipe from.
- Many turrets can't rotate completely. It's possible to get behind certain enemies to make it easier to defeat them.