Passpartout: The Starving Artist – Compatibility

Passpartout: The Starving Artist Title Screen

Passpartout: The Starving Artist Title Screen

System Requirements

Linux

Processor: Intel Core i5 or better
Memory: 2 GB RAM
Video: Radeon HD 7970 or better graphics card
Hard Disk: 2 GB

Mac OS X

Operating System: Mac OS X 10.6 or newer
Processor: Intel Core i5 or better
Memory: 2 GB RAM
Video: Radeon HD 7970 or better graphics card
Hard Disk: 2 GB

Windows

Operating System: Windows 7 or newer
Processor: Intel Core i5 or better
Memory: 2 GB RAM
Video: GeForce GTX 680 or Radeon HD 7970 or better graphics card
Hard Disk: 2 GB
DirectX Version 11 required.

Windows 10

This game was designed for and seems to work flawlessly in Windows 10.

 

Passpartout: The Starving Artist – Windows 10, Linux, and Mac OS X 10.12 Game First Impressions

Passpartout: The Starving Artist Title Screen

Passpartout: The Starving Artist Title Screen

Passpartout: The Starving Artist is an artistic painter simulator with money management elements developed and published by Flamebait Games. It was released in 2017 for the Steam platform and runs on Windows, Linux, and macOS.

In Passpartout: The Starving Artist the player plays the part of an artistic painter. The player paints on an easel in a manner that appears similar to the Microsoft Paint user interface. Starting with one brush, the player must paint something worthy enough to sell to her critics in order to pay her bills. As the title “The Starving Artist” seems to suggest, as the game mounts in challenge it may be harder to sell paintings and pay the rent. This might make this the world’s first arcade painting simulation. When beginning a new game, a screen greets the player with the words Act I. I assume this means that there are multiple acts and settings to play through to the game’s completion.

Painting the Bunny

Painting the Bunny

I began my time playing Passpartout: The Starving Artist drawing my old favorite, a simple bunny. I titled my work and placed it out for the attention of the waiting public. Surprising to me, it sold rather quickly for 127 dollars. I figured I must be a natural painter born with the innate talent to produce masterpieces, so I began my next work. Once a player is satisfied with their painting, there is a button to take a screenshot of it in Steam and another button to tweet it out on Twitter for those who are so inclined.

Incredibly in my time playing, Passpartout: The Starving Artist helped me get in touch with my stream of consciousness as I let my whims guide the brush to produce meaningful colors and shapes to the canvas. Despite the necessary cheesiness of the art produced using the primitive artistic tools provided to the player by the game’s user interface, I found the game to be extremely relaxing as I was able to lose myself in the production of art from deep within my being. The game music puts you in the right mood to feel loose and creative. This game started out feeling good for my soul.

My Ego, it is Bruised

My Ego, it is Bruised

Then came the critics. Passpartout: The Starving Artist is a very realistic artist simulator in one sense. Non-player characters will walk by your works of art on display and critique, nitpicking every little thing they can. You cannot please most anyone mostly all of the time. Anyone who is not actively buying a painting is continually berating you for your misuse of color, lack of detail, grossness of style, or for selling out to the man or producing art for quick cash. The criticism also appears to be subjective. I painted a painting with every color available to me in it, and I was told that all of the colors were bad by one critic. At first it’s cute and clever, but over time it really began to grate on me. Although, this game might provide inoculation toward haters commenting online if I want to branch out and start uploading YouTube gameplay videos.

Title Your Masterpiece, Then Hopefully it will Sell

Title your masterpiece, then hopefully it will sell.

Another clever distraction for while you are painting are the news flashes that popup on the screen parodying the ridiculousness of real-life click bait encountered while browsing online. These add some humor and levity to Passpartout: The Starving Artist, but still detract the player from the relaxing focus at hand – putting art on the easel. I don’t think I have ever had so many emotions form in a short period of time from playing such a simple game. In my first hour playing I felt relaxed and free to express myself in my art, then frustration with the criticism of my work, then triumph when I would unlock a Steam achievement, then mild humor when I would read an odd news flash, and in between all these emotions boredom when I felt I had, at least in that moment, exhausted all the game had to offer.

I'm channeling my inner Bob Ross

I’m channeling my inner Bob Ross. Happy little trees.

As I stated earlier, Passpartout: The Starving Artist provides the player with only one type of brush to begin play with. As the player sells paintings and progresses they may unlock other brush types. Perhaps I don’t have the most artistic mind after all, but I frequently would reach moments in the game within the first hour of gameplay where I wondered if I had just seen everything the game had to offer. Shortly after having such a thought, I would unlock an achievement or unlock a new brush, but such things were not quite enough to keep the thoughts of the game’s minimalist nature at bay.

While there were elements to Passpartout: The Starving Artist that I really enjoyed in the time I played it, I wonder if I could get similar results by putting on some soothing music on my stereo, fire up Microsoft Paint, and get busy producing works of art with the full set of brushes unlocked without all the noisy, nosy critics. While the game itself is currently $9.99 on Steam, the original sound track is priced at $4.99. It might be more of a deal to have the soundtrack and supply your own paint program. Passpartout: The Starving Artist is a fun enough game, I think I would buy it in a heavily discounted Steam sale knowing what I know about it now.

Psychonauts – Compatibility

Psychonauts Box Art

Psychonauts Box Art

System Requirements

Linux

Processor: 2.0 GHz or higher
Memory: 2 GB RAM
Video: 128MB Video RAM with OpenGL 2.1 compatibility
Hard Disk: 6 GB
glibc 2.7+ required. Binary is 32-bit.

Mac OS X

Operating System: Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later
Processor: Intel Core I Series Processor
Memory: 4 GB RAM
Video: ATI HD 3870 or Nvidia 8800GT or better. 512 MB Video RAM required.
Hard Disk: 4 GB

Windows

Operating System: Windows 2000/XP or higher
Processor: 2.0 GHz Pentium IV or AMD Athlon or higher
Memory: 512 MB RAM
Video: 128 MB GeForce FX 5600 or ATI Radeon 9600 or higher, DirectX 9 compatible.
Sound: DirectX 9.0 compatible sound card
Hard Disk: 6 GB

Windows 10

The Steam version of this game appears to work flawlessly in Windows 10.

Psychonauts – Windows XP, Linux, and Mac OS X 10.6 Game First Impressions

Psychonauts Box Art

Psychonauts Box Art

Psychonauts is a 3D-platformer action adventure game developed and published by Double Fine Productions. The original boxed version for the PC was published by Majesco Entertainment. First released in 2005, its story was written and directed by game design legend Tim Shafer.

The player begins Psychonauts playing as Raz, an adolescent who runs away from his parents to attend the secret Whispering Rock Psychic Summer Camp in order to learn how to use his psychic powers to become a Psychonaut. Since he is there without parental permission, he is only allowed to train at the camp until his parents arrive to either pick him up to take him home or grant permission for him to continue his training there. While Raz is eager to complete his training more quickly than his parents are able to arrive, most of his fellow camp residents are apathetic to the goals of the camp coaches and just want to go home. When Raz begins to demonstrate his abilities, some attempt to impede his progress.

Getting ready to attend "Basic Braining"

Getting ready to attend “Basic Braining”

Those familiar with Tim Shafer’s other games such as Full Throttle and Grim Fandango will note the same signature charm in the story, dialog, and artistic nature of Psychonauts. However, unlike those previous games, Psychonauts is a true action 3D-platformer, not a relaxing point-and-click adventure game. This makes sense given that a version of the game was also released for the XBox and Playstation 2 game consoles.

A piece of mental baggage.

A piece of mental baggage.

The first forty minutes of the game consists of cut-scenes introducing Raz and the characters at the camp and a tutorial on how to successfully implement the mechanics of the game across an obstacle course known as “Basic Braining.” The controls are a little awkward to get used to for a PC gamer utilizing the mouse and keyboard. I have played many more PC titles in the same genre that felt like they had much better controls. That being said, the effort to learn the awkward controls felt worthwhile in order to progress further into a rich, compelling game.

Swinging on poles was challenging until I learned you're supposed to press the direction arrow at the same time you jump

Swinging on poles was challenging until I learned you’re supposed to press the direction arrow you want to move in at the same time you jump.

Once through the tutorial, it is apparent that Psychonauts is a vast game with a great deal of depth to it. The player may press the “Esc” key to access the game’s journal. The journal keeps track of the quests the player has been sent on, any key game information the player needs, player stats, and games may be saved and loaded from the journal as well.The game may be saved at any time the player accesses the journal; there are no pesky save points.

Then there are these tightropes. A little tricky.

Then there are these tightropes. A little tricky.

Every few moments at the beginning of playing Psychonauts there is something new being introduced. I sometimes hate writing first impressions articles on games like Psychonauts because I feel like I haven’t spent enough time playing yet to adequately describe the essence of the game as a whole, but only a sliver of the tip of the iceberg. The character acting and animation are phenomenal. The game does a good job introducing the player to a large, bizarre story world a little bit at a time to keep it all fresh, interesting, and fun.

But the trapeze was the most challenging of all.

But the trapeze was the most challenging of all.

Psychonauts includes a little something for everyone it seems. Collecting various items throughout the game allows the player to level up their character’s abilities. There are pieces of mental baggage to find and sort through. I felt all sorts of good when I received my first merit badge and could score more as the game progresses. Psychonauts is a challenging 3D platformer, and provides an intense, deep story for adventure gamers as well. This seems to be a classic in every sense in my gameplay so far. I’m eager to continue playing through Psychonauts to really see how good it is.

Oxenfree – Compatibility

Oxenfree Title Screen

Oxenfree Title Screen

System Requirements

Linux

Operating System: Ubuntu 16.04
Processor: Intel i5 2.5 GHz
Memory: 4 GB RAM
Video: Nvidia GeForce GTX 460 / Radeon HD 6750
Sound: DirectX 9.0 compatible
Hard Disk: 3 GB

Mac OS X

Operating System: Mac OS X 10.8
Processor: Intel i5 2.5 GHz
Memory: 4 GB RAM
Video: Nvidia GeForce GTX 460 / Radeon HD 6750
Hard Disk: 3 GB

Windows

Operating System: Windows 8.1 64-bit
Processor: Intel i5 2.5 GHz
Memory: 4 GB RAM
Video: Nvidia GeForce GTX 460 / Radeon HD 6750, DirectX 11 required.
Sound: DirectX 9.0 compatible
Hard Disk: 3 GB

Oxenfree – Windows 10, Linux, and Mac OS X 10.11 Game First Impressions

Oxenfree Title Screen

Oxenfree Title Screen

I saw Oxenfree pop up in ads on Steam and GOG for some time and wound up getting it on both platforms during two separate specials. It seems like this game has developed quite a following and from the little time I have played through it, it is easy to see why. Oxenfree is a graphical, point-and-click adventure game released in January of 2016 on Windows 10, Linux, and Mac OS X 10.11. It was developed and published by Night School Studio.

The player character plays the role of Alex as she goes along with her friends to camp and party for the weekend on the beach of Edwards Island. Alex’s friend Ren takes her and her new stepbrother Jonas on the last ferry of the day to the island. When they arrive, they meet up with Clarissa, who once dated Alex’s brother, and Nona who is Clarissa’s best friend.

Think fast when presented with dialog options.

Think fast when presented with dialog options.

Oxenfree relies heavily on auditory methods to tell its story. Even more so than most adventure games, I would advise using a pair of earphones since dialog is everything in this title. The primary game mechanic in my gameplay thus far has been how I chose my dialog when interacting with non-player characters. If you don’t choose your dialog quick enough, your option to say anything in the context of the moment disappears. If you choose your dialog too quickly, it seems like the game actually allows you to talk over people, a clever mechanic. Already around thirty minutes into the game, I want to go back and replay it. There appears to be so much rich story here that I want to continue through many, many hours of gameplay.

The party at the beach.

The party at the beach.

In Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge there was a percentage notification that would tell you how far you progressed in the game each time you saved it. This progress indicator would continually depress me the further I progressed in the game because I was sorry that the game would eventually be over. I haven’t seen such a progress indicator bar in Oxenfree, but thus far it has provided me that same feeling of sadness that the game as I have been enjoying it will at some point be finished.

The game designers intentionally developed the story in such a way where the characters have such depth to be interesting in their own right, while holding a great deal back within a veil of mystery that keeps the player intrigued as to what plot twists will come next. Oxenfree’s synopsis on Steam is ominous.

Oxenfree is a supernatural thriller about a group of friends who unwittingly open a ghostly rift. You are Alex, and you’ve just brought your new stepbrother Jonas to an overnight island party gone horribly wrong.

I haven’t gotten to the ghostly rift part yet, so I hope Oxenfree retains all the charm and intrigue it has managed to muster thus far as I continue to play it.

The radio is causing strange things to happen here in this cave.

The radio is causing strange things to happen here in this cave.

One frustration I have had while playing Oxenfree is with understanding the controls. To my knowledge I never saw any tutorial on what button to press to interact with objects within the environment. Once I understood that I needed to stand in the right place and press the Spacebar, things became a lot easier. To the game developer’s credit, they labeled every object that can be interacted with throughout the game using a white circle. If you see a white circle, then there is an object behind it that can be interacted with. This is a remarkable thing for those who have experienced point-and-click adventure games where you just blindly click every pixel on the screen to progress at some point during the game.

Press W, A, S, or D to move.

Press W, A, S, or D to move.

Alex is moved by the player across the screen using the W, A, S, and D keys on the keyboard. The Ctrl key brings up a map of the island, and right-clicking the mouse button brings up the radio. These controls are presented and integrated into the storyline fairly well at the beginning of the game while Alex, Ren, and Jonas are riding the ferry to the island. As I said previously, the player must always be ready to press a dialog option when they pop up using the left mouse button, since they can disappear rather quickly.

Circles indicate interactive objects.

White circles indicate interactive objects.

I have really enjoyed playing Oxenfree thus far and I’m really excited about playing more of it in the coming weeks. I have been burned in the past by prematurely recommending adventure games that I haven’t played all the way through (I’m thinking of you, Myst.), but thus far Oxenfree has been a very intriguing adventure that has set itself apart already as one of the best, fresh adventure stories I have played in the past few years.

Beat Cop – Compatibility

Beat Cop Title Screen

Beat Cop Title Screen

System Requirements – Windows

Operating System: Windows 7/8/10
Processor: Intel Core 2 Quad 2.7 GHz or AMD Phenom II X4 3GHz or better
Memory: 4 GB RAM
Video: GeForce GTX 260 1GB RAM or better, Direct X 9.0c compatibility required
Sound: DirectX compatible

System Requirements – Mac OS X

Operating System: Mac OS X 10.6 or better
Processor: Intel Core 2 Quad 2.7 GHz or AMD Phenom II X4 3GHz or better
Memory: 4GB RAM
Video: GeForce GTX 260 1GB or better
Sound: Integrated

System Requirements – Linux

Operating System: Ubuntu 14.04 or SteamOS or better
Processor: Intel Core 2 Quad 2.7GHz or AMD Phenom II X4 3GHz or better
Memory: 4GB RAM
Video: GeForce GTX 260 1GB or better
Sound: Requires current Linux sound drivers.

Beat Cop – Windows 10 Game First Impressions

Beat Cop Title Screen

Beat Cop Title Screen

Your name is Jack Kelly. You were one of the best detectives of the NYPD before that fateful night you were called on to investigate a suspected robbery in progress. A sitting Senator’s diamonds were stolen from his safe. You shot and killed one of the suspects at the scene. Unfortunately for you, the missing diamonds were no longer at the scene of the crime, and you’ve just become a suspect.

Beat Cop, a game released in 2017 for Valve’s Steam platform, places you in the shoes of a former detective turned rookie cop that must now figure out who is framing him and clear his name. Developed by Pixel Crow and published by 11 bit Studios, Beat Cop seeks to channel the art and flare of 1980s television police dramas mixed with retro 16-bit classic Police Quest style graphics. The result is nothing short of impressive to say the least.

Morning briefing at the police station.

Morning briefing at the police station.

A new game in Beat Cop begins with Kelly’s first day with his new precinct. The game is divided into simulated days of gameplay. At the beginning of each day, Sergeant Holloway lists the tasks he wants the player to accomplish during that day. The player has a wrist watch they can use to track time during the game while they are working their shift on the street. At the end of the day, they receive a day’s recap score card that shows them how they did in accomplishing their tasks. I didn’t do so hot the first day; my performance made me want to go back through and replay it. A rewind feature is included to help you do just that.

On the street with Fat Mike.

On the street with Fat Mike.

In the first day, the police captain visits Kelly and tells him that he wants him to work on the case of the missing diamonds so he can clear his name. He says there are 21 days left until he retires, which places a 21 day time limit on the game. To add to Kelly’s growing list of challenges, it turns out his ex-wife is demanding alimony, so the player must ensure they are getting enough money from writing tickets in order to pay Kelly’s alimony bills. There are two rival gangs operating on the street where Kelly is assigned. The player through their decisions must balance their interactions with both to succeed in Beat Cop. The first day on the street serves as a tutorial. The player briefly follows Fat Mike around, a fellow officer serving out his final day before retirement. Mike teaches the player the mechanics of the game. Then it is up to the player to introduce himself to people around the neighborhood and start working out the details of Jack Kelly’s new assignment.

Beat Cop is not meant to be a realistic police simulator. Beat Cop is about making tough decisions, roughing up the bad guys, and making it as a cop out on the streets. If you have some idea of how police behavior ought to occur in a game based on real-life rule of law and civil rights, you will want to approach this game with light humor and some flexibility. There is even a disclaimer to this effect near the game’s title screen. This is a fictional game designed for entertainment purposes.

Enter any buildings to interact with people inside.

Enter any buildings to interact with people inside.

Which brings me to my only real problem with Beat Cop – the dialog. By day 2 the banter among the police officers in the daily briefing was incredibly racy and I really couldn’t figure out why. Even for police department “knock ‘em down a peg” banter, it seemed out of place. I feel like they could have made the dialog less vulgar without compromising on the classic police squad aesthetic. Despite Beat Cop’s primitive graphics, the situations and themes are at times incredibly adult oriented. Because of these vulgar dialogs and adult themes, I would not recommend that any minors play this game.

Day Recap Score Card

Day Recap Score Card

I played through the first day to receive my first underwhelming pay check. I knew I had to step up my game for the next day. Beat Cop is nicely challenging, has colorful graphics, and a killer sound track. Everything included in the game fits within its theme; Beat Cop just feels brilliant. It’s like the game designers knew what they could be good at and discarded all the rest. There’s little where I can blame this game for falling short; it’s kind of a masterpiece. If you like police-style gaming or police movies like the Lethal Weapon series, Beat Cop is an excellent title to add to your collection.

At the time this article was published, Beat Cop was available on the Humble Very Positive Bundle 2 at HumbleBundle.com. If you like what you see here, go there to see about getting a deal on the game and helping charities in the process.

RIVE: Wreck, Hack, Die, Retry! – Compatibility

RIVE: Wreck, Hack, Die, Retry! Title Screen

RIVE: Wreck, Hack, Die, Retry! Title Screen

System Requirements – Windows

Operating System: Windows 7/10, must be 64-bit
Processor: Dual Core 2.5 GHz
Memory: 4GB RAM
Video: GeForce 8000 series or better, DirectX 9.0c compatible
Hard Drive: 1GB

System Requirements – Mac OS X

Operating System: Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion)
Processor: Dual Core 2.5GHz
Memory 4GB RAM
Video: GeForce 8000 series or better
Hard Drive: 1GB

System Requirements – Linux

Operating System: Linux or SteamOS
Processor: Dual Core 2.5GHz
Memory: 4GB RAM
Video: GeForce 8000 series or better
Hard Drive: 1GB

RIVE: Wreck, Hack, Die, Retry! – Windows 10 Game First Impressions

RIVE: Wreck, Hack, Die, Retry! Title Screen

RIVE: Wreck, Hack, Die, Retry! Title Screen

RIVE: Wreck, Hack, Die, Retry! is a title released on Valve’s Steam platform in 2016 by Two Tribes. In it you play as a space scavenger, named Roughshot, aboard a small one-man spider-like spacecraft shooting alien robots, and making daft maneuvers to escape dangerous situations. The player can level up the weapons, armor, and special abilities of their spacecraft. But there is much more to RIVE than a simple action title with RPG elements.

The voice acting in RIVE is phenomenal. Mark Dodson does the honors, and it’s really easy to feel for the character. I felt myself getting excited every time Roughshot would get excited about something in the game. The script is tongue-in-cheek, but feels well prepared. RIVE begins with an explosion that wakes Roughshot. He has to punch his on-board computer to get everything to come back on-line so he can pilot his craft. I suppose being out in deep space will wear on you over time; he really likes to talk to himself throughout the levels.

Felt like playing Asteroids in the beginning.

Felt like playing Asteroids in the beginning.

Spanning multiple genres, I would say RIVE: Wreck, Hack, Die, Retry! most closely resembles an arcade shooter, given the way it tracks high scores and throws the player into some heavy action at most every turn. The game starts with an allusion to Atari’s Asteroids, but then turns into more of a platformer soon after when the player enters an environment with gravity.

Expect to die, a lot.

Expect to die, a lot.

RIVE: Wreck, Hack, Die, Retry! certainly lives up to its name. Expect to die in this game, a lot. This is the kind of game where practice makes perfect. It’s also the kind of game where you can showcase your skill. The points you score under hard mode are added to the global leaderboard. Based on your score you can see how you rank with other players in their global ranking. There are also challenges to complete that get unlocked once you’ve completed the first mission. Challenges have levels of bronze, silver, and gold based on their difficulty.

Roughshot shoots off fireworks when you complete a mission.

Roughshot shoots off fireworks when you complete a mission.

Another thing you will need to get used to is the harshness of the sound effects. Crunching and scraping metal is common fair for RIVE. Playing this game feels like operating heavy machinery. My wife thought she was hearing thunder outside until she realized it was my game play making the noise. If this kind of noise is not up your alley, one thing I’ve found I enjoy doing with many shooters like RIVE is to mute the volume and have a catchy, rhythmic Spotify playlist playing on my stereo receiver in the background. You won’t necessarily hear enemies sneak up on you, but given that you die and start over a lot in RIVE, I’m not sure that matters. As I said earlier it is nice to hear Roughshot’s voice, but all of his words are subtitled, so you won’t be missing any plot points by hitting that mute button.

I hacked this sweet nurse drone.

I hacked this sweet nurse drone.

RIVE: Wreck, Hack, Die, Retry! shows itself to be a fantastic shooter and platformer plus so much more. If you are a fan of action and explosions, then this is a perfect game for you. At the time this article was published, RIVE was included as part of the Humble Very Positive Bundle 2 on HumbleBundle.com and will be for another 11 days. If you liked what you read about this game in this first impressions article, go to HumbleBundle.com, and you can get a deal on this game and donate to a charity as well if you like.