Aviary Attorney – Compatibility

Aviary Attorney Title Screen

Aviary Attorney Title Screen

System Requirements

Windows

Operating System: Windows 7, 8, or 10
Memory: 3 GB RAM
Hard Disk: 500 MB

Mac OS X

Operating System: Mac OS X 10.7 and above
Memory: 2 GB RAM
Hard Disk: 500 MB

Windows 10

This game was designed for and works flawlessly in Windows 10.

Aviary Attorney – Windows 10 and Mac OS X 10.11 Game First Impressions

Aviary Attorney Title Screen

Aviary Attorney Title Screen

Aviary Attorney was developed and published by Sketchy Logic and released in 2015. When I was reading up on this game to determine if I wanted to play it, I read a review by PC Gamer that billed Aviary Attorney as a visual novel. As I played it I did receive a choose your own adventure vibe, but as the game’s title indicates, this is a light legal sim set in 1840’s France.

The player takes the role of Monsieur JayJay Falcon. At the beginning of Aviary Attorney, Monsieur Falcon is greeted by his apprentice Monsieur Sparrowson who reads Falcon his daily mail. The letter they received is from Seigneur Purrtoir Demiaou requesting legal services on behalf of his daughter, Dame Caterline, who had been charged with the murder of Monsieur Grenwee at a dinner party they all had attended the night prior.

Black Jack Mini-game with Sparrowson

Black Jack mini-game with Sparrowson

Many role-playing games have a mechanic by which the backstory is told at the beginning of the game and then the player is greeted with a dialog asking them whether they would like to accept the quest presented to them. I have never understood this mechanic since selecting the negative option indicates the player would rather not play the game, and choosing the affirmative option is really the only logical way in which the game progresses. Aviary Attorney employs this same mechanic. Sparrowson asks Falcon if he will take on Dame Caterline’s case. A dialog greets the player. The player may choose “Of course!” or “Nope.” I chose “Nope.” to see what would happen.

Monsieur Sparrowson chided me briefly for not taking the lucrative case, but when I stuck to my guns through another presented dialog he offered instead to play a game of cards with me. Apparently I had unlocked a mini-game of Black Jack that I played briefly with Sparrowson playing as the computer player. Once I had confirmed that I understood the rules of the card game, Sparrowson made a wager with me. If he won, I would have to take Dame Caterline’s case. If I won, I could choose from a list of three mildly devastating scenarios to happen to Sparrowson. I made the wager and then handily lost the next round of play. It appears that once the wager is made the card game is rigged such that the player will always lose and be forced to then take Dame Caterline’s case – a clever use of this traditional role-playing game mechanic.

City Map Screen

City Map Screen

Each case taken on by the player in Aviary Attorney is broken up into a number of days. In the first case there are three days prior to the beginning of the trial. Each day, the player is greeted with a map of the city along with a series of known locations relevant to the case. Locations with a watch face next to them indicate a location that will take a full day to visit. Locations without a watch face may be visited prior to a location with a watch face without time passing to a new day.

I spent my first day visiting the Conciergerie Prison to meet with my client Dame Caterline and get all the information I could for the case. From there I received two additional leads, to the studio of the photographer who was invited to take photographs at the party in which Monsieur Grenwee met his untimely demise, and to the scene of the crime at Baron Rorgueil’s manor where the party took place. Both locations showed a watch face beside them on the map which seemed perfect since I had two days prior to Caterline’s trial.

A Dialog Menu

A Dialog Menu

I decided first to visit the photographer, Monsieur Robittio de Robinio, to discuss the photograph he had made on the night of the crime. Upon arriving at his studio, I found a note on his door indicating he had left for the day. I knocked on the door anyway, but there was no answer. Falcon and Sparrowson had a bantering dialog back in forth in which they were debating what to do. If they left, a day would be wasted in which the player would not be able to return. Provided in the dialog was the illegal option of breaking into the photographer’s studio and snooping around. I chose that option to see what would happen, and I wasn’t disappointed.

Aviary Attorney is a fantastic repository of clever quick witted humor and terrible puns. Sparrowson is the primary source of such comedy, but all of the players are well drawn and play their parts marvelously. This game is comedic through and through, I laughed frequently had couldn’t stop smiling throughout the initial time I have played it.

Investigation Mode - Searching for Evidence

Investigation Mode – Searching for Evidence

When the player visits a location, they are able to search through the environment looking for clues and evidence relevant to their case. These items are then compiled and written down into an evidence folder that may be used later in the court room. On the final day before the trial, I examined the grounds of Baron Rogeuil’s manor and talked to him and his housekeeper. It was discovered that his housekeeper was a kleptomaniac and had been stealing the Baron’s silverware. This led the dinner guests to have to eat without utensils on the night of the murder. These details helped me later at trial to inform the jury why Dame Caterline had blood on her hands and mouth when she had eaten a rare steak at the dinner party.

The player may choose which statements from the witness to cross examine.

The player may choose which statements from the witness to cross examine.

When the trial day had arrived, not only did my character Monsieur Falcon feel overwhelmingly unprepared, but I did as well. Aviary Attorney had already by this point in the first case remarkably immersed me in the world presented. The trial began in which using the evidence I had gathered the previous two days I daftly struck down the accusations presented by Rupert Rabbington, the prosecutor. After a witness has given their testimony on the stand, the player may question them based on that testimony. It is up to the player to decide how to proceed, and there is a great deal of dialog that won’t go anywhere. The jury will get frustrated with the defense if their time is wasted, so attempting to match the evidence to the testimony and questions asked will achieve the greatest results. Each time a biting piece of evidence is presented by Falcon that refutes the claims of the prosecution there is a pause and then the evidence is delivered with beaming rays shooting from Falcon across the screen. It was a comical and satisfying moment each time I did it.

Ate a Bloody Rare Steak! (Plot thickens.)

Ate a Bloody Rare Steak! (Plot thickens.)

Now that I have won my first case and Dame Caterline has been pronounced not guilty by the jury in her case, I am excited about playing the remaining cases in Aviary Attorney to see if I can complete the game. Aviary Attorney seems to be a good game to play after a long day. It will make you laugh and doesn’t require too much thinking. However, there is a decent bit of potential intellectual challenge when entering the court room to keep the player engaged. The background music chosen for the game is on point with the 1840’s setting, along with the drawn animations and artwork and the fonts used for dialog. Aviary Attorney is thus far a stellar game; I’m happy to have it in my collection.

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.

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.

Neon Chrome – Compatibility

Neon Chrome Title Screen

Neon Chrome Title Screen

System Requirements – Windows

Operating System: Windows XP/Vista/7/8/10
Processor: 2 GHz
Memory: 2 GB RAM
Video: DirectX 9.0c required
Hard Drive: 200 MB

System Requirements – Mac OS X

Operating System: Mac OS X 10.8
Processor: 2 GHz
Memory: 2 GB RAM
Hard Drive: 200 MB

System Requirements – Linux

Operating System: Ubuntu 16.04 or SteamOS
Processor: 2 GHz
Memory: 2 MB RAM
Hard Drive: 500 MB

Neon Chrome – Windows 10 Game First Impressions

Neon Chrome Title Screen

Neon Chrome Title Screen

Neon Chrome is a top-down shooter released in 2016 by 10tons Ltd for Windows 10, Mac OS X, and Linux on Valve’s Steam platform. My wife got me a copy of it from Humble Bundle in the Humble Very Positive Bundle 2. This bundle will disappear in the next 13 days, so if you like what you see, go pickup a copy.

I wouldn’t say I’m particularly a fan of top-down shooters, but Neon Chrome is sharp. You can tell a great deal of thought and imagination went into the creation of this game. The game is set in a cyberpunk future in a large arcology complex called Neon Chrome, run by Neon Corp, which is home to over a million people. The Overseer v1.0 is an artificial intelligence tasked with the responsibility of taking care of Neon Chrome and its inhabitants.

The Immersion Room

The Immersion Room

The game starts the player off in a tutorial to help the player learn the controls. In this tutorial, the Overseer explains how while he is entrusted to take care of all of the lives within Neon Chrome, the trust goes both ways. He informs the player that she is scheduled for termination and as she fights her way through the level leads her into a trap. Once the player dies at the end of the tutorial, the game fades into the Immersion Room, from which all missions start.

The Immersion Room contains power-ups that can be purchased after completing level three and hacks that can be implemented once the player has defeated Overseer v1.0. It looks like there are 33 levels on the way to defeating Overseer v1.0. By sitting in the Immersion Chair, the player begins level one in a new asset in a different section of the Neon Chrome complex.

The Pathway to the Overseer.

The Pathway to the Overseer.

I haven’t quite discovered what an asset is in this game. I’m not sure if it is an actual human body that the player assumes control over, a cybernetic robot controlled remotely, or some sort of replicant hybrid in-between. The number of assets are finite, they are all numbered in the room where they wake up from hibernation. When walking to the edge of the room you can see there are other rooms with more assets in them. I don’t know what the game’s limit on the number of lives is, if there is a limit. When sitting in the Immersion Chair, the player gets to pick from three asset classes which come with a few different attributes.

Choose Your Asset.

Choose Your Asset.

Cyber Psychos get a boost to health and get two additional slots for cybernetic enhancement. Techies get a boost to energy and have an personal shield that regenerates over time. Corporate Soldiers have a riot shield that reduces hits taken to their face by 25%, along with a 15% bonus to damage inflicted from fighting. Hackers get a boost to energy and speed, and are proficient in picking locks for additional loot. They also start with a nifty little robot that shoots enemies alongside the player. I personally found my greatest satisfaction in playing the Hacker class. Hackers seem built for stealth and setting traps, and it seemed to become more my style to lure the enemies into a bottleneck for me to pick off one at a time, or to evade altogether by sneaking through doors while their backs were turned.

Gameplay as Hacker class.

Gameplay as Hacker class.

On some levels, there are places where you can upgrade your character’s cybernetics with different abilities. It’s interesting to play around with all of the options. Being as inexperienced as I am, the best option for me was usually to destruct all of the robots on the level. Neon Chrome is not a terribly easy game and takes some practice, and I’m not very good at top-down shooters. But the more you play, the better at it you get, and it’s actually quite a lot of fun.

Upgrade Your Cybernetics

Upgrade Your Cybernetics

Neon Chrome was designed for up to four players to play simultaneously and cooperatively on the same local machine. This is a good game to hook up to a big-screen television with four game pads to play with your friends. I have been playing it with a keyboard, but it might me much easier when I switch to my Steam controller.

Play with friends!

Play with friends!

I am a sucker for a futuristic cyberpunk theme, and this is where Neon Chrome really shines. If you are a fan of William Gibson’s novel Neuromancer, Ridley Scott’s movie Blade Runner, or other similar artworks of science fiction, then you’ll be right at home with Neon Chrome. With the dark foreboding background invaded by neon lights and lasers, and an inspiring soundtrack that fits with the theme, Neon Chrome delivers a rich gaming experience. The graphics are crisp. In some of these top-down shooters it’s hard to make out what I’m looking at from the top-down perspective. I have had fewer issues of this with Neon Chrome.

I think I will be playing a lot more of Neon Chrome in the days to come. It’s easy to pick up and play, it’s fun, it’s addictive, and it supports multiple players as a Steam Box title. As I said earlier, at the time of this writing it’s also on humble bundle, so you can support a good cause and get a great game simultaneously.