Figment is an action adventure game with puzzles, released in 2017. It was developed and published by Bedtime Digital Games. In Figment you play as Dusty who is on an epic quest to restore the health of the mind he inhabits.
Figment begins with a family in a car driving through a stormy night. It sounds like a daughter in the back of the car is taunting her dad while he’s trying to focus on the road. Then out of nowhere the father yells, “Oh crap!” foreshadowing the impending crash that takes place immediately thereafter.
After the crash scene fades out, another scene fades in where Piper, a friendly flying companion, comes to wake Dusty up and get him ready. It seems Dusty is a protector and adventurer that has gotten rusty with disuse. He holds on to his scrapbook, likely filled with memories of adventures past, and is preparing to make himself an intoxicating beverage to enjoy.
While Dusty is away collecting ice for his beverage, a nightmare comes to steal his scrapbook. He begins to wake up to the fact that things are not all right with the mind, as Piper had been trying to tell him. Dusty then begins his quest to get his scrapbook back.
I’m not doing appropriate justice by my description of the narrative. Playing Figment made me realistically feel and experience emotions that few games ever have. With many games I sympathize with the characters as they make their way through the story, but with Figment the voice acting and body language of the characters combined with the musical score stirred serious empathy within me.
I felt genuinely hurt that Dusty had his scrapbook stolen and was treated unfairly. I felt genuinely bad for the nightmare who stole the scrapbook telling Dusty, “Eventually, we all lose everything!” to justify his actions. Piper makes me want to do what I can to help fix things when she nervously states, “Something’s totally messed up in the mind!”
My wife’s aunt suffered a terrible car wreck a few years ago that left her with a traumatic brain injury. For many months after the accident it was frustrating to sit by her bed side and see her reliving nightmares and grasping at incomplete overwhelming thoughts while we could do little to help. Figment puts you right there inside a mind, struggling for survival, and makes you feel determined to set things right.
The combat is typical hack and slash. Dusty has a life bar, and he can take only so many hits before he must respawn at the nearest checkpoint. The life bar may be replenished using Endurance Neurons, green glowing balls that spin around trees throughout Figment’s game world. Picking up enough Endorphins will extend your life bar, providing you an extra hit point.
Dusty and Piper travel together through the mind to fight fear and sickness, stoke creativity, and recontain the nightmares into their proper place. As they journey they find memories they can use to piece together and recollect the person of the mind they inhabit. Dusty starts off as an uncaring jerk, but as he picks up more endorphins he begins to turn back into his former heroic self.
When I finished recording my first impressions play through, my wife asked me if I had fun playing. I sat for a second and thought about it and then answered honestly, no. Thus far Figment has been a dramatic, poetic, artistic, incredible game steeped in symbolism, but not really fun.
I plan to continue playing Figment till I complete it. There seems to be so much depth to the story that I want to see how it turns out. The character development, musical score, and vivid artistry combine to make an epic such that it feels I have a duty to see the story through to its conclusion. While it may not be “fun,” there’s no game that has grabbed so much of my attention lately as Figment has. In many ways Figment goes beyond fun to provide a moving experience very unique from any other game I have played thus far.
Linux Operating System: Ubuntu 12.04 or greater, 64-bit only Video: ATI Radeon HD 5700 Series or greater Hard Disk: 1.3 GB
Mac OS X Operating System: Mac OS X 10.8 or greater, 64-bit only Memory: 4 GB RAM Video: ATI Radeon HD 5700 Series or greater Hard Disk: 1.3 GB
Windows Operating System: Windows 7 or greater, 64-bit only Processor: AMD Athlon II X2 250 or greater Memory: 2 GB RAM Video: ATI Radeon HD 5700 Series or greater Sound: DirectX Version 9.0c compatible sound card Hard Disk: 700 MB
Splasher is a two-dimensional puzzle platformer released in 2017. It was developed by Splashteam and published by Playdius. Gameplay reminds me greatly of Jazz Jackrabbit 2 and Super Meat Boy.
Splasher begins with your main purple-haired character scrubbing the floors at Ink Corp – very similar to the plot of Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee. While he’s cleaning he happens to peer into a room where experiments are being done. Inside the room a mad doctor is injecting one of his fellow cleaning technicians with a substance that turns them into a potato. Scared by the scenario unfolding in front of them, your main character understandably gets the heck out of there and level one begins.
The first level introduces the controls and serves as a basic tutorial on how to play the game. Splasher is the kind of platformer where you have great control in moving your character mid-flight. The character moves fast and the platforms and character seem small in comparison to other platformers I have played. This made the controls take a little getting used to.
After completing the first level, the player is transported to an overworld map where they may enter the next level or go back and replay a previous level. It is possible to do a speed run on previously played levels to beat your previous time. By examining the speed run mechanic, it appears there are 22 levels in Splasher.
Through the first
three levels that I have played, I have been able to deduce that
there are two types of ink. Red ink sticks you to the surface it’s
on and provides gravity for you to walk across when on a ceiling or
wall. Yellow ink makes you bounce around like you’re dancing with
flubber on your feet. Water can be used to clean ink off of surfaces.
The player first
receives a water gun. Eventually it appears the player receives the
ability to shoot red and yellow ink from their gun, but I was not
able to unlock this ability within the first three levels. Shooting
potato creatures with water makes them explode and helps the player
The player receives a yellow substance from eliminating enemies from the game. If you can accumulate 700 units of the yellow stuff you can free your comrade locked in the cage at the end of the level. Similar to Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee, you can rescue or “accidentally” kill fellow Ink Corp employees as you are working your way through each level.
The specialty Splasher brings to gaming is its fast paced puzzles that must be solved for the player to progress. Checkpoints are available between each puzzle within a level so the player isn’t forced too far back when they fail. However, it is clear the greatest satisfaction Splasher offers is in getting good enough to jump from puzzle to puzzle completing the level in the shortest time possible while achieving the greatest score.
Splasher appears to be a decent game for puzzle platformer speed run enthusiasts who enjoy a challenge and love competing against their past scores. Given that Splasher is a single player game, I am surprised I didn’t encounter an online leader board so individual players may see where they rank in worldwide rankings. It feels ridiculous for me to continue trying to beat my own score, but working my way up a rank and knowing I am Xth out of Y players worldwide pushes me to keep trying to get better.
Epistory: Typing Chronicles is a hack and slash role-playing typing (yes, role-playing and typing) game released in 2016. Epistory was developed by Fishing Cactus and published on the Steam platform by Plug In Digital. It was also published DRM free to Humble Bundle and is featured in their Humble Bundle Trove for Humble Bundle Monthly subscribers.
Excited about starting a new engaging adventure, I browsed through a list of games I had not yet played and saw the title Epistory.
“Epistory, like epic story?” I thought. “I should give this a try.”
I loaded up the game and saw the complete title, Epistory: Typing Chronicles.
“What? This is a typing game? LikeMario Teaches Typing or Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing? This is going to suck.”
resolved to give it a chance and started the game. The game begins
Once upon a time. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
My head was in my hands. They took a line from a classic Charles Dickens novel without directly alluding to the meaning of that line in its context. This is going to be painful.
There was a girl. And she rode on the back of a great fox.
Ok, that’s better, could we have just started the story with that? Please tell me more.
Epistory begins with a young blonde girl mounted on a very red fox. It is recommended from the start to use the E, F, J, I keys for movement in lieu of the W, A, S, D keys typically used for movement in most PC games since they are closer to the center of the keyboard for quicker typing speed. I spent over an hour trying to get used to navigating with the E, F, J, and I keys. My biggest issue was that while the E, F, J, and I keys are recommended, the W, A, S, D keys are still mapped, so accidentally touching the D key (which is beneath the E key) sends you in the wrong direction. When I finally switched back to using W, A, S, and D for all of my movement, Epistory became so much easier to play, so I recommend using W, A, S, and D from the beginning.
Therefore, using the W, A, S, and D keys, the player navigates through the world as the story is told. Despite the rocky start, things only got better and more impressive from there. Epistory feels like any other role-playing game where you’re navigating through and exploring a fascinating, colorful world. When an obstacle is encountered, the player must type out a word to remove it. Whenever a word is typed, the player receives experience points. Chaining words in rapid succession, the player can score combos to get a greater number of experience points. Once experience points have been sufficiently accumulated, the player levels up and can choose how to spend skill points to unlock new player skills.
the space bar will show the player all of the words in their
immediate area they can type for points. Whenever a word is
successfully typed, a magic bolt is fired by the girl and her fox at
the object that had the word. As the game progresses enemies will
approach the player and can be defeated by successfully typing words
to eliminate the deadly creatures.
One direct hit from a creature will kill the player, and Epistory does not start at the lowest vocabulary like other typing games do. The words employed have meaning in relation to their objects. All are real dictionary words and rarely repeated as the game progresses, keeping play fresh. This is not Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing or Mario Teaches Typing. No one is going to help you find home row in this world where evil roams. Playing Epistory is more like playing Diablo as a Ranger class, but instead of clicking the mouse button to shoot your bow, you are typing to do so. I am a software developer by trade and have been told I am an excellent typist, and I still find Epistory to be challenging. This is a good title for adults and those who feel their typing skills are up to the task.
I have played through the first two boss fights thus far and have actually really enjoyed myself. The story, though a little scattered, has gotten better and more engrossing. The music is superb, but not overwhelming. It sits in the background and supports the story, helping engross the player while not drawing too much attention to itself. I was pleased to find increasingly difficult puzzles to solve and in game art items to collect throughout the world. At times while playing I caught myself saying, “Wow!“
Epistory is now on my shortlist of games I hope to complete in the near future because I want to see what happens next. It has thus far done a phenomenal job striking a balance between challenge and fun to compel me into wanting to continue to play. I don’t recall ever having played an edutainment title as enjoyable as Epistory: Typing Chronicles.
Gremlins, Inc. is a computerized board game designed by Alexey Bokulev and Sergei Klimov produced under the Charlie Oscar Lima Tango Interactive Entertainment brand. It was published in 2016 by The Merchant Guild of Rund to the Steam platform. It appears to be fully multiplayer, where players may play online competitively individually or in cooperative teams, or locally competitively individually or on teams as well. It appears the game may be played by 2 to 5 players. There are ladders that track player statistics that may be climbed. There appear to be plentiful mods to customize, enhance, and extend the base game, and the game appears to have been consistently updated since its release.
Players may play as one of five classes of character: the Explorer, the Manager, the Gambler, the Collector, the Thief, or the Damned. I am not yet certain as to the strengths or weaknesses of the various classes since I’ve only ever chosen the random character option. Hovering over each one should give a description of their strengths and weaknesses.
Players are dealt six cards each at the beginning of the game. As these cards are played or otherwise discarded throughout the game, they are replenished immediately from a random deck. At the beginning of the game, all players may discard as many cards as they wish from their hand to be redrawn prior to playing their first turn.
Each card has a name and unique game art that make them easily remembered and identifiable at a glance once you get used to playing. The Gremlinopedia contains an index of each card and what effects they have to be referenced by the player when needed. All of this information is also present on the cards themselves within a players hand.
The number in the upper left hand corner of the card is the movement number. Cards may be played to move around the board or they may be played to execute the card’s action, but never both. Once a card is played for movement or its action, it is discarded. When played for the card’s action, the card must be played on the spot that it corresponds to. A picture of this spot is located on the bottom left of the card. A description of all of the spots on the board is included below. Some cards have an added action effect when played. These cards will have a gear icon located at the upper center of the card. Hovering the mouse pointer on this icon will reveal text that explains the card’s effect when played.
There are numerous Gremlins, Inc. game boards to play on, and none of them that I have seen are fully linear. Be careful to check the arrows on the board to plan your movement. On the board I first played on, there was a primary loop to travel counter-clockwise around in a circle that was fairly low risk. This primary loop had loops to the unique game spots connected to it, so traveling around this loop would provide a player access to those spots. However, there are also places within the primary loop where the player may take short cuts or move to a different place in the loop entirely. The player must take into account the risk versus reward when choosing their particular path. Paths with high reward usually come with high risk, while paths with lower reward come with a lower risk.
The most important and precious resource in the game are the general game points. At the beginning of each game, the game host decides how many game points will be played to. In the game I played, the number of game points was 20. This means that the first player to reach 20 game points would win the game. The number of game points a player has is shown in the middle of a green gear next to their player portrait on the main game screen. Wherever game points may be added or subtracted from the player in a game, they are represented by a gear.
There are also votes that may be collected or lost while navigating the board. Whomever has the most votes when elections are called becomes the governor. It’s good to be the governor. Governors don’t have to pay any resources when landing on a bribe spot.
Pitchforks are another resource. The more pitchforks you have the more notorious your reputation which counts for something. Be careful that you don’t have the most pitchforks though as some of the nastier misfortunes target the most evil player in the game. Then there is the + and – resources. The – resource is used to pay off the police when landing on a police spot and pay bribes. Money, or G, is the common currency of the game.
Many cards require G to play on their respective spots. When G is required to play a card, the amount required will be shown in the upper right hand corner of the card. The more powerful the card, the more costly it is to play. Unfortunately for the player who likes to plan ahead, G is what is most often increased or decreased in all of the in game events around the board which makes the amount of it in your purse at any time highly volatile. Getting a high power card that requires around 1000G to play made my mouth water since it would pretty much settle the game if I were to successfully play it. So I would plan out how to get to the other side of the map to play that one card and save enough G on my way there to spend it solely on that card. I tried three separate cards like this in the game I played and each time there was something that made me lose enough of my money to keep me from playing each of those three cards. This was even with me being the governor for around 80 percent of the game. The fluctuation of G in my coffer was a strong signal that Gremlins, Inc. is as much a game of chance as it is a game of skill. Randomness is hidden by the complexity of the game, but is still present in full, frustrating force and compounded by the actions of each player added to the game.
Bribe – Looks like a dollar bill with a G in the middle. When passing this spot, a player must pay -, when landing on this spot double – is paid. If the player cannot pay the full amount, they pay whatever they have and receive pitchforks. The governor doesn’t have to pay when passing or landing on any one of these spots.
Gamble – Looks like a die with a heart, club, and spade on it. When landing here a six sided die is rolled. If a one is rolled, a misfortune occurs. Rolling a two subtracts 50G, while rolling a four or a six will add 50G or 100G to a player’s purse respectively. Rolling a three subtracts a voter and adds a pitchfork, while rolling a five adds two voters.
Income – Clearly a money spot. When passing this spot you get money, or G. When you land on it you get double G!
Misfortune – Signified by ominous red face. Passing this spot curses the player with a random misfortune. Landing on it allows a player’s opponent to choose one of two misfortunes that will befall the player.
Police – Looks like a police sergeant’s hat. When landing here a player must pay – or there is a chance they will be arrested.
Risk – When you land on a risk spot, a six sided die is rolled to see if any misfortune is caused to your player. Prior to the die roll, the player is offered the option to buy insurance for 20G. If accepted and a misfortune occurs, it will be directed toward other players instead of the rolling player.
Tribune – Looks like a bullhorn. When landing on one of these spots you can address your voters. A six sided die is rolled to determine the effectiveness of your speech.
The Astral Plain – Looks like a hot air balloon. When landing here a player may choose to skip one turn to lose two pitchforks and draw their choice of one out of three cards from the deck.
The Bank – Signified by a gold G. When landing here a player may spend G based on their + amount to increase + by 10.
The Casino – This spot looks like a dart board. Here a player may roll a six sided die to win or lose an amount of money wagered from their purse. Rolling a 1, 2, or 3 causes the player to lose 100G, 50G or 25G respectively. Rolling a 4, 5, or 6 causes the player to gain 25G, 50G, or 100G respectively.
The Court – Signified by an icon of an angry looking judge. When landing on this spot a player may pay 40G to take a vote from any player of their choice.
The Dump – Looks like a worn out boot. When landing here a player may roll a six sided die to dig through the junk. rolling a 1 causes the player to lose one voter. Rolling a four, five, or six, causes the player to gain 10G, 20G, or 30G respectively. Rolling anything else has no effect.
The Jail – Signified by a grid of bars. Many in game actions can send a player to the Jail. Upon entering the Jail, the player rolls a six sided die for the number of turns they will stay in the Jail. At the beginning of each turn spent in the Jail, the player may choose to engage in good behavior, be neutral, or engage in bad behavior. Good behavior helps you get out of the Jail quicker, but bad behavior increases your notoriety and jail experience while potentially adding turns to your sentence. Choosing neutral allows a player to walk the line between the two.
The Inferno – Looks like a pitchfork, seems a lot like hell. Appears to be the home of evil. Cards related to the Inferno tend to boost your player’s pitchfork resource number.
The Office – Signified by a blue hand. A player may sell 1 voter for 100G on this spot.
The Marketplace – Signified by a green moneybag. When landing here a player may sell one of their precious game points for 200G if they wish.
The Plant – Signified by a golden gear on a green background. When landing here a player may skip one turn to receive 50G and lose one pitchfork if they so choose.
The Treasure – It looks like the game designers attempted to depict a yellow diamond icon for this spot, but I spent my whole first game thinking it looked like a yellow heart. The player may roll a six sided die to see how much treasure, or G, they receive. There is no losing on this space. Rolling a 1 wins 10G, 2 wins 25G, 3 wins 50G, 4 wins 100G, 5 wins 150G, and 6 wins 200G.
Gremlins, Inc. appears to be more a game of overall strategy as opposed to methodical tactics. Because of all of the probabilities of success and failure on each turn, it makes more sense to come up with a winning method of playing the game that works best in most cases than to tactically plan out each move many moves into the future. A player can plan a general strategy that provides them success a majority of the time and refine their strategy to eliminate those things that cause a loss of resources a plurality of the time. Focusing on the big picture is key.
Gremlins, Inc. is a fantastically complex game. It’s the kind of game I always wanted to play as a kid but one I know I would never find anyone who would want to play it with me. If you are not a fan of complex games, don’t let that statement completely scare you away. The computer takes care of most of the complexity, it’s just the player’s job to understand what they want to do and figure out the best path to winning. It’s wonderful that the game designers have created such a game of vast complexity that is relatively simple to play and provides an interface through which to connect to other fans of complex board games worldwide with no real language barrier.
I found no evidence of unwholesome material in Gremlins, Inc. There is no violent or sexual content nor bad language that I encountered. It may be a game too advanced for younger children to understand, which could make it frustrating for them to play and for those who play with them. I would say if someone can easily play Magic: The Gathering, they should be able to handily play Gremlins, Inc.
I can’t wait to play more Gremlins, Inc. My wife and I both enjoyed our first play through and are eager to play as a team competitively to see how high we can rise on the leader boards. If you are a fan of complex board games, I highly recommend you get this game.
Operating System: Ubuntu 14.04 or greater, Linux Mint 17 or greater
Processor: 2 GHz x86 or greater
Memory: 1 GB RAM
Video: SDL Compatible Video Card, 1280×720 resolution or greater required.
Hard Disk: 3 GB
These packages are required:
libsdl2-2.0-0:i386 and dependencies.
Mac OS X
Operating System: Mac OS X 10.7 or greater
Processor: 2 GHz x86 or greater
Memory: 1 GB RAM
Video: 1280×720 resolution or greater required.
Hard Disk: 3 GB
Operating System: Windows Vista or greater
Processor: 2 GHz x86 or greater
Memory: 2 GB RAM
Video: 512 MB DirectX 9.0c Compatible Video Card, 1280×720 resolution or greater required.
Hard Disk: 3 GB
The GOG version of Xenonauts appears to run natively with no issues in Ubuntu 16.04.
It was in the summer time, likely 1996. My best friend was an only child and seemed to have a great knack for talking his mother into buying him computer games from the bargain bin section of whatever store they happened to be shopping in. During this particular week, he and his mom were shopping at Tuesday Morning and he was able to purchase a game neither one of us had ever heard of, but the box cover sure looked interesting. It was a game for MS-DOS and because of its outrageous memory allocation requirements, he couldn’t figure out how to get it to work with his family’s computer system. Since both of his parents worked full-time, he came over a lot during the summer, and one day he brought the game with him to my house to see if I could get it to work on my system. After building a special custom boot disk to boot into a favorable DOS environment to run the game, we both experienced our first contact with the game called X-COM: UFO Defense.
Select Your Main Base
X-COM: UFO Defense is a strategy game, developed by Mythos Games and released in 1994 by MicroProse, that combines real-time strategy with turn-based tactics. The player is tasked with creating and managing the global defense force protecting Earth from hostile invasion by extra-terrestrials. The player must spend their budget wisely purchasing aircraft to intercept and shoot down UFOs. They must hire soldiers to go on missions to eliminate the threat of downed alien spacecraft and to retrieve valuable alien technology. And they are also responsible for hiring and managing scientists to research new technologies to create weapons comparable to the ones the aliens carry.
Xenonauts, a game developed and published by Goldhawk Interactive in 2014, seems to have been created to recapture the same vein of nostalgia I had from when I used to play X-COM: UFO Defense with my best friend in the mid-1990s. The game developers state that the game is not meant to be a clone of X-COM, and it is not, but the spirit of that original game is certainly alive and present here. Gamers who played X-COM: UFO Defense will feel at home when selecting their beginning base site, managing their initial base, sending planes out to intercept UFOs and sending out a team of soldiers to investigate a UFO crash landing site.
A Close Encounter Shot to the Face
When playing through Xenonauts for the first time, I noticed it seemed to appear very spartan for the year it was released. No cutscenes or rich animations were employed, and I have been unable to find an actual tutorial on how to play the game as far as I can tell. With X-COM: UFO Defense a player had to rely on the manual. Without the manual it was easy to lose very quickly. Maybe Xenonauts was designed to cater to the more mature PC gamer who is used to reading a thick manual to get the most of their strategy game’s mechanics. There are tool-tips that pop up the first time a player accesses any new screen, however, so the player doesn’t have to fly completely blind. I realize having had played X-COM: UFO Defense as a child, I am not much of a newcomer to the genre, but without reading a manual or following a tutorial, I was able to intercept two UFOs and successfully complete my first mission to retrieve alien artifacts from my first downed UFO. There is also a Xenopedia that serves as an in game online help resource while playing.
Upon further research, it appears Xenonauts was actually the product of a Kickstarter campaign that was able to raise the sum of $154,715 from 4,668 backers according to Wikipedia. This is an impressive amount, but far from the budget of a AAA studio. With this information to place things in perspective, what the developers of Xenonauts were able to accomplish with this game is impressive. The musical score is complex, easy to listen to, and fits the atmosphere of the game. The sound effects are rich and fit within their contexts as well. While the animations and graphics are simple, no extra imagination is required on the part of the player to discern what they are looking at on the screen at any given moment.
Research Alien Technology
Goldhawk Interactive allowed partial access to the Xenonauts source code which resulted in the creation of Xenonauts: Community Edition, a mod for the Xenonauts game. Those with a retail copy of Xenonauts can apply the community edition mod to expand and enhance their Xenonauts game experience. I’ll try to add another article covering the community edition mod at some later point.
I had a lot of fun briefly playing Xenonauts today, moseying down memory lane. The GOG summer sale just started today. Those that visit GOG.com before June 6th can download a free copy of Xenonauts to play themselves. This is a good game. I’d recommend getting a free copy before the promotion runs out.