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.

Alphabear: Hardcover Edition – Compatibility

Alphabear: Hardcover Edition Title Screen

Alphabear: Hardcover Edition Title Screen

System Requirements

Windows

Operating System: Windows 7 or later
Processor: Intel Core Duo 1.66 GHz or better
Memory: 4 GB RAM
Video: 256 MB Graphics Memory
Hard Disk: 400 MB

Mac OS X

Operating System: Mac OS X 10.8 or later
Processor: Intel Core Duo 1.66 GHz or better
Memory: 4 GB RAM
Video: 256 MB Graphics Memory
Hard Disk: 400 MB

Windows 10

This game was designed for Windows 10 and ran flawlessly when I played it in Windows 10.

Mac OS X 10.12

This game was designed for Mac OS X 10.12.

Alphabear: Hardcover Edition – Windows 10 and Mac OS X 10.12 Game First Impressions

Alphabear: Hardcover Edition Title Screen

Alphabear: Hardcover Edition Title Screen

Alphabear is a single-player word puzzle game first released for mobile devices on the iOS and Android platforms in 2015. In 2017, the game was released for the Windows 10 and Mac OS X 10.12 operating systems as Alphabear: Hardcover Edition as a download for the Steam platform. The game was developed and is published by Spry Fox LLC.

Within a typical level, the player is tasked with making words from the letters provided in the blocks on the screen. The more letters are used, the more space is freed up on the board which is then consumed by the player’s bears on the screen. Each letter begins with a score count and with a green color. Each turn a letter is not used its color changes from green to yellow to red and its total score count decreases. A deep red letter will become unusable on the next turn and transform into a stone. Stones impede the players ability to grow their bears and should therefore be avoided.

Alphabear: Hardcover Edition puzzle gameplay

Alphabear: Hardcover Edition puzzle gameplay

The objective of the game is to maximize points by maximizing the size of the words the player creates and the size of the bears within the playing field. Most levels have a point goal the player must reach in order to progress. Occasional levels introduce a time limit within which the player must complete the level.

Skinny Bear Leveled Up!

Skinny Bear Leveled Up!

At the end of each level, the player’s score is tallied up and a new player bear is unlocked or a bear already existing within the player’s inventory levels up in ability. This introduces somewhat of an role-playing game element to Alphabear: Hardcover Edition. Prior to entering a new puzzle stage, the player may enter her bear inventory and choose up to three bears on her roster to participate in the next puzzle based on their various abilities. As a bear is gained or levels up, the player is greeted with a screen where their bear is in a selfie containing a cute little tweet randomly generated using the words the player made during the last stage. The player may actually tweet or save these selfies before they progress to the next round if they so choose.

Level End Scoreboard

Level End Scoreboard

At first blush, Alphabear: Hardcover Edition seems to be just another word puzzle game. I saw it was being offered on Steam’s free weekend, so I downloaded it to write a quick first impressions article. The game install file is only 196 megabytes in size; downloading and installing it on Steam takes virtually no time at all. Not paying attention to the clock, I played it long enough that I almost ran out of space on my game recording device. Alphabear is fun and addicting.

Bear Inventory

Bear Inventory

As with other word puzzle games, it is often the case that the player begins trying to coin words that are new to them in order to get out of a tight spot where they don’t know what word they can legally play next. Alphabear: Hardcover Edition offers a dictionary that defines every word that is played. I found this to be particularly helpful when I was just clicking around and stumbled upon a word I didn’t know. This game would be extremely helpful to those who are hoping to get better at Scrabble and actually know the words they are playing. It also appears it might help a child with an elementary vocabulary to learn more words and better spelling for fun outside of their classroom.

As I said, this title is free for the weekend, and only around five dollars retail. I had fun with it and thought it was worthwhile. It may be one of the better edutainment titles I have played. Check it out and see what you think.

Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms – Compatibility

Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms Title Screen

Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms Title Screen

System Requirements – Windows 10

Operating System: Windows Server 2008, Windows 7, or later Windows.
Processor: Pentium compatible 2.33GHz or greater. Intel Atom 1.6GHz or greater.
Memory: 512 MB
Hard Disk: 120 MB

System Requirements – Mac OS 10.13

Operating System: Mac OS X 10.6 or later.
Processor: Intel Core Duo 1.83 GHz or faster.
Memory: 512 MB
Hard Disk: 120 MB

Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms – Windows 10 Game First Impressions

Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms Title Screen

Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms Title Screen

Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms is a point and click, hack and slash, grind fest developed and published by Codename Entertainment. The game is a licensed Dungeons and Dragons title. It was released for Windows 10 and Mac OS 10.12 in 2017.

Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms plays similar to a tower defense game. The player’s party inhabits the left most part of the screen while enemies advance from the right. As the enemies approach, the player may attack them by clicking on them. This deals a small amount of damage and slows the enemies down. Members of the player’s party will also attack when they are able and deal an amount of damage proportional to their current level and ability.

When Gnolls Attack...

When Gnolls Attack…

When an enemy is slaughtered, the enemy will drop gold pieces that will accumulate in the player’s purse. The player may use the gold to level up their characters, hire new characters, or level up the damage dealt by their click attack. The game is divided into stages. Each stage has its own objective that must be satisfied in order to progress. Most of these objectives deal with killing a certain number of creatures or collecting a certain number of items. There is a boss at the end of every fifth stage that must be defeated to move on to later stages.

I feel your pain, Dryad.

I feel your pain, Dryad.

It is challenging to describe what genre of game play Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms most closely resembles not because of any particular originality or creativity, but due instead to the fact that it doesn’t feel particularly like a game. There are certainly game mechanics here, as I said before there are hack and slash role-playing and tower defense elements, but the game is really one big needless grind. All a player does when playing this game is click a green button across the bottom of the screen, collect gold by hovering the mouse over said gold, or click on an enemy to deal it a small amount of damage.

Boss Making Way Through Party

Boss making her way through my party.

Outside of clicking to level up your characters, no other action is actually necessary to play the game. The gold automatically enters your party’s inventory when your party walks close enough to it. If the characters are sufficiently leveled up, they will take out any enemies before the player would ever need to click on them. In later stages, ranged units can become a pest if not eliminated quickly by the player’s click attack, but I haven’t noticed them provide enough damage to truly influence the outcome of a stage for the party at large. When a boss or an overwhelming number of units slaughter one of the party members, as long as the boss or enemies are defeated, that player will simply respawn with full health in the next stage. If for some reason the player’s party can’t successfully defeat a boss, the game sends the player and her party back to a previous stage to level up their characters until the boss can be defeated.

Kill the Rabbits

Kill the Rabbits

The only other place Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realm could redeem itself would be in having a rich story at the book ends of the long arduous grinds of sitting and watching your characters slowly make their way through the levels. The story is paper thin; it is not at all what I would come to expect from a Dungeons and Dragons title. The characters have zero depth. In the first 30 minutes I played Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realm, I played two stages where the whole point was to collect food for a village and the party. Those stages played like bonus rounds where rabbits and wolves that were easy pickings came slowly up to the adventurers to be easily slaughtered for quick gold. These stages left me scratching my head wondering what the point was.

Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms seems to be bug free and plays moderately well for what it attempts to achieve on my Windows 10 system. That being said, it has felt like a complete waste of time for me that isn’t any real fun. This game is free for the next two days on Steam as a promotion to get people to play it. After 30 minutes of playing it myself I feel it’s a shame they can’t give me my 30 minutes back.

Decksplash – Compatibility

Decksplash Title Screen

Decksplash Title Screen

System Requirements

Operating System: Windows 10 64-bit
Processor: Intel Core i3 6th Gen or AMD FX-6200 or better
Memory: 4GB RAM
Video: Nvidia GTX 680 or AMD R9 280X or better
Sound: DirectX 10 compatible sound card
Hard Drive: 4 GB
Gamepad recommended for play.

Windows 10

This game was designed for Windows 10.

Decksplash – Windows 10 Game First Impressions

Decksplash Title Screen

Decksplash Title Screen

It’s not often that I review a game so new there isn’t even a Wikipedia page about it. Decksplash was released on November 2, 2017 on the Steam platform, developed and published by Bossa Studios. It is a skateboarding simulator in which the player can perform tricks while competing with other players in the same arena. Decksplash might be best summed up as Tony Hawk meets Splatoon with elements of Rocket League.

The player controls the movement of a skateboard around an arena either in practice mode, or with other players online in team against team matchmaking play. Players are awarded points for tricks they successfully perform and also accumulate points for how successful their landing was. Each time a trick is successfully performed with a successful landing, a splotch of paint the color of their team explodes in all directions from the center of the player’s skateboard with a radius size proportional to the number of points awarded for the trick.

Punchbowl Plaza

Punchbowl Plaza

The more a player performs a specific trick, the fewer points they receive each time they perform it. The game seeks to encourage players to always attempt something new. This begets certain strategies. Some times are better than others to use the high points on tricks a player is particularly good at, while attempting the riskier tricks is preferred at other times. To be competitive, Decksplash insists you read the proficiency of the other team and adjust your strategies to maximize your point count throughout the match. You’ll want to score your greatest points when the other team is floundering.

In online play the objective is to accumulate the most points and color the majority of the arena. Each match begins with both teams having 150 seconds on the clock. Whichever team’s color lays claim to the majority of the surface area of the map receives a countdown on their team’s clock. As soon as one of the team’s clocks hits zero, the game ends and the team with zero seconds remaining is the winner.

Customizing your deck. Default Pickleboard shown.

Customizing your deck. Default Pickleboard shown.

The skateboards can be customized via the “Customize Deck” option on the main menu. The player begins the game with a typical default skateboard with a common truck and pink wheels. All other options are locked and unavailable on first play. As the player accumulates more points and reaches milestones in the matches, they will level-up and receive loot boxes. Loot boxes contain decks, trucks, and wheels that can be selected for the game matches. I was able to get to level three within thirty minutes and had accumulated one new deck, two trucks, and three different colors of wheels.

Costa Del Splash

Costa Del Splash

The game developers recommend playing Decksplash with a game pad. Given that I did not happen to have one handy at the moment, I used a keyboard for this particular review. The up, down, left, and right arrows are used from movement of the skateboard. “A” yaws left. “D” yaws right. “W” pitches up, while “S” pitches down. “Q” rolls left, and “E” rolls right. Periodically you will have a shockwave available to use. You can trigger this by using the “F” key.

EasyAntiCheat Service is required to play.

EasyAntiCheat Service is required to play.

After installing Decksplash and prior to loading the game for the first time, a piece of software called EasyAntiCheat Service was installed to my machine in order to run the game. To my knowledge I’ve never encountered this program before so I did a bit of research on it. It is apparently a popular program for game companies to use to impede cheating on many of their game offerings.

I have read that it scans your system memory and takes random screen shots to ensure you’re playing fairly. It is currently used extensively in eSports, so it does have a legitimate track record in the industry. That being said, I would imagine that a random screenshot or memory scan at the right (or wrong) time could potentially reveal more information about the user than the user would ever intend to make public. I wanted to include this here to warn any paranoid users like me, proceed with caution. It also makes me wonder how difficult it would be to get this game to run in Linux via Wine given that there is a separate anti-cheat component required to run the game.

Observatory

Observatory

All in all, Decksplash is a colorful game that is a considerable amount of fun. I enjoyed making color splotches across the map, leveling up my skateboard, and performing increasingly challenging tricks. The matchmaking is quick, easy, and balanced. So far I haven’t been frustrated by Decksplash; I’ve only been having a blast. Decksplash is available to play for free on the Steam platform until November 10, 2017. If you are reading this prior to that date, go play it for yourself and see what you think.

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.