Day 21 - DataJack 

I only discovered DataJack very recently on Desura, and at first the graphics threw me off a bit. While the pixel art is more than good enough and atmospheric and the general aesthetics pleasing, the game unfortunately has a fixed resolution which makes it hard to recognize everything. There is a fullscreen launcher, but on my monitor it deforms the pixels (unacceptable!).



As far as a I got into it, DataJack is a cyberpunk adventure where you play a mercenary, doing some tasks one could describe as crimes – the very first mission is about robbing a Burger World, the second one about hacking a TV station. As a big fan of stealth I adore the possibility to crouch and generally being a sneaky guy. Every mission allows a varying number of deaths, sometimes even civilian casualties, and an abstract number of damage and chaos. It's up to you to undermatch these requirements.



It plays a bit like a low-fi version of Deus Ex. You can heal and upgrade your character and equipment in-between missions, in an adorable city hub where you find a clinic, a gun dealer and so on. What I yet have to see is some kind of a bigger story that glues the missions together or explores your motivation, and I'm suspecting there is none. At least you can find some lore about the world in the in-game computers.



What I can testify definitely is that the sound design of the game is great; it actually isn't what you would expect from the retro-craze nowadays and from the graphics of DataJack. Overall it's more realistic, you hear the typical buzzing from machines, and your footsteps can matter when you try to be stealthy (just don't walk on metal surfaces). The music complements the cyberpunk atmosphere perfectly.

I'm eager to try more missions soon! Oh, and did I already tell that the game is free? Unbelievable!
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Day 20 - Space Team 



In short: Best game of 2013! Space team is fun and super hilarious. It triggers all my child memories of role-playing and pretending to be a super hero in a rescue situation. Or watching Star Trek and being fascinated by alien space ships and flashing interfaces. And now you can have these moments back, while meeting other adults on a conference or in the train or in a bar, tablets pulled out and everybody is concentrating as if the incident on the space ship is real.

Space team has no barrier. The game is free and everybody with a smart phone or tablet can connect and play, if the wifi or bluetooth connection works. You don't need to be into games. Space Team is so intuitive through the interface and low requirements, every newbie I watched playing will be in no time into the seriousness it takes to be in a Space Team.

All you need is communication skills and a fast recognition of the techno bubble on your screen. The idea is simple and brilliant: every member gets instructions to pull triggers, rotating switches, press buttons or adjust sliders that are mostly on the interfaces the other players see. So you need to work together – as well as calm down – in order to be able to communicate all the instructions. The more players and the more different languages you have in the team, the more interesting Space Team gets.

Rig Tetasensor to Fluxdriver! Now!!! Also on Hyper Detectors!


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Day 19 - QuestLord 

That damn shard! I still have to find it!

But besides from my personal quest for the typical last artifact, I adore QuestLord, especially for what it is. It doesn't try to innovate where it isn't needed, because games like QuestLord are seldom enough on mobile. It's a neat dungeon crawler in the style of Eye of the Beholder and similar oldschool titles; that means it's turn-based, and you look and walk in cardinal directions only. There is a good amount of story and lore in the game, and a bit of humor now and then. Everything you want from a retro RPG is included, like dwarves, elves and monsters, swamps, mountains and forests.

At the beginning you choose one from three distinct races with varying skill distribution (there are three different skills). Depending on the race you get different gear and start at your home location in the big, connected world. Which I think is super neat, and could have been explored a bit more in the game, like special locations for each character later in the game.



As usual, I chose to be a dwarf, because dwarves are one of the more interesting races in most RPGs – elves are mostly the typical snobbish guys in spandex, and humans, well, they are humans. As a dwarf you don't use magic from the beginning, and it's kinda rewarding to find a spell book later in the game. But mostly I hack my way through the atmospheric pixel-y dungeons dwarf-style, i.e. with melee weapons and without a lot of thought. If you do it right, the difficulty is just right, and if you want a much bigger challenge you can choose a roguelike mode in the start menu, with randomized dungeons and permadeath.



If I had to name some negative points, it would probably be the missing variation in the story (for example, all quests involve killing and/or fetching an item); and I'd also like deeper dialogs – they are mostly one-liners. Oh, and if some of the dungeons also could be a bit more diverse, that would be nice.
Sure, one could mention more things, but that all would be a matter of taste mostly. QuestLord is what it is, a homage to a style of RPGs from long ago, and you can play it on your Android or iPhone. Awesome enough, in my opinion!
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Day 18 - Symmetrain 



Designers often have to aspire a symmetric, balanced unity of shapes on artificial products. Although we humans seem to be symmetrical, it is just an illusion, because perfect symmetry is not to be found in nature. Just a human search for perfection.
And I'm not used to find this kind of symmetry in games. That's why the first screenshots of Symmetrain did puzzle me. What is this game about, what do I do with these identical looking screens?



But soon after downloading the game you will develop the compulsion to complete the beautiful landscapes of that are not balanced or doubled. Symmetrain is like a relaxing train ride, where you look out of the window and enjoy all the beauty that passes in front of your eyes. Your goal is to complete the perfection of both sides and re-balance them. Guided by a train - that even has a brake in case the scene passes too fast – you will explore the fantastic landscapes in a combination of infinite runner and 'Find the difference', plaited in an unique game which is excessively exploring travel, remembrance and recognition.

Get the game here.
I think Daniel's action figures are also notable and weird.


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Day 17 - TECNO 

I'm very impressed by TECNO, mostly because of its technical achievement: it's been made with Blitz3D. If you don't know Blitz3D, it's a 3D engine you can script directly with a BASIC dialect (the infamous BlitzBasic). It also comes with a simple IDE. Years ago I used it for some prototypes, and I always liked the ease of use and many of the features it comes with, like robust collision detection and so on. Back then it made 3D game programming finally reachable for me, and that's why I love Blitz3D so much; in a sense, it's the Unity of its time.

The reason why I'm so impressed with this certain game is that Blitz3D uses DirectX 7, which came out 14 years ago. Yet I think TECNO, from 2007, looks pretty cool. It even has physics! The game proves that a pleasant look is mostly due to the artists' skill, not because of the technical capabilities. (Of course there will always be people who would describe it as "ugly", but those won't read this blog, I guess.)



TECNO also isn't the standard pew-pew first-person shooter one might suspect, but actually a much slower paced adventure-FPS with a prominent touch of horror. It really reminds me a lot of System Shock 1 and 2, which always is a plus in my book. Of course you can be a bit grumpy about the somewhat strange interface, and that you can't save anytime, but don't let that drag you down.



I have to confess that I didn't make it very far in the game yet, as I'm still bad at playing horror-themed games without the permanent urge to quit them and watch happy bunnies instead. As the game is free now for quite some time, there is no reason to not at least try it out. I at least was curious already when I saw the colorful yet nightmarish atmosphere for the first time (I just love abandonded space stations).
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