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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Day 16 - Knytt Underground 

Nicklas Nygren, the developer of the Knytt series, did a very inspiring talk at this year's Amaze festival in Berlin about “Secrets and Glitches”. After showing some tricks from classic video games he revealed places in real life he discovered. Like pictures of hidden little paths he followed in the woods or beautiful little places and doors he found where probably nobody else would have looked for them. He finished his talk with showing some of these examples in his game called Knytt Underground.

Like presented in his talk, Knytt is a huge labyrinth of beautifully crafted rooms, scenery and weird flowery photo backgrounds. In this world you play as a little mute girl, who is extremely talented in climbing walls. Which is also the main fun part while exploring. In every chapter you will get more abilities that help you reach new places in this Metroidvania-like concepted world.

Like in every platformer you have the screens with enemies and passages that you have to jump, bounce, fly or run through in a perfect choreography. But in Knytt these parts are not the only gameplay pieces, they are just rooms you go through once in a while, which makes them somewhat special and fun. In addition to that the character controller is excellent, which is not a given in this genre.

While praising the exploration, I have to admit that I haven’t found any of the achievement secrets, what seems to make me a shitty explorer. But I don't care, because there are enough rewarding things in the game. Especially climbing. And finding new passages you haven’t seen before.
So, if you love exploration and figuring out how to reach new places on your map, this is your game. Get it here.
And if you can't get enough from Nifflas' Knytts, there is a free Nintendo DS version of his Knytt stories, which I also played through while not sitting on the computer playing the Underground version.
And the superb soundtrack is available, too. For free.

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