Tag Archives: Steam Gaming

Trucking Through Europe

Introduction

As promised in the outro to the latest episode of Noob’s Book Club, I’m covering a couple of simulation games that I’ve been playing over the last few months. I think I picked them both up as a Humble Bundle deal. But, I don’t remember exactly. I just looked it up. I received Euro Truck Simulator 2 through some Humble Bundle or another. And, so, I started trucking through Europe.

Point of fact. We took Liam to Germany for his graduation present. Actually, we ended up traveling to Prague in the Czech Republic and a couple of places just over the Austrian border, too. But, we spent most of our time in Germany. I enjoyed the trip so much that I seriously considered moving to Europe in 6 years or so. Christine eloquently said, “You want to live anywhere but here.” To which I responded, “Yep.”

Top is my in game shot of Allianz. Bottom is my trip to the stadium over the summer.

Wait, that’s it?

I know what you’re thinking. Because, honestly, I thought the same thing. You just drive trucks? Through European countries. And, to answer the question, at the heart of the game, that’s it. You pick a base of operations to start. Since we went to Germany and I liked Munich, I picked there. You take different jobs to make money. Eventually, you buy a garage, a truck, then another truck, then hire some drivers, and buy another truck. I’m currently at the point where I want to buy a new garage to expand my operation some.

Because of the basic premise, I skipped this game for a long time. I played much more of the train simulation game because I thought it might take more skill. In fact, it does. So much so, sometimes, that I get frustrated why my train isn’t acting the way that I want. In the truck game, I get in, drive to a job, take the job, and off I go across the European countryside.

The Verdict

Don’t be fooled by the basic premise like I was. This game takes skill. Sometimes you even have to think a little bit. Do you rest now or try to make it to the next spot to rest? If you do that, will you get tired and find it harder to control your truck? What happens when they land a helicopter on the highway, blocking every single lane? Yes, that happens. Quite often, actually. Those are just some of the scenarios that you’ll face when you come trucking through Europe with me.

Note: I meant to release this yesterday. But, I’ve felt crummy for the last 24 hours or so. Expect delays on all content this week while I get caught up. Sorry!

Undertale – What’s Next?

Introduction

When I planned this article at the beginning of the week, I hoped that I beat the game at least through one of the endings. Alas, best laid plans and all that. Instead, I played through the first level and part of the second level on Wednesday and wrote about my thoughts then. So the obvous answer to the question Undertale – What’s Next?

Beat the game through at least one of the levels.

Not to put to fine a point on it, but that needs to happen before I can even consider any other possibilities in the game and beyond. Those who follow the page know that I am, by no sense of the word, a completist when it comes to games. I think I have exactly two 100%s on my resume. Super Mario 64 and Ratchet and Clank. That’s it. A couple of years ago, I tried to follow Quinn on his mission to get all achievements in Minecraft. I also worked to finish MK11 last year. Both ended in utter failure.

*something something* *motivational quote about rising from the fires of failure as a phoenix of success.

Okay, But After That

Okay, after I follow a walkthrough to the “Pacifist” ending, how many of the 93 possible endings do I then chase? Death and Taxes has about a dozen endings and I stopped playing after achieving the Usurper simply because it connects with my world view. So, after defeating Undertale as a Pacifist, what’s the incentive to keep playing? Honestly, at this point, nothing.

I bought so many games through Steam, Humble, and Fanatical now that I need to start playing them. One thing that “Celebrating Indie Games in July 2023” taught me is that there are a ton of great games out there and that’s not even counting the fact that Street Fighter 6 and Mortal Kombat 1 release this year. Also, I want the PS5 because we want to play the Spider-Man games on it. Long story short (I know, too late) is that I don’t see myself playing this game much after achieving the ending.

But, You Know There’s a “Sequel” Right?

I learned about Deltarune (an anagram of Undertale, clever!) from a student while teaching at Conant. They asked if I ever played Undertale. Obviously, I responded in the negative. “But,” I said, “I bought the game for my youngest to play, so maybe I’ll check it out.” Well, I can finally say I checked it out.

So, after beating Undertale, I suppose there’s always Deltarune. Doing a bit of research, I found that only 2 of the planned 7 chapters released so far. That means that not much more of a time commitment required to play through those parts of the game. Maybe I will try to play through that one without a guide.

The Verdict

The most likely path forward is that I play through the first two chapters of Deltarune. I like Undertale but not enough to try for the multiple endings right now. But, maybe after playing the game more, I might. Stay tuned to see my actual answer to Undertale – what’s next?

Undertale – A Bit Further In

Introduction

As promised in my earlier article, I played more Undertale. Though I used a walkthrough, I failed to finish the game as expected (hoped). Yes, some of us oldbies still click the first link when searching for a walkthrough. We are the ones keeping IGN alive after all these years. Therefore, I can only give my impressions of Undertale – a bit further in.

I finished the first part of the game where you leave the ruins in spite of Toriel’s request. Then, I played through part of the next dungeon where you meet two of the characters that I recognize from Liam and Quinn talking about the game. Sans and Papyrus. I enjoyed the introduction to them and look forward to following their stories through the rest of the game. Speaking of stories…

The Story

Surprisingly, Undertale’s story is much deeper than I expected. I don’t know why I expected any less. Generally speaking, both Quinn and Liam follow my lead when it comes to expecting good stories out of their games. Even so, while the premise is basic (person dies and ends up somewhere — limbo, hell, Cleveland?), the characters all make it seem fresher. They all have their own personalities and motivation. It makes it easy to get lost in the fiction of the game and makes the story more enjoyable overall.

The Puzzles

I (and Liam and Quinn) also like a game with puzzles. So far, the puzzles in this game lack depth and challenge. Push a switch to lower the gates. Sometimes we hide that switch behind a pillar in a rotated or mirrored room. Memorize the pattern on the floor in this room and use it to navigate the traps in the next room. That kind of stuff. Certainly nothing on the level of Resident Evil or Zelda

Battles

Battles take on a different style from any other game I played. First, since they built in a “Pacifist” ending, you can go through the whole game without actually battling anything. The menu gives you a choice to “Act” which can mean anything from petting a dog to ignoring a character’s hat. Eventually, the name turnes a different color and you can “Spare” them without raising a finger.

As you see from the video, though, even if you spare them, you still need to engage in some form of combat. That combat, seen in the video as moving the heart (your soul) to avoid the attack by the dog varies with each character. It always involves dodging or avoiding something.

Verdict

Overall, playing Undertale a bit further in makes me want to play the game more. I wish I played it all the way through to have more of an opinion of everything, but life happens as they say. Even so, what might be an uninspired and repetitive mess avoids all of that with just the right amount of variation and humor. Stay tuned for an update when I actually finish the game, maybe as early as next month.

Undertale Very First Impressions

Introduction

I first learned about Undertale from Quinn. He found the game somehow. I think he watched one of his streamers play it in YouTube (yes, I know that’s our YouTube link, no shame here). I never played it then because it looked just like a silly point and click type adventure game. So, instead, I probably just played through Portal 2 again. More recently, I heard Liam watching a YouTube video about the game. Something stuck this time and I decided to load up the game and give it a try. And, so, I come to you today with my Undertale very first impressions.

I only played through a short amount of the game. Steam tells me that I played 5.4 hours. For the record, that’s only enough for me to finish the tutorial and explore some of the first dungeon. I’m at the second save point. I plan to play the game all the way through and update on Wednesday. Then, on Friday, I want to talk about what comes next for me and Undertale.

Undertale Very First Impressions

I do what I want.

So far, my initial thoughts after playing very little of the actual game mirror my initial thoughts when I first learned about the game. It looks like a typical point and click game with some innovative game play. Combat, for example. looks unlike anything I’ve ever seen in another game.

It starts as you’d expect. The screen changes from the map to the combat screen. A combat menu offers choices like battle, spare, and talk. Accoding to the advice from your mentor, you avoid combat and talk with the enemy until they arrive to settle the difference.

I know enough about the game to know that it offers several different endings. One of those rewards you for being a pacifist through the game. I don’t know enough about the game to know what that all entails, but I assume avoiding battle as much as possible fits the standard for pacifist.

In spite of that, I engaged in some combat to be able to intelligently discuss the unique nature of that combat. You take control of your “soul” (a heart on the screen) and use the arrow keys to move it and avoid little stars that might harm you. Again, as this is very early impressions, that’s all I know about combat.

The Verdict

Over the next few days, I promise to play the game more (hopefully to completion of one of the endings) and give a better idea of how I feel about the game. One thing I can say is that I choose to play the game more, so it intrigues me on some level. Come back in a couple of days for the update.

1 Screen Platformer From the Vault Series

Editors Note

In an effort to keep the page active while in Germany, I came up with this series of reruns from the past. And, so I present to you from the vault series 1. In this one, I talk about how thankful I am for 1 Screen Platformer, an independent game that I played obsessively for about a month last year.

Introduction

For the last few weeks, I dedicated Thursday to my Dungeons and Dragons club play through of Curse of Strahd. As you can read if you follow the link, one of the reasons I am not doing so is because my group is slowly falling apart. Last week, I stopped the game early and this week I threw out two of my group from the club before we got a chance to play. Also, Spooktober is over, so time to focus on other games I enjoy. Today, I write about how I’m thankful for 1 Screen Platformer.

I wish I remembered how I became aware of the game. Being that it is on Steam, I either purchased it during a Steam sale or it came as part of a Humble Bundle. A quick search of my Humble Bundle history shows no evidence of the game, so apparently, I bought it as part of a Steam sale.

Why I am Thankful for 1 Screen Platformer

In any case, I played the game obsessively for a month or so last year. Every now and then (like earlier this week), when I load up my Windows partition I give the game another shot. I never regret the decision. The game’s title tells you all you need to know. Instead of moving from one screen to another to advance in the level, the camera follows your character as it pans left/right/up/down to capture the game play. But the catch is that the game fits on one screen. I’ll let the trailer give a better explanation than I ever can.

The Verdict

See what I mean? Tight controls, challenging levels, varied characters and achievements for each of them come together to make (possibly surprising) for hours of entertainment. Even if you get bored after a few plays, I guarantee that you’ll be back for more. What do you have to lose? The game only costs 2.99 and there’s a “prologue” level for free to give you a better idea of the game play and if it’s something you’d enjoy.

Portal 2 Appreciation

Introduction

Yesterday, we threw Liam a party for his graduation. True to his heritage from me, he never really wanted a party. However, he went along with it. In spite of the awkwardness of having so many worlds collide, I think it went well. While sitting with his friends, one of them asked, “What’s your favorite game?” Another thought about it. My answer required no though. “Portal 2.” Then, I realized for all my talk about the game, I never wrote an article. So, join me for some Portal 2 appreciation.

For his part, Liam agreed. I think his friend, taken aback by my sudden interest in the conversation said something along the lines of, “Portal is a good game.” For me, it represents so much more. Those who read (and spider – Hey Sergei!) the page on a regular basis know that one of my main reasons for playing a game is the story. So, about that story.

Portal 2 Story

On the surface, it focuses around a faceless (unless you find a mirror or can portal yourself to see it) protagonist that needs to escape the crumbling infrastructure of a long dormant mega-corporation. Sure, a bit on the nose, but you write what society knows. Initially armed only with a pair of leg prosthetics that allow you to absorb the impact of high falls and a wittier than he thinks personal assistant, you strike off into the wilds of Aperture Science. Soon, you find your only weapon, a portal gun. Eventually, an old foe returns. Your former assisstant betrays you. Through it all, you wield only a gun that creates portals. Seriously. That’s it. I mean, it makes sense with the title. But, how can that possibly be interesting over an entire game? Well, more on that part later.

Well, one way they kept me hooked was the secondary story of Cave Johnson (the head and voice of Aperture science) and his assistant Caroline. The always fantastic J. K. Simmons voices Cave to perfection. But, honestly, Caroline (voiced by Ellen McLain) steals the show. We learn there exist “similariities” between her and the aforementioned former nemesis, GladOS. Unlike many things, if you haven’t played, I won’t spoil it any further. I want you to experience the story fresh like I got to. I’m sure you will enjoy it.

Portal 2 Gameplay

You start the game by waking up from a decades (centuries?) long sleep. Something went terribly wrong in the facility and all fail safes failed to keep people safe. Wait, why are we telling the story here? Doesn’t this belong up there? I’m setting the scene. Just give me this Portal 2 appreciation moment, please. You have no weapons. Similar to any other FPS, right? Well, sure, but the difference is, ultimately, you don’t fight anything. No demons, orcs, aliens, bug people, nothing. You run through the facility, just ahead of the chaos until you find a gun.

And, still, you fight nothing. Well, why the hell am I playing this game then? For me, that’s the beauty of Portal 2. WIthout any actual combat and very little peril, through the story and experience, they build a tension that forces you to keep playing to get to the end, survive, and excape this prison, frankly. They add science fiction elements of being able to create portals with the gun and ground up moon rocks and other mumbo jumbo that allow you to do superhuman things, too.

Portal 2 Puzzles

Like the primary story, Portal 2’s gameplay exists simply to allow them to build devious puzzles for you to solve. You must use your surroundings, your brain, and clues from previous puzzles to work your way through increasingly difficult levels. Many of the puzzles are straight forward to solve. But, the solutions take time and effort to put together sometimes. Some took me a good couple of hours to work out the actual solution. Even when I go back to replay the game (twice so far), a few of them give me trouble.

The Verdict

Obviously, there’s more to my Portal 2 appreciation. The game is visually appealing. Even with the tough puzzles, it takes less than a week to beat if you play a couple of hours each night. Since the game came out over a decade ago, you can get it for 10 bucks on Steam. Heck, every time I bought it (at least three times now for different systems), I got it in a bundle. The first time, it came with Half-Life 2, Portal, and Portal 2. Usually, it’s just the two Portal games. So, honestly, for a gamer like me, the Portal universe gives me everything I want from a game. Good story, simple controls, fun puzzles, and an overall great experience.