Favorite Pastime: Steam Surfing
One of my favorite things to do when I’m feeling restless is to surf the games on Steam. It’s a lot of fun seeing what’s out there and making judgement calls regarding whether or not I’d like to play a particular game. There’s been a lot of awesome games that have come into my hands thanks to this favorite pastime of mine. Here’s some of the fruit of my wanderings through the orchard of Steam.
A Virus Named Tom: A fun and fascinating puzzle game. I’ll never look at grids the same way again.
Bastion: A great narrative and a fun point-and-click hack-and-slash-esque game. You’ll play it over and over again to find all the secret stuff.
The Clockwork Man (and The Clockwork Man: The Hidden World): I’m not normally one for hidden object games, but these were inexpensive and had an interesting story to them. There’s also a baseline hidden object game that allows you to hunt for objects on one of the many screens that appear during the storyline playthrough. Fun and very diverting for a couple of evenings.
Deathspank: A humorous take on the point-and-click hack-and-slash genre. Very fun and has you chuckling for about 50% of the time. The other 50% you’re cursing as you run from the army of demons or whatever you’re fighting.
Home: This is one of my most recent purchases. It’s an environmental horror game. Dead body after dead body appears in this pixelated game that encourages you to play with headphones on and the lights off. The ending changes depending on your level of interaction with the game and even then, the end is highly subject to your interpretation. You’re even encouraged to share your perceptions of the ending on the game’s website. Long after you’ve finished playing, this game sticks with you. Amazing.
Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale: This game was a whimsical purchase of mine, but I’ve never regretted buying and playing it. You run an item shop and outfit adventurers and provide materials for locals. As the game goes on, you accompany adventurers on quests to collect more items to sell. All the while you’re constantly worrying about paying off your loans by the deadline. Personally, I cheated so I wouldn’t have to worry about the loan thing so I could just enjoy the game. 8 hours later, I looked up from my computer to notice the day had passed. Very involving and fascinating.
SOL: Exodus: This flight sim attracted my eye and I regretted purchasing it almost as soon as I got it. Mechanically it’s a sound game, but it just borders on too hard for too little gain. Where is it written that flight sims have to have absurd mission goals? I got a few missions into the game and was kicking myself for a desire for Wing Commander, Freelancer, and Privateer. Even those games had their pain in the ass missions but this installment into the genre just seemed to be made of easy to fail objectives.
SpaceChem: An amazing puzzle game dealing with elements and bonds and chemicals in space. I even did a how-to for one of the stages. The difficulty ramps up, but this makes you want to break out the graph paper and build your facilities by hand before turning on the game and building it in game. Very involving.
System Protocol One: This game is a brilliantly colored tower defense game where you’re a system admin fighting off bugs and other things trying to affect your network. It’s beautifully designed and hides an eventual crushing difficulty. I highly recommend it for a very eye catching and fun example of the tower defense genre.
Torchlight II: I picked this up after fiddling with the demo for three hours. Yup, three hours. The demo STILL wasn’t done. I just threw my hands up into the air and bought the full version of the game. Still don’t know what the demo limitations were, but I’m happily playing through the game with a “shotgonne” wielding Outlander named Jezebel and her pet hawk named Pixel. It’s all the steampunk I ever wanted covering all the Diablo I ever needed.
X3: Terran Conflict: Another flight sim flop for me. This one was an expensive mistake for me at the time. It was a big game that demanded a better computer, but more than that… the wooden voice acting and annoying flight combat pissed me off. I get that people are trying to go for realism in space, but dammit, I want my dogfights, not my strafing runs. This wasn’t the kind of game I like where I can get into a furball with a few enemy planes and come out the other side panting. No, I spent most of my time APPROACHING fights. I get that space is vast and everything, but NORMAL PEOPLE PUT BUILDINGS NEXT TO EACH OTHER WITH LESS SPACE IN BETWEEN THEM! Gah. Flying from one end of a system to the other when the game makes you feel like you have to hurry with a tutorial system that kind of just drops you on the floor at the end… that frustrates me.
It’s been hit or miss on occasion, but overall I really enjoy surfing the Steam marketplace. It’s relaxing, it’s eye-opening, and eventually it reveals some fun stuff.
I might even give Team Fortress 2 a try in the near future. Who knows?
Until next time!
P.S. “Pleasing ware is half sold.” – George Herbert