A thoughtful and personal exploration of games

Posts tagged “SpaceChem

Face, Meet Brick Walls – Puzzle Games

I’m a fan of interesting puzzle games. Look up SpaceChem, A Virus Named TOM, and Hacker Evolution on Steam and you’ll see the kinds of puzzle games that really attract my attention. I like simple games, but I have a problem with puzzle games in general…

You see, after a fashion, I can’t figure the puzzles out.

I swear, that admission feels like a weight off my chest. It’s almost embarrassing though. There’s a point where no amount of staring or fiddling around will help me figure out how to solve the puzzle in front of me and it happens in every puzzle game at differing points. The only constant is that I do hit a brick wall labeled “can’t solve this one without help”.

That’s why I’m thankful for walkthrough sites and guide videos. In fact, SpaceChem got so complex that I had to write directions down to save on alt-tabbing between the game and the YouTube video I was using as a guide. Eventually I made my own SpaceChem video, but it was based on another solution video. I still haven’t beaten that game, but it was so fun to play.

Recently the puzzle game A Virus Named TOM came out and I snapped it up. It’s interesting, it’s engaging, and it’s fun. Also, awesome soundtrack. Admittedly, I hit a wall pretty early, but they allowed for that to a small extent with level skip tokens. I’m in the last series of puzzles only thanks to mostly skipping the previous stage. I was empowered by these skip tokens. I skipped by the trouble puzzles and hit the ones I could definitely do, going back when I felt like it and eventually figuring them out with either my own skills or with internet voodoo help.

I’m a pretty straight-forward gamer. If the problem is in front of me, I look for the most direct solution to getting past it. Most games allow for that. MMOs are typically “direct approach” games with the option to occasionally sneak around problems but there’s a lot of variance in the direct approaches based on your class and personal play-style. Deux Ex: Human Revolution encourages a stealth approach to the game, but you can take the head-on approach if you’re feeling particularly daring. Again, lots of variance in both primary approaches thanks to timing, luck, and skill. Puzzle games though, there’s typically one or two solutions at best for a given puzzle. The trick is thinking in the language of the puzzle, interpreting the twists and turns that have come before to help you through the next few twists and turns. I suck at languages though.

I love puzzle games but they smack me in the face sometimes with how generally inept I can be.

Yesterday I played a little A Virus Named TOM, hit a brick wall with my face, and then jumped into Star Wars: The Old Republic and REVELED in the simplicity of just shooting enemies with my Commando. It was so good.

Until next time!

– Elorfin

P.S. “Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after another.” – Walter Elliott

P.P.S. Oh, I throw Tower-Defense games in with puzzle games. The strategy itself combined with the timing required makes it a puzzle game of the highest order. Seriously, I got whipped by Defense Grid and System Protocol One.

Discussion – The Urge to Replay

I’ve had this craving recently to dive back into a game that I’ve already beaten. I’m not entirely sure why though. Let me try to convey my thoughts on the matter.

First of all, I have plenty of games I haven’t beaten yet:

Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory

Splinter Cell: Conviction

Lord of the Rings Online

Champions Online

Hellgate: London

Dungeons & Dragons: Daggerdale

Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood

Spiral Knights



Police Quest Collection

Space Quest Collection

Roller Coaster Tycoon

X-COM Apocalypse

X-COM Terror From the Deep

These are just some of the games I have access to right now. I haven’t even touched the stacks of handheld games I haven’t beaten yet or even the console games I haven’t beaten. Seriously, I could focus on one or more of these and actually FINISH a few more games, but I have this craving to keep playing/replay certain games even after I’ve finished them. Here are the siren songs that keep calling me.

Chrono Trigger

Chrono Cross

Final Fantasy XII

Star Trek Online (I consider it beaten, but since they keep adding new stuff, I dunno)

Mass Effect 2

Republic Commando

I’ve successfully resisted replaying a few of those games lately by focusing on LOTRO, but Final Fantasy XII has been calling me exceptionally often lately. Whenever I look at my dormant PS2, I have this craving to play FFXII and I don’t really know why. I beat it rather soundly last time, but for some reason I just want to start a new game and pound the crap out of it again. It’s a massive investment of time though, so I’ve been able to resist it successfully. Resisting Chrono Cross is kind of easy though, however sad because well, I can resist it because it doesn’t have voice acting and I’m afraid the game might put me to sleep without enough stimulation. Strange, right? I know, but I once nodded off while playing Final Fantasy VI on the PSX and that’s my most favorite FF game of all time. I managed to whet my Chrono Trigger appetite recently when it came available on the Wii and I also own a handheld copy of the game (but it’s so much more fun to play on the TV).

Lately I’ve been having this strong desire to play a game where I can shoot things. Obviously, this rules out games like LOTRO and Chrono Trigger, so I’ve been giving sidelong glances at Splinter Cell: Conviction and Hellgate: London and a few other games with colons in their names.

I’m not sure about the details behind my desire to replay a game over finishing a game, but hey, that’s why this little site is here! To let me expand upon my random thoughts and help me discover what’s going on! I seriously think that I have a problem with finishing games because deep down I don’t want the experience to end. Further, I like replaying certain games that are quick and exciting or allow me to carry over information from a prior game. It’s possible (since FFXII doesn’t fit this mold) that I might have a strong desire to replay a game if I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the original playthrough. I did kind of give up on the extras in FFXII when I realized I just wanted to beat the game at level 70 or something as a result of losing to a stupid extra boss that was an hour or so away from a save point. I’ll never understand why they don’t put save points in front of every boss fight, however optional. FFXIII has save points galore, but I guess when you really need one it’s never there.

Anyways, I’m off to work some more on my Captain in LOTRO. I got him to level 50 last night and he’s currently working on upgrading his first legendary item to level 10 so I can go back and put a hurting on the Watcher in the Water. It’s a decent halberd I’m using, but I’d prefer different legacies. We’ll see what happens.

Until next time!

– Elorfin

P.S. “Congrats on finishing the game. Now get a life!!” – Eiji Nakamura in the “Programmers'” Ending of Chrono Trigger

Impression – SpaceChem and Deathspank

Today I’d like to direct your attention to two very interesting and fun games that I recently downloaded through Steam: SpaceChem and DeathSpank. Both of these games are $15 bucks and both are of high quality and production. Seriously.

The above video is actually a playthrough video I snagged while solving a particular stage in SpaceChem. The point of the game is to solve the chemical puzzles laid before you by creating a pathing solution for the “waldos” that grab and manipulate chemical elements. As the game goes on you’re introduced to bonding (adding and subtracting bonds), fusing (where shooting a fusion laser into one element pushes it into another thereby creating a third element), and so forth. Further, there’s also a bit of a storyline as you’re a new employee at this interstellar chemical corporation and you witness these strange events that occur. Personally I find the storyline to be compelling me to solve the puzzles so I can get the next bit or two. I really enjoy this game but it can be head-hurtingly hard sometimes. There’s a demo available on Steam and I highly recommend you give it a spin.

This video is the start of a Let’s Play series by Hank Green of the Vlogbrothers. I figured why make my own video when Hank is doing such a wonderful job already! Anyways, DeathSpank is very similar to the typical Diablo II style of game. You don’t get any spells, but as you level you get certain improvements or Hero Cards that amplify your innate abilities further. Equipment and money is plentiful as the exceptionally well written humorous story takes you all over this stylized world. I have a few issues with the game (mainly that I have to click every single time I want to swing my weapon as opposed to holding it down to repeatedly swing). The game seems to crash occasionally for me, but that might just be my problem. All in all, I have a lot of fun playing it and I’m really enjoying the amazing sense of humor the developers put into the game. Most things are tongue in cheek in this game.

Anyways, these are the two games that have captured my attention lately. Please give them a try and let me know what you think! They are very affordable and very fun!

Until next time!

– Elorfin

P.S. “Video games are bad for you? That’s what they said about rock and roll.” – Shigeru Miyamoto