Craft Beers For Craft Games

Don’t Starve paired with Shipwrecked Double IPA by Mission Brewery

I’ve loved rogue-like games ever since a friend in college introduced me to FTL. Rogue-like games differ from regular games because they tend to be shorter and have perma-death. Perma-death basically means that whenever you die the game completely ends and you have to start over. You lose all game and character progression; there are no saves or checkpoints. This style of games has regained popularity following the success of games such as Shovel KnightFTL, and The Binding of Isaac.  After seeing the reveal trailer for Don’t Starve, I instantly purchased it on Steam. It looked like a survival game directed by Tim Burton. Sign me up! I paired Don’t Starve with Shipwrecked Double because the name Shipwrecked evokes having to survive on an island and potentially starving. All problems I would have to overcome in the game.

 

Don’t Starve drops you on a randomly generated island and the game’s title is the only explanation for the plot and gameplay. You have to try not to starve by scavenging the island for supplies. Don’t Starve is very much a trial and error kind of game. There’s no tutorial, nothing is explained to you. Rather than trying to describe the gameplay, I’m just going to tell you about my first playthrough and let you decide whether or not it’s worth checking out. So settle in!

My first day was spent randomly clicking on objects and wondering if I could interact with them. I was able to craft an axe and use that to chop down trees for wood, as well as gathered berries and small vegetables for food. I also collected twigs, though I wasn’t sure why. I had seen some rocks and gravestones, too, but wasn’t able to interact with them. Suddenly, the sky darkened and my character suggested we build a fire. I noticed that a little meter with my brain drawn in it, was diminishing. It’s like Amnesia, being in darkness or going without food decreases your sanity. So I built a campfire and waited until morning. Day 1 success!

This was pretty much all I did for the first seven or so days. Scavenge during the day, rest at the campfire at night. I had crafted some more things, like a pick and a grass suit of armor, but I was still mostly focusing on food and wood from trees. Suddenly, I stumbled on rocks with gold shining through them. Eagerly I hacked away at it and discovered gold nuggets. Gold nuggets allowed me to build a Science Machine, which unlocks dozens of new items you can craft and a host of survival necessities. Most essential was the ability to grow a farm, because I had scavenged most of the food on the island. I needed manure though, an item I never thought I would need to collect. Also, manure meant other island creatures, most of which, besides some crows and an irritating turkey that continued to pop out of bushes, I had avoided. So I confidently strode off the next day in a different direction, armed with a crude spear and the spirit of industry.

I quickly learned that on this island, you are the at the bottom of the predatory food chain. I found a herd of bison-like creatures, who were happily leaving manure all over the plain. After grabbing the necessary amount of manure, a thought leaped into my brain. I’m running out of food, the farm will take a while to grow, what if I killed the bison creature? That’s how cavemen survived, by slaughtering mammoths, and that amount of meat would probably last until crops developed. So, I walked over and stabbed a bison, who promptly bellowed and headbutted me. I staggered back with half of my health gone and a very important lesson learned.

At this point, I was desperate for food and it was nearly nighttime. My sanity was dropping to dangerous levels apparently, since the brain in the meter was shriveled, and now I was starting to see sinister shapes at the edges of my screen and the objects in the world were becoming more and more distorted. As I headed back to my campsite, praying for food, I saw an egg lying on a nest in the ground. When I picked it up, the egg was described as a “tallbird egg”. Tallbird? I thought to myself, when suddenly I saw it. A long set of legs, twice my height, attached to a birdlike head with one giant eye. It charged at me with lightning speed and tried to peck me to death. I was able to run slightly faster than it, but the thing NEVER GAVE UP! I was running for nearly ten minutes and it was still right behind me with that murderous glint in its eye. I had also stumbled upon several of its buddies who were now also chasing me. Night finally arrived and, at this point, I’m more impressed than mad that the birds were still chasing me.

I had come to realize the terrors of the night. Luckily, fire protects you from the ghosts and other monsters that appear at nighttime. Shadowy tentacles began to appear and started to attack me. When I stopped to create a torch to make my way through the night and its monsters, the birds finally got me.

This playthrough is basically what every playthrough was like. Long periods of repetitive scavenging, with some hilarious or tense moments scattered throughout. What makes the game fun is these moments are organic and unscripted, often leading to unintentional comedy. My favorite memory was when I accidentally set the entire forest on fire in an attempt to kill the spider that was chasing me. The art style is easily the best part of the game, however the music is one looped melody. I grew so tired of it that I muted the game and listened to my own music.

Shipwrecked Double IPA is a dark ale that’s surprisingly deceptive. It’s a hoppy and quite tasty IPA, not nearly as harsh as the one from my last article. Yet, it has a higher alcohol content. If you make the mistake of guzzling it, you’re hit by a wave of lightheaded-ness. Like Don’t Starve, every mistake is punishing.

In conclusion, I recommend both the IPA and Don’t StarveDon’t Starve’s rogue elements and randomly generated worlds make every playthrough fresh and original. As long as you don’t mind the tedium of scavenging the same items for the first few days, you’re guaranteed challenging and often unintentionally comedic gameplay. Shipwrecked Double IPA is another excellent IPA from Mission Brewery (2 for 2 so far), who’s excellent taste hides it’s high alcohol content.

Steredenn paired with Hefe by Widmer Brothers Brewing.

The Xbox One was the first home console I bought with my own money. And I am determined to get the most bang for my buck. For this reason, I am purposefully exploring the Xbox indie scene (which often overlaps with Steam). So this week I browsed Xbox’s online store and opened my fridge in search of a good combination.

There was one beer left from my new brew variety pack, Hefe by Widmer Brothers Brewing. I left this one for last because Hefeweizens have a very distinct flavor that is definitely not for everyone. It’s a South German style wheat beer in its traditional, unfiltered form. Taste wise, it’s known for its low hops and dry/tart edge. Widmer Brothers Brewing describes Hefe as “The Original American Hefeweizen.” When I think “original,” I think classic. And when it comes to games, I think pixels.

This brought me to Steredenn, a shoot em’ up (Shmup) game that takes place in space. Developed by Pixelnest studios, Steredenn’s linear gameplay with minimal story transports us back to the arcade era. And there’s something particularly satisfying about playing it on the Xbox One, because consoles were originally marketed as a home arcade machine.

Steredenn begins with a quick in-game tutorial of the controls and then an urgent call to action as we exit the hangar of our transport ship. We embark on our journey in the depths of space, where we take on a barrage of space pirates. The goal of Steredenn is simple, get through all the bosses. Steredenn avoids becoming stagnate, the folly of many Shmups, by having a wide variety of weapons you can pick up and toggle between. Additionally, after each boss battle you get to choose from a range of upgrades (such as 20% less damage from collisions or 50% more damage when using a certain weapon type). In total, there are 35 weapons and 25 upgrades available.

Levels are also “randomly” generated which helps the game feel new each time. This was really helpful as someone who, after hours of gameplay, still completely sucks as Steredenn. What can I say? I’m the noob that has to constantly insert coin. But for those of you who are more skilled at Shmups, don’t worry. In addition to the replay value of campaign mode, Steredenn has a Daily Run and an arena where you can face bosses one-on-one after defeating them in normal mode.

When you have a Shmup space game with a pixel art style you are invoking the arcade. And Steredenn does this beautifully. The skill required to weave through heavy fire while still shooting back, the satisfaction of small victories with the desire to keep going, the fist flail and audible exclamations of defeat, all of this feels very arcade and I love it. Steredenn is a visually stunning blast. And at only $12.99, everyone should download this.

Maybe it’s because I’m a little too obsessed with Beercade back home in Chicago, but there’s something really nice about drinking a beer and taking on an arcade-style game. Widmer Brothers Brewing’s Hefe was solid company. The flavor wasn’t as powerful as other Hefeweizens, a point against it in my book, but it was clean and crisp. It’s just okay but if you’re someone who normally doesn’t like Hefeweizens, or is new to them, I’d recommend it since it’s not so overpowering.

Click here for our first pairing.

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