Hello and welcome to ‘I managed to pry myself away from Mass Effect 2 long enough to write this: The article.’
The Bioshock Series
Right, the first Bioshock is great – a classic, even. Endlessly intriguing and unexpectedly terrifying in places, the first of the Bioshock trilogy is a tremendous introduction to the submerged city of Rapture.
You play as Jack who, upon surviving a plane crash and conveniently finding a water elevator or “bathysphere”, must rely upon the guidance of Atlas – a friendly Irish-sounding chap. Atlas informs us that Rapture is the brainchild of Andrew Ryan (a business type who’s read one too many Ayn Rand books) and everything went to shit and now Atlas’ family is missing.
To say anything about what happens after that would ruin one of the best narrative experiences in gaming, so I shan’t. To make your way through Rapture, you’ll have to master the use of various ‘plasmids’. These are sort-of spells that allow you to manipulate the environment or direct freeze, shock, or levitate your enemies. Alongside a nicely varied arsenal of weapons, this makes the combat satisfying enough to ensure that Bioshock is more than a gripping plot – it’s a fantastically realised game.
Bioshock 2 sees you play the role of one of the ‘Big Daddies’ that you see wandering about in the first game. For me, the second failed to live up to the high expectations I had playing the first, although that’s an opinion not shared by quite a few fans of the series.
Bioshock Infinite, however, is a triumph. Is it better than the first? Jeez, I mean ask me that question on different days and you’ll get different answers. All I can tell you is that, similarly to the first, Infinite combines a compelling story and immersive gameplay. The bright, vibrant and downright gorgeous setting of Colombia stands in stark contrast to the damp murkiness of Rapture, but there’s still that same pervasive sense of dread and disgust with what is happening around you.
All in all, any series that has two stand out examples of sheer brilliance, alongside one very good game in its own right, is a series worthy of your time.
Rating: Three first impressions for the low low price of nothing! Value! Sales! Money! / 10
A Bird Story
If you’ve played To The Moon, you’ll be familiar with Kan Gao’s work. 2011’s To The Moon was a game with a charming and dreamlike 16-bit aesthetic, a spellbinding and quietly mournful piano soundtrack, and a complex, yet still undoubtedly evocative story.
A Bird Story, released three years later, has all those same hallmarks. It clocks in at just over an hour, serving more as an introduction to an upcoming sequel than a fully-fledged game; but still every moment is as captivating as the game’s predecessor. There’s little in the way of actual gameplay. I’m sure many will argue that this should be labelled a visual novel. But, to miss out on that reason alone would be to miss out on a great example of the power that interactive media has to tell very human stories.
Rating: A sparrow was alive and then it flew and then it died THE END. Uh, that was my bird story. / 10
And it’s one of those rage-inducing ones!
The aim of BIT.TRIP RUNNER is to successfully run to the end of the level without tripping over obstacles made up of bits. Or for that matter running into walls, smashing your face on UFOs, stepping on campfires–look there’s a lot of stuff in your way, alright? You’ve got to dodge it all by jumping, sliding, and springing in time to the beat.
It’s difficult, but not in an unfair way. The music’s great, the visuals are striking, and there’s a sequel that I don’t own–making this whole review pretty obsolete.
Rating: RUN RUN JUMP RUN DIE RUN RUN DIE RUN RUN JUMP DIE RUN DIE / 10
The Blackwell Legacy
The first of the Blackwell series, The Blackwell Legacy is a 2006 investigative point-and-click adventure. I’ve expressed a frustration with point-and-clickers in the past, but this is one that I like a great deal. This is probably due, in no small part, to the pointing and clicking being far less of an integral part of the gameplay. Instead, you have to play detective by making notes of what people say, finding discrepancies, and opening up new dialogue options which allow you to progress.
The writing is stellar. The story’s solid. The voice acting is usually fine, aside from occasional mic pops and a few run on sentences. This is one of those games that I would have skipped over were it not for this article. And as it stands, I’m over the moon that I’ve given it a shot.
Rating: There’s a dog you can feed. Best game. / 10