Mines of Memory Part 5 (Last)
Last but not (certainly) least…
101. Risk (Played Year: 2014, Age: 22)
Although I had only one chance to play the game, I found that the game takes place on a real world map and parcels areas according to the specific continents. Also, I think the use of physical tokens was a smart choice in giving the players an impression of their army’s presence within the territory; a sense of domination.
102. BullsEye Dart (Played Year: 2014, Age: 22)
Similar to many trajectory-based physical games, I noticed that I played a lot better when I mentally simulate the path of the dart prior to throwing it. Also, it is interesting to see that the scoring system rewards the most amount of points to the area in the upper center of the dartpad, in contrary to the common knowledge of the bullseye being the most valuable spot. Why is this so?
103. Foosball (Played Year: 2014, Age: 22)
It is interesting to see how drastically different strategies must one take in a single-player scenario as versus a multiplayer one. Like in real football, I found it interesting that within a team one tends to play defense while the other plays more offensive tactics. Also, I soon developed the technique of flicking my wrists to minimize my response time as well as make the shooting faster and more difficult to defend.
104. Child of Light (Played Year: 2015, Age: 23)
The watercolour graphic style of the game is simply stunning, and the atmospheric background music buttresses the fairytale-like fantasy world. I am curious to see their art pipeline, as it seems there is a lot of detail that went into the environmental painting. Gameplay-wise, I found it interesting that they combined 2D-Scrolling genre with a turned based combat system. The racetrack attacking mechanic also adds diversity to what otherwise could be overly repetitive, even paced gameplay.
105. This War of Mine (Played Year: 2015, Age: 23)
The graphical representation in sectional perspective opens up a range of possible gameplays, which the game capitalizes on by masking out the rooms of the building that the player cannot see beyond his/her current room. This adds a sense of tense fear that, in combination with the graphic footsteps, ultimately keeps the players on their toes. In the context of this unpredictability and fear, the game offers the players moral choices in which they can rob the homes of often innocent, helpless people. This was perhaps the most interesting point in the game in that it tests the bounds of human morality over individual need.
106. Life is Strange (Played Year: 2015, Age: 23)
I had been always skeptical of branching narrative-driven games. I just felt that no single decision an individual makes can bear the same order of emotional magnitude as the other. However, I later learned the Life of Strange is able to achieve a delicate balance of allowing agency for the players to determine their individual choices, but ultimately converge the branching narratives at multiple points throughout the story. This way, the player feels totally in control of his/her actions without the core player experience detracting from the intended main storyline.
107. Second Life (Played Year: 2015, Age: 23)
I first tried Second Life when I was conducting an academic research on virtual reality. In all its quirkiness, I think I kind of enjoyed being in this alternative virtual world, where I was able to relax on the beaches of Costa Rica as a vampire and dance with a cat woman to country music in virtual strip club. From the interactions with other players, I soon realized that many people simply were too bored with their lives, seeking any means of entertainment and interaction with other people. Sad, but interesting.
108. OverWatch (Played Year: 2016, Age: 24)
As someone more familiar with the traditional mode of fps, I found the game very confusing and almost schizophrenic. The diversity of character-specific abilities is intriguing in theory, however I often felt the skills I accumulated in one character translated very little over to other characters. Also, I’m not sure if this either a good thing or a bad thing, but since the roles are so clearly designated as it is in games like League of Legend, I felt that individual had very little influence over the outcome of the game, since a dealer can be entirely powerless without a competent tanker to protect him/her.
109. ABZU (Played Year: 2016, Age: 24)
I remember being mesmerized by the game’s jawdropping environment, a sort of visual meditation. But not much else.
110. Bioshock Infinite (Played Year: 2016, Age: 24)
The story was overly layered and complex; I was not able to understand what the ending meant in the moment. However, the game indeed does a successful job of creating an emotional connection between the player and Elizabeth. In terms of gameplay, I think the blending of magic powers with the traditional shooting attack offers a wide range of combat strategies that the players can take.
111. No Man’s Sky (Played Year: 2016, Age: 24)
Nobody likes No Man’s Sky. This game was particularly disappointing since the actual gameplay experience betrays its extremely compelling aspect; the simultation of almost-infinite virtual universe. The procedural design involved is indeed impressive, however the only thing it truly lends to the player experience is graphical diversity. Also, due to the paradoxical nature of the game, that players will probably never meet each other, offer little to none incentive for the players to seek out and harvest particular minerals, which is the core mechanic of the game.
112. The Witness (Played Year: 2016, Age: 24)
Having come from a background in architecture, the game stroke a strong resonance with my habit of observing the environments. While the panel puzzles themselves are well designed with thoughtful clues and level progression, I felt that “aha!” moment came mainly from discovering a similar pattern in the environment. Also, I think the game does a successful job of making each of its areas feel unique, bound by a different set of parameters and rules.
113. SUPERHOT (Played Year: 2016, Age: 24)
The game uses simple graphic style to its advantage, visually isolating the interactable elements of the game (weapons, enemies, etc) so that the player can purely focus on the Matrix-like gameplay. The mapping of the flow of time onto the player’s movement presents an interesting challenge for the players to not hastily respond to the imminent danger and instead stop and pre-plan the course of his actions every step of the way. Last but not least, the visual and sound effects of the enemies’ crystal-like death are both visually and aurally satisfying in terms of player feedback.
114. Pokemon Go (Played Year: 2016, Age: 24)
I have to admit that I have not played much of this game, partly due to it being released during my final weeks of undergrad. In my opinion, I think the most unique (and most noble) aspect of the game is incentivizing the players to actively move around the city in search of the pokeball stations, the gyms, and the pokemons themselves. During those final weeks, it was the first time ever I saw people walking around the streets in 3 AM in the morning. That’s insane! By encouraging the players to seek particular physical locations to access the majority of in-game activities, it allows the players to be more aware of their neighbourhood.
115. HIT (Played Year: 2017, Age: 25)
In its essence, HIT is anything but original. However, the game is able to constantly engage the players as it gives its player tasks and missions to accomplish that provides the ingredients necessary for character progression. In fact, you can see the deliberate intention in the way certain features of the game are limited to a certain timeframe. This gives a sense of exclusivity that encourage players to check back every couple minutes (like in Facebook messages).
116. Limbo (Played Year: 2017, Age: 25)
The visual style of Limbo lends a tremendous sense of terror in the players, with the use of silhouettes to elicit a sense of dread among players. This degree of immersion may be attributed to the role of imagination, as the player is encouraged to extrapolate much of the information based on suggestive, familiar shapes (like the legs of the spider). This simplicity is carried over to the gameplay mechanic, where all the player does it walk, jump, and grab. This lack of special skills make the players feel even more terrified due to the character’s incompetence.
117. INSIDE (Played Year: 2017, Age: 25)
Playdead’s successor to Limbo, or should I say, Limbo 2.0. It is true that the game reappropriates much of the game design decisions employed in Limbo, however it opens up further opportunities by opening up the background by adding 3 dimensionality to it. As opposed to the single 2D plane of interaction in most scrolling platformers, INSIDE bases most of its gameplay in the interactions between the foreground and the background. This gives an illusion of depth to the players, almost as if breaking the 2-dimensionality of the player’s plane of movement.
118. Cuphead (Played Year: 2017, Age: 25)
Perhaps one of the most unique games I’ve played in the year of 2017. The main feature of the game – the hand drawn character animations – makes the players feel like they are playing inside Disney cartoons. In fact, I would even say that the attention to detail, as in the subtleties in facial expressions, transcends anything that I’ve ever seen. In addition, the game layers this aesthetic onto a challenging, but well balanced, gameplay mechanic.
119. Firewatch (Played Year: 2017, Age: 25)
To be honest, I didn’t really understand the story of the game, even after I beat the game and read the summary on Wikipedia. The game does a successful job of immersing the player in its exotic setting, being out amidst beautiful nature with only a female voice companion to accompany you; it offers Romanticism. And yet, it is perhaps because I was so distracted by the beautiful environment that I was unable to follow the narrative progression of the game. When I came back to the watchpost one day and found it vandalized, I had not a single idea of what was going on.
120. The Stanley Parable (Played Year: 2017, Age: 25)
The first time I played through the game, I felt played by it. This is due to the fact that we are most often acclimated to listening to tutorials and following orders / rules throughout the games. However, the Stanley Parable completely flips this notion on its side to cause the player to be “suspicious” of the feedbacks that the game provides the players and go against them. Of course, this is encouraged primarily by the infinitely looping cycle of the game, as it allows the players to slowly venture out into the unknown set of rebellious decisions to observe their consequences.
121. Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Played Year: 2017, Age: 25)
Nobody expected the BOTW to be this good, and I personally think it is even better than the acclaimed Ocarina of Time, The game offers a truly expansive world, a world in which little direct instruction is given to tackle its problems. Instead, the game allows the players to use their knowledge and wit to come up with their own unique strategy and solutions, and ensures that most of the possible solutions are valid. Also, the game does a successful job of making the players feel a sense of progress throughout the game by designing every event, including the less important Easter Eggs such as Korok Seeds, to contribute to Link’s ultimate mission: Find and Defeat Ganon. However, in the case of weapons, this sense of security is made temporary, as almost every one of them (except for the Master Sword) break throughout the game, hence disallowing a state where the player feels total security. I think this all the more adds excitement as well as incentive for the players to value every item that crosses their paths.
122. Ticket to Ride (Played Year: 2017, Age: 25)
Classic Eurogame. A large part of the game I found unique was in trying to guess the opponent’s immediate as well as ultimate objective, which I would try to sabotage by taking the rail myself. One of the things I found delighful about the game was the scoring system, as it rewarded players on multiple conditions and allows the losing players to keep playing in the hope of turning the tide in the last minute.
123. Slime Rancher (Played Year: 2017, Age: 25)
On the surface, Slime Rancher is a cute game with adorable slime pets. However, beneath its surface, it may reveal the darker side of humanity. About halfway through the game, it occurred to me that these adorable jellies seemed incredibly miserable in the hightech cages I set up for them, and eventually turned into the Tarrs, horrible, degenerate slimes. Metaphorically, the experience reminds me of the American Dream; willing to rapidly expand my capital at the expense of the others’ happiness. I am yet to finish the game.
124. Escape Room (Played Year: 2018, Age: 26)
I played my first in-person escape room earlier this year. Actually, my second, and my third one as well. My general observation was that when you play in a group of people, each member tends to take on a different role. There is someone that searches, someone that analyzes, someone that draws, someone that calculates, etc, etc. This resonates very well with the common saying “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” in the sense that different functions of problem solving may be taken up by each individual, hence making each process much more efficient.
125. Escape Room Board Game (Played Year: 2018, Age: 26)
I had a chance to play this with my cousins in Korea. “Escape room on a tabletop? Nonsense,” one might say. However, it was surprisingly immersive, which i think is partly due to the thematic songs that comes with the iphone app, as well as the physical objects and puzzles that resonates with the escape rooms in real life. I personally found the pictures of the rooms interesting, since they partially evoked that same sense of encountering a foreign environment, despite its lack of physicality.
126. Virginia (Played Year: 2018, Age: 26)
Virginia demonstrates that you can achieve a lot with little. Its low-poly characters and environments, while it optimizes the art pipeline workload, it also adds unique identity to the story. In fact, the most surprising thing was how real the character’s facial expressions felt throughout the experience, only using primary facial features (eyebrows, lips, and eyes) to communicate the emotion of the character. Also, the absence of any dialogue adds to the atmospheric mood of the game, and enables the player to concentrate on visually observing the story rather than rely on a verbal exposition.
127. Nemesis Factor (Played Year: 2018, Age: 26)
A small physical puzzle with a big possibility. The various attributes of each button (colour, relative order, and number) allows a staggering number of combinations, considering the simplicity of the design. However, what stroke me a bit strange was that only the first strategy hint was explicitly explained in the manual, and not the others. This may result in the player mindlessly assuming an incorrect hint and ultimate lead to a confusion.
128. Model Protectorate (Played Year: 2018, Age: 26)
I’ve recently had the chance to play this game as a case study for my group’s work-in-progress:Enigma codebreaking game. It was an interesting exercise, however I feel the amount of voluntary effort that the game demands of the player is too much, especially for people who aren’t familiar with role-playing games. Also, the absence of any real fail state have marginalized the stakes of the situation.
Again – this is an ongoing documentation process, a way for me to reflect and trace back the origins of influence on my thought processes.
So that’s a wrap (for now)! Thanks for reading, if you have any questions or comments, please shoot me an email 🙂