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Casual Games

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Here we are. Kind of back where we started after the Casual Game review articles ceased in November of 2011. We started to do a Casual Game thread for those of us who like the genre. Although for most of us it’s not an exclusive obsession. (I thought I would try to work in the word Obsession, as it seems to the a word in the title of many casual games.)

Anyway, during the software changeover we started doing monthly casual game threads. While the old threads are still in archive, nobody knew exactly how we would be able to access them or referrence them.

Now that we seem to be in a more settled place, I suggested we bo back to the old system of a single casual game thread. No more backtracking to find references to games. Suggestion was met with one Thumbs Up The thumbs-up have it.

So again, here we are.

I just finished playing Natural Threat: Ominous Shores. It is an incredibly good and long game. Six hours, if not more. I’ll write more on it later.

     

For whom the games toll,
they toll for thee.

Casual Game Developer List
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AohuMgk8BGFTdExjM2s4eGdJRGZmcWJxMUNoUTlMZVE#gid=0

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I just finished playing Mystery Trackers: Raincliff.

Pros: Very nice graphics.  The game also has lots of very good looking animations.  Pretty much any interaction you take with an inventory item has a nice animation with it.  The game also makes use of integrated FMV like you might see in Dire Grove or 13th Skull.  There were several unique puzzles in the game, some of which were fairly difficult (good).  The story, while a little outlandish, was also good and kept me interested to the end.  The game has achievements which makes things a little more interesting for me. 

Cons: The game has a lot (LOT) of backtracking and going back and forth.  The ending is rather abrupt (but satisfying).  Not much music in the game. 

Overall, I enjoyed it and would enjoy playing other games in the series.  I would consider it above average.

     
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I just finished playing Natural Threat: Ominous Shores. It is an incredibly good and long game. Six hours, if not more. I’ll write more on it later.

I somehow missed this one. I tried the demo last night - the graphics are a bit grainy/pixellated, but there was a lot to do in the 15 min. I played. Looks like it may be a buy for me.

     
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Natural Threat: Ominous Shores is, in my opinion a tremendous casual game.

Its developer, ALAWAR Games, has a bundle of street cred. Their last game, Sacre Terra, had rave reviews, and I think this one is better.

I’m going to go straight to the ending first. There was a comment in the July thread about endings. If you are looking for a satisfying ending, you won’t find it here. But, if you are looking for a good story, I recommend the game.

Let’s start with the basics. There is a very good prologue that sets the scene. A demented scientist on a deserted island is attempting to clone human dna and plant dna. Something goes horribly wrong. Cut to the chase where a group of people get shipwrecked on the very same island. One survives to try and save the rest.

So far, that’s pretty typical, but this is better.

I didn’t time myself, but I am guessing that total gameplay lasted over six hours.

There weren’t that many HOG scenes. Those that you found were fair. Nothing really obscure. And the puzzles weren’t that hard. But more than a few were tedious. That is, you could solve them but the Skip option was a temptation.

I thought most of the puzzles and even the HOG scenes worked well with the theme of the game.

They whole thing worked well. It was hard for me to shut down the game. I REALLY wanted to do one more thing before I closed down for the night. I was that addictive.

Another player commented of the graphic quality. It may be my monitor, but I noticed no problems. If you have a credit to spare, I would use it on this game. If you don’t, I would put this on your “to buy” list whenever you get around to it.

     

For whom the games toll,
they toll for thee.

Casual Game Developer List
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AohuMgk8BGFTdExjM2s4eGdJRGZmcWJxMUNoUTlMZVE#gid=0

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Thanks, rtrooney.
I’m embarassed to say that I don’t pay attention to the stories in these games. I skip the cut scenes and dialogue whenever I can, and never watch the intro. I play them purely for the puzzles and whatever little exploration they can give me. Lots of times I don’t know what the heck I’m doing, but for me it’s part of the challenge. I’m just a frustrated Myst player killing time until Rhem 5 comes out Smile  Meh

     
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colpet - 04 August 2012 07:40 AM

Thanks, rtrooney.
I’m embarassed to say that I don’t pay attention to the stories in these games. I skip the cut scenes and dialogue whenever I can, and never watch the intro. I play them purely for the puzzles and whatever little exploration they can give me. Lots of times I don’t know what the heck I’m doing, but for me it’s part of the challenge. I’m just a frustrated Myst player killing time until Rhem 5 comes out Smile  Meh

Thats harsh. I’m the opposite, I really hate facing HOG elements, so I either try to skip them or rush through them to see what happens next in the story.

     

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Is Tetris a casual game? That what I mostly played when traveling. But when I’m at the office and stress out got a Ceaser 3 game from 1996 to play with.

     

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I would consider Tetris a casual game, but not in the same context as casual “adventure” games, which is what we are talking about in this thread.

     

For whom the games toll,
they toll for thee.

Casual Game Developer List
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AohuMgk8BGFTdExjM2s4eGdJRGZmcWJxMUNoUTlMZVE#gid=0

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The Big Fish Deal of the Week is Shiver: Vanishing Hitchhiker for $2.99 (for nonmembers as well).  I thought this was a very good game and worth picking up for the price.

     

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The last game I bought at BFG was Empress of the Deep 2: Song of the Blue Whale. Its plot isn’t that great, but it has such beautiful art that it pretty much ruined the hidden object genre for me. Any time I look at such a game now I think how much worse it looks in comparison.

     
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Interplay - 06 August 2012 08:44 PM

The Big Fish Deal of the Week is Shiver: Vanishing Hitchhiker for $2.99 (for nonmembers as well).  I thought this was a very good game and worth picking up for the price.

Which I did as well. I enjoyed Shiver - Poltergeist, so I figured this was worth a shot. Have not had a chance to play it yet.

     

For whom the games toll,
they toll for thee.

Casual Game Developer List
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AohuMgk8BGFTdExjM2s4eGdJRGZmcWJxMUNoUTlMZVE#gid=0

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I mentioned that I was going to get Grim Facade: Sinister Obsession when it was available in the SE version. I saw it today, and used a credit to get it. I’m looking forward to playing it. It’s quite rare for me to have two uplayed games taking up space on the desktop. Laughing

     

For whom the games toll,
they toll for thee.

Casual Game Developer List
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AohuMgk8BGFTdExjM2s4eGdJRGZmcWJxMUNoUTlMZVE#gid=0

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rtrooney - 09 August 2012 12:49 PM

I mentioned that I was going to get Grim Facade: Sinister Obsession when it was available in the SE version. I saw it today, and used a credit to get it. I’m looking forward to playing it. It’s quite rare for me to have two uplayed games taking up space on the desktop. Laughing

I’ve been waiting for this as well.
I played some demos recently.  The Theatre of Shadows: As You Wish! was fun with some very unique puzzles. The graphics aren’t up to par with some of the recent games, but I’ll forgive that if the puzzles are good. Redemption Cemetery: Grave Testimony will be a buy for me, but I’ll wait for the SE.

     
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OK. This is a really quick review, because that’s about all Grim Facade: Sinister Obsession merits.

You are the protagonist who has been summoned to solve the murder of three women on the Conti Estate. You have been summoned by the maid at the direction of the family patriarch. Under suspicion are the patriarch’s three sons.

The graphics are quite nice. They’re certainly up to the standards set by other games from the same publisher, ERS Games. Although…ERS has been acused of mass-producing games in the past, and this is certainly an example of what can happen. While the graphics are uniformly good, they are not uniformly consistent. There are at least four different graphic “styles” used in the game.

Most of the cut scenes use FMV, although it is of the animated, rather than live actor variety. Those that don’t use FMV are pure animation. Neither style is particularly well executed. But, seeing as they don’t contribute much to the game’s story, and can be skipped, it’s not that big a deal.

The voice acting is not bad, but I’ve heard many of these voices before. Several are lifted straight from Grim Facade: Mystery of Venice. I’ll give ERS credit. They didn’t try to force accents this time around.

There were fewer HOG scenes than I’ve experienced in other ERS games. There is some variety, which I found enjoyable. Some are straight HOG. Others require finding multiple instances of the same type of object. (Some are not without a bit of humor, e.g. when looking for 12 hammers, a hammerhead shark is one of the objects.) Another type requires finding objects in the correct sequence. E.g., find a rag to clean a surface, to see a code, which opens a safe, which gets you a screwdriver which opens…etc. And there are some mixtures of the above basic types.

The logic and inventory puzzles are straigtforward, and, to my thinking, relatively easy. I did use the Skip button once. The information as to what you are supposed to do to solve the puzzles is not well written. In most instances you will need to rely on personal experience. That is: I’ve seen this type of puzzle before, so I know what to do even if the instructions are unclear.

Now for the Biggie! The 60-minute demo was finished in 40 minutes. Granted, I played the CE version demo before. Total game time was three hours and seven minutes. This was a one-sitting game. And, similar to Mystery of Venice , I bet this is under a two-hour game for replay.

Bottom line: I liked the game. But if you are looking for four-plus hours of entertainment value for your BFG credit, buy something else, and wait to buy this when the next sale comes around.

     

For whom the games toll,
they toll for thee.

Casual Game Developer List
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AohuMgk8BGFTdExjM2s4eGdJRGZmcWJxMUNoUTlMZVE#gid=0

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Check out the review for Azada - In Libro on the opening page or click on Articles at the top of this page. I played the demo this morning.

The graphics are stunning. This is only from a look at the demo, but they the best of the best visuals I have seen in an ERS game.

The story, such as it is, seems self-contained. The review says that this is the third in the Azada series. I didn’t play the first two. They may or may not have been good, but they certainly aren’t necessary to play this episode.

The game is currently available as a CE. Expect the SE version sometime next month.

The review describes the bonus material, but does not indicate whether it is worth the additional cost.

I suggest trying the demo. I think you will find it fun. For me…as usual, I will wait for the SE, but it’s a very probably buy.

     

For whom the games toll,
they toll for thee.

Casual Game Developer List
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AohuMgk8BGFTdExjM2s4eGdJRGZmcWJxMUNoUTlMZVE#gid=0

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rtrooney - 10 August 2012 07:52 PM

Check out the review for Azada - In Libro on the opening page or click on Articles at the top of this page. I played the demo this morning.

The game is currently available as a CE. Expect the SE version sometime next month.

FYI, while AG is just now reviewing it, this game came out awhile back.  The SE version is already out at Big Fish, if people were waiting.  Also, this is one of the games you can play in its entirety on Big Fish Unlimited, if that appeals to you.

     
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