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Week 20 of Trying a Different Game Every Day

For the Week of May 13 – 19

Click here to see the games I played last week

I’m currently in Hong Kong, so this week’s edition includes some travel games. I did get around to playing two notable 2024 games. Also, because Dragon Age: Inquisition is a free game from Epic, I can’t include it.

A save section from a part of Animal Well

May 13 – Animal Well

The game a lot of people were talking about in the past few days was Animal Well. I went into this expecting an exploration game like Metroid, but this isn’t quite that. Sure, you’re exploring but there is very little combat and almost no story. I usually need a story to keep me involved, I was absorbed with this and wanted to keep playing.

The fact that there is no story and the whole point of the game is to explore and solve puzzles keeps me so engaged. I was struggling at first trying to grasp some of the early sections. It’s not that it’s difficult, it requires you to look around and sometimes think out of the box. If I got to a section where I knew I couldn’t progress, it didn’t deter me. I would go back and see if I missed something and then go explore a different area.

I don’t know how long this game is. It doesn’t feel long but it also feels like there are a lot of secrets to uncover if you seek them out. When I get back to Canada in a few weeks, I will come back to this. I’m surprised at how much fun I am having and I hope it continues to deliver in that regard.

An emeny character being targeted in C&C Renegade

May 14 – Command and Conquer Renegade

In last week’s post, I mentioned wanting to go back to the EA Vault and play some games I missed out on over the years. There are a ton of games, especially from the early 2000s that I didn’t play. One such game was Command and Conquer Renegade. I didn’t have a computer to handle the graphics of 2002 PC gaming, so there is a huge gap of notable games that I never played.

I didn’t put too much time into this one. I played through the first two missions, which were quite enjoyable. As a fan of the C&C series, I am glad at how this fits well into the universe. There are a lot of references to the regular series, but this also has a very early 2000s feel.

Had I played this back in 2002, I would have spent late nights playing online and getting my ass beat. I appreciate when franchises go in a different direction with spin-offs. At the same time, this makes me want to go back to play some of the older C&C games, as there are a few I didn’t play.

The cryptmaster having you guess what's inside a chest you found.

May 15 – Cryptmaster

Word of mouth is so damn important in the video game space. That is how I learned about Cryptmaster. I heard about this game on a podcast and when I searched it up on Steam I just had to see what it was all about. This is one oddball game that frustrated me at first but has quickly grown on me.

This is a first-person dungeon crawler and RPG that relies on typing to perform actions. You type to do everything except for walking around. Get into a fight, then type your commands to defeat enemies. See a fish, type the letters to initiate your lure then time your button press to collect a letter. Skills you unlock are earned by correctly guessing the word on the screen. Want to open that chest? Then work with the Cryptmaster to figure out what’s inside and spell out what’s inside.

I haven’t gotten too far. The combat is challenging, so I’ve died a few times as I didn’t have any viable attacks unlocked to perform. There is a lot of guessing, but that’s what I’m enjoying. I want to play more because I’d like to see what else there is to do.

The main character from Scars Above looking out towards the horizon

May 16 – Scars Above

Last year, I considered doing a feature on my blog around Serbian-developed games. The country of my parents has a thriving gaming development scene and I wanted to show my support. I was looking forward to playing Scars Above, but what little I did end up playing disappointed me.

This is a mild Souls-like game. The early adventure parts share more in common with Star Wars Jedi: Survivor. Unfortunately, the game suffers from a lot of problems. This is an uninteresting story crippled with predictable AI, stiff animations, and glitches.

Not only did I get stuck in the environments a few times, but the PC performance was problematic. I had to restart the game a few times because it would freeze while trying to load the game from Steam. I have a solid PC, so it’s not a compatibility problem. Maybe the console versions are better but what I played didn’t interest me enough to want to start again.

A pillar from Manifold Garden

May 17 – Manifold Garden

Manifold Garden was a game I’ve had on “Wishlists” for a while. I love trying out surreal games that go the untraditional route. When I was younger, one of my absolute favorite games/series was the Echo puzzle games Sony released for PlayStation a decade ago. I am probably one of the few people who played EchoChrome II, which utilized the PlayStation Move controller in 2010.

Regarding Manifold Garden, I quite enjoyed the start of the game with one exception. I encountered a bug/glitch early in the game where I got stuck outside an area and had to restart my game. Thankfully, I was only about 5-10 minutes into it, so I didn’t have to play too much again.

The puzzle challenge has been quite enjoyable for the first hour or so of the game. I reached a point where you’re trying to turn on these different colored pillars. This game focuses heavily on changing your perspective to trigger different colored environments. The puzzles need you to switch between two, three, or even four colors to move objects or to progress. Knowing which color you need and successfully going from one to the next is key but not always obvious.

I’m out of the country, which I’ll be referencing a lot more in later sections and blogs, so I’ll have to step away from this one for a few weeks until I return. When I need something to stimulate my brain, Manifold Garden will be one I can use to do that.

May 18 – Survival Kids

I learned about Survival Kids a few months ago while researching potential games I could try. One paper, this sounds cool. You are shipwrecked on a deserted island and you must try to learn how to adapt and figure a way home. What I didn’t know was how challenging this would be. That’s not to say I’m not enjoying myself, I just needed to better prepare myself for what to expect.

Survival Kids is mostly open-ended. Once you find your knapsack containing a few basic items, you can explore the island how you want. The only thing holding you back from progressing is your ability to learn. The key here is building items. For example, there are these large boulders that block certain areas. You can’t move them on your own, so you need an item. At first, I thought I needed to build a shovel or something similar. I attempted to combine a rock and a stick thinking that would create a suitable object. That wasn’t the case. Eventually, I learned that a big stick is all you need.

There is a lot to learn and I still have more to discover. At first, the lack of direction turned me off but I’ve grown to appreciate the sense of discovery. I wish the day-night cycle was a bit longer as you don’t have too much time to wander around before it gets dark. If there is time, I’ll spend a bit more playing this so I can see what else there is to see and do.

An example of a puzzle in Hexa Sort

May 19 – Hexa Sort

Originally, the first game I was planning to try while here was Danganropa. I had it downloaded and ready to start but just couldn’t muster the power to play it on this first night here. Needing something to help stimulate the brain and to keep me awake, I downloaded Hexa Sort. As a fan of puzzle games, this was a smart call to help with jet lag.

For the most part, there isn’t too much to explain about Hexa Sort. This is a color-matching game where you take different pieces and place them on a hexagonal board. The pieces will sometimes contain one color but most will have multiple. When matching top color pieces are beside each other, they will combine. When you have enough of one color, they go off the board. You complete a puzzle once you’ve collected enough color points. 

I reached about the 12th puzzle before actually encountering a challenge. Because of the randomization, you can lose because you don’t get the colors you need to clear. The game also incorporates a lot of “watch this ad” to unlock free blocks on your puzzle. Return to your game from sleep mode and you’ll need to watch an ad first. Having no intention of paying to remove ads, I’ll suck it up for now. I’m currently hooked but I can see my falling off when I find another addictive puzzle game to play.