After a few AS level exams and a sprinkling of social events I am back to writing these hopefully regularly. Kicking things off, we got a two games I picked up yet again from the humble monthly bundle which after having it since it started is the best monthly subscription based business for value in my opinion, with this month costing me £8 but getting over $100 worth of games from it every month, even if some of them are obsucure indie games some gems do appear now and then, and one of them was…
Infinifactory, the indie game by one man named Zachary Barth, is a first person puzzler where the aim is to make an automated system to produce a certain product from other blocks. Seems simple right? that’s what I thought until I realised I had created a giant Rube Goldberg machine only three levels in.
But before we get to the steep inclination of difficulty lets first address the strange storyline that’s running through out. You are an abducted human – I think? – by a strange alien race in which you are set to create these factories for what can only be guessed at weapons for them to use. Whilst its a interesting storyline, you feel that the game doesn’t take itself seriously especially with the introduction where the alien leader has a comically long entrance that I just found to be cheap. I mean I am not asking for a Agatha Christie story but setting up the game with such a comical vibe only to have quite a pretty serious puzzle game gives off a juxtaposition feeling. Although the storyline is pretty weak, its also a puzzle game so of course that’s not what your here for, however sometimes it gives the player another reason to keep trying to get pass a level they are stuck on to develop a story.
Graphics and audio qualities are acceptable, but for one guy you cant really complain. The only true comparison is a well textured source engine game like CS:GO. That being said, graphics are good in my books as long as they don’t give me a headache after an hour.
Many games who share this first person puzzle genre, Anti-Chamber to name one, rely on the gameplay to be something new and / or interesting enough for the player to invest the time to figure out the level. I feel infinifactory has been done before, making an automated factory can be seen in simple flash games, but what the game allows you to do is figure out your own combinations of blocks or procedures to get to the goal. I haven’t seen this much recently in puzzle games, they seem to focus on set solution for every level which no doubt poses a challenge but I have much more respect for a puzzle game that allows for creativity to be a key part of its design. Sure, you’ll probably overcomplicate or spend ages trying to make your way of doing things work but when its finally completed, for me, its much more satisfying than finding the one way to finish the puzzle which normally just makes me annoyed that I didn’t figure it out earlier. This is also sensitises the audience to find a walkthrough because they know that’s only one combination possible and it isn’t yours and it actually feels like you’re missing out on an experience if you do it as well as the guilt you normally feel when cheating.
The game introduces new blocks and gameplay mechanics over time although they make it more challenging, its standard in puzzle games now but it does segway nicely onto my real problem with this game and its how quick the difficulty spikes, I am talking only a couple of levels in before facing a level that I really had to think about, a few more and I am having to log off for a bit to try and clear my mind to get past it. Its obvious the game doesn’t want to hold your hand with hints or solutions and I am okay with that but at the same time don’t break my legs and expect me to win a marathon. Later on the puzzles just get harder and harder till it took me a week to get over one level. This game doesn’t strike me as the type of puzzler judging by how many levels I had to get through to practically finish the game until I literally couldn’t figure out the answer for my current one.
Although, there could be the possibility I am dumb, I mean I could just not understand certain mechanisms or tricks that are needed to complete levels but I do feel it is a punishing game, yet with such when you finally discover the way it adds to that creative buzz I was on about earlier. On top of this, I’ve also got to add this game has drawn me in, it’s been a pick up and play for me for a little bit of time so it must be doing something right.
Side note though, where are all the supplies coming from? and why does everything have to be made of blocks? These aliens could probably improve on efficiency if they actually built the things by hand first.
During the sudden burst release of video games in summer 2015, we got to play some of the most anticipated games to various degrees of success like fallout 4, Batman Arkam Knight, etc but one steampunk, scrap-metal party bus I missed was Mad Max. I heard of its reviews at the time and was intrigued but after watching the movie and not exactly loving it like everyone else I decided to save my pennies for some other gem.
It’s 2016 and the humble bundle darlings have given me a chance to finally play it and I am glad I gave it the time. Although it doesn’t mean it hasn’t come with a few faults.
A good starting point is the fact that Avalanche studios is behind the creation of this movie tie-in game. Who created the Just Cause series which is a open world game which basically allows you to blow up a lot of stuff, whilst I find the game boring since its pretty black and white, I understand that they know how to do open world at least, which I saw from the first in the series.
The first thing that hits you is the scenery and beautiful creation of the Australian dessert land, from the dust being spat back from your tires or the colossus sandstorms sweeping through the area next to you. By adding this extra detail, Avalanche really sets the same awe-inspiring tone that the movies managed to attain (I’d say one of film’s only achievements). What every open world game should try to accomplish is to make it fun to explore the giant world otherwise you’ll just end up having the player travelling from mission to mission avoiding all the game developer’s hard work.The simple ways to counter it is to add fun content to do and make it look pretty, so one of them boxes is ticked.
There is a lot to do in the game, 100% completionists will adore it for this, I can tell when you finally do it, it would be so fulfilling but unfortunately I don’t have free time leaking out my pockets so I did not make it my goal. Breaking it down, there’s a soild storyline that adds more details about this undeveloped character you see in the films. Yet, it also makes new interesting characters that adds more depth to this post apocalyptic world. An example of this is good ol’ Chumbucket who works as your in game mechanic on your car, With his witty dialogue and actually useful advice he is really fun addition of the game. What I liked most about the game was when you did the typical open world ‘stronghold’ missions which looked to be designed separately individually as a tailored adventure and not just set puzzle pieces crammed together so you end up running through the same corridor eighty times in one play through (looking at you Shadow of Mordor). Heck, even the secrets were hidden with care and attention rather than sprinkled around randomly (that one was for you Assassin’s Creed). Although it isn’t sunshine and rainbows around, after about five hours of gameplay it tends to become a grind fest, sure its fun beating the living hell out fifteen guys but imagine if Batman: Arkam was all the but no story just hitting goons for no reason, you have Mad Max. Its fun don’t get me wrong (also stress relieving) but sure does get repetitive if you don’t upgrade new abilities to change it up a little bit.
This swiftly leads me on to actually building Max, the RPG elements of the game regrettably fall in to the same trap a lot do. Role-playing games focus on letting you choose where you put your hard-earned points in. An illusion of choice is a wonderful thing but what the game must do is make the player feel like these choices are important and by weighing up the advantages and disadvantages of them. In Mad Max though, the player more feels like throwing their points into the any old skill because they know soon enough they can just get more points and get the other ability, and so these choices are seen more as a progression of how close you are to being overpowered superhuman. What also made me annoyed was the limited character customisation that was available. What it had was overall about nine haircuts, four costumes and five beards to choose from through out the whole game. This silly addition just made me want more and make my Max, my Max in a way. I get the impression from this that Avalanche studios didn’t want you to change up your Max, and I can see why and wouldn’t of mind if they chose not to include anything. Nevertheless it’s like you gave the player the slice of a wedding cake which fell on the ground after the best man drunkenly dropped on the lager-infused dance floor.
As a nice feature, the soundtrack is glorious when your in combat and punching some goon’s brains out, truly adding what I gathered was the appeal of the movie. In fact I remember listening to it even after playing in for ten hours in a row and if you ever find yourself doing the same I suggest you do as well.
And of course, I saved the actual key element of the game till last, the Car. Motorheads will love the customisation for the car on this game. I mean sure, you need to get about 65% of the game before actually reaching a point you can customise it without meeting a level padlock over it. Though, it really adds to what I think the game is trying to achieve, you are this badass who is feared on these badass lands. Well, I mean, that’s I guess the normal player did but I just drove around with Rockstar Energy drink plastered all over my car because who doesn’t want a commercial set of probably deadly chemicals to drink in the middle of a post-apocalyptic adventure? The car combat was also a highlight of mine, because who doesn’t want to be ramming a convoy of trucks at top speed ? (Yet, that never seemed to end well for some reason…) .To be honest, it amazes me how that company managed to survive the collapse of society but meh. What was annoying though was having to collect the cars, if you were going for 100% you would of had to firstly track down the vehicle (that requires you praying to RNGesus) then you would need to ditch your pimped up awesome car to drive this slow and sloppy transport all the way to one of your bases just so you can have it unlocked in your garage. This is in a game which focused on a fast moving combat style so it “matched the fast-paced action you expect” so I tended to just stick with the Magnum Opus.
Overall, Mad Max: The video game a fun engaging open world game, that really tried to make it just another boring ubisoft-style game. Though you would definitely need a month of your time and a lot of willpower to see this game through the end – although that doesn’t mean you’ll still wont have fun with it – .
So even if these reviews have come out months after its actually relevant, I hope you might give at least one a look.