What I've Been Playing: Humble Bundle (mostly)

Some quick reviews on what's been taking up my time lately (and to stall a bit while I figure out my Gone Home review)

Gunpoint
I was a bit disappointed in this game. The premise is interesting - you're breaking into various facilities to steal things (although apparently you're a PI, not a spy), and you have a widget that lets you re-wire the electrical system remotely. For instance, you can take the door that is normally controlled by hand scanners that you can't use, and wire it to a lightswitch on a different floor. Or, wire that switch to a power socket and zap guards as they walk by. (Electricians of the world, don't think too much about this - they handwave it as some sort of future world thing.)

The problem, is that the levels are very single-answer. The concept makes you feel like you should be able to pass the levels in a variety of different ways, but in reality they're generally pretty specific in what needs to be done in this order. And the conceit of being able to remotely wire things gets messed up early on, where suddenly buildings have multiple "networks", and you need to access a box inside before you can mess with the second (or third or fourth) color of circuits. They never explain why you can get at the "basic" network without a box, though.

In all, it was an enjoyable playthrough - the plot is a text-based hard-boiled private eye story, and that's worth it in itself. But having finished it, I don't have any desire to go back through and chase down achievements, or play through the story again.

LUFTRAUSERS
Apparently you're the Germans in this game, flying an experimental aircraft and shooting things. (The plot is pretty much "go shoot stuff"). The flying is very weird - it's a vertical 2D perspective, so you need to keep flying "up" to stop from falling in the water, but your gun shoots forward. And the big guns are on ships below you, which means you kinda have to dive-bomb? It's a "do this, unlock a new part" style progression, so you're constantly getting new widgets to try out (and each widget has it's own achivement to encourage you to use it). But I've unlocked all the parts... and while I've fired it up for a few minutes here and there (because it is a fun arcadey game), I'm finding I playing it a few minutes less every time.

Race The Sun
This game is certainly a winner in my books. It's a pretty simple arcade style driving game - steer side to side, collect powerups, don't crash into things, things get crazier until you eventually crash or run out of fuel. But Race The Sun has a couple neat tweaks. First, your "fuel" is the sun, which is slowly setting in front of your solar powered flying carmobile. Once it sets, your battery runs out, and you slow down and then (for some reason) explode. But even before it's completely set, if the sun falls behind the terrain, your battery will start draining, forcing you to steer to get line of sight on the sun again - hopefully without crashing into something.

The second (and more important) trick is that the maps change every day. You still get the basic progression of new elements, but the layouts change, preventing any sort of muscle-memory beyond recognizing the individual parts. So I've been playing it at least once a day, just to see what's up. And since it's also a "do this, unlock next bit" advancement, you can farm maps a bit - wait for a map that's conducive to (say) collecting so many of such-and-such upgrade, and then working on that for the day. The music is also very low-key, which gives it a certain relaxing feel - even while you're manically trying not to fly into terrain.

X-COM: Enemy Unknown
(No, I haven't bought the expansion yet). I restarted my playthrough about a week ago, due to (a) forgetting exactly where I was, and (b) realizing that I'd really pooched the research progression and was on the slow glide to losing anyway. I'm about two-thirds of the way through, I think. I've been deliberately slow-playing the plot angle (making sure I've researched all the better gear first), and that's limited how much I die. I look forward to beating it, and then trying on a higher difficulty.

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