What I've Been Playing This Week (aka Pile of Shame Sunday)

Screenshot from Mage's Initiation
After answering a questionnaire, you are assigned an element in Mage's Initiation

The following post is part of a series of posts that are published every Sunday to update readers on what Mark G has been up to with respect to finishing off games on his "Pile of Shame". The games to target are picked by Choicest Games contributors Choona, Luke and myself. As I'll be talking about my progress through these games, there may be spoilers ahead, especially for games containing a narrative. Consider yourself warned.

Mage's Initiation

  • Picked by Me
  • Percentage Complete = 3%
Mage's Initiation is a game I backed on Kickstarter quite a while ago and it's now finally released! I managed to play a little bit of the game and so far, I'm not disappointed. I love games which try to determine your class via an ethical questionnaire and it turns out the answers gave me the element I expected (and wanted). The fact that there are different elements to play with and different paths to take as a result of picking one element over another means this game is sure to have good replay value (at least that's my hope)! I'm loving the high-res graphics and the portraits are gorgeous.

One thing I don't like though is D'arc's voice, although maybe I'm being too harsh, maybe 16 year-old males are meant to sound annoying, right? 😉

Star Trek: Bridge Crew

  • Picked by Me
  • Percentage Complete = 16%
UPlay is running a Lunar Sale at the moment and since I wanted to also use some 20% off discount codes, I decided to get a couple of games on the sale including The Settlers – History Collection and Star Trek: Bridge Crew. It took a lot of stuffing around to get the game working since when I first purchased it, I was shocked to discover that it didn't appear in my library! It turns out that you receive a key that you have to use on the Oculus app (because the game was originally VR-only until a patch over a year ago enabled the game for non-VR Desktop play). However, I didn't realise I still needed the Oculus app in order to run the game. So, after installing the Oculus app (which takes 10GB of hard disk space and has to be installed on the same disk the operating system is on), creating an Oculus user account, redeeming the key, installing the game through Oculus, linking the Oculus account to UPlay and remembering to run the game in Desktop mode (it defaults to VR mode), I finally got to try out the game. One could almost say, it was a bit of a trek to get the game running... okay I promise, no more puns.

So, I spent an hour playing the tutorial and also the prologue which features the infamous Kobayashi Maru scenario! I ended up faring worse than Captain Kirk (although, as every Trekkie knows, he cheated) only rescuing 6 survivors out of over 300 before the ship was destroyed by the Klingons. I can see how this game can be fun with human players though (especially since the AI helmsman is pretty terrible).

Current gripes I have with this game though are that avatar customisation options are quite limited (you've only got Humans and Vulcans, and there are only four sliders to change your facial appearance).

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag

  • Picked by Luke
  • Percentage Complete = 62%
This week, I spent most of my time in Assassin's Creed IV "grinding" by plundering frigates for resources as well as a warehouse in Tortuga. I always thought Tortuga was a den of pirates but in this game, it seems to instead be a heavily fortified British base…. Maybe the game is set after Tortuga's infamous pirate era? Anyway, thanks to all the plunder, I've managed to upgrade the cannons on my ship to intermediate ones, so at least it doesn't take quite as long to sink those frigates I continue to loot.

King's Quest III

  • Picked by Choona
  • Percentage Complete = 18%
Okay I'm working my way through a walkthrough and I don't really have any regrets now since I would've come across two parts in the game I would have never got past. Let us start with the first instance, acquiring snake skin in the desert.

Now, apparently, while walking through one of the many screens in the desert you're meant to pick up some snake skin. Thankfully, the walkthrough specifies the exact location you acquire it but all you can see when you arrive at the correct screen is a few brown pixels on the ground. If you type a "look" command to give you an idea of what is on the screen, there is no mention about the snake skin on the ground at all. This is contrast to another screen where you come across a cactus you need to collect that's sitting next to a large rock. On this screen when you look around, it actually tells you that the cactus looks peculiar or unusual, which is adventure gamer speak for "put me in your inventory!" A bit of inconsistency here Sierra!

The second time I would've been totally lost without the walkthrough is the bandit's tree hideout. Now, when I tried this the first time, there was a bandit waiting to push me out the door to my doom. My adventure gaming experience would tell me that in this scenario there's no point going back to that tree house until I've found a way to incapacitate the bandit. However, it turns out that there's a chance the bandit is asleep but it seems this random occurrence is decided just prior to you climbing up the tree house. This means if you climb up into the tree house and notice there's a bandit in there who is awake, you have to restore the game and try again until you come across a restored game where it's somehow triggered to the right state where the bandit is asleep (so you can finally steal his purse). So it seems that King's Quest III is similar to King's Quest 1 and King's Quest 2 where puzzles are dependent on random chance: I can't say I'm a fan.

[ The Pile of Shame ]