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

Screenshot from Mage's Initiation
Such a top bloke

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 = 43%
Since this game is new, I'm going to try and keep major spoilers out of this (despite my previous warning about spoilers).

The game is quite addictive and I've spent a good amount of time on it this week. As mentioned before, I managed to get stuck so sadly, I had to end up using a walkthrough… only to discover that I had fell for an old flaw of Sierra point 'n' click adventures: the dreaded hunt for pixels. To be fair on Himalaya Studios, the first time I encountered this (yes, it happened again later in the week) the object isn't only a few pixels in size, it's quite noticeable, except it's camouflaged with a whole bunch of other things on the screen, and that's the main problem: there are so many items on screen that you can interact with that 90% of the time, there's no point interacting with them because they'll give you a generic response when you're looking at them. So, when the object you're actually looking for is mixed up with several items or bits of scenery that have given you generic messages, you just assume there's nothing to discover on the screen.

Anyway, as a result of this, I had ended up exploring the Wastelands and the Forest, and even mapped out both of them the old-fashioned way (mind you, mapping the Wastelands turns out to be a waste of time as I found out later… also, no pun intended).

Oh, and while on the topic of flaws found in old Sierra point 'n' click adventure games, I also succumbed to the good ol' I-didn't-even-realise-there-was-another-exit-to-this-room trick. I spent a good amount of time trying to find my escape route for a room when it turned out there was a doorway at the bottom of the screen. Argh! If only the mouse cursor changed to an "EXIT" sign or something when hovering over potential exits.

Another thing I'm not so keen on in this game is the fact that when enemies die, sometimes their loot ends up dropping behind scenery and then you're unable to pick it up. While I don't mind this happening for a few gold coins or anything that isn't valuable, I just hope there are no essential quest items that have dropped so far and I haven't had a chance to pick them up. Another bug I've encountered is that the description of a menu item indicated it was in a different state than it really was – the only way I could tell is that the image for the inventory item had changed (but not the description) – this was rather confusing at one point where I was trying to give said inventory item to someone, only for them to say I hadn't already set it to the expected state. To make things worse, the only way to reset the item's state was to talk to that character too.

Finally, while I'm criticising the game, I'm not a big fan of the cinematics. I love the portraits and the art style they've established in-game and the art style they've used in the cinematics just doesn't gel. I think they've could've just stuck to using the in-game engine for the cut-scenes to be honest, and it would've been better.

Currently I'm once again stuck in the game trying to figure out how to return a gem without getting my hands nibbled off…

Star Trek: Bridge Crew

  • Picked by Me
  • Percentage Complete = 16%
I didn't play this game this week. Lanna has installed her copy of the game but I still need to set her up 😊.

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag

  • Picked by Luke
  • Percentage Complete = 64%
Finally got back into this and…. I didn't really do much, at least not in terms of the main storyline. Killed a few animals so I could use their components to craft things (yay, coz open world games wouldn't be open world games without crafting) and got some loot from raiding a Smuggler's Cave as well as taking down a level 2 fort. I can see how mortars are kind of OP. Also went to a dive site and got some loot there too. So yeah, been spending most of my time grinding to get better upgrades… and I now have better hull armour as a result (as well as a Mermaid figurehead – you gotta spend some money on bling you know 😉).

King's Quest III

  • Picked by Choona
  • Percentage Complete = 67%
I'm still enjoying the performing of spells part; it's probably the most novel part of the game, although I read somewhere that the spells were actually a creative way of adding copyright protection into the game (go figure). So, I ended up buying passage across the ocean from a bunch of sailors… although turns out they are pirates (of course – remember kids, if anything can go wrong in a Sierra adventure game, it probably will). Anyway, part of the walkthrough I'm following said I had to wait in real time (again) for the pirates to yell out that they're dropping anchor. It took so long for this to occur the first time (I was alt+tabbing out of the game and doing some blog work in the meantime) that I ended up restoring the game from further back thinking I'd missed something: turns out I was wrong, the game really does take a long time for actions to occur. In the end, I ended up waiting one hour for the pirates to say they were dropping anchor and by that time, I had my fill of King's Quest III for one day.

[ The Pile of Shame ]