Call of the Sea, presently on Xbox Game Pass, looked like a puzzle/adventure, a genre I rather get into, so I fired it up. Not too much to recommend it based on the start of play - just finding some items and interpreting clues to open a gate. I have to admit the second major puzzle has me a little vexed but I expect with a bit more exploration I'll find what I need to get past it.

Visually it's decent and I'm hoping the story and puzzles pick up:

 

For more like this, follow my Twitch channel and find archived streams in my YouTube channel.

More Artifex Mundi today. Rounding out this week's game sale, I picked up the Xbox One bundle of three Queen's Quest games (for some reason only 2, 3, and 4 as the original Queen's Quest doesn't seem to exist on consoles) for under $10. Naturally, I started with Queen's Quest 2: Stories of Forgotten Past, and it's your typical fantasy puzzle game with alchemy but also flying and shrinking down to explore a hidden world. And hidden objects - lots of hunting for hidden objects, as you'd expect.

I don't plan to stream Queen's Quest 3 and 4 but this should give you some flavor of the series:

 

For more like this, follow my Twitch channel and find archived streams in my YouTube channel.

Another day, another Artifex Mundi game. The Secret Order: Shadow Breach has a worse story but plays much better than yesterday's detective entry.

I got so carried away, I went 7 minutes over - and not to make up for lost time. I was genuinely lost in the game:

 

For more like this, follow my Twitch channel and find archived streams in my YouTube channel.

I've been binging on Artifex Mundi hidden object games, so when a number of them went on sale this week on Xbox One, I nabbed them. First on my list is Ghost Files: Memory of a Crime, partly because I've gotten my wife hooked on the more crime investigation-themed games in the genre and also because I wanted to see if the mixed reviews on this one were warranted.

I can say, yes, while the story is intriguing so far the object detection is spotty in places. Towards the end of the clip I spent about 5 minutes looking for one object. I finally just started spamming every spot on the screen only to find I had selected the right place several times in my initial search and it just didn't register. Maybe it was an artifact of using the flashlight as an element of the search, as the rest of the game has been pretty good. Hoping it was a bug I won't encounter again:

 

For more like this, follow my Twitch channel and find archived streams in my YouTube channel.

I went back and forth on whether to get Cyberpunk 2077 at launch but finally caved after seeing some decent Xbox One X footage that showed it playing reasonably well. I chose the Corpo track, which means I begin inside a large insidious and corrupt multinational company - not what I was expecting at all. After the first 30 minutes, I nearly cut the feed but then went another 30 doing mostly combat training.

Eventually, I'll get the Series X and at that point expect I'll start over on a different track (there are two others: Nomad and Street Kid).

So far I really like it and expect this to devour my free time for the next month or so:

 

For more like this, follow my Twitch channel and find archived streams in my YouTube channel.

You know I love Artifex Mundi hidden object games. But $1.50 for King's Heir: Rise to the Throne (with Xbox Live Gold or Ultimate)? I just had to grab it, and it may be the best $1.50 game I've played. I'm 30 minutes in and it's already miles better than the last one I posted a 1st 30 for (that Secret Order game).

It did take me awhile to figure out the swordplay dynamic but it's actuallly pretty fun when you get the hang of it. So far, I'd recommend it even at regular price - but watch and decide for yourself:

 

For more like this, follow my Twitch channel and find archived streams in my YouTube channel.

Kona is a first-person detective story set in an icy rural landscape. You'll have to find heat sources to stay mentally and physically fit while you hunt for clues.

I spend far too long looking for a first-aid kit in the prologue, but maybe this video will help you avoid the same mistake:

 

For more like this, follow my Twitch channel and find archived streams in my YouTube channel.

XIII was one of our favorite games back in the day. It was a slick cel-shaded shooter before Borderlands, and what it lacked in loot it made up for in style.

So far, this remake feels clunky and despite the enhanced graphics, lacks polish. It's fun but not nearly as fun as my memories of the original.

I went a little long because I spent far too much time looking for a hard-to-spot key early on. Kinda funny, actually. Take a look:

 

For more like this, follow my Twitch channel and find archived streams in my YouTube channel.

We really loved Until Dawn, and The Dark Pictures series is more of the same choose-your-own-brutal-adventure type of story. I played enough of Man of Medan on Game Pass to know I wanted to collect them all, so I snapped up the two-pack bundle that included The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope.

This has more of a classic horror tale vibe, which fits my mood for this day before All Hallow's Eve. I played the prologue, curator scene, and then a little of the main story:

 

For more like this, follow my Twitch channel and find archived streams in my YouTube channel.

As someone who used to be more technically oriented - as a child I would take all of my toys apart and put them back together - I felt like my knowledge of how to build a PC was lacking. I have replaced graphics cards, added slot devices, boosted RAM, and and added internal drives and such a few times, but not for many years.

PC Building Simulator is a risk-free way for me to dip my toe back in that world. It's a bit clunky but fun when you get the hang of it. I start with the basic tutorial and then begin the game's story mode, where you have to build a repair business back up one job at a time. Be sure to stick around for the rap song about how important it is to select the right PC components:

 

For more like this, follow my Twitch channel and find archived streams in my YouTube channel.

If you follow this site, you know I love a good Artifex Mundi hidden object adventure. The Secret Order: Return to the Buried Kingdom is NOT that game.

You don't expect great story or voice acting from these titles but this is sub-par even for the genre (and some, a rare few, have been quite good in this department). Apart from one new-ish puzzle type involving fractured pattern matching, the game is a rehash of puzzle types and story tropes you've seen before, done much better.

Don't get me wrong - I finished the game and it was OK. But I'd recommend pretty much any other Artifex Mundi game over this one:

 

For more like this, follow my Twitch channel and find archived streams in my YouTube channel.

While our whole family loves all of the Borderlands games, we do NOT love them all equally. Borderlands 3 has been far and away the most fun, engaging, satisfying, and - at times - absolutely rakkshit crazy.

Psycho Krieg and the Fantastic Fustercluck, the fourth and final entry in the Borderlands 3 DLC Season Pass, definitely lands in this last category. It blends in an unhealthy dose of Psychonauts as you descend into the psyche of a psycho:

 

For more like this, follow my Twitch channel and find archived streams in my YouTube channel.

Busy Gamer Nation #286: Foregone

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Foregone GrrlGotGame stumbled across Foregone at PAX West 2019 and pulled me over for a look. As side-scrolling platformers go, it's a stunner. And the reason is that it's actually built on a 3D engine. But you can learn all about this in our short-but-sweet 3-minute interview.

And it even has a release date. Foregone launches Oct 5 on Nintendo Switch, PS4, and Xbox One. If you can't wait, you can pick it up on PC via Epic Games Early Access.

This is one of our show floor interviews from PAX West 2019.

You can download Busy Gamer Nation from our podcast page, on iTunes, or via RSS feed.

Spirit of Midnight Spirit of Midnight is one of the first games we homed in on at PAX West 2019. Well, to be honest, it was right across from the always capped line for Borderlands 3 - but that just makes it as fortuitous as it is charming.

And it has charm in buckets! You play as a curious kitty who leaves home on a mysterious journey. It's a classic point-and-click-style adventure made for the whole family. While designed to appeal to younger players, it's no less fun for adults. And it's expected out sometime this fall on Mac and PC via Steam and possibly consoles.

This is one of our show floor interviews from PAX West 2019.

You can download Busy Gamer Nation from our podcast page, on iTunes, or via RSS feed.

Busy Gamer Nation #284: Cat Lady

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Cat Lady Cat Lady caught my eye at the indie booth at PAX West 2019, and so I snagged this interview with a rep from Rose City Games.

Since then apparently there has been DRAMA. It appears somebody may have their claws out. The game was on Steam Early Access but in June it was pulled from sale and Rose City posted this terse message from its publisher, VIZ Media:

"The Early Access period for Cat Lady has now ended. For those of you who purchased the game, you will still be able to continue playing it from your library. For those who haven't, please stay tuned because we'll be back when the game is ready for full launch!"

Sounds upbeat but honestly, it seems like SOMETHING HAPPENED. We certainly wish the best for everyone involved, and if you want to put in your vote to get this game, I would take their advice and contact VIZ Media here: gamepublishing@viz.com.

This is one of our show floor interviews from PAX West 2019.

You can download Busy Gamer Nation from our podcast page, on iTunes, or via RSS feed.

Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?! I stumbled on the original Cook, Serve, Delicious! on Steam and quickly got hooked. I spoke with creator David Galindo at PAX West 2019 about the next sequel, Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?!, out now on Steam Early Access and expected to launch in October 2020 on PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Switch.

The third game in the series is set on a food truck where you prep orders while traveling cross-country to various selling locations. As such, there's an added layer of strategy. Busy gamers will be pleased to hear that Zen Mode is returning, and it's better integrated into the game. You can play at your own pace without the need to excessively grind to advance.

This is one of our show floor interviews from PAX West 2019.

You can download Busy Gamer Nation from our podcast page, on iTunes, or via RSS feed.

Right after the interview, I ran home and bought Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2!! and streamed the start of the game to give you a taste:

 

For more like this, follow my Twitch channel and find archived streams in my YouTube channel.

Busy Gamer Nation #282: Hades

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Hades Supergiant Games, maker of Bastion, Transistor, and Pyre, is usually our first stop at PAX West each year. In 2019, we found they were cooking up a game called Hades.

We spoke in-depth with creative director Greg Kasavin and composer/audio director Darren Korb. It's a bit longer than our usual show floor interviews - clocking in at 8 1/2 minutes - and contains samples of Korb's score throughout.

The game is expected to launch very soon on PC and Switch. It's playable now via Early Access via Epic and Steam stores. Additional platforms are expected "down the line."

If you're a fan of Supergiant Games, also check out two events from PAX West 2019: 10 Years of Supergiant Games Panel and music from the Supergiant Games Orchestra.

This is one of our show floor interviews from PAX West 2019. More are on the way!

You can download Busy Gamer Nation from our podcast page, on iTunes, or via RSS feed.

The Devil's Calculator The Devil's Calculator is a free (up to a point) math puzzler where the object is not to solve for a missing number - you have that, it's the mark of the beast aka 666 - but a function that gets you to that number.

It starts out easy but soon becomes tricky, especially when the devil tries to thwart you by setting some of the calculator's keys on fire. There's even an amusing story, and bonus puzzles from leading mathematicians.

The game is out now on PC, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS - and it's entirely free for students and teachers.

For everyone else, you get 25 levels and then chip in a $3 donation to unlock many more - plus a level creator so you can make and share your own.

This is one of our show floor interviews from PAX West 2019. More are on the way!

You can download Busy Gamer Nation from our podcast page, on iTunes, or via RSS feed.

Superliminal Superliminal is one of those games that just catches your eye at an event like PAX West. This 3-minute interview tells you what you need to know: It's basically a 3D puzzle game where the stupidest solution is usually what gets you through.

Consider it the antidote to all of those smarty-pants puzzle games (you know who you are).

The game is out now on PC, PlayStation 4, Switch, and Xbox One - so if you like what you hear, get playing!

This is one of our show floor interviews from PAX West 2019. More are on the way!

You can download Busy Gamer Nation from our podcast page, on iTunes, or via RSS feed.

Unless this is your first visit, you know I love Artifex Mundi hidden object games. Due to the site freeze, I have a backlog of some 30 videos I posted to my YouTube channel

If I'm going to clear the backlog and get back to podcast editing, I'm going to need to post some of these in batches. Here are six of these games that I posted recently:

Family Mysteries: Poisonous Promises is the latest Artifex Mundi hidden object game on Xbox, and the first in a new series. You play a reluctant detective pressured into solving an unusual murder. Like other games in this genre, you collect clues and use them to assemble deductions that progress the story.. Some objects are well hidden - I finally had to use a hint (which I never do!) to locate an elusive lizard:

 

Persian Nights: Sands of Wonders is one of my favorite Artifex Mundi hidden object games. In a midnight movie sort of way, the performances are so bad they're good. Seriously, I laughed out loud several times. The puzzles are pretty great too:

 

Scarlett Mysteries: Cursed Child is another standard Artifex Mundi trope: a missing person must be tracked while solving a supernatural mystery and, of course, lots of puzzles. The acting is above par on this one - though it's really about the myriad puzzles, and those are solid too:

 

Modern Tales: Age of Invention falls into the steampunk genre of Artifex Mundi hidden object games (which also includes the excellent Clockwork Tales: Of Glass and Ink). These are generally the most interesting story-wise and strike a lighter tone than those that are steeped in horror or mystery:

 

Path of Sin: Greed is an Artifex Mundi detective story. It blends their patented mix of puzzles and hidden object scenes with a hard-boiled mystery. Several times in the game, you'll be called on to correlate evidence and make deductions. So grab your magnifying glass and notebook, and let's get to solving:

 

Dreamwalker: Never Fall Asleep is another of my beloved Artifex Mundi hidden object games. Often the story doesn't matter much, and this is pretty much the case here. Basically you solve puzzles that appear while exploring inside a character's dreams, Inception-style. It's a dark tale that's compelling enough to draw you through to the end:

 

For more like this, follow my Twitch channel and find archived streams in my YouTube channel.




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