I picked up Tyler: Model 005 for just a couple bucks, and I can see why it was priced so low. The game, featuring a robot toy that somehow finds itself activated as a self-functioning robot you control, is confusing and not terribly fun. I did figure out how to keep my battery charged and defeat an onslaught of spiders (why'd it have to be spiders?!) only to find myself in a basement with no real clear sense of purpose. And then I solved a simple light puzzle only to be thrown into a tower defense mode I didn't really want.

I didn't even give it the full 30 minutes:

 

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I stumbled across Skully shortly after it came out but decided due to mixed reviews to wait for a sale. I love a good marble action/puzzle game like Marble Blast Ultra on the Xbox 360, and this one has something or a story and the ability to transform your skull/marble into other things.

I will say it took some time to get the hang of the controls. Water means death for your poor skull, but fortunately checkpoints are never far away. You can also turn into a sort of mud golem with a powerful punch and the ability to shoot a fire attack that evaporates water-filled enemies, so there's that. Overall, a fun and intriguing game with middling controls and (so far) only moderate difficulty.

If you've always wanted a marble game coupled with exploration, this might be for you:

 

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If you think Blacksad: Under the Skin looks like a hard-boiled detective version of Zootopia, well, you're right. Pretty sure that was the elevator pitch for this game. Unlike Dreamfall Chapters, this plays much more like a Telltale game. It even discourages you from turning on the tutorial, saying it should be pretty obvious what to do. I kept it on anyway, and it's kinda cool how it freezes the action to explain what's up right before you do something for the first time.

Like most detective games, expect to spend a lot of time looking for people and things to talk to, collect, and interact with. Eventually you'll get enough clues to make deductions but I barely scratched the surface on my first big case:

 

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I wasn't sure what to expect from Dreamfall Chapters, an impulse buy. Maybe something like a Telltale game.

It isn't that. Dreamfall is more abstract, and the dialogue choices just sort of float in the air and let you sort between them, gathering a sense of each possible path. You solve puzzles by interacting with light, mind, and time.

It takes some getting used to:

 

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I didn't get into the early Mass Effect games though rather enjoyed Andromeda. With so much buzz for Mass Effect Legendary Edition (which remasters the first three games in the series with all of the trimmings), I finally bit down and (re)started the first game. It's more or less how I remembered it, albeit shinier and better sounding. I immediately recognized Seth Green as the voice of Joker in the first few minutes.

I ended up playing nearly an hour so I could complete the first mission and save my game:

 

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I picked up The Bradwell Conspiracy some time ago and finally decided to dive in. It's a little clunky and the premise is ridiculous but it's also kinda fun and funny. Not sure I would recommend it but then again, I'm still playing. Basically you're trapped in a Stonehenge museum after what seems to be a terrorist bombing and a quirky AI and a friendly (and oddly knowledgeable) stranger help guide you to escape.

Along the way, you learn about the family who owns it and their shady and tragic past. And there's a gun that reshapes materials (not a Portal gun but the game feels Portalesque):

 

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Another Artifex Mundi hidden object game. Uncharted Tides: Port Royal is right in the middle of the pack: not great, but not bad. There is an interesting game dynamic where a coin flips and you change the character that you play (it's not random, so not sure why the coin flip metaphor, but just go with it). There is one really tough puzzle in the middle where you need to repair a rope bridge; the good news is that after many failed attenpts, I quickly found a video online that walked me through the solution.

Since recording this video, I've beaten the game and the side story, and it's weird but fun:

 

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

I've been meaning to try Spiritfarer for a long time, but could never find a time when I was in the mood. I finally pulled the trigger and gotta say: meh. It's OK but hardly the compelling story-driven drama I expected. It took me some time to adjust to using the X button to advance the dialogue (at first I thought the game was locked up, as nothing I did seemed to work) but I couldn't think of a better remap so I just acclimated.

Maybe it's more your game than mine? I'll keep going as I hear the story becomes quite emotional, something rare and treasured in gaming:

 

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

She Sees Red is another interactive movie, though by far the worst one I've played yet. On the heels of my run of Five Dates, which has some solid acting, the contrast is remarkable. Don't get me wrong: I knew it would be bad after watching the trailer. And I bought this both on sale and with Rewards money, so I don't really feel cheated.

The voice dubbing alone signaled that it wouldn't be up to the usual standards. I just didn't expect it to be so bad: plot holes you can drive a truck through, and characterizations that are rampant stereotypes that also make no sense.

Is it so bad it's good? You decide:

 

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I've played a few interactive movie games, and they tend to be dorky yet amusing. As someone who has been married 30 years, I have no idea what dating is like today (much less during a pandemic) so figured Five Dates would be some escapist fun. The acting is actually surprising good, though occasionally a little overwrought - it still feels somewhat authentic.

Check out the intro and my first two dates:

 

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

I noticed that Deliver Us The Moon is leaving Xbox Game Pass soon, and I really wanted to try it. I was expecting a point-and-click adventure rather than the third-person interactive exploration game that it is. It starts out super intuitive - although I did sit a bit longer than necessary listening to a radio report before I realized I was free to move about the mission base.

After that it seemed pretty obvious where to go and what to do at any particular moment, until I got to the rocket launch sequence. This is timed and the instructions on what to do are angled and not zoomable, which made reading them tricky at times. After a few failed starts, I managed to get liftoff:

 

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

Maneater just looked like it would be a fun game. Attacking people as a shark? How is that NOT fun?!

Alas, it suffers the fate of most underwater games: difficult controls. It starts out fine with some tutorial basics. I then spent some time savaging the wrong beach. Once I found the correct feeding ground, things picked up fast. Boats and scuba dudes hunted and killed me several times while I tried to master the difficult attack and feeding controls - not a big deal when eating unarmed sunworshippers, but a different story when blocked in and under constant attack.

Maybe it's more fun to watch than to play - judge for yourself:

 

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

Journey to the Savage Planet is one of those games that I meant to play while it was in Xbox Game Pass and let slip by. After reading some positive reviews, I went ahead and grabbed it during the Spring Sale.

This is definitely my kind of game - lots of exploring, scanning objects, and collecting materials (minus the annoying crafting mechanics that seem to be dominating today's games) - all with an off-beat sense of humor. Take a look:

 

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

I wasn't sure whether I was going to stream NieR: Automata, and then I watched the 3-minute teaser at the start of the game. Wow, that's some crazy @#$% there!

After that, I just had to share - come for the crazy intro, stay for the interesting third-person shooter/sword gameplay:

 

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

From the studio that made one of my all-time favorite games, Alan Wake, comes Control. GrrlGotGame is addicted to this title (recently added to Xbox Game Pass), and she urged me to give it a spin.

So far, it's... very weird. It's a really odd game, and coming from Remedy Entertainment, that's saying something. It's like X-Files if David Lynch were directing while on peyote.

Seriously, weird stuff is afoot... just give it a look:

 

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

My 18-year-old insisted I try Undertale, recently added to Xbox Game Pass for console, telling me it has a great story amidst its retro graphics and gameplay style. He also said I should stream a bit more than my usual 30 minutes, as it takes that long to work through the prologue/tutorial. It is an odd and funny game though I'm not sure I'll have the dedication to complete it (much less play for the pacifist ending that he's going for).

I'm already on the wrong track - apparently I did a bad bad thing here:

 

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

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:

 

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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.




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