Review: Lifeline

I recently downloaded this Android and IOS game called Lifeline for $2.99.

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I’m not usually in the practice of paying for games or apps for my phone, but for the last couple of months I’ve been participating in the Google Opinion Rewards app which is free to download, but pays you in Google Play credit for take occasional brief surveys.

I had gained about $5 worth of credit and decided to browse the games section of the Play store to see what might interest me and while pocket Minecraft would have been my first choice, I didn’t have quite enough to match the $6.99 cost. So, when I scrolled down and saw a tiny little astronaut I was already hooked.

You’re connected to Taylor, a inexperienced astronaut who has crash landed on an unknown moon and whose entire crew is dead. You must help him figure out how to survive and help him make decisions through discussions where you are given two options for how to respond. Your text choices could lead him to salvation or to his death.

 

The game is entirely text based but keeps you fully engaged and invested. With ambient music that is occasionally accompanied by heavy breathing, I could feel my blood pressure rising in certain situations when things became more tense or urgent.

The game does have a fast mode once you’ve already completed it, but initially there are times where Taylor is busy or unavailable and you must wait for him to contact you again. This draws the game out and gives a deeper sense of immersion in the story. When Taylor contacts you again, they come through as notifications on your phone as a text or email might. However, the game does not punish you if you’re unable to play or respond for any length of time.

I completed the game in about a week with intermittent ability to play, and without dying. I do wish the game where a bit longer, or maybe more episodic, but for what there was of it I thought it was really good. I enjoyed the writing, and the humor conveyed reminded me of The Martian, one of my new favorite reads, which is appropriate considering the similarities in situations.

If you’re looking for a new mobile game, and don’t mind paying a little bit for what is virtually an interactive novella, then I definitely recommend this one.

5 Stars (5 / 5)

2014: Play Favorites

You may have noticed that, in addition to a love of food, we are also pretty darn fond of games. Here are some of our favorites – ones we personally experienced in 2014 (not necessarily released then). 

Adam:

A lot of shit happened in games last year. Leave a comment if you don’t know about this, but you likely don’t want to find out.

I’m sure I played a bunch of cool stuff, lots of little Twine games but I really didn’t keep track last year (I’m looking to improve things this year so I’m keeping a list of the games I’ve played).

I also spent way more time watching people play games than playing them myself, I don’t regret it, it is sometimes a much more enjoyable and educational way to experience games.

I could randomly pick a few things I remember playing and liking, but let’s go hard here and pick just one game.

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Dragon: Age: Inquisition: 117 hours to complete my first play-through and not a minute too long. I need to put up a gallery of the 1,800+ screenshots I took while playing. Like Brie mentions below, I have plans for at least 2 more play-throughs, though I probably won’t spent as much time on them (mostly because only some of the game will change the next time I play).

I said I wasn’t going to list a bunch of games, but I’ve changed my mind, these will go without commentary, but maybe pick one and try it out?

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Technoccolut: Covenant / Marginalia / CHYRZA / Kindness Coins (seriously, these are all great, check ’em out!)

Brie:

A lot of great games came out last year; I played a few (watched people play a lot more), but I also played some older games that I hadn’t seen before. My best of 2014 is a mix of those.

I’m not going to rank them, because I wouldn’t be able to decide, so in no significant order:

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Goat Simulator was so much fun and a gift that just kept on giving. It was a blast to play as a group and a lot of fun to kill time with on my own. A surprise of a game, and totally worth it.

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The game I was most excited about coming out this year was Dragon Age: Inquisition. Even though I haven’t finished the last story-line quest (I’m busy with school and am trying to complete all the side-quests first) I’ve got a TON of hours invested. I’m also already planning my next play through.

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Another game I got really excited about as soon as I knew it existed is Lifeless Planet. The ambiance of it was so enjoyable and perfect to play in a dark room. Space is totally my jam, and the whole astronaut on a deserted planet thing was perfect.

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My final game of 2014 though is The Longest Journey, which is a surprise considering the game was originally released in 1999. Adam and I are currently working on a play through and it’s just been so much fun. Even though the graphics are clearly dated, the writing and voice acting has been fantastic.

Cat:

As Adam mentioned, things were rough in games last year (which is an understatement). This … situation … definitely influenced my playing habits. Life habits, if I’m honest. You’ll notice that in my picks, most likely.

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Quing’s Quest. The immensely talented Squinky created this simple, silly, and delightful text-based game that gave me immense emotional relief during a time that I really needed it. They have made other, lovely games – so if you’re into games that feel fully human and personal, give ’em a go. (More on Quing’s Quest in Squinky’s own words HERE.)

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Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna). Beautiful art, touching story, and the incredible influence of the Iñupiat people (Alaska Native), their culture, and folklore.  It’s a puzzle platformer, and it’s well-worth playing all the way through to the end (a three-or-so hour endeavor).

I also took great delight in both Goat Simulator and Dragon Age (mentioned above by Adam & Brie).

That’s all, folks. What did you play and love last year? Looking forward to anything in particular in 2015?

A Crutch to Lean On

Right now I’m going through the horror that is finals, which is stressful enough on its own, but for me is the finale of a particularly difficult semester.

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I’ve needed to fall back on a few stress relievers, soothers, or just plain ol’ distractions so I don’t just decide to never leave my bed ever again.

drawn by http://kendrawcandraw.tumblr.com/

Some of you may be going through the same hell, or just feeling the general stress that comes with this time of year, and I wanted to share with you a few ways I’ve kept myself going.

 

NUMBER ONE: FOOD

Snacking has shown to help keep you not only awake while studying, but has also proved to keep me from murdering everything in a 10 mile radius.

My go to de-stresser treats include:

  (trust me, this combo is good)

aaaand, anything you can melt cheese on/in. Such as quesadillas, grilled cheese, mac and cheese, bread, another piece of cheese…  You get the idea.

NUMBER TWO: MEDIA

While studying or while needing to take a break from studying, I indulge in a lot of Netflix and YouTube.

Re-watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer on Netflix (without Fox’s terrible attempt at revamping) has been wonderful way to just chill out.

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If you’ve already watched Buffy and its amazing spin-off series Angel, then good job but I suggest it’s time you watch it again.

If you’ve never watched it before, then I think it’s high time that you do. Here’s a short list of reasons why you should, if the fact that it’s my awesome cat’s namesake isn’t enough of one.

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Buffy says “Hey”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

December also happens to be The Yogscast’s holiday charity live stream month where they stream video games, and other stuff for hours and hours every day just so I can be entertained on a moments notice.

I guess that’s not their main reason and are instead doing it to raise money for charities like Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders), Special Effect, End Polio Now, Oxfam, and Fuana and Flora; but I sure feel benefited.

I mean, with gems like this, the stress just melts away. For whole minutes at a time!

                                                                                            

NUMBER THREE: GAMES

Dragon Age: Inquisition came out the end of November, and I’ve had to be very careful about rationing my play time, but when I do play, it’s so immersive that I’m completely able to forget about Calculus, Chemistry, and student loans.

Another delight has been my discovery that Telltale Game’s  critically acclaimed Walking Dead Seasons 1 & 2, and The Wolf Among Us are now available for free for Andriod tablet. I only barely started playing last night, but they will definitely help distract me the next couple of weeks as I anxiously wait for final course grades to come in.

 

 

Food & Games Intersect

As you’ve probably already noticed, we like to mix food and all kinds of games here at Qwerty. I happened upon a lovely issue of Memory Insufficient, a well curated ezine dedicated this month  to the mingling of the two, so I thought HEY GUESS WHO MIGHT LIKE TO READ THIS.

You lovely folks. That’s who. In case it wasn’t clear. 🙂

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Check it out:

“Food and play are both things that sustain us, connect us, and nurture us. This issue of Memory Insufficient looks at some of the ways that food and games have been connected: Lana Polansky and Austin C. Howe look at representations of food, cooking, and eating in games history; Jefferson Geiger and Onesimus Kain examine their own personal associations with eating and play; and Zoya Street looks back at Shenmue in an alternate history, imagining if cuisine took the place of combat in games culture.

– Guest edited by Nick Capozzoli
– Lana Polansky, Soup is good food: On the economy of props
– Jefferson Geiger, The drinking game: Taste and nourishment in games culture
– Zoya Street, Culinary RPG: An alternate-history game review of Shenmue
– Onesimus Kain, Breaking Bread: Games as kinship rituals
– Austin C. Howe, Chrono isn’t hungry: gastrological ludonarratives”

You can download the issue in full here: Download now

If you like it, please make sure to share it on Facebook, Twitter, or any of your other preferred social networks. Signal boosting is how us independent folks get heard and, more importantly, get funded so that we can keep doing what we do.

Indie Game Watch: July 2014

IGW is a look at a few great games from a few great indie developers who are actively seeking funding. Think we missed a great project? Are you working on a game you think deserves a spot on the list? Email Cat (cat [at] qwerty cafe [dot] com)!

Jenny LeClue, from Mografi

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Beautiful art, a rich story, and inclusivity – here’s more on Jenny LeClue straight from its Kickstarter description:

Help make Jenny’s story possible in a beautiful exploration based adventure game focused on story, character & mystery!

FEATURES

Beautiful Handmade Art Style – Sleek and gorgeous hand drawn style with vintage midcentury aesthetics.

A Living World – The goal is for everything to be interactive, to reward players who poke and prod at every last item and object with insight, secrets, and humor.

Choosiness On A Massive Scale – Players will make choices in their individual game, and some of those choices will be tallied to permanently influence subsequent chapters, essentially “writing” the story collaboratively. The choice players make about the cliffhanger ending of episode one determines the beginning of episode two.

Female Protagonist – Jenny is a brilliant young detective, sharp eyed, intuitive and a ruthless pursuer of the truth. In short, she’s no ones trophy.

Dialogue With A Twist – Jenny is able to move the camera around during dialogue scenes and observe the subject for visible clues that might reveal their guilt or innocence that would otherwise go undetected.

Story Within A Story – Jenny LeClue weaves a rich metanarrative. The “author” of Jenny’s adventures, Arthur K Finklestein, acts as narrator and guide, but his presence also allows you to change the way Jenny’s story is written. Players choices will also affect Finklestein’s own story.

Not Just For Kids – Complex relationships will be explored with themes of family, loss, and identity influenced by horror, sci-fi, and mystery genres.

A Diverse Cast Of Characters & Locations – Explore Arthurton’s expansive world including the abandoned mines, the forgotten graveyard, the misty mountains, the old observatory, the police station, the shops and eateries on Main Street, and Gumboldt University’s Library. You will meet many intriguing and suspicious characters, in a town whose population is representative of the US Census demographics.”

Here’s the promo video:

Back Jenny LeClue here by or before August 21, 2014.

AquaSphere, from Stefan Feld

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This one is a group game!

Can your research team acquire the most knowledge in this undersea brain-burner by Stefan Feld for 2-4 (25 min per player)…

The game board in AquaSphere has two main areas: A research station comprised of six sectors in which your scientist conducts experiments and a headquarters where your engineer supervises preparation of the bots. During each of the four game rounds, you take several turns, and on each turn you either:

  • Use your engineer in the headquarters to program a bot; each round you can choose from three of the seven actions.
  • Have your scientist bring a bot to a sector to perform an action.

Through actions such as improving your lab, sending out submarines, collecting crystals, and examining invasive octopods, you expand the abilities of your team or gather knowledge points, which are necessary to win. Additional challenges result from the limited size of your lab, which is your personal stock; you can increase the size of your lab, which makes life easier, but this costs valuable time.

AquaSphere is a challenging game of strategy and tactics with different paths to victory that requires planning in advance as well as skillful use of short-term opportunities.”

Here’s the promo video:

Back AquaSphere here by or before July 31, 2014.

The Hole Story!, from Girls Make Games

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Who can resist a unicorn? Check out this description from their Kickstarter page: “A girl aided by her trusty shovel embarks on a quest to find a missing princess. GMG 2014 Grand Prize Winner!…

When an unsuspecting young girl finds herself transported to a mystical world, she must rely on her trusty shovel and quick wits to find her way home.

After digging up a strange portal in her backyard, budding young archaeologist Wendy falls through time into a strange new land. She quickly discovers that her best chance of returning home is to rescue Alonna, a princess who has gone missing from the kingdom. Her goal in mind, Wendy sets about resolving the problem the best way she knows how – by digging of course! “

Here’s the promo video:

Back The Hole Story! here by or before August 12, 2014.

Indie Game Watch: June 2014

Indie Game Watch: June 2014

IGW is a look at a few great games from a few great indie developers who are actively seeking funding. Think we missed a great project? Are you working on a game you think deserves a spot on the list? Email Cat (cat [at] qwerty cafe [dot] com)!

For My Brother by Crooked Tree Studios

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For My Brother follows a girl who is willing to give everything for her younger brother. As she fights to gain the powers of untamed nature in order to save him, she becomes less and less human and their bond is changed forever.

    • 2D puzzle platformer movement
    • Enemy-sparse environment with epic bosses
    • Defeat a boss form, gain its powers
    • Use your powers to explore more areas
    • Gameplay influences: Shadow of the Colossus, Megaman, Super Metroid”

Back For My Brother by or before Tuesday, July 22nd here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/859254890/for-my-brother?ref=dash

———–

Spaceteam Admiral’s Club by Henry Smith

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“The Spaceteam Admiral’s Club is a new way to support innovative, accessible, independent games. By directly supporting Henry you are helping to bring free games to the world for a whole year.

I’ll be working on two brand new games, which are still in the prototype stages but I can share the ideas with you now:

We came so close last time, reaching 81% of the goal with over 1400 backers. This time, with your help, I’m sure we can beat it.”

Blabyrinth is a cooperative local multiplayer game for phones and tablets (like Spaceteam) about working together to follow clues and find secret treasure in a mysterious labyrinth. It will feel a bit like the board game Escape: The Curse of the Temple. I’m also inspired by SpelunkyEscape the Room-style games, Indiana Jonesand TV game shows from my childhood The Crystal Maze and Knightmare.

Shipshape is a single-player game for phones and tablets about exploring a quirky galaxy in a spaceship that you snap together from modular components. It’s designed to be easy to play with simple gestures. It’s inspired by the board game Galaxy Trucker and the video games Escape Velocity and Star Control 2.”

Back Spaceteam Admiral’s Club by or before Sunday, July 6th here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/hengineer/spaceteam-admirals-club-relaunch?ref=dash

———–

FranknJohn – a head swinging roguelike by bitSmith Games

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“FranknJohn is all about dynamic, super-tight and fast-paced gameplay. You will swing and jab your head at fearsome enemies and powerful bosses throughout your adventure that will test your skills and resolve.

Some key features in FranknJohn:  

  • Launch FranknJohn’s chained head with full 360° control
  • Experiment with dozens of Skullcaps that alter gameplay in many different ways
  • Random generated, sprawling levels packed with items, collectables and secrets – no two playthroughs are the same!
  • Swappable body parts allow you customize your stats to your own playstyle
  • Original Soundtrack by Ben Prunty
  • Battle through four uniquely themed worlds and piece together the dark history of its occupants
  • Perma-death, challenging enemies and powerful bosses will keep you on your toes.

Our influences for the game include SNES classics Zombies Ate My Neighbours and Super Smash TV, to more recent games like Dark Souls and The Binding of Isaac.”

Back FranknJohn by or before Wednesday, July 9th here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/bitsmithgames/franknjohn?ref=dash

Indie Game Watch: May 2014

Indie Game Watch: May 2014

IGW is a look at a few great games from a few great indie developers who are actively seeking funding. Think we missed a great project? Are you working on a game you think deserves a spot on the list? Email Cat (cat [at] qwerty cafe [dot] com)!

Knitted Knerd Dice by Tabletop Crafts

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Check out these cute “knerdy” dice bags! Fruit, sushi, mana vial, and the classic bomb – and those are just the basic bags. Chelle Neveux is basically trying to boost her business with this Kickstarter campaign, and she’s already well on her way to being funded. If you want to help push her campaign to the next level, you can contribute here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/576490336/knitted-knerd-dice-bags?ref=category nerddicebags

Here are a few words from Chelle herself:

“I’m turning to Kickstarter to fund creation of a set of dice bags and other hand crocheted gaming accessories. This funding will allow me to focus on producing these bags quickly, and with the highest degree of quality crafts for the lowest price.

The finished products will each be hand made. Each will be one of a kind, although they will be similar to the examples you see in the pictures below, as well as in the video. If you have special requests or questions, please feel free to message me. I’m always interested in brainstorming new designs!

Everything I make is unique, and if you have specific ideas or requests for color, size, etc. please let me know. Some options or requests might cost a little extra if they’re very extravagant, but I’m also excited to try new things! “

And check out the promotional video here:

Fund Knitted Knerd Dice Bags before June 18, 2014.

——–

Breach TD by Space Rhino Games

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I am always a sucker for tower defense games – and Breach TD promises to be an “evolved” version that … doesn’t have towers. The pitch is that there are battle units (AKA Guardians) instead of towers and… well, look at it yourself!

Their goals with the project are certainly ambitious and I have to say I typically love the classic tower defense format (even though they call it boring), but I’m certainly curious. This could be fun.

Here’s more of their pitch from the campaign page:

“Breach TD is a competitive, team-based multiplayer, cross-platform strategy game that fuses tower defense elements with the fast-paced nature of MOBA and RTS.

Two rival teams clash in a fight for survival against the Void, where players choose 4 out of an ever-expanding roster of powerful Guardians to take to the front lines in an action-packed 3v3 match-up. Commanding these mighty Guardians, and wielding Relics that offer a dynamic array of powers and abilities, players are free to create unique strategies to match their favorite playstyle, where Breach TD offers near endless replayability.

A match is divided into 2 mayor phases:

A. The Building Phase where you have a limited amount of time to both buy and strategically place your guardian units out in the field as well as potentially upgrade your economic structure, which allows you to send Rift Attacks to your opponent, distracting his units from their defense.

B. The Combat Phase where your guardians head into battle to defend your base and support them with the power of Relics.”

Fund Breach TD before June 1, 2014.

———-

Go Extinct! – Go Fish… evolved by Ariel Marcy

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“Use science to topple your opponents” – I’m in!

Go Extinct! is a revolutionary evolutionary card game for humans aged 8 and up. The game set includes a deck of 54 beautifully-illustrated animal cards and a simplified, yet accurate, evolutionary tree board used for reference during play.”

Simple, educational, and seemingly well-executed? Yup. I like this thing already. Check out the promotional video:

Fund Go Extinct! before May 31, 2014.