Top Ten Worst Games 2019
I hate this game:
A concept is not enough to carry a game. Mashing up The Impossible Quiz and WarioWare with I Wanna be the Guy is a nice little idea, but it only copies the style of these games and not the substance. There's nothing clever or creative about this game's puzzles. For example, one of them simply gives the address of a text document that doesn't exist. You have to create it. That's literally it. Another one says "Preview". You go to the level preview and you get the code to unlock the next level.
IWBTG had tight controls because the difficulty was supposed to come from the actual challenge, not impairing your ability to function. This game gleefully throws that out the window and instead makes the controls slippery and floaty as fuck. There's nothing this adds to the game except the sense that the game doesn't want to complete it. I did that, just to spite the game, and with the hope that maybe it'd eventually get more challenging or compelling, but it was all bad all the way to the end. Fuck this.
Hypnospace Outlaw: You sleuth through a recreation of the 90's internet to find what's hidden away inside while you laugh at the dorky angelfire-esque webpage. It does require some cleverness to figure out where to go to find out what you need to progress, but it's almost like searching error codes when you need to do tech support. You wander through a number of pages, get annoyed that there's no information to help you, and move onto the next one.
Personally, I feel like this is going to be the type of game that some people might really enjoy, but much like the recent Unheard, the puzzling goodness is hidden behind too much boring shit to really keep me interested. It echoes Orwell: Ignorance is strength, but while that game is a reflection of the modern/future internet that only has a little bit of white noise so that you have a clearer picture of the whole mystery, Hypnospace Outlaw is bogged down in useless fluff that only distracts.
Forager: Forager can be summed up in a single word: janky. It places you on an island where you harvest slowly respawning resources until you can get enough exp to progress on an upgrade tree, expand your island, and all that good stuff. Unfortunately, it's utterly killed by its poor pacing and upgrade system, I can't count the amount of times I was left just waiting for five minutes or more waiting for things to respawn because there was genuinely nothing more I could do. The upgrades don't help. Games have conditioned me away from using levels to buy temporary rewards, like +20 money, and behind those are the upgrades that are actually useful.
I think any game that leaves you sitting around, bored, with nothing progressing and with nothing to do, isn't a good idle game or a good simulation game. I cant think of anything that Forager is good as. It's not even awful enough to frustrate, and endless blank void that sucks in your time and only gives you a vague sense of unfulfillment, as you slowly march forward to the inexorable ending of your life.
Main character looks cute, though.
Q.U.B.E 2 is a Portal knock-off. You're stuck in a lab that's been worn away by time and to escape you need to solve puzzles in chamber after chamber primarily by spawning orange and blue puzzle items by pointing and clicking on specific tiles, then using them to interact with puzzle objects in the room to win. You continue through series of puzzles, all themed around a specific puzzle object, and make your way through the abandoned facility to escape, all while you listen to a suspicious disembodied AI voice.
The only real difference is that Q.U.B.E 2 only tests my patience.
Everything is designed to feel sluggish in Q.U.B.E. Your movement speed would be classified as sneaking in any other game, and there's no real benefit to how pointlessly far the puzzles have been placed from each other. But the worst offender is thow the game will stop you for minutes to forcibly subject you to unskippable in-game cutscenes to tell you a story that I guarantee you won't want to hear. A close second is how these time-wasting tactics extend to the actual puzzles. I didn't run into a single puzzle that took me more than a minute or so to figure out until most of the way through the game, but the actual process of solving them could take minutes of either waiting or doing mindless busywork or both.
This means that you can (and often will) wind up in a situation where you figure out the solution to a puzzle in thirty seconds, have to spend two minutes putting it into practice, then after walking for another minute to get to the next puzzle, you'll be stopped for another couple minutes to subjected to a thoroughly miserable story. It's like an alternate universe Portal where the interesting mechanics and charm were replaced by generic puzzling and bullshit.
Maybe all of these sins could have been forgiven if the puzzles themselves were fun, and when the game does get better as it goes. Around hour three, the puzzles stop being as simple and mindless and it becomes to puzzle solving what jogging is to a practice distance runner. It's not going to challenge, but it is just enough to engage you, with the in-puzzle time-wasting cut to a minimum and what little is left becomes enjoyable. It even gets into the swing of things about an hour towards the end, where were a few stretches that had everything flow well as well as making the puzzles moderately challenging. Unfortunately, that's five hours into a six-hour game.
If the game took out all of the time-wasters, the story, and the stretches of superfluous tutorial levels, cranked up the difficulty, and fine-tuned the puzzle elements earlier on that would make putting your solutions into practice actually fun, you'd be left with a two to three-hour simple puzzle game that would be an enjoyable enough experience to justify throwing down $5-$10 to blast through in an evening, but as is, I wouldn't recommend it even for free.
There is some fun to be had, but the process of getting the fun out of Q.U.B.E. is akin to getting blood from a stone.
"If only" is the only phrase I could think of to describe Hue. See, I picked it up because the screenshots on the store page looked beautiful and it boasted a creative puzzle mechanics. After Q.U.B.E. 2, I was ready to eat it up. Surprise! It's secretly a game where you push boxes! Oh sure, it looks pretty and there is a little more too it, thanks to a mechanic where you can switch the color of the background at will, making boxes of that color invisible, but really, the game doesn't do much with it except prolong the box-pushing tedium.
If only it had more reactive platforming that made the most of the core mechanic. Hell, if only they did much of anything with the core mechanic. If only they didn't have annoying segments where you walk through a barren hallway while a pretentious audio log plays. If only the tutorial were shorter and the game got into the meatier puzzles sooner. If only those puzzles felt more creative. At some point, you're really just saying, "If only they made a good game, it would be good."
If Q.U.B.E 2 was a mirror universe Portal, then Hue is something similar for Braid. Same pretentious music and vague bullshitty story, same focus on the use of a mechanic that you can access at the press of the button to complete change a level, and same