It’s that time of year again, where Steam bombards us with amazing sales, enriching our silly gaming lives while destroying our bank accounts. I passed up many games, mostly because I shouldn’t be spending money right now, but I had to grab Orcs Must Die! and Cave Story.
There is something so satisfying about tower defense games that isn’t captured by most other “casual” games. Maybe its because I’ve been playing heavy games like Skyrim and Limbo — or, maybe its because I love relieving stress through button-mashing and orc-slaughtering — but I’m really enjoying Orcs Must Die!. The game takes aspects of a typical tower defense game, (e.g., funneling masses of enemies into traps), and combines them with a fast-paced, third-person shooter vibe. You can select a certain number of items, (traps, power-ups, or weapons), before each match.
Glancing at the level list, I assume I’m about half-way through the game, which is kind of disappointing — not because I’m going through it so fast, but because it hasn’t been challenging at all. I suppose this is typical of these types of games, and does add to the easy-fun-smash-kill nature of the game. Still, I wish it were a bit harder. In the beginning levels you don’t even need to use items if you spam your cross-bow enough, and a particular power-up which lets you throw orcs by the dozens into pits of acid is extremely overpowered. If you time it right and position your character well, you can more or less kill all Orcs in a particular wave — racking up ridiculous combos. The game is mildly amusing, but I’m not sure why they made your character a thick-headed bro, considering it’s us nerds that are playing it.
Cave Story is very different from Orcs Must Die!, (obviously). It’s a homage to all those old, wonderful SNES games with flat graphics, but well-rounded stories. The first thing I noticed about Cave Story is its music, which has been changed from the original release, (though you have the option to revert to the classic graphics and sound effects). To be honest, I’m not one of those nerds that’s into 8-bit — or even 8-bit sounding — music. (The exception being covers like this). Cave Story’s music is very different, though. For whatever reason, it immediately grabbed me, and made me feel nostalgic. I don’t think it has to do with my age, as I grew up playing Playstation and N64 games, not SNES games. The music in Cave Story also varies nicely, which is an accomplishment given its 8bit-ness. When you are in combat, there’s usually some drone-like percussion sounds tapping along, allowing you to get into the rhythm of jumping, shooting, and jumping some more. While wandering around, talking to characters, and uncovering the story, the music dots along with lighthearted pings.
The combat in the game is fairly addictive, too. How well you do depends on your own skills. While good dexterity and timing are helpful, Cave Story also rewards you for how much you play, allowing you to “level up” your weapons, and find powerful items. (Though, if you take damage, you can potentially de-level). As far as the story goes… I have no idea what is happening. Apparently there are talking bunny-creatures, (some violent, some friendly), a robot thing that has tried to kill me, and some guy that keeps trying to talk with me over IM chat. Like I said, I have no idea. I’ll probably figure it out more as I go along, but I had to take a break because the controls are murderous. The default controls require you to use “a”, “s”, “z”, and “x”, which is absolutely horrendous. Thankfully, you can change the controls, so I won’t go on a huge “terrible control” rant. I’m actually just lazy. Once I change the controls, I’ll boot the game back up, and see how it goes from there.