Miniview: Bars of Black and White (Browser)

I love:
…the barcode reader. I’ve always been interested in the use of machine-readable patterns – such as barcodes, or QR codes – to convey or, more commonly, act as a link to person-readable information. So I love the idea of using them as a variation on the ‘writing on the wall’ technique.

I like:
…what the barcodes translate to. They’re nice, but it seems like it’s trying too hard to impress a message on the player, but it’s difficult to tell exactly what it is; it’s definitely trying to tell the character you play something, though. ‘Paranoia is sometimes justified’? ‘You’re imagining everything’? ‘Pay more attention to the world around you’? I read short science-fiction a lot. I get those messages all the time. It’s getting a little dull.

I loathe:
…that the ‘puzzles’ are very simple, and all you really need to solve them is a keen eye. In short, there’s absolutely no challenge to simply completing this ‘room-escape’ game. There isn’t even much challenge in finding all the barcodes. This is probably why there are no badges.

If you read 365 tomorrows, any other short science-fiction site, or even short fiction in a book at all, you may have heard all this game will say before.
It’s still an interesting play, as though the concept of barcodes and QR codes to link to people-readable information is old, I’ve never seen it used before in a game. It’s also really, really short, and low-challenge, so it’s quick to beat.

Bars of Black and White @ Kongregate

Miniview: World of Goo (PC)

I love:
…the story. It’s not comparable to many other games I’ve played, but only due to the format; told through the very occasional cutscene, but most frequently through signs dotted about the landscape, it’s… again, it’s writing-on-the-wall, or GlaDOS’ voice through the speakers. You do things, or not, and the game talks to you. That style just isn’t the same as Final Fantasy N, or Dragon Quest, so it can’t be compared. For all its probably more realistic as a way of showing a story, the world isn’t really sensible, even by game standards, and the game admits it. Hilarity ensues.
…the integration of puzzle and story. Or something like that. I mean, this game is more like Half-Life than Puzzle Quest; what you do is very obviously what’s happening in the world, like Half-Life and its non-cutscene cutscenes, and very unlike Puzzle Quest and its ‘I’m gonna fight you now! *BEJEWELLED*’ disconnect.

I like:
…the sign-painter. He, or she, accounts for the majority of the text in the game, mostly with amusing observations, but he also serves as a very good method of telling the player what they need to know, such as explaining some of the differences between the goo species.
…the many types of goo, above and beyond the common-or-garden grey-black goos from the original Tower of Goo game. There are balloonlike goos, goos that form attachments more readily, goos that act like water drops, combustible goos, reusable goos, exploding goos, somewhat-pointless goos, goos that stick at things, goos you can fling at stuff…

…tower-building. Completing levels with more goos collected than the requirement gives you goo to build a tower with, a la Tower of Goo.
…the music. Mostly. About half of it is arrangements of the same theme; that I dislike the original form of that theme, and yet love most of the arrangements, is probably testament to the composer’s skill.

I loathe:
…not finding out what the sign-painter was doing. Or about whatever the player is supposed to be. Granted, it probably wouldn’t be possible to answer those in any way, shape or form that isn’t disappointing, but it’s just a little jarring.
…not being able to use anything but the common-or-garden goo for building towers. Not being able to screw around with those types outside of the puzzles they appear in, at that.
…not being able to see other users’ clouds at the World of Goo Corporation building. I could in the demo, but is my tower really that tiny compared to all the others in existence?

The demo doesn’t really give the full game its due; whilst there are hints of how the game will continue, in the playable chapter of the demo, the game only really starts coming into its own in the second chapter and beyond. That said, the demo is a good introduction to the game’s mechanics; if you like what you see there, the game only gets better.
If, like me, you weren’t overly impressed with the demo, it can still turn out to be a great game. If you’re worried, though, see if you can’t find a friend with a copy themselves, and ask to play through the second chapter. Things really only kick off from there.

Miniview: Eversion (PC)

I love:
…what it does with platforming, and the different rules you have to learn just to get through each stage. Though superficially this game looks like any given Mario-type platformer, I’d class it as more of a puzzle-platformer, due to the thinking you have to do to get through each stage, but I don’t often see those with a strictly level-based structure.

I like:
…the music. Every single piece. Much like the pieces in Spelunky, the
music here just… fits, extremely well, the atmosphere I presume the
designer was aiming for when producing this game. Unlike Spelunky,
though, the music is a very important element of the game that tells the player when they can or cannot do something. Probably.
…the graphics. Nice pixel graphics. They’re used much like the music is, and I do love how they’re used… but I don’t really love the graphics.

I hate:
…not that much at all, really. For a game that requires precision jumps in places, the controls seem a little sensitive, but it’s not a great problem, and I seem to have infinite lives, so…