Yeti Hunter Review

Written on January 28, 2014 – 12:55 pm by Ding

This review for Yeti Hunter, a free PC game from Vlambeer, first appeared on X, a site I now pretend never existed.

The first time I saw a yeti, the hairs on the back of my neck rose and prodded the nerves that coiled round to my temples and then proceeded to stop me breathing for the next three seconds. It was the first indication that I was not in fact alone in the blazing white snow-scape I had found myself in and that there were in fact yetis out there, or at least one, for me to hunt.

Always a pleasant sight to welcome you to a game's world.

Always a pleasant sight to welcome you to a game’s world.

Having come away from the game for a few minutes it occurs to me that I’m only assuming that I was the hunter because I was the one holding the gun and because on this particular occasion, the yeti was running away from me. There was no guarantee that this would always be the case or that the Yeti was even aware of my existence. Perhaps it was just frolicking, blissfully unaware of the terrified and quivering wreck currently cowering behind a cross-hair.

Yeti Hunter from Vlambeer is something I wouldn’t be surprised to find in an art gallery. In terms of atmosphere, it should be played by anyone who is in any doubt of the potential evocative nature of gaming as a medium, even through a retro aesthetic. The landscape is a crude, pixelated affair, outwardly resembling something that would be spat out by an ancient Atari, but the flickering snow and blinding white haze reveals a graphical sophistication that older machines would have been incapable of.

Not shown by picture: my fear-bulged eyes.

Not shown by picture: my fear-bulged eyes.

As for the atmosphere, the first time the scene snapped from day to night, and I do mean to use the word snapped, my heart decided it wanted to occupy a space that was half its size, contracting down with the shift in music. Said music, from Kozilek, does an incredible job of further pushing the tone and feeling of extreme solitude in a hostile or at best bleak environment.

The scratchy, shaky appearance of the snow and pixel-trees, accompanied by the haunting music played through my headphones in combination with the fact that I rather foolishly played this in the dark with the flickers of torrential snow lightly strobing against my walls, meant that the one thing it put me in mind of the most was the horror film The Ring. Upon exiting the game, I half expected to find an email from the yeti reading ‘seven days’.

I scare easily in games. I put the controller down very early on in Silent Hill 2 because unlike in a horror film, actually walking away is of course an option. That said, the atmosphere and tension that Yeti Hunter manages to build on such few resources is astounding. It is in no doubt a short form game, and not exactly something you can play for very long, nor I doubt very often, but it is an example of a supreme piece of game design and highly compelling, even if the lack of instruction or definitive objective can be a little unsettling.

It is really rather difficult to convey just how much atmosphere this game has in these screens.

It is really rather difficult to convey just how much atmosphere this game has in these screens.

I have yet to actually kill the/one of the yetis. I’m not even certain it’s possible and to be perfectly honest, I’m a little concerned of the potential consequences of doing so. If I find myself actually face to face with one, it will be interesting to see if I can pull the trigger and I appear to have taken to hiding up trees instead.

Verdict: Yeti Hunter didn’t feel the need to give me a score, so I won’t do the same to it. This should be looked at by any budding designer, anyone who needs convincing that games can be artistic, or anyone who wants a good atmospheric scare.

Yeti hunter was developed by Vlambeer with music from Kozilek. It is available as a free downloaded on the Yeti Hunter site.

Update: I wrote this long ago before I knew who Vlambeer were and and before the studio had done a huge amount. They have become one of the most interesting indie developers currently on the scene, and as a bonus recommendation, its mobile game Ridiculous Fishing is one of the few mobile titles that can be whole-heartedly recommended.

Check out this page for a selection of more video game reviews. They may not be the latest games or the most regularly updated, but they are definitely reviews.

Hearthstone Beta Review

Written on December 31, 2013 – 5:36 pm by Ding

The Hearthstone Beta review

Initially Hearthstone comes across as a shameless copy of Magic: The Gathering. Of course, Magic: The Gathering is an excellent game marred only by the fact that your friends are smarter than you, know which cards go together perfectly, and don’t keep getting distracted and filling their decks with low-health creatures. I may only be speaking for myself there of course.

hearthstone_main

I was ready to write off Hearthstone as Magic: The Copying and call it a day but there’s just something about Blizzard’s level of polish that makes that quite hard to do. Four hours later I had fully filed my nails down with my teeth and had both feet tucked up onto my chair as the last few points hung in the balance between my confused Paladin (he didn’t know why his cards were all low-health creatures) and a suicidal Warlock constantly hurting himself to get better cards whilst I ineffectually poked him with a town guard.

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is a Blizzard Entertainment project that looks to be lining its cross-hairs on the lucrative (I initially typed ludicrous and I’m not sure I was right to correct it) free-to-play market. It is a digital collectible card game whereby players collect cards, build decks out of those cards, and then battle each other with those decks. You unlock cards by levelling up or earning gold through the game, or by putting your credit card details down to buy more of them directly.

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Batman: Arkham Asylum Review

Written on July 4, 2012 – 9:21 pm by Ding

Why yes, I did just post a review for a game that’s three years old. That’s either post-modern games journalism or post-relevant games journalism.

This review originally appeared on X, a site I now pretend I never created. You can read my full review below the fold.

I’ve always been a big fan of the Dark Knight in almost all his forms. That Batman has seen so many variations baffles and intrigues me.

Although my taste may indeed have been tempered by the fact that I was a teenager and didn’t know any better at the time, I would highly recommend the No Man’s Land series of graphic novels. They have an interesting if not far fetched setup with Gotham City cut off from the rest of the states and being carved up by the wide variety of Batman villains, it puts well known characters under unusual stresses, and the ending…well, it’s disappointing. The point is there were some great moments there, some extraordinary artwork, a few gems of good story telling and the first two volumes were probably what pushed me off into the deep end of trying to draw my own comics, be that for good or ill.

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iOS Game Review: Niko

Written on February 7, 2012 – 10:00 am by Ding

iOS Game Review:  Niko

Niko is a platformer from Habbo Hotel creators, Sulake.  It is worthy of comment for two reasons:  Firstly, it has some level of integration with Habbo Hotel, a hugely successful and popular virtual world that has been one of the innovators of micro transactions and secondly, it resolves a lot of problems that platform games have on a touch screen device.

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Saints Row: The Third Review

Written on November 28, 2011 – 11:38 am by Ding

I very nearly wrote off Saints Row: The Third after about an hour.  Had I not been reviewing the game and possessing the professionalism to play through to the end, it might have been consigned to the shelf of ‘things I might come back to.’

 

Short version:  I’m glad I kept on playing.

 

Long version:  Hit the ‘read the rest of this entry’ button to read on.

 

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iPad/iPhone Game: Squids

Written on October 12, 2011 – 11:56 am by Ding

Title: Squids

Developer/Publisher: The Game Bakers

Price: 69p

The phrase ‘Turn based RPG’ can send a shiver down the spines of many gamers.  Some hate them for the predominant use of clunky menu systems, a relic from a bygone age that has somehow survived into the modern era of gaming, some dread how compelling they can be and have fevered nightmares of the amount of time they have sunk into them, and some love them so much that they have become frustrated that it’s a relatively under-served genre.

Whatever you think of them, the turn based RPGs of this world can display an awful lot of depth and complexity and the right one can compel even those not traditionally fans of the genre to sink many hours in to them.

Enter Squids.

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Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine Review

Written on September 15, 2011 – 11:51 am by Ding

Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine is a third person action shooter / brawler which does exactly what you would expect in that you play a Space Marine in the Warhammer 40,000 universe.  This is a very simple premise the bellies a much more complicated background.

You take control of Captain Titus of the Ultramarines as you attempt to liberate a forge world from an Ork invasion with the help of two of your battle-brothers by murdering as many invading aliens as possible.  The plot then opens up into the investigation of a doomsday-like device that the Inquisition have been working on in secret that harbours powers of the warp.

There will be parts of that last paragraph that you will not understand unless you are familiar with the Warhammer 40,000 setting, something that I think THQ are going to have a hard time with because there’s a problem here.  The Warhammer 40,000 setting is weird.  Brilliantly weird, but still weird none the less.  There will also be more than one person giggling that the big blue space marines are called Ultramarines.

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iPad/iPhone Game: Dream Track Nation

Written on August 12, 2011 – 10:00 am by Ding

Uncomplicated mechanics and controls seem to be essential in iPhone and iPad games due to the limitations of the interface.  Games that forget they are being played through a touch screen and try to overcomplicate their gameplay with elements that would be happier in a PC or console environment can render themselves unplayable.  With this in mind, when something comes along that has a simple control interface, it is not only a pleasure to play but more importantly, something that you are happy to keep going back to.

Today I’m looking at Dream Track Nation which is one of these titles that is effective in its simplicity.

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Game Review: Who’s That Flying!?

Written on March 21, 2011 – 1:38 pm by Ding

Here is a link to a review for Who’s That Flying!? over at Bit-Tech.

This is a published game review.

This was written by me.

This is a published game review written by me.

Tags:  Excited, Happy, A-Little-Bit-Too-Proud