Thursday, October 19, 2017

The road to Haven is paved with dead references.

So, you and four of your... friends... hop into a station wagon (which is similar in its appearance and function to a hearse) to survive a post-apocalyptic road trip from Washington, D.C. to a place dully named Safe Haven in Oregon, but why? Why Oregon? Is it because beavers are immune to zombie bites? Do walkers appreciate the diverse environment far too much to litter it with their decay? Is it because everyone loves Tillamook Cheese and fully believes in its I-totally-made-this-up-for-my-shitty-little-blog promise to one day rid of us all of these infected, cheese-snubbin' shufflers by fortifying their "baby loaf" buses with barred windows, steel-covered headlights, wedge plows, thick tires, and secondary batteries? ...because it's not California? I may never learn the reason, nor care for that matter, but I just finished my fifth trip through the radiated nation, and it is apparent that my friends and associates are all a bunch of food-gobbling, irresponsible halfwits.
An awful lot of dicking with these folks.
Also, only Sir Barnes the Noble managed to avoid being a burden.

I'm not sure how he did it, but I'm grateful for his cooperation and understanding.
Then again, it seems as though I might not be much better than them. What I thought was merely a fun way to include the pricks I loathed marginally less than the rest of humanity turned out to be my number of lives.
See, the option to continue doesn't present itself until I've entered four names, so it wasn't until I tried to earn the Loner achievement by killing off my party right from the start that I realized every random problem now fell on me for the entire trip. I may not have been "dicking around" with the goods, but there were plenty of bandits to rob me of my fuel, food would constantly go bad, and my vehicle continued to fall apart within the first week, as if it was made in America... as if it was... hey, wait a fucking min... so, regardless of who you decide to bring along, just know that they're there to suffer for you up until you're about to reach the end. At that point, heal everyone up, gun them down, and cross the finish line. You've successfully unlocked the Loner achievement. Yippie skippie!
I suppose I ought to mention that I'm typing about Organ Trail: Director's Cut, a zombie spoof of the Seventies classic The Oregon Trail, but you all already knew that. I'm sure of it. (I'm not actually sure of it, which is why I typed all of this just now.)

Originally, Organ Trail was a free Flash game that made its way onto Facebook, but this version aped every aspect of its inspiration. The Director's Cut managed a successful Kickstarter that earned well over its $3000 goal in order to craft a parody that could now stand on its own with new features, like making the developers money and spending that money. Granted, it was ported to other platforms; added new diseases, boss fights, and mini off-road text adventures; provided a wonderfully eerie soundtrack; and featured not only a second, female version of the title screen, along with four options for your team's leader, but also personalized tombstones for other players to stop and check out during their trip. All of these features were covered in the Kickstarter promises, but not much else was done to properly fix the small mistakes after that.

The Men Who Wear Many Hats put the game up for sale at a mere $5, then charged $6 for the soundtrack and added an expansion for $5. The pricing isn't bad. but a little polish is still to be expected. Typos and minor grammatical errors are one thing. Anyone can have a few of those in their work, however, I also found options that wouldn't function properly, such as the volume settings during a playthrough, and attempting to click the Leaderboards button only led me to a blank screen that I couldn't get out of without closing the game entirely. What irritates many of the game's negative reviewers is that the achievements with counters don't function, and I can understand why. If Mockery and the rest of Skeleton Crew Studios can handle this flawlessly for Grave Chase, AND do so without an additional $16000 (minus the fees and KS cut, of course), what's the excuse for The Men Who Wear Many Hats?
Why did there need to be fifteen Steam trading cards for this game? 
Lastly, the developers have provided no responses to any of this on the discussion boards. At best, the DLC provided some fixes alongside gameplay changes. With all that in mind, I think it's fair for some to believe this whole thing stinks of laziness and greed and...
...possibly beans. 
Admittedly, these are all just minor flaws. If you're not distracted by achievements and decorations for your Steam profile, then expect to have a great time.
The long-named developers clear did.
While reaching Safe Haven may be your focus, most of the mini games you'll encounter are reasonable, if not enjoyable. Too bad the biker gang event is boring as fuck.
Sure, it's fine the first time, but there's nothing to it outside of wasting five minutes of your time. The objective is to allow these fine gentlemen to aggressively ram into your car's ass by going up and down. That's all. It's neither challenging, nor rewarding, and none of them call you the next day... presumably from dying on the road, but that's not going to help my wagon's self-esteem, now is it?

In the Easy and Normal modes, surviving is simply a matter of stocking up on supplies through scavenging. You might be attacked by a bear or a pair of wolves, but there's plenty to find on the ground, and bullets are not too troublesome to come by, either. The Difficult, Suicide, and Endless modes bring with them fewer rewards, faster enemies, radiation, and several more bandits who will just rob you of everything within moments of leaving a town.
These fuckers are relentless.
It's important to take advantage of every hour the zombie activity is low, to make sensible trades when they're available, to be the bad guy when you go exploring (I never do, because I constantly want to be the hero... and I suffer from it more often than not), to upgrade early on, and, sometimes, you gotta cut your losses for the sake of everyone else.
Just kidding! I'll find a way to keep this train wreck going long after I'm dead.
Endless mode even provides modifers (like having every member of your team already bitten by zombies) to change the experience and increase your point value at the end. These scores are then added to the leaderboards... that I couldn't check, because the game turned into a blank screen. Honestly, that's not something I'm interested in, but I'm sure plenty of other people are, or were.
Completing the campaign mode unlocks a mini game with Clements, the unfortunate fellow who rescues your leader prior to the trip. It's just a simplified, physics-based version of Organ Trail with your station wagon flying over and plowing through zombies, but I found it to be charming. 
While the epitaphs on numerous tombstones can provide some humorous reads, there's also plenty of references to find throughout the journey.
Several pertain to other zombie games, like Resident Evil and Left 4 Dead, but zombie films, memes, and other games are scattered throughout, as well. Finding them all just adds to an already high replay value.

I'm not sure about the expansion. I'm assuming it addresses the issues I've found with the Director's Cut, but I think I've had my fill of it. I did appreciate the cooperation of everyone who joined me on trips across the US, and I apologize for the loss of our dear artist Chops.

I would, but Schierke isn't real, Chops! Your waifus are not real women!
Stop it!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Needs more candy corn.

Like all those "I wish everyday was Christmas!" specials,
except this spell only seems to affect places that were probably haunted to begin with.
"Forever" is less than an hour long.
Purchased during the Steam Summer Sale, alongside Castle of Illusion, Jet Set Radio, and Transistor, Halloween Forever won me over with it's pitch of piloting a pumpkin protagonist with a peculiar puking power:
It says that, yet the image shows Pumpkin Man is actually spitting out Indian candy corn, which makes sense, since Indian corn is essentially the black jelly bean equivalent of the seasonal treat, and no one would ever vomit actual candy corn. It's too delicious to waste!
Another shining example of effectively utilizing the Gamemaker Studio, Halloween Forever is a brief, but whimsical throwback to "unfair" platformers that required the player to fail repeatedly (usually through leaps of faith) in order to figure out where to move and jump.
Do you trust the spot with the heart?
Collapsible bridge over a spike pit that one can not see until they fall through it.
A classic platforming no-no.
Each area comes with two boss battles, and they are just as predictable as the stages.
...with the exception of this creepy piece of shit whose floaty homing movements are tripled whenever his face secretes a pair of explosive eyeballs.

Most of the major enemies can be safely defeated without much effort due to their dedicated patterns of attack. There shouldn't be any RNG excuses for speedrunners with this one. As a result, one can effectively complete all five stages in roughly half an hour. This isn't to type that the difficulty is gone. There are achievements available for completing this game in 1 HP Mode and for not killing any of the bats, which are littered throughout the stages and act as a projectile attack for the Big Bat boss battle.
Added replay value can also be found with the unlockable characters one must locate, along with the six runes necessary for the secret endings. Once you've discovered their locations, the three hidden characters will be replaced with extra lives. Those are definitely worth grabbing... just in case. Santa Pumpkin is already available, and he pukes presents, rather than Indian corn, while the other three offer up their own variations with butternut bombs, a double shot of bones, and a trio of scampering kitties. They each come with two endings, though there's not much of a difference between many of them.
Oh, of course! ...except all of that is Indian corn. Gross, nasty Indian corn
There's gotta be a different ending for Ms Witch, at least. I mean, she's clearly not going to be a severed noggin with a hankerin' for Indian corn... right? Well, I guess you'll just have to watch the Youtube video that shows all play for yourself to find out.

For achievement hunters, this one is worth grabbing, as well. I managed to collect 30 of the 31 available in only three hours. I'd probably try for Hardcore Gourd if I wasn't eager to move on to my next game for this month and post another one of these barbiturate blog posts that you insomniacs love so much.

HF comes with a cute, delightful soundtrack composed by Robert Mostyn that definitely captures the retro sound of the NES era. It is available on his Bandcamp page for three bucks, if you're interested, though I'm going to hold off on spending more of my limited money unless the urge to hear it again manages to creep into my mind a week or so after I've moved on to other games. It's a shame there wasn't a track dedicated to Ms Witch. I'd definitely pay to hear, "She was a two-eyed, no-horned, jumping purple pussy pitcher..." playing on my iPod shuffle.

Much like Grave Chase, Halloween Forever is a fun, affordable experience on Steam. In fact, it's a dollar cheaper! If you're a gamer who loves All Hallows' Eve and simple platformers, there's no reason not to pick this game up.
Ok, so it's only a third as SPOOKY as Grave Chase, but the developer clearly has fine taste in cheesy Horror movies.  

"All the candy corn that was ever made was made in 1911." ~ Lewis Black

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Shovel Nights

From July to September, I've been drawing something every day. Now, while everyone else is participating in Inktober, I'm sittin' here like a worthless lump of shit and playin' my usual slew of SPOOKY games and, hopefully, blogging about each of them.
Yeah, yeah... I get it. You want to be first this year.
Considering my recent track record, however, I'll be surprised if I can manage something competently legible for all my readers to enjoy... for me to enjoy... just me.... Only I read this.

So, I began my SPO... mildly unnerving list with an indie title from Newgrounds oldster Mockery. If you don't know who that is, then... well, that's not surprising at all. Many don't even know what Newgrounds is anymore ...but you might remember a delightful gem called Abobo's Big Adventure from roughly five years ago. It's a comedic mash-up of classic gaming references worth checking out, especially since it's free, because we all know you like free shit... you cheap, lousy bunch of fucks! Hehas also cobbled together other interesting titles, such as Cult Classic, Super Rad Awesome, and that wordy mess from 2001 that allowed Simon Belmont to whip the town priest and a bomb-dropping Jesus to death.
Aptly called "Castlevania Priest Battle"
For two decades, this man has provided the internet with all sorts of free (subjectively good) flash games. Wouldn't you say it's time he was properly paid for at least one of them? ...I see. Okay, let me clarify. Regardless of what you say, because fuck you, you're going to pay the wallet-depleting six bucks for this digital treat; you're going to play it in the spirit of Halloween; and you're going to lov... not totally regret doing so... probably.
Grave Chase is a simple-to-learn strategy title that involves a brother and sister trying to avenge their murdered parents by digging up body parts buried throughout each graveyard and using science to bring them to life. You'll have to alternate between digging, fighting off a small army of monsters, and avoiding the Gravekeeper, as if he was that skeleton whale from Bubble Bobble (he kinda is). In addition to fast-paced gameplay and a frustrating-yet-fun level of challenge, GC's 2D pixel art and quirky charm are clearly inspired by one of my favorite childhood games for the SNES - Zombies Ate My Neighbors.
Body parts, rather than neighbors.
An exit portal, rather than an exit door.
Two dorky children for heroes, rather than two dorky... ok, that part is exactly the same.
There are as many levels as there are days in the month of October, so, like, more than 27, but fewer than 32, and you'll likely start dying on day three. By collecting all the parts within each stage, you'll be rewarded with a dancing something-or-other made from them. It's unpleasantly cute. 
The graveyards become larger and more mazelike with each new night, and, eventually, it all turns into a game of Pac-Man, as a wide variety of monsters are constantly emerging from the ground, the obstacles you break, the hedges, and around the borders of the stage to group up into a Benny Hill train of headaches if you don't take the time to fight them. Meanwhile, the Gravekeeper himself is immune to all attacks, is sensitive to nearby sounds, hates having dirt thrown at him, and will temporarily charge towards you when spotted (or if you smack his kitty). The objective may be to dig up body parts, but this must be balanced alongside defeating enemies and avoiding that chop-happy chubster.  
New monsters and obstacles appear at the start of most levels to help keep things fresh (or as fresh as dead can be, that is) and trying to keep track of their abilities will lead to many, many mistakes. There were several times where I'd only need to find one more part, and I would end up dying because I allowed a slime to follow me into a dead end, or I swung at a psycho before he was vulnerable.
He's not the only one who cares, either.
Much like any proper arcade-styled experience, high scores can be saved and shared with others, but not in Normal mode. Normal mode was more than enough for a filthy casual like me, and it's your best bet for hunting achievements, but if you're just looking for a challenge, you're welcome to try the Nightmare and Speed Modes.

The music isn't bad, though not memorable, and that can be typed about the characters, as well. I like the kids, and it's nice to know that The Gravekeeper has loved ones of his own, but that's about it. None of them stand out in any way. No dialogue or unique gestures. Who knows, maybe we'll get to see that in the sequel... if there's a sequel. I'd like a sequel.

If you're looking for something to get you into the spirit of Halloween, and you've already finished Costume Quest 1 and 2, then why not give Grave Chase a chance? It's six dollars. Come on, you can't play Cuphead forever, you know... unless you're trying to beat it, that is.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

You Will Be Missed (for about seven days)

In hopes of playing Ironsword: Wizards & Warriors 2 (I don't know why), I decided to hook up my RetroDuo to the smaller television in the living room. Before turning it on or inserting a game, I merely plugged in the console and was greeting, first, with a loud hum, followed by a pop, and, lastly, a trail of smoke from the NES outlet. Turning the system on only causes it to hum now. Games don't play. The light doesn't work. R.O.B. is out killing all humans. It's just me staring at Fabio Lanzoni dressed as Kuros and wishing I had some real butter.
Well, he's no Kevin Sorbo, but then, who is?
The RetroDuo wasn't a great system, and the controllers constantly tried to make me go left, which is a major no-no when it comes to classic gaming...
Two P. or not Two P?
I believe the real question is"'Why didn't you pick Mike Motherfuckin' Haggar?"
...but it was affordable, and I own plenty of functional cartridges to use with it. I even bought a few more, including Legendary Wings, the game I was playing prior to moving the console to the living room. Ha! While typing that, I realized that the RetroDuo died in the living room... get it? Yeah, well, fuck you, too! I thought that was chuckleworthy. Asshole.

Currently, I am unable to bring myself to properly bury this clone console. I certainly don't possess the knowledge necessary to fix it. Instead, I went online and purchased the Hyperkin RetroN5, which will arrive in about a week (hopefully). By then, I believe I will be able to move on with my (non-existent) life, but, for now, a moment of silence for the RetroDuo.

Feel free to shitpost in the comments section below (especially about emulators). It's what the RetroDuo would have wanted.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Paul thoughts a something (and I helped!)

I told a friend I'd post whatever he wanted to type about on my blog, and would even do my semi-darnedest to provide pictures to help break up the content into manageable pieces. If anyone other than me reads this, then, by all means, share your thoughts.

"A coworker asked me a question this week, and I thought it was a good one.  So, in the spirit of what's on the internet I decided to write about it.

Question:  Excluding "The Lion King", what are your top three Disney animated films?

A little explanation and a couple rules are necessary.  "The Lion King" is widely believed to be the best animated film from Disney.  That isn't true for everyone, just the ones that took part in the initial conversation.  Leaving off the best, what comes to mind next? I'll be going past three because it might be fun.


1. Pixar will not be included due to Disney buying them in 2006.  This excludes some of Pixar's best work, therefore all Pixar films will be left off.
2. The only films considered will be ones theatrically released. This excludes direct-to-video sequels and films as well.

On to the list!

Beauty and the Beast (1991)
This was the first animated film to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar at the Academy Awards. It also included the landmark use of computer effects in what has become the most famous from the film, the ballroom dance. And Alan Menken's score has reached classic status. If someone says the first lines from any of these songs how long does it take you to get to the songs: "Gaston", "Tale as Old as Time", "Be Our Guest"? I'm willing to bet that didn't take long.
Sleeping Beauty (1959)
This falls under the category of "an oldie but a goody".  In fact it's great.  From the days when animation was art (which is to say computers weren't involved), the backdrops the scenes took place on were actually painted by hand. The characers were animated in cells, by hand.

The story itself is a classic that birthed the most widely known Disney villain, Maleficent. It also inspired an irrational fear of spinning wheels in generations of viewers. Way to go, House of Mouse.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)
While this is not a particularly good adaptation of a French classic, it is still a great film. The animation quality is fluid and has that flair found only in '90's Disney films. It also acts as a pretty dark look at the psyche's of the characters.  One interpretation has the film taken literally. This means that when Quasimodo sees the talking gargoyles, he is hallucinating. And when Frollo sings one of the most iconic villain songs and all the images of cardinals and fires start coming up, he is illustrating his own mental delusions. He's also proving that a man his age has a fantastic set of pipes.
Fantasia (1940)
This is the definition of artistry in film.  Revolving around the concept of taking classical music and animating around them, this film was not only a chance to expose people to music that they might not have heard, but it also acted as a chance for the animators at the time to stretch their creative muscles (so to speak).  Some of the sketches tried to include brief stories, while some were purely abstract animations that followed the time of the music. The last words on this film are simply: "Night on Bald Mountain" and "The Sorcerer's Apprentice". Enough said.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
The one that started it all. This was Disney's first theatrically released animated film. The story is cliche and many of the tropes found in it are sexist by today's standards, but the style of rotoscoping almost the entire film was a technical feat for the time.  Also, I might have mentioned that this was the very first one.  Without it there would be no list.
The Rescuers (1977)
This film was my first exposure to the idea of government.  Admittedly it was a U. N. style body operated by small mammals, but it was still a bureaucratic system used for the greater good of other people, namely the kidnapped little girl.  And remember when I mentioned that these films were pieces of art?  The end credits for this one qualifies. It also has a mouse hiccuping fire after he drinks moonshine and a woman with two pet alligators. What's not to love?
The Little Mermaid (1989)
In addition to the stellar music work with songs like "Part of Your World" and "Kiss the Girl", this film gives viewers an idea of what it might look like to live under the sea.  The animation effects are superb when other sea creatures are involved. It gets a little stale once Ariel moves onto land, until "Kiss the Girl" happens and the quality jumps back up. It also has probably the most well known "sexy bit" in a Disney film. I'm looking at you Minister! (It's actually his leg, and this can be easily proven when the minister is seen from a different angle. On the other hand, we still have the castle from the original cover.)

That's my list! If you found it interesting then respond with one of your own.  My rules don't

have to apply to you so be free about it!  And above all, have fun!"

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Four in February 2017 - Falling, Feasting, Floating, and Full-Frontal

Cutting it kinda close this year with my Four in February challenge, though I blame that on a friend's recommendation to watch Darker than Black and Tokyo Ghoul. I won't go so far as to label them as exceptional, but both did provide a fair amount of action to keep me entertained just long enough to become disappointed with their endings. I immediately became worried when I first saw the recycled animation of Suo activating her contractor power, and that feeling returned when I realized that the second season of Tokyo Ghoul was about every 'other' character with Kaneki only being relevant for the first and last episodes. Had I been warned not to bother with the other halves of these shows, I could have spent that time making this post a more enjoyable read. That's a lie, of course. This post will be shit no matter how much I work on it, so there's my warning to you at least... a simple courtesy somebody didn't think to give me! *shakes fist angrily at an empty tea jug* Why are you out of tea?!
So, the first game I tackled was Downwell, and this was a recent purchase from... wait. 2015? I've had this on my account for that long? What the fuck is wrong with my memory? Ok, so I know I bought Downwell during a winter sale, because... purchase history, but also because I didn't even know of this game's existence until I checked through the Discovery Queue. That little tool does too good of a job of separating me from my money. It reminded me of Newgrounds favorites, like Toss the Turtle and Goin Up, except the opposite, and I assumed I would start in on it immediately. I also assumed I bought this last December. I need to stop assuming shit.
Downwell is a GameMaker Studio creation heavily inspired by Spelunky, and was the result of Ojiro Fumoto utilizing the game-a-week strategy for effectively practicing development without the worry of overwhelming oneself with unrealistic goals. It's similar to the Four in February challenge, and is highly recommended for amateur developers, musicians, artists, and writers. Typing of which, I really need to get back into daily practicing on my tablet. That thing won't draw MS Paint atrocities on its own, after all. 
The concept is easy enough to understand. Your character has weaponized kicks and a body that's immune to fall damage. Some enemies can be stomped, others must be shot, and the convenient bunch die either way. Thanks to a limited color scheme (along with numerous palette swaps to unlock), enemies are visibly distinguished to help streamline the experience... most of the time.
Welcome to (the palette of) Hell!
Initially, players will take their time by hopping from one platform to the next in order to reload and plan out a strategy. Early on, it's not a terrible idea. You get an enemy chasing you from above, and shit becomes frantic. Soon enough, a player should be able to pick up the pace, and get through a run in under half an hour. It probably won't be a successful run, but that's fine. You'll die plenty, and when you've got a rhythm going, a single disruption will commonly lead to three or three more, resulting in a sudden death during an otherwise flawless drop.
Collecting gems quickly enough will increase your firepower.
Within each stage are caves that provide you with gems, gun upgrades (with added ammo or health), and shops, while finishing a stage will also provide you with a random selection of unique upgrades to choose from. If that's not enough, chaining a combo of 8 to 25 kills will provide you with yet more gems, ammo, and health. This also means you'll want to reset that combo as soon as you reach 25, since there's really only a pair of achievements to look forward to after that.

Downwell's soundtrack is unsettling, especially when you look over the song list. It's certainly not the kind of music one would expect from such an action-oriented experience. Water is found midway into the fall, rather than at the bottom, the shopkeeper is a Jiz┼Ź (a being commonly associated with the gates of Hell), and your reward for reaching the end would have absolutely no chance of actually being there considering what you just went through. It leaves a curious mind to wonder, doesn't it?

There's really not much more to this game. It's simple, yet challenging fun. After several playthroughs, I do have a few tips to share if you give a shit. If not, skip on down to the next game. I don't care.

As far as upgrades go, my advice is to get Knife and Fork, since you'll want to have as much health as possible for the last fight, Gem Powered and Gem Attractor to provide a near-endless supply of ammunition, and the pair of Popping Gems and Gunpowder Blocks to stop the more troublesome enemies chasing you from above. Drone support helps tremendously near the end of the game, too.

I prefer to use the Arm Spin Style, because shop items become increasingly expensive, despite minor changes in their benefits, and are also randomized. By the time you come across a shop while utilizing this style, you'll more likely have enough gems to actually purchase something.
Learn to use all the weapons, even Burst, simply because it's a waste to ignore the gun module bonuses, but when you're nearing the end, try to hang onto the laser. It tears right through the final boss.

If you manage to ignore all the caves up until you reach the entrance to the final boss, there will be a delicious prize waiting for you. 
My next choice had everything to do with music and colors. It also featured an achievement about beating the game with all the visuals, which made me curious. I don't commonly view Pac-Man as a game one actually "beats." It's like Tetris. Even when I maxed out my score on the DS version, I never actually won. It just kept going until I lost.That's how I view a traditional Pac-Man title. So, after seeing that achievement's description, alongside these amazing (and a little blurry) visuals, I chose it as my second game of the month.

Pac-Man Championship Edition DX+ is a whole lot of fun. Rather than merely clearing a maze of its pellets, you must guide Pac through outlined paths with sleeping ghosts that block off routes until you wake them up. What follows is a fast-paced game of Snake offset by sudden slow-motion warnings of collision that do a fair job of throwing the player into a panic. Finding a power pellet while fleeing from one of these Benny Hill rainbows will create an exceptionally rewarding chain reaction, encouraging the player to make far riskier decisions later. Why are you so happy? It was only fifty ghosts in a row. I know you can do a lot better than that!

Separately, I would never recommend purchasing the DLC, since most of it is merely cosmetic. Either pick up the base game at $10, or chip in an additional Lincoln for the whole package at $15. If that's still too rich for you, Humble Bundle will commonly offer it at a much better deal, so keep a look out on it. It's the best variation of Pac-Man I've ever played, and I highly recommend the soundtrack, as well.

Third on the list was provided by a co-worker, who knew me well enough to bundle it with the OST. Thank you Adam. You're as generous as you are sexy.

I chose Bastion after looking at a single screenshot and reading that it was a quick game to finish. That's it. Hey, I got roughly a week to finish each of these, so it's best I don't go diving into something like FF9.
Bastion is Supergiant Games's first impression, and, man, is it a strong one.
It had also been a while since I last enjoyed a good isometric adventure, and I figured I had better rectify that. (Personal favorites of mine include Super Mario RPGMega Man Battle Network 2, Biker Mice from Mars, General CHAOS, Rock n' Roll Racing, and Starcraft. Betcha didn't realize how many great games came out of this perspective, did ya?)

Bastion plays in a similar fashion to Diablo, especially during moments where swarms of enemies come rushing towards you. Too bad it also mimics a lackluster combat system trying to compensate with a wide variety of button mashing options to choose from.

As you move about, the floor will form under your feet, creating all sorts of glorious scenery throughout the game. This also helps the player to figure out which way to go. If that's not enough, Rucks, a narrator vying for the coveted Tachiki award for outshining the protagonist, will frequently toss out bits of advice on what the player should be doing at certain points in the game. He'll also comment on everything else you do in the game, along with stuff you don't do, and on stuff you'll try doing again. The man talks a lot. It's wonderful.

Bastion tells a great story, though not a particularly deep one, supports its visuals with a soft, hand-painted style, and possesses a relatively high replay value thanks to New Game Plus, a score attack mode, and ten punishing gods willing to change the experience from casual to Kaizo (or anywhere in between) at your leisure. I ran through it twice, and I had planned on a third go to obtain the achievement for the Score Attack Mode, but I didn't really have time to start over at level one with no weapon upgrades. After this, I might go back into it. Of course, I rather give my final game a second chance, since I kinda sorta rushed through it and missed some of the good stuff. Some of that gud shit. Some of that real guuuuuud shit. That guuuuuuuuuuu... moving on.
My final selection was chosen due to my interest in Greek mythology. I mean, I like mythology in general, but I have a particular fondness for the Greek and Roman beliefs. The unique presentation made the decision that much easier to make, as well.
See that, folks? Alientrap clearly didn't want to deal the same nonsense The Witcher 3 had to suffer through.
Apotheon centers around a typical Greek narrative. Nikandreos was watching Ares perform on So You Think You Can Slaughter All The Non-Believers While Dancing? when, all of a sudden, shit hit the fan and some of that shit splattered on an old vase. Fearing the smell and wishing not to be near the mess, all the gods have abandoned the pottery, leaving mankind illustrations to fend for themselves. Meanwhile, in the painted land of Dion, a bunch of mooks have decided to play the role of tutorial stage for the sake of plotting an excuse to have Hera, Zeus's angrier half and arch-nemesis of Kevin Sorbo, grant Nicodemus magical rat powers capable of flying to Mount Olympus to slay furniture, hanging food, random pedestrians, Hera's family, rodents (apparently, Mount Olympus also suffers from an ordinary rat problem), and the Greek plow, because your boy is just too ill to be moved right now.
In Metroidvanian fashion, Nickelodeon can freely explore most areas at any time, but is conveniently provided with markers to help guide players wishing to progress, rather than wander around like clueless fucking idiots, which is the norm for similar titles and why I don't particularly care for the subgenre.
Boss battles are surprisingly entertaining. 
Nickleback can wield a wide assortment of weapons, traps, shields, and crafted items, which you'll cycle through quickly as they fall apart during combat, and there are a handful of places with a considerable amount of charm to keep you hooked.
...or totally confused.
I absolutely love the voice acting, and greatly appreciate the inclusion of various excerpts from classical works that help to educate players about the different beings they will be encountering throughout the game.

Unfortunately, Apotheon isn't without its flaws. Among them, the most obnoxious would be controlling Nickiminaj himself. He is a such a fucking pain in the ass to use when you really need to be precise. The game also suffers from a few bugs and will even periodically crash, but, since there's an auto-save feature in place, that's really more of an inconvenience than a game breaker.

If you wish to explore the entirety of the game, make sure not to bother with Zeus a second time. You got his power now, so go show it off to the rest of Mount Olympus that isn't underwater. 
I never came across any large, terrifying sea life in the game,
but the boats certainly creeped me out.
Of the bunch, I'd have to choose Bastion as my favorite. It should be Apotheon, and that might change if I make the effort to check out the rest it has to offer (there are gods you can skip entirely), but I type of going back to play games all the time. Chances are, I won't bother, and if I don't, I probably won't care, either. My mountain of must-play titles is so tall now, I can't even see the top of it anymore, and I'm still sitting here pondering whether or not I should stare at the ground some more. **Update: I just spent my entire day off posting nonsense on Newgrounds and earning every achievement on this game. The Aphrodite fight is rather comical.** 

Anywho, did you manage to complete your Four in February? Did you even bother? If so, did you discover a game you feel is worth recommending? Is anyone actually bothering to read this? *looks around* Sigh, fuck it. I'm going to bed.