AirPods Review Update

The AirPods box.

There were a few things that I’ve noticed since I posted a review of Apple’s AirPods back in December, so here’s a quick update.

  1. The range is ridiculous. I can leave my iPhone downstairs and the AirPods carry on delivering audio to my ears.
  2. The sound the AirPods make to let you know they’re running low on battery is kind of surprising because it isn’t accompanied by anything onscreen to let you know what’s going on. Midcall I kept hearing the sound and trying to figure out what it was until finally the AirPod I had in turned off. Switching to the other AirPod is easy, and it’s a mistake you should only make once, but it seems boneheaded to not let people know what’s happening when they look at the device that their AirPods are connected to.
  3. There are a few tiny issues with the case. It’s too loud when it snaps shut. There’s an audible clicking sound when you close it and although it’s fine in many situations in a few it is absolutely not fine. These headphones are slick as hell but waking up a sleeping baby when you switch out one AirPod for the other and shut the case isn’t. You might think you could more gently close the case to prevent this, you can’t unless you have both hands free.
  4. The same goes for the charging status light inside the case. Way too bright in some situations without an ambient light sensor to detect that it should dim.
  5. As an incredible bargain compared to other truly wireless earbuds it feels a little like nitpicking, but, why does Apple include a charging cable without a wall adapter? These cost $159. Include the darn wall adapter.
  6. AirPods are very comfortable. I can forget if they are in or not. A few times I’ve gone to listen to them and wasn’t able to tell if I had them in or not without checking the charging case or my ear.

Finally, there are silent firmware updates for the AirPods when they’re in their charging case and near an iOS device. There are a few issues I’ve had that might be fixed by this firmware but it is impossible to tell since there are no release notes. Of course these are tiny computers so getting updated software isn’t completely unexpected, but it sure would be nice to know what is changing when we skip through a few versions very quickly. This update went from 3.3.1 to 3.5.1.

I’m still very onboard with our wireless future, there are far cheaper bluetooth headset options with better battery life, and some have better sound quality, but none are as smooth and they’re the best for calling our senators.

AirPods Review

The iPhone 7 is half of a vision for a future without wires.

Apple’s AirPods are the other half of that vision.

It’s a future where headphones are no-longer tangled up in your pocket, and are instead a three piece system of two earbuds and a charging case that has its own battery and keeps them topped off throughout the day.

You connect the AirPods to your iOS 10 device by opening up the charging case while it is nearby. A dialog pops up that asks if you want to connect them and once connected they become available via Apple’s iCloud to every other iOS 10 device and Mac you own.


Each earbud is smart enough to know if they’re in your ear or not and pause your music accordingly when removed. When you pop only one earbud in and hit the play button, the device is intelligent enough to downmix both stereo channels into one monaural channel.

They’re the pinnacle of convenience, but there are some significant drawbacks with the first generation of AirPods.

The AirPods are yet another thing that needs charging. It’s less frequent charging than a phone because they come in a special case, but about once a week or every few days, depending on how much you’re listening, you’ll need to charge the case the ear buds rest in.

The earbuds themselves last about five hours and according to Apple they get three hours of charging in 15 minutes resting in the case.
My old Bluetooth headphones lasted just about forever on a charge, but required me to dig out the specific kind of USB cable to charge them. The AirPods charging case uses a USB-A to Lightning adapter. It’s kind of odd that for $159 you don’t get an AC adapter, although you do get the cable in the box.

Each AirPod earbud is comparable to the regular Apple EarPod earbuds in terms of style, but a bit longer in length of the stem that extends out of the bit that goes in your ear. This extra room is where the battery hides inside the AirPods.

There are more little spots on the AirPods than the EarPods had for sensors to know when they’re in or out of your ears.

This elongated EarPod design kind of falls apart for me when you get to the tip of the stem. At that point, furthest out of your ears, is a shiny spot that holds the microphone you can use for talking to Siri or making phone calls.

The shiny microphone spots at the bottom of the AirPods look kind of like earrings or other ear-mounted jewelry, which look kind of goofy to me.

The AirPods are a bit less goofy than the old giant Bluetooth devices we all used for hands-free talking but might get you some funny looks until people get used to them. They’re also not as large as some competing earbud headphones that have large rectangular dinguses sticking horizontally out of your ears and floating there like little matchbooks.
The microphone works well enough for my usage when talking to Siri or on calls, I just wish Apple had styled the tip differently.

I’ve had a few times where when I was listening to a podcast or some music with just one earbud, and put the second one in, the new earbud took a few moments longer than I would like to start working. There have also been moments where I’ve accidentally triggered the sensors that tell the AirPods they’re in my ear when I was picking them up or putting them down.

Without a connecting cable to your devices, the AirPods lost the control module on other headphones that lets you change volume, play or pause whatever you’re listening to, or do extra nerdy commands via tap codes on that button like skipping songs.

Photographers also used that module to trigger the camera shutter without introducing minute vibrations to the phone that could cause pictures to be a little blurrier.

A tiny Bluetooth controller might be nice to replace that functionality, or these controls could be on the AirPods charging case. I’ve been getting out my iPhone or using my Apple Watch to control volume and whatever program I’m listening to.



Siri
is available at any time by double tapping the side of the earbud. She can raise or lower the volume and pause or resume playback. It feels kind of weird to do this, and I’ve heard complaints that the double-tap is an uncomfortable gesture for some people. Roughly equivalent to getting old wired earbuds yanked out of your ear when the cord gets caught on something. If you really hate the gesture, the “Hey Siri” vocal gesture (which is normally disabled when using the speaker) is enabled while using the AirPods. I didn’t feel any discomfort while using the double-tap gesture, but thought it was worth mentioning that other people might have a problem with it.

You can change the double-tap gesture to be a play/pause control in your iOS device’s Bluetooth settings if you prefer that over Siri. I just took one earbud out and used that to pause my music but it might be better to have the gesture if you want to pause while cooking or cleaning without digging out another device or speaking with Siri.

As far as fit, I have huge ears and the AirPods get nestled in there about as well as the EarPods did. Though the AirPods do feel a little bit looser than I would like, I’m glad they don’t make a complete seal so I am not entirely obvious to what is going on around me. Apple has a 14-day return policy if they don’t fit you, I’ve also heard that you can try them on in some stores.

Because they don’t form a total seal of the ear canal, like in-ear monitors or rubberized earbuds would, bass isn’t perfect and sound quality is almost exactly the same as the EarPods. You can tell how much work the little porting cutouts are doing by pressing your finger over one on the back of the earbud and listening as your music suddenly changes from high-quality FM to tinny AM.

The charging case is a simple white rounded rectangle box with the single button I mentioned above for pairing with non-Apple Bluetooth devices. There is a tiny, shiny metal, hinge that folds open the top of the case up very easily when you want to retrieve the earbuds or put them back. Tiny magnets grab the earbuds and hold them in or guide their safe return. A small light gives you an indication of charging status when the lid is open and also helps to see inside when it’s dark.

It would be nice if the case were thinner, but it’s a small price to pay for about 24-hours of additional listening via the case’s internal battery. I’ll note that I haven’t rigorously tested Apple’s battery life claims, some people have reported that the charging case had been rapidly discharging. I wasn’t able to reproduce that issue, but Apple replaced the charging case for the one incident I heard of.

I’ve been wanting truly wireless earbuds like this for a long time and other Bluetooth earbuds I’ve read about have been disappointing enough with technical hazards that I haven’t bothered trying them.

At $159 these are the most expensive headphones I have right now, but they’re cheaper than other comparable Bluetooth earbuds without cables and have more intelligence to them. If you lose one AirPod then Apple will sell you a replacement for $69. The case itself is replaceable for $59.

Despite the look, the extra dingus to charge, and the loss of the wired control module, I very much prefer going totally wireless with the AirPods over using regular earbuds or my other Bluetooth headsets.

It’s that good to not have to manage untangling a wire from your pocket, or dealing with traditional Bluetooth syncing, or having headphones yanked out of your ear when they get caught on something or grabbed by a kid. Of course since the iPhone 7 can’t charge and use wired headphones at the same time, there’s also the benefit of being able to listen to something on headphones while charging my pocket computer.

I hope that competition brings the price of all truly wireless headphones down and iteration might find new ways to resolve the other issues.

If you travelled back in time about 20 years and showed these to me I wouldn’t believe they could exist. As the first version of this device they’re not perfect, but I am onboard for the wireless future.

Inside Review (Windows)

inside

The developers of Limbo, Playdead, have returned with what at first glance appears to be a very similar game in appearance. Just like Limbo, Inside looks like in a dark platforming adventure featuring a young man who is in some terrible strife.

When the game starts, you’re a nameless boy who is just running for his life, escaped from some terrible fate. Slow down or miss a moment and you might be beaten and dragged back or eaten alive by dogs. This child spends most of the first part of the game just running past scenes in the background of what look like people being rounded up by security forces. Games like Half-Life 2 depicted similar scenes with brighter colors, music that was more in your face, and people talking about the situation. I don’t think any of the characters of Inside ever speak a full phrase. It is the visuals and a subdued score that do the talking.

Limbo had a very stark visual style that was kind of like looking at shadows move across your screen. There were many games that proceeded to imitate that art style to different degrees of success. I don’t think they’ll try the same thing with Inside. It is a more stark game of contrasting colors and more depth to its dimension that are still dark and mostly gray.

The exception to that is what the game developers want to draw your attention to. A brightly colored cable that leads you to a secret. A smear of blood there. Flesh tones, there are those and anyone who has played the game should not speak of what or why to anyone who hasn’t.

Inside’s protagonist does so much running and dying, and the animation for all of that is wonderfully well done. Every interaction seems like it is perfectly in tune with the environment and responding to the strain the boy puts on himself to pick up a box as big as he is just to get up a little bit higher. If he falls from a height he’ll respond appropriately. Too high a fall and there’s always a gruesome scene that follows. What makes it truly awful is that the game forces you to watch, you can’t turn away or else the game won’t proceed. As a father, any time a child is harmed in a television show or movie or game it gets to me a little bit more than usual. When the dogs were tearing Inside’s boy apart, the game  subverted every attempt at skipping the scene so by not loading the last checkpoint until I used my  controller. Flailing at buttons didn’t seem to work, it was only measured responses to attempt to get the violence to stop that caused the game to proceed when it was good and ready, and felt like you had absorbed the impact of whatever mistake you made that caused that boy to die. It could have been timed, I’m not sure, I just didn’t want to watch  him die again.

All of the scenery behind the boy is just as vital to telling the story of the game, and occasionally it moves from the background into the foreground to interact with him. You’ll watch other characters who have been subdued (for reasons I won’t get into) marching in line, as you move through that area you’ll have to get in that line with them and mirror their movements or the boy will die. At the beginning of the game there are people searching for other people who have escaped their fate in the background and you’ll have to move carefully to not be detected by them or the boy will die.

The game doesn’t rely on stealth much outside of those few scenes, instead there are platforming puzzles. These puzzles aren’t particularly difficult to figure out if you’ve played any other side-scrolling games and know what to look for. Inside didn’t have many moments that stymied my progress either. What makes them vicious is that failure results in more prolonged death animations.

In a way, Inside feels like the best parts of older Call of Duty campaigns when those were still impressive. It’s very linear, there is pretty much only a straight path that occasionally requires some minor backtracking or running to the left to complete the game. Just like Call of Duty, there are incredible scenes all around your character. Unlike Call of Duty, you’re going to want to stop and look at these because they make you feel something and I think that’s what makes this an incredible game. Those emotions are more than what you might expect upon first glance from screenshots of Inside if you’re familiar with Limbo. The art and sound and animation and programming all come together perfectly.

It isn’t surprising that Inside was developed in Denmark, it looks like a game that couldn’t have come from anywhere else. At times the puzzles can be tiresome because you instantly know what to do to solve them, but you’re forced to run back and forth across the screen at whatever pace the game’s designers set.

The worst part of Inside is the ending, it is anti-climactic and while I am sure it could mean something to somebody, it lacked the emotional connection from the rest of the game for me. That you have to go back for seconds to see the “real ending” isn’t positive. If you play the game, don’t look up either on video, just look up the solution to the multi-layered puzzle to get the second ending so that you can actually make both happen.

That ending and the few other flaws the game has aren’t enough to betray the rest of the experience which must be played.

If you were wondering what Playdead were doing in the 6 years since Limbo came out, Inside is the incredible answer. It took me roughly 5 hours to find everything there is to explore in the game, and if you’re at all interested in it you should not read or watch or listen to anything else about Inside. There are massive spoilers going around and knowing more about what kind of game it is can ruin the experience. I wish I had gone in knowing even less, but podcasts have basically ruined parts of the game without warning.

Inside is out now on Steam for Windows and the Xbox One digital distribution platforms.

4 out of 5 abject walruses.

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End Review (PS4)

Again?

I can’t believe that Naughty Dog, the developers of The Last of Us and 3 prior Uncharted games came back to make another Uncharted again. Nevertheless, here we are for Uncharted 4. It’s almost like they’re running a business of making excellent games and then selling them for money but have locked onto this one idea of climbing and third person shootering and will keep going until it is no-longer making money. 

Like the final season of a favored television series, all of the beloved characters have reached their final form by the time this game is done.

Nathan Drake is still our protagonist, he’s been wedded with Elena, I must have missed that when I skipped out on Uncharted 3. Nate has a normal-ish job these days, you’ll see what it is if you play the game. Sully (Victor Sullivan) is still old as dirt and this time won’t participate much in the action but is happy to lend a hand or fly everyone around. New to Uncharted 4 is a surprise guest appearance by Nathan’s older brother, Sam. I can’t remember ever hearing about him before, but here he is complete with flashback sequences to Nate and Sam’s childhood together throughout the game.

Sam is reunited with Nate for one last adventure to save Sam’s bacon over a debt that could cost him his life if they don’t quickly recover Henry Avery’s pirate treasure to pay off a drug lord.

You and me

Early on I was incredibly bored with Uncharted 4’s gameplay. The style of the climbing and third person shooting is still good, but was so similar to previous games that I thought I might not make it very far in. This is one of the best looking games I have ever seen, but that alongside the exact same adventuring from the Playstation 3-era wasn’t going to be enough to keep going unless there was something more to it.

Thank goodness there are changes to the gameplay as well as the story.

Everyone knows that Nathan Drake is kind of an ass. He straight up murders hundreds of dudes in each game’s beautiful set pieces, usually in places that he doesn’t really have an excuse for being in. The witty remarks he makes about straight up murder seem to indicate that he doesn’t seem to be losing any sleep over it.

The most important thing upgraded in this sequel’s story is that while Nathan Drake is still a compete ass to everyone around him, finally, in Uncharted 4 the consequences for his behavior are found in his rapidly dissolving marriage and through witnessing his brother’s impulsiveness impacting the lives of those around him.

He isn’t constantly a jerk to his wife, Elena, but he certainly isn’t upfront and truthful about the work he needs to do in order to liberate his brother from the drug lord to whom he owes his life. Those moments with Elena and Nate upset with each other aren’t necessary fun, and it can be awkward to watch Nathan’s “real life” crumble, but watching their life unfold at home before he leaves for another adventure is very relatable to anyone who has been in a long term relationship. Not that normal people are going out to find pirate treasure, it just humanizes the characters in a way that isn’t typical for big action games.

This story is what carried me through the otherwise same-y climbing and terribly implemented one on one fist-fighting introduced early on in the game. That part of the game’s combat just isn’t fun, thankfully it isn’t something that you’ll be forced to play through much before going back to ducking behind cover and shooting in set piece areas that you can decide how you want to approach. Stealth options are present, and it is fun to kick a dude off a cliff, snap his neck and drag his corpse into the bushes, or pull him over a ledge that you’re hanging below, but you’re going to end up breaking out of it before long when a more distant enemy who has slightly better vision than Metal Gear Solid goons spots you grabbing one of the other guys.

There are gameplay improvements as well. Since this is an adventure about pirating Nate is now equipped with some magic grappling rope that can attach itself to any grapple point at a distance. This can be used to quickly get up over an obstacle or more often the rope is used for swinging around between chasms, buildings, and everything, like Tarzan. It is a fun as hell addition and you can use this in combat to move quickly between vantage points as well as shooting while swinging which works amazingly well. It’s completely ridiculously implemented, you’ll always attach to the appropriate point as long as it is on screen. After playing around with it I would love to see a Spider-Man game from Naughty Dog.

The new climbing piton, the spike that mountaineers drive into walls when there otherwise isn’t a handhold, allows Nate to climb along a little bit more organically into points that are specifically designated for it. It’s not as great an addition as the grappling rope, but any positive change to a climbing mechanic that has been brutally beaten into us in every Uncharted and Assassin’s Creed is an improvement. I wonder how different it would have been if you could have combined the piton with the grappling rope and attached one to the other, swinging across larger gaps between handholds in rock faces more easily.

Due to the success of Call of Duty 4’s laser-like focus on a critical path through a single player campaign, other action games tend to focus on a very limited path through the environment, to the detriment of exploration. The reasoning behind this decision has been “why spend a game’s budget on something the player might never see? Also, we don’t understand pacing at all.”

In a very few open-world games you do have a bit more freedom to explore but it’s usually not worth spending the time to do so. What’s the point of exploring if the world doesn’t have any detail to it outside of where the major story beats take place?

This is it

Uncharted 4 gives you a few open areas that are very detailed, a Jeep with your buddies in it, and says “have fun.”

Driving that Jeep and watching as it attacks the terrain is super fun. Attaching its winch in order to solve puzzles in the environment is fun. The chatter from your passengers and how they switch seats to help you out instead of the game making you backtrack to the jeep in order to artificially lengthen the experience is fun.

Your reward for exploring those open areas is more information about the quest you’re on as well as more quick sketches of what the characters are looking at and thinking about in Nate’s journal.

Those sketches feel like Nathan, and the designer’s, notes to the player. While playing I was unexpectedly excited every time I got the prompt for Nathan to write or draw in his journal. You can tell that Naughty Dog knew what a great thing they had made since you can access Nate’s journal directly from the main menu of the game.

There are still puzzles, just like previous Uncharted games, and they are fun. The way they integrate with the journal is nice and the puzzles are still best when you have an audience of friends or family locally to help you solve them. Not that they are any kind of serious challenge, it’s just fun to have the input.

Journal

Multiplayer is still included and is still incredibly well put together. It isn’t why you would buy an Uncharted, but it feels like something that could be packaged up on its own with a different name and compete for the multiplayer shooter players’ attention with Overwatch and other recent games. The multiplayer package is far more than you might expect to be bolted onto a series that is regarded only for its single player campaign just to keep people from trading the game in.

This time Naughty Dog have wisely decided to not lock the additional levels they’ll make to their multiplayer after the game is released behind a season pass or another additional charge. You can buy cosmetic items that change the look of your characters but the game isn’t going to be less fun when 10 identical Nathan Drakes are running around the map. That is sometimes pretty hilarious.

The only real fault with the game is that it waits until chapter 10 to give you access to the Jeep and open areas. It should be inexcusable to hide the best part of the game until then.

So many people have already spoiled some of the great parts of this game, and I’ve tried to avoid doing so here. it is a surprisingly great sequel to a series that could otherwise have stopped at the second game in it and been fine.

Before this game came out, I couldn’t name an exclusive for the PlayStation 4 that made the console worth recommending. If you have never played an Uncharted before, or if you have and gave up on the series’ repetitive nature, you should come play Uncharted 4. Those in the first group, well, I imagine that you’ll enjoy the first ten chapters even more.

Why stay

4 out of 5 Pyrate Adventures for Uncharted 4.

Here’s an extended snippet of gameplay, without commentary, I recorded while I’m putting my recording studio back together. This features almost everything I’ve talked about in this review that makes the game great but does contain some story spoilers if you’re concerned about plot details.

Peel iPhone Case Review

A Peel

There’s this iPhone case called the Peel. Apple… Peel, get it?

Here’s what the makers of this case promise for your $25:

This Peel case lets you protect your phone while keeping the same form factor. Other cases add bulk and weight to your iPhone but Peel cases are almost invisible.

That’s all true and it sounds awesome compared to other third party cases. The other ones all look ridiculous with huge logos, and bizarre contortions in their designs to make their cases look distinctive instead of getting out of the way of the iPhone design and just protecting the phone.

My last case, the Speck CandyShell Grip had their logo that looks like Kurt Vonnegut’s asterisk on the back and is ribbed for grip. It was great at protecting my phone from short falls without being as bulky as your typical Otterbox case. Even though it looked like a novelty condom for a robot, it was the Wirecutter’s top iPhone case pick for a while and I appreciated their recommendation. Then the thin strip of rubbery material on the Grip above the iPhone’s lightning port broke. Oh well. For a few months I tolerated the break while keeping my eyes open for an alternative when someone mentioned the Peel on Twitter and their pitch worked.

The Peel feels like the opposite of every other third-party case. Instead of being thick, it’s thin. Instead of having a distinctive look, it gets out of the way so that you can see the design of the $600+ phone you purchased instead of your $20 robot condom. 

Unfortunately the Peel is so thin and papery, immediately after receiving it in the mail I wondered aloud, “this costs $25?”

Putting the case on my 6+ was a little bit more reassuring. The first thing the space-gray case made me think of was a stocking on my space-gray 6+. The Peel feels perfectly formed to the iPhone that it is protecting. There’s an anecdote on the product page about Apple’s in-store repair techs replacing an iPhone and forgetting to take off the Peel because they didn’t know it was there. I’m not sure I believe that, one look at the back or sides of the phone and you’ll see it, but the transparent case does get out of the way except for the raised area around the protruding camera of the 6+.

Where the Peel goes from slightly too expensive and ineffectual to WTF is in resolving the largest issue with the iPhone 6 and 6+’s survivability, grip. It’s a slippery phone and despite the FAQ page that suggests it enhances the phone’s grip if anything, the Peel sometimes feels even more slippery than a bare iPhone.

The front with the peel

The Peel will still protect your phone case from scratches and short falls, but not the screen. The Speck CandyShell Grip had a bit of a bumper around the edges to protect the iPhone from drops that land on the front. The cost of the Peel being perfectly form-fitting to the iPhone is that there is no protection on the screen. Of course, the people who made this case also sell a screen protector that is even more expensive at $30.

There is an advantage to being form-fitting in not ruining the design of your $600+ phone and in not blocking access to ports. My last few cases required adapters to fit headphone and auxiliary audio cables. The Peel requires no adapter for any port and the various buttons and switches on your device are left unencumbered.

That isn’t enough of an advantage to justify the usability and price of this almost paper-thin case.

If it had more of a grip, if it protected the screen with even a tiny amount of a lip around the edges of the iPhone, if it were cheaper, I might be more likely to recommend the Peel. Instead, it’s too expensive, doesn’t offer enough protection, and makes your iPhone even more slippery. Don’t be fooled by the svelte form-factor (0.35mm) and the unbranded and unobtrusive visual aesthetic. Get a hideous robot condom if you want to protect your phone.

Assault Android Cactus Review & Time Doctor Live

Android Assault Cactus Main Menu

Assault Android Cactus is one of those few indie games for Windows, Mac, and Linux, with an unforgettable name that makes you curious about what it is every time you hear it. Eventually you might break it down into pieces to try to figure it out.

Assault, so, action game?

Androids are a kind of lifelike robot, yeah?

Cactus. One of these is not like the others.

So, we have androids in an action game and it turns out they’re in the desert with cacti?

Two out of three correct guesses aren’t bad. I didn’t understand the name either until I played Assault Android Cactus and found out that the first android you play as is named Cactus. She is a Junior Constable assault android in the Interplanetary Police who is investigating a civilian freighter called the Genki Star that went silent due to a mutiny lead by the four Section Lord bosses in command of the robot crew.

Cactus shows up just in time to help the rest of the cute cartoony androids out of their predicament, mainly because Cactus hates filing the paperwork for a failed mission. Together, the androids have to fight their way through waves of adorable killer robots in a combat style not too dissimilar from older twin stick shooters and defeat each area’s Section Lord boss.

Hold on there, space cop

Each android has a different set of weapons. Cactus has an assault rifle and flamethrower. Holly (the accountant!) has homing bullets and a cannonball that blitzes through her foes. Aubergine excels at crowd control with her spinning helicopter attack and singularity black hole that sucks enemies in to a part of the screen hopefully far away from where she is.

AAC has some flexibility in where those weapon sets can be applied, but when I was dying on a Section Lord boss fight with one, I found that trying another android with might work better. One boss might be more appropriate for ranged attacks, get too close and you’re fried. Other bosses might be more applicable for short-range guns from Coral’s shotgun. There are many more androids to choose from, each with their own gameplay style lending from their weapon selection and you can get up to four together on-screen at once for local co-operative play.

Any way you play it, Assault Android Cactus is extremely punishing if you can’t keep up with the hectic pace. The game fluctuates between traditional twin stick shooter gameplay to full-on bullet hell style shooting where your goal is to dodge and hope to keep the enemies in your peripheral vision so that you can target them. Very quickly you learn that there is a lot going on while you’re fighting through the game’s zones and stages that require you to learn to prioritize your focus. In addition to avoiding enemy bullets you’ll have to keep your eyes peeled for tiny bits of energy that power up your weapons, increasing the damage they do, and other power ups that might stop enemy attacks for a time, speed up your android, or add a set of tiny robots (options) that shoot alongside your android.

There is one other power-up, the most important one. The androids all have batteries just like mobile phones. Also just like your mobile, the battery on these androids is constantly being drained and you must top off with battery power-ups to keep the fight going. Taking damage any other way just causes your android to fall down, they can always get back up unless their battery is fully depleted. Fortunately the game recognizes that this is the most important aspect of the pickup system and your android will call out the recharge when they see it.

I found it incredibly difficult to keep track of which items on the very colorful screen were helpful versus those bullets, rockets, and missiles that were intended only to hurt Cactus and the rest of her android buddies. There is a little bit of magnetic pull on some bonuses that cause them to move towards your android, but I’m not sure what causes that to happen and the range is poor. Oftentimes I’d find that these helpful items would have expired before I reach them or I’d find myself dying just as I would have gotten a life-saving battery fill up. It’s a strategic issue that others might not have a problem with, but it was often what stopped any forward momentum I had during particularly tense moments of bullet hellaciousness.

Adding to the visual overload are stages that constantly change while you play. Walls go up, come down, and background pieces move to overhaul the level, one changes from a small elevator in-motion into a larger arena with different hallways when it reaches its destination. Another feels a bit like Bastion as pieces pick up and move as you get closer and drop off into space as they get further away. These changes aren’t just for looks. You’re going to have to adapt to meet new challenges when the level shrinks or expands or just starts throwing different enemies at you.

There is a problem in that sometimes it doesn’t feel like there is a strategy in Assault Android Cactus that will get you through a level, sometimes it just feels like more persistence is the only way through.

Despite all of the challenge, it is very rewarding when you defeat a section lord and unlock a new way to play through a new android. When I do get a little frustrated with a stage or a section lord I find myself switching to another android to see if their weapons lend themselves to that fight. Or wondering if I could get a higher score on the leaderboards of levels I’ve already completed with a different android’s weapon load out.

In addition to the campaign, AAC also has four-player local-only co-op through the entire game. Co-op can also be played with AI companions after unlocking one of the special EX options that you buy with points earned through playing the game. Those points also unlock concept art and other interesting features like a first-person camera option. There are a few extras like Infinity Drive, it’s a wave-based mode that drops the levels in favor of a  more classic arcade game experience like Robotron 2084 where you’re only focused on score and surviving as long as you can. A Daily Drive offers a similar mode that changes every day with a separate leaderboard that you only get to compete in once per day. Boss Rush is your typical run through all of the Section Lords.

That’s Assault Android Cactus, deceptively bright, colorful, and personable to draw you in for the punishment. Very few twin stick shooters put even the tiniest effort into a story or any personality into their characters. Assault Android Cactus doesn’t just stand out through difficult and rewarding gameplay, it has endearingly cute androids backing everything up. After around 7 hours to complete the campaign I’m excited to see my leaderboard scores get destroyed by others.

Cleared with a score of a B

4 out of 5 Cactodroids for the delightfully challenging Assault Android Cactus. Check out the demo and then get it. It’ll come to Playstation 4, the Vita, and Wii-U early next year and it’s just been released today for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Sentris Review

Sentris

Until I played Sentris I wasn’t sure what it was. All I knew was that there was a new music game from Samantha Kalman’s Timbre Interactive game studio but not what the actual gameplay entailed. Was it a rythym game in the style of Rock Band or Guitar Hero but with a circular note highway? Or is Sentris more along the lines of Rockstar’s Beaterator as a musical toy?

If you have ever tried to go your own way in Guitar Hero you would hear broken notes that sound terrible. Sentris is more free form, and can also be a little intimidating while you’re becoming familiar with the process of laying out tracks. I hope this explanation helps new players because it is too easy to plow through the tutorial without learned anything.

Instead of the vertical note highway typical to other other music games, in Sentris you’re only dealing a tight loop of music on a circular plane with four tracks that rotates automatically. Different instruments are represented as different colored sets of blocks, each block has a honeycomb shape on it that represent the different pitch of each block note. Those blocks are placed onto the leading edge of the track or stacked together to form chords before being placed.

There are 20 songs in Sentris. Each song is a selection of handpicked instruments and puzzles. On top of that, there is a 21st song that is always randomized for infinite variety. The puzzle is in the stages that divide each song. Each stage has a different configuration of dots that match the colors of the note blocks which need to be put in place. Once you’ve completed a stage you unlock the next layer of instrumentation to be laid down on top of what you’ve already created.

It isn’t very challenging to slap down something that meets the base criteria for success, but as soon as you get out of the first three tutorial stages you’ll be given more block notes than you would need simply for meeting the goal. This is the first taste of freedom. You’re being encouraged to experiment and make some music you actually enjoy by picking whatever you want and putting it down wherever you want. There is no failure in Sentris that you can’t recover from. You can recycle the instrumental note blocks and replace them.

Making music through this process is so much fun, it’s exciting to build a piece of music and be happy with what you’ve created. The only downside to music creation in the 1.0 “final form” release of Sentris is that you’re not prompted to save your work upon completing all of the stages in a song, and there is no way to go back in to the song and export it. I expect this will be rectified in a future update. Saving the loops that you create in Sentris are what take it from a game into a practical instrument. With the ability to remix songs using different scales, beats per minute, and instruments, the possibilities are incredible.

Although the instruments do have some surprise guest stars (disasterpeace, for example) Sentris users are limited to the instruments included with the game. There’s no Steam Workshop or other support for users to contribute instrument sets. Given that Sentris is also distributed on non-Steam stores it would probably be an incredible pain in the ass to add that feature, but it would go a long way towards improving it for more serious musicians.

Behind the rotating circular note highway are amazing backgrounds that the game calls dreamscapes. From rocky desert landscapes, bamboo forests, and urban cyberpunk dystopias where your beats cause windows and neon signs to flicker. Each dreamscape is grand visual accompaniment for your music. If you want fewer distractions there are also dreamscapes that are just visualizers for the music and with muted colors aren’t very distracting at all.

There are a few technical quibbles. The background disc is polygonal instead of actually being a circle. Each time I restart the game I have to change the track rotation back to Goofy mode so that instead of the entire track looping on the screen it’s the playhead that loops because that setting isn’t saved. If I leave my flight stick plugged in the prompts are all for the keyboard instead of my Xbox controller. The tutorial seems to be confused about using an analog stick versus a directional pad. One of the tracks, Kentucky Fried Chernobyl, is just completely broken in the Steam version at launch and loads no instruments. None of these are particularly large issues and I expect they will be resolved quickly.

My only experience with music creation before Sentris was with Rocksmith on Windows, Garageband on the Mac and iPad, and various Korg musical toy applications for the iPad. However, Sentris very much reminds me of some of the great iPhone and iPad music looping applications like Loopy. The downside to it being a looping application is that when you do export your music you’ll find out just how much work goes into making beats. For all of the work that you put into each track you will only have produced about 5 seconds of music.

Sentris could be amazing in the hands of a talented musician. As a casual musician, I’m happy with the music I’ve created using Sentris. It has been difficult in the past to start from nothing when making music, and the loops I can make with the tools that Sentris provides are so much better than starting from a blank slate. The only major improvement I would like to see is the ability to unwind and replay or fast-forward your changes to the loop so that you could replace instruments on the fly and experiment with different placement of your note blocks. Even though it’s the lack of complexity that makes Sentris approachable to casual music creators like me, I think the triggers on the gamepad are mostly unused and could be part of such a feature if it were to happen.

At $15 for a fun music game that can also be a legitimate creation tool on Mac OS X, Windows, or Linux I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Sentris to anyone who has that itch to create music but doesn’t know where to get started.

4 out of 5 Ronald Reagan Birthday Cakes

4 out of 5

DEFCON: Everybody Dies

Due to the AtomicGamer.com & LinuxGames.com shutdown I will be republishing my reviews from those sites.

Computer-room four star generals should be pleased with the latest real time offerings on hand for PC players. Company of Heroes, Supreme Commander, and the continuing adventures and re-releases in the Command and Conquer series all provide hope for the waning innovation in PC strategy. Does Defcon? Let us find out together, you and I.

Let me start by saying that I’d like to ignore the hype surrounding Defcon. This is a unique independent game that however ends up sounding like marketing spiel itself. We should instead take it on the terms that we are given: simply as a game. And as a game, it’s a good one.

Defcon presents us with no story, just imminent doom from nuclear destruction. How much doom is up to the players. There are a number of homages to nuclear war films, from the raster-like map display which is quite reminiscent of Wargames to the vast echo hallway sounds reminiscent of the war room in Dr. Strangelove. Do not be deceived by the screenshots; this isn’t just a quick Flash game mood piece. Instead, it is a complete package containing a new take on the somewhat tired genre of real time strategy war games, something for which we can all be thankful. While no one enjoys the next iteration of, “Yet Another WW2 Game, No Really This is a Good One”, er I mean Company of Heroes, more than I do, it is refreshing to see something profoundly creative in this well mined genre.

Not to rail on, Company of Heroes is well worth paying attention to. Defcon though manages to avoid the inevitable, “This isn’t just another WW2 game”, by not being set during the second World War. Instead of World War 2 we get the Cold War; and while there is strong variation between say Company of Heroes and Command and Conquer, it pales compared to the difference in atmosphere, mood and most dramatic strategy seen in Defcon.

So, what is Defcon’s take on strategy?

Instead of a standard field of battle, the player is presented with an simple modular command map. No on-the-ground perspective is provided. Another significant deviation from the standard RTS formula is a complete lack of resource management. Not even Kohan with its system of capturing cities to increase your general resources strayed so far from the familiar. In Defcon, there are no resources, no mines, no peons to zug zug and order around; the payoff is raw direct strategic combat. Stripped of logistical warfare, we are left with only naval fleets and various aircraft to move around. Add to that a few basic immobile units: airbases, radars, and missile silos, and your arsenal is complete. Cities are also present but you have no control over them. They merely serve as targets for the enemy to slaughter and for you to protect.

Cities also serve as a tremendous part of the atmosphere of this game, which itself is lush in its sparseness, gripping in intensity, and, if you let it take you in, can be overwhelming and depressing. This is probably the only game I have ever played which can get so depressing. Through sparseness Defcon entices your own imagination to speculate on the wholesale incineration of cities, countries, and millions of people. This can’t be stressed enough. The atmospherics, while simple, are tremendously effective at pulling you into the mood of the end of the world. Defcon does make one concession from realism and this not only serves gameplay but also increases the tension. In Defcon, Reagan’s delusional dream world has come to life; in-flight nuclear warheads can be shot down by aircraft and missile defense. And this, the fact that one can take action, but in the end millions die anyway, seriously ratchets up the tension. In the real world we learned, as did Joshua in Wargames, that the only way to win was not to play. In Defcon we are given Reagan’s dream of missile defense and are still left with the feeling that if only I was faster and smarter, millions might have survived.

So the atmosphere for Defcon is decidedly not fun unless you can get over the hump of stark destruction in the game. Every single person I have played the game with so far has gone quiet whilst playing and being immersed, then remarked about how depressing the atmosphere is when asked about how they were feeling. For some, this will be the game’s greatest flaw. For others it elevates the game to high art. If you are looking for simple fun, this is not it. If you are looking for an intensity of experience rarely seen outside of film, Defcon is definitely it. Defcon takes a very upsetting subject, makes it into a compelling multiplayer game complete with moderation of the original subject matter for balance, and then leaves you with that and a tongue-in-cheek manual to play on. I realize that most people reading this review are going to think that no game, let alone one that employs a low graphics 80s movie style, can possibly elicit such an emotional response. Playing this game is much like watching Threads or When the Wind Blows. It’s certainly worthwhile, but not for the faint of heart.

It is also true that as someone who was born in 1982, I may not be able to present the attitudes of my older peers who lived under the actual threat of nuclear annihilation during the cold war. Defcon is a great game, but whether it is a great game for you may depend a lot on how you react to the atmosphere of the game. I would advise that you play the demo before you make a final decision about that atmosphere. It is a fairly complete demo and can be later unlocked to provide the full game.

Getting back to the actual gameplay. Unlike a standard RTS game, there is also no research and development tree present in Defcon. Instead, you are presented with time limits in a variety of modes. As the clock counts down both in time and from Defcon 5 (peace) to Defcon 1 (unrestricted nuclear war), new actions become available as others fall away. So right away from the start of the game, everyone has the same weapons and technology. Your main weapons are, of course, your nuclear arsenal. Your secondary weaponry is for defense only, and are your fighter jets which can take down incoming missiles and bombers. There are no usual mobile ground units, at all. The scale is global and primarily strategic and they aren’t missed. I do think they might be interesting in a more tactical variation on the theme of this game, for at least the actions leading up to the Defcon levels.

The titular Defcon levels are unavoidable. Defcon levels will fall from 5 to 1 within the game and nothing can be done to prevent the level raising. Time progression can be slowed down or sped up in the interface or, if you like, keyboard shortcuts. This only happens, though, if all players agree to the new game speed. Each lower Defcon level allows more action from all parties involved. Players may choose to ally with each other. If you ally with someone and your nukes are in their air toward your allies targets, your nukes will automatically be disarmed in flight so as to not ruin that friendship. In addition, the server host of the game can configure that session in a stunning level of detail covering everything from scoring to the style of alliances.

Speaking of scoring, by default you get points in this game through killing the population of the nations you are at war with. By default, you get points for every enemy killed but you also lose points when your citizens are wiped out. So if you take out a large majority of the enemy population, but not their nuclear arsenal, you can still lose if the enemy manages to take out more of your population. This isn’t immediately obvious and you could go from 70 to -50 through loss of your population. Recently while playing online I lost to another player by one point in a similar situation. I’d taken out a large majority of his civilian population, however his nuclear arsenal had remained relatively unscathed.

Technically, Defcon is no incredible achievement. Nor will it provide an engine to be licensed endlessly in an attempt at cashing in on Introversion’s hard work. This game was developed in a relatively short period of time when compared to most regular modern games, though certainly due to no lack of good work. The final product as presented without patches in the 1.0 form is so far without any obvious bugs or issues. Though as far as technical quality, there are a few fonts which appear to be pre-rendered bitmaps too small to view on my 1680×1050 monitor. The recently released 1.1 patch made some major tweaks to the server browser, but remember to exit the game before trying to install the patch – the developers forgot to make DEFCON close itself when you try and run the update from inside the game.

Anyway, the 1.1 patch provides for various methods of filtering games, both visually and with dialogs. It doesn’t seem to have been broken in any way but this poorly written installer. Of course I notified Introversion about this problem. No reply was available as of press time.

Defcon’s interface could probably stand a few months more polish to improve usability. Differentiating between selecting a fleet to move as opposed to say launching fighters from an aircraft carrier in that fleet can be quite confusing and I have seen it lead to frustration as naval units appear to become uncontrollable while the desperate atmosphere of the game claims its psychic toll. The controls are also fairly unintuitive for long-time RTS folks, to which I would suggest Introversion make an optional Defcon Annihilation mode, so that these folks who hate the completely new-for-Defcon control interface don’t get frustrated. I fully expect a patch or two in the future from Introversion which may alter the gameplay and controls, much as they did with their last game Darwinia. The “victory timer”, presented in an apparent conceit to game play balance, could certainly use tweaking and further user instruction with regard to operation. I generally end up altering the options of games I host so that I don’t have to have the game end early with many players.

The only feature I really find lacking is some kind of demo recorder, like in the Quake games, so you can replay the action and really learn about the strategy in each multiplayer game from all sides. Perhaps we’ll get lucky and this all of this functionality will be added in a later patch.

As Defcon is almost entirely a multiplayer game, bots are provided but not much fun to play against. The bots have very limited strategy and are fairly easy to defeat. While one can battle a large number of bots simultaneously this challenge by numbers is less appealing than the strategic challenge one can enjoy in the multiplayer modes and hardly prepares you to compete online. This is a huge change from Introversion’s past titles, which were all single player affairs. I must say that I’ve had no problems with network connectivity or lag to players even in the far reaches of the globe. This isn’t entirely surprising as the game is fairly simple.

If you’re already a bit confused I would suggest you go ahead and get the demo at least before making your final decision to buy or not buy this game. It certainly isn’t a graphical powerhouse of a game, so laptop users won’t be neglected so long as they have bare bones OpenGL acceleration of some sort. However, the lack of fancy graphics and/or the decidedly depressing tone may cause some people to give up before truly experiencing what Defcon has to offer. I feel, at least, that the tone may be something which is a disadvantage to the enjoyment of the actual gameplay. However, I think that perhaps Defcon wouldn’t be regarded so highly if it weren’t so depressing. I know I will be enjoying Introversion’s latest art house masterpiece for some time to come, though it is understandable if the charm is lost on others behind graphical and atmospheric issues inherent with an indie game of this nature.

So with the compelling atmosphere, and sufficiently original gameplay, Defcon gets a 9 out of 10. $17.50 well spent.

Logitech k400r Wireless Touch Keyboard Review

K700r

Lets get this out of the way up front, wireless keyboards with built-in pointing devices are almost universally awful. I say “almost’ but what I mean is, I’ve never found a combo wireless keyboard/trackpad that is any good but they must exist somewhere, right? Maybe the Logitech k400r will be one of those good few combo devices. There’s no need to read any further. Abandon your hope, this is not that unicorn device.

You might see the k400 and k400r mixed-up online, as far as I can tell the only difference between the two is that the k400r has a different Windows key and you might end up with either when you order one online or buy it in a store.

These combo keyboard and trackpad devices can fail in one way with either the pointing device or keyboard being awful or they can fail in both ways at the same time and have both an awful keyboard and an awful pointing device that combine to become some sort of awfulness Voltron.

How do the keyboard portions fail? Weird layouts that fight your muscle-memory for where to go to type a key combination or even a single key. On this Logitech k400r keyboard the arrow keys are smashed together with the / and right-shift keys so close that you’ll find even the simplest of two-handed typing maneuvers painful. This too-close layout is repeated throughout the keyboard. Of course the keys are also mushy as heck. How far and with how much force do you have to depress any of the keys on the k400r before they will trigger? I can tell you with all certainty that I have no idea and end up just pressing the keys as hard as I possibly can to type out a sentence.

This is bad. Keys should have some responsiveness either through a noise in the mechanism or a mechanical feeling that assures you that a switch has been triggered to let you know when your finger and the key have travelled far enough down to trigger the appropriate reaction from your computer. A slightly larger layout would enable a more natural typing process and fewer missed keystrokes where you hit the wrong key accidentally. Try entering in a slightly complex password with this keyboard, I double-dog-dare you that you’ll get it wrong at least twice.

Next we move on from the awful keyboard to the pointing device. What’s this, it’s a trackpad like on my Macbook Pro. This could be promising!

How do bad trackpads portions of these devices fail? By default this k400r trackpad enables tap-to-click, the bane of many trackpad users. As far as I can tell, the software (only available on Windows) doesn’t offer any option to disable tap-to-click. The only way I’ve found to disable it on any operating system is a secret hardware key combination of striking the blue function key and the left-trackpad pointing-device button at the same time. Of course this is only a temporary solution and it will need to be repeated every time the keyboard is switched off and back on again or when the wireless receiver is paired with a device again.

This is the sentence where I tell you that of course the k400r uses a proprietary Logitech wireless RF receiver that works only with other Logitech devices instead of the bluetooth standard that has proved itself perfectly fine for gaming devices like the Playstation 3 and 4 with great power saving capabilities and excellent responsiveness. The receiver works fine and doesn’t stick very far out of a USB port on your laptop or desktop but it would be so much better if it used bluetooth which is a standard beyond one company.

The trackpad’s gestures are just as terrible as the tap-to-click and scrolling with two-fingers as has become standard to anyone acquainted with the excellent trackpads on Apple equipment will suffer mercilessly as lord Logitech laughs at their pitiful attempts at doing what they want with this monster. Sometimes it works, most of the time it doesn’t do at all what you were expecting. Instead of a scroll you get a jumping page that lands somewhere you didn’t expect.

The tracking speed of the trackpad is just as abysmal and undesirably jumpy.

Your mouse cursor is here, now it’s over there, didn’t expect that did you?” The Lord of Logitech chuckles to himself as he observes you trying to urge the cursor along.

The best thing that I can say about the Logitech k400r wireless keyboard/trackpad combo is that is possible to get used to it for minutes at a time before wanting to chuck it out of the nearest window, and you could use it for many minutes because the battery life is excellent. Recently I’ve started trying to use it with my laptop because that’s raised up a bit off my desk and it isn’t very ergonomic to type on a raised laptop and mouse from a seated position.

Instead, I find myself hooking the receiver up to my laptop only to reach over the k400r and type on my laptop’s keyboard and use my laptop’s trackpad when the k400r inevitably starts proving how awful it is to type on and to use as a pointing device.

You might argue that the k400r is supposed to be used with a computer hooked up to the TV, so it must be good at that. You would be wrong. Entering a password, trying to scroll, playing a game, these tasks are essential for using a computer and it just can’t be trusted at those. Yes the wireless range of the device does seem long. I can wander quite far away and it continues to function, but that isn’t enough, these things have to handle the essentials and be good at them for that range to be useful.

The next best thing about the k400r is that Amazon has it for only $20, which is an appropriately low price to pay to demonstrate how the enjoyment of a cheap product will be eroded by the long-term punishment of using such a device.

What do we say to the lord of Logitech when he presents us with the k400r?

Not today.

1 out of 5 Commodore 64 SID chips

The Talos Principle Review (PC)

Gates

What if people were robots who were created from, and routinely yelled at by, an angry god that just wants to be respected and obeyed when he asks you to maybe solve some puzzles without questioning him so much?

He just wants you to go along with what he says to do no matter how ridiculous his request. Especially that time when he repeatedly asked you to ignore the spiraling tower in the middle of the overworld hub area that he created and you could very well climb it if only he hadn’t forbidden it.

Well if this were the case you and I would be the robotic children of Elohim in The Talos Principle: Solving puzzles by arranging surprising combinations of boxes, lasers, gun turrets, semi-autonomous mines, laser connectors, fans, and jammers in the first-person (or third-person if you’re into viewing robo-booty) world that Elohim created.

If The Talos Principle were from anyone else I might have thought it was going to be a bible game and would have thrown my still-running computer through the nearest window. Instead, it’s from the developers of Serious Sam. A fast-like-Doom first-person shooter series that is anything but serious. You could say that Cro-team aren’t known for making contemplative puzzle games when they’ve been making first-person shooters for over a decade. You would be right.

These puzzles with the boxes, lasers, gun turrets, semi-autonomous mines, laser connectors, fans, and jammers? They’re great. They have that perfect difficulty curve so rarely achieved in puzzle games. There is a gentle progression with the challenges getting slightly more difficult and sometimes (rarely) maddeningly so. Up until you walk away and come back and go “why didn’t I think of putting that over there earlier? Duh.” After you figure out the solution you always feel like a smarty-pants puzzle-solving person because the designers have excelled at making you feel brilliant instead of feeling like the solution isn’t achievable without a hint-guide.

Those few times that you do get frustrated with a puzzle you can just walk your robot avatar to another because the game is designed to let you walk away and pick an easier trial without walking away from the game. Talos‘ arrangement of puzzles into three level hubs, each with a bunch of puzzles that you can go away from and come back to at any time is brilliant and refreshing. Forgivingly, Elohim encourages you to walk away if you’ve spent a lot of time in a puzzle and there’s an achievement for doing so. There’s also an achievement for sticking it out and solving a tough puzzle. In the 30 hours or so I spent in Elohim’s world I experienced each of those scenarios: often breezing through a puzzle in a few minutes, as the difficultly increased there were a few more occasions of frustration and sticking with it, and a few times I just had to walk away to find some peace in an easier puzzle

If the game were just this surprise first-person puzzler from a shooter developer I’d still rate it highly. Talos is so much more than just puzzles.

If it were just those characters of Elohim and protagonist-bot the one-sided dialog from the big E (your protagonist-bot isn’t much of a talker) might have gotten boring and I still would have skipped merrily along through many lands to solve the shit out of placing boxes on fans and then placing jammers on top of them. Fortunately, there are more questions in the The Talos Principle that graduate the story from both the shackles of Elohim’s reverberating narration and the perfectly robust puzzling.

Why is the protagonist a robot?

Who is Elohim really, why does he call you his child, and why does he want you to solve these puzzles?

Why is there a giant multi-tiered tower, what is on those tiers that Elohim insists you not see?

It is so difficult to talk about this game and what it offers without spoiling more . I will say that the …other main characters… are generous with revelations and sometimes more questions. Extremely deep, philosphical questions. I’m not sure if they would challenge any philosophers, but the game’s story is ultimately going to require your interest in them. Which is fine, because the way it asks them is charming.

Puzzles, god, philosophy. I hope you’re convinced to try it and that you won’t read any more. The Talos Principle is something special.

5/5 Robo-butts

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