Atlas Reactor bonus flux code

First things first: I do not get paid to write about this game! I did, however, receive a code for 100 % bonus flux that lasts from now until January 24. Since this code has unlimited uses (but it only gives you 100 % bonus flux until January 24!) and can be shared freely, I decided to put it here for everybody to use. If I thought the game was crap, I wouldn’t do so. :p

Code for 100 % Bonus Flux: M2WMMPYCPXP2YJ9YNQGM (unlimited uses, promotion ends on January 24)

Please note that these codes do not stack, so if you already entered such a code from another fansite, it will not give you a bigger bonus.

If you’re interested in Atlas Reactor and want to know what “fully free to play” means, you can read about it in this post. Or, you know, just download the game and try for yourself. It is free to play, after all – and here is the refer-a-friend link from bookahnerk which directs you to the official sign-up page (you can also just manually go there if you don’t want to use this code, of course!).

Atlas Reactor Charr Freelancer Rask

Personal Top 9 of 2016

I have seen several people and gaming sites make their “top x games of 2016” and when wondering which games I would put on my list, I thought: “Oh well, why not publish it here?” Maybe you’re already sick of seeing these lists, but stay with me for a bit longer… my list is a very subjective one, so it’s certainly not what most of the other top 10 lists have. In fact, I did not choose “the best games” to put on this list, but instead chose the top 9 of games I enjoyed playing in the last year. Not all games were released even in 2016. There are just some games that I enjoyed playing so much that I decided they had to be put on this list, but all at least added something new in 2016!

I’ll start with my top 5 games that – some way or another – released in 2016.

Number 5: Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter (Release Date: June 10, 2016)

Sherlock Holmes Devil's Daughter

This game could have gotten even higher on my list, but there were a few things I did not like, so it only ended up as my number 5. I bought “The Devil’s Daughter” on sale for 18 €. I finished the complete game within 16 hours according to Steam. I found all the clues for each case and usually spent quite some time considering how to put the clues together. 16 hours is an incredibly short game if you ask me, especially as it has no replay value. There are no clues left to find, so there is nothing else to explore. Playing the game again would not add anything new at all. There are only the story missions, no side-quests or anything else. At the same time, some of the puzzles annoyed me. One mission (no spoilers, don’t worry) was much too action-y considering it was all Sherlock imagining something and it seemed like one big sequence of action-puzzle after action-puzzle. I, however, prefer solving the cases! Taking both these things together: A too short game and parts focusing on things that had nothing to do with actually solving a case is the reason it does not get placed any higher. The game that is actually there, however, is good. So don’t get me wrong! I really enjoyed this game altogether which is why it is on my top 9 list. And for 18 €, it’s a good deal (not for its regular price, though, which is 45 €)!

Number 4: Project Highrise (Release Date: September 8, 2016)

Project Highrise focus on restaurants

Project Highrise is a game that I had not noticed at all until it got released. Their publisher is “Kasedo Games” which somehow belongs to Kalypso, one of the few publishers whose newsletter I subscribed to. I have been following Kalypso mostly for news about the upcoming title “Urban Empire” and simply could not memorize that game’s name properly. No idea why, but there you go. And for some reason my mind confused “Urban Empire” with “Project Highrise” – both titles have two words, you see? Anyway, I did notice the difference between these two games, as they both look completely different. ;) I am usually not the one to say this, but I do not like Project Highrise’s graphics too much. Other than that, it’s a fun “city”-builder – only that you have a skyscraper that you fill with apartments, supermarkets, offices, restaurants etc. The point of this game is not to create a pretty skyscraper, but one that works. You need to balance between offices, restaurants, stores and residents. The latter prefer a quiet environment, but they also want restaurants and stores nearby. Obviously, these aren’t quiet! So far, it has neither been too easy nor too difficult to play, but I have also not yet tried out the difficult scenarios. There is also the “free play” option where you just build as you wish without having to fulfill certain requirements.

Number 3: Gremlins, Inc. (Release Date: March 11, 2016)

Gremlins Inc Misfortunes

I am a big fan of board games and card games! I really enjoy playing these games with friends when they come over for a visit. Several board games have also gotten a digital version (e. g., Talisman). In this case, Gremlins, Inc. is a digital board game with no “real world” counterpart (you can read about my first impressions here). The developers are even hosting online tournaments, though I have only played the game against AI so far. I think it’s more about luck than strategy, because whenever I try to follow a certain strategy, the dice rolls will make sure to ruin that for me! ;) The atmosphere of the game is great, though, and so is the soundtrack.

The developers even made a card game (non-digital, you know, the “real” kind :p) for Gremlins. I bought it because I really like the board game, but I’ve got to admit, the card game was even more fun to play! Probably because you get that direct interaction with the other player.

Number 2: Atlas Reactor (Release Date: October 4, 2016)

atlas reactor su ren shifting winds

I admit, it was difficult to only put it as my number 2 here! The reason it did not get number 1 is that I’m currently not actively playing it (of course, right after typing this paragraph, I hopped back into the game and played several matches!). I absolutely truly love this game! And I’m not even playing against others. Well, with and against AI, but not against other players. So my opinion is very subjective and narrowed down to that of a casual PvE player. I cannot tell you if the community is “toxic” or not, because I don’t know it. The lobby is usually full of friendly chat, though. At least, when I take notice of it. ;) But what I really like is that the PvE fights aren’t easy. Again, very subjective. I don’t know what experienced PvP players would say, but that’s not the point here. If you play once in a while and you enjoy PvE and you like this kind of game (MOBA, but with simultaneous turns), then this is truly a gem. It has also gone 100 % free to play recently. Before the switch, without buying the game, you couldn’t enter rated PvP matches and you always only had a limited option of freelancers that rotated regularly. Now, you can unlock all freelancers by playing the game if you want. And you can join these ranked PvP matches. You can find my – probably slightly outdated by now – first impressions review of Atlas Reactor here.

Number 1: Civilization VI (Release Date: October 21, 2016)

Civilization VI playing as France

My personal number 1 goes to Civilization VI. As I said about Atlas Reactor, it was a tough decision. When I first saw the announcement, I really wasn’t a fan of the new look of the game (when did I become a graphics snob, by the way?), most of all of the way the trees look. But after playing, I have to admit that I do not even notice the graphics anymore. Not like that, at least. I can clearly spot the important and special buildings and resources on the map, though. I like the changes they have made and even after playing the game for almost 60 hours, there are still things to explore and figure out (I did not read the manual or any wiki pages etc., so there is a lot for me to discover and figure out). Also, around Christmas, bookahnerk and I played a game together and I really love when a game lets us do that for hours while still leaving us enough brain capacity for chatter!

So these are my “top 5 of games released in 2016”. The following four games are more “honorable mentions” as they are games that I really enjoyed playing in 2016, but that weren’t actually released in 2016 – although all of them received at least some updates in 2016.

Number 4: Wildstar

Wildstar Arcterra

Wildstar just barely made this list for several reasons. For one, it actually released in June 2014 and went free to play in September 2015. Both are clearly not 2016. ;) However, with the game turning free to play, I started actually playing it a lot! So it dominated the beginning of 2016 gaming-wise. It’s quirky and it’s also got an amazing housing system which I only dipped my toes in so far. My enthusiasm for the game dropped lately which is actually not so much the game’s fault. I am just scared it will close in the near future, what with all the news about there not being a lot of players left. Still, I really like the game and hope they do have a future ahead of them. I guess we’ll see what happens in 2017… news for upcoming features have arrived, at least! :)

Number 3: Cities: Skylines

cities skylines destroyed city

My first city-building game was Sim City 2000. I don’t even want to know how many hours I spent in that game… So when I started playing Cities: Skylines, I was really happy to finally have a game that feels like Sim City 2000 again. But one thing was missing: Random events that could destroy your city! Cities: Skylines had no disasters at all and it ended up feeling a tiny bit boring at times. Of course, handling the traffic is more than enough to do, but still… when they finally announced that disasters were coming, I was so excited and started playing Cities: Skylines again the minute this DLC got released! Still, it’s number 3, because even though I really love the disasters, sometimes there are a few too many of them one after the other. It’s just no fun going bankrupt, because the tsunami was followed by an earthquake was followed by a meteor, was followed by a tsunami, was followed by another earthquake and so on (yes, one long disaster-chain – bookahnerk sat next to me and watched, being very amused at my growing despair when I saw my beautiful city get destroyed and flooded until hardly anything was left…). It did add that randomness in that I was missing, though!

Number 2: Prison Architect (2015)

Prison Architect

The last update in 2015 added women, so you could finally build a prison for women only. But 2016 was no less exciting if you ask me! They added temperature and the need to build heaters in your prison early in 2016. More exciting was the patch in December 2016, though: Guards have needs as well now! No longer do I look at the pretty little staff room regretting spending money on all the furniture in there when the guards don’t actually use any of it. Now they want food, toilets, sofas as well. And breaks! Those guards demand breaks, so they can consume said food and go to the toilet. Thankfully, in a recent patch they also fixed the issue of unhappy guards beating up prisoners. And here I was wondering why so many of my prisoners died… whoops.

Number 1: Rift (2011)

rift starfall prophecy broken head statue

The oldest game on this list is Rift with its release date in March 2011. However, they actually released their expansion “Starfall Prophecy” last year. Now this expansion is not without critical reception and for good reasons, too! Some features were not released on time, some are still not delivered (but being worked on). At the same time, I still prefer having “most of the expansion” as opposed to still having to wait for the whole expansion. Anyway, let’s focus on the positive side: I really love the new maps, the look of them and even the story is much more enjoyable for me than the one of the previous Nightmare Tide expansion. I am having a lot of fun playing the game again. They have also been adding new items for dimensions (the game’s housing system), so there is lots for me to do!

***

Crypt of the NecroDancer

Last but not least, to even the numbers, bookahnerk asked me to add a 10th game to the list: Crypt of the NecroDancer! I can only tell you about this game from the outside as I have not played it myself. I know it would drive me crazy. But the soundtrack sure is catchy and once bookahnerk’s sister’s boyfriend bought the game as well, it turned out to be hilarious. There were those two guys, both playing the game, both bobbing their heads to the tune of the song in order to help with their movements. Too bad you couldn’t see that. Priceless. So the “honorary award” for our game of 2016 goes to Crypt of the NecroDancer!

Christmas loot

Christmas usually means getting presents – and giving them, too, of course! We’re also having our anniversary of getting together in December, so at least some of these presents are gaming-related. I’m not the “stereotypical woman” who drools over getting jewellery, so receiving something gaming-related really is what I prefer. :p

On our anniversary, I got an expansion for a board game, Aventuria. Due to a serious lack of time, we haven’t played that game much yet, but I really wanted that expansion anyway! In case you want to know more about the game, here is the link to their recent Kickstarter campaign where they asked for backers, so they can translate the game to English. I love that you can play it cooperatively and against each other. We only tried out playing against each other, so playing the campaigns is something we’re planning to do very soon! It is part of the pen & paper roleplaying world, The Dark Eye, which we both enjoy playing as well.

The second gift will have to wait some time longer as Urban Empire will only be released on January 20. I’d been watching this game closely, but with all the other games I have and the time my job demands, I just wasn’t sure whether I really wanted to get it now or wait for a sale around Easter or in summer or something like that. But Bookahnerk had seen my basically drool every time I saw a stream or read some news piece about the game and so he decided I should really get this game when it comes out. It’s only one more month, after all.

Other than that, we got some money, but we’re probably spending it on something related to our wedding next year.

Now this doesn’t look like much gaming-related loot. But there is the Steam sale going on and of course, I couldn’t resist getting some stuff for myself. Neither could bookahnerk. He chose to finally get Witcher 3, Insurgency and Darkest Dungeon. I got the Sherlock Holmes collection after buying Devil’s Daughter earlier this month (luckily, as while this game is on sale again now, it’s not as cheap as it was at that point). So now I can slowly play through all of them.

Civ VI multiplayer game as France

And right now, we’re playing Civilization VI together. We don’t get much “together-time” for playing games, because I am usually much too tired for that in the evenings. So having the holidays is something we always use to play some games together – be it at the PC or with board games.

My quest for hidden gems: Jazzpunk

quest

I sometimes buy game bundles that come with a bunch of codes for games I never even looked at before… or I can’t resist that sweet tempting “mystery game for 0.20 €” offer. Either way, these games are often not even looked at once I have them (well, more so for the bundled games than the one I actually did buy even if I didn’t know what game it will be). I figured I should devote this column here to these games. On the one hand, it makes me actually look at the game and on the other hand, sometimes I buy bundled games because I want to get game A and then I end up ignoring it because one of the other games in the bundle turns out to be much more fun!

I have a bunch of games that qualify for this column and wasn’t sure which one to pick. Then I saw something that looked… weird… but the name sounded rather bland, actually. So this is what I chose: Jazzpunk by Necrophone Games. I bought it as part of a bundle with Overlord.

Let’s take a look at the game: The introduction video sequence is very… colourful, at least. But it doesn’t tell me what this game is about. I actually only read this one sentence before jumping into the game:

“Jazzpunk is a comedy adventure set in an alternate reality Cold War World, plagued with corporate espionage, CyberCrime, and sentient martinis.”

I decided not to read too much about each game before playing it. Without much prior information, I figured I would experience the game in a much less biased way. I made one mistake here, though: I should at least check whether a game is in first person view or not, because it does give me nausea. Jazzpunk’s graphics are very basic, and putting mouse sensitivity on very low lets me play this game for a bit longer than other games before I need to take a break. But the next games I will look at will not be in first person view. It’s just not fun to play and write about a game that makes you feel sick, right? But something still made me want to give it a try, at least.

In the opening scenes, I see that I apparently flew in (to where, I don’t know… but there are Asian symbols, I think…) in a man-shaped suitcase. Very subtle, right? And then I am… somewhere… and get my first mission from a guy who claims to go to his wine cellar after briefing me but actually just lay down to sleep on the floor behind his desk. I have to take some kind of pill for the first mission to start. No idea what that part is about, really. I assume I would find out later on in the game.

jazzpunk intro

Now the bad part is that the voices are all kind of hard to understand and there is no option for “real” subtitles. In most cases, there is a short line repeating what the characters said in a short sentence. But still, a lot gets lost unless you have the sound up and understand them.

Bookahnerk was watching me play and remarked that it seems to be similar to the Stanley Parable. I guess that’s right as I still don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing. My task was to infiltrate a building, but that’s the only pointer I got. It’s not like Stanley Parable in that a speaker narrates what I’m doing. Instead, in Jazzpunk I can actually interact with objects and after using a copy-machine for taking pictures of my character’s naked butt, I used a picture on the wall (with a face, not a butt) to fool a camera-activated door to open for me. So it is a puzzle adventure game, but the atmosphere reminds me of Stanley Parable. Jazzpunk tries to stay light-hearted with silly jokes, though. One more example: The room where I took butt-pictures also has two microscopes. One let me play asteroids. No, it doesn’t make any sense, but it was fun! Too bad it was just one level.

I played through the first mission now after looking for a walkthrough online. I admit, I suck at puzzle games, but I still like playing them once in a while. My usual method is to try to figure out how to solve it on my own first and when I get stuck, I look at a walkthrough. My main motivation is not to solve everything on my own, but to get some entertainment value out of it which means that the storyline also has to be good. Fortunately, this seems to be the case here. Of course, having done only the first mission (with help), it’s a bit early to say the story is fantastic or even whether the story will still be good later on. But at least, there seems to be an overarching story behind me doing these missions.

The downside of this game is that even though the graphics are simple, I cannot play the game for longer than 10 minutes at a time. I wish I could, though! It’s silly and seems to be done really well. The interface is confusing at times, though. It says to hit X to cycle through my inventory, but when I picked up a second item, the first item was not in my inventory anymore. Instead, I later found a cereal box that I had already picked up and emptied on the table again just as if I had never even touched it.

Since I cannot really delve into the game longer, I’m looking at the Steam reviews: The game recently got 99 % positive reviews. The overall percentage of positive reviews is at 90 %. So, if you like puzzle games and weird silly stories, this seems to be a great choice! But only if you can play with first person view. For me this one simple thing means that it is not a gem and I will uninstall it again.

Giving Skyrim another chance

It’s been years since I last played Skyrim. While I generally like being able to use mods for a game, I don’t really like having to rely on them to enjoy playing. The way I’m using my PC, I absolutely need a windowed mode when playing a game and I cannot stand the regular non-windowed mode. On top of that, there was some bad mouse lagging in Skyrim and no matter what I did, I could not fix it. The Special Edition does not seem to have this issue anymore, so hurrah for that! And the game now has a borderless windowed mode which does not work exactly as I would imagine, but it’s good enough to at least give Skyrim another chance. When I am in the game and want to e. g., switch to my browser, I have to click with an invisible mouse hoping that the mouse is actually outside of the game. Otherwise, I just attack whatever is standing in front of me… oops. So, this mode still isn’t working too well, but I think I can handle it (opening settings before switching out, for example).

My main problem – as always – was trying to figure out what kind of character I would want to play now. I considered re-creating my lizardlady that I had when I first started playing Skyrim, but I wanted to start “fresh” with a different character. I am not a fan of elves, so those were out immediately. That left the cat-like race, the orc and the zillion different human kinds. I finally chose a redguard and started playing her. I figured playing something more “like me” (at least, more like me than a cat or a lizard :p) would be easier to roleplay. But as soon as I started, I knew it was a mistake. All I could think of was: She’s missing something in her face… like… teeth. Sharp pointy little teeth like the orc lady I had considered choosing during character creation.

skyrim female orc character

So yeah, I now have an orc lady! I mostly see her from behind anyway, but knowing she’s not a regular boring human is good enough for me already. I guess I should add “boring humans” to the elves above. No boring elves or humans for me!

The next question is what kind of playstyle I want, although I chose sword and shield for the time being – I’m still at the beginning of the game – because it’s often the easy and carefree playstyle. Perfect when I want to concentrate on the actual world and not having to try to stay alive in fights. So I am all set now, I guess, and can finally go on my adventure – while perfectly ignoring all the other issues I had with the game years ago. Now that I know what to expect from the game, I am sure I will not be disappointed anymore. :)