Keith's Crappy Videogame Blog

Cursed Mountain (PC, 2010, Germany): A Little Too Steep?
September 24, 2011, 6:00 am
Filed under: Cursed Mountain (PC, 2010, Germany)

Sometimes it may seem like I’ve abandoned this blog. Not true! If I disappear from this space for a while, it is usually because I am embroiled in playing some triple-A titles that I’ll never write about or that will never appear here. For example, most recently, I got wrapped up in finishing “Deus Ex: Human Revolution” (a very “adult” game by my estimation, considering the rather complex characters and “gray morality” narrative) and “Red Faction: Armageddon,” (substandard by most critical accounts since it abandoned the open-world roots of its predecessor “Red Faction: Guerilla”). While I liked them both personally, this blog space isn’t really meant to discuss big ticket games like those. This blog is dedicated to small, crappy games that only small, crappy people like. You know, gutter dwellers, like you and I.

So, after a little high-class hiatus, I’ve returned home to the slums (whew!), and I’m back with a relatively new (only a little old) title from 2009 originally released on the Wii (the only modern console I don’t own and am not interested in owning) but then later ported to the PC (yeah, you heard me correctly) in 2010 by the publisher Deep Silver Vienna (who was shuttered about two weeks later, apparently). Anyway, that game is the survival horror title “Cursed Mountain.” And, in contradiction to what I said earlier about distinguishing smaller unknown games and larger triple-A titles, determining what category “Cursed Mountain” actually falls into is probably impossible. While not necessarily a widely known title (which had pretty much zero marketing as far as I can tell), this game was apparently created in a “distributed” fashion by “16 companies consisting of 236 people in 17 unique locations in 14 different countries” (a little fact found on Wikipedia). Sounds like a development nightmare to me, but this distributed development was planned from the beginning, and apparently the various parties used Skype a lot to get the job done. So was all the long distance buffering worth it?

It’s perhaps reductionist to say so, but “Cursed Mountain” is basically a “Resident Evil” or “Silent Hill” third-person, survival-horror ripoff that has been transported to the icy, haunted Himilayan mountains, where you are surrounded by sherpas, Buddhist villlages, prayer wheels and shrines, and nasty ghostlike demons (instead of infected Umbrella scientists or maniacs with pyramid-shaped hats). Oh, and like “Silent Hill,” there’s lots of ominous fog…yes, thick, thick ominous fog that makes it impossible to see what’s about to attack you.

And if you think the next thing I am about to say is “So, skip this one” that would be an overstatement. For several reasons, I’m not putting a “play this or else” endorsement on this title, but if you are a survival horror buff and are willing to experience a bloodless kind of “horror-lite” romp, then by all means put your climbing gear on. However, if you are looking for the kind of unbearable tension offered by titles like “Dead Space,” “Fatal Frame,” or “Siren,” then a quick reality check is in order. This is a Wii game, folks. I’m not sure that necessarily means anything, but I keep thinking this must be why everything regarding the horror in “Cursed Mountain”—the horrific visuals, the scary music, the skittering cutscenes, the twisty narrative—feels a little watered down, a little soft. True that this is an M-for-Mature title, but something about it feels right up the T-for-Teen alley. This mountain will not scare the pants off of you, not close. We’ve got an extremely slow pace here; this mountain takes its time. Hence, you will not have an accident in your undies. If I wanted to make a more nuanced statement, I’d say “Cursed Mountain” is more of a “horror drama” than it is a “survival horror” game, if that makes any sense. What I mean is that instead of grotesque, spine-tingling circumstances, you are surrounded by mundane intrigue, such as civilian mountaineers defrauding naive Tibetan monks, scorned lovers, and estranged brothers. Oh, and with irritable ghosts.

Nevertheless , the extremely unique locale, and the way the game immerses you in the mantras and superstitions of the Buddhist faith, makes the package work more often than not—as a horror-drama, that is.

And speaking of the drama, the narrative, as well as the voice acting, is top-notch. The game takes place in the good old 80’s (before cell phones and consumer-friendly GPS trackers, folks; if the characters in this game would have had that tech, there would have been no game to play, basically). You play as Eric Simmons, a thoughtful, careful mountain climber/expeditionist who is trying to find his brother, Frank Simmons, who is pretty much the exact opposite of you—he is a high-stakes climber, reckless, thoughtless, indifferent, and looking for fame and fortune. The game begins, and you have received word that your brother has been lost after beginning to climb a section of the Himalayas called Chomolonzo, which the natives in the Buddhist villages surrounding the mountain call “the Sacred One.” Your egotistic bro was hired by Edward Bennett, a famous and wealthy expedition planner, to retrieve a sacred artifact placed on top of the mountain ages ago by early Buddhist followers. (Bennett tried to retrieve the artifact himself, but broke his leg in the attempt.) The artifact, which holds untold knowledge to be revealed “when the world requires such knowledge,” is called a Terma. Locals say that in order to climb the mountain, though, seekers are supposed to complete a variety of cleansing rituals, such as walking the entire circumference of the mountain, on the ground, at least a dozen times, as well as performing some tantric rituals. Apparently, your bro Frank didn’t do these things as prescribed, and the goddess of the mountain became angry, and she bestowed a powerful curse upon Chomolonzo, trapping Frank and everyone else.  When you arrive at the base of the mountain to begin your search for your brother, many of the villages are empty as if abandoned in haste (or is everyone dead or transformed?), and there are a variety of nasty, black and white ghosties who float about the place and are generally unfriendly—apparently part of the pox the goddess has unleashed. The entirety of the game takes place on the mountain and its various encampments/villages/monasteries, as you climb to find your brother. So, it’s all up, up, and away! It’s a tidy, culturally interesting, self-contained horror story that simply works. In a sense, it is much more erudite and unique than anything “Silent Hill” or “Resident Evil” ever offered up, narratively speaking. Of course it makes sense that this game would be much more narratively rich, since it arrived long after the survival horror genre had grown up.

Not having played a Wii game before (and I’m guilty of not considering it a “hardcore gamer’s platform,” though I know some Wii owners disagree), I was not sure what I’d find. Suffice to say, there are some seemingly Wii-centric aspects to the game, even in this PC iteration. For example, there is no difficulty selector for the game—everyone plays it the same, I guess. Also, other than a brightness slider and a resolution changer, there are no video options available in this PC version (such as selecting level of detail, level of textures, turning on HDR lighting, for example). Considering that the Wii and its games are technically still considered “last gen,” the absence of these video options is not surprising. (We’ll get to the “look” of the game in a moment.) Next, many of the motion-controlled actions that were originally performed with the Wii-mote have been ported to the mouse. For example, one main aspect of combat in the game involves a kind of spellcasting that requires you to trace symbols on screen (in the air, in first-person perspective, in front of your foes) with a cursor (say, three points of a triangle, or four points of a “Z”). Since you’ve got no motion controller hooked up to your PC (which, by the way is possible apparently, by using a USB Bluetooth dongle), the actions required by the game are easily accomplished with your mouse. One point though: This kind of action does make playing the game with a gamepad a bit tricky, since moving the cursor with a thumbstick doesn’t really allow you to trace these symbols with enough speed or precision to work properly. Suffice to say, while this PC iteration is configured to be played primarily with keyboard and mouse, I DID play the game with a gamepad hooked up to my PC using the Xbox 360’s Wireless Receiver for Windows (which is always my preference, plopped down in front of my big screen TV that I use as my PC monitor). But when it came to drawing these symbols on screen, I had to quickly grab my wireless mouse and use it instead. My partner also helped by grabbing the mouse and doing it for me too. Actually, after the first few chapters, we just started playing the game together in a strange kind of cooperative fashion—I’d use the gamepad to move the dude around and shoot, and my partner used the mouse to draw the finishing move symbols (which the game calls a “Compassion Ritual”). You know, it was fun.

While it was fun, for a horror game, it just wasn’t all that scary. At first, I was certain it was because (as a jaded horror buff since birth) I’ve become long desensitized. But having just finished “Dead Space 2” about a month ago, and since I was loudly cursing the screen and jumping out of my seat every 30 seconds as Necromorphs dropped from the damn ceiling vents, that theory doesn’t hold water. Thankfully, I CAN still be scared. So, I have tried to work out in my mind why I was not particularly scared by “Cursed Mountain,” and I’ve come up with this: During the length of the game, you are in one of two different kinds of settings. Either you are trudging up (or climbing vertically up) the incline of an open mountain landscape, or you are walking along the rooms and corridors of the village houses, monasteries, and base camps that pepper the mountainside as you ascend. The wide open outside environs tend to dissipate any sense of horror or being trapped, even though the ghosties out to get you spawn right from the snow under your feet. Likewise, the warm, vibrantly colored inside spaces (an artistic decision no doubt designed to provide smart relief against the gray/brown/snowy white sameness of the mountainside) tend to not create fear either (and the inside spaces, due to this technically being a last-gen game, leave a little to be desired, graphically speaking—there’s not much detail inside these structures, which are mainly empty boxes). So, if none of the environs in the game seriously inspire fear (regardless of the fact that every place has been abandoned), where is the fear supposed to come from? I suppose the ghosts you fight should do the trick, and there are a small handful of jump scares, but once the baddies appear, they pull the same trick repeatedly, and the familiarity of their tactics immediately disperses any kind of fear as well. To ratchet up a sense of fear as the game progresses, I think, the developers have more difficult foes spawn closer and closer to you in increasingly tighter spaces that you can’t escape. But that, for me didn’t create fear either; it just became irritating.

Perhaps the only thing that does generate some fear is the forced saved system—no saving anytime you want here, which is a holdover from the console origins of the game, of course. While this does create some tension (which, I presume, is its function), the saves are usually fairly liberal, not leaving you to trudge through large parts of the terrain repeatedly after being mauled to death—though some of the save placements leave a little to be desired. At one point in the game, I completed a tough battle in an enclosed space, then, sighing in relief, I exited a door, and the game saved. I then encountered an even tougher battle, but I was unable to go back through the door to heal myself at a shrine (you heal yourself by burning collected incense at a shrine) because the save had taken place. This little unintentional mistake on my part—and the resulting series of a dozen or more deaths since I had practically no health to fend off 7 or 8 ghosts simultaneously in an enclosed barracks—actually made me turn the game off in frustration for 3 days. Then, I downloaded a trainer, gave myself unlimited health, finished the battle, and returned to playing normally. Arrrrgh. But again, is that fear or just frustration?

One confusing aspect of the game is the weapon. Ultimately, you only have one weapon, which is a large mountain climber’s icepick you can slash with. (It belongs to your brother, and you find it in a hut early in the game.) But you collect different, magical implements that fit onto the end of the icepick, allowing you to shoot out a single blast of energy, or a dispersed blast of energy, etc. One of the icepick attachments allows you to more easily latch onto a ghost and keep it in place (in Ghostbusters fashion) in order to perform the aforementioned “Compassion Ritual” (spellcasting/symbol drawing).  On the weapons information screen, each of these attachments look strikingly different, and they each have different names, and you can cycle through them during the game at will. But it is never clear which weapon-end is actually the strongest, or which magical implement is designed to battle which ghosts. During battle, the attachments sort of look as though they are all doing the same thing. But I don’t think they are all equal, and you do collect them as you progress through the game, as your battles become more difficult. However, that does not necessarily mean the later weapon choices are always the best in a given scenario. Having one weapon with differing attachments is a nice idea, but more information should have been provided to the player about the level of damage inflicted by each one, or if it has a specific use against “Ghost Type A,” or whatever. I would die several times in a battle, only to, at random, try a different magical attachment on the end of my icepick and realize that I should have been using that one all along. Poorly planned weapons management.

The developers make a valiant effort to slowly ramp up the scale of the game toward the end—the vistas get bigger, the music becomes more ominous, the screen starts to completely white out (at 28,000 feet, a lot of blowing snow and fog is to be expected, I guess), and you have to use oxygen if you are interested in continuing to breathe. I won’t spoil the story of whether or not Eric Simmons finds his younger, arrogant brother atop the inhospitable mountain, but suffice to say it is nice to play a game that comes to a proper end, without trying to hang you off a cliff (pun intended, in this case).

“Cursed Mountain” is a fine game that will scare little girls, and those with hypertension and nervous dispositions already anyway. For the rest of us, this horror-drama title, though far from great, is an interesting, and probably mostly accurate (albeit popularized) portrayal of the mythos and practices surrounding the Buddhist faith. For example at one point you come across a decaying body of a local inhabitant, and your character explains, “The bodies are just left here in the open so that even in death you may be useful. It is the Buddhist way.” It’s precisely that kind of insight that makes this an interesting, if not creepy, game worth playing.

The Precursors (PC, 2010, Ukraine): Overachievers Anonymous
September 23, 2011, 2:00 pm
Filed under: The Precursors (PC, 2010, Ukraine)

I don’t even know where to begin discussing Deep Shadows’ “The Precursors.” (Deep Shadows is well known—and loved—for their “White Gold” games, which I’ve never played.) There are not too many critical reviews of “The Precursors” on the web (though there are a few that will probably be more coherent than this). I presume this lack of coverage is because, even though the game was eventually released in the west as a downloadable title, most professional reviewers couldn’t be bothered playing it. Or more likely, they didn’t get more than a few hours into this behemoth before washing their hands of it. (The game was originally being developed for consoles, like the 360, only to be abandoned by the devs prior to the PC release.) It is a massive game that spans several genres—first-person shooter, space simulator, role-playing, adventure—and I, too, washed my hands of it several times…only to be drawn in again after a month off here and there. Yes, my time with “The Precursors” has been buggy—almost as buggy as the game itself.

The reviews that are around on the net seem to have a recurring theme, though, and that theme goes thusly: It is an ambitious game that tries to do too much and, for the faint of heart, it ends up collapsing under its own weight. For those who persevere, however, there is a mindboggling variety of depth and length to enjoy. I have to chime in on the sentiment. The game is crazily complex, overambitious doesn’t begin to describe it, and I have to say I’ve never come across a title that attempts to cover so many genres all at once. There is some serious, serious grandiosity here. For example:

AS A SPACE SIM, the game provides you with a spaceship (that you inherited from your deceased father). The ship is its own interactive interior environment (about ten separate areas), complete with a scantily clad, smart-talking AI-helper lady (other than her, you are a crew of one). As its own in-game environment, the ship at one point gets invaded by enemies! Anyway, you fly said ship through space in first-person perspective. In space, you are either dodging asteroids or the missiles of pirate ships and factions who are pitted against you. Hyperjump helps you to cover large distances more quickly.

AS A ROLE-PLAYING GAME, the campaign story stretches out over 6 or 7 planets (I forgot how many), and twice as many space stations, all of which you land on and conduct your missions. There are main mission objectives and side-missions. You can upgrade yourself, your ship, and your weapons in a variety of ways. Side missions are called “resource missions” (to make cash). Traveling to these planets, you pass through handfuls of galaxies.

AS A FIRST-PERSON SHOOTER, when you reach a planet , you land (or liftoff) in an animation which shows that actual planet below you. Each planet is striking and unique in its own way. Upon arrival, you teleport out of your ship, and you land feet first on the surface of your destination. In first-person perspective, you run across the alien environments, shooting enemies and monsters, talking to friendlies, buying crap you need and selling crap you don’t want to vendors, and generally sightseeing across the universe. Then when you get tired of walking the vast landscapes, you can find yourself a buggy, or a four-legged whatever, and drive/ride your way (in third-person perspective) across your planet of choice. Cars have guns too. Wee!

AS A STRATEGY GAME, there’s a solid amount of resource management required. Your inventory space and carrying load is limited, so you can’t simply pick everything up that your heart desires. (And when you kill folks, they drops lots of shit, trust me.) Buggies require fueling, and enemies can shoot your tires out, which need replacing. (If you are riding some four-legged whatever, it can be killed by enemy fire.) You don’t have to eat or sleep in the game, but eating does replace lost health. And there’s always the grinding needed to get more cash for everything you need. Additionally, various factions of groups (5 or 6?) exist on all planets, and by your actions and choices, you end up aligning yourself with one group over another group, members of which will eventually become hostile to you (on land or in space!).

AS A PUZZLE GAME, you have to solve a variety of…okay, I’m joking here. The one element the game seems to avoid is puzzle-solving. Although hacking opportunities abound throughout the universe, this is not a puzzle-based affair and just requires the proper level-up and a hackstick.

So, get the picture? Good, because I don’t. What I mean is that playing “The Precursors” is like having a mouthful of something you are not entirely certain you are capable of swallowing. It might go down okay, you might end up spitting it out, or you might end up choking to death. I think I experienced all three while haltingly making my way through the campaign.

The problem with this title does not lie with its creativity. Far from it. “The Precursors” is almost too creative for its own good. As you story your way through the universe, you will see oddities—intelligent bird people called the Clatz (a very demanding species who are kind of disgusted by humans), groups of denizens out in the desert staring at a large floating Rubik’s Cube (what the hell are they doing?), guns that shoot spiders (how cool is that?), robots who think they are better than you and will not give you the time of day (just like my microwave blinking 12 o’clock), big-headed floating frog people who can sell you ammo for your tons of guns. It seems at every turn, the developers are reminding you that this is not familiar territory—and the really fascinating notion is that due to the gargantuan size of the game, it is entirely possible for you to play it and never encounter some of these scenes or have these interactions. In that sense, it’s a beautiful thing. And the look of the game, considering its eastern European origins (as always) is really quite striking. Within the variety of locales presented, there is also a consistency in quality and feel. A real accomplishment. Oh, and the color palette includes everything from all-dry-and-dusty-brown to so-much-neon-I-am-having-a-seizure.

But I think there is such a thing as TOO MUCH VARIETY (there I said it) in gameplay. Trying to span so many genres, this game, at key points, seriously starts to feel like WORK instead of PLAY. For example, when all you might want to do is some first-person shooting, the game’s campaign requires you to fly through space (which, for me, was beyond tedious, and very dislocating). Or you might just be in the mood to walk across the planet and take some snapshots, but in order to cover the massive, planet-sized maps, the game requires you to drive a clunky vehicle with flat tires that runs out of gas. Then there are always the problems of getting lost within such a vast array of terrestrial and extraterrestrial spaces. I think the first four days I played this, I was wandering around just trying to figure out where to go. I suspect many folks who picked this up may have done only that, and then popped it on the shelf shrugging their shoulders.

If true, this ultimately would be a shame because the game does actually have a main running narrative, with pretty simplistic missions. The story concerns a young pilot of the humanoid Amarn race, Treece Creighton (I think I spelled that right), who is also alternately referred to in-game as Tris. As a newly minted academy grad, you are sent to the planet Goldin to serve your people as a soldier and peacekeeper (or such). Goldin is the first full planet you experience in the game, and it is a large place, mostly desert like, with a bustling city center (a mixture of high-tech and farmer’s market) and many smaller outposts strewn throughout the sand dunes. When I first saw it, I said, “Wow. I think this is going to be…something special.” (Then quickly, that impression fades, but more on that in a moment.) After you fiddle with the game for four days trying to figure everything out, you eventually meet up with Captain Ridiger, who was a friend of your late father. After some missions in town and in the desert earning money, you are given an old spaceship left to you in mothballs by your dead pop. After a bit more grinding for loot with side missions, you earn enough to get the ship back into running order.  And off you go into the wild blue yonder. Eventually, you are charged with a serious mission—to find out why and how a planet called Casilla has literally exploded. This requires you to fly to the forest planet of Gli, where the aforementioned alien birds called the Clatz are fighting among themselves, and then to the rocky moon Reandore, where the Empire and the Free Traders are in the midst of a small war. All of these various planets (and the natural and man-made structures on those planets) are about as fully realized as you’d want them to be, honestly—it is all quite impressive. Completing this and that fetch quest, you gather information about the destruction of Casilla and the scientists responsible. Underlying this narrative are these massive, pyramidal, ancient artifacts left on many different planets throughout the universe that no one knows the purpose or true origins of—most people have just grown up knowing all about the artifacts and don’t really care a whole lot about them any longer (Ah! The Precursors!). But it may be coming to light that if these artifacts can somehow be activated, this may have been the force that destroyed Casilla. The ultimate goal is to locate the responsible scientists, confront them, and find out what the hell they’ve been doing with these artifacts and why planets are exploding. Got it? Good. Now can you explain it to me, please?

In a game this fantastically large, there is of course an equally large list of problems and shortcomings. It’s an odd feeling to first face the vastness of the game, and its generally acceptable look—at first, it feels quite inspired, maybe even a little awesome. The treetops of the bird-planet of Gli have wooden walkways strung among them that you traverse (at your own peril if you fall); the alien-looking planet Reandore has several massive moons always hovering on the horizon (looking like they’re about to fall on your head), and hulks of various long-crashed spaceships litter the landscape. The planet Goldin is, well, golden in color with all its sand dunes, and the city center/spaceport on Goldin consists of large concrete buildings with neon signs and a bright blue sky overhead. There are night and day and weather cycles on all the planets, of course. Lots of careful touches like these help to make these worlds feel almost fully realized.

But that first impression dissipates rapidly. One of the biggest issues is the repetition of character models. On one planet you talk to one guy, and then 3 galaxies and 12 planets later, you talk to another guy—who looks exactly the same. This happens a lot; you just have to ignore it. (I guess they say everyone has a twin—but in this case, with dozens of folks all being identical, there’s some serious cloning going on!) However, with the incredible array of landscapes you visit from planet to planet, the repeating character models really do stick out like a sore thumb. Next, while the story above sounds like it is narrating the travails and triumphs of a young lad and his relationship to his universe, there are actually no characters here to care about whatsoever. None of these people matter; the game gives you no reason, or means, to connect to anyone. Of course, how could a game that is attempting to cover this much ground also create believable characters who the player becomes emotionally attached to? The chances of that happening are next to zero…and, alas, all of the characters here are empty shells. Ick.

And speaking of things left undone, the entire game feels unfinished (and I’m not talking about a few par-for-the-course rough edges—I mean major elements left unfinished). Some serious cases in point: You speak back and forth with your girlfriend (a character who is introduced early on and who even flies with you in your ship at one point), and several hours into gameplay, you leave her sitting on a bench in a government office to complete a side-mission out in the sand dunes of Goldin. When you return, she has ostensibly gone off to do her business, whatever that is. And I think she even contacts you via radio and says something akin to “Let’s meet up later.” And do you ever see her again in the game, ever? Nope. She just vanishes, never to be heard of again before the game ends. Wha? The game is full of missions and story threads that were clearly never finished before the title was rushed out the door. The ending itself is completely awol—I mean the game has no ending; it just sort of stops with Treece bickering with a young scientist (one of those responsible for blowing up the planet Casilla) that you just helped to escape from a prison laboratory. After a quick scuffle aboard your ship, the young scientist says you shouldn’t harm him because “I am your only key to figuring out the ancients.” And then the credits roll. I sat there with my controller in my hand, mouth opened, thinking “This cannot possibly be over. I mean, we sort of just got started. And anyway, what happened to my girlfriend? And anyway, who is that dude talking to me?” Bad, really really bad. I presume this was supposed to act as some kind of half-assed cliffhanger, but come on! It almost seems as though the developers assumed no one was ever going to actually play it to the end, so why bother constructing a finale. Wow.

There were some fun moments to be had with this insane mess. Some of the gun battles (against everything from Halo-lite-inspired soldiers to giant spiders spitting green goo to walking robotic turrets) were acceptably nervewracking, but the shooting mechanic was sketchy, sloppy, wobbly at best. In fact, like so many eastern Euro-gems, I always had this strange feeling that at any moment “The Precursors,” already unsteady on its legs, was just going to wink out on me. Although generally there are too many button assignments for the game to comfortably be played on a controller, I did manage to play it with my 360 controller (just ignoring some actions that were not really necessary, like leaning) and my Wireless Receiver for Windows, which is my preferred method of playing PC games if I can manage it (slouched on the sofa, folks, my modus operandi).

To add insult to injury, the game required some serious tweaking just to be playable. If you are an English-only player and have a burning desire to experience this Ukrainian strangeness for yourself, there are plenty of resources available on the net to help you out. One tip: If you purchase the game from a direct-download sight like Gamersgate, the version will have all the Russian voices stripped out of it (all NPCs you speak to in dialogue throughout the game when trading or selling or doing missions are silent) while the main cutscenes (there are only 4 or 5) will be voiced in English. The shame of this is that throughout the game you then have NPC’s mouths moving (not very well animated, mind you) but with nothing coming out—and only English text on screen. Duh. So what some people do is they use both the English-voiced cutscene files from Gamersgate, but reinsert the original Russian voice files for everything else, which at least gives all NPCs back their voices. Next, apparently the English on-screen text localization done for the downloadable version of the game at for-pay sites (again, like Gamersgate) is not as good as the unofficial fan-made localization created by Wesp, so look out for that (widely available on the net) if you plan to play. Also, I found a way to increase the on-screen text in the dialogue trees—the text was way too small when playing it on my big screen TV and sitting across the living room (no high resolution text support here, though the game itself goes up to very high resolutions and looks fairly good). If anyone needs the “increase text size” mod, I’ll see if I can locate it and make it available. As usual, I felt I spent more time fiddling with the game to get it to run properly than actually playing it.

When I come across a game like this—ostensibly a “Fallout 3” first-person-shooter-role-playing-thingey but in space and made by some dudes in Kiev—I have no choice but to jump in with both feet. In this case, I now understand that reality could never, ever match my excitement about the game. Clearly hogtied by budgetary issues, technical limitations, and a serious case of over-reaching ambition, “The Precursors” is really not much more than an idea that didn’t quite make it to the half-realization mark. Ah well.