With references to Donkey Kong (see above) and Super Mario Bros, we know that Braid was inspired by the legends of platformer games and also utilises the timeless mechanics of jumping on platforms and monsters. Like those games, you also have to “rescue” a princess from a castle. Combined with an intriguing new mechanic, the ability to control time, Braid became an legend of its own in the overly saturated platformer genre and was also recognised as a wonderfully made puzzle game. When it was released in 2008, many industry people said it brought the indie game industry to new heights by sparking people’s interest in indie games.

But that’s not all about it. The true reason why this tiny indie game is immensely famous is because of its seemingly simple story with a huge twist at the end of the game which conflicts with all your preconceived notions of what the aim of the game is. Its developer, Jonathan Blow, who studied both English and Computer Science, combines art, literature and game design in unprecedented ways. Eventually, you can’t shake off the feeling that you are being played by the game instead.

Original Game Demo (Trailer)

Speed run: Will have spoilers!!

Lens of Elemental Tetrad
The platformer mechanics like walking, jumping on platforms, triggering a switch to move a platform, avoiding dangerous projectiles are timeless. The ability to jump on monsters to kill them is also a classic mechanic from Mario Bros that many people are likely to be familiar with. Braid then adds a mechanic which is the ability to reverse time and fast forward time. Not all objects are affected by time, thus the player has to make use of this time mechanic to collect the jigsaw puzzle pieces. In world 3, walking left will reverse time, walking right will fast forward time. In world 4, every time you reverse time, it will create a doppelgänger shadow that does what you did in the past. With mechanics that are kept simple, Braid manages to come up with many genius yet varied puzzles for players to solve.

Another impressive part of the mechanics is that they have “dynamical meaning”, a term coined by developer of Braid. This means that the mechanics will communicate emotionally to you, like how tutorials are incorporated seamlessly into the first few levels of every world. You are not told explicitly what to do. Additionally, the mechanics of the last level helps to tell the story, which we will talk about later.

Braid uses a timeless 2D art style that does not distract you from the puzzles and yet is still pleasing to the eyes. The rugged 2D graphics gives it a more indie feel, plus the tinge of nostalgia that the art brings also helps to set the atmosphere for the story, a story of nostalgia and regret.

There is no breakthrough technology used with a 2D side-scrolling platformer but this is great because it does not complicate the mechanics. Braid was first released on Xbox and then ported over to PC. The time forwarding and reversing is natural on a Xbox controller because it uses the L1 and R1 buttons.

It implements some basic “game” physics for its puzzles. Jumping off a slope will give you a slight increase in speed and jumping on monsters 2-3 times will increase your jump height and this technology is part of the puzzles.

On the surface, the story seems to be just about a guy regretting his mistakes and thus the princess left him and he needs to save the princess from a castle. He is also trying to relive his memories with the princess along the way. However, the vague narrative text seems to hint something more than that. The text uses many metaphors and often provides more insight into humanity. It even makes reference to the Manhattan project that created the atomic bomb. The player has to analyse the texts to make sense of the story, opening the story to different interpretations.

The story was meant to be distinctly separate from the game puzzles as the developer felt that he did not want to force any player to read the long narrative text. He felt it might also distract them from the actual puzzle solving. However, I personally prefer a story that is strongly tied to the puzzles, rather than solving all the puzzles in the world, only to be met with a dinosaur at the end that says that the princess is not in this particular castle.

The story in this game is mainly delivered through narrative text but is wonderfully complemented with the mechanics, nostalgic aesthetics and the relative simple technology used. The time mechanics emphasises on the fact that the past affects the future while the main character is trying to reverse his past mistakes.The mechanics of the last level in particular brings a huge twist to the story which makes this story shocking and also memorable…

Lens of surprise
There is no surprise that Braid is full of surprises as a puzzle game. Firstly, surprise is first delivered through discovering the solution to puzzles.The solution could be surprisingly simple. Secondly, there are tons of hidden things to discover in the game. There are hidden jigsaw puzzles pieces to be collected and pieced together to form pictures and they unlock the last level. There are hidden levels where you can collect stars instead. These will form a constellation once they are all collected and unlock the epilogue and the true ending. The epilogue, in my opinion, is the biggest surprise, giving unexpected insights into our main character and explains the metaphors in the story.

Lens of Challenge
Braid has mechanics which is easy to learn but difficult to master, this helps it to come up with both very easy puzzles (which are often tutorials at the start of each world to introduce a new slant to the time mechanic) and also very difficult puzzles near the end of each world. These difficult puzzles can be skipped as those jigsaw puzzle pieces need not be collected unless player is aiming for 100% completion. This allows beginners to progress through the game and improve their skills along the way first. They are allowed to come back to solve these difficult puzzles later. Thus Braid successfully caters to players of varying abilities. Alternating between easy and difficult puzzles is related to the lens of flow which we will mention later.

Lens of Parallelism
The same mechanics (different slant or variation to the main time mechanic) is used across levels in the same world. Easy levels are placed at the start of the world and the difficulty gradually increase towards the end of the world. This allows players to get used to a specific kind of mechanic and hone their skills. The final level will then test all these mechanics introduced previously, as if it is a “graduation exam”. This is also related to the lens of flow…

Lens of flow
The game manages to fluctuate between relaxation and tension by ultilising parallelism (see lens of parallelism) and levels of varying difficulties (see lens of challenge). Thus this creates a flow for players to increasingly feel enjoyment.

Thus, this is a game that is impossible not to learn from as a game designer even 10 years later in 2018. Though painfully crafted puzzle games might not appeal to a wide audience, Braid combines an amazing narrative with a unique time mechanic twist to our classic platformer genre.


Official website:

Game Description

Okami is an action adventure game developed by Clover Studio and published by Capcom. It was initially released on April 20, 2006 for the Playstation 2, but has since received multiple ports featuring updated controls and graphics for the Wii, Playstation 3, PC, Playstation 4 and Xbox One. It was highly acclaimed, receiving over 30 different awards including Game of The Year, Best Overall Story, Most Innovative Design and Best PS2 Adventure Game.

The game is set in the context of classical Japanese history and uses elements found in Japanese folklore to tell the story of how the land was saved from darkness by the Shinto sun goddess Amaterasu, who takes the form of a white wolf. This doubles as a pun on the title of the game, as both 大神, or great god, and 狼, or wolf, are read as Okami.

The Lens of the Elemental Tetrad


Okami’s world is set in a beautiful, cel-shaded environment with a water colour style that was designed to resemble traditional Japanese ink wash paintings. As Amaterasu runs, flowers spring forth in her wake, brushstrokes that symbolise the wind flow past occasionally, and the very aesthetic of the painting ties in to Okami’s most unique mechanic.


Okami contains a mix of action, platforming and puzzle gameplay. Like many others of the genre, Amaterasu can run, jump and fight in real time. She has health points that when depleted, results in a game over, an inventory to store items and currency, and stats that she can level up.

In addition, Okami’s most unique mechanic and Amaterasu’s signature ability is to be able to use her tail, the Celestial Brush, to draw patterns on the canvas that is the screen. This lets her use 13 different techniques to solve puzzles, manipulate the environment and defeat enemies. The patterns players need to draw are easy to execute, consisting primarily of swirls, lines and circles. Amaterasu only starts with one of these techniques, and players are allowed to slowly get used to her different abilities as she learns them throughout the game. By using the proper technique, players are able to cause the Sun to rise, restore broken objects, slow down time or call upon the elements to smite their enemy, amongst others. Given the power and versatility of the ability, Amaterasu is limited by a slowly regenerating resource of ink to discourage players from carelessly using the brush, as running out of ink cripples Amaterasu all around.


100 years prior to the game’s present day, a great white wolf, Shiranui, and a swordsman, Nagi, sealed away the eight headed serpent demon Orochi. In the present day, Susano, Nagi’s descendant, unwittingly sets Orochi free. Orochi curses the lands, and drains the life from Nippon. Amaterasu, the goddess of the Sun and the reincarnation of Shiranui, is called forth to remove the curse and to restore the land to its normal state. Amaterasu, along  with her companion Issun, set out to regain the powers of her Celestial Brush and gather Praise from the people of the land, eventually going back in time to stop Orochi at his peak and defeating the symbol of Darkness, Yami. Throughout the story, Okami takes elements from Japanese mythology, such as having Kaguya, from the Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, and the Celestial Brush Gods representing the 12 animals of the Asian Zodiac.


The cel-shaded artstyle and simple aesthetics is relatively less graphically intensive as compared to many other games of its time, and helps it age very well even into the present day. One of the challenges I found that Okami faces is its controls and how to make drawing using the Celestial Brush effective for the player. When I played on its original release on the PS2, I found having to use the analog sticks a little awkward at times. Even though the patterns have been made simple to make it easier for the player, I found the ports on the Wii, which uses motion controls on the Wii remote to serve as the brush, and on the PC, which uses the mouse, to be much more natural and more comfortable for drawing.

The lens of character transformation:

At the start of the game, Amaterasu is little more than an intelligent wolf. With nothing but her basic attacks and her only Celestial Brush technique being Sunrise, many of the villagers throughout the land are sceptical of her status as a goddess. However, throughout the game, as Amaterasu helps out the people of the land and regains her powers, not only is she a more adept combatant, she is also seen by the people in a new light, and becomes a goddess that people can truly put their faith in. At the end of the game, as Yami strikes down Amaterasu, isolates her from her companions and siphons all her power, it is the prayers and the belief of all the people that Amaterasu has changed the life of along the way that allowed her to rise once again and vanquish Yami for good.

The lens of freedom:

The player can, at any point outside of menus and cutscenes, bring up the canvas to use the celestial brush. Instead of having them relegated to specific zones, players are free to experiment with the various Celestial Brush techniques at any point and see how they interact with the environment and with the enemies. Certain techniques, such as Bloom or Galestorm, can have different effects on different targets.

The lens of problem solving:

Being partially a puzzle game, Okami has its fair share of problem solving to be done. This mostly takes the form of sidequests where Amaterasu helps the people of Nippon and helping Amaterasu traverse the environment. While not extremely challenging, especially with Issun giving Amaterasu and the player advice on how to solve them, I found the slower pace of puzzle segments to be a refreshing change from the combat segments.

The lens of help:

Both the main quests and sidequests in Okami involve performing miracles and helping the people throughout the land. While this does have inherent gameplay benefits, as Praise is needed to increase Amaterasu’s stats, I found being able to make a change to these character’s lives, and convince them that Amaterasu isn’t merely a friendly wolf but a benevolent goddess watching over them to be very satisfactory. The final moments of the game, where the prayers from the people of the land that you’ve helped throughout your journey saves Amaterasu from certain doom at the hand of Yami, is also one of my personal highlights of the game.


The Total War series started in June 2000 with SHOGUN: Total War and its newest installment will come out autumn this year with Total War: Three Kingdoms (I’m extremely hyped for this by the way). It was a revolutionary computer game as although there were already quite a few Real Time Strategy games in the market, nothing could compare to the scale of battles in the Total War series.

Total War games mostly follow the same pattern. The campaign allows you to choose between several factions, lords or races and then thrusts you straight onto a campaign map of a chaotic warring region, and your goal is usually to conquer a certain number of lands and provinces by wrestling them out of the hands of rebels or other factions in a turn-based game of strategy. You must thus use military power, diplomacy, cunning, subterfuge and many other ways to outplay your enemies and make use of your allies.

When it comes to battle, what differentiated this game from normal RTS games was that you command a unit of troops instead of single individuals and try to out maneuver your opponents. On the surface, it would look like a simple rock-paper-scissors way of fighting; Cavalry beats archers, archers beat spearmen, spearmen beat horses. But the wide variety of units and abilities present even in the first installment of the series makes battles infinitely interesting and brings about unlimited possibilities in dynamics.

Screenshot: Troops charging head on

Screenshot: Soldiers slugging it out

In this review, I will be talking about one of my favorite in the series, Medieval II: Total War which was released in 2006. In this game, the year is 1080 and it focuses on medieval warfare, religion and politics in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. Each Total War game is based on a historical time and a specific area. In Shogun, it was in Japan, with samurais and ninjas. In Medieval II, there were heavy plated knight cavalry, crusaders, kings, princes and princesses. The objectives in this installment were more interesting than the previous few, where each faction had different goals, usually in line with some historical events such as the Battle of Agincourt

Screenshot: Historical Battle mode, Battle of Agincourt

The Lens of Meaningful Choices #39

The first thing new comers will tell you when they first try this game is that they are at a loss of what to do first. The campaign in Medieval II starts you off with a few towns and few units and yet, the choices you must make seemed overwhelming and significant. Right from the start, the player must think: Should I train troops? What troops should I train? Should I move my princess towards forging relations with my neighbors? Or should I let my diplomat handle those? What should I build? Should I take over that rebel settlement to the north? Should I raise taxes? Should I let my priest stay in this town or move somewhere else to spread our religion?

Screenshot: The starting lands of the Holy Roman Empire

There are a lot more choices and they are all significant and meaningful in your strategy. Each action you take in the campaign determines how your kingdom fares. The player decides whether to forgo short term gains for possible long-term benefits. Each action also affects all other factions attitude towards you and may spell your doom if everyone in the region hates you.

That is what makes Total War games fun, and in Medieval II, the number of choices players must make are even more than the previous games, which made gameplay a lot more dynamic and diverse. One example is the Pope system, where you must choose whether to obey the pope demands or to risk the pope commanding a crusade against you.

Screenshot: The Pope and Cardinals window

While there are a few dominant strategies to allow you to win the game with slightly more ease, there is enough randomness in the game and it’s AI to keep players on their feet. Cavalry is strong in the game, you can have an army stocked with full plated cavalry, but you might just run into an enemy with so many heavy spearmen that your horses will only charge against what seems like brick walls. Furthermore, there is a hidden pride from the Total War community to complete your campaign with some form of limitations imposed on yourself. Such as using no cavalry, or to role play as an evil oppressor and lead by fear instead of respect of the people.

The Lens of Goals #32

However, no matter which way you choose to play it, the goal of the game is clear and simple: Complete dominance no matter what. The goal of the game was made clear right from the start, to win the campaign, you must defeat your enemies and conquer a certain number of lands. It is this clear and simple goal that brought about replay value, as there are many ways to attain your goal, and your campaign will never be the same twice.

Along the way, smaller goals known as missions appear to guide players towards the goals. The missions could be to conquer a certain castle or to form a certain alliance with a faction. These goals not only guides players, they reward players for completing them with more resources for their conquest.

Screenshot: Mission Success

Even so, players can still decide whether to do these missions and that will eventually depend on the player’s strategy. Players can choose to complete the mission and ally with another, or if they feel that they are strong enough, they can reject the mission, create their own goal of eliminating the faction and take over their resources. Even at the end of the game, players can choose to set their own goals to take over the rest of the lands to gain an achievement.

The Lens of Visible Progress #55

After hundreds of choices, tens of missions and a scary number of bloodied battlefields, one of the best rewards of the game is to see your faction grow and paint the map with your own color. The progress is not fast by any means, but to see your several hours of effort transform one tiny province into entire continents of land you own makes everything worth it.

Screenshot: The Holy Roman Empire expands

Not only the land, but hours of fighting and training later, you would end up with an army of the highest training, best equipment and invaluable experience to help fight your way to becoming the ultimate conqueror as your war machine pushes through your enemies like a hot knife through butter (Although at higher difficulties, your enemy would have built up a similar army).

Of course, like any kingdom, the more progress you make, the more problems arise. A large kingdom may be too spread out, so players will now have to deal with lack of authoritarian presence, unhappy citizens, civil unrest and a large border to defend. Progress in this game brings about new challenges and can keep a player hooked for hours trying to keep their kingdom afloat and expand at the same time.

Screenshot: Unhappy citizens riot

The Lens of Balance #53

The factions in this game are NOT balanced. I think that is the only reason why after completing the game so many times, players come back for more by choosing other factions. By playing as the English, you start of with a decent amount of land, your bowmen are incredibly deadly and can go head to head with the toughest roman squads you encounter. You are surrounded by rebel settlements which you can take easily and occupy.

Screenshot: Start of England campaign, you can expand to York, Bruges and Rennes easily

After winning as the English, you might find yourself with a different footing if you chose to try out another faction. As Scotland, the roles are reversed. You start of with one land at the very north of the game map. Directly south blocking your way from the rest of the land, is the great English empire.

Screenshot: Start of Scotland campaign, you only can get to Iverness as England will take York

Each faction has different traits, starting areas and enemies. The land around each faction is also different such that your strategies must adapt. It is this lack of balance between factions that makes things interesting. Each Total War game have designed their balance such that I feel like I’m playing a totally different game when trying out other factions.


10/10 on steam, overwhelmingly positive. This game may be arguably one of the best Total War games ever released. Although the graphics are a little dated, but the gameplay and mechanics are marvelous. Personally, I own the latest Total War: Warhammer II and am excitedly waiting for Three Kingdoms. But I have played Medieval II the most. Besides, when I’m stuck in school and my laptop can’t handle the newer games, I ride with my crusaders to once again dominate the world of Medieval II: Total War.



Metal Slug 3

Metal Slug 3

Metal Slug 3 is a run and gun video game developed by SNK. It was originally released in 2000 for Neo-Geo MVS arcade platform as the sequel to Metal Slug 2 and Metal Slug X. It is the last of the series of Metal Slug to be produced under the name of SNK. Many new features such as new weapons and vehicles, introducing branching paths are added to this game. Many fans think this is the highest quality in the series. Its difficulty in the series is also regarded the highest.

video link:

Lens #7: The Lens of the Elemental Tetrad

Metal Slug 3 is a 2D side-scrolling shooter game. Its main mechanics is very simple: just kill all the enemies by all means! (but sometimes enemies are friends to help you..) Other things about mechanics are as follow (rules and procedures)

  • play single or only 2 people play together
  • Goals: clear or escape everything that may kill you and then defeat the boss
  • Actions: roles can shoot, jump, ran, crouch, get into a vehicle, and get weapons
  • one role can only have one single life
  • there are many weapons to intensify fire
  • choose different path to enter the next scene
  • kill the Boss with your weapon and enter the next level


At first player’s aim is to diminish the rebellion army orchestrated by General Morden but at last player will find the Morden is fake and actually it is an alien. So player will fight against the alien with the rebellion army in the last level. Cause the structure of the whole story is not linear (player can choose different paths), so the player will have different experience at each path. Enemies can be everything from everywhere, soldiers on the ground, crabs in the water, zombies marching on the land, flowers jumping from cliff, aliens flying in the sky etc. Player can also drive various vehicles (animals) to fight and run.


Music: Under different circumstances, players may hear different background music. The music of the Metal Slug 3 was developed by Noise Factory and it is also a selling point. Sometimes the music will give players a mood tension, but after the battle the role may sit on the ground and sigh and the background music will be more pleasant. There were many other sound effects that helped tell the story too.

Influence: The players will be surrounded by all kinds of enemies and bullets so it is full of elements of thriller and have a great visual impact on every one. This game will make you immersed in the war and feel just like a lonely hero. Even if a little careless control, you may lose your life and a coin so it has also made a great fortune for the arcade games’ owner.

Story: the story of the game is not very complicated but very interesting, first you fight against rebellion army but at last you fight with them against aliens. What the branching path bring to the players is also very impressive, that means, players will find everything may be evil.

Appearance: the appearance of the Metal Slug 3 is very sophisticated and advanced at that time. Maybe dark metal color and orrange are the theme color of the game. This will give players a deep impression and a feeling of combat. Even in today, the screen of this game is also a classic style of war games.


  • Some tracking bullets
  • Intellegent marching enemies

Lens #15: The Lens of the Toy

As we all know, the Metal Slug series are very classic run and gun video games. Its goal is very obvious, even a very little child will use the gun to fire those ugly or evil guys coming from other sides. Besides, there are lots of weapons to pick up and use which will add more possibility. Users will certainly continue the game even if they have no advanced weapons because even a pistol will make a difference. From my own perspective, players will become very proud of using the pistol to eliminate those bad guys. As for those powerful weapons such as the laser gun and tracking guns, it will be pretty cool when you use it to shoot at the enemy. Imagine what is you can ride on the vehicles not only the tank and plane but also the elephant and ostrich to fight against your enemy?

Lens #16: The Lens of the Player

Almost every people in the game world wants to be a hero. They have the impetus to kill the evil guys and save the world. Metal Slug 3 is the game that satisfy people’s this kind of  fundamental need. It’s a coolest thing that you single guy with nobody to help you and to eliminate those metal monster by yourself. You may die lots of times, but next time, the player will still have the desire to shoot  at the enemies. Maybe more boys would like to play this kind of game than girls. It will definitely elevate every player’s blood pressure.

Lens #27: The Lens of Skill

The most important skill of Metal Slug 3 is to escape from the bullet rains. More practice will certainly make sense for players who should run or jump or crouch when there are bullets full of screen. Skills needed:

  • nimble reaction and movement
  • patience to try many times
  • hardheaded mind when facing enemies from every side

During the practice, the players can also have so much fun with pity at the same time. Though it is very hard for most of people, there is still many ways (buy as many coins as possible) for players to go. Besides, after many trials, people will find various method to kill the boss as soon as possible and in these attempts people will experience differently.

Lens #1: The Lens of Essential Experience

Right from the very beginning of Metal Slug 3, it could tell the players “this was going to be a wild ride”. The opening mission drops the player off on a sunny beach, which at first seems almost peaceful and comforting, until the rotting fish carcasses and crash-landed rockets littering the dunes come into view. Suddenly, a bunch of huge, mutated crabs swarm the beach and start attacking in hordes. These all denote that it will give players an amazing experience. Players will experience this shoot-and-run game under too much tension. You may be impressed by the dazzling bullets and various kinds of enemies. There’s just something about the Martians in the Metal Slug series that I find particularly compelling. It probably has a lot to do with their appearance. They’ve got huge, bulbous heads and a tangle of crazy, spaghetti-like appendages wiggling about all over the place. It’s actually a pretty typical alien design, but somehow it really works. The animations for the tentacles are just gorgeous, and totally mesmerizing. With the comparison to games nowadays, it may not be very beautiful in design, but in that case, all the levels of Metal Slug 3 can still bring us infinite imagination and fun no matter in its design or its cunning concept.

Lens #71: The Lens of Freedom

As for the freedom of the Metal Slug 3, I think players will not get too much cause the whole games are separated into different levels and the levels then are separated into different scenes. In one scene, player can control their roles to jump and run everywhere they want, but cannot let the role enter next scene until they eliminate all the enemies appearing in the screen. What’s more, sometimes the players are supposed to find the right place to dodge enemies’ attack. That is a little similar to the statement of our The Lens of Skill. It is a kind of skill player should learn but also a kind of constraint.

Torchlight II


Game Description

Torchlight II is an action role-playing game (ARPG) developed by Runic Games, released on September 20, 2012. Torchlight II takes place in a fantasy world where the player controls the hero in the story to banish the evil from the world. Torchlight II has been rated 9.1/10 on the Imagine Games Network (IGN) which praised the game saying, “Torchlight II doesn’t do anything radically new, but does everything incredibly well. It fits all the pieces of varied monster behavior, interesting items, excellent skill design and random surprises together into a near-perfect formula, where the action never stops and rewards are never far away.” The game has sold almost 3 million copies as of 2015.


Lens of Essential Experience (#1)

The essence of Torchlight II is about wholesale and gleeful slaughter. Such essential experience is captured and enhanced by a series of actions of the player:

  • Fight with huge packs of monsters until they die and spill gold and gear all over the ground.
  • Scan item stats to see if any can serve as an upgrade.
  • Earn experience to level up. Improve attributes and learn new skills or upgrade skills to make the character more powerful.
  • Move on to the next monster pack and repeat.

A player can do this for around 30 hours until the final boss is killed, and then start up New Game Plus (NG+) and repeat the whole process.

“torchlight II wholesale killing”的图片搜索结果

Furthermore, the story-line is simple and background introduction is very short. The player is dropped into fields of monsters within a few minutes of starting up. The story or game plot is not much emphasized on, but it is the experience of slaughter that is important. Torchlight II clearly gets straight to the point.

Additionally, the pet system allows the player to keep slaying monsters without going back to town. The pet can serve as an alternative inventory and can be sent off to sell unwanted gear while the play keep killing monsters in dungeons. Pet can also buy potions and scrolls. The player needs not worry about selling gear and buying necessities which may cause irritation and hinder the gleeful and smooth experience of slaughter.


Lens of Endogenous Value (#5)

Torchlight II is a typical loot-driven ARPG and items such as gear and gems are highly valuable to the players as they have direct impact on damage and survival of the character, which enhances players’ enjoyment in slaying monsters.

Items dropped from monsters are totally randomized. The player does not know what kinds of loot he will get from killing monsters. Sometimes it is a basic two-hand sword that the player will never use, sometimes it is a legendary mage staff with high damage and perfect stats, which when equipped inspires great confidence and a feeling of ever-growing power to the player. Players will place higher value on items that are useful and can complement to their play styles. Players are motivated to constantly kill monsters and defeat dungeon bosses to hunt for treasures.

“torchlight II”的图片搜索结果



Lens of Challenge (#31)

There are four levels of difficulty in Torchlight II. People with different levels of skills and familiarity of the game can choose the level of challenge that is most suitable for them. The character gets increasingly powerful by levelling up and gear upgrading, as well as the monsters. Player will neither feel too easy to kill the monsters, nor too hard. There is balance between boss challenge and entertainment value. People are not just grinding by spamming healing and mana portions but must dodge spells of the dungeon boss and take certain strategies to defeat it.

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Lens of Meaningful Choices (#32)

Upon level up, attribute and skill points are earnt. Players must decide on how to distribute the attribute points as there is attribute and level restriction on gear. Since attribute points cannot be reset, players must be careful when they make the decision. There are three specializations for each class in terms of spells and passive skills. Since skill points are limited (one for each level), each character has a unique set of skills, which gives its player a powerful sense of identity. Every decision made in the skill tree is important because only 3 skill points can be reset and it is expensive. There is no dominant strategy in Torchlight II. No choice is wrong and it is a matter of preference.

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Lens of Elemental Tetrad (#7)

Mechanics: the main mechanics of Torchlight II are simple and designed in a way to maximize players’ gleeful experience in slaying monsters. The main procedures of the game are as follows:

  • Receive a quest given by Non-Player Characters (NPCs).
  • Kill monsters on the map while searching for quest item and target.
  • Defeat dungeon bosses if needed.
  • Complete the quest, and repeat.

Story: as the focus of Torchlight II is on slaughter of monsters and boss challenge, the story-line is extremely short and simple. Players learn about brief background story via the beginning cinematic which takes about thirty seconds. The rest of story is incorporated into the quests. The story is neither creative nor attractive – simply a cliché of the hero defeating the evil. However, under such circumstances, the slaughter of players is morally justified, and players would not feel guilty but instead, enjoy the execution of righteous punishment.

Aesthetics: Torchlight II adopts 2.5D graphics in Steampunk style. Characters and monsters are not very detailed and real. This prevents players from being terrified of blood, skeletons and corpse. The cartoon style graphics, in fact, make people happier and more relaxed. The scene is slightly dark and sometimes rainy. The weather effect creates depressing atmosphere. The music of Torchlight II changes every scene, and creates different feeling. For example, the music of desert has much lower pitch and slower rhythm than that of rain-forest. The music changes drastically once the dungeon boss comes out. It becomes faster and more intense, which makes players more excited and concentrated. The user interface is clean and simple. Big health and energy “circles” are used instead of typical “bars” because during fighting, players can simply glance at them while focusing on killing monsters.

Technology: Torchlight II is only available on PC, more specifically, Windows. Only simple mouse clicking and keyboard buttons are involved. Players would not have any difficulty in controlling the character.

“Torchlight II”的图片搜索结果


Lastly, I would like to share some of my personal feeling when playing this game. Since Torchlight II is developed by the same team of designers of Diablo II and released in the same year of Diablo III by Blizzard, people often compare them. At the beginning, Torchlight II was much better in many aspects, including companion (pet) system, skill tree and boss fighting mechanics. However, when the expansion pack Diablo III: Reaper of Souls came out, Torchlight II was far behind in terms of its multi-player system and it was the major downfall. People will eventually get tired and bored when they keep doing the same thing. The happiness and excitement that they can obtain from the game will drop drastically as playing time increases. They need a constant motivation which can make them stick to the game longer. Diablo III came up with the seasonal ranking system where players have to start from zero in every season and gears are constantly updated. That is why we can see many players come back to Diablo III when every season starts. I enjoyed playing Torchlight II and I still do. I really hope Runic Games can continue to produce good games.


XCOM 2 is primarily a turn based strategy game with additional layers of base building and resource management built on top of it.

Note: This analysis is based on the base game with the Reinforcement DLC Pack, but does not include the War of the Chosen expansion.

Aliens have taken over the Earth after the failure of the original Earth defence project, known as XCOM. Despite promises of building a bright new future for humanity, there are those who suspect the aliens of harbouring darker intentions.

Players reprise their role as the Commander, leader and strategist of the original XCOM project, and attempt to the lead a rebellion born from the ashes of XCOM against the aliens.

Lens of the Elemental Tetrad #7

  • Mechanics

The base mechanics of the game are simple. Every mission, complete the objectives given to you to succeed. Complete missions to stall the aliens’ progress towards their ultimate goal (and your loss). Shoot enemies to kill them (hit chance is decided by a percentage dice roll).

  • Aesthetics

Aesthetically, XCOM 2 goes for an animated cinematic touch to bring alive the otherwise plain combat scenes within the game. Different actions can trigger real time rendered action sequences that give the player a more involved feel.

Accordingly, the music of XCOM 2 is very dramatic to reflect this same cinematic feeling and helps to increase the tension of the various scenarios the player is put into.

In terms of user interface, the game tries for something very clean and simple, but does end up cutting a bit too much information, and ends up hindering players.

  • Story

XCOM 2 takes place 20 years after the first XCOM, and puts players in the shoes of the rebellion, aimed at overthrowing the alien rulers of the world.

  • Technology

While the missions within XCOM 2 resemble table top exercises, they have made good use of the affordances of computing to more realistically simulate changes in the environment (such as blowing up cover) and to progressively generate new maps for players to work in.

Lens of Chance #29

When people talk about XCOM, there is one quintessential experience most players have all shared. Having a soldier shoot an enemy at point blank range, and missing.

Chance plays an enormous role in XCOM, with every shot fired, whether by your troops or your enemies decided by a dice roll. Taking a core mechanic of the game and leaving it entirely up to random number generation is a move that few other successful games have taken, and this bold design decision ultimately makes the game what it is. The pain of missing 95% shots, and the immense satisfaction of pulling off a low percentage shots are a well-recognised part of gameplay within the XCOM series.

This is where player skill comes in. Positioning is key in XCOM as cover and height advantages can increase the odds of one’s troops successfully landing shots. Players have to make use of the available terrain and various soldier skills to turn the odds of landing a shot to their favour whilst lowering the odds of enemies being able to return shots successfully.

Lens of Surprise #2

The best part of playing XCOM 2 for the first time is the fact that every enemy is a surprise. Players experienced with the franchise will find that familiar foes have been reworked, not only in looks, but abilities as well. And a whole host of new adversaries give even veteran players a lot to think about when first encountering them. More often than not, when encountering a new enemy for the first time, XCOM 2 still manages to take the player completely by surprise when it’s time for the aliens to make their move.

But after this initial surprise, XCOM 2 does become a slowly become grind as players figure out how to play out the various maps and missions versus these foes.

Another aspect of XCOM that is filled with surprises is the fog of war. Within this fog, enemies lie in wait hoping to catch the player out of position. While players eventually can use solider abilities to scout out some of these ambushes, it is not always possible to get a jump on your enemies. This leads us into the next lens, the lens of problem solving.

Lens of Problem Solving #6

Once caught up in an engagement with the enemy, XCOM 2 becomes a huge table top exercise, that seeks to push the player’s ability to strategise and problem solve to the limit. With limited actions per solider, players must be able to correctly prioritise targets and movement order to be able to take out enemies.

In addition, every mission during XCOM’s rebellion campaign is a new puzzle for the player to solve. While the type of missions given to player are fairly limited, the procedurally generated maps and increasingly diverse enemy pool still manages to give players a challenging problem to solve each time.

The introduction of hard turn limits also pose a new obstacle that players must work around, sometimes having to forfeit individual missions in order to keep their overall campaign alive.

Lens 2: Lens of Story #70

The storyline of XCOM 2 is what serves to hold the entire game together. Without it, the game would not be able to stand significantly apart from its predecessor. Should we go further as to remove the context of its predecessor, the game would further lose meaning and dissolve into a series of bland table top combat exercises.

Besides the overall narrative of the story, the slow improvements and rank increases of individual soldiers also serves as small individual stories within the game itself. While not in missions, XCOM 2 takes the effort to render individual soldiers performing routine tasks like training, or eating, even going as far as creating a memorial for fallen soldiers.