Chester (Second Chance with the Chick)
June 29, 2012 3 Comments
Despite being a bit on the underwhelming side, the 2011 Indie Game Summer Uprising had a few gems floating among the sewage. Cute Things Dying Violently provided some good laughs, while Take Arms provided me with being called a “camping ho-bag.” Which brought a smile to my face, if nothing else. And then there was Chester, a polarizing game that I loved, but others loathed for reasons that baffle me. Even my brother from a different mother Alan told me he thought Chester was lame. Dude. We had something between us, you and I. But our views on Chester have driven us apart. Now he’ll return to his life of Goolin and Fish & Chips, while I’ll return to my life of hanging out with Brian, watching Top Gear and Doctor Who. Wait, which one of us is British again?
Chester, which I reviewed way back in September, impressed the hell out of me with its quirky hand-drawn graphics coupled with running and shooting platforming. It had what so many games on the service doesn’t: personality. Well, that and it actually played well. But here’s the weird thing: the version I played back in September was more or less an unfinished beta build. The Chester that is currently on the marketplace is a much more complex game. And it’s even more fucking awesome than before.
In the old build of Chester, you could change the backgrounds of each stage to reflect different art styles. Now, the styles actually change the gameplay, affecting the strength or speed of the enemies, or your weapons, or the amount of rare items enemies drop. There are eight different backgrounds, and scrolling through them is a breeze: just use the bumpers. Likewise, the character of Chester takes ten different forms, all with unique abilities and attributes. Combine this with the elemental system that turns battles with enemies into a game of rock-paper-scissors and what once was a fairly simple (if stylish) game is now a pretty complex one.
Chester is so loaded with so many unlockables and extra content that it’s actually a bit overwhelming. Every stage has various trinkets to find, hidden rooms, and enemies that drop delicious brains (thus making the XBLIG minimum zombie quota in a roundabout kind of way). You have catalogs to fill up, shit to buy from stores, and multiple difficult levels to try. If you’re gaming on a limited budget, Chester could very well be the game you’ve been waiting for. Hell, I bitched about the game’s lack of boss the first time around and now there is one. It kinda sucks, but hey, it’s the thought that counts, and I appreciate the effort.
If I had to make a complaint about Chester, and I do, it’s that the controls are still a bit on the stiff side. Then again, each character handles a little differently, and stuff like gravity affects each one in different ways. Maybe I made a booboo by playing through most of the game with the default character. The game can also feel like too much of a collectathon at times. If you’re the type prone to OCD, Chester might be the worst thing to happen to you. There’s so much shit to collect and stuff to buy in stores that I don’t think I could ever spend the days it will take to get it all. Don’t worry, you’re not going to be missing out on levels or anything. But still, I kind of want a chance to see everything a game, especially an indie game, has to offer without having to invest enough time to drive cross-country and back. I want my games to feel like a diversion, not a second job.
Still, Chester is amazing. It offers so much value for so little money. That is, if you buy on Xbox. On IndieVania or Dasura, it will cost you a whopping $9.99, compared to a meager 80 Mega Super Pesos on Xbox. Quite a jump there, fellas, one that doesn’t make a whole ton of sense to me. It would be as silly as asking for $20 for a Blu-ray, but $50 for a 3D Blu-ray. Okay, bad example. Or maybe good example seeing how those things would have trouble selling if they came bundled with a holographic Angelina Jolie giving out force-feedback handjobs.
80 Microsoft Points have Chester’s nuts roasting on an open fire in the making of this review.