Efficient Gaming #6 (Grab Bag)

By | 08/01/2019
Insurgency Sandstorm

It’s finally time for another edition of Efficient Gaming.  The efficient gaming list highlights video games that should be rewarding for those that don’t have a lot of spare time to game.  We usually showcase games that are fairly modern and feature design elements that are compatible with short gaming sessions.  This time around, we’re taking a look at a mix of “AA”, spin-offs and “indie” titles we’ve picked up along the way.


Wiki Link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transistor_(video_game) 
Home Page: https://www.supergiantgames.com/games/transistor/ 
(The game summary block I previously placed here is being replaced with links.  All relevant information, such as available platform, can be obtained on the wiki or game home page.)
The bulk of Transistor’s combat occurs in the planning phase.

Yes, I am recommending a game that originally came out in 2014. Why? Despite all the glowing reviews this game received, I just didn’t get around to it. A few months ago I picked it up during a Steam sale and after playing for just a few hours I came to realize why it was nominated (and won) several awards – simply put, it’s a great game on multiple levels. First, the game is stylistically gorgeous and the visuals do the game a great favor in helping to set the tone (film noir comes to mind). Second, the combat system, which is a loose mix of ARPG elements and turn-based combat, is very fun & rewarding to experience. My favorite aspect of the game is the variety in which the player character’s skills (and sub-skills) can be utilized, allowing for a near endless mix of combat styles. The game is also perfect for short play sessions and isn’t burdened with artificial difficulty barriers. If you haven’t played Transistor yet, go check it out.

Insurgency: Sandstorm

Wiki Link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Insurgency:_Sandstorm
Home Page: http://insurgency-sandstorm.com/en  
Insurgency Gameplay
Aiming down sights is critical to landing shots.

Insurgency: Sandstorm is a modern military FPS. (Yep, another one.) That said, it’s filling a critical gap in the military shooter market, and it does it very well. What sets Insurgency apart from the field, and helps it carve out its own spot in the market, is its close attention to detail and “simulation” mechanics. The big selling point here is how intense, and nerve-racking the experience can feel, especially when bullets are flying. This isn’t Call of Duty and playing it as such will get your soldier injured (or killed) very quickly (most modes have some type of respawn). Two or three bullets is about all it takes to be knocked out of combat. Grenades are deadly. Molotov cocktails will wreck your day. On the other hand, the player can be just as deadly. Enemies are tough but they aren’t bullet sponges, often going down in a couple hits (co-op & PvP).

Most of Insurgency’s gameplay revolves around a team of soldiers (or opposing forces) tasked with a series of events they must complete, such as clearing a house or destroying a weapons cache. Once that task is done it’s on to the next objective until the mission is complete (or lost). There are a variety of mission types that mix up the formula, but for the most part the player is attacking (or defending) an objective of some kind. The intense gameplay is enhanced by an excellent customization system. No matter the soldier-class the player chooses there is an almost absurd amount of options when it comes to choosing how to gear-up. Lastly, the game includes a healthy mix of co-op and PvP (player vs. player) modes. If you’re looking for a more “hardcore” military shooter, I highly recommend this one.

DOTA Underlords

Wiki Link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dota_Underlords 
Home Page: https://underlords.com/  
The game fights for you. Sit back and relax.

Once upon a time there was a mod for Dota 2 called DOTA Auto Chess. The mod was so popular it created a genre of games called auto-battlers. That’s all you really need to know for now, in terms of why this game even exists.

An auto-battler is 100% strategy. The player makes strategic choices but doesn’t interact with each battle directly, hence the reason it’s called an auto-battler. So what does the player do here? In a nutshell, the player makes roster choices from a grab bag of “heroes”, each with their own stats & abilities. There are also some treasure rounds where the player can choose an item to enhance one of their roster heroes. The game follows a simple pattern of fight-draft-fight-draft-fight-draft-etc. During each fight round, two player armies are pitted against each other. Win the fight and nothing special happens, lose the fight and your health pool is depleted. Lose too many fights and you’re out. Last player standing wins.

There is a bit more complication to it, but your best bet is to just download it on your mobile device, or check it out on Steam. It’s great for efficient gaming (you could be doing something completely unrelated while playing this game). It’s also 100% free to play since it’s still in early access mode (micro-transactions will be added later). If doing your taxes AND gaming at the same time interests you, go play some DOTA Underlords.

We hope you enjoyed this issue of Efficient Gaming. Do you have a game that is really sparking your interest right now? Do you want to see us add anything to the list? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter. Cheers!