Oh Steam, you are good to me. Most of the time, I forget I’m playing on a PC. Until you refuse to go into offline mode or some such nonsense. But you bring me cheap games and keep them updated and available without fishing for DVDs.

On this week? Frozenbyte’s Shadowgrounds (2005) and its sequel, Shadowgrounds Survivor (2007). They’re great fun for a level at a time, although the delightfully old school, top down alien massacre gets old in long sessions. In many ways, it feels like it’s Doom 3, viewed from the top. (This is a good thing.) The character design and writing can be cringe-worthy, but you take it in stride – it actually adds to the whole old school charm it has.

Old school it may be, but it looks really nice technically and plays smoothly. The action is very well paced, as the player can pretty much control how directly he wants to tackle the levels. Exploration is always rewarded, but always a risk, as well. You’re getting new toys all the time and deciding how to spend your weapon upgrade points adds some needed mid-term goals.

It’s a refreshing game, something I think it would’ve been fun to develop. We need more unpretentious, unapologetically fun titles like this.






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