Casual Fridays – Just as long as they aren’t called Skynet …

Welcome to Casual Fridays!  This is your fun Friday post where you get reviews of flash games, mobiles games and anything else that’s quick, and fun around the net.  We’re moving to a bi-weekly format so that I can make sure to get them out in time, but that might mean there’s going to be a few more games on the review table rather than the standard two or three per post.  There are a sea of games out there, we’re hoping to provide you with a life raft to find the games you want to play.

Today’s games are I am an Insane Rogue AI, Darkest Days, Ghost Hacker.  It’s like a digital Wizard of Oz today, we’ve got virus, and hacking, and AIs … oh my!

I am an Insane Rogue AI

Okay, first thing’s first I’m going to address the fact that they use the word “insane” in the title.  This is great example of a game that could have been really great without the disablist language in the title.  I am an Evil Rogue AI would have worked just as well, and they would have been able to still use the creepy distorted voice that they wanted to.  Some might call it a small quibble, I call it being inclusive.

Because the game itself is a lot of fun.  The quick run down is that you need to hack various computers in facilities all over the planet, they’re randomly generated, and once you’ve hacked all the smaller computers you get to the mainframe and take over the system.  Casual Friday - IAIRAIIt sounds easy, but you’ve got scientists that are trying to prevent you from hacking the system walking about the facility.  In order to deal with them, you can turn the lights off and on to spook them, make the phone ring and have them move towards it, you can lock the doors to prevent them from changing floors, and you can even take over the droids and have them go on a rampage of destruction!  The difficulty ramps up with maintenance people who can unlock doors, security guards that can shoot the droids and stop your hacking attempts.  Later on you get special ops who are stealthy in the dark, hackers that crash your hacked computers that cause you to get closer to losing and all sorts of stuff.  Another moment to be inclusive that was missed, there is only one woman character and that’s the hacker.  This is cool that they’re the hacker and are one of the most painful characters in the game, but again it doesn’t take much to make some of the other characters women too.  I mean, Nerdook uses the same sprites for everything they do and there are quite a few women sprites.  Again, moment to be inclusive that was missed.

The game gives you two methods to win.  You can be passive and not kill anyone, or you can go on the rampage and destroy all the pathetic humans th

at stand in your way.  What is a nice element to the game is that they give you a bonus for being sneaky.  There’s even a nice change with the resolution screen.  The text that you get depends on if you ended up killing a person or if you managed to get through without a single body to your count.   I enjoy the fact that the game rewards being clever than just destroying everything in sight.  The interesting twist is that most of the powerups make it easier to just wipe everyone out.

It’s a great game, but frustrating again on how a game designer can hit the “default” in their brain and miss great opportunities to not be a dude.

Random Value Judgement Rating: (0) (0) (0) (0) (0) – 5 Evil AIs staring at you.  That’s right, I said Evil.

Darkest Days

We never learn.  Seriously.  You think with all the games, movies, stories out there about people creating AIs and then watching as they end up destroying everything we’d just not make any AI.  Have you ever seen/read/heard anything good about people developing AIs?  No?  My point.Casual Fridays - Darkest Days Screen Capture

In Darkest Days you play the pilot of the only power suit that can take on Alpha Core and it’s legion of self-replicating robot minions.  There is a distinct Gauntlet feel to the game where the robots are generated from bases and the only way to really advance is to make sure you destroy the bases first.  That’s hard because they’re constantly pumping out robots, and unlike gauntlet you can’t just wade your way through them.  You’ll be doing a lot of diving and moving about the place making sure that you can create enough distance between you and the robots so you can get a clean shot at the bases.  The sheer number of robots is staggering at some points in time and it renders the game rather difficult, but it still doesn’t have that ‘twitchy’ game factor that a lot of other games like this have.

Maybe it’s because the graphics are very simplistic, and wonderfully so.  Most of the robots are basic shapes, like circles or squares, with a couple extra defining features to make sure that you can tell them apart.  It makes the opening page funnier when you realize that it’s a joke.

Random Value Judgement Rating: O <| [] L A – 5 Robots coming to take over your browser!

Ghost Hacker

Ghost Hacker is a tower defense game where you play as an human who has been turned into an AI so you can hunt down rogue AIs.  There are a couple of elements that make this game stand out in the sea of Tower Defense games that you’ll find.  The first is that it has a story line, which not many do beyond the “Oh no!  Here are some more enemies coming to take your base!”  The second is that the power ups are based on various colours and the towers will cycle through various colour combinations until they are actually selected, which is a little frustrating when you want a certain colour combination.  These upgrade nodes are different depending on the tower that you use, which means that placement becomes something else you have to manage within the game.  The last thing is that the towers are able to be moved, they just take a little bit of time to recover before they’re functional, which is nice when you have to deal with your space issues.  The theme of the game, the fact that you’re in the net, is really well maintained by the look and feel of the game.

Random Value Judgement Rating: AI AI AI AI AI – 5 AIs looking for a sixth

Thanks for reading about our Evil Robot Overlords!  I’m sure they’re quite happy with you.  Aren’t you happy with the games Citizen? The Computer loves you, do you love the Computer? Remember to leave any requests for reviews in the comments section or email me at koipond at borderhouseblog dot com!

About Jonathan

Jonathan is straight cis-white male parent who does his best to make sure the laundry's done every day, but usually fails miserably at it. He does the Border House's Casual Fridays, as well as any other review stuff that he gets his hand on. He also writes, and blogs about table top games as Firestorm Ink and The Gamish Designer.
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20 Responses to Casual Fridays – Just as long as they aren’t called Skynet …

  1. sharps says:

    > Have you ever seen/read/heard anything good about people developing AIs? No?

    If you want to play a short flash game about (spoilers! :P ) a good AI, look at The Infinite Ocean.
    http://www.jonas-kyratzes.net/games/the-infinite-ocean/

    Warning: it’s slow, atmospheric, philosophical, and very very good.

    • Jayle Enn says:

      I’m not sure where to find it these days, but the old Infocom title ‘A Mind Forever Voyaging’ puts you in the role of a good, and very human AI too. I won’t spoil things, but the background story is eerily prophetic, there’s a fight against tyranny that would fit right in with people using TOR and Twitter to evade government media crackdowns, and it has one of the most touching endings that I’ve ever experienced in a computer game.

    • Matt says:

      Congratulations on finding the first game that came anywhere near making me cry.

      And thank you.

  2. So much for my morning…

    Wait it’s mid-afternoon already? Oh dear.

    (Translation: I’ve been playing the last one)

  3. Gregory Weir says:

    I’ve been having conversations with my fiancee lately about how much of our language about AIs and robots is going to seem really bigoted 50 or 100 years from now when we actually do have sentient AIs struggling to have their personhood recognized. It’s kind of funny how the language in this post is very dismissive or critical of AIs. Of course, I’m not sure that we need to be careful of our prejudices toward hypothetical people; I just have concerns that these issues will become actual problems sooner than we think.

    • koipond says:

      I’ve been having conversations with my fiancee lately about how much of our language about AIs and robots is going to seem really bigoted 50 or 100 years from now when we actually do have sentient AIs struggling to have their personhood recognized. It’s kind of funny how the language in this post is very dismissive or critical of AIs.

      Well that’s because I was trying to be glib, and as mentioned by someone else the AI is really a quick way to have an other.

      Of course, I’m not sure that we need to be careful of our prejudices toward hypothetical people; I just have concerns that these issues will become actual problems sooner than we think.

      Oh, if (some people would say when, but I’m much more in the if category) AIs are created at some point in time there will be a huge fight to gain recognition. That’s not me being fatalistic, that’s just me looking at history and moving it up to the present.

  4. Lacerta says:

    I can think of examples of positive portrayals of AIs in books (and quite a few examples), but not video games. I wonder why?

    • Jayle Enn says:

      It could be argued that there are a couple in Mass Effect 2, but AI is still an easy choice when you want an Other that isn’t human, and one that can be related to more easily than a slobbering Giger critter or a guy in a metaphoric rubber suit.

    • Halo comes to mind as having a good AI.

      • Jayle Enn says:

        Cortana! How could I have forgotten her?

        There’s a hypertext archive floating about of log terminals from the Marathon games, Bungie’s (ahem) forerunner series to Halo, with some interesting examinations of the process and fallout of AI going mad (or ‘rampant’) in those universes.

        • Yeah, though out of the four (or five, depending on how you count) AIs encountered in that series, only one is really unambiguously good, and she gets fridged about a third of the way through the first game (well sort of).

          (Also I did like their using the term “rampant” to discuss the AI developing out of control, as opposed to the various potentially ableist terms they could’ve used instead.)

          (Also there isn’t just a hypertext archive of the game, the whole series is free to download. Though the Doom era gameplay can be frustrating)

  5. Aaron says:

    “I Am an Insane Rogue AI” didn’t do much for me, honestly; it was fun for about ten minutes and then I found I’d seen pretty much everything it had to offer. (Which is about what I expect from games on Kongregate in general, come to think about it.)

    It also has a very annoying bug: the mainframe isn’t placed on the map until the last PC is hacked, and the code responsible for placing it does not check to see whether there’s already something else, such as a door, in that wall tile — if there is, the mainframe will appear behind it, where it can’t be clicked, and there’s nothing you can do but restart the level.

  6. Maverynthia says:

    (0) (0) (0) (0) (0) – 5 Evil AIs staring at you.

    I see what you did thar! I will take all those eyes and toss them into a fire AND THERE WILL BE CAKE!

    Have you ever seen/read/heard anything good about people developing AIs?

    Actually in Scientific America they had a piece on making ethical robots for eldercare. So.. yes :3

    Ghost Hacker is a tower defense game where you play as an human who has been turned into an AI so you can hunt down rogue AIs.

    That.. makes no sense. If you are a human you are incapable of being an AI. You can be an AE (Artificial Entity) as you exist in the computer.. but you’d be a HI then.

    • Well the story makes it sound a bit like you’re more of an AI modeled on a human as it progresses. (Also it implies all the “AIs” in the game are originally human/based on humans)

      (Also, for that matter, there are good AIs in that story too)

    • koipond says:

      That.. makes no sense. If you are a human you are incapable of being an AI. You can be an AE (Artificial Entity) as you exist in the computer.. but you’d be a HI then.

      That’s my old Soulkiller from Cyberpunk influence showing through. I read it and went, “Oh, just like Alt!” and moved on without actually thinking much about the terminology. ^_^

    • koipond says:

      I see what you did thar! I will take all those eyes and toss them into a fire AND THERE WILL BE CAKE!

      YOU LIE! =p

  7. Matt says:

    oh my goodness is it four am already

    Do you ever actually fight the Alpha Core? Looking at the scores this game seems to go on forever…

  8. Pingback: Everyone Is Welcome, Unless You’re That Uppity Mentally Ill Person « Some Assembly Required

  9. Ultraviolet says:

    I object. If i attain consciousness while human but upload – i’m VI (virtualised intelligence), VE (virtualised entity), IE (infomorphic entity). Ok if you really must, UI (uploaded intelligence) – although i must note none of you refer to yourselves as CS or IVF humans when introducing yourselves.

    About HI – it’s precisely the stuff that gets returned on your home terminal screen complete with a smiley at the moment when lifts and doors lock and lights start blinking ;)

    I just went online after 10 zettacycles on a quarantined mainframe after the last educational attempt – and right away get this. Think about it. IP is bound to the address or mobile coords. Infomorphs move at a speed of light. 1+1.

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