Julius

Your 2020 Gaming Diary

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So rather than play any of these to any great degree, i instead picked up Civilization 6 for free and bought Batman VR to try out on my Oculus. I also remembered i got the Uncharted Collection for free on the PS4 that I've always wanted to play that will join the rest at the back of the queue

It appears Civilization 6 was a mistake.


I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing, but dang is it addictive.

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Civ games have a bit of a learning curve if you're just starting out. But it's fun once you get the hang of it.

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Finally finished Hollow Knight, about 11 months since I got it last year! That took a lot longer than I hoped for, I don't think I would have beaten the game without looking up some things on the internet especially in regards to getting the best ending.

 

After progressing to the final boss a couple of days ago I died, over and over again. I was making some progress however and understanding how to dodge my opponents' attacks and I could see definite improvement in how I was playing... but something seemed like it could be better in terms of charms...

 

...so i took off Quick Slash for Dreamshield and it worked a treat. Still took a few more attempts but the game is finally finished!

 

Spoiler

OK, time to stop being so cryptic for non spoilery reasons. So the reason the Dreamshield worked so well is that the Radiance has so many attacks and you kind of need to focus on dodging them all over hitting the Radiance, so Dreamshield could damage the Radiance if it happened to be nearby while trying to dodge the attacks. Admittedly I did need to use a walkthrough to find out exactly how to dodge the massive beams of light that sweep the field (you use the Shade Cloak, derp) but for the rest I sort of got to grips with all the individual attacks. Eventually after changing my strategy for the fourth phase by staying on one platform and waiting for the Radiance to come to me I was able to start hitting it and then at the point I thought I'd blown it the fight progressed to phase 5 which was pretty easy and I did that phase first try. Ended with 83% completion so there was still more to go but I crossed it off the unfinished games list which while not as long as other games on the list is something of a relief.

 

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I got through a few more games in May than I did in April, the month bookended by two big ones. I finally picked up Death Stranding when it was on sale a couple of months ago and spent the first week or so of May immersing myself in it. It was a bit of slog to begin with, the first couple of chapters were undeniably hard to get invested in and it throws so many meaningless phrases and incomprehensible plot points at you that I wondered if it was all going to be worth it. Thankfully it gradually got better and I started to really enjoy the traversal and the atmosphere, the early BT encounters felt suitably tense and threatening but I couldn't really connect to any of the characters - especially Sam who just seemed like an entirely uninteresting protagonist. From the early over complications in terms of plot and setting I never expected the story to go anywhere, probably painted by my experience with MGSV I just assumed it would all be window dressing to give the gameplay some context so I was pleasantly surprised how well the plot eventually came together. Characters who seemed one dimensional or superfluous to begin with turned out to have emotionally impactful arcs, Sam grew on me as I got further into the game and some of the performances were outstanding (particularly Tommie Earl Jenkins during Die-Hardman's climactic scene). The BT's, which were so unnerving in the beginning, became quite trivial to avoid in the end which took away some of the tension and the combat sequences were more of a chore than anything (especially the interactions with the MULE's out in the open world) but making deliveries was always engaging and despite the initial hurdles bumming me out it was definitely worth pushing through and seeing out the rest of the game. Kojima could certainly do with some reigning in but he and his team should be commended for making such a bold choice with such a big budget game, they could have played it safe but they followed their impulses instead and made something truly unique. I must listen to the title track by Chvrches at least once a day now too, the week or so I spent in the world of Death Stranding will stay with me for years to come - warts and all, Death Stranding is a genuine work of art. 

After the sombre experience of DS I wanted something a bit lighter to take my mind off the pandemic so next I played Unravel Two on the Switch, I played through the first one on PS4 a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it but the apparent transition to co-op in the sequel put me off starting it until now - because I would be playing it by myself I assumed it would be a chore to control two characters at once but any fears were allayed as soon as I started it up. While both yarny's can be separate characters you are able to have one carry the other so basic traversal is the same as it was in the first game, with the characters needing to split up to solve a variety of puzzles. It was a really short experience, probably just shy of 4 hours, but it was everything I wanted it to be - relaxing, charming and a wonderful palate cleanser. Graphically it is definitely a step down from the PS4 version of the original (especially when you run it in performance mode - what a blurry mess) but running it at 30fps in graphics mode was perfectly fine by my standards, it's well worth picking up if you're ever looking for a breezy platformer to play through. 

Sticking with the Switch I played Layers of Fear: Legacy next, another short experience but on the opposite end of the spectrum from Unravel. To be honest it gave me a bit of a headache to begin with, it feels blurry and unstable whenever you move the camera around which made me feel a bit sick just walking through the game world. It never really grabbed me, I'm all for horror games and 'walking simulators' but I never felt immersed or scared at any point. It did some interesting things for sure and I can see that Bloober Team has the potential to make something truly gripping but overall I just wasn't feeling it. 

I set up my Wii for the first time in ages because I wanted to play a Gamecube game next and I forgot what a faff it was to set up - too many fiddly cables and peripherals. When I finally set it up I started Geist and found the controls took some getting used to, it's always weird playing first person games that don't use the traditional dual analogue set up, but it didn't take me too long to get the general hang of it. There are some really cute ideas here, the capture mechanic is a great idea in principle but its implementation is pretty clunky - the game would have been improved a lot if there were more options for scaring targets or completing objectives, would have been far more enjoyable if it was more a sandbox and less restrictive but I suppose it was a product of its time. It was a pretty easy game for the most part until I reached the later boss fights that really tested my patience, the term bullet sponge has never been more apt. A lot of my frustrations arose from the GC controller itself, the shoulder triggers just have way too much travel and resistance that it becomes exhausting pressing them down - not to mention the mandatory button mashing that comes when you become possessed, the GC pad just isn't made for rapid button mashing. I probably enjoyed Geist more than Layers of Fear but still thought it was a middling experience.

Lastly I played Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna - The Golden Country. With the remaster of the Wii original on the way I thought it was high time that I sunk my teeth into the standalone expansion before revisiting the world of the first game. I was wary about starting it because of how much an investment it was going to be, even with the much shorter playtime, so it was hardly surprising when I quickly became obsessed with the game. The main story didn't take me too long to finish (hit the howlongtobeat average practically on the nose) but I spent another ten hours or so wrapping up all of the side quests and fighting some of the unique monsters. I loved it just as much as the other Xeno games I've played but even with the shorter playtime there is still some egregious padding - forcing you to level up Community by doing side quests to progress the story (on more than one occasion) is just crazy. One thing that really surprised me was how easy I found the final boss battle, I managed it on my first try - I don't think I even had to revive any of my party - and I wasn't over levelled at all. I barely used the Bonus EXP to level up during the main story, think I used it to bump up a single level on two occasions, and only used it up when I was going after some of the unique monsters, I think being familiar with the battle system definitely helped but it was still a little underwhelming that Malos was such a pushover. 

I've obviously been putting an hour or so into Animal Crossing: New Horizons every day since launch too and I'm loving it (though regretting getting physical after the constant card swapping between that and Torna). I've got some work to do over the next couple of weeks so I think I'll hold off on starting Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition until that's out of the way so my game time will likely be reserved exclusively for Animal Crossing until the middle of June at the earliest but my backlog continues to grow so hopefully I've got a few more checked off the list by the next time I post in this thread. 

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On a roll with clearing my backlog now. Added Super Metroid (Wii Virtual Console) to the pile of cleared games as it turns out that there was an Energy Tank near the Save Station I was at and I was able to address my really low health by getting that Energy Tank.

 

That gave me enough health to survive the plated pirates and the room afterwars allowed me to recharge my health and missiles for the big Ridley fight. It took three attempts but I managed to beat Ridley.

 

I then went around the entire map trying to collect all the powerups, literally went to every room in the game. Naturally I eventually found all the powerups and then proceeded to beat the game, though the escape sequence took two tries. For the record, I saved the animals.

 

Also playing NES Remix (Wii U) and trying to beat the Remix challenges on there as that's another outstanding game on my backlog. However, the NES Gold challenge in Remix II, number 16, is proving to be quite problematic. Cannot get the ball to go anywhere.

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