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drahkon

Your Gaming Diary 2022

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It's a new dawn, it's new day, it's a new life year for me us,
and I'm we're feeling good.

Well, that didn't really work. Anyways, here's the 2022 edition of the Gaming Diary thread.

I'll start: I've finished two games on my PSVita already. And both from my backlog. :o 

First one:

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It was a PS+ title back in 2014. It's actually a PS4 and PSVita game but I'm counting it as completed on the latter device :p 
Aaaaand it was mediocre. A tower-defense game that relies more on quick actions than actual strategy is not a good tower-defense game. ::shrug: 

Second one:

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Oh yes, it was finally time to play this one. A launch title for the PSVita back in 2012. I bought it, played it for a bit but haven't finished it until today. Can't remember why I stopped, but something must've gotten in the way back then.
It's definitely the worst entry in the Uncharted series, but still a solid game. Pacing is a little weird and the PSVita features overstay their welcome, but it's Uncharted...it's fun :D 
Also: It looks absolutely gorgeous. For a game from 2012 on an outdated handheld it still holds up 10 years (!!!) later. Framerate dropped to low 20s at times, but with a lovely overclock plugin it managed to stay at 30fps for most of the game. There's some great music, as well. 
Yeah, it was a fun ride :) 

Next up: Killzone: Mercenary on...you guessed it, the PSVita :D It was a PS+ game in 2015 and it's gonna be my second Killzone game after Killzone Shadow Fall, which I barely remember.

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I need to catch up on my diary.  I've been slacking these past few months; but don't worry, I will catch up!

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I've not played any games since September, but I'm intending to try and play more games this year, so hopefully I'll be more active in here than the last thread.

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No new games for me for a while, but I've been going back to some I never got completed. Last game was Luigi's Mansion towards the end of October last year and I decided to finally go back and try Bowser's Fury again.

I think I maybe played about a couple hours when I first had this. I was spending more time with the main 3D World and then never went back to finish it off later. Well with all the spare time over the New Year I decided to go back to it. I hadn't really played much but from what I did at the time, I wasn't feeling it that much so wasn't really holding up much hope. But that all changed within the hour of playing again. At first I was still unsure, not having a direction to really go in, but I soon started to feel at home again. I think you just need to go in and play it like any other Mario game but the world is all there at once. The game still played the same, get a shine, go get another, but without the constant returning to a hub. So it did feel a lot more natural. Soon found myself running around the game just doing what came to me, From the slightly longer shines to the one that was found accidentally. 

I don't think I need to put this in spoiler tags, So I got to 47 shines and Bowser appeared again, I did my usual of just avoiding him and waiting for him to give up, but it seemed to go on and on, so as much as I waited I got annoyed and had to do a quick search to see if this was normal or I had missed something. Nope, he does that. You need to get to 50 shines, well you gotta put up with fireballs reigning down and Bowsers fire breath. Luckily I had three easy to get "Break the Fury Rock" shines that I decided to go after. Did these with ease and onto the boss fight. I did enjoy the boss fights and they weren't at all that hard. And the final final fight was just a bit of fun really. No trouble with it in the slightest.

I have to say that I think a full Mario game like this could work if they made the world just right. It works in Breath of the Wild cause the world can be huge and it fits. Would something similar work for Mario? I like how the game is set in this smallish sea with the islands representing the normal worlds in previous games. It works for the scale of the game, which we all know was a test or made as an experiment. Could it be widened or made that much bigger to fit a full game. Bowser's Fury is no more than a 10 hour game to beat the boss (if that). I do hope we see something like this again though. It's a refreshing take on the series. I wouldn't even mind if it was just a added on game to any new Mario. the small world seems to fit what they were trying to go for.

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Posted (edited)
On 1/3/2022 at 5:57 PM, drahkon said:

Next up: Killzone: Mercenary

Not yet, because Deep Rock Galactic entered the PS5 scene.

What a glorious game this is. I'd describe it as a co-op horde-mode-objective-FPS. From simply mining minerals and collecting crystals or eggs to escort missions or destroying a huge enemy there's a lot to discover. 

There are four classes.

The Gunner is basically what the name implies. He shoots things. Can also deploy a shield which is very helpful when swarmed by enemies and set up zip lines for easy access.
The Driller is basically what the name implies. He can drill through stuff (and shoot things).
The Scout is basically what the name implies. He scouts things via a long lasting flares (everyone has flare sticks you can throw, but they don't last very long) and can swoop around via a grappling hook (he can also shoot things).
The Engineer is basically what the name implies. He engin...nah, doesn't work. He can build a sentry gun and platforms (shooting things is also possible).

I've been running the latter for most of my playtime just to support and create easy access to minerals. 

14 hours in two days. I'm not joking :p One of the benefits of being on sick leave, I guess. 
The game shines in co-op. It's been an absolute blast with two of my mates. One plays as the Gunner, the other as the Driller. It's a little annoying without a scout, because the long lasting flares are incredibly useful, since the caves you're exploring are quite dark. It's still so much fun, though :D 

I've already put it in my gaming list for 2022 as "finished", because I've completed every type of mission and played through the first mandatory assignments, but there's no way I'm stopping here. There appears to be a bit of an endgame which I have yet to reach. 

 

If you have the chance to play this (it's on PS+ and on Gamepass, as far as I know), DO IT. 

Edited by drahkon
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A Plague Take: Innocence

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I was honestly expecting a kind of “walking simulator” from this, but it’s very much a stealth-puzzle game with a heavy focus on story. A Plague Tale is set in 14th century France, you are the daughter of a lord, your brother has a mysterious illness and you are both forced on the run when the inquisition attacks, killing your family.

For the most part, I found the story to be very engaging, even if it is filled with a ton of young adult fantasy tropes. The game also crosses the line for suspension of disbelief, the game starts off feeling very realistic before this plague of rats comes along, which I had no option with, but then the game introduces alchemy as though it just a regular thing, with you meeting a 10 year old apprentice who acts like a complete master. The main mystery kept me going, although the game leaves a lot open to be answered in the sequel.

The gameplay is a stealth game, and getting spotted almost always results in death, you can’t run away, hide and try again. Throughout the game, you will gain lots of tools to throw or use with your sling, such as basic rocks, flaming rocks that can set things on fire (things like wood, you can’t just set armoured people on fire), or pots to cause a distraction. Each stealth section is like a puzzle, where you have to work out which objects to use and where to get past the enemies.

These objects need to be found or crafted, so there is limited supply. This makes things suspenseful, but it does mean that you can run out of things and be unable to progress, having to restart the chapter. I almost got to this, but ended up finding rocks by walking most of the way to the start of the level (you can only use rocks found in bags, I walked down a long stream with loads of pebbles to find this bag). It’s also possible to be caught in a bad checkpoint and have no other option.

There are a few sections where direct combat is the only option, with you having to use the sling to kill enemies running at you. These sections are quite annoying, and there’s one really bad section in the final chapter, where you can miss enemies through what seems to be random chance.

There’s a lot to like about A Plague Tale, but also a lot of annoyances. Hopefully these can be sorted for the next game.

 

Sunset Overdrive

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Crazy, over the top and a ton of fun. Sunset Overdrive is stupid in all the right ways. An energy drinks company (who happen to be the biggest company in the world) releases their new drink ealy in Sunset City, but has the unintended side effect of turning everyone into mutant zombies. You manage to escape to your apartment then get roped into helping the remaining survivors.

Sunset Overdrive is an open world “superhero” game (the main character doesn’t have “superpowers” as such, they’re just naturally awesome). The main thing that makes Sunset Overdrive so much fun is the traversal mechanics: you can jump high by bouncing off objects, grind across many things and even dash in the air or on water. Getting from point to point is just so satisfying and immense fun. As you move across different objects, you’ll increase your “style” meter and combo. Even though it’s used in combat, I found myself trying to get a high combo whenever I had to go from A to B (the game has fast travel, but it’s best to ignore it). Combat itself is also lots of fun, as it encourages killing while being stylish, jumping around and grinding while taking out loads of enemies. The weapons are whimsical and enjoyable to use. The way some enemies explode – with their “goo” literally making words like “POP” is so satisfying and adds to the style.

Sunset Overdrive never cares about being serious, it constantly breaks the fourth wall, even with background enemy dialogue (such as enemies talking about how they can’t run out of ammo because they’re not the main character). While this is a regular occurrence, it never gets to the point where it feels like too much, there’s still plenty of its own humour, with some interesting characters and moments. I found myself enjoying even the most basic side quests due to the fun traversal, combat and entertaining dialogue.

If you haven’t played it, I highly recommend it.

 

The Pedestrian

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I was expecting a simple platformer, the novel concept of running through signs seemed interesting, but I had no idea that the simple idea was such an important part of the gameplay itself.

You play as a stickman – the generic kind you see on various signs (like the toilet sign). You run through signs and complete puzzles. At any time you can “pause” the game and are able to move some of the signs around, and connect doors and ladders together (they have to be facing opposite directions). Manipulating the signs and doors in this way is the main core of the puzzles, and the game will introduce new elements as you progress.

I don’t want to go into too much detail due to spoilers, but I thought a lot of the puzzles were taxing, but it never got to the point where I felt like giving up. There’s a lot of clever ideas and solutions, and for the more complex puzzles I didn’t think “finally” or “that was stupidly obvious”, my response when finding a solution was “that was cool”.

The concept of the game also makes more sense when you start to interact with the world beyond the signs. There’s an early section where you encounter a shut door, and only when you manipulate the lift the sign is inside (by activating buttons on the sign) and move it upwards can you continue.

The fascinating thing is that the game explains all these complex actions without any dialogue or text. Everything is explained via symbols and pictures, with new sections having very basic puzzles to explain by making you do something. I never felt confused as to what I had to do, and it gets its mechanics across to the player in a surprisingly clear way.

If I had any complaints about The Pedestrian, it’s that the last level is short. The mechanic introduced there felt like it would have a lot of possibilities and I really wanted more puzzles using it.

 

Gorogoa

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A very unique puzzle game, with lots of beautiful art. You are a young boy who sees a dragon, and must gather 5 fruits to make an offering (or something, the story is done via imagery alone) and you must help him.

This one is quite difficult to explain. You essentially have 4 “panels” (like comic book panels). Dragging the panels will either move them, or drag off a “layer” to create a new panel. By manipulating these panels, you can lead the young boy to the five magic fruits.

The game is quite fascinating, although I found myself to be just moving stuff around to try and progress in a few areas. Some solutions are extremely clever, while others I just did by clicking on something and not quite knowing what I did.

It’s a very short game (about an hour or so), so for cheap (or Game Pass), it’s worth experiencing for how unique it is.

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Posted (edited)

New Year, new logs!

And I'll start off 2022 with a dropped game: Dicey Dungeons, the RPG roguelike that's based around dice rolls. It's cute, it's fun, but some of the later Episodes (that is, specific runs) were starting to be too much. It felt too much like I was depending on luck to save the day. Don't know if I'll pick this one back up, but it's going to stay dormant for a while at least.

The first game I finished (and started, actually) in 2022 was a much stronger start:

Steamworld Dig 2

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You may recall that I played the first game back in 2018, and I found it just ok. However, I had heard so much about the sequel being much improved (and being released in 2017 is always a good mark on any game's resumé), that I decided to give a shot regardless.

Good thing I did, because this game is so much more than the first. The first one was just a mostly-randomised pit to be waded through, but the sequel actually features much more focused level design and variety. Plus, the character design has a lot more charm and character than in previous Steamworld games.

While the gameplay loop is roughly the same (dig, get treasure, go back up and sell it), the areas you can explore are much more fleshed out. There are now many more mini-dungeons (or puzzle rooms, whatever) scattered through the world, and better designed to gel with the rest of the game. There's a lot more world too, to the point that even the digging parts become more memorable and distinct just from where they're located.

In good Metroidvania fashion, there are plenty of items that transform the way you play, which is excellent. The hookshot in particular is super fun, and improves the game tenfold. Unlike what is usual for Metroidvania, the progression is fairly linear, as you're always moving in the general direction of the unknown, and rarely do you have to think too much about where to use a new item. This need not be a bad thing, of course, as a lot of the game's fun is focused on tricky platforming challenges that get progressively harder (not just the mini-dungeons, but the main digging parts too).

I ended up playing through this game's 12 hours in fairly rapid fashion, it was so fun. Every time I thought I was near the end, the game was all like "nah, still plenty to see". I ended up fully completing the game, checking a guide for the remaining handful of artifacts I missed. I also did the secret dungeon, which was a true test of my videogaming skills, and a challenge I loved.

Story-wise... It was ok. This game did more to make me care about Steamworld than either Dig 1 or Heist, but the game's ending felt unfitting, despite that. I also find the humour in this series to be fairly hit-or-miss, with some references being surprisingly creative and funny, and others feeling rote and bland. The strong jokes stick out more this time around, and I will say that this game features one of the best Super Mario references I've ever seen.

Based on its Metroidvania-ness and level design alone... This game's friggin' awesome. It did well to stand out in the sea of excellence known as 2017, and it's fully deserved.

(Incidentally, I checked out the Easy Allies awards for that year, and Dig 2 was competing in the Side-scroller category against Sonic Mania, Hollow Knight, and Cuphead! That's how stacked that year was!)

  My 2021 log (Hide contents)

 

Played/Beat/Completed:

-Steamworld Dig 2 (2017) Completed (January 6th)

 

Dropped:

-Dicey Dungeons (2019) (January 3rd)

So, the method for 2022 is that I'll try to at least finish one substantial game (10 hours or more to finish) per month. Said game should preferably be one I've been itching to tackle for a while, and/or represent something significant to my backlog.

I can confidently say Steamworld Dig 2 was the one for January, not just because I've been meaning to get back to my 3DS for a while now, but also to the Metroidvania genre in general (before Dread, I had been neglecting those a lot). I feel like Dig 2 unlocked both those weights off my shoulders.

Here's to a great 2022!

Edited by Jonnas
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And with that all Cat Shines Get! I can say that in the end I have really enjoyed Bower's Fury. For what it was it was the right sized game. Can Nintendo make a full open world Mario game? We will see.

The last few Shines were possibly the ones most people I'm guessing have the most issues with. The Cat's that you need to reunite with their mothers. The Cat Shards on Meow Meow Mountain (that last one behind them walls was the final Shine in the game for me) and the final Lucky Island one that is closest to where Bowser spawns each time. I did it by jumping off the long pier and using the helicopter box to fly over to it. Other than those, I really didn't have many issues finding shards nor getting shines. A fun little game that was pretty much a free add on to the already great Mario 3D World.

 

Oh and I don't know if they took ideas from Breath of the Wild in how to approach Shines but I'm sure this is not the intended way to do this one.

I just don't know how you'd get up the rotating platforms.

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Finished and mostly 100%'d Kena: Bridge of Spirits after about 35-40 hours or so of play. I thought it was fantastic. The perfect type of game when you're feeling a bit fatigued by the AAA industry. 

Incredible production values, the game is stunning, brilliant soundtrack, very very fun gameplay and the combat is top notch too. Quite challenging too.

Exploration was a real joy, so much fun to poke around and discover secrets.

Negatives, the collectibles aren't particularly great or useful and the story made zero sense to me throughout. I had no idea what was going on. Also some weird audio bugs. Oh and the various environments are pretty samey, there's not a ton of diversity but when the game looks that great, it's hard to care too much.

But yeah, fantastic, highly recommended. A huge achievement for such a small team.

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Hectic month for me, and all I played were underwhelming games. Since it's still a substantial update:

The Room

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"You're tearing these boxes apart, Lisa!"

Small puzzle game made for mobile devices, I got it on Steam for cheap. It's all about examining and rotating an overly complicated box that contains several puzzles built into it. Like an Escape Room in reverse, you're solving puzzles in order to break into a small room (which is what a box is, if you think about it). It's also cute that the game has 5 levels, which in context, it's that after you unlock the box in Level 1, there's another box inside it, which then becomes the one for Level 2, and so on.

I don't know how they managed to fuck up the concept, but man, they did. First of all, the game runs like ass on my laptop, constant slowdowns, slow responses from my actions (to the point that even rotating the camera was laborious). It's true that my PC is old, but this is a friggin' mobile game from 2012! It's a lousy port.

Second, even beyond that, the game decides to have a bullshit esoteric plot about a XIX Century bloke that unlocked the mystical secrets of the universe through alchemy (a surprisingly common plot thread that's rarely interesting), and it's reflected on the puzzles. The pleasant mechanical and logical puzzles from the first levels eventually become these nonsensical mystical things by the end, to the point that I had a hard time following the logic of anything.

I wanted to quit by Level 4, but because it looked like I was near the end, I persevered. Then another large box popped out of the ether, revealing a Level 5, and I noped out of the game. Apparently that was the last level for real, but I no longer care. I regret wasting time with this game, I'm legitimately pissed off with it.

 

Bit.Trip Saga

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Don't let these games' beat trip you

Here's a fun one. Back in the Wii days, this pixellated Rhythm series made some waves on WiiWare. It's made up of several short Arcade-y games, released from 2009 to 2011 (man, I remember this series releasing for a long while, but it was only two years? Time, man). At the time, I tried a demo for the first game, and I felt lukewarm about it. Much later on, when I got my 3DS, I decided to get the Bit.Trip Saga collection, and properly analyse this mini-series for myself.

I still feel lukewarm about it.

  • Bit.Trip Beat is bullet hell Pong. Cool concept, having lengthy sequences of beat-timed bullets to reflect. My main complaint is that the bottom screen had no aid to help you get your bearings, so if you stopped pressing the screen with the stylus, and you put it back, the paddle warps across the upper screen. A visual aid, showing you the paddle's position on the bottom screen as well, would've done wonders. Beat eventually got weird, with bullets curving in really unintuitive ways, and when it got too hard, I stopped;
  • Bit.Trip Core is the worst of the bunch. You're a cross in the middle of the screen, and you fire lasers by pressing the corresponding direction on the D-pad. You must snipe bullets flying across the screen, once again according to a specific rhythm. This one is like playing Stepmania, but much more confusing interface. I stopped when the going got confusing, which was fairly quickly;
  • Bit.Trip Void was intriguing. You're a black ball absorbing various black bullets, while avoiding white ones. The more black bullets you gobble, the larger and more unwieldy you become. You can reset your size at any moment, but doing so reduces points. However, if you touch a white bullet, you reset your size anyway, and your points get cut drastically more. So there's a cool risk-reward system going on here, and level design that fully takes advantage of that (while still maintaining a music-based progression). My only complaint is that the 3DS slider isn't very precise when controlling the Void (the stylus would've made more sense here: just do a visual aid to prevent warping). I got farther here than in previous games, but the game definitely got unbearably hard at one point, which is when I stopped;
  • Bit.Trip Runner is the popular one, even seems to have spawned the entire "Platform Runner" sub-genre. If you played one of these, you know how it goes, you press Jump, Duck, or Kick to the rhythm of the song. By today's standards, it's basic, but I appreciate that it was one of the first games to do this concept... and also the only Bit.Trip game with any sort of difficulty curve. This one feels a lot more complete, with roughly 36 levels, properly teaching you the mechanics, and bonus challenges on top of it all. It was unfortunately bogged down by the series' recurring flaws (more on that later), and I eventually stopped when it was getting more frustrating than fun (a similar thing happened with HarmoKnight, making me wonder if this sub-genre just isn't for me);
  • Bit.Trip Fate is the only one that's not a rhythm game at all. It's a Shoot'em up where your character is locked to a pre-set line, and you can only move back-or-forth on it. Nice concept, as long as you make it properly possible to avoid enemy bullets (which they do, thankfully). And there's fun power-ups and everything. Now, I'm definitely not a fan of the genre, but I appreciate this game. I eventually stopped when I had no idea how to dodge the second Boss's attacks;
  • Bit.Trip Flux is just like Beat, but mirrored left to right. And also, strictly better, because this time I found it far more manageable to deal with the various bullets, nothing too hard to handle. In fact, this was the only game of the collection that I managed to finish.

Unfortunately, there were two recurring problems that really put a damper on my overall enjoyment: visuals and sound.

The first one is that the games' psychedelic colours, bright flashes, and overall aesthetic get in the way, making it hard to actually see the screen, and check out the trajectories of the various bullets. It even affects Runner, with later stages being so detailed and colourful, it's legitimately difficult to see springs, obstacles, etc. I'd say that the only one unaffected by this was Void, with Flux being the one where they actively toned down the bright colours (still has some, but it was way easier to see things).

(Incidentally, this was part of the design: the better you do, the more flashes you see. If you're doing poorly, the screen turns into the most basic, music-less, Atari-like black and white screen)

The second one is that, as Rhythm games, they're not very good. You never actually follow the background beats or music, rather, if you get something right, the resulting jingles complement the music. After a lot of repetition, it feels like you're playing an instrument, but that's not how Rhythm games are supposed to function, you're usually meant to follow the beat you're hearing. Otherwise, you get what these games do: you follow visual cues, and never audio cues. This hurts Runner more than any other game, because visual cues in Platform Runners are very unreliable... and when you couple that with the first problem, you get a game that's nothing but trial and error, far more frustrating than fun.

So yeah, feeling lukewarm on the whole, but I'm glad I played these. I'd say my personal ranking for them is Void > Flux > Beat > Runner > Fate >> Core

 

  My 2022 log (Hide contents)

Played/Beat/Completed:

-Steamworld Dig 2 (2017) Completed (January 6th)

-Bit.Trip Saga (2009-2011) No Goal (January 15th)

 

Dropped:

-Dicey Dungeons (2019) (January 3rd)

-The Room (2012) (January 8th)

...And now I've noticed that my 3DS backlog is now only made up of long RPGs... Hoo boy.

Edited by Jonnas
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