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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 For a game from 2012 on an outdated handheld it still holds up 10 years (!!!)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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spiel-steam-dirt-5-cover.jpg

One of the current PS+ games and actually quite fun. Got the psn-platinum-trophy-icon-01-ps5-en-07sep21?$native--t$ as well :D 
But, the game reminded me that as long as there is no nitro-infused boost and the ability to crash other cars I suck at racing games :p  Played the campaign on normal and struggle a bit in some races. :nono: 

Risk_of_Rain_2.jpg

A game that has left early access quite some time and got the 1.0 patch on consoles in summer last year. Which means: There's a final boss now. 
Been playing Risk of Rain 2 regularly with a mate for a while now, we managed to beat it several times. Some challenges are left, so we're not done, yet. 
Highly recommended if you want to play a frantic rogue-lite that starts quite slow each run.

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vampire-survivors-titel.jpg

I'd describe it as a roguelite reverse bullet-hell auto-battler. Enemies come at you fast, you kill them via auto attacks (some of them attack in a random direction, some of them in a fixed direction). Level up, add weapons, improve weapons, increase stats, rinse-repeat until you die.

It's in early access so not finished, but there's still an end to reach, even it's just an inevitable death. Will be interesting to see where Vampire Survivors will go and how the game will improve over time. For now, it's an absolute steal at 2.39€ (on PC via Steam).

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There's another game I've finished on my PSVita: Timespinner. A very pretty, small-scale Metroidvania with generic mechanics, that's still enjoyable for one playthrough. 

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And one more for the best handheld ever to which Sony definitely needs to make a successor (:(): Habroxia 2. I've played the first one and loved it. This is even better. Plenty of improvements make this one a very fun shmup. Will definitely go for the Platinum :) 

8 games in January, so far. Not bad, not bad. 
Probably won't be able to finish much more, though. Still playing Halo: Combat Evolved with a mate and we also started Nobody Saves The World. Both of which are not very good...

Halo is repetitive as all hell. Even back then I would've thought its level design is outdated. It also introduces one of the most boring antagonists ever...
Still, there's something to the plot and it's a joy playing this with a mate. We just josh around a lot with the game :D 

Nobody Saves The World...so far? Meh ::shrug: Very slow start and an annoying co-op mode make this a game we might drop soon. 
If one player opens the menu, it opens for both. If one player talks to an NPC, the other is teleported to it. There's a million quests which improve your characters but most of them are just "use this skill a gazillion times". Basically fetch quests with a different coating. And the best part? You need to do them to advance...
Not a good first impression. The game does, however, have pretty funny writing. But that's to be expected from the makers of Guacamelee! :D 

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First post of the new year here, huzzah! The first two games I technically played mostly in 2021, but damn it, I'm going to post it all here and not split up the post. Let's a go!

Sine Mora EX (Nintendo Switch)

 

 

Another one from one of the end of the year sales, Sine Mora EX was heavily discounted and I bought this on a whim. I don’t play a lot of shoot-em-ups, but this looked good and reviews were positive as well.

 

It is definitely one of the better shoot-em-ups I have played. First of all the game does look amazing, with plenty of cool visual effects and a lot of detail in the background. Maybe even a bit too detailed, as sometimes it is a bit tricky to make out enemies. Their bullets are highlighted, so that at least helps. The music hasn’t stuck with me, so that did not leave a lasting impression.

 

It plays well too. It follows a couple of the standard shoot-em-up protocols, like upgrading your weapon from a single shot to a multi-hitting monster by collecting drops. Getting hit means your power-ups get scattered, and you have a couple of seconds to recollect them. In story mode you play a number of different characters, all with a different “ultimate attack” and slightly different primary fire. And then there is the skill to slow down time to make dodging a little bit easier, although this cannot be used limitlessly and you need to collect items to refill.

 

Highlights are the number of bosses encountered; mostly screen-filling robots or creatures that need to be taken down in phases. One boss is a bit of a mess to navigate through, but the rest is fine. The game is difficult in parts but doesn’t feel overly unfair, something I often experience in shoot-em-ups and bullet hells. The only real downside? The story. It is a convoluted mess involving rape, genocide and time travel. Other than that a pretty great shoot-em-up for the couple of euros it cost me. The last shoot-em-up I played before was R-Type Dimensions EX and that cost more and was a lot less fun.

 

Dark Souls Remastered (Nintendo Switch)

 

 

 

New year’s day 2022, and since I didn’t have a wild party I was hangover-free, which meant I could finally deal with Dark Souls Remastered once and for all. And praise the sun, on the first day of this year the final boss fell by my pyromancy skills and Dark Souls Remastered was completed!

 

This truly feels like my biggest gaming achievement yet, mostly because it took me several years and restarts to finish the game. Looking back it is an amazing adventure, but not without flaws (the game severely lacks guidance or explanation of mechanics at moments, and controls still are clunky from time to time). Those are all forgiven though thanks to the amazing world building, exceptional bosses and the constant risk vs reward cycle. Never have I been so tense during sessions, fearing what would come around the next corner and where in a moment of relaxation even two lower class enemies can kill you.

 

I have to admit I have used a guide here and there to look up a mechanic, route or weapon upgrade path, because as said some things just aren’t apparent and I would have to rely on trial and error, grinding for drops etc. But the game is already long and I didn’t want to devote time to it. And on one boss I opened the online so I could get help from another player, which helped me take that behemoth down. For the rest I haven’t used online much (and this is also a part that is not really explained in detail), so I haven’t invaded others, and have been invaded myself only a couple of times.

 

I think @Julius mentioned he has yet to play the DLC; I’d say go for it as it has one of the greatest bosses in the game. A lovely bit of more Dark Souls. I doubt we’ll ever get 2 and 3 on Switch, but I must say my appetite is still there. It is one of the few games where I feel it almost needs a second playthrough, as now knowing what I know, it could make a whole different game (plus I want to use other class weapons as well).

 

I can rave on about the good and the bad but the conclusion is this is indeed a game like no others, and it has been one of the most impressive gaming experiences I have had in the last couple of years.

 

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night (Google Stadia)

 

 

 

Before talking about the game itself, some words on Google Stadia. Playing the game through Stadia has overall been a very pleasant experience. I never felt like I was playing a game in the cloud, loading times were good, graphically it looked impressive enough and I never experienced big dips in FPS. On two occasions the game froze up when I was quickly changing from one loadout to another, but I don’t know if this is a game problem or a Stadia problem.

 

Anyway, onwards to Bloodstained! This truly is Castlevania DS in all but name. The Belmonts and Dracula are missing, but the rest is all there: Different weapons including whips, a giant castle to explore, different kinds of spells to equip that you get from enemy drops, and the classic MetroidVania structure. Throw in some extra stuff like crafting, being able to power up your spells and cooking recipes, and you have an awesome game.

 

Instead of one of the Belmonts you now play as Miriam, a woman who has the gift (or curse?) to absorb shards that give her extra powers. These range from fireballs to chainsaws and from summoning bats to summoning massive dragons. You can also equip a passive spell (for example, increased recovery) and a familiar (a character that hovers around you and supports you in battle).

 

I won’t go into the story, as it is a pretty standard story about someone opening the gates to hell and the church is involved and more like that. It is there but it is not why you play this game. You play it for the exploration of the castle, finding new routes after you learn a new skill and taking down bosses. The bosses aren’t as great as in the DS Castlevania games, but some of them are pretty impressive. There are also a couple of optional ones which are amazing,

Spoiler

one is a dragon but you have to make your way through an 8-bit world. The other one is called the Revenant and is basically an undead Simon Belmont, complete with his typical strut, whip and holy water. Definitely made me chuckle

 

The music is top notch, and the game looks good as well. The only flaw I have is that the bosses could have been a bit more impressive, and on occasion it is not too clear what you have to do next. Other than that, one hell of a game. Dare I say I enjoyed this more than Metroid Dread? I think it’s mostly due to the bigger number of collectibles.

 

Cuphead (Nintendo Switch)

 

 

 

Pfew, this is a long post. But that is on me as I have played quite a couple of good games so enough to talk about! Next up is Cuphead, the 50s cartoon boss battler that got a surprise release on the Switch.

 

To be honest, when I started this I thought it was a bit of a different game. I expected a much more traditional level structure, with run and gun platforming levels with a boss at the end. Instead, this game is actually mostly boss battles, with only a couple of run and gun levels. And to be fair I think I liked it this way! It means you can jump in to tackle a couple of bosses, and don’t need to get through a level first each time. Yes, you will die a lot but you can just restart your fight.

 

The levels are mostly for collecting coins, which you can spend to buy weapons and power-ups. For the rest it is hopping from boss to boss, collecting their soul contracts for the Devil. Because that is what you do as a come-to-life cup with a gambling problem. Most bosses have various stages, and their moveset changes in each of them. What the game does well is that if you die, you see how far the boss was down, and the stages are marked with a line. So you know exactly how close you were to beating the boss, giving you plenty of incentive to keep going.

 

And then it is all about learning the boss’s patterns, remembering what it does in which phase and keep dodging those attacks. Sometimes go out of the fight and get a different loadout and try again, until you make your way through all of the 4 worlds and defeat them all. The game is shorter than I would have expected, but it is actually a good length.

 

The art style is sublime, hand-drawn graphics, with a crackle in it like you are watching an old tv show. Some of the boss designs are very creative, and all is supported with a jazzy soundtrack.

 

Two things I didn’t enjoy that much: there is a parrying system where some (but not all) projectiles can be parried. These can be recognized because they are pink. However, sometimes there are purple objects which you think you can parry but cannot, and I found the mechanism for that a bit clunky. Second, loading times are relatively long. Especially since you die a lot (you can check in-game and I think I had something over 250 deaths?) and levels are short, the loading time in between feels too long. Other than that? Definitely recommended, and I am curious to see how the DLC is going to be.

Edited by Dufniall
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(the remaster)

Man, what a bad campaign that was.
Now, don't get me wrong. I know what it did for the FPS genre on consoles. And by "it" I mean its multiplayer. But goodness me, the campaign is a constant string of repetitiveness.
Mission after mission you fight in two or three locations that get repeated two or three times. It's lazy, it's not creative, it's boring. The pinnacle was a mission where you basically just play a previous mission in reverse with one added objective (that, funnily enough, you have to do three fucking times, as well). :nono: 

There have also been a myriad of bugs, mainly in the sound and music department. SFX and songs randomly cut out, either never to return unless we restarted the game, or to come back 20 seconds later.
Some gameplay glitches softlocked us. No idea what caused it, but in some missions a completed objective didn't register and we were stuck. Not a good look for a remaster.

Normally, I would've abandoned the game halfway through, but playing it in co-op with a mate we were able to look past the glaring issues. I made it my mission to bitchslap at least one Marine in each mission they appear. My mate was horrible at flying Banshees. I was horrible at driving Warthogs. My mate was very trigger happy and killed me many times with the shotgun (most of the kills were unintentional, though, surprisingly). I bitchslapped my mate many times. :D 

There was also a glimpse of how the plot could evolve in the sequels. The Flood is a boring antagonist, the Covenant is just all over the place, but the story and twists surrounding Halo were pretty intriguing. 

Yeah, all in all...very mediocre. 

We will finish the entire series (at least the FPS games), though :D 

Edited by drahkon
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13 hours ago, drahkon said:

We will finish the entire series (at least the FPS games), though :D 

Which is why we've started Halo 2.

It's been great...
Mission structure is much more varied, the game looks prettier (which is not surprising, most sequels do), no audio bugs (so far). 
...but. The crashes. HOLY HELL, those crashes.

In two hours of gaming, our sessions crashed 17 - seventeen!!! - times. First we thought it had to do with some settings or the fact that we used the Windows voice chat (Discord was down for a while) but after looking around on the wonderful internet, we found out that we are not alone with these issues. Co-op seems to suffer from serious technical difficulties which haven't been fixed. This is beyond ridiculous, to be honest. 

Such a shame that two of the three Halo games we've played so far have been/are crazy buggy...

Well...guess we'll just push through. The game's fun, the story is intriguing, and you can still bitchslap your fellow marines. :p Really hope the sequels are optimized a lot better, though.

Edited by drahkon
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Outer Wilds: Echoes of the Eye

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An add on to Outer Wilds, a brilliant time loop game. This adds a new area to the game with its own mysteries, giving you a bit more context to the events of the game. The new area is more in depth than any previous areas, with really intriguing mysteries.

It also has a few bad points: as with the DLC you’ll be focused on one destination (instead of moving between), the time loop can get annoying as you have the same journey at the start of each one. There are also a few “stealth” sections that are annoying (although some puzzles related to them are really well done), especially as some require a good amount of setup and failure means setting it all up again.

That said, it’s a great addition to the game for the most part.
 

Mass Effect Trilogy

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My second playthrough with the legendary edition, doing for a renegade playthrough. In terms of choices, I feel like it improves over the three games. Mass Effect 1 contains a fair few moments where renegade is the same as paragon with more shouting. 

Mass Effect 2 you see more of the results of those choices, particularly people’s view on humans seizing power in background conversations. The choices in Mass Effect 2 can be a bit more over the top, with murder for the sake or murder and stuff like that. 

Mass Effect 3 feels more like meaningful choices. The choices are more grey and with the situation of the galaxy, some of the renegade choices seem like the better choices.

I love these games, but I think the biggest weakness is assigning importance to your level of paragade/renegade, as it discourages you from picking each choice individually. 
 

Pupperazzi

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A cute game about taking photos of dogs. Sadly, it fails on one of the most important parts: the controls. There’s a very significant input lag - you can move the stick, let go and then see your character move. This makes lining up shots a massive pain.

There’s a few locations, and most of the tasks have requirements like the dog needs a hat, or using a certain filter, or needs to be friendly (done by stroking them). It wears thing really quickly, but it doesn’t take long to reach the credits. 
   

 

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22 hours ago, drahkon said:

This is beyond ridiculous, to be honest. 

No joke...it's unacceptable.

We tried to complete one mission today and the game crashed 8 times. The last time was right before a boss fight, i.e. the end of the mission. And because the game is dumb and doesn't allow for checkpoints during co-op we would've had to plays the mission form the start.
We said "fuck it" and watched a video on YouTube for the bossfight and cutscene.

:nono: 

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Quite a good game. I completed Areas 1-5 and Area X. The latter features some gorgeous visuals and basically everything in the game has an incredible soundtrack.
Rail shooters aren't really my thing, so I won't spend anymore time on it but I'd still recommend it. Put on some headphones, sit back and enjoy a relaxing ride.

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While everybody and their mother is playing some weird new pocket monster game, I've bought Monster Sanctuary and spent 3 hours with it today.
It is monster collecting game with Metroidvania exploration and turn-based combat. And I gotta say: It scratches that particular numbers and stats itch that I sometimes have :D 

A battle:

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You got three monsters and usually fight against a team of three opposing monsters. In this case there was only one Champion. You attack in turns and can choose from a variety of attacks, defensive skills or buffs/debuffs.
Have had quite a few tough battles already. Especially when you fight against other people and their monsters.

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This lovely yeti is a beast of a tank. Comes with high HP and his passive (as seen on the bottom of the screenshot) is quite useful. The skill-tree is pretty extensive and I'm sure I'll experiment a lot because there are easily available respec items.

Also found a monster with the following passive:Monster-Sanctuary-20220129182310.jpg

This is kind of op as that monster also shields itself when it attacks. Couple that with my third team member who boast a massive shielding skill for the entire group and regular monsters barely damage my HP. We'll see how long that lasts :D 

So far, I'm very much enjoying Monster Sanctuary. It provides a nice challenge, is a weird mix of genres which works surprisingly well and is easy to understand yet provides a pretty deep system of numbers, stats and all that jazz (you can equip monsters with weapons and accessories and buff them with food!).

The game doesn't come without flaws, however.
It's not the prettiest game. The pixel art is a little outdated and the monsters look a little odd during gameplay (the monster log has some great pixel art, though). The music is kinda boring and the story isn't particularly interesting, either. Also, the map is ass:

Monster-Sanctuary-20220129161549.jpg

Anyways, can't wait to spend more time with it and see what it has to offer :peace: 

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During a mostly sleepless night I found this little gem on the Google Play Store. 
Retro Bowl is obviously an American Football game. 

You get assigned to a losing team and have to do your best to get them back up to speed and/or just show you're a good coach and get hired by a different team. That's the "story". 
What surprised me the most is how intuitive and great the controls are. You tap the screen and hold to set the power and direction of the throw (if you wanna throw). You can also tap the running back and he gets the ball. With swipes you can make him dodge tackles.
Plays are chosen automatically with a set amount of "audibles" (a quarterback can change plays, just in case you don't know) so there's limited choice, but it works just fine.

Kicking extra points and field goals is simple, as well. Set the power via a moving bar and set the direction via a moving arrow.

It is so much fun.

Not sure if I'm actually amazing or if the game is deliberately easy in the first season, but I won the Super Retro Bowl immediately :D Got hired by a better team and will keep playing until I arrive at my favorite NFL team, the Greenbay Packers and win it all :cool: 

Paid 1.09€ for the full version which let's you adjust some extra settings like weather and removes ads (which aren't really intrusive). Worth it.

 

Well, I've also been playing Monster Sanctuary for most of the last 6 hours while also watching the Australian Open men single final. Haven't made a lot of progress because that match was amazing. VAMOS NADAL :D:bouncy: 

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It has been done. What a horrible experience this was.
First of all: The game in general is a nicely improved sequel. Missions aren't as repetitive, graphics are much better, gameplay feels great.

But...the crashes. We counted 57 (!!!) in total. The final straw was the last mission. 9 crashes. The mission features an "autoscroller" which you can't skip, so having to play that over and over again wasn't fun. Eventually we decided to watch someone play the mission on YouTube. What a weird way to complete a game.

If it wasn't so badly optimized I'd given it an 8/10 but the unacceptable crashes turned this into a 2/10. ::shrug: 

I gotta say, Microsoft's PC gaming offering is ridiculously bad. The Xbox App is a horrible piece of software that resets settings randomly, occasionally deletes games and updates, sometimes doesn't download updates at all, and more.
The Windows Game Base or whatever it's called is even worse. It's a clunky, over-complicated mess. :nono: 

Welp...my mate and I do have fun with co-op games and we will continue with the Halo series. But holy cow, if the third installment is as much of a technical disaster as the second game...not sure how long our enjoyment will last.

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I remembered that during the pandemic, Sony gave away the Uncharted trilogy free, and so I decided to give it a try, as it is a series that I always wanted to play, but never had the opportunity, as I never had a PS3. I was looking to play a blockbuster, adventure game; with a load set pieces, humour and fun. 

Unfortunately....the first game, Uncharted: Drake's Fortune falls a bit short. I'd seen footage and reviews of the last couple of games, and i hadn't realised that the first one starts off a bit shakey. It's not terrible, but the shooting sections are very samey and repetitive; the puzzles are very easy; and the plot is very cliched. However, the sharp turn that the plot takes about 80% of the way through, was a bizarre surprise. 

Also, the game is pretty bare bones. It seems to be one of those old-fashioned games where the replay value is simply to play the whole game again, but at a harder difficulty, or faster. I don't really mind this, because i'm just playing through them for the story and experience (and they're free anyway), but i think the game shows it's age a bit here.

________________________________________

 

I have also been playing Paper Mario: Origami King in short bursts. I've done the first streamer, and am heading to the next. i hadn't realised just how much this game is aimed at kids. I know Nintendo games obviously are more child friendly, but the amount of hand-holding and annoying tips are frustrating. Also, I realised how annoying the 'wave battles' were going to be very early on when it started the second one, and I thought 'oh, no, another one?'. Not a good sign...

The rest of the game is fun and trying to find all the toads etc is pretty engaging. Hopefully the battle side picks up because this game wasn't free...

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3 hours ago, drahkon said:

But holy cow, if the third installment is as much of a technical disaster as the second game...not sure how long our enjoyment will last.

Praise be Master Chief, it is without hiccup. At least for now.

Halfway through and no issues whatsoever :D Been a lot of fun, but the story is pretty much non-existent, which is a shame as there's a lot of potential that hasn't been tapped into at all. That will hopefully change in the next mission, though. At least that's what my mate and I assume.

 

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Praise be Master Chief, it is without hiccup. At least for now.
Halfway through and no issues whatsoever  Been a lot of fun, but the story is pretty much non-existent, which is a shame as there's a lot of potential that hasn't been tapped into at all. That will hopefully change in the next mission, though. At least that's what my mate and I assume.
 
Are you going to be playing the side games like ODST and Reach?

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