The Shackled Wolves - 2021 Games Completed Thread

Shoulder

Your Resident Beardy Bear
Xenoblade: Definitive Edition (NS) + Future Connected

I think with this playthrough of Xenoblade I can confirm it's one of my favorite RPG's of all time. Just stellar across the board: interesting characters, an amazing world to explore, great main plot that's unique and bonkers, fun battle system, etc. The updated music is fantastic, the boss music gives me chills to this day. I'm happy I rebought this for Switch, the updated character models look waaaaaay better, and the visuals themselves are beautiful.

Future Connected is a post game story that brings back a previously cut area from the original release. It's cool to finally experience the map, but the story is nothing stellar. It deals with themes present in the main game. The main baddy isn't that great either. To quote ET. "It's kinda hard to follow up punching god in the face.". I think that's why I usually ignore post game content in RPG's. Once you hit that emotional and climatic high of beating the main threat, which is usually a God, nothing really compares.

But before I did punch him out, I did a lot of the end game stuff, getting everyone above level 95, basically did everything I could. Was a ton of fun, but boy am I ready for shorter games again haha. I wasn't aware Tales of Arise's release date was so soon, i.e. a few days ago, so that will unfortunately wait awhile whilst I decompress from over 90 hours of anime.

So yeah, if you want to buy it, buy it for the main game. Future Connected is still good, but I don't think it's worth a buy just for that if you beaten Xenoblade on Wii or 3DS recently. I will say though, FC did give me a new waifu, so there's that.
Would you suggest then Future Connected might be better played during your normal playthrough of the main game ala what the Monolith Soft Director made a comment on with XC2 + Torna? Say after a particular chapter in the main game of XBC is done, stop that, boot up Future Connected, and then come back to finish the remainder of the playthrough?
 
Would you suggest then Future Connected might be better played during your normal playthrough of the main game ala what the Monolith Soft Director made a comment on with XC2 + Torna? Say after a particular chapter in the main game of XBC is done, stop that, boot up Future Connected, and then come back to finish the remainder of the playthrough?
Future Connected takes place after the events of the main game, so it's meant to be played once you finish that.
 
Please add a * to Banjo Kazooie (XB1)
Bright Memory* (XSX)

So I caved and bought a Series S since those are actually manageable to find. So far I'm very happy with it. Quick Resume is actually pretty impressive, although I tend to play one game at a time so I'm unsure if I'll make the most of it in the long run. Setting it up, it was nice enough to let me know my tv doesn't support: 4K, HDR, 120 Hz, and a laundry list of other feature. Thanks Phil Spencer, I know I'm poor scum, stop making fun of me.

So, what was the first game I played on my super sensual sleek Sexbox Series S? Banjo Kazooie. A N64 game I played two months ago. I'm...weird. Still, what a fucking great time. Nothing more to say about it. Fun fact, this playthrough and my other one from two months ago had a finish time within 7 seconds of each other. I'm nothing if not consistent.

But okay, onto an actual next gen game. Bright Memory was made by one dude and the first playthrough took me 31 minutes including 6 deaths. Feels like a demo I paid $10 for. Let's get the negative out of the way. The plot is sooooooo garbage, I love it. Nothing is explained, terms are just thrown at you, things are vaguely alluded to with no payoff, the post credits scene is someone showing up but all you see is their boots. I noticed there was some brief tidbits on the loading screen, but they scroll by quickly. I don't know if this was meant to be a joke, or just planting seeds for the sequel which is due out soon, but whatever the line of thinking was, I'm happy. Like, what the fuck haha.

More importantly, dude, this game is dope. It makes me think of if Platinum made a FPS. For only 30 minutes it gives you more to play around with than tons of other shooters, especially from the 7th gen "we want the Call of Duty audience" wave of games we gotten. You only get a pistol, assault rifle and shotgun, but you get power ups too. The shotgun literally shoots as fast as you can pull the trigger. Anyways, you can send out a shock wave, freeze time in a zone, shoot lightening, power up your damage and make enemies float, have a dome of small projectiles surround you, jump in the air and attack, making you hover for as long as your attacking, and you have a sword with light attacks and an AOE attack. Combing these in unique ways is a ton of fun. Some moves cause enemies to float helplessly in midair allowing you to follow up with whatever you want. It's a spectacle for sure. New game plus allows you to carry everything over so I did another go where I just melted everything.

It does have some jank though. Seems like you can't jump while attacking, so you have to stop to jump first. Getting caught on geometry, etc. He does have a team for the sequel, so I'm hoping for a full fledge game with an actual story. It is free to owners of this game on Steam though, so as excited as I am for it, I'm only expecting it to be a couple of hours.

Apparently this game mixed reviews, but don't listen to them, listen to ya boi. This game made me smile and laugh the whole time, it's a blast to play and the feedback of the attacks, blood effects, sound effects, just makes it satisfying to play. High hopes for the sequel.

Oh, and you play as a total babe who can wear school girl outfits because of course. 10/10 babyyy
 

Karkashan

Married to Chrom
wChrobin Screenshot 2021-09-25 04-29-11.png
Castlevania: Dracula X (PS4)

Finished up my playthrough of Castlevania: Dracula X, and I got the good ending so I ended up with all 3 trophies from the collection that are tied to the game.

Medusa Heads remain the number 1 annoying flying enemy of all time.

Getting the Key sub weapon to Maria and then to the alternative exit was just as annoying as I remembered.

To be more coherent this is a good game in an old school Castlevania kind of way, however it holds 2 middle fingers up to the player constantly if you don't want a bad ending, and then tells you to fuck yourself and sends you to a different level entirely if you slightly mess up in one part.

Harmony is next on my list since of the three GBA 'vania games it's the one I haven't played the longest.
 

Karkashan

Married to Chrom
Have you beaten Harmony before? Looking forward to your thoughts if not. I really enjoy it, but I have to be in the mood for it due to reasons I won't spoil if you don't know.
I have played it before, yes (my previous post might've been confusing). What I meant was that the amount of time since I last replayed it is longer than the amounts of time since I'd played COTM and Aria.
 
Cuphead (XB1)

I have this game for PC which I played when it launched. However, the upcoming DLC is apparently exclusive to Windows 10, which I don't have. I use my laptop for work, who told me not to upgrade as the drivers needed won't work. Blah blah tech crap.

So I bought it again for the Xbox so when the DLC does drop, I'm golden. I still love this game a lot. Only thing is I think the difficulty curve is a bit out of order. I think the second world has some of the hardest bosses, or at least, the ones that took me the most tries. Some bosses I remember giving me all kinds of shit on my first playthrough took me only a few tries this time. One boss in the last world I even managed to do first try.

If you haven't played it yet and want a challenging boss rush game, I can't recommend it enough. Beautiful too, I can't imagine the work that must have went into it.
 

Karkashan

Married to Chrom
Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance* (PS4)

Finished up Harmony from the Castlevania Advanced Collection. I had attempted to start up a playthrough on Wii U a couple years back but for one reason or another I got distracted and abandoned it; meaning that this was the first time I'd gone through this game since I was...17? 16? I definitely know it was via the Double Pack for GBA on my DS Phat because I distinctly remember going to hit Dracula's second form with a sub weapon and accidentally turning off my system...

...yeah. That's one memory that's been burned into my psyche forever, lol.

Harmony is a good game. Let me just get that out there. The combat and traversal feel good. However this castle(s) map is one of the largest of the series, as there are two different versions of the Castle in this game. Unlike Symphony there's an actual story behind the second castle and you have occasional moments where breaking down a wall in one castle will open up a path in the other. And since it's not upside down it doesn't feel as tedious to go through as the second castle in SOTN.

Again, that being said, this game is almost too large to a fault. Almost. Thankfully you have unlimited forward and backwards dashing that can be spammed to ridiculous levels, so even a 100% run like I did to get all trophies only took roughly seven hours or so (with an additional 80 minutes being all I needed for the second playthrough with the alternative playable character, Maxim, who doesn't need keys or movement upgrades, he just needs to kill all the bosses)

All that nice stuff being said (and keep in mind I like this game a lot) I'd probably rate it the bottom of the Advanced trilogy of 'vania games.

praisegrima
 
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Halo: Combat Evolved (XSX)
Gears of War: Ultimate Edition (XB1)

I got Gamepass finally, so it seemed fitting that the first few games I play from it are the big dick Microsoft shooters.

Halo, I gotta say, I'm disappointed in. Besides co-oping a mission or two in 3 at a friend's in high school, I never played any campaign. I have heard many times over the years how legendary this series is, how groundbreaking it is, how it cured global hunger and solved the economic gulf between the mega rich and poor. Yadda yadda, I guess this sort of talk is par for the course in any long running franchise with a rabid fanbase.

So with no nostalgia I went in fresh, wanting to make my own opinion. I'm not happy I came out the other end disappointed. I can see the whole "groundbreaking" thing with console shooters in terms of controls and such, but the level design can be very poor even considering the time it came out. Some levels in the game will copy/paste the same rooms and hallways up to 9 times. The last few levels are just previous levels but in reverse. It can be very tedious slogging through it. That's mostly why I'm not that impressed with the game. When it's good, it's pretty enjoyable for sure, but too much of it feels padded. It honestly kinda killed my motivation to check the rest of the series. For curiosity I watched some videos on Halo 2 and 3, apparently 2's campaign can also be a slog, and 3 seems "fine". I don't know, maybe one day.

Gears of War on the other hand, holy fuck did I enjoy my day with this one. I know it's easy to label it as a dumb meat head shooter that ruined shooters for years, but let me tell ya, this game is smartly designed.

On the surface it's easy to describe. Your guns shoot bullets, your enemies' heads are squishy, caveman brain likes it when the two meet. Everything around it though just elevates it. The pacing is great, changing up the settings, enemies, or tasks enough to not make it boring. I thought it would be a slower cover based shooter, and yeah you'll be parking your ass behind chest high walls a lot, but enemies aren't sponging enough that you'll be sitting in one place too long. Enemies can spawn in through sink holes, so you have a choice: do you sit back and let them all spawn, having more to kill but you're relatively safe at the moment, or do you risk plugging it up with a grenade, leaving cover and potentially being in harms way, but you'll cut the amount of active enemies in the field. Even reloading is neat with the active reload system. You can reload and wait, or you can time it right to save time, or time it even better to increase damage, but if you miss, your reload time is longer. It's decisions like these that keeps all the fights engaging. When enemies die they splatter blood in a way that's easy to determine they're dead, and when your weapons run low on ammo the firing sound is different, letting you know without seeing the ammo counter. It has these small smart design choices that add up.

For a game from 2006, the set pieces hold up very well. I think it's a testament to the pacing that when a new monster is shown, or a new mechanic is introduced that it actually has weight to it. One level is set at night where you have to stay in the light or else you'll be cut to shreds by these bat-like monsters. Guns are great fun to use, I now know the joy of using a chainsaw/machine gun combo.

The only thing I'm a bit mixed on is the story. On the one hand, it's a very simple plot of fighting the Locust. Who are they? Why do they hate us? Who is this guy that shows up in two cutscenes and is the final boss? No clue. The opening cinematic shows their initial attack, fast forward 14 years later we have a plan to win the war. There are seeds for the sequel, but as a stand alone game, it's not the most engrossing. I do like the characters though. Sure, they're big meaty men growling orders and such, but their voice actors do a good job. I will say though, I do love this world already. It's not Earth, but it's still grounded even though it's sci-fi. There's nothing really far future about it besides a personal drone that can cut through doors, and a hand held satellite guiding laser system. Buildings feel like places that exist now, and some of them have a nice blend of cathedrals with high arch ways and such. Some posters/portraits of people feel imperial, while some statues seem more like ancient greece/rome. I really don't know how to label what kind of sci fi this is, but I quite dig it. Walking through a post-apocalyptic city does sell how desperate times are. I can't really describe why I like it so much, but there were times I played like an E3 demo, just slowly walking through it taking it all in. I already got the sequel downloaded.
 

mattavelle1

IT’S GOT A DEATH RAY!
Moderator
Halo: Combat Evolved (XSX)
Gears of War: Ultimate Edition (XB1)

I got Gamepass finally, so it seemed fitting that the first few games I play from it are the big dick Microsoft shooters.

Halo, I gotta say, I'm disappointed in. Besides co-oping a mission or two in 3 at a friend's in high school, I never played any campaign. I have heard many times over the years how legendary this series is, how groundbreaking it is, how it cured global hunger and solved the economic gulf between the mega rich and poor. Yadda yadda, I guess this sort of talk is par for the course in any long running franchise with a rabid fanbase.

So with no nostalgia I went in fresh, wanting to make my own opinion. I'm not happy I came out the other end disappointed. I can see the whole "groundbreaking" thing with console shooters in terms of controls and such, but the level design can be very poor even considering the time it came out. Some levels in the game will copy/paste the same rooms and hallways up to 9 times. The last few levels are just previous levels but in reverse. It can be very tedious slogging through it. That's mostly why I'm not that impressed with the game. When it's good, it's pretty enjoyable for sure, but too much of it feels padded. It honestly kinda killed my motivation to check the rest of the series. For curiosity I watched some videos on Halo 2 and 3, apparently 2's campaign can also be a slog, and 3 seems "fine". I don't know, maybe one day.

Gears of War on the other hand, holy fuck did I enjoy my day with this one. I know it's easy to label it as a dumb meat head shooter that ruined shooters for years, but let me tell ya, this game is smartly designed.

On the surface it's easy to describe. Your guns shoot bullets, your enemies' heads are squishy, caveman brain likes it when the two meet. Everything around it though just elevates it. The pacing is great, changing up the settings, enemies, or tasks enough to not make it boring. I thought it would be a slower cover based shooter, and yeah you'll be parking your ass behind chest high walls a lot, but enemies aren't sponging enough that you'll be sitting in one place too long. Enemies can spawn in through sink holes, so you have a choice: do you sit back and let them all spawn, having more to kill but you're relatively safe at the moment, or do you risk plugging it up with a grenade, leaving cover and potentially being in harms way, but you'll cut the amount of active enemies in the field. Even reloading is neat with the active reload system. You can reload and wait, or you can time it right to save time, or time it even better to increase damage, but if you miss, your reload time is longer. It's decisions like these that keeps all the fights engaging. When enemies die they splatter blood in a way that's easy to determine they're dead, and when your weapons run low on ammo the firing sound is different, letting you know without seeing the ammo counter. It has these small smart design choices that add up.

For a game from 2006, the set pieces hold up very well. I think it's a testament to the pacing that when a new monster is shown, or a new mechanic is introduced that it actually has weight to it. One level is set at night where you have to stay in the light or else you'll be cut to shreds by these bat-like monsters. Guns are great fun to use, I now know the joy of using a chainsaw/machine gun combo.

The only thing I'm a bit mixed on is the story. On the one hand, it's a very simple plot of fighting the Locust. Who are they? Why do they hate us? Who is this guy that shows up in two cutscenes and is the final boss? No clue. The opening cinematic shows their initial attack, fast forward 14 years later we have a plan to win the war. There are seeds for the sequel, but as a stand alone game, it's not the most engrossing. I do like the characters though. Sure, they're big meaty men growling orders and such, but their voice actors do a good job. I will say though, I do love this world already. It's not Earth, but it's still grounded even though it's sci-fi. There's nothing really far future about it besides a personal drone that can cut through doors, and a hand held satellite guiding laser system. Buildings feel like places that exist now, and some of them have a nice blend of cathedrals with high arch ways and such. Some posters/portraits of people feel imperial, while some statues seem more like ancient greece/rome. I really don't know how to label what kind of sci fi this is, but I quite dig it. Walking through a post-apocalyptic city does sell how desperate times are. I can't really describe why I like it so much, but there were times I played like an E3 demo, just slowly walking through it taking it all in. I already got the sequel downloaded.
Ima huge Gears fan I’m really glad you enjoyed it and honestly I don’t see how many people couldn’t.
 
Gears of War 2 (XB1)
Halo 2 (XSX)

I may have made a mistake playing Gears 2 so quickly after 1, but all the same it too was a badass and fun time. I think I may prefer the first if only because a lot of 2 felt like similar cave levels. The most memorable sections were inside the giant worm and the abandon science facility because they were vastly different. The final boss made me say "that was it?" but overall, yeah, still a very fun and well paced action game.

Halo 2 is definitely an improvement over 1, but I still wouldn't say it's a masterpiece or anything. In the second half of the game there is copy/pasted rooms and whatnot, so some levels in the second half can drag on too long without being interesting enough to warrant it. Besides that though I think it improves most everything from gameplay to story, and the levels that aren't filled with copy/pasted areas tend to be pretty great.

That said the story is a tad hard to follow on certain sections because some levels had to be cut during production. One minute we're on a Halo ring, then we get teleported without the game saying where too exactly. Other than that the story is pretty basic in terms of what the objective is: stop gross alien bro from activating Halo.

Hmm, I'm starting to get the feeling Halo isn't a beloved franchise for it's plot.
 

mattavelle1

IT’S GOT A DEATH RAY!
Moderator
Gears of War 2 (XB1)
Halo 2 (XSX)

I may have made a mistake playing Gears 2 so quickly after 1, but all the same it too was a badass and fun time. I think I may prefer the first if only because a lot of 2 felt like similar cave levels. The most memorable sections were inside the giant worm and the abandon science facility because they were vastly different. The final boss made me say "that was it?" but overall, yeah, still a very fun and well paced action game.

Halo 2 is definitely an improvement over 1, but I still wouldn't say it's a masterpiece or anything. In the second half of the game there is copy/pasted rooms and whatnot, so some levels in the second half can drag on too long without being interesting enough to warrant it. Besides that though I think it improves most everything from gameplay to story, and the levels that aren't filled with copy/pasted areas tend to be pretty great.

That said the story is a tad hard to follow on certain sections because some levels had to be cut during production. One minute we're on a Halo ring, then we get teleported without the game saying where too exactly. Other than that the story is pretty basic in terms of what the objective is: stop gross alien bro from activating Halo.

Hmm, I'm starting to get the feeling Halo isn't a beloved franchise for it's plot.
The hoard mode in Gears2 could be one of the most awesome times I’ve had in Co-op.
 

Karkashan

Married to Chrom
Chrobin Screenshot 2021-10-06 01-45-41.png

Castlevania: Circle of the Moon* (PS4)
(from the Castlevania: Advanced Collection)

Interesting note with this run is I messed up the order and did the zone Carmilla is in before doing Dragon Zombies or Death's zone; which made that zone really interesting as I now had to worry about taking damage from the water that was covering half the platforms in the area. I did end up doing the Twin Zombie zone and Death's zone afterwards, which was interesting with regards to already have the super jump unlocked (and more importantly, the Lilith Super-Enemy that gives out 20k exp per kill is added to Death's area after beating Carmilla).

The first part of Magician Mode was a constant feeling of "yeesh I'm so weak" (you have to be very selective with your spells when doing the Iron Golem fight or else it'll heal itself forever and you'll be out of luck). But once I got some level ups and my MP and INT were boosted to insane levels, the rest of the game could be fairly easily ran through even at somewhat low levels (Hugh was a bit of a challenge since he likes to stand right next to you and never move, but it was easy enough to go to a corner of the room up top and pull off a healing summon).

Thankfully the only second playthrough trophy attached to COTM is the one for Magician Mode; I don't know if I would've had the motivation to play this game five times in a row if each mode had a trophy. I love this game, don't get me wrong, but I can only double tap to run so many times before needing to move onto something else.
 
Halo 3 (XSX)

It took Bungie three games but they finally did it, they made a campaign I can call genuinely good. No major criticisms here, just a solid well paced shooter with a variety of environments that don't overstay their welcome and aren't padded out. The story isn't anything fantastic but it gets the job done. Yeehaw.
 

Karkashan

Married to Chrom
Metroid Dread (NS)

If it wasn't for the possibility for recency bias this game might be slotted in as my third or second favorite Metroid.

Easily Mercurysteam's most polished release, with a lovely steady 60FPS throughout the adventure. I haven't tested it myself but apparently it does support 5.1 surround sound which sounds amazing to experience for a 2D sidescroller; the sound design in general was fantastic though.

A major shoutout to the animation team for their superb rigging and flow system; I don't think Metroid has ever felt this fluid and good.

I don't have any more coherent thoughts atm but based off my friends list on Saturday a good chunk of ya'll will have thoughts on it soon for this thread as well (I know @Juegos already beat it twice).
 
Metroid Dread (NS)

I died so much in this game. Eventually, boss fights made me completely tense up. It got to the point where I was reminded of DOOM Eternal. Was not expecting the game to be this hard like holy shit.

It only came out Friday, so I won’t say much. Everything I want to talk about is a spoiler. It’s Metroid, the first 2D console Metroid since the SNES, first HD Metroid too. So it’s a big and beautiful Metroid game that plays super well.

I got a bit emotional watching the opening cutscene. I’ve been waiting for Metroid 5 for so damn long, and I finally got to play it. Still doesn’t feel real sometimes. They did a great job though.
 

Karkashan

Married to Chrom
Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow* (PS4)

I had played maybe 30 minutes or so before Dread came out, but this had to take a backseat to Mercurysteam's newest game. This caused me some muscle memory issues once I came back to it (lol I kept trying to press the left trigger to slide at certain points).

A very lucky Curly soul drop mid way through the game (seriously I had gone back up to the Inner Quarters to farm her and the first one dropped it) allowed me access to the Forbidden Area; and more importantly Claimh Solais along with the Mimic soul. The Mimic soul gives you money based off of how much damage you take, so it was a simple half hour of repeatedly standing on spikes right next to a save room to get the 300k required to purchase the Soul Eater Ring.

Instead of stopping and grinding souls I simply played through the rest of the game (where the bosses actually get challenging) (ok Death is challenging as well but that was like, right before this so I'm counting it) with the Soul Eater Ring equipped to hopefully alleviate the grinding I would need to do later. I beat Chaos and wound up with a time of 3: 52.

If you know what you're doing, Julius Mode, which I did next, is super easy to get through since you have all mobility options at the start and don't need additional weapons or items. This let me run up real quick to grab teleport rooms on the way to bosses (since each boss kill ups your stats) and quickly complete that mode before moving back to my main save file to grind the rest of the souls, and nab the last trophy.


Chrobin Screenshot 2021-10-11 22-15-39.png
Needless to say it took a bit to get the rest of them. Demon Lord, Arc Demon, Red Minotaur, and Dryad were the four that gave me the worst trouble in terms of not wanting to drop for me. But eventually I got them all, and grabbed my fifth Platinum. (Counting actual playstation plats here, not 100% achievements on Steam or Xbox, where I've gotten a few others).

As for Aria itself; it's a lot easier than I remember it being. Then again, the last two games I played were Circle of the Moon and Metroid Dread, so perhaps the game's gonna seem a tad less difficult in comparison to those. (I should probably mention that I've replayed probably the most out of the GBA Vanias, so that probably helped too)

Still, though, playing through it again just reminds me why I and a lot of other people consider it the best of the GBA vanias. The art, the spritework, the music and map are all wonderfully done. A lot of people like to have SOTN as the standard to which all Metroidvania Castlevanias should be compared to; but for me the standard is this game. (That being said it's not my favorite Castlevania, I just think it has the best overall "Metroidvania" feel to it)
Chrobin Screenshot 2021-10-11 22-14-57.png
 
Fable Anniversary (XB1)

This one bums me out. I've never played this series before and my experience with it is watching my friend play it a bit in school when it came out. I was excited to try it but eventually the negatives made me want the credits to start scrolling.

What's good here is really good. The world of Albion is really enjoyable to go through. The dialogue made me laugh sometimes, mostly from the city guards. It can be dark, as in the scene that describes your sister's eyes being gouged out, but overall it tends to be more light-hearted than most western RPGs. It has dark humor too, like one quest is to escort a prisoner to his execution with some guards, and the guards are making small talk like "I have a good feeling about today's execution", then to talk about how good windmills are because they never hurt anyone. It's a nice break from grim dark stuff.

The quests can also be fun. They're usually simple, but either the character or world building makes them worth it. I played through the game as a good hero, but there are sometimes quests that you can either "protect the town from bandits" or "kill the guards to help the bandits". One story quest had the mayor from a town congratulate me on winning in the battle arena. She was introduced awhile ago at this point so I figured she'd have some story significance, but nope. Instead, you can try to marry her or investigate her since a townsperson suspects she killed her sister in order to become the mayor herself. I'm not one date crazy unless I know they're crazy, so after talking to the dead sister's lover, I return to their old house and summoned her spirit. She leads me to the basement where I learn that yes, the mayor did kill her sister. The mayor (her name is Lady Grey) finds me and asks to hand over the proof. I feel like with her secret in the open our relationship can take the next healthy step forward. I do so and then she instructs me to beat another Hero in combat to prove myself further. The guy was a huge prick to me all game so I just look at it as validation for stabbing him. Once done (he ran away after I beat him, so hey, guilt free marriage), we married. Once married that's it though, can't even talk to her. So while the end game was a bit flat, the fact that all this was optional made it very memorable and as if I was making my own journey.

So I enjoyed the questing, the characters (even if they aren't super in-depth, they're enjoyable), and the world. I was really enjoying my time with it but like I said, the negatives grinded me down eventually. To start, this is a 360 remaster of an OG Xbox game released after the Xbone came out. I can't imagine the budget was super high. Technical hitches everywhere. Multiple crashes and infinite loading screens, janky and jittering camera. Movement took a bit getting use to. Graphical pop-in proudly provided by Unreal Engine 3. But the biggest issues to me was combat, and with an action RPG, there's a lot of it. At it's best, it's merely adequate, at it's worse, it's downright janky and annoying. How's this sound: Travel with three merchants to their destination with enemies spawning on the way. You face the camera towards everyone and hit lock-on. Naturally I'd want to attack the monster, but the game deems it necessary to lock on to a friendly. Sometimes I'd be running away from a monster but the camera is still facing it but the lock on would swing behind the camera, and untrue to it's name, not locking on to anything. One boss fight drained two and a half health bars by spamming lightening. Trolls can outright juggle you by throwing rocks, knocking you down as soon as you get up. I tell ya, slowing down time is necessary. When you block an attack enemies recoil backwards, but sometimes if you follow up with an attack, they'll still block it even though they're not animating blocking. It's weird.

Combat is one of those things that's hard to describe, I can only say the words "jank" and "clunky" so many time, but unless you experience it it's hard to describe. Granted, a lot of people like this game so maybe I played it wrong or whatever. Part of it could be that there's only so much "meh" combat a game can sustain before it becomes too much.

Still, with everything good about the game, I do want to try Fable 2 at some point. That said, if the combat is still the same and frustrating, I don't think I'll stick with it.
 

Karkashan

Married to Chrom
Metroid: Other M (100%) (Wii)

I bought the Japanese version years ago, and finally played it this weekend (outside of the intro section and the first boss you face with the 07th Platoon, which I had gone through last year). Funnily enough, the Japanese version has both English and Japanese audio and subtitles. (I played with Japanese audio and English subtitles, of course. Even if I had bought the Japanese version just for the nifty little slip cover it doesn't mean I wasn't interested in seeing these cutscenes voiced in Japanese)

The game still holds up, imo. I often found myself impressed, even 11 years later, with what they could accomplish on an SD console (the stylized "CG anime" really helps keep things timeless). Now this does come with some drawbacks; speedbooster is the enemy of frames and while it doesn't kill them a lot it does noticeably kill them at times. Also as a disc based console sometimes there are very wonky "now loading" screens in awkward places. This are both nitpicks that I feel don't really detract from the game, but they are there and they are blatant enough for even someone like me to notice.

Did you know the Wii remote is really fucking tiny? At least, when held sideways like a NES controller it feels small af. Any time I had to point and shoot it felt perfectly ergonomic and fit comfortably; but girl I had to find like, the perfect sitting position and placing of my hands so that I didn't start losing the feeling in them. Also I guess I fucked up my sensor bar's position as well cause I ended up having to adjust that a couple times lol.

At the end of the day, this game has been and still remains my second favorite of the franchise after Echoes. I'll tell you what though, Dread is a very close third.
 
Gears of War 3 (XB1)
Call of the Sea (XSX)

I don't have much more to add with the Gears series at this point. 3 is what you'd expect from the third installment of a series on one console generation. I felt a tad nostalgic with this one too, I remember in 2011 this, Modern Warfare 3, Resistance 3, Battlefield 3, and other big shooters came out and at the time it felt like an important year, so I was excited for awhile now to give this particular one a go and yeah, it's as bombastic and action packed as a 7th gen shooter could be.

The set pieces in this game are bonkers. One level you're on a massive ship fighting off a giant sea monster, then the next level is a "one hour previously" affair with another group of people who eventually make it to a bridge looking over the ship and monster. The scale of this game is insane. Last and current gen have seen publishers go more and more open world with their games, so going back to a linear shooter that focuses on set pieces and action, it's retroactively refreshing. There most certainly is a space in the gaming world for games like these. But it's not too action heavy to the point where it blends together or becomes tedious, there are quiet moments that actually brings up interesting story beats that paints the COG (coalition of organized governments - basically the commanding higher ups) in a questionable light. It's interesting stuff, I kinda want to check out the novels. Ultimately, the game doesn't dwell on it before going "machine gun goes brrr", and holy shit son do some guns go brrr indeed. Some weapons made me laugh out loud or have my jaw agape. It's been awhile since a shooter gave me such a thrill (minus the previous Gears).

Speaking of story though, I'm a bit hesitant to read the novels. In the second game the Locusts are all about taking over the surface from humans. In this game since we fucked up the underground, they live above ground but they're excavating underground because this area is no good for them? When the games have little plot inconsistencies or don't dwell on certain topics too much, I wonder if it's worth it. Also, I did some digging and while there are interesting topics that are covered in the novels, or some characters will get more time in them, but at the end of the day if they're in the game for 10 minutes with a small role, does it really matter? Since the games are the big main event and everything. Maybe one day. To me, the world itself still remains the most interesting character. Unlike 2 where you spent a lot of time underground, this one had a road trip set up taking you to a wide variety of areas. For a 10 year old 360 game this is fucking gorgeous. The towns, deserts, abandoned sports stadium, and trillion-dollar escape resort for the societal elites is awe-inspiring. I just can't get tired of this grand European architectural crossed with industrial military sci-fi.

Huh, guess I had more to add than I thought. At this point I have the prequel Judgement, then 4 and 5 from a new studio. I'll hold off for a bit.


Call of the Sea is a puzzle game, the setting being on an abandoned island. You play as Nora, who has a mystery illness. Your husband has gone on an expedition in the Pacific to find a cure. After months of not hearing from him you receive a package in the mail instructing you to go find him. Once on the island you soon discover someone has been expecting you.

And that's all I can really say. I want to talk about it, but my gripes with it will indirectly spoil things, so I feel like I can't. I do wonder how much I like it since after finishing it (pretty short btw) I think to myself "glad it's on Gamepass and I saved my money". While that may sound negative, I am glad I played through it, it's just those gripes are something I don't think I should talk about. If you have Gamepass give it a go on a rainy evening or two.
 

EvilTw1n

Even my henchmen think I'm crazy.
Moderator
Quake (NS)

Ay, look at me. I beat a game.

OK, so it was just the main game, and it was co-op, and @Goodtwin carried my ass.

Great time (in co-op...I have a feeling this game would've ganked me to a rage quit solo). Smart edits with little lighting touches, and the visuals have been out of style so long that they're back - this is like playing some nightmare version of Minecraft. In some ways, playing Quake in HD with these little flourishes is like what you remember first playing DOOM felt like. This game does right by nostalgia. (And honestly reminded me that some of the level ideas here would be expanded upon and perfected in Metroid Prime.)

Online deathmatch is fun, but pretty shallow by today's standards. And yet it's still one of the most fully-featured online shooters on Switch, sooo...
 
A Plague Tale: Innocence (XSX)

I think this game set a record for making me cry within the shortest amount of time of starting a game/movie/book/etc. 10 minutes in I had to pause and take off the headphones to just sit and cry. The game doesn't get much happier afterwards either. This is a sad fucking story and world.

That said I absolutely loved this one. It takes place during the 100 years war in 1348, and the plague is getting out of hand. It's doesn't hold much back in trying to sell how horrible it is, although without spoilers it most certainly isn't 100% historically accurate. I won't say much else about the story, probably best to go in as blind as possible, especially with how much happens right out of the gate.

The gameplay itself isn't groundbreaking. It has stealth and puzzle solving, but this isn't Splinter Cell or Portal. Sneaking around guards usually involves throwing a pot for a distraction, or throwing a rock at a conveniently placed pile of armor or other metal objects. Later on you do have multiple ways to deal with guards, especially if you upgrade certain items, but I would imagine this game can be beaten without them. There is always an intended way to do things, but I did notice the last few encounters had some room for player imagination. Puzzles aren't 200 IQ tests of intelligence, but some of them do require some thought, but nothing anyone can't brute force if need be. Since rats are also instant death if you stand in a pile of them (there is a bit of wiggle room to get out if it's just a couple) I often found I looked around a lot before I committed to doing something. If I had a stick to light on fire I would take in my surroundings carefully on where to go since the fire doesn't last long. With no mini map or "detective vision", the game demands you take in the environment and guards manually, and it's better for it. It does however has a light at the edge of the screen indicating a guard is in this direction, but doesn't inform you of his vision or pattern.

I think this is a case of atmosphere and story elevating the gameplay. If guards catch you and you don't have a special item, it's instant death. They do suffer from tunnel vision, but they never stop being intimidating. The music is also perfect for this, elevating any emotion the game is trying to instill on you. There are some levels that are unforgettable when everything comes together. Sneaking around guards is one thing, but avoiding them and a field of rats with countless dead bodies after a war, with the soundtrack and visuals hanging over you with the context of the story is another.

I figured it'd be a good time to play this since it's October and whatnot. Unless you're terrified of rats, this game isn't scary, but it sure as shit sad.

Tomorrow I start Resident Evil Village to brighten the mood haha.
 
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