World of Light - 2019 Games Completed Thread

One more for DOOM Enthusiast


Streets of Rage 2*** (PC)

The first SoR was pretty good, not enough to convert me into a believer of the genre but enough to make want to eventually play the rest of the series, especially considering how beautiful 4 is looking. I also think the developers did a great job with Wonder Boy and the Dragon's Trap.

To quote Bob above, "holy shitting fuck". I don't use this word often unironically, but this game is legit dope. First off, the music is so good. It may involve my philosophy of how music is a big part of making a game better than what it would be without it. This is some of the best stuff I heard made on the Genesis. Level 3 was always a joy to go through because of the music. Its setting is a carnival in the night, going on a pirate ship ride, in an arcade with bad guys playing the machines, to a horror house that is almost copy-right infringing on the Alien franchise (so extra bonus points there). The song is so fucking good.


There are 4 characters to pick from: Max, Axel, Blaze and Skater. Max is a beast that can deal out some serious damage and take a lot too, but is really slow. Axel and Blaze are very similar in terms of power and speed. Blaze has the additional benefit of being in a pleasingly short skin tight skirt. Skater is fast and very fun to use his moves, but is the weakest so he can be a bit troublesome for some bosses.

I admire the controls too. On my 4th playthrough I was still learning some moves. You can grab people and depending on what direction you hold while attacking, you'll do a different attack. If you "jump" while grabbing you'll flip over to do a suplex. On my last playthrough I learned if you attack while flipping you'll just toss them across the screen. There's surprisingly a nice bit to discover with three buttons.

That sad, it's a beat-em-up so there has to be some absolute pigs of enemies and sure enough there are a couple. Still, it's not enough to make me hate the game. I think Streets of Rage 2 finally broke down the wall. I'm gonna play 3 soon and want to try other games like Final Fight.

I played a bit all week after sessions of this game:


Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure (PC)

I've talked about how much I enjoy the Ys series, but I never played anything else by the developer Falcom. This was on sale for next to nothing so I decided to give it a go. It was made in 2004 for the PC but I swear it could have been a Dreamcast game from 2000. I wouldn't be shocked at all if I learned it was made on the same engine as Sonic Adventure. It also reminds me of when I use to rent weird N64 games from Blockbluster. It's because of these reasons this game gave me a huge feeling of nostalgia without even knowing about it until looking up Falcom's other games. Very weird, I don't think that's happened before.

I think that's a substantial reason why I love this game so much. Still, weird nostalgia aside it was a joy to play. It's an action RPG that if it was any cuter it would cause some singularity in space-time. You're a girl who moves to her Grandpa's in a town with no other kids. Most of the town works in the nearby mine. She eventually befriends a group of Monsters who lives in a parallel dimension accessed in the back allies. The enemies known as Phantoms destroys the town and scatters the Monsters. You'll rescue the townsfolk and at the end of each level you'll find something that belonged to them, like a bookshelf, boombox, rubber ducky, etc. As you return these items and make the monsters happier, more of the world map is accessible.

Combat involves using the drill as a sword. You can buy upgrades and new moves for it, along with different hats with benefits (heal on critical attacks, elemental attack bonus, have chests show up on the map, etc). It's a good system all said. I bring up Sonic Adventure because jumping has that particular jank that's really hard to explain. The camera can be finicky making platforming a bit tough at some parts.

It also took me 10ish hours and I feel like that was the perfect length for it. I unlocked hard mode and pajamas as a costume. When I went to change the outfit I noticed quite a bit of others that I didn't get so there is replay value, not sure if I will anytime soon though. There's also hidden Platinum medals throughout the game to find.

I'm really happy I played this one. The team over at Falcom are some unsung heroes for sure. They may not get a lot of attention outside their niche, but damn can they craft some enjoyable stuff. I recently read that the CEO of Falcom is a bit sad that people are turned off from their games due to their graphics. I liked what I've played by them so far visually, which is mostly older stuff, but compare the newest Ys game to what else you find on the PS4 and I can see why people would shrug them off. Still, considering how I'm more emotionally invested and fulfilled story-wise with Ys and Gurumin then I have been with Square "story DLC" Enix lately I think more people should give Ys a go.

(Sorry for that side rant)

(I now realize that I use these threads to fill the itch of writing since I no longer write for the main site - hope nobody minds)
 

sjmartin79

White Phoenix of the Crown
Shovel Knight - Shovel of Hope (NS)

I'm very late to the game on Shovel Knight, but I finally got around to playing it, and oh my is it a great game! There was definitely some precision platforming involved, and I died more times than I'd like to admit. Now I'm working on playing the next in the Shovel Knight series.
 

mattavelle1

IT’S GOT A DEATH RAY!
Moderator
Shovel Knight - Shovel of Hope (NS)

I'm very late to the game on Shovel Knight, but I finally got around to playing it, and oh my is it a great game! There was definitely some precision platforming involved, and I died more times than I'd like to admit. Now I'm working on playing the next in the Shovel Knight series.
I’ve finished them all so far, and Shovel Knight is the easiest. The other 2 are freakin great tho!
 

BobSilencieux

Well-Known Member
DOOM * (NS)

The Ultra Violence run. God this game is incredible. The step up in difficulty over Hurt Me Plenty is pretty huge, and it's almost like you never played the real game before. I mean, if you only played DOOM on Hurt Me Plenty, you missed out on so much gameplay, so many tactics and techniques that are required to get past the enemy onslaught in higher difficulties. Because Hurt Me Plenty is so trivially easy in retrospect, you can just tank damage and not even notice, never mind have to worry about it. So you never have to learn and adapt to situations, never have to strategise, never have to improve your skills. Ultra Violence really tests you, and it's a much better game for it. It really showcases the true depth of the game.

Unfortunately, I also felt at times that it was showcasing the limitations of the Switch control scheme. In some of the harder sections, it seemed pretty obvious that the game is really meant to be played with KB&M. The accuracy and responsiveness just isn't there. Better motion controls probably would have helped, but as it is, some sections seemed needlessly (and unintentionally) harder than others. Still, this has been something of a revelation for me; it's not often that a game elicits a second play-through immediately after I complete the first.

Also, I love the game so much that I don't feel ready to consider myself 'done' with it just yet. Maybe I'll try some Ultra Nightmare runs just for fun...
 

Juegos

All mods go to heaven.
Moderator
Dead Space 3 (PC)

I thought of just moving past this game and not writing anything about it. But that would be unfair to it; it's not that bad. Besides, I don't want to be the type of writer who only writes about things that make him feel good. Hell, I wrote an article for Tyson's website, TheTotalScreen, titled "It's Good to Watch Bad Movies," where I argued that a bad movie should be cherished more than a good one because of what it can teach us about good storytelling.

So, let me take the same approach to Dead Space 3: I don't like it, and the things that are good about Dead Space are conspicuous by their absence in this third game in the trilogy.

I'll start with the most important absence: the horror. If Dead Space 2 departed from the eerie, quiet dread of the first game, Dead Space 3 goes further towards something of a carnival shooting gallery. It used to be that I worried about what type of necromorph I would encounter next, and once they did, I'd have a moment of panic as I tried to pull up the best weapon I had for that situation, and did my best to run away toward a safer area. In Dead Space 3, all enemies behave exactly the same, rushing me at breakneck speed. My answer is always the same: use the single one-size-fits-all weapon I've crafted to blast enemies away from me and shoot them all in the limbs before they can reach me again.

Not that weapon crafting is necessarily a bad idea. Sure, having weapons with limited abilities added an element of tension to a game, as I had to be thoughtful about how to spend my crafting materials and which weapons to bring depending on the type of encounter I could anticipate and what type of ammo I had scavenged. But the universal ammo and crafted weapons that allow me to make a weapon that fits my playstyle closely is not inherently bad. It just happens to be bad in this game because of the lack of variety in enemy encounters. As I said, most of the enemies have no need to differentiate themselves from one another, since they all move at incredible speeds, so that I'm fighting off an overwhelming rush of enemies 90% of the time.

The plot has become even more idiotic than the gory meet-cute rom-com of Dead Space 2. Instead, Dead Space 3 is a story about a depressed nerd trying to win back the girl that left him for a jock. It's not far from a High School love triangle story, but with gore. It's amazing that the writers went with that for a plot while also introducing a legitimately cool cosmic horror scenario that not only ties neatly the mystery of necromorphs and unitology but also paints a truly hopeless and maddening future for the human race in the story. However, you resolve this horror of the cosmos in the only way EA knows: you shoot it to death.

Apparently, there is one cool thing about this action game. When you play it in co-op, the other player, Carver, sometimes experiences hallucinations that Isaac can't see. Now imagine that you and your friend are playing this game while in voice chat. Suddenly he says, "whoa, that was trippy. Where did the scary thing go?" To which you say, "what thing? I didn't see anything...." In this highly rare scenario, you could have a cute little power-of-gaming moment that you would otherwise not even know about if you only played it in single player, like the previous two games in the series.

As for what the game itself tried to do that was cool and new: the first 5 or so hours of the game take place in an open world setting in space. There's tension, there's exploration, and there are surprises. But there's also a general feeling of playing a prototype. If the whole game had been developed in this game, it could have been memorable. As it is, I only replayed it to finish the trilogy a second time around, and I'll probably never play it again in my life.
 
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Pokemon SoulSilver (DS)

My Pokemon adventures continued with SoulSilver. I sank quite a bit of time into this one as a kid, and I can still see why. I love the scenarios in this game and the Gen 2 Pokemon are pretty cool from a design point. That said, hoo boy there is a ton of grinding in this game. I got 50 hours on the dot on my save file and no joke it feels like half of that was simply grinding. Maybe I picked a less than optimal team but my issue is with how battles are.

I get 6 badges, in the town for the 7th, I go to fight Team Rocket and one of them still sent out a level 16 Ratata. I mean, come on. The areas surrounding the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th gym don't have that high level Pokemon in the wild so I spent quite a bit of timing just buffing some Pokemon. Same with the Elite 4 because Lance just got to have three Dragonites don't he?

Kanto went smoothly, I caught a Murkrow because I always liked it. Once I beaten all the 8 Kanto leaders I wanted to fight Red but I knew I was too underleveled so I went to grind the Elite 4 and to my surprise, they all get brand new higher level teams. So what does that mean? More grinding wild Pokemon. I had to catch an Articuno because I needed something to be super effective against Dragon types. I ended up getting my Pokemon team from the 50s to 65. My Espeon ended the game at 72.

One feature I did like was hunting down the gym leaders to rematch them and their new team.

In short, I do love this game still but if I ever do replay it, I might just play the OG Gen 2 games.

Next up, in time, will be Alpha Sapphire or Omega Ruby. I never played Gen 3 or 4 so I'm heading into some unfamiliar territory. The only Gen 3 or 4 Pokemon I'm somewhat familiar with is whichever ones popped up in SoulSilver post game, Black or Y. I never played Black or Y in quite some time (especially Black) so I know very little going forward.
 

Karkashan

Married to Chrom
Pokemon SoulSilver (DS)


Next up, in time, will be Alpha Sapphire or Omega Ruby. I never played Gen 3 or 4 so I'm heading into some unfamiliar territory. The only Gen 3 or 4 Pokemon I'm somewhat familiar with is whichever ones popped up in SoulSilver post game, Black or Y. I never played Black or Y in quite some time (especially Black) so I know very little going forward.
Thankfully the Gen 3 Remakes give you the EXP share, which will allow you to get experience for your entire party.

It should help keep the grinding down by a lot (but yeah, HGSS have a very jank difficulty curve because of how they made it possible to do some of the gyms out of order).
 
Metal Gear Rising Revengeance (PS3)

Started this last week but just finished it up. It's not a long game but it's made by Platinum so every minute is great. Just gonna say it now, this may be my favorite Platinum game yet, although I can hear my copy of MadWorld screaming out to me.

It tackles some serious topics like Metal Gear but than it has Raiden slice a Metal Gear Ray in half. I'd say it's 85% Platinum and 15% Kojima in terms of tone and story. Some classic lines involve "Nanomachines son", "If America is gone to shit you're just another maggot crawling on the pile", and "The memes!". So yeah that's what we're dealing with.

Gameplay wise, it's just so damn slick. It hypes me up and the music compliments it so well. I can't comprehend how my teenage self would have reacted to this game.

Not much more to say really, besides Fuck Yeah.
 

Juegos

All mods go to heaven.
Moderator
Metal Gear Rising Revengeance (PS3)

Started this last week but just finished it up. It's not a long game but it's made by Platinum so every minute is great. Just gonna say it now, this may be my favorite Platinum game yet, although I can hear my copy of MadWorld screaming out to me.

It tackles some serious topics like Metal Gear but than it has Raiden slice a Metal Gear Ray in half. I'd say it's 85% Platinum and 15% Kojima in terms of tone and story. Some classic lines involve "Nanomachines son", "If America is gone to shit you're just another maggot crawling on the pile", and "The memes!". So yeah that's what we're dealing with.

Gameplay wise, it's just so damn slick. It hypes me up and the music compliments it so well. I can't comprehend how my teenage self would have reacted to this game.

Not much more to say really, besides Fuck Yeah.
I love this game, I hope it comes to Switch so everyone here can experience it.

 

Juegos

All mods go to heaven.
Moderator
Resident Evil 2 (PC)



This is the best remake of all time. There is no competition except for the remake of the first Resident Evil, and honestly this is better, straight up. What a great game. Go get it if you haven't yet.

Alright, let me have at this with some discipline. I'll talk first to those that never played the original, and then to those that did.

Resident Evil 2 takes a very similar approach to design to the first game in the series: most of the game takes place in maze-like areas with unlockable shortcuts, puzzles, increasingly dangerous enemies, scarce resources, and a mystery that unravels slowly. Just like the mansion in the first game, the bulk of the game takes place in the excellently designed 4-story-and-a-basement police station. The game demands that you learn the layout of the police station and that you become familiar with the monsters roaming its halls and corridors, to ultimately solve a puzzle while running away from a deeply menacing foe. To say more would be spoiling the game.

Combat is simple: you point and shoot. You can use knives to fend off attackers, but unlike other games in the series, these are easy to lose and hard to replace. In actuality, monsters are hard enough to take down that, often, you're better off running away to a safer area, if you can find one.

The music is scarce and sets the mood minimally, which is alright because you need to be trying to listen to enemy sounds, anyway. These sounds are a real auditory treat, especially as they're very effective at communicating the type of threat that a monster represents: zombies moan and drag their feet along the ground, clickers clack and let a deep growl, and the Tyrant, well, I won't spoil that either.

Generally, the puzzles are simple but that works well with the constant stress of the scarce resources. The complex wordplay piano puzzles are best left to Silent Hill, in my opinion. Here, it's hard enough to remember where to use the crank when you have no health and need to keep running to the next safe area.

As the game progresses, the areas become more streamlined and more filled with action. While I would say the later parts of the game aren't the best, it's good that this variety exists to keep the game from becoming monotonous, especially with replays. This is especially necessary if you want to experience the full story of the game, as you have to play two different scenarios (Leon and Claire) in order to do this. Regardless of the order in which you play these scenarios, the second one will be harder, shorter, more open, and still have some surprises in store, so it's worth playing.

Now, to those that have already played the original Resident Evil 2 on the PlayStation or the N64: this is the game you remember, better than you remember it. Practically every little moment from the original is in here, but some things are changed to keep the surprise factor. The biggest of these is the way the Tyrant behaves, which, again, I won't spoil. Most importantly, the shift to an over-the-shoulder camera doesn't turn the game into a shooting gallery like it did for Resident Evil 4 (as good as that game was); to be clear, it has the fun of Resident Evil 4 with the horror of Resident Evil 2, all wrapped up in a shiny package with modern graphics and sounds that enhance the experience rather than replace it with something else.

My top wish for this game is that it would get a good rogue-like sort of DLC like Alien Isolation did. Otherwise, I can't wait for the inevitable remake of Resident Evil 3. Considering the changes done to the Tyrant in this game, I can imagine just how awesome they'll make Nemesis in the next one...

...Or so I would have liked to say, but the rumor going around says that the Resident Evil 3 Remake is being made outside of Capcom by a different team, and that it's not what we'd expect. My fingers are crossed.
 
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Juegos

All mods go to heaven.
Moderator
Turok 2 (PC)

When I was just a wee lad visiting my cousins, my grandma would tell me to stop playing videogames and go outside to enjoy the nice weather. But I was too busy trying to beat Turok 2 without a memory pak. Turok 2 isn't the kind of game you beat without a memory pak - my final playtime on PC was over 16 hours.

As a kid, I thought it was so cool how the humanoid dinosaurs would walk around shooting, throw grenades, and have their heads blow up when hit with an exploding arrow from the zoom-in tek-bow. Over 20 years later, it's...uh, you know what? It's still cool as hell.

Playing it now that it's been beautifully ported to PC by Nightdive Studios (who now have the rights to the System Shock franchise and plan to release remakes of System Shock 1 and 2, as well as an original sequel) feels a bit like this:


...If you multiply that by 100. I played it at a buttery smooth 1440p60 (unfortunately the framerate is capped at 60 fps at the engine level, so I couldn't play it at 144 Hz), with all the graphics maxed out, and it still sort of looks like ass.

But at least it plays a lot better now thanks to the 60 Hz refresh rate and mouse aiming. I would like to say that it was easy to beat the game now that I could pop headshots easily, but, honestly, it's a pretty tense and punishing game, and that's even with my pathological need to use the Quick Save feature.

I need to mention that, now that I knew that a good part of Iguana Entertainment would go on to form Retro Studios, I could see that this game was an obvious predecessor to the Prime series. It's noticeable in the enemy animations, the boss fights, the level design, and the general game structure which requires you to retraverse past areas to find all the collectibles in order to progress through the game. It's nothing so meaningful as getting a double jump or the Gravity Suit, but it's there anyway, and it makes the game better than if it was just a shooting gallery.

On PC, for $20, it's a solid purchase; it's also coming to Switch sometime later. If the gyro controls are good, I'd recommend it. Especially if, like me, a younger version of yourself made an oath to one day beat this game.
 
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Streets of Rage 3 (PC)

I beat 3 with my girl Blaze for obvious reasons. I did play on Easy for other obvious reasons but the jokes on me, it's one of those games where you can't do the last couple of levels unless you're on Normal or Higher. The "final" boss even says you fight like a beginner (along with a nice close up of his face in ruins). Well fuck you too game, let me just go into the options menu and unlock the stage select.

And with this I finish the game on Easy and all it costed me was a little bit of pride. The game itself? Yeah it is easy but the first few bosses are oddly some of the hardest. Most of the normal goons are pretty big chumps, but that wasn't enough to damper the amount of fun this was. Using the technology of a 6-button Genesis controller, you can now attack behind you without awkwardly holding the jump + attack button. You also get a new special button that depending on your inputs depends on what new attack you can do (along with the returning separate special from 2). The way to beat down street trash is pretty amazing.

That said, I think I prefer 2. 3 went for a almost dystopian cyber-punk flare. You fight robots (well, robots did show up in the other games to be fair), but this one the art style and levels really lean heavily on it. Now, you'll never hear me say "wow that game really should have lean off on the robots" but I just prefer the neon-soak 80's vibe from 1 and 2. Walking down streets at night, or the carnival level with an arcade in it, all top notch stuff. Even the soundtrack leans more towards the theme. On it's own it's one of if not the most technically amazing soundtracks on the Genesis, but again, the bumpin' techno from 2 just appeals to me more.

Great series overall. For a comparison I booted up 1 for a little bit and wow, what a leap backwards. One attack button and no stand still animation for the less detail character sprites. I think it's safe to say SoR 3 really works the Genesis to its limit.

Okay, bring on the gorgeous 4 now.
 

Karkashan

Married to Chrom
Nioh (PC)

Beat it first on PS4 (sunk well over 300 hours into that version, lol), and then got this version on sale (comes with all three DLC expansions). Base campaign was very different feeling since I had access to Tonfa and the Odachi, as well as having DLC enemies sprinkled throughout regular missions (like they did with the PS4 version with the higher difficulties).

Went with Tonfa this playthrough, along with light armor and a heavy emphasis on ninjutsu. Very different from my Heavy Armor/ Axe style of the first time.
 
Gato Roboto (PC)
Banjo-Kazooie (N64)

I finished it last week but just forgot to write about it. It's a Metroidvania where you play as a cat in a mech suit. You can control the cat out of the suit to navigate narrow passages but all the offensive capabilities come from the mech itself.

Overall, the game reminds me of an inverse Xeodrifter. Xeodrifter was a fun little game with really cool power ups, but the game was so short and the bosses so repetitive it didn't have the space or time to make the most out of them (despite some pretty cool sections). Gato kinda has the reverse problem where the power ups are pretty stock standard for the genre but the map is a bit bigger (still short though, Steam says 3 hours). You get missiles, a double jump and a dash. I completely forgot about the dash after I got it until I got the ability to dash in air for a make shift Space Jump from Metroid.

I like the game, and I admit making the main character a cat did draw me in, but like Xeodrifter, it needed a little extra something. I get it, it's indie and whatnot, and as is it's a perfectly serviceable glass of skim milk, but I would like to see a potential sequel bigger with more upgrades.

Also I did finish Banjo awhile ago, just forgot again.

Y'know, when I think of potential favorite games of all time a few comes to mind: Resident Evil 4, Mega Man X, Super Mario World, Pokemon Blue/Red, Pikmin, etc. Banjo-Kazooie rarely comes to mind but fuck if it ain't a great game to this day. Rare really were the star players in the 5th generation and Banjo remains such a fun and tightly crafted game even after all these years.
 

Karkashan

Married to Chrom
I finished up Celeste (NS)

...

Wow. Just. Wow. This was a super fun, super challenging, and incredibly charming game.

The last chapter in particular was a beast of a level to get through. 628 deaths, I believe.

I didn't do stuff like Side B or crystals or go out of my way to get cherries or anything like that. The game was plenty challenging enough, imo, just getting through the incredible adventure the devs laid out before me. (although I did collect the side B cassette for one level because I got lost)

What I liked, and really appreciated, was how the story and the gameplay were interwoven without seeming trite or tired. The story gave me just the push I needed (or the well deserved short little break I needed) to puzzle out the solution to the next challenge, and to give myself enough motivation to carry through with the execution. Madeline is a very relatable character, and the other few characters on Celeste Mountain are very memorable and charming in their own right.

About the only problem I had with the game enough to care about typing about it, was the occasional inaccurate controls, but it's hard to say if that's more the fault of the game, or the Switch Pro's Dpad. (sometimes I would want Madeline to jump straight up, and she just refused to do so. And although the default air dash is sideways to the direction she's facing, I only know this because holding forward didn't always have her dash straight on)

The music was great. Very catchy tunes that fit the tone of the stages they were attached to, and would fade in and out to build or release tension appropriately.

Sprite/artwork was great as well. The sprite work is fairly minimalist, but still really detailed at the same time, and the character portraits were well drawn, expressive, and sometimes did some interesting things that I wasn't expecting and yet loved because of that.

I don't really have a good way to close this, so lemme just say again. Wow.

What a great game.
 
Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver (PS3)
The Messenger (PC)

I played Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain a couple of years ago and thought pretty highly of it. It was a bit clunky but nothing major. The world design and story/lore was pretty cool. Soul Reaver made me really invested in the world of Nosgoth. It takes place centuries after the true ending of Blood Omen and you really get the sense that this is a dying world, makes me wonder if my actions would really affect anything in the long run (in a good way story-telling wise).

Gameplay wise it ain't a top down adventure anymore, it's a 3D Metroidvania really. You explore the world and after getting new abilities you can access more parts of the map and find hidden power ups. It's not like Zelda where there is a clear overworld and separate dungeons, you can start in one section and seamlessly end up climbing a former cathedral now inhabited by vampires. It is a PS1 game so it ain't full on Breath of the Wild or anything, but this is one of the most impressive PS1 games I've played yet. There are even sections I definitely missed out on. There are 7 magic spells in the game and besides 1, they are all optional and I only managed to find 2. Each one has a puzzle too so it really is a game that you can sink some time into exploring everything.

The creature design is also badass. The second boss really stole the show in terms of design. The story revolves around killing different vampire factions, and over the centuries they evolved into different beings. One faction turned more aquatic, while another can cling to walls and cocoon their victims. Learning about them, the history of the world and what happened between games is pretty engrossing stuff.

The music is also badass.

The frame rate can be atrocious though. One area doesn't feel smooth at all and it can dip regularly making the whole game needlessly clunky or slow. I would love a remaster/remake/rewhatever, just give me a smooth framerate.


Onto part two of "games the impressed the shit out of me": The Messenger.

Just buy it.

I picked it up on sale (30-ish% off) and I feel kinda bad about it. I feel like I should have paid full price for it. It's just so damn good. The controls are butter, the music is great, the writing is solid that made me laugh a few times, and the mechanics are stellar. I really love the movement system in this game. You can jump, attack anything and get a second jump from that, and you can do this continuously. A wing suit allows you to glide, and a rope dart can pull you towards items and enemies at high speeds. All of these, plus wall climbing and jumping, can be used together to make some fantastic movement. Coupled with great level design, just...damn.
 

BobSilencieux

Well-Known Member
Katana Zero (NS)

I'll be honest, this game isn't exactly what I thought it was going to be from the trailer. The main gameplay segments were definitely still as fun as I had hoped, but there was way more emphasis on story than I had expected, to the detriment of my overall enjoyment.

Also, a little way in to the game, it suddenly and unexpectedly goes off into "fuck fuck bitch motherfucker" territory. Which would have been nothing more than rather jarring, had my 10 year old daughter not been sitting with me at the time, watching the screen and displaying her quick reading skills...
 

BobSilencieux

Well-Known Member
I finished up Celeste (NS)

...

Wow. Just. Wow. This was a super fun, super challenging, and incredibly charming game.
Wow.
What a great game.
I absolutely BLOODY LOVED Celeste. I loved it to the point that I remember doing all of the B-sides and even the first couple of C-sides. Your write-up has made me want to go back and play it again... not that I have the time...
 

Shoulder

Your Resident Beardy Bear
Just Cause 3 (PS4)

Overall, a very fun game, but inconsistent with the performance, although it did not bother me all the time. I'm only 66% finished with the whole game after I completed the storyline, so I might dabble here, and there, or I might just get Just Cause 4, and play that. I think JC2 is the better game overall compared to 3, but the wingsuit trumps over JC2 in many other ways. It is so awesome to traverse through the world landscape in the wingsuit practically indefinitely.
 

EvilTw1n

Even my henchmen think I'm crazy.
Moderator
10 Pounds of Shit in a 5-Pound Bag: The Game (NS)

Listen, you kids can play on my lawn. I grok why you like this. But you can mute the hyperbole. At its very finest, this is a videogame that corners on the apex of serviceable entertainment. But at its worst, which is at least half of the time?

Dark Souls is the most disappointing "major" studio release I've played since Driv3r.

"This is the greatest modern dark fantasy out there!"
Wow. Tolkein fanfic really excites you.

"But this is darker!"
Dude, this isn't even as dark as Harry Potter (which starts with a double homicide and continues with the main character watching every surrogate parental figure being murdered in front of them). This? It's basically Castlevania with half the camp. And I begrudge no one for digging that. But don't sell your elevated pulp as fine literature.

"But this is the most influential game of recent years! The difficulty-"
-is hugely overstated. It relies on got-cha deaths, hiding enemies in blind corners, and bathing the world in shadow so that you have trouble making out anything. It is 90% gank difficulty. It relies on being cheap. Plus, Ninja Gaiden/Black remake beat it to market by a generation as a game that relied on a reputation for difficulty. Monster Hunter predates it. Bayonetta predates it. This was not the first modern "hard" game. It ain't got shit on something like Ikaruga. Its influence is spotty, at best.

"But it paved the way for modern open-ended RPGs that focused on exploration!"
No, Xenoblade did that, mainstreaming giant-world MMO questing alongside a single-player plot. And it released a year earlier in Japan. Gaur Plain is probably the most influential level of game design in the past 15 years.

"But the levels were connected really cleverly. The ladders acting as short cuts-"
-was done a year earlier in another Castlevania-ish game, Pandora's Tower.

"The elevators stationed in spots that connect the world in interesting ways-"
-is a Metroid thing.

"But the lore! The world is fighting a plague and the environment tells a story and it's all optional and the menus act like a logbook that fill you in-"
-like in Prime, yes.

"But I wrote a book about this shit! See?!" https://you-died.com/prepare-to-buy/
I'm sorry, Keza. Swap fire for music, fill in your cycle of creation (light/fire) and destruction (dark), and you basically have a young male adolescent's version of The Silmarillion. There is almost nothing in Dark Souls that isn't a gas-station handjob version of Tolkein (or of better games).

"You're just being mean now."
No I'm not. I have nothing against gas stations. And I like handjobs.

To be perfectly honest, I think originality can be overrated (as David Bowie said, there's nothing wrong with being a tasteful thief). But this fandom? FFS. The blind acquiescence to this foolish "Dark Souls inspired everything" narrative has blown up the game's reputation into something that has a quite thin tether to reality.

You've heard them. It's the weasel phrase used as a catch-all answer to every critique. Like the jerk of a knee, or the blink of an eye, it is damn-near instinctual at this point.

"Git gud."

Go. Fuck. Yourself.

Dark Souls reputation for difficulty is mostly illusory. Besides the aforementioned gank? It relies on mobs early; even if you try to parry and riposte (which is nothing like an actual parry and riposte), you're likely to get knocked around after your invincibility frames cancel. This creates a glacial pace, as you try to run/position yourself in an advantageous spot, since luring enemies is somewhat unreliable.

Hollows are so small and thin that you need to rely on the lock-on, which defaults to "computer picks what it wants." It also does that after you turn off the default.

The camera? That's truly the boss you're fighting. It occasionally conspires with the lock-on, and you'll find yourself dodging into an attack.

Sometimes with larger enemies, I'd dodge-nutmeg them, hit R2, and...nothing would happen. Half stam, but nada. Used two controllers to test it, too.

Certain bosses are only difficult because they get into an RNG spasm and spam the same attack over and over as you're standing up to recover (lookin' at you, Centipede Demon).

Getting to run and jump feels like a broken Ubisoft game.

This is all to say that I was a reverse-gaming xenophobe. I knew nothing about From Software, but once I found out they were a well-regarded Japanese developer, I thought mechanical competence was a given. But this game feels like it isn't finished. Which is understandable for something rushed out the door to make an initial deadline...but not an excuse you get to use for a remastered version.

Maybe I could overlook those flaws for a breathtakingly pretty landscape, but...this is a fairly ugly game. I couldn't care less if I never see the Catacombs, or Undead Burg, or Lost Izaleth, or Sen's Fortress, or Blightown ever again.

Maybe even that would be worthwhile if the bosses lived up to build-up. They mostly don't. Y'know how people bemoan the Watcher Knights in Hollow Knight as RNG garbage? Ornstein and Smough are that fight in 3D. Bed of Chaos shits the bed. Four Knights were mostly a DPS check, Nito is only notable as an homage to Legion, and Gwyn has a glass jaw. I was actually shocked at how easy the end of the game was. And eff off for making me kill a limping doggo, FromSoft.

Maybe the spaces in-between would make all of the difference if they had any rhythm or feel. But the game is too interested in cheap-killing you with gank deaths, thin/slippery ledges, mobs, etc. I spent 70 damn hours in this game. I'm sure that half of those were retraversing from some sort of bullshit gank, soul grinding, humanity farming (you're welcome, Solaire), being lost in a sewer (a map is not a next-gen feature), or just observing attack patterns from new enemies while Hollow so I could go back later.

I probably spent a good 10 hours alone mindlessly soul grinding on the big knights in Anor Londo. I'd intermittently go back, since the environment was tolerable and the enemies were at least fair.

There was one moment - one - where I truly thought the game would become something greater. Heading down from Andrew the blacksmith, through Darkroot garden, into the basin, you see a hydra-dragon in the mist, and a castle to your right. In that moment, I thought I got to the Bionis' Knee, to the moment where shit was about to get real.

But it never did.

I get it, though. I mean it! I get why people like this game.

I played Monster Hunter enough with Alex and Matt that the conversations would turn to "really wish the offline part of this game was more in-depth and finely crafted, like a proper adventure." Well, Dark Souls tried. It failed, but the idea was solid: Monster Hunter, but with Zeldatroid adventure.

And there is some real fun to be had in crafting weapons. Hell, this was probably my favorite part of the game. I didn't go to lower Undead Burg until after I defeated Ornstein and Smough (yes, I beat them with a +5; I had summoned Solaire, but he decided to not show up until half way through the fight). Once I got the Large Ember, I lost a few hours just finding / upgrading shit. "Oh, there's the Claymore! Lemme +10 that bastard and test it out in Anor Londo."

Aside from Bed of Chaos, the last 5-ish hours finally do settle into something resembling a rhythm. So much of the early game is "difficulty" via cheapness, and part of that is that you're under-leveled. All RPGs do this; DS just surrounds you with more enemies that are damage sponges, and waits to give you adequate upgraded weapons until quite late. The +11 ember is the Light Suit of this game; it arrives waaaaaaay too late. But once you get it? The tedium of exploration goes away and you can enjoy it. (I also tacked on more hours farming for titanite chunks.)

I even like the ending. Not just because I chose to leave the world in Dark, but because I had saved Solaire. It seems to me that, due to the existence of phantoms, it's strongly implied that there are alternate realities here. In mine, I usher in the age of dark, to be ruled by humans who aren't cursed pawns used to perpetuate an age doomed to eventually fall. But because I summoned Solaire, I imagine that in his reality, he got to link the flame and find his sun.

No, I can't say I loved the game, but I can't say I stopped playing it, either. Dark Souls offers just enough carrots to make you think it'll eventually stop hitting you with a stick. By the end, for a few hours, it very briefly does.

Here's the biggest compliment I can give to Dark Souls, though. How many games have you played that really, truly stick with you? AAA releases blur together now. There's a professional sheen on major games that homogenizes them. I think the reason that Souls has the following it has? It's not necessarily about its rep for being a hardass. That's besides the point. Souls is different because it's memorable. It at least makes you feel something, even if it's exasperation.
 
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It's interesting that From Software has been making games in a similar fashion since the PS1 but Dark Souls is the one with the praise. King's Field has the same stamina management and broody atmosphere. I personally do enjoy Demon's Souls and Bloodborne more, but they can be jank and cheap too.

Honestly, I think the marketing team played a big role in the game's success. The whole "Prepare to Die" tagline kinda brought the fact that you're playing this game for as many deaths you'll get, then the whole "git gud" thing was born. Whoever came up with that marketing line is a genius. I do enjoy when game environments loop back into each other, but like you said, this is far from the first game to do so. Demon's Souls was a cult hit but a lot of people act like Dark Souls is the birth of this series/genre.

I don't hate the game, but past Anor Londo is when I got fed up with it. I found the areas of the Lord Souls tedious and I just rushed to the ending. Part of it could be because I played it so close to Demon's Souls but it was years before I played another From Soft game in Bloodborne.

I agree with you on a lot of points. When people say "if you die it's entirely your fault", I feel a year being sucked away from my life, but I do find the way it puts all it's pieces together fairly unique. Then again some of my favorite games from the last decade have just been throw backs to the good ol' days so I can't really complain about un-originality.

I personally don't like it when developers are locked into a genre or series. I'm one of the few who enjoyed when Retro moved onto Donkey Kong and apart of me wants to see what else they can do, but now it appears they're "Metroid Team". Treyarch use to have a wide resume of games but now they're just a Call of Duty factory. Etc etc. I do want From Soft to do something else for a bit. Before they struck gold with Souls they had a huge library of games, a lot of which received mixed reviews, but I laugh at the fact they made a big deal about Dark Souls 3 being the last, then announced Sekiro and Elden Ring, but when asked about the game in interviews they still bring up comparisons with Dark Souls.

Anyways I'm just ranting at this point. Following your journey in Discord has been a fascinating study of the human spirit. I'm sad to see it come to a close, although now maybe you can play a game you, y'know, can have fun with? *cough FF X cough*
 

Shoulder

Your Resident Beardy Bear
Q.U.B.E: Director's Cut (PS4)

I have to say, despite what the mixed reviews have said, I thought it was a rather good game. In many ways, it was a poor man's version of Portal, but that is to be expected given the team behind this were in fact making this as a University project. I will say there were a couple times where the game froze, as well as where the physics of the game failed, and so I had to reload the game from the latest savepoint, and then I got stuck at one point where again, I had to reload the game. So a couple quirks for sure, but it did not completely distract my enjoyment.

What I did enjoy was how the game builds upon the puzzle elements to make them more complex, and at times a head scratcher. A couple in particular took 10-20min to figure, but I think some of that was down to timing, and feel a KB/M would've worked better in some cases. More than the initial puzzles designs, I liked how it went beyond simply moving stuff out of the walls. Admittedly though, the magnetic puzzles were probably my least favorite, and provided a lot of trial and error.

More than that, I think while I enjoyed the puzzle solving, it did turn into a tedious endeavor towards the end, which is where I think a game such as Portal does level design, and pacing a lot better. Some of that though I contribute to more beta testing in finding out what works versus this small team without a lot of outside help. That being said, for an Indie title was a very small team, it was a solid effort.

Oh, and the music was surprisingly well done, and I think set the tone, and mood quite well. Even the menu screen that I'm listening to as I type this is very ambient, and quite moody. The story-because there's always a story, wasn't particularly complex or anything, but it got the job done.
 

Karkashan

Married to Chrom
I finished up Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night (XB1) tonight, in preparation for my (NS) version coming in the mail since I backed it on Switch (lmao I got impatient, to be truthful).


So then, onto the game itself. The protagonist, Miriam, is known as a Shardbinder, a human that had a special Alchemical 'Shard' binded to her very body, that allows her to utilize certain powers, and to absorb other shards from demons to increase her power even further.

So basically it's a cross between Order of Ecclesia and Aria of Sorrow. (And I'll try to keep the comparisons to past Castlevania games to a minimum, considering we'd be here all day otherwise when talking about an "in all but name" type of game like this)

Shards can be obtained from pretty much every enemy in the game (barring non demon bosses or one off enemies), and then there are five major types of Shard: Conjure, Manipulative, Directional, Passive and Familiar. There is also a sixth type, Skill shards, but those are permanent on/off things which, in a fast playthrough, are only made up of traversal abilities like double jump.

Conjure Shards are your basic bullet soul type Shards: You press the button and they shoot out a fireball, waterball, summon lightning, etc.
Manipulative Shards are either player transformation shards or utility shards: You can pick up certain objects with one of these, for instance, while the "run really really fast" shard is under this tree.
Directional Shards are those that are tied to Miriams arm movement: Using the right stick you can point one of Miriams arms and take aim, and then fire whatever shard she has equipped to the ZR button.
Passive Shards are what you think they are: Passive buffs.
Familiar shards are little helper buddies that zoom around after you, valiantly (albeit rarely) blocking projectiles or using special healing items to heal you.

Now, the thing about shards, is that they can be upgraded. Holy hell can they be upgraded. There are two types of upgrade for each Shard: Rank and Grade. Grade is tied to how many copies of the shard you have, and this usually boosts the raw numbers like the damage healed or dealt. Rank is determined by how many times (up to 9) you've used the crafting system in this game to rank it up. So you could go from a Conjure Shard that summons a single lightning bolt on your position, all the way to a dozen lightning strikes covering 40 percent of the screen at no additional MP cost per use. Passive shards, though, have something special when ranked to the max: They become permanent Skill Shards.

Food is also an interesting mechanic. It is its own crafting discipline that creates a multitude of dishes that can be used to further an old granny's quest line or heal you for sporadic amounts of health. But that's not what's so great about them. For you see, the first time you eat a specific food dish, you get a permanent increase to a certain stat (depending on the food), and sometimes this 'stat' that increases is your MP per second recharge time or a bonus to your EXP gained from killing enemies.

I won't wax philosophical about crafting much longer, but I will point out that any food you make, and most things you craft, will then be available for purchase in the shop, which means if you have enough Alkahest (it's own resource) you can buy a certain food you made, break it down, then use that one rare ingredient for a different dish.

If I were to rate this castle map, I'd say it's about on a Harmony of Dissonance and Aria of Sorrow in terms of remembering where things are. So basically, while the castle isn't a nightmare to traverse all told, there are a couple areas that are a pain to get back to for some strange reason.

Music is fucking godlike.

But then again ya'll knew this already.

Bosses/enemies *can* be challenging if you're not properly prepared (and there are a couple that are a pain in the ass even if you are), so for the most part I would say I was satisfied for what was offered.

So at the end of the day, the moral of the story is that Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is a great, great Metroidvania game that I have no doubt I'll be replaying way too much over the next couple of decades.
 
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Hedon (PC)

From what I understand this game started life as a Doom 2 mod/total conversion but because of licensing changes or something something PC talk, the guy decided to get a standalone version out on Steam. I noticed it on my "recommended" list but didn't pay much attention until I saw a review of it. It's only 11 dollars so I figured why not.

The game itself turned out to be essentially tailored made for me. What with it started out as a Doom mod the combat is fast and satisfying. Every weapon is useful, no dinky pistol to be ignore in 5 minutes here. My favorite weapon is the potion launcher which fires either acid rounds or a poison mist that chokes the enemies to death. Great fun, very pant-tightening firing these weapons which is always a plus, just has that oompf that I like.

The levels are big and require exploration. This isn't just finding a blue, red and yellow key to get to the exit. It takes some inspiration from games like Thief or Heretic where you need to read notes to figure out what to do. One level has you finding raw ore to melt down into keys and gears. Sure there are key hunting sections too, but having to turn on security, or figuring out how ti power up a teleporter adds a bit of spice to it. I love Thief, and games like Dishonored or System Shock, so this is a huge ol' bonus to the game. This is the thinking man's Doom.

Story was actually pretty interesting too. It's told almost all through notes in the world, or in between missions with a wall of text that could have been written by John Romero himself. I was confused at a few things, mostly because I couldn't remember a few names, but it's pretty neat all the same.

I'm not sure whether it's because it's my laptop being old or what, but this game feels rough though. I turned on Steam's frame rate counter for curiosity, and it capped at 35 fps. That's a weird number to cap at. The last boss though was beyond atrocious. Literally sub 10 frames. I feel like this game should be able to run on a toaster so I'm not sure what's up. Steam reviews are solid so it's most likely my aging hardware. Still, it's very weird that it has trouble running this sort of game when it can run something like Portal 2 well.

Other than that though some settings are weird. Sometimes in game messages would just turn off by itself, or if I tried to make the font bigger to read notes, the sentences would start to overlap each other, so I had to get close to the screen to read. Just awkward shit like that. Again, most likely my hardware, but still.

I look forward to the day when I have a new laptop that can run this flawlessly because the game itself was a wonderful time. It takes the solid combat of Doom and mixes it with the exploration and puzzle solving of Thief or Heretic, so obviously I'm in love with it. Just a shame my laptop has seen better days (it mustn't be "just" a Doom 2 mod).
 

Shoulder

Your Resident Beardy Bear
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Wii U)

After a hiatus from my initial progress, I finally settled in, and beat BotW (all four divine beasts, 98 Shrines, and 120-something seeds). From a perspective of an open world adventure, Breath of the Wild is honestly a breath of fresh air. It truly gave you the freedom to progress how you wanted, and what you felt was right at any given time. Admittedly, there's so much to unpack that unless you spend the hundreds, and hundreds of hours, you'll never feel the game is "finished." In ye olde times of the N64 with Ocarina of Time, and Majora's Mask, those games felt more focused, and had more structure in terms of you knew what had to be done, and you did it in a particular order. BotW takes all of that away, and lets the player make their own adventure, and for that I have to say it's one of those very special games, possibly one of the most special games of our time. But it is precisely because of that, I would feel lost, and not know how to accomplish certain tasks. BotW is definitely an open world title you don't play once. You play this game over a period of years to discover all the nooks and crannies, as well as of anything new you had not discovered before.

In many respects, BotW is that fine wine, or special whisky you have; you don't devour it in one sitting, or even in a few sittings. It is something you savior, and enjoy to take it all in over the course of many months, and perhaps years even.
 

EvilTw1n

Even my henchmen think I'm crazy.
Moderator
It's interesting that From Software has been making games in a similar fashion since the PS1 but Dark Souls is the one with the praise. King's Field has the same stamina management and broody atmosphere. I personally do enjoy Demon's Souls and Bloodborne more, but they can be jank and cheap too.

Honestly, I think the marketing team played a big role in the game's success. The whole "Prepare to Die" tagline kinda brought the fact that you're playing this game for as many deaths you'll get, then the whole "git gud" thing was born. Whoever came up with that marketing line is a genius. I do enjoy when game environments loop back into each other, but like you said, this is far from the first game to do so. Demon's Souls was a cult hit but a lot of people act like Dark Souls is the birth of this series/genre.
The rep is the hardest thing to get past. If someone sells DS as an interesting-but-flawed game, they're accurate. But it's a sexier headline to write about it being the most influential game of recent years (it seems that it acted as "baby's first Metroidvania" for a generation of early 20-somethings).

The marketing was a true masterstroke, though. I'll give 'em that. It is the overly-hopped beer, or ghost-chili hot sauce of gaming. They were honest in putting DS out there as a challenge...even if it was mostly a gank challenge of patience.

(TBH, I think that Hollow Knight has some cheap bullshit, too. Sometimes exceptionally cheap - there are some "impossible platformer" sections far worse than anything From has dreamt of. But it's also stunningly beautiful and has an amazing soundtrack and is more open-ended...so you never feel stuck. That's the trick, I suppose.)
I don't hate the game, but past Anor Londo is when I got fed up with it. I found the areas of the Lord Souls tedious and I just rushed to the ending. Part of it could be because I played it so close to Demon's Souls but it was years before I played another From Soft game in Bloodborne.
I know I sound quite negative, but it's mostly toward the game's reputation, its apologist fandom, and due to the fact that I was expecting to be won over in the end.

It isn't a legendary 13/10 game. But it is a 6 or 7 game with some interesting ideas. I do admire the thought that went into the environmental layout and map design. Even though poorly explained, I really enjoyed working through the stat scaling (why people say only vitality matters is baffling; strength and dex matter a lot for melee). Having common enemy encounters that aren't "push attack to win" is rewarding. Etc etc etc.

There is good to be found in Dark Souls. But it also deserves a large-scale critical reassessment on its myriad flaws.
I agree with you on a lot of points. When people say "if you die it's entirely your fault", I feel a year being sucked away from my life, but I do find the way it puts all it's pieces together fairly unique. Then again some of my favorite games from the last decade have just been throw backs to the good ol' days so I can't really complain about un-originality.
Same. Being derivative doesn't bother me. That people want to pretend that it isn't, though...that's what rankles me.
I personally don't like it when developers are locked into a genre or series. I'm one of the few who enjoyed when Retro moved onto Donkey Kong and apart of me wants to see what else they can do, but now it appears they're "Metroid Team". Treyarch use to have a wide resume of games but now they're just a Call of Duty factory. Etc etc. I do want From Soft to do something else for a bit. Before they struck gold with Souls they had a huge library of games, a lot of which received mixed reviews, but I laugh at the fact they made a big deal about Dark Souls 3 being the last, then announced Sekiro and Elden Ring, but when asked about the game in interviews they still bring up comparisons with Dark Souls.
It's a tough balance between experimenting and doing what you do best. An amazing action-adventure is the holy Grail of game design. FromSoft could crack it, but maybe it requires getting out of their present genre headlock.
Anyways I'm just ranting at this point. Following your journey in Discord has been a fascinating study of the human spirit. I'm sad to see it come to a close, although now maybe you can play a game you, y'know, can have fun with? *cough FF X cough*
I have unfinished business with one other RPG first, then I'll probably dive into FF.
 

Juegos

All mods go to heaven.
Moderator
FromSoft hasn't really attempted the first part of Dark Souls again, with the interlocking map design and "sequence-breaking" opportunities (like how you can skip all of Undead Parish, the Depths, and most of Blighttown with the master key and head directly for the bells if you can get past the valley of the drakes; you can also fight the Great Grey Wolf Sif early by killing the Hydra and crossing the lake without having to buy the 20,000 key from the merchant), so that remains, to me, the most replayable part of all the Souls games, which sucks because the game is now thoroughly held back by its clunky controls.

Dark Souls 2, Bloodborne, Dark Souls 3, and Sekiro have all been increasingly more fluid and responsive, to the point that Sekiro plays like a Nintendo game (before BotW redefined what a Nintendo game played like) - as if they threw a stick of butter in the pot. And they're all also just better at the Classicvania parts of the game (linear progression of levels with little intended backtracking). I remember mentioning in a group chat with Mike that Dark Souls 3 was the best Castlevania game ever made - and certainly one that Konami couldn't even dream of making anymore. Sekiro took that spot, of course, but thematically it's not that much of a Castlevania, so the comparison only seems appropriate in spirit.
 
@EvilTw1n I feel like I know what the other RPG is but for the life of me I can't recall with certainty. I Am Setsuna? Chrono Trigger? Lost Sphear?

I think another difference between us is when I played Dark Souls, I had Demon's under my belt, so I didn't have near a barrier of entry as you. Demon's is a more linear level-based game so it is a fantastic introduction to From Soft's games. Granted, I know a lot of people started with Dark, so I guess it isn't that big a deal.

I do plan on eventually playing Dark Souls 2 and 3. These aren't games I can play close together, but I think enough time since my playthrough of Bloodborne that I can dive into another one again.

I think I heard that Sekiro started life as a Tenchu game, but evolved into it's own thing. As a stealth fan who has fond memories of Wrath of Heaven, I would love to see another crack at that series.
 

Juegos

All mods go to heaven.
Moderator
I think another difference between us is when I played Dark Souls, I had Demon's under my belt, so I didn't have near a barrier of entry as you. Demon's is a more linear level-based game so it is a fantastic introduction to From Soft's games. Granted, I know a lot of people started with Dark, so I guess it isn't that big a deal.
I'm one of those people that started with Dark and played Demon's later. I remember hearing a lot about how busted the Maneaters fight was, how it was one of those points where everyone got stuck forever, etc. I beat it on my first attempt because it was basically a different version of the Gargoyles' fight and I had already gone through those like five times. That made Demon's less impactful for me, but I still appreciated it. Fuck the skeleton level, though.

I think it was during a preview of Sekiro that some journalist mentioned how FromSoft games have their own sort of language that their fans learn. If you've played some of their games, you can play another one and recognize the same type of situation (an ambush, a trap, a boss room, attack patterns, all that sort of stuff), and that can make later games easier to some extent (except when the enemy patterns are specifically designed to punish your familiarity), but also less surprising.

The biggest constant here is probably the dodge mechanic, which is never once explained in any of the games. The existence of invincibility frames during dodge is the one mechanic that truly unlocks the combat in these games, but it's never once explained in any of the games. Yet if you know about it, suddenly a game's combat makes perfect sense and you can always find a solution to whatever problem you might have with a particular boss or attack. Is an attack telegraphed? Dodge through it. Does the attack last too long for dodge? Block. Is it a slow attack? Move out of range. Is the enemy light? Stagger them with a greatsword. Are you a god? Parry and critical hit. (Actually easier than a basic anti-air in a fighting game.)

I love the combat in these games. Hell, I just love frame data type of combat systems (the kind where startup-active-recovery frames matter), and they are rare outside of fighting games. It's really the only thing that makes Souls similar to Monster Hunter, even though the comparison is made a lot. In reality, I think Souls is more comparable to SNES era ARPGs like Illusion of Gaia, Terranigma, and Alcahest, in spite of the Metroid-ish map design.
 
Watch Dogs (PS4)

It was on sale for less than 10 bucks so I figured why not? I sometimes get in the mood for an open world but each time I play a Ubisoft one I end up going "that's why I don't play these often".

First of all, I did enjoy this game, well, the main campaign part of this game. For the most part I kept having two thoughts while playing:

1) This did not need to be open world, like, at all. Ubisoft open worlds tend to just fill them with repetitive shit instead of making the world itself a tool. To me, the best open worlds are in games like InFamous. Sure, those games tends to have repetitive side missions as well but the amount of power ups in InFamous makes just exploring and getting around the world a fun mechanic in it's own right. Or in Breath of the Wild where the puzzle elements, the physics, and the tools make exploring a joy. Watch Doggos is pretty fucking basic for an open world. All side missions are stuff you do many times in the main game. Do one random crime, do them all. All convoys, gang hideouts, etc are all done in the main campaign and are all the same. Even the """"""unique"""""" side missions are all Ubisoft-tier trash. There's a serial killer on the loose but all you do is go to 5 places on the map, press square to scan the dead body, then stop the killer in the exact same way as all the other random crimes.

In InFamous all missions (I think) take place in the main world so the world is literally reactive and an element of the gameplay. Sure, Watch Doggies has police chases and shit, but the best missions, in my opinion, take place in levels that are not in the open world. Sneaking around or having shootouts in these linear environments can be pretty fun. Hacking into cameras to see around corners or activate environmental traps while you're in another room is actually neat. The tools you can use while stealthing make for a good time. However, the A.I. is a bit bullshit. Sometimes they just magically know where you're too. Sometimes when you leave an area after doing your objective reinforcements can just spawn near you. One boss fights just turned around out of nowhere to know where I was. Bit annoying.

So yeah, two games that came to mind while playing was Max Payne and Splinter Cell Conviction. The main character talks and has inner monologues in the typical macho whisper, but I think it would work better in a game like Max Payne (i.e. crime noir). Some of the side characters are quite colourful and interesting so I think a 6-8 hour level-based game would make this a more focused game rather than trying to balance a noir crime story with a zany open world. I also think of Max Payne because of some of the environments you go through: gang hideouts, the seedy underbelly streets, etc. I'm also reminded of Splinter Cell Conviction because that game has the main character running around the city streets and sneaking into buildings, but isn't an open world game and it works. Speaking of Splinter Cell...

2) I'm now convinced Watch Puppies killed Splinter Cell in the same way Assassin's Creed killed Prince of Persia. The cover mechanics of Watch Mutts are ripped straight out of SC Conviction and Blacklist. I haven't played Watch Pooches 2 yet but they took the drone used in Blacklist as well. Even hacking into cameras is similar to the sticky cams in the old SC games. I feel like Ubisoft is allergic to non-open world games-as-service season passed filled shit that they just don't want to do a Splinter Cell. They know if they did to it what they did to Ghost Recon the SC fans would flip out, and a lot of mechanics would just be what Watch Dogs has (although when has that stopped them before?).

Every time I play a Ubisoft sandbox I get less and less interested, and I believe this is only my 4th. I loved Ass Creed Black Flag because it was new and exciting to me, and being a pirate was a fun experience. Then ET gave me 3 and I liked it less. Then I played Rogue and I don't remember anything about it except the level in my hometown and the end section because it looked different. Now with Watch Fidos I just did enough side quests for the perks and focused mostly on the campaign itself. I guess you could argue that it's up to the player with how much they want to experience, but I'd argue so much more time and effort could have gone into making the campaign better and more polished.
 

Juegos

All mods go to heaven.
Moderator
Watch Dogs (PS4)

It was on sale for less than 10 bucks so I figured why not? I sometimes get in the mood for an open world but each time I play a Ubisoft one I end up going "that's why I don't play these often".

First of all, I did enjoy this game, well, the main campaign part of this game. For the most part I kept having two thoughts while playing:

1) This did not need to be open world, like, at all. Ubisoft open worlds tend to just fill them with repetitive shit instead of making the world itself a tool. To me, the best open worlds are in games like InFamous. Sure, those games tends to have repetitive side missions as well but the amount of power ups in InFamous makes just exploring and getting around the world a fun mechanic in it's own right. Or in Breath of the Wild where the puzzle elements, the physics, and the tools make exploring a joy. Watch Doggos is pretty fucking basic for an open world. All side missions are stuff you do many times in the main game. Do one random crime, do them all. All convoys, gang hideouts, etc are all done in the main campaign and are all the same. Even the """"""unique"""""" side missions are all Ubisoft-tier trash. There's a serial killer on the loose but all you do is go to 5 places on the map, press square to scan the dead body, then stop the killer in the exact same way as all the other random crimes.

In InFamous all missions (I think) take place in the main world so the world is literally reactive and an element of the gameplay. Sure, Watch Doggies has police chases and shit, but the best missions, in my opinion, take place in levels that are not in the open world. Sneaking around or having shootouts in these linear environments can be pretty fun. Hacking into cameras to see around corners or activate environmental traps while you're in another room is actually neat. The tools you can use while stealthing make for a good time. However, the A.I. is a bit bullshit. Sometimes they just magically know where you're too. Sometimes when you leave an area after doing your objective reinforcements can just spawn near you. One boss fights just turned around out of nowhere to know where I was. Bit annoying.

So yeah, two games that came to mind while playing was Max Payne and Splinter Cell Conviction. The main character talks and has inner monologues in the typical macho whisper, but I think it would work better in a game like Max Payne (i.e. crime noir). Some of the side characters are quite colourful and interesting so I think a 6-8 hour level-based game would make this a more focused game rather than trying to balance a noir crime story with a zany open world. I also think of Max Payne because of some of the environments you go through: gang hideouts, the seedy underbelly streets, etc. I'm also reminded of Splinter Cell Conviction because that game has the main character running around the city streets and sneaking into buildings, but isn't an open world game and it works. Speaking of Splinter Cell...

2) I'm now convinced Watch Puppies killed Splinter Cell in the same way Assassin's Creed killed Prince of Persia. The cover mechanics of Watch Mutts are ripped straight out of SC Conviction and Blacklist. I haven't played Watch Pooches 2 yet but they took the drone used in Blacklist as well. Even hacking into cameras is similar to the sticky cams in the old SC games. I feel like Ubisoft is allergic to non-open world games-as-service season passed filled shit that they just don't want to do a Splinter Cell. They know if they did to it what they did to Ghost Recon the SC fans would flip out, and a lot of mechanics would just be what Watch Dogs has (although when has that stopped them before?).

Every time I play a Ubisoft sandbox I get less and less interested, and I believe this is only my 4th. I loved Ass Creed Black Flag because it was new and exciting to me, and being a pirate was a fun experience. Then ET gave me 3 and I liked it less. Then I played Rogue and I don't remember anything about it except the level in my hometown and the end section because it looked different. Now with Watch Fidos I just did enough side quests for the perks and focused mostly on the campaign itself. I guess you could argue that it's up to the player with how much they want to experience, but I'd argue so much more time and effort could have gone into making the campaign better and more polished.
From now on, I'm abusing the hell out of the phrase "macho whisper".
 

EvilTw1n

Even my henchmen think I'm crazy.
Moderator
Spoilering out the FromSoft talk.

I think another difference between us is when I played Dark Souls, I had Demon's under my belt, so I didn't have near a barrier of entry as you.
Eh, the barrier is pure gank. I would've bitched about it, regardless of the FromSoft game I started with. It's possible I would have been more charitable overall if I didn't go on a shmup run earlier this year - those are difficult. I could probably overlook the damage sponge enemies, the physics hiccups, the strange camera issues, the RNG glitches, etc. if it weren't for the got-cha deaths (which are the cheap jump-scares of gaming), stun locks, slipperly/narrow surfaces, mobs, the hiding of crucial upgrades that make the game bearable, etc.

(...and the intolerable fanbase that is bottoming for Hidetaka Miyazaki and won't accept one criticism.)

All of that aside, I 100% do think FromSoft has potential, based off of my 70 hours with them. NG+ has been more fun because:
A) I have weapons that do real damage. (No fighting O&S with a +5.)
B) Weapon crafting is fun.
C) The combat is actually good when you have to balance stamina, not constantly retreat to regen.
D) Co-op is far better than single-player. More on this later.
E) The difficulty ramps down considerably when you know where the gank bullshit is. (Sen's Fortress is flat-out easy when you take away the arrow-trigger surprises, have a shield that blocks electricity well, and you know you'll get hit with the ball once.)
I love the combat in these games. Hell, I just love frame data type of combat systems (the kind where startup-active-recovery frames matter), and they are rare outside of fighting games.
Maybe this is why I'm also shit at fighting games.
It's really the only thing that makes Souls similar to Monster Hunter, even though the comparison is made a lot. In reality, I think Souls is more comparable to SNES era ARPGs like Illusion of Gaia, Terranigma, and Alcahest, in spite of the Metroid-ish map design.
...nah, on that, I'll disagree. Positioning being crucial to the enemy attacks you'll see, no canceling out of your attacks (so you have to commit to that strike), studying movements for attack windows, balancing stamina, allocating time for healing...I think MH is quite alike to DS. Even in the approach to breadth being more important than depth - neither game has a Bayonetta-deep list of combos, but they both give you a wide latitude of what play style you can choose.

Now the similarities are far less apparent early on (where you pretty much have to sword-and-board your way through mobs), and during certain bosses (which in some cases are quasi-Zelda-ish). But silver knights, gargoyles, golems, and sentinels...you could comfortably throw them into any MH.

 

Juegos

All mods go to heaven.
Moderator
...nah, on that, I'll disagree. Positioning being crucial to the enemy attacks you'll see, no canceling out of your attacks (so you have to commit to that strike), studying movements for attack windows, balancing stamina, allocating time for healing...I think MH is quite alike to DS. Even in the approach to breadth being more important than depth - neither game has a Bayonetta-deep list of combos, but they both give you a wide latitude of what play style you can choose.
Oh yeah, I forgot about the stamina meter, that's another element that isn't so common in action games. But the rest of the stuff is what I meant by games where startup-active-recovery frames matter. Fighting games play in the same way, where actions have a certain number of recovery frames where no other actions can be taken, which means that attacks can be whiff-punished, so that spacing yourself just out of an opponent's range is an effective strategy. They all also include frame attributes, like "this attack has armor during its active frames" (greatswords in MH and DS, and some of Zangief's moves in SF) and "this attack causes stagger" (which is why light weapons can be effective in DS, and is also why you can confidently wail at a Lagi's legs while he's charging his next big attack because you know you're about to stagger him).

I can see how the phrase "the only thing that makes Souls similar to Monster Hunter" makes it seem like I saw that as a small part of the game's identity, but I do appreciate what a big part of it it is. I think it's hard to design a game with carefully thought out frame data, so it makes sense that it's a major point of comparison among the few games that have it. Still, Souls is about adventuring while MH is about the craft-kill-learn-your-weapon gameplay loop, so I think that difference is worth stressing.
 
Dino Crisis (PS1)

Since I finally got all the classic Resident Evils done, I figured I'd dig out my copy of Dino Crisis and give it another go. I bought it during my first summer job post grade 10 but never finished it. I couldn't remember why exactly other than being stuck. After playing it again, I can see why.

Game starts off with all the checkpoints ticked off. Tank controls, fixed camera, slow build up to the first dinosaur, etc. First half of the game is a twist on the RE formula in the same way 2 and 3 alters a few mechanics. In DC, you don't have one universal item box, but three coloured boxes. Each one requires plugs to open, but once you do, you can access all the other ones of the same colour. So you unlock a red box for ammo, and you can then access the other red boxes you've unlocked. I quite like this, as plugs are limited and and you gotta wonder if it's worth holding onto them for a potentially better haul.

I assume where the game is fully 3D instead of having pre-rendered backgrounds that there can't be a lot of dinosaurs on screen at once. I think, minus the Compsognathus', there isn't a room with more than two of them. To balance this out they can take a beating and hit like a freight train. Sometimes in the caution state, some late game enemies can kill you. Yikes. In more twists to the RE formula, there are laser barriers you can activate to block them in the hallways. I often ran away so a strategy I use is to lure them into a laser barrier, they'll get knocked over, than I turn it off and run like hell. I also used tranq darts to make them sleep.

You can also mix items. Take 2 medium med kits and mix it with a Recovery Aid and you'll get 3 Large medkits. Or 2 medium tranq darts with another aid and you'll get 3 large darts, etc. I ended the game with a quite a bit of grenade launcher rounds so I played a bit too conservatively.

The second half of the game though ramps up the puzzles. Puzzles in RE usually involves just finding the right key, with a scatter tile puzzle or something, but DC takes it up a bit. There are quite a few mini-game puzzles, or using cranes to move large crates out of the way, then there's taking the finger print of a dead scientist and finding his ID code to re-write an ID card to get access to lower levels. I like this in the first half of the game. It manages to balance out puzzles, avoiding dinosaurs and exploring pretty well. The last area was pretty confusing however. Perhaps it's because I played most of it today and should have taken longer breaks, but the amount of running around and doing things in the correct order was definitely head scratching, and I now see why I got stuck in high school. The dinosaurs got tougher to take down but the focus seemed to be more on the puzzles instead. It's hard to explain. I didn't hate any of it though, just the two halves of the game just feels different.

Regina is a total babe.

I'm happy I finally finished it. I dig dinosaurs so it's refreshing to play a game with them in it. I think my favorite game in this style is still either RE 1 Remake or RE2, but DC was totally worth playing. I'm excited to play DC 2 soon. I recently watched a video where they compared Regina to DOOM Slayer and even put DOOM music over the gameplay, so I'm excited to just play a dinosaur action game.
 
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Karkashan

Married to Chrom
I'm here to take names, kick ass, and abuse aim assist like I'm a COD player on console.

And I'm all out of ass.

Was kinda in a funk yesterday and didn't know what I wanted to play (had no interest in continuing any of my current playthroughs at the time), but I did know I wanted to play something action-y and also something I had never played before. My mind went, of course, to Spider-man PS4, as I got that for Xmas and have never touched it.

So, of course, I played Devil's Third (Wii U) instead.

This game has problems. Frame rate can absolutely tank during certain segments or when looking at certain sections of the scenery from the right (wrong?) angle. Sometimes when a weapon is knocked out of your hand, it's knocked out of the geometry of the level and so you've lost that weapon forever and therefore have to rely on your fists or Itagaki being kind enough to give you another weapon soonish.

The story is simple as all hell. It's 80's machismo shlock with a touch of Vin Diesel in ....well...fucking anything, really. But it's serviceable, at least, and while I wouldn't call it the most gripping narrative at least it didn't annoy the shit out of me like other stories have (hell, some set pieces actually got me hyped as fuck to start playing the next section).

And that's the thing with this game. As flawed as it is? It's actually really, truly fun. It's not a revolution in Third Person/First Person combat, but what's there fucking works and I'm glad I bought this game and played it to completion.

Bosses with their one shot one kill fuckfacing grab attacks can burn off in hell, though. I'm not sure every boss had them, but those that did show me that they had them pissed me right the fuck off. Didn't help that these particular bosses had magnets attached to their fucking legs that were specifically attuned to kick Ivan in the head, either, and would never fucking miss if I was less than half of the boss arena away from them.
 
Prey (PS4)
The Messenger + Picnic Panic (PC)

I'm a fucking idiot for waiting this long to play it. I really enjoy these kinds of games, I believe the genre term is "immersive sim" but really any first person adventure is my jam. System Shock 1 and 2 were some of the most fun I've had with a game in ages. Bioshock, Deus Ex Human Revolution and Mankind Divided (I swear I'll play the first one soon), Thief 1 and 2, Metroid Prime, etc. I can add Prey to that list.

It checks all the boxes and tickles all my fancies. Exploration, combat, deciding which power up to get, figuring out how to approach the current issue at hand, were all fun and engaging. Like most of these immersive sims, the environment was top notch. I love space levels in games and I feel like not enough of them go there. The moon level is probably my favorite level in Wolfenstein The New Order so this was amazing for me.

I also really loved the enemies. The Typhon are a pretty rad bunch and the game smartly never really explains what they are. The mimics can disguise themselves as pretty much anything: chairs, coffee mugs, explosive canisters, fruit and so on. Walking down a corridor and seeing a closing door with them scuttling on the other side never stops being cool and un-nerving. As the game progresses the space station slowly becomes more and more infected with a golden mist-like substance called Coral, you really get the sense this place is being taken over completely. Also, throughout the game they keep alluding to something "watching from the darkness between the stars". When I first saw Alien as a kid, I remember looking at the night sky and just thinking what was out there. Alien and that sense of mystery never left me so to have a game do that sort of thing really gets me.

While I love it and think it's one of the best games I played in a long ass time, it ain't perfect. I've read online some people think the last few years fell apart, but I'd say the developers just didn't know how to end it. Once you explore all the areas the climax feels simultaneously rushed yet padded. Without wishing to spoil, you start to do something to find out what the shit is actually happening, then something pops up that you have to deal with, then the big thing happens, but that requires a bit more running around in previous areas then it just kinda quickly ends. I really like the ending, but not so much the gameplay ending. I maxed out movement and jump speed, so when I explored all I could, I ended up essentially rushing the last few objectives because I could. The long load times don't help much especially when you got to go through a few areas at a time. Run for a minute, minute long load time, repeat.

The issues though are a drop in a bucket compared to what I love about it. It's a good thing games like these are rare because they just take over all my evening time.


I also finished Picnic Panic for The Messenger. It's a free expansion with a few levels. Pretty much more of what made The Messenger so kick ass. The very last bit before the boss kinda pissed me off a bit, but it's still more free Messenger at the end of the day so I'll gladly take it.
 
Castlevania (PS4)
Castlevania II Simon's Quest (PS4)
Castlevania III Dracula's Curse (PS4)
Super Castlvania IV* (PS4)
Castlevania The Adventure (PS4)
Castlevania II Belmont's Revenge (PS4)
Castlevania Bloodlines* (PS4)
Kid Dracula (PS4)
Bloodstained Curse of the Moon*** (PS4)

Picked up the anniversary collection when it launched months ago but only really now finished it up. Mostly because they announced they would patch in the Japanese versions of some games so I waited for that for one in particular.

Castlevania - A hard son of a bitch but it's still quite fun. It has one of my favorite OSTs ever and it's short length makes it so I don't lose too much patience while playing it. It has it's moments of "come the fuck on" but it's not Ninja Gaiden or anything. Good shit/10

Simon's Quest - I can't be mad at this. It's obtuse as fuck, the 3 bosses are a joke and I do use a guide for it. Still, for a NES game, it's ambitious and they were still trying to figure out to make this style work. The music is also legit, so despite it's shortcomings, I still like it.

Dracula's Quest - If 1 had it's "come the fuck on" moments then DQ makes it it's tagline. I borderline hate this game despite my enjoyment of the series and it's OST. This is why I waited for the Japanese version. In the western version enemies do more damage as the game progresses, making hard levels even harder. Admittedly the Japanese version is a more balanced game and if I had more patience I'd probably be able to do it without using quick saves, but jeez some of the later levels are brutal. I want to love you DQ, but you clearly just want to hurt me over and over again.

Super IV - This was my favorite Castlevania for the longest time. I don't think I can say that anymore but I still love it and it's near the top. On my first playthrough from this collection it had it's moments of frustration but apart of that was on me. One of the last stages has crumbling stairs that I felt like I fell through or couldn't do it fast enough for no reason. Then on my second run through I realize you can just hold up to climb stairs without issue (still a challenge though but much more manageable). The music, graphics, design, are all top notch for the SNES.

The Adventure - Fuck this game

Belmont's Revenge - Surprisingly good. The Adventure is a slog in every sense of the word but for the second Game Boy game, it's such an improvement. The biggest thing is that it just feels better to play and not as slow. Is it the best of the best? Nah, but again, surprisingly good and I can see myself playing this one again.

Bloodlines - 80% of the reason why I picked up the collection as this has never officially been released outside of the Genesis. No virtual console, no compilation, nothing. I really enjoyed it all said, even with those patented "come the fuck on" moments. Two playable characters, more mini bosses throughout the stages and one of the most Genesis-styled soundtracks ever. Travelling across Europe makes for some unique stage settings. This is also the game that really makes me wonder why the games change mechanics so much. In IV you can whip in 8 directions, in the Game Boy ones there is rope climbing, in some games you can jump off stairs, in others you can't, etc etc. In Bloodlines you can whip a ceiling and swing across gaps. I'm very much okay with a game series adding new mechanics and not just copy/pasting everything, but I still just wonder why these games that came out within years of each other have so many differences to them.

Kid Dracula - I'm not too familiar with these games, I know there was at least one more on the Game Boy but to my understanding it's a parody/cartoon version of the series. You play as Dracula who gains support of the underworld by beating up a bully demon I think. It's quirky and charming. I played this last and I'm glad I did. Some parts of songs are ripped from the other games, as are some level designs and mechanics. It plays a bit like Mega Man too as you shoot up to three projectiles until they're off screen and you get a new power up for the first 6 (?) stages. You can change into a bat, reverse your gravity to walk on ceilings, freeze enemies and more. I didn't know you could shoot up or down until the last stage, so....derp. Charming and fun even if the last level has a bit of a difficulty spike.

Bloodstained - So Kark was kind enough to give me a 10 day copy on Steam when it first launched. I played it once and kinda thought it was a bit generic. I guess I wasn't in the mood at the time because now I love it. Going from Caslevania 3 to this is such a joy. It still has jumps that make you commit to it, and on verteran mode has knockback, but the controls just feel so much better. I played it 4 times. Normal with allies, Nightmare, Normal without allies, and Ultimate.

Normal with allies has 4 playable characters with their own playstyle, Nightmare is the game again without Zengetsu, but you start off with the 3 others. On my 3rd playthrough I killed the other characters for their souls, giving Zengetsu power ups like a double jump or dash. This was the hardest playthrough as I didn't use him much in my first run, so I had to come up with new strats for the boss fights. Ultimate has all 4 characters and Zengetsu has all his power ups. There are even more endings for ignoring the allies, or ignoring one and recruiting the others, etc.

This really is a damn fine game. I did three playthroughs yesterday alone and I could honestly go again.

Work is gonna be a bit hectic for the next week, so I plan on buying Ritual of the Night either the last of July or beginning of August and I cannot wait. After playing 9 Classicvanias for the past few months, my body is beyond ready for a MetroidVania.
 
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Karkashan

Married to Chrom
God Eater 3 (PC)

Needed something to tide me over til FE3H comes out later this week, so I picked monhun-but-even-more-anime, aka God Eater 3.

Surprisingly, despite it's relatively tame difficulty (compared to monhun) and obvious budget restrictions, I really connected to the characters and ended up no lifeing it more than I thought I would.

I don't know if I was stubborn about doing most if not all side missions as they came up, or if it was because I just upgraded my starting gear instead of making new stuff, but I never really felt I needed to grind for anything ever. If I was interested in post game, that might change.
 

EvilTw1n

Even my henchmen think I'm crazy.
Moderator
TT Isle of Man: Ride on the Edge (NS)

Quick, what's the most deadly mountain in the world? Everest, right? 308 deaths. There is another contender out there, though. A little speck on the Irish Sea, a place called the Isle of Man, is home to Snaefell Mountain. It has taken 259 lives. It's honestly a generous place, though. Merciful, even. Sometimes it lets you walk away from something like this.


Racing is a crazy business for lunatics. But racing a motorcycle on the Isle of Man? There are no safety walls on the mountain. And before you even get to it, you have to race at 170+ mph through residential streets, where instead of safety gravel to slow you down, you splat into houses or phone poles. This isn't just any racing circuit; it's almost 38 miles long, with over 200 turns. Maybe a death wish isn't a prerequisite, but it certainly is a bonus. For those of us who place a small value on a non-mangled, avoidable death, though, we have this game.

Warning: this is a sim. I'm gonna get pretty freaking pedantic here in the lengthy sections below.


I. The Racing

I've been sitting around, waiting for someone to put out a decent racing game on the damn Switch that isn't Mario Kart. I saw this at GameStop and thought it must be garbage, but...it wouldn't leave my mind. So I bought it. And it's far from garbage. I've only ridden a motorcycle 4 times, so I 1,000% can't give you a qualified opinion on actually racing one, but I can tell you that TT:IOM passes videogame sim 101. Why? Because it follows the one and only rule a good racing game has to abide by - stick to the physics. I mean, you are gonna have physics hiccups; I have never played a racing sim that doesn't have them. But if your game engine is so broken that physics are altogether negotiable, it all falls apart. Speed, weight transfer, braking, and steering are (usually!) not up for debate here, so it passes the most crucial test.

And it also passes the test of my buddy who played a few tracks, and who is a motorcycle rider. No, you obviously don't feel like you're on a bike, but the mechanical behaviors are translated. You want to pin the throttle wide open when you're sideways and in 2nd gear at 12,000 RPM? Enjoy your accident, because the back steps out from you there, just like on a bike. Oh, you want to go through a turn properly on a bike? Sorry, your sim experience from Gran Turismo means precisely cock here. Why? Because cars follow the Jackie Stewart rules of racing - brake, transfer weight to the front of the car, turn in, then only start accelerating late in the corner, when you are certain you can keep your foot on the gas. Pinning the throttle early-to-mid-corner in a car is a recipe for terminal understeer or snap oversteer. Bikes? Hahahahahahaha. You accelerate through the turn. Meaning you have to open the throttle when you're tilted sideways on a bike at 85 mph (or a lot more) throughout the turn - sometimes at the very start of it. It's all down to the tires. Car tires are perpendicular to the road. When a motorcycle is leaned over, it gets to use more of the tire at an angle to make contact with the asphalt. So you have to re-wire your thinking. Your brain is screaming at you "slow down, jackass!" But if you want to be fast and make a corner stick at speed, you have to roll on the throttle.

...except if you overcook the corner. Then you're hard on the brakes, guiding the bike into a turn, applying little-if-any throttle, and trying to save it. Which you can do! You certainly won't be fast, but it's better than an accident which will destroy your chances of a podium. This is the dance of this game; perfection is not an option, so you're balancing back and forth between techniques.


II. The Controls

OK, that brings us to the elephant in the room - analog triggers. Once and for all, you don't need them. You think you do, and you're wrong, because you don't understand racing. The light blue lines on this graph are part of a data readout from Valentino Rossi, 9-time MotoGP world champion. The bottom section of the chart is his usage of throttle:
https://pbs.twimg.com/media/D70pqSlXkAAU6JX.png

Notice that? Yeah, a lot of it is either completely rolled off, or wide the fuck open. There is a bit of massaging in there, but you...aren't Valentino Rossi. And in a digital environment, you can put a digital filter on the throttle to mimic that massaging...like in this videogame. Instead of an on-off switch, you have an "off > partly on > on" switch. How? There is a 100-point acceleration dead zone (programmable in 5-point increments) which makes the throttle more gradually ramp up. That's versus your less-than-half-an-inch of analog trigger travel. And you can further customize your throttle response by learning how to change your own damn gears with a manual transmission. If you want a quicker throttle response for acceleration, drop to a lower gear (bike engines ramp up substantially at higher-RPMs). If you want it smoother without editing your dead zone preset? Take a turn in 3rd gear instead of 2nd; you have a wider rev range and more room to gradually ramp up. Picking your gears also aids in memorization for hitting your marks.

Or you could insist on playing with an automatic transmission setup, and demand your analog triggers. I mean, you're faster than Rossi, right?


III. Speed and Visuals

This looks like a...PS360-ish game? Kinda, I guess? I don't have access to a PS3 at the moment to go play GT5, but I remember playing it and thinking "wow, the bullshots on this were amazing." Racing games in particular tend to be guilty of this. They lavish detail on what you pay attention to (steering wheel, speedometer, asphalt), but then leave alpha textures on trees and vegetation. It's even more glaring in something like the old MotoGP games, because you have fairly wide open tracks there (for rider safety reasons, but as you see here, it looks boring as hell). The riders and bikes look OK, but the faraway objects - crowds, grass, barriers - get little to no attention. It's mostly the same deal here, but with a BIG asterisk. This is all road racing, 9 standalone stages, plus Snaefell, not a "proper" racetrack grand prix in sight. Sidewalks, fences, curbs, etc. are all much closer than any of the details in a GP game. And they look...decent? I mean, this was a PS4/XBO/PC game with pretty challenging vegetation and gemoetry downported to Switch, and it didn't have the benefit of halving the framerate - it's 30 fps on all consoles. If you aren't flying by at speed, you'll see alpha textures. Still, I'm stunned that it looks as good as it does. In non-time trial races, there can be a little slowdown if a lot of riders bunch up. And on some tracks, there's an odd draw-in bug, like the game is too fast to draw the center line of the road in time. That aside? Decent. The riders look...acceptable in third-person, although their animations are quite stiff. But what you really want is the handlebar view. It looks quite nice.

And that view is also fast. Pants-browning fast.

Those objects that are all closer to you? Yeah, they blaze by you. It's the same reason something like NFS:MW felt so quick. The contrast, seeing scenery fly past you, that's this game's calling card. And going for the big race, the proper IOM TT on Snaefell Mountain? Hoo boy. It has some tight, technical sections, but the biggest challenge are those sweepers. Watch around the 0:16 second mark here. That's your challenge. Take your turn, lean, and don't let off the throttle. If you don't commit, if you blink? You might lose traction or balance and end up in a tree. That's OK on a 2-mile circuit - you can just start over. But the IOM is a behemoth; if you start over after every mistake, you'll never finish. So one part of this game, its main part, is a very, very different experience. It isn't a typical race, where there are rivalries with other riders. It's you against the mountain.


IV. Difficulty

I've played a lot of "hard" games this year. But trying a clean fast run on Snaefell Mountain? Hardest thing I've ever tried in a videogame. Nothing else is remotely close. Nothing.

The game isn't unfair*. But if you want to be good, it asks a lot of you. And it is rewarding in a way that other titles simply aren't. Games like OG Ninja Gaiden or Dark Souls? There was very little sense of improvement for me in them. I was as good as I would ever be at those games by hour 2. Same with something like Xenoblade; what improved was my armor and weapon stats. Which, in that case, was cool, because it let me keep exploring a world I wanted to be in...but it's not like I got better at it.

Although it has its moments, specifically due to the lack of A.I. in non-TT races. It's not a matter of if, but when a dumb bot will ruin one of your good laps by running directly into your backside. I lost count of the number of races I had to restart due to shitty A.I. The only reason I don't dock this game more for this problem is that just about every racing game has terrible A.I.

I am still woefully slow at TT:IOM. But I'm better at it now. Originally, I fired up the game, expected my Gran Turismo knowledge to carry me, and promptly finished in 10th place. 50 seconds back. Not of the leader. 50 seconds back of 9th place. I was over 3-and-a-half minutes back of the leader. But after practicing, I was able to fight for podiums, within 10 or 15 seconds. Fast-forward to now? I win outright. I never expect to win, though. I'm old and slow and my reaction times were never fast to begin with. But I've learned how to square-off a corner, how to change my racing line, how to save a corner I over-cooked on entry. I now understand where a handful of throttle will make me faster, and where a handful of throttle will cause an accident.

None of that is what you might call fun, though. You've gotta be in a certain mood for this sort of videogame. Me? I only seem to get in this sort of mood once every 5-ish years. But for the past 2 weeks? I've deeply enjoyed the zen repetition of racing. There's a purity to it. Accelerate, shift, brake, turn. Rinse, repeat. Transpose into different scenarios, but they act as pasta shapes.

Here's a primer paragraph on technique for this game. I'm gonna try to do Triangle, cold from memory:

Start, blip to get off the line, then off the throttle, then wide open again. Up to second. Hard on the brakes, hard lean right with a kiss of throttle, full brake, left and back on the throttle, up to third gear in your lean, apex past the street lamp. Up to fourth gear, feather the throttle around the right hand sweeper, then brief full throttle. Lean left, completely back off throttle for engine braking, then briefly back full. Hard brake and down to third around the right hander then briefly full. Brake, down to second, on throttle through the left. Accelerate in second, hard brake, down to first and guide the bike around the left hairpin. Slight left, then bank right, accelerate and up to second, look for the exit by the bush.

Congrats. That's the first section. You don't have to understand hitting your marks like that (and tbh, on Snaefell, I don't think you can even memorize what marks to hit). TT:IOM isn't the most sim-y sim to ever sim, but that's how technical you can be in this game. It has depth to spare.

However...there is one big problem I have with this game. Your "slow" rides here are the 600 cc bikes. This game needs a starter class. The developers really, really should have included a 250 cc class. It would smooth out the overall difficulty with some actual learner bikes.


V. Worth buying?

Probably not. I mean, I really hope someone might read this at some point and buy it. This is a very good sim, one that I'm absolutely floored to have learned exists on Switch at all. If you plan on actually practicing, one season in career mode will eat a dozen hours of time, easy. Double that if you're like me and want to hit your marks. The incentive is there to come back and do better in subsequent seasons, and re-run the big race on Snaefell.

But a lot of people buy racing games for visual flare and thrills. There is eye candy here, but it's more for technical nerds. There are thrills, but they require effort to maintain. I imagine most people will pick this up, see the traffic-line draw-in on some tracks, and scoff. Then they'll drop the game and blame the developer for all of their crashes, when the real problem is that the player never adapted to motorcycle physics.

If you are willing to learn, this is worth it. If you want to race on the greatest track ever made, this is worth it.

If you want a quick hit of pleasure, some cheap endorphin rush? Walk as far away from this game as you can.

And go buy yourself an actual soul, instead.

VI. Value

Welcome to the ultra-pedantic section. The biggest gripe I've read on this game isn't its visuals or difficulty, it's the value proposition.

This is the part where I point out that on Switch, MotoGP 2019 does not have online. TT:IOM does. It isn't like the motorcycle sim racing community is big, but how is that not a nice thing to have, man? Give me a couple of friends and I wouldn't need another racer.

That aside, what's the problem? "This game only has 10 tracks!" This is a...curious critique. The only games you can compare this to are the MotoGP-licensed motorcycle games...and...I just so happen to follow actual MotoGP. Ahem. So. I can tell you that there are 19 races on this year's MotoGP calendar. If you were to add up one lap on each track, and count all of the turns, you would end up with...

...56.464 miles total, with 282 turns to navigate. You want to know how I know? OK.

Losail = 3.375 miles / 16 turns

Autódromo = 2.986 miles / 14 turns

COTA = 3.427 miles / 20 turns

Jerez = 2.751 miles / 15 turns

La Sarthe-Bugatti = 2.655 miles / 14 turns

Mugello = 3.259 miles / 14 turns

Catalunya = 2.892 miles / 16 turns

Assen = 2.824 miles / 18 turns

Sachsenring = 2.299 miles / 14 turns

Automotodrom-Brno = 3.357 miles / 14 turns

Red Bull Ring = 2.683 miles / 10 turns

Silverstone = 3.667 miles / 18 turns

Misano = 2.626 miles / 16 turns

Aragón = 3.155 miles / 16 turns

Buriram = 2.830 miles / 12 turns

Motegi-Twin Ring = 2.983 miles / 14 turns

Phillip Island = 2.762 miles / 12 turns

Sepang = 3.445 miles / 15 turns

Valencia = 2.488 miles / 14 turns


TOTAL 2019 season = 56.424 miles / 282 turns

How does that compare to this game? Well, let's start with the 9 "original" tracks (a term I only use loosely because they are obviously based on real-life counterparts). I have to do a little conversion math here...and I'm assuming the menu isn't lying (it gives you the race length, which doesn't change when you edit the number of laps you're doing, so I'm guessing this is the correct track length)...and I'm trying to be fair on counting "turns" which can be an inexact science for road courses, so...

...carry the 2, and....

...31.05 miles, with 109 turns. OK, you want to know how I know.

Tyrone = 1.94 miles / 8 turns

Triangle = 4.57 miles / 16 turns

Old Blair = 1.86 miles / 10 turns

Castle Ring = 3.41 miles / 12 turns

West Sussex = 2.49 miles / 12 turns

Hertfordshire = 2.80 miles / 17 turns

Super Hillside = 4.97 miles / 11 turns

Milford = 1.55 miles / 8 turns

Antrim = 7.46 miles / 15 turns

TOTAL = 31.05 miles / 109 turns

Oh noes! We're minus-25 miles of track, and 173 turns! The value! How can we make this up?

Snaefell Mountain is, all by itself, exactly 37.73 miles. Number of turns? Between 219 and 264. The track is so big that people sometimes disagree on what actually qualifies as a "turn" there instead of a gradual bend in the road.

All of a sudden, we have 68.78 miles of track and 328* turns. This value proposition doesn't look so off now, does it? And it is a concern further buried when you realize that Snaefell can be chopped up and run in sections. There are 12 sections of the track, about 3 miles each, to choose from. And you can mix and match - run sections 1-12, or 2-5, or 4-6, or 3-11, whatever. You basically have a customizable, malleable super-track.

(*Or 373, but who's counting?)
 
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Shoulder

Your Resident Beardy Bear
Deus Ex: Human Revolution Director's Cut (Wii U)

I originally played this back on PS3 twice, and it was a joy to play, especially for the time since I was a massive OG Deus Ex fan (It still ranks in my top 5 GOAT). I bought the Wii U version pretty much at launch since I was so impressed with the work that Straight Right did to make this port happen (low and behold, it would just get ported to every platform afterwards, but no matter). In all, it was nice to revisit this what I do consider a future classic of the franchise. I'll say straight away though that this is not as good as the first game, but most of you already knew that.

Playing this for my third go around was interesting because I had forgotten a few areas here, but there were also some surprises, both good, and bad. For starters, lets talk about the boss fights. Even though they did fix them for the DC, they still felt unwarranted, and forced. Sure, you could choose to fight without actually using your weapons (for the most part), but it still did not feel like they even belonged in the game. In a lot of ways, I wish the boss fights were optional to begin with, or you could make a choice during the game that would allow you to simply skip it (perhaps the boss dies through other means, or something). They were still not my favorite in the game.

Next, let's talk about the elephant in the room, and that is the Wii U specific features, which overall I think were pretty good, although I wish there were some changes. For starters, managing your inventory, which on the Gamepad felt sluggish at times due to trying to make some things fit, or you wanted to customize how your stuff was laid out. After some trial and error though, I realized it's just best to let the game do it, and leave it at that. If an item does not fit in the inventory, it simply will not fit. I do like a lot of the touchscreen specific stuff, and hacking in this game was as good as was when it came out. Entering passwords to access computers, or typing numbers for a passcode were fairly intuitive, although because of the resistive touchscreen, it felt like a massive stepback compared to the more recent Switch touchscreen with its capacitive touchscreen. It still worked overall enough. I guess what I can say overall is while the gamepad specific features were cool and all, they did not really add much to the game itself. The game was perfectly fine without them when playing in handheld mode at times. I always wondered what this game would be like if it had Wii motion controls. Aiming would certainly have been so much better.

Graphics were decent through, and performance overall was fairly consistent, although in the more busy areas of the game, it was drop into the low 20s (game is capped at 30fps with vsync). It definitely looked better than the PS3 version, and the look of it was pretty good for a Wii U game. Straight Right did a solid job in porting this game over, and it's one of the better looking 1st-Person titles on the system. Not much else to say here.

Gameplay was as good as I remember it with the 3rd person cover system one of the best parts of sneaking around in this game. It really does add a lot to the overall design of the game, but naturally you were almost always crouched through most of the game. In some respects, I wonder how this game would've faired had it been 3rd person from the get go in terms of platforming, but that would've been a huge change to the overall design of the franchise with it being 1st person (1st person might've also been an early design choice in the original game for technical reasons, but who knows?). I definitely love how you are able to find multiple routes to accomplish objectives, although I tended to just explore everywhere anyway, but if you're pressed for time or resources, it's nice overall.

I'm not going to go over every detail I liked or disliked, but I want to at least address one of the more defining features of the game, and that is its soundtrack. Before this game originally came out, I loved the theme song to Human Revolution, and still do, but overall, the music severely lacks compared to OG Deus Ex. Alexander Brandon, who composed the soundtrack for the game really defined how this type of game should sound, and I felt the prequel was a massive step back. The music during gameplay felt more tacked on as filler than anything truly distinctive, which is another reason I love Deus Ex 1's soundtrack. Human Revolution is the MCU of soundtracks. Nothing really sticks out except for maybe one track, and it's a theme song.

After playing this, I want to install Deus Ex 1 again, and go through that. I'll also give Mankind Divided a go at some point, but I'll likely get the PS4 version when the time comes.
 

Juegos

All mods go to heaven.
Moderator
Hexologic (NS)

I picked this up on a whim because it was on sale for about $1.50. Bottom line: if you like Sudoku, then please take a leap of faith on my recommendation and get this while it's on sale. It's well worth it. (After some research, the full price is $3, so it's worth it even if not on sale.)


The game consists of filling out rows and columns (or whatever you'd call them in a hexagonal grid, as opposed to the square grid of a Sudoku puzzle) with numbers between 1-3 while making sure that the numbers in these rows and columns add up to what is required. For example, if there are three spaces in a row that the game says have to add up to '8', you can do that by placing two '3' and one '2'. However, you have to be careful about which number you place in every empty space because often you'll have a different requirement to fulfill. For example, a row of three empty spaces might require a total of '8', but an intersecting column of 2 spaces might require a '6', which can cause a conflict with one of your '8' numbers.

In general, it's a game of logic: "to have a total of X for this row, I need A and B; but B cannot be in this tile because then I can't have a total of Y for this column; therefore, A has to be in this tile while B goes in that tile." That more or less covers the first 18 of 111 levels. As you progress through the game, new mechanics are added that make the puzzles more complex and nuanced so that you have to learn and master new ways of thinking.

Also, the music is probably inspired by the music of Metroid Prime, and it's very relaxing while helping you focus on the puzzle. It's good enough that you won't get tired of it even when you're staring blankly at the screen, stuck on a puzzle.

If you finish all 111 puzzles and still want more, you can then replay the whole game in hard mode, which just changes the solution to each puzzle and makes it harder to cheese your way through them in general. It took me something like 15 hours to beat the whole game, maybe a little more, and I enjoyed it a lot. I enjoyed it so much I would probably buy a $20 version with 500 puzzles, if it ever was made.
 
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night (PS4)

It's basically what the developers promised: a throwback to the Iga-Vanias on PS1, GBA and DS. I had a few glitches, and the frame rate tanked on one boss fight, and this is more-so a personal preference but I like my Metroidvanias to have a lot of movement based upgrades. There's a crap ton of attack upgrades you get from defeating enemies, and some upgrades you have to stop and aim to get through a narrow passage or something. I like games like Metroid and Shantae and the Pirate's Curse where there's always a new method of travel to learn that you can use instantaneously. Still, I can't complain about the game, it was pretty great. Iga-Vanias always had their own style and I appreciate it.

Also, please add another * to Bloodstained Curse of the Moon.
 
Iconoclasts (PS4)

Jeez, I don't even know where to start with this one. One the surface and for the first few hours it's a beautiful Metroivania (more so Fusion than Super with separate levels) with upbeat music and fun gameplay. By the end, I legit feel drained emotionally.

As the game goes on the dialogue and cutscenes do go on longer, and some levels become smaller. It's a gradual shift in tone and style but the first few hours are definitely different than the end hours.

There is a lot of moments in this game that will stick with me for a long time. The thing is though, I don't fully understand this game. The story admittedly starts off throwing a bit too much at you in terms of lore and such, so it took awhile for me to have the basic grasp of it all, but by the time I did more shit is happening. A lot of characters talk about topics of religion and philosophy, and maybe I'm just a stinky brain dumb dumb but a bit of it flew over my head. Side characters come and go, villains die sooner than expected, the main issue at hand feels bigger than you yet at the same time (without spoiler) you solve it in the end by simply dealing with it.

One particular character throughout the game I was waiting to see what their beef was. Towards the end it's explained a bit but I still didn't understand her motivations, yet when you fought them, and then what happens after, I couldn't help but being really fucking sad despite them being a huge dick throughout the whole game.

I feel like I'm rambling and can't form a coherent write up about it. I guess some people would say the story is pretentious or poorly written, and I wouldn't necessarily argue with them, but even just having a basic grasp of the story at large and not fully understanding quite a few character motivations and such, I can't help but feel attached to it all. The music really helps too, it almost tells the story as much as the dialogue at points.

Other than that, my main gripe with the actual game is the hidden stuff. You know how Metroidvanias work, hidden power ups and health pick ups. Not this one, all you get is one of four materials which you use to make buffs like one free hit, power up melee, faster movement, etc. The problem is, none of it really feels important besides longer breath underwater, which stops being a thing early on. Towards the end of the game I completely stopped caring. The game has it's fair share of puzzles which I loved, so I only found the materials if there was a puzzle, I stopped backtracking to earlier areas because I didn't need any of it.

So at the end of the day, I love this game. As a game, it does have some structure issues but it controls very well, is one of the most beautiful pixel-based games I've seen and the music, holy fuck the music. The story: as muddled as it can be, I simply can't hate it. Despite being in the dark about a handful of things, it made me feel so it's doing something right.

It reminds me of playing the ps1-era Final Fantasy's as a kid. I didn't fully understand the themes and what exactly was happening at times, but I still think about them to this day. I have a feeling Iconoclasts won't be leaving my mind for a long ass time.


I need a "dumb fun" game now.
 
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