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    Stray (PC)    by   dkirschner       (Apr 13th, 2024 at 12:00:39)

    Patrick and I have been playing this together this semester, and finished it a couple weeks ago. We were talking after beating it about despite how simple and straightforward of a game this is, it manages to be something new. Playing as a cat (and being able to do cat things like curl up and sleep, scratch things, knock objects off tables, etc., so cuuuute) was novel, and the setting and story were interesting. But really, playing as a cat. I smiled a whole lot throughout the game. The lil companion robot was cute too.

    On the other hand, I was often tired and bored while playing, and literally fell asleep during several sessions. Patrick would be making dinner or something in the kitchen, and I'd snap awake, cat walking into a wall, and I'd pretend I had not fallen asleep, and that I was just watching the cat walk into the wall and thinking. Like how my dad always used to claim he was "resting his eyes" when he'd fall asleep on the couch.

    I would not call the game exciting. It was a lot of wandering around the city and talking to robot NPCs, fetching things for them. The city is a really good-looking dystopia, and the robots are quirky, but I wish they had more dialogue. You don't get a sense that many of them have personalities besides whatever one-note thing they do. I mean, the lack of dialogue makes sense, and it's not really "dialogue" since the cat can't talk. The fact that you are a cat adds a whole layer of silly to the game. Like, why has this lil robot befriended a cat? Why are all these robots putting all their faith in a cat to save them? Cats don't understand what we're saying to them, and cats do whatever they want! Playing as a cat in a game where you're doing fetch quests (fetching is dog stuff!) and doing things to help people is very un-cat-like.

    But, you know what? The ability to play as a cat and do cat things trumps how little sense it makes, and I would play as a cat in this dystopia again. Idea for next time: more cats. And what do you think? Were there cats at the end?! Optimistically, I think so.



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    Hadean Tactics (PC)    by   jp       (Apr 7th, 2024 at 13:32:36)

    This game is supposed to be a deck-building tactical game and it sort of isn't, but very lightly is - at least in my experience so far.

    So, like CD2: Trap Master this game REALLY wears it's Slay the Spire inspirations on its sleeve. Again, there's a path you that branches and you need to pick which nodes to visit - and there's fights, boss fights, resting spots, stores, artifact/rewards, and shops. Oh, there's also "story encounters" where you make a choice that often results in a benefit and a drawback. VERY Slay the Spire - though I noticed the way the events are distributed is different and that it's much more important to plan your way through it since the paths intersect a lot less and you can, for example in my last run, set yourself up with 4 rest/upgrade a card spots in a row!

    In addition to a deck of cards you have the character you chose and two "minions" (they're all monsters) that exist on a 2D grid that's quite typical of tactical games. The enemies will spawn, you have energy to cast your cards - generally you cast your cards, unpause and wait for the timer to pause the game when it hits the threshold (7 seconds) for your hand to flush, a new hand is drawn, and you get more mana to cast spells. What isn't really tactical about it is that all the fighting on the tactical grid (which includes everyone having abilities they cast once their mana is full) happens automatically. You can't (afaik) give orders to anyone. At best, if you have the right spells, you can move creatures around (your own or enemy), but they then move back to whatever it is they want to do (e.g. attack the nearest enemy).

    One of my runs used a character that had access to "trap" cards which are pretty neat since you lay them on the grid and then have to trigger them (with a different card) and ALL the trap laid will trigger. Some do damage, others heal your allies, and so on. So, the game isn't tactical at all in the turn-by-turn combat and movement decision-making sense. Yes, you choose whom to roll into a fight with, which spells to cast on whom, and when to cast things. But, since you don't directly control your combat units it all feels pretty indirect.

    Where the game goes pretty wild (and above/beyond what Slay the Spire does) is that once you've cleared a run - you gain access to making your own hero - choose skills/talents from a list AND choose which spells will be available (again from a list, which only has the ones you've unlocked). So, in this sense the game has a lot, lot more options/replayability and that sort of thing. But, I'm not sure it's that much more interesting?

    Oh, there is a meta-progression. When I beat my first run a giant death/reaper creature appeared and said "ok, now you can start to make progress towards winning - you have to collect wings". And I've collected a few since, you get them from killing the stage end bosses (which is nice in that you don't have to get all the way to the end). I need to get 7 - so I wonder if I'll just have to play over and over until I randomly get the right bosses or will the game feed me different ones until I get them all? I've also unlocked a new (third) character...but I kind of don't want to use it because I want to get all the wings with the character I've made some progress with.

    I've played about 4 hours and I've really enjoyed the "decay" and "trap" mechanics... we'll see how it goes!

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    Deathloop (PS4)    by   jp       (Apr 4th, 2024 at 11:14:36)

    Argh. The longer you go without playing, the worse this game's experience becomes. This is almost entirely due to me forgetting both how to play, but also all the localized information and knowledge you pick up - like who is where, when, and so on.

    I love the idea of a "clockwork" game where you deftly navigate your way through things that happen and certain times and places - there's a sense of beauty and elegance to the choreography you develop and create (sort of like when you watch those time loop movies and see a character weave through people and places because they know what's going to happen when and they've just learned it). BUT, that beauty also creates an entry barrier - at least a psychological one for me, because the game's on-ramp is past and now you're in the thick of it. But you've forgotten everything...

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    Devil May Cry 5 (PS4)    by   jp       (Apr 4th, 2024 at 11:09:05)

    So I took a break - and then came back to the game and had forgotten how to play. It took a bit to remember (I purposefully avoided looking stuff up because I wanted to see how easy it was for me to remember). So, some of the fights with V took longer than they should have - because I had forgotten that V has to "finish off" the enemies...lol.

    While I often focus (for my own personal interests) on game play and game design aspects of a game - I realized as I was playing this game that..wow, the visual design of the large enemies really is phenomenal. They're both beautiful, awesome, creepy, gross, and disgusting. It's quite the accomplishment and I really appreciated it. And, this is in the context of me playing a game that is ~7 years old and running on last gen hardware. Perhaps I haven't played enough PS5 games yet so I'm still too impressionable? Have things moved that far in terms of photorealism?

    I have decided to move on even though I realize, from the back of the box, that I'll miss out on the 3rd playable character. It's no fault or problem with DMC5...it's just that I've got too many games to play and I think I've understood enough about this game to move on to another.

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    Dorfromantik (PC)    by   dkirschner       (Mar 24th, 2024 at 19:54:36)

    Got this for free at some point and decided to give it a shot since it is well-reviewed and seemed like something outside of my usual. I wasnít quite sure what to expect. It looks like a casual city-builder and mobile game. Itís definitely casual and definitely a builder of sorts, but itís more of a puzzle game than anything.

    Your goal is to place various sorts of hexagonal tiles to build a landscape. Tiles can have, on any of their six sides, water, trees, grassland, fields, houses, and railroad tracks. You can rotate tiles and, ideally, match like sides. This nets you points. Not matching sides doesnít net you points. You need points in order to get more tiles. If you run out of tiles, itís game over. So, you have to strategically place tiles such that you maximize aligning edges with the same properties.

    To complicate this, some tiles have ďquests,Ē which require you to string together x number of trees, houses, railroads, etc. So then youíre not simply matching sides, but youíre also trying to cluster certain types together in certain places depending on which quests you get.

    I found myself lost in it before realizing that I was almost out of tiles. I refocused and hit a stride, getting achievement after achievement for making long railroads, villages with tons of houses, etc., and built my stack of tiles back up. However, I have realized that if you donít match like tiles early on, youíll be disadvantaged later because you are ďmissing outĒ on points that you would have earned had you been more careful, and it will be difficult to ďfill inĒ gaps that youíve created. Another thing I realized is that you canít ďbranch outĒ too much. Youíve got to remain clustered. If you branch out too much, then each tile you place canít generate many points. Itís 10 points per matched side, so if youíre just like building a river straight out, each tile is only netting 10 points. If you are more clustered and placing each tile next to two or three others, then youíre getting 20 or 30 points per tile, and generating more tiles. Itís an interesting balancing act.

    There is no story; itís a sandbox. There is infinite replayability to chase high scores and achievements. Iíd be interested in giving it another shot and doing better, but I think I did really well for my first try. Maybe Iíll keep it on hand for a relaxing puzzle game. But Iíve got other stuff to get to!

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    Soul Caliber III (PS2)    by   Solstice

    No comment, yet.
    most recent entry:   Saturday 26 January, 2008
    Entry #2

    After exploring more plotlines with other characters, as well as different game modes, I was pleased at how much there is to this game. For the first time in Soul Calibur, the player and create his own hero with equipment he has earned and campaign through different maps in strategy based sieges. Using one's superior fighting skills, each player must eliminate their enemy's base without losing their own.

    Gameplay: I thought this was a great idea, having a broader strategy game as background for the smaller fighting game brings gamers into the game more because they can associate with their characters, which gets them emotionally invested in the game.
    However, the strategy part of the game is uncharacteristically unprofessional for Soul Calibur. It takes much too long for your fighters to move across the board and the animations are unimpressive. If the strategy part of the game was played on a grid, and produced quick results it could prove to be an intense augmentation to Soul Calibur's gameplay. But sadly, I found the time consuming animations directly conflicting with the pace of Soul Calibur.

    Design: I love the tone of Soul Calibur. The high energy music and brilliant colors set up the stage for dramatic showdowns of epic proportions. The art and music of this game are phenomenal, the style is well defined and the character's compliment each other well.
    As a classical fighting game, I would say Soul Calibur blows its rivals out of the water. But, new consoles mean better capabilities and I think fighting game designers need to explore new formats to make these games as intense as possible.

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