dkirschner's GameLogBlogging the experience of gameplay Textorcist: The Story of Ray Bibbia (PC) - Sun, 03 Dec 2023 15:13:46 cannot type anymore, my hand is so cramped. The Textorcist is such a great idea for a game. The story is silly, there are typos throughout the dialogue, the music loops in a strangely distracting way, the function of items and various UI elements is not transparent, but my goodness, I loved playing this. The most intense typing game. This was a freebie on Epic (and maybe Amazon, too), and sounded so strange, that I had to try. You play as the titular Ray Bibbia, an exorcist trying to root out demons from the Vatican and save his daughter. Ray has a holy Bible from which he shoots "hollets" (holy bullets; the puns and portmanteaus are painful) at demons by reading. You, the player, type the text that Ray reads. It sounds simple enough, but takes some next-level dexterity. The first enemies (and every enemy is a boss fight) stand still and shoot at you. Then, the enemies start moving, slowly at first, then quickly, then one takes up half the screen, another teleports. Their bullet hell projectiles begin easy, one at a time, as you practice typing and moving. Then multiple projectiles, homing projectiles, projectiles shot at various speeds, exploding projectiles, giant projectiles, lasers, an entire screen of projectiles, and on and on. You might be thinking, how can you dodge all these projectiles, move, and type at the same time? Good question. The default key binding is to move with the arrow keys, which means you are moving with one hand and typing with the other, or you are moving with your right hand, then quickly typing with both hands, then right hand back to the arrows to move again. This quickly becomes untenable. I changed the key bindings first to Shift + WASD to move, then because that's not home position, Shift + ESDF. That was the trick. So, to move, bring your pinky down on shift and use ESDF (same movements as WASD but one key to the right). If you need to use ESDF to type, lift your pinky and get the letter out, then put it back and keep dodging those projectiles. While you're moving with your left hand, you can type with your right hand. This is all complicated enough when you are typing complete sentences in English like "I cast you into darkness. Come to the divine light of Jesus Christ." or something. Then the game starts throwing Latin at you. "Et absinthium dissisitum obliteratis jesu sau aeternum quotaun vadis..." (I typed Latin-esque gibberish, and that's exactly what it feels like while playing!). The letter combinations and hand movements to make them are unfamiliar, which significantly increases the difficulty. And this is happening as the bosses are getting harder. THEN! Some of the bosses start messing with your bible. One scrambled Latin words. Come on! So not only are you grappling with typing "aeternium glorius facie suae diabolis," but now you have to wrap your head around "aetrmiut sirulgo icfai uesa bsaliido." Another boss changes some "I"s to "1"s and "O"s to "0"s. So then you're like, "aetern1um gl0r1us fac1e suae diab0l1s," and COME ON! The game is nuts. I loved it. I died my fair share of times, but I'm a very fast and accurate typist, so I feel like I did well. One death on the last boss, for example, no deaths on the next-to-last boss, maybe three or four deaths on the third-from-the-last. I had to get up and take a break a few times during that trio because my hands were starting to cramp/shake and my nerves were so on edge. I was literally laughing during the last boss because of how absurdly difficult it was and how absurdly close I was to winning, but I COULD NOT get my fingers to type the letter C right before the final "Amen" that would have finished it, while moving through the most ridiculous bullet hell part of the game. There is a DLC that I appear to have, but the game won't recognize it for some reason. Seems like it's a known issue. I would definitely play more of this, despite the irony of a typing game having loads of typos. Sun, 03 Dec 2023 15:13:46 CST Walking Dead: A New Frontier (XBX X/S) - Sun, 03 Dec 2023 08:58:07 like Patrick and I started this way back in March! I remember he downloaded it on a whim, and I was concerned that he made a poor choice for us to spend our precious co-op gaming time. I've played a bunch of other Telltale Walking Dead and other franchise games--the highly reviewed ones--and loved them. This spinoff had a mediocre Metacritic score and, turns out, is a mediocre game. To be fair, it took us eight or nine months to complete, and I'm sure we would have enjoyed it more had we been more consistent, but it's not terribly compelling. A New Frontier introduces new characters with new relationships to explore, and features Clem, but felt like a mishmash of scenarios from previous games, choices that didn't matter all that much, and characters whose shoes it was hard to step into and who often acted illogically. By the end, we were just laughing at what the characters were doing. For example, there is a scene in Richmond with the main character, Javier, and his brother, David, hitting baseballs in a batting cage (you know, a typical zombie apocalypse activity). You see, Javier was formerly a baseball player, and you know this because he wears a baseball jersey in every scene throughout the game, including flashbacks, and people recognize him and remember him for playing baseball (including a young kid who asks him for an autograph, even though this game is set four years after the beginning of the apocalypse, so the kid would have been like four years old when it started, and why would a four-year-old have been so obsessed with a baseball player, unless we are to believe that Javier was like Babe Ruth level famous). Anyway, David, whose successes were obscured by Javier's fame, remains bitter, and becomes more and more irrationally angry in the batting cages as Javier hits baseballs and says things like, "And the crowd goes wild!" You can miss the balls on purpose, which presumably doesn't remind David that Javier overshadowed him, but David becoming irate at this was so absurdly funny. As the game goes on, there are more such absurd interactions. And at the end of the game, when Telltale breaks down your choices and tells you what kind of relationships you had with other characters, I'm not sure their conclusions were accurate. I wish I remembered which one I am specifically thinking of, but there was one that was the opposite of what it certainly should have been. This isn't the scenario, but hypothetically, it was something like "You acted romantically toward Trish," after being mean to her in every interaction. Yeah, this was definitely a weak entry. Sun, 03 Dec 2023 08:58:07 CST's Spider-Man (PS4) - Fri, 24 Nov 2023 21:44:24 one was outstanding! You don't need to know much about Spider-Man to enjoy. It drops you in the middle of some action and gives a great first impression, letting you swing through Manhattan and offering a seriously impressive initial mission, culminating in a boss fight. My first thought was, "Holy shit, the movement is incredible." And swinging through Manhattan somehow never got old. It's functional enough, varied enough, challenging enough, and just looks cool. My second thought was, "Holy shit, the combat is slick." Of course it reminded me of Batman, the Arkham games, with its dodging and stealth sections (or "hunter" mode, as Batman called them). I think the Arkham combat is more nuanced, but Spider-Man's is certainly fun and stylish. My go-to thing, which worked for 90% of the game, was just to pop enemies into the air and beat on them mid-air, then yank another enemy into the air, beat on them, yank another enemy, etc. I could usually knock out about four enemies like this before touching the ground, and it consistently worked (adding some mid-air dodges in the mix to avoid bullets and rockets, adding some web throws in there once I unlocked the ability to grab rockets and weapons, and eventually learning to swing kick to keep those combos going). Toward the end of the game, there is an enemy type who will yank you out of the air, and at the very end, some flying jetpack guys who are difficult to fight in the air, but besides those very few situations, air combat is the way to go. Plus it builds focus faster than on the ground. Spider-Man has access to a lot of gadgets, most of which I never used. The web shot and the impact web did come in handy when fighting tougher enemies, but like the spider bot, the concussive blast, the...I don't even know what they all are! Most of them were totally ignorable. He also gets a bunch of suits (I mean a BUNCH, like 30 or something), each of which has a unique suit power. It's cool that you can equip any unlocked power on any unlocked suit, so you can look how you want and have the suit power you want. Suit powers were also ignorable, but they were useful. I just forgot they were there. The ones I always had equipped were just area of effect powers that knocked enemies down in a radius, useful for crowd control. How do you unlock all this stuff, you ask? Well, this is an open-world game packed with all sorts of shit to do and collect. Manhattan itself isn't big, and Spider-Man's fast movement through the city makes it feel even smaller. But like real Manhattan, it's densely populated. You can collect like 50 backpacks, take a bunch of photos, stop literally hundreds of crimes, complete research tasks for Dr. Octavius and for Harry, clear enemy bases, complete challenges, and on and on and on. Each type of activity gives you a specific type of badge, and you use the badges to unlock and upgrade suits and gadgets. Some unlock just by level or story progression, but if you want to unlock everything, you'll really need to devote time to these side activities. I actually spent a long time, especially early on, playing with side activities. I collected every backpack, took every photo, completed every research task, stopped every "thug crime," cleaned out Fisk's and Li's men, and so on. But as the game kept...on...introducing more and more of these things, I started feeling like I was wasting my time. I fell into the open world trap of being distracted by shiny side nonsense. So, I eventually got to focusing on the main story, which was really good! Luckily, the side stuff, while open world fluff to large extent, was well integrated into the gameplay and narrative, and it really was varied and, I think, well designed. It was legitimately fun, if time consuming. The story was long and complex, thanks to the thousand characters and timelines or whatever in the Spidey-verse. I kept thinking I was approaching the end of the game, and then another bad guy would appear, another revelation would be had, another plan put in motion. I definitely thought the game was about Li, but then there's...well, not so much a twist, but something that I thought was going to happen, but not in the way it happened. There are actually so many antagonists, from the relatively minor bad guys like Rhino and Electro, to the mid-level ones like Fisk, to the high-level ones like Li and Dr. Octavius. But through it all, you are treated to some great story-telling. For example, you are right there with Dr. Octavius, working with him in his lab, as y'all develop his robotic arms. You see why he turns bad. A similar thing with Li, who goes from (as Spider-Man would perceive) good to bad, but was actually bad for a long time, but you learn about his motivation and connection to Dr. Octavius and Norman Oswald. Yeah, I really enjoyed all the twists and turns of the story. The story twists provided some AWESOME action sequences, such as the prison break one and all the unique boss fights after that. The game, if it hasn't come across in my writing so far, is gorgeous. Sometimes it feels like you're playing a cut scene, explosions popping off everywhere, Spider-Man swinging around, Electro flying around zapping everything with lightning, and you actually controlling Spider-Man throughout. Other times though, the story removes you from the action, and this is probably the only real gripe I have about the game (aside from too much genre-standard open world side junk to do). You're busy being a badass Spider-Man, and then you get forced into stealth sequences with Miles Morales or MJ. Sometimes, these were neat when Spider-Man contributed, like when MJ is stealing the Devil's Breath and she directs Spider-Man to web enemies, and control bounces back and forth between them. Or when Miles was trying to steal medicine and had to stealth past Rhino. But usually, it's like, "Ugh." These took me out of the action, slowed the game down, and felt unnecessary. Between all the open-world tasks and the Miles and MJ stealth missions, I do think the game was a little bloated. The story twists that kept on coming also contributed to this, though not in a bad way. I understand there is a game specifically about Miles Morales, and that Spider-Man 2 just came out. Both are really well reviewed, like this one was. I'll skip Miles Morales and swing straight to Spider-Man 2...whenever I obtain a PS5.Fri, 24 Nov 2023 21:44:24 CST 2 (PC) - Tue, 21 Nov 2023 17:31:47've seen QUBE and QUBE 2 around the various store fronts for years and always wrote them off as Portal clones. Manipulate cubes (qubes?) in test chambers or some such. QUBE 2 was free on Epic a few weeks ago, so I grabbed it out of curiosity. It's pretty Portal-y, but not as Portal-y as I thought. That is to say, it looks similar and plays similar, but it's definitely its own thing. And it is a strong puzzle game! There's a vague, but intriguing (and really well voiced) sci-fi story about this sentience called QUBE (or something) that's taken over (or something) Earth, and tests humans to see if they can follow logic, understand the QUBE (it's like a sentient puzzle or something), and choose to either destroy it or learn from it, depending on whether they think it's a threat to humanity or not. I had to read about it after I finished, and some players did great work piecing the story together. So you are awakened by the QUBE (or just QUBE...I don't know if it needs "the" in front of it, but it is technically supposed to be an acronym--Q.U.B.E.--that I don't want to type) for testing purposes, though you are unaware of what is happening or why. In fact, you are made to believe that you have amnesia or something, but that you will remember what happened in time. There is another person on your comms who you talk to, and who sort of guides you through this QUBE facility thing. The game's tone is totally serious. Wheatley and GLaDOS these entities are not. You have glove technology that can manipulate the environment. You end up being able to switch between three colors of glove that do different things. Red creates a long block that you can extend; green creates a small detachable block; blue creates a little forcefield that bounces the green blocks. Other mechanics appear as you go on that let you spawn bowling balls, coat objects with oil, and set them on fire. Occasionally, you'll have to smash a cube into a door or use one to set a door on fire to proceed. You get push and pull magnets, have to place cubes on buttons, can "ride" the green cubes (fun), and occasionally will need to figure out how to launch yourself around. So, using combinations of these and a few other mechanics, you solve puzzles in rooms. Solving puzzles generates power, and you're usually trying to power something by solving a bunch of puzzle rooms, like an elevator or a generator, in order to progress. The puzzles are not terribly difficult, and I was hoping we'd get some really big ones, but they do present a thoughtful challenge. I was stumped a couple times toward the end and, I am ashamed to say, used a walkthrough for part of two rooms. BUT! That's only because when I previously exited the game in the middle of a series of rooms, it made me repeat them all, which was super annoying. And one of those that it made me repeat was tricky and I think I got lucky clicking around the first time. I didn't know what I did, but it wasn't the "correct" solution, and I couldn't replicate it. Thus, the first hint to just finish the room I'd already finished. Then, I was running out of time (i.e., I needed to turn off the game), but I didn't want to repeat all those rooms yet again, so I cheated on one to hurry up. I'm sure I would have gotten it! There is no teleportation like in Portal, but it nonetheless feels similar. At first I tried to compare it to Portal on every point, but like I said, it quickly became apparent that it is its own game. It's slick. It's got a neat story. It's got puzzles of solid difficulty and some novel mechanics. Oh, BUT! There is no "run" button. You walk agonizingly slowly, which was very annoying. This is a case of "the game would have been 10% shorter if I could run." I just started another game where you can't run, too. What's up with that? Why not include the ability to run? I'm still going to appreciate the puzzle rooms, probably even more since I won't be annoyed by having to trudge around the place! Anyway, I'm surprised at QUBE 2. I quite enjoyed it. The Epic version that I got for free came with two more DLC chapters, which I read adds a whopping 22 puzzle rooms and new mechanics to the game. I enjoyed playing, but I'm not sure the puzzles are enough to keep me interested for 22 more (probably hard) rooms' worth. I got the story, saw the sights, played the core game, and am satisfied. I'll leave it installed in case I do get an itch for more, but I have Portal Reloaded, Baba Is You, and probably more renowned puzzle games in my library that I'd rather play first.Tue, 21 Nov 2023 17:31:47 CST Deserts of Kharak (PC) - Wed, 15 Nov 2023 15:59:31 time with the Homeworld series has been underwhelming. I don't have the nostalgia for it. RTSes are also not my favorite genre, but I've played many that I prefer over these, including Starcraft 2, the last one I played. Homeworld doesn't come close to how much I enjoyed Starcraft 2. I'm glad I finally got to these though, and that I was able to get through Deserts of Kharak since I couldn't stomach the remastered originals. I enjoyed it overall, but it wasn't great. Like a solid C. Strengths include the story, which I found intriguing. It's a sci-fi tale about a people who discover technology on their desert planet that is jealously guarded by another civilization. There's some religious prophecy involved, and ultimately the technology allows for hyperspace travel, which is where the original Homeworld games began (your people discovered the technology and spread into space, then are punished for it, and then go looking for their origin world). There's a cool cooperative element to the main campaign, as you end up allying with another civilization. I enjoyed the missions where I was defending their base ship, or clearing a landing zone for their planes to refuel my fleet, or where they were diverting the attention of the big bad guys while I flanked them. Another strength was the variety of vehicles and ships at your command, as well as all the abilities each possessed. It was overwhelming for sure, but I liked the control it gave you over how to use each unit. I especially liked the main base ship, which was badass. You get this monstrosity to command, that moves like molasses, but that can dish out and take serious damage. The base ship has a heating system, and over the course of the game, you find artifacts that grant bonuses, including giving it better cooling abilities or more energy to spend in its four areas: defense (adds armor); repair (heals itself); range (fires longer distances); and power (does more damage). My general strategy for it was to funnel energy to range and power, sit it at the front of my army, and surround it with support cruisers, which repaired it, while it absorbed damage and the rest of my army sat behind it firing away. The base ship is also a mobile hangar, and can launch three types of ships, as well as missile barrages. So it's never alone if you've got planes built because you can launch them to carpet bomb the variety of enemies you'll face. The base ship and all its tricks were fun to play with and very effective. This latter strength though was also a weakness when taking into account the sub-par movement of units, especially the base ship. Their pathfinding could be wonky, vehicles are generally very slow to turn around, and often will make big arcs to turn (dying in the process; don't think you can run effectively). The base ship can't navigate narrow spaces easily (makes sense), but often will try to go around, or will spin circles, or will do like a 10-point turn, when you direct it to make a tight squeeze. I understand if it can't make it, but often even when it can, it will go haywire trying to do it. The game isn't that difficult on normal (two stars), and one reason is because everything (resources, units) carries over from level to level. If you spend time mining resources on each level, you’ll have a lot of resources to spend to keep your fleet at max capacity. Every few levels, I'd stop and mine everything, and it would see me through a few more levels. For example, in the last two levels, I only mined one area because I had so many resources saved up from exhausting the previous few levels. I was able to hurl my army at the bosses, building new units the entire time as old ones died. Strategic? Not really. Fun? Definitely. So yeah, overall, I enjoyed my romp through the desert(s of Kharak). I definitely got tired of seeing nothing but sand in every environment. It looked good, but was monotonous. It's not a long game, but it's action-packed, yet simultaneously slow. I hear that Homeworld 3 is on the horizon. I wonder what it'll be like? How much will it stick to the Homeworld formula and what will it update for 2024? Curious, but not dying to know. Eyeing it from afar...! Wed, 15 Nov 2023 15:59:31 CST Remastered Collection (PC) - Wed, 08 Nov 2023 18:09:27 classic game that I remember playing some as a teenager but never got into. I assumed that a remaster would make it more accessible than a 20-year old space RTS, but it's really...challenging. I'm not sure if this is an issue with the remaster, or it's unsupported, or what is going on, but there were a lot of needlessly complicated things, such as: - maneuvering the camera in 3d space. I constantly was too high or too low and had trouble viewing what I was trying to view. - moving units to a specific point. Again, they constantly went too high, too low, or kilometers away. Just like I had trouble looking at what I wanted to see, I had trouble looking at the exact point I wanted units to move to and clicking it. - friendly AI. This was poor. One thing I noticed is that units kept resetting their stance to "passive," so they'd just sit there getting killed. I kept changing it to aggressive so they'd attack on sight, and they kept changing it back... - slow. Everything was slow. It took ages for units to move across the map. Production takes a long time. Killing enemies takes a long time. I was initially enamored with the 3d space and the great atmosphere the game creates. The voiceovers are excellent, the story intriguing. The whole thing has a mood that I liked. But gameplay quickly became a chore. I made it several missions in and quit. I booted up Homeworld 2, and it was exactly like the first one, even with a really similar tutorial and first mission. Decided I'd try the more recent Deserts of Kharak instead. Already enjoying it more, but I do miss being in space! Wed, 08 Nov 2023 18:09:27 CST Mesa (PC) - Sat, 28 Oct 2023 15:18:19 this recently and whaaaat a game. This Valve-sanctioned fan remaster of Half-Life is blissful. I never actually beat the original Half-Life. Those were my teenage days when I was mostly obsessed with Diablo II, StarCraft, and Final Fantasy games. I didn't seek out PC games back then, but played what I knew I liked. I remember starting Half-Life several times, riding on the tram and doing some opening chapters, but I never got into it. So THANK YOU Black Mesa team for revitalizing Half-Life! It's tight, looks great, sounds great. It really draws a contrast between shooters before it. I just played DUSK recently too, and that game is reminiscent of pre-Half-Life FPSes. Half-Life is leaps and bounds ahead of what came before it and presumably the boomer shooters that are reviving the pre-Half-Life FPS style. One of the coolest things about playing Black Mesa is seeing so many pre-cursor ideas to portal: teleportation, the basic physics of picking up and manipulating objects, very environmental puzzles, and so on. Every now and then, I'd be like, "Oh! I bet that's where that idea for xyz thing in Portal came from!" Something as simple as picking up a box would trigger that response. I mean, there weren't many games back then with physics like Half-Life's, and then the physics engine was significantly enhanced and manipulating objects became a core part of the gameplay in Half-Life 2, as with the iconic "Pick up the can" tutorial. Picking up a box fast-forwarded me to picking up a testing cube in Portal. Teleporting in Xen fast-forwarded me to creating portals in Portal. Speaking of Xen, I had always heard people poo-poo the final area as too long, and I thought that the remake fixed it. Xen starts off super cool, but drags by the time you are fighting the Gonarch, running through tunnel after tunnel unsure of when you'll actually get to kill the thing. I thought Xen was the end of the game! But then, no, there's another chapter called Interloper, and it was SO LONG! Interloper is like...just climbing the biggest most pointlessly tall and complicated tower ever. How would any of the aliens even use this tower? Why are there 500 conveyor belts criss-crossing in every direction, transporting enemies, bouncing upward to the next level of conveyor belts, repeated literally like 20 times, with laser puzzles and other time-wasting shit added in? The final boss was an epic battle, and I won with 2hp left! But seriously, when I finished and started jotting notes about the game, I had to bracket aside my distaste for the last several hours of it. So ignore that. Black Mesa (or the original Half-Life, I suppose) is totally worth playing, necessary even. Sat, 28 Oct 2023 15:18:19 CST (PC) - Sun, 22 Oct 2023 21:09:21 is the first "boomer shooter" that I've played on purpose sense becoming aware of the term. What is a boomer shooter? Google around and go down the rabbit hole of people debating it on Reddit...basically, these are Doom/Quake/Wolfenstein homages. Throwbacks to the FPS days before Half-Life. For some reason, this genre is very popular now. I guess young people who didn't grow up with the FPSes of yesteryear really missed out on their simplicity, the straightforward fragging and gibbing, and they want a return to basics. DUSK has been on my radar for a while. These boomer shooters tend to get really great Steam reviews, and this one is overwhelmingly positive and tops a lot of "best of" lists. So, when I saw it on Amazon Luna, along with Devil May Cry 5, I thought, "Dang, Luna's free games are where it's at!" And I thought I might as well try a boomer shooter. Well, boomer shooters are like being transported back in time. Was DUSK fun? Yes. Was the shooting great? Yes. Were there gibs? Yes. Sarcasm aside, there is nothing wrong with DUSK. I played through the first of three chapters, then got a little bit into the second chapter before turning it off. It didn't feel like anything new. What it was doing, it was doing well, but I guess I want more depth in my FPS games now. In DUSK, there is a cult. Then there are some military dudes and an experiment gone wrong. I gather the plot goes into outer space. I don't really know what was going on. I don't know who I was. It was thin. I got all the standard FPS guns, killed some bosses, found red, blue, and yellow keys, etc., etc. I think the main thing DUSK has going for it, aside from just being a solid shooter, is the atmosphere. It's got a real horror feel to it, and I legitimately jumped several times at rats. The setting makes the game tense above and beyond the shooting. I know this because I played it on "accessible" for a long time, before turning the difficulty up to something like "I can do it" (which was significantly harder!). So, I wasn't in any danger of dying when those rats were spooking me! Anyway, there's my review of DUSK and boomer shooters. I'll play another one if it does something really differently. But if they're just really good homages to classic FPS games, then I don't need to stop and look. Sun, 22 Oct 2023 21:09:21 CST May Cry 5 (PC) - Sun, 22 Oct 2023 20:46:40 just went back and read my entries for DMC (12 years ago...!) and Devil May Cry 4. I was surprised at how familiar the writing sounded. My thoughts on those previous games are similar to my thoughts on Devil May Cry 5. Stylish, over-the-top, an absurd amount of weapons and moves, etc., etc. The main difference is that I was less impressed with this one, maybe because I've seen two of these games before (plus Bayonetta 1 and 2, which are similar). OH, and because I played on Amazon Luna for the first time, which I will talk about at the end. What makes this game different? There are three main playable characters this time: Nero, Dante, and an emo poetry-lover named V. It takes all of 5 seconds to figure out what "V" stands for, and I waited and waited for the inevitable plot reveal 10 hours later. Dante and Nero play more or less how they did in the previous two games, with a couple additional demon forms for Dante and a bunch of different right-arm weapons for Nero. V was my favorite though. He's physically weak and controls familiars. There is a raven-bird-monster and a panther, plus a giant golem you can summon that stomps around the battlefield shooting lasers. Devil May Cry 5 has the same "stylish" combat system as the others, and I figured out that V was the easiest (for me) to score high. Eventually, I figured out how to make Dante score high too, and by the end of the game, I was getting a lot of SSS rank (Super Sexy Stylin'? So Super Sassy? Snazzy Sword Swatting?), especially in his Gunslinger mode. Basically, it's easier to score high if you use range styles and attacks because when you get hit, your score decreases. Stay at range and you don't get hit. That avoids the problem of me having to learn how to avoid attacks! The story was convoluted as hell, but told in an interesting way. It all revolves around killing this big baddie demon, king of the Underworld guy. You play segments of time around a pivotal battle, some leading up to the battle, some during, and then the story moves on afterward, and you play from the perspectives of all three characters. Sometimes, you get a choice of who to play. I was often unclear on what the hell was going on, but the story could have been about what the King of the Underworld had for breakfast, and I still would have been entertained. The combat is fantastic. And that's really the point. Not whose brother is whose and whose daddy hates them. Back to Amazon Luna. That's the reason I played this game now. Every week, I check what games are free on Epic and Amazon through Twitch Prime. I recently noticed that Amazon also had a section for Prime members called "cloud games." You can play a handful of free games each (couple weeks? month?) on Amazon Luna, which is Amazon's cloud gaming service. I think I first noticed this when Citizen Sleeper was on there over the summer, but I was already playing it on Game Pass. Anyway, imagine my surprise to see a AAA game that was on my wishlist appear for free on Luna. I decided to check it out. How does Luna work? You literally just click "play now" and it streams to your computer. Like, that's it. No downloads. It was really fast and smooth...for a while. I think I had two or three play sessions with no problems. Then I was playing on Friday, and the game kept freezing. The first time it did it, I didn't understand what was happening. Normally, when a game freezes, it's the software on your computer. You x out of it or ctl+alt+del, or restart your PC if it comes to that. I did all those things and when I booted Devil May Cry 5 up again on Luna, it was still frozen. Turns out you have to exit the game through Luna to fix it. Okay. Well, the game proceeded to freeze every so often for a few hours, probably 10 times in total that afternoon (I persevered). It was really, really, really irritating. Luckily the game was autosaving regularly, but who knows how much time I spent replaying sections. And god forbid this happen during a game that doesn't autosave often. Then I played DUSK for a while today with no freezes...So like, 95% of the time, when I was playing on Luna this past week, it's been great. The other 5% of the time, when it's freezing, it's frustrating. I'd be pissed if I was paying for it, but for free games, I can put up with it. As for Devil May Cry? I feel like I won't miss skipping the next one in the series. Sun, 22 Oct 2023 20:46:40 CST Last Guardian (PS4) - Wed, 11 Oct 2023 12:50:40 finished this last night. Sasha watched the last time I played, got a little invested, and disliked the ending! It wasn't terribly satisfying, but I think it was hopeful. The Last Guardian is by the same minds behind Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, which I didn't know until I finished, and makes total sense. I've been describing it to people since I started playing as a mixture of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus; I'm impressed that I was so on point! You play as a young boy who wakes up in a strange ruin beside a giant chained beast. The boy befriends the beast, names it Trico, and the two of them journey together through these ruins, discover its secrets, solve its puzzles, and overcome its challenges to escape. There is some more story regarding why they are there, how they got there, and what the ruins are, but this is definitely not a game that overwhelms you with lore. You don't get shown much, and you can interpret a lot about what's going on and why. In fact, you don't get TOLD hardly anything. There is sparse subtitled narration, but all other dialogue is spoken in another language, and nearly all in-game communication between characters is non-verbal. Okay, so a lot of this game is fine, okay, frustrating, and at times borders on maddening. The boy's movement leaves so much to be desired. The "combat" (or, run away from animated suits of armor and mash all the buttons on the controller to squirm away when they catch you) is dreadful. The platforming on architecture is passable, while climbing on Trico is not fun. Some of the puzzles are alright. Trying to get Trico to do what you want can transport you to a personal hell. So you might think, okay, what's the point of playing this merely okay game? Well, here's the thing for me: the game's strengths are SO STRONG that its weaknesses, while significant, are overshadowed. And the main strength of The Last Guardian? It's the relationship between the boy and the beast, Trico. Playing this game is kind of like hanging out with the best pet you ever had. Trico is like part dog, part cat, part bird. Trico and the boy need one another to progress through the ruins. As their relationship develops, as Trico gains trust in the boy and as the boy feels safe with Trico, they learn to work together. The boy learns how to comfort Trico and give commands (come here, go there...), while Trico discovers some useful abilities. Trico itself is wonderful. It shakes off water like a dog after swimming; its ears twitch like a cats' when something touches them; Trico scratches itself; whines, whimpers, and howls; its feathers rustle in the breeze; it pounces and bats prey around like some sort of dog-cat. The way this creature is animated is beautiful. I would literally just sit and watch Trico sometimes. If I was stuck on a puzzle, watching Trico was like the calm that helped me think, as if I was petting a cat while thinking about a problem (and my cat was usually in my lap while playing, so I was doing that too). There are other stunning sounds and sights in the game too; the ruins are vast, and the way the game makes the boy look so small and Trico so big (but still so small compared to the vastness of the ruins), is incredible. But as much as I loved Trico, as I mentioned earlier, it could also be extremely frustrating to deal with (also like your pet!). Trico has a mind of its own. Sometimes it'll do what you command, but other times it willfully ignores you, scratching its ears, looking around, doing whatever it pleases. I would occasionally spend 10 minutes trying to get Trico to do something, like indicating for it to jump to a ledge, or swim through a doorway. Over and over and over pressing the buttons for "Trico, go there!" and Trico looking at me, wandering near what I was pointing at, considering it, laying down, looking at me expectantly. "Trico, go there!" Looking around, scratching itself, yawning. I totally understand that this adds to the realism that this is a great beast with agency, and I totally understand that this made me like Trico more. But on the other hand, there's a fine balance between realism and the fact that this is a game and players want to move forward. Spending 10 minutes trying to get Trico to jump to a ledge is inconsistent with responsive gameplay and could easily kill my motivation during a play session, especially if it happened during some of the more complicated puzzles: "Trico, my head already hurts. Don't make it worse. That's the only ledge in the room. I know we have to get up there. I can see the door above us. WHY WON'T YOU JUMP TO THE LEDGE?! Oh, what?! NOW you jump when I get off your back? Get back down here, let me climb on you, THEN you jump to the ledge. TRICO! GET DOWN HERE! Tricooooo!" But then you finally get up to that ledge and through the door, and there is some magical set piece and the game takes your breath away. It's definitely one characterized by highs and lows, but the highs are so high, and the game is so memorable overall. I really enjoyed it overall and recommend it despite its problems.Wed, 11 Oct 2023 12:50:40 CST