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    Stories Untold (PC)    by   dkirschner       (Jul 22nd, 2021 at 23:15:50)

    Like Observation, the game No Code made after Stories Untold, I was a bit disappointed with this! I thought Stories Untold was a horror anthology. It's less horror and more a Stranger Things 80s vibe, and while it is an anthology, the gameplay was basically just manipulating tactile interfaces to solve puzzles (not nearly as fun or interesting to play with as GNOG). Each of the four episodes is different, but they are tied together, which you discover in the last one. In episode one, you basically play a text adventure game; in episode two, you follow instructions to operate machines to perform experiments; and in episode three, you follow instructions to decode messages.

    I had no idea what was going on after episode one, even less after episode two, and in episode three you get some clues that you are playing one character in all the episodes, though it isn't clear how they tie together yet. I think what I was most disappointed with was how easy/boring the gameplay was. Yeah, the "what's next" of the story was cool, and it fit the gameplay, but the gameplay didn't carry the experience like I hoped. So in episode three, for example, you are in some remote station in the middle of nowhere and you have to decode messages. To do this, you look at microfilm for instructions. Scanning the microfilm is slow, and the text is not in sharp focus. So when you have to find and copy text to decipher codes, you will often be wrong because you had trouble reading the text instead of for any dullness on your part. So I eventually was just looking up the answers to move the story along. I am sure other people played Stories Untold by, at some point, just looking stuff up. It's not that rewarding figuring out the puzzles.

    So yeah, this was fine, not as special as I thought it would be. Similar disappointed feeling as Observation. They have some great ideas, some really cool elements, but the execution is flawed.

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    Greedfall (XBONE)    by   Sup3rCondor       (Jul 22nd, 2021 at 14:40:02)

    I want to finish Greedfall. I want to complete it. It has so many good ideas and I've enjoyed my time with it! Unfortunately it just keeps going. I've put just over 30 hours in and I feel like at this point the game isn't giving me anything new. I just have too many games to play to keep grinding through the game's uninteresting story and basic gameplay.

    Its the perfect game to show off everything that 2000s western RPGs had. They had a diverse group of companions, action packed combat, and a new world to explore. If this game had come out in 2008 and you told me Bioware had made it I would fully believe you. It does all of that very well. Unfortunately the game doesn't really add anything new to that. I would say the most unique aspect is the customization that is available to the player. Everything is cosmetic too which really makes the player character feel unique.

    The graphics are pretty good. Considering the game had a budget of a few million dollars and it was made by 40-60 people is incredible. It feels like a AAA and a AA experience at the same time. A AA.5 if you will...

    Maybe I'll come back to it and finish it someday, but at this point I'm done.

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    Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why'd you Steal our Garbage?!! (DS)    by   jp       (Jul 19th, 2021 at 01:20:05)

    I've only seen parts of episodes of Adventure Time at best - so I'm not familiar with the characters, world, story, or anything other than what they look like. So, I think it's fair to say that this is a really weird setting. The characters seem to talk in a kind of slang I assume is from the show.

    The entire plot of the game (so far) is that, as the game's title indicates, the Ice King has stolen our garbage and we're out to get it back(?) and kick his butt as revenge. He made some sort of doll/statue from the garbage but apparently the revenge is more important because (by now), if I'm making sense of the story, I'm in a new area (candy land?) for reasons I'm not entirely sure about - but I think I left the garbage doll behind. Or maybe I'm on another quest to help some sort of Pink Princess? Anyways, I'm pretty confused - but not enough that I can't figure out where to go.

    The game alternates between a top-worldview navigation and side-scrolling platform levels. Most are quite simple but at least one level has been more complicated mostly because it had more screens and I needed to land on things appropriately to not die. Not really a challenge, just longer than everything I'd seen earlier. Combat is also pretty straightforward - press a button to attack and, depending on the button, I'll attack and do a certain number of points of damage and the enemy dies or not depending on how many hits in can take.

    Weirdly the game also has some RPG elements, since you can upgrade your three core stats to get extra health, do more damage, and I forget the 3rd one at the moment.

    Occasionally monsters will drop items and I think most of them are for healing. You can combine some for greater effect - like pouring syrup on pancakes or ketchup on hotdogs. They're food items. There are other things but since they drop much more rarely I've been quite shy about trying them out... I might just splurge at some point if I think I might not bother finishing the game just to see what they do. I think at least one makes me invisible to overworld monsters?

    For now I'm intrigued enough to see where the game goes, but not that excited either...

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    Wreckfest (PC)    by   dkirschner       (Jul 18th, 2021 at 08:50:17)

    Demolition Derby on PS1 was one of my favorite games. I've always wanted another demolition derby game. The Burnout series had elements of it, but it was great for other reasons too. But pure demolition derby is something I'd never seen again. So I was intrigued by Wreckfest, which promised lots of crashing and destruction.

    The short of it is that while Wreckfest does have some demolition derby, wrecking actually isn't the game's focus. You'll spend far more time (in the career mode at least) racing. The good news is that the racing is consistently entertaining, but the bad news is that it gets extremely repetitive. In career mode, you earn points by completing events, and use those points to purchase and upgrade your cars. As you increase the class of cars and reach milestones of points, you move to the next league, where you just do the same thing to get to the next league. Do this through five leagues, each of which takes longer to beat than the previous one.

    In the leagues, there are different types of events. The best, obviously, are the destruction derby ones or any other one-off weird event like trying to outrun a bunch of lunatic school buses with a three-wheeled van (and you win a school bus if you beat them...which I never managed!). Let's say that you need 2500 points to complete the league. The most fun events are always 100 or 200 points. You don't get points for repeating events either, so you've got to do most of the ones available. Want to get up to 600 or 800 points in an event? Well, you'll have to race. While destruction derbies are one heat, the race events are often somewhat grueling series of like 6 or 8 races, sometimes with 6 laps per race. And like I said, these just get longer the higher the league. So, you will spent FAR more time racing than running into people. Sure, you can wreck other cars during races, but the goal is to come in first. And some race tracks are really geared toward destruction--those are the best--but most are just races around tracks.

    All this is to say that the game's emphasis on paper is spot on, but in practice, it's off. I made it through four of the five leagues, and you can see just what I mean about the career mode getting repetitive. On Game Pass, only 2.05% of players finished the fourth league and 3.66% finished the third league. The vast majority bailed after a short time in career mode. They probably went online, like I eventually did, to crash into real people. Online has some wild tracks! Why aren't these in the career mode?! I've spent a couple fun evenings with it, but just as often there is practically no one online to play with, which is really disappointing! I'm probably a bit late to the party as this came out a few years ago. But, I enjoyed my time with Wreckfest, both online and off. It kind of scratched the demolition derby itch, but I'd rather play Burnout. It did get me looking at other racing games and I discovered Forza Horizon, which sounds up my alley. Maybe I'll try that soon!

    This entry has been edited 1 time. It was last edited on Jul 18th, 2021 at 08:50:34.


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    Neurovoider (PS4)    by   jp       (Jul 13th, 2021 at 18:19:54)

    The back of the box says "futuristic twin-stick shooter RPG" which is basically all you need to know. I'd add "rogue-like" to it and 4-player couch co-op.

    So, I played this the other evening with the kids - so it was 3 of us. We went in blind and came out confused/ok? You each control a "tank" that shoots and you collect loot which you then use to upgrade and swap parts out on your tank. There's two weapon slots, and some other components. There are 4 (or was it 3?) different types of tanks and certain components are for the different types of tanks. You can switch your tank-type in between levels which is fine.

    The upgrading/swapping parts out was perhaps the most involved aspect of the game - especially as we started to figure things out. Each player can pick up loot, but that gets locked to that player - so there isn't really a shared pool of gear and you often end up with the wrong gear for your build. You can scrap it for resources to upgrade your existing gear and the gear comes in different levels of rarity. Generally though, you're always upgrading to the stuff that dropped in the most recent level since the upgrades are capped and the power levels go up pretty fast. So, coordinating gear among players becomes an issue. There is a feature that allows you to "loan" out gear so others can equip it but a transfer system would have been much better especially if it had a QOL upgrade (e.g. send all gear of X type to player Y). I only bring this up because stuff on loan can still be scrapped by mistake...and then the other player is left with an empty slot...

    The main gameplay levels are "fine" - lots of stuff on makes it hard to tell what's going on and there is a bit of tactical thinking required - but mostly of the "don't go too far ahead to quickly". So, our experience was that we spent more time in fiddling around with our gear than actually playing the game. Although we made it all the way to the boss on our first (and only) run, the overall impression was not that good. It's possible there's a whole depth of secret things to discover/find and so on - but the first run was just not that notable or interesting.

    There's a system for skipping levels - which was odd. I'm not sure if the idea is to just skip time - as in, get to the end sooner, or if there's some other benefit (more risk for more reward). We skipped three or so levels in the end just to end the run sooner which, in hindsight, isn't really a good sign.

    I've been thinking about how it compares to Enter the Gungeon, which both kids really enjoy and is arguably a game in a similar vein. The levels, enemies (and bossed) are definitely more interesting in terms of variety - and the moment-to-moment gameplay seems more interesting as well. THere doesn't seem to be a way to dodge/roll attacks here (one of the tank archetypes has a shield) which seems like the main problem. There are moments where you just "take the hits" hoping you'll be able to live through it and the get healed up a little bit. In between levels you end up (at least I did) spending lots of your loot simply to heal up. So, the core loop here doesn't seem that compelling interesting.

    Again, perhaps there's layers of depth/secrets/lore - but the game doesn't even seem to hint at them to drive curiosity. At least from me. I could be wrong and a second run would definitely provide more insight. But, I'm not sure I'm that enthused to try it out solo? Perhaps a run or two just to answer some of the questions I still have...

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    1 : Sup3rCondor's Lego Marvel's Avengers (XBONE)
    2 : dkirschner's Stories Untold (PC)
    3 : dkirschner's The Red Strings Club (PC)
    4 : jp's Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why'd you Steal our Garbage?!! (DS)
    5 : jp's Zombieland: Double Tap - Road Trip (PS4)
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    Random

    Grease (DS)    by   jp

    No comment, yet.
    most recent entry:   Monday 28 June, 2021
    This is a much harder game than I was expecting! And it's structured in an interesting way. It's a rhythm action game based on the movie Grease (which I have not seen but am familiar with most of the songs). As far as I can tell it follows the plot of the movie - but in a strange(?) way (or perhaps this is how the movie is structured): you pick a character (the guy or the girl) and then you play 6 (or 7?) songs. Then you pick the other character and do the same thing. I think half the songs are repeated across both characters - but there are ones that are specific to each character - which is in line with the movie, when different groups of characters sing their songs and stuff.

    As for gameplay - it's the usual tap on the stars when the outline shrinks - but the timing for some songs was pretty hard. There are also shapes you need to follow the outline of on the screen. There's a progress bar along the top that indicates your "status" - miss too many stars and it swings towards red. On the later songs if you miss 3 notes in a row (or something like that) and it's KO. Earlier songs and its more forgiving.

    Perhaps the most surprising thing in the entire game is that there's a special mode where on the top screen it shows the character's feet and where they are placed! THe idea is you can listen to the song - watch the screen and learn the choreography! I think that's pretty cool - it has controls so you can pause, rewind, etc. so you could really practice and learn. Now I'm curious to know if the dance moves are from the movie or not!

    Other random stuff:
    (a) You unlock songs and outfits as you clear songs in the campaign mode.
    (b) The characters aren't based off the actors from the movies.
    (c) The songs aren't song by the stars from the movies. Curiously they're sung by different people - I assumed they'd hire 2 people and have them sing everything. But perhaps the songs weren't sung by the same people even in the original?

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