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    Infamous Second Son (PS4)    by   jp       (Mar 29th, 2020 at 15:52:25)

    I've played this a few hours (ok, perhaps more than a few) over the last two evenings and I've really been enjoying it.

    The beginning was a bit confusing, because it seemed like the game was a pretty narrow linear experience (ala Last of Us) when all of a sudden - it became an open world (ala Spiderman or Ubisoft games)! The transition was weird and confusing to me, but weirdly exhilarating once I realized what was happening. It basically happened as I was going through security (to enter Seattle) and all hell breaks loose - and I ended up going pretty far, not sure what to do, shooting things down and then slowly, as I realized I was not in "open world" mode - going back and picking up things I'd missed.

    The progression seems weird/interesting. Not in a bad way. So you collect these shards (or something) and use them to upgrade your powers. And, I haven't been getting them ALL, but it looked like I was really going to max out super early. This seemed weird, but I thought - oh, maybe the final upgrades are super expensive?

    So, last night I ran into another "conduit" (superhero) and then I learned HER powers...and now there's an entirely new tree with upgrades to buy! I wonder how long this will go on for. The new powers are cool - and I FINALLY feel like I'm powerful in combat, but I'm not sure I want to have to toggle back and forth between them, and if more are added to the mix?

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    Puyo Puyo! 15th Anniversary (DS)    by   jp       (Mar 25th, 2020 at 16:31:58)

    I've always loved Puyo Puyo. I'm not that good at it, but it's an evergreen fun game for me. I was really surprised when I saw this in Japan (and fortunately it wasn't expensive). Wow, they did a 15th anniversary version? Heck, they even made a 20th anniversary version (which I do not own).

    The game's entirely in Japanese. I can't read or understand anything. But, I did have fun playing what I assume is the "regular" mode. You choose a character and play against it and so on until...well, it got to hard for me to beat a character. But this was a while in. Before each "battle" there's a spinner that determines which mode you'll play in. You hit a button to stop the spinner and off you go.

    I'm not familiar at all with any of the weird/alternate/special/cool other modes - so it was fun to play them and randomly realize...whoops, this feels like a totally different game. I've only just realized the wikipedia page explains what each mode is called and so on, but I just had fun playing with them as they came up.

    I don't know if the different characters are meaningful in any way. I don't think there are special powers or anything like that. But hey... it was definitely a fun experience!

    My favorite modes:

    a. There's a mode in the dark with a flashlight that swings around partially illuminating the board.

    b. There's a floating in water mode - here there's a water line (pretty close to the top of the screen) and the puyo puyo float on water. As you stack them, the stack sinks, so making combos is sort of like placing them on the bottom of a regular drop - so, it's weird and took me a bit to wrap my head around.

    c. There's a fever mode that I didn't really understand other than: I think you fill up a meter, once it's full you enter fever mode which are like little puzzles you need to solve for max combo. You do a bunch of these and then hopefully from that dump a whole bunch of trash puyo on your opponent. Often I entered with my opponent into fever mode kind of at the same time, so I don't know how the winner is determined for the fever mode.

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    Jotun (PS4)    by   jp       (Mar 25th, 2020 at 16:21:51)

    While the game's "heart" is the bosses - it's structure has a bit more than that.

    Before each boss you need to clear two levels. Each level as a rune, a special power to find (shrine?), and a health bar boost (golden apple). These levels are all quite different from each other and, especially the early ones are SUPER cool because they introduce/feature something that is then relevant/important in the boss fight. For example using the strong attack to remove vines, attacking dwarves, etc. The environments are pretty, but...the more I played, the less interesting they became partly because they felt less connected (gameplay wise) to the boss fight. It's like the early levels had more time and polish.

    Anyways, I've finished playing, enjoyed it - but I thought the latter levels were a bit of a missed opportunity in this way.

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    Ben 10 Galactic Racing (DS)    by   jp       (Mar 25th, 2020 at 16:07:23)

    Hmm.

    I'm not familiar at all with the Ben-10 cartoon other than seeing the character here and there. I mean, I don't think I've ever watched the show - so, if there was anything I should appreciate about the game due to knowledge of the show and characters, that was all lost on me. Big time.

    I still played a fair number of races - 1 vs 3, and I didn't really understand the boost/power pickup system. There's a bar that charges, but I don't really know when - or why - or what to do with it. But, it didn't really matter since I was able to beat the first 5 races or so without much trouble. I'm clearly not the target audience for the game, but I was curious to see if it was doing anything interesting. It might be better than I thought, but I'm not terribly excited to try further.

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    Jotun (PS4)    by   jp       (Mar 24th, 2020 at 11:22:05)

    I played this over two weekends figuring that, as a smaller indie title it wouldn't take too long (or that I'd bounce off because it was too hard or something like that).

    I really didn't like the feel of the controls - things didn't feel all that responsive and the dodge/roll didn't feel effective, the strong attack took takes too long to little (perceived) additional effect, etc. And toggling between the different special abilities was really annoying in moments of stress - i really would have liked to map the powers to other buttons in addition to the regular switch from one power to another. Once you have more than three, it becomes a chore to quickly go from the healing ability to, say, the thor ability.

    BUT, I LOVED the art. The game is essentially fancy boss fights with beautifully animated hand drawn bosses (think old school disney or Don Bluth style) OR "not too challenging" exploration of cool environments. Here's what I thought was most interesting:

    a) Most of the game is narrated in a scandinavian/nordic language. (I'm not sure which, to be honest - my first hunch was Norwegian, but maybe it's Icelandic?). This was such an interesting experience. I very rarely play a game in a language I don't speak, and even if I do it's usually one of a select few (e.g. it's Japanese). I don't know why I enjoyed this part of the game, but kudos to the devs for NOT having the narrator speak in English. Yes, there were subtitles, but with the whole Nordic theme, it just made the experience better.

    b) The bosses were hard. Hard, as in it took multiple attempts. BUT, I enjoyed the fact that there were two curves at play with (pretty much) all the bosses. First, there's the "me getting better at what I need to do for this fight" curve. Second, was the "learn what the boss does and how it operates". This one was learning it's attack patterns and then figuring out what the best/good strategy for each boss was. I really enjoyed this part (except Odin, because I tried something - it didn't work, then read online that you could do it, and discovered the timing was really odd, and was only then able to take out Odin and finish the game).

    c) Before you fight the final boss (Odin) you walk past a hallway full of busts of...real people. I don't know if it's game devs or Kickstarter super-funders? Anyways, there were lots of them. It was neat, weird, a bit unsettling. Also, so many dudes!

    d) The game uses the camera really well to create moments of awe (panning back to reveal a faraway vista), but also communicate gameplay - in the Odin fight the camera pans back when one of his spears is approaching you. It's subtle in many places, but well done. Some of the boss fights got a bit tougher because of this (camera pans back really far, you're really small, and you need to dodge even smaller things) like the electricity during the lightning boss fight.

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    Recent GameLogs
    1 : jp's Infamous Second Son (PS4)
    2 : jp's Puyo Puyo! 15th Anniversary (DS)
    3 : jp's Ben 10 Galactic Racing (DS)
    4 : jp's Jotun (PS4)
    5 : jp's Wolfenstein: The New Order (PS4)
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    This war of mine (PC)    by   osengar64

    No comment, yet.
    most recent entry:   Thursday 28 January, 2016
    For the last entry on This War of Mine I went completely against my normal play style for these types of games.
    I generally try to play with some set of moral laws adapted to the world I am in - it is OK to scavenge and kill because that is the world I am in.
    This time though, I tried to play more Utilitarian. I would take what I needed in order to eliminate the greatest sources of unhappiness in order to increase the total happiness of the population.
    With this style, I allowed myself to fight for supplies I would need, kill other survivors, or make sacrifices 'For The Greater Good.'

    Overall I lasted.....5 days before my last survivor was over tired and starving.

    I believe this could have worked out better if I moved slower, scavenging from safe areas enough to build weapons, then challenge other survivors (my first survivor died looting a house) or the military (my second survivor died looting the supermarket).
    By the time the survivors died, I had a level 2 workshop and a level 2 metal work bench and was a single weapon part away from crafting a gun.
    If I was ranking progress on how much stuff I had and could craft, this would probably be the most progress I made over the course of this game. However, this attempt left me feeling...unclean.

    As I said earlier, I don't tend to play these games following a Utilitarian approach. I prefer to follow a stronger rule set for moral and amoral actions - more Kantian.
    What is even more interesting, I would classify myself as Utilitarian over Kantian in my real-life decisions. In the game though I get to step away from my choices into a world I would consider more ideal, with a generally clear set of moral right and wrong choices. While it is nice to imagine a rational system with a universal right and wrong for any action, but to me it is not that simple.
    The real world does not fit well into a strict classification of right and wrong, as there are many little details that are left out. For this reason [Western] society is more Utilitarian, as it allows for circumstances to alter the moral obligation.
    But sometimes it is nice to play a game that has an authority give you a strict set of moral laws - Mass Effect's Paragon and Renegade, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic with the Dark Side and Light Side, Black and White with the strict Actions are Good or Actions are Evil, and so on.
    In these strictly regulated environments I hold myself to stricter, more universal moral standards. In this environment, actions I would normally take have very slim, if any, moral footing.

    So in this playthrough I went off the deep end of Utilitarian morality. Sacrifices would be made so that the total happiness of the survivors was greater than any discomfort I would cause.
    Instead of having strict rules now, I performed the utility calculation as I was making decisions. For example, when I was stealing from other residents I had an end in mind: I needed parts to construct weapons/upgrades. I often found food and medicine in the places I was looting, but I would leave it.
    If I took the food, I would slightly increase my happiness - I had plenty of food this playthough, but would greatly decrease the targets happiness, so I left the food behind. However other items were available. Since I was trying to eliminate a great source of unhappiness (military occupying the Supermarket), and I needed crafting parts to make that possible, I would steal these. Often these materials were very common in the places I looted, meaning taking them would slightly decrease the happiness of the original owner, but moderately increase my happiness.
    So I would take them and leave. Unfortunately getting caught stealing never factored into my equation. When I was caught it greatly decreased the happiness of the person I was stealing from, to the point that they used murder as an equalizing force.

    Overall, I really enjoyed This War of Mine. I would strongly recommend it to anyone looking for something interesting to play. There is definitely more to explore in this game that my three brief playthroughs have accomplished. On my own time I am excited to see what else I can do. Perhaps continuing with my second playthrough rule set, or reattempting the Utilitarian approach to see if a slower, more controlled game works better.

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