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    Moving Out (PS4)    by   jp       (Feb 28th, 2021 at 22:48:05)

    We played this a bit more this past weekend. We've decided to play with the option where you items disappear as soon as they hit the truck...and it's SO MUCH BETTER. A lot, a lot better. Mostly it's because getting that last item in the truck feels like a win - rather than there being a let down moment as you realize you have juggle and sort the items on the truck.

    We played a bunch more missions and it was pretty...uhh...fine. We unlocked a new mode which was less fun than the main one: moving in! Here you have to unload the truck and put things in the home. It's fine - but there's less chaos than the regular mode?

    I was starting to get a bit bored - while there are some variation within the levels and it's mostly about making the levels harder/more complicated, the narrative was a bit stale. THere's humor - but it's not THAT funny. Until...we got a strange phone call (very suspicious) to go move some stuff out of a warehouse!

    We did three of those fishy missions and sure enough - we were helping people steal stuff! It was amusing when we were told to just jiggle the door because they'd lost the key. Anyways, we then did a more fun mission - rescuing stuff from a moving train! This reminded me of the more dynamic levels in Overcooked (or Overcooked 2? Or both?) were things move around. Anyways, that level was pretty neat.

    And then we arrived at a sort of scientific lab/station, learned that it's pack rats who are behind the whole "moving" operation, and then blasted off into space. At this point I'm ready for the game to "be done" but there are at least five more levels to work our way through.

    Just for my notes here are some of the complications added to different levels:

    (a) Ghosts that kill you - you can slap them.
    (b) Buttons you need to stand on or leave an object on top. This opens doors, raises gates, that sort of thing.
    (c) Switches that flip-flop between open/closed doors and that sort of thing.
    (d) Fire! Some levels have jets you need to alternate between using switches.
    (e) Rising "water" (guava, "the floor is guava" is one level in the game)
    (f) Moving walkways - they rotate between positions and that sort of thing.
    (g) Buttons that activate something in the level (fans that blow stuff)

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    Into the Breach (PC)    by   dkirschner       (Feb 21st, 2021 at 12:20:16)

    Well this was surprisingly short! I beat this rogue-lite on my second try. I thought it would give me like 15 hours, but it was about 4. I will chalk this up to the thousands of hours I've spent playing strategy RPGs like Final Fantasy Tactics and everything Atlus published in their PS2 SRPG heyday.

    In Into the Breach, you guide a squad of three mechs on missions to destroy the Vek, nasty alien bugs who are trying to kill all humans. You begin with a basic squad, one melee unit, one ranged cannon (just like a rook in chess), and one missile launcher. If you've played these kinds of games before, this is all familiar. They attack in different ways, you can level up their health and give them special abilities, yada yada yada.

    What sets Into the Breach apart is the focus on moving allies and enemies with attacks. You won't win by simply trying to do damage. All attacks move enemies in some way or another, and that is key to winning. The movement focus makes the game feel a lot like chess. You can push back, pull forward (with purchasable weapons), redirect enemies' attacks by moving them, make them attack one another, shove them into things, and use environmental effects to your advantage. For example, on one level (all of which are environmentally themed), the floor turns to lava and rocks rain down from the sky (thanks volcano!) every turn.

    Into the Breach gives you all the information you need to plan your moves. All enemy attacks are shown, all environmental damage is shown, you know where enemies will spawn each turn...enemies plan their attacks, and then it's your turn to respond. They don't attack until you take your turn. You can sit there and figure out the most ideal way to handle all the stuff that's going on to minimize damage to your mechs, and to the power grid (you're always defending buildings--if the power grid goes down, it's game over), and to maximize damage to the Vek. In that sense, the game is incredibly fair. The one time I died (one, ha), it was definitely my fault.

    There's some other stuff going on here too--some resource management, some risk-reward choices, leveling up pilots (which is important not least of all because you get to choose who you carry to your next game when you die), and so on. In the end, this is just a super tight tactics game. It wins for simplicity on the surface, but with a lot of depth down below. It's highly replayable, as when you complete achievements you unlock more "squads" with different types of mechs. This would be my motivation to continue playing, to follow this progression path, so I'll keep the game installed just in case. In the meantime, what's next?

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    80 Days (PC)    by   dkirschner       (Feb 21st, 2021 at 07:42:21)

    This is a fantastic homage to the Jules Verne classic. If you've read the book, I think you will get a lot more out of the game (you'll understand more context, the personalities and relationship between Passepartout and Fogg, the one random appearance of Fix in my game, the Chinese opium den scene, etc.). But, essentially, it's an interactive visual novel re-telling of the story. The main change is that it drops the story in more of a steampunk setting. Instead of it being the 18xx of our history, this timeline has airships, commercial submarines, automata, and so on. This makes it different for those who know the original story and inspires wonder all over again.

    So, as you might expect, you have 80 days to circumnavigate the globe. As Passepartout, Fogg's loyal servant and valet, you are in charge of choosing your route, managing money and items, talking to people, and keeping Fogg comfortable. As you travel, you can buy and sell items (some of which fetch high prices in specific cities), but are confounded in this by the fact that different modes of transportation allow different numbers of suitcases, so you cannot just carry around all the useful and valuable items. Useful items include those that are part of "sets" (e.g., an altimeter and binoculars for the Airman's Set), which allow you to negotiate ticket prices and departure dates for modes of transportation, or may allow special conversations. Despite that, I never ran out of money until the very end, and I suspect that everyone runs out of money near the very end because the final leg of the journey suspiciously cost me nearly all I had left (a very random amount of $5300 of my $5476 for tickets, which set my heart beating quickly).

    Part of the excitement comes in seeing which routes open up as you travel, as your path will be winding! You start in London. I went from there east into Germany (or Prussia? Ouch, my history...). I had a route planned taking the Trans Siberian Railroad, but then decided to go south because I obtained some valuable item that could be sold in Southern Europe somewhere. Long story short, I wound up in the Middle East, headed toward India, and eventually took a wild airship ride all the way to Hong Kong. Then to Japan, then across the Pacific (with much drama, and my favorite part of my playthrough!) to the US. Across the US and over the Atlantic to London in 75 days. I definitely wanted to see other cities (like Singapore) and parts of the world (like the Caribbean and South America), but my time was running out! At some point it really did feel like a mad race to the finish, hoping that I could find efficient and affordable routes to finish within 80 days.

    The only thing I didn't like about the game is the conversation system. When you travel, you can talk to drivers, crew, other civilians, and Fogg. You can ask them about cities and routes (that's it) and they often reply with nonsense. "Can you tell me about the route from Atlanta to New York?" "I dare say! You can buy amethyst in Atlanta that sell for a fortune in San Pedro!" "What? Okay, that's not what I asked..." These conversations broke with the otherwise stellar writing. Seriously, playing this is like reading a book. It's so well done. I'm tempted to play it again to see more cities, try for a tough achievement, and read some more great writing. There are achievements for finishing as quickly as 40 days, not using banks (which I only did once just to try it! I would have gotten that achievement!), and not staying in hotels (which means Fogg has to sleep on the street, ha). Maybe sometime!

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    Assassin's Creed 2 (PS3)    by   jp       (Feb 16th, 2021 at 17:58:25)

    Still playing!

    I reckon I'm perhaps 2/3 of the way through the game at this point? I've reached Venice and have started doing some missions here. However, since I was planning on playing a lot, I've also spent time and resources upgrading the villa - to get more money faster - to buy all the stuff. This means that every now and then I have to go back to the villa to collect the cash (and drop off stuff) before heading out on a shopping spree. It gets a little bit tiresome to have to make your way back to the fast travel spot, travel, and then sprint some more.

    I think I've reached the point where I can resist the temptation to go loot a chest when I see one close by on the radar. I (mostly) have enough money at this point... that being said...

    1. I've started throwing coins around more often (those bards/troubadours are funny and annoying and it's the fastest way to get rid of them). At first I was like "these are really annoying" and then it turns out that's 100% why there were implemented. So, design was a success!

    2. I've also started hiring people (mercs, thieves, etc.) to help me out. I didn't before because of the expense but now I'm much for friendly to the idea because they really make things easier. So, murdering some guards, fighting the rest and so on is just too much effort when they can be distracted and I can wander in to loot a codex page they were guarding...

    3. There was a "back in the real world" interlude that was quite what it bodes for the future. I'm genuinely curious to know how the story wraps up. Perhaps a bit less so because AC2 had 2 direct sequels - but I'm not sure if they were really sequels? Or parallel stories? Anyways...

    4. REALLY surprised to play an Altair (short) sequence. Wow, I did not expect the games to connect that way. I think the protagonist (in the real-world) is the same for both games - but still, I thought this was cool. If I understood things correctly, Ezio Auditore is somehow related by blood to Altair?

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    XG Blast! (DS)    by   jp       (Feb 16th, 2021 at 17:46:13)

    So far this game seems like a little unexpected gem. It's essentially a twin-stick shooter on the DS. With nice "neon-future" art and...a story? And...well, there's more stuff but I haven't played enough yet to tell. I've only played 3 levels or so - so there's a campaign progression that includes branching paths (top or bottom bath?). I'm not sure yet why I'd try one or the other and I also don't quite understand yet what the powerup system is like, how it works, and so on.

    I'm definitely excited to keep on playing this.

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    Prison Architect (PS4)    by   CoDer

    No comment, yet.
    most recent entry:   Thursday 9 November, 2017
    To begin again I didnt realize that the prisoners were not being fed because the electricity was not hooked up. Then I had to perform a shakedown to proceed. I lost a lot of prisoners in this time. In the prisoners needs it showed that there were many that were unhappy with the current living positions, so i decided to hire some janitors. My todo list wouldn't change so I just began to start taking care of the needs of the inmates. I have continued to try and progress but the game will not give me anything else to do after I searched the prison. There were no drugs and nothing has happened so I am just exploring what I can do and how the prisoners react to my actions. All of the prisoners were happy and nothing was happening, so I decided to take out the cookers to see what would happen or to see if a riot would break out, In addition I took out all of the recreational activities. Nothing happened I continued for 45 days and nothing progressed or changed the prisoners started to get unhappy but nothing seemed to happen because I fell like the game was stalled somehow. There was nothing more for met to do and the objective was already completed.

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