GameLogBlogging the experience of gameplay Second Son (PS4) - 29 Mar 2020 - by jp'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?jpSun, 29 Mar 2020 15:52:25 UTC Puyo! 15th Anniversary (DS) - 25 Mar 2020 - by jp'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.jpWed, 25 Mar 2020 16:31:58 UTC (PS4) - 25 Mar 2020 - by jp 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.jpWed, 25 Mar 2020 16:21:51 UTC 10 Galactic Racing (DS) - 25 Mar 2020 - by jp 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.jpWed, 25 Mar 2020 16:07:23 UTC (PS4) - 24 Mar 2020 - by jp 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.jpTue, 24 Mar 2020 11:22:05 UTC The New Order (PS4) - 23 Mar 2020 - by jp played this over the course of several weekends to much enjoyment. I had heard good things, but I was again pleasantly surprised even though it took me a bit to get a handle on the feel of the shooting. A few of the more surprising things (to me): a. There's so much world building that it's really quite impressive. Most of it happens through little notes, letters, newspaper clippings, etc. you find in the environment. Since the game takes place in the 60s, these things fill in the gaps between the regular end of the war (mid 40s) up until the in-game present. You don't find them in chronological order and also, as an added touch, you occasionally run into new clippings that reflect/comment on things you've been up to as a player (e.g. prisoners break out, which is something you just did) b. There's an amazing scene in the game that takes place on a train. You're disguised (as in, not fighting/shooting) and a high-ranking Nazi officer and her protege/close colleague force you to sit down and quiz you. They're basically of the opinion that they can tell if you're aryan or not based on some questions (and your response/reaction to them). Obviously it's a bad idea to be found out to not be nazi/aryan in this context. It's incredibly tense and interesting as a player as you try to figure out what the correct (most aryan?) answers are - when there really isn't anything to go off from - and the questions seem rather innocuous as well. I think this was by far my favorite moment in the game. c. The game has an interesting progression system in which you can permanently unlock perks/buffs/bonuses for performing specific kinds of actions. I unlocked a few "by luck" - but then noticed what they required and it was interesting to try to adapt my play style in order to unlock a few more (they're also connected to trophies, which is a clever additional incentive). So, they really want to encourage you to play stealthy, direct, use grenades, etc. It often happens to me that I don't like/understand a certain item/weapon and so I never use it - being able to "get by" otherwise. Here I was explicitly incentivized to try out new things and I enjoyed that. I was playing on a difficulty level that made it really hard (for me) to engage succesfully with a lot of the run'n gun style - but once I lowered the difficulty (towards the end of the game) I was able to get more of these down. d. After finishing the game I went into some older levels to pick up missing collectibles and that sort of stuff. I purposefully set the game to the lowest difficulty and it was AMAZING. By this point I was really comfortable with the shooting and such, and being able to run through levels taking out enemies quickly and efficiently was really rewarding. I basically got the most out of my learned skills and the super easy difficulty. e. I was surprised by the hub area (safehouse) and all the different characters - I was neat to see how much work went into making them more interesting than I expected. I mean, the game is still either a really well-produced B-movie action flick or, perhaps like a Tarantino movie? (I haven't watched Inglorious Bastards in a while, but it has a bit of that vibe). f. So many different and wildly varied locations! Submarine, weird underwater Jewish temple(?), Lunar base, sewers, prison, etc. I just couldn't believe how zany and wild the game kept on getting in terms of the locations and how different they all felt (experientially). I guess the big question now is should I go ahead and play the other (more newer) games at this point? New Colossus and the other one...Youngblood? So tempted, but also I have so many other games on the list...jpMon, 23 Mar 2020 19:01:56 UTC (PC) - 22 Mar 2020 - by dkirschner in one sitting this morning/afternoon. Simulacra is billed as a horror game, but I would give it a 1.5 on the scary scale out of 10. This is an example of a niche game on Steam. It has an Overwhelmingly Positive score. Basically, people who love this specific kind of thing played it and rated it perfectly, and people who don't play these types of games didn't pick it up. I know I got it for free somewhere, maybe Humble Bundle. I would give it a decent score, between a 6-7 out of 10. I enjoyed some aspects of it and didn't like others. Enjoyed - The entire game takes place in a phone and its apps. - The premise of the game is neat. You find a phone on your doorstep, open it up, and it is the phone of a missing woman. You dig around, talk to her contacts, try to figure out what happened to her. - The UI is really well done. Navigating around the phone is simple and fun. - The Taylor actor. That guy has some charm! The other actors are not great, but do a serviceable job. Greg is over-the-top fratty/douchebaggy and it's sort of funny, if only he wasn't such an awful person. - Reminded me of the other similar "in the phone/internet/video" games I've played like Her Story and Orwell. - The player-character's dialogue choices are all over the place. I did like, usually, how you are given the option to be a sarcastic ass back to Greg and other shitty characters. Pissing Greg off was perhaps my favorite thing to do in the game. Didn't Enjoy - The narrative loses me when the supernatural (super-digital?) comes into play. I think it would have been better if this was just a mystery/thriller game than trying to inject horror. - Typos, typos, typos. Some of this was no doubt the writers' attempt to emulate written communication, but...just spell things correctly, please. - My sociology professor gut tells me that the devs are/were undergrads exposed to a Baudrillard reading in class and it blew their minds. - Greg yelling at me. I felt the verbal abuse. - Attempts to deal with abuse/sexual harassment could have been done better. Their inclusion is laudable, but the numerous option that the player-character has to dismiss, downplay, or make jokes out of abuse and harassment are concerning. dkirschnerSun, 22 Mar 2020 12:26:00 UTC (PC) - 22 Mar 2020 - by dkirschner gonna close this...I had been playing this on an emulator at my girlfriend's house on her brother's old PC on and off for over a year. I go way too long between sessions and always forget what I'm doing. Plus, the emulator controls are not as good as an SNES. I enjoy the game. It's silly and quirky. Combat and stuff is really basic old-school JRPG stuff. I get why people love the game and why it's a classic. I made it to Threeve (the ghost/zombie infested town), poked around there today, died a lot. I got frustrated because there are so many random items and I don't know what they do. At this point, I'm only playing it because I feel like I should, anyway. I fear I will give the same treatment to Chrono Trigger...dkirschnerSun, 22 Mar 2020 12:11:50 UTC 2 (PC) - 21 Mar 2020 - by dkirschner did not enjoy this as much as the first game. The story was worse / more convoluted, and the perpetual darkness and looking through night vision on your camera got real old. Does the game succeed at being scary? Yeah, I jumped a few times. Gross? Yeah, it's bloody disgusting. This is the only game I've ever played where the player-character endures a crucifixion AND the only game I've ever played where you witness a birth. I mean WITNESS. You see everything. Outlast 2 is not afraid to punish the human body. You're a journalist, just like in the first game, whose helicopter crash lands in rural Arizona. Somehow, a crazy huge Christian cult exists here that has murdered thousands of their own people. Everyone lives in squalor, is disease-ridden, and very, very religious. You spend the game tracking down your pregnant wife (also on the helicopter), whom the cult wants to sever from her baby (the antichrist), kill them both, and eat you because you are their new messiah. It doesn't make a lick of sense. There is a parallel narrative from the protagonist's past which, I assume, much of the present is something of a metaphor for. Basically, he feels responsible for a former classmate being assaulted by a teacher. Catholic guilt is real. This causes him to, in these stressful times, slowly lose his mind. For gameplay, you just run and point your camera. There is some light platforming later on (walking across thin beams, jumping across gaps). You're generally doing these few things in pitch black darkness, so you need to use your camera's night vision. This requires batteries, so don't use it too much or you'll run out and I have no idea how you could possibly play this game without night vision. Stupid fanatical cultists are patrolling everywhere. They'll chase and kill you if they spot you. I spent the first half of the game sneaking around, trying to stay in cover, watching their movement patterns. In the second half of the game, I just started sprinting through entire villages toward the well-sign-posted (always with a light) next area. This was much more efficient and made it so I didn't have to listen to the inane ramblings of the cultists. You can also turn on your camera's mic, which detects sound, but this mechanic is inessential. I'm glad I will never hear these characters again. The game was tense enough, really dark, and the story pushed a lot of edgy buttons. It felt over the top in a bad way. Glad it's over!dkirschnerSat, 21 Mar 2020 18:06:06 UTC Mario 3D World (WiiU) - 12 Mar 2020 - by dkirschner co-op Mario game. It's Super Mario Galaxy Lite. As a single-player experience, it becomes repetitive and grindy. At various points, you need more stars to progress, which is typical of these games. Usually, though, you have them through the regular course of play. This time, I was locked out from the next-to-last stage and had to grind 10 or so stars. I got what I thought was a lot from the last world and was locked out again. I needed 14 more (each stage has 3, so 14 is a lot, assuming that i got 1-2 on average per stage already). Don't tell anyone, but I just watched the last boss on YouTube. Grinding out another 14 stars would have taken a whole evening to do, and I was over this already, actually thought I would beat it last night. Then there was another world; tonight there was anotherrrr secret world. It dragged. Hard. The game is charming and cute. The four characters each have different running speeds and jumping patterns. The gimmick is that they turn into cats. Like I said, cute. Some of the stages' mechanics were especially fun or clever, like the stage where you equip a flashlight and burn ghosts, the one where you ride blocks around (was a bit challenging too), the ones where you equip a cannon ball gun...basically most of the one-off mechanics were the best. There were some special stages to obtain extra stars, items, or collectible stickers, and the Toad stages stuck out as a lot of fun. You guide Toad through a 3D puzzle level to collect 5 stars. Think Fez. You can rotate the world around to see, and all Toad can do is walk. No running or jumping. So you rotate the camera around trying to figure out the way through the level, collecting all the stars. That's it. I wouldn't recommend this over Super Mario Galaxy games. Those are way better. Though co-op probably adds to the appeal of World. dkirschnerThu, 12 Mar 2020 22:58:33 UTC