GameLogBlogging the experience of gameplay (PS4) - 10 Jan 2020 - by jp've been enjoying this so far - the hacking part is neat and I like being able to take over cameras and follow "links" of things to open doors and whatnot. This game REALLY feels like it's trying to be GTA, with the driving and all the rest which I've found quite surprising. There's a whole system for getting new cars, upgrading driving-related skills/perks, and everytime you steal a car it gets added to the ones you can "rent" (if you hadn't found that model before). So far, the only REALLY jarring part of the experience for me is the disconnect between the idea that you can do good deeds for a positive reputation BUT that those deeds are often shown on-screen as really brutal physical takedowns. So, a dude robs a person, I chase them down and then I literally slam them against the pavement (passersby even freak out), but I'm good? I guess it's like I'm Batman. Ha!jpFri, 10 Jan 2020 18:00:22 UTC Human: Chapter 1 (PS4) - 10 Jan 2020 - by jp started playing this and I got really nauseous. I took a break, and it was still pretty bad. I'm not sure how far I got along but it was definitely the walking that got me - I want to say that the movement/navigation controls are awful mostly because I had a hard time being able to point in the direction I wanted to go. Ugh. I kind of want to say that the game has tank controls, but in VR...and it made me feel really sick.jpFri, 10 Jan 2020 17:53:27 UTC (PS4) - 10 Jan 2020 - by jp's short, it's fun enough. But it's also REALLY crass! (in ways I found slightly embarrassing). I think what I appreciated the most about it was: a. It really encourages exploring/messing around in the same way that Job Simulator does, but since there (usually) are no explicitly stated goals, you really are just messing around rather than trying to solve a problem. b. It really rewards just listening. So, that's not really interactive, and on successive playthroughs it did get a bit tiring, but there's SO MUCH DIALOGUE that I was quite surprised. c. There are LOTS and LOTS of secret areas/endings you can explore. I don't know if I found/got to them all, but it was neat to see some clues and then pull threads on them and being rewarded with secret levels that aren't in the critical path to get to the game's ending. They also start to get increasingly wacky/crazy and meta too, which was fun. On the downside, the controls are really quite wonky which is fine for MOST things except there's some stuff that requires a certain amount of precision (throwing, it's throwing) and I just found these parts annoying - mostly the trophy chasing associated with it, but still. Still, it's so crass! (I'll admit I thought the scene with the gang was pretty funny though...especially when you pick up the brick)jpFri, 10 Jan 2020 17:48:44 UTC Z2: Chaos (PS4) - 10 Jan 2020 - by jp, I ended up playing the entire campaign/story. This most mostly thanks to the sunk-cost fallacy, I was sure there were only X levels remaining, and I was wrong, but I had already played Z many levels, so why not keep on going because, surely, there are only X levels left. And so, 4-5 hours later, it was done. I was playing on the lower difficulty level, which is clearly not the level you're supposed to play at because, although I did get better at using different moves, the game wasn't that difficult for me to clear (one of the boss fights being the salient exception). That being said, the more I played the more depth I realized the game had (even if I didn't need to take advantage of that depth in order to succeed). Here's a few things I thought were really neat about the game: a. Although you only control 1 character, there are always 3 available and swapping between them at the right moment is really neat/fun - you get aextra buffs, damage etc. b. There's a meter that fills up and you then activate it for ALL of the characters to tap in and start attacking. You still control your main, and I think the others mostly target whatever you're going up against. It's a neat way to deal with really large mobs OR to efficiently bring down a boss. I couldn't think of another game that had something like this. Things I was confused by: a. I was about 2/3 through before I realized there were items you could use for stuff. Other than healing, it didn't seem like these were very important? b. You can also buy rings and equipment for buffs and such. However, I was not able to buy any! I'd select them in the menu and press "X" but nothing would happen. It wasn't until after I had finished that I realized that you had to select an item and then press "right" - the item was actually a bar you had to fill up! Sigh. I'm not sure what difference that would have made for me, but all the equipment slots now made sense. Sigh. My final thoughts are more genre-related. It's definitely a "B" game - production values and more (similar to the Earth Defence Force games). But the barely clothed protagonists and certain camera angles strongly indicate an interest in titillating the player. Would it be fair to think of this game as an exploitation game the same way there are exploitation films? Well, a quick trip to wikipedia reveals that there is a subgenre of exploitation called "Chanbara" films - which are loosely samurai movies but with added nudity etc. So, with this game called "Onechanbara ZII: Chaos" - it's clearly a "chanbara" game? So yes? It's an exploitation game? Hmm... this seems interesting!jpFri, 10 Jan 2020 17:35:19 UTC (PS4) - 30 Dec 2019 - by dkirschner, this is it. This is the one. I tried Dark Souls [checks notes] 3.5 years ago and found myself lacking. It was too hard. It has haunted me ever since. I've completed plenty of brutally difficult games. Why was Dark Souls different? My best guess is that it doesn't just punish you with time invested, but it really saps your potential progression. By that I mean, when you die, you drop all of your souls. If you die again before reaching the spot where you died to retrieve your souls, you lose them forever. Therefore, when you die, you lose the potential you had accrued to level up, and for all intents and purposes are demoted. Even though you hadn't actually spent the souls to level up, you HAD them. It's like you went to cash a check and you lost the check. You had the money, but you hadn't converted it into something usable, and it hurts just as much to lose. SO, the PS4 I bought a few weeks ago came with a few games, Bloodborne being my most desired. I wanted to take another stab at a FromSoftware title and show them who's boss (me!). My ambition didn't go so well at first. I installed it, played an hour or two, and had flashbacks to Dark Souls. I couldn't get past the first area. I died over and over and over. It was so sad. Fuck that! I quit and picked up Nioh, another "soulsborne" game that had (gasp!) a tutorial that made me feel competent. After I went through the whole tutorial and played some of the first bit of Nioh, I had work for a week and when I came back to the PS4, decided I was not, in fact, done with Bloodborne. In fact, Nioh had prepared me (somehow) to be better at Bloodborne. Nioh had prepared me (somehow) to learn the lessons of FromSoftware games. I booted up Bloodborne again, determined to figure out how to approach it. Fast forward a couple weeks and here I am, being successful (I think)! I've learned to deploy all my patience and all my caution. If you are slow, careful, methodical, and observant, you can tackle Bloodborne. I've written about a few extended examples, but I'm not sure what to sum up, so I'll make some notes, a couple quick stories, and elaborate later. 1. Learn enemy attack patterns. What are their tells? How far away do you need to stay? Every enemy can kill you, so don't take your chances. Wait for their tells and strike appropriately. It's not a race. 2. Don't be afraid to go back to The Hunter's Dream. In this safe zone, you can spend your blood echoes to level up, purchase items, and upgrade your weapons. Yeah, all the enemies will respawn, and that can be annoying, but you'll also learn that ... 3. You don't have to kill everything. You'll open ingenious shortcuts and learn what you can run past (often based on what probably won't drop good items anyway!), so respawning enemies are not always a big deal. Plus, you're getting better at the game, so you can dispatch them more easily. 4. Upgrade your main weapon. Yeah, there are lots of weapons, but the beginning Hunter's Axe has been working for me just fine. I bought everything else, but I've upgraded that axe as much as it'll go for now (level 6; how many levels of upgrades are there? A: At least 9.). Experiment with the weapons to see what suits you. And don't forget that you can hit L1 to alternate between two forms of your melee weapons. 5. You'll get past that first area and that first boss, the something-something-Cleric. The big bird thing. Terrifying. On the bridge. After being mauled by werewolves (explore and find the other way around). Once you get past that first boss, the game becomes easier. You won't have to farm health potions again (yet, anyway). This first area of the game is like a hazing ritual. 6. If you need help, summon someone. I'm playing offline, so I can't summon other players, but on the third boss, there was a summoning place there and I got an NPC. She tanked the boss (the one in the Grand Cathedral) and I chipped away at its health from behind. Victory. If you can't summon someone, refer to #1. 7. I'm so impressed by the interconnectedness of each area. Navigating can be disorienting, but keep wandering and you'll connect seemingly disparate locations. The other day, I wandered into an area with an enemy I couldn't kill, another area with some hazy demon that killed me, another area where I got killed by some sort of void energy that said "frenzy" on the screen, I wandered into a totally different zone (Forbidden Woods?), and through all this learned many different paths. 8. If you're not sure if you're supposed to be somewhere or not, you might need to die a few times to figure it out. Enemies crushing you? Maybe there's somewhere else to go first where you can gain some levels. It seems like wandering around and seeing everything is sufficient for being strong enough to tackle enemies and bosses. More later. But I am LOVING this game now that I'm over the initial hump (seriously, through the first boss is just brutal). I can't wait to play more.dkirschnerMon, 30 Dec 2019 18:14:34 UTC (PS4) - 30 Dec 2019 - by dkirschner first PS4 completion on my brand new used system! I played Flow yesterday morning because I was up before my brother and mom at her house and didn't want to wake everyone up with Bloodborne. A nice, quiet, relaxing game would be better, I thought. I didn't really know what to expect; I haven't played any of thatgamecompany's games (criminal, I know, but I'll get to Flower and Journey soon). Flow immediately reminded me of other "eat things and grow bigger" games like the incomparable Osmos. It's beautiful and sounds great (relaxing, right?) and the movement is simple and fluid with the motion tilt on the PS4's controller. Fortunately, the game is short because it sure gets dull quickly. Each level and each character are essentially the same thing and there is no variation in what you do. You take control first of a "snake" creature underwater. Eat smaller creatures to get longer (this is visually mesmerizing), and then eat the red blob to descend to the next level in the ocean. It's neat that you can eat the blue blob to go back up, going up and down as much as you please. I did this a couple times when there was an annoying enemy (go back up to eat some more creatures and get stronger or go down to skip it), but I accidentally ate the blue or red blobs 20 other times and changed levels when I didn't want to. Eventually you will encounter enemies who can eat you. You never die, but rather go back up a level when you get eaten. Levels are small and take just a few minutes to clear, so this is no big deal. Once you reach the last ocean level, there is a teleporter thing that warps you back to the beginning, where you are given a new creature, one that you have seen, to play with. Each new creature has some kind of ability setting it apart from others. There's one that turns green, and if you eat (part of) another creature while green, it turns green too and slows down. If you eat it while green, then all the little organisms it spawns upon death are green, and if other enemies eat those, then THEY turn green. That was probably my favorite. Another creature lets you repel others; another gives you big bursts of speed; and so on. By the third creature (of 5), I was looking on the internet to see how much more there was because the game was feeling very repetitive and I was bored. I powered through and easily beat it. The credits are neat. I later learned that the game was released in 2006, which makes my problems with it somewhat meaningless. This was probably ridiculously impressive in 2006, evident by its history. I look forward to Flower, and then Journey in the future. One other random story to note: I picked up a copy of Ian Bogost's How to Do Things with Videogames and had been reading it just a few days before. In a chapter on relaxation, he offers a brief analysis of Flow, pointing out that the game is not relaxing (you chase things around to eat them while risking being eaten by them) despite it's beautiful visuals and music. I found this to be true (boredom also came), and it got me thinking about other games that have promised to be low key and relaxing but are not. Or rather, it got me thinking even more broadly about games that coast on unique audio-visual style and polish, but are not much more than that. I'm thinking recently of Little Nightmares. I had to play it when I saw it, but it really wasn't very good, a sub-par 2D puzzle platformer mechanically. After that game is when I learned my lesson: Don't buy a game just because the art looks cool!dkirschnerMon, 30 Dec 2019 16:50:59 UTC Z2: Chaos (PS4) - 28 Dec 2019 - by jp wonder if there's such a thing as an exploitation game? Like the exploitation movies? I'm not sure what those are exactly other than then being B-movies with gratuitous violence and maybe some titillation? This game definitely would fit the bill. And, it's part of a long-running series AFAIK. It's fast, gory, and has way too many buttons for me to control, the graphics are decidedly last-gen. Oh, and the 4 female characters are scantily clad, and the camera often moves around so you can almost/sort of see things you shouldn't. I'm not sure how to think of it in terms of gameplay genre, perhaps it's a combo-based action brawler? It feels like a fighting game sometimes, 'cause there's all these bars that fill up and you can trigger ultimate attacks and such? It's kind of like Devil May Cry? But not that I have all that much experience with that one. I'm also reminded of the Dynasty Warriors games - simply because there are so many monsters spawning. I suspect I won't play this for too long, but for now I'm learning about a new series I wasn't familiar with, so I guess there's that...jpSat, 28 Dec 2019 20:22:30 UTC (PS4) - 28 Dec 2019 - by jp is perhaps(?) a current indie darling and I've been playing it to see if I might want to use it for something...and uh...I'm not sure I understand what all the fuss is about. There's a lot of reading, and choosing dialogue options and a lot of running about fetching stuff, or going to talk to people. And the art is fine, and the music is fine, etc. But, I'm not super into the story - and the characters are fine, but not super into them either...and so on. I actually like the UI and interface - it's pretty minimal but easy to understand (nice icons appear when there's something you can interact with) and the encyclopedia has a ton of pages but you can flip through them REALLY fast, which is much appreciated. I guess it feels like I'm playing a soap-opera about characters I don't care all that much about. This might change - I think I'm about 1/2 through based on the number of gardening songs I've picked up and my estimate of how many more there are...but we'll see.jpSat, 28 Dec 2019 20:06:37 UTC Retold (PS4) - 27 Dec 2019 - by jp've been debating whether to include this as a game for a class I teach and, having finished it and explored all of the different endings, I'm not sure. The game is a pretty linear experience and yes, choices to affect the outcome of the game (e.g. who lives, dies, etc.) but...there's something that really rubbed me the wrong way in this game. It shouldn't have - but it did... You basically follow two characters' experiences in WWI (a Canadian and a German) on either side of the conflict and, at times, together. It's all story stuff really - but each level/area/section has a lot of collectibles for you to find. Tracking these down really got in the way of the narrative experience (for me at least). I didn't want it to, but it did. Normally I'd just ignore...BUT the collectibles unlocked little snippets of information about WWI that I found really interesting. So, I felt invested in learning history while collecting items in a game that's primarily about the story experience. Sigh. Is the story interesting/engaging? Yes, at least enough for me to want to play to the end and there is an overarching question/issue that is left open (regardless of ending) which...ugh. I really wanted to know if Max was dead or not... I'm definitely adding this game as an example of a wargame that's NOT about shooting (technically you can fire a weapon during the game - but it really is an exception). What I enjoyed the most, in terms of gameplay, was the letter writing. At certain moments in the game you can write letters home (in the case of the German character Kurt to his wife) and you are given options for each paragraph - tell the truth to your daughter, etc. You can tell what will appear in the letter and so on, but I thought it was a neat way to add some storytelling and character building/role-playing. In this game, your choices do really affect how the characters grow/perceive themselves. For example, there's a possible ending where Harry shoots Kurt - and Harry will reflect on this in the end cut scene from the point of view that he feels like he made the correct choice (even if expressing some regrets). Thus, the game never second-guesses your choices - but rather assumes them literally. The player's choice should always be interpreted as the character being convinced that the choice was a correct one. Neat game. Art is very interesting and I enjoyed the animal sections too - the break up the pace in a nice way. Animation was "meh", which hurt the games' experience a bit and I was surprised by...I'd assume Aardman would have really good animation?jpFri, 27 Dec 2019 16:23:19 UTC from the Borderlands (PC) - 09 Dec 2019 - by dkirschner started this in August and finally finished. That was due to a couple dry gaming months, finishing a couple other games, and then finally completing the last 3 episodes of this this weekend. My initial impressions were really positive, but in the end I think I just am not a fan of Borderlands anything. Telltale's storytelling is fantastic as always and the game mechanics are sound. Tales from the Borderlands naturally has a good deal of combat, including a pretty sweet finale, and gunplay mapped fine onto Telltale's style but could feel jarringly slow and disjointed during action sequences. I suppose what I'm most impressed with is Telltale's (RIP) ability to do such mapping, to fit any franchise they've handled into their style of narrative game. I've played some of the Walking Dead seasons, A Wolf Among Us, and the Game of Thrones one, and they all feel so unique, wonderfully capturing the spirit of each universe. I know they did such a good job with Borderlands because I felt like I always do about Borderlands by the end! Some of the jokes landed, sometimes I laughed out loud, but a lot of the humor missed. The world and characters are wonderfully weird and wacky, which I sometimes appreciate and sometimes cringe at. One funny thing is that I misread the romance options. I took the two main characters relationship as flirtatious when apparently it wasn't supposed to be. In fact, the guy can become romantically involved with her sister. I made him constantly reject her and not flirt with her because I wanted the two main characters to get together! My girlfriend thought this was hilarious. Does that mean I'm a bad flirt? Aw man! So really, Tales from the Borderlands taught me that I don't really like Borderlands so stop trying and that I'm a bad flirt. 10/10 learning things about myself.dkirschnerMon, 09 Dec 2019 11:46:48 UTC