GameLogBlogging the experience of gameplay Machina (PC) - 17 Jun 2021 - by dkirschner twin-stick shooter/bullet hell game that is very polished. Its arcade mode on normal difficulty clocks in at around an hour, though I spent over twice as long because I exited once without knowing you couldn't save and then it crashed on me. Then I tried the first world on the two next hardest difficulties. So I basically played the first world...5 times, the second and third world twice, and the fourth and fifth once. On each "level" of each world, which take like 30 seconds to a couple minutes, you progress by killing all the spawning enemies. There are several humans to save and various secrets and optional objectives that add even more challenge to an already challenging game. The normal difficulty wasn't too bad, and I could save almost all humans and find some secrets, but it ramps up on the other difficulties! Enemies begin simply walking toward you, but by the end of the game they are firing bullets and lasers everywhere and doing leaping and burrowing attacks. Boss battles are fun and chaotic. One is like a mecha-Donkey Kong, which was funny. I have no idea what the game is about. You're killing bad machines I guess? At the end you pull a plug or something? Doesn't matter! Kill kill kill. Yeah, that's about it! I played this on Xbox Game Pass and would pick it up on Steam to own permanently for a couple bucks. Worth playing, but nothing you haven't seen in a twin-stick shooter before. dkirschnerThu, 17 Jun 2021 07:33:51 UTC Medium (PC) - 16 Jun 2021 - by dkirschner Team is kicking ass. I played Observer a couple months ago, which was fantastic. The Medium is at least as good. It's another story-focused game, straight up psychological horror this time. Observer had some psychological horror to it, but the dystopian cyberpunk setting was so strong that it overshadowed the horror. Honestly, the horror elements in Observer--primarily avoiding a monster--were the most drab parts of the game. And Layers of Fear, their first game I played, was not good. So The Medium is the first time they nailed the genre. The story is a complex narrative puzzle that you are fed out of order. You'll be confused as it unwinds, but you should stop to think about it. Piecing it together is thought-provoking and all falls into place by the end. Here are the basics: You primarily play as Marianne. Marianne is mourning the loss of her adoptive father when she gets an urgent phone call begging her to come to an abandoned workers' retreat, as "you are the only one who can help." Marianne is a medium, which means she exists both in the physical world and in the spirit world. She goes to the workers' retreat, which has suffered tragedy and ruin, and over the course of the game, she learns the dark truth of what happened there. Spoiler: It involves Marianne's past. The gameplay is a novel take on psychological horror games. You play from a third-person perspective with fixed camera angles (which are done well, very few issues with doors or movement!). You are generally exploring areas, reading notes, listening to "echoes" and "memories," and solving puzzles. The neat bit is that, as I said, Marianne exists in the physical and spiritual worlds, and so at times, the screen splits and "both" Mariannes are controlled together. Their movements are exactly the same. Sometimes you can interact with things only in one of the worlds; they need each other to solve puzzles. Sometimes, physical world Marianne's way will be blocked and you have to trigger an "out of body experience," which allows you to briefly cross obstacles with spirit world Marianne. In more elaborate puzzles, you use mirrors to cross between worlds at will. Characters and objects may exist in only one world, and it is cool to see both Mariannes doing the same actions, but only one of them actually interacting in the presence of the character or object. If I had to take an issue with the game, it would be that it's totally linear. The game's progression is, I mean. The story is not, but the gameplay is. Couple its linearity with the lack of challenge in the puzzles and one could understand how players could find the game boring. However, I found the story, characters, and settings so strong that I didn't feel bored in the slightest. The Medium is really well paced. Although there is no combat per se (no weapons), there are a few enemies. And beyond the simple "avoid bad thing" in Observer and Layers of Fear, you do actually "fight" the enemies here and you can (and will) actually die. They are also scarier and more omnipresent. Taking a page from Observer, the enemies are all manifestations of psychological suffering and trauma. In that game, the protagonist hacked into the brain-chips of murder victims and explored their memories/consciousnesses and saw their lost grips on reality. In this game, you do a similar sort of thing, exploring past traumas and facing characters' demons. Since the worlds are linked, doing something in one world affects characters in the other. It's really interesting, similar to and different from how Bloober Team did it in Observer. So yeah, I'd definitely recommend this. I've got The Evil Within 2 queued up soon, so I'll get some direct comparison in the genre. dkirschnerWed, 16 Jun 2021 09:25:51 UTC Death of the Outsider (PC) - 15 Jun 2021 - by dkirschner through this one. It ends the Dishonored series with the Outsider (apparently there is another coming with a new storyline). It's basically a watered down version of Dishonored 2, still fun, but less interesting than either of the other games. You play as Billie Lurk (aka, Meagan the boat driver), and I might have enjoyed her and Daud's story more if I'd played Knife of Dunwall. I'm not sure why this plays so much as watered down Dishonored 2. Maybe they rushed it? I understand this was meant to be DLC and then folded into a standalone expansion. Anyway, some things are missing from the main game. There's no Chaos system, which means that it doesn't matter how you go about your missions. Kill no one, kill everyone, doesn't matter. Instead of unlocking Void powers as you go, you get your only three almost right off the bat, and unfortunately they are not great. One is a movement power (though when I learned that if you teleport on top of an enemy then they explode, it is how I killed most enemies from then on, very satisfying). One is a mimic power where you can impersonate someone, which is useful for sneaking around I guess, but I always went guns blazing and only used it a couple times. The third is just an exploration power that lets you spirit around undetectable and tag enemies and objects. Useful I guess, but not fun or necessary. I preferred to go in guns blazing, getting all the enemies pissed off and chasing me, then just jumping around like mad and picking them off with sword techniques, by teleporting onto them and making them explode, and with my other favorite move, jumping up high and doing an air assassination. Beware fighting me in a room with stairs! I actually never used an offensive item (grenades, mines, etc.), save for a few bolts at the beginning of the game. I felt like a badass, but compared to other Dishonored main characters, I really wasn't. I did explore a fair amount, as you can go in houses and poke around stealing things. Though toward the end, it felt like none of that mattered in the way that it did in other games. I read a lot of books and letters and whatnot that were mildly interesting. I did some of the side missions, which you collect from a hub instead of find naturally in the world (mostly), but also stopped caring about them because again they didn't seem to matter. There are fewer upgrades and fewer incentives to do most anything except blast your way through. There weren't even good puzzles! The level design was fine, but I was really missing something like the Jindosh mansion. Cracking the bank vault was the closest thing, but it is a simple arithmetic puzzle (versus the Jindosh lock in Dishonored 2 that took me an hour!), and for some reason these people barely kept anything valuable in their lockboxes (and always a lore book, why?). In the end, I saw the series' ending, which was fine. That's my summary of the game. It's fine. As I read a reviewer say, "a bad Dishonored game is still a good game," and I agree with that. It was enjoyable, but unnecessary. The other games are so much better! Well, until Dishonored 3!dkirschnerTue, 15 Jun 2021 12:44:23 UTC Way Out (XBONE) - 14 Jun 2021 - by Sup3rCondor sat down with one of my friends and beat A Way Out in one sitting. Its not a long game as we beat it in just over 5 hours. The game is paced in a way that all 5 of those hours were well spent. The game goes quick and doesn't dwell on any location, or gameplay system for long. The game starts as a prison break adventure, and ends as an action heavy game. There are driving sequences, there are sports gameplay sequences. It's truly remarkable everything Hazelight was able to fit into this game. None of it is truly great on it's own but together it's amazing. The story is pretty good as well. There are plenty of twists and turns to keep players engaged on their journey. Surprising enough, the game also looks good. There are moments that the characters suffer from wax figure syndrome, but it's never too bad. Where the graphics really shine is in the game's environments. There is so much variety in the places players go and all of them look great. My last note, there is a sequence in the game that takes place in a hospital. It is the best co-op sequence ever and is more cinematic and exciting than any I have ever seen before it. It is definitely my favorite part of the game.Sup3rCondorMon, 14 Jun 2021 10:07:43 UTC Friend or Foe (DS) - 13 Jun 2021 - by jp don't understand the spelling on the name (hyphen?) BUT, this is an officially licensed product. I thought it was interesting that the game announced itself thusly in the begginning! So, it's listed as merchandise and Columbia Pictures is one of the publishers? At least their name is no the back of the box. I wonder if this was because of the weird licensing for Spiderman? Like, Columbia could do the movies and merchandising, so this game - which AFAIK is NOT based on any of the movies, was listed as merchandising so that it would fall within the licensing agreement because other companies had the rights to make videogames? According to the wikipedia page that I just checked - the game was de-listed from digital storefronts on New Year's Day 2014... so, definitely tied in to the movie-based license. The wikipedia page also notes that the game is (supposedly) "based on the styling of [the three first movies]" and that it "reinterprets big-screen moments and battles with a humorous twist". We'll see about that. I don't even remember the movies much at this point (Tobey Mcguire?) and it's even possible I didn't watch all we'll see. The first level so far has been interesting though because: (a) There's two PCs! You can switch between Spidey and Black Cat(?) like you do between characters in the LEGO games. According to the back of the box it also has two-player co-op play, which is pretty neat (and not that common on the DS?) (b) The game uses both screens in an interesting way. Rather than having a single "picture" that's cut in half. The lower screen represents a view that makes sense with the upper screen but, in a slightly different perspective. They're connected - but it's like there's a slight camera shift when you move into the lower screen. It's hard to explain in words - but it looks interesting as you play even if it's still something I'm getting used to as I play. Gameplay so far is "meh" (it's a brawler, you collect tokens, etc.), but we'll see...jpSun, 13 Jun 2021 23:55:48 UTC (DS) - 13 Jun 2021 - by jp, another interesting surprise. This is a virtual pet game but there's a twist - it also came with a robotic toy dog that - I think - you could interact with from the game somehow. That along was enough to get me interested, but I don't have to dog, just the game. I wasn't sure it would even work, but the game has two modes. One is when you have the robot and the other is when you're travelling (as in, don't have the robot). It's a smart design choice, since - I'm guessing more often than not, you don't have the robot ('cause you're in the car, it's out of batteries, etc.). And, they added a "sync" option so you can send your data to the robot - so, you get to keep your progression in the game! I did that a few times, just to see what error message would come up ("sorry, robot's not here?) but it just acts like there's no problem, so perhaps it's all a sham? Or maybe it just saves it to send later? The non-robot mode of the game is also deeper than I expected. There's the usual pet, groom, feed, and play options (and decorate!) which are "fine" (not my cup of tea) but there's also mini-games too play where your robot stars! The minigames, well, mini - but fun as well. The longer you play the more mini-games you unlock and you also level up the robot (more hearts in its friend meter). As far as I can tell there's essentially a progression system that takes into account how long you've been playing and what sort of of interactions. I don't think it's too sophisticated. I leveled up once, and the robot grew older by one year - how old can it get? can it die of old age? I don't think I'll buy the toy, but I do wonder how much they sell for..jpSun, 13 Jun 2021 23:43:49 UTC Wars Jedi: Fallen Order (PC) - 10 Jun 2021 - by dkirschner shattered my expectations. My little Star Wars obsessed brother had been talking it up and I played half an hour at his house recently and got more interested. My first impressions were, "Wow, this feels like Dark Souls with a light saber." The basic combat controls and the flow of combat are similar. As I played more, I thought, "Wow, this feels like Tomb Raider too," because you spend a lot of time with solid environmental puzzles (really, some of these were head-scratchers! great puzzle difficulty) and exploring tombs. Then, as the game really gets rolling, I realized this was an excellent, unique Star Wars game with smart influences. I'm not big into Star Wars. I like it, but stopped paying attention when Disney started rolling movies out every year. My knowledge of it was enough to understand basically where the story fit into the timeline though. It's interesting how Star Wars can take for granted that most people will be at least somewhat familiar with its world, story, and characters, and I try to imagine what the game would be like for someone with zero background in the franchise. It would still be fun, but would probably lack depth (and I know I missed depth, compared to my brother for example, who was going on and on about events and things as I blankly nodded along). The story this game tells is compelling. You play as Cal, a force user who escaped the Jedi purge (when the Empire activated all the clones to kill their Jedi masters). Cal has been in hiding but uses the Force to save a friend, which is detected by the Empire, and the Inquisitors come to hunt you for the rest of the game as you go on the run with some trusty crew on the trail of an old Jedi master who was looking to restore the order. You'll travel from planet to planet on this quest and for me the game got better as it went along. At first, it felt slow. I was getting used to the controls (admittedly, I've only completed one Soulsborne game and wasn't great at it) and the characters mostly seemed like cardboard cutouts. It took time for their personalities and stories to emerge and for me to care about them, and in the end I enjoyed their growth. Another reason it felt slow at first is because on the first planet, I discovered a special enemy, some three-eyed frog boss. There is maybe one of these bosses per planet. This thing annihilated me. Remember, I had just started and was learning the controls and basic combat mechanics. Well, like in Dark Souls, when you die, you lose your experience. Sort of. Your experience stays with the enemy that killed you and you can get it back by landing an attack on that enemy. If you die before you attack the enemy, your experience is gone for good. But, this is a generous system! Only one time did I die before recovering my experience. To the frog boss, I died about 30 times. So within my first few hours of playing, half of my time was spent on this frog boss. This made me think, "My god, this game is going to be hard, and I'm only playing on normal." But 30 deaths later, I had gotten pretty damn good at dodging, targeting, slowing time, attacking, reading the frog boss, and I killed it. It felt awesome. I never died that much again, though there were plenty of difficult encounters that required several attempts (the first time I fought some of the Purge Trooper varieties and the Second Sister in particular). The first planet also introduces you to the level design, which I think can be described as "sprawling and complex." There are a lot of obstacles that you can systematically pass throughout the game as you gain new abilities, and on that first planet, I spent a lot of time trying to get to places that I didn't have the abilities to get to yet. I wish I had known that there was no way to get that chest! (I never did figure out how to get that chest.) Paths connect in surprising ways and there are a lot of shortcuts to open. Some of the planets you visit look incredible, and some have like self-contained stories. On Kashyyyk, you help resistance fighters in your search for a special wookie, and fight through a giant forest, with a badass set piece and boss fights at the end (set pieces and boss fights are exhilarating throughout). On Dathomir, my favorite, you learn about the history of the Night Sisters and Night Brothers who live(d) there, what's become of them, and meet some really strong characters. By the time you get to explore Dathomir for real (you can go earlier in the game I think, but I skipped it early and just went later when you have to), you'll have unlocked all your Force abilities and most other abilities. The Force abilities make the game stand out among its influences. They are really fun to use, and you can get a bit creative with them. Storm Troopers serve as wonderful fodder to abuse, and when I realized that I could Force Push them off cliffs, I never stopped smiling when I did it. The best was when I pushed four of them off at once. Running around deflecting blaster bolts, pulling enemies toward you and impaling them, switching your light saber from a single blade to a double blade to take on groups, and doing all the other badass things that Jedi do never, ever got old. And, by the end of the game, you probably will have gotten most everything on the skill tree. I did a good amount of exploring and took my time admiring the planets and killing all of their inhabitants. Exploration in this game rewards you nicely with experience, which is always a motivating factor for me. It also rewards you with information and lore (neat), secrets (rare but useful, increase life and Force) and chests (so, so many chests). I think the chests are like a fan service because, besides giving some experience, they all just have cosmetic items in them so that you can customize your clothing, ship paint, lightsaber parts, and so on. I care nothing for any of that, so the fact that there are SO MANY chests (literally over 40 on some planets) was disappointing. I would have liked more of the story/lore collectibles than the customization ones. That's about the only minor gripe I have. Highly, highly recommend this one. I like it even better than Nier: Automata, which I thought was going to be the Best of Summer when I started. Nope, quickly displaced by Fallen Order! dkirschnerThu, 10 Jun 2021 07:04:56 UTC Yoga Training (DS) - 10 Jun 2021 - by jp is exactly what you'd imagine from the name. It's a serious (as in, no funny anime characters or other nonsense) "app" for learning and practicing yoga! I read/looked at some of the tutorials just to see what it was like..and, I pretty amazed that this was even created in the first place. As I think more "big picture" it really seems like the DS was the first game console for which there was a SIGNIFICANT amount of non-game titles created. I wondering how many were commercially succesful. This one was published by Ubisoft, which is pretty suprising! I know there are lots of "wellness" apps (we call them apps now, which is not what we'd call them back in 2008 or so when this game came out! not sure to call it a game either...), also a bunch for learning languages, there's even a "quit smoking" one. It's a huge category that I hadn't really appreciated. THe other thing I think is interesting is that this came out in 2008 which is pretty early in the consoles lifecycle. It released in late 2004 - so we're only 4 years in? The DS Lite came out in 2006 an the DSi in 2008. So, this doesn't really seem like a "end of lifecycle" release? (definitely not a close to launch either). Interesting...jpThu, 10 Jun 2021 00:14:57 UTC of Tsushima (PS4) - 10 Jun 2021 - by jp'm having a real hard time deciding to make progress. I've played a LOT, and I've mostly been doing all the side-missions and quests, and locating places in the environment, and unlocking new abilities, and so on. I think I'm ready to "storm the castle" and rescue my uncle at this point and I'm worried about what will happen in the story. I've NOT been living up to the samurai code and I imagine this will be a source of tension? (of course, this is all assuming I'm even succesfull). The game is still beautiful to look at and I've realized that it's not afraid to - for visual effect - making the environments impossible to look at. Depending on where you are and where the sun is in the sky (and what direction you're headed) you might not be able to see anything at all! (all white-out because you're riding into the sun, for example). It's an interesting aesthetic choice and, weirdly, I think it adds a lot to the experience. What I'm still having a hard time with is how suddenly the weather and time of day seem to update/change. It feels like it goes from noon to dusk in seconds...or when I enter a town. It's strange - and note that I'm not thinking of those moments where you start a mission or something like that (some missions have pre-set times of day, for example they take place at night). Oh, I've also started playing "Legends" mode - which was confusing at first because of how it's integrated into the main game. I thought it referred to "special super hard missions" of which there are several because there are several characters in the main game (NPCs) that are "Legends" storytellers, or something like that. Legends mode is basically the grindy progression mode that includes "zombies" and some other stuff. It's fun - but I suspect I'll get tired pretty fast unless I start playing with friends (it's also the only way to play co-op, up to 4 people AFAIK). We'll see how it goes!jpThu, 10 Jun 2021 00:07:32 UTC City Super Sports Challenge (DS) - 09 Jun 2021 - by jp's been a while since I've bounced so hard off a game. Apparently this is the first River City game with 3D graphics (instead of 2D sprites) and I think it also has a new control scheme. I would have called this game a "brawler" and I was expecting to move around punching and kicking oppoents to get to the next location and, while there's lots of punching and kicking...well, it's a slightly different experience. I must have done 10 tutorial levels or so - quite boring to be honest, they could have rolled all of that into two or three...and then I was told to win the next event (level). It's 4 character free-for-all where you get points for punching a treasure chest, but you can also lose/gain points by hitting someone who just punched a treasure chest. The brawl takes place in a small environment and...I just could not do anything. I'd kick and punch but still end up with 3 pts compared to the winner with 17 or 18. I tried different things just to see if I was off-base with my strategy to no effect. I think I'm obviously doing something wrong in the "I don't get it" sense - but still, I have no real interest in spending more time practicing, figuring it out, and making progress because...well, I've realized it's not a game I want to play. I was expecting a "move along in the environment" type brawler - but it looks like it's much more focused on sporting events and stuff like that. So, back on the shelf it goes!jpWed, 09 Jun 2021 23:47:16 UTC