Break Week: What are you playing?

By Bay Posted Friday Jun 9, 2023

Filed under: Epilogue 61 comments

I’m getting a EKG and heart monitor put on for my usual writing day this week. Nothing too serious, but it’s out of the way and I won’t be home till late.

I’m currently binge-playing Tears of the Kingdom, maybe even have some words about it to write eventually here? There’s a particular series of quests driving me nuts, that feels article worthy. Bad quests feel way, way worse when the rest of the game is a masterpiece.


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61 thoughts on “Break Week: What are you playing?

  1. Nonesuch says:

    Currently bouncing back and forth between Stellaris playthroughs (since the most recent update/DLC had some interesting changes) and playing Avernum 2 [the original, not the steam remaster] (because the missing quest log in the first game was driving me nuts).

    1. Aaron B Wayman says:

      I too have been playing Stellaris, but without any DLC. I might actually figure out how to play the game after another 2000 or so hours. ( at least it feels that way, at least I am having fun!)

    2. Sleeping Dragon says:

      I keep putting Stellaris off for later because it’s a time investment for me whenever I launch it so I haven’t touched the new leaders stuff yet, it does look very interesting for the purposes of roleplaying or otherwise “weird” playthroughs.

      How is Avernum 2 working for you? I’m currently stuck on Avernum 4, launching it up every couple of weeks for a single session where I barely remember what I was doing, it’s just a pain to get it working properly on modern machines and it seems the “great trials trilogy” is not popular enough to warrant a remake. I haven’t played the Queen’s Wish games or the remake of the first Geneforge because I want to Av4-6 first.

    3. MaxEd says:

      Heeey, another Spiderweb Software fan, or at least a person with interest in their games? Nice! I started way back with Avernum 4, but I never played the original trilogy (or Exile), only remakes of the first three games. UI improvements are too noticeable (though I did manage to finish all Geneforge games in their original state – but inventory in the first ones is so awful it was more of a pain than some areas…)

  2. Gargamel Le Noir says:

    After a good while playing wonderful Stellaris I got right into Diablo 4, and damned that is a good game! Very fun gameplay distilling most of what was best in 2 and 3, amazing atmosphere and story (which is a relief after 3 and immortal). The monetization
    of additional cosmetics is insane, but frankly there are plenty of looks in the base game so it’s not really a concern. I wish I hadn’t been booted from my single player experience because of server issues though.

    Your Zelda gripes article sounds like appropriate content for this site.

  3. Lino says:

    Glad it’s nothing serious!

    I haven’t been playing much – been working on pivoting my career yet again (although this time it’s very adjacent to my previous pivot, so it should be easier).

    I’ve been playing on my phone and tablet. The more notable games being:

    Marvel Snap which I dropped on account of their horrible, terrible, insurmountably scammy business model. Which is a shame, because it’s a game design masterpiece
    Legends of Runeterra – came back to it after a long hiatus. Rotation has really reinvigorated it!
    Township – for when I’m listening to 5 Minute Gaming News by Jesse Cox. I don’t engage with any of the scummy F2P bullshit, so I still find it fun

    As for “proper” games, very time I sit down to play I feel kinda guilty, because I could be working on something for my clients instead (or on my own site), so I just don’t bother :D.

    Although, I still play games with my 6 y/o sister (both video games and otherwise)! We play Minecraft, Psychonauts*, we’re on our second playthrough of Plants vs Zombies, and we sometimes play the original Half-Life.

    See, she loves watching horror game Let’s Plays and she really wanted to play that Huggy Wuggy game (which is an off-shoot of FNAF, I think?). However, watching a horror game and playing one are two VERY different things! Thankfully, just walking in the very first area of the game was enough to persuade her that she needs to be older before she can play it. That’s why I decided to let her play Half-Life (which has turned into me playing Half-Life while she gives me advice and tries to unravel the plot – you should have seen the diagram she drew when we saw G-Man casually walking among the carnage :D).

    We also started playing Thief: Deadly Shadows, since that’s another game that gets spooky further on. And the stealth is definitely something she likes a lot (although she’s still in the tutorial level).

    Which reminds me: do you guys know of any good, spooky PC game that might appeal to a 6 year-old? It shouldn’t be too scary, since I really really love her and I don’t want to traumatise her :D But at the same time, it shouldn’t be too childish, otherwise it wouldn’t be scary…

    Oh, and we also had a brief stint playing Neighbours from Hell, but we haven’t played that in a while. I was extremely surprised that the Let’s Players she watches were playing that game! To the point where when she told me she wanted to play it, I thought they’d released a third game or something!

    *We’ve already beaten the sequel – I decided to start her off on that, because I wasn’t sure how she would take to the original’s graphics and the fact that it’s somewhat janky in places

    1. Syal says:

      Original X-Com’s probably pretty complicated for a 6-year-old, but it seems like it might fit right there on the spook scale.

      Jimmy and the Pulsating Mass is probably both too scary AND too childish. (I love that game.)

      1. MrGuy says:

        I think the remake is more approachable and still pretty retro at this point.

        1. Syal says:

          Though the remake loses the whole “shots from the darkness” part; now you have to see and activate each enemy squad before they’ll start to shoot you or mindbreak you.

    2. Chad Miller says:

      Marvel Snap is an extremely frustrating game for me because it’s full of 10/10 design decision but the ladder/ranking system and card acquisition are both (without hyperbole) among the worst of any game I’ve ever played.

      1. Lino says:

        Tell me about it! The location system is basically a way to ethically incorporate slot-machine mechanics in order to increase replay value and make sure that no two games are exactly the same, the cube system makes games more exciting and thanks to the small decks, this is the first card game where I’ve spent a meaningful amount of time deck building!

        But once you get into Series 3, well… Let’s just say, I’m glad I don’t play the game anymore…

    3. MrGuy says:

      If you’re going retro anyways, maybe some of the old Lucasarts catalog? I will never not be partial to the Monkey Island games, but Grim Fandango might be more applicable here…

    4. pseudonym says:

      Not horror, but I recommend extreme tux racer. You race a pinguin downhill and have to catch fish. My nephews and nieces loved it when they were that age. It is very playable as the controls are easy.

    5. PPX14 says:

      Deadly Shadows is so great in atmosphere. Better even than its predecessors potentially. And obviously it isn’t allowed to go mentioned without someone saying “Shalebridge Cradle” at least once in the comments :D

  4. unit3000-21 says:

    Boltgun – which is good, but not amazing and kinda repetitive so I play like a level or two a day.
    Horizon Zero Dawn – the jury’s still out, some of the Ubistyle collectathon vibes are grating, but I like the combat, so we’ll see…

  5. Syal says:

    All over the place. I guess Stranger of Paradise is the main one, it’s stayed fun despite the bosses killing me several times in a row. Only playing it in bursts, partly because that’s enough of that type of gameplay, partly because the first time I played it longer and it crashed. On PS4. Only game to have done that to me.

    13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim is a strategy tower defense/visual novel hybrid with its story broken up into jigsaw piece-like sections that are locked behind other sections such that it’s very hard to figure out what’s actually going on (it’s also a time travel story, so even if it was linear it wouldn’t be linear). I’m mostly ignoring the game side of it and trying to finish the character storylines, though I’m starting to hit the point where they’re locked behind gameplay. Which is fun, but not the “what the hell is going on” fun of the plot.

    FF5 Career Day is a randomizer for Final Fantasy 5, that gives you the airship to start, lets you jump between world states and swaps bosses and job locations around. Been a blast so far; it’s the most of FF5 I’ve seen in a long time.

    Various roguelikes; Slay the Spire, Binding of Isaac Rebirth, 20XX. Good for when I’m watching Youtube or something.

  6. Fizban says:

    I marathon’d The Last Spell for about two weeks before forcefully giving myself a rest: a roguelike tactical rpg with base-building elements. Got much better after full release, now there’s 5 maps to work your way through and everything just feels better, good example of early access done right I’d say. But I finally failed a mission (against a bullshit boss you’d have to know the mechanics of to beat first try, imo, the “roguelike” classic) and with runs reaching more than 20 hours and my having settled on a certain few effective builds, I knew I’d just be playing the “same” run over again and it was time for a break (even if I’d finally got some nifty meta-progression unlocks).

    I tried to play Halo 1, but even though the page says it runs on Steam Deck now, it’s virtually unplayable. Even if you turn off the lol anti-cheat (because single-player, duh) it still lurches constantly in new graphics mode. But apparently these are problems it’s had since the beginning, even on Windows? Been too long to refund it, but I wanted to play the first game, not jump to later right off the bat.

    So instead I stayed up way too late playing Boneraiser Minions, which is. . . not what they call an “autobattler,” what’s the term for Vampire Survivor-like? Anyway, it’s that but instead of autofiring Castlevania weapons, you’re a necromancer. Instead of “focusing” on a bunch of secrets and combos to discover, it focuses on your meta-progressions (even deliberately calling them meta-currencies) with several different trees of things to unlock, including choosing what extra waves of enemies you want. One of these is customizing the battlefield, buying things that upgrade caps or give you benefits. Because those buildings are built on a per-level basis, there are a bunch of levels, and there are also per-character upgrades, there’s still plenty of stuff to work on even after a single night’s binge has covered all the basics.

    1. RCN says:

      I’ve played a lot of The Last Spell but in the early access. Should check it out now that it released. I hope they implemented a few more weapon/classes (since the weapon is the class). Some sort of polearm would be cool (NOT spears, polearm). My favorite builds were machine-gunning wands to tear down a single entity and max-jumps lightning to clear out crowds, but I made myself try to find a good use for each weapon/class.

      One thing I didn’t like, for a roguelike, is that if you go a certain build with your characters in a run you can’t really change late in the run to a new weapon. Which hurts the game because sometimes you just stop getting good drops of a certain weapon and the character falls too much, so the option to change to a powerful new weapon drop more seamlessly would be appreciated. They are too “set” on a path to really change to a weapon that doesn’t synergize with the rest of the equipment and the stat increases you picked, even the level up skills, even if those are very loose in use you can’t really turn a character into a tank without the right skills.

      Boneraiser Minions looks like fun, I will take a look.

      1. Fizban says:

        No proper polearms, though I might argue that the greataxe and sledgehammer feel pretty polearm-ish to me: the former has a 5-wide horizontal swing, and the latter has a more dnd “reach” (hitting individuals a fairly set distance away from you, unless you want to stun yourself), on their basic attacks. Lightning build is definitely still stop-tier, the overhauls to the perk system and trinkets that you can use for essentially infinite mana (reduce overall damage and spend ap and move each turn, dunno if it existed before) mean you can actually just stand them up on a tower and rain lightning every turn if you want. I don’t think they’ve added any new weapons (depending on when during the early portion each of us was playing), but the off-hand weapons still allow for stumbling into some weird combos and as you said, there’s a way to make any weapon work with the right character.

        The new perk system both helps and exacerbates the roguelike problem: each character has a different set of available perks. You don’t have to follow a “tree,” just use X points on the tiers you have available to unlock the next tier, but within each main category line (every character has melee, ranged, magic, and three lines of generic) there are two options for every slot (more on the generics), and which they have in that slot is random. So you can get a character who has exactly everything they need for a certain build, or end up having to puzzle out what if anything this useless lump is good for (and then they’ll go and roll a rare bonus and become godly, unless they don’t). For example, thunderstormer needs the diagonal chaining perk (plus as much range bonus as you can get), and you might end up not having that on the character you otherwise would have designated as “magic,” or even on anyone at all in your starting team. There’s also an early meta-upgrade that gives everyone two randomly chosen lines out of an extra 4, and those lines are always the same, so there is some consistency- I’ve had a number of characters who ended up leaning on their poison or isolation lines ’cause everything else was a mess, and one of these is a dedicated “construction” line that’s about working with and buffing up the buildable defenses.

        These random perk sets would exacerbate the problem with not getting the weapons you need, but that’s one of the other things they’ve massively overhauled: late game it is much, *much* easier to get the weapons you want, even by midgame really. I’ve been playing on normal (with about 50 hours played in early access), and every map I’ve ended with money coming out of my ears. This money can then be dumped into rerolling items in the shop, which you always start with, and which now *automatically* upgrades over time for free. So as long as you’re bringing in cash, you can go fishing, and if you finish your nights with little panic you’ll get plenty of cash. The second fix is that now your item production buildings upgrade as a set, and you can build multiple copies of a certain building if you wish- add this to the ability to spend workers to generate extra items, and an upgrade on the meta-progression that gives you rerolls, and the corpse pile system which gives you more money and/or item rolls, and you can have a ton of chances looking for what you need even before hitting the shop. Basically the whole base-building game was improved- the best results still happen when you can build up your workers and production as fast as possible, but the order and emphasis on what you do aside from that is much more flexible. The temple and mana well even give permanent health/mana upgrades so that they’re not worthless on nights you take no damage.

        So while your characters definitely get built for certain jobs, it’s a lot easier to get them the upgrades they need. And if you really screwed them up you can take that pile of money you’d spend rolling for weapons, and use it to hire someone else instead. They really did an amazing job improving the playability all around- I haven’t even mentioned how the terrain on the new maps (plus the effectively random corpse piles) keep the gameplay feeling fresh while still maintaining a curated map experience. Waiting until full release before opening it up again was definitely the right move.

        1. Fizban says:

          Oh, and I forgot to mention- one of those “jobs” can be switch-hitter. There was previously a cap of +100% on general damage upgrades, but that cap is now 500% (so functionally uncapped), and there’s a perk that gives you 1.25x damage whenever you attack with a different damage type than your last one. So my snipers are often using both a magic tome and a longbow, crossbow, or rifle. You don’t have to super-specialize and get the perfect stat rolls to make functional characters, so long as you can match some sort of weapon to some combination of their perks and/or rare level-up bonuses.

          1. RCN says:

            Everything you said was familiar. The early build I was playing was 0.99 I think, so almost launched. Was wondering if they added any significant content after launch.

            1. Fizban says:

              Hmm. Dunno how many maps they had before launch. I remember seeing some in the news feed, Glenwald and Elderlicht at least. There’s 5 now, plus the tutorial. I would presume they saved the last for full release since that’s pretty common.

  7. Mersadeon says:

    Yeah, playing way too much Tears of the Kingdom. Other than that, I am simultaneously enjoying the glut of decent Warhammer 40k games and thinking way too much about how… deeply unwell… that franchise is nowerdays. Not exactly helped by that excellent article about WH40k having lost its satire along the way, which I fully agree with.

    Got to see the new Spiderman: Across the Spiderverse yesterday. That felt really, really good. Didn’t think I’d enjoy a superhero movie that much, that hasn’t happened in a while. It did all kinds of things to my emotions. Surprisingly, a lot of gender things, which I thought I had kinda settled on with 31 years.

    1. Toaster says:

      Out of curiosity, which article is this?

      1. Mersadeon says:

        “Satire Without Purpose Will Wander In Dark Places”

  8. Dev Null says:

    I’ve been playing Dredge – a nice bit of spooky storytelling in a surprisingly compelling fishing game – Lost Words – also a lovely bit of story, though barely a game at this point – and Song in the Smoke – a really good VR survival game with no story whatsoever.

    1. Lino says:

      Oh yeah, Dredge was amazing! I had so much fun with it! The ending twisting was really cool, too!

  9. RCN says:

    The Legend of Zelda series is kinda like Metal Gear Solid to me. In that I think they are great games that push boundaries with every iteration done by some of the most talented people in the industry… and that they’re really not for me. Have fun, though. It seems this one is a real gem.

    I’ve been playing only two games lately because of my work schedule and my daughter. The daughter means I can’t play online games (though I’ve not really played any in a while). The work schedule means I can’t really dedicate several hours at a time on something.

    The work schedule is hard because the commute takes 4-5 hours. And recently my cellphone signal provider has done one on me and that’s 4-5 hours without internet and I often forget to download podcasts. So I needed a mobile game. A mobile game that doesn’t need to connect to the internet every 2 minutes to show me an ad that hides the close button, that is.

    So I got the mobile version of Crying Suns. It is a great roguelite similar to Faster Than Light but with strategic battles instead of tactical ones and a real storyline. I had already finished it on the PC but they got a new update recently that added a lot of content so I might as well play it again on the bus trying the achievements for finishing each chapter with a different ship on hard. Which a for a few ships in a few chapters is particularly murderous.

    The game has a gorgeous sprite art that I can’t describe, it is some faux-3D. And the story is incredible, really. Hundreds of years in the future humanity has started anew on the other side of the galaxy as an empire and have become completely reliant extremely advanced AI robots called OMNIs, who were themselves designed by robots so humanity hasn’t the faintest clue of how advanced they are or how powerful, but they come built-in with some crippling limitations, the two major ones being they can’t communicate with each other, ever, and that they can’t refuse human needs.

    Except it’s been 20 years since the OMNIs suddenly stopped working altogether. Which is bad when you have a multi-solar-system empire that can only communicate with each other with FTL… which only the OMNIs knew how to build and how to operate.

    And you’re Admiral Idaho. Or at least his clone or something. And you’ve been awakened by the last functioning OMNI to try and figure out what happened as the empire is crumbling and it seems like this is humanity’s last generation as it can’t even farm anymore (or maintain the terraforming infrastructure that makes human life in most planets possible at all).

    The story is great in that everyone’s assumptions about the OMNIs and why they shut down are actually kinda right. Also, whenever you travel to a new system you get to a refueling station that closely orbits its star, which is GORGEOUS. And also, significant to the story.

    The other game I’ve been playing is Bloodbowl 2, the turn-based American Football set in the Warhammer universe (the fantasy one not the space one, though I feel there’s a missed opportunity there).

    It is good because I can just do a single match with one of my teams and be good feeling I’ve accomplished something. It is not story-heavy, it is not pretty and it is not that deep. But it is fun and funny, whenever the dice is on your side or not. The main appeal of the game is playing american football with the fantasy races of Warhammer and each team play to the strengths and weaknesses of the races. The imperial humans can do most anything, the skaven are extremely fast and even more so fragile, the orcs like to beat people, the dwarves like to keep the ball and dare anyone to try and take it, the elves are bullshit, the undead are tough and the halflings are a joke.

    There are like 30 teams in the game and most are very distinct from each other. My favorite are the vampires, because the vampire players are both agile AND strong AND can hypnotize people which is like each vampire can do a mini blitz, which is often limited to only one per turn. The problem is that they get peckish when their blood start pumping so you better have at least one Thrall nearby, their other players, when they finish their turn or you lose the entire turn as they go snack on someone in the audience.

    Another team I’m having fun with are the Skaven and the Goblins. Skaven are amazing that they can do 1 touchdown per turn with their gutter-runners if played perfectly. Which is impossible because the dice don’t always agree with you. The Goblins are just fun. They bring secret weapons to the match that are about as likely to hurt them as they are to hurt the other team. And in a pitch you can have a troll take the goblin with the ball and throw him on the other side of a the field for a slight chance of touchdown if the goblin survives the landing. And the troll isn’t too hungry.

    Also Ogres have been fun. They are the most lopsided team on the game, with half a roster of ogres, who are strong but dumb and easily outmaneuvered, and gnoblars, who are like even smaller goblins that die to a sneeze and can’t lift a feather but… are extremely cheap (1/7th of an ogre) And hard to pin down.

    1. Abnaxis says:

      Blood bowl has a mobile version?

      Also, my ‘murica is showing, but it’s odd seeing someone talk about a long commute like that that you can actually do something besides watch the road while driving while you take it. Condolences nonetheless, I’ve done long commutes enough in my day to know they are particularly exhausting.

      1. RCN says:

        Bloodbowl is on the PC.

        The commute is by bus.

        And it is exhausting, but now I just got a car so I can probably cut those 4-5 hours to something more along the lines of 1-2 hours. Carpooling with my siblings-in-law.

        1. Abnaxis says:

          That’s pretty sweet!

          I’m pretty sure I’ve spent maybe 10% of my working life within an hour drive of my job. Only once in the other 90%, was I able to arrange a carpool.

          It makes the commute SO MUCH BETTER, even beyond having a faster trip or splitting the gas money. Maybe it’s just me, but having another person you need to be ready and out the door to stop them from being late induced a comforting amount of structure to my morning.

    2. Philadelphus says:

      I played through Crying Suns soon after it released, definitely agree about the art style being cool and unlike anything else I know of. I never felt a major desire to replay it, but if they’ve added some stuff maybe I’ll give it another go here and try getting some more of the achievements.

      1. RCN says:

        The new factions are the PRAG MAH (capitalized), kinda of an imperial police that still enforces the law after the fall who are very annoying to fight, and the Phalanx, mercenaries charging premium to protect systems who are damn near invincible. Almost every time I’ve chosen to fight them was a run-ender, especially since now there’s a mission that has you fight 3 of them in a row that I have yet to fulfill.

        The former will only have one per sector, usually protecting one of the Neo-N Hypercubes in the sector, sometimes the OMNIforge. Once, though, I had them protecting an EXTRA Omniforge in a sector, which allowed me to upgrade a squadron twice in a sector. Still, fighting them is annoying and a lengthy ordeal because you are usually forced to destroy 3 buildings they have on the map before they finish charging a few times, and they have a LOT of hitpoints AND the PRAG MAH ship is usually equipped with something that helps defend them, like a repair or stealth beam.

        The Phalanx also show every sector but the system they are in have them in EVERY planet and the Hypercube. Which, effectively, means they are a roadblock from one of the paths you can take unless you feel particularly powerful. If you lose one of your hulls on the one protecting the hypercube you are not and will likely die trying to take on the rest. The main thing about them is that their ships are extremely tanky when grouped and extremely damaging when flanking, which makes area damage-over-time and crowd control weapons the most effective against them.

  10. Abnaxis says:

    I currently have a one-month old who doesn’t sleep well on her own, which means I’ve been gravitating to stuff I can play one-handed. In particular, Just Shapes and Beats is a gem I re-installed for myself, and Darkest Dungeon 2 is finally out of Epic Games purgatory (seriously, fuck Epic Games). I’ve also been playing Total War: Warhammer 3 with a mod that allows that AI to control my army all the time.

    In the odd times I’ve been able to play with both hands and no distractions, I will play a bit of Tears of the Kingdom and another gem called Against the Storm. The latter one is the only Early Access game I’ve ever played that didn’t make me want to rage against all Early Access shenanigans of this day and age. It’s in my top ten all-time favorite games and the devs are still adding to it. I’ve actually taken it all the way up to the highest difficulty, yet I’m still doing fresh runs with it–I NEVER do that.

  11. Lightningpete says:

    Mostly Team Fortress 2, though I did try to get into Counter Strike again. CS2 revitalized my interest in the game considering that it’s Valve’s latest game in a while, though I question the wisdom of creating a sequel to a game that the community would rather stay unchanged. It kind of feels like Overwatch 2, that it could’ve just been an update.

  12. Am I the only person on the planet who is disappointed by Diablo 4?

    Sure, it’s pretty. And it’s tone/setting is far better than Diablo 3. But they incorporated the auto-leveling nonsense of Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and the constant item drop avalanche of Borderlands!

    Yes, it has the feedback loop that keeps you playing, but the casinofication of it all makes it feels so… pointless. There’s no sense of achievement. You’re just clicking on things to be clicking on things, in a never-ending loop.

    1. Sleeping Dragon says:

      All this talk about Diablo IV made me… buy Diablo II:Resurrected about two months ago or so, in my defense it was on the cheap I think because of some D4 announcement. I won’t lie, when I launched and the rogue camp loaded in I totally had that monent of “eh, they didn’t upgrade it that much”, then I found the button to switch to the old graphics and… yeah… the memory upscaling is a hell of a thing.

      The main reason why I don’t intend to get D4 are the liveservice elements. I just know there are going to be like seasonal events or “grind this week for this particular item”. Not only is this a type of game I’d rather play at my leisure but I have one of those going already and it’s plenty enough. Unless my co-op friend gets it and really wants to play it together, which is unlikely as it’s not really his thing.

  13. LizTheWhiz says:

    After the new update kinda fucked over Victoria 3, I’ve been playing a lot of Marvel’s Midnight Suns, which for me is very much a feeling of “Firaxis has still got it” even if the monetization is a bit much.

    Besides that, I’ve been running my game of Pathfinder, with our heroes successfully establishing the Principality of Verlende and getting one of their companions to confess his feelings to his lady love, which was fun.

    I’ve also been getting an urge to replay Metal Gear Solid 3 or continuing my playthrough of Peace Walker, because trying to replay 5 made me miss an incredible amount.

  14. Dreadjaws says:

    Playing through Zelda TOTK too, though very intermitently. I feel the game is a bit too overwhelming with its freedom, and I’ve heard of a lot of people outright completely missing chunks of content because you can just access a few areas of the game before a mission brings you there, which means those quests don’t materialize. So I’m taking my time with the game, being cautious with my exploring.

    I just finished a playthrough of Lost in Random. What a game, I loved it. The Tim-Burton-esqe art style is what drew me in, but the writing and gameplay kept me engaged just as much. The story is dark, funny and twisted, and so is the dialogue. Combat is action and card-based, so it doesn’t get stale. I was entertained the whole way through and it certainly made an impression on me.

    Currently playing through Ghostwire: Tokyo. Really enjoying it too, both from the gameplay aspect and the interesting lore based on Japanese mythology. But man, I just took a good look at the parts of map that remained uncovered and Jesus, that’s a bit overwhelming too. I really wish games stopped focusing in making their maps so damn big these days.

  15. Philadelphus says:

    I’ve been playing a lot of Minecraft lately, particularly the Plexiglass Mountain modpack, on a server I set up to play with a friend. A lot of times I end up dabbling in a bunch of different mods without ever really getting to the “endgame” stage in any (or at most one), but this time I’m feeling weirdly motivated to really go hard and try to power my way through several.

    I’ve been feeling recently like playing older games that I maybe haven’t touched in a while. I’ve been doing some Defense Grid 2 and even the original Defense Grid: The Awakening (which is probably in the first five games I owned on Steam, back from when it was part of the ARG for Portal 2). There’s also Creeper World 3: Arc Eternal, with the uniting thread of all three being that they’re tower defense games I’ve already “beaten”, but which have lots of alternate maps/challenge modes which are great for when I want a light challenge for 15-30 minutes.

    Otherwise, I’ve been preparing my team for the Elite Four in my Pokémon: Infinite Fusion run. I had a really touching moment last week where someone was so inspired by my custom sprite for Magikarp/Yanma that they made their own Gyarados/Yanma sprite (as a first-time spriter, no less), tried to copy my style, and even looked me up in the credits to tag me in their post about it in the custom sprites channel.

  16. CliffracerX says:

    I’ll hop in on the ToTK sentiment, I’ve been playing it an hour or three every day for the past month or so now & can’t get over how much it feels like…this is what BoTW always intended itself to be, but they just didn’t quite have the tech yet. So much of the immersivesim-esque stuff BoTW did that felt groundbreaking is here as well, just amped up to 11, alongside the unrestrained freedom to explore wherever the heck you want. Now that I’ve got most of the devices unlocked I’ve finally felt willing to start tinkering with designing vehicles, and it’s just as addictive as those early hours of Garry’s Mod when you’re gluing wheels to a plastic sheet to see if it’ll go forward – and just like in GMod when you wonder if something will work, the answer has usually been “yes.” Hoverbikes, launchsprings repurposed as wheel suspension, airships made from hover stones, the whole nine, and community creations have shown you can do some frankly unbelievable things, like using planks on a Big Wheel to make a giant, functional propeller.

    When I’m not exploring Hyrule on some horrifying contraption, I’ve been addicted to Star Trek Online lately. It’s…far from one of the greats, but as a diehard Trek fan the fact it lets me fly around in various ships – canon and otherwise – that hit me right in my design weak points (New Orleans-class, Miranda-class across the centuries, the Odyssey-class post-rework & its little snub escort the Aquarius-class) whilst pew-pewing at baddies and playing through its storylines, especially the newer ones where the writing has significantly improved, it’s…good. Not great, certainly not something I should keep putting money into, but they keep coming out with new designs that look both fun mechanically & extremely visually appealing, and I am weak. I’m mighty tempted to grab the Legendary TOS-era Miranda bundled with goodies for TOS-era characters for the latest Temporal Recruit event, actually be able to play through it with a character that suits me & a ship that’ll be loads of fun in early-game on account of hangar pets being a lot more viable without the swarms of enemies & constant onslaught of damage lategame becomes.

    Beyond that, I’ve occasionally been playing the old-but-scuffed-gold Space Station 13 on the Daedalus Dock server. After trying to play on self-described “HRP servers” and getting progressively more stressed by the pain of overzealous moderation on everything but the things that actually need moderated, it’s refreshing to just…drop into a server and play the damn game without worrying that there’s ten ghosts breathing down my neck waiting to ban me for the slightest fuck-up in roleplay or mechanics. Even still, the urge to start a fork of my own is real, because I’m probably more than a little bit masochistic when it comes to programming projects & SS13 provides ample opportunities to become delicious, delicious mechanical brainrot…

    1. Daimbert says:

      I played STO for a bit when I was trying out MMOs, and I like the ship combat system, and the ground combat is nothing special but works well enough. I would have liked more dialogue options in at least the early missions, though, and never figured out how equipment really works. I ended my first run with a TOS character when I hit a mission against Klingons with a Constitution class starship that I simply could not win, and ended up putting the game off so long that I didn’t want to pick that up again, and recently started a Romulan story that I’ve never gotten back to. Still, it’s a decent MMO and works interestingly differently from others to give someone something new.

      1. CliffracerX says:

        Ship combat is by far its strongest suit, ground combat is…WoW with energy guns, and far less appealing. It’s always had a lack of player choice for dialogue, even in modern stuff – understandable, given the age of the game & the challenges a true branching storyline with give at this point, but still unfortunate.

        And yeah- its equipment system is…unintuitive, especially with the way drops are typically structured over the course of its story campaigns & the way everything is balanced. The difference between struggling through the story in level-appropriate ships with scavenged gear & feeling like an unstoppable force of nature with the modern level-scaling T6s and some build knowhow is…significant. I can’t tell if they’ve just gone back and revamped a lot of the missions to have better difficulty, or if I’ve just learned enough and have some decent account-wide T6’s that’ll just wreck shop in anything I put them up against.

  17. Laserhawk says:

    A heart monitor? Did you get myocarditis recently?

  18. beleester says:

    Cultist Simulator was my game of choice on vacation (since it’s playable on a phone). It’s pretty good, the writing is very creepy, but the difficulty curve is uneven and the pace is a bit slow. It’s a game about constantly spinning plates – you need to make money to stay alive, fight off timed events like sickness and despair, and still somehow have enough money and free time to buy books, go on expeditions, and recruit cultists. It’ll take a few playthroughs to figure things out, and the game gives you very few hints on how to make progress, but eventually you’ll find your feet and start descending into madness properly.

    The trouble is, once you’ve overcome the initial hump and found a way to make a steady income stream, there’s still a massive amount of the game left to go – to access the things you need for the final stage of the game, you need a lot of high-level lore of specific types, you only get lore by studying books, and all the sources of books are random, so my endgame was just waiting constantly for Study actions to finish. It’s also extremely hard to find Rites, which you need to actually start doing magic, and even then you may not have the materials you need to do a rite for a long time. So it’s a real slog even once you got the hang of it – for every cool moment where you summon a monster to kill a pesky investigator, there’s a dozen moments where you’re just slowly grinding forwards on various tasks and hoping you didn’t overlook a timer.

  19. Sleeping Dragon says:

    I know I said it before but more of these please. I always like hearing about what people are playing both to learn about interesting titles and to hear others’ opinions on the games I know. Also, I love posting walls of text.

    I’m back on the Destiny 2 wagon. Despite catching the bug again I will readily admit that Bungie’s handling of the game currently has… issues. Lightfall was meant to be the last expansion in “The Light and Darkness Saga” but they’ve decided to split it into two (so 8 seasons instead of 4 assuming they keep the current structure) ostensibly because “the story was just too big to do it justice in one expansion”. Well, come Lightfall and the entire season story is watered down and mostly pointless. (Lightfall spoilers under the tags) The Witness learns about The Veil (whatever it actually is), after a series of missions where we stop his agents at every turn they still gets The Veil by writer fiat, then does… something with it, despite the game literally using phrases like “if they get The Veil the entire system is lost” nothing much comes of it, which is not that surprising seeing how we have no idea what The Veil is, what it does, why does The Witness need it or even what is their ultimate goal. Lots of proper nouns being thrown around, very little actual information. So after that bombshell comes The Season of the Deep during which they dripfeed us one story quest a week and they’re all vagueness and word salad, some nice character moments though which I think is what a lot of Destiny players enjoy at this point seeing how some of these NPCs have been around for something like a decade.

    Currently I’m also playing Seven:The Days Long Gone which so far succeeds at being a cool game with a pretty interesting setup even if it somewhat fails as a game where you play a “master thief”. Combat is just way too easy and, again so far, very few situations so much as encourage, much less require, stealth or actually stealing stuff. Having said that I’ve seen a couple locations that appear more tailored to going through them discreetly and I suspect I just haven’t yet reached the quests that will send me there, even if bruteforcing my way through is probably going to remain an option.

    I’ve also played a bunch of indie or AA games in the meantime. Spiritfarer was much more gentle than I expected for a game that the internet told me was going to turn me into a weeping wreck but it felt almost cozy. It also pulled at the heartstrings and it is very pretty even if it doesn’t exactly plunge the philosophical depths it implies. Greedfall was pretty fun but I have a very soft spot for Spiders (the studio), who always seem very earnest in their ambitions even if their reach exceeds their grasp. Heaven’s Vault has a lot of worldbuilding deficiencies but the actual language deciphering gamelong puzzle is amazing. Ctrl Alt Ego has an utter mess of an ending with even the dev(s) basically shrugging and replying to fan theories with “something like that” but seeing what is essentially a two person project trying to create effectively Prey type “multiple valid playstyles” game was great. Overall I have rather enjoyed all of these (and more) in that they are either interesting, or they’re trying something new, or you can sort of tell there is an honest to god effort and thought behind them even if they falter. Something that I mostly don’t get from AAA nowadays (looking at you AC:Syndicate)…

    1. CSilvestri says:

      I played Greedfall a while back myself! I thought it was overall pretty good, and very strong for the size of the studio that made it. They did much better with the overall plot than I expected given their premise, which was probably the biggest surprise for me.
      What class did you play? I did a mage, and I got the impression that mage is the ‘ignore half the combat system’ option with how the blocking mechanics don’t matter and magic cuts right through them. Which I didn’t really have a problem with, but I’d probably try another option if I played again for the DLC.
      Also, the dialogue choices for romances are really too specific. Sure, maybe the broad leeway you get in other games doesn’t quite make sense, but here you can’t make a single dialogue error. I’m glad I looked it up, especially since being a lesbian I’ve only got one option (though I tried flirting with Aphra anyway to see what would happen). I did think there was something interesting in the choice to make the LIs culturally from the colonizing continental nations straight and the LIs from elsewhere not, though.
      And there’s apparently a second one coming next year! I’m interested, though their release timing for a mid-budget Bioware-esque game is probably worse, being “right around when DA4 might be coming out” instead of “in the middle of a years-long period where Bioware didn’t do anything but Anthem, which doesn’t count”. (Perfect timing for the first one, I’d say.)

      1. Sleeping Dragon says:

        I’ve played a mage as well, it’s typically my first choice in games, and yes, it makes combat so much less of a hassle (I tried just a little bit of melee and it felt really clunky). I… cannot in good conscience recommend the DLC, despite the overall good reviews. It doesn’t add a whole lot and what it does add is… well, let’s say Shamus would have a field day with how nonsensical the “conspiracy” is and how everybody (in game) absolutely insists on claiming it’s the height of genius. To be clear, a lot of people enjoyed it so it might be that I’m just too hung up on wanting things to make sense (but then so are a lot of people who read this blog so make of that what you will). Also I have, on strong suggestion, modded the game to highlight romance options in dialogues (also to increase carrying capacity, remove the brown filter and highlight pickupable items more) but yeah, the romance dialogue is completely a guessing game (gay man here, for the record).

        I believe I’ve talked about this before but I have an extremely soft spot for Spiders. They are so clearly in love with Bioware, and their games are always at least somewhat clunky, and its so clear that they must always scale down from what their ambition is but there are also always nuggets of greatness there. Like, you can see how they intended to have this really robust interconnected faction system in The Technomancer and you can literally point to the exact moment they had to fold it in. Or the tutorial quests in Greedfall have like four solutions each with varying degrees of nuance and then in the main game they very clearly couldn’t make it so with every questline. But on the other hand Mars: War Logs has this thing where if you let a serial killer go because he said he’s sorry and killing is wrong guess what, he kills again! or the game frames the “side with the bad guys or the good guys” thing as a non-choice because you’re going to rescue the bright eyed kid anyway, right? Nope, he gets executed if you go with the good guys which are things that Bioware honestly just doesn’t have the balls to do.

        Also, he, DA4 will totally get delayed, and I’m not sure they see themselves as competing with it but rather aiming for a niche and selling over a longer period of time.

        1. CSilvestri says:

          Those are definitely some mods I’d recommend for PC players, but I played it on PS5 so I can’t really do that. Though, I’m curious now what you thought of the romances (I’m guessing you did Vasco’s for the same reason I did Siora’s?). Personally, Siora would have been my favorite character anyway so it worked out for me pretty well, and they did a good job on both having cute scenes and fitting in to the overall plot.

          And, that’s too bad to hear about the DLC, though it kind of makes me morbidly curious anyway. Honestly, the main thing I was hoping for was another nice scene or two with Siora, so if they can give me that maybe it’s still worth playing. Their previous games sound interesting, though as far as I’ve seen they only let you start being a woman with Greedfall so I never really tried any before that.

          Maybe you’re right about DA4. It’s been a long time already, but DAI got delayed a year after it already had a fixed release date, and that let me be things other than human so I still think it was the right decision. And DA2 really could have been great if they gave it more time; the character writing still is very good, I think, and that’s probably one of the most important parts of a Bioware game.

          1. Sleeping Dragon says:

            Ohh, I’m such a rampant defender of DA2. I mean, it was a mess and I acknowlege that but there was just so much good stuff in it: a more personal story with more relatable stakes, dialogues that let you establish personality rather than just get information or make quest choices, the rivalry system (while a bit of a stretch) allowed you to have a character with opinions and not just exclusively suck up to companions, the timelapses let you (in theory) see the consequences of your actions in game rather than in ending slides and allowed companion stories to evolve rather than all the local and personal crises explode within the same week, if you played a mage you were one in cutscenes (I’m looking at you ME series)… Again, I acknowledge the execution was a mess, the game ultimately overrode the major choices the player made, the area repetition while understandable to a point was just too much, some of the cameos were very pandery (your mileage may vary)… Yeah, sure, all of that is true. The problem is they took all the wrong lessons from DA2’s relative failure and rather than “let’s do that but give it a fair shake” went all like “we need giant areas and a world destroying boss”.

            Don’t ask me about Anders.

            Going back to Greedfall. Yeah, I did Vasco’s for largely the same reason: he was available. And I dunno, it was okay? To be clear I have become somewhat picky with romances in video games over time, I’m just not happy with characters just being lovey-dovey with each other anymore*, but mostly I was curious about how it was handled. They definitely should have cut the bedroom scene shorter if they can’t remove the character armour because that was hilarious and I wish there were a few more followup conversations or comments regarding the romance. I did read that if you progress things far enough before getting Vasco promoted you can get yourself the Naut tattoos as well which sounds like a nice touch but I missed out on that by doing stuff in different order.

            *I did a second playthrough of DA:Inquisition recently as a Qunari lady and I decided to romance Sera mostly for the queerness factor. It was a delight. A really fun romance with a bunch of silliness, and I don’t even really like Sera as a character.

            1. CSilvestri says:

              I feel like the rivalry system was a good idea but in the wrong game. A sort of adversarial “we don’t like each other but stick together anyway” relationship makes more sense when there’s a greater threat like DAO or DAI, not so much when you’re doing more personal things possibly guided by the very ideas that make them hate you. Plus, for some characters you have things unhelpfully cancel out: for instance, a mage who wants freedom for all will probably get friendship points from Fenris for the anti-slavery parts, rivalry points for the pro-mage parts, and end up at neutral, and it leaves you worse off than a blatantly evil mage consistently getting rivalry points would be. I’m curious how the rivalry romances work out; I know they exist, but haven’t really tried them. My main playthrough I romanced Merrill, and it’s basically impossible for me to even be slightly mean to her. Plus, I think her decisions are overall more well-reasoned than most people I see online give her credit for.

              Now I’m curious (regarding another part of DA2): have you ever played Fire Emblem Three Houses? Because I remember one of my overall thoughts with Anders in DA2 was that the whole thing where a love interest does a big shocking main plot twist was interesting, and it’s a shame I couldn’t really get a surprise like that because it’s not the kind of thing developers would generally do with women. So I sure didn’t expect to get an experience like that from a first-party Nintendo game.

              Very true about the armor in Greedfall. It doesn’t look quite as silly with Siora, since what she wears is less armor-ish, but I have to wonder how laughable it is with Kurt. Overall, I’d agree on the amount of content for romance being pretty sparse, but I thought what I saw was pretty good. (I think the scenes are another case where DA2 made the right decision: fade-to-black is often better than the alternatives they try.)

              1. Sleeping Dragon says:

                Sorry for late answer. I don’t have experience with rivalry romances but I think in case of Anders Justice intervenes and breaks it off if you’re aggressively anti-mage, or at least I’ve seen a cutscene to that effect somewhere on the internet. Fenris I was usually able to foster friendship with based on our mutual hatred of slavery and not taking him with me on mage related quests (or on most quests in general because on higher difficulties I need Aveline’s tanking), which does reek of gaming the system and “sucking up to companions” but hey, I said the rivalry system was a neat idea, not that it was perfect. Yeah, Merril is one of those cases where “I can’t bear to make the pixels sad”, I’ve seen a bunch of speculation that she’s going to pop back in DA4 on Solas’ side.

                Being a PC peon I am only ever so slightly familiar with Fire Emblem franchise through cultural osmosis.

  20. MaxEd says:

    I’ve tried the Broken Roads demo. Looks kind of like Encased, which, in turn, is a Fallout 2-like isometric turn-based RPG. The demo is quite short, and I managed to avoid all (1 or 2) combats along the way, so I’m not even sure how good the combat system is (not very good, according to other reports). The dialogues did not impress me much, and the story (from what one could see from that short stretch of the game) doesn’t look very fresh and exciting.

    My expectations for this game are somewhat on the lower side now (on the par with abovementioned Encased), but I’m still going to buy it when it comes out, because how many isometric turn-based RPGs are released each year? Not very much is what I can tell you. And since this is my favourite (and frankly, only remaining) genre, I have to play them all…

  21. CSilvestri says:

    The one recent release I’ve been playing (this year) is Age of Wonders 4; I haven’t had the chance to play a lot of it, but it’s pretty good so far, and the customization options are interesting. They seem to be going back and forth on the whole ‘super-powerful wizard rulers existing’ thing between the odd and even games.
    I’ve also been playing some small, light indie games like Lake, which is a sort of slice-of-life/mail delivery game. It gives me sort of the impression of ‘a Life is Strange game where nothing bad happens’ (including having the possibility of a sapphic relationship in it), which I think will be a nice time.
    Though, the sort of funny observation that I made was that the mail truck in Lake drives better than the cars I have in Cyberpunk 2077. Which maybe sort of fits the cost-cutting measures of dystopian megacorporations, or reflects how much driving is a percentage of your interaction, but still doesn’t speak well of 2077’s driving mechanics.

  22. Daimbert says:

    The one consistent game that I’ve been playing is The Old Republic, working my way through the class stories and using that to write a fanfic-style diary on my own blog, and I’m happy to say that I’ve finished one and almost finished a second after the two previous attempts fizzled out. The other thing I’ve been doing is playing through all of the Dragon Age games. I finished the first game with all the DLC on the PC and finished the “Darkspawn Chronicles”, and keep intending to play through “Awakening” but haven’t found the time to start it yet.

  23. John says:

    Metroid Prime: Remastered is a game that respects my time to the utmost. No matter where I go or what I do, I feel like I’ve made progress. It doesn’t look like it used to, it looks like how I remember it looking in my nostalgic memories. Music is still top-notch. Moving back through the Space Pirate Labs is still super spooky.

  24. Ramsus says:

    I just finished up (for now, until the next update) playing HoloCure. (An unreal quality level free fan-made game in the style of Vampire Survivors featuring the HoloPro Vtubers. Even if you don’t care for/know nothing of vtubers, I really can’t recommend it enough just on the merits of the game.)

    I’ve also been playing Dead in Vinland and just started playing Disgaea 6 (one of my all time favorite video game series).

  25. Lars says:

    I’m playing Satisfactory in Multiplayer, Genshin Impact solo and Legacy of Yu completely offline (board game).
    Also eating my time is Scythe – Steam Version and Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links/ Master Duel.

  26. Alberek says:

    Not doing much videogaming this days (but got to play TotK in my friends house), computer struggles to run anything… I think the last good gaming I got from it was Hades.
    Not to sad about it, lot’s of things I’m looking foward to play some day. And meanwhile I get to prepare for my roleplaying games. I’m currently running The Strange, it’s kind of hard to describe but what I’m running is similar to X-Files, a mystery driven game about supercience and the supernatural bleeding into our world. I want to borrow some inspiration from Control and SCP, but we still haven’t reached any horror parts.

  27. SpaceSjut says:

    I have somewhat picked up X4, again, finally, or whatever signifier needs to get on there.
    Also ME: Legendary Edition on the PS, and I’m counting the hours until I decide to not deal with the controller. Also Forbidden West, which I desperately want to continue but can’t seem to make myself to.

  28. PPX14 says:

    A little bit of The Witness and perhaps I’ll return to Darkest Dungeon this weekend. Summer is here though, and with it the few weeks during which outdoors seems worthwhile in this grey country, so my weekend gaming time is limited. Provided it doesn’t just get too hot to want to do anything. I do miss Spring and Autumn, we don’t seem to get them any more! Perhaps back onto Heaven’s Vault for a bit.

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