This Week I Played… (May 2020)

By Shamus Posted Tuesday May 12, 2020

Filed under: TWIP 281 comments

So I guess we’re doing these things once a month now, even though the series is called “This week I Played”. That makes no damn sense. Who is running this ridiculous website?

On a more positive note, these posts now have a proper category so they aren’t clogging up the category I use for general announcements. So if you wanted to archive binge though these thingsFor some unimaginable reason., you can do that now.

Cities: Skylines

This truck is slowly drifting through the air. I like that the game realizes that something has gone wrong, and is showing that this AI is confused. I wonder if this problem is unique to tourists. If I was the programmer and a sanity check discovered a sim was in an invalid state, I'd just teleport them home. However, a tourist doesn't have a home. Maybe that's why the game hasn't fixed them yet.
This truck is slowly drifting through the air. I like that the game realizes that something has gone wrong, and is showing that this AI is confused. I wonder if this problem is unique to tourists. If I was the programmer and a sanity check discovered a sim was in an invalid state, I'd just teleport them home. However, a tourist doesn't have a home. Maybe that's why the game hasn't fixed them yet.

I didn’t play a lot of games this “week”, though. My time with Cities Skylines is winding down. I still have a city I’m tinkering with, but it’s mostly for screenshots. I’m currently writing another video / essay on what I think the developers should do for Skylines 2, so I need to fire it up now and again for footage.

Now that the mania has passed, I can see what an odd patchwork the game is after 5 years of DLC. Each DLC added a new self-contained set of mechanics that don’t interact with any of the others. For example, the Snowfall expansion gives you snowy cities, but that doesn’t work with the Natural Disasters DLC to allow for weather-based disasters like blizzards.

On a practical level I can understand why this is the case. It would be prohibitively difficult to make a series of DLC packs that worked well in isolation AND inter-operated seamlessly with any possible combination of the other dozen or so expansions. It would make testing and debugging a nightmare. So every DLC is just a little self-contained sim within your city, and the only way they feed into the base game is to create or mitigate traffic. You can run a park, a university, or an industrial district within your city, but these systems have no synergy.

I seem to relapse with this game every 18 to 24 months or so. I wonder if Skylines 2 will be out before the next time I get the city-building fever?

Strange Days


I’m between major games at the moment. Borderlands 3 and DOOM Eternal are behind, and I don’t see anything interesting on the horizon. Bloodlines 2 doesn’t even have a release date yet. Same goes for Watch Dogs: Legion, Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020, and Kerbal Space Program 2. Most of these games refuse to commit to a specific date besides “maybe sometime in 2020, I dunno, we’ll see”. I guess we can blame this on the ongoing T-virus pandemic. Cyberpunk 2077 has a proper release date, but that’s still four months away.

What about the Final Fantasy VII Remake, you ask? My younger brother is a HUGE fan of the original. I’m just a casual fan. I liked it, but it wasn’t a defining moment of my adolescence. I’d feel horribly guilty if I played the game before him, so I lent him my PS4. So that game will have to wait for later this year. Same goes for Last of Us 2, if they ever get around to releasing that.

I don’t have any VR gear, which means I didn’t get to play Half-Life: Alyx. I’m delighted the game got a good reception, though. It’s nice to know Valve hasn’t lost their touch, even if I won’t get to play this thing anytime soon.

Marvel’s Avengers is holding to their September release date. I was only planning on getting Marvel’s Avengers because I expecting it was going to be an object of ridicule as a sort of aimless, nobody-asked-for-this, corporate-mandated project. But now it looks like everyone involved has accepted that their fate is to be crushed under the neon-trimmed wheels of Cyberpunk. So instead of everyone mocking it, it will probably come and go without anyone noticing.

Whatever. That works too.

I can’t imagine what’s going to happen when this zombie plague blows over and the publishers start releasing stuff again. The end-of-year stuff is already enough of a traffic jam, but this is going to be insane. Even if we’re lucky and the wheels of industry begin turning next month, that means all of these delayed games are going to land in the September-November window. September puts you up against Cyberpunk 2077, which is not where you want your game to be after months of delays. At the other end, anything beyond November will arrive too late for Christmas and the end-of-year awards.

On top of all of that is the concern that people aren’t going to have a lot of disposable income after this mess, so consumers might be pickier than usual and sales will probably be a little lower across the board. I have no idea what I’d do if I was running one of the big publishers right now.

  1. Release ASAP, and fail because nobody has any money and everyone is talking about Cyberpunk?
  2. Release in the September-November window, and have your game buried in the deluge?
  3. Push your game into 2021, thus crowding all the games you had scheduled for then?

Yes, I realize the T-virus has caused more serious problems than delaying the release of a few games, but it’s still interesting to speculate what’s going to happen around this hobby in the next six months.

Caution: I Have Created More Music

The lack of games means I’ve fallen back into my old habits and begun making music again. Which means the time has come for me to inflict another track on you.

I’m starting to realize that my music is the Vogon Poetry of EDM. That’s fine. Like Antonio Salieri, I’m mad at the world for the extreme mismatch between my ambitions and my talent. As luck would have it, my lack of skill gives me the perfect tool with which to punish the lot of you. You are now obligated to listen to this track in order to feel my wrath:

If the world won’t love me, then it will fear me. I have plenty more tepid and unimaginative EDM where that came from.

Your Turn

So what’s your story? What have you been playing for the last few weeks? Anything good? Terrible? What are you looking forward to, besides normalcy?



[1] For some unimaginable reason.

From The Archives:

281 thoughts on “This Week I Played… (May 2020)

  1. Dev Null says:

    XCOM: Chimera Squad

    1. MrPyro says:

      +1 to this. Finished my first playthrough and now going again on higher difficulty* and to try the squadmates I didn’t use last time.

      It’s a nice light-weight XCOM game; base management side very simple, combat missions very quick which I appreciate: sometimes I’m not in the mood for the big drawn out combat missions that, say, Long War 2 could throw at you.

      * Upping to Expert. My first playthrough started on Expert but I hit “that one mission” very early on and dropped the difficulty, then couldn’t be bothered to raise it again. Now that I know about that specific mission I’ve ordered my playthrough to put it later on when my squad is better skilled/tooled up.

      1. Decius says:

        Doing that mission second or last makes it different.
        In a manner that I think makes it easier.

        Unless we had trouble with different things.

        1. MrPyro says:

          It was the final mission of one of the factions (won’t reveal which in case of spoilers).

          Reading around the Internet suggests that I was not the only one struggling with it so likely to be the same; I’ll find out soonish as I’ve just started against that faction (having defeated the other 2).

    2. Sabrdance (Matthew H) says:

      Got this at the end of April. I like it well enough, but it doesn’t really feel like XCOM. It’s more like, I dunno, Banner Saga -which is fine. The turn system, where the teams alternate sides, really throws off the cover mechanics for me -because it is no longer about finding cover and flanking, it’s about planning out “OK, this area has poor cover, but the terrorist who can flank is turn 11, so I can move Verge to this point, kill that terrorist over there, and then Axiom can kill the terrorist who would shoot Verge…”

      It’s a fine game, just not what I was expecting.

      Also, this makes missing those 70% shots all the more frustrating.

      I’m glad I have it. I like that they are experimenting. $10 was a good price for this.

      When I’m done, I’m probably going back to my XCOM Long War playthrough.

      1. Gargamel Le Noir says:

        I get almost all my shots on Expert, it’s weird that you miss so many of them. Maybe use abilities more and only shoot when you’re all out of powers and/or have a 80% or above chance to hit.

      2. Sabrdance (Matthew H) says:

        I have now hit the “your squad members randomly lose all their equipment…” bug.


    3. sheer_falacy says:

      Yeah, this. It’s clearly a discount XCOM in some ways, but the gameplay is great, and it removes some parts of XCOM that I’m kind of happy to not have, like permanent soldier death and the “overwatch until an enemy pod shows up” part of the game.

      It’s slightly easier than XCOM 2 but not absurdly so. And the characters get to have silly lines because they get to have lines beyond “moving” and “ow”.

    4. BlueHorus says:

      I am really torn on this.

      See, on the 1 hand I really liked XCOM 2016 and XCOM 2.
      On the other hand…I appreciated XCOM 2016’s bare-bones story that didn’t get in the way. Simple, straightforward, minimalist.
      Sadly, XCOM 2 decided it needed more story, and then that story was bad and cliched and silly.
      And then War of The Chosen came out, and the ‘story’ was like having hot needles driven into my ears AND it was unskippable in a lot of ways*!

      So, Chimera Squad is more XCOM, but with extra ‘character’ and less depth…? Can you at least skip the story? But then, $/£/Euros 10…
      So yeah, undecided.

      (Also, I can’t buy it? It’s not listed on Steam, and GoG has apparently installed a ‘Clear, useful interfaces are for Losers’ Update. Is it not out in Europe or something?)

      *I didn’t think anyone could be more irritating during missions than Central Officer Bradford. But hoo boy, those Chosen sure showed me!

      1. Sleeping Dragon says:

        I can tell you I’ve seen it available for purchase in Poland, so technically EU, though Steam does occasionally bundle us into some kind of Russia/Czech/Poland slavic entity so…

        1. BlueHorus says:

          Seriously, is it available where you live? Because I live in the United Kingdom/Great Britain, and I just can’t find it on Steam. So I look on GoG (my preferred platform), and I can find the game, but not the (GODDAMN IT WHY NOT) conspicuous ‘Purchase game’ button I expected.
          Instead, I have a ‘designate exe’ function, which assumes I already have the game, and leads to a search of my computer so I can add it.

          Dammit, GoG, I want to give you money! Why are you making this HARD!?

          1. Nimrandir says:

            Not that this helps, but I follow a Scottish streamer who has posted several videos of Chimera Squad play. I would wager he has the game through Steam.

          2. MrPyro says:

            I am in the UK and have been playing it. No idea why you can’t find it; hope you do soon.

          3. Sleeping Dragon says:

            Oddly enough I actually can’t find the game on GOG though I do see it on Steam…

          4. Liessa says:

            I don’t think it’s been released on GOG. However, I’m in the UK and I can find it just fine on Steam:

      2. GoStu says:

        Well, if you’ve hated every bit of dialogue from XCOM 2, I’m not optimistic that you’ll like the dialogue in Chimera Squad. It’s less repetitive but it’s still not anything you really need to hear. There’s a bit of between-mission banter between agents that characterizes them a little but it’s not Pulitzer material.

        I wouldn’t say Chimera Squad has less mechanical depth, but I would call it streamlined. There’s none of those between-encounter turns where it’s just “take a move forward, move the next guy forward, move the next guy forward… okay everyone’s in cover, overwatch…”. Once you start the mission you’re kicking in the door to the first group, and when they’re down your squad immediately stacks up to breach the next room. Is that less depth? Maybe, but I never found the careful game of mother-may-I to be the particularly interesting part.

        I find the alternating back-and-forth way the turns work to be more interesting. XCOM 2016 and XCOM 2 both feel like your goal is always to 100% wipe out the enemy squad before they get to act, and if they do get to act and land hits you’re going to endure some kind of soldier downtime punishment (if not outright losing that soldier). Alternating turns and having the enemy do something other than be bullet-sponges or cannon fodder is way more interesting.

        Bottom Line: If you liked XCOM 2016 and XCOM 2 then it’s worth the low entry price to try out Chimera Squad. It’s different, but not so different that you can’t see the parent game in there, and you’ve said you liked that. Firaxis definitely priced this one right, to pull in that ‘experiment’ angle. I can’t stay mad even when I think XCOM 2 did something better, because Chimera Squad is cheap.

      3. sheer_falacy says:

        The story is extremely bare bones and easy to skip, except occasionally when the text skip button bugs out. Your crew will have little chats with each other at base or there will be brief radio segments but they don’t block your base activities or prevent you from starting a mission.

    5. GoStu says:

      I just finished my (first) Chimera Squad playthrough. I definitely recommend it to anyone who liked XCOM: Enemy Unknown or XCOM 2.

      I think the thing I like most about it is that this spin-off didn’t have to be made. It is definitely not the publisher-mandated “you owe us another one” sequel. I feel that this is the game the studio wanted to make and that energy flows through to the final product. Somebody decided to tell the story five years after the events of XCOM 2 and how the world is getting along with humans and aliens and hybrids all together. They wrote some characters and told a story and fleshed out their world some more.

      Mechanically they’ve streamlined a few things (there’s no more between-encounter turns, or cautious advance-to-contact time) and they’ve tweaked a few others (turns aren’t one side, then the other; units take turns individually, leading to back-and-forth combat) and overall I like a lot about how the game works.

      To add to that, it’s priced right. I might have had some hesitation over it as a full-priced $60+, but I got it for $15 and didn’t even hesitate. No regrets about my purchase, it’s a lot of fun. Glad I picked it up.

  2. ivan says:

    So, I’d listen to that track, but there appears to be no volume control within that player, so, no. Sorry, but my PC sound configuration is already balancing a heck of a lot of things, including my browsers own volume.

    As for games, I am playing the same games I was playing last month, namely Fallen Enchantress and Skyrim. Fallen Enchantress I’m experimenting with it’s very sketchy and unsafe means of modding, which basically boils down to editing .xml files in Notepad++ and backing up my edits in case I ever break things enough to need to reinstall or verify via Steam.

    Skyrm I tried a new playstyle, which I call the short-sighted genocider. Basically, my character kills literally everything he sees, until it has demonstrated it’s inability to die, at which point he interacts with them like a rational, sane person. To be honest this has barely changed the game at all, which probably comes as no surprise to those who are familiar with the game. Half the NPC’s are ‘essential’, especially towns like Riften where almost no-one is able to die, so it’s a little messier, cos fireballs, and basically nothing else.

    I mean, everyone attacks me on sight, (and oddly enough each other, somehow I engendered some aggro between groups as well, which was a happy surprise), but I’m an Illusion grandmaster at this point so their feelings towards me have no bearing. About the only real effect is that stealing everything has become second nature, cos not giving two shits about my bounty is overall just freeing.

    But yeah, kinda damning outlook on the game, that you can be unilaterally hostile to everyone to an utterly irredeemable level, and it barely effects the game in any way at all.

    1. Shamus says:

      That is SUPER annoying that the Audiomack player doesn’t have volume control. I’ve searched their site, and they have nothing on this. The whole site is really geared around their stupid app, which I don’t care about. I just want a nice music site with a decent player. (I recently left Soundcloud for reasons that are probably too long to be worth getting into.)

      I wonder if Spotify is useful when you’re an amateur micro-audience “””””artist”””” like me? Anyone have experience uploading to Spotify?

      1. Christopher Dwight Wolf says:

        (I recently left Soundcloud for reasons that are probably too long to be worth getting into.)

        But Shamus, reasons that are probably too long to to be worth getting into is my bread and butter on this site.

          1. Erik says:


            Also, I know enough artists in this space that if there’s a good reason to avoid Soundcloud, I want to be able to inform them, so I actually care significantly about the subject (which I admit is not typical for most viewers of the site).

            1. Soldierhawk says:

              Hi hello yes I am here for the Soundcloud rant please and thank you?

              1. pseudonym says:

                Hi Shamus, reading this site because you describe the things you are dealing with in a way that is very interesting to read. That includes “reasons that are probably too long”. You sure know how to tease your audience…

                1. Lino says:

                  I just realized an amazing business opprtunity! What if Shamus stopped posting his rants to this site, and started exclusively posting them to a service called Shamus+

                  As an added incentive to subscribe, he could program a video game where the user can experience the ordeal Shamus went through in his rant.

                  And you know what the best part about this is? Shamus can make an ADDITIONAL rant about the problems he had programming the video game!

      2. krellen says:

        “reasons that are probably too long to be worth getting into¹” could literally be the subtitle of this site.

        ¹But I’m going to anyway

    2. Chad Miller says:

      Skyrm I tried a new playstyle, which I call the short-sighted genocider. Basically, my character kills literally everything he sees, until it has demonstrated it’s inability to die, at which point he interacts with them like a rational, sane person. To be honest this has barely changed the game at all, which probably comes as no surprise to those who are familiar with the game. Half the NPC’s are ‘essential’, especially towns like Riften where almost no-one is able to die, so it’s a little messier, cos fireballs, and basically nothing else.

      What makes it especially baffling is that often the characters who aren’t essential are temporary companions, people who are likely to get into battle and get killed by monsters but are then more likely to be someone the player wants to keep alive. So I can get locked out of the “good” ending to The Blessings of Nature because Maurice Jondrelle decided to go punch a dragon, but I can’t kill some jerkass villager on purpose because they’re required for some much more boring sidequest that doesn’t matter.

    3. Decius says:

      I like the idea of FE so much, but it’s such a bad execution.

  3. Geebs says:

    Zelda: Wind Waker, for the first time. It’s fantastic, but it uses both inverted and non-inverted controls at various different times for both the x and the y axis. I have now completely lost the ability to control the camera properly in every single other game.

    Streets of a Rage 4. It’s a blast. I think Floyd is probably OP.

    Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag because I’ve been missing the outdoors. It’s mostly better than the new ones, apart from the janky controls. Think: boarding an enemy ship by stealth, scaling the rigging, and leaping down like the spirit of vengeance…. on to some completely random sailor who was standing next to the guy I was supposed to assassinate.

    1. Leviathan902 says:

      Seconding Streets of Rage 4. It’s very good and the combat system has a surprising depth to it in terms of learning to get good at the game and when and how to engage each group of enemies. As an old-school Streets of Rage fan, it’s exactly what I would have imagined a 2020 version of SoR too look like and I’m really enjoying it a LOT.

      That said, I am freakin’ TERRIBLE at that game. Like really bad. It takes me multiple attempts to get through a level and I don’t think I’ve ever gotten better than a “C” in the end of level grade.

    2. Echo Tango says:

      Clearly you’ve just been using the wrong controls-setup in other games. :)

  4. Socks says:

    Love the new track! Your music is good.

    Infested planet. Top down shooter v bugs.
    Total party kill. Cute platformer puzzler.
    7 days to die. Zombie craft looter.

  5. Mephane says:

    Deep. Rock. Fucking. Galactic.

    This game is technically still in Early Access, but 1.0 launches tomorrow and it’s mostly a formality. I have been playing for about two weeks (basically bought it right after hearing of the 1.0 release announcement and checking that all progress will carry over) and this game is more complete and polished than most big name titles even after the first round of post-release patches.

    The game isn’t exactly what I expected, but in a good way. It is the sentiment of this song crystallized into a hybrid between Left 4 Dead and a coop puzzle game, you spend just as much time navigating the procedural levels and trying to get to hard-to-reach places, as you spend fighting giant alien insects.

    It’s a game I didn’t know I wanted but now that I have started, can’t get enough of it. In my opinion it is the best coop experience I had since the original Left 4 Dead. Since I you played L4D back in the day as well*, you should really give it a try, Shamus.

    *In fact, and you might not even remember, we played couple of matches together. :)

    1. Fizban says:

      Hells yeah. I was hitting all the weeklies when overclocks first came out, but I’m full now so to speak and just play when I feel like it. Driller’s up to gold and I’ve run out of overclocks to unlock, so it’s just fishing for the last weapon skin I want and icing space bugs (they finally de-gimped the cryo cannon and it’s great!).

      1. Lars says:

        For Carl! I mean Rock and Stone, Brother.

        1. Nimrandir says:

          I always assumed it was for Karl, because, you know, dwarves.

    2. Wolf says:

      Seconding Deep Rock Galactic hard!
      That game has some legs as well. Never thought I’d play as a drunken space dwarf for over 100 hours and start comparing other games to it as a “is this worth spending more time on?” metric, but here we are.

    3. Paul Spooner says:

      I looked into DRG back when the beer patch came out. It wasn’t for me at the time. Just looked into it now, and my impression is the same. FPS where you’re “Mining minerals and blowing up alien monsters” with an emphasis on coop. Seems like a very solid game, just not one I’m interested in.
      It looks like the levels might be procedural though? The classes and equipment at least look static.

      1. Fizban says:

        Levels are procedural, yes, though once you’ve leveled up enough you can participate in the weekly static seed runs for extra “matrix cores” (which produce the final tier of weapon upgrades called overclocks and most of the cosmetics). The classes and weapons are static with two primaries, two secondaries, and three grenades for each class. Each weapon has five or six tiers of basic upgrades with 1-3 options on each of them, which generally result in two directions you specialize to fit your playstile (ammo, accuracy, raw damage, etc), and then the overclocks range from small bonuses to give and take to wacky stuff.

        It takes quite a while to level up, unlock, and upgrade everything, and there is a definite power difference in those raw numbers (newbies should not join any higher than hazard 3 until they’ve got their weapons mostly upgraded), and cosmetics are locked to each class. It doesn’t take *too* long to get one up to full power if you focus and get lucky with an overclock, but yeah. This does produce an annoying effect where you’re encouraged to main one class, but in order to learn to properly team you need to experience every class, just like any other class-based team game, and often people will have their game set to only allow one of each class. So you want to rush to getting one character up to full power so you can do the deep dive runs, but then you have to wait for a game that has room for your specific class, which is annoying if you’re not playing at peak hours.

        One of the major draws is that compared to all these other games where you spend a billion years grinding for materials to make a box to hide from zombies so you can grind for bullets, DRG is a fast-paced *combat* game. You move quickly through the randomized tunnels and rooms grabbing materials- which are just currency for buying upgrades back at base. Other games you have to build fortifications in the perfect spot because you can’t actually affect the ground- in DRG, one of the best defenses is for the driller to just drill straight into a wall until the drill overheats and throw a satchel charge for an instant bunker. The engineer instead adds material, shooting disks of yellow foam that can be used to seal up holes, deter pathing, and create floors, but attempts to build a “house” generally fail spectacularly. While gunner and scout are trying to work around things with the zipline and grappling hook.

        After playing long enough you start to recognize the styles room chunks being procedurally put together of course, but being fully 3d (lots of vertical movement) and not full of pre-fab buildings to recognize, it’s really just an “oh god I hate these pits” or “oh one of these huge rooms hope the scout remembers to flare.”

    4. MelTorefas says:

      Yeah “procedural left-4-dead style coop” was an instant selling point to me. Had to wait awhile to get it on sale for financial reasons, but having played it for about 100 hours now (about 1/4 ish of that in coop) I’d say it was worth full price if I could have afforded that at the time. I love how different each mission feels due to the sheer depth of the cave generation system, the different biomes, the different characters and gear and perks and mission types and… yeah.

      Other than DRG I have mostly been playing World of Warcraft, taking advantage of the 100% exp boost going on to level all of my alts. Honestly too sick to play anything that takes much in the way of focus or attention beyond DRG in coop.

    5. I don’t know why, but knowing absolutely nothing about this game, beyond what you described, I still knew what song that link was going to take me too.

  6. DeadlyDark says:

    Replaying classic Splinter Cells (first three).

    I played a lot of the first one (and I still love its music; probably even more than Amon Tobin’s soundtrack), and I still enjoy these old missions. A bit too strict compared to good Thief games or CT, but I can’t hate this game

    My opinion on Pandora Tomorrow is improved, actually. It’s not (as) buggy as Double Agent (on PC, at least) and still more deep than Conviction and Blacklist (for some reason, I have zero desire to replay that one) and I enjoy a lot of wry humor of Ironside (compared to Blacklist, again). Music is meh (though I can hear a bit of Jack Wall’s later output there), and half the levels lacks details. Compare Jerusalem in PT to Tbilisi in SC1. The latter city has way more little details.

    Chaos Theory is still the best, though. I think, my only criticism is that I spoiled by the Thief games when it comes to sound design. In SC 1/3 you can rely on steps to locate enemies and its helpful, but it’s very situational. And it’s hard to measure your own loudness, so the sound meter in CT feels more like a crutch. Like I said – great game (especially controls and visual design), good missions, but no Thief Metal Age (which I replayed few months prior) or Deadly Shadows, even.

    Also spent couple of evenings on finally playing Modern Warfare 3. It’s… fine. MW2 campaign had better pacing, it switched between quieter moments and setpieces, while MW3 definitely had an overdose of setpieces per minute. The story is way way more headscratching than what was before, and I felt that guns felt worse here, than in MW2, closer to MW1. I just noticed, that my enjoyment of gunplay in CoD games risen gradually from 2 to MW2 (one of the reasons, I consider MW2 the best in series, from the games I’ve played), so MW3 was a disappointment. But at least MW3 allows you to play as a good russian, so that’s a big plus.
    Kinda weird, that years later, the fact, that BF3 at the time had way better visuals, doesn’t matter now, and I just enjoyed high fps during this distraction (sometimes I play something stupid like CoD just for the sake of it)

    1. Echo Tango says:

      I also replayed a classic stealth[1] game, but it was Deus Ex! Took me about three weekends plus a few weeknights here and there. Was better than I remember, altough it gets sillier as you get closer to the end. ^^;

      [1] I mean like, 80% stealth, 20% blowing people up with rockets.

      1. DeadlyDark says:

        Replaying Deus Ex is somewhere down the line. Have you played vanilla or GMDX, btw?

        1. Echo Tango says:

          Steam says it’s the game of the year edition, and I played without mods. :)

          1. DeadlyDark says:


            From what I saw in description, GMDX seems quite faithful with its changes. Keeping levels and visuals intact, but slightly enhansing the gameplay (like adding mantling a-la Thief 1/2) and patching thing. I plan to replay DE with this mod

  7. EOW says:

    I’ve decided to take advantage of a sale and remove the dust from my PS Vita and bought the Zero Escape trilogy (999, Virtue Last Reward and Zero Time Dilemma).
    It’s a series of three visual novels with escape room puzzles, all of the games involves 9 people trapped somewhere and they have to escape. As the game goes on you discover the reason for the game and then veers into increasingly more absurd scifi stuff. It has multiple endings, although you quickly realize the game expects you to get more than one.
    The first one (999) tho i suggest you play the DS version if you ever get the chance. It pulls a pretty clever trick with the dual screen that is completely lost on any other version.

    The reason i like it and bought the first two game twice is because it’s a project of passion. The first two games were flops, yet they tried their best just to get the third out (and it shows, it’s absurdly low budget).

    1. Daimbert says:

      I really liked the first two games. The third game ruined itself for me because if you look up the codes — which I would have done anyway since there was no way I was going to remember them — you can basically walk through the entire game and get to the ending without doing the escape rooms, which left me little reason to do them. The first two, at least on the Vita, blocked you off from doing that.

      1. BespectacledGentleman says:

        “I can look up the answers” is kind of a problem endemic to the puzzle genre, though.

        It’s probably better to focus on how Zero Time Dilemma is just overall bad? Spectacle creep absolutely got ahold of the series—in the first, there was *one* crazy sci-fi thing that the whole plot hinged on and was built up throughout the game. The sequels suffer from progressively more bloat and nonsense. I’d be a lot more charitable to the low budget of ZTD if they didn’t just throw in “ah yes, aliens” as a handwave for a single plot device.

        All that said, 999 is a magnificent (and self-contained) experience, and Virtue’s Last Reward is worth playing despite the jank.

        1. Daimbert says:

          Well, the issue is that the previous two games had the same structure and avoided the issue. What happened was that you are supposed to watch certain scenes to get certain information to use as passwords and the like. The other two games also locked the ending behind seeing the scenes themselves or following certain paths. ZTD didn’t, and it was obvious from the scene selection scene which ones led to the real ending. I blasted through it expecting it to stop me and make me go back to other paths and it never did.

    2. Ninety-Three says:

      999 is weird, it feels like a series of those early 2000s “escape the room” flash games strung together with visual novel stuff. I wouldn’t hate either of those, but thinly justified puzzleboxes and character-driven narrative is such a weird combination and not particularly complimentary: I’ve owned it for years and am still gradually working through it because I have to be in a very specific mood to be interested in both of things at once.

    3. Drathnoxis says:

      Biggest problem with the Zero Escape series is that there is very little cohesion between the games. Each sequel takes the plot in a wildly different direction and most plot hooks from previous games are left unanswered or retconned. Recurring characters often come back with completely different personalities.

      Second biggest problem is that ZTD has the worst plot twist in history.

      On a slightly related note, I thought AI: The Somnium Files, the next game from the developers, was absolutely fantastic and is definitely worth playing for anybody who enjoyed the Zero Escape games. It was a major saving throw for the developer in my opinion after ZTD. Also, it has one of my favorite endings from a video game that I’ve seen in a quite a while. I think Uchikoshi is really at the top of his game when he’s writing a completely new story, when he’s trying to write into a continuity he just falls apart.

      1. Syal says:

        Second biggest problem is that ZTD has the worst plot twist in history

        Just chiming in to say that this is not an exaggeration, you will be hard-pressed to find a worse twist in media than the one in Zero Time Dilemma.

        1. Chad Miller says:

          Well, now I’m all curious!

          1. Drathnoxis says:

            Watching a let’s play is my recommended method. The game falls quite a bit into “so bad it’s good” territory so watching with some commentary makes it a lot of fun. I enjoyed watching SGF play through the Zero Escape Series enough to do it twice.

      2. Daimbert says:

        I might look into that one, although at its base it sounds like a more complicated version of Lost Dimension, which had the additional benefit of the traitor mechanism.

  8. Daimbert says:

    Forgive the double comments, but I think it makes more sense for me to split my comments on your post from my comments on what I’ve been playing the last month:

    Marvel’s Avengers is holding to their September release date. I was only planning on getting Marvel’s Avengers because I expecting it was going to be an object of ridicule as a sort of aimless, nobody-asked-for-this, corporate-mandated project.

    I don’t know about that. If you could play it offline with the four characters, it would essentially be an updated Marvel Ultimate Alliance, and a new version of that came out on the Switch a while ago. I personally am someone that would like newer versions of those games if the story and gameplay worked (and it wasn’t online only).

    On top of all of that is the concern that people aren’t going to have a lot of disposable income after this mess, so consumers might be pickier than usual and sales will probably be a little lower across the board. I have no idea what I’d do if I was running one of the big publishers right now.

    On the flip side, for people that are still working — which includes many people in tech jobs because they can and if they are in telecom HAVE to keep working — the fact that buying anything, even online, is riskier than it would be otherwise means that some people are going quite a while without spending money on games. Add in that there aren’t new games coming out, and add in that OTHER forms of entertainment — theatres, restaurants, etc — are shut down completely, and when things open up you are likely to find a number of people that saved some money over the shutdown and are DESPERATE to buy things now that they can. I expect an initial surge as things open up and then a fallback afterwards.

    1. Chad Miller says:

      I have a credit card I use solely for recreational spending. I was surprised to find my current lifestyle resulted in a $0 statement because I wasn’t going out and instead just using whatever backlog I had built up at the house.

  9. Daimbert says:

    So, what I’ve been playing:

    I finished Saint’s Row the Third and then played and finished Saint’s Row IV, which I only ever had because they were talked about on this site. I liked IV a lot better because while The Third was a competent open world gangsta-type game, the story didn’t grab me that much and strict shooters are not my sort of game. IV, however, went all-in on the superpower gimmick, and as it turns out superpower games ARE my sort of game. Jumping around the city with super jump was very fun, and reminded me a lot of that power in City of Heroes (sniff). Combined with the sprint and jumping up walls, though, it reminded me of one of the travel powers in DCUO, only good [grin]. It also was a love letter to the rest of the series, but explained things well enough that I, who was not a fan of the series, could understand and enjoy it. It even resolved the shift in personality in Shaundi, which I thought Shamus had complained about at one point. It also went heavily into a Mass Effect parody, which was kinda fun as well. So I liked IV much better than The Third, although the best thing about them was the music, and I still wasn’t that impressed with the activities (although I did finish all of them in IV).

    As for what I’m playing now, I wanted to do other projects which limited my gaming time, and so decided that I’d play some things on my C64 classic console and my Legends classic console, since I’ve been meaning to play with them for ages. And then I discovered that the adapter I was using for them was the one that I use to charge my cell phone, and it’s not easy to get one of those for the foreseeable future, and it’s not worth my making a strong effort to get it or risking not being able to charge my cell phone if it happens to die from use. I’ve considered switching to my other two classic consoles — Atari 2600 and Genesis — but I’m thinking that I’ll go back to Stein’s;Gate and finish more endings. I got to the first ending and found it remarkably satisfying, but there are lots and lots of other endings as the game essentially ends when you decide that the character wants to take the consequences of their mucking around with time, and now might be a good time to explore them. I also considered Skyrim, but with a short playing time — an hour or so — I wasn’t sure if that would work.

    Selecting games is also limited by the fact that I sit in my home office all day for work. It’s nice to get out of that room in the evenings.

    About the only thing I’m looking forward to is getting Persona 5 Royale at some point by fall. I have a pre-order out on it that I should get at some point, but don’t really have the time to play it right now anyway.

    1. Sleeping Dragon says:

      I have a friend with whom we play coop games, even ones that are not necessarily our first pick normally on the assumption that playing them together will be fun. So SR3 has that DLC about superpowers and we were very much “this, but the entire game”, lo and behind SR4. I personally liked that it went completely over the top because the 2nd game was really dissonant in terms of tone (hey, here’s this silly activity! also here is this spiral of violence and revenge treated completely seriously!).

      1. Thomas says:

        Yeah, I can see why Saints Row 2’s story has its fans, but it clashes massively with the rest of the game.

        I’d like to see SR4 polished up a bit for SR5 – it was clearly a bit of a last minute job, a lot of the game doesn’t feel like it was built to contain the powers (all the car stuff is so pointless!). A SR5 built from the ground up for this stuff would be amazing.

        1. Daimbert says:

          Yeah, in The Third I drove a lot and really enjoyed the driving part, but in IV I never got in one unless the story or sidequests demanded it or to start the mix tape music for when I was hopping around the city.

    2. ZzzzSleep says:

      Daimbert, are you aware that City Of Heroes has been back for a while now? (Although not in an altogether official capacity…)

      1. BlueHorus says:

        Did you say ‘The Continued Exploits Of Star-On-Chest’?

        Because, yes, that is a thing I would read.
        Make of that what you will.

        1. Nimrandir says:

          I’m on board with this. Or more Lulzy, for that matter, although LotRO’s later writing may not lend itself to enough lunacy.

        2. Daimbert says:

          Star-On-Chest was Champions Online, not City of Heroes.

      2. Daimbert says:

        Did one of them actually finish it and get it running? Last I had heard they were working on it but it wasn’t entirely back yet.

        1. Ninety-Three says:

          There was a pirate server running a full version of the game since shortly official servers went down, it went public a year-ish ago.

  10. John says:

    Lately, I’ve been alternating between more Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark and SDL Prince of Persia, an open-source remake of the original game from 1990. SDL PoP is based on a disassembly of the DOS port. I played the original Apple II version. I love SDL PoP, but the 16-color graphics don’t quite line up with my 6-color memories. I think there may also be some small differences in the levels but I could just be misremembering things after 30 years.

    I am currently on Level 7 (out of 10). Prince of Persia is actually pretty short, which I suppose makes sense given that it shipped on a single double-sided 5.25 inch floppy disk. I have defeated the fat guard on Level 6–if you’ve played the game before you undoubtedly know the one I mean–and been screwed over a couple of times by my evil (?) mirror duplicate. I’ve seen just enough of Level 7 to remember the level’s gimmick and if I could just get the platforming right I’d be on Level 8 by now.

    SDL PoP supports gamepads, but I’ve been using keyboard controls. The moment-to-moment gameplay is simple and slow enough that a ten-button gamepad feels superfluous. Prince of Persia is actually a one-button game, a fact which took me an embarrassingly long time to remember. I kept looking through the list of keyboard controls, trying to find the attack button, until I remembered that it was the same button that does everything else, which here means pick stuff up and grab onto ledges to keep yourself from falling. Prince of Persia just isn’t that complex.

  11. Fizban says:

    I’ve been threatening to properly re-play FF10 for years and have finally begun. With no less than three different guides because the spoiler-free one doesn’t list items but does tell you what will progress the scene so you can avoid it, and the “replay” guide tells you the missable stuff but nothing about the scenes, and the general guide has an annoying tone but also includes shop data and item locations. Is going well.

    1. Nimrandir says:

      I’ve started FFX four different times (I think), and my most recent attempt is the first time I pushed myself through the Calm Lands. The party is currently sitting at the entrance to Zanarkand. However, our current living room configuration doesn’t allow for me to leave our PS2 connected all the time, so we’re on hold until I specifically think about hooking the poor thing up again.

  12. Christopher says:

    I’ve been playing through Final Fantasy VII Remake. Never played the original, though it’s impossibly to have been in the video game sphere of the internet for 20 years and not heard and seen certain plot points and know certain characters.

    First impressions were amazing after the hump of getting into the combat(I was hoping for an action game with some stats. It’s more similar to something like a Dragon Age Inquisition, but ultimately its own thing. Feels like an ATB system wearing a big cinematic trenchcoat to disguise itself as action). The music is astounding, the game looks really neat and it’s a cool setting to run around in. I like most of the main characters, too. Barret and Cloud in particular were way more funny than I expected – Tifa was, surprisingly, nothing like I imagined. I figured the punchy kicky tomboy thing would be reflected in a more spunky character, more Chie Satonaka or something. Instead she’s really tame and apologetic and depressed for the most part. Aerith was a surprise in a different direction. I had imagined a sorta nun-like chosen one lady, a Colette Brunel kinda character. Instead she’s a really charming, childish, through- and through goodhearted manic pixie chick. I think the Avalanche team weren’t exactly a major part of the original, but they’re expanded upon here, and since it happens in a main mission it’s actually pretty exciting.

    I don’t think the format they decided on was ideal. Modernizing the game has resulted in them adapting a lot of timewasty modern AAA trends, like walking slowly behind characters, or NPC partners running ahead and pushing ladders down to you, that sorta thing. Some of it’s fine, some of it’s tedious. I’m more alright with it in an RPG than I am in an action game, ’cause I can imagine some of these scenes being text boxes and stuff in the original.

    But some things aren’t ideal at all. They’re adapting like the first 6 hours and stretching it out into 30 hours, so everything reminds me of The Hobbit movies. The side quests are universally boring, with only a couple containing secret bosses having felt worthwhile. Side characters are given pointless backstories, even minor things take a long time(you have to run around empty corridors a whole lot if you want to tick off all these boring sidequests), and there are some odd new turns for the plot that I don’t think can go anywhere good. In particular, Cloud has near-constant Sephiroth PTSD and will hallucinate him at the drop of a hat. Also, an army of dementors have descended on Midgar. These ghost guys plague scene after scene, at one point surrounding a populated area in a massive vortex of themselves. However, the characters barely acknowledge either of these. Nobody asks Cloud about his constant headaches and nobody sits down to talk about what the hell these dementors are and what they’re doing. They just sorta become these mosquito-like annoyance that people don’t talk about, just swat away, like they’ve become part of the scenery.

    I’m on chapter 17 (of 19, I believe), so we’ll see if it all coalesces into something satisfying, but I’m a little skeptical. Still, it’s not all bad. They’re chopping up and stretching out the original game into separate new games because it would be too expensive for them to make it all at once. That might have indicated that they shouldn’t have done this kinda remake, and instead done something closer to the original, like how the Link’s Awakening Switch remake was. It might not have been as visually impressive, or immersive, which are valid qualities that I do appreciate in the final game. But these other flaws would be gone entirely.

    But at least, in the fullness of time, some enterprising modders could probably chop the new games together like that one fan that made a cut out the Hobbit movies that resembled the book. Final Fantasy 7 is a game big enough to have that sorta thing happen to it.

    1. Christopher says:

      Reading over my post, it seems maybe more negative than my experience has been. The biggest problem is just that the game wastes my time. When it’s on, it’s on. It’s just that there’s 30 minutes of concentrated awesome scenes for every two hours of chores. Maybe don’t do the side missions if you want to have a better time. Should help even out the ratio.

      1. Sleepyfoo says:

        I am currently on chapter 15 of my hard run through (second Playthrough) of FF7 Remake. I am a fan of the original, and am still having a Blast with the Remake. Except the Hell House.

        From my perspective, Cloud having more frequent episodes is a “good” thing, in that you really get that something is seriously not right in his head if you had been coming in to the story blind. The original had significantly less, over the course of the entire game, so it never seemed as bad as it should have.

        However, it is oddly frequent, even if nearly every time had good cause and made sense with his background and traumas.

        I appreciated the expansion of the avalanche crew, and for me the sidequests felt like good world/character building mostly, rather than chores.

        The puzzles in the remake have felt significantly lackluster compared to the original, but serviceable nonetheless. Wall Market in particular felt lacking this time.

        The combat is weird, but rather fun. I started terrible at it, and now I’m proficient. I also tried to play it more as an action game to start, but that really doesn’t work out well. My biggest issue is that you can be interrupted and lose the ATB, MP, or whatever you used by enemy attacks and Sudden Boss Phase Change cutscenes. I don’t mind if you lose that if you die from the attack, but “I said use triple slash/fire/cure, but cloud got tackled, so now he’s just not gonna”.

        The Weirdest and most annoying thing is the Plot Ghosts, I agree. They do get addressed by the end, and most times they show up there’s a reasonable “that was weird but we have more important things to focus on right now” but there are a few earlier where they get brushed off without a proper “what was that all about”.

        All in all a good game and I am looking foward to the next installment. Even as “next installment” as a concept is very frustrating in this case.

        1. Sleeping Dragon says:

          Bearing in mind that I’ve played the original very many years ago and I haven’t played the remake I dunno, I felt like there was a reason why the whole thing about Cloud was not explored early on and it was because they wanted for you to settle into a set of expectations before dropping twists. On the other hand most people seem to enjoy the remake and since the story is now split and the players won’t be able to move ahead for a while I can see them wanting to tease things earlier. Plus pretty much everybody knows it’s all about Sephiroth so I guess some people might feel cheated if they don’t or just barely spot the guy for the entire game.

          1. Sleepyfoo says:

            To an extent I agree that dropping Sephiroth in in the way they did is almost certainly a result of this being separated into multiple games, I think (with a little meta info) it makes lots of watsonian sense that cloud is having the issues presented.

            In the original, it’s not clear how long cloud has been in and around Midgar before Tifa found him or he found avalanche. In this it seems like he arrived in Midgar that day and somehow got scooped up by Avalanche before he even found a room. The meta info is that he arrived in Midgar hours after waking up from his mako coma and experiment trauma with Zack dying and lots of info and memories that weren’t his in his head. He dealt with this by basically assuming Zack’s identity and respressing all the info that contradicted that.
            Basically later that night he’s blowing up a Mako Reactor. It’s not a surprise that his psyche is fragile and there are all sorts of reminders around, particularly inside Reactors or in burning towns. Further he’s now both sensitive to the lifestream in a way he wasn’t and a “sephiroth clone” like the robed dudes are, so he’s also directly subject to sephiroth’s influence. Said influence is stronger near the robed dudes, which is when most of the not triggered by trauma episodes happen.

            Of note, the game takes place over a sum total of like 4-5 days. So Cloud is at most a week removed from stitching his mind back together from his traumas.

            Applying some of that meta knowledge to the original makes it seem crazy just how stable cloud was, and how few incidents he had.

  13. Michael Anderson says:

    Driftmoon : Enchanted Edition.

    Driftmoon was a cute little decent-but-largely-forgettable top-down action-RPG from back in 2013 that just got an enhanced version but also retooled for Unity and released for every platform known to man … so I am playing it on iPad to support the developers (as my existing copy auto-updated for free).

    Still a fun game – and for an iPad game it stands out much more. The updates make it prettier and the touch interface is better than many other games. Well worth the $3 (or $9 to give extra $$ to the devs).

  14. Leviathan902 says:

    In addition to Streets of Rage 4 (I talk about in my reply to Geebs above), I’ve been playing the hell out of Gears Tactics.

    That game is surprisingly awesome. It has some flaws in the metagame (there isn’t much of one), but the core turn-based tactics combat is probably the best I’ve ever played. The combat somehow feels both dangerous and super-empowering at the same time. I don’t know how they did that, but I hope future turn-based tactics games pick up a few of the lessons in Gears Tactics.

    I know this crowd isn’t exactly a Gears crowd, but seriously, if you like Tactics games at all and don’t mind a good “serious men on a grim mission they probably won’t come back from” then give this a shot.

    Also, it’s only on PC as of right now, and if you have Game Pass it’s free on there.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      From the NorthernLion Tries video that showed gameplay plus the early cutscenes, Gears Tactics seems more like “a teenager’s idea serious men on a grim mission”. One-dimensional cartoonish enemies, despite the pseudo-realistic graphics. Other games where you play a bad-ass doing heroic things are fine with me; Alien Swarm, Deus Ex, Half Life, XCOM…theoretically I should be able to enjoy this. I guess the others are either smaller in scope (not saving the whole universe), or more cartoonish[1]? :S

      [1] Like, more obviously. Not in the uncanney valley?

      1. Echo Tango says:

        Sorry for the opening snarky comment. This comment went through like, 6 revisions, but I probably should have had more before I hit the reply button; Ran out of time to edit it further.

  15. I’m mad at the world for the extreme mismatch between my talent/skills and their lack of perceived value in a free market economy. My life’s options have been to either be perpetually under/unemployed, or force myself into a career for which I have no aptitude or desire. I chose the former.

    I’m currently playing Don’t Starve Together with my women’s gaming group, since we can no longer meet in person to play RPGs. We die. A LOT. But we still have fun.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      I always just shut off the bosses, and turn down the dogs, frogs, wildfires, and winter. It works pretty well, then. :)

      1. Joshua says:

        I don’t mind most of those things. The Summer is just annoying though, which I guess includes your wildfires. My wife and I view it as the Endgame. If we make it through Summer, that’s the stopping point.

    2. BlueHorus says:

      I’m mad at the world for the extreme mismatch between my talent/skills and their lack of perceived value in a free market economy. My life’s options have been to either be perpetually under/unemployed, or force myself into a career for which I have no aptitude or desire. I chose the former.

      HAH! if this is a thing in Real Life*, I agree. So It Goes.

      *Man, I HATE that game; so unbalanced. Devs, pls nerf Everyone Else so I can win more. That’s part of why I play so many Computer Games…

  16. jpuroila says:

    I’ve been playing more Crusader Kings 2, this time as an Irish dynasty. I became immortal by an accident, then weathered the Aztex invasion by offering vassalage, converting to their religion, then reconverting and declaring independence a few decades later. Oh, and I was given a whole bunch of land in Francia. Then came the Black Death and now I’m working towards gaining a de jure empire. I might retire the run after I manage that, because there are some mods I want to try.

    I’ve also been playing Fallout New Vegas with Tale of Two Wastelands and a whole bunch of(other) mods. In the interests of maintaining fairness with Absolute Damage Treshhold(makes it so that DT can stop 100% of the damage instead of 80% max), I’ve restricted myself to light armor and no ballistic weapons(so no DT -15 or even DT -25 ammo). It turns out that Fallout 3 is REALLY stingy when it comes to energy weapons in the early game: you only get the chance to get a laser pistol once in Megaton and a very limited ammo for it, too. The DLC are the same, apart from Mothership Zeta; Operation: Anchorage limits you to a gauss rifle(and again: very limited ammo), The Pitt(which I haven’t actually done yet) seems to only have a unique laser rifle, and it’s tricky to get without using other weapons, and Point Lookout has very limited energy weapon availability as well. Compare and contrast that with New Vegas: you can buy a plasma pistol(and, if you’re lucky, even a mod for it) in Goodsprings and in general, energy weapons are pretty plentiful(in stores, if not wielded by enemies).

    Related to TTW, another mod I have installed is A World of Pain for Fallout 3(for TTW). It’s been… disappointing. It’s supposed to be a challenge/”hardcore” mod of sorts and I can see the appeal, but while fighting a centaur with 2500hp and an attack that deals enough damage to kill you with one hit(remembering that centaurs in Fallout 3 have a ranged attack) is certainly challenging, I don’t think that’s a particularly entertaining way of challenging players. Especially since the story/writing is very minimalist. When it comes to mods that add challenging fights, I much prefer the Someguy-series.

    1. ivan says:

      “I became immortal by an accident” – explain further!

      Also TTW I usually just play from a New Vegas start, just cos … well for starters I don’t like almost anything of Fallout 3. But also, cos I really enjoy making builds only theoretically possible via some glitches specific to the New Vegas starting/tutorial area.

      1. lucky7 says:

        The Immortal event is an exceedingly rare occurrence added by the Reaper’s Due DLC, requiring your character to have phenomenal stats just to have a chance at surviving, with the possibility of death or worse. In my thousands of hours with the game, I’ve only ever succeeded once, with Pontifex Maximus Eduardo the Dragon being assassinated at the age of 45.

        1. Decius says:

          I find that reforming a pagan religion into an egalitarian eldership solves most of the problems associated with dying. And having a retinue of 10k horse archers makes warfare pretty easy.

      2. Nimrandir says:

        It says quite a bit about Crusader Kings 2 that I read the phrase “I became immortal by an accident” and just accepted it as a reasonable thing, like a peasant uprising or an emergent heresy.

    2. John says:

      Hm. Immortality. I suppose that’s a thing I could do, now that I finally have all the expansions. On an unrelated note, you’re a brave, brave person for playing with the Sunset Invasion DLC active. I’ve never had the guts. Or the interest, frankly.

    3. Sleeping Dragon says:

      RE increasing difficulty: The last time I’ve replayed FO3 and I’ve decided to delve into difficulty mods (sadly I don’t remember names, it’s been a while and it’s a big scene) I found out I’ve enjoyed mods that generally raised lethality across the board. Admittedly I got into some frustrating fights where I only survived by scumsaving but it was also quite satisyfing to be able to take out enemies efficiently, especially through high oomph means like explosives.

  17. Ander says:

    Started playing Under Night: In Birth for the Switch. Nanase main. I got it because I’ve wanted to develop skill at a 2D fighter ever since Skullgirls made clear that I have none. I think I got it because of latent name recognition from when EVO added it to the lineup.
    Highly accessible (for the genre) and, I’m told, a solid example of it.
    Also still working through Persona 5: Royal. 65 hours clocked.

  18. miroz says:

    Cities Skylines – I never got to the big city phase, I always fiddle with cities until they grow to 10K people and I lose interest. But then I start again with a better city. So last month I build 3 such cities with different organizations and traffic solutions.

    XCOM2 – I got some recovery mission and it’s too hard. I can’t finish it but I also don’t want to skip it. Maybe I played too slow and didn’t advance enough but this never happened to me before, and I played original UFO, TFTD, Apocalypse, XCOM1. I kinda lost interest to play further.

  19. Mark Ayen says:

    I’ve been playing a lot of Dungeons & Dragons 5e on Roll20. Oh, you mean video games! I completed the main campaign of Mass Effect 3 (again) and am wrapping up the Citadel DLC, which I should complete tonight or tomorrow. I’ll probably jump back into Borderlands 3 next since I bought the Season Pass and still haven’t played the Guns, Love, and Tentacles DLC. What else? Greedfall is still sitting in its original packaging, so maybe I’ll break that out one of these days.

    While I know it isn’t video game per se, my new treadmill has iFit, which has some game-like features. Many of the workouts are FMV and the treadmill automatically changes speed and incline to match the video content. (You can override as well if the trainer is going to slow or too fast for your liking.) You get badges (achievements) for completing challenges and it tracks your progress. And you can create your own custom workouts using maps and street view data.

    1. Sabrdance (Matthew H) says:

      I had a game going last winter -which if I’d known a global pandemic was coming I’d have tried to make more adventures for. Roll20 is a pretty decent platform for remote playing.

  20. Joshua says:

    My wife really likes Survival/Crafting games, so when we want to play something together we’ve been playing Rising World. Of course, she’s the survivalist, so when she’s out gathering tons of meat and hides and fashioning weapons, I’m busy building a fully equipped house and castle.

    For single player, I went way retro in the past week or two and got some of the Gold Box games off of GOG, and started with Gateway to the Savage Frontier. It definitely is a trip back to when gaming interfaces had some noticeable flaws and the first couple editions of D&D we’re awfully bizarre and unbalanced.

    I was intending to be playing Wastelands 3 this month, but that got pushed back to August. I was thinking about Half-Life Alyx, but was uncertain about shelling out that much cash.

    1. Daimbert says:

      Gateway to the Savage Frontier was the only Gold Box game I managed to finish. And I ended up winning it with “a 30 ft per round movement rate”, as my party got slaughtered but my unencumbered mage managed to flee the room which wins the game. I keep planning to work through them but never manage to stick with it for long.

      1. Nimrandir says:

        I grabbed all the Gold Box games in a GOG sale years ago, but I got hung up when a bug messed up my playthrough of Pool of Radiance (leveling up one of my characters hung up the game for some reason). I probably should have started with Gateway instead, just because it has a fuller slate of classes and doesn’t start you at zero experience.

        1. Daimbert says:

          Yeah, that kinda annoyed me when I started playing PoR as well, especially since I had already played other games with more class options and was having a hard time coming up with a party to run through the series with.

          1. Nimrandir says:

            I’m enough of a purist that I wanted to play up to and through Secret of the Silver Blades with the same party. No paladins or rangers, though, was going to make that tough.

            1. Joshua says:

              The worst for me was the level caps for non-humans, which I believe the Krynn games removed or lessened. I tried starting up Pools of Darkness, and while I can start out with a level 14 Human Paladin, a Half-Elven Cleric-Mage was apparently capped at levels 5/6, not only for the start, but the rest of the game. That’s quite the deal-breaker.

              1. Nimrandir says:

                I have the old manuals from a compilation set I bought in physical form back in grad school, and I had already planned to quit after SotSB. The recommended starting party for Pools of Darkness was five humans (a paladin, two clerics, a mage, and a ranger who immediately dual-classes into mage) and a dwarven fighter/thief. The fact that only humans and thieves could level up at all in Pools of Darkness was a huge bummer.

                As I’ve gotten older, I have my doubts I would enjoy PoD much anyway. I’m much more comfortable at mid-levels in my role-playing.

                1. Joshua says:

                  I understand that. I heard great things about the game, but also a warning that the game was like “The Final Exam of Gold Box combat”. The first fight I got into was one where the game encouraged me to follow after someone (seriously, I skipped following him when prompted, and instead opted to look around and get my bearings, and the game responded with something like “There may still be time to catch up with the fleeing figure if you run after them now”), and I ended up bursting through a room after the figure all to find out it was a trap. All of the NPCs went first casting their spells, and I was shortly dead. That gave me a hint the game was going to feature a lot of “Hope you go first to wipe them out before they go first to do the same to you, which is otherwise known as Rocket Tag Gameplay

                  I don’t think I have it in me to go through an entire game of that. It’s a shame, because the graphics and interface were really improved.

      2. Joshua says:

        The last fight is kind of eye-rolling. The CRPG Addict discussed beating it by somehow importing a party from Curse of the Azure Bonds (who were all 10th level or higher with multiple wands and stuff), but it’s very difficult to actually win normally because the developers decided that the win state is you running away from the boss and letting the off-screen NPCs finish the enemies for you. Pretty bizarre ending.

        I had played Pool of Radiance, Curse of the Azure Bonds, and the first two Krynn games before it, which all seemed to have much better stories.

        1. Daimbert says:

          Huh. And here I thought I had cheated my way to the ending, when it turns out that I was playing it as intended all along [grin].

          1. Joshua says:

            You can kill the last boss, but the text outro still describes your party as scrambling away from him and the incoming armies, inserting the statues into the pyramid slots really quickly, and then watching how he and his minions are ripped apart from undead and beasts that appear.

  21. Lars says:

    Scrap Mechanic Survival is out since May 7th. So playing that alot.
    Divinity Original Sin in Co-op. I (we) finally made it out of that damn city, so in the third atempt the game suddenly got interesting.

    1. BlueHorus says:

      Do you mean Cyseal? Yeah, that game might well have one of the worst openings I’ve ever played.

      1. Joshua says:

        My wife and I got stuck in Cyseal, because we had played OS2 before OS1, and it was really slow. Interesting to know it gets much better later.

    2. John says:

      Do you mean that you’ve been able to leave the city and wander the rest of the map or that you’ve been able to leave that map entirely? I do hate the way the game traps you in Cyseal for a while. The joy of the first Original Sin is mostly in the combat. Running to and fro doing fetch quests and interrogations in Cyseal grows tiresome rather quickly. I’ll note, however, that there’s at least one way out of the city that bypasses the annoying guards who tell you that you haven’t leveled up enough to survive the zombies outside the gates. You can’t not do the various quests in Cyseal, unfortunately, but you can break them up a bit with some combat if you really want to.

  22. Aaron says:

    I finished a game called Tangle Tower, a very beautiful, wholesome, charming adventure game about a murder where the only seemingly possible weapon is a knife inside a painting. It’s on steam and switch now.

    I am also playing Higurashi chapter 3. The series has hooked me with brilliant mysteries but the slice of life segments that start each chapter can get obnoxious and creepily sexual.

  23. Cubic says:

    Last of Us 2 will be a very special, didactic experience for All of Us, I’m sure. If we buy it.

    I finished a replay of GTA Vice City in the weekend, which reminded me that it’s a good game. The main weirdness is the near-universal lack of tire grip in the cars. (Not a problem if you assemble all the cars at Sunshine Autos.) This time I started out by flinging myself onto the mainland and collecting almost all the hidden packages and getting lots of weird weapons in my safe house. Very Miami in the 80s. It got a bit too easy though.

    Looking back on that generation of GTA games, all but one of them get the full five stars. GTA Vice City Stories is the runt of the litter and basically runs the story in quasi-realistic/depressing mode, which doesn’t really work for this sort of game. (See also: GTA IV.) But the rest are just great, with GTA San Andreas at the peak of course. (Though I wouldn’t mind if someone replaced the awkward GTA 3 controls with those of one of the modern games. Please. If you read this, rockstar dev, just … please.)

    Meanwhile, Apple’s arcade effort seems to have led to a lot of semi-cute mobile style shovelware, but there have also been some ports of old real games too, which is nice. I’m currently playing Bully and Lego Star Wars, with KOTOR and Castlevania lined up. I see that various Final Fantasies are available too, maybe I should try them out after that.

    Finally, I had a look at Steam’s attempt to stream games from Mac to Ipad. To get it to run, Valve basically had to rape my Mac with a number of weird installs and requests for very broad permissions. It all seemed pretty crazy, but I guess this is what life is for you PC gamers. Verdict: Uninstalled it. Or at least tried to, because the new stuff didn’t obey the usual mac rules for this. Then listened to the Crying Game while weeping in the shower, which neatly reconnects us to the start of this comment.

    1. Mephane says:

      Last of Us 2 will be a very special, didactic experience for All of Us, I’m sure. If we buy it.

      I don’t have a PS4 so I never played it – is this an insider joke or reference to the first game?

        1. Olivier FAURE says:

          Is it me or is that youtuber kind of creepy and acrimonious?

          1. Jim says:

            I’d disagree on the creepy, but biting commentary and critique is kind of his thing, although he’s also been branching out into praises of stuff he enjoys. I guess you could call most of his videos acrimonious, but typically deservedly so. (He’s also an author, Will Jordan. Can’t comment personally on the quality of his books since I’m not much a fan of action thrillers, but he’s apparently “an internationally published bestselling author”, for whatever that’s worth these days.)

          2. Vinsomer says:

            It’s not just you…

  24. SidheKnight says:

    Playing The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.

    Pretty good, so far. Though I have not yet experienced the “awesomeness” that most people have, perhaps because I’ve not advcanced far enough into the game yet (I’m in Velen, just finished the Bloody Baron storyline, with the best possible ending). The game world certainly is impressive and massive, it feels alive, and there’s lot of care and attention to detail. Although all of that gets diminished by fast travel and spending more time looking at the minimap than at the world itself. And the combat is still not great. It’s good, serviceable, but I hate that they made sign-heavy builds much less viable.

    Still Gwent is quite addictive though.

    1. ZekeCool says:

      You’ve summed up the whole game, so if you’re not enjoying it so far it may just not be for you. The actual combat is lackluster and repetitive as hell, as are the hundreds of place markers on each map. The good part of Witcher is it’s world and animations, I’m really not sure why it’s become some people’s Best Game Ever.

    2. Gargamel Le Noir says:

      Warning : Witcher 3 has highs and lows. At first generally people are impressed, then they get bored, and they often quit during the first third of the game. However if you keep playing you’ll reach the parts that justify its incredible reputation, culminating with the absolutely fantastic Blood&Wine expansion.

    3. BlueHorus says:

      I’ll second Zeke. You’ve seen enough of the game to know what it’s about; the rest is very much (a LOT) More Of The Same.

      For me -and I think a lot of people – the storytelling is what makes it. Chasing question marks over the map is boring as hell; but the story sections (and some of the Witcher Contracts) are so well done that I’m really engaged.
      Yet, if the story’s not doing it for you…

      1. SidheKnight says:

        It’s hard for me sometimes to follow the story on wide open world games, since I have an obsession with clearing all of the side content (or as much as the game allows) before advancing with the main quest/storyline. It’s a major reason why I got tired of the Assassin’s Creed games, the went really overboard with the side content/collect-a-thon. By the time I return to the main quest, I forget where I was (fortunately it hasn’t happened to me yet in this game).

        From what I gather of the story so far, it’s good, not as good as the stories in the books, but I guess that’s to be expected. I expect it to get better later, just like it happened with the previous two games.

  25. ydant says:

    Remnant: From the Ashes – Started as a co-op game for my wife and I to play as we grew bored of Division 2, and Borderlands 3 never really hooked us. Really scratched the co-op PVE shooter need for us – but it’s basically the Dark Souls of… this type of game, and the difficulty for the boss-fights ramps up too much for my wife to enjoy. The new rogue-like survival mode just released as DLC is a lot of fun if you get a good team. It starts you off with a small budget and no equipment, level 1 against level 1 enemies. You level up with collectables and experience, the enemies level up on a timer. Move quickly, you overpower the enemies, move slowly, they overpower you. My biggest complaint is the upgrade items are shared – and if you get a team that’s rushing through and hoovering up the upgrades, you can end up underpowered and weak and useless – leading to a total wipe and a reset.

    Overcooked 2 – This is how the whole family’s playing together. Makes no sense given the stressful times, but something about this game is really fun. More-so than the original Overcooked, for reasons I can’t quite figure out. One of the four of us doesn’t like to play as much, but she’s happy to expedite orders from the sidelines – which is really quite helpful and inclusive.

    Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order – I wanted to like it. I picked it up on sale. The game is beautiful and has a lot of nice touches, but it runs poorly on my PC (probably solvable with down-tweaking the graphics more), and just doesn’t feel as good to play as I’d hoped. Too much quicktime and reaction-based gameplay – but without the strong cues that make Remnant satisfying for timing and reaction-based gameplay. I’m still in the return window and considering it.

    Oxygen Not Included – Typical cycle for me. Forgot about it for a long time, then I started watching a new streamer/lets play run-through, and I MUST PLAY NOW. Such a time drain game – it’s always fun, but leaves me at the end of the day thinking “I spent all this time, and have nothing to show for it.”.

    Breath of the Wild – Not playing it, but want to. Just can’t bring myself to pay full price – especially when I can’t return it if it just doesn’t click.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      I think the problem with Oxygen Not Included (and similarly, Rimworld), is that the setbacks you get are all part of the self-feedback loop of this big simulation. If you’re doing well, you can keep getting ahead, but if you fall behind, you have a harder time getting out of the downwards spiral. Contrast that with something like, Left 4 Dead, where the computer spawns some extra enemies for a big battle, but after surviving that, you’re basically back to neutral. At least in Factorio, you can just disable monsters. :)

      1. Hector says:

        For ONI, I really *wanted* to like it but simply had no idea what to do or even where to start with the interface. After some frustrating hours, I refunded the game as it simply was not going to be worth the time and trouble to learn it.

  26. Rodyle says:

    Good God, it’s been ages since I’ve posted here…

    I’ve been playing Earth Defense Force 5 with friends a lot. It’s been a huge amount of fun. We’re down to the last few missions on hardest, and are planning to maybe also do an Inferno playthrough after that.

    I’ve been doing some casual Mindustry on the side. I like it, but I feel like it’ll get sort of stale soon.

    Lastly, I’ve been faffing around with TaleSpire, to see if I’m going to gift it to all of my players when it releases properly. I’m as of yet undecided.

    In all honesty: I haven’t really been feeling videogames lately. I want a good role playing game, but I haven’t been able to find any click with any of them. I sort of want to retry that total overhaul mod of Skyrim, but well, it’ll be still comparable to TES games, which haven’t clicked with me so far. I found that it was more worth my while to focus on other hobbies, such as baking bread and DnD related stuff.

    1. Rodyle says:

      Forgot to say: I finished Heaven’s Vault recently. I liked that one a lot. It was unique and fun. It gave me a lot of ideas for how to construct a language which I can use in a West Marches style campaign I’m planning.

      1. Olivier FAURE says:

        Heaven’s Vault is kind of good, but it’s really not a game you want to finish in one setting.

        Actually, you might want to have a book or a podcast ready when you’re playing, because there are a lot of sequences where you have essentially zero input for a fairly long time.

        The language mechanic was really great, though it got a little frustrating with longer sentences. Correctly guessing the meaning of a world based on the understanding of its composite characters (this character means “of”, this character means “me”, this characters means “many”… so the word must be “our”?) was incredibly rewarding.

        But seriously, this game was 3 times too long. I really wish there was a way to accelerate the endgame grind, because as fun as the translations were, everything else was a drag.

        Also, if you “unlock” the Empress companion early enough, you can quickly find a lot of scenes that weren’t written with that plot point in mind.

        1. Rodyle says:

          > The language mechanic was really great, though it got a little frustrating with longer sentences

          What annoyed the hll out of me was trying to figure out what the game wanted sometimes, especially in larger fragments you hadn’t seen before. Like, like, when I’m really sure that an ‘of’ before a join character wasn’t part of a word, but the game was like: “you’re not done entering known words yet”.

    2. Sleeping Dragon says:

      When talking about the Skyrim conversion mod do you mean Enderal? I found it very good when I played it some 2 or so years ago. Had some stability issues (though no more than I’d expect from a heavily modded Skyrim in general) but I personally felt the scope of the game felt just right to scratch that “play a TES game” itch without getting overwhelming or making me get tired/bored halfway through the game, though I did ignore a few side stories. It is much more story focused than Skyrim and better for it and while I did find strong echoes of Mass Effect at the core of its narrative it does its own thing with those inspirations and the game actually left me wanting more. if they released a paid sequel I’d be happy to fork over some money for it.

      1. Rodyle says:

        Thanks for the reply. Yeah, I meant Enderal. Great to hear that you had fun with it. I’ll definitely try it now!

  27. lucky7 says:

    For my part, I finally got around to playing The Witcher 3 and its DLC. All told, I think it was pretty good, and I really enjoyed the humorous moments. For me, my biggest gripe was how quickly my swords seemed to degrade, like I’d barely finished one contract or so of Mutant Lawnmowering before I needed to repair it again.

    Having gotten the achievement for all the Witcher Contracts, I’ve decided to start over again on Death March, and ho boy it is…a different experience. Part of me hopes it gets better once I level up my signs, but it feels like the game is not necessarily fine-tuned enough for that level of difficulty.

    As far as non-video games, I joined a Discord server and am currently running two games of Monster of the Week, and one of Stars Without Number. I’m also joining a game of MotW on Thursday which I am very excited for.

    1. Henson says:

      Death March is certainly a challenge, but I think it’s mostly fair. Mostly. The two things that helped me were (a) you can parry dogs, wolves, and nekkers, which helps when being swarmed, and (b) knowing when to use ‘roll’ dodge as opposed to the ‘sidestep’ dodge is important.

  28. Christopher Dwight Wolf says:

    Just played through Star Wars Jedi Knight III: Jedi Academy after I got lost and frustrated in the previous game. I don’t have time to get lost!

    Actually I do have time. Started up playing 5e Dnd with my friends on Discord and am trying out Pathfinder 2e on Roll20.

    Also played through the Alpha of Wrath of the Righteous. That and my brother inspired me to try Pathfinder.

    Saw the super charity sale on Square’s Enix’s Eidos bundle which I apparently missed, but has inspired me to do another Deus Ex Human Revolution and Mankind Divided run. I know that they are not everbody’s favorite, but I really like those particular games. Those and Alpha Protocol really get to me.

    1. SidheKnight says:

      What did you think of Jedi Academy? Just curious.

      1. Christopher Wolf says:

        It has the most sophisticated lightsaber combat of the series, doesn’t have super confusing maps, some pretty interesting mission design, and the Dark side ending final fight is epic for the series. Worth checking out if you liked other games in the series.

    2. Thomas says:

      Deus Ex: Mankind Divided’s Prague map, might be one of the best ‘worlds’ in a game ever. I love how interconnected everything is, and how you can seemless go from quest hook to quest hook, in fairly natural ways “I was going through an apartment complex to find a gangster and stumbled upon a room with a pair of binoculars set-up – wait that’s my room they’re pointing at, who is this person….”

      It’s a shame the marketing for the game, and the lack of a closed story* spoiled the games reputation. I would love more games like it!

      *And the bugs – it was the first time I experienced a ‘restart the game from the beginning bug’ in something like the last 15 years. It reminded me the bad old days of trying to get games to run on a family Windows 95 PC.

  29. Bo says:

    Ladykiller in a Bind! Been meaning to get around to it, and now finally did.

  30. Sabrdance (Matthew H) says:

    Warframe. It’s a very different experience when you have friends who are on reliably. The game has a difficulty curve mismatch around MR7-12 where the enemies are harder than the equipment you have available, so having squads helps get over that hump.

    Bannerlord. I like the game. I want to like it more. Honestly, while graphically and mechanically it’s an improvement over Warband, I’m not sure I don’t still like Warband better.

    For communal games, we’ve been playing Mysterium over Steam, and are looking to pick up Ticket to Ride, and maybe Carcassone.

    Games I’d like to get back into:

    Cities:Skylines – but my last city got wiped out by a tsunami before I could even build shelters, and I have a real hard time going back to it.

    XCOM2 – I was hunting the Warlock when my computer crashed, and I lost the save. I want to finish War of the Chosen, but I don’t want to replay all of it again.

    Sims 2 – Such a fun game, but never enough time.

    Kerbal Space Program – I have an 11 person space station to build above the Mun, but I already have a 9 person space station there, and it feels really redundant to put a new station there. I wish the Contracts had a bit more rhyme and reason to them.

    1. Rodyle says:

      > Kerbal Space Program – I have an 11 person space station to build above the Mun, but I already have a 9 person space station there, and it feels really redundant to put a new station there. I wish the Contracts had a bit more rhyme and reason to them.

      I feel that the entire contract system was so haphazardly attached that I’d much rather play without it. The science system is mostly fine, I think, although I disagree somewhat with how the tech tree was set up. However, the contract system as a way to earn money just doesn’t work for how I think most players would like to and/or have played the game.

      1. Dalisclock says:

        I briefly tried playing the contract mode and couldn’t really get into it. I’d rather play science to give some sort of structure or just freeform so I can jump right into building the stuff I really want to build. It’s also the only game I really bother with mods(other then Sekiro because fuck some of those bosses) for some more interesting parts(and of course, mechjeb).

        1. Rodyle says:

          If you want fun mods which alter gameplay:

          kOS : gives you a basic scripting language you can use to automate your rockets
          Infernal Robotics: adds movable robotics parts. Very fun to faff around with.
          TAC life support: add parts and new mechanics which require you to have life support systems on rockets.
          SCANsat: Adds surface level scanning of planets. Gives you a good reason to make satelites to check out other planets.
          RemoteTech: Improves the communications network system. You have to have contact with the HQ in order to contorl probes or send back data, and it has much more interesting ranges and takes lines of sight into account.

          But the best one is still
          Principia: N-body physics! No more: “oh, you’re out of range of this steller body, so no influence”. No, you’re drawn to anything. Finally you can place a permanent station at one of the Lagrange points!

      2. Sabrdance (Matthew H) says:

        I like the contracts because they give me things to do. In sandbox mode I quickly run out of things I want to do, or feel I’m ready to do. Example: I have sent probes to Eve and Duna, but never a manned mission because I never feel ready to launch it. The contracts provide a spur to send a space station to Duna, for example. They also provide a method for putting up my comsat network.

        Left to my own devices, I tend to piddle around in Kerbal orbit.

        So that’s the value of the contracts to me, but they don’t quite work as well as I’d like.

        1. Rodyle says:

          That’s true. I usually try to make up my own story in KSP, but I can see how it’s such a sandbox that deciding to do anything feels a bit empty.

    2. Echo Tango says:

      I really want to get my friends to play Mysterium with me. It’s really simple, and the games are quick! :)

  31. Syal says:

    Nostalgia-genre games this month, pretty much just Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark and Bug Fables.

    Completed the bad ending of Fell Seal, and have mixed feelings on the game. Enjoyed it, but won’t be going back soon.
    Combat is fairly balanced, but I’m not really here for balanced; the closest thing to an exploit I found so far was using the ranged classes, and healing seems to outpace damage so fights generally open with an unsatisfying waiting game where you spend three turns hitting an enemy and they spend one turn healing with a potion, until they run out of potions and you can actually kill them. Characters gain AP but not XP outside combat and stats are massively important so if you ignore someone long enough they become useless.
    Story is mediocre; game’s pretty blunt force about subtlety. early on the characters were aware enough to catch all the hints, but late game they start missing things and it just makes things worse. Characters and plots don’t go anywhere; there’s seven council members but only five show up, makes you wonder why there’s not just five. Doesn’t help the Act 1 boss is a mashup of the Act 1 and Act 2 bosses from Final Fantasy Tactics so I’ve been comparing Fell Seal’s weak story to FFT’s excellent one the whole time.

    On the other hand, Bug Fable is a take on Paper Mario, and yet is actually taking its plot pretty seriously; the levels all have had more plot relevence than the Paper Marios ever had. Combat is fairly well-balanced, bosses are rough with the Hard Mode badge on, and there are some exploits in this one, plus a bunch of superbosses I so far have no idea how to handle. I’m… 2/3 through, maybe? Really enjoying it.
    Don’t much like the puzzles, some of them are fairly labor-intensive. Also gotten lost a fair few times. Then there was a fight I lost because only one of my characters could hit the boss and that character got knocked out when I had no way to revive them, so that was irritating.

    1. John says:

      I don’t love the story or the storytelling in Fell Seal, but I think that, given the quality of the stuff that we did get, the sparseness of the storytelling counts as a point in its favor. There are some interesting ideas in the backstory. As hints and tidbits, they’re intriguing. (I’m pretty sure that the bzil, the bug people, were formerly the dominant species in Teora.) Given the state of the writing, however, I have a feeling that they’d have been ruined if they’d been given a more thorough treatment. I’d rather sit through a short so-so story than suffer through a worse and longer one.

      The practical difference between the good ending and the bad ending is that you get to do one more fight. The extra fight has a few novel mechanics–Chekhov’s ancient evil gets a new ability or two and some new minions with an extremely annoying counter ability–but it isn’t especially hard unless for some reason you don’t deploy enough healers. Funnily enough, I think that the good ending is the good ending mostly on technicalities. It’s undoubtedly better for some of the characters and I do think it’s more satisfying, but it’s not exactly happy. I suppose it all depends on whether you prefer stability and corruption to the threat of chaos and civil war.

      Oh, and a sixth Immortal does show up briefly as a boss at the end of a sequence of optional end-game levels. She doesn’t do much for the story, but it’s a nice, challenging fight.

      1. Syal says:

        Sparseness is fine, but the balance of power should be established. When Sigil showed up I expected them to be the villain-of-the-chapter with one or two fights, and then they ended up being a main antagonist and I’m like “Wait, are they actually a political power? I thought they were just brash children.” Then I’m comparing them to the Death Corps from FFT, which is explicitly shattering apart from the pressure it’s under, which makes story fights feel like they impact the overall balance.

        Good to hear the Immortal does something. Didn’t realize until Act 4 or so that there were unmarked events in various places so probably missed some stuff. (Actually I know I missed stuff since I’m missing a key for the Good Ending Sidequest.)

  32. bean says:

    Aurora, a very unusual space 4X game. It’s free, has no graphics, and the sort of depth that is matched only by Dwarf Fortress. For me, it’s very addictive. A major update came out a month or so ago.

    There are other video games?

    (I actually like it enough to have started a tutorial on my blog, but it’s going to be a few weeks before it’s anywhere close to done.)

  33. Benden says:

    I’m a little anxious about you calling it “T-virus.” As in from Resident Evil, where the virus was man-made? Feels dangerous to make that comparison.

    1. Shamus says:

      Oh, I didn’t really think about that aspect of it. I just wanted to make light of our Current Predicament by comparing it to something absurd.

      1. Dalisclock says:

        I kept making jokes that I died so many times in Sekiro that now everyone in the real world has dragonrot.

        So far no one has unfriended me for that, so the T-Virus makes me chuckle.

  34. Sean says:

    I am, clearly belatedly, playing through Vampyr. The setting during the Spanish Flu seemed just kind of resonant to me right now.

    While it’s got the hack and slash side of things (which frankly I’m finding just tedious), the amount of emphasis on interacting with NPCs and trying to dig out their secrets is fascinating. I think the game has lead me to spend much more time on that, so between the mediocre experience of killing things combined with the (to some) boring focus on not killing things, I can see why it didn’t seem to make much of a splash.

    1. Thomas says:

      I love when you first arrive at the hospital and there are so many characters to get to know and mysteries to solve, that you can just run around for a couple of hours advancing your knowledge of everyone’s relationships without touching the main quest. It reminded me of the Brothel in Planescape Tormet.

    2. Nimrandir says:

      I bought Vampyr on sale at the beginning of the year, but the pandemic leaving my ten-year-old at home with me all the time makes starting that game . . . problematic.

  35. Karma The Alligator says:

    Playing Subnautica. First time playing it, and I’ve played 34 hours of it in the last 4 days (and days 3 and 4 included 10 hours of work each, while day 2 included about 4 hours of work). I might be addicted to it.

    Some design decisions make no sense (like being unable to carry a bag with any item in it… Isn’t that the point of bags? To help you carry stuff?) that are thankfully covered by mods, but overall it’s a solid time waster with an absolutely massive world to explore and strip mine. Also induces a lot of panic attacks due to it being underwater and a lot of times having low visibility. Good times.

    1. Sleeping Dragon says:

      I’ve started Subnautica twice, both times arrived at around the point where I need to start delving into dark depths and… just leaving the game sitting there because that’s bloody scary.

      1. BlueHorus says:

        Oh yes. Scary indeed. I had to mix Base Building in with delving into the deeper depths of that game before I made it through.*
        But…I’ll say this: ‘If you’ve faced/found a Reaper, you’ve faced the worst this game has to offer. Keep going.’
        (Yeah, this game is one of my favorites; does so much I appreciate well.)

        *Every time I found a new biome, I fled. ‘Arrgh, Giant Mushrooms? Run away!’
        (Never mind that the Mushroom Forests are actually one of the safest places in the game…)

        1. Dalisclock says:

          The Crabsquids were worse for me, because unlike the Reapers, they can/do show up a lot more places and they look fucking creepy.

          I nicknamed them “Mr. Hugs”, due to their “hug arms”. It didn’t help make it any less creepy.

          1. Karma The Alligator says:

            Ah, yes, the EMP squids. Gave me a massive fright when my PRAWN suddenly told me to “swim for the surface”. Er, dude, I’m 600m below, I’m not making it to the surface.

        2. Sleeping Dragon says:

          Oh it’s a great game, very strong design and I think that’s a big part of my problem. I’ve seen a reaper, they’re not difficult to spot. In fact one of the first, if not the first, you’re likely to see is in an open, flat area with little to no distractions probably just so you can get a good look at that big serpentine shape from a safe distance (and judge what “safe distance” is). They’re actually quite pretty. I’ve also spoiled some things for myself so I know they follow rules: there’s a limited number of them in the game, they stick to certain areas, they can even be killed (though I understand it’s not the intended approach) none of that changes the fact that I reach a point past which I’m just too scared to explore.

      2. Dalisclock says:

        Oh, yeah, the deep, dark parts can get fucking terrifying. I don’t consider myself Thalassophobic(fear of deep, dark water) but Subnautica did a pretty good job of simulating such fears. I imagine if I was actually so the game would be near unplayable.

        It helps a little when you realize certain monsters only spawn in certain areas…..but when you don’t know where those areas are….

      3. Karma The Alligator says:

        It is, but once you get there once (preferably in the Seamoth, so that you can easily go back up if needed) and can plan a route, it’s a lot less scary on return trips, especially in the PRAWN.

  36. tmtvl says:

    I just finished a 100% achievements run of Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin, including the two illusory rings. NG+ really shows off what chumps the bosses are.

    With that done, however, I’ve been playing some Satellite Reign when I’m not programming. I’ll probably go for 100% achievements as well, depending on how much CBD kicks me in the shins.

    1. Nimrandir says:

      I really need to get back to my Dark Souls II playthrough. I got killed by the Pursuer and couldn’t bring myself to burn an Effigy for enough health to try it again.

      I’m a serious resource miser.

      1. tmtvl says:

        I think in regular DSII the buckler is also found on the bit before the tower where you meet Melentia. You don’t need full dex to be able to parry with it.
        Also, bludgeoning is OP against armoured dudes (like Purse User, Dragon Rider, Ruin chumps,…), so I’d recommend grabbing a club or mace.
        Alternatively, go through Warf and grab OP hammer from underneath McDoof.

        1. Nimrandir says:

          I actually started as a Cleric for the extra healing, so I have the mace. I’m also probably over-leveled, because I somehow missed the path to the Forest of Fallen Giants and face-planted into the Tower of Flame for quite a while before frustration drove me back to Majula.

          The resource-miser problem comes in thanks to the density of Tower deaths having me at minimum HP, so I had to play perfectly against the Pursuer.

          1. Sleeping Dragon says:

            When you say minimum HP you mean half, right? I think there is a ring in the Tower of Flame (at least I remember having it when I was exploring the area) that stops the health drop at 25%? Although obviously this does cost you a ring slot. There is also a DLC related way to stop it completely though that is pretty much an endgame thing. And at the end of the day even with the limited respawn there is still enough exp to go around so that you can put on some heavier armour or just increase your HP pool.

            1. Nimrandir says:

              My fault — I meant maximum death penalty to HP. I have human effigies to bounce back to full HP, but I’m terrible about hoarding items like that. I’m the sort of player who only used Mega Man’s peashooter until I got to boss rooms.

              1. tmtvl says:

                Was funny after I did the run for the Illusory Ring of the… Conqueror? The one you get after defeating Nashandra if you haven’t died in the game. Afterwards I went back and grabbed everything, ending up with 99 effigies. That did mean in NG+ when Lucatiel gave me an effigy I couldn’t accept it and her dialogue wouldn’t advance. Because I was doing the Exalted(? the one where you don’t rest at non-primal bonfires) run I had to discard one.

              2. Sleeping Dragon says:

                Yeah, I figured, and IIRC it caps at a cut of 50% health pool and there is a ring that limits that to 25%.

                1. Nimrandir says:

                  I didn’t know there was a Cling Ring analogue, so thank you for the tip.

                  Funnily enough, I failed to notice the reappearance of the death penalty until I was down by a quarter or so. The separation from my time with Demon’s Souls was sufficient to make me forget it had ever been a thing.

                2. tmtvl says:

                  It caps out at 50%… unless you’ve a sin status of Wretch (you’d need to kill a fair few NPC’s, though). Then it goes all the way to leaving you with 10%.

                  1. Nimrandir says:

                    Yeah, I’m way too much of a goody-two-shoes for that. I’m shocked I was able to finish a Renegade playthrough of Mass Effect.

    2. DeadlyDark says:

      I liked Satellite Reign. Perfect cyberpunk atmosphere and one of the better games that came out of Kickstarter. I’m surprised Shamus never talked about it, as far as I know

      1. John says:

        I loved Satellite Reign but it doesn’t strike me as a Shamus game. There’s barely any narrative, you don’t get to build anything, and the music isn’t EDM. More seriously, Satellite Reign plays a bit like an RTS–one where you control just four hero units–and I don’t think I’ve ever heard Shamus talk about playing an RTS that isn’t Starcraft.

          1. John says:

            Well, silly me. I know I was reading the blog circa 2008 but I have no memory of that article at all.

  37. Gargamel Le Noir says:

    Tabletop RPG wise I’m about to start a roll20 game of Orpheus, the unjustly unknown White Wolf game where you play as humans who found how to project as ghosts and start exploring the after life for fun and profits. I’m aiming at a mood that goes from pure horror when they find themselves fighting spectres to The Office type humor when they have to deal with their hilariously out of touch corporate hierarchy.

    Videogame wise I’m also playing Chimera Squad and strongly recommend it to people who never could get into X-Com because it’s just too daunting. It’s a very nice X-Com lite, and is pretty damned cheap.
    I’m also still replaying Baldur’s Gate. I finished the first one again, and I’m kind of upset I ever played it without my current mods, especially the NPC mod that adds a ton of dialogues to all NPCs. They react to conversations, the other NPCs react to each other, there are romances and conflicts and backstory. Entirely bland NPCs become deep and likable characters. The author of this mod nailed almost all of it, to the point when it’s hard to differentiate what was added by the mod and what was already in the game sometimes.

  38. Raion says:

    Fun fact, Salieri was hugely successful and influential in his career, and when he decided he couldn’t keep up and adapt his style to the changing times, he was content to teach others for free.
    The worst he may have done to Mozart was underbid him for pupils.

    1. Boobah says:

      Yeah, I wanted to yell at the monitor that Amadeus isn’t history. Nor is Salieri and Mozart, which debuted in 1830, and includes Salieri murdering Mozart.

      1. Shamus says:

        That’s why I linked the play, and not the Wikipedia article for the REAL Salieri. The fictional Salieri is an immensely useful character for illustrating a host of problems related to creative fields.

        Also, while looking up that article I discovered that in the stage production, Salieri was played by not-yet-Sir Ian Mckellen. F Murray Abraham was brilliant in the role, but I’d love to see what the movie would have looked like if McKellen got the role in the movie.

        1. Nimrandir says:

          It’s probably always going to be an issue when discussing a fictionalized version of a historical person. Folks who know the history will presume you’re taking the fiction for fact, unless you specifically point out the fiction.

          Now I’m curious what other historical figures would present this problem. Sadly, I don’t know enough about either British history or Shakespeare to contrast characters from his historical plays.

  39. Nimrandir says:

    With Shamus’ recent focus on programming content, I started binging through the Let’s Play archives, and re-reading about Lulzy led me to jump back into Lord of the Rings Online. My champion is up to level 42 (obligatory Hitchhiker’s Guide joke here). I’m kinda bummed though. Aragorn asked me to retrieve something necessary for the reforging of Narsil, but the last quest in the line requires a fellowship and isn’t easy to overlevel for solo play. I’ve been having enough fun that I’ll probably end up asking for assistance in chat. Once my son finishes up his school year, we’re going to take a crack at the game together.

    Also, my university is planning to start up an e-sports team in the fall, so I picked up a pre-owned copy of Overwatch to familiarize myself with the game over the summer.

    Also also, my son and I have been pecking away at the multiplayer quests in Monster Hunter Generations. I’ll eventually work up the gumption to take a crack at the single-player Shagaru Magala.

    1. Jason says:

      I started playing LOTRO about 3 weeks ago for the first time. I currently have two chars, both around level 21 (On a side note, I hate the word Toon and will never use it). A Hobbit hunter and a Dwarf Champion. They’ve been moving kind of slowly because I’ve been doing the Anniversary events every day, but both of their questlines are currently near Bree, so it’s not that far for them.
      I bit the bullet and paid $30 for 3 months of VIP to get all the benefits. I have a feeling I will probably be burned out by then anyway. I have a love/hate relationship with MMOs. I usually play solo until I get to the point where there isn’t really any benefit to soloing, but I usually don’t get past that. My play time is very erratic so joining a clan/league/kin usually doesn’t work out well for me, and I don’t have any friends who play, so it’s difficult to find people to group with.

      I played Everquest long ago for several years, totally skipped WOW, and put a ton of time into DC Universe Online. I dabbled with Neverwinter and Rift, and tried Elder Scrolls Online, but didn’t get into it at all.

  40. Thomas says:

    Greedfall. I avoided this game for while, and I reget that. We’ve been lacking really good RPGs this generation and Greedfall is a good one. What really struck me is how you’re an important diplomat in the game, and the game goes out of the way to acknowledge it in almost every quest. Doctor won’t let you into the morgue? “Pardon me, allow me to introduce myself, I’m the the legal representative of the governer, I have the authority to go through this building with a toothpick if I wish”.

    Your quests are building alliances, and relationships and solving diplomatic incidents. One quest led me to fight some soldiers of an allied country – I thought the game had gone off the rails – but no, as soon as the fight ended my character acknowledged the diplomatic ramifications and arranged to keep the fight a secret.

    The combat is decently fun, with a meaningful dodge and parry, and the upgrade system forces you to pick paths instead of choosing everything. The non-combat skills feel useful but also rare – you really need to pick them well because they all mean something.

    A nice twist too is that clothes can carry buffs to non-combat skills, including crafting. So you might need to keep a set of clothes specially to wear when making items. Oh and the whole tricorn and doublet look is a welcome change of pace from generic fantasy armour and robes!

    The issue is, this is a AA / indie game and I’m worried there are signs of the small budget coming through. Some quests seemed to end abruptly, or didn’t include companion interactions that you might expect, as though there wasn’t quite the time or money to polish everything. I’m worried the overall quality might suddenly drop-off as I continue to play.

    The Current Situation has also pushed me into multiplayer gaming for the first time:
    Monster Hunter World The detail of the monster hunts, and their behaviour and the way they interact with the world and other creatures in an ecosystem is great, and ultimately makes this worth while, but man does this game have problems.
    1) Despite being designed around co-op, there’s no straightforward way of playing through story missions together, and these gate the other missions you can play and areas you can visit.
    2) When doing optional hunts it feels like they reduce the HP of monsters, which takes a lot of the fun out of hunting them
    3) The armour looks stupid. Particularly for females.
    4) The sheer number of systems are overwhelming. At the start it feels more like some complicated mobile grinder RPG than a true console game.

    Rocket League my skill level has either plateaued or I’m getting worse. It’s amazing how much the defence improves with a little headset coordination though.

    1. Thomas says:

      Oh one more Greedfall thing – it seems like often the punishment for not having a skill to talk your way out of a quest (or doing a skill quest), is reputational loss with the faction rather than not being able to continue the quest. I thought that was a clever way of making skills checks less of a binary system. You can weigh up if it’s worth the reputational hit.

      1. Sleeping Dragon says:

        I must have said it before but yeah, that sounds like Spiders (the dev). I have not played Greedfall yet but their previous games showed that these are people in love with RPGs with some very good ideas though lacking the skill (this seems to be improving) and resources to fully pull off and polish their visions. That said I found even some of their more janky games (Mars:War Logs) to be worth playing for the nuggets of gold that are there.

        1. Thomas says:

          I was finding quite a bit to like in Bound by Flame, but I didn’t get too far. I hadn’t noticed they were the same developer, Greedfall feels like a big step up (so far).

    2. Nimrandir says:

      Are you playing Monster Hunter World on PC or console? I set my run at it aside because I was tired of soloing everything.

      1. Thomas says:

        PS4, it’s definitely more fun in multiplayer. Just having the monsters sometimes pay attention to the other guy is nice.

        1. Nimrandir says:

          Ooh! How far along are you? I was certain anyone else on Twenty Sided would be on PC.

          1. Thomas says:

            I’ve just unlocked the Coral map, I started playing it this week and I’ve had to juggle a few things. Do you have it on PS4 as well?

            1. Nimrandir says:

              Yup! My PSN handle is Nimrandir_PhD if you’d like to look me up.

              What weapons are you using?

              1. Thomas says:

                Switch axe! It took me a long time to find one I liked, I wanted to use the Kinsect Glaive but my friend was using it and it made sense to switch it up. I don’t like the weapons that really slow you’re walking speed, and the hammer reach was too short. I could see trying out the light bowgun but I’ve got a thing about needing to craft the ammo to use.

                1. Nimrandir says:

                  Yeah, two hunters doing the aerial dogfighting shtick at once is probably not a good call. I used the glaive for all of low rank and about half of high rank, until I realized I didn’t have the dodge timing to solo elder dragons without a shield.

                  I’ve still got my low-rank armor, and I’m happy to cook up a bowgun for multiplayer.

    3. baud says:

      you’re an important diplomat in the game, and the game goes out of the way to acknowledge it in almost every quest

      I played last year most of a RPG called Queen’s Wish, in which you’re playing a prince that has been sent to a far away island to bring a few unruly vassals to heel. Even if your role is sometime acknowledge, I didn’t feel it went beyond paying lip service: ‘Welcome prince, go kill the rats from that mine’ ‘but my soldiers…’ ‘they can’t do it. Only you.’.
      I think it could have been a good idea to have the option to send soldiers to clear those secondary quest locations, perhaps not for all of them, but one or two by region.

    4. Rodyle says:

      > 1) Despite being designed around co-op, there’s no straightforward way of playing through story missions together, and these gate the other missions you can play and areas you can visit.

      The best way we found to do this is to start the mission independently, and the first person to finish the cutscenes quits the mission and joins the other.

      > 3) The armour looks stupid. Particularly for females.

      What annoys me particularly is that so blood many of the head pieces also have some sort of alternative hair.

  41. Henson says:

    For some reason, I’ve been playing Final Fantasy 12. Like, I’ve had the game on mute most of the time, and hacking through dungeons while listening to YouTube videos and podcasts. I’m really getting frustrated by not being able to get the gambits I actually want, and getting tons of gambits whose usefulness eludes me.

    The hunts have been mostly fun, but I’m stuck on a few, and the others might be too powerful for me right now.

    …oh yeah, and there’s a story, I guess. It’s nice when it shows up.

    1. Nimrandir says:

      I loved the Gambit system overall, but I did get annoyed by having to gain access to the setup I wanted.

      I enjoyed the change of pace FFXII’s political plot gave me after a console generation of hero’s journeys, and Balthier is one of my top three all-time Final Fantasy characters. Vaan constantly got on my nerves, but I made up for it mechanically by making him a damage magnet. So . . . much . . . Decoy . . .

      1. Henson says:

        You know, I actually kinda like Vaan. He’s a POV character looking at the political machinations from the outside, which is nice. What baffles me is why Penelo is even in the party.

        1. Nimrandir says:

          I could get behind having a ‘fish out of water’ point of view on the plot, but it felt like Vaan kept doing too many dumb things to warrant his continued presence. The breaking point was a scene where he called Basch by name (I think — maybe it was Ashe?) within minutes of the party stressing secrecy. That basically cost the storyteller my trust.

          I agree on Penelo; she stayed away from the battlefield unless I absolutely had to use her. I typically ran with Ashe, Balthier, and either Fran or Basch. My headcanon is that the fourth person drew the short straw for babysitting.

        2. Chad Miller says:

 is the best attempted explanation I’ve seen so far:

          More than a few have asked what the hell reason Penelo has for keeping close to Ashe, Balthier and Basch after she’s been rescued. Since it’s never really stated why she doesn’t just ask Balthier to be drop her off in back Rabanastre so she can get back to working at the dried goods shoppe and spare herself from getting devoured alive by monsters and murdered by imperial troops, many people call it a blank spot in the plot. One possibility is that there’s actually a cultural issue that gets lost in translation. Americans are a people with virtually no concept of royalty, while it hasn’t even been seventy years since the Japan was forced to officially cede the divine status of its emperor. Maybe a culture with such old, ingrained notions of obligation to the hierarchy doesn’t need to be explicitly told why Vaan and Penelo cling to Princess Ashe and put their lives on the line for her sake. It seems equally likely, however, that Final Fantasy XII’s designers just didn’t give a shit.

          1. Henson says:

            Actually, my issue isn’t really about why Penelo would decide the join the party. She clearly has a strong bond with Vaan, and I buy that she would want to tag along with him. My problem is that Penelo doesn’t seem to add anything of value to the party dynamic, that her character is an afterthought to the story.

            1. Chad Miller says:

              Ah, that’s fair. I suspect that’s part of the same decision that created Vaan and then made him the protagonist instead of Basch; we need teenager appeal so throw a couple of teenagers in there.

          2. John says:

            Of course Penelo doesn’t leave the party. It’s practically physics. “A character in an RPG party tends to stay in an RPG party unless acted upon by an outside force.” Sometimes an RPG will remove a character from a party for story reasons and sometimes an RPG will let the player kick a character from the party, but those kinds of RPGs have been, in my experience, few and far between.

            1. Henson says:

              Except that FF12 IS one of those games. I’ve already had two completely separate characters in my party as guests, and then they left.

  42. Dreadjaws says:

    The only upcoming game I’m currently looking forward to is Cyberpunk 2077. Marvel’s Avengers always looked like a cash grab several years after it would be relevant (you could argue that they were simply waiting until they had a good product rather than launch before it was ready, but watching trailers and gameplay videos make it clear that oh, God, no, that’s not the case), and I never had any major interest in The Last of Us 2 because to me the first one had a perfectly good ending. Now, all these leaks I unfortunately got privy to have made me gag at certain story decisions taken. I’m not going to spoil anything, but if I had little interest before, it’s completely gone now.

    These days I’m playing through:

    – Final Fantasy VII (the original): All this FFVII talk has tickled my nostalgia bone. Since my PS4 was stolen (grumble, grumble), I certainly can’t play the new one, so old one it is.
    – The Fall 1 & 2: I got these two games on a sale and I’ve been very curious to try them for a while, but never got to it. And wow, they’re, to me, instant classics. They’re just basically graphic adventures with some very light combat elements, but the story is quite innovative, puzzles are really clever and characters very engaging. Done with the first game and instantly started the second one. Combat is meh, but everything else is great.
    – Reventure: This game is just bloody hilarious. It’s technically a puzzle platformer, but nothing is taken seriously here, and dying is pretty much the objective.
    – One Step From Eden: This is a roguelite card battler. Kind of a weird combination, but it works quite well if you’re into fast-paced combat. I’m usually not, to be frank, but I find it really engaging here. It helps that the combat resembles (read: blatantly copies) the one from the MegaMan Battle Network series, which I’ve always enjoyed.

    1. Syal says:

      I didn’t play Reventure for very long as the humor didn’t grab me, but the mechanic of “every item you pick up reduces your maximum jump height” made for some neat choices about what to actually collect.

      1. Dreadjaws says:

        I mean, sure, but you’re not supposed to play this game as a normal platformer. The entire point is to find all different ways you can die.

    2. Dreadjaws says:

      Update: roll back the “instant classic” for The Fall 2. I just finished the thing and yeah, it’s still good, but man, they screwed up so much. It had a very promising start, but then… Well. Hope the last one in the trilogy makes things better again.

  43. Wiseman says:

    This week I’ve played Xanadu Next. That game has a horrible design decision that has plagued gaming from the beginning, it’s challenging. How am I supposed to finish this? This came out in 2005 and gamefaqs has 1 guide for it. I keep going around in circles. Last boss I found was immune to damage!

    1. Christopher says:

      The only other person I’ve ever seen play this is Epicnamebro, so maybe watching his twitch VODs can help you out with some of it. That dude loves his challenge though.

  44. Hal says:

    This month’s free PS-Plus games include Farm Simulator 19. I played for about 20 minutes, which was the time it took to get through the first tutorial; there’s 6 or 8 of the things.

    I dunno. I don’t think I have any interest in sims any more. Especially ones that get as finicky and detailed as this one. All I thought while doing this was, “I’m learning to do chores. Do I want to spend my limited gaming time doing pretend chores?”

  45. Ramsus says:

    I played Epic Battle Fantasy 5 and Helltaker. Both are on Steam (though I actually played the free Flash version of EBF5 on Newgrounds) and Helltaker is free so there’s no reason to not check it out.

    EBF5 is probably the right length of RPG for people who don’t want a 60 hour game and it has a very cute aesthetic and is very classic turn based JRPG style.

    Helltaker is a very short and amusing puzzle game that has the interesting feature of just letting you choose to skip over any puzzle you feel like. You’ll want to pay attention to the (8) achievements or you’ll miss one of the scenes.

  46. Chad Miller says:

    I finally gave up on trying to get Fallout 4 to stop crashing so I ended up moving on to other open-world type games. The first I tried was Kingdom Come: Deliverance only for it to become one of the most ridiculous reasons I’ve ever put down a game. The problem here is the door-opening animation. Seriously. Someone decided that in this first-person game, your character should look down at the doorknob and duck before whipping his head back into place, every time you enter a door, and that the camera should follow all of this. I had motion sickness after less than three minutes of this (you start in a cottage with like 3 rooms). Never made it out of the tutorial and I almost lost my lunch to it. I thought “it must just be me, surely I would have heard of this problem if other people had it?” but some googling reveals I’m not alone here. The same googling also reveals some mods for the PC version specifically to combat this so maybe I’ll try that sometime.

    The next game I tried was Skyrim, a game I’ve still never beat because it was too bland. This time I have a bunch of Creation Club stuff I got from various giveaways so I decide to see if playing a Survival Mode game with other random goodies will work better. I think a game that combined the best parts of both this and Fallout 4 could be really cool (namely, let me have multiple strongholds that I can upgrade but don’t make me place all the individual villagers, have fast travel points without constant teleport-everywhere fast travel, etc)

    One unexpected source of fun has been the realization that I can drag “temporary” companions around to do other quests. Rueful Axe? What’s that? I’ll just keep my invulnerable dog, thanks. Serana’s also a surprisingly good sport about me dragging her across the continent, though it is a bit disappointing to have Paarthurnax telling me how badly we need an Elder Scroll and I can’t even try to take hers.

    I also tried XCOM2 during its recent free preview. I tend to play games like this on Ironman by default, and so found myself running dangerously low on troops a lot of the time. I even had the dubious honor of completing a mission with no surviving soldiers (it was an escort mission and the target was able to make it to the evac point by herself)

    I was a good sport about how badly I was doing, even considering the possibility that I’d have to start the game over, when I had an extraction go belly-up at the last minute. I thought I was getting the entire team out, then I lost all but one member who picked up the target and took her to the chopper. The target was clearly alive, but then all the dialogue scolds me for killing the target. Then I get a message that I’m low on intel, even though I took this mission specifically for the intel, because the game thinks I lost the mission when I won? I look it up online and this has been a known bug for years. I put the game down for the day and then without realizing it the free period passes and I had never felt like picking it up again in that intervening time. Alas.

    Another game I picked up for free was Onirim, a digital version of a physical card game. It has a decent chance of becoming one of those “play casually while I’m listening to something else or cooking dinner or something” games, but it’s missing an important feature. Like most card games, it’s both advantageous to know the distribution of the card deck, and 100% derivable from known information. In games like that there really needs to be a button you can click that tells you the deck has X red keys, 1 red door, 3 nightmares, etc. You get some of this information from other elements of the HUD, but way too often you end up in a critical decision, as in “you need to know the exact composition of the remainder of the deck to know if you have even a chance at winning,” and it’s cumbersome to have to count up your hand, the discard pile, and every part of the board to deduce what seven or eight cards are left in the deck. Compounding this problem is that it is easily possible to end up in unwinnable states and still have several turns left. So you’ll end up in a decision between three options and it may turn out that:

    * It’s a coinflip between two options, while the third option is an outright loss
    * Only one option has any chance of winning
    * All options are a guaranteed loss and you should just pick whatever option loses the fastest

    This problem combined with the rare “I discard cards for 5 turns because I literally can’t play any of the cards in my hand” situation really isn’t fun for a casual game.

    Finally, like many others here, I’ve been playing some Tabletop RPGs, mostly online. I’m actually now playing 3 games, all of which are in different systems, including GMing one system I’ve never played before. Two of them are forum games so hooray for minimum time commitments even if it means I won’t have a strong opinion of how they’re going for months.

    My lady and I also decided to try out the 2-player version of D&D from the D&D Essentials Kit. I stepped her through the process of rolling up a character, when the topic of alignment came up. She’s never been exposed to this game, which led to a fun surprise when the topic of alignments came up. I started explaining the axes and as soon as I mentioned “chaotic” her eyes lit up and she said, “Oh, like the memes!” “Uh, yes. Like the memes.”

    1. Gargamel Le Noir says:

      So how is forum RPG treating you? I like the idea of it, but all the ones I tried advanced at frustratingly glacial pace.

      1. Chad Miller says:

        Oh yeah, it’s slow all right. The one I’m GM’ing is a Cypher System game and it took us like a week just to finish statting up characters.

        The good news is that I can pretty much make up anything on the fly as if I find myself saying “oh man, I need an hour or two to fix this” nobody notices.

        1. Sleeping Dragon says:

          The only play-by-post I did was the Vampire one on these forums. I had fun doing my stuff though I had this constant worry that scenes involving me were taking too much of the game… And then it just died sometime when I was offline for a while. As someone who despite RPing for something like 20 years I still often feel awkward actually speaking in character in front of people (and hence my characters tend to be on the goofy side since that’s my coping mechanism) on that one occasion I found playing in character somewhat easier, largely because I had time to think things through. I should also add it was the first time I was actually roleplaying in English so that might have been a factor (I’ve generally discovered it’s easier to say weird things in a foreign language).

          1. Chad Miller says:

            I should also add it was the first time I was actually roleplaying in English so that might have been a factor (I’ve generally discovered it’s easier to say weird things in a foreign language).

            Heh. I recall once reading an interview with the lyricist for a band I like. He mentioned that the band mostly sang in English in part because they thought the lyrics sometimes sounded silly in his native Finnish. I thought, “Dude, you have a metal band featuring an opera singer and a harpsichord and you once used it to make a song about Disney cartoons. It’s silly in English too.”

        2. Nimrandir says:

          I did some play-by-post Pathfinder a few years back. The pace can be excruciating at times, but I did enjoy having a bit of time to describe my character’s actions.

          My favorite part of the setup was using Google translate for different languages, while putting the Common translation in a spoiler box.

  47. Soldierhawk says:

    Much like you will Skylines, I fell back down the rabbithole that is Breath of the Wild. I bought the DLC and have been roaming around having fun.

    I am kinda happy that your take on Alyx is almost a carbon copy of my own. I won’t be playing it, but I’m super happy that the reception was good, that Valve is still pushing boundaries, and that they can still make a great game when they want to.

    That said, I still want a proper sequel dammit. I STILL TO THIS DAY cannot believe they left the series with Alyx sobbing over the corpse of her father. What the HELL, Gabe?

  48. Hector says:

    I finished Alien: Isolation recently. I found the graphics and sound deign superb, but the gameplay not so much. Much of the game because a matter of tediously exploring, with too many random deaths from rubberband AI in a stealth game. You lack many capabilities that should be fairly obvious and fundamentally the environments are designed to force you out of stealth, often in improbable ways. Much of the game relies on figuring out the one way the designers allowed for progression, often in defiance of all logic. Ripley seems to know what the next plot point requires but I as the player am often left very confused as to what the game or the character want. Worse yet, it makes the cardinal sin of constantly erasing the player’s successes, to the point where it starts becoming hilarious. Then the ending is a huge waste.

    Still not a bad game, but held back way too much by trying to simply replicate all the scares from Alien & Aliens.

    1. BlueHorus says:

      Yeah, that game was great in terms of atmosphere, but that story really dragged on. Watching people being killed on the other side of a sheet of glass eventaully turned into a joke, it happened so many times.
      And the ending is up there in my Halls of Infamy for contrived bullshit.

    2. TemporalMagnanimity says:

      I liked the game for ten hours, but then it just kept going. I thought I’d already reached the climax, but there was still five hours of content that was just more of the same. I’d already grown tired of it and just wanted it over.

      I still recommend it, but I’d tell people to watch out for the slog at the end.

  49. baud says:

    I’ve restarted playing SW:TOR, now with the smuggler’s story. It’s SW, the whole game is stretched between the opposing designs of a MMO and a story-focused RPG. But at the current state of the game, playing just the story and avoiding the MMO parts (ie the farm of mobs) is doable, though I wonder what could have been done if Bioware had used the same budget (100s of M$) and setting (SW 300 years after KotOR) to make single-player RPGs, with stories not only revolving around the Sith & Jedi and multiple planets, ships, companions…

    Though not all the MMO side of SWTOR is bad, I mean I’ve had fun doing dungeons (called Flashpoints), furnishing my housing space and playing fashion designer with my characters (which works really well, since there the equipment used for stats can be hidden by various outfits).

    I also played some of Warhammer: Mark of Chaos, but beyond the well-used license, it’s mostly a mediocre RTS. I think it should have gone further toward the Total War design, at least for the battle maps (more units and more “directs” fights, unlike maps that feel like cheap versions of the heroes only maps of WC3). And the unit customisation/improvement is too half baked and I can’t launch skirmishes.

  50. evilmrhenry says:

    I recently finished Q.U.B.E. 2. (First person puzzle game.) Like the original, its main weakness is a lack of complexity to the puzzles. The last couple areas are decent, but then the game ends. Still, if you’re into the genre, it’s a reasonable time. (For, like, 4 hours. It’s a bit short.)

    I also recently finished Prince of Persia (2008). I was mostly interested in how the game held up over time, as there was a lot of pushback when it first came out about the lack of death penalties, and I feel that’s more acceptable now. (You just return to the last safe location.) In the end, I think that aspect is fine, but the foundation of the game is Sands of Time-style platforming, and that style of platforming was never very good. Also, the combat and story are both hurt by the ability to visit areas in any order, and it feels a bit underbaked in general.

    1. Nimrandir says:

      . . . the foundation of the game is Sands of Time-style platforming, and that style of platforming was never very good.

      Wait — what? I played through Sands of Time a couple of years ago, and I thought the platforming held up really well. The combat was a slog, but everyone pretty much acknowledged that at release. I still felt like some sort of parkour rock star flinging myself around the ruined palace. Did I miss a bunch of thinkpieces on how Assassin’s Creed and Uncharted made the carefully crafted levels of Sands of Time too ‘videogamey’ or something? Maybe this is just another instance of my profound lack of taste making me feel foolish about my love of something.

      1. baud says:

        I’m with you on that, I played the PoP Ubisoft trilogy (and PoP 2008) for the first time a few years ago and I had a really great time. Even if the levels are gamey, they are still fun to traverse. Though I don’t really mind the combat, but I think that’s also my lack of good taste in that area.

        It’s visible how they went from that design to the Assassin’s Creed platforming, but I’d say it’s another categories of games.

      2. evilmrhenry says:

        There’s just no depth to the mechanic. A lot of the game is simply moving from point A to point B, using the single path between those two points. If you fail to press the right buttons, it just boots you back to point A and asks you to try it again. There’s no room for player expression, or optimization, or learning a system. It’s just a single step above a very slow QTE. There’s a slight puzzle-solving aspect from figuring out where the path is, plus the ability to create actual puzzles using the platforming mechanics, but that wasn’t explored that thoroughly.

        1. Nimrandir says:

          Okay, so it’s my lack of taste again. Just wanted to check.

          1. evilmrhenry says:

            That style of platforming can be cool when done right, it just doesn’t make a good primary mechanic. It’s best when doing something like Darksiders, where it’s used for movement, hiding secrets, and puzzles, but isn’t the main attraction. I think PoP (2008) goes a bit too far the other way, where there’s a few other aspects, but you’ll spend most of your time platforming.

  51. Paul Spooner says:

    A little bit each of Myst (nearly beat it), Satisfactory (installing overflow splitters), Mindustry (finally beat all the campaign maps), and Hob (still searching for that last butterfly).

  52. ccesarano says:

    The month began incredibly active regarding my playing of games. I was really into Persona 5 Royal and having a great time with it. Then Final Fantasy VII Remake came out and took over my life for about 7-10 days, throughout which my contrasting opinions with everyone else playing the game had me feeling like I’d gone mad. Then it sent me into a binge of Every Frame a Painting, restoring my sanity reserves and giving me enough of a confidence boost to remember I like writing about and making videos on games again.

    Which is where everything’s kind of gone into a blur. In fact, not kind of, because I’m blending memories of April and May together oh no. Regardless, May has been filled with me doing audio editing, last-minute re-recording, and now full on video editing, which means reduced time to actually play games. When I do, it’s working on Trials of Mana (via Collection of Mana), which is a wonderful lesson of what it’s like to go back and play a SNES game when you’re not familiar with it. I don’t have the muscle memory of exploits and timing built up through repetitious playing during childhood, and therefore there are moments where I’m just scratching my head thinking “This is the nostalgic favorite in Japan?” But, if I try and warp myself back in time twenty-five years without suffering an existential crisis, then I can understand why it’d be viewed so much more favorably than its predecessor, Secret of Mana. It also makes for an interesting missing middle chapter that explains why Legend of Mana on the PlayStation would seem like such a sudden deviation.

    The other game I’ve actually managed to invest hours into was The Wonderful 101 Remastered, probably my favorite WiiU game that I’m glad has managed to find new life on multiple platforms. I was a Kickstarter backer and thus received my code earlier than I expected the game to be playable. It’s interesting going back and realizing that it is one of the games that helped kick my enjoyment of these character action games into gear, a sort of beginner’s entry. I’ve relied on healing items far less (probably too little) and have generally performed better than when I first played the game. Simultaneously, I’m reminded of some of the enemy types I am less fond of. If it weren’t a rerelease it’d probably be on the table for game of the year again.

    Lastly, my buddy and I just finished up Resident Evil 5 again. Some friends of mine had begun streaming regularly and it had me wanting to get back into it, but I feel I’d do better streaming co-op games than single player. RE5 on Veteran difficulty seemed a good idea, and… it was and wasn’t. We’d played it last year, and while it was fresh enough in our memories to help us through some of the worst aspects of the game, it was still enjoyable. It’s also an odd sort of middle-chapter, where Resident Evil 4 is so good at what it does that this game can’t help but feel inferior. This is especially true when you consider their efforts to keep the franchise relevant to the mainstream. However, knowing where Resident Evil 6 would inevitably end up, Resident Evil 5 doesn’t seem so bad after all. And, if I’m honest, it probably is one of the better experiences built for co-op of its era. It’s dumb, some of the boss fights are awful, and the Quick Time Events are some of the absolute worst in the industry, but it continues to be an enjoyable experience nonetheless.

    We’ll probably revisit it some time on Professional, but with Infinite Ammo this time.

    Who knows what I’ll be playing the rest of the month. My time is in full competition with my attempts to finally edit this video out the door, while simultaneously wanting to be recording footage of two separate games to follow up (and begin working on a video I technically already tried doing earlier this year). Good thing I was laid off before this pandemic, right? Ha ha! Ha! Ha… ha…. haaaaa…. I also need to figure out the next co-op game for the stream, while figuring out which online games I’m going to play with my niece as that’ll become a regular thing. Anthem? She was interested in that. Phantasy Star Online 2 looks interesting. My buddy and I also never played Lost Planet 2 when it was new. We also discussed Too Human in the past. Too many choices.

    What’s clear is I need to finish Persona 5 Royal, and then I have Sakura Wars on the docket, as well as… well, plenty of other games I’ve purchased on sale.

    But, as for what’s coming up? Well, I imagine that will change as we enter this “Summer Game Fest”, which is sort of an honest representation of the game festival season that E3 had transformed into the opening ceremonies of. I realized this in particular last year with EA’s “under-whelming” reveal of Star Wars: Jedi: Fallen Order. E3 is where most companies tease their big new announcements, but it’s really step one in a seasonal tour of Paris Games Week, Gamescom, PAX West, and Tokyo Game Show, plus all the others I know I’m forgetting. So people would regularly walk away feeling like E3 was underwhelming when the truth is that it’s just the beginning. Now, Summer Games Fest is basically just being upfront about these all being teased out throughout the whole summer, meaning we’ll be getting more announcements and confirmation of this year’s releases (see: Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1&2 Remastered announced today).

    As for what we know, I suppose Ghost of Tsushima is the game I’m most hyped for. It looks like the Assassin’s Creed game I’ve been craving since the first (both in that stealth assassinations are an actual gameplay mechanic and it takes place in Japan) but without the legacy of rust and cruft that the franchise has developed over the years. It’s also the one Sony property this generation I’ve been most excited for since inFamous: Second Son was announced (though to be fair, despite having no excitement for God of War, it did turn out pretty sweet, as has Bloodborne so far). Other than that, Xenoblade Chronicles Remastered, which I’d be more hyped if this weren’t the third time I’ve purchased it and fourth or fifth time I’d have started it. Maybe this time I’ll actually finish it? It’s the best game I’ve never played through to the end, basically. I suppose I’m hyped for Cyberpunk as well, but without the same attachment to The Witcher as everyone else it’s a far more subdued excitement.

    Oddly enough, I’m actually excited for the remaster of the BioShock Collection on Switch, if only because that’s currently the easiest platform for me to record footage off of and therefore maybe I can finally get around to that BioShock Infinite video I’ve been wanting to do.

  53. Kyle Haight says:

    I had a bit of a shock earlier this week, when I discovered that my best friend in college (who was also the best man at my wedding) is the lead designer of Fallout 76. It’s like a real life version of “if I’d only known I could have killed Hitler as a baby”.

    Apart from that I’ve been continuing my play through of the Legend of Heroes games. I’m now about 60% done with Cold Steel 3.

    1. Chad Miller says:

      I think it’s too bad that Fallout 76 was botched so badly. I suspect there are a lot of decent to good ideas in there that are hidden by the fact that the execution was such a faceplant.

      1. baud says:

        I’ve been following the Fallout 76 thread on another forum (mostly for the lolz that abounded around that game) and apparently there are a few people that found the Wastelander DLC really good, though the game is still buggy and rather unstable.

        1. TemporalMagnanimity says:

          I heard that Wastelanders is painfully average, if anything. The only thing it accomplished is including things that should’ve been in the game in the first place.

          1. baud says:

            well, the comments were that the writing, world design and quest design (including reactivity and skill checks) were better than the other Fallout by Bethesda.

            1. Chad Miller says:

              It turns out FO76 is free on xbox for like the next 4 days so I think I’ll try it and maybe report back next month. :D

              I recall in demos that they at least walked back the dialogue system. With the color scheme in the demo it actually looked like New Vegas (coincidentally, I’m sure)

    2. Gargamel Le Noir says:

      Bloody hell that’s crazy. Do you know his point of view? Does he think that he made something he can be proud of?

      1. Syal says:

        Also important; did he plan on being the lead designer, or did other senior designers just walk away from it?

      2. Kyle Haight says:

        Sadly, I do not. We haven’t spoken in around 15 years. No falling out, we just drifted off into our own lives as often happens. I knew he was working at Bethesda, but not his role. Without knowing the internal details, which are really none of my business, I’m reluctant to criticize.

        From my own personal experience I can say that he’s a smart guy and an avid gamer. He ran a really good D&D campaign in college, which I played in for three and a half years, and which remains one of my personal gaming highlights. Unless he’s changed a lot over the years I’d be surprised if he didn’t try his best to produce something good. Whether he thinks he succeeded in this case I don’t know.

  54. Zeddy says:

    I don’t know about Vogon poetry, your tunes get bland at worst. Some of them I’ve enjoyed enough to listen extensively to (Too Many Notes and the Deus Ex tracks come to mind). It’s pretty a pretty good track record considering you probably can’t spare nearly the amount of time professional composers can on making them.

    I’d follow on Spotify for sure.

  55. Dragmire says:

    It’s all Animal Crossing, Borderlands 3 and Miitopia on my end.

    I can hear Stellaris calling my name again but I still have to work so I can’t let myself fall to electronic crack addiction right now.

  56. If you have a little time, you should come play some DDO with me and make fun of it. :) I promise to laugh. They extended the “all content is free” for another month.

    1. Gargamel Le Noir says:

      Jennifer you remind me of that dude, the minesweeper guy, who always requested a trailer for minesweeper in the comments of honest game trailers.

      And you know what? They made it eventually. It was terrible, but they made it!

      1. In general, if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

    2. Nimrandir says:

      Real talk: if LotRO didn’t offer me the ability to walk around a pretty darn impressive version of Middle-earth, I’d be tempted to give DDO a chance.

      1. Syal says:

        I enjoyed my very brief time in DDO, and I half-remember walking by some locked DLC quests is what stopped me continuing, so if DLC quests are all free it’s a good time to try.

        1. evilmrhenry says:

          Yeah, what I remember from DDO was trying and failing to find free quests at an appropriate level.

          1. They exist, but the game doesn’t give you much info to help you find them.

            I don’t know how much money they make on adventure content vs. the other stuff they sell, but honestly I think they might be better off making everything but the expansion packs free all the time. The adventure packs tend to be cheap compared to other features and having lots of content is what really sucks people into the game and keeps them playing.

    3. BlueHorus says:

      I’ll never play an MMO (not my thing at all), but I do like your devotion to DDO. It’s both charming and consistent.

    4. Daimbert says:

      I haven’t even been able to get back to my Marauder in SWTOR because MMOs and PC games are inconvenient right now — they leave me locked in the room that I spend all my day working in — so DDO is out [grin].

      1. Nimrandir says:

        I got around that by working in one of our bedrooms upstairs, so the gaming computers were in a different environment. It also helps that our TV’s are usually in use by the time I’m done with work, so computer gaming is kinda my only option.

        1. Daimbert says:

          I have the luxury of being on my own, so the only things in use are in use by me. But the only room that I can work in reasonably is the kinda office that I set up to play games in. With work and other project-type things that I want to do that require me to be in that room, I REALLY want to use the consoles — which I can play in my living room — for playing games.

          1. Nimrandir says:

            Yeah, I totally get that. My work time was also not constantly sitting at a computer, since I was regularly recording myself at a whiteboard.

  57. Sleeping Dragon says:

    I’ve grinded my way through Destiny 2‘s Guardian Games, which is their new pseudolympics event. Ironically on the tail of the devs posting that they see the current grind mechanics and bounties bloat has become a problem turning the game into a series of chores… they release an event which is a 3 week series of daily grindy bounties and lock a new unique gun and three ghost shells behind participation. Honestly we’re halfway through season 3 in the current 4 season pass and it seems like there ‘s a lot of announcements along the lines “we see the problem and we’re going to fix it but it’s going to take time” which reeks just a little bit of “give us another chance and buy the next pass” pleading. On the other hand I’ve settled into a fairly casual play level, I still like a lot of the setting and it does scratch that itch to fire spaceguns at spacecritters so in all honesty I might give them another year and see where they take us.

    Inspired by a streamer I’ve started replaying Dragon Age:Origins, this time on nightmare difficulty because I hate myself. I have to say I… kind of forgot that Bioware made decent games in the past. Like, I remember the first ME had me really excited for the rest of the series, I remember DA:O had good character writing, but I can’t help but perceive them through the prism of my later disappointments. But having started it again I genuinely enjoy it, particularly the characters and it sort of lives up to nostalgia. Mind you, I haven’t gotten to the deep roads yet and to be honest this whole playthrough got kind of stalled because…

    Elder Scrolls Online. I know it’s a mistake, just months ago I’ve decided it’s time to cut down on Destiny 2 and drop Warframe because they were eating too much of my time, but I found out I still had unused code for the base game from one of the ancient Humble Monthly bundles and it kind of worked into my desire to play something with levels, skills and quests (which might factor into my desire to play DA again). It’s a lot of game. I’ve found a newbie friendly guild which is explaining some stuff to me but also telling me about all the things I don’t have access to so I might end up throwing money away for DLC again. I guess there’s a pattern in my recent gaming behaviour over the last year or so where, having tired of my 6 years with Neverwinter Online I’m looking for something new I can stick with but the MMO formulas are just not fresh enough for me.

    I’ve also managed to squeeze in a quick playthrough of Omensight, it’s a groundhogdaylike game from the studio that did Stories: Path of Destinies so those des clearly have a thing for timeloop mechanics, the games even nominally happen in the same humanoid animal inhabited world, not that it matters. The premise is you’re a mystical guardian creature reliving the doomsday day accompanying various characters trying to introduce changes to let you figure out a murder that triggered the whole thing. To be clear there isn’t too much figuring out, at each stage you can alter each character’s path through usually binary choices and then you either get progress, hint to what choice will let you progress or nothing and have to try a different choice or a different character. The combat gets surprisingly involved with multiple abilities, though the later stages do rely too much on enemies that can only be hit once in a while, and the graphics are pretty and colourful. That said I think overall I prefered Stories, Omensight is more ambitious in its narrative but you’re playing a non-character really and it felt like Stories gave you more agency with its matrix of endings. Still, definitely not wasted money especially considering it’s an inexpensive indie titles.

    1. Olivier FAURE says:

      To me Omensight is kind of like Heaven’s Vault: a great gameplay concept, which kind of breaks down the more you progress as you start looping through the same content and understanding things faster than your character does.

      Like, they’re trying to do something clever with a branching story, but at the same time they clearly didn’t have enough resources to write actual branches, and it shows.

      Also, the combat definitely strikes me as a game trying to be Arkham City, but doesn’t quite hit the mark.

  58. SkySC says:

    Ultimate General: Civil War. The campaign is a series of Total War-style battles, except set in the American Civil War, with some army management in between. Winning the battles isn’t particularly difficult at this point (after having played through the Union campaign once), but what’s clever about the game is how the management side interacts with the battles.

    After each battle you’re rewarded with some money and men to replenish your current brigades or add more. You can take the men as raw recruits for free (so you just have to pay for their guns), but then they’ll dilute the experience of your battle-hardened brigades. Or you can pay extra (a lot extra) to bring in veterans to maintain the combat effectiveness of your brigades. So the real challenge in the game comes from trying to win each battle with as few losses as possible so you can afford to keep more elite units, and there are even times where it’s better to accept a draw rather than launch costly assaults in an attempt to capture every single objective (the game does a terrible job of telling you this though; if you go by the instructions given to you before each battle, you’ll end up sending thousands of men to their deaths for the sake of capturing objectives that aren’t even required for victory).

    There are some very satisfying moments to be had in the battles, which is only amplified by the brutality of it all. I must’ve killed 10,000 horses learning to use cavalry properly, but now nothing brings me joy quite like getting a few units behind enemy lines and chasing their recovering brigades off the map, or utterly destroying their artillery with a well-timed charge. And the difficulty of training up a unit to elite status makes it all the more sweet when bring them into position and sweep the enemy away with a few accurate volleys.

    1. Syal says:

      if you go by the instructions given to you before each battle, you’ll end up sending thousands of men to their deaths for the sake of capturing objectives that aren’t even required for victory

      And now the important question: are the instructions just static computer instructions, or are they instructions from ‘the higher ups’? Cause if it’s characters giving those instructions and you have to know when to ignore them then that’s some solid immersion right there.

      1. SkySC says:

        The instructions are delivered as if they’re an update from your superiors, or from your staff, so that’s probably part of it. When they order you to charge Marye’s Heights during the Battle of Fredericksburg, an experienced player will take one look at the battlefield and decide that’s probably not a great idea. But the problem is that you can just click on the objectives button and the game will tell you which objectives you need to hold at the end of the battle to earn a victory or a draw, which kind of ruins any immersion that might be gained by the player having to read between the lines of their orders and choose what to prioritize.

    2. John says:

      Is this the game where the Union campaign opens with, of all things, a deadly armored Confederate train, or am I remembering the wrong episode of Three Moves Ahead?

      1. SkySC says:

        I think there’s an armored train at some point, but I don’t remember when. There are occasional gimmicks in some of the battles, like the Union gets naval support a few times. The armored trains and the ironclads just act like artillery batteries that are slightly harder to kill, so for the most part they don’t play much of a role.

  59. Steve C says:

    I’m playing Thea 2. It is a fun little game. One that is constantly undermined by a frustrating UI and mechanics that strongly encourage annoying micromanagement. I enjoy it, but can only take it in small doses. Far too much time is spent trying to play the game instead of actually playing the game.

    Worst thing is that all these problems were obvious in the first game. They made those problems worse for some inexplicable reason. The UI designer in particular is insane.

  60. Dalisclock says:

    Finally reached the Nameless Isle in Divinity Original Sin 2. It look me maybe 15ish hours to get to Reapers Coast after starting the game, and then another 30 hours to finish Reapers Coast. Yikes that area is big and busy(and beef gates are scattered all over the damn place but not in any logical manner). I don’t mind much because I’m enjoying the game a lot and The 60 hours I’ve played so far don’t feel nearly that long.

    So far Nameless Isle seems to be going a lot faster and it probably helps there aren’t NPCs and sidequests everywhere. Just a few combat encounters scattered across the map and I just finished one of the big ones(The Shadow Prince) with 4 of the 7 temples activated so far.

    Was briefly playing Child Of Light(by Ubisoft) and got about halfway(Chapter 6) through. I’ve had this in my backlog for a while and while it’s really, really pretty and the combat is fine, it’s not really doing much for me beyond that. I’m thinking about just dropping it unless it picks up a bit in the 2nd half.

  61. Lino says:

    I haven’t had that much time to play games recently. But generally, I’ve been playing what I was the last time we had one of these – Brawl Stars, Spelunky Classic, and Beautiful Desolation (which I’ve put on hold for a bit).

    The only new addition is Ion Fury – another 90’s-style FPS. I’m not that far into the game, but I’m loving it! The weapons, the game feel, the quips… The only thing I would have liked more of is the story, but I that’s in keeping with the spirit of games from that era.

    In any case, I strongly recommend it!

    And regarding Shamus’ new track – it’s not bad! I have to say, I like your earlier stuff better (especially the Diecast outro song), but it’s still good.

    I do like the fact that you’ve incorporated more samples, but I guess I’m just a fan of the more purely-electronic stuff you used to do more of. Oh my God, I sound just like this guy! Don’t listen to me!

  62. Gautsu says:

    Been playing the Remnant DLC with my brother. Been playing BL 3’s newest DLC with my mother. Our Pathfinder campaign has been going on roll20. I have been trying to make sure to play a scenario or 2 of Gloomhaven every week, since I just kickstarted the sequel. Almost up to Code Vein’s endgame. Just started both Blasphemy and Death’s Gambit, and after finishing Salt and Sanctuary earlier this year and picking up Dead Cells, am really enjoying 2d souls-likes.

    My question for you all: I just finally completed a full play through of all 3 Banner Saga games. Is it one of tbe rare games, where decisions matter, or am I just deceiving myself? Vampyr had a multitude of different game states, but only 2 endings; these 3 games felt like there could be tons of diferences between my play through and someone else’s. Or was this just another version of Telltale’s “… will remember that”?

    1. Henson says:

      There are definitely a number of decisions that have impacts throughout the Banner Saga games, mostly on who lives and who doesn’t. After finishing all three, and looking at some of the decisions, I was surprised that there’s at least one decision from the very first game that can affect a choice in the third.

      I wouldn’t say the game has a ton of endings, but the details of how and who are quite varied.

      1. Syal says:

        Yeah, it’s going to depend on what you mean by ‘decisions matter’. You absolutely can (and in some cases, must) lose characters to your decisions, so decisions have mechanical weight behind them, but the major plot differences will be whether you can skip some fights, there’s no Tactics Ogre “this choice changes literally everything in Act 2” stuff.

        1. Gautsu says:

          I kept Rook in game 1. I wondered if tne Rugga stuff played out differently with Alette instead for example.

  63. Redrock says:

    I’ve developed a sort of ADD when it comes to games recently. I’ve been trying to work through some of my backlog, and whenever I launch a game I soon start thinking that I should be playing something else. Still, one of the games that captured my attention and held it is the newly released Cloudpunk. At its core it’s basically a walking simulator, only in addition to walking you also frequently fly around in a hovercar. It’s still a zero-stakes, zero-challenge, travel-from-point-A-to-point-B-for-more-story type of thing, though, but it has several things going in its favor. For one, the game is absolutely gorgeous. I’m a sucker for the cyberpunk aesthetic, and Cloudpunk just oozes style. The setting is great also – it’s not just a futuristic city, it’s a city that’s both futuristic and ancient, shiny and decaying. The game also has a number of optional vignettes in addition to the main story, and never takes itself too seriously. All in all, this is how light-gameplay games should be made.

    I’ve also been playing Kingdom Come: Deliverance on and off. I have it modded with a number of quality of life improvements, including, thank the gods, unlimited saving, improved herb-picking, and a couple other things. With the mods it’s extremely playable and quite fun, right up until the point I realize that the quests are actually incredibly boring and almost always boil down to going somewhere and talking to someone before going back. Way too much time is spent looking at the fast travel screen. Which is weird, because KCD is actually built to be something akin to an immersive sim, but never really integrates that in its quest structure.

    I’ve also been trying to finally play the PS4 version of Kingdom Hearts 2. Back in the day I only ever played the first one. Since then I’ve become quite a bit older, and, seemingly, too old to enjoy Kingdom Hearts. Playing KH2 is just painful. The dialogue drives me nuts, the systems are just okay, but compared to, say, Final Fantasy VII REMAKE just feel sluggish and cumbersome. I’ll make a couple more passes at it, see if it clicks, but for now it’s just unbearable.

    I intend to try and make my way through Greedfall after I’m done with Cloudpunk, but I also really want to play Judgement, so we’ll see how that goes.

  64. Jabrwock says:

    Subnautica: Below Zero (Subnautica 2) (checking out their latest Early Access patch)
    UBoat (ditto)
    Nauticrawl (saw it on Loading Ready Run’s Talking Simulator show)
    Outer Wilds

    I’m tempted to pickup Thimbleweed Park and Divinity 2, because they’re on sale…

  65. SpammyV says:

    Pokemon Platinum on an emulated playthrough for the challenge run/LP I’m posting on another site. It’s been a long time since I last played Platinum, so I’d forgotten a lot of the details of the big plot resolution Mt. Coronet/Distortion World segment. Found myself enjoying it more than I expected, pleasantly surprised by the difficulty spike and the uniqueness of the Distortion World. They were pretty much pressing against the limit of what they could do with the engine. Would love to see Platinum in a remake to see how they could expand on that.

    Yakuza Kiwami 2. I rarely 100% games, and Yakuza games are no exception. Usually I get to a point where I don’t want to look at a guide for the last few substories and just power through the plot since I’ve done so much. I really like how Kiwami 2 continues from Kiwami 1 without just invalidating the previous game’s ending to create new drama.

    I reinstalled Planetside 2, but maybe it’s just been so long or when I gave it a shot I was in a real low mood, but while I did enjoy picking Engineer or Medic and following the crowd, it was also very overwhelming.

    And a little House Flipper because when I’m stressed out a game with no pressure and gentle music and self-expression is nice.

  66. C__ says:

    You know what? I know that is a really small detail that probably will not make a huge difference, but Marvel Avengers assembled (see what i did here?) the best voice acting cast for a game. If anything, i expect some nice acting from this game and that is something, i guess?

  67. Okay, so a while back I started up Deus Ex: Human Revolution again, having not played it in years…and found I couldn’t…kinda. Okay:

    When I first got the game those oh so many years ago, I had a GTX 280…and nvidia wouldn’t support DX11 until the 400 series, so I couldn’t play the game with its ‘new’ DX11-compatible bells and whistles. Now I have a 970…and I still couldn’t use DX11. For whatever reason, the game wouldn’t run unless I turned DX11 off. Hell, the original game wouldn’t play at all, I had to resort to the Director’s Cut, which had all sorts of visual bugs up its ass…and apparently still does! I dropped it.

    My PS4 broke due to bugs as well. Actual bugs. As in roaches. Got in the power supply and fried it like onions. Bought a replacement online that turned out to be incompatible, so I had to send it back and get yet another one. This one actually fit buuuuut…still broken. Now I’m gonna send it into a repair shop to see what’s up.

    In the meantime, I dusted off my PS3 and polished off the original Red Dead Redemption. I quit it years ago having only a couple more missions left to complete it. I also found out it has some challenges that net you extra stuff if you complete ’em, so I’ve been spending time doing odd hunting nonsense like having knife fights with cougars.

    I also found out RE2 was on sale so I grabbed that. I’m not sure how I feel about it. It’s ‘harder’ than the original, but also feels a lot shorter. There’s not as much wandering about grabbing stuph since their placement is less haphazard and the zeets in this game are shambling bullet sponges. You can legit empty a clip into ’em with nothing but headshots and that’s no guarantee that’ll even slow ’em down. It’s entirely random how much damage it takes to clear ’em off and no way off knowing if you have. In the original, there’d at least be a pool of blood as a visual message. Here, all you get is a role of the dice that one of your aimed headshots will be a crit that explodes it like a dropped melon! Anything and they may just show up to ruin your day the next time you come down this particular corridor! And that’s not even the hard mode! Otherwise, it’s fun, smooth and looks fantastic baring some odd visual glitchery with the way it handles reflections…or some kinda shader thing.

  68. Borer says:

    I’ve only been playing Stardew Valley. I don’t remember where I’ve heard about the mod Stardew Valley Expanded, but I did hear about it and decided to try it. And now I’m pouring all my productivity into the game instead of real life stuff. The mod is good, though it feels unfinished in parts. Those parts are small and the mod is still actively developed so I’m fine with it. It’s just more of what makes Stardew Valley great.

    On a unrelated note: I like the song, Vox Chop. Please inflict more music on us.

  69. toadicus says:

    I’ve been playing “Writing C# Programs About Satisfactory”, and also some Satisfactory. They’re both about procedural thinking and creative solutions, but one of them is more colorful!

  70. Dragomok says:

    So if you wanted to archive binge though these things (For some unimaginable reason.)

    Hey! I feel called out!

    Okay, so instead of reading some post series as they are posted, I wait until they are finished, and then read them in one go when I feel like it.

    Currently I’m doing this with this one (obviously), and in my backlog/waiting list I have: The Lootbox Problem, Game Programming Vexations (even though I was reading that one every week until Real Life got in the way), Music Lessons, Jedi Fallen Order, and MrBTongue’s series on Baldur’s Gate.

    1. Dragomok says:

      Oh, and also I’m going through This Dumb Industry. Slowly. I’m on The Gameplay Is the Story, but that one has been sitting in a pinned tab for… a month now?

      Is This Dumb Industry even still being updated? Is it on temporary hiatus? Closed until further notice? I have no idea.

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