This Week I Played (April 2021)

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Apr 13, 2021

Filed under: TWIP 199 comments

Factorio. I played Factorio. A reasonable person could say that perhaps I played too much Factorio. I don’t know. I’m not a reasonable person and I don’t have time to argue about it because I’m too busy trying to scale up my power plant and solve the traffic jams my trains keep creating.

Factorio

I've downloaded a mod that lets you hook numeric panels to the circuit network. You can see I've launched 178 rockets so far.
I've downloaded a mod that lets you hook numeric panels to the circuit network. You can see I've launched 178 rockets so far.

I’ve been messing around with various cheat mods, and I’ve found the game to be more engrossing than ever. It’s a lot like my recent obsession with Cities Skylines. Sometimes cheats can make a game more interesting by allowing you to focus more time on the parts that most interest you. I wouldn’t want to have these cheats when I’m learning the game, but once you’ve mastered the systems it’s nice to skip the early game and small-scale stuff so you can focus on the large throughput and optimization challenges.

I’ve also been using mods that add more conveyor belts to the game. In the base game, there are three tiers of conveyor belts:

  • Lame, worthless, and stupidly slow yellow belts that can deliver 15 items per second.
  • Tolerable red belts that deliver 30 items per second.
  • Nice cyan belts that deliver 45 items per second.

The mod I’m using adds 5 more tiers that go all the way up to a brain-melting 270 items per second. That sounds game-breaking, but I discovered that it really just delays the inevitable. No matter how fast your belts get, you’ll quickly scale up and hit the new limit. Just like internet speeds, hard drives, and CPU speeds in the 90s, it doesn’t take long for your fancy new tech to become the new bottleneck.

270 seems fast, but once you have multiple cargo trains delivering items and trying to pump them through the base on a single conveyor, you'll start to wonder if maybe there's a mod for 320 or even 400.
270 seems fast, but once you have multiple cargo trains delivering items and trying to pump them through the base on a single conveyor, you'll start to wonder if maybe there's a mod for 320 or even 400.

It’s a bit like this Jon Blow talk I’ve linked to before:


Link (YouTube)

Blow talks about how our software is getting worse as our machines get faster. Instead of making programs better, the extra power ends up being consumed by poor engineering. As an example he compares different versions of Adobe Photoshop. In the 90s, it took several seconds to load the program off of your slow-ass hard drive. Then 20 years later we have computers that are literally thousands of times faster, but the program is somehow even less responsive.

In short, you can make massive improvements to throughput in Factorio, but you can’t get them by just making the individual parts operate faster. You need to attack the problem on an engineering level and think about your production on a macro scale.

I love this game.

Prodeus

This is some classic Valve-style level design. At the start of the level there's a weapon off to one side. The player naturally moves to pick it up. Then the door in the distance opens to reveal some snipers. This makes sure you're looking in the right direction so you understand what's happening.
This is some classic Valve-style level design. At the start of the level there's a weapon off to one side. The player naturally moves to pick it up. Then the door in the distance opens to reveal some snipers. This makes sure you're looking in the right direction so you understand what's happening.

This is another entry in the recent trend of 90s retro shooters. Like contemporaries Dusk, STRAFE, Ion Fury, Amid Evil, Devil Daggers, WRATH: Aeon of Ruin, and (to a lesser extent) Get to the Orange Door, this game rummages through the big toybox of classic 90s gameplay, looking for what elements it wants to preserve and what it wants to change.

A lot of these games have the “problem” that they re-create the frantic pace of the original games. That’s not a problem if you’re into non-stop action, but 25 years later I find the relentless tempo of the old games to be exhausting. In 2004 Half-Life 2 featured crucial moments of deliberate quiet time, and that changed how I think about shooters.


Link (YouTube)

Sure, there were quiet moments in DOOM and Quake, but those moments were probably the result of you taking a wrong turn or getting lost. Spending five minutes running around at breakneck speed looking for the RED keycard isn’t really quiet time, even if the shooting has stopped. Half-Life 2 gave us moments of quiet time that had been deliberately crafted by the designer. There would be some slow, forlorn music playing. You’d hear some ominous sounds in the distance like crows or groaning metal. The game would create a sense of isolation while you explored the space to solve a puzzle and catch your breath. Those moments of downtime made it so that you could really feel the impact when things slammed into high gear again.

That sensation of “calm before the storm” didn’t exist in the 90s. And it seems to have fallen out of favor with modern shooters as well. These days “quiet time” just means you get locked in a room while someone takes an exposition dump on you. That’s not quiet time, that’s a movie. (And usually, a bad movie.)

So I find a lot of these old games to be too tiring to play for extended periods of time. Those old games were half my life ago, so maybe that’s my age talking. But maybe Half-Life 2 ruined the old games for me. In any case, I can only play these modern throwbacks for about thirty minutes before I’m numb from the endless screaming and gunfire.

These snipers are super-annoying. You need to play peek-a-boo with them for the whole level, before you finally get in behind them for some sweet retribution.
These snipers are super-annoying. You need to play peek-a-boo with them for the whole level, before you finally get in behind them for some sweet retribution.

Prodeus doesn’t quite have Half-Life 2 style quiet time, but the game does have some variation in its pacing. It’s not just an endless maze full of repetitive gunfights. Most levels are built around an idea. Maybe you need to make a long climb. Or maybe the area starts out as a linear series of rooms, but as you go you keep opening doors to previous rooms, opening up the layout until it’s kind of a large arena. Some levels will take you through the same room several times, but the room will feature a new twist every time you enter.

My favorite level is Marksman, where there’s a huge tower in the middle of the level. There are snipers in the tower, and they hound you constantly as you work your way around and then ascend to finally get in behind them. It made for some interesting 2-axis fights. I need to keep moving to deal with the foes in front of me, but I also need to manage my line-of-sight to the tower on my right.

The constant twists and variations in level design made the game feel like more than an endless series of rooms to circle-strafe in. And the game does have deliberate quiet moments here and there.  Often you’ll emerge from the base / caves / tunnels into the daylight and you’ll have a vista to take in rather than another gunfight. The whole experience is a masterclass in level design.

I’ve gone through all of the existing levels (the game is currently in early access) for now. I’m really looking forward to the next batch of content. Highly recommended.

What Happened to all the Porno?

You might remember I played one of these games back in 2017. It was... an experience. Click to read about it.
You might remember I played one of these games back in 2017. It was... an experience. Click to read about it.

In the middle of last year, I noticed that there were always two or three adult titles in the top 20 best-sellers on Steam. That stood out to me. Nobody talks about these games, yet they were topping the charts. At the same time, people in other countries were saying that they hadn’t observed a surge in adult titles. Was this a fluke? Did it have something to do with the pandemic?

So I subscribed to a VPN. I had this idea for a post / series where I was going to look at the best-selling lists on Steam in different countries and see where these games were selling. But then I put it off while I finished up my series on Jedi Fallen Order, and then I put it off some more because I was working on the Book.

And then I noticed that the craze seems to have ended. A couple of weeks ago I checked in and there weren’t any adult games on the charts. Weird. I don’t know enough about this genre / subculture to make sense of this.

What Have You Been Playing?

So what’s going on these days? Catching up on new stuff? Retro stuff? Indie? AAA? What’s good? What games should we avoid?

 


From The Archives:
 

199 thoughts on “This Week I Played (April 2021)

  1. Terradyne says:

    In 2004 Half-Life 2 featured crucial moments of deliberate quiet time, and that changed how I .

    Apparently it was so good at quiet that it can still mute words years after its release.

  2. Joe says:

    Cyberpunk 2077. I agree that it’s not quite what it could be. That there are better games in the cyberpunk/open world/FPS/RPG genres. But I still find it fun. However, I’ve developed an odd behavior. Whenever I go and talk to an NPC, I try to dress appropriately. Take off my hat and facewear. Sometimes put on a better jacket and trousers or something. The plan was for NPCs to react to how you’re dressed, but apparently got cut somewhere. Still, I can feel them judging me.

    I can see many things that were clearly inspired by the reaction to Witcher 3. Like, there’s less hunting for crafting materials. There are more vendors, each with more money, who buy everything you want to sell. Ranged combat is a lot better, though in my experience melee is worse.

    However, I do have some peeves. Let me reject quests. When I do so, don’t drop them into my quest log anyway. Boxing, shooting, driving. While I get that Jackie is essentially a warning, keep your eyes on the mission and don’t look too far ahead, he’s annoying. So’s Panam. Yes, she has problems with all authority. But one of her quests, you tell can her she’s being an idiot and she presses ahead anyway. That’s another quest I’ve never finished.

    Still, the glass is half full.

    1. MerryWeathers says:

      Cyberpunk 2077 is a pretty standard RPG: interesting (or flavorful I suppose) world and characters, chaotic production, was ambitious and tried to do too much, lots of cut content, combat that ranges from serviceable to terrible, very jank gameplay, rushed to release, and tons of bugs to the point of making it unplayable.
      For someone who constantly played and loved games like this, I managed to enjoy it despite it’s faults but since this game was overhyped like second coming of Mr.BTongue (not to say some of the complaints aren’t valid like CDPR lying about the state of the game on Playstation), the reception has been very negative.

      Still, there’s definitely a lot of wasted potential here. I think CDPR shoud have put more focus (both production and marketing wise) on the gigs than the open world systems, essentially should have been directly marketed as “Witcher 3 but bigger” than “this will be THE next gen game”.
      I also believe choosing a first person over a third person perspective was a big mistake on CDPR’s part, I’ve noticed while watching mod footage that Night City looks way livelier and immersive when you can actually see the character you made walking around in it.
      The first person camera also just bogs down the presentation (which I feel is the most important when it comes to mass appeal) of the game, The Witcher 3’s third person camera allowed for dialogue and scenes to have direction and cinematography, giving the game a cinematic and handcrafted feel that’s sorely lacking in Cyberpunk 2077.

      I also think the Panam, Judy, Kerry, and maybe even River questlines should have been combined and integrated into the main story to make it more whole.
      Would have also liked to see more choices and consequences, there actually are in the game despite what people say but just not as much as in The Witcher games (I suspect this due to the rushed nature of the game in general).
      Also should have expanded on Act 1 so Jackie and T-Bug’s deaths would have had more impact (and I still maintain CDPR should have never spoiled the outcome of the heist in the trailers).

    2. Biggus Rickus says:

      I thought it was fun in a similarly vapid way to Fallout 4. I’ll never go back and play it again after they fix it, though. The story didn’t do much for me, and the combat system doesn’t offer any interesting variety. Plus, just thinking about playing through the first few scripted hours again feels tedious.

  3. Parkhorse says:

    I grabbed a bunch of older games from the PS3 store, since that will be shutting down this summer. Currently I’ve been playing Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga. The story has mostly been extremely obvious, given how heavily it leans on Hinduism and Buddhism specifically (compared to most games in the franchise pulling randomly from all world myths and religions). But it’s the SMT/Persona gameplay I expected, press turn system and all, and it’s honestly at just the right difficulty level: harder than a Persona game (you can’t level grind enough to bypass the need for careful tactics later in the game), but not as punishingly hard (and random) as, say, SMT III: Nocturne.

    Next in the queue is obviously Digital Devil Saga 2, though I’ve heard you have to do some odd things to actually get the PS3 to recognize that you have a clear save file from DDS1.

  4. tmtvl says:

    I’ve been playing some Neverwinter Nights 2, specifically the Path of Evil campaign. It’s quite neat as a contrast to the Ultima games I’ve been playing lately.
    Aside from that I’ve also slowly been working my way through the Age of Empires (the original, not the HD remake) campaigns. Between the 50 pop cap and the terrible pathfinding it has a nice relaxed pace compared to AoE2.

    1. pseudonym says:

      I haven’t been able to get the DE version of Age of Empires II to work on Linux. Which is a shame, the old version runs fine on wine, which is how you are running Age of Empires, I guess?

      Do you know of the UPatch HD https://upatch-hd.weebly.com/? It is a user-made patch that makes Age of Empires more enjoyable because of the quality of life fixes, like playing on higher resolution screens and fixing some save-file bugs.

      1. tmtvl says:

        Yep, I found my Rise of Rome CD when doing spring cleaning and promptly kicked spring cleaning to next year.

        Hadn’t heard of UPatch, thanks for the heads up!

  5. GargamelLeNoir says:

    I finished Control! All in all I agree with Shamus’ impressions, the setting is very cool but the balance is completely fracked. Do you want to use the Spin which is marginally more potent than a strongly worded letter or the Pierce that is the wrath of the gods in your hand? Would you like a mod that gives +30% damage flat, or another mod of similar level that gives you +31% damages but only a few seconds after you kill an ennemy? I don’t understand how that passed testing. I don’t understand how that passed the concept phase!

    Now I’m trying once again to play Torment : Tides of Numenara. The setting is fascinating and beautiful, the writing is quite good (but not as good as the author believe…), but sooner or later I get stuck in a completely bullshit combat encounter. The thing with Numenara is that fights are incredibly rare, so when you have to go through one you’re utterly unprepared and get whomped. Worse, combat is super slow because it’s turned base and the ennemies move veeery slowly. And in what must be a purely spiteful decision the devs decided to spam mooks in the battles that I tried, just to punish the player even more for daring to engage with the battles mechanics. But I’ll try and soldier through it, I desperatly want to see what’s next!

  6. Smosh says:

    I’ve been playing Outward in split screen with the wife. It does need a few mods to be enjoyable, as the out-of-the-box difficulty is just too much for her to handle, but now it’s a blast. It’s a lot closer to Dark Souls co-op than it admits to be.

    Its biggest issue is the inverted difficulty curve. It starts out frustratingly hard, and then over time becomes a lot easier. That’s not how games should be designed.

    1. Chris says:

      I really enjoyed Outward at first when the emphasis was on exploring and discovering the world. I was much less fond of the mmo-style back and forth over the same terrain that it eventually becomes.

      I don’t see much similarity to dark souls, though. Yes, it’s hard, but in my experience that difficulty is due to mechanical flaws (lack of audiovisual feedback when you take damage is the biggest) more than anything.

      1. Sleeping Dragon says:

        That sounds a bit disappointing regarding what’s ahead of me. I’m playing it on and off with a friend online and we’ve actually ended up deciding to explore all the areas we have access to before progressing the main story. We were basically almost done with it and preparing to join the major faction (though haven’t yet decided which one it would be) but our schedules desynchronized and so we haven’t played for a while. I imagine a period of rough readjustment as we try to remember how to play after getting back to it.

        Anyway, while the game pushes the survival aspect a touch too far for my liking I’ve so far enjoyed it for the exploration as well, particularly that moment when you enter a map, see something off in the distance and know that you can get there. I’d honestly take more games that are mid-to-low production values if in return I could get more of that.

    2. djw says:

      I personally think that the inverted difficulty curve is a feature not a bug. Not to everybody’s taste of course, but it is one of my favorite things about Outward.

      Think of it as an antidote to bad level scaling.

      1. CloverMan-88 says:

        All Pirania Bytes games (Gothic, Riven, Elex) work like that and I personally love it. It makes every little increase in power so, SO much sweeter, and the power trip at the end makes you feel like the legendary hero you are supposed to be at tjat point.

        1. djw says:

          Yes, I am a huge fan of Gothic, Risen, and Elex, and now Outward for precisely that reason.

  7. Baron Tanks says:

    All I’ve really been playing besides the eternal Slay the Spire runs on Switch in convenient moments, is Super Mega Baseball 3. It’s a fantastic baseball game, where I have one game running with a friend (with custom teams, I have a team named The Chemists with plays on famous chemists and other scientists versus Weekend at Bernie’s, my friend’s F1 inspired pun team) and the new for SMB3 franchise mode, which puts you in charge of a team and has a strong focus on multi-season development. It’s quite simply the best baseball game around, I discovered it’s predecessor back in 2018 and had a great year of fun with it. This one refines everything that worked and has a whole list of clever additions. The only seeming weakness to the product (the lack of licensing*) actually turns into a huge favor as it allows for emergent narratives much in the way a Rimworld would. I have a great deal of favorites, eternal disappointments and a swath of nemesis players across all the leagues. If you have any love for baseball in real or digital form, don’t sleep on this one. I whole-heartedly recommend it. It’s the best one of these I’ve ever got to play in my life

    Other than that I just bought Townscaper on a whim after the DieCast and seeing it’s only 5 or 6 euros. I plan to click around in that when the time is convenient.

    *it came to my ears the other day that the only worthwhile to mention ‘big’ baseball game, MLB the Show, is not only coming to Xbox for the first time this year, but apparently also to Game Pass. Assuming it will also be available on PC, I’ll dabble with it to compare but whereas from the outside before I’d ever played SMB I’d have told you I’d prefer the real deal, I would be very surprised if MLB has anything on the gameplay for SMB. It’s jsut that got.

    1. John says:

      Geez, I don’t think I’ve played a baseball video game since the mid 90s. My dad went to a computer show and picked up a CD full of game demos, one of which was for Hardball. I have no particular interest in managing a sportsball team, but I could definitely go for some digital batting practice again.

      1. Baron+Tanks says:

        Horrendous typos on my part aside, I would still heartily recommend it based on your description. SMB2 didn’t have franchise and I still sunk dozens of hours into it. SMB3 has a bunch of significant improvements to the baseball aspect, so I’d still recommend going with 3. Judging from the store page they recently had a free weekend on Steam, so if you’re on the fence you could wait and see when the next one of those comes around.

        1. John says:

          Thanks for the suggestion. I’m following the game on Steam now.

        2. Nimrandir says:

          I’m also curious about Super Mega Baseball. My last experience with a baseball video game was with Tommy Lasorda [solemnly presses F] on the Sega Genesis. Is this game PC only?

          1. Baron Tanks says:

            Nope, as far as I can tell Xbox One/PS4/Switch and PC. Not sure about the newer ones (although it would probably work). It doesn’t seem particularly heavy, but as always with ports, if you’re considering Switch maybe check out some reviews about its specific performance first.

            1. John says:

              Dunno about the Switch, but the minimum specs for PC are quite modest. I’d definitely read reviews, even if only as a matter of principle, but I’d say that the odds that it performs well are pretty good.

  8. TFrengler says:

    Aside from my Valheim obsession (which I err, made a massive Wall-Of-Text attack about last entry…) I haven’t really played much. I did do something crazy whereby I decided to clear my Steam wishlist by basically buying all the items on it so now I have this to look forward to:

    Cossacks 3
    Black Mesa
    Overload
    System Shock
    Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition
    Subnautica: Below Zero
    Control Ultimate Edition
    STAR WARS Jedi: Fallen Order
    Titanfall® 2: Ultimate Edition

    A lot of this is shooty actiony stuff. As I already gone on about too much before I have less time (and mental energy) to play so I enjoy fairly straightforward, linear action hence this selection. There’s also two RTS’ because I used to adore that genre but I haven’t played any in bloody ages. Sadly it also seems to be a genre that’s a little dead lately, at least in the AAA space.

  9. Thomas says:

    I’ve actually being playing games (although still not finishing them).

    I’m currently in love with Haven, it’s a game about a couple being stranded on an isolated alien planet together and skating around the locale with anti-grav boots, trying to make your life together. It really hits the young love of a couple who are starting out together. The chilled synth-y title music absolutely bangs or slaps or thwacks or thumps, whatever the kids call it these days.

    It’s the sort of game where you could analyse it and I’m sure there would be a bunch of flaws, but that’s not going to change how much I feel bonded with this game, and is my go to game for relaxing right now.

    I tried Spiritfarer and that was fun too. I’m suspicious of anthropomorphised animals (this is the internet), but the whole game is very charming and the idea of a young lady taking over from Charon as the guide to the dead and hugging everyone is very nice. The only negative is I don’t quite get the farming aspect of Spiritfarer. I don’t know if Harvest Moon games are similar, but what confuses me is the way it seems unnecessary to continue any particular line of production after you’ve harvested the first couple of loads to complete whatever quest you need. Instead of building up a farming machine, it feels more like a series of gated unlocks.

    Astrobot: Playroom the free pack-in title for the PS5 is really good. That HD controller vibration is a lot of fun and it was great picking out all the playstation references each level was stuffed with. These guys are a really good developer – I played their VR game and it was good too. I can see this becoming a standard Sony franchise.

    I flipped through a bit of Spiderman: Miles Morales mostly to test out the PS5. It’s pretty much the same as the first game. Some nice heart warming family interactions, good webswinging, some mindless side activities.

    I played a little bit of Gravity Rush 2. I love the gravity shifting traversal mechanisms and it’s a game that oozes uniqueness and style. It’s a shame this studio is being shut down.

    I started FFVII Remake. It looks great and the changes to the writing work, but I haven’t really figured out the combat yet. It doesn’t seem easy to dodge or avoid damage even when it looks like it should be possible? I heard people say it’s secretly still a turn-based game and the key stuff is in the pause command actions, but I haven’t intuited it yet. Early days!

    After spending my whole life being unable to really make out 60FPS, I think I might be able to tell the difference now. I can’t really tell whilst I’m playing it, but if I go back to a 30FPS game it feels incredibly laggy until my standards resync.

    1. Geebs says:

      I’ve been tremendously impressed with FF VII Remake, although I can’t quite shake the feeling that 90% of that is the musical score which is terrific. I’ve bounced off all of the FF games except for X (and XIII, but we don’t talk about that one), and never liked one enough to bother finishing it, so I was surprised by how much I’m enjoying this one.

      I’m terrible at the combat, but here’s what I know:

      a) Analyse everything and do what you’re told to do
      b) Evasion is like Devil May Cry (don’t be where the attack lands, and there’s no invincibility frames), not like Bayonetta (perfect dodge to counterattack) or Souls games (dodge through attacks)
      c) blocking fills the ATB gauge
      d) watch the Chip and Ironicus Let’s Play for a good introduction to getting the most enjoyment out of the combat and materia systems

      1. chukg says:

        I am not a huge FF fan (I think I started XII on PC at one point?, before that I think IV on NES was my last one), but I’m really enjoying the look and sound of the Remake (on PS4). The combat seems way more fun than the turn based old JRPGs and there aren’t constant random encounters.

      2. Syal says:

        Pretty sure it’s impossible to avoid damage entirely. You can usually avoid the really big attacks but some stuff is just faster than you. Healing is mandatory.

    2. Shamus says:

      Wow!

      Haven looks amazing, and that soundtrack gets me right in the orbitofrontal cortex. Instant wishlist. Thanks.

      1. Nixorbo says:

        Haven launched on GamePass. After I beat it I paid for it anyway. 100% support everybody playing it.

      2. CloverMan-88 says:

        It’s from people who made Furi, one of the better looking and sounding games out there. IIRC their art director is the guys who made Afro Samurai, which just oozes style, and their soundtrack was composed by a very popular musician, so no surprises there.

        1. Paul Spooner says:

          If you have an actively oozing style, ask your doctor if Havenex is right for you.

    3. Ander says:

      Oh I wanted to want Haven. I’m an absolute sap for happy couples in media (and irl I guess). Love the sound track and general vibes. Would love to be talked into it, but the demo didn’t excited me gameplay-wise.
      Anyone liking it and would like to share why?

      1. Nixorbo says:

        I’m an Explorer in games – I fill in the map, check out every nook and cranny for stuff, that sort of thing. Haven scratched that itch hard. I’ll admit the combat wasn’t great, but the storytelling and acting in the Quiet Time vignettes was superb.

  10. Adam says:

    I’ve been playing the Factorio Space Exploration mod.

    Initially its Factorio, with some improvements to the “burner” techs to make them viable and useful, rather than something to be skipped as quickly as possible.

    But once in space, where the base game ends with the first satellite launch, Space Exploration adds a lot more stuff related to building space-based and other planet installations – similar to Dyson Sphere Program in scope. Including resources that can only be found on other planets, asteroids, etc; a vast tech expansion including supercomputers you have to manage cooling for; and the new endgame is designing and building a succession of spaceships to leave the Local Cluster of stars.

    Of course, this being Factorio I’ve been playing it for a week and I’m just at the point where I could launch a satellite if I put my mind to it, but I want to get my nuclear power working well first…

    1. Echo Tango says:

      Dang, the rest of the space stuff doesn’t sound like my thing, but I definitely want improvements to burner tech! :)

  11. DeadlyDark says:

    Funny that you mentioned Ion Fury, since this is exactly the game I played and finished last month or so. Because I’m in a new country, I didn’t really had time to binge play it, so I’m only played a level or two, before sleep. And I love it. Probably, because I find it fascinating that instead of emulating old technology devs used old technology, and its still holds out.

    I do think, that saying that this game doesn’t have quiet time. May be it’s my experience of playing on max difficulty (cause I’m too proud to go lower), but I had these moments of quiet time, that were consisting of me looking for secrets and resources. I regularly was on low health, so finding secrets and other nooks was a question of survival, and after cleaning a section or the whole map, it was refreshing to just walk around and see what did I miss.

    Some part of me thinks, that this is the more organic approach to quiet times in games, instead of a more directorial approach of Half-Life 2.

    I’ve also started Blood and, for some reason, Fallout 3. It’s weird – I ended up listening to a lot of talk about Bethesda and Oblivion, and I thought, well, may be it’s time to continue that FO3 playthrough. I’m not a big fan of Bethesda games (their balance and writing just don’t jive with me), granted, so it’s like a self-imposed chore for me, but I think I found a little fun in the game. Enough to keep me going for some time, at least

    1. ivan says:

      I hated Fallout 3 when I tried playing it. I think Steam still says I have less than 2 hours in it. But, immediately after trying 3, I played New Vegas (I bought them together), and it’s one of my favourite games ever.

      Interestingly, I have subsequently found I can tolerate Fallout 3, if I sort of just wrap it up in a layer of New Vegas, via the medium of the Tale of Two Wastelands mod.

      I use the New Vegas start option though, because for this trick to work (tricking my mind into tolerating Fallout 3), I need the conceit that this is my Courier from New Vegas, going over to Fallout 3 to ruin its shit. As opposed to the Fallout 3 start, that turns it into the putz from the Vault in Fallout 3, being retconned into being my Courier instead, which is horrendous to contemplate.

      1. Thomas says:

        Today I learned there were major questlines and even a companion in New Vegas that I’d never found. I’ve put hundreds of hours into that game and there is still really good stuff I’ve never done.

      2. DeadlyDark says:

        Heh. What helped in my case, is that I loaded that years old save game, and I was like “What did I do before? Did I even met my dad? Or was I further? Ah, who cares, let’s see where’s that map marker leads to” and playing as a clueless amnesiac fits Bethesda’s world

        Hm… I guess, I’ll be able to refresh the first part of the plot, by watching SFDebris videos as they come

    2. Biggus Rickus says:

      I’ve never managed to make it much past Megaton in Fallout 3 the handful of times I’ve tried to get into it. I have been playing New Vegas again, stumbling onto some quests I’d never done and going with the Yes Man ending for the first time with one of my characters. Maybe I’ll finally side with House with one of the others.

  12. Joshua says:

    Aside from the usual LOTRO and Civ 5, I’ve also been playing Orna (replacing Pokemon Go for my mobile game) and Valheim. My wife has been clocking crazy hours on Valheim, so I’ve been playing that game to do stuff with her.

  13. Grey Rook says:

    I’m glad to see that you’ve started playing Prodeus, Shamus, and to hear that the level design is apparently really good. Personally, I’m waiting for a sale to pick it up, but it does look really cool.

    I’ve mostly been playing Thera: Legacy of the Great Torment, a mod for Medieval 2: Total War that transposes the action to a fantasy world. Some of the factions seem half finished, and the map is a bit bare, and the game is kind of buggy, but really, what other games can you name where you can pit Roman legionaries against Aztec warriors? Arthurian knights against vikings, Mongol samurai against Indian elephant regiments, Saruman’s orcs against pikes, muskets, and renaissance swordsmen, the list goes on… and all of this in one game. It’s pretty cool, imo. Not terribly well balanced, but quite fun.

    I’ve also been playing Nightmare Reaper. Like Prodeus, it’s a retro FPS. Unlike Prodeus, it’s a Roguelike. Levels are procedurally generated from an assortment of premade chunks, with enemies and secrets sprinkled around them. Secrets usually give you money, which you spend to play a simple platforming minigame to buy upgrades for your character (the PC is predetermined, by the way).

    There is a considerable number of different enemy types to deal with, who are sufficiently distinct that you’re not likely to mistake them once you’ve met them. There is also a considerable number of different weapons you can find, from simple pistols and knives to magic wands and books, machine guns and grenade launchers, to more exotic stuff like a laser cannon or mininuke launcher. The game randomly assigns modifiers to a given weapon when dropped which means that you might encounter a grenade launcher with a splash damage radius twice the size of normal, or a pistol that shoots three bullets with every trigger pull.

    It is kind of annoying that you’re only allowed to bring one weapon with you from one level to another, the environments do get sort of repetitive at times, but since you only spend about three or four levels in each environment I think it’s pretty manageable.

    Also, the game gives you a grappling hook early in the second act, and then seems to go looking for reasons to forbid you from using it. Traps that shock you, invisible walls, deep water – thankfully, the devs were not so cruel as to make deep water an instakill – are all things that disable it, and they’re almost everywhere when you’d really like to have a grappling hook. At least the Chained Saw still works.

    The only way to get health pickups is by killing enemies, which can get annoying if you’re running low since there are traps around the levels that will hurt you, even if there are no enemies left. Fortunately, they’re usually avoidable. I do think it’s quite fun, though, despite my complaints.

  14. Glide says:

    I went on a bit of an archaeological journey into Anthem spurred by the news of the cancellation of its reboot, checking out what it was like for the sake of my old Bioware fandom. This game was a design and marketing disaster, giving the job of aping Destiny to a studio known for their story-driven RPGs. There was too little story to satisfy the Bioware veteran, and probably too much to satisfy the looter shooter veteran. The game was surprisingly low on boss fights, and while I didn’t intend to spend much time with the endgame content I can see why someone who wanted to be an active endgame Anthem player found it lacking. There were good parts, though: the graphics were really spectacular and I liked the art design. The flight mechanics were excellent and I came to quite like the look and feel of all the special abilities. For someone willing to wander around talking to everything between fights, I think the character building was surprisingly good. And they did a great job making it playable alone without making it too easy in a group. Overall, I see why it failed and I see why it had potential to be more. (I should note, if playing at this point you may just want to turn off multiplayer matchmaking. I kept it on to see the experience and ended up waiting 90 seconds for players before every single mission and matching with exactly zero people between the third mission and the final one.)

    Cyberpunk 2077, after waiting for the first real patch. It’s far from issue-free still – the devs seem to have gone with the “fix the first ten hours so the first impression is good, screw everyone who wants to finish the game” approach, so the deeper I go into the game the more chaotic and unstable it gets. And it’s clear that like Shamus said, there are some major features that were just cut for time. But in general, I still think this is a very good game and it’s going to be one of my favorites of the year. I find myself sitting at work thinking about what I’m going to do next in Cyberpunk when I get home, and that’s something I can say about perhaps two or three other games I’ve played in the last two years. I think comparing it to the Witcher 3 may actually be less fair than thinking of it as a premium, overstuffed evolution of the last two Deus Ex games: you have the interesting, fleshed-out characters, but limited ability to roleplay them; you have the surprisingly fun stealth and the multiple ways to get into every building; you have body augmentation on top of the typical RPG progression system; and you have a number of long, contentious conversations that border on verbal boss fights. At any rate, it’s probably been 15 hours since I engaged with the main story – I’ve just been sidequesting and open-worlding and it’s kept my interest. I think the “fixer” system was a clever way to set up deep-ish sidequests: you bring in half a dozen voice actors who otherwise don’t have a big role and just record hours upon hours of dialogue setting up, updating and rewarding merc jobs: voila, you have a depth of side content rivaling Witcher 3 without leaning on the crutch of finding scraps of paper with to-do lists everywhere, but also without needing to work your main voice actors any harder.

    1. Sabrdance says:

      I can’t decide if I want to wait for a few more patches to get Cyberpunk -or just upgrade to either a PS5 or massively upgrade my computer. I worry by the time I have a system that can do the game justice the moment will have passed and I’ll lose interest.

      Maybe I should just watch a let’s play…

      1. MerryWeathers says:

        Wait until the end of 2022, if it’s still very buggy then you can watch a playthrough

      2. Thomas says:

        If you are thinking of getting a PS5 or better PC at some point, I would wait.

        I’m skeptical that it will ever be truly good on a low spec system – they’re reduced the abysmal frame rate in recent patches by creating more pop-in. On a PS4 some objects don’t load up even when you’ve run past them.

        And they’re adding some fairly big gameplay mechanics through the patches. It might be an unrecognisable game next year.

        1. Sabrdance says:

          I play an XBOX One right now -so part of my hesitation is that I don’t want to jump to the next tier of XBOX with the next generation presumably just around the corner. So thinking PC upgrade, but that might be 2022 anyway. So we’ll see.

  15. John says:

    To the surprise of no one, I’m sure, I have been playing more retro-games, more Paradox games, and more Fantasy Strike.

    Advance Wars

    Oh, how I love Advance Wars. I love the art. I love the music. I love the maps. I love the different COs. Advance Wars would be the perfect strategy game for handhelds if only Advance Wars 2 weren’t even better. I am currently playing through the campaign for the third time, not because I love the campaign–it’s fine, but I prefer the War Room and the Vs. maps–but in order to unlock more COs. I’m working on unlocking Drake at the moment. Unlocking Drake should unlock Sturm, and then I’ll have everybody but Nell. Unlocking Nell would require me to beat the campaign on hard mode, however, and, man, I just don’t wanna. Nell is a powerful CO but not an interesting one. She’s like Andy but without the cool repair power or Kanbei but without the expensive units. In other words, she’s a good all-around CO with a lackluster power and no handicaps that make her challenging–and thus fun–to use. I may one day get around to one-hundred-percenting this game–I’ve done it before–but probably not any time soon. I’m kinda looking forward to Final Fantasy Tactics Advance at the moment.

    Fire Emblem (2003)

    I do not love Fire Emblem, though I am enjoying it more than I thought I would. I’m still not a fan of the mid-mission shopping trips, but they aren’t quite as bad as I remember them being. Most missions aren’t timed, so you can generally wipe out everyone but the boss and then shop at your leisure. It’s stupid, but it works. Having Merlinus the merchant around also makes life a little more convenient. Having to devote a couple of units to guarding Merlinus’ tent is less than ideal, but I can cope. If I have one real complaint about Fire Emblem it’s that it’s less a strategy game and more a “figure out the AI scripting for this mission through trial and error until you can counter it perfectly” game.

    Crusader Kings II

    So I did that thing I do where I play as a Welshman and conquer all Britain. I don’t know why this amuses me so much. The most notable thing about this campaign is the time that I gave birth to the Anti-Christ. I have played hundreds and hundreds of hours of Crusader Kings II over the years and this is somehow the very first time I’ve ever run in to this event chain. The little devil-spawn spent his childhood laughing at people’s horrible deaths and trying to murder close family members as they slept. How he got from Cardiff to Galicia and back all by himself at age 11 in order to stab his older brother with a needle I’ll never know, but I guess that’s the Anti-Christ for you. Rather than put up with who knows how many more murders and attempted murders and other assorted Satanic shenanigans, I shipped the kid off to the Knights of Santiago as soon as he turned 16. It got him out of my court and, just as importantly, permanently disqualified him from the succession, meaning that he would derive no material benefit from murdering any more of his older brothers.

    But I guess that kind of thing isn’t enough to stop the Anti-Christ because the very first thing he did when his mother died and I started playing as one of his surviving older brothers was raise an improbably large army and try to conquer my empire. He failed. I guess his Satanic powers were good for raising troops but not good for overcoming two-to-one odds on the battlefield. Once he surrendered, I threw him in the oubliette, hoping that malnutrition and disease would finish him off. I would have liked to execute him, but other characters in Crusader Kings get really antsy when you publicly kill your own brother, even when that brother is the son of Satan and nobody likes him. He escaped. I don’t know how. He rejoined my court. I don’t know why. Normally when people escape they flee to somebody else’s court, as is only sensible. I tried to re-imprison him, but was warned that my vassals would consider it tyrannical. Man, the Anti-Christ gets all the breaks. Out of ideas, I resorted to Holy Orders again. It appears to have worked this time. He hasn’t bothered me in decades. In fact, he seems very happy as the Grandmaster of the Knights Templar. I could have sent him back to Santiago, I suppose, but this seemed more appropriate somehow.

    Stellaris

    I am so bad at Stellaris. Like, really really bad. I have no idea what’s going on or how any of these systems are supposed to work. I’ve survived a long time because the AI is strangely non-aggressive for a 4X game and because I’m part of a large defensive alliance. The other, bigger defensive alliance has just declared war on us, however, and my total failure to do any kind of planetary management in the early game is about to get us all killed. There’s only one thing to do and that thing is to watch several hours worth of tutorial videos on Youtube and then start a new game. This is, I’ve found, just how Paradox games work. It’s how I learned to play Crusader Kings too, except in that case I watched all the tutorial videos before I got or played the game. Thinking back, it’s even sort of how I learned to play the original Civilization, except that Youtube did not exist in those days and I had to watch over a friend’s shoulder as he played instead.

    Fantasy Strike

    I do not play nearly as much Fantasy Strike as I used to. I’m down to maybe an hour or so a week. And yet to my surprise I have somehow attained Gold-B rank, which is a new personal best. Go figure. Matches have become weirdly fraught. I tell myself that my player rank doesn’t matter. It doesn’t. No one cares but me and it has no effect on my life or even the game except that it partially determines who I get matched against. Nevertheless the thought of losing player rank is awful and makes it hard to enjoy matches. On the other hand, I’ve had some really, really good matches lately. In the winning streak that carried me to Gold-B I played a set in which I was down 2-0 and had to beat another player’s Rook with all three of my characters in order to win. For those of you who don’t know who or what Rook is, imagine Zangief from Street Fighter if he were made of rocks. Then imagine that if he managed to knock you down you had at best a 33% of chance of countering his attack as you got back up again. I hate Rook. I hate Rook so much. Beating Rook with Jaina and Onimaru felt good. Beating him with Valerie, who is very fragile and and has to get in close in order to do damage, felt amazing. So I persist with Fantasy Strike despite everything, and dare to dream of Gold-A and maybe even Diamond.

    1. Lasius says:

      Why are you fighting the antichrist? They get ridiculous stat boosts so you should have just let him be your next character.

      That reminds me of a funny CKII story I read from another player. Their character was in the devil worshiper secret society and had managed to intentionally breed the antichrist in his family. Then he tried to have the grandmaster of the devil worshipers killed to usurp his place. There is a possible event if you try that where your murder target anticipates your plot and arranges for one of your family members to be killed by your attempt. That event fired and the grandmaster basically gloated: “Hah, you thought you have killed me, the grandmaster of the devil worshipers? Look again. In reality you have killed the antichrist himself! That’ll teach you a lesson!”

      1. John says:

        Eh, the older brother’s stats were just as good. And the older brother was even possessed. He and the Anti-Christ actually liked each other! But the real reason I kept trying to get rid of the Anti-Christ is that the ranks of my dynasty were getting a little thin and the Satanic murders weren’t helping things any. I’ve been told by other players that playing as the Anti-Christ is “interesting” which is both ominous and tremendously non-specific. If I ever get the chance again, I suppose I’ll take it.

    2. beleester says:

      Stellaris empire management boils down to 2 things:

      1. It’s all about alloys and tech. Alloys become ships, tech becomes better ships, ships conquer the galaxy. Your empire is a giant production line that turns energy, minerals, food, and consumer goods into alloys and tech. Build just enough of those first four things to balance the budget, then build as many forges or labs as you can. Trade or sell excess resources if you need more. (You always need more.)

      2. It’s all about pops. None of the buildings on your planets work without pops, so you want as many people in your empire as you can get. This means you want as many planets as you can afford (assuming their habitability is good), as each planet’s population grows independently.

      (The new patch is about to revamp the economy yet again, but these principles should still hold.)

      The AI will not attack if relations are good or you have a bigger fleet, which means they can be amazingly passive when you’re doing well, but if you crank up the difficulty enough that they actually have an advantage, they’ll jump on you pretty hard. You can also try the AI Aggression slider if you think the galaxy in general needs to be less peaceful.

      1. John says:

        Yeah, I am definitely under-teched and under-alloyed at the moment. Oh, and I’m also constrained by a lack of various exotic resources. And I’ve exceeded my fleet capacity again. I’m not the worst empire in the galaxy, but I’m in the bottom third. I’m not too fussed about it, as I never expected to actually win, but I did hope to muddle along until the end of the game.

      2. bobbert says:

        Thanks for the help. I have tried getting to Stelaris a few times. I could never get far enough to avoid thinking, “This just isn’t as much fun as MoO1”

      3. Sleeping Dragon says:

        3) It’s all about roleplaying all sorts of wacky ideas for empires.

        1. Mistwraithe says:

          Agreed. It’s true of all Paradox’s grand strategy games that they are more fun if you roleplay a bit but even more so for Stellaris.

        2. Radkatsu says:

          Lathrix is probably the best Youtuber out there for themed runs like this, well worth watching if you struggle for ideas on how to play different empires. Though he does fairly consistently veer off into warcrimes and galactic dominion in pretty much every series, but… well, that’s normal Stellaris, to be fair ;p

    3. Nimrandir says:

      So I persist with Fantasy Strike despite everything, and dare to dream of Gold-A and maybe even Diamond.

      Congratulations! Glad to hear you’re still playing. I haven’t fired the game up in a while because, well, Monster Hunter. If I remember correctly, I’m sitting at Silver-B (almost A?) in the rankings. I did finally lose a set, but thanks to the quirks of the matchmaking, I got (and won) my salty runback with the same player immediately after the defeat.

      I think it’s funny that I enjoy the game a great deal, but when I’ve looked back at the videos I’ve recorded of my sessions for my no-account YouTube channel, I find myself groaning about quite a few matchups. Rook and Lum are at the top of the list. It feels awesome to succeed at keeping Rook out, but once he’s got you stuck in the vortex, it’s Pepto-Bismol time. Lum mainly bothers me because I feel like I have to rush him down, and that’s not really my style.

      1. John says:

        Thanks!

        In Bronze and Silver, the only character that really scared me was Rook. In Gold, almost all the characters scare me because other people in Gold mostly seem to know what they’re doing whereas I am a wretched imposter hanging on to his rank by the skin of his teeth. (Also I sometimes get matched against Diamond players now.) I only beat that Rook player I mentioned earlier because he was uncharacteristically defensive for a Rook player. He didn’t seem willing to take risks in order to get in close and ceded the initiative and thus control of the match to me. Which is weird, because that wasn’t how he played his other two characters. I think he may have rotated Rook in to his team only recently.

        I don’t think you have to rush down Lum unless you’re playing a rush down character. Fighting him as Jaina isn’t too different from fighting anyone else as Jaina, for example, and I suspect that’s true for other zoners as well. But, yeah, the item spam is annoying, and I often forget to show respect for or misjudge my spacing on his wake up super. He’s actually fairly popular in Gold league. Not Rook or Onimaru popular by any means, but I see him in what must be at least one out of every three matches. I played a few casual matches as Lum this weekend. It was a little weird, but I had an easier time keeping Lum’s moves straight in my head than I have DeGrey’s, Quince’s, or even Geiger’s. I don’t think I’m going to swap him in to my team though.

        1. Nimrandir says:

          It’s more a feeling that going full-on Valle is the best option, since he can fill up the screen with stuff faster than I can toss gears as Geiger. Jaina can probably match his density (or just charge arrows to blow through his crap), which makes it less of a problem in that matchup.

          If I get to use Onimaru, Lum is much less of a headache for me, because I can just out-hitbox him or soak hits with armor. However, the Fantasy Strike matchmaking system seems to know this and seldom gives me that matchup.

          1. John says:

            Alas, Jaina’s projectiles are not especially useful against things like the mini-Lums. They’re too short to be hit by fireballs while they’re on the ground and extremely hard to hit while they’re in the air. Jaina’s advantage is against Lum–against a lot of characters, really–is that she has two kinds of fireballs and so can have multiple projectiles on screen simultaneously. Jaina also has good anti-airs and an invincible reversal for dealing with Lums who try to use items to create openings for jump-ins. I’ve also found that a lot of Lums, though this is more true for Silver league than Gold, are suckers for delayed projectiles. I don’t know if Geiger’s delayed projectile works quite the same way as Jaina’s–I’ve played a fair bit of Geiger in casuals, but not enough to really feel comfortable with him–but it might be worth a try. It works best against the kind of Lum who likes to throw a lot of melons. Delaying the projectile a little sometimes means that your projectile misses his and hits him as he’s falling back down.

            One thing I did not realize about Lum until I tried playing as him this last weekend is that if he tosses out a cherry or a cake he can’t actually toss another item until the cherry or cake is gone. (I’m pretty sure that he can still ground super though.) I’m not sure how this will change my strategy against Lum going forward, but at the very least I think I will feel more confident going in when one of those things is in play.

            1. Nimrandir says:

              Huh — I hadn’t thought about the buff item restriction either. Those situations often seem either to create a mini-game of chicken or a de facto yomi staredown.

  16. Chris says:

    When i saw a picture of huniepop i expected text below the picture of shamus admitting he bought huniepop 2. My guess why there isnt a porn game in the top sellers anymore is because pent up purchasing has been satisfied, and people are wary of the endless RPGmaker asset flips that are on the level of atari gaming crash level. But didnt subverse have an early release recently? That was a few million in kickstarter money, and sold pretty well (I think).

    As foor quiet time, I like it as a concept but I found it is hard to do. HL2 for me had too much quiet time compared to action. Just as i was getting in the rhythm of combat it would slow down again. Same with Furi, which had forced walking sections between each fight. And HL2 not only invented quiet time, it also invented locking you in a room with people.

    As for myself, Ive been playing apex legends again. Ive played during release and now its on steam so i got hooked again. Its a good game as respawn has a lot of talent. But at the other hand respawn sucks at balancing and it makes me miss titanfall 2.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      The best games I’ve played for ‘quiet time’, were actually ones more focused on it. (So they might not be good, if you’re looking for an action-game that has some sections of quiet.) The Long Dark (sandbox mode) and Firewatch were both really good, for sitting with my thoughts, alone[1] in a forest, trying not to die.

      [1] Except for wolves, bears, and radio-friends, depending on the game. :)

    2. RFS-81 says:

      Yeah, I seem to remember that Subverse went all the way to the top of the Steam charts. Then again, some of the reviews on the store page are complaining that the porn is sidelined too much. I didn’t get it yet but it seems more like a porn parody of various sci-fi games, with more emphasis on the parody. The trailer is hilarious!

  17. Sam+Agyagi says:

    Doom (2016) because I’ve only half-finished it back when it came out and it is a good romp of mindless action. Yes, a fast-paced, modern take on a 90s shooter. But good, I believe. Then I tried Doom Eternal which I thoroughly didn’t enjoy. In the former I always had plenty of room and even during the most chaotic battles the pace was still perceivable. In DE on the other hand I constantly felt like I didn’t know what was going on, the enemies’ projectiles were so fast and accurate that they almost felt like hitscan mobs, and the arenas felt small, tight, constricting, with no room to really maneuver. Also, the game tries to take itself way more seriously which is not a good fit, and not only because the story is nonsense.
    So I discarded it after a level or two and instead finished Hollow Knight, again, which is still very, very good. Very, very good.
    So nothing new.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      Replaying good games is totally valid! I’m still on Spelunky 2 and Factorio! :)

    2. Geebs says:

      I don’t understand what Doom Eternal is trying to do, at all. The protagonist is unreasonably fragile, the shooting is annoyingly fussy, the platforming outright sucks, and the po-faced, stupidly complicated and yet completely inconsequential writing completely squanders the goodwill Doom 2016 earned.

      Also “Doom Slayer” is a terrible name for a character by any metric.

      1. bobbert says:

        Think about how much better it would be if they just named him ‘Guy’.

        Also, I think Doom games are required by law to have terrible platforming.

  18. miroz says:

    I was following crpgaddict’s series about Might and Magic: World of Xeen which inspired me to play it. That reminded me that I wanted to create a M&M Xeen-inspired game, so I installed a new version of Unity, started a devlog, and started working on the top-down version of the game. It’s going well

    1. Rho says:

      I have been wondering why there are so few Might&Magic/Wizardry clones. They shouldn’t be too difficult to develop. In terms of technology at least. Add some class selection for variety and good dungeons and it seems like a winning formula.

      1. John says:

        I think that there are a lot. It’s just that either they were made back in the 80s and 90s when that style of game was more popular or else they’re being made in Japan, where Wizardry never died.

        1. Rho says:

          My point is that many indies could develop similar games now but generally haven’t. The Japanese Wizardry series is a also very different from the classic games. We also have big AAA open-eorlders a-plenty, but they tend to focus on action, spectacle, and scale.

          1. John says:

            Fair enough. Although when I mentioned Japan I was thinking more of games like Etrian Odyssey than actual Wizardry-branded games.

          2. Sleeping Dragon says:

            How classic do you want to go? Because while I haven’t seen M&M VI-VIII stuff there definitely have been some grid based first person RPGs released in living memory.

          3. miroz says:

            There are some: Grimoire, Legend of Grimrock, or even Might & Magic X: Legacy. I’ve run into a few more while researching. But they usually just rehash the old formula and add some heat to your graphics card. Underwhelming.

            1. Rho says:

              I’ve played most of what’s on the market. Some are good. Some bad. However, with the partial exception of MMX, I see Eye-of-the-Beholder clones, not MM clones.

              *MMX was a good concept but a deeply flawed game, both technically and in gameplay. I am not convinced it needed a grid in the first place.

  19. GoStu says:

    Mostly I’ve just been playing Hades. It’s probably the best and most polished roguelike (roguelite? Whatever.) I’ve ever played and it’s certainly the best in terms of having interesting characters, having a story, and incorporating the ‘you die a lot’ aspect of roguelikes into the game’s story.

    It also nicely avoids the headache I see in a lot of roguelike games where some items are just utter worthless trash. Every ‘item’ you receive is good in some way and you have an extraordinary degree of control over what you get. Most power-ups are ‘boons’ from the assorted Olympian Gods and are themed around them; while a player may not enjoy a particular deity’s gifts, none of them hand out terrible stuff, and each of them trends towards a particular playstyle. You can also use certain objects you select before a run to more-or-less force a given deity’s items to appear. Between that and choosing your own weapon before you make another run, it’s probably the only roguelike I’ve ever played where I can say “Yeah, I think I’d like a run with that combo of things” and probably actually have it happen, while not breaking the game.

    All-in-all, I’m really happy with my purchase there.

    I’ve more-or-less stopped playing Battletech, not out of any grievance with the game, but simply had my fill. A couple careers completed and a run through the story mode and I’m pretty satisfied with what I got for what I paid.

    I have a few games I picked up and started playing, and feel long overdue to complete. Disco Elysium and Undertale are both in my “I played a couple hours, had fun, but stopped and never restarted” list. At this point I feel like I ought to finish them just so I fully appreciate the hype.

    1. chukg says:

      I am loving Hades too, I’ve only finished the run about 3 or 4 times now. Excellent balance, neat art style, plus I like mythology and there’s good voice acting too.

  20. ivan says:

    I played a bit of Evil Genius, since Evil Genius 2 came out. I didn’t feel like buying 2, because it just came out and I’m not the kind of person who pays lots of money for the privilege of being a game company’s beta tester, but I still have my cd’s for 1 so I reinstalled it, and it still works semi-well on windows 10 which is nice.

    Windowed or fullscreen it can’t lock the mouse properly, and it crashes if it loses focus while in fullscreen mode, which happens whenever you click outside the window, which happens all the time because it won’t lock the mouse…

    So, I take back that ‘semi-well’ from earlier, it runs horribly, but after I jiggered around with it for a while and got it decently playable, it was as fun and busted (in a jank sense, not a crashing lots sense) as I remember. Abusing a glitch to build corridors narrower that you are normally allowed to is still cool, especially when you use this to make intricate mazes for enemy agents to get lost in, ehe.

  21. Len White says:

    A whole lot of Arkham Horror LCG on Tabletop Simulator.

    What strikes me about the game is how bad the average player in the community is. Like 4 years after a game gets released, you’d expect there’d be a stable meta, a consensus on what’s bad and what’s good. Meanwhile the forums are mostly full of ill-informed advice and poorly written guides straight out of a 2006 DOTA fan forum.

    …perhaps it’s the lack of data and the lack of a leaderboard that’s a problem. It’s not easy to collect statistics from a board game, after all. And the lack of a leaderboard means there’s no credibility to what anyone claims, a beginner’s advice can look exactly the same as a veteran’s. Maybe I should make a micro-site to collect some statistics.

    1. Daimbert says:

      Assuming this is the same game, have you tried the Board Game Geek forums/page? That would focus more on those playing the card game and they are doing PBFs which could show some strategies and discussions and you could tell who is more experienced and who isn’t.

    2. RFS-81 says:

      I guess there’s less pressure to git gud because it’s cooperative. I don’t think many people will care how far from optimal they are when they can beat the scenarios they’re playing.

      1. Daimbert says:

        You obviously haven’t played with the people I’ve played the Arkham Horror board game with [grin].

  22. Lars says:

    Subverse is 1.5 million Kickstarter porn game that released recently in early access. It is a good, not great, twin stick shooter plus a weak XCOM ripoff with stellar voice acting to crutch punshing dialog. And suddenly stops after arround 5 hours.

  23. Christopher says:

    I’ve been restlessly moving from game to game. I think I started Persona 4 Golden since last time, and I tried getting into a VN again with Hoshi Ori Yume Mirai(which is, so far, technically a porn game but the kind where you gotta play 9 hours to get to a boob), but nothing is really sticking for me. It’s very much the mood Chris described in his errant signal video on the epidemic, only I can’t be bothered to play anything really.

    1. Daimbert says:

      I’m kinda with you on that, except that it’s more that I’m too busy to play anything for long and so have fallen back into my normal pattern of getting distracted by other games before I finish the one I’m playing.

  24. Ninety-Three says:

    Legends of Runeterra, specifically the surprisingly good (and totally free) singleplayer roguelite mode they added a few months ago. I’ve played it so much and it’s so good, it has just the right amount of variation and ability to do make degenerate decks, 10/10. The interesting thing is the parts of the roguelite formula it strips away: there’s no encounter selection, no shops or upgrade currencies, basically no metagame elements at all. You fight enemy deck #1 which is the same every time, then you get to pick one from a selection of random upgrades to your deck, then you fight fixed enemy deck #2, then you pick another random upgrade, repeat until final boss. I think this is a good approach and more games should use it: there are a lot of roguelites where I play for the combat and the map screen management stuff is all just busywork, directly serving up a series of fights is what I always wanted from the genre. I even like the fixed enemies: it’s really cool to be able to think “Okay this upgrade is better in a vacuum, but my deck is currently weak to the Guard Bots coming up so I’ll take this other upgrade to shore up that matchup”.

    It’s a little disappointing to realize that much of the roguelite formula is (at least to my preferences) cruft that most designers are probably going to keep cargo culting because FTL did it, but Monster Train was my game of last year and Runeterra might be it this year so maybe cutting back on the cruft can be a trend.

    1. Lino says:

      Oh yes, that is such a fun mode!

  25. GreyDuck says:

    Alongside the usual pair of games (FE:3H on the Switch, Satisfactory on the PC) I picked up Dorfromantik, which is a bit like that relatively-recent Islanders game but in more of a “playing solo Carcassonne with fancy animated Catan hex tiles” way. Not the most challenging little time-waster but it’s nice and light and fun enough for the occasional run when I need a rest break.

    I may have to check out that Orna game that commenter Joshua mentioned. I finally got 100% burned out on PoGo and haven’t replaced it with anything, so my phone’s game roster is AFK Arena and… that’s it. Seeing as how I’m about to go on a long light-rail train journey downtown for my first vaccine jab, a new game might be in order.

  26. Philadelphus says:

    Instead of making programs better, the extra power ends up being consumed by poor engineering. As an example he compares different versions of Adobe Photoshop. In the 90s, it took several seconds to load the program off of your slow-ass hard drive. Then 20 years later we have computers that are literally thousands of times faster, but the program is somehow even less responsive.

    I guess the counterargument is that programs are also many (thousands of?) times “better” (more powerful, capable of new things, etc.) than they were in the 90s. I suppose the truth is probably somewhere in between the two extremes.

    Maybe it’s the changing of the seasons into winter here down under or something, but I’ve had a hankering for playing some games I haven’t touched in a while. I pulled out Creeper World 3 to have a go at some Tortured Space levels; basically, very very hard, though I’ve become better since the last time I attempted them and even had a moment of “I failed this level before? How embarrassing!” tonight.

    Surprise competence after a lengthy absence seems to be a running theme, actually, as I took another stab at Wingspan, which is the digital version of a board game by the same name. I picked it up at release (the video game) back in September, but only played a game or two until this week when I’ve played several games. (I can highly recommend both video and board game versions, though the video game has yet to get any of the physical expansions.)

    I also randomly started playing Into The Breach again, the second game by the creators of FTL which I initially bounced off of when it released a few years ago. It’s a turn-based game where there’s no random chance and enemy actions are all telegraphed in advance, so each combat mission (which typically take just a few minutes) is like a mini-puzzle as your giant mechs face off against giant insectoid aliens in a desperate attempt to keep both themselves and innocent civilians in the buildings scattered around alive. It’s very heavy on crowd control; lots of items don’t deal damage but move enemies or lay smoke which cancels attacks, that sort of thing, and I think I struggled with that initially where I just wanted to kill everything. This time around I’m learning to work with it more and that enemies retreating at the end of combat is still a win as long as I’ve accomplished my other objectives (like defending specific buildings from attack).

    I’m looking forward to April 15, when three things I want to play release*. The Nemesis expansion for Stellaris has me the most excited of any expansion yet, as it allows you to literally become the end game crisis if you want, or else pull a Palpatine by getting yourself elected chancellor of the galactic UN in response to a crisis, then uniting the galaxy into a galactic empire once the crisis has been dealt with. It sounds incredibly fun and I can’t wait to try it out. There’s also Rain on Your Parade, a cute game with a neat ‘cardboard cutout’ artstyle about being a cloud accomplishing different objectives in each level by using your rainy powers to do things. And finally there’s Voxel Tycoon, which is kinda like a fusion of OpenTTD and Minecraft, offering a voxel world where you build up transport lines to moves goods around. I’ve been waiting forever for it come to Steam (so I can play with a friend easily) instead of Itch.io where it’s been since I think 2019, and it’s finally here.

    *Seriously, none of you could’ve released prior to the Easter long weekend? I have a thesis to write!

  27. Echo Tango says:

    I see you’ve got loaders[1] modded into Factorio. That’s something I always thought should be in the base game, after stack-inserters, trains, and maybe some extra space-science. Loading and unloading trains gets pretty space-consuming, and loaders don’t really make the rest of the game easier, just train-stuff. That might be the reason they’re not in the base game, but I always felt train-loading was more tedious than interesting, since you get to trains after you’ve already mastered the art of belts, inserters, splitters, etc, but now have to take up a tonne of space to match the physical space and throughput of trains. :)

    [1] At least, that’s what it looks like. The ones that go straight from belt to chest and vice versa without inserters in between.

  28. Mephane says:

    Outriders. Really great game and my favourite looter shooter now. When it works, that is. The first week it suffered from lots of server issues, disconnects, sometimes the game being down for hours (it is always online… yes, also when playing alone). Now the servers have become more stable, but a bug causes entire inventories to be deleted for lots of players. So you can technically play the game, but you also play Russian roulette with your gear.

  29. Rho says:

    I feel like the odd man out with Trials of Mana, a remake of a classic SNES game and a sequel to the hit Mana series… that noone played because Square never released it outside of Japan.

    And… it’s good. There are quite a few quirks but the game is breezy, fun exploration and bopping enemies with colourful graphics. There are eight characters (you pick 3 to play). Each character has a few story-level quirks and a different selection of abilities that gets refined as you advance and upgrade. That said, it has more than a few oddities owing to its origin as a 16-bit game.

    For one, the story and dialogue are often clipped to the point of being bizarre, with plot points popping up from nowhere. Character faces seemed designed for wild expression but they hardly animate, and the the character and monster designs look like PS3 graphics (not a problem) against PS2-era backgrounds (flat walls, poor textures). The early stages are fairly interesting to traverse, but the quality seems to drop-off about the mid-game.

  30. Sabrdance+(MatthewH) says:

    I continue to play Warframe -which has had a couple of story updates lately, as part of the New War storyline. The AI are attacking, and now that I’m high enough level to be dealing with Vox Solari and the Quills (high level guilds for those not playing) I actually understand how the wars and such are going.

    My other two games are X-Com: Long War, where I am in January 4, 2018 and launched the assault on the Temple Ship. I had aspirations to complete all the Foundry projects (only 3 left), but then the aliens launched a battleship (shot down), an abduction, and a terror attack at the same and the prospect of fighting 3 battles in rapid succession was just so tiring I was like, screw it -and launched the Temple Ship Assault. As much as I like Long War, if I play it again I’m turning on a bunch of the tactical mode easy options and shorten the game options. I think I’ve been playing this save since 2016 or something (I hope it shows me the start date when I beat it).

    Despite launching the assault with more pulse rifles than plasma rifles, the assault seems to be going pretty well. (Lots of psy-troopers with Rift helps).

    And finally I am playing an early access game that just released this week for everyone – Ultimate Admiral: Age of Sail. I have mixed feelings about this game. I really liked Ultimate General: Civil War, and particularly liked the historicity of the game (replaying the battles more or less how they happened originally, so you can’t just win Gettysburg by meta-gaming and running your troops around the other army and seizing the high ground right away). Ultimate Admiral seems more about making up interesting naval engagements -when I really would rather be refighting The Nile, or one of Thomas Cochrane’s duels.

    On the other hand, I do like the game -but I’m playing a level right now where my 3 corvettes are supposed to join up with a damaged 5th rate and then engage a 1st rate battleship. To do so we have 2 fire ships. And I’m just not sure I find this fun. I’ll almost certainly end up just kiting the damn thing, or trying to burn it down completely, or reload the mission and bring a bunch of ships just loaded with boarding troops to capture it -at which point the rest of the game will be a lot less exciting.

    1. BlueHorus says:

      Congratulations on actually sticking with an XCOM: Long War game!

      I just can’t do it – I always ended up about 40 hours in, mentally exhausted by the effort of simply keeping up with the enemy and the harder, longer missions. Then I’d reach some new plot objective (capture Alien X, shoot down UFO Y) and realise that it was going to take at least a few hours of work before I got a chance (!!) to do the thing I needed to to progress in the story….and I just gave up.

      Ironically, the Long War mods made me appreciate vanilla XCOM (and XCOM 2) a lot more. For all of their many improvements on the core gameplay, it’s entirely possible to spend hours upon hours playing and not make much progress at all.
      Say what you want about vanilla XCOM, at least if you play for 5 hours, you end up having moved the story along by the end of it!

      1. Philadelphus says:

        I sort of did this myself with XCOM 2 mods: I’m currently rocking something like >300 mods together, and as part of that I added so much stuff to the load out phase: everyone gets a dedicated ammo slot, an armor (vest) slot, a pistol slot, plus I increased the maximum number of people on a squad from 6 to 8. And in my latest game, during the late game, I realized: it’s actually kind of a chore outfitting this many people for a mission. I still like having more options than vanilla, but it made me appreciate its relative simplicity more, so I’ve toned it down a bit for future playthroughs, with only Grenadiers (as per vanilla) and Skirmishers (to complement their flexibility) getting a dedicated grenade slot, and I cut back on pistol slots for a lot of classes that didn’t really need them as well.

      2. Sabrdance+(Matthew+H) says:

        Beat the Uber Ethereal last night. That fight is such ridiculous BS. You have to kill the other Ethereals in the room to reduce the DR on the Uber Ethereal before you can kill him -and he has some kind of massive Psy bomb he can drop. My first time through he 1-shotted by entire team coming through the door. I reloaded and spaced way out and he only Psi-Lanced one of my MEC troopers.

        674 days in game. Doing the math, I played that 1 game for 5 years, 1 month, and 13 days.

        I appreciate a lot of the flexibility -and I am at least interested in the infiltration mechanic for Long War 2 -but overall, I do appreciate the base game’s design a lot more afterwards as well.

        1. BlueHorus says:

          Yeah. I love Long War for the flexibility it gives you, and the added depth to the game…but their approach to difficulty really puts me off. Does it all need to be this hard, guys?

          Though the worst parts are where the Long War team are hampered by the core game mechanics…the aerial combat in XCOM is a great example. In the core game, it’s not really noticable, and once you get to the top tier, your interceptors will auto-win a fight with anything.

          But in Long War, the aerial combat is – like everything – harder…and you become VERY aware that you as a player have very little control or input.
          It’s so frustrating to suffer permanent setbacks to when they’re THIS costly, and you were doing everything you could anyway…

  31. Ander says:

    I’m playing Half-Life: Alyx whenever I get a chance. I believe I’m a little over halfway done.
    It’s not necessarily mind-blowing. It’s more like, yes, this feels correct. This is a good way to do this VR thing. But Valve level design is continuing to be predictable. It doesn’t bother me, but I think it lowers tension. I know where ammo pickups will be. I know the feel of the quiet areas. I know I can use resources because the game will give me more as I need them. The horror in general still works ’cause I scare easily, but I think I’m becoming less scared as it goes on.

  32. Moridin says:

    Knights of Pen and Paper Tried playing it, but it got boring pretty quickly. For a turn-based RPG where you control your team, it just doesn’t have the depth to stay interesting.

    Brigador Another game I picked up on sale from GOG(or was it a freebie? Not sure). It’s okay, but like the above, I got bored pretty quickly.

    Oh, sir! The Insult Simulator “Your father dances like your father, and now I shall finish the rites!” Nice little gem I, again, got on sale some time ago and didn’t get around to playing until now. I kind of wish there was more content to it, but apart from that, it’s just a well-made game that does one thing, and does it well. Easily worth sinking a few hours into.

    Noita I think it was one of your podcasts that got me interested. I actually managed to win for the first time yesterday! It must feel exotic seeing all the Finnish names for things if you don’t know the language yourself, but for me it’s just a bit weird. Still a really fun game, though.

    Flashpoint Not a game in itself, but I’ve been using it to get and play some old flashgames like Rogue Soul.

    1. John says:

      Brigador was a freebie. I picked it up too but I haven’t played it yet. I have, however, listened to the free soundtrack download, which is excellent.

    2. Syal says:

      “Your mother / admires photos of / your face / and everyone knows it!”

    3. Echo Tango says:

      I bought Brigador myself and enjoyed the time I spent with it, but agree about the lack of depth. They’ve got enough variations of guns, mechs, etc, but none of them really change how you play the game much, and I don’t think any of them have synergies to discover like Slay The Spire or even Gungeon have in them. Mortars, machine-guns, and lasers all work the same, when you have enough ammo to lead your shots, but if they’d had some things like a glue-bomb that slows down enemies who drive over it, or if the AI could be scattered or confused by debris and dust, that would have been a lot cooler. :)

  33. The+Wind+King says:

    By myself? Oxygen Not Included which I find endlessly infuriating because if it’s not temperature destroying my crops, it’s disease stressing out my colonists, or Gas filling up everywhere, or Food rotting, but I keep coming back.

    Also been co-oping through Divinity OS 2, which is a better experience than OS 1, but still has the problem of I wish it was slightly more hand-holdey, just a bit, even on a second run through I keep on missing quests, and heading into fights that are too heavy for me, especially as level differences are ***Killer*** in OS 2, 4 level 10 PCs against a single level 12 enemy, regular party wipes.

    I’m sure there are people out there who have a perfectly optimised build that would allow them to beat the game with a single character, doing only the main quests, but that’s not me apparantly.

  34. SidheKnight says:

    Currently replaying Dragon Age: Inquisition on Nightmare Difficulty.

    Once I’m done with that, I guess I’ll play Age of Empires 2: Definitive Edition until Mass Effect Legendary Edition comes out.

    1. Thomas says:

      I’m not buying another game until Mass Effect comes up! My craving got not the point where I seriously considered replaying Andromeda

      1. SidheKnight says:

        Disappointing as it was, Andromeda was not that bad (once they fixed the bugs). Just bad by Mass Effect standards. (Lots of great ideas, very poor execution).

        It doesn’t have much replay value though.

  35. Nixorbo says:

    Final Fantasy 12, Octopath Traveller and Outriders all came to GamePass recently so that’s what I’ve been working on. I play FF12 when my wife is around, since that’s her favorite FF game. It’s the Zodiac Age edition, so it’s interesting the differences between what I remember the first time around and now. All in all it’s aged pretty well.

    I’m about 12-15 hours into Octopath and it’s … interesting. The moment-to-moment gameplay is tight is satisfying, the worldbuilding is solid and the art direction has tons of charm, but the narrative(s) are pretty boilerplate thus far, the level design is uninspired and the voice acting is not great. It’s also a pain to keep your party at comparable levels – the first character you pick can’t be taken out of your party until you’ve completed all 4 of their chapters and the game is structures that you need to do everybody’s chapter before you move onto the next round of chapters. Thus, my current characters levels are 22, 17, 16, 15, 15, 13 and 11 and I haven’t even picked up my eighth/last character yet.

    Outriders is a competent enough game but it doesn’t do anything as well as the games that clearly influenced it. The superpowers aren’t as good as Destiny’s, the shooting isn’t as good as The Division or Gears of War, the guns aren’t as interesting as Borderlands and the storytelling isn’t as good as Mass Effect. The tone wildly shifts between melodrama and wackiness without warning and there’s a bug that can wipe your inventory in coop mode. Also, level design is pretty bland and the developers’ answer to “how do we make a challenging encounter” is MOAR DUDEZ. It’s a fun enough game but if I had to pay for it I wouldn’t be playing it.

    1. Nimrandir says:

      Ah, Final Fantasy XII. I usually list FFIX as my favorite of the series, but I have really fond memories of XII. It’s always good to hear that other people enjoy it.

      1. Nixorbo says:

        My top 3 are 6, 10 and 9 with 12 and the open-world parts of 15 on their heels.

  36. Vernal_ancient says:

    I’m playing a couple phone games, Bleentoro and Snakebird, and also trying to get into Stellaris. The latter seems like an interesting game, if I ever sink in the time to actually learn how it works. I should probably watch some tutorials, but I’d like to at least manage to beat another empire on my own before doing so. Anyway, Bleentoro is a factory puzzle game. I’ve played a couple factory games before, but they were all either idle games where you just set up your factory and sit for a while, or Mindustry, which is fun but the tower defense aspects and limited number of maps get boring fast. Bleentoro has a campaign mode with lots of levels though (more if you pay for the full version, but I’m enjoying the free version so far) where the goal is just “make x number of each of these items, maybe within a time limit.” It’s pretty simple in terms of building choices and I wouldn’t say I’ve been particularly challenged yet, but it’s pretty relaxing. Snakebird is a lot more challenging. It’s a puzzle game where each level gives you one or more feathery snakes and a portal to get them all into. It’s much more challenging, and I fail at the puzzles a lot (sometimes through intentional experimentation not working out like I hoped, sometimes because a careless move sent a snake off a ledge into a spike pit or something) but it feels pretty great to beat a puzzle I’ve been stuck on for a while

  37. Ramsus says:

    I’ve been playing some Among Us, Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun, Monster Camp, and Slay the Spire.

    I’ve sort of paused my play of Shadow Tactics because I hit one of those spots where I wound up wanting to self-impose a particular limit on myself for story reasons and this makes the particular level I’m on a *lot* more difficult and I go kinda burned out on reloading for like two hours and making no appreciable progress.
    It is a good game though, tactical stealth is not a much filled niche and I really like that they clearly intentionally designed it so you can handle every level many different ways rather than the standard “there’s only one right way to beat the level” of game design.

    Among Us, new map but new bugs. I’m really new to the game so the standard gameplay hasn’t grown tired to me yet. Though I still play it with people from a particular discord server at least as much as I do with randos. And sometimes we play with mods (when a recent patch hasn’t broken them).

    Monster Camp…. is exactly what you want it to be if what it is is at all what you’re there for. Not a ton to say about that.

    Slay the Spire, I kept seeing things compared (often unfavorably) towards it. I see why. It’s great. I can play it for hours or for a few minutes at a time just as easily and it has enough variation and randomness that it would probably take a long time to feel like you’ve experienced every combination of things enough times to feel bored of it. I’ll probably keep this one installed long past the point I have any new goals to achieve because it just scratches a particular itch I have as the type of thing I want to do when I get that distinct lack of desire to engage in the other things I typically spend my time on.

  38. Hal says:

    Actually . . . I’ve been playing a lot lately.

    My friends and I have been diving into World War Z. Yes, the movie was terrible. It’s basically an excuse to shoot a lot of zombies, and I’ll take it. Would I rather have another Left 4 Dead installment? You betcha. But this calms the shakes. That said, the story mode doesn’t have a lot to say for it. And because the game has some 8 character classes, there’s a LOT of grinding to this game. Which does give you something to aim for if you play it a lot, but otherwise it just looks like a bunch of busywork to me. Still, it’s fun to play.

    On that note, I also tried out Zombie Army 4 because it was free this month on PS4. Super campy and pulpy. Lots of weird mechanics. I only played it once, so I don’t have much to add. If you haven’t heard of it, think WW2, but Hitler becomes a lich and raises an army of the dead to win the war for him. Apparently in one of the previous entries he got sent to Hell, but I guess he’s back?

    I’ve also been playing a whole lot of Enter the Gungeon since it was free last month. (Sorry, Shamus.) Definitely enjoy the silly aesthetics of it all, though man, it’s hard! I’m not very good at bullet hell games already, and this one really pushes me to my limits. Though, like all roguelikes, it all depends on the luck of your rolls.

  39. Retsam says:

    I’m finally starting to get over my crippling addiction to Simon Tatham’s Portable Puzzle Collection. It’s a free, JS-based implementation of a bunch of logic puzzles in the vein of Sudoku and Picross… including Sudoku and Picross (under the names “Solo” and “Pattern” – this site dates from 2004 predating widespread Sudoku popularity, I think).

    But it’s a collection of 39 different puzzle games, with consistently good and no-nonsense UX, JS based, so no flash or Java applets necessary, and they all randomly generate puzzles usually unique solutions and a multiple difficulties. And while they’re not all winners, IMO, many of them have equivalent strategic depth to Picross or Sudoku, which is really saying something.

    The fun has less been “solving individual puzzles”, but more about figuring out the meta-rules that make the puzzles solvable at all – at first the puzzle will be completely impenetrable and I’ll struggle to solve it on easy without guessing and checking, but as I play with it more I’ll figure out more and more “meta-rules” and eventually my thought process for the puzzle has very little direct reference to the rules the puzzle.

    My three favorites are Slant, Net, and Loopy – and Loopy in particular, I spent hours and hours getting good at the base, normal grid version, and then there’s like 12 different variants that keep the same rules, but use a different shape for the puzzle, each of which makes for a meaningfully different set of “meta-rules” despite having the same base rules.

    So yeah, highly recommended… but I’m also not exaggerating about “addiction”, this has been like Factorio-level addiction for me, (and worse because it’s so easy to just pop open a browser tab).

    Also, I’m working on writing a mod for Mount & Blade: Bannerlord. I’ve got a very specific goal in mind, which I’m going to be using for part of a charity marathon in June. It’s been really interesting, considering that I’ve never written a mod before and don’t write all that much C#, (I’m just glad it’s not C++), and given that Bannerlord is still in early access so it’s sort of modding on top of an shaky foundation.

    But overall it’s going really well. I’ve got most of the functionality I want, and just have some polish (and UI) left to do, at this point. And there’s only a few parts of the code that are hacky beyond mortal ken.

    1. Retsam says:

      Oh and my wife and I have been playing Stardew Valley more since the update. We’re farther in than I’ve ever gotten without getting bored – turning down the profit margins helped – we’re into year 3 and still making interesting decisions about money management – they’ve added some more “late game” content in the recent patch.

      But I still feel like “Stardew Valley: Year 1” is an 10/10 game and “Stardew Valley: Everything Else” is an 8/10 – unless you really get into the collectathon, aesthetic farm design, or just the “cozy sim” aspects of the game.

      Like, Year 1 is great; you’re constantly balancing time, money, and stamina, but so many of the systems of the game just stop being interesting/relevant after Year 1 or so:

      * You probably have all your tools upgraded to gold after year 1, and iridium isn’t that relevant other than for the pickaxe.
      * You probably have level-2 sprinklers everywhere, so you only pull out your watering can exactly once a season. (If you use wheat to keep your field plowed between Summer/Fall, you can get away with only plowing/watering twice a year)
      * You probably have most of the skills close to maxed out, so like 90% of the unlockable crafting recipes are unlocked.
      * You probably build a kitchen and good recipes just in time for stamina to go from “scarce commodity” to something you literally never think about, because all your tools are vastly more efficient, anyway.
      * By year 2 you’ve probably completed the community center and have a good chunk of the villagers at max relationship status.

      Obviously, YMMV depending on how efficient you are in the first year, but it’s not going to vary that much. The recent patch helps, but it still feels like a very different game after the first year or so, which is a shame, for me.

      There’s a lot of games that pitch themselves as “like Stardew Valley”, but I’d really love to find one thats “like Stardew Valley Year 1”, and less one that’s like the rest of it. Graveyard Keeper is the closest I’ve found.

      1. Philadelphus says:

        I feel like Stamina is Stardew Valley’s major design mishap, personally. Maybe. As you say, at the start it’s incredibly limited and you have to make interesting decisions about how you’re going to spend it during each day. Leveling up skills reduces the stamina it takes to use the associated tool, which I do think is good—it rewards practice of a skill by getting better at it. But then upgrading your tools also makes them faster/better, so not only are you losing less stamina per ax-swing, you need fewer of them to cut down a tree, which has a compounding effect. And THEN, stardrops permanently increase your maximum stamina! It goes from “front-and-center critical” to “you will never need to worry about this again” at some point, and it’s just…weird. Especially since, as you mentioned, there are all these recipes for foods whose stamina-restoring properties become moot around the time you can actually cook them.

        On the other hand, I don’t necessarily mind, because I do like attaining “mastery” of something such that I no longer have to worry about it, so I’m really not sure how I’d go about “fixing” it. Maybe if stardrops didn’t increase your maximum stamina (though they’d need some other reward then)? Maybe if powerful tools actually required more stamina to use, so you get stuff done faster but at a higher stamina cost, making the decrease you get for leveling up your skills a way to counteract it but softening the drop-off somewhat? Does it actually need fixing, and do I really want to have to be worrying about my stamina every day in my Year 3+ playthrough? I’m not sure.

        1. Retsam says:

          Maybe if powerful tools actually required more stamina to use, so you get stuff done faster but at a higher stamina cost, making the decrease you get for leveling up your skills a way to counteract it but softening the drop-off somewhat? Does it actually need fixing, and do I really want to have to be worrying about my stamina every day in my Year 3 playthrough? I’m not sure.

          Yeah, I think if I were to try to “fix” it, I’d make the tools stamina proportional to how much work they’re doing. Hoeing 9 tiles at once with the Gold Hoe would take 9x the stamina of just using it for just the single tile, and the Irridum Axe would consume 5x as much Stamina as the base axe.

          I do think it’d be worth fixing, because it’d make cooking so much more relevant than the base game. Not only does food restore stamina, but the recipes that provide bonuses to Foraging and Mining would actually be relevant as the only effects of those recipes are reducing stamina costs, and the Farming recipes would be much more useful too (though they currently boost harvest quality, so they’re already one of the few recipes to bother with).

    2. tmtvl says:

      Yeah, the puzzle collection is one of the first packages I look for on a new GNU/Linux install. A guaranteed solvable minesweeper is nice to have, lets me play without marking the mines.

    3. bobbert says:

      In Stardew I really enjoyed pushing my self to get the greenhouse as fast as possible. “Oh boy! The greenhouse is really strong; this is going to be great.” Then I would get it, and my interest would sort of collapse.

      I think Harvest Moon was on the right track giving you different mechanics once you got married. Such as “get home before dark or your wife will start getting very very angry with you” (how realistic).

  40. Syal says:

    Let’s see, when was last time.

    Dicey Dungeons was fun for what it was, a simple dice-based roguelike RPG where your various attacks require certain number ranges, but Robot is misery to play so I won’t be finishing that one.

    Still playing Type Knight, though I’m certain a number of these prompts are not actually words.

    Still playing Chess. OG TB Strate-gee.

    Disgaea 4 Complete+ has been fun. The story is sillier than 2 or 5, closer to 1’s tone I’d say, though a lot more structured than 1. I’m missing some features from 5 but it’s the first time I haven’t felt compelled to level randos so I’m actually using the special characters. Not much else to say, it’s still Disgaea.

    Back into Monster Train, which got some major updates since last time I played, namely every deck has two different starting champions and two different sets of starting cards now. It’s officially replaced Slay the Spire as my go-to roguelike deckbuilding game.

    Final Fantasy 7 Remake was a very good time, though still could have been better; knowing how quickly Midgar moves in the original, a lot of the chapters feel excruciatingly long, especially the new stuff like the Underground Lab and Sewers Revisited (of all the ways to pad the game, they made another sewer level.) But the combat stayed fun throughout, and the rejiggering of major enemies as boss fights was good stuff. Lot of love in that game. I wish it was more blind-friendly; there’s multiple events that will make no sense to people who haven’t played 7 Original (a podcast mentioned people getting through the entire game and still having no idea who Sephiroth was, because despite massively increased screentime they never actually explain who he is.)

    Tried Baten Kaitos, the old Gamecube deck-based RPG. One level in, the characters aren’t great, nor the writing, and the voice-acting is bad enough to be good fun. (The demon who tells you about the coming of Malpercio sounds just like a baseball announcer.*) There’s an end-of-turn screen after every turn that slows battles to a crawl. Don’t know how long I’ll keep playing it.

    Replaying Final Fantasy 2, while I lament the absence of a good sequel. The game is super fun and super wonky, but the follow-ups follow up the wrong parts. The SaGa games add level-scaling, random skill gains and obtuse mapping, there’s nothing quite like it. The Elder Scrolls are their own fun, but they aren’t turn-based. I’d make one myself if I knew the first thing about making these things.

    The Last Remnant has been sitting in my library for a while now. Finally played it in hopes it would scratch that FF2 itch, but unsurprisingly it’s basically another SaGa game. I’ll probably keep playing for a while, but I may have already softlocked by starting a quest I can’t survive.

    Made a couple of runs of Nuclear Throne. Used to be good at it. Not now. Although the controller seems worse than mouse-and-keyboard. That’s got to be the reason.

    Made a couple of runs of Binding of Isaac. Used to be good at it. Not now.

    *(“The great Malpercio will consume your world with a HARD LINE DRIVE TO CENTER!”)

    1. Syal says:

      Oh right, Huniepop 2. I like the mechanics changes, though I think it would benefit from much higher stamina limits (like, ten instead of six), or at least allowing you to exceed a girl’s current stamina when exhausting them. I’ve had five-match combos I literally couldn’t play because each girl only had 4 stamina at the time.

      A whole lot of the girls are unlikable, though that’s the point for at least one of them. (“Do I really have to seduce the overloud attention whore idiot?” “Yes, the fate of the world depends on it!”) So, I guess it would be a bigger problem in a different game. But there’s still only two I liked.

      1. Daimbert says:

        Yeah, the reason I stopped playing it was that some of the new mechanics were annoying but I could have pushed through that if the girls were interesting, and I wasn’t interested in any of them as people to hang around with and listen to during the dates and puzzles, which kills my interest in any dating sim type game.

    2. bobbert says:

      I had a lot of fun in FFII. My favorite was the Solo Mingwu Challenge where you play as only Mingwu with the add restrictions of never using the fight command and only learning one black magic (your choice :) ). Use a game genie to set the story bits you need to get into Mysidia Cave and Jade Path, then go and defeat the Hell-Emperor.

      It requires you really figure out the mechanics because you can’t get perfect evasion / high AGI without weapon-xp.

      1. Syal says:

        I’ve tried a few challenge runs, haven’t completed any of them. Weaponless/Fists ended at the coliseum when antlions paralyzed everyone. Magicless/Attack Only ended in Kashuan with the reappearance of Adamantoise. Magic Only… I think I just got bored? Think I just got bored.

        1. bobbert says:

          One think that might help, is your chance to not get stunned / stoned / killed by attack is equal to your Mevade%, which is like stam + mpstam + equip.

    3. Syal says:

      Well, before this thread vanishes I’ll mention I just picked up Loop Hero, which is sort of like playing both sides of a tower defense game: you have a (randomly generated) loop your hero travels, and as you gain enemy spawner cards you put them around the loop to try to grind out equipment and environmental benefits, without overdoing it and killing the hero. Battles are automated, the boss only spawns after a hefty number of tiles have been placed, and every time you make a loop the enemies get stronger.

      Quite a bit of fun so far; scratching that FF2 leveling-without-leveling itch. The permanent improvements already feel pretty grindy though, I think the third one already required 17 of one resource, along with several other resources.

  41. Dreadjaws says:

    And then I noticed that the craze seems to have ended. A couple of weeks ago I checked in and there weren’t any adult games on the charts.

    My guess (and please understand I’m talking out of my ass here) is that adult games were some sort of novelty on Steam in the last couple of years since they used to be strictly forbidden, and people started picking them up mostly out of curiosity and/or fear of them vanishing (if Steam decided to un-relax their policy on them). Then either people realized they weren’t all that great (either because they were cheap asset flips, because they didn’t serve their purposes all that well or because people realized they preferred other alternatives for titillation) or that they weren’t going anywhere and saw no reason to keep buying them en-masse again.

    Anyway, I played the hell of Super Mario Odyssey on the Switch. Brilliant game. Probably my favorite 3D Mario title, due to the way it rewards exploration like no other. Played through SteamWorld Heist again (have I recommended this title to you in the last couple of weeks? If not, here it goes again). Playing through Bioshock now. And man, this game looks gorgeous on the Switch. Probably the smaller screen size helps (I have a Switch Lite, so I only play in portable mode), and sure, it’s the remastered version, but it runs better than the original ever did on my PC. And yeah, it’s not the greatest game (even back at launch time I could see it was a bit overpraised), but it’s still fun.

    It’s weird, but my Switch has made me completely abandon PC gaming in the last few weeks. The convenience of having such large games to play at all times with you is just too good. I mean, sure, you could do that with a gaming laptop too, if you’re the kind of person who can afford one, but well, I’m not.

    1. John says:

      I second the Steamworld Heist recommendation. Incidentally, Dreadjaws, have you played the expansion? I keep seeing it on sale for a buck or two and I can never quite make up my mind to actually buy it.

      1. Dreadjaws says:

        You know, it’s been a while since I bought this game, so honestly I didn’t even remembered that part of it was DLC. The new character and missions are perfectly integrated within the game, so it doesn’t really feel like separate content.

  42. evilmrhenry says:

    Currently playing Gemcraft: Labyrinth while I wait for the new Path of Exile league to drop this week.

    Gemcraft: Labyrinth is “a bit grindy”, but it’s low-effort so I can have it running while watching a video on my other monitor or something.

    I’ve also been poking at Skyfactory 4’s prestige mode (Minecraft modpack). Still not sure how I feel about it. The first two restarts gave me useful upgrades, but I’m now at the point where I would either need to run the early game two more times in a row to get the next useful upgrade, figure out if any of the achievement pages are actually complatable, or figure out how paraboxes work.

  43. Daimbert says:

    So for me, I’ve been too busy to really play games and fit them into my schedule, but I am playing some:

    I’m still playing Ring Fit Adventure, which is the only game I’m playing regularly because, well, it’s on my regular schedule. I’m almost finished the RPG and will probably try out the rhythm game for a bit before starting over. It’s interesting enough to keep me going for the half hour a day that I do it, and the exercises are varied and easy enough that I can keep up with it. I really, really hate the conveyors, though, where you have to run harder to get through it and get XP for it, but the leg strap is always a bit of a problem for me so it can slide down while doing it, plus I often have no idea if I’m making progress or not or how fast it wants me to run. I want a nice light job, not a sprint.

    I did play Knights of the Old Republic, and have finished Tatooine and Kashyyk. I’m about to move on to Maanan, but have been having a hard time fitting it into my schedule. The same applies to The Old Republic.

    In keeping with my Star Wars obsession, I also played a bit of the Imperial campaign in Galactic Battlegrounds, but again don’t have the time to dedicate to the really base-building intensive missions. I also installed X-Wing: Alliance and have been playing around in the simulator, which is a lot of fun when I get the time.

    For board games, I actually played the Hoth Ice Planet Adventure Game, mostly because it was quick. I want to play the card game and Rebellion but again haven’t had the time to set them up and play.

    1. Philadelphus says:

      I would figuratively kill for a Galactic Battlegrounds: Definitive Edition like the various Age of Empires games got.

  44. The Rocketeer says:

    Been playing Ghost Recon: Breakpoint, which a wrote about here. I’ve enjoyed the game very much in spite of playing a game mode bolted imperfectly onto a game that was pretty wonky to begin with. In that sense, this game is hanging around with Far Cry 2, a similarly deeply flawed game that I find deeply engrossing for mostly the same reasons. Also like Far Cry 2, I’ve binged the game to excess and I’ve pretty much burnt out on it after clearing out roughly half of the map, so I’ll likely leave it to lie for now.

    So, I suppose I’ll return to God Eater Resurrection, a rudimentary animu Monster Hunter ripoff in which you play a teenage Sephiroth clone/fashion victim enslaved to hunt monsters rejected from Shin Megami Tensei. I did not actually realize that this series came from the same developer as animu Dark Souls clone/fashion victim sim Code Vein, or that the titles actually share a setting. Which just makes Code Vein even more pathetic and pointless in hindsight. Don’t play Code Vein!

    I’m poking fun at it, but I wouldn’t be returning to God Eater if I wasn’t enjoying it quite a lot, especially after getting derailed so hard by Breakpoint. Ironically, I’m enjoying it in spite of sharing many of the flaws that made Code Vein a flatline: bad hit boxes for your attacks and the enemies’, misleading or absent telegraphs for many enemy attacks, fiddly interface, cheap and unattractive art direction, weak (and very familiar) story, confused tone that clumsily splits the difference between wacky and grimdark (c.f. anime), really insultingly overdone stripper outfits for all the women (c.f. anime), and little or no explanation of many very important statistics and systems (c.f. Monster Hunter for God Eater, Dark Souls for Code Vein).

    As “Resurrection” might imply, the game is a more recent update of the first God Eater. Updated though it may be, it’s still a first try at mimicking the early entries of a series not reputed for polish and user-friendliness. Nevertheless, hunting monsters to make equipment to hunt monsters to make equipment to hunt monsters etc. etc. etc. is a fun loop. The hunts are relatively shorter, and the maps smaller, which makes quests with multiple monsters very trying as you attempt to isolate them. God Eater distinguishes itself in that you rely both on melee and guns; guns essentially use MP to fire very high DPS, while melee attacks earn MP, making for a nice cycle of unloading on a monster’s ranged weakpoints, closing to attack its melee weakpoints and accrue more MP, then making some space to repeat the process. True to the title, you also have a variety of “consume” attacks that put you into an empowered state, which raises your stats, activates certain skills, and gives your gun special ammo. The game expanded a lot once I understood the necessity of mixing melee and ranged, and how to use your equipment and ammo types to try and cover your bases, which is important in a game where you can’t switch equipment mid-quest.

    Speaking of ammo, another extremely important thing I had to just stumble into was the ammo customization. This is a signature series feature, allowing you to make incredibly customized ammunition: different shot types, ranges, and elements of course, but also shots that fly at different angles, or have homing effects, area of effect, shots that orbit around a point or arc in a different way… all kinds of crazy things. The kicker is, shots can also trigger other shot effects, which can trigger other shot effects. It’s fiendishly complex and customizable. It’s also mercilessly complex and none of this is ever explained to the player! As is pretty typical for me, I’ve chosen to use this huge system in a boring, practical way by mostly making simple, cost effective ammo. I’m a terrible shot, so blowing all my MP on one round of sniper-nuke ammo isn’t worth my while when I know it’s always going to go sailing over the monster’s shoulder or between its legs.

    I feel like I’m just getting to the midgame now, so there’s a lot of God Eater left. Like Monster Hunter, I’ve chosen to pick one weapon type— spears— and stick stubbornly with it come Hell or high water.

    1. John says:

      So . . . which gods are you eating?

      “We’re ready to order now. We’ll start with the Quetzalcoatl plate. I want the Odin kebabs. My friend will have the Ahura Mazda strip steak. For desert, some iced Ba’al.”

      1. The Rocketeer says:

        It is sort of like that, actually. The enemies are basically super mutants called Aragami, “evil gods” basically. Technically, only the very strongest Aragami are named after gods or very powerful demons, with lesser ones often being named after monsters and mythical creatures. But you do literally consume them, or rather, your “God Arc” does: a symbiote of the same novel form of life as the Aragami that allows you to defeat them with their own power. The God Arc is both a tool/weapon and a real living thing with its own mind. A character makes a passing inquiry into your God Arc’s favorite massage techniques. There’s also Giant Corn on the Cob.

    2. The Rocketeer says:

      Oh, almost forgot that I replayed The Surge! Though very obviously limited in budget and with many rough edges, I have big soft spot in my heart for The Surge, a sort of Dark-Souls-meets-Dead-Space experiment. The game has a very strange, dry, paranoiac tone, and it’s one of the very few Souls-inspired games I’ve played in which being very cryptic about what’s going on actually works in the game’s favor. In many ways, it’s a game about chaos, confusion, and the unknown. It makes me regret somewhat the move to a more satiric, dark-comic tone in the add-ons and the sequel. The game manages to combine about six different end-of-the-world scenarios into one, which is both amusing and genuinely interesting to me. It also reminds me of Jurassic Park, in a way: a hubristic visionary manages to set up a Rube Goldberg machine of disastrous events catalyzed by a sudden inexplicable disaster. I love the opening, which is a clear homage to the opening of Dead Space but relies on effective visual storytelling to instantly establish Surge Bro (sometimes called Warren) as a sympathetic everyman plagued by atrocious luck.

      I was also very relieved to have a much easier time with the game than my first run at it at least a couple of years ago, and it was still quite trying at times. The game has some sudden difficulty spikes, and a couple marathon segments that really make you earn your shortcut back to the bonf— uh, the Ops Center. I attribute this as much to learning/growing pains as I do to genre convention; I recall the sequel being more even-tempered and lenient with progress.

      But most of all, I was very relieved to finish the game for the first time! I was chagrined with myself after allowing The Surge to fall prey to an old bad gaming habit of mine: I got to the very end of the game, with the final boss literally in the next room, after all that heartache and toil… and then dropped the game and didn’t go back to it. For two years. This time, I started fresh and stuck it out to the credits. I was as pleased by the ending as I was by the opening. Godspeed, Surge Bro; all our hearts are with ye.

      1. The Rocketeer says:

        Oh, I forgot something very important about The Surge! Please be aware that if you play The Surge, you will have this song stuck in your head for the rest of your life. Maybe longer.

        1. Geebs says:

          I was baaaaaaawwwwwwnnnnnnn…

          Dammit.

  45. baud says:

    I’ve played some of Halo 4:spartan ops in coop after playing all the levels solo. It was fun (as is playing most games with a friend is) and I was able to choose levels I knew were interesting instead of the same handful that get copypasted a dozen of times.

    I started playing Wildermyth, which is kinda like fantasy nuXCOM, but with a bigger emphasis on the characters (all randomly generated with different traits) and their relationships (they can be friends, rivals, lovers and their kids can join your group). There’s a lot of random events, the enemies are divided in multiple factions, so you’re not always fighting the same group (well, each campaign is focused on one group, but the others are present too, just too a lesser extent). The combats are nice, but I’m less happy with the way the global map is implemented, even if I understand why the devs made it this way.

  46. SkySC says:

    I finally played Disco Elysium, and I was shocked to find that this award-winning game of universal acclaim was really good. I think the best thing I can say about it is that it really makes you feel like a detective, which no other game has managed to do for me. Going back and forth over the crime scene, interrogating suspects, canvassing witnesses, all of it just works perfectly. And the whole system feels so dynamic. Information from the autopsy can be used to catch a suspect in a lie, a witness’s stray remark will point to additional physical evidence, etc.

    It has a lot more going on than the detective gameplay, but that’s the core of the experience, so it’s a good thing they nailed it.

  47. Sleeping Dragon says:

    In my stupid addiction to having something grindy to play I managed to wrestle myself from Path of Exile only to fall to the temptation of coming back to Warframe and at the same time some friends lured me to try FFXIV. Warframe remains excellent in that “gotta catch’em all” way and something you can jump in and out of both for a 30min session or for an entire day of chasing something, also I thought I’d be utterly confused coming back to it after over a year but I slipped right in. FFXIV I’m still going through the original story and so far I’m kind of treating it as a single player JRPG, which is something I had a hankering to play anyway, with an occasional dip into party dungeon to progress the story. Which is something that I feel I have to bring up. It’s not been a serious issue since even as a DPS I’ve generally haven’t had waits longer than about 15 mins, so far, however the necessity to do party based content that is not necessarily rewarding to the veteran playerbase is a bit problematic. I think with the resources they have Squeenix could easily make single player version of those runs for story purposes, or put in bot companions, or even just let you skip the thing and watch a cutscene while obviously not getting the loot.

    Other than that I’ve played through Ori and the Will of the Wisps. Much like the first game it is amazingly good (obviously if you like this type of gameplay), the visuals are beautiful, the animations are amazing, the gameplay is smooth as butter with different abilities transitioning into one another fluidly (when you pull it off). A few things I was slightly surprised about was the somewhat darker tone and the way they actually went deeper into the combat system, whereas I was expecting that would be the aspect of the game they’d cut down on. Between the changes to combat, some of the mechanics and the shift in tone I couldn’t shake the feeling that between the first and the second game someone played Hollow Knight, mind you, this is not necessarily to the game’s detriment.

    I’m making my second attempt at Pillars of Eternity, last time I got to act 2, went into the DLC when it opened, finished the DLC, decided to take a bit of a breather before coming back to the main plot… and never picked the game up again. It’s not going very fast, I’m increasingly discovering that my generally lukewarm feelings towards real time with pause are shifting further towards active dislike. I just find the combat messy between all the abilities, timers, issues with pathfinding… It doesn’t help that I’m not very invested into the story on an emotional level. The writers are obviously interested in exploring at least some of the implications of the setting and it does feel like a world mid-shift societally and technologically, unlike the usually static fantasy fare, but I can’t shake the feeling that I’d be more interested in reading this as a book, or a sourcebook for a tabletop RPG, than in playing.

    I usually don’t mention all the idlers/incrementals I’m playing but going to point out NGU Industries, from the developer of NGU Idle, since it just launched. Right now it is a game of producing resources that you use to make more advanced resources that you use to buy upgrades that you use to improve your production, unlock more areas to put your production facilities in and unlock more resources with several side mechanics but if the previous game is anything to go by the dev is going to be adding new features for years to come (the previous game is still technically not 100% complete though afaik it’s only missing a couple lore entries and the actual ending).

    1. Sleeping Dragon says:

      Oh and Hades. I’ve mentioned it last time in February but I’ve been doing a run or two on most days, I believe I’m somewhere around escape attempt 70, gotten out a bunch of times and I’ve actually seen the credits ending… but there is still so much stuff to unlock and I really, really want to talk more to these characters so I keep playing.

      1. GoStu says:

        That’s where I am with Hades. I’ve had the credits roll, heard the song In the Blood, and I’m working my way through different aspects of weapons and building relationships with the Olympians.

        I know there’s still a LOT for me to do. I’ve only got the first two aspects of each weapon and I’ve only won with about ~7 Heat with my best weapon(s).

        1. Sleeping Dragon says:

          Oh man, I’m nowhere near that far, I have every weapon at like 2 or 3 heat, one might be at 4. To be fair I rotate them a lot rather than focus on mastering one (if I had one feature request it would be for the game to remember what pacts I have set for each weapon individually) but still. Honestly what I mostly want to unlock are the remaining conversations, if I feel like I’ve done those but haven’t yet “finished” the mechanics I’ll probably spoil myself with a wiki for what’s left and then consider the game done.

  48. Ashen says:

    I disagree about the “quiet time” in 90s shooters. There was plenty of that in there and it was much more organic than the hamfisted HL2 way of the designer stepping in and essentially pausing the game for you in between action-packed set pieces.

    Just take Doom as an example. It doesn’t happen only when you’ve missed a red card. Sometimes you’ll run out of ammo/health and will have to stop and backtrack to find some. Sometimes you’ll just want to find secrets. Sometimes you genuinely have to stop to figure out where to go because those games had actual level design and weren’t just glorified corridors for you to walk through.

    Perhaps just as importantly, the action is on a spectrum. Those setpiece-style fights where you really have to focus to survive are relatively rare. Most of the times you’ll just be fighting a bunch of imps in a corridor. It is much more about attrition and resource management than about super high-octane encounters.

    This is basically true for all 90s era shooters with the obvious caveat that it changes if you play on Nightmare or something where you die in 2 hits. That and Blood where the designers thought it is a great idea to have the most common enemy in the game have a high damage hitscan attack that you have about half a second to react to. I love that game but come on.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      Backtracking for ammo is just as boring as backtracking to find a keycard, though. I’d pick Tomb Raider and Tomb Raider II as better examples, since the quiet time is often some puzzles or platforming to continue forward, rather than just going backwards. Continuous (if not constant) forward progress is a lot better way to keep the game interesting. :)

      1. DeadlyDark says:

        Depends on the level design. If there are enough (hidden) secrets to find, it could be seen as a set of puzzles themselves, that do unlock some new small locations

  49. Ravens-Cry says:

    Life is in the contrast. Music is silences arranged with certain sounds between. All light is just as blinding as all darkness.
    Quiet time helps provide that contrast. Otherwise everything smears together into a dull roar.

  50. Nimrandir says:

    Since the previous TWIP, I’ve been at:

    Hollow Knight: I’m still enjoying the game, but my playthrough has hit a bit of a snag. The area I’m currently exploring (Deepnest, for those with experience) started out really ominous and atmospheric, but it’s taken a turn for the overly gamey. Darkness at first? Oppressive. Darkness after a while? Feels like an artificial curtain. Enemies jumping out of the ground for the first time? Nerve-racking. Dozens of those same enemies for half an hour? I’m tired of constantly holding a charged attack to kill the stupid things. Floor falls out from under me once? Yikes! Whole rooms of collapsing floors, one after another? The charm is gone. I still want to see the game to completion, but I feel like I’m at my low point with it right now.

    Fantasy Strike: It’s been a while since I played now thanks to the next game on the list, but I still enjoy it thoroughly. At some point, I’d even like to try characters outside my Geiger/DeGrey/Onimaru team.

    Monster Hunter Rise: Yeah, I’d been waiting for this one. I think my playtime sits at about 40 hours now, and almost all of that is purely single-player. I’m hoping to jump into some co-op with a couple of my colleagues once our hectic semester ends, and the only reason I haven’t played more of the game with my son is that he burned himself out on it while I was at work. I love the addition of Generations-style ‘Arts’ moves into a World-looking title, and the core hunt-craft-hunt loop has me looked just like it has before. My only real complaint is that I miss Swole Cat the Chef.

    1. evilmrhenry says:

      Yeah, Deepnest is like that. I feel this was done on purpose so you would feel a sense of relief once you get out, but it’s still a problem. It is really a low point, but if you can push through, do so.

      1. Fizban says:

        Deepnest is terrifying, a chore, or a breeze depending on how you enter it, how upgraded you are, and whether you’ve been there before. If it’s annoying you, I’d recommend just going somewhere else until you can come back with a better weapon, though there are spooky tanky things in every direction eventually. If you haven’t found the weapon upgrade place, drop everything and go find it (look it up if you have to) or the game’s gonna suck.

        You mention an artificial curtain of darkness- I feel like it should be no spoiler that there’s a lantern item that can light it up. If you trying to trudge through the pitch black areas without it on a first run, oof.

        1. Nimrandir says:

          I presumed darkness would be overcome by a light source eventually, but I figured I’d have to navigate a darkness-themed challenge to get said light source. I mean, I cut my teeth on Symphony of the Night, where you’re expected to navigate a spike-filled room (in the dark, yet!) to get spike-breaking armor necessary to unlock the second half of the game.

          Compared to, say, the Stone Sanctuary, Deepnest’s darkness is actually navigable (although anyone happening upon my YouTube channel might disagree), at least as far as its hot spring. It started out really atmospheric, but after slaughtering way too many of the creepy-crawly silverfish things, the reduced visibility became a nuisance.

          I’ve managed to avoid spoilers of pretty much any sort up to now, and I’d like to keep it that way. Here is my position in the game:

          – Most of the Fog Canyon is blocked by darkness tendrils I can’t penetrate with any of my available tools.
          – I’ve already delved into Hallownest, including defeating the Soul Master. I’ve also gotten the first weapon upgrade from Nailsmith the Nailsmith.
          – I used Desolate Dive to access the Crystal Peak, where I obtained the Crystal Heart (after the best platforming segment I’ve experienced so far in the game). The only paths left there are either dark or require a vertical mobility tool I have yet to acquire. I’m guessing I avoided a fight there with a crystallized husk on a bench, but that doesn’t seem necessary to progress yet.
          – I couldn’t bring myself to attack the sleeping bug in the Forgotten Crossroads, so that’s still an option, I guess.
          – I avoided what looked like an obvious fight with huge mushroom dudes in the Fungal Wastes. I didn’t need to enter that room to maneuver my way to the Mantis Village and enter Deepnest.
          – I backtracked to the Howling Cliffs after getting the Mantis Claw, for which I’m eternally grateful. Killing the stupid silverfish would be a royal pain without the Cyclone Slash. I have a dark room there, and I suppose I could try super-dashing off the sides of the area.
          – I’ve found a couple of doors I could open with my one-use Simple Key, but the resource miser in me won’t let me unlock one until I’ve found a second key or have no other options.
          – There was a super-dashing section in the Greenpath I gave up on clearing, since it was uncomfortably far from a bench or source of soul. I’m hoping it’s optional, but I’m prepared to grimace through it if I run out of other options. I also super-dashed across the Lake of Unn, but I don’t remember anything else there I could access with my current toolset.

          Feel free to continue discussing Hollow Knight, but, please don’t interpret my comment as a request for spoilers. Fumbling around without consulting GameFAQs or a wiki in this game has been refreshing; I’m not sure I’ve done this since the original Mass Effect.

          1. Sam+Agyagi says:

            I’m aftaid, sooner or later you will have to visit everywhere and, if you’d like the upgrades to health and soul, you will have to fight most everything (apart from friendly NPCs.) When you choose not to, you will meet an obstacle after a while which necessitates it. (Okay, charms and nail upgrades can be skipped, if one likes a challenge.) On the other hand, this also means everything, every place is reachable – it merely needs you to commit to it.

            1. Nimrandir says:

              That’s fair, but when I first arrived at this particular location, I had already come across multiple sad caterpillars I couldn’t help due to missing mobility tools. Murdering the passive Gruz-Mother after that was too close to ‘you are actually the farging villain, you monster’ for my tastes, so I just left her alone. As I said in my response to Kestrellius below, I would have liked an audio cue that some good could be done if only I could get through the portcullis behind her. A sad caterpillar whine, Zote grumbling, sound from Sly — any of those would most likely have triggered my instincts to investigate past the Gruz-Mother.

    2. Echo Tango says:

      Do you have the lantern yet? (From main store.) Deepnest is a lot less of a hassle if you have that with you. :)

      1. Nimrandir says:

        Welp, time to dig out the grimoire and gather up the material components for suppress meta-knowledge IX. Anybody got Prima guide ashes they aren’t using? :-)

        Please don’t take this as an attack — that was firmly tongue-in-cheek. I’m aware of my tardiness to the party on this one, and I didn’t mention my spoiler-avoidance in the original post.

        1. Echo Tango says:

          There’s not really any spoilers there. The main store has it plainly on display for a large amount of money, not hidden in any way. Deepnest itself is a name a player won’t see in the game until they’ve already wandered into the area, or look up a map to guide themself. (And you already went to Deepnest, so…) If you somehow managed to get through the game so far without going into the shop (which I’m not sure is possible, but very well could be) then that’s like a reverse-speedrun. A torture-run, if you will.

          1. Nimrandir says:

            To be clear, when we say ‘main store,’ are we talking about Iselda’s shop in Dirtmouth? If so, she has not had anything for sale for a while now; I wander in to exchange ‘bapanadas’ whenever I’m in town. I think my last check was after I left the Crystal Peak and headed back to the Mantis Village. Is the lantern not in the main shop list? Like, on its own display to inspect? I might have missed it in that case, but the room is pretty tiny.

            I only know of two other ‘shops’ thus far. One vendor only sold charms when last I visited, while the other trades relics for Geo, with no other menu options. By no means am I ruling out pilot error as how I’ve missed this, but I like to think I’ve been pretty thorough.

            In any case, I have a route out of Deepnest now, so I can investigate the vendors in my wandering

            1. Echo Tango says:

              Yeah, it definitely seems like you accidentally missed one of the main shops (I forgot how these were split apart). Iselda sells maps with / for her husband, charms are a separate shop you found far away from town (Dirtmouth), and the guy who trades relics for geo is suuuper far from town. There’s a bug Sly (SPOILER: I guess strike tags don’t hide links: wiki) very near the opening town, who you have to rescue from a daze or zombie-like or infection state in order for them to show up in town as a shop. Assuming you already have a map you should be able to find an area that you totally missed, near the opening town. I’d thought the game pushed players pretty hard to find Sly very easily, but that could have been relying on players’ natural instinct to explore thoroughly, or stay near the early places before wandering farther. You appear to have stumbled like Joseph Anderson did in his first playthrough, upon a nightmare-like accidental difficulty, by avoiding many of the main areas, tools, etc, that make the game easier. :E

              1. Nimrandir says:

                Curious — I’ve bought maps of each area as I found Cornifer, and I can only think of one area I have yet to explore in the Forgotten Crossroads and Greenpath. That spot is past a sleeping creature I didn’t have the heart to kill if I didn’t have to do it. I plan to investigate tonight. It’ll be interesting if my default pacifism made my life even harder than it was expected to be.

                Weirdly, I tend to explore heavily, and once I get a new tool, my instinct is to return to previous areas to see what I’ve missed. The fact that I managed to miss a major NPC that early in the game is, frankly, humiliating. I suppose I’m in good company if Joseph Anderson also missed this character, though. I’m looking forward to seeing what this might open up, because I wouldn’t have called much so far painfully hard. Like I said, Deepnest’s darkness felt more like atmosphere than a true challenge, and I’m dubious that a lantern does much to assuage my other complaints about the area.

                On the upside, at least another vendor will justify this ridiculous hoard of Geo I’ve collected. I think I’m sitting on something north of 5500 at this point?

                1. Echo Tango says:

                  I don’t have the game installed right now, but reviewing SPOILER: this video, the only ‘sleeping’ bugs are first, the Gruz-mother which I think you needed to already have killed in order to get to the shop that sells charms, which you already found. After that, there’s actually a small hut a little down and to the left of that charm-shop you already found which contains the sleeping / dazed / orange-gas Sly which is the shopkeeper you missed, who should end up in town. (Unless I’m mis-understanding the charm-shopkeeper you’re describing, but I think there’s only one of those.)

                  1. Kestrellius says:

                    Charm-seller could be Salubra, or it could be…I don’t remember the name, but the spindly guy in Fungal Wastes who sells the fragile charms. If it’s the latter, then it sounds like Nimrandir didn’t go past the Gruz Mother, didn’t meet Salubra, and never found the abandoned village.

                    1. Echo Tango says:

                      Yuuuuuuuup.

                    2. Nimrandir says:

                      Indeed, I had never visited the place in question, due to my general lack of desire to kill non-aggressive creatures. I mean, the Gruz-Mother is kinda cute when she’s sleeping. Why would I attack her just to get through a portcullis? An audio cue of Sly mumbling would have been useful, to indicate to paladins like me that an actual character is on the other side. Heck, they could have stuck Zote underneath the monster!

                      If the YouTube channel where I’m stashing my gameplay videos had an actual subscriber count, I most likely would have gotten back-seat advice to head there. Moreover, I eventually would have ended up returning rather than dive into the pitch-black areas without guidance, just out of self-preservation. I’d almost say Team Cherry wanted to get back at everyone who picks ‘nice’ options because they end up mechanically superior.

  51. Fizban says:

    Noita had a big update, so I got back into that. A poster said there were tons of secrets, but I felt I’d pretty well explored all available limits already and not found all that much, so this seemed to be the update I was waiting for.

    And now it’s making me effing rage. I’ve only beat the game once, which is fine, it’s a roguelike and seems to be gating the more powerful spells somehow, as the available stuff is just consistently better than it once was as I’ve still not seen a huge amount of them. I’ve tanked plenty of runs exploring or deciding to try to fight a boss.

    No, what makes me rage is when I’ve decided I’m not going to stick around, and I just fucking die to random bullshit. Fight my way into the jungle, have plenty of health, decide to go try a boss, lose all my health getting there and die because its mere presence set me on fire. Finish putting together a wand that’s like a whole tier more powerful than it should be and I’ll be able to consider doubling back to the far away stuff? Get frozen and machine gunned to nothing immediately after exiting the temple. Build a wand that explicitly launches a friendly fire effect far away, the effect somehow reaches back just far enough to deal 140 damage the one time I use it, then I die to a thing that doesn’t explode apparently exploding (pretty sure it wasn’t even a hidden explosive barrel). Take a bunch of damage because the wand isn’t quite up to snuff for the area, decide to just head for the end by black hole-ing through some walls, and a bomb you can kick with impunity and nothing happens, suddenly flies across the ground and explodes with zero time to react.

    I should have beat the game at least a couple more times by now, but every time I get a good run going, pile of power components in my pocket, I just fucking die to some random bullshit.

    I don’t feel like working on my Satisfactory right now, I want some action, but the action roguelike is burning me. So I guess I should go shoot space bugs in Deep Rock or pick up Hades or something.

    1. BlueHorus says:

      I gave up on Noita too, for similar reasons. Almost everything I tried to do ended up in me dying, quite often to random bullshit.

      There is, as someone pointed out here, a hell of a lot to do in Noita, a load of different places to go, but it’s all prohibitively difficult to acheive and…kind of underwhelming once / if you do.
      Oh, there’s a place called the Ancient Laboratory? I wonder what’s there! Oh, some lethal traps and powerful enemies that my wand barely scratches. Wow.
      It took me three tries, 20 minutes, and was only possible because I got lucky with a random spell drop…now I’m dead, with bugger-all to show for my effort.

      Wait, what am I doing this for again?

  52. Veylon says:

    I’ve been playing Pathfinder: Kingmaker. The tabletop RPG mechanics were incredibly opaque to start with, but now that I’ve gotten the hang of things, I’m really enjoying the game. I now have some understanding of how a save interacts with a DC.

    I like that status effects actually matter and are worth using, even against bosses. Coming from a background of Final Fantasy, it’s shocking that a major plot-point antagonist with six pages of pre-battle dialogue can be knocked helplessly to the floor with a simple Grease spell and ignominiously dispatched.

    1. Sleeping Dragon says:

      Enjoy it while it lasts. While the game doesn’t hand out immunities like candy those saves will go up.

      1. Nimrandir says:

        I mean, if the game sticks close to its tabletop namesake, save-or-suck spells can still end a deadly battle with a whimper. I was in an adventuring party where a froghemoth dropped one party member to a single hit point in a surprise round, then was immediately turned to stone by our shaman.

  53. RFS-81 says:

    Still playing Magic. Though sometimes, I feel like WOTC is trying to disappoint me. “Hey, we’re releasing a remastered version of the Timespiral block!” – “Oops, we underprinted it, and we can’t make another print run because reasons and now it costs over 200 Euros!” I still enjoyed drafting it on MtG Online (insofar as one can enjoy things on MTGO), but it would have been nice to get a box for when we can leave our fallout shelters after the lockdown.

    I’ve been playing a lot of boardgames online, mostly asynchronous games with friends that have moved to different countries.

    I played a lot of 18XX. It’s a genre of board games about investing in and running railroad companies in the 19th century. It alternates stock rounds where you buy and sell shares, and operating rounds in which you control the companies where you have the most shares. Some games focus more on stock market shenanigans and others more on actually running trains. One of the games I played was 1817 which is all about the former. It appropriately ended with an insane short-selling frenzy that left only one player (not me) standing.

    I also played Underwater Cities which feels like a replacement-level engine building eurogame… I don’t really get why boardgamegeek.com likes it so much.

    1. Retsam says:

      Ah, my game group also recently broke out an 18XX game for the first time. We went with 18Chesapeake, which is apparently fairly beginner friendly and fairly balanced between the trains and the stocks.

      I managed to win, mostly because I ran a nice early corporation, dumped it on someone right before the permanent train rush, and then got back in with a fresh corporation (and a someone’s cheap corporation after they dumped all the stock too early).

      It was fun, but we started at like 9PM and finished at 4AM – combination of nobody having played a 18XX game and not figuring out how the division table calculates share prices – did a lot more math than necessary.

      1. RFS-81 says:

        Yikes! I knew that 18XX is notorious for turning into a slog when everyone at the table is new to it. Luckily, I’ve got my start together with more experienced players. The downside is that, so far, I also never got to live the dream of looting my company and dumping it on someone else.

        18Chesapeake is the only 18XX that I actually own, and it’s sitting unplayed on my shelf because of COVID. I’ve played it twice on 18xx.games, though. The main draw for me was that it’s supposed to take 2.5 to 3.5 hours for experienced players and I like faster games. I don’t think I’d ever want to play 1817 live. (BGG says 6-9 hours, and it seems that these figures are always lowballed.)

  54. Drathnoxis says:

    I just can’t seem to replay Factorio. I launched a rocket a number of years ago when the game was still in early access, and every once in a while I think how I didn’t use trains or logistic robots and that there have been a bunch of updates since then and go back to it and start a new game. Then after playing for an hour or so I realize how bored I am and quit.

  55. Falling says:

    I’ve been playing a bunch on Chess.com. Their puzzles hooked me in, but then I started playing 10 minute games.

    And then, I’ve been working very hard to get a stable modlist for Skyrim Together. I think we finally got it figured it out so +100 mods run and three of us can play semi-cooperatively. It’s still quite janky with strange desync’s and I wish we could share crafted items so we could specialize skills better. I think two people runs the smoothest, whereas with three often two people can see everyone and one person can see one or neither. However, we got some fun game play together in our last play session- I got sloppy with my mad additions at the very end which proved nearly catastrophic, but we found offending patch. However, it’s going to take quite a few hours of game play to match the research and testing I put in so far…

  56. Zanfib says:

    I’ve been playing Workers and Resources: Soviet Republic.

    It a bit like if Factorio and Cities: Skylines had a baby.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      Dang, that concept sounds really interesting, but I’m a bit burned out on realistic (and realistic-ish) games with generic 3D graphics set in the (more or less) real world. :)

  57. Rosseloh says:

    Flight simming, Valheim, and a replay of Shadow Warrior 2 which is always fun.

    …Not much else, really. I have noticed I’ve sort of jumped back and forth between games a lot the last couple months. I’ll play a couple hours of one, then do something else, then eventually go back to the first one. End result is that I don’t get a ton of time in any of them.

  58. Dalisclock says:

    Been replaying Stardew Valley, which I haven’t played since it first game out, so I wanted to see the 1.5 content. Just finished Year 1 and the Community Center is mostly done. Mostly I’m missing a few fish I haven’t been able to find/catch yet and some of the more exotic items for the bulletin board(truffles, the fern, etc). Winter was a lot smoother this time since I use the time to go mining and have animals producing milk/eggs to keep my income going.

    Been playing the Tomb Raider Crystal Dynamics games, which would be Legend and Anniversary and will start Underworld in the near future. Pretty fun and they control better then the early TR games, but Lara’s personality changes a bit between Legend and Anniversary(She’s a lot more chatty and likable in Legend then Anniversary, which is weird because Anniversary is a Prequel to Legend) and while the whole “Room as a Puzzle Box” thing works well in the games, my brain hurts when I try to imagine any normal person trying to traverse all these tombs/caverns/etc. So it’s best not to think about the real world “How the hell does any of this actually work?” implications of these huge ruins.

    Started Replaying Ace Combat 7 after playing the PS2 Trilogy(4,5,0) and realized just how much the game references the earlier games. Like all the damn time. Also realized it’s so much more entertaining NOT to attempt to take the story seriously at all, but rather enjoy making fun of the cutscenes and dialogue, while taking advantage of the NG+ so I can replay early missions with the Late game planes and parts, feeling like a God of the skies who has more missiles then I know what to do with.

  59. Ektenia says:

    I’ve been playing online games with friends on Friday nights, friends who would have played pen-and-paper RPGs or board games, with an interesting constraint: two of the four players have only non-gaming Mac laptops. Talisman was a hit with most of us, and we’re following that up with similar Starbound now, and we have a playthrough of Neverwinter Nights 1 that we should get back to (finished Shadows of Undrentide, now in Hordes of the Underdark). We might get Torchlight 2 working, but it needs internet router kung fu that none of us have yet employed. Also some board games: Elder Sign in TableTop Simulator, and Talisman outside of TTS. We wanted to play Borderlands 2, but apparently they had to destroy cross platform (from PC to Mac or Linux) in order to save it (from PC to Xbox and PlayStation something).

    As an aside, I want to mention how heartening it is to read Neverwinter Nights: Enchanced Edition changelogs. Here’s a team that’s getting a chance to further refine and refactor an already finished product.

    I’m slowly, way too slowly, making a digital assistant (a tablet with a UI) in Tabletop Simulator to help us play the Steve Jackson Games game Car Wars. I’m hoping to have that keep track of turn sequences and make moving units a button click instead of having to get out the virtual ruler and turning key. Trying to get Car Wars in TTS is mostly a nostalgia trip for reliving playing that game in high school, which, admittedly, mostly consisted of sitting around and making the cars themselves and not getting to the point of driving them.

    A different friend and I get together and usually play Destiny 2. I’m turned off of the idea of trying to get very far on the treadmill of items and such, but playing through campaigns is fun enough: he likes playing it and it’s got the pew pews and the headshots and the looting.

    We also played through some of Trine 4, which is a really nice looking platforming puzzle game. One notable feature of version 4 is that (as far as I can tell only playing it 2 player), locations are adjusted based on number of players in order to require an appropriate level of teamwork.

    On my own, my go-to comfort games have been Fallout 4 VR and Skyrim VR using a Vive, seated. Those end up being pretty much the only VR games I play. By “comfort game”, I mean that I choose it because it’s pretty much guaranteed to take me out of the world for an hour at the end of the day and focus on something mindless that feels like progress. This is shades of what Chris Franklin’s video two blog posts ago was talking about, needing mindless games to focus on, but like Shamus I think introverted life is treating me better than it’s treating Chris. I just need something to focus on and succeed at before I sleep, such as writing long posts about what I’ve been playing.

    I’m also revisiting games I stopped playing part way through, just to visit them again and maybe get some more achievements. In Dragon’s Dogma, I want to get from my level 175 to 200 before I reset the one-and-only savegame to see what the beginning would be like for a new character and experienced player. Tale of Two Wastelands (Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas) I fell out of because I can’t decide what to do about Asher, but I think it’s time to get back in. I also want to play Morrowind again (with Tamriel Rebuilt), but I’m not sure what I’d do differently in this playthrough than in previous playthroughs. I even played Star Wars: The Old Republic a little, but with nothing interesting about the combats and with 40 mobs between each plot point, I remembered why I stopped.

  60. Redrock says:

    I’m almost done with Thronebreaker, which is essentially the anti-Cyberpunk 2077. It released a couple of years ago to very little fanfare, even though it’s actually a very good RPG. And it is an actual RPG, a solid 30-hour long adventure that seems to focus on what CDPR does best – writing and atmosphere. I guess a lot of people are turned off by the fact that it’s ostensibly a Gwent game, but it’s really neither a card battler nor a deck builder at heart. It’s more of a turn-based RPG. A lot of battles are puzzle battles, which keeps things interesting throughout. And the whole thing is heavily narrative-driven, full of choices I actually had to pause and think about, nice voice acting, everything you’d want from a decent RPG. Playing as an actual leader – and a warrior queen at that – is also quite refreshing. All in all, a great game, unfairly forgotten. If it has one flaw, I’d say it’s the lingering connections to the online Gwent game. Namely, some of the treasure you find provides cards and cosmetics that can only be used in the online Gwent game, which makes it worthless for someone who has less than zero interest in multiplayer card battlers. It would have been better as a complete and total standalone, but I can’t blame CDPR for trying to sneak some cross-promotion in there.

  61. RamblePak64 says:

    Miss a day in checking the blog and lookit all the comments. Goodness.

    I added Prodeus to my wishlist, but am waiting for it to go on sale/full release before playing. Nonetheless, it sounds more and more exciting the more you discuss it. Consider me thoroughly hyped.

    Regarding adult games on Steam, it could be a number of things. I’ve seen a serious spike in Otome games in the US over the past couple of years, which are basically dating-sims but for women. I don’t think the ones localized for the US have pornographic material, as it’s not really a genre I’m overly familiar with. But, they’ve certainly seen a boost in audience over here. However, because their focus is on handsome men in fancy dress with gentlemanly personalities, it’s an easier, classy sell compared to the otherwise blatantly carnal male-oriented sims, where the titillation is both figuratively and literally in-your-face. A lot of the developers offer “R18+” patches to these games off of Steam, but also just tend to sell outside of Steam as well. It’s more likely that what is happening is the audience is going elsewhere. I believe there was a Japanese storefront set up for independent Japanese games of all kinds that will also work to provide English localization, and it includes a lot of these games. With a lot of fans of such content disliking censorship and content modification, it’s no surprise they’d shift their business.

    I’ll see if I can get the name of that website and a more accurate description of it. Regardless, the topic of adult-only games is still a fascinating one to me, and continues to highlight that weird inconsistency of Western values (or American values?) in things. It’s okay to have sex on television and we’re starting to load our Oscar-bait Prestige Sony games with man-butt, but outright pornographic material has no place on our storefronts because won’t someone please think of the children.

    As for what I’m playing, I recently completed The Messenger, a retro throwback that fused the linear stylings of 8-bit Ninja Gaiden with 16-bit Metroidvania and a heavy dose of some post-modern comedy stylings. I found the humor to be a bit quaint most of the time, but at other times was amusing. On the whole I enjoyed the game, but Metroidvanias don’t work so well when almost all of your back-tracking takes place in obstacle courses designed to keep a linear level-progression fun. Not enough shortcuts or warp zones to key locations made things a bit of a slog. In other words, just as you say above, no really important “down-time” of exploration, especially once you have less need to buy upgrades, the lone brief breather you’re able to properly get.

    Nonetheless, glad I backed Sabotage Studio’s game Sea of Stars, a 16/32-bit JRPG throwback that may better capitalize on their narrative ambitions.

    I also recently completed Record of Lodoss War: Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth, a Metroidvania that came out of early-access and is far more ‘vania than it is Metroid. Team Ladybug also developed Touhou Luna Nights, and… they’re sort of similar to The Messenger in that they have a greater emphasis on obstacle courses and action-combat, but the warp zones are a bit more forgiving and you unlock shortcuts that make circuits around those obstacles easier. Backtracking is usually not that big a deal, especially as you level-up and gain power. What really grabbed me of Lodoss War – other than being a throwback to one of my favorite OVA’s (though it’s more accurate to say it’s following up on the light novels/television series whose stories went in a direction I found far less compelling but this digression is already too long) – is the “Ikaruga” inspired mechanic of swapping between elements in order to absorb or deal damage to foes with elemental affinities.

    For years the only Metroidvania games I felt a compulsion to replay annually were the actual Metroid games. Bloodstained, Touhou Luna Nights, and Record of Lodoss War: Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth are all of a high quality that scratches that itch delightfully. They also speak more to what I love about Super Metroid/Fusion/Zero Mission/Prime, which I’m only gradually beginning to piece together versus many other games in the genre that just don’t work as well for me.

    I picked Persona 5 Strikers back up yesterday after having only played 3 hours of it during the release month of February. I definitely got more into it this time, but there’s this weird crossroads of interest. I like being with the characters again, and I love how stylish this franchise can be, but the Dynasty Warriors style combat just hasn’t been modified as effectively with Persona as it has been with Fire Emblem Warriors or Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity. This may seem silly, as those games follow the typical Warriors battlefield approach more and therefore are far less creative, whereas Persona 5 Strikers takes that combat and applies it to a dungeon-crawl featuring stealth, ambushing, environmental traps to employ in combat, and swapping out Personas and characters based on weaknesses and strengths. In some ways, it just makes me wish they had Persona 5’s turn-based combat instead and I was just playing an expansion.

    But I managed to get the hang of its odd Persona-leveling mechanics and some other quirks, well enough to have completed the first chapter of the game. Not sure how I feel about it on the whole, but certainly feel better than when I first started. Kind of wish that cash went to Age of Calamity, though, whose demo was far more immediately satisfying (even if the story is dumb from the get-go).

    Lastly, the real jam is Monster Hunter Rise, which just… astounds me to see Capcom getting RE Engine to not only working on the Switch, but to look so gorgeous to boot. I shouldn’t be shocked, given what Capcom accomplished with MT Framework, but I didn’t get the feeling RE Engine was able to be so malleable for weaker platforms as that. Locked to 30fps, but given that even Nintendo has struggled with Switch’s under-powered nature, I can’t blame them for the lock.

    It’s weird to jump in after having only played World (and never having even beaten it). On one hand it has a far slower start, and on the other there’s a lot of assumed knowledge or expectation to just pick up on the game as you play. The demos are always designed with returning players in mind, so there’s no real way for newbies to get led in by the hand. Again, however, that’s where I realize World is technically the newbie game, as the entire campaign is structured to introduce you to hunting and the gameplay loop. That’s what the narrative exists for. Rise, in comparison, has far less narrative and is far more blatantly structured to push you from hunt to hunt.

    It makes me realize that it’s a game that could really use some Sherpas, though World’s co-op is horrifically designed to effectively do such a thing. Rise, at least, is a little better, as co-op and campaign missions are kept separate.

    That’s largely what I’ve been playing lately.

    1. bobbert says:

      Man, I really enjoyed Lodoss back in the day, such a beautiful labor of love. I never got too attached to Spark &co, though. Good to see Deedlit is still finding work.

      I hear there were a few Japan-only RPGs. I wonder if they were any good.

    2. Nimrandir says:

      Rise, in comparison, has far less narrative and is far more blatantly structured to push you from hunt to hunt.

      It makes me realize that it’s a game that could really use some Sherpas, though World’s co-op is horrifically designed to effectively do such a thing. Rise, at least, is a little better, as co-op and campaign missions are kept separate.

      Interestingly, I was annoyed that Rise returned to the ‘village/hub’ structure of every Monster Hunter game I know except World. I was looking forward to playing through the whole game with my son, rather than having this block of incomplete quests nagging me because I had to do them by myself. World’s approach of ‘everybody has to watch the cutscene alone’ was inelegant, but I prefer it to mandatory single-player content.

      One of the (very experienced) Monster Hunter streamers I follow actually took forever to get to upgrade his armor, because that feature was locked behind one of the solo quests. He jumped straight into the hub quests with friends, and he accidentally made something like two extra sets of starter armor before he noticed he wasn’t upgrading.

      1. RamblePak64 says:

        The most elegant solution is to just go the Destiny route and allow your buddies to group up in the hub and then tackle any mission whatsoever, save for someone lower-level being unable to do higher-level story missions. You don’t want something like SkillUp playing the final mission in Anthem when a level one newbie is matchmade into the final boss fight.

        However, I like the fact that I just have a series of quests I can do with my friends without having to worry about the cut-scenes like in World, especially since there are some missions where there’s a cut-scene after you kill the monster and therefore can’t play co-op at all.

        1. Nimrandir says:

          That’s what I find weird, because the Monster Hunter games I’ve experienced from before World (3 Ultimate, 4 Ultimate, and Generations) had the village/hub separation, but they were largely cutscene-free. Almost anything story-related triggered when you talked to an NPC outside the hunt zones. This setup would have worked great for World’s multiplayer structure, in my opinion.

          AAA gonna AAA, I guess?

  62. Grimwear says:

    This week I got back into Guild Wars one. There was a thread that got started around April Fool’s of easter eggs in games that never got found and it turns out there was a hidden easter egg weapon in GW1 never discovered. Took about 3 days but we found it. That was a fun little hunt.

    Also been playing Jenny Leclue – Detectivu. A fun little mysteryish game. The writing is pretty good though I’m not too far in yet. Picked it up on sale on Steam for 6 dollars.

    Age of Empires 3. I have a friend who adores it so I finally booted it up to play a match against him. Got stomped, obviously. It was the first match I’d ever played. I did see that there’s currently an event going on where you do something in all 50 United States and wen you’re done you get the US as a playable faction. Otherwise you need to pay 5 bucks so I may use that event to learn the game. Either way it is infinitely worse than aoe2.

    1. Grimwear says:

      So just chiming in to say Age of Empires 3 is the worst, the devs can suck a giant egg, and I hate them. I’d been doing the 50 US challenges, logged in today and found all my progress erased. Now that would be fine. Infuriating, but fine. Except I checked the forums and a bunch of people had it happen to them and are complaining and no word at all from the devs of what happened, or a guarantee of how to fix it. Even better people have had their progress reset multiple times. And secondly you’re only allowed to do 3 CHALLENGES A DAY. So you can’t just power through to get back to where you left off. I am beyond incensed and eff these devs and their garbage product.

  63. DeadlyDark says:

    I’ve checked, out of curiosity, the new releases with “nudity” tag. Seems, like these games still being made. I assume, is that Steam started to try to hide them a little bit harder, from new releases

  64. Rariow says:

    I’ve been mostly playing Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. It’s my least favorite of all the Soulsborniro: Scholar of the Prepare to Die Twice Edition games, though I still like it a fair bit. My main problem is that its focus is on parrying, which is a mechanic I’ve never quite meshed with in games – it never feels like the correct timing is consistent from enemy to enemy, which means I inevitably take a few hits while trial-and-erroring each enemy type. This means that I’ve had more than a few deaths that didn’t feel like they were my fault, and the biggest draw of these games is that famous “tough but fair” cliche – the “fair” part of that doesn’t feel as present here. It’s caused me to get angry at the game a fair few times, which hasn’t happened to me once with any of the other From Soft Soulsborne games. Still, the upside is that when you do get the parry timing down it feels absolutely fantastic and does a great job of selling that fantasy of being a crafty ninja who turns stronger opponent’s strength against them. It’s probably one of the greatest deltas of enjoyment I’ve felt from a core gameplay loop – the same action (parrying) can fluctuate from absolutely infuriating to the most perfect thing ever several times a minute. The bosses are also harder, since you’re encouraged to constantly be engaging with their attacks: The easiest way to kill most enemies is by filling a “posture” gauge by attacking them or parrying their attacks. The gauge empties with time, meaning you have to constantly be either blocking the bosses’ attacks or getting chip damage hits in so that your progress isn’t undone, which means creating some distance to be able to take a breather is a very bad idea. Other than a few bosses where hitting their vitality (ie: their actual health) is more optimal than trying to posture break them, I’ve found Sekiro’s fights to be a bit too hectic for my liking, somehow they’re even more high-octane than Bloodborne. The game is also absolutely gorgeous, which came as a shock since From Soft games have tended to be technically unimpressive and set in purposefully drab, unpleasant environments. Sekiro’s feudal Japan is so colorful and vivid that I constantly find myself just stopping to look around.

    My posts on these “This Week I Played” threads have also turned into a progress report on my improptu reverse-order playthrough of the Persona series, so I guess I’ll update that: I’ve been trudging through Persona 3. I played this game way back in the day and thought it was much worse than Persona 4, but I’ve seen so much praise for it over the years I thought I maybe missed something, and nope, I still am fairly unimpressed. It’s OK, but it’s much more flawed than its successors in basically every way. The main flaw is the combat/dungeon crawling system. The game is much more skewed toward the dungeon crawling part (as opposed to the time managment/social sim stuff) than its sequels. This wouldn’t be that bad, but the dungeon crawling is much more tedious. For one, you’re just going through one massive generic dungeon, as opposed to the varied dungeons based on the minds of different characters that the sequels have, and it gets repetitive quick (even if the look of it does slightly change every 50 floors or so). The worst thing though is the combat system, which is very similar to Persona 4’s, but you’re not allowed to directly control your party members. You’re only controlling the main character, and you’re only allowed to set your party members’ AI to vague modes like “Full Assault” or “Heal/Support”, or tell them to focus on a specific enemy. The AI is dumb as a brick, and the modes are more like loose suggestions than strict things: An AI on “Heal/Support” can still cast offensive magic if it feels like it. This leads to incredibly frustrating moments where you lose battles because an AI insists on spamming weak healing items rather than finish off an almost-dead enemy, and the enemy keeps knocking you down to skip your turn. It also means 80% of your time in combat is spent watching AI allies fighting AI enemies with zero input on your part – not my idea of a good time.

    The core of Persona’s combat is that enemies have elemental weaknesses that knock them down, and knocking every enemy down lets you do an “all out attack” which does massive damage to every enemy. The AI is very good at deciding they don’t feel like knocking an enemy down when they have the right elemental attack, prolonging fights that could be over in seconds. Sometimes they’ll attack enemies that are knocked down, which gets the enemy back on their feet, not just making an all out attack harder, but making it so that the enemy doesn’t have to spend their turn getting back up. SP is also very limited in the series, with a lot of the challenge in dungeon crawling coming from rationing powerful attacks in order to have enough to get from checkpoint to checkpoint. The AI loves to spam high cost magic that doesn’t make sense. The best attacker in the game learns Marin Karin, a high cost move that inflicts a status ailment on opponents, and loves to use it on enemies she can one-shot. Later on she learns Mind Charge, which makes her next magic attack do a lot more damage, and she adores to use it in battles that are over fast enough that she only gets one turn. The game’s dedicated healer just learnt Wind Break in my playthrough, which removes enemies’ resistance to wind magic. It costs a massive amount of SP (40 out of the 300ish she has), and apparently it’s super important that no enemies that resist wind ever resist wind.

    The dungeon crawling frustrations would be enough for it to be my least favorite of the three most recent mainline Persona games, but it’s also grabbing me way less on the story front. While each party member gets a good little character arc that’s related to the central theme of death and mortality they’re not all that endearing as characters, and the actual story line is mostly the group sitting around waiting for a bunch of enemies to spawn so we can have a boss fight – there’s powerful monsters that they’re hunting down which only appear when the moon is full. It does move past that and go in a much more interesting direction eventually, but it happens something like 60 hours in. There are some very good moments and the atmosphere of dread in the end game is very thick, but it’s overall meandering and unfocused, with most of the worthwhile writing in the character-focused subplots. People really praise this game a lot for being about the concept of death and the finite nature of life, but so far all it’s really done is point that fact out and not said anything very interesting about it.

    Just want to point out: I still like Persona 3 a bunch, I’ve mostly focused on the negatives because I’m an annoying contrarian who wants to point out the flaws in a thing everyone really likes. I’m not the type to play all the way through an 80 hour RPG if I don’t like it, especially twice, especially to be planning a third playthrough of the female main character’s story in Persona 3 Portable (which also has direct party member control! Yay!).

    1. Syal says:

      I’m pretty sure Persona 3 got its high reputation because it wasn’t competing with 4 and 5 at the time.

      Although I kind of dig the multiple variants of physical attack elements, that’s something 4 and 5 dropped. Enemies in 3 aren’t immune to Physical, they’re immune to Sharp, or Blunt, or Whatever The Third One Was.

      1. Daimbert says:

        I’m pretty sure Persona 3 got its high reputation because it wasn’t competing with 4 and 5 at the time.

        A big part of that was because it was the first in that space/genre, which as Shamus has noted in the past always gives it a boost in nostalgia even when you come back to it later and note that later games have done lots of things better. That being said, I’ve played a number of later games that tried to fit into that model and they don’t even come CLOSE to doing what P3 did.

        Although I kind of dig the multiple variants of physical attack elements, that’s something 4 and 5 dropped. Enemies in 3 aren’t immune to Physical, they’re immune to Sharp, or Blunt, or Whatever The Third One Was.

        Pierce.

    2. Daimbert says:

      I played this game way back in the day and thought it was much worse than Persona 4, but I’ve seen so much praise for it over the years I thought I maybe missed something, and nope, I still am fairly unimpressed. It’s OK, but it’s much more flawed than its successors in basically every way. The main flaw is the combat/dungeon crawling system.

      I like the story and characters the best in P3, but agree with you about the dungeon crawling. One of the worst parts about it is that it’s far more prominent in P3 than it is in the other two and so takes up much more time, even on a NG+. You might be max level, but you still have to level up your companions, and so that leads to grinding just to get them to a useful level for the final battle. In P4 and P5, I don’t think the levels carry over but all the equipment does, and if you simply scour all the levels and do the bonus dungeons in the same way you’ll end up with enough levels for the endgame. So I only need to spend a couple of days completing the dungeons if I plan it properly, whereas with P3 I tend to need to use every second night just to grind, which is boring. It makes it so that I’d like to replay it but get scared away by the prospect of having to face the the dungeons again.

      The best attacker in the game learns Marin Karin, a high cost move that inflicts a status ailment on opponents, and loves to use it on enemies she can one-shot.

      Also, as famously noted, she uses it on enemies like bosses that are IMMUNE to it.

      Probably the worst is against the final boss, where the boss has one defensive move that makes it so that anyone who attacks it is instantly killed. In general, you’re okay, because you move first and if you know about it you can set them all to do nothing and avoid the issues. However, if they are ever killed they go to the end of the line, and then they will always throw themselves against that move and get themselves killed and need to be revived … even AFTER they’ve seen what it does. Which is really annoying.

      While each party member gets a good little character arc that’s related to the central theme of death and mortality they’re not all that endearing as characters …

      YMMV on this, because I like their characters better, but then that might be because they’re more serious characters than in the others. The big difference is that their character moments happen in the story and so are directly related to it, while in the other two the big character moments happen in their specific S-links. That means, at least to me, it makes the story better while making the S-links less meaningful and more trivial, although there is some good stuff there as well.

      … and the actual story line is mostly the group sitting around waiting for a bunch of enemies to spawn so we can have a boss fight – there’s powerful monsters that they’re hunting down which only appear when the moon is full. It does move past that and go in a much more interesting direction eventually, but it happens something like 60 hours in.

      Well, obviously not for me, since I generally finish a run in about 40 hours [grin].

      But it does start to build the mystery early on in the story and set up the situation and the players, which I like. It’s just the twist that comes about I guess three quarters of the way through. That being said, if you don’t find the characters that interesting then the character build-up that happens won’t really appeal to you and so you might indeed find the story doing nothing more than having characters go out and kill monsters for a while.

      Just want to point out: I still like Persona 3 a bunch, I’ve mostly focused on the negatives because I’m an annoying contrarian who wants to point out the flaws in a thing everyone really likes. I’m not the type to play all the way through an 80 hour RPG if I don’t like it, especially twice, especially to be planning a third playthrough of the female main character’s story in Persona 3 Portable (which also has direct party member control! Yay!).

      P3P’s female main character is actually better because she has an actual personality whereas the male main character was more of a cypher. So you might enjoy that better.

      1. Rariow says:

        It makes it so that I’d like to replay it but get scared away by the prospect of having to face the the dungeons again.

        This is exactly why I’ve never revisted Persona 3 until this year. I’ve had the thought several times that maybe now that I’ve grown up a bit I may appreciate its darker tone a bit more (I originally played it as a 16 or 17 year old), but I’d just think about going in and spending hours climbing up Tartarus and completely lose any desire to try. It’s also why I’ve never beaten The Answer.

        YMMV on this, because I like their characters better, but then that might be because they’re more serious characters than in the others. The big difference is that their character moments happen in the story and so are directly related to it, while in the other two the big character moments happen in their specific S-links.

        This is obviously just a matter of taste, but I think how serious it is is part of what made me not care about them as much. There’s very few moments of levity with these characters (at best there’s a couple scenes of Junpei and Akihiko chasing girls or Aigis being weird, at worst there’s nothing light-hearted at all with Mitsuru or Ken), and it just becomes hard to like them all that much as a result. Yes, I get this is a dark game about death and loss and all that, but how am I meant to want to be around someone that I just know as a constantly sulking joyless killjoy? I think Ken’s arc is pretty great, but I don’t like Ken at all because all he does is mope for the whole game, and it makes me care less about his arc than if I also had an attachment to him. I liked Junpei’s arc the most, partially because I think he grows the most out of anyone, but also because he feels the most human early on – he gets to be a dumb carefree high schooler for a bit, while everyone else is stuck being a super-serious SEES member from the moment we meet them. Persona 4 arguably tilts too far in the opposite direction, spending too much time having fun with the characters and not enough giving them actually interesting stuff to do, but I prefer that approach because I care more about the little they get to do. I think Persona 5 nails the balance on this, at least for what I’m looking for – there’s enough time spent with the Phantom Thieves outside of high-stakes plot mode to have me care, and there’s still plenty for most of them to do in high-stakes plot mode (Haru memetically doesn’t get enough, and I think the game really runs out of meaningful things for Ann and to a lesser extent Ryuji to do after the fourth Palace, but it’s done well for the most part).

        I do agree that having the characters’ development in the main story rather than the SLinks is a much better approach. Having character member SLinks means that if the main brunt of their arc is in the SLink the character feels pointless if you don’t do the SLink (See: Haru in Persona 5), and if it isn’t in the SLink you wind up with a rather disappointing SLink story (See: Ann’s SLink, Chie’s SLink, Yukari’s SLink, Yosuke’s SLink… frankly, a lot of the party member SLinks). Also, sometimes it feels like the story should be acknowledging the SLink, but it isn’t (Yukiko’s still upset at having to run the inn? But she’s decided she wants to run the inn in the SLink!). It’s tough, because one of the things I miss most in P3 IS being able to spend more time doing SLinks with my party members, but I think ultimately it makes the games’ writing stronger overall.

        Well, obviously not for me, since I generally finish a run in about 40 hours [grin].

        You must be a wizard of some kind – I think I’ve spent over 40 hours in Tartarus alone. I’m in mid December, and my save file says I’ve spent about 75 hours on the game – this isn’t counting the three or four times I’ve lost hours of Tartarus progress to bad play, bad luck, or dumb AI. I guess knowing the game better probably helps, and admittedly I do spend an inordinate amount of time just wandering around the dorm talking to everyone almost every day. It’s that song, I can’t get enough of it!

  65. methermeneus says:

    I haven’t had time to devote to a game I have to pay attention to (and I tend to prefer story-heavy games), so I’ve actually been doing some RP runs of Skyrim. I know the story well enough that I can come back a week or two later and know where I am, I know the gameplay well enough that I don’t need to think too much about the moment-to-moment, and I’ve always had a habit of writing stories in my head which I can indulge by thinking about how my character would react at decision-making points (which is often different from the options the game gives me, but since Skyrim is so crap at changing the world with my decisions, it works out… Which may be the official rationale behind the meh writing, now that I think of it). Plus, Skyrim runs on my Surface (not great, but it does run), so the fact that I’m moving and my desktop is in a storage unit right now isn’t a problem.

  66. Mattias42 says:

    Regarding the porn games…

    I think a lot of ’em just kinda slithered and oozed over to the VR after Alyx made so many people buy head-sets last year. Recently got myself a Reverb G2, and there’s been a LOT~ of porn to scroll past in the games list. Less competition right now compared with traditional games, while also chasing that Rule of First Adopters, I suppose?

    Found this hilarious example right now in the top seller side of the VR section of the store, for instance.

    https://store.steampowered.com/app/1556770/Mutant_Alley_Do_The_Dinosaur/

    Studio name? TailsUp4Tyranno. Think that alone right there tells you all you need to know, but I got myself a heart laugh out of it, at least.

    Hope that lead helps, because I’d LOVE~ to read that article. It sounds like a hoot and a half.

  67. Shufflecat says:

    Last week I replayed Resident Evil 7 and had a blast. Went on easy mode this time, as from my experience the first time, I knew hard would be tedious rather than scarier. Did the two big story DLCs as well. Difficulty on easy mode wasn’t just easy, but trivial, so there was no danger-based tension, but that meant I got to focus more on the atmosphere and story based scary stuff, which was a lot more rewarding. There were some “oh, shit” conceptual connections I made that I didn’t before because my rumination wasn’t getting derailed every time I walked into a room full of monsters.

    So this week I decided to replay Resident Evil 2 REmake. This time on hard, but with a mod that makes zombies vulnerable to headshots. It was interesting. It really highlighted just how deeply the game is built around the zombies being hard to kill. When you can just one-hit headshot them, you can just casually plink them all off at a distance the moment you enter an area, before they even know you’re there. Fights become extremely rare, and ammo becomes plentiful because you’re only using one bullet at a time. It basically turns large sections of the game into a 3D point and click adventure instead of survival horror.

    It all went well enough until I hit the second G-Birkin bossfight. Y’know: the one where you’re stuck on a tiny platform awkwardly kiting him in circles while trying to prang him with a shipping container. I’d remembered that bossfight was BS, but forgotten just how BS. Most of the bossfights in this game feel like they were designed under the assumption that the player would have a dodge button that never made it into the final game, but that one in particular is the worst. Your toon turns like a goddamn firetruck, and “running” is only a light trot barely distinguishable from walking, so evasion isn’t really possible in that tiny space. And G-Birkin is magically immune to the weak point damage that does him in on both the prior and later fights. AND he can stun-lock you because his wind up between attacks is faster than you can recover and move out of claw range if doing so requires turning.

    After resigning myself to just bringing lots of health items and tanking his hits instead of relying on staying out of reach, only to fail again and again because either he accidentally evades the container simply because I can’t maintain enough head-start for only one of us to be out of the danger zone, or him grabbing me instead of swiping me while mid-platform so we both get knocked off the edge….

    I’ve beaten his fight before, and of course many others have as well, but this experience really drove home how it has nothing to do with skill. You can lose this fight by playing it wrong, but you can’t beat it just by playing it right. It’s a luck-based challenge. The frustration from this fight basically killed my desire to finish the playthrough.

  68. Duoae says:

    I’ve really not had a lot of time to game over the last month or two.

    I did start playing through the WiiU version of Twilight Princess (to get the footage) and was actually pleasantly surprised to realise that TP is really a very strong precursor of Breath of the Wild. Less technically capable, for sure, but there are a tonne of mechanics that are feeding into the latter game. It’s weird because when I first played TP on the gamecube, I saw it as an evolution/successor of Ocarina of Time and nothing more. Now I think I see the lineage and progression more clearly and it actually makes me appreciate both OoT and TP as well as BoTW more.

    Anyway, I stalled on the playthrough/footage recording and went back to slugging through AC: Odyssey… I had a lot on my plate and just wanted something dumb to do. So played around 40-60 hours of that and made a small amount of progress in the game. MAN, that game is WAY over-provisioned! I like it, I like it more than Origins but I really wish they’d made the world smaller. Yeah, sure I could just ignore everything in the game except for the main story (I’m way beyond level cap now) but I love to explore, so… explore I must.

    I tired of the AC experience and put it down (for finishing later) but had some birthday money so I picked up Halo:MCC. I played a lot of Halo: CE back in the day (along with the MP) as well as Halo 2 on PC (yes, I had a cracked version of Vista) and I played Halo 3 on the 360 but I really don’t remember that at all… it seemed very bland. Anyway, I had a hankering for an FPS and Halo was up my street so I bought that … and, I was pleasantly surprised. I can’t speak to the latter games but I’m realising again why Halo 1 was such a hit. It’s not just “good for a console fps” as many people used to say back in the day but it’s genuinely engaging and interesting.

    Let’s see if that holds true for the rest of the series. However, I don’t hold out much hope – I think the games got too encumbered with their own importance and lore.

  69. Ingo says:

    I think a lot of people would be interested in you doing a factorio base tour.

    Myself? Playing Factorio and hexen 2

    Not sure if it’s a nostalgia thing but I still really like the latter. Although reading a guide is almost mandatory for the egypt hub.

  70. Hunt Showdown

    They were doing an event and I got sucked back in after a few months off the wagon. Did a few matches going solo and even killed a few hunters AND survived to escape, which is a REAL ego boost in this game! I’m finally actually paying attention to the weapon progression system for the first time since I want better scoped equipment…and better equipment in general. Still as tense as ever and I STILL haven’t learned when to back off from a quarry that’s eluded me. Nope! Gots to get in closer cause of muscle memory. I am so ass at close range combat in this game.

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