What game are you playing?

Can’t believe I said so many nice things about Dark Souls and then Kalameet went and did this bullshit

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Had a moment earlier today playing XCOM 2 where I had forgotten that a solider had developed a trait where every time they enter overwatch they have a chance to instead just to take a shot immediately which of course happened as I was getting into position to break cover. Thankfully they have good aim and took out the mech in one shot otherwise that would have gone real bad for everyone else who was hiding by a car.

Also I had another character roll a random extra ability in the XCOM skill tree (the one you have to buy using points) that increases their crit chance based on how long the weapons nickname is which is fun.

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just finished the thailand level in hitman 2016 and that maybe the biggest instance of the endorphin hit due to the difficulty personally. one thing i like more from hitman 2 based on the free first level is how the visual area of the camera is much clearer.

The Steam Controller I got for five bucks in that clearance sale like a year(?) ago is now proving a worthwhile investment because I now can play Audiosurf on my TV. Fucking loved this game in 2012 and it turns out it’s still really fun.

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I’ve been spending time playing the PS5.

Demon’s Souls Ah I remember when this game first came out. I learned about the game via the Gametrailers review if anyone remembers them? Let me tell you when Gametrailers raves about your weirdly difficult Japanese RPG - you know it’s good. The game looked really interesting and once it arrived in the UK I got the special edition that came with soundtrack and artbook and… I don’t know… I may have gotten as far as the Flamelurker. The remake is the same game but it’s more of a graphical showpiece for sure. It’s weird remembering the areas from the PS3 games but seeing everything reimagined. I liked that sense of scale in the Dark Souls and Bloodborne games. Emerging into a new area to see a massive castle looming above you. Generally, it just feels great to be playing another Souls game. When is Elden Ring and Mech Souls coming out?

Miles Morales: I really loved the Spider-man game. Sure it was overly video gamey and suddenly had heavily armoured PMCs taking up shop in New York but in terms of character and story I thought it was really triumphantly spider-man. So I’m enjoying Miles Morales out of the gate, I do feel some of the ingame activites feel a little perfunctory, but I’m liking Miles and his friends as characters. Also love that I’ve got a snowy Xmas New York to boot up whenever I feel like it.

Astro Bot: I basically completed this in one sitting. If you have any love for Playstation as a brand it’s worth a go. I didn’t expect to get as nostalgic as I did, getting to a part of a level and hearing the PSone boot up. I was really impressed by the feel of the controller as well, it’s a mix of clever vibration and sound coming out of the controller. More Astro Bot Sony.

Destruction Allstars: This is free on PS+ at the moment (if you don’t have a PS5 yet you can add it to your library via the PS app). I decided to have a quick go, that lasted about 2 hours. It’s a cool fusion between Burnout, Destruction Derby and… Overwatch. I wish there was more you could do out of your car but for the moment it’s more fun than I thought it would be. Another showcase for the Dual sense controller as you actively feel the car pushing and pulling you through the triggers.

Resident Evil VII Demo: Maiden: I’m getting more excited about Resi 8 and this demo made me more so. It’s more of a graphical showpiece again. It’s a mighty display of one of my favourite new tropes - ‘emerging in games’, where you emerge from one area to another which has a stark and dramatic change in visuals. One minute your in a dark and dingy dugeon, the next you are in this brightly lit room looking at this Gothic relief depicting an age old battle against something… One moment your crawling through servant’s quarters, next you emerge into this beautifully ornate bed chamber. If Resi 7 was poised as “escape the Texas Chainsaw Massacre House”. Resi 8 is “escape Dracula’s castle” and I am 100% here for that. I really hope they keep the attachments to old Resi at bay. But the demo seems to suggest they know what they are doing. At least for the first half of the game.

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Been playing through a whole bunch of stuff at the moment but between a bunch of narrative-heavy games and pecking at a couple of things just to see if I want to commit to them, I’ve also been playing Cyber Shadow. I don’t have much experience with the games I assume it’s drawing from nor do I play a ton of modern retro platformers but I’ve continued to be wowed by it as I’ve been making my way through it.

I initially wasn’t going to check it out because I’d seen the first few levels and though it seemed pretty ordinary but hearing that it gets so much more interesting afterwards. So I downloaded it on Game Pass and it does indeed become super cool after those initial levels!

After playing through them, you soon get access to additional abilities. The first few aren’t all that spectacular but you eventually get a downward strike that lets you pogo off of enemies, a parry that lets you deflect enemy projectiles and a dash that allows you to do a dash attack that’ll let you slice through levels with precise timing. These abilities are a lot of fun to experiment with and you get plenty of chances to try them out because the enemy placements and level design more or less forces you to engage with them to move forward.

The other cool thing about it that I haven’t really engaged with all that much is that the game is linear but the abilities and upgrades you get let you go back to earlier levels and access alternate pathways and secret areas. There’s a terminal in between each stage that lets you jump to any previous level, where I can only assume you’ll be able to get more HP and energy upgrades. I kind of hope they’re like the secrets I’ve found so far that include a small platforming/combat challenge.

I don’t know if this is a game that people are generally finding to be difficult in the way retro games tend to be but I haven’t found the game to be all that difficult. I’ve taken down most of the bosses after a few tries and without upgrading the checkpoints. I think the thing that’s killed me the most are the instant-kill spikes that get introduced around stage 5.

I’m currently seven stages in (out of what appears to be eleven) and I’m really enjoying my time with it so far! Although it has reminded me that there are at least two more Shovel Knight campaigns that I haven’t played yet…

I’ve been catching up on the Gears Tactics after a extremely mindless and comforting replay of the X360 games. I maintain that Judgement is the best one, which is probably my hottest gaming take.

Anyway, Gears Tactics is surprising! I did not expect the fundamental rules of Gears to translate so naturally to a tactics game until I had a think about what my favourite Gears games (1 and Judgment) do better than the rest of the series, and that’s small-unit tactics. At their foundation, Gears is about gamifying the flanking, suppressing, and advancing tactics used by infantry against enemy positions, Gears Tactics just says the quiet part loud.

I particularly love the overwatch mechanic. Overwatch is such a tricky inclusion since XCOM Enemy Unknown because it encourages stacking Overwatch coverage and moving forward carefully. Once it’s an option, it’s all you want to do.

Gears Tactics’ overwatch is inspired because it forces you to select a limited area to cover. Overwatch stops being the safe move in order to get easy shots off at an advancing target, and instead becomes about setting up overlapping killzones in anticipation of enemies rushing you down from a particular direction. The enemy AI even uses overwatch to suppress you, forcing you to take damage unless another of your units can damage or suppress them in response. It just feels like the Gears of War rhythm, but as if they’ve made a board game adaptation. Someone has put a lot of thought into how to make the series’ mechanics work in this format and the end result is flattering to both the adaptation AND the original works.

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Gears Tactics was an absolute highlight for me last year. It also pressures you a bit to avoid typical overwatch tactics with its soft and hard time limits, the action economy (which rewards taking offensive action) and overwatch cracking abilities. Still, a heavy setup with the right abilities used at the right moment can be insane.

You’re absolutely right that it also puts the originals in a better light. I’ve been eying Gears 4 on Game Pass in a way I would not have before playing Gears Tactics.

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Gears 4 is good! I think it’s aged better than you’d expect now that the weight of expectation has been lifted.

I think the way they elaborate one what happened after Gears 3 is really smart (and political!) in Gears 4, and old Marcus is a series highlight. People clown on the “not my fucking tomatoes” line but that’s actually a clever and poignant Gears 3 reference.

The second half of the game is pretty dull in comparison to the great stuff they do at the start, but I’d put it above 2, 5 and its best moments rival a lot of what 3 has to offer. Definitely worth a shot on Game Pass imo.

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Finally got my hands on a PS5 because tax return so I’m excited to check out the Demon’s Souls Remake. What kinda weird build should I do? I think this is the only FromSoft game I haven’t beaten or even really played extensively besides Dark Souls 3. (Weird, I know.)

Really ready for this term to end so I can jump in.

With the name mundanesoul, I would think Dark Souls 3 was your favorite souls game. ba dum, pssshhh

(sorry)

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I…don’t know why I’m playing Skyrim. Still. Is this what the people who have watched every episode of Friends or The Office several dozen times are going through?

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I played through the remake recently too, and regretted not doing a Hands of God build, so I recommend doing that to make up for my regrets.

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In my continuing attempt to clear out my backlog, I tried out Forgotten Realms: Demon Stone and… well it’s certainly an interesting game. The game is mostly fine, I suppose, in that ‘ps2-era game is a bit janky and weird but not so bad that I can’t play it’ sort of way. But god the writing is so bad. In one of the first cutscenes, the blonde-haired blue-eyed white human dude protagonist looks at a half-Drow woman and just says some awful racist shit to her. I know D&D is pretty bad in that respect but oh my god at least bury it further into the game and don’t open up with it. This cover art for it is really incredible though, I’d totally buy a nice art print of it if I could.

I also played the first few hours of Watch_Dogs 2 and I’m having a bit of a weird time with it. I like to play a Ubisoft-style open world game from time to time and that aspect of it is solid. The characters are pretty much instantly lightyears ahead of anyone in WD1 and I’m interested in seeing more from them. But when I get to the sneaking and/or shooting parts I just… don’t want to do it. The sneaking around doesn’t feel great and I don’t really want to shoot all these people (both just for my own personal reasons but also because it doesn’t seem like when Marcus would do). I feel like I’ll work my way through it eventually but it isn’t going to be like when I played WD1 last year, heavily disliked a lot of it, but binge-played it over the course of a week or so.

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I beat the game with a quality build and it was fine, but noticed I did wayyyy more damage as pure strength in my second playthrough.

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Ever since I finished Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy XIII I’ve been bouncing around a few games and replaying a few things.

First of all, I’ve been replaying Final Fantasy VII Remake as part of my general runthrough of all the FF games I own which I said I wanted to complete in the two general 2021 gaming goals threads on here. Been working from home a bit more recently and as my PS4 is in the living room it’s given me the impetus to play through the Remake again which I’m enjoying as I did rush it initially to see the explosive endgame and maybe missed out on a more holistic experience.

Summary

I think the replay is cementing VII Remake as one of my favourite games ever. The main beef I had the first time, the pacing issues which sap the momentum of the story, is less of a problem this time as I’m not itching to tear through the story. I wouldn’t say that they’re not a problem because they are but I’m less irritated by it. I’ve also come to appreciate the combat even more this time as I’ve learned to rotate materia through the game so I’m unlocking more options in battle and I’m less reliant on Cloud this time as I’m trying to consciously rotate my characters in battle. Tifa is great! I never really clicked with her initially but setting all of her abilities to the quick command options means she’s a non-stop punching and kicking machine after a while. Finally, having delved into the original FFVII last summer I really appreciate what they’ve done with Barret and how much more rewarding he is as a protagonist when they treat him much more seriously. He’s clearly by far the most knowledgable, forthright and righteous character in the party. The only problem is it then relegates Tifa to being the naive and uncertain revolutionary which does her a relative disservice especially since Cloud, the other main protagonist involved in the Avalanche ops, spends a good portion of the game dismissing any chance to have a take on the situation. Hopefully it builds towards her coming into her own in the later additions.

Speaking of rushing the first run and taking my time for the second, I’m also playing Nier Automata: Become as Gods Edition courtesy of the Game Pass. That game is gorgeous on the new box and I think I agree with someone on here who said the side quests do a better job of conveying the themes that Yoko Taro is trying to convey than the main story which is no disrespect as the main story is still great. I still think run 9S’s play throughs are the weakest though so I’ve stalled after hitting Ending A as I don’t have any interest atm in seeing where that storyline goes again. 2B and 9S for life.

I’ve also picked up my Switch again for the commutes and am back on my Final Fantasy IX bullshit. This is attempt number 4 on my 3rd separate console and I’m now the furthest I’ve ever been in this game which is Terra. This game is going some places. I really enjoy the dynamic of the party and the different characters who’ve mostly experienced some good and fun characterisation. The escalating villains is some proper FF tropey shit though and Kuja is also the most 90s ass villain isn’t he? I think they might have done better with Seymour in the next game.

Also I managed to get to about 95% of Chocobo Hot & Cold completion with about 4 hours work which is a weight off the shoulders.

Finally my main game i’ve been playing for the last fortnight has been Final Fantasy XV. I actually bought this on release in 2016 and I think picked up all the DLCs or the Season Pass fairly shortly after. I remember playing the Platinum Demo and not getting what was going on whatsoever. I played 2 hours of the main game and a combination of the faux-open world (a bane of my FF adventures) and Cindy’s character design just put me right off to the point that I downloaded it maybe 3-4 times after that and never played. Until recently when seeing a few conversations about it spring up piqued my interest a little bit. I started again back in January, played for 3 days, put it back down then picked it up again after finishing Hitman 3 and whaddya know I’ve been playing every day for a fortnight.

Summary

I think it might actually be a really interesting game. They’ve really attempted to do something here and I’m not sure whether it’s good or not but it’s very compelling.

So I said I was playing the FFVII Remake but this game feels far more nostalgic than that literal remake does. Prompto makes multiple references to other games from the series as well as Kingdom Hearts (I had to check if it was his VA or Tidus’s from FFX that said “ya like that”?), you can buy compilation soundtracks for virtually every FF game to play in the car while loads of the weapons are named after FF classics. That’s not a bad thing if it doesn’t feel like a pale imitation of the previous games and I don’t think it does. The story is immediately reminiscent of FFXII with the way it focuses on a predatory expansionist empire and missing royals but it deviates enough from FFXII’s Star Wars esque story to not feel too similar plus the story feels like it’s taking a back seat here to the dynamic of the four good boys that make up the player’s party for the game’s duration. I’ll be honest, I really cannot stand Ignis’s VA at all and Prompto I really was not sure on while Noctis feels a lot like a blank slate for a first while but the camaraderie between the three of them and Gladiolus is great fun. There might be a limited set of in the field interactions but it’s all good fun and cheesy but enjoyable.

The world of FFXV is also gorgeous. It looks amazing on the Series X in the same way that Kingdom Hearts 3 did. I don’t have a 4K tele so I’ve not seen the pinnacle yet but this and KH3 are staggeringly stunning games that look better than anything else I’ve played. It might be too big to go exploring indefinitely but I think the game does a great job of signposting major landmarks and dungeons and I’ve already managed to find some big beasts and Royal Tombs without being prompted as they’re situated in hard-to-miss locations that are begging to be explored like big volcanos or tucked away forests (and even a suspicious waterfall hoaching with enemies outside). The car does a good job of automating a lot of the travel and those compilations are a nice way of passing the travel time especially since they’ve chosen a lot of the best tunes from the series to vibe with.

The way the world is filled with enemies and justified with lore is pretty cool too. Magic is a resource to be harvested and concocted rather than an innate ability. Most enemies look vaguely like ‘normal’ fauna for a region while at night more series classic enemies spawn as daemons which roam the dangerous night time.

It’s a remarkably easy game though. I’ve hit Chapter 7 with a runtime of nearly 40 hours and I’ve died once and that was because it glitched and wouldn’t let me use any items. Your health falling to zero doesn’t necessitate a phoenix down because you have another health bar underneath that, whilst it’s not depleted, means being knocked out only requires potions or elixirs to keep fighting which are plentiful and pretty cheap. I’ve used maybe 5 phoenix downs in 40 hours. I was fighting enemies 10-15 levels above me fairly early and scoring victories. The combat itself feels like it’s a middle step between XIII’s automated turn based battling and the free flowing action RPG combat of FFVII Remake. I do like it though even if it’s a doddle. It all looks very pretty. The summons are tremendous. They are enormous, cataclysmic and mighty in a way that is hinted at in the PSone games and realised here. Having Ramuh hang about after the battle surveying his handiwork is pretty eerie

I have a lot more thoughts but I’m gonna wait til I finish as this post is already way too long and I accidentally hit publish. It’s pretty good!

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It’s a free weekend for Dying Light so that’s what I’ve been playing for the past 2 days. I’m about 5 hours in and I think I like it with some caveats. The parkour and nighttime stuff is great and honestly horrifying.

What is not fun is fighting, especially things like bandits. I’m playing on the normal difficulty but I’m honestly getting close to seeing what happens if I knock it down to the lowest because I really do not like these 1 v 3 or 4 melee fights with other people that take 30 minutes to complete of just dodging and trading blows. I thought I was maybe not understanding it so I searched around and it seems to be a common complaint so that’s not a good sign.

Which is very strange because I know Techland can do good combat in a zombie game, if Dead Island did one thing fine it was the combat.

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I think I’ve played about 6 hours of that game and I still don’t have a gun. It’s good that hitting specific body parts can do specific damage but it’s turgid stuff nonetheless.

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Dying Light really does not encourage or reward combat until the 10 hour mark where you start getting weapons that can one-shot your basic zombies.

I really love Dying Light for a whole host of reasons but I won’t defend how much the game begins to prioritise scripted combat-mandatory encounters as it goes on.

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After finishing Crisis Core on my phone a while ago, I have started playing Ys: The Oath in Felghana and Phantasy Star Portable 2, which are also PSP action RPGs.

I really, really love these mediocre, small PSP action RPGs. I like that they’re RPGs where the numbers go up and if a thing is too hard for you, it just means that you need to grind for 20-30 minutes to make your numbers go up. I like that they’re real time combat instead of turn-based, so I feel more engaged, even though the games I mentioned above are so slow-paced, that they almost are turn-based. I like that there is no open world and instead the game is broken into many tight, discrete levels that take 5-10 minutes to beat. I even like that the controls are kind of awkward, so the game feels more complex than it actually is. I realize that this is pretty much what people mean by a “7/10”, but it’s been helpful for me to be able to fully articulate what it is that I like about them.

Here’s the problem: I feel like I’m running out of games like this. I don’t have a Vita, used ones are going for more than I’m willing to pay, and it looks like there isn’t a good emulator for it yet. Are there more games like this on the Switch or Android? If so, how can I find them since the Nintendo and Google stores are bad for searching for things?