What game are you playing?

Just finished Webbed. It’s a unique web-physics spider platformer that lives up to the gifs the devs posted on twitter ages ago. It took me less than 5 hours to complete (did not 100%, theres a lot of collectibles). There were two main challenges that come up in this game. You have the platforming sections which can consist of hazards and collectibles scattered throughout the world. Next you have the physics puzzles which usually involve trying to place an object into the appropriate location. While neither of these game elements are uncommon, you’re using 2 main web mechanics to interact with both of these challenges. you have both a web grapple and web builder to play with. These mechanics are both fairly flexible, so I was always excited to experiment with solutions. Solid, cute game for 10 bucks.

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Oops all bangers! The last few games I’ve played have been great. Yakuza 0, SMT IV, and now Outer Wilds.

Outer Wilds. What a game. I’m going to hide spoilers because it seems like that’s the right thing to do with this game, but I have a lot of thoughts and I’m sorry if this goes long. This is probably better suited for a blog, but this is kind of a rough draft of ideas.

I started playing this game the day before I started a job as a 7th/8th grade English teacher. In the midst of this existential crisis (is this the right career path? Did I waste my money on a master’s degree for a career I hate? Am I failing these kids? Am I supporting a system I don’t believe in???) I had the Outer Wilds. And this game reminded me of many important fundamental truths in my life. It didn’t solve my career crisis, but that is asking probably too much of the game.

Some quick stats and technical stuff: I beat this game in 15 days over about 25 hours of in-game time. On the PS4 slim I experienced a lot of stutter and frame drops, and a few bugs. Sometimes my nomai translator wouldn’t work. This happened 2 times, but each time I noticed it at the beginning of a run and just quit and restart. Other times I got stuck in level geometry and couldn’t get out. I got stuck in a doorway once and I couldn’t get out. I don’t know how this game is going to run on the Switch, but I hope they find a way to make it run ok!

I started the game by following my signalscope to find the other Hearthians throughout the solar system. They guided me, and I collected a lot of information in the various celestial bodies, but nothing was really clicking. Spoilers ahead.

The I found the statue factory. It was the first moment where I actually understood something deeper than a surface level. I understood the ash twin project and the nomai statue. This is where I got hooked, and my insatiable desire to learn more didn’t stop until the end of the game.

The other part that made the game really click for me was again on Giant’s Deep, this time in the quantum tower. By learning the rules of the game, I had the foundation I needed to do just about everything else. Using this knowledge I tried a few different tricks to land on the quantum moon that didn’t work until I learned a bit more on Ember Twin, but I had the right idea. I wouldn’t have been able to figure out the tower without the Ember Twin information, so it was fine that I didn’t quite get there at that point.

One of the most meaningful parts of the game for me happened on the Brittle Hollow Tower. There’s a note from the Nomai that tells the reader to remember those that came before them and to go forth with a spirit of curiosity. I knew that my curiosity and drive to figure out everything in the game wasn’t just me, it’s a theme of the game. Being alone in the tower on the far reaches of the solar system, floating in the void after being teleported by the black hole I felt more connected to the knowledge of the Nomai than at any other point in the game. I loved it and nearly cried. It was more impactful to me than meeting Solanum or nearly any other point in the game.

A thought about the music and what it meant to me. Huge spoiler for the ending. At the end of the game you, Solanum, and the hearthians sing a creation into existence after seeing maybe the heat death of the universe? And it’s a beautiful, sad, touching moment. But because of the music you create something. My life is definted by music, particularly my local ska/punk/straight edge hardcore scene. There are legendary moments that are still talked about that I witnessed—[redacted] punching the nazi at the Citizen Fish show, Vanzetti Crime performing at the last show at the Underground, the vegan benefit to pay the legal fees for [redacted] that ended up being 110 degrees inside despite there being no heater and freezing outside, including green condensation on the cieling. I still talk about these moments with friends. They were impactful because we were there together, sharing them, witnessing them together. This final creation exists because there was a group of people there to witness it.

A note about the music, no spoilers. Using the signalscope to hear music makes the solar system smaller. During this awful last year, my friends organized online instagram shows to benefit the local venue we hosted shows at. My wife and I would watch our favorite bands and chat with other through the Instagram live function, essentially hanging with friends at a show despite being far apart. This is what The Outer Wilds reminded me of. Hope and love in a time of deep despair.

Sorry for the rambling, this was just a good good game. Not sure what to play next.

Edit: thanks to those on the discord that gave me spoiler-free tips! The only things I looked up were how to get to the twin project, which was so obtuse I never would have found it on my own and how to get to the black hole forge, which was also a little weird.

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The Banner Saga 2 rules. It’s hard to talk about the series in its discrete parts because it’s presented so consistently. The second game is really where the series comes into its own. The first game shows all the signs of a crowd funded game being stretched a bit beyond what the developers can feasibly do, and they also hadn’t figured out the balance of resources/exp yet.

The Banner Saga 2 has some genuinely jaw-dropping moments in it. The shit that happens in the middle chapter is completely bonkers: The raising of the rubble bridge to cross a chasm, Eyvind splitting open the World Serpent, meeting the Eyeless Sundr underground, passing through The Old Wood and its illusions, there’s no end to ‘holy shit’ moments in what’s mostly a turn-based tactics game stitched together with a visual novel.

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Been playing more Psychonauts 2. I’m finding this has become my Sunday game, I just need time to sink into it and go at my own pace. I’m enjoying it so much more as a result. For some reason I thought the game would be fairly linear with each level just being set inside someone’s head. I’m surprised how open it is with the psychonauts HQ being a fully explorable and realised place. Really enjoying it. Quickly ascending my list of most loved games of recent years.

I dropped off Ghost of Tsushima last year around the time I unlocked the 2nd Island. I just felt the game was becoming a bit too samey, but I picked it back up for the PS5 update, as I wanted to see how good it looked. The landscape is wondrous and I’m constantly surprised how it keeps changing the further North you travel, it does make me want to visit the island for real. Usually swamp locations always suck in video games, but it’s the way the swamp gives way to fields of red flowers or bamboo forests that even in broad daylight become very dark to navigate.

I do still think the ‘Kurisowa’ ambitions are a little earnest, especially when you see the same standoff/duel intro again and again and again. However the photo mode DOES unlock my inner Kurisowa and I love how you can set up tracking shots to create a kind of sequence. Photo modes are probably my favourite recent trends in video games. I do still feel we’re on the precipice to have a director mode, in which you can place cameras, shoot footage and edit your own action.

The one thing I’ll say against the game, aside from all the fetch questing, I HATE how your thumbs whilst on the sticks can accidentally brush against the touchpad causing you to pull out your flute at the most inopportune moment whilst you are deep within an enemy stronghold. I do like the use of the touchpad to clean your sword or perform a respectful bow whenever you see a dead body. There just needs to be a way to make it less sensitive, because currently there is no way to switch it off.

I have Deathloop ready and a full two weeks off starting next week. Kind of want to finish Ghosts of Tsushima first but judging by the map, it seems like I’ve got a lot more game to go and probably an uncle-ly mentor to lose.

I haven’t had a problem bumping the touchpad on the PS4, but then I haven’t tried the PS5 yet, so maybe I’ve got that waiting for me in future. Either way, rather than suggest you’re holding it wrong or something, I wonder whether you’ve tried thumbstick caps that might give a bit of extra grip and/or height to the sticks? Might give you some vertical clearance to avoid hitting the touchpad or grip to avoid slipping off, depending on what the issue is exactly. Plus, they’re cheap. I’ve been using some on most of my controllers as I rarely like how the standard thumbstick feels.

Playing so much Wildermyth and I love it so much. I did the first two campaigns on the normal difficulty and i breezed through it even I dont play a lot of games like this. I moved it up a notch for the third campaign and it feels like the right amount of friction so far. One of my party members lost both of her hands but does have a pet robot, this game is just so good.

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Trying to play through the newer Arcane Dimensions maps (for Quake), but on normal their difficulty is either slightly too high, or incredibly too high. Honestly, I think one of my problems playing FPS is my aiming - the amount of time I run out of ammo and am reduced to trying to use the axe when I play on any difficulty higher than Easy is too high to discount.
It sort of spoils otherwise interesting maps when you’re constantly on 10 health and 2 shotgun shells trying not to die…

Been keeping busy for the past few playing the games I mentioned in my last post and cracking into a couple of new ones!

Bravely Default II - I’m currently 30(!) hours deep just after the start of Chapter 3 (of 8!!) and this game has its hooks DEEP into me because I’m loving every single second of it. I could easily gush about any part of this game at length if you asked me to but the real magic is in the job system. Building parties is so much fun in this game because there’s such an absurd potential of combos you can put together between each party member being able to use the active abilities of two jobs, a number of passives you can apply across any job once you learn them and the game-changing innate passives used by your character’s main job that you get once you max out that job’s level. That and the fact that when I see someone in this game with any kind of peculiar outfit I know for a fact that person has a job I’m gonna be able to use at some point and it fills me with a sickening level of excitement to learn what sort of over-powered nonsense awaits me. It’s especially fun when I can’t quite tell what a certain character’s job is, does or even exists before the fight to claim it happens too!

Another thing that I’ve been really into, almost unexpectedly, are the narrative elements. I’ll be real when I say I wasn’t expecting too much from it given the very familiar premise of “four heroes of light venture forth to regain the four crystals of legend” but a lot of the storytelling that’s been happening around that has been super solid. Each major location has its own cast of characters and problems that have been increasingly more interesting as I’ve made my way through the game. For instance, the area I just got to is home to a religion of dragon worshippers that’s trying to uproot deceitful fairies hiding inside their community through rituals not unlike the Salem witch trials. This group’s leader claims he’s merely acting upon the whims of the ancient dragon god who watches over their land but shortly after you arrive the party is lead to meet the god in question who tells you that he’s on the verge of death, that he’s been unable to communicate with the prophet in town for quite some time and never ordered such a thing in the first place.

There’s also some of the side quests which are nestled among the less interesting kill X creatures/collect X item quests that are fully voiced events that reveal a little bit of backstory on the main party or the many secondary characters you meet that have been really enjoyable too. I’m also at the point where side quests can lead into new jobs which is an extremely exciting prospect going forward! I imagine I’m fairly close to some kind of dramatic turning point since I’m running out of crystals to collect but all I hope is that whatever the rest of the game is past that point keeps me as engaged as this first half has!

Nioh - I was more than willing to skip this game and hop straight into the sequel since it has a character creator but it’s currently free on the Epic Store (and will be for the next few days) and decided to give it a shot. I’m glad I did because the combat in this game is a real blast. It’s extremely quick, highly technical, satisfyingly complex to figure out and a whole lot more intuitive than the imposing amount of weapon types, stances and abilities make it out to be once I started playing. After playing through most of the Souls without too much difficulty or tension to the combat, I also appreciates how much this game has made me work for it to beat some of the bosses I’ve fought so far.

The Nue fight is definitely the highlight for me since I totally stumbled into it and beat it on my first try after fighting for my life with no healing items and little to no health remaining when I won. Not a fan of the Diablo style loot since that’s a system I truly cannot bring myself to care about whenever I encounter it but I will gladly put up with it (or perhaps even… learn to derive some enjoyment from it???) to get more of that sweet, sweet combat.

Scarlet Nexus - Everything I’d seen and heard about this game after it came out made it seem like it was right up my alley but I underestimated how much I’d end up loving this game. Ever since I started playing it I’ve been marveled or extremely impressed by the things this game has thrown at me. I, like my many people other people, probably chuckled when they were marketing this game as “brainpunk” but this game’s whole presentation and aesthetic sense is super slick. The individual parts might not seem unique (save for the enemy design) but the way it all coalesces is so, so sick.

The combat carries the game’s immense sense of style and spectacle but it’s also just incredibly fun to engage with on a basic level. I’ve been playing as Kasane on hard mode and that’s been forcing me to learn how to best utilize the various abilities your partners’ have to make combat as smooth as possible and when I’m on top of things it makes Scarlet Nexus look like one of the coolest video games ever made. Which isn’t that far off from how I actually feel about it!

I wasn’t too hot on the story or characters when I started but I’ve been warming up to both as I’ve been making my way through it. As far as the characters go there haven’t been huge character moments that have happened in the story made them endearing but rather smaller interactions like their bond episodes or smaller little details like the incidental dialogue that happens during/between combat or how they act and decorate their personal spaces in the hideout.

Last thing I absolutely need to stress about this game is the soundtrack which is easily my favorite modern video game soundtrack in a minute. I’ve been kinda down on modern video game music because I haven’t heard a whole soundtrack that I’ve been able to truly connect with for a while. I’ve heard plenty of game OSTs that have songs I love or use music in creative or inventive ways but none that I have felt complete and unreserved passion towards… at least this hasn’t been the case for a game I’ve actually played or has came out in the previous decade though.

The Scarlet Nexus soundtrack has been that exception that I’ve been yearning for though. It’s not wholly situated in one specific style or genre but there’s a lot of electronic styles it draws on that sound super fresh and contemporaneous while still fitting the game’s visual sense of style. I’ve had the official soundtrack on repeat even before I played it but now that I have and know that there’s tons of music from the game that hasn’t been officially released I’m all over that stuff too.

This track in particular is one of my favorites, it’s one of the many battle themes in the game which are faster, more intense versions of the area themes. This one’s really cool because the area theme it’s based on has a high tempo but the instrumentation and melodies are very sparse and jazzy. This mix uses the same instrumentation and has a similar feel but is on the complete opposite end of intensity because it’s so completely buckwild.

Sorry for the extra long post this time but video games are cool and I refuse to remain silent on this!!!

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I think Bravely Default 2 did get a bit maligned because at this point the only people really giving the series a shot are people who loved the first two games, who are also the people least likely to be surprised by it.

I definitely did enjoy the combat a whole bunch, even though I did feel that a lot of the different variations on asterisk holder battles in the side content ended up being more enjoyable that the main story (and to some extent they robbed the main boss battles of gravitas because of over-levelling). A great game nonetheless though!

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I recently finished the first chapter of Life Is Strange: True Colors and it’s good y’all! It’s really nice to see Deck Nine fully grasp and polish what makes Life Is Strange as a series interesting (small mundane moments and interpersonal interactions, that feeling of being young, awkward, and vulnerable). The voice performances are fantastic, animations are on point, and the game itself looks beautiful. The dialogue feels very natural and has come a long way from the charming weirdness of the first Life Is Strange.

But the main draw of Life Is Strange is the story. After Chapter 1, I’m invested in what will happen to our lead hero, Alex Chen, and the cast of small town characters its introduced. I admit, I was skeptical of the super empathy mechanic when it was revealed but it actually works perfectly for this type of game. Whether or not True Colors will stick the landing is to be determined but any game that lets me admit to liking girls over a flirty game of foosball is a winner in my book.

Life Is Strange games have always started out strong, hit a narrative high in Chapter 3, and then peter out in the last two chapters as they scramble towards an ending. I’m hopeful that True Colors will get it right.

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I’m playing Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2. I love the first 4 Anthony Hawk Professional Skateboarder games. If you’ve read the Waypoint Weekly music question, you’ll know that all my teenage through adult life has been influenced by participating in my city’s DIY punk/hardcore scene, and my interest in that was directly inspired by hearing Rage Against the Machine, Less Than Jake, Dead Kennedys, and Goldfinger (I know, lol) in the Tony Hawk games as a kid.

This game is pure childhood joy, but it’s not just nostalgia. These are damn good remakes that control amazingly and are what these games felt like as a kid, but improved to actually feel good in modern times. It has Guerilla Radio by RATM, so what more can you ask for?

What I could maybe ask for is more game. I’m not going to play this online, and I’ve already completed every objective in 1 (Minneapolis is probably my least favorite level in the whole game), and it only took 2 days. I assume I’ll have 100%ed the game within the week with my custom character. I’m not going to do what I did as a kid and 100% the games with every character (how did I have time for this??).

I played 1, 2, and 4 on a crummy laptop with keyboard controls and 3 on my GBA. I’m amazed how quickly PS4 controls came to me.

More arcade sim games please!

I’m also playing World Flipper. IDK if I like it. I want my systems fed to me slowly over the course of a story, and maybe gacha games just aren’t for me since they don’t do that? Like… There’s a lot of weird menus and numbers and I don’t get it

Edit:

@blzzzrrttt you’ve absolutely sold me on Bravely Default 2. It sounds like exactly what I want in a JRPG.

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I’m playing Deathloop, which is really good! It’s like Dishonored, but with no quicksave, so you have to deal with the consequences when you mess up. I’ll check back in with more thoughts when I finish, but I wanted to show y’all the time I have been most savagely owned by an achievement:

Shame

:pensive:

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That is bizarre that it lists only 0.1% players as having gotten that achievement, as basically everyone does. I also have it on PS5, and it is a “Common” trophy that 59.6% of players have as of writing this post. So…don’t feel like you’re getting owned by an achievement!

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Yeah, it’s almost certainly a bug! It was just funny to close the game and have Steam tell me I’m part of the one tenth of one percent of players that had died in the video game

So, I know my updates have all been Quake third party levels recently, but I have to shout out one of the most recent additions to the Arcane Dimensions map pack - Tears of the False God. This is a huge map by itself (there are 17 secrets), although actually there are exceptionally large megamaps which are bigger. However, the design of the entire map is consistently strong - it uses an alternate texture pack which evokes an almost Classical feel to some of the architecture, and reskins most of the enemies in a somewhat more late Classical feel (the soldier grunts are now lightly armoured soldiers with swords or magic crossbows, for example) - and adds a new collectable mechanic (snowflake-like runes of which there are 16 in the map) which unlock oneobvious portal, at 8, and one hidden portal that needs all 16, The first portal leads to an arena which is itself large enough to count as a small map by itself!
A lot of the secrets are nicely designed - none of them are really unfair, although some of them rely on you having looked for secrets in Quake maps before (each secret has a name that pops up when you find it, and one is called “The Classic” after a particularly common technique for hiding them in the original game).
The map is just filled with nice touches - not just the named secrets, but a smattering of other permanent powerups that enhance your ability to traverse the environment (two of which are actually hidden in secrets related to what they give you), a selection of breakable vases which have various effects… and even specially composed foreboding music just for this map! And as I think I implied earlier, the entire thing is beautiful as well - probably about as beautiful as the Quake 1 engine can manage - water cascades down stone-lined channels into waterfalls, light floods into vaulted halls… and in some of the later parts, more magical stuff happens.

As always, I played this on Easy, and even then I think the first 10 to 15 minutes of the map can be super hard before you build up your arsenal and thin out some of the initial population. After that, I think it did end up being “Easy” on average, with a few difficulty peaks at designed-in arena fights (although actually, the 8 rune boss battle is much easier than some of the earlier setpieces, and the 16 rune boss battle is harder in the middle than in the final phase - I’m not convinced that the “super Scrags” aren’t considerably more tanky than they really should be, given all their abilities).

Definitely recommended - it managed to basically be almost everything I want out of a retro-FPS, and even the fighty bits were mostly good.
You can find it as part of the (also generally really awesome) Arcane Dimensions map pack at: ad_v1_80p1final.zip - Arcane Dimensions 1.81 by sock, Bal, mfx, necros, Lunaran, Scampie, FifthElephant, ionous, EricW, Preach, PulSaR, necros, Giftmacher, others in the Quake archive at Quaddicted.com

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More arcade sim games please!

If you have a computer you should look into THUGPro which came to PC. No one really ever remembers that this came to PC but it did and it has a rather large modding scene.


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As with Dark Souls et al, I am astonished that anyone leaves asymmetric multiplayer on in these things. So…

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With Dark Souls, it’s a risk/reward thing. You have to open yourself to possibly getting invaded in order to summon co-op help. In Deathloop, I’m not sure about the upside for doing so, outside of folks enjoying PVP.

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Been playing the mainline 3D Final Fantasy games on game pass (first time ever), right now I am playing Final Fantasy XIII, which is the one I was most interested in, since I found that these games were better the more linear they were (I would honestly describe all the main line games so far with the exception that is Final Fantasy XII as cleverly disguised hallways.)

So, after like 10 years of reading on the internet how “bad” XIII is supposed to be, how Lightning has supposedly “no character”, how all the game its just a “hallway”, I have to say all of that is not really true for me, the game is very linear, but it uses exactly the same linear design as X, but better. Lighting is my favorite protagonist so far too.

I am 10 hours in and I can unironically say that this is my favorite Final Fantasy so far. One argument I have read a lot about this franchise is that it has no “core”, which is to say that there is no identity between sequels, but after playing VII, VIII, IX, X, XII and now XIII, for me it definitely has one, which to me, is that it is a melodramatic fantasy story with a crazy fantastical world in the background were characters are put front and center (this being one of the main reasons why I dislike XII strongly, since that game is mainly the opposite of this.)

This is the first game so far were I am enjoying the ATB system, were the voice acting is consistently great and I am having a blast with all the main mechanics of the game.

I am looking forward to finish it.

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Sure, but also people being awful in multiplayer games is more likely than people not being awful, so the risk/reward curve is skewed.