What game are you playing?

That’s part of why I’m here evangelizing for it: The Steam Summer Festival seems to have gotten a lot more noise than the Xbox one and I don’t want people to miss out.

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– SHOCKING UPDATE –

Dragon’s Dogma rocks.

Wandering about in the middle of the night Mountain – my pawn – warned me of rogues ahead. Not seeing shit in the darkness I took a shot at a likely location and threw a whirlwind at it. Next moment I’m seeing silhouettes of bandits being thrown repeatedly into the air against the night sky. Good moment.

This game is full of good moments. A lot of rough spots, too for sure. I knew this from my previous attempts, but I’ve gotten further now. Heavy use of manual saves helps!

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It’s been a while since I posted in this thread, and I’ve played a bunch since then! I played Final Fantasy X, which I loved! I clicked with the combat in a way that I couldn’t ever really do with the older FF games I’d played, which was great! I didn’t even turn on the cheats until I got to the very end where it was clear they expected me to grind (no effing way!) The story was great! I think the big “twist” was handled really well. It’s easy to figure out what’s happening, even when Tidus, the lovable himbo he is, isn’t catching on. Playing as a character who isn’t the protagonist of the story is really interesting! It allows the story to get off to a relatively fast start without exposition dumps, because your character doesn’t really need to know the whos and whys yet. It’s surprising that more games didn’t steal that! The themes around self-sacrifice are well considered as well. It’s a great game!

I also revisited Silent Hill 2, which unsurprisingly is still my favorite game of all time! The game is excellent from start to finish. I played on original hardware, and it still looks excellent to this day. The visual noise, thick fog and excellent texture work make the world feel detailed and lived in. That’s a feat when the world is so sparse compared to current games. The music and sound design is excellent, clearing the high bar that SH1 set with ease. The tank controls are even smoother and more intuitive in this entry! It makes me want to go back and play a bunch of these games to see if that’s a Team Silent think or if tank controls just rule!

The most recent game I played was The Looker, a great parody of The Witness that’s free on Steam. It takes 45 min - 1 hr to complete, and has some pretty great gags, especially towards the end. Despite showing little mercy for its source material’s aesthetics, it’s clear the developer understands what made the puzzles work so well in the Witness. There are even some really novel puzzles that are super cool to figure out! I recommend it to anyone that played the Witness!

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It might finally be happening: I might be Final Fantasy pilled. I’ve never really got on with the series; the only one I ever completed was X, back when it was new, though I made a valiant effort with XV. I didn’t have a SNES or PlayStation so X was actually the first time I had a platform to play one on. As such, I’ve very little nostalgia for the series.

About a decade ago a friend who was a much bigger fan suggested we play FF7 together. I liked the Midgar section but was otherwise underwhelmed, and once the story left Midgar I pretty much checked out. He finished it, I sorta watched, but I don’t think I could relay much of what happened after. FF7 Remake therefore didn’t have a ton of appeal to me but I was still intrigued - one of the issues I had with the PS1 original was that the localisation seemed pretty bad to the point I found it hard to follow the story. A reimagining of that story and those characters, more than just modernising the graphics or gameplay, was potentially interesting.

I skipped it at release on PS4 because I figured the sequels would stretch into next gen (which they have) but here I am with a PS5 and having worked out how to upgrade the PS+ copy that had been sitting in my account - it’s cool that Square Enix and/or Sony finally relented and let people upgrade that version, but the process is still so long-winded that I sure miss Smart Delivery.

I’m only a few hours in, but I’m having a great time. Midgar was the only section of the game I really paid attention to before so it’s cool seeing this version of it. Even though I didn’t play it back in the '90s, it still manages to capture that ‘this is what it looks like in my memory’ vibe that good remakes/remasters sometimes do. But better than that, it’s basically a Yakuza game at this point. It’s remarkable how much walking around the Midgar slums feels like walking around Kamurocho (albeit with a lot less to do). It helps that the active battle system is an interesting compromise between real-time and turn-based combat and one I kinda wish Yakuza 7 had explored instead of ditching the older combat entirely.

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So I had a lot of free time over the last week and a half. Did I play anything new? Dive into the backlog? Ha. Ha Ha.

Anyway, I rolled credits on Elden Ring today, now for the second time. There were just a couple of things I hadn’t specced into with my first character, and I wanted to try a new build from scratch with all the tricks I’ve picked up. I especially wanted to give the dragon communion incantations a go, as well as incantations in general and some colossal weapons, so I rolled a Confessor to set up a Strength/Faith/Arcane character that went through a couple of distinct stages.

Stage 1: Guard Counters and Greataxes

One thing I neglected on my first character was shields, because I was always either wielding dual katanas or a sorcery staff. But man, guard counters are incredibly strong in the early game, even with the Confessor’s starting heater shield. Being an incant-focused character I eventually traded it out for a seal, but it really lifted this run through the first several hours in combination with a Greataxe from one of those early caravans. I eventually found other weapons, but I still pulled it out occasionally because Flame of the Redmanes, which I also stumbled on early, does enough poise damage to stagger basically anything in 2-3 hits. I might have been able to clear the whole thing with my those.

Stage 2: Dragonice Hard Carry

One big conclusion from this run: the Dragon Communion Seal is busted, mainly because it scales well with two stats. Most seals or staves that have split scaling lose some power on their primary, but not this one, and you can get it virtually immediately from the Fringefolk Hero’s Grave (I baited the dragon knight out into the hall and watched the chariot run him over, it was grand). The starting incantations are decent, but the real winner of the pre-named ones is Dragonice. The combination of damage from the breath and from the frost proc was enough to burn almost anything that was even a tick slow down to nothing. The named version comes pretty late, but it’s even better.

That’s not all though — the seal’s scaling is such that, for an even faith/arcane split, other incantations are silly strong too. Black Flame and Lightning Spear, by later in the game, were doing upwards of 1k damage a hit, and lightning spear especially is actually fast here. This run was well worth it just to try out all these incantations my first character didn’t have the stats to run.

Stage 3: The Marais Executioner’s Sword

This was the weapon that eventually took over for my greataxe until the late game, because the middle of Elden Ring is filled with relatively human-sized enemies that the MES is incredibly good at stunlocking. It’s not as thoughtless as Moonveil or Rivers of Blood — range and elevation are important, and missing will lock you into a lengthy animation — but once that’s down, very little is better at taking down anything that’s smaller than a truck. But eventually it started to fall off as bosses got bigger, and so—

Stage 4: The Fingerprint Shield Breaks Elden Ring

I beat Mohg relatively early in this run, so I had access to both the Fingerprint Stone Shield and Mohgwyn’s Sacred Spear around the same time, and together with my even 50/50 in strength and arcane, they broke the game wide open. Like, I cannot express how much being able to poke with a long bleed weapon from behind a massive shield just trivializes the vast majority of Elden Ring’s late enemies.

And I don’t just mean regular enemies. Malenia felt almost trivial with that combo. Sure, she could heal from my blocks, but I gave my mimic some freezing pots, equipped the talisman that ups damage after bleed, threw some Borealis’s Mist casts in, and just stabbed away. It took maybe 10, 12-ish tries? It made me reevaluate her as a boss a bit, honestly, because she has some pretty clear weaknesses to bleed/frost and a distinct lack of poise that makes her incredibly easy to stagger. I don’t even think she’s the hardest boss in this game (that’s Maliketh, imo), much less harder than some from Bloodborne or DS3, and apparently you don’t even need to be able to mid-roll if the setup is right.

And the run ended with that setup too. Radagon and Elden Beast felt distinctly easier with this build than my last spellblade one, though the latter’s constant running around did make me pull out my little turtle talisman. Still, they took 5, maybe 6 tries? Compared to the literal days I spent on them last time.

Anyway, no one needs to keep shouting Elden Ring good out into the world, but coming back a couple months later I was genuinely surprised at how immediately and viscerally good this game feels to play, and how much variety it packs into its combat systems. There are a lot of promises you can see in previous games — systems that, while cool and interesting, don’t quite measure up to their full potential. Elden Ring is all of those promises coming to fruition in the same arena, and when it all comes together, I really don’t think I’ve ever felt a video game do something better.

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After cajoling my non-horror-loving coworker into trying Resident Evil 7 (the best revival era Resident Evil), I finally pulled the trigger on Village.

What a bizarre, zany thing this game is. Genuinely feels like the part in an Oscar’s acceptance speech where the winner uses the opportunity to speak their fucken truth, man. I really wonder if this was the same team as the one that’s currently working on the slightly ill-advised Resident Evil 4 remake because the opening of the game is a windmill-dunk on every attempt to recapture the magic of the village (!) sequence at the start of Resi 4. Just when I thought, “oh hey, are they doing a Resi 4 thing here??” we’re on to the next thing.

The pacing of this game is absolutely relentless the way each wing and area of the castle has a wildly different feel that’s discarded as soon as it’s introduced. You’re also accelerating rapidly up the power curve in a way that I’m finding immensely satisfying.

I’m only in the first handful of hours but it’s already clear that this is an arrival of a game. 7 and RE2make definitely felt like they had something to prove and Village has none of that eager, “look, we can be scary!” energy. Instead, it has a “yeah we’re fucken doing that” energy and I am loving the shit out it.

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Stepped back into Lost Judgment. Combat is incredibly fun. I wish it was a little clearer about what you need to do for some missions (the “Phantom Ramen” mission seems like it’s missing something) but, at this juncture in the game, I still love that Ryu Ga Gotoku nonsense.

UPDATE: This Robotics Club minigame can eat my shorts.

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I adore Village. One of my favorite games in years.

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I don’t think I’m every going to get over how electrifying the first half of Resident Evil 7 is, but Village is consistently proving that the panache and confidence of the first revival era game wasn’t a fluke. I’m super excited to see where it goes from here.

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I was pretty late arriving to the RE series - my first game was RE2make (which I loved), and I’ve played quite a few of the others since. But RE Village takes the cake as being the most satisfying game of all of them to play, and it’s just such a tour de force of wild moments and as you pointed out, truly relentless pacing that never lets the gameplay get stale. It simply never lets you get to the point where you think “alright, I’ve had enough of this area/mechanic/gameplay dynamic”. It keeps things moving at such a brisk pace and is so supremely confident in everything that it’s doing. Truly one of my favorite games from the past few years. It knows what it is, and is unabashedly confident in saying “yeah, we’re gonna play the greatest hits of this series, and we’re gonna execute the hell out of it, strap in buddy”. Just a masterpiece of a game.

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I continue to be flummoxed by this robot minigame in Lost Judgment but I can’t not be impressed by the rest of what they’ve got going on. They have a whole storyline about an eSports club who are trying to become experts at Virtua Fighter 5, so they literally put (a slightly reduced version of) Virtual Fighter 5 in the game. Boots into it and everything. And then there’s a boxing minigame that’s actually kind of a whole game unto itself. And then there’s the skateboarding minigame. And and and. One thing you can say about Lost Judgment: you will get your money’s worth. First one’s like, $20 and it’s on everything, if you’re looking for a spot to jump in.