What game are you playing?

I wrapped up Chicory last week AND got the platinum! I loved every single moment of gameplay it had to offer; the exploration was so breezy and fun that I relished tracking down every last collectable, the art classes played with the kind of mechanical humor I love in games while still allowing for expressive and creative painting, and the side quests did a lot to color in the world and make it feel like an living, changing place. And the biggest surprise (which I’m blurring just cause I didn’t know that was part of the game at all going in) were the bossfights! which were wild, psychedelic nightmares that completely upend the tone of the game yet play wonderfully. All this is more than enough to recommend the game. Its truly a great time.

If theres one aspect that didn’t land with me though its the writing, and specifically the dialogue. Thematically I think Chicory is really interesting, particularly towards the end when they more explicitly start tying together the historical weight of hierarchical institutions and the effects, intended and unintended, that weight has on the wellbeing of those trying to navigate the institution AND all aspects of community life that institution touches. Its perfectly communicated in the game and the solution they present is radical and optimistic, but I often found the character dialogue telling this story disappointing. I struggled trying to find exactly how to write about my issues with the dialogue, but I think it ultimately comes down to two things. First is that our lead characters, Chicory and the player character, have really similar voices. Where other characters in the game will have a distinctive syntax or vocabulary that lends their dialogue personality the leads don’t and so both voices blend together and come off as kind of bland and at times ‘not of this world’ in their lack of quirkiness. There were even times towards the end where I lost track of who was speaking in some conversations. The second thing a lack of specificity in character histories leads to to them talking about the themes of the game rather than things that result from the themes of the game. Its a small complaint and in no way prevented me from enjoying the game, but I couldn’t help noticing and thinking about it as a wrapped up.

On the inverse, I’ve been playing Guardians of the Galaxy where the writing is unbelievably good but aspects of the game play, specifically the combat, can be frustrating. I’ll write more on tit later but very briefly it more than lives up to the buzz around the game.

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Dipped my toe into Signalis. Very much not my kind of game and yet I am still drawn to it. It’s sad and thoughtful, and the bits of narrative that I’ve been able to piece together are intriguing enough to keep me playing.

I’m just not a keys guy. This game has both keys AND maps as necessities but it hasn’t managed to turn me off it yet. Similarly, I don’t like when I have to pick what I take with me when I go off exploring. It’s stressful but in the way where you frantically pat yourself down for your office key card before realising you left it in the key bowl. Not a feeling I enjoy being simulated in my entertainment!!

I think that it’s a testament to the power of this game’s vibes. No idea why but there’s a desperate romanticism that I’m picking up from it. Let me know if that’s completely wrong. Literally know nothing about the game other than a screenshot of where the game asks you if you want to crawl into the hole. I did.

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Today I finally got around to playing Iron Lung. It is, as advertised, very short, quite terrifying, metal as hell.

It also made me think a bit about “immersion” (quotes because what does that word even mean anymore though really). Because I think this is one of the most “immersive” games I’ve played, and rather than supposedly generating that through photorealistic graphics or one-to-one control schemes, it actually kind of does that with interface and distance.

Like, the control scheme in Iron Lung is super simple. You move around the submarine and can click to interact with things, which usually means pressing buttons. You also have a map. That’s basically it. Unlike say, Subnautica (or most games with vehicles), where piloting a vehicle essentially means becoming that vehicle, piloting the submarine in this game means checking your map, eyeballing coordinates, and pressing buttons to set your direction and move either forward or backward as little readouts that show your X and Y position go up or down. That’s accompanied by the sounds of propellors and occasional other sounds outside the sub. And god was it effective at making me feel like I was actually existing in that world — I think because it actually made me put a lot of effort into understanding my position in its space.

Anyway, the moment near the end where you photograph the monster’s eye is incredible, even though I felt like I knew something like that was coming. And the jump scare at the very end when it bursts into the submarine genuinely made me yelp. The game does a great job of paying of a simple, high-concept premise for the maximum amount of terror it can muster. Highly recommend if you have an hour or so and the desire to be creeped out by some horror.

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Returned to my Resident Evil Village save after I abandoned it for some reason last year. This is exactly my journey with Resident Evil 7 so it must be kismet.

This game is such a effervescent delight. So excited to show you all of its ideas, and while they’re not all created equal, even the bad ones are executed with a metronome-tight rhythm that’s wild to experience the first time. When everyone was having good complain about this game’s final hour of deranged action, did they not stop to appreciate how it was all working slickly and seamlessly with the same tools as the survival horror game they had been playing for 10 hours?

Resident Evil 8 knows what it’s doing. I think every camp beat to do with Lady Dimutrescu was pulled off very intentionally. I am a massive fan of vampire media and the castle had all the trappings of an Anne Rice vampire who is having a grand time being wealthy, sexy, and indulgently cruel. Even the pivot to basically a Servitor factory in the final act was full of fun little details like casting your own keys using factory tools. This game doesn’t blink!!

I also adore The Village as an organising motif for the whole game. Had a great time returning to it and then getting ganked by a giant dog.

This game is too self-aware in a assertive way for the criticisms I’ve seen leveled against it to stick. Too actiony? The game perfectly executed a Spencer Mansion AND Nemesis level for the first 3 hours. If it wanted to keep doing that, it would. Some real “height of their powers” shit here.

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I got a discounted upgrade to PS Plus… Extra? before Christmas and I’ve been playing through Sony’s first party stuff I either missed (Miles Morales) or didn’t want to double dip on because I played it on PS4 (Ghost of Tsushima: Director’s Cut). I just wrapped up Death Stranding: Director’s Cut – a game which, unlike Tsushima, I actually finished last time around but enjoyed it enough I wanted to revisit it (especially after that DS2 trailer).

I think it holds up pretty well! The first time around, I dug both the walking sim/delivery gameplay and the bonkers, Kojima-without-an-editor plot. The gameplay is more or less the same except for a few QoL improvements (like being able to drag a floating carrier when using a zipline) and a bunch of new tools and toys that are mostly more goofy than useful - like, I’m sure someone has found clever ways to use them but for the small chiral bridges I’d rather use a ladder in most cases, and the cargo catapult seems to have limited utility as it’s easier to set up a zipline system, and so on.

I joke about the plot but I (mostly) really like it. It strikes me as having a very similar tone to Evangelion; there’s both a very practical, science fiction-y aspect to it (here is the physics of the Beach, the BTs, antimatter) and a metaphysical, spiritual, philosophical aspect (here is the personification of extinction). There’s stuff I’m not sure lands (particularly in the very on-the-nose codenames of the supporting cast, or of Sam Porter Bridges himself - as if Halo starred John Soldier Spartan or something) but more works than I might have expected it to.

Anyway, bring on DS2. Given Kojima’s history with Metal Gear sequels (of apparently being resistant to the idea of just delivering straightforward sequels, but being employed to do that anyway) I’m so curious that Kojima Productions’ second game will be a direct sequel, and I have no idea what it will look like, how much it will mimic Death Stranding’s delivery gameplay loop or be wildly different.

FWIW, if we are delivering again, I hope I get to build a rail network to deliver in bulk.

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I turned on my Xbox for the first time in forever today and shuffled through some Game Pass games before deciding to give Scorn a shot. First-person horror games are definitely something I enjoy, and from the look of it it seemed like an engaging mix of ambush/shooter action and environmental puzzling in a compelling Giger-ish, body horror setting.

And then I spent twenty minutes doing a glorified slide puzzle with a bunch of weird coccoons. I’m not sure why I was doing it, or what goal I was trying to achieve. I looked at a walkthrough and still wasn’t sure what the object of that whole first complex of rooms. It is an awful opening for a game that’s trying to ride on its atmosphere because it turns the atmosphere from something you’re swimming in into wallpaper, and after reaching a point where I had a strange little… buddy following me and no idea what to do with it, I just gave up. There might be some really cool stuff in there, and the environmental design was quite compelling — this great mix of organic and mechanical that reminds me of stuff like Metroid, Returnal, a little bit of Half-Life, etc., but it just dumped me in an opening sequence that was obviously a big environmental puzzle with several different components and absolutely no indication of what was important and what wasn’t. It did not feel worth the time (though if anyone here has played and thought what came after was, I’m down to give it another shot).

On a completely different plane, I’m nearing the end of the Pokémon Leafgreen playthrough I’ve been plugging at on-and-off for six-ish months. This is the first time I’ve managed to actually commit to one of these games on an emulator — mainly because the Steam Deck just feels like a big GBA and that makes my brain happy — and in doing so I was able to mess with a randomizer program and turn trade evolutions into normal level-based ones. So I have a Golem and a Machamp on my team for the first time, which is cool, and really makes me wish the regular games would have some kind of alternative to trade evos (like PLA did). I feel like the series (and gaming in general, after twenty years of online connectivity) has outgrown a system that was intended for like… playground play. But also, I may just be an antisocial weirdo. Who’s to say?

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Its been a stellar start of the year moving from Chicory, to Guardians of the Galaxy, and now Dragon’s Dogma. Just three, very different, incredible flavors.

Start to finish Guardians blew me away, I knew it had positive buzz but I’d never guess I’d find it so fun, joyful, and moving. The story is driven by a sharp, expertly driven plot that may be the best executed story I’ve seen in a game of this scope (or at least in immediate memory). Starting out with three episodic chapters, it then folds the individual characters, threats, and themes of those stories into a broader one that ties them together and builds to a character driven climax. I don’t want to evoke TV too much though, because the game is exceptionally creative about using the mechanical interactions of play and camera work in the medium to keep you directly involved and surprised through out. The biggest thing I can say about the game is if, like me, you have hesitancy around it because of the MCU or Marvel more broadly, give it a shot with the framework that you’re playing an original story separate from the baggage of that megafranchise. Everything you need to know abut the story and characters are present in the game and naturally woven into the plot. You could have never seen a single marvel movie and walk away from this game having had a complete (and maybe better) experience.

The one thing I never quite clicked with in Guardians was the combat, which had me wondering if maybe I just wasn’t great at character action games. Dragon’s Dogma immediately put that to rest. This is another game I’d heard buzz around for years and years, and while theres a lot I’ve enjoyed about it so far the stand out is the slick as hell combat system. This game came out ten years ago and you can feel it in places, but that combat could feature in a game today and feel forward facing. Pre-post edit: I had kind of planned to play this game alongside a few others but everyday I find myself draw back to it, that buzz didn’t come from nothing, huh?

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Having played and finished Scorn…I really liked it, but I can’t recommend continuing if you were getting frustrated by the game not sufficiently communicating what to do. That’s kind of the thing with it - it really feels committed to the idea of putting you into this alien world and leaving you to figure it out. Honestly, the first couple areas that are purely puzzle-focused are some of the stronger areas of the game - it eventually gets to more combat-based areas, and the combat is straight up bad and frustrating. I still really liked it, because it was doing some really interesting things environmentally, but I think you would just have a bad time. Maybe watch a Let’s Play?

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Yeah, a Let’s Play might be a better idea. I appreciate what it’s trying to do and the art design really is fantastic, but I know how I am with puzzles and if most of the game is like this I think I’d end up more unproductively frustrated than anything else. Especially since even trying to play it with a walkthrough (a thing I have no qualms with otherwise) still felt like a struggle.

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Just to throw my thoughts on Scorn into the ring. I started it and quickly got to that room with the tracks near the beginning and then immediately got frustrated because the visual design was so hostile.

And by hostile, I mean I spent 40 minutes scouring that opening area interacting with almost everything I could and piecing out steps 2-6 of the puzzles, but being unable to figure out just what step 1 was. As soon as I resorted to using a walkthrough, it became clear that I had missed an elevator to the second level.

I was really excited by the comparisons to something like Myst or Riven I saw after this launched, but left it feeling pretty mixed. I still beat it (following a walkthrough) and it was an interesting six to eight hours, but I mostly agree with @Gjallarsean. It’s visually very gross and interesting and I think the environments as you make your way through the game lead to some very interesting conclusions, but it’s best left to a Let’s Play unless the obtuse puzzles feel like a thing you feel dedicated to forcing your way through.

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Tried a little of Hi-Fi Rush and the rhythm-based combat is completely opaque to me, a person who cannot hold a tune or follow a rhythm to save a life. It’s cool that it has both difficulty modes (which loosen or tighten the requirements on the beat timing) and a visual rhythm guide (which didn’t really help - oddly, there’s actually a tutorial thing with much more easy to parse beat notation than the guide you can bring up in normal play), but I’m not sure it’s a game I’m actually going to play.

It made me think of Patrick talking about Rain World on the last pod - I think it’s cool the game exists with the mechanics it has, but they’re not mechanics I actually mesh with. I might muddle through it further on normal and see how it goes, or even drop the difficulty to easy, but at the moment I feel like I’m just button-mashing and even if I can make progress - I haven’t run into any issues finishing fights yet - it feels like I’m completely missing the actual point of the game.

Looks real good though. Incredibly strong Sunset Overdrive vibes, which is no bad thing.

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This is exactly what I was hoping for when I saw that trailer. Installed it and probably going to try it out tonight :slight_smile:

I started Elden Ring yesterday for the first time, love going in some weird gross holes and hittin’ stuff.

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Yeah, this is sort of where I’m moving to with a lot of games like Rain World having all these extended difficulty toggles - whilst it’s good to have more accessibility, often, for me, I need to use them as much because I just don’t mesh with the design/mechanics as it is any specific difficulty per se. (So, I could make it easier, but I’d then just be making the easiness let me skate past still not really being able to engage with the mechanics.)

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Disco Elysium

Not too far in, but a decent bit (? three days). Impressions thus far: while it’s working through layers of insecurity, sarcasm, humor and increduelity, it’s definitely painting a portrait here. Curious to see how it works out. To remarkable levels of player expression, if nothing else. Paths are (seem to be?) cut off at a moments notice, there’s fifty different skills and thoughts that all seem worthwhile, and many seem to lead to interesting dialogue. Missteps can kill you and send you an hour back to your last save, which can be cheap but gives flavor to the text as consequences aren’t just implied but acted on.

And yes, yes, Kim is as amazing as all the fanarts I’ve seen have implied.

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One of gaming’s white whales officially dropped: the Goldeneye 007 remaster officially hit Game Pass and Nintendo tonight.

It feels…maybe passable. Dunno. Most of my nostalgia for that game comes from the multiplayer, and my understanding is that online multiplayer is limited to the Switch (if you can believe that lol).

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From which alternate universe did this drop??

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I had to reread that Verge article four times to make sure I had it right. I have to imagine Nintendo wasn’t keen to let what is probably the biggest unfired gun in their nostalgia arsenal go without a fight.

It’s something of a puzzler. Polygon details some of the differences between versions (not sure if that was already covered in the Verge piece you read) and it’s odd because like… the Game Pass version is the one with other updates, like remappable controls or a twin stick option, the Nintendo one is more ‘archival’ like they’ve just reproduced it as it was on the N64, but it’s the Nintendo one that gets added multiplayer? Albeit without matchmaking because of course, it’s Nintendo! You’d think it would be the Game Pass/Rare replay version that got a slew of updates.

I would definitely love to know what the behind the scenes negotiations looked like on getting it on both platforms.

There’s part of me that wonders if there’s an audience for a game that looks like an Xbox 360 game but can be played in 4P splitscreen on XSX/PS5. The idea of a game like Goldeneye, where you have cheats you can unlock to do cool stuff in multiplayer or make the single-player more fun, sounds great!

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The Switch version only has multiplayer because the Switch Online Platform allows for it without any code changes. It’s just an emulated version of the game where the emulator allows for virtual split-screen like Parsec or Discord (or netplay with the dolphin emulator).

Video explanation that wasn’t too obnoxious:

It’s interesting that the Xbox version has newly implemented features but not any sort of online multiplayer, but I would guess that the work Rare already did to port their other N64 games went a long way in making those changes easy for them. I don’t remember Perfect Dark having any online multiplayer either in the Rare Replay collection.

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