What game are you playing?


I’ve been playing Jak & Daxter and it is very weird to revisit this game that I only kind of remember. I never got very far in the game when I played it years ago, but currently it is scratching an itch for a kind of mindless collectathon. There are bits that I can see being smoother in modern games, but there are also really clever technical things that the game does that appeal to me. One thing that keeps tripping me up is how little this game cares to explain anything. Didn’t realize yellow Eco allowed you to shoot fireballs until I looked it up online.

I’m about halfway through the game now and will probably wrap it up and move on to Jak 2 which I remember more of.


Started up Nier: Automata about a week ago. Hadn’t had it spoiled for me, and I picked it up a while ago since it got so much buzz last year. Got about 2 and a half hours in before stopping. Haven’t felt really any pull to go back. I understand its an RPG, with a ton of story/“endings” and all that so the first few hours being kinda dull isn’t much of a shock but I thought I would for sure be left with a much stronger desire to get back to it. Hopefully I’ll find the time for it sooner rather than later, lest I completely forget everything that has happened.


I just started Shadowrun Returns, mostly because there is no way my PC would be able to run the new Battletech, but after really enjoying Austin and Rob’s Mech Mondays so much, I felt like I needed to compensate the game’s developers in some fashion. Austin mentioned the Harebrained Schemes Shadowrun games on stream yesterday, and described Returns as only okay (or something to that effect) compared to its sequels. I’m a filthy completist, though, so I started at the beginning (sort of). And I’m really enjoying it!

Five hours in, on the normal difficulty setting, it’s really not challenging at all, but I find myself appreciating its relatively limited scope and ambition. I missed out on most of the classic isometric CRPGs in this tradition growing up, and/but every time I’ve tried one, I’ve bounced off them in a big way. I know the openness of those games is a feature, not a bug, but even the modern examples of the genre do a lousy way of holding the hand of those of us to which all those inscrutable systems don’t come naturally. The tutorialising in Shadowrun Returns is just as threadbare, but, in stark contrast to most of its genre fellows, its difficulty seems balanced in a way that doesn’t punish me for making non-optimal choices in my character build and combat strategy. I don’t have enough experience with the genre to know whether I’m having such an easy time just due to the balancing of the difficulty, or because the systems and mechanics are also less complicated than normal. Either way, I’m having a whale of a time, and I’m really digging the setting.

Also, Bloodborne. Staying well ahead of Natalie and Big Boy to avoid spoilers. Just beat the boss worshipped by the big-headed man behind the door (hope that’s vague enough). And after discovering the amazing heels hidden under the skirt of the white church costume (female version), I’ve finally understood what all this FashionSouls hooplah is all about.

Which version of the game? I’ve only played it on PS2, and I’m curious to hear what the experience is like, if you’re playing it on the PS3, PS4 or Vita.


I’ve been playing on the PS4. It seems faithful to what I remember from the PS2 version. There are occasional frame rate drops, but nothing that keeps me from enjoying it. I think the biggest frustration is remembering that the touchpad is the start button and not the Options button. That and navigating the menus is weirdly unintuitive with the circle button opening a submenu instead of backing out.


Dad of War and I’m about to jump back into Destiny 2 with the Warmind DLC dropping today.

DoW has been quite entertaining. I’m not sold on Kratos’ “redemption tour” but there’s something uniquely enthralling about rowing around this incredible landscape with a decapitated god telling stories of the Aesir-Vanir war.


Playing the new Shadow of War DLC, Desolation of Mordor where you play as Baranor. Like the previous DLC, it is already an improvement over the main game as Baranor actually has a personality unlike Talion. Also you no longer recruit Orcs at all instead using the money you collect to hire Easterling mercenaries. Instead of all the wraith powers, you get a grappling hook and a airglider to travel around which have been kinda cool so far.

It’s interesting so far. I like the new environment which is just a big ol desert canyon that has the worms from Tremors moving around.


Returns is really easy until pretty much the end of the game but none of the HBS Shadowrun games really need you to flex your tactical muscles all that hard. They realised this for Dragonfall and Hong Kong and really hammered home the aspects of the games that make them good - the world building and characters.

I’ve been playing The Secret of Monkey Island which I have played before and pretty much remember, but the puzzles are just vague enough in my memory that they almost pose a challenge. Adventure games are really weird to go back to. I also think the special edition art is really ugly and I wish there was an option to play with the classic art and voice acting instead of it being a toggle between classic mode and the modern mode.


Still playing Copy Kitty in short bursts and it always leaves me with a stupid grin on my face. Tonight I discovered something small but fantastic that I wanted to share:

This text appeared after I’d died to a boss a few times. Copy Kitty, an indie platformer developed by a team of 2, tracks the problems you’re having with a boss fight and gives you specific contextual hints. There are so many places in big-budget games where this would have been welcome.


NFS and Sand and race


I have been playing a bit of Splatoon 2 and also have finally jumped back into The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.

Splatoon 2 is just so vibrant and energetic and fun. I have a lot of minor issues with weapon balance and other little gameplay quibbles (like it being hard to see how much ink is left in your ink tank in the heat of combat), but overall I’m having a great time. The Salmon Run mode is a blast, it gets much more intense than I expected. I’ve only played a bit of the single player so far but it’s nice how bite-sized the levels are, I feel like you never really see that style of level design in mainstream games anymore.

The Witcher 3 though, is sort of astonishing to me. I haven’t played very many recent games that aren’t by From Software (other than the soulsbornes, I think I’ve only really played Hitman 2016 and PUBG from the past 5 or so years as far as bigger, non-indie games go?), so the visuals alone are shocking in how advanced they are. The lighting and the foliage especially are unreal, the time of day and the weather too, and the environments are so ridiculously detailed and full of little touches, it really makes the world come alive in ways I’ve never seen in a game before. I built a PC about 2 years ago specifically for this game and Dark Souls 3 and getting to play a game like this at 60FPS with such amazing visuals is such a wonderful new experience after years of making do with playing all my games on underpowered macbooks and outdated consoles.

I’ve been playing on the second hardest difficulty and I’ve really enjoyed the way it makes the combat feel actually dangerous enough to justify all the potions and preparations that Witchers are supposed to be using. The combat is surprisingly great in this game, it’s a massive step up from Witcher 1 and 2. It’s almost a character-action game, it takes the best bits of assassin’s creed and the Batman Arkham games, adds a sprinkling of Dark Souls, and then fills in the rest with hugely refined versions of ideas from the previous Witcher games. The only issue is how dying resets you to the last save, which has led to some minor losses of progress when I forget not every game autosaves constantly like dark souls does.

I’m really enjoying the story as well. I’ve only just reached the start of the Bloody Baron Questline (which I have heard is quite something but have luckily avoided spoilers for!) but there’s so much heart and humanity poured into the writing and the quest design, and it hasn’t recycled ideas very often yet which is quite a feat for such a huge AAA open world game. The moral ambiguity and uncertainty around what your options are and what the consequences of them will be in any given quest are really impressively written too, it doesn’t feel shallow or manipulative in the way many similar games do. Like they always give you just enough information and variety of responses for it to feel dynamic and reactive, but still remains true to the tone and characters of the story. It’s one of the few RPGs where I don’t reload my saves to try new options, cause what happens is always interesting. The Witches of Crookback Bog questline alone had so much going on in it and used that space of the swamp so well, it felt oppressive and huge like a spooky fantasy swamp should. It reminds me a lot of Red Dead Redemption in how it uses those smaller spaces within its bigger open world, but I think otherwise the gameplay and systems design captures the feeling of being a Witcher better than Red dead captured the feeling of being an old west hero, if that makes any sense.

Anyway I love it and cannot wait to play more.


I’m playing Total War Saga: Thrones of Britannia for review. Enjoying it so far, it seems like more Total War with some interesting changes and a setting that I’m pretty into. I need to play much much more before I do my full review but initial impressions are that it’s good but kinda feels a bit like an expansion for Attila.

Also I’ve been mopping up side content in Yakuza 6 because that game is so goddamn great.


I’m surprised to find myself playing Pillars of Eternity again after thinking I’d given up on that game permanently. Instead of worrying about too much about character build things (which I think is part of what put me off the game initially), I’ve just dialed the difficulty down to easy and I’m swinging through the story with my Hearth Orland Cipher explorer. I’m really enjoying it, I think mostly because I finally just made a character that I found interesting and fun to RP instead of worrying about her stats. Lots of fun so far. Durance is a weird boy.

Also wrapping up a Dragon Age Inquisition elf archer playthrough.


Toki Tori 2+
This is a weird game, and I really like what it’s reaching for even if I don’t think it entirely gets there. It’s essentially a two-action (besides movement, your character, an adorable large bird, can stomp on the ground, chirp, and that’s it) puzzle Metroidvania focused on interacting with the environment. Most of the puzzles involve figuring out how other creatures’ reactions to your limited set of abilities can help you traverse obstacles, and the game lets you discover these interactions naturally, which I like a lot. Very rarely is something directly explained to you, and the ways the level design guides you towards figuring stuff out in the early game is some of the cleverest tutorializing I’ve ever seen.

I also really like the way the “Metroidvania” aspect is implemented. You never gain any new abilities, so new areas off the beaten path are gated using information, not powerups. The very first screen in the game makes it clear that the critical path is off to the right, but when I returned after unlocking fast travel, I recognized the bullfrog, tiny bird, and fireflies hanging around the starting area (which I’d taken to be set dressing when I started the game) as interactive elements of a tricky puzzle that unlocked a whole new area of the map off to the left. Stuff like this is where the game really shines, rewarding you for poking around in every corner you can find and internalizing all the interactions between the world’s various creatures.

Some of the puzzles can be a little frustrating, though. A lot of them are of the “make one mistake and you’re forced to restart” variety, which is compounded by the fact that a lot of the core mechanics involve waiting around for some woodland creature or another to do what you want them to do.

I’ve also gone back to beating my head against Stephen’s Sausage Roll, which in comparison has pretty unimpeachable design and infinite undos at the expense of some of the lategame puzzles being incredibly brutal. I’m committed to finishing this one out, though, despite my last play session lasting around an hour and resulting in no discernible progress.:disappointed_relieved:


Emerald City Confidential for my Wadjet Eye retrospective.

I was expecting this to be some sort of cash-in mobile thing since it was produced by the Diner Dash people, and there’s definitely some elements of mobile design (like progress marked via gems and certain sound cues), but it is a full blown point and click game. It has great art, great writing, fun characters, and a surprisingly dark story I wasn’t expecting. I’m two hours in and I’m not sure I’m even at the halfway point yet. This is unheard of for Wadjet Eye this early in their history.


I played Monster Prom with some friends. It’s… mixed.

I like this sort of yawgh game, multiplayer storytelling, and there are some really funny and endearing moments. And I like how the game also changes the formula up each round. But I should have watched Waypoints stream of it before purchasing it. Some of the writing in this is not great, both in terms of quality and some real issues with humor constantly punching down and most of the characters have some moments that made us not want to date them. As they mentioned on the stream, if the game were honest with itself, it probably would have been much better. It is promising, but the writing is off-putting in some very uncomfortable ways.


So I’m done with Shovel Knight’s main campaign and challenge mode, at least until I get the hankering to take on New Game+, so I moved on to Plague of Shadows and… it’s a bit of a mixed bag, isn’t it? I remember playing through the intro level on PS4 when it first came out and quitting pretty fast, feeling that the mechanics are just not as fun as Shovel Knight’s.

I’m still not too deep into it - just now taking on King Knight’s level - but it’s growing on me little by little. I still think Plague Knight’s movement is a bit too clunky and unwieldy, but I bought an upgrade that greatly increases your ability to control your position after launching (that thing where you hold down the jump button and he shoots out in whatever direction you’re walking), so I’m having a better time. It’s still one of the worse, least friendly opening levels I’ve played, and there are times where hitting jump simply doesn’t register, and that can be pretty irritating. All in all, though - I like the character, the writing is brilliant as ever, and revisiting the old stages is fun. It’s also cool to finally find out how Chester got hold of all those relics.


Replayed Resonance for my Wadjet Eye Retrospective.

This game got me super into point and clicks, after hearing about them and loving their ideas through osmosis for years. Once I played this, my tastes in game changed completely. I was floored the first time I played this.

Upon replaying, in the hell year of 2018, II have…thoughts. It’s still very, very good, but the last act is kind of A LOT.

For those unaware, Resonance is a thriller story about four people (a scientist, a nurse, a detective, and a journalist) crossing paths and working together to uncover an assassinated scientist’s final discovery, an energy created from newly discovered particles called Resonance. It seems the game is about the dangers of nuclear science, arguing for the potential good this leap in science has while starting off sixty hours in the future to show how destructive it is…and then you get to the twist and it turns out all of that was misdirection.



[spoiler]So Ed, the scientist, turned out to be working for an organization called the Eleven Foundation, who we only see two members of (a black man and a Japanese woman who we see breast feed a baby because sure why not), and he betrays them after killing Anna, the nurse and daughter of the dead scientist. This leaves two characters, Ray the journalist and Bennett the detective, to stop Ed, who reveals to them during the confrontation that while the Eleven Foundation wanted resonance, they only wanted to use it as a weapon to spread mass terror around the world to get the world governments to mass produce the REAL threat.

At the start of the game, Ray is actually investigating a mysterious mainframe at a local hospital, and that mainframe turns out to be a database of DNA for everyone in the city. Well, that’s not entirely accurate. It’s a machine designed to absorb all information from everyone in the city through digital trails, and they’re trying to get every government in the world to make these in mass so they have access to more information than anyone else in the history of humanity to predict future events and guide all of human civilization as they wish.

Either Ed or Bennett dies, and then Ray can or cannot publish a story explaining the truth, basically throwing off the foundation’s plan, though not entirely.

You can tell this was made in 2012 because can you imagine writing a story like this today without mentioning how fascism is mainly championed by racists and it’s not a multicultural illuminati planning to become techno gods but a bunch of pasty ass nerd billionaires who think they understand people because they’re good at selling ads. More troubling, a lot of this game’s narrative could be contrived as the sort of conspiracy theory a person who really loves Trump would make up, which…yeah.

This has aged about as badly as Deus Ex and The X Files in this regard.[/spoiler]


Currently giving Hotline Miami 2 another chance. I think I was probably too reactionary the first time I played it, as I think the focus this time is more on pure speed than individual expression and I couldn’t get a handle on it, especially with all the death from offscreen. But, I’m giving it one more go.


I’m busy getting through the Warmind campaign on all three of my characters in Destiny 2, as well as maxing their power levels. My warlock and hunter are at about the place with both DLC campaigns, but not the high power level post-campaign stuff. It’s a bit of mindnumbing grind, but, you know. It’s Destiny.


Finished RAGE last night, and… it sure is a strange beast.

I mostly enjoyed the combat, although the enemies get a bit bullet-spongy as the game progresses. The first half introduces some interesting ideas, but the game doesn’t follow through on any of them. Characters are introduced and then just disappear with no fanfare or character arc (John Goodman’s character literally just disappears from his home and you never hear from him again). The crafting system fades once you can buy anything you need. One level sets up some light puzzles around explosive RC cars, but they’re never needed again and the level design often prevents you from using them effectively. The story never goes anywhere, plot points are introduced in a throwaway fashion and never have any consequence for the world or its characters.

Rage 2 could be almost anything, since all this game established is:

  • There was an apocalypse and now it’s Mad Max
  • There are some Fallout-style vaults
  • Something something mutants