What game are you playing?


#2001

Well, on pure coincidence, i managed to finish 2! games today. (By virtue of being 1-2 hours near end on both)
1st up is Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King a game that is just 2D Zelda. The game is pretty solid! ITs nothing special, but if you ever wanted another 2D Zelda, then you should definitly play this. Its got a few interesting quirks, the game hangs its whole narrative on a “Grandfather telling story to grandkids” setup. Sadly, it doesn’t do too many interesting things with the framework on a meta level, mostly a "Choose which grandkid’s suggestion to put in the story that gets dropped really early on for some reason. But its main goal is to make the story feel very cozy and warm, and i think it succeeds.

On a gameplay level, its pretty reasonable. I think the movement is a bit too floaty which makes some of the manuvering some of the tigher challenges a bit tough, and some of the enemy hitboxes can be a bit misleading i feel like. It only has about 4 different puzzles types to throw at you for the most part. But overall its pretty easy, due to the abundance of full heal and ressurection items and heart pieces the game throws at you. Again, if you want 2D Zelda, pick this one up.

The second is SSB:Ultimate: World of Light. I did not hate it. First off, its just a bit too long. I know its been said before, but i think you could cut a third to a half of the game out and it would be an even better, tighter experience. Second, i’m probably not the only one who has compared this, but World of Light reminds me of Pokemon so much.

The spirit system is fiddly and kinda complex on the surface but for me it mostly boiled down to “pick highest power spirit” and then apply supports as needed. I really only used about 9-12 different spirits all game, only swapping out for pure power level upgrades, rotating around the same 5-10 supports as needed. The difficulty fluctuates i think a bit too much, but that may be indicative of my own skill. On a gameplay level i think it leans a bit too much into “Players will end up doing the most efficient thing, even if its not as fun” as i really only used about 4 characters the entire game.

Lastly, I wish there was an actual story. I know Nintendo is stubborn as fuck and won’t do it, but watching them trying and epicness up the end credits by showing clips from the literal 4 cutscenes in the entire game was so silly. It doesn’t even need to be good. Subspace wasn’t good but it was awesome. Gimme that adorable Snake and Isabelle cutscene dammit.

Again, i didn’t hate World of Light. Its still Smash, and I love smash. That being said, looking back, its definitly more of a 6/10 than a 9 or 10/10


#2002

I played the first episode of Life is Strange 2 over the last two nights, and I liked it. It was a strong opening to a new series. I still feel like I need to see more before I’m fully bought in, just because I don’t have a good sense of where the story’s going yet.

I thought some of the more overtly political plot beats were shaky; I love that Dontnod is taking a stance, but some of the writing and plotting in those moments felt very clunky to me. I don’t think it’s a huge problem, because the material still works on an emotional level, which is what really counts, I just think a little extra editing could have gone a long way.

I also appreciate how the success of LiS 1 allowed for a higher level of polish for this series. It’s not super obvious, but in some of the environments and character models you can tell that they’re working with a bigger budget than they had before. The scene in the woods was especially beautiful.


#2003

I played Rime, a gorgeous game about following a fox, shouting at orbs, and, apparently, grief. This very good (spoiler-filled) Eurogamer interview with the game’s director goes into how nearly all of the set-piece puzzles and visual elements are part of an elaborate metaphor for a father processing the death of his son. At a couple points in the interview the director is obviously frustrated with how many players have misinterpreted specific events near the end of the game. I can’t blame the player for that, because Rime is yet another game that handcuffs itself by insisting on telling its story without words.

The producer of The Quiet Man, last year’s most baffling disaster game, published a statement on Twitter explaining the game’s underlying concept: that without words getting in the way, the player can form a more direct emotional connection to the characters. Rime is a much more coherent and artful game than The Quiet Man, but it falls into the same trap. Trying to tell a substantial, impactful story without words is self-sabotage. This feels too obvious to need to be said, but speech is how we express ourselves. Aiming for “purely visual storytelling” either leaves you with simple, inconsequential stories like Machinarium, or rabbit holes of meaning that are incomprehensible without a guided tour of the artist’s intent.

Rime is especially frustrating because the one piece of information you need to even start trying to interpret most of the game is the cutscene where we see the son fall from the boat, and that’s at the end of the game! It’s supposed to be a twist that makes the player think back to everything that’s happened before and discover new meanings, but that doesn’t work if the player never had the context to assign meaning to anything in the first place.

I’m just so done with puzzle-box art, with the idea that art is better if you need to work hard to figure out what it means. Say what you will about Rakuen’s blunt and childlike approach, but it handles similar themes with more emotional resonance than Rime’s elaborate, poetic obfuscation.


#2004

I haven’t finished Blossom Tales, but I’ve really liked the couple hours I put in so far.
Picked it up when I was craving a Zelda game, and it’s a good fit.


#2005

I wrapped up my time with Minit and Gris, two games that would have been on my top ten if I had played them last year.

Minit was a really great change of pace after a 2018 that was dominated by Big Games, I loved how much I could squeeze out of it in only 15 minute (that’s how long the non-mandated break is at my job) sessions and was shocked to discover I only finished about 50% of it. I mean, nineteen coins? Are you serious? I’ve never been a big speed runner fan, but Minit might change that.

Gris would have easily cracked my top three if I had played it on release. This was a gorgeous, intense, experience and it manages it with very little expense. At first, I was playing it more like a game, trying to get all the secrets, all the pieces to the puzzle, but that eventually fell away because I realized that’s not what the grieving process is. I can piece together that the girl has lost someone and the despair is crushing her, the exact details don’t matter, I just want to help her realize that it gets better and I’m so happy I could do that.

I also checked out Virginia which was a decent enough crime drama and I can appreciate its use of blendo-inspired quick editing, but it was also a story that probably would have benefited from letting itself breathe a bit and Anne’s acid trip at the end was a really self-indulgent mess.

And finally, Split/Second turned out to be just as cool as the demo I played almost ten years ago made it seem. The premise of this game is so fucking brilliant it’s a wonder that no one’s done anything with it since, at least, not to my knowledge.


#2006

It’s such a shame the ideas from Split/Second haven’t been used in any other game! Even just the premises of using your environment as your exclusive form of offense could be the basis of many interesting designs.

I understand that the game might get old after bit, but the first time through each race is such a thrill!


#2007

Been trying to get into Valkyria Chronicles but can’t do it. My impression is the entire internet loves it, so I assumed it would be a slam dunk. It’s basically a visual novel with a few strategic battles. But I don’t think the story or storytelling is good or interesting and I don’t think the battles are fun.

There was this moment when some squad members were being extremely racist and calling the protagonist’s sister some slurs. The protagonist (who is their superior) shows up and is like “Hey now, I’m gonna prove myself to you!” Huh!? It’s bad. Can’t pretend to want these people to survive the battles.


#2008

@trty0 @Glorgu

okay hear me out:

The Cars 2 video game is actually extremely fun and is a spiritual sucessor to Split/Second. Its even made by the same team!


#2009

Just watched a few races in this game and more than anything I’m just happy to see a fairly complex trick system in a car game!

I might have to buy this. Though it doesn’t seem available for pc digitally. Gonna have to dust off the ol’ disk drive I guess


#2010

I’ll also chime in to say that Cars 2 is pretty good. My only complaint is the game seems a little slow, but I assume they didn’t want to alienate younger kids who wouldn’t be able to keep up.

I’d beware the PC version, though, it’s not a great port. I’ve never touched it myself, but when a friend was convincing me that Cars 2 was worth the $4 or whatever I paid for it on Xbox 360, he mentioned the PC version is really stripped down in terms of graphical features. Technically the same game, but it sounds like the Wii version is what ended up getting ported to the PC, so all the textures and effects are massively scaled back.

Honestly, I think most of the Cars games are probably okay. I’ve played that first one on the Gamecube (based on the first movie), and its sequel (“Cars: Mater-National”) on the Wii and both are very decent games. Nothing entirely outstanding, but as somebody who juggles like five or six different racing games every year, they were enjoyable enough.

I think the newest game, (Race to Win), is probably the worst one of the bunch because it looks like it’s just a cash-in retread of Cars 2. Same engine, same gameplay, but none of the celebrity voices and all the new soundalikes seemed really terrible from what I saw on Youtube.


#2011

I picked up that new No More Heroes game, Travis Strikes Again, on Switch and am enjoying it a lot so far. I’m not super far in, only part way into the second world but it’s a fun hack and slash game with that same NMH flare from the previous games.


#2012

Me: You know what, i’m not a big Call of Duty guy anymore but if there is a week long trial for the Battle Royale i’ll download it and at least play a few games, sounds neat.

Black Ops 4: Hey do you want to sign up for a Call of Duty account to get news and other spam emails?

Me: No thanks, actually i just want to play the game.

Black Ops 4: Actually that wasn’t a request, sign up or you don’t get to play.

Me: Well i guess i don’t need to play Blackout that badly


#2013

Ugh, this is a mood. I for some reason had a Call of Duty account tied to a throwaway email, so I managed to get in, but I can’t say you’re missing out on much. CoD always played well as a mid-to-short range encounter game, and the fact that battle royale emphasizes longer range combat is not playing to the series’ strengths IMO. It’s also not nearly as parsable visually as Fortnite, so that was annoying.


#2014

I’ve been revisiting a few games that I played in 2018 but put down for one reason or another, and this week that has meant playing a lot of Slay the Spire. I played it a bunch in the spring but then set it aside after getting one victory with the Ironclad.

When I came back to it, I wanted to get at least one successful run with each of the other two characters before putting it down again. Last week I managed my first victory as the Silent and tonight I finally got a victory with the Defect. I was ready to take a break from it for a while because although it’s one of my favorite games of the past couple years I am wretchedly bad at it.

But then I read about the new 4th act and realized I must not have unlocked it because my successful run with the Ironclad was from a much older version of the game. Sooo uh I think this break is going to be short lived. I’m probably going to be starting a new run with the Ironclad tomorrow morning :joy:


#2015

So I finally played through Celeste, and though I thought it was a worthwhile experience with really charming writing and great music, actually playing the game was not my cup of tea. Part of that is likely due to me using an Xbox One controller to play it, and I could never reliably differentiate the up boost and up-diagonal boost on either the d-pad or control stick, but I just don’t think masocore platforming is for me. After I got the “True Gamer” (which, ugh) achievement for beating the PICO-8 stages, I put on all available assists and cruised through the rest. In any case, seeing Madeline climb the summit was a genuine sight to behold and I’m glad the devs gave me tools to see it through.

I also unwound a bit by replaying Halo 5’s campaign. The story, while not great, is a lot easier to understand now that I know the full arc of what’s going to happen. But the game is still hella fun to play, and the missions have enough cool setpieces that I remain interested. It also helps that the game looks great with the One X improvements. Probably going to finish this off as I wait for the new LiS 2 episode to drop this week.


#2016

I’m still almost entirely playing Magic The Gathering: Arena. This update is brought to you by my feelings of ambivalence over having tried playing a UB “Mill” style deck, and having enjoyed the experience.
(For those of you not familiar with MTG stuff: it’s a card game, where you and your opponent have “health” and can play various spells (including for direct damage) but also to summon creatures (which then can attack your opponent / block your opponent’s creatures) as well.
Most decks try to win by finding some way to bring your opponent to 0 health whilst keeping your health up (be that with creatures or spells or some combination of effects).
Mill decks instead work by making your opponent draw extra cards from their deck in various ways, so that they “run out of deck” and lose by default due to running out of cards. They’re also usually very frustrating to play against - they tend to include a bunch of cards for stalling or locking up the opponent’s ability to actually do anything (countering spells, destroying or locking-down creatures) whilst the “mill” part gets up and running.)
I tend to really dislike playing against people playing precisely this kind of deck (I’m happy to lose against decks where my opponent at least lets me play cards…) - so it’s bit of a self-knowledge moment in actually enjoying doing the same thing to other people.


#2017

I’m with you with regards to playing against mill decks (or “control” decks in general), but I find that they are particularly infuriating in Arena when compared to the physical game. In real life, while you can’t do much on the board, you can at least chat with the other player understand the how their deck works. At least from a mechanics nerd perspective, it’s usually a pretty enlightening conversation. But with Arena handling all the mechanical intricacies, you’re just left to stare at a static screen as your attention inevitably drifts to your phone. Plus, you can’t shame stare your opponent.


#2018

Been playing a lot of Battlefield V with my brother and as it stands, in terms of gameplay, it’s hand down the best in a long time. Feels a little slower and more tactical than the others and I’m here for that


#2019

Elite: Dangerous is ticking all the boxes for me right now. It’s so relaxing to be able to load up the game, throw on music or a podcast and play in whatever style I feel like at the moment. It’s fun when you’re running trade or delivery missions, or even just exploring and you run into another CMDR in open play and hit them with a quick “o7” and continue on your way.

This is a game that I will always play as long as the servers are running. It provides so much stress relief and escape for me.


#2021

Well, i paid for Nintendo Online to play Smash, and even though i fucking hate Nintendo’s shitty “Actually shitty NES is all you get for backwards stuff, enjoy Balloon Fighter and fuck you” approach (I hate the “Lazy Dev” thoughtless insult, but it really feels apt) I’m already paying for this shit anyways, so i suppose i should at least try the 3-4 NES games that interest me even a sliver.

So i Jumped in to the deep end, and started playing Super Mario Bros 3 which has been described as one of the best games ever, one of the best if not the best mario game, the only NES game worth paying for nowadays, and so on. Soooo… How much of a smarmy hot take artist am I if after 3 worlds, my opinion is “This game is a masterpiece… for 1988”

For the Record, i think it holds up about as well as a NES game could. But yeah, its still a NES game. Mario is pretty timeless, so this game is still “very solid” But regardless, I still think i would rather play like New Super Mario Bros for the DS again? Hang me for video game treason, but yeah, thats what i got