Author Topic: Finished playing...  (Read 105068 times)

Marco

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Re: Finished playing...
« Reply #570 on: October 09, 2017, 12:35:09 PM »
One-Way Heroics.  This is a roguelike whose twist is that you must be moving constantly (for the most part) to the right, as the world is being consumed from the left by darkness.  There are a few between-games upgrade elements: you can spend points to unlock perks and classes, and there is a "dimensional vault" (expandable with points) where you can store valuable items for future games.  Equippable items have durability, making it difficult to preserve a really powerful item forever.  Perk and class upgrades are more about gameplay breadth than power.

I beat the game on easy mode a few times with several different classes, and decided I was done.  Looking over the fan wiki, the game has a fair amount of depth to it beyond what I delved into, but not a tremendous amount.

Marco

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Re: Finished playing...
« Reply #571 on: October 11, 2017, 08:56:34 PM »
Universal Paperclips.  This is a mildly amusing entry in the clicker game genre which takes about a day to complete.  (There's an ascension option near the end, which I declined.)  It takes a little bit more thought than a basic clicker game, but not a lot.

Marco

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Re: Finished playing...
« Reply #572 on: November 18, 2017, 03:28:17 PM »
No Time To Explain, I think.  This is a platformer action game with some interesting takes on controls.  For much of the game, you have a plasma beam with infinite ammo and a substantial amount of reaction force, which is both a weapon and a movement tool.  The narrative elements are very funny (you can see a bit of that in the Steam trailer), the sound design is good, and the art style is good in a comic way.  The difficulty eventually became a dealbreaker, though; I got through what I'd call the first act (where you get a new level select screen) with some trouble, and then the new control mechanic and levels just seemed unbeatable for me, regardless of whether I used a controller or a mouse and keyboard.

Winston

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Re: Finished playing...
« Reply #573 on: November 19, 2017, 01:45:18 PM »
Horizon: The Frozen Wilds

This is DLC for Horizon: Zero Dawn, a PS4-only game, which I reviewed here. When you install H:FW, a new large area is added to the Zero Dawn game map. H:FW assumes that you've already played the base game to completion (or close to it), since you face a level 30 mob just to reach the area and the mob and quest levels go up from there; for comparison, I finished the base game at level 48 and was level 58 by the time I completed the Frozen Wilds.

If you play Zero Dawn to completion (and after you go through the post-credits scene), a dialog box informs you that if you play again you'll be taken to the point just before the end-game big battle, but with all the skills and gear you gained during that fight. That's when Aloy (Horizon's protagonist) was when I started the DLC. There's no new quest marker; you have to look at the map, see the big new area, and head to it out of curiosity.

Once there, you find yourself among the Banuk, a tribe introduced in Zero Dawn with an affinity for communicating with the machine dinosaurs. Something has changed, and the machines in the far north have been possessed by a daemonic force. As you progress through the main quest (there are many side quests and collectibles, though not as many as the base game) you learn why this happened and what Aloy can do to stop it.

Guerilla Games put all their skill into this DLC. The character models are better, I saw no errors during the dialog sequences, and the graphics in the Frozen Lands are as lush and varied as the base game. The challenges are greater, but you're given access to better gear to handle them. Two new skill paths are added to dump your skill points into; they're non-critical (better handling of mounts, better resources gathered) but they make grinding for craft supplies a bit easier. The story is shorter than the base game, of course; I think it me about 20 hours to get through everything, including all the side quests.

The overall gameplay of Frozen Wilds is the same as Zero Dawn: scan the monsters, plan your attack, grind for mats and craft supplies for your encounters. If you didn't like that style of game before, there's no change now.

If you liked Horizon: Zero Dawn, you should definitely consider Horizon: The Frozen Wilds. I enjoyed it, and I hope Guerilla is thinking about further adventures for Aloy.
« Last Edit: November 19, 2017, 01:47:37 PM by Winston »
Bill Seligman
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Winston

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Re: Finished playing...
« Reply #574 on: November 21, 2017, 08:02:49 PM »
Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Game

The last time I reviewed a Telltale game, I noted that it's debatable whether it was a game at all. Since then, I read a comic by Aaron Williams (my web-fu isn't strong enough to locate it) that suggested that Telltale games are nothing more than "Choose your own adventure" books with a graphics interface. I don't disagree, but I plan to continue reviewing them (Batman: The Enemy Within waits in the wings) because: (a) I wanna; (b) there is an interactive element (in form of QTEs) that you don't get in a paperback. (I must also acknowledge (c): Strictly speaking, I haven't finished playing this one yet, since I plan to start from the beginning, make only bad choices, and see what happens.)

The story of GotG:TG diverges from both the comics and the first movie almost immediately: Within the first ten minutes you fight and defeat Thanos. As you might guess if you know anything about the Guardians, things don't go smoothly after that: Rocket is getting fidgety, Gamora wants to go after Nebula, and you (as Peter Quill) have to choose between them. A new MacGuffin emerges: The Eternity Forge, which has the ability to bring the dead back to life. Some of the Guardians want you to use it, others want you to destroy it, and you wonder whether you can use it to bring back Meredith, your mother.

Although this isn't an "origin story" as such, you get a chance to see the formative days of all the Guardians (except Groot), via flashbacks. The overall story is rather mundane (as "saving the galaxy from certain doom" stories go), but the chance to see what motivates these characters elevates the experience from "ho-hum" to "it's worthwhile to play this."

The overall look of the game is inspired by the movie, though the characters don't physically resemble the actors. The voices are clearly different, taking mostly the vocal cadence of their movie counterparts while making only a small effort to sound like the film actors. The layout of the Milano is straight from the movie. This makes sense, since while enough people are familiar with Batman that it's safe to present an entirely new story, most folks would only be familiar with the Guardians from the Marvel movie.

With that said, there are two big elements from the movie that dominate the story; one works and the other has problems. The one that works is Peter's relationship with his mother. You get to choose how young Peter reacts as he comes to understand that his mother is growing sick. Even though you know the outcome, it's still affecting. You can't get much more personal than the relationship of a child and a mother. (There's no mention of Peter's father. It looks like the Telltale designers did not have access to the script for GotG 2.)

The one that doesn't work for me is the music. It's clear that Telltale couldn't afford the rights to more than three or four well-known songs from the 80s. I grew tired of hearing "Living Thing", since it's the background music to the initial game menus. As the game goes on, there are action sequences where the game's designers must have written "put popular song in the background here" but the game's producers couldn't supply one. It's irritating to see Peter put on his headphones, only to have generic music come out. It doesn't help that some chapters have titles taken from well-known songs that you know Telltale could not possibly afford. It creates unfulfilled expectations.

Overall, I give this a thumbs up. It's not as good as Telltale's Batman games, but I laughed more often at the Guardians' antics than I did at Bruce Wayne's.

Mild spoiler: At some point in the game, you will be able to control what Groot says. I leave it you to speculate on what choices you'll have in his dialog tree.

Edit: I have to back down on my claims about the music. It turns out that what I thought was generic background turned out to be songs that I didn't recognize. There's a Spotify playlist of all the game's pop music.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2017, 10:35:00 AM by Winston »
Bill Seligman
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Kudger

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Re: Finished playing...
« Reply #575 on: November 26, 2017, 03:16:38 AM »
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus

This is an FPS by Bethesda and the latest in the Wolfenstein saga. Taking place in the immediate aftermath of Wolfenstein: The New Order, the player takes the role of B.J. Blazkowicz in his never-ending quest to kill nazis in an alternate reality where the nazis won WW2 and taken over the world. Here, the fight takes you to America where you are trying to spark a 2nd American revolution to kick the nazis out.

Overall, I regret to say I found this a pretty mediocre game, which is a shame because the previous game is was of my favorite FPS titles. Levels are short and the design is uninspired. The difficulty is quite unforgiving, especially compared to its predecessor. The main character is meant to be dying from past wounds and your health drains so quickly that it feels like it. I had to play on an easier difficulty than I did in the previous game because I'd frequently die before even knowing where the enemy was who was shooting at me.

This is also a VERY political game. Keying off of the current political discord in the states, the game makers revise naziism from being about aryan supremacy to being about white supremacy so they can throw in the KKK palling around with nazis and had several characters who felt more like they were from 2017 than 1961. I don't want to get into politics so all I'll say is the political commentary was very bluntly delivered.

Anyways, if you're a fan of the series, it's worth picking up. Otherwise, there are better FPS' out there. It went on sale awful fast, too. It came out at the end of October as a full priced AAA title and I picked it up on Black Friday, less than a month later, for 25 bucks.

Marco

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Re: Finished playing...
« Reply #576 on: November 28, 2017, 09:22:01 AM »
Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms.  This is a free-to-play clicker/idle game on Steam, currently in early access, using a Dungeons and Dragons setting and characters (but not the D&D ruleset).  In addition to choosing upgrade order as in most clicker games, you also manage your party's formation.  Party members also have equipment, but you don't really make decisions about it; you just buy chests (using in-game currency or real money) and gear upgrades are automatically slotted in.  The gear you randomly get might affect your character selection and formation choices.  The game encourages frequent ascensions/resets, and also features multiple campaigns (using different ascension currencies with a small amount of bonus sharing) as well as special event campaigns.

In general I like the idea of a well-produced clicker game, but this one misses the mark for a few reasons:

* It uses an exponential/combinatoric numeric design (like Universal Paperclips) instead of a more measured design (like Kittens Game or A Dark Room).  As a result, while you might be watching ten characters attacking monsters, only one or two of them will be doing any meaningful damage.

* The formation management game is most easily solved through trial and error, and stops being interesting after a bit.  The solution is always to pick one or two heroes whose base damage scales the best, and pick all of your remaining characters according to who will give the best buffs.

* There are specialization choices aimed at tanking/healing enemies instead of just powering them down, but they are traps; optimizing for damage is always the right answer.

* The sound design isn't pleasant; it has one song which loops pretty fast, and the combat noises get grating pretty quickly.  The art is okay but nothing to write home about.  An idle game should be enjoyable to watch (if it has a graphical element at all), and this one isn't really.

Edalia

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Re: Finished playing...
« Reply #577 on: November 29, 2017, 07:10:17 AM »
I mostly agree with your points, Marco. Initially I thought formations would give this game more meat than other incrementals, but it was pretty simple to figure out the optimal one and I rarely had to change. You could swap for lower overall DPS to more spread out damage for trash and then swap back for bosses, but that would save you maybe 2% of your time.

I won't belabor this point, but the game also highly incentivizes players to pull out their wallets, which left a bad taste in my mouth. Challenges quickly hit a wall where your DPS could defeat all trash but not really touch the boss-this was the point where you could "ascend, wait, or pay only a few bucks, your 'choice'".
o/\o

Winston

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Re: Finished playing...
« Reply #578 on: December 11, 2017, 05:38:13 PM »
Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice

I've written video-game reviews from time to time, but this is the first one for which I'm giving a trigger warning: discussion of severe mental health issues.

Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice< is an unusual video game in that the lead character is psychotic. I'm not using the term in its popular (and incorrect) sense of meaning "psychopath." Senua is clinically psychotic: she hears voices in her head, experiences illusions, is compelled to match patterns visually, and occupies what is (probably) a world of her own. I say "probably" because the game does not bother to distinguish between the "real" and the "fantasy" of Senua's world.

Within the game, Senua is a Pictish warrior woman. She's experienced horrific tragedy and abuse. She's on a quest in the wilderness to come to terms with what she's witnessed. On the way, she fights demons, solves puzzles, and reviews her past. More than I won't say, because the peeling away of Senua's world view and her past is part of the game.

The game is not exploitative, either of Senua as a female character, nor of mental illness. The creators of Senua, Ninja Theory, consulted with mental health professionals and interviewed people with psychosis. According to the extra video that comes with the game, in viewing the almost-finished game both the professionals and the patients confirmed that the game matched their experiences.

The game is relatively short, as modern high-quality video games go. It took me about 12 hours to complete it; experienced video game reviewers reported finishing it in six to ten hours. The graphics are excellent, especially the remarkable motion capture of Senua (played by Melina Juergens). I was moved by Senua's facial expressions as she pleads directly into the "camera", her eyes piercing yours.

Senua is the only human figure rendered in the game. The remaining human characters are inserted as video overlays. It's an unusual effect that reinforces the idea that they're all people she's seeing in her memory.

Before you rush out an get Senua (it's available for PS4 and Windows), be aware that this is a video game, not just a travelogue through a troubled mind. The gameplay reflects Senua's mental state: No help is given in how to play the game; if you want to know what the controller buttons do, you have to check the options screen. There are no maps or display overlays. There are no direct instructions for combat; however, the voices in Senua's head will often give you strategy tips.

The game can be punishing, especially for a clumsy video gamer such as myself. You are bluntly told near the beginning of the game that there are only so many times Senua can die in combat or fail at certain platforming puzzles. After that point, the darkness consumes her, which means the game save data is deleted and you must play the game from the beginning again. You aren't told how many times you can fail; I failed about 20 times and managed to get to the end.

I've written a long video game review for a game that's among the shortest I've played because I think Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice is worth it. The goal of the designers was to expose and destigmatize psychosis. I think they succeeded.
« Last Edit: December 11, 2017, 06:47:06 PM by Winston »
Bill Seligman
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