Zac's Back(Log) AuthenticZac’s profile
My backlog problem started around 2012, when I started collecting far more console-games than I would ever have time for. That said, they were still games that I still had intentions to play at some point in time. Realistically speaking though, I will probably only get around to playing a quarter of them.
I will endeavor to update here about twice a month on the games that I have completed, or at least attempted to play.
The following table is reserved for games that I have actually beaten;
|Game name||Console||Degree of Completion|
|Road Not Taken||Steam||15-day career + "perfect" spouse.|
|Full Bore||Steam||Everything but "no collection" achievement|
|Lego Movie: The Game||Steam||100% achievements|
|Lego Marvel Superheroes||Steam||100% achievements|
|Tobe's Vertical Adventure||Steam||Story Completion(Toby) + All Collectibles|
|Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth||Steam||1001% achievement|
|Broken Age||Steam||100% Achievements|
|Munin||Steam||Everything but Speedrun Achievement|
|Swords & Crossbones||Steam||100% Achievements|
|Hack n Slash||Steam||Story completion|
|Dungelot||Steam||Campaign Completion (Paladin)|
|Thomas Was Alone||Steam||100% Achievements|
|The Inner World||Steam||100% Achievements|
|Terrian Saga KR17||Steam||Story Completion (Hardmode + Genocide)|
|JumpJet Rex||Steam||100% Achievements|
|Towerfall||Steam||Campaign Completion (Quest Mode)|
|Castle in the Darkness||Steam||100% Achievements|
|Quantum Conundrum||Steam||Story Completion + All Collectibles|
|Sam & Max S02E01||Steam||Story completion|
|Stacking (+DLC)||Steam||100% Achievements|
|Chaos on Deponia||Steam||100% Achievements|
|Sam & Max S02E02||Steam||Story completion|
|Goodbye Deponia||Steam||100% Achievements|
|Lego: Jurassic World||PS3||100% Trophies|
|Assassin's Creed: Rogue||PS3||Story + Most "Activities"|
|Bard to the Future||Steam||Story Completion|
|Kill the Plumber||Steam||Everything but Speedrun Achievements|
|Outland||Steam||Story + All Collectibles|
|Fort Meow||Steam||100% Achievements|
|Loot Hound||Steam||100% Achievements|
|Sneaky Sneaky||Steam||100% Achievements|
|Mad Max||Steam||Story+All Areas Liberated + All Upgrades|
|Game name||Console||Degree of Completion|
|Turmoil||Steam||Story (51% shares)|
|Knightmare Tower||Steam||100% Achievements|
|Card City Nights||Steam||100% Achievements|
|Evoland 2||Steam||100% Achievements|
|Ronin||Steam||Both Happy/Sad Endings|
|Shovel Knight: Specter Knight||Steam||Story + All Collectibles/Upgrades|
|Pickers||Steam||Campaign + All keys|
|Punch Club||Steam||"Big Fight" route + Dark Fist|
|Rex Rocket||Steam||Story + 98% collectibles|
|Adventures of Pip||Steam||100% Achievements|
|Aquatic Adventure of Last Human||Steam||Story + All Upgrades|
|Shadow of Mordor||Steam||100% Achievements (Not counting DLC)|
|Valdis Story||Steam||Story + All bosses + 100% Crew + 100% items|
|Steamworld Heist||Steam||Story (Veteran mode) + 100% reputation|
|Guild of Dungeoneering||Steam||Story Completion|
|Boomtown Deluxe||Steam||Completed a full "campaign"|
|Death by GameShow||Steam||"Story" Completion (50/50 missions)|
|Ghost 1.0||Steam||Story Completion (Survival) + All Souls/Alarms|
|Ori and the Blind Forest: DE||Steam||Story Completion (hard mode) + 100% Collectibles|
|Hyper Light Drifter||Steam||Story Completion + 100% Collectibles|
|Dex||Steam||100% Achievements (With "Overlord" Ending)|
|Slime-San||Steam||"Story" Completion + 100% Apples + Boss Rush|
|Hot Tin Roof: Cat that wore a Fedora||Steam||Story Completion (All cases solved) + 100% collectibles|
|Anna's Quest||Steam||100% Achievements|
|Stories of Bethem||Steam||Story + 100% Collectibles/Side-missions|
|Adventures of Bertram Fiddle||Steam||Story Completion|
|Hollow Knight||Steam||100% completion (not achievements) + "Good" ending|
|Epistory||Steam||Story Completion + 100% Collectibles|
|Ni No Kuni||PS3||Story Completion|
|Alwa's Awakening||Steam||100% Completion|
|Game name||Console||Degree of Completion|
|Cat Quest||Steam||100% Completion|
|Rise & Shine||Steam||100% Completion|
|Dust: An Elysian Tail||Steam||100% Achievements|
|Shovel Knight (Shovel Campaign)||Steam||Story + All collectibles/upgrades|
|Shovel Knight (Plague Knight)||Steam||Story + All collectibles/upgrades|
|Super Puzzle Platformer Deluxe||Steam||All levels completed + Challenges|
|Arclight Cascade||Steam||"Campaign" Completion|
|Pixeljunk Eden||Steam||Main World (Levels 1-10) 100% Completion|
|Kevlin and the Infamous Machine||Steam||100% Achievements|
|Sparkle 2 Evo||Steam||100% Achievements|
|Bit Dungeon II||Steam||Campaign Completion|
|Just Cause 3||PS4||Story + 100% Liberation|
|Stardew Valley||Steam||100% Museum/Fish/Community Center, + Max Friendship|
|Yonder: Cloud Catcher||PS4||100% Trophies|
|Southpark: Fractured But Whole||PS4||Story + 100% collectibles|
|God of War (2018)||PS4||100% Trophies|
|Watch Dogs 2||PS4||100% Trophies|
|Dragon Quest XI||PS4||Story + some post-game|
|Nier Automata||PS4||Story (Just Route A)|
|Game name||Console||Degree of Completion|
|Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake||Steam||100% Achievements|
|Spider-Man||PS4||100% Trophies (not counting DLC)|
|Infested Planet||Steam||100% Achievements|
|Borderlands GotY||Steam||[Roland] Story + 100% missions (+all 3 Story DLCs)|
|Borderlands 2 GotY||Steam||[Gaige] Story + 100% missions (+All 4 Story DLCs)|
|Borderlands: Pre-Sequel||Steam||[Jack] Story + 100% missions|
|Tales from the Borderlands||Steam||Story completion|
|Middle Earth: Shadow of War||PS4||100% Trophies (not counting DLC)|
|Ratchet & Clank (2016)||PS4||100% Trophies|
|Horizon: Zero Dawn||PS4||100% Trophies (+100% Frozen Wild DLC)|
(May 2-May 7)
- Middle Earth: Shadow of War - Two years ago, when I played through Shadows of Mordor, I had nothing but high-praise for the game, with only minor nit-picking geared towards the difficulty (far too easy). Last year, when I posted my first impressions about this game, I really only commented about the difficulty modes having night and day differences (with hard mode having enemies who became immune to nearly every attack far too quickly). Now, I feel like whatever I would have said about this game is being marred by my final couple of days with it
In the year-long break since I last laid waist to the hordes of Uruk, a few things had been changed - loot boxes removed, the final mission's length being chopped in half, and some new "prestige" skills, but getting back into it, it also seems like there were some other changes to the game, or at least, some things I didn't notice during my last foray into middle-earth - the glitches. By the Gods, was the game littered with them these last few days, ranging from captains with no heads, to the camera zooming away during executions (or Talion's model disappearing during executions), to Talion's inability to target certain platforms to jump to (or jumping to platforms I didn't want him to jump to), to constantly targeting the wrong Orc when attempting to drain/dominate (or heal in the case of allies), to allies idling during combat (side-stepping, back and forth), to counters just not registering properly.
Now, most of these were fairly benign, but when dodge-counters stop working (oddly, don't recall any issues with parries - just the dodges), and you are attempting to fight off dozens of enemies, some of which whose combination of perks can one-hit KO you, it ends up ruining the experience. The weird thing is, out in the wildlands, the counter issue rarely occurred. From what I could tell, it mostly seemed to happen during siege/defenses, when there were a lot of enemies on screen. So who knows, maybe this was just the PS4 not being able to keep up? Dunno, but whatever the underlying cause, it definitely soured my final take on the game, which is all the more upsetting, considering how high I regarded the original.
Been a while since my last update, but no fear, for I have been slowly tackling the backlog(which currently stands this tall). No long reviews this time, as too much time has passed, and my memory ain’t what it used to be (ain’t what it used to be). But onto the games of the last year;
A year in review
(May 15-December 31)
- Owlboy - Fun little metroidvania. Little lacking in abilities that you would normally expect from a metroidvania, but it stayed fresh throughout
- Stardew Valley - Spent a good chunk of time maxing out my farm, which I enjoyed. The biggest mistake I made was at the start, choosing the fishing-farm. On the one hand, it allowed me to segment my farm animals from each other, and put the chickens/ducks and cows/sheep/pigs on their own respective islands, but it also took up a whole chunk of land I could have otherwise spent on actual farmable crops.
- Yonder: Cloud Catcher - Expected something in the vein of a stardew valley, with more concentration on exploration... Nothing like it. Felt like a chore the entire game, traveling across the world so slowly, collecting random crap. There is an image of him on some hovercraft, so I was expecting to get something to speed up movement the entire game, and nothing
- Sundered - Difficulty scaling seemed all over the place in this one. Lots of fun with the skill tree, and felt easy for most of the game, then there was a massive difficulty spike near the end, then became easy again
- Southpark: Fractured but Whole - Classic southpark humor, but felt more like you needed knowledge of the series than the first game. Also, the final hour or so just kept going and going, and not in a good way. Good gameplay though. The first was a little easy to abuse the system with (the effect damage kept stacking to insane levels), so was nice to see this one more balanced
- God of War (2018) - Game of the Year. Between story and combat, was amazing. Biggest flaw - not enough bosses. For a game series that was built on huge spectacles, you kind of expected more, and aside from the first and final, there weren't really any in between
- Watch Dogs 2 - Well, the story was improved upon the first, but that's not saying much. Still a lackluster game with interesting gameplay mechanics.
- Dragon Quest 11 - I said Southpark went on and on near the end... This game did that but the entire way through. Multiple points in the game, you felt you were reaching end-game territory, only for it to say "Nope". No spoilers here, but this is the type of game that has no DLC, but honestly felt like chunks could have been split off into separate paid DLCs. There were one or two interesting twists that I was more than a little surprised at, but for the most part, was a fairly template RPG story. The gameplay more than made up for it, with some characters having some interesting skill combos (<3 Erik's Divide with a multi-hit sword). If it wasn't for God of War, I'd have called this my Game of the Year
Also, as an aside, one of the more bizarre combat mechanics, that served no real purpose, and confused me for the first few hours, was the ability to move around in combat... Walking behind enemies seems like it would give you an advantage, and allow for more critical hits, but really, it seems to just be there to allow for "cool screenshots", with no real gameplay benefit at all.
- Nier Automata - So much hype that I didn't really get behind. Gameplay had its moments, but the story dragged it down. For whatever reason, I just couldn't get invested in it. And as fun as the gameplay could be at times, with the right combo, it felt like dying was an afterthought. With an auto-healing augment-thingy, I never truly felt in danger. Now, I will admit, I didn't "fully" beat the game. I did the first Path with 2B, and about an hour of the second Path with 9S, but once I got to the camp again and needed to do the quests all over again, I gave it up. There just was no way I wanted to sit through a story that didn't grab me the first time, a second. So however good the third path was supposed to be, never experienced it.
(January 1-May 2)
- Monsters ate my Birthday Cake- cute little puzzle game. Definitely aimed more towards a younger audience, so no overly-difficult puzzles, but still, was a nice little distraction from all the action games I had been playing. If you can grab it for cheap, I recommend it. They constantly throw new monsters/abilities at you, so you never get the fatigue of sameiness that some other puzzles games tend to have.
- Spider-Man (2018) - Another game where the story is all-too predictable. I mean, you are supposed to be some years into Spiderman's career, and know of the different villains that he encounters, and yet we are supposed to play dumb to another one that is clear as day? The Mary Jane segments were a complete drag on the action, and really shouldn't have existed in the first place. Her only good gameplay segment was near the end when she directed spiderman in a stealth segment, but even that fell flat. Gameplay wise, it was solid, with plenty of gadgets to play around with, and a good variety of enemies to fight, each with their own annoying little requirements (also, screw the flying guys). Stealth segments felt weird, especially in the warehouses, where no matter how well you stealthed, after the first few enemies, they all became aware of your presence anyways, because technically they come out in waves, and... Yea, could have been done better
- Infested Planet - This one was a bit of a surprise hit for me. Didn't quite know what to expect aside from some tower defense against hordes, but the RTS elements of it really rounded it out. Now I want more. The campaign is a bit on the short side, but apparently there is a DLC to add rogue-elements, so might pick that up at some point
- Borderlands - with a recent update to make it more user-friendly (finally, a mini-map so my directionless ass won't get lost every 5 seconds), decided to give it another go. Played it almost all the way through a decade ago as a Mordecai, but decided to give it a go with Roland this time, and had a blast with it. So much so, I ended up playing the other two games immediately afterwards.
Now, when a game has a pet/minion class, that's usually who I go for. It's why I chose Mordecai and his bird originally, and why I chose Roland and his turret this time (also why I chose who I did in the subsequent games). and while Roland's turret did help during some segments, it also felt completely useless during many others (seriously, whatever "shield" that thing is supposed to have does naught all). A motionless minion is great for when you are defending an area, but when you are on the move, and enemies are ducking behind cover, it just doesn't do enough. I think the biggest boon it gave me was the ability to run away from enemies, while it covered my rear, wiping out (or at least slowing down) my pursuers.
- Borderlands 2 - Diving right into the sequel after the first game, felt confident enough to choose a "hard" character, in Gaige. I considered Axton, but considering I just played Roland, and he seemed to be essentially the same, with only a few minor differences, went with the more "agile" pet class... But that was a mistake, as looking at her skill tree, I spent a lot of time focusing on her electric synergies, which considering the game has like 75% robotic enemies, had negligible effects. And it didn't help that since I was so focused on that build, I blew hundreds of golden keys looking specifically for those electric guns/grenades to maximize the skills. That said, once I learned from my mistakes (which wasn't until the DLC *cough*), found the Anarchy tree to be rather insane. With a one-shot shotgun, anarchy built up quickly, and all those shots just homed in on everyone I couldn't see, completely melting through them - Was great for arenas
Edit: One other nitpick I forgot to mention - I was playing through the series with a controller, but Gaige does not do well with that style of gameplay, as the loot button is binded with the same button as reloading, so trying to grab/interact with things with fairly regularly cause to to reload, thereby killing off your entire stack of anarchy, and in turn, damage. There is a skill to bypass that, but you shouldn't have to put a skill into it just so you can play with a controller
- Borderlands Presequel - For whatever reason, this one gets some hate, that I don't understand, but personally, in some ways, I actually enjoyed it more than B2. Back in the day, when I used to play FPS, I did a lot of bunny-hopping, so the anti-gravity just felt natural to me. Jumping up and raining death from above, like I was back at home. Combine that with Jack's digi-clones, and you have a match made in heaven. They had a short life-span, but having them *boom* upon spawning, then double-*boom* upon death, due to their nova-shield, made it so it felt like the fourth of July 24/7. Explosions everywhere, it would have made Torgue happy.
And that's just the one character's skills. Add in the laser guns, which I absolutely loved, the grinder, so that I could toss away useless weapons for LEGENDARIES, which have so much more of an effect than I ever realized in my time with Borderlands 2, and a story that painted Jack (The Borderlands 2 bigbad) in a completely different light (I mean, yes, he's still a sociopath, but you got to see the descent), and I question why people didn't absolutely love this game.
- Tales from the Borderlands - First off, ignore the illusion of choice, otherwise it will ruin the experience. The first two episodes, I just kept thinking "yea, but if I chose the other option, it still would have happened", but the story itself is really done well. Lots of fanservice going on, which I won't complain about, and it tied together many bits of the Presequel to Borderlands 2. All in all, an amazing conclusion to my month of Borderlands
Edit: One other thing that I forgot to bring up was Ashley Johnson's voice work. If I can praise one of the biggest highlights of the game, it was any time her character talked. Simply adorable
Another big gap with updates. Played a few games from December-January, then had a bunch of things happening that ruined my desire to play anything (intense stomach pain for a few months, followed by the illness[lung cancer] and ultimate passing of my cat, Velvet).
(December 23-January 27)
- Alwa's Awakening - I'll be honest, I can't remember much about this one. It was over 5 months ago, and was really forgettable. The only thing I can recall was that while it was a mediocre metroidvania, with nothing standing out about it. The platforming was fine, but the abilities were boring. Very middle of the road
- Cat Quest - Fun little action game. The humor was definitely hit or miss, but the gameplay was solid, if easy. Going through dungeons to get gear is rather quick, and the exp gained seems to be a bit high. It didn't take long before I was one-shotting most enemies with the spike spell+slowdown combo. I imagine hard mode is where the game truly begins, but will save that for another time
- Dust: Elysian Tail - The story and characters honestly felt like they came from a middle-schooler. None of them were likeable, and everything felt forced. When the characters weren't acting manic with their emotions (especially the underground creatures... Good lord, their attitudes changed just about every sentence), they were complete dullards. Outside of the god-awful writing though, the gameplay itself was solid. Mute the game, skip the dialogue, and the game itself is fun.
- Shovel Knight - Awesome platformer, and totally worth the praise it gets.
- Shovel Knight: Plague - The plague-knight campaign, however, felt a bit off. While
dashing around with the scythe(edit: jumping around with the explosions) was fun, it also made maneuvering around rather difficult.
- Super Puzzle Platformer - super chill game, good for just unwinding. Once you get the rhythm of the levels, it becomes very calming just jumping around and shooting.
- Pixeljunk Eden - Another chill game. Some of the later levels, however, were less so, once they introduced fluctuating gravity, but excluding those, it was a nice game
- Kevlin and the Infamous Machine - Disconected, the game. An alright point-and-click game, but I wish they had put more effort into making the levels feel more connected. As it was, it felt like a cheap imitation of Day of the Tentacle. Once you finish a time-period, it's suddenly "oh, there is a problem somewhere else now", with no real rhyme or reason to it.
- Bit Dungeon 2 - The game looks like a zelda-like game, but outside of the dungeons that you explore, is nothing like it. You kill mobs on your way to dungeons, level up, enter the dungeon, get to the boss and annihilate him to unlock a piece of the door to the final area. Rinse and repeat 8(?) times. The catch, however, is that you only have one life, and if you die, it's back to square one, with each door-piece now lost. As long as you loot the caves, and buy the weapons, you shouldn't have too much of a problem.
(January 28-May 6)
- Started up Ratchet and Clank: Size Matters and played through the first few planets. Some of the controls are wonky, and it definitely missed some polish, but no where near as bad as the R&C fans make it out to be. In fact, the last planet I completed had some incredibly fun minigames (basketball, lemmings, and robot wars)
- Shadow of War - Definitely missing some of the charm of the original game (not to mention some of the OPness from certain skill combos, which have now been reduced to "either or" skills). Definitely more difficult, which is a major plus - no more attacking a stronghold, then retreating for health 10 feet away. Though, the difficulty modes need some balance. The difference between normal and hard is miles apart. On hard, orcs will adapt to your moves almost instantly, making it so you have to change your strategy against them multiple times. Some captains, based on their perks, become practically impossible though, what with their healing and invulnerabilities. Haven't completed it yet, but have yet to see the major "grind" people complain about...
(May 7-May 14)
- Just Cause 3 - This game definitely plays like a continuation of a previous Just Cause game. However, having never played any of the other games in the series, I feel as though I missed out on some important connection with the characters. Perhaps the story will better resonate with people actually familiar with the games, but for me, I didn't care for it. It also didn't help that once the whole country had been liberated (spent a few days doing this first), the story missions themselves could be completed in under 5 hours.
As for the gameplay, it was extremely repetitive and rather frustrating. Certain skills and features that should have come standard required tedious grinding to unlock (ex: After you get fast-travel, you may only use it once before restocking the feature at a supply depot... unless you spend hours liberating towns to gain access to mini-games that allow you to allocate skillpoints to increase your "max fast travel" slots...Then you have 3, or eventually 5)... After a while, once you unlock the best helicopters, and the ability to fast travel multiple times, it gets better. Having more options to liberate towns and plow through missions makes it almost worth the time investment.
Soooo, it’s been a while since my last update, but that is mostly due to the fact that the game I just finished took me about 2 months to complete. Would have completed it much quicker, but was livestreaming the entire thing, and only had time to stream Saturdays (On the off-chance anyone is interested, I archived the entire thing here).
(September 1-September 15)
(September 16-September 30)
(October 1-October 15)
(October 16-October 31)
(November 1-November 15)
(November 16-November 30)
A return to Youtube/Twitch Gaming
- Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch - Take Pokemon, change the turn-based combat to real-time, and have an amazing story made by Studio Ghibli, and that is the elevator pitch for this game. Sounds awesome in theory, and it absolutely was. Now, I will be honest and put an asterisk at how repetitive the dialog and certain side missions can become, but with how much there is to do in the game, and how well the actual story are, it's easy to give that repetitiveness a pass.
*There are over 400 different monsters to collect with various ways to increase their strength in battle (leveling, equipment, treats, owner-compatibility, element, and astrology), allowing for very in-depths strategies (that are never required).
*The story, while occasionally dipping into typical anime tropes, does manage to stray away from them for the most part, with plenty of twists and surprises to keep you engaged for the entire 50+ hour experience.
(July 16-July 31)
(August 1-August 15)
Nothing played again. Summer is always slow for me
(August 16-August 31)
Oh, right, gaming
- Epistory: Typing Chronicles - Considering the last "typing-adventure" game I played was well over 20 years ago (and it was an educational one, to boot), I wasn't quite sure how this one would play out. Turns out, these types of games have evolved quite nicely in the past few decades. One of the biggest bits of praise that I have for the game is for its difficulty, which dynamically changes based on how well you are doing in the game - type fast enough, and you begin to see monsters spawning simultaneously that are 25-30+ letters long. The fact that it adjusts itself for the different level of player is well deserving of kudos. The other bit of pure-praise I have for the game is for its style, which plays kind of like bastion with the unfolding landscape and narration.
The rpg-like elements of the game were simple, but very welcome. The leveling system was rather trivial (I maxed out about mid-way through the game), while the magic-system added something refreshing to the gameplay. Instead of just killing off individual monsters, you could use chain-lighting to kill off groups, burn one so it takes damage while you are dealing with another, or simply freeze the ones getting too close (there was also wind, but I never saw it as being useful). I do wish there was a hotkey for switching between the magic though, mostly for the sake of convenience.
(July 1-July 15)
- Bertram Fiddle - (ˢᵗᵉᵃᵐᵍᶦᶠᵗˢ ᵂᶦᶰ) - Super short point and click - at around only 90 minutes. For what it is, it was alright, but it didn't really get interesting until the final two chapters. Everything before that felt more like tutorial, just guiding you every step of the way. It's a shame that it hit you with the "to be continued" as soon as it began to find its stride. Episode two is supposed to hit sometime this month, but if the pacing of the first game is anything to be considered. I'll probably wait for a sale or a bundle before picking it up.
- Hollow Knight - It's only been a few months since I played Ori, and I believe this game has dethroned it as the king of Metroidvanias on Steam. It captures the exploration aspect of a classic Metroid to a T, has plenty of optional goodies to collect and play around with, and provides a damn good challenge that is never unfair (the only "difficult" bosses are the optional ones). And the equippable charms were a nice addition, allowing for multiple ways to approach certain areas. My only gripe with them, is that because I often found myself swapping between a few specific layouts (one set for platforming unexplored areas, one for backtracking, one for bossing), it would have been nice if the game allowed you to save some presets to go between when resting at a bench (which, is the only time the game allows you to do a few things, actually). The story was... Well, I'm going to be honest, I didn't quite follow it. Apparently it is rather deep, and I missed out on most of it, despite the fact that I interacted with everyone I encountered. I'm not a huge fan of this type of story-telling (hiding all the lore ), but to each their own - the gameplay alone had me more than invested.
What's really great, is that the devs are continuing to update the game, planning a free content pack for sometime later this month, which is supposed to add more to the "story", multiple new bosses, and a new way to travel (which was much desired by those of us who went for the 100% >_>... not enough fast travel points)
- MGS V - Played a couple of hours of this, but I don't think I've even scratched the surface yet. My aim for each mission so far has been to go in as ghost-like as possible, but all it takes is one mistake and I end up resorting to commando, blowing out the brains of everyone that I encounter... Now, there seems to be plenty of items to buy/research/upgrade, so I'm hoping for far more options when it comes to stealth, though part of me doubts it will come close to rivaling Splinter Cell:Blacklist (which, I consider to be the bar when it comes to stealth-action)
(June 16-June 30)
So, haven’t really played that many games in the last couple of weeks, unless of course you want to count Maplestory, and honestly, I don’t think I do (though I will comment on it below). I have been assigned a couple of games to play for a “Pay Or Play” event with the Quips, so I fully plan to play either one or two of them in the next week (“Bertram Fiddle” and “A Story About my Uncle”). Outside of that, I have mostly been doing some catching up on some movies/shows I’ve been missing from the past few months.
- Maplestory - So, I took a break from Maplestory a few months ago, while waiting for the update that just recently dropped (released in Korea in December) - one that calculates all of your characters' levels, and gives you a bonus on how they are arranged on a grid-based field (level 60-99 get one block on the grid, 100-139 = 2 blocks, 140-199 = 3 blocks, 200+ = 4 blocks)... So for me, it has meant a lot of grinding on characters that I had no intention of ever touching again... And I am still not even close to being done yet, as I still have 8 characters between the levels of 100-120 left to work on (main goal is 140 on all of them, which would require 4-6 hours per character)... What is really dumb though, is that even after all this work, the power increase I would see would be minuscule. But hey, that is how most MMORPGs work, so I knew what I was in for when I started over a decade ago
(June 1-June 15)
The Magnificent Seven Six (+1)
- Slime San - I mentioned last year my love for JumpJet Rex, and really, I have the same praises to give for this game. Super tight controls, amazing soundtrack, great level designs, and just the right amount of difficulty. The only real issue that I had was with the ladders, which were kind of finicky to maneuver on. In all, there were 100 levels, each with their own ng+ (think "Dark world" in MeatBoy) that provided for a nice additional challenge. And, just like Meatboy, the game had additional characters that you could unlock, each with different abilities (double jump but no dash, higher jump but slower, etc..). Never having actually tried them out though, I can't say how much easier or difficult they made the levels, but if just going by how the levels were designed, I'd imagine the double-jump slime to be the most OP.
- Headlander - Loved this one for both it's stylistic design and originality. The humor aspect of it was rather hit or miss, but for the most part, I did rather enjoy it (I mean, in the first five minutes, I was a farting roomba!). The character-interaction was also well done, with most of the NPCs having different dialog based on whatever body you happen to be occupying. Gameplay-wise, it kind of played like a metroidvania-light, in that there were abilities to get (4 + branching sub-upgrades), with backtracking a-plenty, but the sparsity of bosses made it feel slightly... empty? In games like these, you expect bosses/large fights to cap the zones that you complete, but out of the five zones in this game, you only get the two. Being directed from one zone to the next often feels unrewarding... It almost seems enough to not recommend the game, but floating around and taking over bodies is just so unique and fun, I kind of have to recommend it (plus, <3 Richard Horvitz)
- Hue - This one kind of fell flat for me. It's the type of game that is very heavily hoping that the player is invested in the story, while throwing some puzzles at them to keep them occupied between the chunks of dialog... The problem is, the puzzles felt more tedious than difficult, and the story just wasn't enough to keep my interest. There was definitely some potential for great puzzles, but they didn't really capitalize on it.
- Hot Tin Roof - Fun game with a decent mystery. I'll try to avoid spoilers, but there are a couple of cases that you can work on, and depending on how thorough you are, determines the type of ending you will get. The game is also fairly lenient, keeping track of everything you have discovered, as well as giving plenty of hints to help you along the way. The platforming was fine, for the most part (some underground sections Felt a little too long), with a few different ammo types used to help you traverse and solve puzzles. The characters and dialog were very well written, making the characters very loveable (bubbles!).
- Anna's Quest - Absolutely loved the story on this one (the ending especially). The style felt vastly different than the Daedalic games that I'm used to, in that main protaganist is actually quite likeable (IE, not a complete asshole)... That said, the voice acting did leave a lot to be desired. There were a bunch of characters who came off as extremely flat and emotionless, which took me out of the experience on more than one occasion... It also had a few frustrating moments as well (and not just the classic P&C logic jumps), where Anna would refuse to pick up various, obviously useful items without a clear trigger indicating a purpose despite the fact that very early on in the game, she picks up something with a remark of "having no idea what it would be used for"... Very contradictory
- Chronology - Cute little puzzle-platformer. It is super short though, at about 1.5 hours, so the game feels like it ends just when it is getting started (there are a few mechanics that you only ever see once). The puzzles and level-design are well done, but because of that length, it does leave you wanting more.
- Stories of Bethem - So, I wanted to start this out by saying that the base price of this game is just $5... I mention that, because going into the game, I had a completely different set of expectations, like it being a short zelda-like experience, but this was a full-fledged 20+hour adventure, and much to my surprise, it was actually rather good! There are 9 full dungeons (plus a couple of optional ones), outfits to collect, a bestiary/museum to fill out, collectibles to discover, and a slew of side-quests to complete, so the game is chock-full of stuff to do. For the amount of work that went into this game, $5 feels like the dev undersold themselves.
Now, its not without its issues, but what problems it does have are rather minor... The monsters tend to be a little bullet-spongey, even when fully upgraded (*curses the flying whatevers*); The map-system is rather disappointing, with the overworld having no detail what-so-ever to it, and the dungeon maps being completely void of any/all markings; and certain puzzles tend to be more tedious than difficult, always requiring you to push blocks in the most round-a-bout ways (and always far too many)...
(May 27-May 31)
Doing a mid-week update this week, because I am wanting to transition from doing weekly posts, to bi-weekly/twice monthly, and figured it would be cleaner to make the change at the beginning of the month.
- Hyper Light Drifter - So this one is an one to review, as I both loved and hated it at the same time. It is super simple, in that you don't really gain much to change your playstyle - you are mostly just perfecting the basics. Now, there are a couple of shops that will sell you upgrades (though, with no dialog, you have to make your best guess as to what those upgrades are), such bullet-absorbing dashes, or bullet-deflecting slashes, but those upgrades will deplete your stamina meter so fast, you really only get the chance to use them three or four times before needing to recharge the meter. And this is where the game truly shines - it's difficulty.
Throughout the game, you only have the five health, so learning the attack patterns of the dozens of enemies becomes apparent rather early on, especially for some of the mobs who chip off two+ hp per hit... The problem, however, lies with the invincibility frames... It isn't uncommon to get hit by one bullet, get knocked down, and before your character can even stand up, get struck by another... Or if you are near a cliff, hit for one damage, fall off the edge and lose another, then respawn right into a third. For myself, personally, I got insta-killed multiple times in the arena because of this very combo (an enemy with a dashing 2-damage pushed me off a cliff, then hit me again upon respawn). The lack of a recovery time for your character causes more frustration than there needed to be in this game. Everything else in the game, I would classify under "fair" difficulty (even the machine gunners, who pissed me off for quite a while, until I finally mastered their pattern), but this one aspect left me rather disappointed.
- Dex - This game is actually deceptively long, likely due to the amount of dialog. It is a fairly well-done story (even if it feels like it's been done multiple times), with lot of optional world-building side-quests. I think there were only 4 main-missions in the game, so if one were to want to just stick to them, it could probably be completed in 2-3 hours, otherwise it is roughly 10+ hours in length (and I totally recommend going after everything - the flavor is worth it). The gameplay itself is decent, but nothing ground-breaking. I think my highlight was the hacking mini-game that you got to play into every time you dove into a computer... They felt like a perfect copy of the hacking missions from the original Sly Cooper trilogy (which were my favorite bits involving Bentley). Outside of the hacking, the combat was rather simple - keep your hands up, blocking until an enemy throws a punch/kick, then just keep throwing your own fists until he is dead. Now, there were a few different "skill-trees" to level up for a slightly different experience, but hand-to-hand seemed to be the most effective. Money isn't really an issue in the game, so loading up on ammo and mastering the weapon tree is definitely one way to go, but Dex is so slow to even lift her guns up, it felt like it would've done more harm than good. Freezing enemies/stealth/invisibility probably would have been fun to play with, but it seemed to requite too much investment in terms of augments and skillpoints.
(May 19-May 26)
From the Backlog Reserves
So after last week’s poor choice of games, I decided to break into the part of my backlog that I normally keep under lock and key - games that I am fairly confident will be good, but try to save for a specific occasion.
- Streets of Rogue - I feel as though I am missing something in this game, based on the overwhelming positive reviews it has so on Steam... For whatever reason, this one did not connect with me. Approaching it, I was expecting a classic rogue-like in the vein of Isaac or Nuclear Throne, but somehow it felt empty. Now, this absolutely has to do with the fact that it is still in the early stages of Early Access, but considering the amount of praise it is getting despite this, I was hoping for more. I think for me, the biggest let down was how unrewarding it felt compared to other rogue-likes. In games like Risk of Rain or Don't Starve, you put in hours of work into unlocking a single character, and get that feeling of accomplishment when you succeed... But in Streets of Rogue, I was able to barrel into one of the towns and unlock 3 or 4 characters in a matter of minutes. Which is great for giving the player a new batch of characters to play with, but considering I hadn't even tried out any of the others that were already available, it just didn't feel like I had earned it.
- Ghost 1.0 - Just to get this out of the way, because I am kind of a stickler when it comes to this... This isn't really a metroidvania, despite the tags that it has on Steam... Metroidvanias typically have interconnected maps/zones and require copious amounts of backtracking every time you get a new upgrade - platforming to areas that you had previously seen but had no way of accessing at the time (usually for a lot of collectibles). Backtracking does exist in this game (to an extent), but it isn't with new abilities that you return to areas with - it's keycards... Now, this game has plenty of upgrades and abilities, but they are all optional, from all the different types of guns, to even the double jump itself (yes, you can beat the game without a double jump), and honestly, that is what makes this game so genius. It isn't a metroidvania, but it is a hell of a 2d-Platformer-Shooter-RPG (+rogue-like if you pick survival mode).
I played the game through survival mode, partially because it seemed more challenging, and partly because... well, there were more achievements to earn through that mode (don't judge...), and I had a blast with it. The game itself was extremely balanced too, so that the more alarms you survived (and rewards you earned), the more difficult the game became. Then, if/when you died, all of the alarms would reset back to 0, while also stripping you of everything you had (except for 3 random upgrades left on your corpse). This risk versus reward kept me in check for a good portion of the game, but there was definitely more than one occasion where the greed overtook me, causing devastation as I lost amazing arsenals (I miss you penguin gun!!!)... And what makes the game so great, is that the rewards you get from those alarms is random... On on life, you could get a beam gun and a mine launcher as your secondaries, while the next life, you get a penguin gun and a machine gun, with all sorts of different upgrades to boost your character (shields, poison touch, faster fire rate, drones, damage, etc..)
The one, and only real downside I had with the game was a completely optional late-game mission (there was even a context item that said it could be skipped)... It felt incredibly slow, and somewhat ruined the pace an otherwise amazing experience.
- Ori and the Blind Forest - (ˢᵗᵉᵃᵐᵍᶦᶠᵗˢ ᵂᶦᶰ) - So this is... Kind of an SG win. I won the original, but beat the DE. Though, I did play through the first hour or so of the original game, just so I could see how the game changed from one version to the next, and it was definite improvement. It ran smoother, didn't have screen tearing, and most importantly, it didn't reward 3 random achievements every time I launched the game... Seriously, how does that happen?
There probably isn't much I could say about this game that hasn't already been said a thousand times - It's very visually appealing and has a great soundtrack. The story, however, I didn't see as being as emotional as so many people claim. That's not saying it was bad, but I definitely see that part of the game as being overstated. On the gameplay side, it was a lot of fun. It was just the right amount of challenge (played on hard), so that I never felt overwhelmed by anything. Even the secret collectibles were right where they needed to be in terms of difficulty to reach... The one thing that did kind of get to me, though, was the save feature, which was more of a mental thing than anything else, due to it flying in the face of the way I'm used to playing games. Being able to save so frequently, it almost made me feel like I was "save-scumming" every time I dropped a save anywhere near a previous one. Outside of that personal issue though, I would say the game deserves all of the high marks that it has gotten over the years. I would have loved a proper boss fight or two thrown in, but what they substitute at the end of each zone definitely fits the style of the game as well.