My progress for this month: Fnord’s profile

Because I’m terrible with keeping things like “currently playing” and my future plans consistent and up to date, I’ll just simplify things and make a list of my progress for the month, until I can come up with a good system.

If anyone is curious about my complete backlog, it can be found here

Games beaten

Games dropped


Over two months since my last post. I’m not getting through my backlog very fast… but I did beat some games since last time!

Warhammer 40,000: Battlesector

22.4 hours, no achievements

At the time of writing this game is not even out yet, and I've already beaten it!

That's because I got a review key, link at the bottom


Wonder Boy: Asha in monster world

5.6 hours, 9 of 21 achievements

You probably guessed it already, this was another review


Valor & Victory

9.3 hours, no achievements

Ditto on the review


Wildermyth

12.9 hours, 11 of 55 achievements

What is this? Another review?! This is a procedurally generated game and I did not do everything, hence why it's not marked as completed.


Aluna: Sentinel of the Shards

9.4 hours, 12 of 27 achievements

And finally… a game I wrote a review for!


Roguebook

8.4 hours, 23 of 52 achievements

Hm, might this be one for the reviews?


So, how about those reviews?

Warhammer 40,000: Battlesector
Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World
Valor & Victory
Wildermyth
Aluna: Sentinel of the Shards
Roguebook

So many games starting with W for some reason.

I also wrote reviews for some DLCs
Warhammer 40,000: Gladius – Fortification Pack
Warhammer 40,000: Gladius – Lord of Skulls
Warhammer 40,000: Gladius – Assault Pack
Warhammer 40,000: Gladius – Reinforcement Pack
Warhammer 40,000: Gladius – Specialist Pack
Eagle Island: Twist (only reviewed the free DLC)

Oh, and the Pen & Paper RPG reviews are continuing:
Alien Core Rulebook
Alien: Destroyer of Worlds
Dishonored: The Roleplaying game (Yep, that Dishonored)

Well, I’ve been terrible at keeping up with writing reports here on what I’ve played. Guess writing reviews elsewhere kind of took the energy out of me for also writing reviews here. but anyway, here’s a very quick summary of what I’ve beaten since last time:

Little Misfortune

2.8 hours, 23 of 35 achievements

A fun point & click adventure game that was pretty easy. The game is clearly set just outside my own home city, even if it never explicitly says so, so it was fun to see all the little references to places and things I'm familiar with.

The game has quite a dark side to it, so don't let the cute exterior fool you. Overall though, this is a good game that fans of P&C adventures are likely to enjoy.


Yakuza 0

50.5 hours, 25 of 55 achievements

Well this was not what I expected. I was expecting more of a GTA-like game, but with a smaller setting, but it's more like an RPG. Lots of stuff to do and the story was entertaining, though some of the side-quests were a bit dull. Still really enjoyed my time with this one.


Argonus and the Gods of Stone

6.7 hours, 13 of 20 achievements

Another point & click adventure. This one feels like it was inspired by the old stop motion movies of old. Some of the pixel hunting could be a little bit annoying, but the game was overall not too hard and it had a nice atmosphere. I really enjoyed this one!


Yoku's Island Express

5.4 hours, 15 of 31 achievements

Cute metrodidvania with pinball controls. The concept could have been fleshed out a little bit more, but it was fun, and even though I'm personally not particularly good at pinball (even if I enjoy it) I had no real problems beating this game. I really enjoyed the upbeat atmosphere and soundtrack.


50 years

2.0 hours, 16 of 55 achievements

A simple strategy game with a good amount of replay value. A complete game of 50 years does not take very long so you can easily do multiple playthroughs in an evening. It is a bit on the simple side though, so it does not have a whole lot of replay value. Worth picking up on a sale.


Children of Morta

15.7 hours, 28 of 45 achievements

A really good action-RPG roguelite about a family tasked with keeping evil at bay. Good storytelling, nice atmosphere and enjoyable gameplay. This is one of the best games of its type that I've played to date.


Resident Evil 6

27.2 hours, 32 of 70 achievements

The Resident Evil series really went off the rails with this one. Parts of the game was enjoyable, parts of it was frustrating and annoying. Shooting zombies was still fun, and the game had good, but not outstanding gunplay. The chase sequences, of which there were many, were pants though. The game had 4 campaigns, and all but the last felt like it was made for co-op, with the last campaign putting the second player in control of a faceless nobody who was not even allowed to interact with stuff and was just teleported around when player 1 did stuff. Overall a pretty mediocre game that would probably have been better if they had focused on making one solid 10h campaign rather than 4 so-so 7h campaigns.


Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince

10.8 hours, 21 of 39 achievements

A good co-op puzzle platformer with solid mechanics, great graphics and a charming story. The mechanics were a lot less abusable than the ones in past Trine games, and fewer puzzles could be completely cheesed. I think Trine 2 might still be the better game overall, but Trine 4 is very solid, and you get to bounce on a happy seal, which is always a plus.


Ballads of Reemus: When the Bed Bites

1.8 hours, no achievements

A short & easy P&C adventure game about a bard/exterminator who just keeps making things worse. The game was cute and at times funny, and the short length meant that it did not overstay its welcome. Worth playing if you have it, but not worth going out of your way to get.


Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel

27.9 hours, 29 of 63 achievements

Well, it's Borderlands 2 but worse. Like Borderlands 2? Then you'll probably enjoy this one. The mechanic of having to manage oxygen levels is mildly tedious and the low gravity environments that the game takes place in can make for some fun movement, but overall there's little new here. At least it was shorter than Borderlands 2.


I’ve also been doing some more semi-professional reviews, so if you want to take a look at those, here’s what I’ve been playing for that since my last post:

Dragonborne - A new Game boy game (you know, the big grey brick that was all the rage 30 years ago!) that got released on steam earlier this year. You can run the game on a real Gameboy, so it’s the real deal!
Fantasy General II: Onslaught A recently released DLC for Fantasy General II, this one lets you control the lizardmen, which had some unique mechanics of their own, giving them a unique playstyle.
Airstrife A new SHMUP with nice pixel art, though sadly a few flaws keeping it from being outstanding
Imperator Rome: Heirs of Alexander The most recent DLC for Imperator: Rome that was launched alongside a patch that finally made the game what it should have been at launch.
Battle of Polytopia: Minimalist 4X game that can be played in <1h. Graphics was cute and it was easy to get into
Battle of Polytopia: Cymanti tribe A new faction for Polytopia! Adds a bit of complexity to the game, though not too much.
Dakka Squadron: A flight action game about Space Orks! Not awful, but also not great.
Cardaclysm: A semi-roguelite deckbuilding game with good production value but a bit too much grind.
Armored Brigade Nation Pack: Czechoslovakia – Netherlands: A new expansion for the really solid tactics game Armored Brigade adding new nations. Czech it out! (Sorry)
The Life and Suffering of Sir Brante: Narrative chose your own adventure style game with solid writing and a compelling story
Neurodeck A deckbuilding game about fighting your inner daemons. Not on par with Slay the Spire, but I still thought it was fun. More forgiving than these games tend to be.
Shields of Loyalty Kind of Fantasy General 1.5. Still in early access, with a long way to go before it’s ready for prime-time, but it has a good foundation.
Warhammer 40.000: Battlesector Just a preview of two levels from this game. Full game is not out yet. This looks like it might become one of the best 40k games to date!
Tactical Troops: A really solid turnbased tactics game with gridless movement and teleporters. Was greatly delayed, but as someone who got to play the first intended release version, I can say that the delays were justified.
We are the Caretakers A pre-early access preview of a game about saving space rhinos!
Unity of Command II: Barbarossa The latest DLC for Unity of Command II is just as good as the last one! Unity of Command 1 was incidentally one of the favourite games of the lead designer for Bioshock.
A Token War: A simple strategy game that feels like it has one foot in puzzle territory. Pretty solid
Voodoo kid An old point & click adventure game that just got a re-release. Kind of Monkey Island for children.
Field of Glory II: Medieval - Reconquista: Maybe more history lesson than review :P
Causa, Voices of the Dusk: A new TCG that plays it very safe. Is in dire need of a larger playerbase to really get anywhere.

I also really got into writing pen & paper RPGs since last time! Got offered a few RPGs in exchange for writing reviews (though the Mutant: Year Zero review is one I wrote just for practice)
Mutant: Year Zero My personal favourite pen & paper RPG of the last decade
Symbaroum A great dark fantasy RPG that’s currently in a bundle on Humble!
Symbaroum: Advanced Player’s Guide: The player’s guide for Symbaroum. A solid expansion
Symbaroum: Monster Codex Who does not like a good monster book?
Symbaroum: Game Master’s Guide: The Game Master’s Guide for Symbaroum, not a necessity (unlike some other RPGs) but contains some good stuff.
Alien RPG: Starter Set They made an RPG based on the Alien movies, and it’s surprisingly great!
Alien RPG: Chariot of the Gods: The adventure that comes with the starter set. I gave it a separate review because it deserved it
Tales from the Loop: Starter Set And finally a review of the starter set for Tales from the Loop (which by the way recently got a TV series based on it).

I’ve been slacking off with the updates :( Another one should be coming soon, but between work and the reviews, updates here are sadly downprioritized a bit :( I have a bit more catching up to do, but here’s my thoughts on a few games:

Spooky Cats

0.4 hours, no achievements

Why does this game have such good user review scores?

Spooky Cat is a somewhat bad 2D platformer with admittedly cute, but crude, graphics and floaty controls. There's very little to it actually, jump around, collect coins, try to deal with the somewhat wonky hitboxes and try to not get too bored. This game is not offensively bad though, it works, it's just does the bare minimum. Had this been released for free by someone who's learning to make games and who wanted to show off their first proper project, I would even say it's pretty good, all things considered, but it should not be a paid product. This feels like what you would get if someone spent a week learning a new set of game making tools.


Crowtel Renovations

0.9 hours, 7 of 13 achievements

Crowtel Renovations is a simple 2D platformer, but unlike Spooky Cat some care and attention has gone into making it.

You're playing a crow who's hotel is going to be inspected by the Health Inspector Cats, and things are really not so good in it. Heck, they're still constructing some of the floors! So you need to get through the hotel and clean things up. This pretty much just means that you need to get through some pretty typical platforming challenges, and defeat some bosses. The cute graphics and general charm of the game really helps what's otherwise a good but not exceptional platformer stand out a bit.
If you decide to play this, don't forget that there's a second campaign after you beat the first. Each campaign is about 20min long, so it's a very short game, but it's at least fun.


ELEX

41.8 hours, 27 of 50 achievements

Finally, a Piranha Bytes game that's good!

Piranha Bytes is a company with a rather spotty track record. They made Gothic 1 & 2, which were great, then 3 which was mediocre, than Risen 1 which was good, and then Risen 2 & 3 which I did not enjoy. And now there's ELEX.

ELEX feels like an attempt to make something a bit akin to their older (better) games, but with a more open world. And they mostly succeed. As is typical to Piranha Bytes ELEX is a pretty punishing game, if you're not careful with what fights you take early on you'll likely die.
As is typical for Piranha Byte games you're dumped into a world that has 3 different factions vying for power. All three are flawed in some way and there's no one good side,

ELEX has a few rough edges, it's not entirely bug free and if you're not used to the Piranha byte style of open world design it might get a bit frustrating. But if you can look past those flaws, then this is actually a really good game. Is it their best game? Possibly not, but it's good and fans of open world RPGs should check this one out.
(Also, ELEX might well have the best rain effects I've seen in a game to date)


Proper reviews:
Field of Glory 2: Medieval
Operation Citadel

Got a bunch more reviews this time around, including a late GOTY entry!

ICBM

0 hours, no achievements

This one got a review!


Panzer Paladin

6.3 hours, 10 of 30 achievements

This one also got a review!


Degrees of Separation

6.5 hours, 10 of 10 achievements

Degrees of Separation is a 2D puzzle platformer, like so many that came before it. There's something about indies and puzzle platformers, isn't it? Anyway, what sets this one apart is its focus on co-op, and its narrator. You're got two characters, one from a warm land, and one form a very cold, and they bring some of their land with them. Different levels handle things a bit differently, but the core of it is that you use the hot and cold aspects of the characters and lands they bring with them to change things in the environment. On most levels there's a divide between the characters, half the screen will be in the warm land, and half in the cold, and as you move relative to each other the line dividing these will move as well, so you can use the cold part to do things like create large snowballs that you can use as platforms, or freeze water, while the warm land can unfreeze water and light lanterns that create hot air and make platforms rise.

The puzzles are for the most part somewhat easy, but there's a few annoying ones mixed in. One of the biggest offenders here is a puzzle in an early level where you're pushing a snowball for a far too long distance. The narrator can also at times be a bit overly saccharine, but at least it adds some personality to the game.

Overall a pretty good puzzle game, though not a must play.


Shadow Empire

18.6 hours, no achievements

GOTY 2020? Maybe. It's at least really good.


DRAGON QUEST® XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age™ - Definitive Edition

0 hours, no achievements

I've never played a Dragon Quest game before, despite the series having been around for pretty much as long as I've been alive. So it was fun to finally be able to do so.

Dragon Quest XI is a JRPG. It's one of the most JRPG JRPGs to ever hit the market. That was probably what surprised me the most, the game felt very conventional. Instead of doing like Final Fantasy, which keeps re-inventing itself with each major main-line entry, Dragon Quest XI felt like it had just been refining the same core gameplay that existed back in the NES days.

In DQ XI you're playing as a young man from a village who's been living an idyllic life up until this point, but one day it turns out that he's the chosen one and has to go and save the world from a big evil guy.

Yeah, this game is not getting bonus points for originality. In fact the main story felt rather cliché. That's not to say it was terrible though, it was surprisingly well told, even if it was one of the most cliché stories I've seen in a long time. It's also quite obvious who's bad and who's good, and there's next to not surprises to be had in the story.

The gameplay is as conventional as the story, but there's no random encounters at least, every enemy is visible on the map, and you can avoid most of them. Once in combat things work just as you would expect if you've played an NES or SNES-era JRPG. Which is to say you and the enemy takes turns attacking each other. The combat feels very polished though.

I love the art style of this game, and all the little nods that they're making to how the games used to look. I might not have played any past DQ games, but I've seen screenshots, and I like how the enemy poses match that of their old sprites, even if they can look a bit goofy at times.

The localization team did a wonderful job with this game. I don't speak Japanese so I can't tell how accurate they were, but they managed to inject a lot of personality into this game, with people from different regions having slightly different ways of speaking and different accents. There's even a town where people speak in haiku, and the localization team managed to capture this.

Overall I was impressed by this game. It's not a game I'm likely to ever return to, but it's really impressively well made. My only major gripe with the game is that it feels a bit padded at times.


ICMB review
Panzer Paladin review
Shadow Empire review

Most of what I’ve been playing since my last post has been for reviews. Got to play some nice games, although I did end up spending more time reviewing DLCs than full games this time around. Not that I mind, some of these DLCs were really good.

Tears of Avia

12.5 hours, 5 of 21 achievements

A rather disappointing SRPG. I wrote a review for this (link at the bottom)


Strange Brigade

9.2 hours, 22 of 60 achievements

Strange Brigade is a third person co-op focused shooter from the makers of Sniper Elite. The fact that it is from the people who made Sniper Elite is really noticeable as the game controls surprisingly similar to the later entries in that series, even if it's structured differently. In fact, this is structured more like Vermintide of Left 4 Dead than Sniper Elite.

In Strange Brigade you play as a group of misfits that feel like something straight from an older pulpy comic book who need to stop an evil being from destroying the world. So business as usual for a group like this (something they even joke about during the game). It's a pretty solid game that works well in co-op, but I would imagine that playing it alone would quickly get boring. Some of the enemies also feel like they were made with co-op in mind, and and I would imagine that fighting them without someone who can act as bait would be rather frustrating.


Absolute Territory: The Space Combat Simulator

4.2 hours, 35 of 45 achievements

Another game that I reviewed. An alright, but in no way outstanding space sim similar to Wing Commander or X-wing.


The Falconeer

10.0 hours, 15 of 29 achievements

And more reviews! A gorgeous 3rd person flight game where you ride on top of a giant falcon. Has some flaws, but overall it's quite good.


Tears of Avia Review
Absolute Territory Review
The Falconeer Review
Warhammer 40,000: Gladius – Craftworld Aeldari
Age of Wonders: Planetfall - Star Kings Review
Unity of Command II: Blitzkrieg

Yono and the Celestial Elephants

4.9 hours, no achievements

Yono is a short but very cute isometric aciton/puzzle game. It plays a little bit like a 2D zelda game, if you removed all the items you can equip and also made it more puzzle focused. The puzzles in this game are very easy though, so this would probably be a game best suited for kids and people who are new to games.
The best parts of this game are clearly the cute main character, and the way people speak about elephants.


Katamari Damacy REROLL

4.3 hours, 19 of 21 achievements

I had never played this game before, and was not even entirely sure what it was about. I knew about the whole rolling around an ever expanding ball of stuff, but I did not really know why or if the game even had a fail-state.

Katamari Damacy is a silly game where you roll around a ball. It starts small, but as long as you roll over things that are smaller than your ball it will grow. Each level has a time limit and if your ball is not big enough at the end, you lose. The game does get kind of dark when you start including animals and people in your ever expanding ball of stuff, particularly as they clearly don't want to be a part of it and run away screaming when you get close.

This game was fun, and I can see why people enjoy it, although it did not really leave me wanting more.


Torchlight III

17.8 hours, 29 of 57 achievements

You know the drill by now, review at the end of the post!


Golden Axed: A Cancelled Prototype

0.1 hours, no achievements

Golden Axed is a 1 level prototype for a game that never happened. There was some controversy surrounding the release of this, as the key people who made the old prototype were not informed about it beforehand, and they had a lot of bad stuff to say about SEGA's management and the working conditions they had to endure while making this.

Other than that, there's not a whole lot to say about it. It's a simple prototype, you fight a few similar looking enemies and then it ends. Pretty decent proof of concept though. Had they've tightened up the hit detection a bit, and added more levels and enemy variety, this could have been a good game.


Torchlight III review!

Vaporum: Lockdown

13.7 hours, 0 of 46 achievements

I did not get any achievements in this game, for some reason. Might be the press build. Eh, don't really care about achievements anyway. Despite the lack of achievements, I really enjoy this game. Enough as to give it my first "top score" on the site I write reviews for!

https://saveorquit.com/2020/09/21/review-vaporum-lockdown/


Rise of the Argonauts

15.7 hours, no achievements

This game surprised me. I was going in expecting it to be a pretty mediocre 3rd person action RPG, that would be entertaining for an hour or two. But I ended up beating it!

You're following Jason, as he tries to bring back his dead wife. Along the way you'll visit a few places in and around Greece, and meet other mythological characters, like Pan and Achilles. The story is maybe not amazing, but it's good enough, and the different locations all have their own unique feel. All the characters you run into are also voiced, and the voice acting is surprisingly competent.
The games combat system is also not outstanding, but it's good enough. You're controlling Jason as he fights a bunch of different enemies (sadly there's not much more than a bunch of them, really should have been more!). At your disposal you have three different weapon types that you can switch between on the fly, and a few special abilities. It's nothing outstanding, but it's good enough.

Pretty much all the individual elements of this game are "good enough", without being great, but this really is a game where the sum of all the parts add up to more than the parts individually would. It's a solid action RPG that's worth playing, even if it's far from a masterpiece.


Batman: Arkham Knight

31.0 hours, 49 of 113 achievements

It took me 2 months to get through this one, and that should give you an idea of how much I liked it. Unlike Rise of the Argonauts, which as better than the sum of its parts, Arkham Knight is a game with a few solid parts, that gets dragged down by a few parts that don't work so well, and ends up being less than the sum of its parts.

On foot Batman is agile, fast, stealthy and all that good stuff. He's got access to a wide set of tools that he can use against enemies, and much like in the previous games, you need to be careful when attacking enemies that have guns, as Batman is not bullet proof. These parts are good.

The problem is that Batman is often forced to be in his car. The developers seemed really proud of this car, as enemies will constantly remark on how batman now has this super car, and how afraid of the car they are. Sadly the car is just boring. It's worse as a mode of transportation than gliding through the air, so if the game would not force you to use the car, it would likely not be used much. But you're constantly forced to use this car, and to make matters worse, there's something about the car that makes the game chug. The game runs well when on foot, but as soon as the car is in use, the games framerate drops considerably.

The games story is interesting, but could have been told better. It focuses a lot on Batman himself, his inner daemons, and also the fact that he puts the ones around him at constant risk. I like the idea, but it feels like the story is being harmed by the darn car! So many segments feel like they've been influenced by the fact that they need to push the thing.

Arkahm Knight is ultimately the worst (or second worst, if you count Blackgate) game in the series, by a wide margin. A lot of the parts work, and the story is even pretty interesting at times, but a slew of technical issues, and the need to engage with a boring car constantly just makes it a mediocre game.


Tom Clancy’s The Division

0 hours, no achievements

Warning: Slightly rambly review of the game.

You know what? I think I hate this game.

Tom Clancy's™ The™ Division™ is yet another Tom Clancy game made after the death of Tom Clancy, and it's a game that really seems to lack any proper direction. Is it a realistic military shooter? Is it an RPG? Is it an MMO? Is it an endless treadmill? Well, according to Ubisoft it's a lot of thins, and not all of them are things that the game manages to be. For an example, Ubisoft said that it would be an RPG without cutscenes, with a large immersive world that reacts to your decisions and without scripted events. When Ubisoft said this, which was quite late in the games development, they clearly did not know what the game was going to be. The world does not react to you, the game has cutscenes, and it does the bare minimum to count as an RPG.

In The Division™ you're playing as an agent sent into a New York that's been infected by a disease, and apparently it has made everyone living there capable of taking 5 large caliber bullets to the head. So you move from area to area, doing menial tasks, listening to repeated voice clips. It is a very pretty city you're moving through though, the game looks great, there's a lot of attention to detail to everything around you, but it's just a pretty façade.

The game world is populated by evil people who has taken the opportunity to turn very evil when the world turned mad. So they do evil things, because they're evil. The games writing staff really did not care to make believable enemies, and the only ones that seem to even have a motivation that makes some kind of twisted sense are "the cleaners" who believe that anyone infected by the disease needs to be killed and then lit on fire, to stop the spread of the disease. The worst part was that there was no self awareness to the plot, the writers did not seem to realize how stupid the world they had written really were.

Then there's the actual gameplay. It's boring and repetitive. Hide behind chest-high walls, pop out to shoot at the enemies, then hide again and wait for your health to regenerate a bit. Use a health kit if you take too much damage. Repeat. As you move through the world you'll face people who have different coloured hats and shirts. They're totally different enemies. The only standout here is, again, the cleaners, who have big tanks on their back that you can shoot, which makes them explode. The other enemies are just regular humans who wears clothes with different colours, and at some point the melee enemies go from using bats to using shotguns. And much like the enemies, the missions don't really change over the course of the game. There are plenty of copy/pasted missions, where the only difference is that you're fighting in a slightly different looking building.

Both friendly NPCs and enemies have an extremely limited set of voice lines, and this gets extra obvious when they call out specific things. Like if you kill an enemy, they might shout "They killed Alex". A group of 10 enemies might have 8 Alex in it. And sometimes the clips that friendly NPCs play don't match what's going on, but they did not have a clip that did, so they just picked something that was "close enough".

This game things of itself as a bit of a looter shooter, similar to Borderlands, but with realistic looking guns, and this means that you'll keep getting new guns. Big problem here is that you'll just keep getting new guns with marginally better stats that the old ones. There's no real sense of progress here, you're just keeping up with an ever increasing health pool that the enemies have. So at the start of the game 4-5 headshots with your pistol might kill an enemy, and then at the end of the game 4-5 headshots with your pistol will kill an enemy. That's boring. Sure, I can go back to an early area and 1-shot enemies with my high level pistol, but what's the point? The RPG elements just acts to gate off later areas in the game, but they don't make it seem like you're getting more powerful.

So is there anything good about the game? Eh, the co-op works surprisingly well on a technical level. The game still looks and sounds good, and it was free. But I'll still say that this game is bad, really bad, and I suspect that it was made without much direction, other than the need to chase some open world looter shooter bandwagon that they could cram boring microtransactions into. Oh, incidentally, this game has some of the most boring cosmetics I think I've ever come across in a game that tries to get you to spend money on cosmetics.


Combat Mission Shock Force 2

17.2 hours, no achievements

This game does not really have an end, but it has a review!

https://saveorquit.com/2020/09/18/review-combat-mission-shock-force-2/


2 months since last post? Dang, I’ve not been keeping up with these update posts.

Anyway here goes

Imperiums: Greek Wars

8.4 hours, 12 of 100 achievements

I wrote a review for this. Head over to https://saveorquit.com/ to see it!


A Plague Tale: Innocence

0 hours, no achievements

Well this was an uplifting game.

A Plague Tale sees you follow a young girl, and her brother, in a world that's on the brink of destruction. Rats are swarming all over the place, spreading disease and devouring everything they can get hold of. The inquisition thinks that your brother has something to do with the rat plague, and in the games opening storms your family's home, killing everyone in their path.

As you escape the inquisition you're met by terrible sight after terrible sight. The rats are starting to appear in greater and greater numbers, disease is spreading, and as more people die, more rats starts to appear.

I really liked this game, although it suffers from a problem that's so common both for stealth games, and this is a stealth/puzzle game at heart, as well as narratives focusing on the relationship between a few people. How do you escalate things? And sadly I do think the game wend a bit off the rails towards the last parts, but up until that point, it was really good.

Also, on a side note, the studio who made this game must have one of the most diverse portfolios out there. They made this, the new Microsoft Flight Simulator, WALL-E (the game based on the movie) and Monopoly Plus (as well as a bunch of other games).


Iconoclasts

10.1 hours, 6 of 11 achievements
SG win

This is my most recent SG win, and it was a good one!

Iconoclasts is a 2D metroidvania (although it does not have the strongest metroidvania elements) with great pixel art and satisfying combat. Actually, satisfying is a good way to describe how this game feels to play, because the game does a great job with its audiovisual feedback, making your actions feel very satisfying to do. The story has some serious real world parallels that I was not really expecting, although in retrospect, with a name like this, I should have seen it coming.


Warhammer 40,000: Mechanicus

22.4 hours, 24 of 34 achievements

Mechanicus was a refreshing take on the X-com style of games. In it you play as a group of tech priests, basically the only ones who are allowed to operate and fully understand advanced technology in the imperium of man in the 40k universe, as they try to stop the Necrons (evil egyptian space robots with a hint of lovecraftian cosmic horror).

As a fan of 40k, I liked the story, but I don't think someone unfamiliar with the setting would get much out of it. But this is the kind of game that's fun even without the story. And this game has one thing that really sets it apart from other X-com style tactics games, and that's its action resource system. In most games of this type all your characters will have their own action points, and every turn they get to do a limited number of things. Not in mechanicus, here you're using a global pool of action resources. Every character can move once during your turn, and use any free actions they have access to (depending on their skills and equipment), but to use any of your more powerful attacks, or use your more impactfull abilities you need to spend this resource. The only limit on how you spend this is that all abilities and attacks have a cooldown of at least one turn, but some abilities let you get more of this action resource, and you can move again by spending it. This means that one of your guys can move from one end of the map, and use all of their abilities in a single turn if you want to, but then you'll end up using up all your action resources, that is unless you can find some way to gain more. If you can keep generating this resource, you can keep doing things, and once you get the hang of the system, you can end up doing some downright broken combos. The game gets trivially easy at this point, but it's also quite satisfying to find new and inventive ways of breaking the game, and kill foes that look like they were intended take several turns to beat in a single turn.


Forgotten Realms: Demon Stone

4.5 hours, no achievements

I'll use Daggerdale as a placeholder for this, as both are really not all that great.

Demon Stone is an action RPG set in the Forgotten Realms campaign setting. The same setting as Baldur's Gate, Neverwinter Nights, Icewind Dale, Pool of Radiance and a bunch of other games is set in. You're playing as a band of 3 heroes, a warrior, a rogue and a sorcerer, as they battle their way across the world, in an attempt to save it from a great evil. The story is not exactly what I would call great in this one, despite it being written by the prolific fantasy author R. A. Salvatore, who's books has helped shape the setting (he's the guy who came up with Drizzt Do'Urden).

The concept of the game is not too bad, have an action RPG where you can switch between characters on the fly, all of which has their own unique strengths and weaknesses, but sadly the execution is really lacking. Combat feels fine, and when all you're doing is killing enemies, it's even fun, with the three characters having access to quite different abilities. The issue starts popping up whenever you need to do something that's not hitting enemies, and there are enemies trying to hit you. Two of the characters have special abilities that needs to be charged up before being used, and if an enemy hits you will you're charging your move they'll interrupt it. So you need to rely on the AI to keep the enemies away from you. An AI that's so dumb that it will often be found running into walls for no reason. And killing the enemies that keep interrupting you is not an option, because they respawn, and they respawn fast. How fast you ask? Faster than you can charge up your move. This became painfully obvious in a later part of the game where you need to break down an ice wall with the warrior. There are two spawn points for enemies pretty far away from you, and you have access to a "kill all enemies" move (that needs to be charged up by using all your characters). I used it, killed all enemies, and then started charging up my wall breaking attack, and before the attack was fully charged I was already getting swarmed by enemies again.

Had this game been longer, and had it not had Patrick Stewart voicing the character who also acts as the games narrator, I would not have beaten it.

Also, why are the characters using rules terms when talking to each other? While it's not as bad as them saying D20, or roll for initiative, they do things like use their classes in casual conversation, rather than names,


Woolfe - The Red Hood Diaries

0.8 hours, 4 of 20 achievements

This game was a disappointment. Woolfe is a really good looking platformer with a nice atmosphere, and lackluster gameplay. Controls feel floaty and imprecise, combat feels rather shallow, and the game is simply not very fun to play.


Warborn

14.5 hours, 17 of 26 achievements

Wrote a review for this!


Halo: Combat Evolved

8 hours, 17 of 26 achievements

I played this game when it was new on PC, and I remembered enjoying the first 2/3 of it, particularly the 4th level. But nearing the end, I remembered the game taking a nose-dive, and becoming annoying to play, as a new enemy type is introduced. The new enemy type was not difficult, just annoying, and boring to fight.

Now after replaying it, I can safely say that my memory of the game was correct. The first ~2/3 is good, the 4th level is great, but then the game just nose-dives off a cliff towards the end, and becomes a chore.

Halo has some great outdoors level design, and the main enemy for most of the game, the Covenant, are a good fit for this kind of environment. While I would not say that the enemies are smart, they have been scripted pretty well, which gives the impression of them using the environment well, and them working together. It's made better by the fact that the enemy has several different races working together, and they all work differently. While Half-Life and FEAR, two other games that are known for their good AI, are limited to a few types of enemies that work together, and that follow the same basic AI script..

But towards the late game two new categories of enemies are introduced, one far more common than the other. The more common enemy type is basically space zombies, that just try to rush you. Fitting for space zombies, but they're simply not fun to fight. And there are of course loads of them. The level design also seem to take a turn for the worse together with the enemies. Repeating corridors is no fun to fight in….

I get why Halo is fondly remembered, and had it stopped at level 5, I would have said that it's a fantastic game, but it does not stop at level 5…


Batman: The Enemy Within - The Telltale Series

10.9 hours, 30 of 30 achievements

Telltale's first Batman game was really good, so I was looking forward to trying this one. I even bought it during the sale, but then it got bundled (bottom tier even), so I got a refund, and bought the bundle instead.

This game explores Batman and his complicated relationship with the joker, and by extension, the darker side of himself. It's an interesting premise, and it's executed well, but it's a shame that the detective parts from the first game got so scaled back. I would say that this is one of Telltale's better games, but not their absolute best.

This game also got me interested in finding out more about The Riddler. That villain always seemed goofy and non-threatening, but this game showed a different side of him, one that made me think that he might well be one of the most interesting batman villains.


Halo Wars 2

5 hours, no achievements

I played the first Halo Wars about a year and a half ago. I did not really intend to play the second one, but then I noticed that this one was made by Creative Assembly, and they're usually pretty good.

This game feels like a game a development studio makes to keep the lights on, while they work on the thing they actually want to make. It feels a bit passionless. That's not to say that it's a hackjob, because it's really not. This game has exceptionally high production value, for an RTS. It looks good, it sounds good, the voice acting is good, but the gameplay is rather uninspired. It's also incredibly easy. I thought that the first Halo Wars was easy, but this takes easy to a whole new level. This games hard mode is seriously easier than the easy mode of most RTSs. This really clashes with the story of some levels. Everyone's chattering about how desperate your fight is, and you're sitting there, feeling invincible, because the enemy can't even take down one of your units…

This is a pretty easy skip. It's a rather soulless game, that lacks in difficulty, and they did not even have the courtesy of giving you the complete story. It ends on a cliffhanger, and I guess I would have to buy the DLC to get the complete story. That's not happening.

Oh, and the game also has a very pay to win multiplayer mode. As you play the game you'll be given card packs, these card packs give you units to use in the multiplayer mode. You need to make a deck there, with the units you want to bring, and getting more card packs won't just give you more options for how to build your deck, but they'll also make the units you have stronger. Get duplicate cards and the cards you have level up, and the best way to get more card packs is of course to open your wallet, thus if you spend money on the game, you get units that are just stronger versions of what other people get, with no drawbacks.


Warborn review

Just a heads up, there will be spoilers in here

Say what you will about the Final Fantasy series, but most of the games in it do at least leave a stronger impression than the average game. They’re not cheap uninspired throwaway games, but rather massively ambitious games, that often take a lot of risks, and re-invent the wheel with every new entry. Re-inventing the wheel is risky, and there’s been some duds here, but also some really good games.

Final Fantasy XV does not quite land in either category, but it’s far from a perfect game. In fact, this might be one of the more flawed games in the series, for a number of reasons. yet despite these flaws, there’s something oddly compelling about this game, something that kept me going, even when I was getting a bit annoyed with the games design choices.

A more grounded fantasy

Final fantasy games have, since FF7, maybe even 6 to some extent, had a tendency of being very fantastical. You don’t really have much that grounds the games into any form of reality, instead huge magical beasts and impossible machines is the normal. These things are of course still in FF XV, but you’ve also got a more normal feeling world. Through a large chunk of the game you’ll be traveling in a car, just a simple car, in what I think is supposed to be modeled after two, or potentially three different regions of the US. But between the common pine trees or large arid areas that has paved roads going through them, you also have some impossible rock formations, and a few other things that could not exist. With a world that feels as grounded as this, those fantastical elements don’t just feel more fantastical, but it’s also easier to get a feeling for their significance. You have a frame of reference. This is in stark contrast to how it was handled in FF XIII, where everything was weird and huge early on, and you only got something known to compare it to much later.

An open world done kind of wrong

Traveling through the world of FF XV feels good. It feels coherent, and the map designers have been kind enough as to not make traveling take too long (there’s also a fast travel system, but you need to have visited any place you want to travel to first). Other open world games could learn a lot from how you traverse the world here. The problem pops up when you’re actually doing things in the world, that’s not related to the main quest. There’s a lot of side quests in FF XV, most of which feel very copy-pasted, and many of them don’t even have unique dialogue, you get the exact same description for a quest in the first place you visit, as you get in a place on the other side of the map. There are very few side quests in the game that actually feel meaningful, the vast majority of them are just “Hey, monsters are eating my carrots, go and pick some carrots”. Then you go there, and there are no monsters, just carrots. So you pick them, and return to the quest giver. And then he tells you that the monsters are eating his carrots, and a quest marker shows up in a different location, so you go there, and find 3 evil cats that are half your level. So you kill them, and pick some carrots.

Then there’s the hunting missions. Most restaurant owners have a set of side quests that have no story at all, there are just monsters roaming about, with some only showing up at a certain time of the day. Beat these and your hunter rank goes up. I don’t know if you get anything fancy if you get your rank high enough, because frankly, I could not be bothered. There was nothing special about these fights, other than you possibly running into some later game monsters early.

Signs of troubled development
Now we’re entering spoiler territory.
I had heard that FF XV had been in development for over 10 years, with it originally being meant to tie in with FF XIII, but they shifted focus at some point of the development process. This shows. The games main story does not feel complete, and during the later parts of it, it runs at a breakneck speed, with some plot elements seemingly being forgotten about along the way. And then it just comes to a halt right before the final boss, where the game remembers that it needs to give you a chance to level up and improve your characters, in case you went into the late-game too early.

This switch to a very linear style is handled poorly. At several points through the main story you get told that the open world will be locked for a while if you progress, so if you want to do some more side quests, you have a chance to do so. And you get a very similar prompt when you’re reaching the point of no return for the main quest, and when I saw it, I figured that it would be just like all the others that came before it, I’ll be away from the open world for a bit, and then return to it. Nope, you never return to it. You’re brought to a second city, that feels very well developed, and looks great, but there’s hardly anything to do in it, and after about half an hour of playtime you’ll never return to it, so something tells me that the a lot of things that were meant to happen here were left on the cutting room floor.

What comes after it feels equally rushed, and somewhat unfinished. You’ll go from place to place, not staying for very long. Well, with one exception, a very drawn out segment that feels like it drew its inspiration from Resident Evil. Seriously, it even ends with a boss that feels like it’s taken from Resident Evil 1. The pacing here is just weird, which is usually a sign that things did not go very well during the games development.

A World of product placement
I sure feel like sitting in my Coleman camping chair, while eating some delicious Nissin cup noodles, and playing Terra Wars on my smartphone. FF XV really goes ham on its product placement at times. Seeing the Coleman logo on a lot of things your character bring with them is easily ignored, but when you’ve got a quest literally dedicated to making the perfect cup noodles, ending with your characters saying that they can’t improve upon perfection, because Nissin cup noodles are already so great, then product placement goes from at worst being a bit annoying if you recognize the things they’re trying to sell you, to really intrusive. There’s a few quests that are designed to just sell you other things, and they’re not well made. Heck, the Terra Wars quest was so bad that I now think the game seems like garbage, without even having seen it. Such is the power of bad product placement.

An unfinished story full of easily digested symbolism
The FF series is not a stranger to symbolism, and FF XV is no stranger to this. It can’t be a coincidence that the main character is named Noctis, and hails from the city of Insomnia, and mostly wears black, while his wife to be, Lunafreya, wears a bright white dress. Notics, known as The King of Kings, is meant to save the world from an eternal night (finally dispelling the night in the city of Insomnia). Through your journey, you’re repeatedly tempted by a man named Ardyn, who seems to know a bit too much, and who’s willing to share nuggets of his wisdom, but who never quite seems to be on your side. This is a biblical story, is it not? Ardyn is clearly the devil, Noctis is the messiah, who ends up sacrificing himself, to save humanity. The Lunafreya, Noctis & Insomnia parts are there to reinforce the light & dark themes, and the eternal night refers to the eternal darkness that the messiah was supposed to save the world from.

It does get a bit muddled by how messy the storytelling can be at points in the game. Important scenes seems to have been cut out, and and you’ve got characters who seem to change their allegiance and personality on a whim. The story feels unfinished, but the thing above is my reading on it.

Easiest combat yet
To call Final Fantasy XV easy would be an understatement. The game offers next to no challenge, and you can just brute-force almost any encounter as long as you’re willing to spend a few potions. Potions are of course cheap and plentiful, and it’s entirely possible to beat quests that are far above your level by just holding down the target and attack button, and once your companions are ready to do a special attack, hit the button for it. If someone goes down, use a potion and they’ll be back up again. In the case of longer dungeons, you might need to use an elixir at some point (elixirs can be purchased in this game, and are cheap).

What makes it even worse is how rapidly you’ll end up out-leveling things. If you do a bunch of side quests, you’ll greatly out-level the main quest, and completely trivialize it. The leveling system simply does not work well with how the rest of the game is designed, and the over-abundance of healing items makes it so that you’ll at no point be in danger of seeing a game over screen. For a game that’s about 25h long, this is not great.

At least it’s charming
Where FF XV shines is with its atmosphere. There’s something about the feeling of going on a road trip with a few friends, taking in the sights, and enjoying a nice meal under the stars (sitting in a Coleman chair, of course…). The people you’re with, while sometimes a bit too exaggerated in their personalities, do feel like real people, and the friendship between them does not feel forced. They can take jabs at each other, act silly, but also share their feelings and fears. The writing can at times leave a bit to be desired, but this road trip aspect of the game is something I don’t think I’ve come across in any other game.

Well, the DLC is good
This game has 4 pieces of downloadable content, of which 3 are free. These are about 1-2h long, and follows one important character each, for a short while. The first one, following the big muscular guy of the group is a take it or leave it affair, but the other ones are worth playing through, and help explain some of the events in the main story. Their mechanics are also unique for each one of them, which is another big plus.

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