12 is Better Than 6
Who Pressed Mute on Uncle Marcus?
Sea Legends: Phantasmal Light Collector's Edition
Eventide 3: Legacy of Legends
Monument Valley 2
100 Asian Cats
100 Christmas Cats
100 Capitalist Cats
Cats Hidden in Paris
Cats Hidden in Jingle Jam
- 12 Is Better Than 6: Pretty good top-down shooter/puzzle game marred by a somewhat stingy visible area.
- Roadwarden: Solid as interactive fiction but very gentle as an RPG (I managed to get a lot of the rarer achievements in my only run ). Deals with a bunch of issues including colonialism and displacement.
- Who Pressed Mute On Uncle Marcus: FMV game, apparently shot during lockdown. Quite funny at times, acting pretty good, but limited branches, and it is improbable that Uncle Marcus wouldn’t have more-present medical attendance given his state.
- Eventide 3: Legacy of Legends: Enjoyable enough but rather unmemorable Hidden Object game.
- Sea Legends: Phantasmal Light: Better puzzles than Eventide 3, but would have been a bit friendlier with a map.
- Monument Valley II: As with the first game it had great style, but a little slight as a puzzler - most levels were pretty straight-forward.
- 5 hidden Cats games: All were free on Steam, and quick fun at that price, but not worth much more. The Cats Hidden in… series disguises the cats better than the 100…Cats series does.
November & December 2023
Steam - November
- A Juggler’s Tale: Some original puzzles with slightly clunky physics. The rhymed narration – doggerel – was rather irritating, even if justifiable. Phillipe Genty did it better wordlessly.
- Dream Walker: A terrible match-identicals game that uses assets and story from Dreamscapes 2: Nightmare’s Heir. Some variation in rules, but no sense to what art assets are used in a particular level.
- She Remembered Caterpillars: Stylish colour-gate puzzler. Good puzzles, though only a few were particularly tricky.
Game Pass - November
- Jusant: Climbing exploration game – mostly more meditative than challenging thanks to very generous energy consumption.
Steam - December
Rusty Lake Hotel
Professor Lupo and his Horrible Pets
Camelot 2: The Holy Grail
Batman: Arkham Origins
Dreamscapes: Nightmare's Heir - Premium Edition
- Sunlight: Excellent meditative walking simulator.
- Rusty Lake Hotel: Weird but very enjoyable Flash-style adventure game. Left me wanting to play the sequels (and went back and removed a couple of their earlier games from my blacklist)
- Professor Lupo and His Horrible Pets: Good to excellent puzzler, at times exceptionally difficult, and occasionally cruel with timings.
- Camelot II: The Holy Grail: Mediocre Adventure/Hidden Object Game
- Batman: Arkham Origins: (previously completed on normal) Completed New Game Plus, and the Cold Cold Heart DLC. More different from Arkham City than I recalled, and probably the best boss fights in aggregate of any of the Arkham series, although the AC Freeze fight was clearly the pinnacle.
- Dreamscapes 2: Nightmare’s Heir: A so-so HOG, with hotspots occasionally overly hidden, and broken handling of high res monitors. Story was not great, puzzles were pretty ordinary, and I was already put off by the horror of Dream Walker from November.
An enjoyable set of games this month
- Blue Fire: Zelda meets puzzle platformer. Combat is a bit anaemic. Platforming mostly feels good – a bit like the Mario Sunshine packless levels – once you get the additional movement apart from the rather brutal last few optional levels.
- Munin Solid puzzler, occasionally brainbending towards the end.
- Hue Solid puzzler marred by an insistance on narrative tell-don’t-show during walking sequences.
- Tulpa Stylish weird puzzle game. I have some suspicions about what some of it means, but it is deliberately mysterious.
- Batman: Arkham Asylum GOTY Finished on hard (previously finished normal). Good, but the improvements from Arkham City were repeatedly missed.
- Batman: Arkham City GOTY Finished on NG+ (previously finished normal). Still great, but surprisingly short because you start with previously collected Riddler trophies and upgrades (including max gliding speed).
- Cocoon: Started out strong, but I came to like it less than Inside and Limbo, with later puzzles more devious than fun.
Tried a handful of games this month (Lies of P, Baldur’s Gate 3, Starfield, Arcade Paradise, Gemcraft - Frostborn Wrath), and progressed a bit more with the previously-beaten Nilumbra and Neon Abyss. but the only game I finished was Shadow Tactics, which I’ve been working on for a while. I like this style of puzzle game, but take ages to get through levels (particularly the one where I decided to finish it without any fatalities).
- The Uncertain: Last Quiet Day: Short sci-fi adventure - fairly straightforward, stretched by some unfun but short driving sequences, and finishes a bit abruptly with a “To Be Continued”. Rating: 5.5/10
- Eternal Threads: Good adventure/visual novel where you work to “fix” events in a timeline. Very enjoyable, and technically written well though the characters always don’t quite ring true (and I’m not convinced that female flatmates would be in their underwear only in some of the interactions… robes … robes). It’s somewhat in the Tacoma/Her Story/Obra Dinn region of detective puzzlers, but friendlier/easier to work with. Sequel-hungry true ending, which I’d happily play. Rating: 8.5/10
- The Way Home - A Typing Adventure: Type random sequences chosen from a letter set in the available time. Hit space between words to shoot things flying overhead and collect runes. Rinse, repeat. I finished a few levels and stopped forever. Rating: 0.5/10
- Outriders: Completed 3 player co-op campaign; endgame content continues. Solid co-op cover shooter with a good variety of powers and ability mods. I was surprised to see a mixed rating on Steam. Rating: 7.5/10 (3 player co-op – it’s probably not great solo)
- A Short Hike: Fairly simple exploration game, with a lot of optional activities for shortcuts and cash/items. Sweet, but not much more (unless I’m missing something major in the sidequests) Rating: 7/10
- Broforce: Absurd and constantly inventive shmup with destructable terrain, which makes some bosses easier because one pre-prep. Played solo, but I expect that 4 players is ridiculous. Rating: 8.5/10 (solo)
- Celeste: Platformer, and at times a rather difficult one, but very fair controls. Much like Super Meat Boy, I’ve a bunch of uncollected optional collectables and levels that have broken me. 9/10
- Costume Quest: Has the Double Fine charm and weirdness, but JRPG style team combat is particularly mediocre, exacerbated by only having one battle stamp allowed (which avoided any potential for interesting complexity with interaction of multiple stamps) and some punishingly long battle animations. I’d not be at all surprised if this were developed from draft material cut from Psychonauts.
- Flower: What a lovely little game. Has the best credits mechanics I’ve ever experienced.
- Nihilumbra: Finished story mode which was an enjoyably original puzzle game, )(though not mad about the narration). The post-ending Void mode is much much more difficult.
- F.I.S.T: Forged in Shadow Torch: Competent post-Ori metroidvania with a good range of abilities, and some sporadically nice QOL in where it will re-start after a death during a challenge. Could have used some more shortcuts to make the backtracking nicer given the multitude of twisty empty paths, and definitely could have replaced coins with some other collectable (eg: make the stat upgrades require 4 pieces instead of 3) or single tradable to better reward complete exploration.
- Zombie Army 4: Dead War: 4 player co-op campaign completed. Fun enough squad vs hordes, but Sniper Elite is more my jam. Parsimonious healing / medkits can be a bit cruel.
- Maquette: I liked the puzzles / mechanics. The story and acting were a negative, however — I would have preferred a much lighter touch on the story and leave things ambiguous/surreal.
- Enigmatis: The Ghosts of Maple Creek
- House of 1000 Doors: The Palm of Zoroaster Collector's Edition
- Enigmatis: The Ghosts of Maple Creek: Enjoyable and atmospheric hidden object adventure with some clever placement of objects to be found. Fairly straightforward, but would have been significantly improved with fast travel given the quantity of backtracking.
- House of 1000 Doors: The Palm of Zoroaster: Hidden Object Game with pedestrian design choices that were at times baffling in their carelessness, and featuring some real world locations that the creators made little attempt to get close to right. More complicated steps for solving the HO scenes than Enigmatis, but on the other hand no wit in object placement, an utter lack of care in selection of objects for a particular scene, and a lot of telling exactly what needs to be done (at least in normal mode),.
- Nephise: Mercifully short walking simulator, with some puzzle nonsense in no way satisfactorily justified by the ending. Bad but not awful or unplayable. High point was the audio: the narrator’s voice, and pleasantly crunchy snow underfoot.
- Yakuza Kiwami: Surprisingly sweet given the sleazy milieu. I enjoyed this a lot more than Sleeping Dogs (no driving, more complex combat, variety of side activities), but there is a miniseries worth of cutscenes and a little too much random street combat to make a long game even longer. Full completion would be insane given the difficulty of some of the minigames. It was overly stingy on [auto]saves in later chapters - I needed to replay Chapter 9 three times due to freezes during one of the final cutscenes.
- Inside: Puzzle/walking simulator. It was interesting to play and contrast this with last month’s Planet of Lana. It has even more travel, but it’s good travel that kept me engaged. I think it comes down to having a slightly higher movement speed, more varied environmental storytelling and puzzling during that travel even though there’s still mystery on exactly what is going on and how and why by the end of the game, and no sequences where you replay the same stretch 4 times (POL’s start, dream 1, dream 2, and ending). Also has a full complement of restart points to assist full completion.
- Injustice 2: finished story mode with the Batman ending. Story held my interest, and there’s a generous quantity of characters with distinctive movesets/stances. Gameplay was ok but not great. It feels like it has less fluidity than DOA or Tekken or SF, but less nuance than the more deliberate/clunky VF, though I realise that I2 has juggles and cancels and what feels like some frame-perfect stuff, that using a gamepad rather than a joystick is not ideal, and that I haven’t really learned the depths of the characters. I haven’t played recent MKs, but that was always my least favourite major fighting series, amusing though the gimmicks were. On completing story mode, I discovered that the full game is actually a looter-beatemup… which might give some longevity. I won’t be grinding to completion, but may have another playthrough of story mode and/or play some more to give some other characters a chance.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge: Finished normal Story Mode. Fun enough old-school beat-em-up, but likely a lot more enjoyable in multiplayer.
It looks like a much quieter month’s gaming, but both Sleeping Dogs and Danganropa 2 were long, and I have 20h in Yakuza Kiwami (which should end up beaten this month), plus a bunch more time in Sniper Elite 5 playing again on Authentic difficulty.
- Dorfromantik: It’s difficult to determine where some games are “beaten”. For instance, Binding of Isaac is technically beaten when Isaac beats Mom for the first time, but most of the game is beyond that. I’m using Overachiever IV (13.9% global completions) and Landscaper VI (16.9% global completions)as my milestones for DR, but will no doubt play more of this relaxing tile laying game.
- Sleeping Dogs: A GTA3 derivative set in Hong Kong. I played for some hours before and stopped. Then it was selected as a game for Play or Pay so I restarted. I know why I stopped – it was distinctly… ok. I’ve since been playing Yakuza Kiwami, and that’s been more fun– particularly the complexity of the combat. (Edit: I’m finding myself a little annoyed by games that don’t respect player time. I would rather play a 2 hour game that needs to be 2 hours, than a much longer game which pads its worthwhile content out with meaningless filler. Take the collectables in Sleeping Dogs, for instance – there’s no skill required for most of them, and a straightforward fight for most of the rest. Compare that with Arkham City, which while it has way too many Riddler trophies at least gates these most behind somewhat unique challenges. Yeah, I know I don’t have to collect collectables I notice, but yeah I do).
- Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair Anniversary Edition: I didn’t play the first game, but instead watched the anime covering it afterwards. The sequel is a good but overlong murder mystery game (I took 27+ hours to beat it, and would need a lot more to complete!). Some of it made me laugh (it feels like Gaki no Tsukai’s New Year shows at times), and pleasantly, a bunch of initial weirdness eventually makes sense within the context of the world.
- Planet of Lana: Some good puzzles stretched by some excessive traversal (they could have cut probably 20+ minutes out and lost nothing). One thing that (for instance) Eternal Hope did to assist full completion is to not only have selectable chapters, but selectable sub-chapters which is considerate.
- Syberia: Mostly (internally) logical adventure game, marred by an excess of dead space to traverse and a muddy palette which can camouflage interactables/pickups. For instance, at one point I had to travel 17 scenes for the next step, watch a cutscene, travel another 6 scenes for a pickup and a conversation, and then travel another 16 scenes or so back to where I started from. I understand that this was probably done to make the game “cinematic” and “epic” but on many occasions I kept thinking “If this were an old-style pixel art adventure these X screens would be a single screen. At least double-click runs.
- Syberia II: Much like the first game. The final puzzle required a correlation I missed entirely.
- The Murder of Sonic the Hedgehog: Very mediocre visual novel broken up by linear isometric action minigames… but short, free and unexpected,
- The ABC Murders: Stuck to the broad strokes of the novel (which I remember the details of) but still a fun adventure game.
- Ori and the Blind Forest: Somewhat frustrating metroidvania - I did not enjoy the periodic “race” segments or the storytelling when it got heavy handed. But the light-touch storytelling was good, and the exploration and abilities enjoyable. I also mostly played the sequel, but what must be pretty close to the final level is just frustrating.
- Townscaper: I was expecting more of a game (a la Dorfromantik) but this is more of a toy. I would happily play (with) a sequel that had more variety/control.
- Sniper Elite 5: Good stealth/action game. Played on normal difficulty which gives high scope zoom levels, target marking, a focus mode to identify nearby enemies, and a shot-reticuleduring Empty Breath. After completion, had a taste of Authentic difficulty, which is a completely different experience with none of the previously listed niceties - I might go back and play some more of that.
- Vampire Survivors: It’s hard to say when a roguelite is really “beaten”, but I finished a few levels, and unlocked a bunch of new characters and items. Fun but vacuous - there’s some strategy in what you choose and update, and what is effectively bullet-hell navigation at times, but it doesn’t seem like there’s much more here (unlike Binding of Isaac, which is my mainstay roguelite)
- Citizen Sleeper: Quite a good narrative game – I thought it was an inkle (80 days, Heaven’s Gate) game from the “voice”, but it’s not. Possibly unbalanced, since my first playthrough was in position to finish in multiple different ways.