RomTaka’s profile

I’m here to hack through my backlog, which grew without restraint nor me noticing.
Wish me good luck !

AStats profile - ABC project

Fall update

It’s been many months since my last update : I plea guilty of procrastinating this post. Summer went by and here’s already Fall. :/

Football, Tactics & Glory

90.0 hours, 42 of 70 achievements

June was all about Football, Tactics and Glory. It turns out there was also some sort of World Cup in Russia - as some of you may have noticed ;-) -, so I guess I enjoyed being immersed in football all month long. I already stated how much I love this little game and how easily I spend hours on it, so no more talking about it.

Voxel Turf

5.8 hours, 10 of 53 achievements

Next, I touched Voxel Turf. I was intrigued by the promising cocktail of city-building / GTA / Minecraft but I admit I was disappointed. During my 6 hours of gameplay in single-player, I must say it still feels quite empty and basic : the creative part is unpractical while the action part is bland, and all of this occurs in an ugly environment.

Hand of Fate

4.8 hours, 7 of 53 achievements
ABC plan

My ABC plan has remained fallow for some long weeks. I nevertheless made progress on it in June when I beat Hand of Fate. There again, I liked the concept more than the implementation. It's certainly a good idea to mix cards and beat'em all but I found the game repetitive (gosh, those Dealer's lines hammered again and again were infuriating) and the fighting stages a bit muddled. From a few months away perspective, HoF already began to fade away in my mind and I'm afraid it won't leave much of an heritage in my gamer memories.

Verdict on Hand of Fate : 5,5/10

Dead Cells

38.9 hours, 35 of 53 achievements

Then it was the time I found out Dead Cells. I put my hands on it just before the end of early access. The game was already well polished, with a hand-crafted balanced difficulty and good-looking pixel art. It took me 38 hours to finish it once. I'm not the best at this kind of roguelite, but the mixture with a bit of platformer and metroidvania works very well. The game never ceased to beacon me so that I try "just that extra run", until I finally beat the final boss. The controls are among the best I experienced and it's really fun to try the different combo and styles you're offered to forge thanks to buffs and a vast array of weapons.

On top of it, the game's made by a little French studio : it's their first major title and I'm happy they managed to make such a best seller.

Verdict on Dead Cells : 9/10

July was holidays time so I played very little while August was still a lot about Dead Cells.

Yakuza 0

71.3 hours, 24 of 55 achievements

And finally, from late August up to these last weeks, I spent tens and tens of hours on Yakuza 0. This game's simply brilliant. It was my first encounter with the series and had read a bit about what to expect (namely, few in common with GTA, in spite of the mafia topic (yes, yakuza = mafia) : don't judge a book by its cover). So, I wasn't disappointed by the small map or rail-guided main quest. Basically, this main quest feels like watching a series (a good one, like The Wire), with episodic progress through nice cut-scenes. Going forward in the story always translates into crushing foes with your fists ; Y 0 is basically a BTA and you never spend more than 2 minutes in the imaginary colorful streets of Tokyo and Osaka without being dragged in street fights with hooligans, drunkards, punks, mobsters, in short, bad guys crying for being pummeled.

If like me you fondle original-language (especially Japanese) with subtitles, the voices are neat, especially the yakuza guys (so that's almost everyone in a yakuza game : hats off to Kuze who sounds so badass !). Musical tunes are also very good and catchy.

A word about the 2 protagonists : I much prefer Majima Goro over Kiryu Kazuma. Kiryu is less interesting to me, more of a yakuza cliché : he's the ultimate fist-fighter, too serious, almost without any humor, often naive and dumb-looking with his white-knight tendencies. Majima has a great background, with realistic emotional cracks, and his exposition scene (in which he scolds a customer with the most delicate diplomacy) is awesome ; contrary to Kiryu, he knows how to play a role (he can act dumb but isn't at all), in turns cuddles then punishes. Like Kiryu, his gullibility sometimes hurts the realism of his status but I forgive him because he's so much more fun to watch and listen (this Kansai accent !). BTW, about this gullibility thing, the whole game suffers from this risky balance between cold realism during the cut-scenes and outrageous funny behaviors during substories or mini-games. But I somehow liked this unpromising mix.

Back to the story. Little by little, once I had grasped the 2 main characters, my interest for the main quest - as good as it is - began to fade away as I found out all the substories and secondary activities you can do. Among other things, you can practice fishing, base-ball, karaoke, dancing, card games, mahjong, shogi (Japanese chess), remote-controlled cars races, bowling and I must forget many other activities. The 2 bigger games in the game (real estate for Kiryu and cabaret club for Goro) are the best part and before I realized, I spent much more time in these than driving forward the main story. Even though I knew before playing this game that there was a shitload of activities ans substories, I definitely think the core of the game lies there rather than in the BTA part.

Verdict on Yakuza 0 : 9/10

I left aside a small number of multiplayer games I played a couple hours each : they are all F2P and pretty forgettable. And the usual Dirt Rally and Pixel Puzzles too.

Finally, on a side note, I’m afraid completing my ABC plan is gonna take me much more than a year. But like says T.S. Eliot (and it would make a nice slogan for BLAEO) :

“the journey not the arrival matters”.

May update

May is over and I managed to eliminate 6 more games from my backlog (2 from my ABC project) since the last update at the end of April.

Scribblenauts Unlimited

8 hours, 13 of 25 achievements

Scribblenauts Unlimited : I play this one with my kids, in order to introduce them and get interested in video games, eventhough they can't play themselves yet. Since they can't read either, I describe what is asked on the screen and make them think about possible answers. The concept of the game is neat but it suffers one big flaw : translation. I play in French and a lot of the puzzles are based on puns in English. Therefore, many times, what you're asked to do remains hard to understand, even for a grown-up so imagine for a kid.
Verdict on Scribblenauts Unlimited : 5/10

Brothers : a tale of two sons

3 hours, 12 of 12 achievements

Brothers : a tale of two sons : I played and beat B:atots in a "challenge me" event (out of BLAEO). It was as expected a nice story, emotional and of perfect length (not too short, not too long). I will remember the gameplay where you direct each brother with a side of the controller (stick and target) : it's savvy and challenging, because it requires a lot of coordination, and the gameplay fits nicely the subject of coop between the brothers.
Verdict on Brothers : a tale of two sons : 6,5/10

Mafia II

12 hours, 33 of 67 achievements
ABC Project

Mafia II : there's a lot to say about this one but since I'm a patient gamer and this game was released in 2010, I think you may have already read a lot about it.
First of all, I started it because I was recently gifted Mafia III, so I decided it was time to make the second episode before someday I started the third (and I know nothing about the first).
The strong point of the game for me is the story, the atmosphere and the characters. The missions are not "go there, kill this guy and bring back this thing". They are all about discovering little by little the mafia, from the base to the top level, with petty missions at first before getting a gun and finally becoming a "cleaner". Unfortunately, it looks like the game was never ended and had to be released unfinished by 2K, so the end is rather abrupt, raising more questions than delivering answers.
On the other hand, M2 is a semi-open-world : at first, I didn't realize since you're always in a mission and it looks like there's no free time to hang out freely. Well, in fact, you're not compelled to rush the missions and you could drive wherever you want before realizing the missions but since there are no activities like say in GTA IV (golfing, races…), there's no point to go off the rails. The only collectibles are Playboy girls' posters during the missions (OK, I confess it, I found these posters gorgeous [eventhough fussy spoilsports noted the posters - presented as part of an agreement with Playboy - depicted girls from late 50s and 60s while the story takes place in the 40s and early 50s]) and fake criminals' posters (with faces of 2K Czech devs) in the streets : that's very scarce to motivate me to visit the world. Consequently, it feels like the world is really thorough but the game doesn't make the most of it. It's just a beautiful background. Moreover, you're required to drive through the whole map on many occasions but driving sensations are dull and nothing happens during these drives.
The checkpoints enraged me a few times because I had to start over some tricky missions (one boss in particular was very hard to beat) but overall, the progression is not too steep.
So, in the end, the game could have been so great but it looks to me like a failed GTA IV. Both games take place in NY and in the mafia world but GTA IV managed to implement well many of the good ideas M2 failed. At first, I even thought M2 was released before GTA IV but it was released in 2010, 2 years after GTA IV !
Verdict on Mafia II : 7/10

Koi-koi Japan

5 hours, 24 of 35 achievements
ABC Project

Koi-koi Japan : not much to say about this one, except I picked it in my ABC project because at the time, it was the only K game I own. It's a little card game with Iroha cards, a japanese card game. I bought it in a deviant anime bundle but it's not racy at all. I kind of beat it by completing the campaign, but to shorten it, I admit I remained in level 1 difficulty, so the AI wasn't really competitive.
Verdict on Koi-koi Japan : 5/10

Call of Juarez : Gunslinger

6 hours, 12 of 26 achievements

Call of Juarez : Gunslinger : the nice surprise of the month ! I'm usually not very much into FPS but I like almost anything Western-themed. I didn't play a lot of games set in the Old West : my best memory is of course Red Dead Redemption but CoJ:G reminded me a very old FPS I had played as a kid. I had to look for the title on Internet because all I had in mind were fleeting images : it turned out it's 1997 LucasArts' Outlaws that was in my mind. And it's funny how memories work : the video I watched on YT, to check if it was the game I remembered, was harsh with the images I had kept (or made up ?) in my memory. The graphics, already a bit dated when the game was released because using Dark Forces' Jedi engine, haven't aged well to say the least. And the levels feel so empty. The moral is : never look back at games you played and liked more than 10 years ago if you don't want your sweet memories to be crushed. :)
Anyway, back to CoJ:G : these graphics aged well since 2013 ;). In terms of game design, I was at first disappointed the levels weren't more open-world but took place in corridors, without any freedom of movement. They are also only flashbacks, without a linear progression, but the idea of the narrator changing his story because of erratic memories and how it influences the level design in real-time is brilliant.
There are a dozen of levels, that can all end in 2 ways : a boss fight or a duel. As always, some bosses fight were really boring for me (like when you have to fight guys with a Gatling) but on the other hand, the duels are another good and well implemented idea : it's a bit tricky because you have to deal with your opponent moves, keeping him in target with the mouse, while in the same time you also have to focus on your gun by putting your hand as close as possible of the grip ; and then, finally, it becomes a race when you have to react fast to draw the gun and aim when the other guy shows he's gonna shoot.
The story itself was a good surprise, with a very nice ending. And as an icing on the cake, the "nuggets of truth", which are collectibles to be found in the levels, reveal the more realistic and grim aspects of the wild West, often too much idealized when depicted in games and Hollywood movies.
Verdict on Call of Juarez : Gunslinger : 7,5/10

Hell Yeah !

7 hours, 8 of 12 achievements

Hell Yeah ! : like B:atots and CoJ:G (sorry for the acronyms), HY! was assigned to me in a monthly "challenge me" event. This one didn't hit the target like the others : it was funny for half an hour, when you discover the frenzy, the 2nd degree humor and the mini-games (that means QTE). But once you encountered them once, you pretty much have seen all the possibilities and the rest is just "more of the same". The platform parts are dispensable and the game is very clumsy in how it shows you where to go : after every notch of mini-bosses beaten (there are 100 of them), the game rewards you with a long scrolling to show you the door to the next stage, eventhough it's often just at the end of a corridor, yet tortuous but still a corridor.
So, pun intended, HY! is repetitive as hell = NO.
Verdict on Hell Yeah ! : 4/10

Looking back 1,5 month

It’s been a few days I should have started to write March’s recap, so I’m gonna look back both March and half of April.
Like announced in my last post, I decided first to finish XCOM2 and then dove into Hollow Knight. On the way, I also moved forward in my ABC project with the Shrouded Isle and strolled in Dirt Rally.

  • XCOM 2

    42 hours playtime

    28 of 80 achievements

  • Hollow Knight

    45 hours playtime

    41 of 57 achievements

  • The Shrouded Isle

    5 hours playtime

    7 of 16 achievements

  • DiRT Rally

    7 hours playtime

    24 of 170 achievements

XCOM2 : I loved XCOM-EU/EW, which was my first encounter with this venerable franchise but XCOM2 didn’t make my heart go wild as the previous episode had. I can’t explain much why : in fact, I didn’t see many differences between the 2 games apart from being the attacker in the sequel rather than defending Earth in the previous one. The campaign rhythm is still compelling, forcing you to always go forward eventhough you would prefer to fill your weaknesses and strengthen your team. The enemies are good and varied. The difficulty curve is still sharp : I had begun in Normal but ended in Easy because I didn’t want to start from scratch because of bad decisions taken while I didn’t know what to expect in my first run.
I read the WotC DLC is pretty good but I don’t think I want to go back at it for the moment.
Verdict on XCOM2: 6,5/10

Hollow Knight : my oh my ! Orkestra had warned me in February that Life is Strange maybe wouldn’t stay my 2018 GOTY after I had begun HK : oh, how right he was ! HK is without any doubt a masterpiece, a Metroidvania gem and landed right on top of my 2018 podium.
What stands out for me is how the game manages to draw out the pleasure of always discovering new things, be it zones, enemies, power-ups, bosses, etc. This game is so deep : for hours, it seemed to me there was no bottom and every time I discovered a new zone I thought “That sure is the last zone that was to be unveiled” but I was wrong. Even after you’ve discovered all the map, the beginning stage you visited countless times gets transformed and becomes harder : what a brilliant idea !
Let’s speak about bosses. I usually hate bosses but in HK, where there are tens of them, I wasn’t reluctant to face them. I’ve seen HK compared to Dark souls (but what game hasn’t been compared to DS ? :) for how the inventory is lost but can be retrieved every time you die, and for the many bosses you meet. I never played any DS (I’m intimidated by the supposed difficulty) but HK’s not that hard and the punishment it inflicts you is always fair : once you master your character’s moves and powers, and you study well the bosses’ attacks and patterns (I confess having watched a lot of playthrough on YouTube in order to assimilate faster these patterns), it’s not so hard. Some are tough but with patience and the right charms (see further), you can beat them. That being said, I also confess in the end, I wasn’t patient enough, after almost 50 hours of play, to beat the Grimm troupe (I read the Dream version of Grimm is really a nightmare) and skipped this part.
This pops up the charms : this system is so innovative, so rewarding, so practical to adopt your fighting style. I loved chasing them and then trying them out to find out which ones suited me the best.
Congrats on the Cherry team for developing this game and still continuing to deepen (freely, without any charged DLCs for the time being !) the gameplay.
Verdict on Hollow Knight : 9/10

the Shrouded Isle : this little management game was in my ABC project and I decided after Hollow Knight, it was a good time to play something lighter. Well, I’d rather say shorter because the atmosphere of tSI is very dark and oppressive.
It’s basically a story of sacrifice : every season, you have to kill someone among the 5 main families, in a sacrifice for the local God, without destroying the village’s cohesion.
Very quickly, I suffered the Crusader King 2’s syndrome where you don’t really care for the story or what the characters say or live anymore, but you only look at the events’ output and the influence on the parameters you monitor (5 categories and the 5 families mood, to maintain above a given level).
If you’re good at this, you can finish the game in less than 2 hours. It took me roughly 4 hours : it was moderately fun but I wonder how much I would have been ready to pay for this kind of very short game (actually, I got it through a Barter’s trade).
Verdict on the Shrouded Isle : 5/10

Dirt Rally : I love car games but I still haven’t found any better than Forza Motorsport 4 (on XBOX 360) where the career mode is well balanced, not too long and incentive enough. DR isn’t the most generous game in terms of cars or stages proposed. The wrapping is also miles away from a Forza Horizon spirit, which is fine for me coz’ I hate being taken for a hipster teenager. What matters to me in a car game is above all the physics and they are pretty well rendered in DR (nothing surprising coming from Codemasters). I think I’m gonna play DR sporadically in the coming months, a few races here and there.

Looking back at February

  • SteamWorld Heist

    16 hours playtime

    17 of 47 achievements

  • The Deadly Tower of Monsters

    5 hours playtime

    7 of 25 achievements

  • Life Is Strange

    15 hours playtime

    60 of 60 achievements

I postponed this post for a few days, more by idleness than by shame beacuse there’s no reason to be ashame this month. On the contrary, I can be proud of my February activity : 3 games beaten (among which 1 was on my ABC project), thanks to a private Challenge me event. In the meantime, contrary to what I thought in January, I almost didn’t touch to Terraria : I’m afraid this one is gone again in the depths of my backlog (sigh). My game cravings are so odd.
Anyway, let’s look back at this recent activity in chronological order.

Steamworld Heist : I was so hyped by the facts that 1) Evilblacksheep is so eagerly enthusiastic about this game, 2) I’m a huge fan of the XCOM franchise and 3) I had really loved Steamworld Dig and its robots world. But the higher the expectations, the harder it is for a game to reach such high standards. All in all, I liked the game but I expected to fall in love with it (sigh).
To sum it up in a mesclun mix : the music is great ; the story is average ; some perks are quite innovative ; I didn’t like some of the level design (sometimes hard for me to tell which platforms were bullet-proof and which could be shot through) ; the boss stages (especially the last one) were a pain in the a$$ :/ .
Verdict on Steamworld Heist: 6/10

The Deadly Tower of Monsters : now that I give a grade to my games on BLAEO, this one’s gonna be pretty hard to assess.
On the one hand, I absolutely loved the idea of making a pastiche of 60s low-budget sci-fi B-movies. The very idea of the director commenting the game like it’s a DVD version of its film is brilliant. The implementation of this idea also turns out to be hilarious, even though I regret not to be perfectly fluent in English (not my native language) since it was sometimes hard to listen to the commentaries (or read the subtitles) while I was playing some attention-requiring stages.
On the other hand, once you set aside the coating, the candy tasted pretty sour. I mean, the gameplay is lame (a badly scripted beat’em all), the camera terrible, the weapons always disappointingly unresponsive, the platform parts frustrating. OK, you can take it all for a tongue-in-cheek humor but the point is the gaming part of the game is not very fun : annoying for a game, huh ?
Verdict on The Deadly Tower of Monsters : 5/10 (+2 if you value more the container than the content)

Life is Strange : what a plat de resistance ! At first, I was a bit afraid of the game, having read mixed reviews where either people loved it, either hated it. Moreover, this kind of slow, narrative, contemplative game is really not a genre I’m usually into. But on the exact opposite of Steamworld Heist’s scheme, I had relatively low expectations and they were skyrocketed by the output : I was thrilled !
(I don’t want to spoil but don’t read this if you want to keep LiS charm intact.)
What can I say that hasn’t already be said ? I’m very aware of a few flaws : the animations are simplistic and occasionally disconnected from what’s going on, the story developments are sometimes predictable and some gameplay around the end is very tedious to say the less (those who finished the game will surely know what I’m talking about). And yet I loved the game, in spite of these flaws and I even wonder if I didn’t love it more because of such minor flaws, just like when you’re attracted by a person with an unsettling beauty, far from usual canons.
Listing all the things I loved will be long ;). First, from the very beginning, I liked the peaceful, natural atmosphere, the overall golden lighting and the setting in small town, somewhere in a US Northwestern state. I enjoyed how DONTNOD depicted those teenage years, not in a sensationalist way, without skimming off all the fck and sht in the dialogues : I think the core of the story is about friendship and that time when you become adult. But it’s also the first time I play a game broaching so many serious topics (suicide, harassment, depression, alcoholism, environmental issues, handicap, euthanasia, etc) in a clever, sensitive way, far from the usual cliches. I love the photographic background and how it’s used in the game to encourage you to rummage around the sceneries (on a side note, it also quite easily permits to 100% the game !). The voice actors are stupendous and play a big role in how you really grow attached to the characters : OK, I admit I wanted to slap Chloe and tell her to grow up from time to time, but that’s because she’s a well-written character, well embodied by her actress. The music was perfect (I obviously became addicted to the menu theme and to Obstacles). The graphic style fits fantastically well with the rest of the game : I witnessed the most beautiful sky I ever saw in a game.
This game is such an emotional roller-coaster : this must have been written countless times about the game but it’s so true. It’s proven all along the whole game but it’s epitomized by episode 5 : what a memorable finish ! Even if I said earlier some storyline could be anticipated, I was also struck a few times by some scenario U-turns.
It’s a bit strange to talk about GOTY that early in 2018 , but so far, LiS is clearly my GOTY !
Verdict on Life is Strange : 9/10

Looking forward to March, I decided it was about time to finally erase from my backlog some games started a long time ago, starting with XCOM2 that I’m about to beat. I also succumbed to Hollow Knight, a longtime top-of-my-wishlist dweller that was offered to me a few weeks ago.

Good bye January, 1984 and Mordor !

  • Middle-earth™: Shadow of Mordor™

    21 hours playtime

    33 of 74 achievements

  • Orwell

    4 hours playtime

    12 of 27 achievements

  • Terraria

    74 hours playtime

    44 of 88 achievements

Since my last post, I’ve yet made some progress through my ABC project (currently 4/23) and beat Orwell lately.

But first, for the monthly challenge, I finally brought Middle-Earth : Shadow of Mordor to an end, along fellow BLAEO-er Jowy.
My opinion about ME:SoM is commonplace I think : the game is nice, well done, technically all set but it lacks something, call it personality or ambition. The sandbox is a strength to me, since it’s well implemented : you choose your target among Orcs leaders, analyze its weak side, track it, hunt it, get rid of the minions and finally slash it. The problem is the rest of the game equals totally more of the same : target, analyze, track, hunt, kill, rinse and repeat. The supposed core of the game, that is to say the storyline missions, is pretty forgettable, even more for someone like me with no particular affinity for the Lords of the Rings’ universe (I’ve seen Peter Jackson’s trilogy and that’s it). I happen to own ME:SoM’s GOTY version but I don’t feel like even glancing at the DLCs. My monthly challenge’s buddy Jowy told me he basically felt the same way about the game overall and the DLCs in particular.
BTW, fighting along Orcs and the backlog with Jowy was a good motivation to go through the game, even if it was hard to push forward at the same pace and to be able to find some time to exchange feedbacks. So, hooray for January monthly theme !
Verdict on Middle-Earth : Shadow of Mordor : 6,5/10

Orwell : while we were on a roll after ME:SoM, Jowy and I agreed to go on the monthly challenge and beat Orwell, (virtually) side by side. Once again, we succeeded but I was slightly disappointed…
First, with such a title, you can presume the game is about the concepts of privacy and social surveillance. Indeed, your character is part of some Big Brother project, in an imaginary country. Your new job is to monitor targeted people by spying their mails, phone calls, social media posts, etc : in concrete terms, it translates in the game in doing some sort of copy-paste of pre-chosen sentences. I found this dim gameplay to be boring but like Jowy said to me, you’re part of a blind and cold administration, so it’s normal to feel bored while doing these everyday chores. Jowy 1, RomTaka 0. ;)
What is supposed to be the heart of the game is the story, and while I write that, I realize the game is definitely closer to a VN than I would have thought at first : rather than the dialogs and answers you give like in a normal VN, it’s the pieces of “truth” you choose to pick, in order to paint a character honest or shady, insignificant or interesting, innocent or guilty, that direct Orwell’s story. This being said, the game is very rigid and guiding and would have been better if you could have chosen more freely the sentences and facts you want to retain. So, you could say that just like in a VN, your decisions can bend the story in a direction or another, but even with my single run, I feel like these changes of direction are very few. Moreover, even though the game is divided in acts, you have to start over the whole game in order to take different decisions and see how it affects the story : poor choice of game design. About the technical aspects, there’s almost no music or sound and very few animations (BTW, it’s really a shame you have to wait for the conversations to scroll down in real time and can’t fast forward) : once again, don’t expect Orwell to be fun. If you expect it to make you think, you could be more satisfied but myself, considering I’m already pretty sensitive to all the privacy protection subject, I don’t grant the game any particular enlightenment.
The good point is I beat one more game on my ABC project. ¯_(ツ)_/¯
Verdict on Orwell : 5/10

Finally, it had been years that I hadn’t touched Terraria but a few months ago, I saw Steam achievements had been added to the game, so this month, I decided to give it a try again. I had already played some 35 hours in my previous run but I plunged back instantly : as of today, I added 38 hours to my playtime and 44 achievements !
What a delight to dig, loot, fight underground mobs, gear yourself, set your arena and return victorious from a boss fight ! As of now, I finally managed to beat the Wall of Flesh and subsequently enter the hardmode. What I like best in Terraria, it’s I can progress at my own pace (in spite of random events and although in hardmode the Corruption and Hallow now slowly but surely invades the map), which honestly means I can linger as much as I want : this way, I’m thoroughly preparing to face the Mechanical bosses and not ready to quit Terraria !

February will be a “Challenge me” month for me, so I should be busy next month beating at least 1 or 2 of my assigned games… and continuing Terraria.

ABC project on track

  • Unbox

    7 hours playtime

    11 of 15 achievements

  • Tibetan Quest: Beyond the World's End

    3 hours playtime

    15 of 18 achievements

  • Middle-earth™: Shadow of Mordor™

    20 hours playtime

    30 of 74 achievements

  • Koi-Koi Japan [Hanafuda playing cards]

    84 minutes playtime

    20 of 35 achievements

Unbox : one more ABC project game finished !
This is the kind of nice little game that I will unfortunately forget soon after I finished it. This is also the kind of game where I feel sorry for the graphist designer(s), who created a beautiful world that the game designer failed to bring to life.
All in all, I spent 6 fun hours being a little cardboard box, jumping around the 3 levels and half but the gameplay’s too restrictive : you can roll, jump and… jump higher. With these abilities, you have to track down (a lot of) collectible gizmos, run 3 or 4 little races on each level (whether “on foot” - if I may say - or aboard cars), crush a few enemies here and there, face 3 bosses and… that’s it. A pity the devs didn’t exploit better the beautifully crafted levels (a tropical island, a ski resort, another island, plus the main hub, on a boat). On top of that, there are a few bugs : the worst one happened when I - as a cardboard box, remember ? - was trying to push big stone balls into slots, without ‘em falling in the water. Have you ever tried pushing a ball when you’re a cube ? I guess not but it’s hell and after some long minutes, when I finally succeeded in placing the 3 balls in their slots, my little cardboard box laid down and never stood up again. I had to redo the whole stone-pushing nightmare in order to get my stamp (yes, all the trials reward you with a stamp, ‘coz you’re a self-delivering package, as a matter of fact).
I’ve read in the credits that Unbox is supposed to be some sort of a tribute to Banjo and Kazooie : I never played any game from this acclaimed series but I have the feeling Unbox failed to echo the role model. A few screenshots where you can admire my customized box

Tibetan Quest: Beyond the World’s End : another beaten game from my ABC project !
TB:BWE AKA just another HOG : I’m definitely not a huge HOG genre fan. I had included this one in my ABC project because I thought I would need breathing spaces in between bigger games, and that plan ran smoothly. TQ:BWE isn’t particularly attractive or wily. It does the job and distracts you for a couple of hours. Nothing less, nothing more.

Other than that, I’m making progress on ABC project’s letter K : Koi-Koi Japan (Hanafuda playing cards).

Finally, outside of the ABC project, I’m near the end of Shadow of Mordor, side by side with Jowy as part of the monthly challenge : it feels more and more repetitive to mass murder tens of ugly Orcs, so I only do short play sessions. Soon to come my complete opinion !

Poll : how do you decide you beat or complete your "endless" games (such as these) ? Time spent, achievements, personal objectives, à la carte ?

Last post of 2017 & first ABC Project update !

I’ve been very active lately : here’s my fourth post of December on BLAEO !

  • Gorogoa

    88 minutes playtime

    6 of 10 achievements

  • JumpJet Rex

    5 hours playtime

    17 of 51 achievements

Gorogoa : I was offered this puzzle game on Christmas (thanks Mach !) and managed to finish it the day after in less than 1 h 30. Being short is the first good point in my view, especially in these times of fat backlog. The design and animations are simple but nice, in a hand-drawn fashion. There’s no text and only a very discreet music : all of this makes it very relaxing. The puzzle mechanics are pretty innovative but I don’t want to say much, not to spoil you the pleasure of discovering them yourselves. It had me well cogitating at first and I had to experiment haphazardly a bit before I got the trick and moved along faster in the second half. The big con is the story, or rather the lack of : actually, you’re presented pieces of stories, in a very dreamlike universe, and I guess you have to connect the dots with your own imagination, which I’m usually bad at. Overall, it’s a nice experience but being this short, I recommend not to buy before it’s around 5 bucks.

Jumpjet Rex : I made progress on my 2018 ABC project by beating this good game. Before including it to my ABC project, I had already played more than half the levels and I finished the last third this month. It’s a good die-and-retry platformer (sort of because there’s no platform since you fly), where you command a little dino with propellers skates fighting hostile environment and robots in space. I know, the pitch sounds odd and the graphics look cartoon but the game is rather hardcore, and I sometimes tore my hair out like Super Meat Boy could make me so. In order to unlock new levels, you have to obtain stars and there are 3 way to get a star on any level : one for beating it, one for beating it without dying once and one for beating it with a time under the par (so you can get the 3 stars in one run if you’re quick enough and don’t die). As usual, I struggled against the bosses but in the end, I took a lot of pleasure along most of the levels and highly recommend it.

Finally, I also altered my ABC project since I realized Morphblade is an endless game : so Mafia II takes over the letter M.

Happy New Year’s Eve and see you in 2018 !

Let’s start an ABC project for 2018 !

I’m joining the bandwagon on these ABC lists a bunch of fellow assassins have created (hats off to Blue Ϟ Lightning for tracking ‘em down) in order to downsize that backlog.
I picked 23 games (don’t have any for the X, Y and Z letters), a few of them I have already skimmed over (3 hours being the max, on The Darkness 2 namely).
I don’t plan to play them in alphabetical order but according to my impulses, and I grant myself the whole 2018 year to finish them.

# Game Achievements Playtime
1 Avalanche 2: Super Avalanche
0% (0 of 22) 0 minutes
2 Bomber Crew
20% (6 of 30) about 1 hour
3 Chroma Squad
0% (0 of 43) 0 minutes
4 The Darkness II
20% (10 of 50) about 3 hours
5 Eufloria HD
0% (0 of 20) 0 minutes
6 Flinthook
0% (0 of 37) 0 minutes
7 Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams Won on SteamGifts
0% (0 of 25) 0 minutes
8 Hand of Fate
0% (0 of 53) 0 minutes
9 Infested Planet
17% (6 of 36) about 1 hour
10 JumpJet Rex
20% (10 of 51) about 2 hours
11 Koi-Koi Japan [Hanafuda playing cards]
37% (13 of 35) 34 minutes
12 Life Is Strange
0% (0 of 60) 0 minutes
13 Morphblade
0 minutes
14 Nova-111
0% (0 of 10) 0 minutes
15 Orwell
0% (0 of 27) 0 minutes
16 Papers, Please
0% (0 of 13) 0 minutes
17 Qvadriga
0 minutes
0% (0 of 8) 0 minutes
19 The Shrouded Isle
0% (0 of 16) 0 minutes
20 Tibetan Quest: Beyond the World's End
22% (4 of 18) 27 minutes
21 Unbox
0% (0 of 15) 0 minutes
0% (0 of 19) 0 minutes
23 Wolfenstein: The New Order
0% (0 of 50) 0 minutes

Another update : it’s “almost Christmas” update ! (part 2)

  • The Stanley Parable

    2 hours playtime

    6 of 10 achievements

  • Pixel Puzzles: Japan

    8 hours playtime

    26 of 26 achievements

  • Pixel Puzzles Ultimate

    31 hours playtime

    42 of 964 achievements

  • Clustertruck

    3 hours playtime

    9 of 19 achievements

  • One Finger Death Punch

    7 hours playtime

    85 of 152 achievements

  • The Darkness II

    3 hours playtime

    10 of 50 achievements

  • Football Tactics

    54 hours playtime

    38 of 70 achievements

The Stanley Parable : I quite don’t understand the hype this game is blessed with. Ok, it’s fun for half an hour, when it makes you realize how you’re constantly manipulated by video games, when it catches you off-guard or when it puts a finger on all the unsaid things and stereotypes of the game industry. But that’s for an hour, top and other than that, I didn’t see any message. Too bad in my opinion because it could be a perfect vector for a political stance but the dev seems to have decided to stay in the grotesque rather than in the thought-provoking. The good points are 1) I didn’t pay for it (another gift from a generous friend) and 2) you can explore (almost) all the possibilities in less than 2 hours.

Pixel Puzzles Japan : I was gifted this game, lured by the Japanese background but I was sucked in it and finished all the puzzles in a month. The trap was set : details below.

Pixel Puzzles Ultimate : beckoned by PP Japan, Steam had me install PPU and before I had the chance to draw breath, I found myself buying a handful of DLC. To start with, the game is free with a few complimentary puzzles but you can buy many more, on every possible theme (countries, seasons, animals, events…). Oh, that guilty pleasure… I feel like an old person (well, I AM getting old but not THAT old) to enjoy playing puzzle on my computer. Oh come on, I’ll be at ease with myself : as a kid, I already liked real puzzles and this game recalled me of that time. It’s not very elaborate, not very beautiful but it’s a perfect occupation to kill time when you want to play a game but don’t want to kill things, explore places, jump platforms or kick a ball. Gee, already 31 hours of play !

Clustertruck : “FTF game”, as in “fun then frustration” game. In the beginning, for the first worlds, I was enjoying myself so much : unwillingly, I was moving and swinging on my chair like crazy to help my character to jump over the damn moving trucks or to slide under bars, holding my breath on scary final dead-jumps, etc. But, then I arrived toward the 7th world and things got worse gradually : by that time you don’t see the finish line by far, so you have to make blind hyper-jumps and on top of that, the ever-changing pattern of the truck movements and the quibbling physics really got on my nerves. When I watched the final “boss” on YT, I decided ending this game was definitely not for me. Another unended game till the end of time. Boohoo.

One Finger Death Punch : I’m still amazed by all the fun you can get from such a 2-button mash brawler. Well not so much with mashing buttons because the game requires a lot of self-control if you want to reach the end : I did and I’m proud to paint it green. There are still a helluva number of achievements to unlock and I will certainly get back to it, by little sessions, like I did until now.

The Darkness 2 : this one was part of an October challenge of mine. The deadline was close but I decided to give it a try, without conviction. You know, I’m a bit allergic to FPS (both litterally and figuratively, because of the dizziness and headache it gives me sometimes) but this one seems to have a distinctive flavour, with these powers of the Dark you have, in addition to the ubiquitous guns. From my 3 hours playtime, I sensed the story and the main character were also at the verge of being original : OK, you’re a mobster but with super-powers, so you can kill with style ; OK, you’re a killer but you try not to be too evil, because you still linger on your first love (OK, she’s dead but when you’re as powerful as Death itself, is she ?) ; OK, you’re Death’s equal but aren’t you just nuts ? Me being me, I didn’t have the courage to go really far into the game because between the lines, it basically remains a FPS where the action have you alternate shoot (or eviscerate) and cover. But, someday, I may be brave enough to spend the 3 or 5 hours left to completion, just to see if the scenario reveals itself up to my hare-brained ideas.

Football Tactics : my gem of the month ! This is just a little game in early access, from a small Ukrainian studio, but imagine the illegitimate child of Football Manager and XCOM : if you’re turned on by these 3 ingredients of turn-based tactics, management and football, the latter being surprisingly the less important, you might belong to the targeted audience. It’s a shame this game isn’t more well known : eventhough it’s still in early access (the target being Spring 2018), it is quite well polished.
I had already played many hours when I had bought it, many months ago and it was already a lot of fun climbing from lower leagues to the top levels (well, I have to admit I never reached the first league yet). The big October update made it even better: it completely revamped the specialization of players and it now entices you to build the team you want, so that you can always adapt to your opponent’s team. Game after game, you gain XP to refine your players’ playing style and improve their abilities : you can also simulate these games if you want to gain time or if you don’t like turn-based tactics and just want to focus on the stat sheets and management. You can download on the workshop some mods to play with English, German, Spanish, Italian, French, Russian, Japanse or whatever-you-like real championships, with real team names (but fake players name, though you can personnalize them if you want).
And the cherry on the cake : there's a demo available on Steam (a feature getting rarer and rarer that needs to be encouraged) ! Go get it to give FT a chance. I’d be really happy if someone tells me he tried the game on my recommandation.

Another update : it’s “almost Christmas” update ! (part 1)

I plead guilty for not writing very often these times. But I managed to play some games since my last post 3 months ago and even finish quite a few of them !

  • BattleBlock Theater

    8 hours playtime

    10 of 30 achievements

  • Saints Row: The Third

    27 hours playtime

    40 of 83 achievements

  • Pyre

    13 hours playtime

    34 of 51 achievements

  • Ori and the Blind Forest: Definitive Edition

    12 hours playtime

    30 of 57 achievements

Battleblock Theater : overall a good game, that was assigned to me as part of a monthly challenge. From BbT, I will remember 2 main things : the catchy jazzy-electronic menu music and the completely nutty narrator, telling you an equally nutty plot. If I were brave, I would commit to go on playing those handcrafted levels so that I can win more stamps and heads for the character but I’m weak and my backlog is still huge, so I will just give myself a pat on the back for finishing BbT.

Saints Row : the Third : I had been challenged to finish this game a while back (was it… in July maybe ?) and I finally succeeded in… November ! I had trouble with the main quest : for a moment, the missions that I was proposed to accomplish through the in-game phone seemed to be only side-quests, which rapidly became less and less fun and more and more grinding. But someday, I finally managed to trigger again the main quest and from then, I quickly completed the missions till the end(s). It was an enjoyable trip, to go always further in the WTF like this. Good memories.

Pyre : maybe my GOTY. I wrote a review in Steam (in French) that sums up what I thought of it, namely very few flaws and many great accomplishments by Supergiant team. I had played their 2 previous games (Bastion and Transistor) : the first one was attractive but dodgy, I had liked the second one for its gameplay more than for its story, but this 3rd one is a success on every level.
Let’s quickly brush aside the flaw : the game is a bit repetitive mainly because of those repeated rides in wagon, from star to star. BTW, the rendering of those wagon phases is a bit cheap compared to how splendid the rest of the graphics are.
Here comes the pros :

  • the music. I woke up the other morning with the ending theme (Bound Together) in mind and that’s generally a very good sign my subconscious really liked a song. It’s also very rare I consider an OST worthy of being listened for itself, outside of the game : for Pyre, it’s the case and Darren Korb is a composer name you should remember.
  • the graphic part, especially the lights effects and the chara-design, is outstanding. If you’ve read the comic book Saga, maybe like me you’ll find some analogies between the universe, with horned and winged people hating each other, star travels, very imaginative races, etc.
  • the story counts among the things that gives you the motive to try “just another rite” (as are called the 3-against-3 games), in order to learn more about the characters and the global plot. Yeah, like this good ol’ Civilization syndrome : “just another turn and I go to bed”. As a side note, the game is only in English at the time (not my native language obviously) and I found the required level higher than usual, because of the old-fashion vocabulary and turn of phrase : if you don’t like reading, you might be repelled by such a chatty game.
  • the almost perfect balance between VN and sport phases, and the learning curve very progressive and well imbricated with the story progression. It was a very daring bet from the devs to mix VN and sport : those who like VN might not like the sporty parts and vice versa. For my person, it works remarkably well and the 2 sides are perfectly assembled. For example, at the beginning, the story justifies the way you learn to practice the rites, and this sort of untold tutorial doesn’t feel artificial like it sometimes does in other games, because the fourth wall is never broken. Or you could say it is broken but within the story itself so the ludonarrative dissonance passes unnoticed. Play it and you’ll understand ! :)

Ori and the Blind Forest : I usually love metroidvania and platformer. This one, I struggled to love it but in the end, I’d say I spent a good time. If I struggled at first, it’s because I played for too long without improving my character with facultative abilities, and therefore, the more I advanced in the stages, the more difficult it was with my poor 3 life points and save slots. The saving system itself gave me a hard time because in this game, you choose when to save your progression, with a cost that prevents you to save too often : it’s a peculiar system and so many times I just forgot to save even though I could afford it ; other times, I couldn’t afford to save even if it was really needed, because after a difficulty peak that I wanted to be sure to pass. Some platform phases are really tricky and towards the end, I succumbed to watching some YouTube walkthroughs.
The story is average, so is the music. The graphics are above the average.
I have the Definitive Edition, with 2 extra levels, but I managed to miss those 2 levels in the maze-shaped map. It’s a shame that when you beat the game, there’s no way to come back to the world, nor New Game +.

To be continued…