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

Summer’s gone and my AC spree finally dried up

Because I tend to post too sporadically, I have a lot to report since my last post (5 months ago says BLAEO).

Assassin's Creed Black Flag

20 hours, no achievements
UPlay game, not Steam

So, first, let's go back in April. Eventhough I had promised myself after beating AC3 not to succumb to any other AC game too soon, I finally decided to play AC4 Black Flag. The fact Ubi decided to give away for free AC Unity (after Paris' Notre Dame burning) counts a lot in this decision, because it put another game between me and Odyssey in my quest to beat all the AC games I own until I can buy Odyssey.

I agree with those who say Black Flag is the least faithful to the series, but to me it's for the best : it's refreshing to get a bit away from parkour and espionage in big cities, the sunny Caribbean setting is exotic (especially after AC3's rainy New England) and the naval warfare is quite fun. I'd even say I preferred by far the naval parts ; the land parts of the plot ("follow that guy missions", "listen to this conversation", "get this gizmo", etc) started to tap on my nerves after a certain time but so did AC3's main missions after a while. All in all, I feel any AC game fails to keep me entertained and starts to feed me up after 10 or 20 hours playing : I dropped the game in the last episode, a couple missions away from the end maybe. I don't know my precise playtime since UPlay didn't deign to track it.

The pros :

  • free roaming on the sea is great, listening to the shanties song (like Drunken Sailor and my favorite Lowlands away) : the colourful and sunny Caribbean are a nice setting

The cons :

  • the main character (I already forgot his name) is not very charismatic although its craftiness makes a nice change from the usual SJW we're used to playing in AC.
  • the missions are still way too directive.

Verdict on AC Black Flag : 7 / 10

Assassin's Creed Odyssey

81 hours, no achievements
UPlay game, not Steam

While I was on a roll, I left AC Unity in my backlog and jumped directly to AC Odyssey , which I played more than 80 hours (I just checked Uplay's playtime because I thought it was only 50ish hours !). Unsurprisingly, having spent such a lot of time on it, I loved the game.
First of all, obviously, I didn't suffer the usual bore involved by any other AC, after 10 or 20 hours of repetitive tasks. That's a good sign, right ?
I chose Kassandra (what kind of monster doesn't choose her ?) and I liked her personality. Playing a strong badass girl freshen things up and I give Ubi credit for not saddling her with any cliché that usually plague woman image in video games (for example, no sentimentality and no sexualization).
The first 10 or 20 hours, and even after 30 or 40 hours, I was amazed by all the content the game was still pulling out from its hat : the main quest junctions, the huge map, the side quests (I liked the Daughters of Artemis' hunting quest, eventhough the legendary beasts are just damage-sponges), the soft RPG-like aspects (XP, personalization of the hero after every level earned…), the battlefields, the Cult, the bounty hunters, the Arena, etc.
The graphics were not as overwhelming as I expected them to be (it didn't look to me many steps up Black Flag) but the game is still pretty : some places are nicer than others and the people and animals are well rendered and animated. The game is not free from glitches and collision bugs, and I suffered a couple of crashes (that's not much regarding my playtime).
I am not very fond of the XP "levelling out" system but I reckon it's an efficient way to avoid farming and keep the player involved in the quests. Speaking of quests, the best ones are those few where I had to make real choice (basically who's guilty, who's gonna leave, who's gonna die) or those even fewer where the writers dare to show a real sense of humor, drifting away from political correctness.
Contrary to Black Flag's, the music didn't leave any mark on me.

The pros :

  • lots of things to do, at your pace, picking what you prefer and leaving aside what you don't like. That's a huge step forward compared to the old AC tendency to excessive guiding in the quests sequence and also inside every mission.

The cons :

  • There are lenghty parts and monotonous Fedex quests but the key for me was to alternate different tasks and types of missions.

Verdict on AC Odyssey : 9,5 / 10

Glass Masquerade

4 hours, 32 of 32 achievements

This one was utterly relaxing. There's no challenge, you just play jigsaw puzzle with unconventionally shaped pieces of colourful stained glass. Easy to complete.

Verdict on Glass Masquerade : 7 / 10

Tropico 4

2 hours, 5 of 70 achievements

I didn't like much Tropico 3 when I tried it for 2 hours a couple years ago and the next episode conveyed the same feeling : I'm usually a fan of management and city-building games, I liked the farcical dictatorial atmosphere but the graphics are old (I'd even say ugly in 2019 standards) and the management was again mediocre. Like a symbol, I got a bug preventing me to finish the first mission in the campaign, so I just dropped the whole game after a couple of hours (the history repeats…). Maybe I'll give a chance to T5 or T6 someday…

Verdict on Tropico 4 : 4 / 10

Hidden Folks

5 hours, 5 of 7 achievements

I completed all the levels except for the DLC, that I didn't buy yet. The game is funny for a while but in the bigger levels, finding some characters or objects became tedious, because of the vague description or because they were hidden behind or inside things that have to be clicked one by one. A better system of hint would be nice.

Verdict on Hidden Folks : 7 / 10

This War of Mine

3 hours, 6 of 54 achievements

Generally speaking, I don't like serious gaming nor any entertainment (including movies or TV shows) about real world's atrocities. Because such topics makes so-called entertainment not entertaining at all to me.
TWoM falls perfectly in this category : one run of around ten days was enough for realizing it's not my kind of game. Even if it is gamified, the subject of surviving war as a civilian ain't fun at all to me. The oppressive music and gloomy shades of grey didn't help. Moreover, leaving aside the bleak topic, it's this sort of game where you have to miss a run or two before you understand well the mechanics, and I more and more dislike this process, sometimes feeling like artificially lengthening the game lifespan and often feeling like wasted time to me. I mean, I love XCOM games but they can be so frustrating when a mission messes up : when it happens, you can cheat a little and load a previous save but in TWoM, you can't do that and you have to start again from scratch.

Verdict on This War of Mine : Gloom / 10

Endless Legend

11 hours, 5 of 139 achievements

With a perfect transition from TWoM speaking of game lifespan, we have Endless Legend where any run lasts between 5 and 12 hours : I'm OK with 4X (don't love, just like them) but spending an average 8-10 hours a game is way more than I can endure nowadays. Endless Space suffered from the same flaw for me.
That being said, Endless Legend is pretty and has nice mechanics. I made one game (lost BTW) of 11 hours and enjoyed it but I'm afraid I won't be brave enough to try another faction or another strategy. I've heard Amplitude Studio is currently working on another 4X game called Humankind, where you're not quasi-compelled to choose at the beginning of the game the kind of victory conditions you will pursue (scientific, military, diplomatic, economic…) : it should be more oriented toward global score victory conditions, something already existing in 4X but leaving you more freedom, and it's a direction I may like.

Verdict on Endless Legend : 6,5 / 10

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes

43 hours, 45 of 45 achievements

Just another Lego game, in line with already played Star Wars, Batman, Harry Potter and Jurassic World episodes. This one is equally good and itches my (relative) need of completion because like the others, it can reasonably easily be 100%ed : took me around 40 hours however but it was not grinding. One grinding aspect I didn't like was the boss fights, where you always had to strike them three times in order to beat them.
I played the most of it with my kids, introducing them little by little to playing themselves in the NYC hub : they loved the Marvel universe, all the good and evil characters (Venom freaked them out a little though) and they loved even better afterwards to reproduce the game scenes with their real Lego !

Verdict on LEGO Marvel Super Heroes : 8,5 / 10

Ongoing : Pictopix ; Cook, Serve, Delicious ; Pumped BMX + ; Chroma Squad.

What’s up since my last post ? Not much in term of backlog-stabbing I’m afraid.

I didn’t play a lot of games and of course beat even less. Honestly, I could even sum up my game time during the past 6 months to beating 2 games, both third iterations of renowned series : Just Cause 3 and Assassin’s Creed 3.

Just Cause 3

41 hours, 25 of 66 achievements

Pros :

  • + the world is among the most beautiful I've ever played in. The water is especially well rendered, the sunsets are gorgeous, and it's a pleasure to discover those Mediterranean islands one after the other. But JC being JC, they end up feeling more and more empty, just like in JC2 (where the universe was among the biggest of its time), as if one more time the devs didn't have enough time to make it lively and just tried to fill in the gaps between isolated spots of interest they actually and thoroughly worked on.
  • + I had such a blast blasting everything away ! Once again, the explosions are the best I've seen in a game. JC3 is even more centered than its predecessor on how about being creative in exploding stuff. And it works (up to a certain point) : first, you try to destroy a base, let's say while in a tank, then the next one in a chopper, then on foot with a bazooka, then without shooting a single bullet but rather with the grappler, etc.
  • + BTW the grappler is perfect : you can use it to kill enemies, to travel in combination with the paraglider and if you're imaginative enough (which I'm not really), turn it into a morbid fun-fair instrument (on second thought, this video is not about the grappler but the human rockets : didn't manage to find back the awesome grappler vid or gif I had in mind).

Cons :

  • - cars and bikes driving is awful (but planes' and choppers' is better).
  • - the main story doesn't re-invent the wheel : overthrow an evil dictator, period. I think I preferred JC2 factions system. The side-quests are dull and insignificant : find spare parts of dispensable weapons, find gizmo offering then fast-travel in a given province. Finally, what's a novelty of this opus, the challenges (like, who among your friends threw a cow furthest ?), are not my cup of tea and lose a lot of interest when you play the game as a patient gamer, which means the leaderboards are pretty still.
  • - the loading times were a pain in the ass, particularly before the not-so-much-more-beautiful-than-in-game-as-you'd-expect'em cut-scenes.
  • - t-e-d-i-o-u-s gameplay : kill, explode, destroy. Move to the next spot, kill, explode, destroy. Rinse and repeat. Nevertheless, compared to JC2, JC3 managed to keep me entertained and involved till the end and in spite of my poor creativity, I conscientiously took over all the cities and bases on the map.
    Verdict on Just Cause 3 : 7,5/10

Assassin's Creed 3

25 hours, no achievements
UPlay game, not Steam

Outside of Steam, I've played the good old (2012) third (but actually fifth) installment in the AC series. It's been many years since I had played the 2 first episodes on Xbox360. This time, I came back to PC for AC3, that I got for free in a Uplay official giveaway a couple years ago. In fact, I admit I'm quite hyped by AC Odyssey so, I thought I should at least skim through this episode before yielding to the Greek adventures.

Pros :

  • + the 1776 period in the US is more interesting to me than the Renaissance in Europe (not so exotic for a European guy) or the Crusades.
  • + I liked the fact Ubisoft tried to avoid the usual simplistic black and white approach to some extent : if I may simplify myself, we're shown the Templars pursue their own goals and have their own "faith" while some Assassins can be shady too.
  • + in theory, the naval parts were a nice way of refreshing and diversifying the gameplay, eventhough 1) I didn't really enjoyed them and 2) Connor becoming an old sea dog on top of a stylish assassin was very hard to believe.

Cons :

  • - the introduction is so long until you can actually play and do usual stuff in AC games (like you know, climbing anything higher than 10 feet so you can admire the skyline from above).
  • - some staging and acting were laughable or pathetic, and some game design choices were ill-advised (for example, I hate when your character is forced to walk, for staging purpose, while you'd want him to run to speed up the situation).
  • - so many glitches and bugs : the game got on my nerves when I had to manually reboot some sequences because some event didn't trigger as expected. That being said, the game didn't age so badly in terms of graphics and animation (apart from the ubiquitous collision bugs that ruins the atmosphere).
  • - as usually, the whole present time stories felt awkward and boring to me : don't people play AC games for living little stories in the big history ? Moreover, I just can't emphasize enough how the raw violence of Desmond against the guards in his third mission made me ill at ease.
  • - who on Earth believed it was a good idea not allowing the player to skip the 20-minutes-long credits ?!?
    Verdict on Assassin's Creed 3 : 6/10

Other than that, I also spent :

  • some time on Dirt Rally (again) and much more on Pixel Puzzles Ultimate and Pictopix than I reasonably should,
  • a couple hours in order to complete Delicious! Pretty Girls Mahjong Solitaire (well, it’s mahjong solitaire, with cliché not-so-pretty girls with big bosom to lure you in ; doesn’t really deserve a note, right ? If really needed, it would be “lewd / 10”. ;-) )
  • 3 hours on La-Mulana (found it too hard and punitive),
  • 12 hours on Rimworld (this game should so be my thing but it’s not, some things don’t click : I mainly blame the lack of control on what the characters do, that my control-freakness dislikes very much),
  • 10 hours on Parkitect (my first insight in the theme park games : pleasant little experience but the management aspect is underwhelming, hence the neglect after 10 hours of playtime, because I’m not really interested in designing roller coasters),
  • precisely 21 minutes on Hearts of Iron III (won on Steamgift but the game kept on crashing and I couldn’t make it work on my system),
  • 1 hour on Eufloria (so much for another ABC challenge game : didn’t feel it so dropped it),
  • 7 hours on Cook, Serve, Delicious (fun in small doses and some casual gaming sometimes fits perfectly in my agenda ; reminds me of Epistory in that it makes me a typing hero),
  • 13 hours on LEGO MARVEL Super Heroes with my kids as an audience (love it when after playing, my son rushes back to his real Lego and recreates scenes he just witnessed in the game).

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