Py’s profile

Some games are marked as beaten/completed with no playtime/achievements because other version went out/i beat them outside of steam/achievments were added after the fact.


Ave August

Well this one took most of my time. I started others at the end of the month, but I’m not done with them yet.

Half-Life 2
I heard you like grinding

Disgaea PC

7/10
58.5 hours
11 of 30 achievements
  • Lore / Story : You start up as the prince of the Netheworld (basically Hell). Your father died and you have to reclaim your throne. The story is decent (for a tactical) and I really liked the writing.
  • Game mechanics : You have a hub that allows you to access multiple battles. Battles are classic turn based stuff with a few difference:
    • There is a notion of height, each character can only jump some height
    • There are "geo panels" that are colored panel on the ground.
    • There are "geo cube" of a certain color that provide effect on all the panels of the same color as the one they are located upon. That can be a various good/bad effects.
    • You can lift and throw every character (opponent/allies/cubes) and you can even chain ally lift to throw someone very far away.
    • When you kill cubes of one color on top of a panel of a different color, it'll change every panel from their color to that of the cube and damage everyone on those panels. You can even chain those reactions.
    • There is no perma death. You can heal/rez in the hub.
    • You only lose if the 10 members you bring out die.
    • You win by killing everyone/reaching the exit.
  • Progression : Well I hope you like grinding.
    Characters:
    • For starter there are only a few unique characters for the story. You can create at will generic characters of the class you want / the monster type you want (after beating that monster once).
    • Each character gain levels on kill. That XP can unlock skills. Certain thresholds also unlocks better versions of the class for generic classes
    • Each non monster character also has proficiency in the different weapon types. Using the weapon make it progress and unlocks related skills (each class progress more or less quickly on each weapon).
    • You can unlock new classes when certain conditions are met (level for other classes/weapon proficiency).
    • You can transmigrate characters : Making them restart from lvl 0 in a different class (or an improved version of their current one) while keeping a part of their known skills/proficiency and with a stat boost.
    Then Items
    • Each class of item has item ranked from 1 to 40
    • Each item has a rarity, following that rarity they have between 30 and 100 level of progression.
    • To make them progress, you have to do randomly generated levels for *each* item.
    • Inside each item are inhabitants. You can kill them in the randomly generated levels in order to unlock them.
    • Each inhabitant give a bonus to one stat that is doubled when killed.
    • Once beaten, you can move them around between your items and combine those that boost the same stat.
    • Every 10 levels, there is a special boss that gives stats boosts depending upon the current inhabitants
    • If you're curious, there are whole ass guides about item leveling: https://gamefaqs.gamespot.com/psp/935234-disgaea-afternoon-of-darkness/faqs/25989
    You can also pass laws in the senate (bribes or fight might be required), they allow
    • Better items at the shop
    • Stat boost
    • New kind of items in the shop
    • Unlocking some area
  • Difficulty : The game isn't that hard. But you need to do some grinding (just to reach the end of the story)
  • Length : So I mostly did the main story and it took me around 50 hours. It ended with me around level 80. Some out of story bosses are level 6000+. Some unlock require you to have level 200 in some classes. Needless to say that if you want everything in the game it's going to take waaay longer.
  • Conclusion : It was a pretty good game. Still it showed some age (it's a port of a 2003 game) in the UX (some navigation was cumbersome) and finishing it 100% is way more grindy than the time I have for it.
Half-Life 2

HackyZack

2/10
0.2 hours
0 of 27 achievements

Had it in my library for a while. It's a hard platformer with wacky keyboard controls (can't rebind and movement / aim for the ball are the same keys). Definitely not my kind of game.

Julyne

Sorry I had Jolene in the head and had to pass it to someone else.

Half-Life 2

Pyre

5/10
10.2 hours
43 of 51 achievements
  • Lore / Story : So you're exiled into a purgatory of sorts. And to get out you have to compete in sort of US football matches?? The lore is quite interesting and there is a loooot of it if you really like that.
  • Universe: So this is a SuperGiant Game. As expected the art is gorgeous and the music awesome.
  • Game mechanics : There is an outside world, but it is of little consequences on the "main" game-play (I'd say the main game-play should be the story/setting, but unfortunately it isn't). So onto the main game-play.
    • You field a team of 3 people (each with different abilities) and you can control only one of them at a time. The goal is to either flung yourself with the ball in the enemy pyre or to shoot it in it.
    • Doing either of those will score points, the goal being to score enough to quench the opponent pyre. A big difference between the two is that scoring a "touchdown" takes the player out till another score is made.
    • You can try to put other characters out by either firing your aura into them or making them come into contact with the aura around you (the ball carrier as no aura)
    • You can also do some jumping and pass the ball.
  • Character progression : Each character that takes part in a match will gain some XP. That in turns gains you levels that you can use to unlock skills (up to 4 per character).
    You also gain trinkets during the course of the game that you can equip on your characters.
  • Difficulty : The game can be a bit weird and frustrating (hit-boxes feel really messy at times). Some opponents were really though (the IA was way better than me at switching characters) other were a walk in the park. In the grand scheme of thing losing games doesn't really matter (outside of the ending). So... not that hard I guess? Outside of the fact that your best players tend to leave your team earlier than those you don't use.
    I wouldn't want to try it in the highest difficulty though.
  • Length : Medium length, took me less than 10 hour to complete.
  • Conclusion : It's a really weird game. I liked the universe and the art, but the game-play felt rather lackluster. It'd have been better served by something turn based (à la Bloodbowl)
Half-Life 2

Dark Quest 2

5/10
4.7 hours
11 of 14 achievements
  • Lore / Story : You go in the dungeon to fight the big bad evil!
  • Game mechanics : You control a bunch of adventurer, in missions, you go from room to room to accomplish your objectives with a party of up to 4 (among 6 available class).
    Inside the rooms you can have trap/combats/treasure or a mix of those. Combat is turn based and handled on a square grid.
    On your turn, each of your character can move + do a basic attack + optionally use one skill (those are charge based for the whole level). Then the opponent does the same. And bis repetita.
    Outside of missions, you can spend money on equipment, acquire new skills/passives and do some more useless stuff (like spend money to heal your characters despite the fact that they're healed to full at the start of each level)
  • Character progression : Progressions is very basic. You can craft stuff for your characters. They have two slot, and like 14 items to chose from, so no big reflections to have here.
    You can acquire skills and levels them independently for each character. Problem is the skill point pool is common. So once you invest a lot in 2 or 3 characters, you have no incentive (and no skill points) to try the others
  • Difficulty : The game is easy. I think I failed one mission once because I tried to go on a mission where I didn't have the tools to damage the opponents.
  • Length : It's rather short (less than 5 hours).
  • Conclusion : A decent game, but nothing spectacular. It's worth a few dollars but not much more.
Half-Life 2

Fantasy General II

8/10
50.8 hours
30 of 77 achievements
  • Lore / Story : Viking like tribes going to war against the bad empire that somehow find it normal to use undead as workforce/fodder. The story isn't really special.
  • Game mechanics : At its core it's a very simple turn based strategy game on an hex grid. You play your turn, the opponent does and so on. There are some dialog and an overall map, but there is little game-play here.
    The only resource management done inside a map is how you handle mana used by your casters.
    Each unit has a bunch of specific traits/capacity, so it's up to you to do your best with that
    Each pack of units has a different number units composing them (like trolls go by two, skeleton archers are by pack of twelve) and within a map, units can either be wounded (and fully recover after a rest) or straight up killed (no chance to recover them till the end of the map). Each unit that is killed/wounded in a pack does not contribute to the fighting anymore.
  • Character progression :
    • XP: For your heroes, XP is the main way to progress. Every level unlocks the choice of a perk within its skill tree. And you can't get all of them (levels are capped). For regular units, XP allows a slight stat increase
    • Unit upgrade: Your regular units can be upgraded to a new unit type with resource in the overall map (or within a map if you really need it). You can see the whole upgrade tree (it's only 2 or 3 units deeps) beforehand, allowing you to plan your stuff.
      Upgrading a unit can really change how it behaves (different weapons/skills). So you have to think a bit beforehand at the start.
    • Equipment: Each hero / unit can equip between 1 and 3 items that you find during your campaign. There aren't a lot of really good items, so you'll have to pick who gets them.
    • Giving traits to units: In the overall map screen you will at some point gain the ability to pay to give some traits to your units to enhance them even more
  • A weird thing is that some stuff (like traits or merchant to trade the resources you have for those you want) unlock only very late in the game.
  • Difficulty : The main difficulties in the game are:
    • Fighting against the unknown: One of the biggest difficulty is taking into account the fact that you can uncover a pod of enemy with your last unit to play and trigger a lot of free attacks for the enemy. While it's not that big of a deal when you have few units, when you have 30+ units, it can be a bit tricky. Invisible units are also a thing that can surprise you if you don't have good detection.
      On the same topic, some maps start with a lot of fog of wars (like you don't even see what's surrounding your troops when you deploy them) while for other you already see the layout. A dark map is way harder to plan for making me restart some maps when I put my main force at the wrong place.
    • Unit balance: Units seem hardly balanced. Because of the hexagonal nature of the game, ranged units are way more powerful than melee ones. Add to that the fact that they don't take a counter attack, opponents units can't retreat against ranged unit and you get yourself a recipe for unbalance. Like my final army had some meat walls, some buffer and a bunch of ranged unit for the DPS.
      And because of the way packs work, tanking with big units is way more beneficial than doing it with a lot of small units (they fight at full force a lot longer).
    • Fear of losing units: Because one unit can be a lot of investment (upgrade + traits + equipment), losing too many units can be quite detrimental to you campaign because you'll have to repay that in full to get the same unit again.
    • Blind choices: Sometimes you'll have to chose mission/dialog options almost blindly. Most of them have some fluff that helps you figure out what you ought to get for each choice, but some seems pretty random. And the impact can be big.
  • The game allows you to have two type of settings for difficulty. One is just the difficulty. The other is that opponent scales with your force (if you're weaker, you get less, if you're stronger you get more).
    I started with max difficulty and scaling on and got my ass kicked. That demands almost perfect map knowledge and full unit knowledge.
    Started again one difficulty lower with no scaling and aside from some restart because of a shitty starting deployment, I handled the whole game without too much save/load. The end game was especially easy.
  • Length : It's a fairly long game, the whole campaign took me about 40/45 hours. It's a bit tedious at the end when you have big armies. (but it was easy, so that helped). And there are more campaigns as DLC
  • Conclusion : It's a really good strategy game. I quite enjoyed the progression (it really felt like my army was growing stronger) and the combat was challenging enough!

And to finish one game I’m glad I payed less than 1 € for it:

Half-Life 2

Majula Frontier

3/10
2.8 hours
2 of 26 achievements
  • Lore / Story : Monster invade your town and you try to defend it I guess?
  • UI/UX: A big criticism of the game is that it lacks a lot of information. Like a bunch of stuff does stuff, but you have no way of knowing what exactly. I won't list it in every section below, but it happened a lot.
  • Game mechanics : So the main game-play is you advancing in a level and trying to kills monster pack in it. The levels are named "Area X/Area Y/Area..."
    First you try to sneakily approach the pack to get a surprise attack. This sometimes gives you nothing (despite succeeding), sometimes the monster do a quick 180 and gets the jump on you.
    And then combat. It's pretty weird because the combat system could be interesting. But it has one major pitfall. You're often enticed to do only basic attacks and ignore the rest
    You have stamina that get filled by using skills and taking hits. The higher it is, the most penalty you get to your stats. So you just use the normal skill for like half the combat because it doesn't fill it.
    Outside of that there is a lot of interaction between skills. Like the effect of some skill increase if the target used a certain type of skill right before. Tons of buff/debuff
  • Character progression :
    • You gain level and that increase some stats I guess?
    • You get a lot of crafting materials, but crafting seems to be totally random. Like crafting 3 times the same schematics with the same ingredients gives 3 different stuff???
      And crafting seems to be the way to improve your characters (stuff gives passive stats and new skills)
      Also the design of what you craft doesn't matter at all (like you can craft 1 sword and 1 hammer, give them both to your archer and he'll keep shooting despite having no bow equipped)
    • You can spend gold to increase skill level. That seems to increase the effect (how so is not always clear for non offensive skills)
    • You can spend building materials to unlock buildings in your town that produce some resources passively
  • Difficulty : Didn't seem that hard, just boring
  • Length : Gave up after 3 hours, it was boring (and HLTB clocks it at 30 hours so...)
  • Conclusion : The visuals are nice (or at least different from the usual), the combat could be nice but is badly implemented and the lack of a good UI makes it a really lackluster game

June Report

June was a busy month, so not much progress made, only two games completed. First a game that I really wanted to play and like, cause I’m a big fan of the universe:

Half-Life 2

Blacksad

5/10
11.7 hours
24 of 39 achievements
  • Lore / Story : It's in the universe of the Blacksad comics. So US of the late 50s with anthropomorphic animals. You play as John Blacksad, a private down on its luck. I won't go further into the story because it's the best part of the game.
  • Design: I usually don't judge graphic choices, but as this one is from a comics I'm really fond of, I can't help it.
    While the design is okayish (I've seen some rendering bug here and there), I feel like it totally lacks the feel of the comics. See https://adventuregamers.com/images/screenshots/32939/ny_city.png vs https://vistapointe.net/images/blacksad-7.jpg
    A really good point is the theme. That jazz really fits the game.
  • Game mechanics : The game is kindda like LA Noire or the new series of Sherlock Holmes. Basic scenes with items to interact with + dialog. And you can link ideas between them.
    A mechanism that I found frustrating, is that sometimes interacting with one of the scene element just made you progress to the next scene without you having much of a choice in the matter. And you don't know exactly where you'll start again if you try to restart from a previous point.
    On top of that the game is littered with useless QTEs or mechanics that are basically seen only once.
    The movement are a bit awkward with kb + mouse. Might be better with a pad tho.
  • Difficulty : The game in itself isn't hard. Getting all the achievment on the other hand...
    Collectibles are randomly placed in certain part of each scenes. Meaning that if you restart a game, your missing collectibles might be in a different scenes as the one they were in in your first game. Oh yeah, and some of them require you to stand on a certain point precisely.
    In short you have to know every possible location for collectibles while doing a run to find them all.
  • Length : Medium game, took me about 12 hours. No big re-playability, the endings are basically decided by one decision early in the game + one just at the end. Some epilogues scenes might be affected by your actions, but I'm not even sure.
  • Conclusion : It's an OK investigation game. But nothing worth getting outside of a sale. The story is good, the characters interesting, and the music is good. But that's about it for the good parts. For multiples reasons stated above, the game-play itself is subpar

A little freebie:

Half-Life 2

Tell Me Why

5/10
9.6 hours
25 of 30 achievements
  • Lore / Story : It's the reunion of two siblings in a small Alaskan town. One of them has been interned for the homicide of their mother. You explore what happens just after their reunion.
  • Game mechanics : It's Dontnod game. So if you've played Life Is Strange, you'll feel at home with the controls/interaction. For those who didn't, it's a walking simulator with a bit of interaction.
    Only small difference (but that's more a story difference rather than a game-play one) is that you'll switch between the two characters in different scenes.
    The 'extra' mechanism is that you can remember stuff. But it's all scripted and doesn't change much.
  • Difficulty : It's a walking simulator. There is no difficulty.
  • Length : Medium game, took me 10 hours.
  • Conclusion : While the context is interesting (LGBTQ+ and small rural town), the story itself felt a bit lacking. I never attached myself to the characters.

Come what may

The weather was crappy as hell for may over here. So plenty of time to do some backlogging/finishing stuff I bought in bundles.

Backlogging

Half-Life 2

X3: Albion Prelude

8/10
221.2 hours
21 of 33 achievements
  • Lore / Story : Relatively classic sci-fi setting with gates that connect parts of space together. There isn't much story (it's mostly a sandbox), but what exists can be summed up as: humans fighting against humans while a human created sentient AI want to kill humans.
  • Game mechanics : It's a space simulator. With some combat and plenty of commerce.
    It's really sandboxxy in the sense that you can do whatever you want. Fighting against pirates, that'll work. Fighting against a specific race. Can do. Build a merchant empire with automated delivery freighter. Possible.
    The story isn't really important, but some quests rewards are really really nice to help you out (most notable one being a sector that allow you to link different part of space together).
  • Length : You can finish the story (in about 50 to 60h mb?). But that's not the goal of the game, so you can sink a lot more time into it.
  • Difficulty : The story can be difficult if you try to do only that. If you do it from time to time while doing other stuff, it's not that hard. And it can really encourage you to develop your commerce (need a resource for the story -> build a complex to produce it).
  • Comparison with Elite: There was a free elite:dangerous on EGS. Tried it for a few hours. The two games a really different as space simulator go.
    • For elite, you'll feel that space really is empty. Whereas in X3, because the game is cut in sectors, everything interesting is concentrated in each sector. There are some big sectors, but they are not the majority
    • The interface in X3 felt way easier to use. There are shortcuts, but you can do about anything with the mouse. In Elite, it's a chore to swap between menu. Yeah you're in the cockpit and it's more realist, but realism is not where it needs to be for menus.
    • Playing with mouse + keyboard, the flying felt way easier to handle in X3. You can autopilot easily, you get to your destination quickly with the jump.
    • It's nice to have big station and to dock inside in Elite. But damn does it take a long ass time to autodock/leave a station. And I thought it was already long in X3, it's even worse in elite
  • Conclusion : If you like building commercial empire, commanding fleet of destroyer, hunting people to scavenge there ship, X3 might be a good game for you. You're gonna need a lot of time though.
Half-Life 2

Tokyo 42

8/10
13.7 hours
14 of 19 achievements
  • Lore / Story : The game takes place in a futuristic Tokyo (as the name implies). A big corpo has developed a pill that makes you come back to life whenever you die (but not everybody for some reason).
    Plot wise, you're framed for an assassination, you escape the cops and become an assassin.
  • Game mechanics : It's a 3D isometric shouter with some parkour/stealth element included. Some features include:
    • You can move the camera in one of 8 preset position and your character movement is always related to the camera, which is pretty nice
    • For some reason though, this doesn't apply when you drive a bike (doesn't happen often tho), who will go forward with z/w whatever the angle is.
    • Stealth is a bit OP if you unlock some weapons and way-point before advancing. You can do a lot of missions without alerting any one easily because guards are dumb as fuck. They don't care about seeing a dead guard body.
    • Weapons variety is pretty nice, you can play in a lot of different ways.
    • Parkour elements can be tricky when timed (for some missions) because you have to manage the camera and your jumps at the same time.
    • Most collectibles are indicated on the map, so you can search for yourself how to get there (although some are really tricky)
    • You can't save whenever you want, but the game is very generous with the checkpoints that allow for a save during the missions
  • Character progression : There isn't much progression outside of new weapons/two mostly useless features (tho one of them is a cat)
  • Length : The duration (14 hours to do all the main missions and some optional) feels right. You're not bored, but if the game lasted way longer, you might be.
  • Difficulty : Playing in normal, the game is of average difficulty. Although the ending missions are a bit harder because while the rest of the game encourages you to play stealthily (there are achievements for that), those are mostly all out fights with no other way to address them. And there is no checkpoint, so you have to start anew every time you fail.
  • Conclusion : Didn't expect much of the game, and was quite surprised to find it was in fact really good. The design really helped (and might not be to everyone's taste), but the game-play in itself played a solid part as well.
Half-Life 2

Shadwen

6/10
7.3 hours
31 of 48 achievements
  • Lore / Story : You're playing as an assassin going for the king of a small realm. You're accompanied by an orphan that you save at the beginning of the game.
  • Game mechanics : It's a stealth game. The goal is always to make you + the orphan go from scene to scene. The orphan goes from one hiding spot to another when ordered or when she feels like it.
    You control yourself. You have a grapple that can be used to interact with some stuff. A pretty neat thing is that time only flows when you move. So for example you can stop mid swing to aim your grapple somewhere else.
    If you check the achievements, there are two ways to plays the game. It's either full stealth (no kill and just distract the guards to have the orphan advance). Or stealthy killer where you go out of your way to kill everyone.
  • Character progression : There isn't much in term of progression. You find some components that can be used to craft consumables. But I used none of them during all my play-through.
  • Length : It's about 7 hours for one play-through, but more of that would start to feel really repetitive.
  • Difficulty / Length : The game is fairly easy. I only experienced some difficulty at times because of janky controls/physics, but not really because of the level design.
  • Conclusion : It's a neat stealth game. Not going to revolutionize the genre, but if you like them, I'd advise to get it on sale.
Half-Life 2

Late Shift

8/10
5.6 hours
20 of 20 achievements

This one is a bit peculiar, because it's more of a movie than a game. You watch the movie and make some decisions during the movie that impact the story.

Pro: the story and acting are good. Some decisions really impact what happens in the movie (you can get whole different scene following some decisions).

Cons: Most decisions have little impact outside of the immediate follow up scenes. Like the overall plot is not going to change except the ending. But you can get a lot of endings just by playing around with some decisions in the last acts regardless of what you did before.

Consequence from that and the fact that there is no fast forward mechanism : it's a bit boring to explore everything cause you're going to have to rewatch some scenes a lot.

Conclusion : Overall pretty good if you like this kind of stuff.

Bundling

Half-Life 2

Thea: The Awakening

6/10
33.3 hours
19 of 31 achievements
  • Lore / Story : Very classical medieval fantastic setting. The world was plunged into darkness for plot reasons and is slowly waking up, you have to manage and make survive your village in this period.
    You'll end up doing some quests related to that darkness thing, but it's not the main part of the game.
  • Game mechanics : You start off by choosing a god. That has little bearing on the game. Then there are three main aspect to the game-play.
    • Managing your town: You get only one town. It has some citizens. You have to defend it and you can use it to construct building, craft advanced food/equipment, gather the resources around it.
      One big consequence of having only one and not being able to move it is that your starting point is very important for the game. So start scumming can be a thing when playing with some difficulty.
    • Moving expeditions on the map: Be it for quests or to find specific resources, you have a world map in which you can move your expeditions. They consist of a bunch of villager with stuff.
      Important point is that they need food to survive. And if they have more type of food they can do more (hence the importance of crafting food in town).
      There are also a bunch of monster roaming the map (you can see their level above them), monster lairs to explore, ruins to explore and random events to complete.
      All that to find more resources/stuff and to get some xp.
      The monsters act in between your turn (so they can attack you on their own). And there is a day/night cycle that affect the visibility on the map.
    • Challenges: This is a little card game that handles every type of interaction with the outer world, be it fight or other aspects. Depending on the type of challenge you take on, different stats will act as your hp/offense/special capacities/shield. The goal is always to have your card survive and to kill the opponent cards.
      You can skip the challenge and have the AI auto resolve it for you if you think there is no risk.
  • Character progression : The main evolution is done by changing the stuff equipped on your villagers. They gain a level every now and then, but it's a stat boost and you have no choice in that matter. You can either craft some stuff or find it during the world map encounters.
    There is also some tech tree, where you unlock the right to gather some resources/craft some type of object/unlock new buildings. The main way to advance in it is to either craft/construct stuff or to do events on the map.
  • Difficulty / Length : Using the basic difficulty settings, the game is super easy. If you start using some more advanced difficulty (it's entirely customizable and the score will reflect that) it can start to get tricky at the start. Although it will be easy at the end. In my "difficult play-through", in the mid and late game, I did only one challenge, the final boss. All the rest was auto battled.
    A bit of difficulty can be faced against certain early events, because if you don't know them, you have no idea what difficulty you're going against and you might end up against a challenge that's not doable with your current party.
  • Length : A complete game will take about 15hours. The start seems to always be a bit exciting/challenging, but it gets very repetitive by the end.
  • Conclusion : I didn't expect much, but it was a really good experience. It lacks some polish here and there (most notably the starting place of your village and the weird save system), but it was very good at giving me that "one more turn" feeling.
    One weird thing was that you can unlock gods by doing a lot of play-through (it's supposed to be a rogue-like), but I don't see the value in doing more than 2 or 3 play-through. Especially when the play-through is 15+ hours.
    I'll see if they managed to improve in the second installment
Half-Life 2

Thea 2: The Shattering

7/10
24.7 hours
5 of 26 achievements
  • Lore / Story : Story wise it's a bit later. Gods / opponents are different
  • Game mechanics : The start of the game is a bit different. You have a god to chose that'll give you a special trait + plenty of traits to chose from to complete the slot you have. Most traits are locked though.
    Town management is about the same. Big difference is that you can chose to not have one or you could have multiple and you can plant them wherever.
    Now you can research/craft outside of town. It's better, but it makes the whole camping thing way more tedious to use (every time you camp you gotta put back whatever cooking you want to do and such)
    World map is the same kind of stuff. They added some way to move over water and a faction system, but the difference is minimal.
    Challenges are different. This one has more strategy/depth to it (for me) it's a turn based battle where you can chose matchups/the kind of attack you're going to use and require a bit mor thinking.
    Stat wise it's also a bit easier to understand compared to the 1.
    The auto resolve is also way better. You can launch it, and if the result doesn't suits you, you're free to do it manually.
  • Character progression : Equipment evolution is the same kind of stuff. Level up are actually better! Every level alternate between you picking one skill to upgrade (among 2) or 1 stat (among 3)
  • Difficulty / Length : I'd say it's about the same experience for difficulty and a little bit longer.
  • Conclusion : It's an improvement over the 1 (most notably for the challenges/village placement). But I still feel like it really lacks any sort of replay value despite having plenty of unlocks. (same as the 1, 15+ hours rogue-like is a weird idea).
    Choosing a different god/starting traits is going to make the early game a bit different. But you'll still end up with the same challenges / resources gathering loop
Half-Life 2

NEOVERSE

6/10
10.3 hours
17 of 37 achievements
  • Lore / Story : It's somewhere in the future. Not sure there is a lot more than that. No story to speak of
  • Game mechanics/Character progression : You see slay the spire? Well same thing, but in the future and the combat scene is 3d instead of 2d.There are some differences:
    Only 3 characters (all fairly different play-style wise)
    There is no map. At the end of each combat, you can shop/upgrade. And you chose one of the three next combat.
    Each combat gives you a mission that you can complete in this combat or one of the followings. Each mission gives some reward.
    There are skill to buy with skill points. You get an assortment of skills at the start of the run. They are arranged in a 4+1 by 4+1 table. Getting 4 in a row/column unlocks the possibility to buy the 5th in that line.
  • Length : A full run last between 1 and 2 hours.
  • Difficulty : I found it easier compared to slay the spire (or maybe I was better at it?).
  • Conclusion : It's an alright card battler. Not much more to say about it

May the first be with you

And because it’s the first of may, let’s review my Aprils assassinations

Half-Life 2

Tacoma

6/10
3.4 hours
12 of 12 achievements
  • Lore / Story : You're going into a space station to discover why it malfunctioned. The rest is what you see in the game, so not gonna spoil it.
  • Difficulty / Length : It's a walking simulator. So really not hard. And this one's also really short (2h30 to complete it with every achievement, needed to stay a bit more for the cards...)
  • Conclusion : It's an alright game. The story is decent. But it's really short and the characters being represented by wire-frames really doesn't help with the immersion.
Half-Life 2

Attack of the Earthlings

7/10
9.3 hours
26 of 37 achievements
  • Lore / Story : A human corporation lands on a new planet and start exploiting it. You're playing the aliens (human eating aliens, mind you), the corporation has all the cliché you can have about evil corporations.
  • Game mechanics : Basically, a turn based game, kindda like XCom.
    Every level starts with you controlling the matriarch (and only her). You can kill humans, transform them in biomass and create your own grunts.
    They can be evolved in 3 different kind of aliens (each with different strengths).
  • Character progression : After each level, you gain a bit of mutagen. It can be used to improve the different aliens or the matriarch
  • Difficulty / Length : It's really short (less than 6h to beat the campaign) and rather easy. There is close to no replay value outside of achievement hunting (because you can't get the one you missed without restarting the campaign anyway)
  • Conclusion : It's a nice game if you like the genre, although a bit short. I'd say only get it on sale and if you like the genre.
Half-Life 2

Door Kickers

7/10
20.2 hours
28 of 43 achievements
  • Lore / Story : Not much to be said. It's a swat team.
  • Game mechanics : On each map you control somewhere between 1 to 8 swat members. The goal may vary a bit, but basically it can always be solved by killing everyone.
    The game is in real time with pause. You can program some order to be executed only after a certain trigger is pressed.
    There is a weird sneak thing going on, when you kill people with a silencer and aren't seen, criminals don't always realize you're here.
  • Character progression : Your character gain level over time. And this is mostly useless.
    But completing mission / campaign, give you stars that you can use to unlock new classes and new gear! They have a great impact on the way you can play.
  • Difficulty / Length : The mission difficulty vary by a lot. Some are a walk in the park, others are a real pain in the ass (especially the ones with hostages).
    Made all the campaigns + a good third of the stand alone missions in about 20hours. It starts to feel samey after ~15hours and not worthwhile to do all the missions.
  • Conclusion : It's an alright game, nothing spectacular. Might be worth grabbing on sale if you like this kind of game.
Half-Life 2

Knight's Retreat

7/10
2.7 hours
8 of 8 achievements
  • Game mechanics : Like Unlock the king from the same dev, it's a puzzle game based upon chess pieces.
  • Difficulty / Length : It's a bit harder than unlock the king, because some of the pieces you have to move will "kill" the tiles they leave, so back and forth is not always possible.
    Still, it's going to be relatively easy (some puzzles are tricky tho) if you know how to move knights. Took me about 3 hours to finish it.
  • Conclusion : Good puzzle game. Knights are always good to wrack your mind.

So this one is kindda two review in one. One game I finished (bridge portal) and the other ended up in the won’t play list (poly bridge)

Half-Life 2

Bridge Constructor Portal

5/10
15.7 hours
16 of 26 achievements
  • Lore / Story : Bridge construction with or without portal stuff. Portal stuff does include GladOs!
  • Game mechanics : Basically, build bridges. With whatever you have at your disposal.
    Upside for portal, you only have 3 kind of materials to play around with, so it's more about the conception of the bridges than the materials.
    To get every achievement a little twist is added in each game:
    For portal you have to let a convoy through (instead of single forklift), which might make you reconsider part of your bridge.
    For poly bridges, you have to stay under budget/stress. Which is... not so fun.
  • The not so fun game play : One of the first thing you learn: triangles are good for bridges.
    And you're going to have to use them and recreate them manually in every freaking level. Because why give the player a mean to do that automatically once they understand they need them...
    For portal, toward the end of the game, you'll have puzzles that require rather precise positioning of the roads, but won't give any way to either speed up the vehicles or start midway through the puzzle.
    Because watching the same first 10/15 seconds of the puzzle 10/15 times in a row to correct the end of the puzzle is such a satisfying game-play.
  • Difficulty / Length : For portal, the ending puzzles tend to get rather difficult, with you needing some precise bridge placement and a bit of thinking for some convoys. The game progresses at decent pace that lets you feel progress and difficulty increase.
    For poly bridges it's incredibly long when you play to be under budget/stress. I did 1/7th of the puzzles in ~6 hours. And that was probably the easiest part. Thank you but no.
  • Conclusion : I don't think I'll play another bridge puzzle game in forever. It's tedious as hell and not that fun.

Forward March

To start if off, my last present from blaeo Xmas!

Half-Life 2

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

7/10
95.6 hours
43 of 78 achievements

So I'm not going to explain to anyone what the witcher is. If you don't know, I guess you've been living under a rock.
The game is good in terms of story. Every secondary quest is the same core (hunt monster, kill monster), but I still didn't find them repetitive because of the different wrappings.
It's a pretty good game. I mean I did sink almost 100 hours in it. But it as some big flaw and I'm going to list them here:

  • Over leveling: If you go exploring a bit, you become over leveled way to fast. I did most of the 1st and second zone. And once I reached the 3rd/4th, I had to hurry up along the quests in order to avoid having too many quests that were way below my level. As a result, I almost didn't explore the 4th zone outside of what's needed.
  • Leveling: So the leveling system is pretty underwhelming. You end up having to put a bunch of points in skills you don't need to unlock skills that interest you. And the most important part about leveling is that it's needed for some gear, the skill are mostly passives
  • Crafting: It's almost useless. You can just craft your witcher gear sets, improve them when you reach the needed level and call it a day.
  • (Not so)Fast travel: Crafting stations and stash are often not located really close to a travel point, so you have to fast travel close by, waste 1/2 minutes walking there, 1/2 minutes walking back then fast travel again.
    Oh and also Roach is freaking dumb and sometimes stops in the middle of a road. Also he can't jump.

And then some games I got in a bundle.

Half-Life 2

Unlock The King

6/10
1.6 hours
10 of 10 achievements

A quick 3 game series (the bundle had the 1, 2 and 3) puzzle game that uses chess pieces. It gets a bit complicated when you have to start thinking with portals.
A thing that annoyed me a bit, were the part where they added height that just made the puzzle more complicated because it hampered your vision, not because the logic became harder.

Half-Life 2

Warstone TD

7/10
14.8 hours
85 of 123 achievements
  • Lore / Story : Classic med fan world. You are the humans against a troll army.
  • Game mechanics : As the name would suggest, it's a Tower Defense game. It has all the classical aspect of TD (build tower, upgrade towers, unlock more powerful towers when progressing in the campaign, cast some spells here and there).
    One interesting thing is that it does include all the kind of TD maps. You have some where you put your tower wherever and create your own maze, others with limited place where you can put them. And among those, you even have some where you have to handle attacking and defending at the same time.
    You also level up as time goes on, and you have plenty of choice in term of skill tree. You can focus on towers, spell, economy and anything in between.
  • Difficulty / Length : the game is not overly difficult. I made all the missions in the 3rd difficulty mode out of 4. It tends to be a bit grindy toward the end
  • Conclusion : As far as TD game goes, it's really good. Just the right level of difficulty and not too overbearing in term of tower type while still offering a lot of viable game-play alternatives (either in term of towers or skill build). Warning for achievment hunters, getting all of them seems to be really a grind (not going to try to get them all personally). Also you need DLC to get them all

Along the way I also got some DLC for XCOM2. As I had already done the base game, I’m just gonna do a quick review of DLC

Half-Life 2

XCOM 2

127.7 hours
58 of 88 achievements
  • WoTC: The big one. Adds a lot of good content (soldier bonds, chosen, covert ops, 3 new soldier classes, fatigue mechanism...). Makes the early game a bit harder and the late game easier.
  • Alien Hunter: Adds 3 new unique enemy that are totally OP. Also adds a lot of OP equipment. I think I'll disable it if I ever replay the campaign. The enemy are not fun to play against. And the OP equipment is too good (while it makes you dispatch resources on it, it's still way better)
  • Shen's last gift: Adds the spark unit. Interesting new class that allow for a bit more variety in team comp. Strong, but not overly so.
  • WoTC Tactical legacy: Add some content that's mainly outside of the campaign. Operations that are 7 maps, in iron man. Perfect for me because I can't bring myself to do a real campaign in iron man

Starting off the year

First of, two games I played for play a game you won on steamgift, one in January, the other one in February:

Half-Life 2

EARTHLOCK

6/10
26.9 hours
34 of 34 achievements


  • Lore / Story : The story is pretty run of the mill medfan story, with a cult intent on destroying the world and a bunch of people (you) brought together at random that will stop them.
    Notable point: one of the characters you play is a dog with magic powers (she can't speak tho).
    There are almost no side quests to speak of (just some basic kill/fetch).
  • Game mechanics :
    • Overword So you can either be in the world at large or in an instance. But it's basically the same thing, you run around with one of your characters on the screen.
      Each character has a different ability, some of them being more or less useful.
      Monsters are roaming the world, and you can encounter them or try to run from them. If you start the combat, you have an advantage.
      The game pretends to be an open world, but in reality you're quite railroaded. For example at the start there are two instances. One for the story. And the other for the story, but later. If you go in it early, you'll get trounced.
    • Combat Out of your 6 characters, 4 are in combat. They are split into two pairs, each pair having specific perks/a common special bar.
      It's turn based (à la JRPG), and each character has a speed to get its turns faster. But it's not that relevant, given that most fight last for 3 or 4 round max (except boss battles).
      Most of your abilities have a cost in energy and you get one energy per turn. And also there are specials. Damage type and weakness to them. All in all pretty standard stuff.
      Notable point is that for some reasons AoE skills seem to have an overall damage and it's split among targets. Making it that they're also OP against solo target.
      And some status are close to impossible to counter (only counter is an item that you can craft in the last part of the game, when you don't face said status).
      Because of that, some fight take ages (looking at you phantoms) to finish for no other reason than that one status you can't counter.
    • Crafting This one is a bit of a bore. You can get ingredients by gardening. Each plant has 3 levels, but for some reason the next level of a plant unlocks at random and only if you have a recipe that uses the next tier of ingredient. So it gets kinda tedious when you want to get the achievement and that one plant doesn't mutate.
      And what you craft from them ain't that important. Ammo that are usable by only 2 characters. Potions that you rarely use.
  • Character progression : There are 2 main ways of progressing
    • Bonds : Each pair of character has a bond that can go up to 5 star. Each star unlocks a new perks. It's good to vary the pairs in order to unlock interesting perks
    • Talents : Whenever you gain a level (or at some bond progress) you gain a talent point. You can then use them in a talent board to either gain more stats, unlock new capacity or unlock new passives. They're never set in stone, so you can try to change what each character does at your own liking.
    Outside of that, levels are capped to 20. There are small item change, but really not much, it's more side-grade than real upgrade (like each character has at most 3 weapons).
  • Difficulty / Length : Took me a bit less than 30 hours to complete so it wasn't that long. The difficulty is alright. Some passage are a bit harder but nothing impossible (if you stay on the path).
    The last two big bosses (story/optional) are kind of hard if you go unprepared. Because they just launch a bunch of AoE at you non stop. Not really interesting skill wise, just "can you handle that amount of damage". And because the level is capped, you can't just grind to get stronger.
  • UX : For a game released in 2018, god the UX is quite lacking.
    Abilities are never put into numbers. You have no clue if that one new ability does more damage than the other except by trial and error.
    Monsters stats are never put into numbers either. You can just see in the bestiary (not available in combat) if they have a weakness / resistance to some element, but that's about it.
    Also no way to check what a given status does. Like a monster will inflict you with something, you have to figure out exactly what it does on your own (what abilities it forbids to use, what damage it does...)
    For some reason when you're in an instance, the camera is locked. Good luck guessing where you have to go if its somewhere way out of your field of view (and it happens at least once).
  • Conclusion : It's an average game. Nothing really good, nothing really bad (outside of the UX). I'd find it hard to recommend if not on sale.

Half-Life 2

King of Dragon Pass

4/10
10.7 hours
14 of 43 achievements
  • Lore / Story : It's a tribal settings. With magic.
  • Game mechanics : So it's virtual CYOA meet tribes management. And it brings out the worse of the two.
    From the CYOA, you have the text adventure with choice where you don't know the exact outcome before picking choices. But without the feeling you can have in a classic CYOA where your character grows and you get attached to him.
    From the management part, you have sliders and check-boxes that do stuff where you don't really know what's the impact of what you're doing.
    You do have some advisors that offers you some advice regarding choices/sliders. But they're often not that great. And sometimes really boring to check (e.g. for your farming sliders, you consult them, you make change, go to another page, come back to see what they think of the new sliders)
  • Difficulty / Length : It isn't hard as much as it's boring. The game-play is very very repetitive. Finishing the game took me around 10 hours.
  • Conclusion : Well I'm glad "Play a game you won on steamgift" is a thing. It gave me enough motivation to carry on. But I almost gave up 2 or 3 times during the game.

Outside of that, I played one of my BLAEO Xmas present!

Half-Life 2

Hand of Fate 2

7/10
34.6 hours
41 of 99 achievements
  • Lore / Story : Pretty basic med fan setting with ogres, skellies, barbarians, goblins and the like. Overall story is not that important (empire bad, go kill emperor). But each scenario has decent story telling.
  • Game mechanics
    • Scenario preparation: A very interesting aspect of the game is that you have 3 deck to prepare before each scenario. One for potential events that you'll encounter, one for equipment you can get, and the last one for your starting supplies.
      Once you've met a card once, you can easily filter to get the needed info about a card (type of encounter, potential rewards) and create a deck that'll help you have an easier time in the scenario.
    • Scenario action: The cards you've prepared are shuffled with cards specific to the scenario. And all of them are laid face down in a specific pattern among one or multiple floors.
      You have to accomplish the scenario goal (each scenario of the campaign is quite different) while moving through the cards and resolving each card encounter (and not dying).
      There are 4 main resources in the scenario. Life (if you reach 0, you die), Food (1 food is needed to explore a new card, otherwise you lose 5 life), Gold (needed to buy stuff and food and some card effects), Fame (that allows you to equip the more powerful stuff)
    • Card resolution: Each card has a lot of fluff text and often starts with some dialogue where you have to make some choice. It'll be interspersed with either:
      • Gambits: One of 4 mini game. Some luck based, other skill based. You can have stuff that help for each kind of gambit
      • Combats: Combat in 3d in a little arena, with Arkham style combo/parry system.
      • Dungeon: A 3d dungeon with traps to avoid and chests to loot
  • Rogue-like progression : The main way you'll be progressing in between scenario is by unlocking new cards. Either because you finished a scenario. Or you met the criteria of one of the encounter during a scenario. More cards means more option for each scenario. So you could go back to a previous scenario to get the "best" result (scenario often have two possible endings). Or come back to a scenario that you skipped because you found it a bit to hard at the time.
  • Difficulty / Length : Took me about 30 hours to finish the game. It's sometimes a bit tedious.
    The difficulty is a bit all over the place. Some scenario you'll need a specific kind of deck to get the best outcome. For others you'll just bring a random deck with whatever cards you need to discover/unlock and manage it in gold on the first try.
    Bonus point, you can lower the combat difficulty (if, like me, you don't find that style of combat interesting).
  • UX: A small gripe for me was that the camera is locked. For combats/dungeon, it can be a bit of a bore.
    A good point is the card filtering system + scenario presentation. You don't need to go to a wiki to know what you'll want/need for a scenario (looking at you darkest dungeon).
  • Conclusion : All in all a real upgrade over the 1 and a really good game. Thanks for the gift!

And games from the february choice (for once there was game that I liked!)

Half-Life 2

Valkyria Chronicles 4 Complete Edition

8/10
49.5 hours
22 of 36 achievements
  • Lore / Story : Basically world war 2, but the bad guys are a mix of Nazis/USSR. Also the propulsion mechanism is not oil, but some sort of crystal and there are fantasy elements linked to said crystal. If you've played VC 1, it's the same war, but on another front.
    You follow a squad of people. The story is a bit cliché at times, but overall pretty decent. There is a lot of narration, so you have the time to attach yourself to the main characters
  • Game mechanics : The game is a mix between turn based tactics and TPS. Basically you have a set number of actions to do on your turn. Each action consist in taking control in TPS mode of one soldier, moving it and firing its weapon.
    You do all your actions, then the enemy does the same. There are some slight difference between the opponent and you.
    The opponent will only use each unit once per turn (save for boss units). Whereas you can use a single unit as much as you want. Each successive use of a unit will lower it's possible movement though. And some units have limited ammo.
    On each map there is often a certain number of camps. They all belong to either you or the opponent at the start, but you can capture them. They allow to call for reinforcement or heal/resupply units tat will end their phase on it.
    There are 6 classes of characters and 3 different vehicles. Each class of soldier is really different. And so is each vehicle.
    If you've played VC 1, the three big additions are one class (the grenadier, that will more often than not replace lancers), one vehicle (an APC that's not very potent but can move some other soldiers a long way) and "direct command"
    Direct command is a pretty nice improvement, it allows one of your leaders to move and team up with up to two units that will follow him for one move. Making scouts a great way to move around your slower units.
  • Character progression : All along the campaign, there are 3 principal way of making your characters progress.
    • Experience that can be used to level up all the soldier of one class. Unlocking new perks along the way.
    • Credits that can be used to buy new weapons for your soldiers (a weapon is unlocked for every soldier that can equip it). Each weapon has 3 different branch of progress that enhance one characteristic over the others. There are also weapon that you can get as reward on maps.
    • Army ranks that are specific to a character and will unlock a mini story and a map. Completing it unlocks a new perk for up to 3 characters.
  • Difficulty / Length : Completing the base game takes about 30 hours. And I think it's about 30 more hours to get all achievements.
    The game is really easy if you take your time. Getting the max rank in every mission is a bit trickier. (but you can just come back later with stuff that will trivialize the earlier maps)
  • UX : Minor UX gripe, the stories/dialogs in campaign mode aren't automatically launched, so you have to click a bunch of time on miniatures in between battles to get a lot of the story.
  • Conclusion : Like the first one, I really liked this game. I'd definitely recommend it if you're into turn based games. Warning for Achievement grinders, it's like a jrpg, with about 10 to 20 more hours of game if you have all dlc and want all achievements1.
Half-Life 2

Iris and the giant

7/10
3.2 hours
4 of 16 achievements
  • Lore / Story : You play inside the mind of iris. A little girl that seems really fearful of a lot of things. You learn a bit more about her during the story.
  • Game mechanics : It's a turn based rogue-like. You have a hand of cards, each turn you play one and then the enemies act. Rinse and repeat until the end of each level appears.
    What's pretty neat is that most of your cards have only one use. So you have to manage your life and new cards you add in your deck.
    During the levels you kill opponents (that give you XP to get some skills), you find crystals (giving you new cards every now and then) as well as chests (giving you new card when you open them).
    There are also some bosses that give you a permanent effect for the run.
  • Rogue-like progression : There are 3 main ways of progressing:
    • Whenever you finish a run, you gain some stuff that's just for the next run.
    • During a run, you'll find "memories". Each of them gives you one point you can spend on perks that are useful for every run
    • Imaginary friends are unlocked at the end of a run. You then need to meet a certain criteria in a run to unlock them for future runs. You can only bring a limited number of imaginary friends with you.
  • UII haven't seen a way to highlight which path you've already followed, so it's a bit frustrating to keep track of that
  • Difficulty / Length : That game is really really short (even by rogue-like standards). I neat the game in about 5 or 6 runs. And that took me around 3.5 hours. You can play more than that if you like it, because there are plenty of "hidden" paths.
  • Conclusion : It's a really neat game. The mechanism of having cards that are one off is a great variation compared to other game of the genre. Also the visuals are nice. The game is definitely a bit to short for me.
Half-Life 2

Endless Space® 2

7/10
24.4 hours
30 of 115 achievements
  • Lore / Story : Classic sci fi setting. This takes place in the endless universe (like every other endless game) so you find the usual suspects (food, industry, dust, science). Not much of a story in this one (there are some bits here and there, but it's meaningless).
  • Game mechanics : It's a classic turn based 4X game. So nothing special for the most part.
    The mechanism that stand out from other 4X is the politics system. With your tech research/actions in game/choice during events, you influence the political parties within your realm. If you have a system that allow for multi party system, every round of election can change the composition of your senate and that can change the different law you can have in effect.
  • Difficulty / Length : The game ain't that hard in solo. The AI is quite dumb in regards to victory conditions. The early middle game can be a bit challenging, but once you muster an alliance, it's smooth sailing. From the two games I've done, you have to expect something like 10 to 15 hours a game.
  • Conclusion : It's a really good 4X game. Basics are solid, the extra stuff brings some variations. The different species play-style seems different enough

End of the year!

So to end of the year, I had to finish Darkest Dungeon. It took me longer than expected, because the endgame had a lot of grind. As such I had to update my review of the previous month. I still like the game, but the last 40/50% of the game could definitely be improved upon (dunno if the DLC do that, but I’m not that interested).

And then Secret Santa came (courtesy of AschmidtOhren / Moony1986 ) ! So I had to start at least one of those game. Witcher 3 was among them, but I didn’t want to spend all of December and January on it. So Desperados it was!

Half-Life 2

Desperados - Wanted Dead or Alive

6/10
31.6 hours
no achievements

Not going to do a long review here because this is an old game. This is one of the first commando style game (well afaik, the second one after commando).
It holds up pretty well for its age. There are some UI/UX thing that are a bit finicky and it's not as beautiful as say Shadow Tactics, but I still enjoyed it.

Happy new year to all!

And now vember is gone

Only played two games in november, because I spent a lot of time on those. And also played a bunch of TTS with friends (lock-down and all that jazz).

Half-Life 2

Eador. Imperium

3/10
41.7 hours
18 of 32 achievements
  • Lore / Story : It's some fantasy world and the land is split into islands surrounded by void. The story in the campaign might as well not exist. I think it's a follow up on Eador: Genesis, but I'm not even sure.
  • Game mechanics : It's a turn based strategy game. So let's go into the details of each part of the gameplay
    • Overall map: The map is cut into tiles. You have your heroes moving in between tiles. They can then explore a part of one tile each turn to discover some dungeon or just allow it to receive more people.
      The tiles that have yet to be explored are often occupied by neutral troops of varying strength. Once you explore a tile, it's part of your realm.
      At some point you'll encounter opponents and steamroll through their realm to siege the castle and end them.
    • Tile content: So just to go into more details into the things you can find in tiles. It can be a lot of things. Most of the time it's a dungeon, and it'll tell you the overall number of troops and the type of troops. But no indication whatsoever of what is the strength of those units. So you'll have to remember each unit strength just to get an idea of the strength of the dungeon.
    • Realm management: You only have one city, in which you can construct one building/turn. There is hundreds of building to chose from with different effects, with multiple dependency in between them. It's sometimes hard to remember where you're going.
      And you have up to 3 construction per tile in your realm. The available constructions are unlocked by buildings from your city. It's a chore to keep them all up to date when your realm grows.

    • Each tile gives you some gold/gem. And sometimes a resource. You need to have one of a resource for certain buildings/units. If you don't have that resource in your realm you'll have to buy it (so the thing you're buying costs more).
    • Hero management: Heroes have can be given items/units/spells. Nothing out of the ordinary. The only point to note is that your heroes skills cap are limited by your hero level.
      In game your heroes will spend most of their turn doing nothing but exploring one tile. And then you'll wonder if he can take on the dungeon content.
      You have a bunch of hero classes. But damn are they inequals. There is 3 main archetype. Fighter, Mage, Commanders. Fighter heroes can take whole armies by themselves when well equipped/leveled. Mages are laughably weak. Commander are alright if you manage to get the high level troops (but this takes a while).
    • Combat: The combat is just turn based combat. Nothing special about it. It's a bit slow, because the map is big and sometimes it'll just be 2 or 3 turn of unit movement before the fight actually start.
  • Campaign progression: Unlike the previous version, nothing progresses in between scenario. You are dealt a different starting hand, but that's about it.
  • Difficulty / Length : So the game difficulty is pretty random. But when it's hard, it's because the scenario/AI is cheating. Like the AI having one of the best unit unit in the game super early on (way before you can have the equivalent). And when there is no cheat, it's just a slog to go through it. It took me 35 hours to do the first 4 scenario of the campaign. 9 hours per scenario. And those hours were mostly spent exploring my own realm.
  • Conclusion : I remembered Eador : Genesis fondly. But damn is this one a let down. It's so freaking slow. And not interesting at all (be it in combat or management). Oh and oftentimes it crashes for no reasons. Definitely not going to bother going through the 100+ hours needed to finish all campaigns.

And this one is not finished, but because it’s a roguelike dungeon crawler, I think I got the gist of it now.

Half-Life 2

Darkest Dungeon

7/10
38.0 hours
43 of 120 achievements
  • Lore / Story : Your ancestor made some eldritch shit and the familial estate has gone to shit. You have to explore it and try to fix whatever he did. The general ambiance of the game is supposed to be very dark and oppressing and that's very well done in that regard.
  • Game mechanics : In case you didn't know the game, it's a roguelike dungeon crawler. The But you gather resources that allow to improve your heroes throughout the run. There are a bunch of thing to pay attention to (hunger , light , health, stress) and you have to manage them with different tools given to you.
    The fight are turn based, with a system of positioning that can change during the fight. Some skills of you/your opponents can only be used in some position/target some positions. It makes for interesting strategic choice/target prioritization and overall a very satisfying combat system.
    There are 4 or 5 different area in which dungeon are located, and each has different kind of opponents/environment properties. As such a party for one area, might not be optimal for another one.
  • Base progression : Be it loot in the dungeon or rewards for runs, you'll gain some heirlooms. Those can be used to upgrade the different buildings in you hamlet.
    Upgrading those helps upgrading your heroes/keeping them fresh. It takes time to upgrade everything, so you'll have to chose wisely which one you're prioritizing first.
  • Character progression : When you finish a dungeon the surviving heroes get some xp. You'll also get some gold. And some trinkets. Gold can be used to upgrade skills (very little change, only some numbers going up) or buy new skills. But you're limited to 4 skill, so it's a matter of unlocking/upgrading the ones you like.
    You can also use gold to upgrade your base equipment (same thing, it's just some numbers going up/down).
    And you win plenty of trinket during the game. A lot of those have positive and negative effect. Each hero can equip 2. You have to juggle between trinkets to equips the optimal trinkets for each character/dungeon, but they're the one thing that allow you to really customize a character.
    Also because some character will be unavailable for some runs (due to stress, illness, a level that's too high or others thing) you'll have to change your party composition often. Which is good, there are plenty of characters to chose from and they all are really different.
  • Difficulty / Length : The game is hard. You will lose some heroes to bad RNG or bad preparation on your part. Or just because your party isn't made to fight the boss (presuming you don't use the wiki to spoil everything). The game is probably quite long as well (haven't finished it yet, but at the current pace, I expect 50 to 60 hours to "finish it")
  • Conclusion : So I like the game. I'd recommend it if you like turn based games or roguelike dungeon crawlers. But at the same time there are some aspect that I don't like and find very frustrating making it hard to recommend to everyone.
    • There is no way in game to remind you of what happened in the previous runs (e.g. what opponents/curios you have already met at some place).
      So you're often drawn to the wiki (or you have to take your own notes, but that's just to bothersome when the wiki exists) just to get an overview of what you can expect in certain areas. I'm starting to remember it a bit after 40 hours of playtime.
      And that's needed because you'll want to do some optimization for high level dungeons.
    • I don't know why, but I can't bring myself to play the game for a long time in a row. I have to do something else after doing 1 or 2 runs.
    • That very frustrating feeling you'll get when you have to give up on a bunch of interesting loot just because your inventory is really small (and its size can't be improved).
    • The rewards for the highest levels runs feel a bit lackluster compared to easier runs. The only real difference is in the reward presented when you chose the missions, and it ain't much once you have a solid trinket base.
  • End game edit : So I'm going to reach the end game soonish, and those last hours have forced me to lower the game note.
    • Some kind of ability are very class limited. There are plenty of tanks/dps, but there is only one AoE Heal, and one AoE stress relief.
    • The end game is tedious. Because of a certain mechanism (not going to spoil it here), the end game takes longer that it needs to be. And as such you end up doing a lot of run that feel samey.
    • Linked to that, it takes a lot of runs to unlock the latest bosses (at least 5 long run per location). As such you're not even enticed to get them all before going to the darkest dungeon because it takes so much time.
    • And during that end game your characters/hamlet evolution is close to none. You already have everything interesting maxed out and all the trinkets that interest you
    • The trinket merchant is a bit useless : At the start you have no gold for it but need trinkets -> you can't buy. At the end you have gold but already plenty of trinkets -> you won't buy.

October is almost gone

So this month started with me keeping on playing turn based strategic/rpg games:

Half-Life 2

Halcyon 6: Lightspeed Edition

6/10
16.1 hours
47 of 82 achievements
  • Lore / Story : So sci fi in space again. A new alien species arrive and decimate almost all the humans in you quadrant. Your base is the only surviving one, fight the invaders, see what happens with your neighbors, yada yada.
  • Game mechanics : So there are 4 parts of the gameplay.
    1. Ship fight: The meat of the game. Fight are up to 3 ships vs up to 3 ships. You make a combination of Officers/ship on your side against whatever the ia uses. There is a whole system of status that you have to exploit to make the most damage. Some skill apply a status, some skills do more damage and remove a status if the target is affected by said status. So you have to equip the proper skills for your ship/officer to match well with one another. It works pretty well.
      The only real bad stuff is that for some reason a bunch of boss have a capped damage they can take per attack. As such using the status system feels useless because you'll be way over the cap.
    2. Overall map gameplay: Not that much to do. Go from your base to another point for a quest/fight. Build all the resource node you can, automate them and that's about it. You'll be crawling under resource in no time.
    3. Base management: Excavate the base and build stuff to be allowed to get more powerful ships. It's a bit lackluster because there isn't much to do in term of improving your ships. There are 2 research by ship. And that's it.
      You can build consumables at some point, but they take the place of a passive stat upgrade found on your opponent. So it's pretty hard to use them.
      And you'll end up having plenty of officer that have nothing better to do than stand in the productions rooms, making you get even more ressource.
    4. Ground fight: This one feels pretty useless. It's like the ship fights, but worse. There is no stuff for it, it'll sometimes be you officer + 2 green shirt (mostly useless fodder), no way to estimate the strength of your opponents beforehand. And they don't happen very often.
  • Character progression : So as said before, you'll unlock ship tiers. In each tier 2 ships by base class exists, with different stats. There are 3 base class (how convenient with 3 spot in the fight) and they can fork into another at some point.
    There is a whole skill tree with branch/nodes to unlock/improve special abilities and get some passives boosts. This also includes power for ground combat that you're going to use like 3 or 4 times in the whole game.
    The character progression is nice in the early/mid game and becomes a bit stale at the end.
  • Difficulty / Length : Played the game in the 3rd difficulty (out of 8) because it was indicated to be the one for experienced players. Was pretty easy up until the last encounter that was a bit harder (multiple fight in a row with damage cap). It's the only one that made me reload.
    Took me about 15 hours to finish the game. But the last 5 hours were pretty boring. The gameplay loop was figured out and nothing exciting to feel like you're making progress. Had to use the building made for speeding up the game and because of that (I suppose?) I didn't even get the Tier 5 ships.
  • Conclusion : The game has some solid base but it lacks a little bit in polish in some aspects (ground combat and the base management feels lacking).
    The end game is very boring aside from the last fight (from a dev blog, lightspeed edition did remove 10 hours of grind compared to the base edition. I don't even want to try it).
Half-Life 2

Galaxy Squad

5/10
5.1 hours
6 of 15 achievements
  • Lore / Story : It's sci fi in space. That's about it. The story is the classic steal super powered stuff and flee the authorities with different options along the way.
  • Game mechanics : It's FTL meet XCOM on a budget. You travel on a space map from one point to another and do encounters XCOM style on said points.
    The Map part is a bit bland. You get quests, but all the quests can be resumed to "go to given point, optional fight, reward". You can explore, but most explorations end up in an encounter.
    You can go to stations to repair/sell/buy stuff/get quests. As for the tactical part, it's the classic XCOM approach. Advance, trigger pod, kill pod, repeat. There are different objectives, but they all feel the same.
    The opponent also greatly lack in variety. There are ranged opponents, melee opponents and neither possess any real capacity (well there are a few healers but...), just different stats/skins.
    Only some boss/story map had a little bit of variance.
  • Characters progression : So there are two part here. The "in a run" progression and the roguelike progression.
    The "in a run" progression feels a bit underwhelming, there are 7 levels, you unlock some points to spend in perks, but it doesn't change much. For all the class I tested, you take like 2/3 points from the class and the rest in the passives attributes that everyone takes (like reloading not ending your turn to allow reload then fire is a perk).
    The equipment is just getting bigger numbers. Equipment are (in theory) preferred by a class, but it's only a 5% accuracy bonus (and you're in general above 80% accuracy) so not much.
    You can also make some stuff on your ship. Impact isn't really there because you've done it all really quickly.
    The roguelike progression is a lot more enticing. You can unlock endgame equipment, new starting classes / ship and new game modes. You win enough to unlock one or two thing by run.
  • Difficulty / Length : A story run is quite short (less than 3 hours). And the difficulty (in the base mode) isn't really here.
    Tested another mode and the difficulty was very uneven. Went from maps with 2 pods of 3 single target units to 1 pod of twelve with a lot of aoe.
  • Conclusion : While the game is decent, the melange just doesn't catch. On the roguelike part there isn't that feeling that you're going to end up short like in FTL or that you'll need to retry with a different approach. I just kinda steamrolled through the game in my first run and don't really see the point of trying again.
    As for the XCOM part, It's always going to be the same kind of dull fights, with the same kind of character/ship progression. There isn't the tension that you'd get in an XCOM game from opponents with new capacity, special objectives that make you take another approach in fights and so.
    One thing that bothers me a bit for the unlocks, is that you need to unlock game modes. You can't at the same time get a new game mode to try and either a new ship/class. So it's either a new game mode with classes you already know or a new class in a mode you already know.
    But I got it for 1€, it was worth trying.

And then onto two completely different games

Half-Life 2

Felix the Reaper

6/10
14.7 hours
26 of 26 achievements
  • Lore / Story : So you play a grim reaper with fancy dancing skills. And he solves puzzle to kill people. Also he's in love with a sort of angel.
  • Game mechanics : You run through different screens for each of your kills. In each there are two type of interraction:
    1/ you can move/interract with different objects on the scene.
    2/ you can switch the sun direction (between two presets direction).
    Because you can only move in the shadows, all the gameplay resolves around the different combinations you can do to change the shape of the shadows to accomplish your objective.
    There are also time trials levels. They exacerbate all the things I don't like about the game (timing + unresponsive controls)
  • Difficulty / Length : It's taken me about 7 hours to do the main game. And 5 hours more to do the hardcore part + time trials. I ended up stuck only once or twice in all the levels.
    There is a bit of added difficulty if you want all the achievements, because you'll have to do an almost perfect run in each "normal" level.
    The hardcore versions of the levels seems a bit more fun to me because you don't have to optimize your every move for the achievements. Although you can end up in situation where you can't solve the level and have to restart it, so in that sense they're a bit harder :D .
  • Conclusion : It's a good puzzle game, but it lacks depth, there was the potential do to a lot more with either the sun/shadows or the dance.
    I was a bit bothered by the fact that you had to optimize everything in the "normal" mode and as such it was less enjoyable than "hardcore" mode. And time trials sucks.
    The fact that the hero dancing skills have no use besides animations is also a bit of a letdown.
Half-Life 2

Life is Strange: Before the Storm

8/10
11.6 hours
34 of 34 achievements
  • Lore / Story : Basically the same setting as in LiS season 1. But before. Because the story is everything in this game, I won't go into the details, but I'm still going to judge it a bit.
    So it's a prequel in which they chose to go with the "we'll have a story that will just explain a bit but won't impact the original material". It's a bit detrimental, because you end up knowing that whatever you did for the big plot won't change the story in LiS.
    But because it's supposed to be 0 impact, a lot of small decisions you make end up not being in line with what happens in LiS.
    Also some background/story don't seem to match between the two games.
    I don't know if it's better to play this one or LiS first. I guess this one first for the story, and LiS first for the interest you can have towards characters.
  • Game mechanics : It's a point and click. And it's a really easy one at that. There isn't the whole time manipulation thingy of the season 1.
    The only real added mechanism is some sort of dialog fight (reminds me a bit of Monkey Island).
  • Difficulty / Length : It's not difficult and takes about 10/11 hours.
  • Conclusion : It's an awesome game if you like good stories. It's one of those rare game where I felt emotionally invested in the main character. That's helped by the fact that I knew what would happen and how life (well the writers in facts) decided to throw everything and the kitchen sink at her.
    Also it made me change my perceptions of some other characters in season 1, which I didn't think would happen at the start (especially because it made me change my perception of the main character of season 1. Ghosting your best friend is not really nice)