Tuesday, December 02, 2014

2014 Play Log - No-vember Bundle

November 2014 will be remembered as "No-Vember" since there were many things that happened that if I had had my choice, I would have said "No" to. (Not that saying "no" would have done anything.) As a result, I'm way behind in both my gaming "schedule" and updating this blog (neither of which are really very important, of course).

The month started with a bug (ie, virus) that got the better of me for most of a week. I had Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Day Zero Edition in my hands....and I couldn't stay awake at night long enough to play it. Oh well.

One game I did play a little of was...

 The Binding of Issac: Rebirth - There was always something about this game that put me off. The original (I played the updated version) has been on sale several times on Steam for practically nothing and has very high ratings, but the image of the little crying child/baby, lying on his side surrounded by monsters, bothered me so much I didn't want to buy it. If it hadn't been one of the "free" PlayStation Plus games for November, I still wouldn't have tried it. Now that I have tried it, I guess it wasn't as bad as I thought, but it is a bit unsettling anyway.

The story starts with Issac and his mom living a happy life together. Then mom starts hearing the voice of "God" tell her that to save her son, she has to sacrifice him! Mom grabs a knife and Issac jumps into the world's worst basement in history. What follows is a very Rogue-like game (more on that later) where dying happens a lot but the levels are always randomly generated. This gives the game considerably more replay value than something like, for example, Pix the Cat. If you die, your run ends. You don't really advance unless you clear 4 levels and a boss. Needless to say, this is not a game I will ever finish. I played it on the PS4 and Vita (since I got both versions in the deal). As a little diversion/time killer, it's not bad. I don't get killed so often that it's annoying, and have even taken out a level mini-boss once in a while, but it's still a rough game. A simple enough concept (sort of a Robotron-esque design) with some fun power-ups. I'll probably pick it up for a quick fix between other games - which isn't a bad thing to be.

Now, as for the issue of "Rogue"-like games: I'd like to go on record as being one of a rare cadre of gamers who can say, "I played Rogue, on a PC, in colored ASCII characters, somewhere back in the mid '80's." It looked like this:

...and it ate up huge amounts of my time!

The other game I played most of No-Vember was one I didn't even buy for myself. I got it for Diane because someone had mentioned on a podcast that it was like Animal Crossing with better quests. What it's like is a cross between a Zelda game and Skyrim, and I can't stop playing it!

Fantasy Life Image Fantasy Life - It seems odd in a way to be spending so much of my gaming time (something I don't have a lot of) on a fairly simple handheld game. I own a number of HD consoles and numerous unplayed Triple-A titles, but when the hour gets late, all I want to do is settle down on the sofa with my 3DS and do more missions and explore more areas in this game. There's no voice work - it's all reading and lots of it! My character doesn't talk but there's a "butterfly" that does the talking for me. Her dialog is really rather funny and everything is done in a fairly kid-friendly manner (it's rated E10, presumably because of the complexity and combat). But it wasn't until my first "boss battle" that I started to have real respect for the game.

The game gives you the option of about a dozen different "Lives" (ie, classes). Some are just for crafting items, and others are for combat. It becomes clear pretty early that you need to have experience in a few of them so that you can defend yourself and create items that you need to either save money or make it. I started as a Carpenter, added Tree Cutter,  then Mercenary since I needed to be able to fight well when I went looking for trees and when I was on the story missions. As I progressed up in levels for my Mercenary Life, I was able to knock out most creatures with little or no problem. (One thing I liked was that the game had some creatures in the wilderness that were not aggressive - I mean, would a deer just attack you in the forest? - which makes it more realistic.)

When I did all the quests and objectives for the level I was at, I found I had two to go that were much higher in value, but the game was insisting that I do at least one to advance. I headed over to the first one, which was closest to my area - a creature named Silverfang. I whacked it once with my great sword...and it did almost nothing to it! Silverfang then turned around and killed me in about 5 hits. Lesson learned; I'm not ready for this! So, I continued on my travels, visited the next city, bought armor upgrades, bought a new great sword, added an NPC to my party then went back and tried Silverfang again. The battle lasted a long time (I don't know exactly how long), and I used nearly all my healing potions while running around the boss and reviving my NPC (who was basically used as bait). When it finally fell and left behind a bounty to turn in I felt unusually proud of my efforts and realized that this game was deeper than I had given it credit for. Definitely a memorable boss fight! I don't know if I'll finish the whole game, but when I play it I will consider it a privilege and a good use of my game-time.

4 Elements Image 4 Elements - This is probably the most "casual" game I have ever played not counting Windows Solitaire. It combines hidden object, three or more matching, and find-the-differences mechanics into a single game with good graphics and sound. It's a pleasing way to pass time which this month has so desperately needed. When things are going to shit, a fun distraction is just what you need.

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