Thursday, June 01, 2017

Chessasaur's May 2017 Gaming Log

May 2017 - Game stuff, day by day

5/01 - Prey Demo. Well, I don't hate it as much as I did before, but I'm still not ready to re-pre-order. And "hate" is probably too strong a word. This time around, I took my time, read all the emails, and got a better handle on who I am and why I'm there. I've also gotten better at fighting the mimics, even if I get hit a bit more often than I've got health packs for. I made a bad choice to use my first neruomod for engineer repair skill when I should have put it into improving effectiveness of health items. Live and learn.

5/02 - When I went to Redbox today to rent Rings, I was given the option to get a free game rental. Figuring, "Hey, why not?", I looked at what they had, and after mentally deleting the games I already own or sports games I wouldn't play in a million years, I was left with Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Wildlands and For Honor. My first instinct was to go with Ghost Recon because it's a genre I know (ie, a shooter). I've watched a few streams of For Honor and thought it looked interesting, but I'd heard it was hard to get into and other than multiplayer, there wasn't much to it. However, I figured that I'd only have a little while to play and Ghost Recon would probably need more time to get past just the opening cut-scenes. So, I chose For Honor...and I'm so glad I did! I'd heard a podcast recently where they were talking to the lead creative designer and this game is something he'd wanted to make for a long time; basically his dream game where melee combat was handled in a realistic manner. (His words were, "I want to put a sword in your hand!") I'm always more interested in something that a person has put their heart and soul into. It's a very different sword combat game than something like Diablo or Dark Souls (for different reasons), but it was easy to pickup with very helpful tutorials and responsive controls. I think that it must have been reworked quite a bit since launch - it required a 9gb patch on install! The single player campaign is set in a world where war has been raging for a thousand years between knights, samurai, and I'm not going to try to defend its story merits. It's just a convenient excuse to get everyone fighting. Anyway, the game is gorgeous! You can get lost in the details of the fighters and the ruins you're battling around. Just awesome! I finished the first chapter and went over to look at multiplayer, figuring I'd just get myself swiftly executed before bed, and couldn't get a match! This game came out in February, less than 3 months ago, and the multiplayer community is that dead? Well, I'm going to get a copy to play the single player game more. A labor of love game like this should not be forgotten so soon.

5/04 - Star Wars Day! Had to do the obligatory Star Wars game, of course. In this case, Battlefront on the Xbox One. I bought the Ultimate edition (to get the season pass cheap) digitally (a rare thing for me) as this is the kind of game where you want to play a bit then move on to something meatier. Looking for the disc just takes more time than it's worth. I have to say I'm getting better at the "run around and shoot people" thing - I even got a number of kills in real multiplayer as a Stormtrooper by standing up on a catwalk and waiting for the Rebel scum to come through a doorway. Sneaky, but whatever works. I also tried out Beam (Microsoft's answer to Twitch) and I'm still trying to figure it out - you get an address for your stream, but I don't see the usual channel page stuff. It's fast though; there was almost no lag between my motions on the Kinect webcam and the corresponding actions on the webpage viewed on my PC! I'll have to look into it a bit more. (Do they do an automatic Twitter link?)

5/05 - Didn't do too much tonight, but I think I'm done with the Prey demo. It's a good game, but for some reason it isn't getting my interest (or my money). I'm not sure if it's a feeling of "been there, done that" space station shooter, the downright ugly models for the main characters, or the over the top "horror noise" when a mimic shows up, but I'm taking a pass on it for now. Maybe when it hits the $20 price point I'll give it a go.

5/06 - Edith Finch. Want to get back to this one and finish it up. Frankly, I'm hoping it makes some sense before the end. If it doesn't, I won't be upset - it's been an interesting ride.

5/07 - Edith Finch. More wandering around. I don't think this game is ever supposed to get scary, not that it has to for me. I do wish that games wouldn't give you the feeling like they are wrapping up...then go back into exploration mode again.

5/08 - Edith Finch. And done. Like a lot of the odd games I play, this one will take some time to process. It's hard to call something like this a "game" since, from what I can tell, you can't win or lose. The experience is just interactively triggering the next mini-story. While you are in each mini-tale, you need to provide some input (focus a camera lens, fly a kite, propel yourself in a swing, etc) but success is only measured by the continuation of the narrative, which deals with a particularly unlucky family and their assorted methods of demise. A "thing" like this can be appreciated for the variety of unconventional mechanics it contains, but by the end I felt the whole "thing" to be less than the sum of it's parts. One part in particular I found pleasantly reminiscent of Tales from the Crypt and Creepshow. The YouTube link is below.

5/09 - Started Little Nightmares tonight and I can't help but think I'd feel very differently about it if it had come out before Inside. LN is trying to do everything Inside did (spooky puzzle platforming) with an added measure of 3D to the environments. Unfortunately, I don't think it works as well. There's an elegant simplicity to Inside's puzzles - if you fail at them, you're just not doing it right. If you fail a puzzle in Little Nightmares, it's likely because you didn't angle your avatar correctly and went off an edge the wrong way or you haven't looked around the room enough. Like Inside, I have no idea who my character is or why I'm where I am, but, like I've mentioned, Inside did it first so this feels like an unnecessary sequel.

5/10 - Little Nightmares. Six's journey continues. Mind you, the only reason I know his/her name is from what I've read outside the game. There's still no "story" to speak of yet. Probably never will be. Is that a "thing" now in indie games? Apparently this is a very short game (HLTB put it at 3 hours) so I should be done fairly soon, even with my propensity for dying a lot.

5/11 - Little Nightmares. Creepy chef time! Made for a good PS4 capture highlight (see below).

5/15 - Little Nightmares. After a little holiday break, got back to it. I'm done with the chef's (I think) and probably(?) near the end. Still keeping with my desire to not finish a night stuck on a puzzle. Keeps me up a bit late, but it's worth it to know I won't come back to a previous night's failure.

5/16 - Little Nightmares. As I suspected, I was able to finish up LN tonight. It's very much like Limbo and Inside - a dark themed, puzzle platformer with no recognizable story elements - and Little Nightmares is both better and worse than the other two. LN allows movement in more than two dimensions, which makes for more variety of environments and more challenging puzzles. However, sometimes the puzzles are more challenging because you have to work in 3D. Aiming projectiles, jumping off platforms, and walking narrow beams is a lot harder! Graphically, I'd say Limbo still has the best atmosphere, Inside has the edge in animation, and Little Nightmares wins for enemy character design and environmental lighting. Plus, the whole game takes place aboard a giant ship so all the rooms constantly roll slowly back and forth. (Good thing I don't get seasick!) But for endings, Little Nightmares beats them all! I was a little afraid (as I get with games like this) that I'd hit a point where it was too difficult for me to win, but the end battle was a perfect set piece that was just hard enough that it took some time to solve without being frustrating. And, while it was still very cryptic, the final moments were incredibly rewarding!

5/18 - Little Nightmares. Wanted to try something that I've heard other gamers do - restart a game as soon as they finish it. I also wanted to see if I could open more "extras" - in this case, concept art images. What I found is that a) I could get through some areas much faster than before, b) areas where I failed (repeatedly) were more frustrating, c) unlocking concept art seems to be tied to just catching and hugging the little hat guys (not easy), and d) in Little Nightmares, the extras you unlock are considered part of your save...which sucks because I deleted my save to start over! That's enough of that then.

5/21 - Haven't played much this weekend because Nagano threw his back out again...or the doggie equivalent of that, but I did manage to dip my toe back into Zelda, This was partially motivated from helping my brother, who has been struggling with getting into the game himself on a new Switch. Plus,  it's easy to forget details from early in the game when you haven't played for awhile. Also, I got back into Steins;Gate...but I don't know if it constitutes a game. Pretty much just a visual novel. Bad part, I lost my saves so I had to start over. HLTB says 23 hours? I doubt I'll stay with it that long.

5/22 - This happens from time to time - I see a game on sale, realize I have it on a different platform, and decide I should give it a shot to see if I want to buy it again.This time it was D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die, which I have on Steam, but is currently on sale for Xbox One for less than $4. The game was originally designed to operate with the Kinect 2.0 and, from what I've heard, is one of the few that really worked. For that reason alone, I'll probably drop the few bucks to get it because it was fairly hard to navigate with the controller and it's another one of those bat-shit crazy Japanese games you can't help but just love.

5/23 - Zelda. Always nice to be able to just drop back into Zelda for a little while. Did another shrine and tried to make it to a cliff overlooking a tower (so I can glide to it instead of climbing all the way up), but things didn't go quite according to plan. Back to Kakariko village for some cooking and fairy catching.

5/24 - Another case of SIGS, Sale Induced Gaming Selection. In this case, it was Darksiders: Warmastered Edition. The Xbox One version turned up on Amazon for about $12, but I already have it on Steam (it was a free upgrade because I had the original). Time to see if I should buy it again. I'd played Darksiders a little a long time ago when I got it for the 360 and didn't really understand it, if that makes any sense. I hadn't played many button-mashing, attackers from all sides sort of games and I put it aside pretty quickly. Nowadays, I've played more games like that so I figured I should give the remaster a try. It looks amazing compared to the almost cartoony original, but the action is still pretty much mash-mash-mash the attack button. I played until I got to a boss that I wasn't sure how I was supposed to beat and decided it was time for sleep.

5/25 - Darksiders and Zelda. I had to go back to Darksiders for a little bit - at least enough time to kill that "blue dragon" that I stopped on. I don't like ending something on a down note; I'd like to think I can play better than that. And (with a little strategy help from a walkthrough) I got him. Not sure if I'll play more, but it does have some good points. Played Zelda before bed and finally got to the Faron tower...via a roundabout climb and lucky parasail to just near the top. Nobody down below even knew I was there! But...I really need to strike out north from Kakariko and get to that other researcher. It's the next mission on the main story quest. (Update: No, it's just a side quest.)

5/27 - Zelda. Two more shrines done and moving closer to my next quest point. Also, I found that thorn bushes burn nicely.

5/28 - Zelda. A shrine and a tower. Not bad for a night's work.

5/30 - As I'm waiting for RiME to get here, I figured I'd give Tales From the Borderlands a try...and that will probably be as much as I play of it. I remember playing the demo for a short bit and deciding that I'd rather try the whole game, but now that I have, I feel like I'd just be pushing through it for the sake of finishing it. I know a lot of people really liked it, but it just didn't "click" with me. Maybe I'd like it more if it wasn't a comedy? (There were very few laughs in The Walking Dead Season 1, one of my all time favorite games.) It didn't help that the (basically) QTE sections were made more difficult by trying to first find the cursor on the screen, then position it in the right zone to press a button. I could try it on the PC with a mouse, but I don't know if the story is what I want to spend time on. Probably not.

5/31 - Well, RiME still hasn't shown up. I'm beginning to get the feeling that non-AAA games don't get regular physical releases anymore. At least not on the day they are supposed to be released. Maybe that's just the day they start shipping from the warehouses. Anyway, I thought I'd give the Xbox One version of D4 a play with Kinect - they way it was "meant" to be played. I basically played the same section I did from earlier in the month; that is to say, the first chapter. It took a little bit to get the Kinect setup correctly. I have it under the TV/monitor, but also had to put it on a little box to raise it up a bit. After I moved back from the desk some, it picked me up pretty well, but I had some issues with the sensor "seeing" my hand. It would detect it, but when I tried to hover over an icon, the hand graphic would jump around making targeting a pain. And no, I don't think it was me shaking! Grabbing things was another matter - I didn't realize how stiff my hands have gotten until I had to "grab" items on the screen by making a fist. Sucks to be almost 56! Once I got into the game, it was definitely a better experience with the motion controls, even when they didn't register 100% of the time. The one downside was the fairly frequent "motion hints" that told you what you were supposed to do at a given time. It takes you out of the narrative when everything basically stops until you do the motion that the game requires. Well, it's better than the controller version where I was constantly triggering the "turn" command - that really got on my nerves. I also wasn't ready for the voice "participation" parts (you have to actually speak the line you want your character to say from a list of responses), but it was kinda cool and worked every time. It would actually be a cool thing to put into the Telltale games...and might have been added to Xbox One versions if Kinect hadn't been marched out into the middle of the Microsoft campus and shot through the back of the head. Twice.

Media Highlights...and Lowlights (Changed to "Media" this month because I wasn't Twitch streaming. Maybe in June.)

This month's screenshots are HERE.

The Creepshow from What Remains of Edith Finch (Props to the devs for getting the Halloween theme!)

A little escape in Little Nightmares

Miscellaneous Musings

Finish ups - As May starts and I read over April's log, I realized I need to go back and finish What Remains of Edith Finch. Want to do that before getting into Little Nightmares. (Update: Finished both this month!)

Finishing Moves - Now that I've sort of made a habit (or at least an attempt) at finishing games I've started, am I letting it adversely affect my desire to play something like Zelda that I know is very good, but will take a lot more time to finish than I can provide?

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