I'm super surprised to still see me going at this stupid little nerd diary of mine. Do I still actually care to be? Maybe, maybe not! Mysteriously, it seems I'm holding myself account, for once, to finish this whether I want to or not. Now if only I might apply that same mindset to any one of hundreds of more important things. Job searching? School? Music? Quitting meth?
NO! We must play 50+ hours of Days Gone, log it, and rate it on a scale of one to ten instead because THAT'S WHAT IT'S JUST FUCKING COME TO!
Behold my Photo Mode skills! BEHOLD THEM!
Now, instead of publishing my progress so far here, in its entirety (like I did last time), just click this oozy green text if you're further curious what a big loser does in his free time. I'll make a big, sweaty, 56K WARNING-worthy wrap-up sometime very early into 2022.
That being said, enjoy?
* = Did not finish
# = Finished the majority of
^ = Replay or retry
+ Atmospheric, though very limited, OST
- Needlessly contrived control scheme
- Some unsatisfying/obtuse/arbitrary puzzle solutions
- Generally, more frustrating than fun
(SIDEBAR: Take this hot dish with the thicc-est grain of salt as I was mostly demotivated by a couple puzzle solutions, one of which escaped me because YOU'RE NOT SUPPOSED TO GIVE CATS MILK THEY'RE FUCKING LACTOSE-INTOLERANT STOP WITH THIS INCESSANT PRO-MILK PROPAGANDA BIG DAIRY!
With that said, I could easily see how you could get into this. It's a very particular kind of puzzle/horror game. Watching Markiplier go through it has been a delight and has lifted my appreciation for the game's craftmenship. However, I simply did not enjoy actually playing it.)
[Score = 4.5/10]
Dead Island: Definitive Edition ^#
+ The game loop, at its core, is satisfyingly distilled to just make you feel good methodically collecting trash, earning coin, getting cool shit, and bashing zombies with that cool shit
+ The often horrible to mediocre voice acting can make one chuckle
+ World design, in regards to its visual and landmass variety, is thoroughly impressive throughout most of your travels
- Too heavy of a reliance on kicking as a basic defense early on, with monotony setting in potentially hours before strategies evolve in Act II
- Navigating the UI with mouse/keyboard is egregious
- Story threads are presented supremely thinly and mission structure often feels tedious
- Melee combat is occasionally imprecise, primarily with specials like head jabs or jump attacks
- The weapon combo schtick was already done in Dead Rising 2 by this point and more successfully
(SIDEBAR: The game is far better in concept than in execution. If it had the mission structure to support such an addictive game loop and if the questing were trimmed down about 30-35% with that attention being focused into further improving the solid mainline quests, this would've been a hyuge winner.)
[Score = 6.5/10]
Dead Island Riptide: Definitive Edition
+ Improved mission structure/pacing
+ Tweaks to the RPG systems, like Skyrim-esque skill levels and starting off at character level 15 (complete with all those points to allocate), are a step in the right direction
+ Overall variety in weapons, enemies, objectives, etc. is slightly improved
+ More compact and rewarding exploration, including some semi-entertaining (albeit copy/pasted) side caves/bungalows/etc.
+ The tower defense sections, with the proper prep, are a thrill (I actually wish there were at least a couple more, with expanded defense capabilities)
- I preferred existing within the original's open world
- Even after level 50+, the improperly-balanced health system can make you feel like a paper tiger with few incentives to stay alive outside losing money
- Still mostly the same game, which is a lot to take in fresh off the first
(SIDEBAR: Comparing the original and Riptide is much like comparing Fallout 3 and New Vegas. Both formers have more compelling open worlds, but the latter improved their respective predecessors' RPG elements and were, in my opinion, better for it. Much better for it.
With Dead Island, though, the conversation is a little more one-sided because Fallout 3 is, generally, a more substantive game. You don't play Dead Island to get lost in it, you play it to kill zombies. And, well, Riptide just has that down pat a little better.)
[Score = 8/10]
Super Magbot #
+ Great OST
+ One of the cleanest, most polished, most unabashed platformers out there (next to Super Meat Boy - its clear inspiration)
+ Incredibly precise, satisfying controls that make speedrunning and secondary objectives, no matter the challenge, seem more than possible
+ A simple, yet refreshing platforming mechanic
- If there's anything wrong with it, it's that there's maybe not enough of it to go through without wanting more
(SIDEBAR: As much as I'm no fan of Celeste...
... I think this brings that certain mechanical appeal that Celeste brought with it. So, I urge any fan of that to check this out or, at the very least, its demo.)
[Score = 9/10]
WHAT THE GOLF? #
+ Never have I had a game make me smile and laugh so consistently as this
+ Maddening levels of variety throughout most of your ventures, nearly all of it a net positive and with most mechanics feeling as though they could power entirely separate games
+ Heartwarming references, both mechanically and musically
- A few too many stages have you at the mercy of a sometimes inconsistent physics engine
- The gimmicks wear thin towards the end of the main campaign, with the side campaigns offering up mostly similar affairs
[Score = 8/10]
+ The game's techno babble-infused, supremely nerdish dialogue is fascinating in how unabashedly corny it is
+ Quite possibly the most visually gorgeous game I've ever played
+ Might be the best OST I've heard since Undertale or, failing that, at least Hollow Knight
+ Despite some imperfections, the combat is pretty fun
+ Whether it be the combat, story or exploration, not one aspect sticks to doing the same old thing whilst retaining cohesion and solid pacing
+ Touching narrative
- Some mysteries, both big and small, about the game's world or characters are not so subtly spelt out, seemingly, way too soon
- There is a potential, albeit loose, justification for the often contrived objectives and backtracking, but it still wasn't the most engaging way of touring such a brilliant world
(SIDEBAR: This game has plenty of objective qualities that I think players have caught on with, but your mileage definitely will vary when it comes to the game's dialogue and combat. The former, I think, is pretty damned entertaining. It can be as shallow as it can be poetic. The latter might let up for some minutes at a time, but it's an absolute joy whenever I get another shot at being as flashy/badass as possible.
If there is a sequel, I hope there's some better incentivized exploration of the Digital Kingdom. It's a fantastic world that blows by so quickly, from room to room and region to region.)
[Score = 9/10]
+ Pretty, occasionally beautiful aesthetics/stylization
+ Simple pleasures of short, dynamic musical interactions with the environment
- Not nearly enough flora/fauna/objects to interact with
- Island variation is fairly low, with the most outstanding differences being mostly color scheme(s) and general shape of the landmass
- Given the incredibly short nature and little else to experience between the islands after your first run, 10 dollars is asking way too much
- Default walking speed is a tad too slow
(SIDEBAR: I wish there was a great deal more things to interact with, yes. Not only that, I wish even more that there was some actual substance in precisely how you interacted with any one thing. What if you were to herd one of the bunnies into a nearby herd, reuniting it with the rest? What if you triggered all the stone tablets just before venturing through the portal to the next season? What if you sat down at a particular spot?
Every instance I tried actually getting something out of my time with Proteus, I was met with lukewarm reception. Cold water. The whole experience felt like a demo to some LSD Dream Emulator-esque Kickstarter, promising more if properly funded. I can imagine what that hypothetical Proteus could be and I am imaginging something insanely cool!
If only they had taken this idea just a little further.)
[Score = 5/10]
+ Wonderful visuals
+ A wholesomely simplistic, perfect gateway to the ARPG genre
+ Plenty of content to run through, with all the DLC
- Despite the intended streamlining of systems, slightly more nuance to said systems would be welcomed
- The dodgeroll is very clunky and either needs to be able to be used more often or contain i-frames
- Each mission has a specific loot drop pool, arbitrarily limiting the ARPG feedback loop
- No way to store items outside inventory
(SIDEBAR: Objectively, as an ARPG, Minecraft Dungeons has plenty of issues. At the end of the day, though, the easy-going fun I had with it outweighs the faults and, thus, brings it up from what would otherwise be a lower score.)
[Score = 7.5/10]
B.ARK: Bio-Interstellar Ark *
+ Emotive enemy animations
+ Solidly varied, especially in boss tactics/patterns
- The ebb and flow of each level is very unsatisfying and, too often, uneventful for a schump, resulting in boredum setting in very early on
- There was a lot of potential in the narrative setup, but between my own personal attachment to said narrative being spoiled within two levels and important dialogue that quickly skurts by mid-gameplay, it leaves a whole lot to be desired
[Score = 5/10]
Lakeview Cabin Collection *
+ Creative, often very satisfying and, at times, outlandish puzzle solutions
+ All 4 main games are wrapped up in a neat hub area with a narrative tinge that will entice players to complete every one
+ Perfect for any fan of schlocky, trashy horror movies
- Lackluster, at times annoying sound design
- Minor audio, AI, etc. bugs
(SIDEBAR: Much like with House, the sorts of puzzles that require a long, very specific step by step process aren't my thing, but figuring out what I could muster tackling was far more entertaining here than it was there.)
[Score = 8/10]
+ A narrative that brilliantly contextualizes the addictive mechanics of a roguelite with the interesting and insatiably gaudish Greek mythology
+ Brisk, punchy combat that can vary wildly depending on your boons and Daedalus buffs
+ Everyone is so fucking sexy
+ Musically, an achievement on par with 2016's DOOM reboot
+ Encourages you to keep playing or to divie up your strategies through a plethora of well-implemented mechanics
- Most of my gripes lie with the balancing of the game. Certain boons seeming pointless, the Adament Rail's damage output being far too low until drastically upgraded with Titan Blood or without at least two Dadaelus hammers, etc.
- An optional 5th floor that offered up pom power slices, Chaos gates, etc. would've made each run a little more interesting
- Some minor dialogue queue/writing inconsistencies
[Score = 9/10]
Stories Untold *
+ Engrossing narrative from start to finish
+ Impressive visuals
+ I'm always a sucker for synthpop/synthwave soundtracks
- Frustrating, mundane, occasionally rigid "puzzles" and inputs
(SIDEBAR: Amazing conceptually and narratively, but I couldn't stand much of my time actually playing it.
The first section, a text adventure game, felt like it didn't give me much freedom of input. After watching Markiplier play through it, I saw that, for example, "go to the front", referencing the frontyard of a house, worked, but my inputs of "go to back" or "go to the back", when I was attempting to get to the backyard, did not. I tried all sorts of simple commands, as I knew text adventures usually relied on simple two to three-word commands, until I ended on "go to backyard".
My brain insisted on just "back" because the note I was told to read mentioned "going around the back". There were further examples of this that, perhaps, were more my fault than the fault of the game for being too strict, but all I know is that I did not enjoy my time with it.
Second section, a lab experiment of sorts, was inoffensive. As someone who doesn't even go through epileptic episodes, I got a little sick of the incessant light trickery for one particular "puzzle", but I liked it overall.
Third section made me lose my mind. Jotting down number codes read aloud to you, going back and forth between barely legible microfilm and memorizing plainly spelt out system commands, etc. It all culminated with a "puzzle" that made absolutely no sense to me that involved a series of numbers that seemed entirely removed from the blips/boops that blistered my eardrums.
All in all, fuck playing this. But, dammit, it's an awesome story. So, watch a playthrough on YouTube if you want a bit of a mindfreak.)
[Score = 6.5/10]
Rogue Legacy 2 (Early Access)
+ Enemy placement and platforming often melds into one amalgamous, incredibly satisfying challenge
+ Engaging, firm, sold combat
+ The many classes offer wildly different playstyles, apart from the single playstyle from the original
+ The iconic, random assortment of traits with each successor you choose to play as still make for both plenty of fun and giggles
- Minor bugs, such as my avatar disappearing from the map or leaving my computer to come back to my player character continuously walking left despite disconnecting both controller and keyboard
[Score = 8.5/10]
+ Slick visuals and UI
+ Great OST
+ Occasionally touching, fun side stories
- Subpar to average writing, with at least 95% of it unspoken
- Not enough opportunities to speak platonically to characters you aren't interested in
- The dungeon-crawling is fairly shallow
- Flimsy thematic elements, with the final push through the dungeons dropping all pretenses of attempted "subtlety"
(SIDEBAR: BOY, do I have a lot say about this one. Enough to potentially a make a whole review out of.
I went into this wanting everything from it. The concept was amazing and, appropriately, the boys were hot. However, what lied underneath the hype was not only far more restrained than I thought it'd be, but not presented quite as well as I think it needed to be.
Characters are written to spoil far too much about themselves so early on and so bluntly, there's an inability to dynamically connect or disconnect romatically with said characters and with this human-weapon hybrid/dungeon-crawling world being fed to you so inexplicably, neither my boyf of choice or such an odd slice of life could get me to gel with much of the experience. I've seen games that don't even focus on their stories have competent lore justifying, so to speak, their premise. So, it's criminal to have something as story-driven as this falter where it was most important.
But, with that said, the game has its novelty. And, as characters get fleshed out, the writing does occasionally improve. Seven was my favorite, with moments during his development that did genuinely touch me. The game's scope, though, doesn't allow these stories to shine like they could. This was clearly intended to be a bigger project during the pre-production phases and I think it could've evolved into a very well-rounded, niche, awesome time given another year or more of development.
I hate to say it, but this game's best quality is its very CHVRCHES-esque theme tune and that it got me into its singer.)
[Score = 6/10]
+ Irreverent, often chuckle-worthy sense of humor
+ Appealing visual style
+ Great voice acting
- The best thing I can say about the combat is that... it functions
- Generally very repetitive
[Score = 6/10]
+ Very impressive physics engine
+ Inventive, engaging magic-based combat
- To a fault, the game lacks explanation of how its spells and wand system operates
- Snail-like pacing, making death aggravating
(SIDEBAR: For my dollars, Caveblazers and Spelunky fire off a lot of the same synapses in my brain, but trim out the mechanical fat and keep a far brisker pacing to the action. I could easily see how one would prefer Noita as there's an obvious charm to the level of freedom and experimentation it provides, though I can hardly muster the patience to make use of those aspects. Bombing or dissolving my way through these dungeons or breaking the game through it's weapon systems will almost always come second to how it feels to move about, fight and roleplay.
In a way, the combat in Caveblazers comes across as slightly more varied. Huh!)
[Score = 7.5/10]
+ Very satisfying gunplay and motorcycle controls
+ Babying my bike on Survival difficulty with fuel, coasting downhill to save said fuel and sans fast travel was a welcome and unique challenge
+ A very fun checklist of open world activities, with enemy encampments designed well and hordes tactfully-engaging
+ Visually gorgeous (with the right rig)
- The one aspect of the gunplay I do not like is the consistency of headshots can vary wildly
- Sloppy audio design, making it impossible, for example, to place where enemies are stalking
- Narrative felt extremely unfocused, making it sometimes hard to keep ahold of relevant information or for objectives to feel important
- Exploration is, too often, not rewarded like I expected
(SIDEBAR: This felt a lot like how I felt with Destiny, which was 'excellent core, mediocre to average execution but dammit I keep fucking playing and I don't know why'. It has just enough of its own personality to skirt by with its positives outshining its irking critiques of 'same old, same old'.
It may be the best most average game I've ever played.)
[Score = 7.5/10]
Horizon Chase Turbo #
+ Impressive amount of visual variety
+ Solid track design
+ Excellent soundtrack
+ Supremely simple, but successful driving mechanics that focus on precision positioning at very high speeds
- I wish I could change vehicle colors
[Score = 8.5/10]
Mutant Mudds Collection *
+ Solid OST
+ Mudd Blocks is a surprisingly fun, albeit not super duper original, and substantive experience
+ The spooktastic "mirrowed" levels are an absolute delight
- Vanilla Mutant Mudds can feel slightly mundane
- Stiff, albeit precise, platforming isn't usually my cup of tea
[Score = 8/10, as a collection; 6.5/10 for Mutant Mudds, for 7.5 Super Challenge and 8.5/10 for Mudd Blocks]
I vowed to play more during this quarter than the last and, well, I technically did. Not counting Steam's Next Fest demo reel, I scored 4 more entries! Granted, I became completely re-enraptured by Hades for a couple weeks, thus really slowing things down in that final leg. HOWEVER, I have my fist held high in the end!
Will I play EVEN MORE as we close out 2021? What a shitty cliffhanger.
Have a beautiful rest of your evening, fuckers! Enjoy the spook month whilst it lasts!