Awfully Freaking Late Edition
You thought you were safe, but alas! Does it get tiring to be so wrong, so often?
Like Elm Street's Freddy, I'm here to haunt these cblogs with even more mediocre video game takes than the year previous! Boo!
Look at me. Yeah, that's right. Just like that. If only you could see the look upon your face. You're not ready to hear these truths.
Nonetheless, what's up Destructoid?
Sorry for the hyper-lateness of these blogs. I've been very down on myself lately for a variety of reasons, so my apathy got the better of me despite these blogs being mostly a copy/paste off of my Notepad app. But, you might be wondering, has there been a lack of games I have played because of said sad emotions? Au contraire! It is a lack of video games thanks to the deep dives I took into Voidigo in January, Elden Ring in March, and, most recently, 10 Minutes Till Dawn in May (then, by extension, the Early Access launch in June).
So, excuse that, I guess!
To think that with 150+ hours logged into Elden Ring, I'm still finding new content walls to bang my head against for a couple hours or more. Or way more. And as far as 10 Minutes Till Dawn, I haven't put in this kind of time with a demo since the Dreamcast demo disc for Sonic Adventure (it was a different time, no bully)! My holes are perptually primed and ready for any new roguelite. GET IN MY HOLES!
With that obligatory rant that becomes explicitly sexual real goddamn quick out of the way, let's explore!
+ Nice, casual gameplay loop
+ Beautiful landscapes
+ The game's diehard online community is very friendly, and helps to make the economy feel worth taking part in
+ New Vegas-style skill checks
- Sluggish combat, especially for melee builds like mine
- Quests are, often, lacking intrigue, depth and/or connective tissue
- I'm thinking of an alternate timeline in which the Atomic Shop items are level progression unlocks to help maintain interest in said progression and it is absolutely keen
[Score = 7.5/10]
Voidigo (Early Access)
+ Invigorating combat
+ Expressive animations
+ Inventive, Gungeon-esque weapons
+ Brisk pacing, with nary a dull moment and always something to kill, pick up or interact with
+ At the time of writing (Patch 0.5.0), it already has enough content to justify a full release outside closing the gameplay loop entirely by giving you something to spend your boss cells on
- Bosses aren't always the utmost interesting
(SIDEBAR: Honestly, the only reason I haven't rated this higher is because I'm saving that for the full release.
[Score = 9/10]
GARAGE: Bad Trip
+ Impeccable presentation
- Clunky, unbalanced combat which leads to many cheap hits or deaths through no fault of the player
[Score = 3/10]
Super Auto Pets
+ Vibrant art style, albeit that only just escapes that sanitized mobile game aesthetic
+ Tons of cute pets with interesting passive/active skills
+ As a F2P game, it's tastefully monetized (as of January 2022)
- Repetitious, boring OST
- Whilst there definitely exists strategic depth, it's not the sort that interests me personally
- As has been reported, over the past few months, the online has been riddled with actual hardcore nutballs that will inevitably decimate players in a matter of just a few rounds
[Score = 7.5/10]
Vampire Survivors (Early Access)
+ Insanely addictive
+ Appealing character sprites
+ A perfect, casual power trip
- Lacking strategic depth
- Enemies, too often, only differ in size and damage, with their single mode of attack being a shamble towards the player
(SIDEBAR: It's genuinely disturbing how addictive this game initially was.
The game sells you on the idea of becoming hilariously all-powerful before long, so that becomes your first goal. Then, once you taste that high, you chase it with the other characters. Then with the other levels, which actually offer SOME enemy variety and the occasional level gimmick. At this stage, it's a content sink that takes quite some time before finally becoming old hat, thanks in no small part to the audio/visual splendor.
However, the game does age pretty quickly once you play some of the more interesting knock-offs like Gunlocked or, namely, 20 Minutes Till Dawn.
Vampire Survivors is basically this generation's Cookie Clicker. A lot of return for relatively menial effort. After a while, it became more numbing than anything else, almost to the point of making you question how the heck were you enjoying this so much in the beginning. I mean, I happily sacrificed a whole day's worth of hours of my life to this game before I called it quits, so it's hard to give this too harsh a rating.
I will say this, though - At least I didn't question my time with Cookie Clicker. You can say a lot about that "game", but sure as shit can't say it wasn't honest.)
[Score = 8/10]
+ Amazing mix of gunplay and superhuman abilities, at its best
+ As a budding fan of the SCP universe, the lore, right down to every Altered Item research entry or memo, fascinated me
+ Rewarding exploration
+ Some great to excellent sidequests, which also can found by dynamically talking with NPC's or merely finding the right document
- Unintuitive UI design, namely in its loadout menu(s) and especially its overhead map
- Frequent crashes (on Xbox Series S)
- Very brief, seemingly rushed ending (main campaign)
[Score = 9/10]
Curse of the Dead Gods
+ Pleasant visuals
+ In the strictest of senses, the combat is fun
+ Solid fundamentals
- Supremely underwhelming audio design
- Lacking weapon variety/combat depth
- Highly repetitive dungeons
- Often too easy
- Far too few "curses", the game's core schtick
[Score = 5.5/10]
+ A surprisingly dense (albiet, still mostly simple) feedback loop of character progression
+ Hundreds of weapons/armor pieces to collect
+ Very fun bullet hell combat that requires a more unique sort of engagement than most action RPG's provide
- Being forced to not only permenantly lose valuable currency but repeat many manic, late-game rooms upon death drained the majority of my will to finish this
- Lack of UI refinement and audio/visual queues when exhausting your dodge makes situational awareness difficult during the, at times, very hectic combat
(SIDEBAR: This made me further appreciate that Dark Souls doesn't force you into every encounter you come across. Imagine how soul-crushing that would eventually become. I sometimes self-impose those sorts of challenges onto myself, but I would never do that with Archvale. The late-game bouts are some of the most intense bullet hell sequences I've experienced and, after a point, I straight up refused to humor the game any longer.
It's a shame. Were it not for that issue, this would be quite the hidden gem.)
[Score = 7.5/10]
+ Despite the dulled, black/white "color" scheme, it's visually appealing
+ Serviceable enemy designs
- Unclear/inconsistent window of opportunity for blocking, with little readily-apparent reason why it needed to share its function with the dodgeroll (at least... I think that's what's going on)
- The slow, sluggish combat can be a mixed bag
[Score = 5.5/10]
+ Great, satisfying combat
+ Amazing aesthetics, architecture and enemy designs
+ Involved character progression
- Unappealing structure, given the game's punishing difficulty, despite concessions made from other Souls titles to keep players in the open world as long as possible
- Sizable issues, like the very wonky hotkeys and auto lock-on, that have existed since the original Dark Souls, 12 years ago, still exist
(SIDEBAR: For the most part, as an open world video game buff, I actually didn't like this new structure.
With Dark Souls III, I had a clear goal with detailed corridors, well-paced enemy encounters and beautiful hubs. With Elden Ring, that initial rush of freedom fades fast and I'm simply wanting to make progress. I'd, honestly, rather a game as tough as this chauffeur me down a path I can focus on.
I will give this game a second, and likely third, try within the next year or two, but I also need some time for my impressions to taper off.)
King's Bounty II
(this is the main character, mind you)
What say we give Elden Ring an early second wind, yeah?
+ Inspiring aesthetics, effortlessly selling the scale
+ Solid, occasionally great boss fights
+ Satisfying combat with a unique sense of weight and tension
+ Rewarding exploration
+ In-depth character progression that bounces off of the many weapons/tools and armor pieces
- Supremely unintuitive UI
- Lock-on system is legitimately broken, and has been for well over a goddamn decade
- Boss recycling is far too plentiful, lessening their storied importance to the Souls franchise
- Dungeon template recycling is also kind of lazy
(SIDEBAR: Some caveats aside, I actually learned to love this new structure. Whilst there does exist a little too much open space, there are enough of these spaces with surrounding encounters that facilitate the freedom to use horseback to engage said encounters.
If King's Bounty II was good for anything, it was the cold water that made me appreciate the Soulsian approach all the more. This will likely not only, ironically, be the first Souls game I finish, but even go so far as to NG+!
Clearly, I love the game. I love it more than that score implies. Its highs are extremely high, and it maintains those highs for pretty long stretches of time. However, the lows are so near fatally low that I can't, in good faith, score it any better.)
[Score = 8.5/10]
Shadow Warrior 2
+ Solid gunplay
+ A quaint, RPG-lite progression/loot system
- Subpar enemy design
- Too many stopgaps that kill pacing
- Cringeworthy "humor"
- Movement is spotty, with you getting caught on things at complete random
- Swordplay feels underpowered
- In leveling up the range of my auto-pickup of resource drops from enemies, I noticed that it often refused to work until I would stop and pick them up manually
- Awful audio design
(SIDEBAR: This released a year and some change after the 2016 DOOM reboot, which dramatically shook up the FPS/twitch shooter market. Masterful gameplay, great level design, enemies that kept you on your toes and a soundtrack for the ages. It took what worked in the 90's and gave it all an earnest upgrade for the mid-2010's.
Whilst Shadow Warrior 2's ambitions feel a lot simpler than DOOM's, there's a fine line between the fun of something more straightforward like a Serious Sam and just outright dull. I almost wish I could've played this in 2017, out of curiosity, to see just how much more harsh I might've been. Or have these 4 and a half years been enough to age this on its own terms?
I can't imagine a world where both DOOM 2016/Eternal and Shadow Warrior 2 exist and the latter somehow feels better, let alone worth playing. I'm curious about Shadow Warrior 3, but you'd have to catch me on a really good day before I'd come close to even calling its predesessor "mediocre".)
[Score = 4/10]
Alright fuckos! That's another gamer update under my belt. Looking forward to rounding out the rest of June for what did shape up to be a far more proactive 2nd quarter!
Tip your waitresses/waiters, escorts and local hotdog stand vendors!