Finished Any Games Lately?

Well, I appear to have purchased the bundle, so thank you ever so much for enabling me...

Just finished Divine Divinity, first full run through since first played around 20 years ago although I've started it again a few times. loved the game, clunky and buggy like most games released over 10 years ago. 50 hours and about level 30 in the end but the last few hours were a slog.
Onto Beyond Divinity now, not sure I ever finished that game first time round.

I loved Divine Divinity, but never got around to trying Beyond. I'd be interested in your thoughts, especially since it has a reputation for being clunkier than DD.

I started and finished A Short Hike while my wife was in surgery last week. It was very nice, pleasant, and overall just what I needed.


The end did f*ck me up though...considering.

I finished A Plague Tale: Requiem last week. For background, Plague Tale: Innocence was my surprise hit of 2020; I always prefer stealth over combat, I like a well-told story that doesn't overstay its welcome, and I can be a sucker for beautiful (if horrifying) visuals, so Innocence was practically made for me. I hated its last boss battle - I actually quit the game because of it, only to look up a video of it the next day only to find I'd repeatedly died just short of the killing blow because I couldn't figure out what the game was trying to tell me to do - but then again I've never met a boss battle I didn't hate. I think pretty much every game (other than Shadow Of The Colossus, of course) can be improved by removing all boss battles*.

Requiem is an absolute stunner of a game. It's bigger in pretty much every aspect compared to its precursor, so it shows a wider variety of environments, some of them horrifying, but all of them jaw-droppingly detailed (I played on PS5). I spent a decent amount of time in photo mode, taking lovingly bokeh-ified shots of oceans of rats, misty forests, corpse-clogged rivers, and iridescent island beaches.

That "bigger" part I mentioned, though? As I've found with so many games in the last few years, from my vantage point they mistook "more" and "more complex" for better. The first game was a stealth game at heart; attempting to go head-on in combat was almost guaranteed to get you killed, a point that many people complained about but I thought was fine. Here they've really tried to give people combat options, but pretty much all of them wound up getting me insta-killed, or maybe killed after 30 seconds of trying to run away. And because the environments were much larger, I had real problems trying to figure out what was a stealth-safe path, and where my objectives even were. And then those larger areas were populated by far more enemies than before, all of whom seemed to be able to see me even with their backs turned, and even if they didn't the game seemed to constantly "nudge" them in my direction - they wouldn't search an area of cover until I moved into it, and once I moved out they stopped. I found pretty much all the stealth/combat areas - and there are a lot of them, because, you know, "more" - really frustrating, in contrast to the first game's which I enjoyed. I played on Normal; I probably should have dropped it down to Baby Mode, but I kept thinking "maybe I was this bad in the beginning of the first one, then I got better."

What kept me going was the storytelling and performances, which seemed a real step up from Innocence. The way they told the story was really satisfying, with some great writing, and the performances were fantastic. All the actors portraying the main characters really knocked it out of the park, I thought, and two new characters were fantastic. It was the hook that kept me going, even as I died again and again in the arenas.

The story that was being told, the end, I don't think this story was worth telling. For something similar, I'll use Grave Of The Fireflies as an example, an animated film about two orphaned children trying to survive in the shadow of Hiroshima. It ends equally terribly, but it's a story worth telling, because it's about an actual event and it tells us something about the world and humanity. Requiem, though, is just an exercise in miserabilism, increasingly detached from any semblance of reality. It just keeps on escalating horror and trauma on our child protagonists; the ending had no emotional impact on me because I'd completely checked out four or five chapters before then; it was way past the shark-jumping point, and then a final ratpocalypse shows up and for me it had become laughable.

Honestly, though, if people enjoyed the first game, I'd still recommend giving the sequel a try; they may not have the same reaction I did. Asobo Studios has an incredibly talented team, and there's real ambition here. I'll just wait to see what reviews are like for their next game.

*and combat, while we're making ideal games; give me the option to stealth my way past all combat and you'll be making me a happy camper, while admittedly making most gamers not at all interested in your game.

AUs_TBirD wrote:

I loved Divine Divinity, but never got around to trying Beyond. I'd be interested in your thoughts, especially since it has a reputation for being clunkier than DD.

Well the first hour certainly is. The 2 character system is proving difficult and I even wonder if I got out of the first dungeon the last time. Will persevere!!

Evan E wrote:

I finished A Plague Tale: Requiem last week.

Same here, and I agree with most of your views. Requiem certainly is a game that just want to do the same, but More.
Well, I very much like boss battles in combat focused games (Souls etc.), I dont particularly like stealth in general, but I do dislike throwing in absurd "end boss" fights in games where they don't belong (either for gameplay reasons or story reasons). Innocence certainly was a prime example of that. Mass Effect 2 is another.

Still, I did enjoy the game for the most part.

As for combat, there is one upgrade, giving arrows back when used, that allows you to go quite wild, killing everyone toward the end. Not very satisfying though, since it doesn't feel like what the gameplay is about.

Yeah, that makes the game quicker, but less enjoyable (for me at least). Six of one, half a dozen of the other.

It really is an astonishingly good looking game though; as I get further from the frustration I felt from the gameplay and problems I found with where the story ended up, I keep thinking back to how often I was bowled over by the eye candy. Especially for a third-party game, and for a team of 70 developers, it's pretty incredible.


Beast Breaker - Nintendo Switch

15 hours played, "finished" to the best of my ability. I believe there is an additional story area, but nothing further will unlock. I could spend some more time trying to "unglitch" the progression, but I've had my fill after a fairly good chunk of time with it and feel satisfied. Oh well!

A gorgeously cozy game with some real meat on its bones. "Battle Peggle" doesn't appropriately convey just how much nuance there is to tackling each Mosaic Beast, but that's the best descriptor I have. The options you have available are shocking, with each of the weapon types playing completely unique from each other; mix-n'-match parts only further the variety!

There are a lot of fun ideas here, and most of them work. I grew tired of the tracking aspect of the game despite finding it initially very interesting, I also enjoyed the charming characters but found myself skimming over their dialogue to get to the gameplay. Gameplay itself was immensely satisfying, but I eventually settled on a consistent (and perhaps too powerful) hammer setup that led to me engaging very little with the various beast types. Finally, I should mention that the framerate started to drop in the later portions of the game.

Overall I think this is a massively underappreciated game that is more than the sum of its parts. The Peggle/Pinball style of bouncing your character around the screen just feels SO good, but layering some crunchy RPG mechanics over the top kept me coming back for more. I appreciate the storytelling, but it wasn't why I was playing the game.

So despite a game-breaking bug, I still got 15 hours of joy out of Beast Breaker and would heartily recommend it.

Finished Pentiment which is every bit as good as people are saying. The writing is probably some of the best I've ever seen in a video game, and it's very refreshing to play a game in a historical, non sci-fi, non magical setting. Plus it has the amazing Lingua Ignota on the soundtrack. Definitely an early contender for game of the year.

I don't think one ever truly finishes a game like Warhammer 40K: Darktide, it's more like you hit a certain milestone in the game where you've realized you've entered a completed state. Now that I've hit level 30 with my sharpshooter and seen all the story cutscenes, I feel like it's time for this post.

I dig Warhammer 40K games and the universe in general. And it's not like there's only a few 40K games to choose from. You can throw a stone at the Steam store and you're bound to hit an Eldar or an Ork. Darktide is different. Unlike most of the other 40K games out there, this one, first of all, is really good. Although the overall quality has improved in the last few years for the 40K genre of PC games, there's a lot of bad to middling games in the Emperor's universe. What made Darktide really stand out for me, however, is the character's you can play. You're not a Space Marine. I don't think they even mention the Adeptus Astartes once. You're not a superpowerful Inquisitor or even a member of the Guard. Nope, in Darktide, you are, in the most diplomatic terms, scum. An outcast. Waste. An ex-convict. As the game kindly (almost endearingly) puts it, a "varlet".

And man I loved being a varlet.

Gameplay wise, Darktide has more in common with Left 4 Dead than Vermintide. Sure, you have classes like Vermintide does (here they are the generic shooty shooty Sharpshooter, the beserker fanatic melee paladin called the Templar, the psychic and sometimes psychotic space wizard called the Psyker, and Minsc. Sorry, the Ogryn - a giant, stupid, but lovably simplistic guy who gets all the best guns and comedic one-liners. What I liked about Darktide in comparison to Vermintide and L4D is that these are your characters. You're not playing Kerillian, Markus Kruber, or even Coach from L4D2. You get to customize the looks of your varlets, develop a relatively comprehensive backstory and planet of origin, even their voice and why they are a convict. There's a greater sense of ownership and, dare I say, survival instinct that motivates the preservation of your PC while you try to get through a level.

And what levels they are!

Reading the 40K books and just knowing about the lore in general, I learned that one of the themes that 40K tries to impart on its fans is the immensity of the universe and your insignificant part in it. Darktide nails that atmosphere. Here, you're not a superhuman or even a special human. You are chaff. A nothing outcast criminal who's been given a conditional reprieve from corporal punishment to help the Inquisition purge a hive planet from hordes of zombies, monsters, and demonhosts in what essentially equates to a death sentence via suicide mission. In addition to your disposable role, the towering imposing levels of a 40K hive make you visually realize your insignificance in the 40K world, something that nearly all citizens in this universe must feel.

Gameplay wise, if you've played Left 4 Dead 1/2, Vermintide 1/2, Deep Rock Galactic...heck any class based coop shooter, you know what Darktide is. So how is this different?

Atmosphere. If ever a genre was made for the coop shooter, Darktide is a perfect match.

The AI. Fatshark and it's developers have a lot of experience from Vermintide 2 and prior games with this genre, and one of the key elements required is nailing the AI. When to throw hordes of zombies at the players. When to give them a modicum of ammo. Oh you're doing well? Here's a few special monsters to knock you down. Oh you like grouping together? Our boomer will suicide bomb you guys into separation. Oh you decided to run off and grab a health pack? A Trapper and Pox Hound will make sure you don't make it back. You're all beaten up? Here, we'll give you a reprieve and a Medicae station. When done effectively, the AI in Darktide and similar games keeps you on your toes but rarely makes you feel overwhelmed and never, ever bored. Just keep those guns loaded. Speaking of which...

The Guns. My God, the guns. Look, melee combat in all of these games is pretty much the same, but in a game like Darktide which is more shooter focused, you better bring a range of ranged weaponry that are collectively easy to decipher but individually have their own...personality. There are very few near perfect guns in the game. A lasrifle with torrent/high capacity will shoot a barrage of blasts at a target but each shot is like an overpowered bee sting. The Ogryn's kickback shoots a battering ram of a projectile but you only have indivdual shots. And the Bolter, the glorious Bolter...the first time you shoot that thing and it disintegrates a torso and turns the lower body into a blood fountain accompanied by a bass resonant's like the gun was made from solid testosterone. The problem is you only have so many bullets and it takes an eon to reload. But Darktide does all the ranged and melee weapons justice to the point where your loadout doesn't change you playstyle, but it definitely does flavor how you approach your mission. Speaking of which...

The Missions. Each level and mission is a carnival ride through a 40K hive. Gameplay wise, the levels are developed wonderfuly with arena spaces, corridors, side hallways, vantage points, and so on to make each run and strategy a unique experience. The only inevitable drawback is that after so many missions (I put about 80 hours into the game), you see the repetition over time. "Oh this is the sewer level, I know there's usually an ammunition pack there. This is the market level, so I know a sniper likes to often appear here." and so on. Due to the unique combination of teams, loadouts, and AI variation, the levels ultimately serve as a familiar plate for the variation salad that's created for each mission.

The Story. It's a 40K coop shooter. Go kill a bunch of enemies with buddies or strangers. Here's a cutscene. Really, are you here for story?? Go read an Eisenhorn novel.

The Bells and Whistles. The graphics are beautiful and atmospheric. Grandiose without being pretty. The sound editing is outstanding. The voiceover is various and spot on. The music accentuates the universe and gets you into the 40 universe and is used sporadically during missions to set the stage. That roar you hear in the distance is a Giant Mutant coming your way to treat your Templar like a ragdoll. That ticking you hear nearby means a Pox Flamer is getting his pilot light started. And that approaching blipping that's getting closer? A Poxburster is about to lunge and explode all over your buddies.

The Little Things. I loved the small touches the game provides throughout the game. The Ogryn counting his fingers in the approach craft/loading screen down to the mission. The servitor typewriters. The dialogue between team members customized to both the class and backstory. Even the part human/part machine medicae station telling you it's so lonely or that it feels it's mind slipping away while you stop in for 2 seconds to recover your health. Collectively they add to the overall quality and your immersion into the game.

I loved this game...WHEN IT WORKED. If you play Darktide...and you should...just be aware that gameplay stability is not perfect. Random crashes to desktop are not uncommon, and they can happen anywhere. For example: on the hub ship when you're buying a new chainsword. At the end of a mission right before you complete it. During an intro cutscene. During a major swarm battle. Heck, while you're logging in it can crash. To be fair, recent patches have stabilized the game and made these crashes much less frequent, but - rare as they are - they can still occur. Just don't get too attached to any particular mission and you'll be fine. On the average, if I played the game for 2 hours during more busy streaming time, I was good for about 2 crashes, and sometimes if you can log back in quickly enough the game will let you rejoin your mission. But still, not a delight, and I have enough to keep me on edge during a mission thank you very much. But hey, crashes or not, I always couldn't wait to restart, even if it was to get a quick 20 minutes in with my Ogryn named Groo.

In summary Warhammer 40K: Darktide is Left 40K Dead. I had a blast with this title and will continue to play it from time to time when I feel the call of the Inquisitor telling me the Emperor needs my support.

Even though I'm just a varlet.

Up next, continuing my deep dive into Assassin's Creed: Valhalla, keeping up with World of Warcraft: Dragonflight, and I am resisting installing Midnight Suns because a Marvel XCOM game sounds like a perfect formula for taking my soul.

Finished up the Division 2, played co-op all the way through with my brother. This took a while. I played to about level 15 on my own when it was initially released. I was hoping to play with GWJ folks but never seemed to sync up. My brother bought a while later and I started over to play with him. Many Saturday afternoons later, which included another long break, we cleaned up Washington DC (for a moment, at least). We did nearly everything.

We are off to NY to play the expansion content. BTW, this game still looks fantastic. Also, all those cool weapons and armor from DC? They are immediately trash the moment you step into NY. O games....

Just finished the pedestrian a little puzzle game I found in the ps plus catalogue. Very relaxing with a nice unique visual design. The difficulty was just right and without wanting to spoil the pleasure of discovering how the puzzles work I would highly recommend it.

I beat Sunset Overdrive. This is a game that has been on my radar since I saw Giant Bomb do a quick look of it years ago, but never had an Xbox so it just wasn’t going to happen. Well, since it’s on PC and I think it was in a humble choice at some point, I finally got it in my library.

It’s in the same tier as the Just Cause games for dumb, video game fun. I seldom ever fast traveled, since I loved grinding, bouncing, and wall running smoothly all over the map. And the weapons were meaty and satisfying. And the pop punk attitude worked for me. Absolutely adored it, I wanted to keep playing even after the credits rolled so much I went and did the DLC as well. Easy to recommend.

I just "beat" The Callisto Protocol, which is a spooky little game that is seriously flawed in ways that, at the very best, make it feel like a poor man's Dead Space, and worst, a bad attempt at a horror game that doesn't know if it wants to be melee-focused or guns-focused.

There are not many games that I just stop playing at the final boss because I have no more patience, but this is one of them.

A damn shame since the game looks beautiful, but I would have liked it if it was a competent clone of what it was obviously a successor to. But it wasn't.

Get it at half price. Maybe.

It's funny, in the leadup to the release of Callisto Protocol I felt really sorry for the devs working hard on the Dead Space remake, because it seemed assured that CP was going to completely pull the rug out from under them. Now it looks like not only will the remake be a better game, but it may still have worse sales than it would have otherwise because CP has put a stink on the whole franchise.

It's ironic that Callisto -- which has some of the original Dead Space team -- will be overshadowed by the remake of the game that made them famous.

It's their first product, and I hope it doesn't sink them as a studio, but man... it's a perplexing release in a lot of ways.

I just finished Pentiment. I enjoyed the game a lot but the final sequence in particular blew me away. It's a brilliantly written game and a really powerful tale about what history, art, religion, justice, children, and a lot of other things mean to people. I think in part being someone who had a Christian upbringing but it now not really a religious person made me relate to many things that happen in the game but, in any case, it almost brought me to tears at the end.

I also laughed out loud at the title of this person in the credits:


Credits rolled on The Outer Worlds.

Very much enjoyed the whole 50's pulp sci-fi aesthetic, the atmosphere, the story and the characters, who you (mostly) learn to love. Slightly more subtle messaging than some other games (like, say, Greedfall), and all in all well worth playing again.

Standard difficulty with two DLCs took about 30 hours.

Minus points - Some of the missions were slightly unclear, and one of the DLCs, 'Murder on Eridanos', while an enjoyable cross between a noir mystery and the Outer Limits, was a little too long.

Still, well worth a revisit, and there's a sequel in production, I believe.

I tend to get bogged down and bored with open world RPG's, so I loved The Outer Worlds because it was basically Fallout 3 but story focused and streamlined. So I'm excited for Avowed which might do the same for Elder Scrolls.

Spurred by the incipient release of the second generation of PSVR next month, I dusted off my six-year-old PSVR headset, dormant for a year, to try to get through the backlog of games I picked up on sale but never got around to.

First up was Blood And Truth, one of the PSVR's headliners. It's essentially a big budget Jason Statham action movie, with car chases, exploding buildings, London mobsters, heist sequences, and enough cockney accents that I turned on the subtitles (which are really weird when they're glowing inside someone's chest). Production values are through the roof, graphics are remarkably good for a PSVR game, it's got as many action set pieces as an Uncharted or Tomb Raider game but in a more focused running time, but largely it taught me that I don't enjoy being the star of a big dumb Jason Statham movie any more than I enjoy watching them (i.e., not at all).

Then I moved on to what I pretty quickly realized is going to be a headliner on my Top Games Of 2023 list come the 12 months hence (if not, 2023 is going to be a hell of a year for gaming), The Invisible Hours. I'd bought the game a while ago because it sounded interesting, and even played about 20 minutes of it in, apparently, 2018, but as usual got distracted by something shiny. It's really more of a play than a game - Nikola Tesla has an island estate to which he's invited Thomas Edison, Sarah Bernhardt, and a number of other historical figures, and of course when they show up a corpse quickly makes an appearance The gameplay consists of simply watching events as they transpire, while you try to figure what happened. You can wander all throughout the house and the island, and you can rewind and fast-forward time, but you can't rewind far enough back to see the murder.

And that's it - there's no interaction with the characters or the world, you're just a disembodied camera. You can pick up notes and read them, and you can even grab objects out of people's hands to inspect them, but as soon as you let go they slide right back into the set timeline. All the game can rely on to hold your interest is the writing and the performances, and - they're fantastic! I mean, it's not Shakespeare, but at its worse the writing is easily serviceable, and frequently far better than that. Characters pair off, conspire, flirt, they accuse each other, have nervous breakdowns in private, then pull themselves together and continue on. You run across personal secrets and secret areas of the game that had me regularly amazed; I was so drawn in by the drama that over the course of the game's four-act structure I frequently lost track of the murder mystery, instead focusing on the multiple dramas playing out before me. Performances are as good as the writing; honestly, I kept waiting for the game to stumble and the whole house of cards to collapse, but not only did it hold up all the way to the end for me, I immediately went back to make sure there wasn't anything I missed, which resulted in me getting my first-ever Platinum. (As someone who thinks trophies are a way for the game to play you rather than you playing the game, I'm kind of embarrassed about that.)

It's apparently playable in flat-screen, too, although there's no question that the weirdly intimate format of VR really played into how gripping I found the whole experience to be; I was literally in the same rooms as these people, standing right by their sides as the plot(s) played out. Big thumbs up! It's by Tequila Works, who also made Rime, which I enjoyed but found a little uneven, and Sexy Brutale, which I remember making a number of Best Of The Year lists when it came out, and have now moved higher up on my non-VR backlog.

I just finished Persona 5 Strikers and loved it, but it was a strange, unexpected journey that did not start like that at all.

Back in 2021, I played Persona 5 Royal and it was my Game of the Year. I loved it to pieces, so as you can imagine, I started Strikers in January of 2022 thinking it was a shoe-in for my GOTY last year. But the combat didn't click, and navigating (or trying to navigate) the first dungeon left me baffled, angry, and made me consider dropping the game altogether. What was this travesty of a game? But I kept playing on and off throughout the year in between other games, hoping to like it better because it was the sequel to the amazing P5 Royal. However, shortly after the first dungeon, and after an incredible amount of dialogue I clearly did not have the patience for that evening, I decided enough was enough and called it quits.

Fast forward a few months to December, when I felt like maybe I should give it a last try because I did love Royal and I adored the Phantom Thieves. So I inserted the disc in my PS4, and all of a sudden, the game wasn't too bad. Actually, it was kinda fun. The combat started to click, the map was easier to understand, the second dungeon was not an infuriating affair to navigate... And wait! Was I starting to really enjoy myself? Was the game actually fun? Super fun? Perhaps even... awesome? You bet it was! And so, I got hooked and spent the last week of December and most of this month playing it exclusively until I finished it.

As I played a sizable chunk of the game in 2022, it won't be eligible to be on my GOTY list this year, but it will definitely get an Honorable Mention because I had a blast with the Phantom Thieves yet again! I want more adventures with this crew! I'll take anything --another game, an anime, a manga... Anything! (I guess I could keep playing to clear unfinished requests and max everyone out, now that I think about it. After all, I "only" put 30 hours into the game, a far cry from the ungodly amount of time I sank into P5 Royal.)

In any case, Persona 5 Strikers can be crossed off my pile of unfinished games, and I am glad to say that, even though it took me longer than I thought to like it, I ended up loving it. Let's hope I enjoy the next game I play at least half as much!

I picked up Strikers when it finally got under $30 on PC. But then PS+ gave it out for free, argh.

Either way I'm hoping to get to it this year.

I hope you like it when you play it!

Just finished Final Fantasy VIII: Remastered complete with the platinum trophy. It's way more stupid than I remembered as a child. Insane puzzles that would never be figured out without a guide - if you can call them puzzles, they were just repeated backgrounds with 3-4 exits and you have to guess what order to go through the 8 "rooms". Tons of missable things that can make or break the end of the game. End bosses that are...unfair (its kind of ok when it's not main story, but some of these were). I know FF games had some of the most unreasonable story lines (looking at you FF7) but..."we forgot we grew up together because of a unexplained brain allergy to GFs that no one talks about"

Also that Obel Lake sidequest has to be the most infuriatingly stupid sidequest with a reward that's not worth it and a story that goes nowhere and doesn't appear to have any lore attached to anything else. Definitely dropped my opinion on this game's ranking in the Final Fantasy series. Meanwhile, when I finished FF9 remaster last year, it solidified it as #1 for me.

Credits rolled on Axiom Verge 2... a little quicker than I expected, TBH. That's not to say I didn't enjoy it, I absolutely did and can't wait for the 3rd entry. It's just that I wanted to keep playing more and getting to know the story of the world more than the little hints they give out throughout the game.

I rolled credits on Disco Elysium over the weekend! It kept my interest longer than most dialogue-focused games. I was an extremely fragile Thinker that once died from stubbing his toe on something while at full health. What a crazy game!

It has been 84 years, but I finally saw credits on Troubleshooter: Abandoned Children. The actual ending came quite abruptly. Even though it's a full 100 hour game this really is only episode 1, and not as in episode 1 of a trilogy, it feels more like the pilot episode of a TV show that could run for ten seasons.

For the first 50 hours I wasn't really feeling the story. It felt like too much anime nonsense, but I have to admit it won me over by the end. There's a huge, sprawling cast of characters, each with their own subplot intertwining with the rest of the story. It's impressive at the very least, and now I kind of want to see where it will go. So I think I will give the DLC a try. After taking a bit of a break first, of course!

Awesome. I enjoyed it a lot but ran out of gas

Stele wrote:

Awesome. I enjoyed it a lot but ran out of gas

Yeah it could be a bit of a slog at times. I had to put it down for a few weeks a couple of times and come back to it.