Short Month, Aim Low - Pile of Shame February 2021

iaintgotnopants wrote:

Finished Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice. Overall, I would say I like it but I was, honestly, a little disappointed based on what I had heard going in. The narrative was good and some of the puzzles were cool. But, those same puzzles got pretty repetitive the third time you had to do the same thing. The combat was tedious and it's a little annoying that the game has a mechanic that if you fail too many times you lose all progress (unless the game lied to me). That immediately took away any reason to try to play at anything other than easy. And, that credits song was...something.

Now on to Doom (2016). Which I'm sure is not at all a change of pace.

The "lose all progress" claim was why I abandoned the game entirely. Never went back, even when I found out it was a lie.

I'm dropping Kentucky Route Zero because I want to like it, but it doesn't like me.

I finished Pillars of Eternity and got what seemed like a mostly good ending. I can’t believe it took me five years to finally see the credits. I started the game back in January of ‘16, picked it back up here and there, but finally made a push for the end in the last month. My final save is ready to go for Deadfire, but I think I’ll take a break before I dive in to the next game. As good as Pillars was I’ve heard the sequel is even better, but as long as Pillars was I definitely need a breather.

I totally forgot to do this earlier! Here are my games:

Elder Scrolls Online: Greymoor
Age of Wonders Planetfall

After several years of trying, I finally finished Remember Me a few days ago.

I really dig most of what Remember Me offers, and it's a pretty impressive title in many respects. Doubly so for being DontNod's first released game!

I loved the vision of Paris in 2084, was intrigued by the role technology played and the social commentary on the careless elites. The exploration of what society could become if easily removing/changing memories was possible was a very interesting premise, and the memory dives, linear and few as they are, were a fascinating gameplay mechanic which should have been expanded upon (and ultimately was - in a way - in their next game, Life is Strange).
Nilin is an interesting main protagonist, even if she does have a very unnatural walk in some scenes (arms way back, chest jutting out), the story goes some interesting places. The music is fantastic, and the combat when using special powers can feel really good!

But most of the time, you're not using special powers. You're trying to chain together individual moves to build up energy to be able to use your special abilities. The regular not good. It feels slow and clunky, and enemies constantly swarm you and cause you to frequently spend more time dodging than actually attacking. Obviously this is more realistic than a gaggle of opponents only attacking one at a time (like in Double Dragon or Dynasty Warriors), but it does cause a good deal of frustration. Considering how big a part of the game combat is, this is a major mark against it.
Then there are those enjoyable moments when you've finally completed yet another long and frustrating combat sequence, only to realize that the game has bugged out. You can't progress and have to reload your last checkpoint - before that combat encounter - and pray that you won't hit the bug THIS time. It actually happened to me twice after one extended and annoying fight that I failed multiple times. Luckily, after the second time the bug appeared, I managed to "fix" the game by triggering a special power next to the last downed (but apparently not dead) enemy in order to finish him off and continue.
Finally, the story, while unique, was also at times predictable. At other times, I had no idea why things were happening, and I went and reviewed a "Remember Me game" movie on youtube just to figure that out. Still not sure why Kid Xmas wanted a piece of me though.

While I can overlook the occasional story failings, and can forgive the occasional bug, I'm pretty sure the entire reason Remember Me took me so long to finish can be blamed entirely on the ungainly combat. Although the idea of being able to customize combos for maximum effect is interesting, I honestly rarely changed things up. The laborious regular battles were just so off-putting that they kept me from playing the game while at the same time I was thinking about how cool it would be to return to Neo-Paris and deep dive some memories.

An impressive debut title with one huge flaw. A shame. Any recommendation comes with that caveat.

I'm declaring and striking off Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition (Switch). Finished Legend (aka Story) mode but I might go back to unlock the other characters in Adventure mode. I'm also enjoying Yakuza 0 still but I don't think I'll beat it before the month is up.

Down goes Ys: Memories of Celceta! I should be able to knock all 3 of my picks for this month!

I'm only on level 6 out of 13 in Doom with likely only two more days this month that I'll have time to play so I'll certainly being carrying that into March.

Forgot to declare anything, oops! In the spirit of the month, I played A Bird Story (PC), the shortest game on my 2021 list. Not a whole lot of game in there, but it was a nice way to unwind after a couple stressful days.

I've also picked up Assassin's Creed Origins (Multi) again, and started in on Heaven's Vault (Multi), though there's no way I'll be finishing either of those this month.

Having finished Blackwell Epiphany a few days ago, I can now mark the entire series as done.

It was a nice feeling, revisiting Joey and Roseangela's story in this final chapter. Being 8 years since I last played a Blackwell game, my memory is a bit fuzzy (except for the real-world characters Joe Gould and Joseph Mitchell and locations from Blackwell Unbound) regarding them. I had forgotten about the "moving spirits on" mechanic, for example.

More importantly, I had forgotten much of the plot leading up to Epiphany, so I had some catching up to do. The game does do a decent job catching you up on most of the important backstories, and it was fun searching my in-game phone for names featured in past games (usually, but not always without success). The new mechanics, such as the aforementioned search engine on Roseangela's phone, were interesting - when I remembered they were there.

"When I remembered" (to do x y z) is the rub. Epiphany is objectively longer than the previous entries - which I typically finished in a single day - but this took me quite a while because I got stuck. Numerous times. I don't recall getting repeatedly stuck in the other games. Occasionally it was because I had forgotten I could do something (like the phone search), but other times I just couldn't figure out the puzzle (such as the solution to the final encounter). In short, I think Epiphany was not just longer, but more difficult too.

Also, at least one mechanical inconsistency really bothered me:


All game long, Joey can only cause drafts that, at most, move individual sheets of paper. But in two instances, you have to move items that clearly wouldn't budge without a significant gust. I didn't even think to try blowing on the relevant item the first time.

I did enjoy the story and characters quite a lot. The generally good voice work did a good job immersing me, even if some bits of the script seemed a bit cliche. The story went to some emotional places, including parts that would probably not have been as impactful before I became a parent.

All in all, a fitting end to a very good adventure game series, but don't be ashamed to have the Universal Hint System open in the background.



I was in tears at the dumpster-jump bit. The falling animation was so hilariously stupid and Joey's comments perfect!

Hades is done! Well, as done as a game like Hades can be. I've attained the Epilogue, and have a few items left on the Fated List: mostly getting all the Daedalus Hammer upgrades for the weapon forms I seldom use. I may go back and play a run from time to time, but scratch this one off the pile!

Before I Forget has been played through to the end, and it was one of the most affecting experiences I've had. That statement is not limited to games.

This is a short walking simulator (took me 70 minutes, and I am SLOW) about a woman named Sunita who suffers from Alzheimer's. If that's too tough to handle for you, do not play this.

The entirity of the game takes place inside her home and garden, and includes a few memory flashbacks. Things are hazy, but various items and sounds bring back memories. Briefly. Sunita comments on all this. Mysterious notes are all around. Saying more would ruin the experience.

I was in tears and sobbing twice. Once at the very end and once a few minutes earlier. Before I Forget hits very close to home. Personal stuff spoilered:


When I found out that Before I Forget was about dementia and had entered a partnership with Alzheimer's Research UK, I decided that I needed to check it out, because for more than the past five years I have been a carer for my mother - who suffers from moderate Alzheimer's. I recognized many of the very same behaviors that she exhibits - buying the same thing over and over, moving the same things incessantly, unpaid bills, inability to operate technology, confused wandering, obsessive focus on a contact person (in my case that's me), spending inordinate amounts of time looking at things, dislike of many/most foods and refusal to eat them, ignoring medication, repeating old memories over and over, etc, etc...

These things can drive a carer up the wall as they so often for me and my wife (and occasionally my kids). We know that she doesn't do them on purpose and tries to manage as best she can with the situation - as far as she is aware of it - but can still be intensely frustrating for us. However, our frustration is likely just a fraction of the frustration and fear she must have, and possibly occasionally still, experiences.

And the memories fade. As a carer, you never know if the thing she remembered yesterday will still be there today, and if it's not there today, will it return tomorrow? Will the thing she was fine with eating yesterday, end up in the garbage or flushed down the toilet today?

I've lost a few friends and aquaintances, as well as an uncle to this horrible disease in the past few years. It's never been a thing that has much of an effect on my life except in the case of my mother. My first suspicions regarding her condition began over 10 years ago. When once I visited after knowing what was going on and found a bunch of anti-anxiety medication, that hit me hard. She always kept her condition hidden from me, but eventually the signs were too obvious, and the realization of the fear she must have been going through on her own was heartbreaking.

So when I found out about Before I Forget, I felt like I needed to experience it, to try to understand this awful, awful condition from her perspective. Our day to day dealings involve just getting to the end of the day with the minimum of frustration, as doing this day in and day out just dulls you to it. Before I Forget did a fantastic job of helping me relate in an emotional way again, and it was crushing.

It was probably a necessary release as well.

There's just one part of the game I'm angry about:


The game, for whatever reason, felt it necessary to include a tragic family event in such a way that implied that, had it not been for Sunita's condition, at least indirectly, the event would not have happened. Not the actual event, but rather the connection of the cause to Sunita was completely unnecessary and did significant harm to the overall experience. I was seriously pissed about that bit.

I am willing to rate it a 4.5/5.0 experience because of my personal connection to the subject matter, but objectively speaking it's probably not deserving of that high of a rating. It's in no way a technical marvel, nor is it really much a game - which goes for most walking simulators - but it can be a deeply moving experience which might be on the level of That Dragon, Cancer (which I keep putting off playing, as I fear it may devastate me).

Age of Wonders Planetfall is down - first game of the year beaten! (I’m making amazing progress in other games so hoping to scratch more off the pile in March.

And down goes Carrion! I did it! Managed to complete all three of my picks this month. Not sure what I'll declare for March, though. I should declare what I've been playing for the couple of clubs I've been active in (PC RPG & JRPG), and those are bigguns, but I'm not entirely sure.

Finished up Horizon : Zero Dawn this morning. Really great game, if not a bit confusing and frustrating at times. I’ll come back later at some point for the DLC.