As a magical wordsmith once said, time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ into the future. I don’t know when it suddenly became August in the year 2018, but here we are. So let’s talk about games…namely the ones I’ve been playing…or played…or have been trying to play come hell or high water. (No, seriously, between fire and floods, never before has that phrase rung more true.)
Dust: An Elysian Tail
As I mentioned in my first update of the year, Dust: An Elysian Tail is a game that had been sitting unfinished for far too long in my Steam queue. And for no good reason, really. Upon finally completing the game, I felt quite satisfied. It’s a quality metroidvania game with really pretty graphics, a decent story, and interesting environments that offer some opportunities for exploration. On the downside, the combat is repetitive. Granted, I played through on the lower end of the difficulty queue, so rarely did I find a need to switch up my attacks. However, as things progressed, I did make good use of Fidget’s (my adorably wry flying companion called a Nimbat) different magical attacks. In fact, her magic made a big difference in the final boss battle, which was no where near as difficult as I expected. Sure, there are meatier platform games out there (*ahem* Ori and the Blind Forest *ahem*), and the twist in Dust’s story isn’t exactly the twistiest, and the menu system leaves something to be desired, but it still gets a thumbs up from me.
Speaking of meatier games…holy shit, Bastion. As you may well know, this was one of the games that kicked the indie game scene into overdrive back at the turn of the decade. As you may also well know, it’s an extremely compelling game. Not only is it graphically beautiful with a killer soundtrack, but it packs one hell of an emotional story in it’s short run time. And it’s fun besides all that. I mean, like, balanced fun. Nothing in the game overstays its welcome or forces you through an interminable grind. It’s no wonder the game has received so many accolades — it does nearly everything right. The game is poetic from beginning to end.
One day I wanted to play Portal again, so I did. It’s still fucking awesome.
Ori and the Blind Forest
If Dust: An Elysian Tail was a great platformer, and Bastion was a great storyteller, Ori and the Blind Forest combines the best of both into a stunningly gorgeous and poignant package. I put together a Let’s Play of the definitive edition of this game for Virtual Bastion, which is still ongoing. It’s one of the most difficult, most amazing, and most heartfelt games I’ve ever played.
Did Not (and Don’t Want to) Finish
On a whim, a few months back I picked up a couple games cheap for the PS3, one of which was 2014’s Thief. I had read mixed reviews of it, but I like being stealthy in games sometimes, and Thief’s premise didn’t seem that bad, so I figured that I’d only be out pennies if I didn’t like it. And well…I feel kind bad for those pennies now. I played through fifteen hours of the game, which is enough for me to know that I don’t like it. It’s…well, it’s…boring? Not very interesting? Kinda just dark and gloomy and convoluted and dull? Yeah, all those things. It’s not a terrible game by any means, but my quick checklist of don’t-likes consists of: (1) Garrett, the gravely, growly main dude is little more than gravely and growly; (2) the game’s hub map is too just fucking confusing; (3) the controls were too finicky — it was just way too easy to become accidentally unstealthy at the worst times; (4) all-too repetitive mechanics – enter rich person’s home, steal stuff, find next house, repeat; and (5) dark environments are dark, like really dark, like TOO GODDAMN DARK EVEN FOR A CITY PLAGUED BY PLAGUE A LITTLE GODDAMN COLOR IS OKAY SOMETIMES.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Man, this is a fine game. I like open-world games, but even they can feel limiting and frustrating at times. In Breath of the Wild, exploration feels astoundingly limitless, and that’s what’s really capturing me at the moment. I’m some 60 hours in, and I’ve beat three of the four Divine Beasts. I’ve opened up most of the map but have yet to explore the southwestern-most portion, which is were I imagine the Gerudo live (the only race I’ve yet to meet in earnest), along with the final Divine Beast, Naboris. I’m still only playing in very short bursts, and I don’t see that changing any time soon. Needless to say, I’ll eventually get around to beating it, but I’m honestly in no rush. Nope, with so many things left to find and glide to and climb, with so many side quests in queue along with the main story, I’m no hurry at all.
Persona 3 Portable
Okay, so I’m nearing 100 hours with this game, which means the end’s in sight, right? Right? Not that I really want it to end, because it’s one hell of a game. Ain’t no stopping me now! See Virtual Bastion for my latest updates:
My latest gaming endeavor is all about spending, or re-spending, some quality time with Nathan Drake. With a recent change in our home gaming setup, I now have ready access to a PS4. And to inaugurate such a fine occasion, I decided that I’d finally, finally, finally play Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. But, of course, before that, I had to play through the first three games. Now, I’d played Among Thieves and Drake’s Deception before, but never the first game, Drake’s Fortune. I had a grand time in the first game, and it was cool to see just how permanently it laid out the foundation of the series, both it’s story and gameplay. Without all the treasure hunting (of which I did some but not much), it’s also a pretty short game. Hell, all three are, really, so I was pretty much able to play them back to back. Which was both a good and bad idea. It was good because together the games create a nicely full picture of Drake, the character. I’d always seen him as the generically good-looking dude who was good at shooting and climbing and getting himself into trouble. He was still all that this time around, but he also became a man obsessed with his past, almost to a fault. I’m looking forward to finding out how his story ends in the fourth game.
I ought to also mention that, as far as replaying the second and third game went, Among Thieves is still tops as an action-adventure game. It has the perfect combination of story, gameplay, and “oh shit!” moments to keep one well-invested through the end. As for the third game, while I didn’t dislike it as much as the first time I played it, well…damn is it isn’t just the spitting image of the second game, only in a different setting. It’s really undeniable. One other thing that stood out to me during the replay, one thing that I didn’t notice before, is that the writing in the third game just isn’t very good. The second game really had me chuckling throughout, especially with some of the excellent banter between Drake and Chloe. Save for some key moments between Drake and Sully and Drake and Elena, the third game’s almost devoid of banter. Even some promising bits involving the wry Brit Cutter just sorta fall flat. Also, the two main villains — Marlowe and her lapdog Talbot — could have been so much more than stereotypical and unlikable, but they weren’t.
On the horizon
I’ve long been harping about playing Fallout 3 in conjunction with AmbiGamer’s Year of the RPG, and I’ve offiicially put it into my actual queue. I know it’s out of sync with AmbiGamer’s schedule, but I’m coming up on a little extra free time later this month, so I’m going to take advantage of that by doing my own modified “speed run” through it. That’s to say that I’m going focus on completing the main story only, which I understand doesn’t take too long (less than 30 hours). I’d like to think that I’d then be able to work through its side mission and DLC as time permits, but I really do want to complete Uncharted 4 in something of a timely manner. So Fallout 3 may become more a long-term project. We’ll see. Everything depends on my fall schedule and, of course…
RED DEAD REDEMPTION 2. /happyfacehappyfaceHAPPYFACE
That’s that’s the big elephant in my room, but there are also a couple other…um…shall we call them rhinos?…that are nipping at my heels. (Not that I want a rhino nipping at anything...) One is Sleeping Dogs. Played and loved that game years ago, and I recently picked up the PS3 digital edition with all the DLC. The other is Batman: Arkham Knight. And…okay, so there’s one other: Fallout 4, which I started but never finished.
Oh oh! And Horizon: Zero Dawn!
Goddamn if there just ain’t enough hours in the day!