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What games did you complete? 2020 Edition


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Oct

 

26/10 Hyper Dyne Side Arms (Arcade/360) I had a half hour to kill and decided to finally play through this scrolling shooter and....well it hasn't aged too well. The draw is playing something obviously inspired by Macross. But it suffers from the worst elements of late 80's arcade design. Dire music, repetitive boss battles, enemies that can travel through bits of scenery that instantly kill you and worst of all are the little snake enemies that feel like Capcom yelling "another quarter please!" My two memories of this game are it being the game you played when all the good arcade machines were taken and it inspiring some really good clones on the 8-bit machines (like Zybex on the C64,)

 

21/10 Deliver Us the Moon (PC) I liked Tacoma more with it's smaller cast and better audio log system but this was still pretty good. It feels a little like an advert for the latest iteration of Unreal Engine. The switching between various sections with its mix of first and third person views and different tasks remind me a lot of old 8bit games. The launch sequence reminded me of Space Shuttle on the 2600, the alignment of dishes reminded me of the obscure The Comet Game and some of the puzzles really took me back to old text adventures like Mission Asteroid and Rendezvous with Rama where "only you can save the world!" If you found Tacoma too pedestrian and wanted something more like Gravity than this is for you, especially if you have gamepass.

 

17/10 Tacoma (PC) I bought this an age ago on Steam because I loved Gone Home and then put off playing it because the interface and the design just looked messy. And then it came up on Game Pass and now because it's about to leave the service, and because I like achievements and because someone up thread recommended it as a good short game I thought I'd give it a quick try expecting to bounce off it.

 

How wrong I was. I fell in love with this from the start. 

 

Tacoma is a walking simulator where you explore the aforementioned space station. Something bad happened here, the crew are missing but that's none of your concern. You're a contractor. You're here to download some AI cores, grab the AI wetware and return it to the company.

 

You're fitted with augmented reality to interface with the station and so the company can keep an eye on you. But using this interface you can read undamaged recordings of crew activities and conversations. If you've ever heard of the theatre production Sleep No more where the audience follw cast members around and listen in to their conversations it's like that. Expect you can rewind, pause, dig into the pda's being accessed at the time and more. The interface is just so slick it makes what could have been a chore seemless. The voice acting is incredibly good, the set design is convincing and the story told has a few twists and turns.

 

If you like narrative games then this is a no brainer, you can get through it in about two hours. It's tone is a lot like Moon or Silent Running (or the start of Alien).

 

There's not too much to go back to after playing, it's one and done. Or so I thought. But having this on Steam with its achievements and trading cards I was tempted to do a quick second run....but found the commentary mode. So I've been spending this morning listening to the designers and artists talking about furniture design and how the station cat is called Margaret Cattwood while fiddling about with various props (the dart board and pool table actually work and aren't the static flavour props I'd assumed them to be!) and discovering extra bits of story I'd missed the first time through.

 

The game is shorter than my post. If you have game pass or if it's gathering dust in your library play it!

 

 

15/10 Children of Morta (PC) An amazing action rogue-like which reminded me a little of the old Amiga game Faery Tale Adventure. Corruption is sweeping across the land and the Bergson family need to awaken three spirits before facing a grief stricken god. You start off with two of the family members to chose from but this expands over time. Each family member fights differently and there's an incentive to play as each of them as unlocked skills can aid other members with buffs. It's pretty brutal at first but every failed run yields experience and gold to build up your characters and your house. It's a formula more fully realised in Hades apparently but if you haven't played that yet and you have gamepass you should check this out. It's compelling, compact and has some amazing pixel art. It's been the only thing I've played this fortnight.

 

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Previously

 

Spoiler

64. 29/09 Wolfenstein:Youngblood (PC)

63. 26/09 Carrion (PC) 

62.19/09 Glass Masquerade (PC) 

61. 08/09 A Short Hike (PC) 

60. 06/09 RAD (PC) 

59. 05/09 Super Mario Bros (SNES/Switch)

58. 22/08 Assassin's Creed:Unity:+Dead Kings DLC (PS4)
57. 02/08 KIDS (PC) 
56. 24/07 Close to the Sun (PC) 
55. 23/07 Thunder Cross (PC/Arcade/Switch)
54. 18/07 SKYE (PC) 
53. 18/07 Metal Gear Solid:Ground Zeroes (PS4) 
52. 18/07 Erica (PS4) 
51. 18/07 Symphonia! (PC) 
50. 12/07 Life is Strange:Before the Storm (PC)
49. 05/07 Assemble With Care (PC) 
48. 04/07 Mushroom Cats 2 (PC) 
47. 04/07 Outer Wilds (PC)
46. 20/06 Diamo XL (PC
45. 16/06 Bing Bong XL (PC) 
44. 16/06 Duke Grabowski, Mighty Swashbuckler (PC)
43. 15/06 Lee Carvallo’s Putting Challenge (Browser) 
42. 13/06 Shinobi (Switch)
41. 08/06 Final Fantasy 7:Remake (PS4) 
40. 08/06 Missile Command:Recharged (PC)
39. 07/06 Star Wars Battlefront 2 (PS4) 
38. 07/06 Orbt XL (PC) 
37. 07/06 Ding Dong XL (PC)
36. 30/05 Tales from Off Peak City:Vol 1 (PC) 
35. 27/05 30 Miles to Barnard Castle (PS4/Dreams) 
34. 24/05 Super Bit Blaster XL (PC)
33. 22/05 When the Past was Around:Prologue (PC) 
32. 15/05 Mushroom Cats (PC) 
31. 09/05 deltarune:Chapter 1 (Switch) 
30. 21/04 Donkey Kong Jr (NES/Switch) 
29. 21/04 Donkey Kong (NES/Switch)
28. 21/04 Super Mario 2 (NES/Switch)
27. 13/04 Black Mesa (PC) 
26. 11/04 Arcade Moonlander Plus (PC)
25. 10/04 There is No Game (Jam Edition 2015) (PC)
24. 10/04 The Adventure Pals (PC)
23. 30/03 Bioshock Infinite:Burial at Sea (PS4)
22. 23/03 Bioshock Infinite (PS4)
21. 15/03 Bioshock 2 (PS4)
20. 11/03 The Supper (PC)
19. 08/03 Devil's Kiss (PC)
18. 07/03 Time Gentlemen, Please! (PC)
17. 04/03 Bioshock 2:Minerva's Den (PS4)
16. 01/03 Bioshock (PS4)
15. 27/02 Ben There, Dan That : Special Edition (PC) 
14. 21/02 You've to to be Kitten Me! (PS4/Dreams) 
13. 17/02 Art Therapy (PS4/Dreams) 
12. 16/02 Art's Dream (PS4/Dreams) 
11. 12/02 Juanito Arcade Mayhem (PC) 
10. 08/02 Wolfenstein 2:the New Colossus (PC) (plus The Freedom Chronicles DLC) 
9. 03/02 The Outer Worlds (PS4) 
8. 27/01 Quest of Dungeons (PC) 
7. 21/01 Feather (PC)
6. 20/01 Paperbark (PC)
5. 09/01 The Cat and the Coup (PC) 
4. 09/01 1979 Revolution:Black Friday (PC) 
3. 08/01 Wolfenstein:the Old Blood (PC) 
2. 03/01 Wolfenstein:the New Order (PC) 
1. 01/01 Detroit:Become Human (PS4)

 

 

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DANMAKAI: Red Forbidden Fruit - 1cc, Normal (Eldied) (7)

 

Spoiler

 

Wolcen (8)

Monolith Relics of the past DLC - Loop 4 (9)
Mushihimesama Futari - Normal 1cc (10)
DoDonPachi - C-L 1cc (10)
Cardinal Sins - Trial 1cc (10)
Darius Gaiden - 1cc (8)
Gunbird - 1cc (7)
ZeroRanger - White Vanilla 1cc (10)
Dezatopia - 1cc (up to and including route L) (9)
Skycat - Expert 1cc (6)
Roundguard (4)
Gunfire Reborn - Elite solo (10)

Super XYX - 1cc, Challenging, Helltiger, TLB (9)

Zenodeath - 1cc, Expert, Wolfgang (No TLB) (9)

Ginga Force - Story Mode, normal (10)

Astral Gunners - 1cc, Normal (early access), Blue (10)

CosmoDreamer - 1cc, Maniac (10)

 

 

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24. The Gardens Between (XB1) - I stumbled across this charming little game completely by accident while browsing the Game Pass library in the hunt for something chilled to play last night, and what a little gem of a find. At its core the game is a 3D puzzler wrapped in a narrative about childhood memories and friendships, and centres around a set of gorgeous and lovingly crafted rotating 3D levels, and a temporal manipulation mechanic to tackle them. It looks stunning, sounds amazing and plays really really well. If you have ever enjoyed things like Monument Valley or Braid I would definitely encourage you to give this one a go. - 8/10

 

 

On 14/10/2020 at 09:52, FiveFootNinja said:

1. Jedi: Fallen Order (XB1) - 10/10

2. Untitled Goose Game (XB1) - 8/10

3. Gorogoa (iPad) - 9/10

4. Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice (XB1) - 8/10

5. Abzû (PS4) - 6/10

6. Braid (XB1/360) - 10/10

7. A Plague Tale: Innocence (XB1) - 8/10

8. Quantum Break (XB1) - 6/10

9. Oxenfree (Mac OS) - 7/10

10. Monument Valley 2 (iPad) -  7/10

11. Sniper Elite 4 (XB1) - 8/10

12. Marvel's Spider-Man (PS4) - 10/10

13. Fractured Minds (XB1) - 5/10

14. The Last Guardian (PS4) - 8/10

15. Journey (PS4) - 10/10

16. God of War [2018] (PS4) - 10/10

17. Superhot (XB1) - 8/10

18. Deliver Us the Moon (XB1) - 7/10

19. Virginia (XB1) - 5/10

20. Journey to the Savage Planet (XB1) - 7/10

21. Ori and the Will of the Wisps (XB1) - 8/10

22. Thief [2014] (PS4) - 6/10

23. Tacoma (XB1) - 7/10

 

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31. FAR: Lone Sails (PC)

 

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FAR: Lone Sails is a 2-3 hour indie game made by a small Swiss development team. It casts you as a mute, child-like figure whose objective is to drive/sail their giant tractor/train/boat machine from one side of the post-apocalyptic, WALL-E-inspired wasteland they inhabit to the other. Along the way you'll frequently have to deal with obstacles that impede your vehicle's progress, all of which are resolved by getting out, solving a very simple puzzle and then getting back in again, at least until you reach the next roadblock a few minutes later. Beyond that, it's a vehicle management game: you have to collect fuel to keep your ride chugging along, jump up and hit switches to manage your acceleration and engine pressure, and occasionally use your onboard hose and welding iron to deal with any fires or repairs that demand your attention. That's really about as deep as the gameplay mechanics go, however; in truth, for most of my playtime I wasn't doing a great deal except watching the landscape unfold. 

 

This seems to be something of the point of the game - I got the impression that the devs wanted me to focus on the loneliness of my journey and the narrative they were trying to convey through their environmental storytelling, rather than anything else. This is all well and good, but I did feel like I could have done with a bit more meat on the bone. Other games that do a similar sort of thing - a dialogue-free, evocative, ambiguous journey from point A to B, like Limbo, for example, or Journey, to which this owes a great deal - are more successful because their stories are supplemented by more robust gameplay and a steady development of ideas which do more to engage the player. This is fine, but it does feel a more slight, more passive and more forgettable experience by comparison.

 

That being said, I still enjoyed it - the sound design, especially, is excellent - and it doesn't do anything wrong. Like the vehicle itself, however, the whole thing is a bit stop-start and never truly takes off.

 

6.5/10

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17/10/2020 - Hades (PC)

 

I'd had my eye on this for some time due to the constant trickle of praise flowing out of its early access development, and finally tried it out after it hit version 1.0. I don't think it can ever be "completed", but having just escaped for the first time I think that's as close as I can get for the sake of this thread.

 

It's so, so good, and I imagine it will be seen as a landmark title for roguelikes of many types in the future. I'm not sure if it does anything particularly unique in isolation, but it brings together a perfect combination of features that make it special, and perfect for me as well. It's a roguelike where you're constantly growing more powerful, so every run becomes worthwhile regardless of how far you get. Combat is fast paced and technical, but remains incredibly simple in terms of inputs. There are no combos to learn here. 

 

Combat becomes even more interesting with the various boons and upgrades you collect throughout each run. Every weapon lends itself to a whole bunch of different strategies, making every attempt unique, and despite the game's random nature you still get some agency over how you build your loadout. Most arenas give you a choice of exit, and tell you what sort of reward you'll receive if you choose them. As such you can't just cherry pick your favourite combination each time, but you can bend things in the right direction and the remaining randomness can lead to some cool new surprises.

 

Finally there's the story, or rather the characters, who are all wonderful. They all look great with their detailed portraits, but are really brought to life with the script and voice acting. Dying is actually kind of exciting, as it presents an opportunity to talk to the cast again and learn new things about them all.

 

I can see myself playing this for a long time, and looking back through my list below I'd say it has a big chance of being my personal game of the year. Wonderful stuff.

 

 

 

Spoiler

January

07/01/2020 - Control (Xbox One)
26/01/2020 - Final Fantasy X (Switch)

February

10/02/2020 - Disco Elysium (PC)
22/02/2020 - Frostpunk (PC)

March

10/03/2020 - Darksiders: Warmastered Edition (Xbox One)
29/03/2020 - Ori and the Will of the Wisps (Xbox One)

April

07/04/2020 - Yakuza Kiwami (PS4)

May

04/05/2020 - Final Fantasy VII Remake (PS4)
09/05/2020 - Streets of Rage 4 (PS4)
23/05/2020 - Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age (Switch)

June

05/06/2020 - Vader Immortal (Oculus Quest)
07/06/2020 - Red Matter (Oculus Quest)
17/06/2020 - Beyond Blue (Xbox One)
18/06/2020 - Life is Strange 2 (Xbox One)

July

03/07/2020 - The Last of Us: Part II (PS4)
15/07/2020 - Control: The Foundation DLC (Xbox One)

August

23/08/2020 - Alan Wake (PC)
29/08/2020 - Alan Wake's American Nightmare (PC)
30/08/2020 - Control: AWE DLC (Xbox One)

September

10/09/2020 - Tell Me Why (Xbox One)

October

17/10/2020 - Hades (PC)

 

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Previously...

Spoiler

1) AM2R - PC - 2016 (1991)
2) Ecco The Dolphin - Mega CD - 1992/3
3) Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - 3DS - 2012/14
4) Mega Man X - SNES - 1993
5) Super Metroid - SNES - 1994
6) Donkey Kong Country - SNES - 1994
7) Chrono Trigger - SNES - 1995
8) Star Fox 2 - SNES - 2017 (1995)
9) Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island - SNES - 1995
10) Xenogears - PS1 - 1998
11) Sonic the Hedgehog - Megadrive - 1991
12) Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars - SNES - 1996
13) Kirby Super Star - SNES - 1996
14) Earthbound - SNES - 1995
15) R4: Ridge Racer Type 4 - PS1 - 1998/9
16) Tomb Raider III - PC - 1998
17) Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation - PC - 1999
18) Tomb Raider Chronicles - PC - 2000
19) Shenmue HD - PC - 2018 (1999/2000)
20) Shenmue II HD - PC - 2018 (2001)
21) Jak & Daxter: The Precursor Legacy - PS3 - 2012 (2001)
22) Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness - PC - 2003
23) Jak II: Renegade - PS3 - 2012 (2003)
24) Jak 3 - PS3 - 2012 (2004)
25) Tomb Raider: Legend - PC - 2006
26) Tomb Raider: Anniversary - PC - 2007
27) Uncharted: Drake's Fortune - PS4 - 2015 (2007)
28) Tomb Raider: Underworld - PC - 2008
29) Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Spirit of Justice - 3DS - 2016
30) Uncharted 2: Among Thieves - PS4 - 2015 (2009)
31) Final Fantasy Adventure - GameBoy - 1991
32) Alpha Protocol - PC - 2010
33) Day of the Tentacle Remastered - Vita - 2016 (1993)
34) Lego Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game - PC - 2011
35) Star Fox 64 3D - 3DS - 2011 (1997)
36) Limbo - PC - 2011 (2010)
37) The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D - 3DS - 2015 (2000)
38) Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception - PS4 - 2015 (2011)
39) Super Mario 64 - Switch - 2020 (1996)
40) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - Arcade - 1989
41) Alan Wake - PC - 2012 (2010)

42) Warioware Gold - 3DS - 2018

43) Alan Wake's American Nightmare - PC - 2012
44) Super Mario Sunshine - Switch - 2020 (2002)


45) Quantum Conundrum - PC - 2012
(Forty-five games and counting - jeeeeeesus!)

Played through all levels once (7.5 hours). A 'Portal-like' first-person puzzle game, no great surprise from the lead designer on PortalQuantum Conundrum takes you through a series of rooms filled with contraptions that you manipulate with science powers. Using a fantastical device that can shift between dimensions, you can turn everything fluffy and light, metallic and heavy, slow down time or reverse gravity - and must navigate laser beams, weight-activated switches and conveyor belts. Well, you get the idea. It's pretty good, nothing as mind-bending as Portal but a solid set of puzzles that increase in complexity just as you master each ability.

 

The puzzles never get particulary fiddly, so you can play them fine with a game pad. I encountered one glitch, which was easily resolved. My only real complaint is the level design is incredibly repetitive. The mansion in which this all supposedly takes place makes absolutely no euclidean sense, as you go through room after room of the same scenery for miles in all directions. Many of the connecting sections literally are the same rooms over and over. They may as well have you choose a level from a list rather than attempt to structure it within a building.

 

The whole thing thankfully hangs together with the help of Star Trek's John de Lancie, who plays the voice of the mad scientistic uncle over the mansion's intercom. Not as psychotic as GlaDOS, nor as funny as Cave Johnson, but an engaging plot device all the same.

 

And that, dear readers, officially clears my Steam backlog. 8-)

(No mention yet of my growing Epic Games Store backlog - shhh!!!)

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Pro Putt by Top Golf (Quest)

 

My most played VR game to date. As the name suggests it isn't a sim and to some extent is quite basic, offering 4 courses and only 1 club. However, the feel and mechanics are sweet. It's also incredibly chilled out with some mini golf-style holes and some rather flamboyant courses which see you hitting the ball down huge slopes and over mountainous terrain. It has perfect pick up and play appeal but kept me going for hours at a time. There's also a new 4 player multiplayer which I've yet to try.

 

Tip: I found it a lot more interesting and addictive in Pro mode with the guide line taken off.

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I've been keeping my finger on the pulse these past few months by playing a series of platform puzzlers from almost a decade ago. I was going to write a lot more about each one, however essentially they're all the same: a gimmick or two that you utilise to solve puzzles on a single screen or in a small level. They all start pretty easy and ramp up gently before presenting bonus challenges of often increased difficulty. Behold:

 

Blocks That Mater

Gimmick: Build blocks into Tetris shapes to reach platforms and pass obstacles.

A nice smooth ramp up in difficulty here. The post-story levels were a good challenge with the added bonus of doing all the levels again using as few blocks as possible. Had to use a guide a few times to get everything. Only thing the game's lacking is a rewind feature to prevent you restarting when messing up block placement, although the levels were small enough not be an issue.

 

Saira

Gimmick: a camera to take shots of the screen.

It's not really much of a gimmick, though I thought it was going to do something special to help me solve puzzles but it's just a way to take notes. Apart from that, you traverse different worlds and solve a variety of puzzles on terminals, usually from clues found in the environments. The movement of your character feels too skiddy at first but soon becomes really nice to control and fling yourself around. The game's resolutely unfinished, although it has put Knytt, by the same developer, on my radar now.

 

Sugar Cube: Bittersweet Factory

Gimmick: The level is divided into panels. Moving across the level flips those panels over to either hide or reveal platforms and obstacles.

A nice idea in  principle. I feel like it wants to be Super Meat Boy-ish but relatively forgiving and ultimately forgettable because of it. Not much in the way of bonuses apart from a challenge to complete each set of stages without dying which a bit too much for me.

 

The Adventures of Shuggy

Gimmick: A plethora of gimmicks including rotating stages, avoiding past echoes of yourself, and making yourself bigger and smaller.

I enjoyed this one the most out of all these games. There's plenty of effort made to make the levels as varied as possible using the aforesaid gimmicks. Each one's only a few minutes long at best, not too challenging but enough to not be a pushover. Managed to complete it all and was particularly satisfied to do the two-player co-op challenges on my own using one keyboard - tricky but not impossible, I learned!

 

The Bridge

Gimmick: Illusory MC Escher-style levels where rotating the screen reveals new paths or allows you to turn walls into floors and so on.

It's quite an interesting concept at first, coupled with a nice black and white aesthetic. However half the game is rather easy. The other half is trickier but feels that, because of the physics in play, I was more brute forcing the solution through trial and error rather than coming to a satisfying logical solution. Worth a go for the style, though.

 

Cloning Clyde

Gimmick: Make clones of yourself and merge with other animals and objects to escape the level.

Time hasn't been kind to this game and it looks rather rough now. The cloning sounded like it could have been fun. Sadly, there's not much to it outside of moving several characters on to scales to get something working. Not much in the way of puzzle design or variety and it never really gets going. Didn't take too long to do everything in this one.

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19/10/2020 - Raji: An Ancient Epic (PC)

 

I was fascinated by this as soon as it was announced. My wife is Indian, and indeed a Hindu, and ever since I met her I've wanted to know more about her religion and the mythology surrounding it. I've read a book on the subject that gave a thorough overview, and obviously picked up on more from my wife, so it was amazing to see a game that drew on that same rich mythology.

 

The game itself is clearly inspired by Prince of Persia, making use of the same style of acrobatic platforming mixed with walled off combat encounters. It even shares some of it's bloom heavy, dreamlike visual style, albeit from a more distant perspective. That platforming is pretty basic though, while there's more depth to the combat it never manages to be particularly satisfying. There's little sense of impact for either your own attacks or your opponents', and evasion is usually a case of just mashing the dodge button and hoping for the best. It does try to make things interesting my mixing enemy types, but it never really gets over its fundamental shortcomings.

 

It's quite an attractive game though, mainly thanks to the art style and architecture on show rather than anything technical. The setting is really unique too, thanks to the setting being so under-explored in the medium. It also manages to be quite educational, thanks to frequent voice overs from Vishnu and Durga, who are both following your progress. At certain points you encounter murals depicting Hindu myths as well, also explained by the same pair. 

 

The story of the game itself is incredibly slight though, and while your original mission is resolved, the greater threat that emerges simply leads to a big, and quite unsatisfying cliffhanger after a mere five or so hours.

 

I think it's fair to say this would be quite forgettable were it not for its unique setting, but that setting is so unique that it makes the whole experience much more enjoyable. This is the first game from Nodding Head, and I'm really looking forward to seeing what they do next. A more expansive, and hopefully more polished sequel would be amazing. 

 

Spoiler

January

07/01/2020 - Control (Xbox One)
26/01/2020 - Final Fantasy X (Switch)

February

10/02/2020 - Disco Elysium (PC)
22/02/2020 - Frostpunk (PC)

March

10/03/2020 - Darksiders: Warmastered Edition (Xbox One)
29/03/2020 - Ori and the Will of the Wisps (Xbox One)

April

07/04/2020 - Yakuza Kiwami (PS4)

May

04/05/2020 - Final Fantasy VII Remake (PS4)
09/05/2020 - Streets of Rage 4 (PS4)
23/05/2020 - Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age (Switch)

June

05/06/2020 - Vader Immortal (Oculus Quest)
07/06/2020 - Red Matter (Oculus Quest)
17/06/2020 - Beyond Blue (Xbox One)
18/06/2020 - Life is Strange 2 (Xbox One)

July

03/07/2020 - The Last of Us: Part II (PS4)
15/07/2020 - Control: The Foundation DLC (Xbox One)

August

23/08/2020 - Alan Wake (PC)
29/08/2020 - Alan Wake's American Nightmare (PC)
30/08/2020 - Control: AWE DLC (Xbox One)

September

10/09/2020 - Tell Me Why (Xbox One)

October

17/10/2020 - Hades (PC)
19/10/2020 - Raji: An Ancient Epic (PC)

 

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Forza 7 (edit) - Not played one of these since er... 2007, and I found it a bit of a grind tbh.

 

The events themselves feel overlong - heavily championships with six stages with a bunch of laps each, given you've typically chosen your best, most suitable car for them, it's 45 minutes of driving the same car, and the fact that you can only do one championship at a time means you can't take a break and do something else, so I definitely prefer the Horizon series.

 

The mods system, an attempt to add a risk-reward component, is a nice idea, but unfortunately being per race rather than per championship doesn't help them, you'd have to do a lot of fiddling in menus between races which would just make championships even longer, and they cost money so you never buy them. They'd be fine if you got them for free, perfect wheelspins fodder maybe, but that feature was removed.

 

There's a surprising number of tracks here, but also some of them are literally from the X360, and seem a bit dated, the Alps background is a low-res JPEG and many don't support racing at night or changeable weather, the series could really do with that next-gen refresh, is what I'm saying.

 

The one thing that isn't a problem is the thing that 100% of the posts on rllmuk are complaining about and that's the presentation, it's also dry as fuck, just a list of races with a bit of VO being the only production value, but if you read the Game Pass thread there's people complaining about "all the unskippable cutscenes" in a game with no cutscenes. I know this place likes to have a dumb circlejerk about games sometimes, but this is the first time I've seen it extend to outright fabrication.

 

Spoiler

 

Microsoft Flight Simulator

FFXIV: A Realm Reborn

Muse Dash

Tell Me Why

Hypnospace Outlaw

The Touryst

Carrion

Mario 64 (PC)

Gone Home 

Observation 

A Short Hike 

Age of Wonders: Planetfall

Yakuza Kiwami

Sonic the Hedgehog (2006)

Gears Tactics

Grandia 3

Ori and the Will of the Wisps

Wave Race 64

Slay the Spire

Halo 3: ODST

Halo 3 

Halo 2: Anniversary

Halo CE: Anniversary 

Crackdown 3
Kingdom Come: Deliverance + DLC

God of War (2005) 

Resident Evil 2 RE

Grandia 2 

 

 

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Donut County.

 

This game was kinda what I wanted Untitled Goose Game to be - fun, engaging and relaxing gameplay, and doesn't overstay it's welcome. Very calming & simple with a nice narrative in between the mild puzzling. Only really ramping up slightly towards the end. I got this for £3 or something, an absolute steal.

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On a bit of a run of 2D side-scrollers at the moment:

 

29. Foregone

Seems very inspired by Dead Cells in its appearance and the basics of combat. But it's not a Roguelike - more a linear loot-based adventure. It really does look nice and there's a good feel to the weapons. But it's lacking in variety and interesting level design. Doesn't do enough with some solid foundations.

 

30. Vigil: The Longest Night

It's another 2D Souls-like, with nods to Salt & Sanctuary, Castlevania and Bloodborne. But it's a very good one. There's a big world to explore and very little in the way of direction, so you can get lost for hours unearthing new locations and secrets. It always feels like there's tons to discover and every weapon you find is distinctive enough to be an interesting option. The visuals and sound create an atmosphere of creeping dread, and the light RPG systems allow for a range of combat styles.

 

As someone who loves isolated exploration, it's about as up my street as a game could possible get. It's a shame the Switch version has some serious performance issues, including crashing numerous times during my play through. I hope they fix it. 

 

31. Huntdown

It's hard to find much fault with this, as it nails just about every aspect of what it tries to do. As an evolution of Robocop or games like Shinobi and Rolling Thunder, you couldn't ask for much more. Tons of visual detail in its pixel art, an excellent synth soundtrack, booming sound effects and well-timed quips from your character (Anna Conda easily the best choice). Loads of enemy types, weapons, variety of locations, and set pieces among the already well-constructed levels. Generous too, with a boss at the end of every stage that throws up a slightly different challenge. And it's packed with references to 80s' sci-fi and action films.

 

And yet there are annoyances. Some mild, like enemies that can start attacking from off screen or appear too suddenly, and your slightly slow movement and jumping speed. One more overt, as bosses constantly chat as you fight them - really irritating when you have to restart a few times and hear the same lines again and again. Also no need for some crass stereotypes (perhaps it's not smart to pay homage to everything from back then). Still, it's a proper love letter to a genre and a time and it really knows its stuff.

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They're dropping like flies now:

 

Tacoma

My second ever walking sim after Edith Finch. While not in that league I did thoroughly enjoy this, especially the detective-like feel of walking through AR reconstructions from the recent past while rifling through the mess that was left behind, just absorbing what happened. No friction or annoying gameplay mechanics, just learning what went down on the space station at my own pace, then moving on to the next area. The sci-fi setting is decent and the voice acting good and, like Edith Finch, it's compact and does not outstay its welcome. I guessed part of what was happening, but not the final twist. It's only about 2-3 hours and worth a play.

 

The Gardens Between

A puzzler with a very specific mechanic whereby all you can do is advance or rewind time - no direct control of the protagonists at all. The twist is that certain elements within each level operate on a different time 'track' and you can advance/rewind those independently to create different outcomes, with the goal of reaching the top of each level. There's never more than a small handful of potential solutions to each problem which means it's never frustrating or daunting. I originally thought this was a local 2-player game I could play with my son - took a while to realise we were never going to be controlling the two main characters. He did end up helping me a lot with the puzzles, though, and it was fun working on them together.

 

Untitled Goose Game

I ended up getting all the Achievements on this as part of my drive to max out the recent MS reward point promotion, and ended up really liking it. It can be quite frustrating as the game emulates the ungainly waddling movement of an actual goose, which can be infuriating, but mastering the goose is all part of the challenge. That feeling when you pull off a heist, do something cheeky or manipulate NPCs to do what you want them to do is reminiscent of Hitman, which probably explains why I enjoyed it so much. The timed challenges are tough but really satisfying to pull off. Would happily play a sequel featuring a different mischievous animal.

 

Tell Me Why

Another genre I've never tried - I guess this is interactive fiction? You basically watch a load of cut-scenes and occasionally walk around looking at stuff and making social decisions with branching outcomes. I was really struggling at the start. It's all nicely presented and acted but really drags compared to watching a decent TV series. I also realised that Tacoma, Edith Finch and Deliver Us The Moon (which I'm currently playing) benefit by never trying to present realistic character models - it's all abstract figures and static pictures. Tell Me Why has the uncanny valley issue, which doesn't help when so much relies on watching the characters. That said, I ended up getting drawn into the central mystery and, in the third area, really wanted to solve the puzzle for accessing the police computer to see if there were any revelations hidden within. So it did ultimately work for me at a narrative level but I didn't really get much out of the interactive side. I would probably rather have just watched it on TV.

 

Spoiler

 

1. Jedi Fallen Order

2. COD Modern Warfare

3. Outer Wilds

4. Dishonored 2

5. Trials HD

6. Trials Rising

7. Streets of Rage 4

8 The Last of Us pt 2

9 Forza Horizon 4

10 The Division 2

11 Hitman 2

12 Prey

13 What Remains of Edith Finch

14 The Turing Test

15 Tacoma

16 The Gardens Between

17 Untitled Goose Game

18 Tell Me Why

 

 

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29/09 - Mafia Definitive Edition (Xbox One) - a brilliant remake of the original Mafia. Whilst the game is set in an open world, this is really a narrative driven, cover shooter where the world simply acts as a backdrop. It's misson, mission, mission and all the better for it.

 

13/10 - Minoria (Xbox One) - excellent Metroidvania from the people behind Momodora. The gothic atmosphere is nicely reminiscent of Castlevania.

 

13/10 - She Sees Red (Xbox One) - low budget Russian (dubbed into English) interactive movie; where a detective investigates a spate of murders at a night club. It's not bad and short enough (a playthrough will take aroud 30 minutes) for repeat plays. I managed to see all four endings from the same number of playthroughs. 

 

16/10 - Inertial Drift (Xbox One) - drift racer with a twist, in that you use the right analog stick to control the back of your car and thus drift. It's ok, but generally lacking in polish and could really do with some Super Eurobeat blaring in the background.

 

 

Previously:

Spoiler

01. 01/01 - Persona 4: Dancing All Night (PS4)

02. 03/01 - Sayonara Wild Hearts (PS4)
03. 11/01 - Yakuza 3 (PS4)
04. 11/01 - Dead or Alive 5 Last Round (PS4)
05. 12/01 - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan (PS4)
06. 21/01 - Forza Horizon 4 (Xbox One)
07. 24/01 - Storm Boy (Xbox One)
08. 10/02 - One Piece World Seeker (Xbox One)
09. 10/03 - GRID (Xbox One)
10. 01/04 - Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F (PS3)
11. 07/04 - Resident Evil 3 (Xbox One)
12. 11/04 - Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed (Xbox 360)
13. 12/04 - Duck Tales Remastered (Xbox 360)
14. 14/04 - Song of the Deep (Xbox One)
15. 15/04 - Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F 2nd (PS3)
16. 25/04 - Hatsune Miku: Project Diva Future Tone (PS4)
17. 08/05 - Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana (PS4)
18. 17/05 - Final Fantasy VII Remake (PS4)
19. 17/06 - Maneater (Xbox One)
20. 18/06 - Coffee Talk (Xbox One)
21. 27/06 - Hatsune Miku: Project Diva X (PS4)
22. 30/06 - One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows (Xbox One)
23. 11/07 - 1979 Revolution: Black Friday (Xbox One)
24. 04/08 - Ghost of Tsushima (PS4)
25. 10/08 - Fast & Furious Crossroads (Xbox One)
26. 15/08 - AER: Memories of Old (Xbox One)

27. 28/08 - Asura's Wrath (Xbox 360)

28. 10/09 - Marvel's Avengers (Xbox One)

 

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Completely failed to keep track of this all year, so I'm likely forgetting things, but what I can recall so far, in chronological order:

 

January:

Neo Cab - this was an enjoyable little visual novel. Nice visual style, simple but effective story, solid characterisation. I had a nice time playing through this.

 

May/June:

Minecraft - inasmuch as you can 'complete' Minecraft, but I went into the multiplayer for the first time ever at the height of the first wave, as a way to stay in touch with friends. We built up our village and infrastructure, got rare resources, made it to the End and defeated the Ender Dragon, so I'll consider this as complete as is possible.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons - as above, inasmuch as it can be completed. Another game largely engaged with due to lockdown and wanting to stay in touch with a friend. Fully upgraded house, village packed with villagers I like, everything set up as I want. And then abandoned to ruin, naturally.

 

September:

13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim - inarguably completed this one - full platinum (not that that's particularly hard, to be honest, given the lack of challenge to the strategy segment of the game). It was decent, if a bit of a missed opportunity.

Hades - perhaps 'complete' isn't quite the right word, but I've completely cleared the game a few tens of times now. There's more story to extract, but it's so drip-fed (and, well, a little predictable for someone with a Classical Civilisation master's degree...) that I think I'm done for now.

 

October:

The Solitaire Conspiracy - finished the campaign. It was fine.

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On 11/10/2020 at 19:06, Pelekophoros said:

01/01: Superhot (XBone)

03/01: Old Man's Journey (XBone)

05/01: The Turing Project (XBone)

19/01: Halo: CE Anniversary (XBone)

01/04: Quantum Break (XBone)

02/04: Halo 2 (Xbone)

04/04: Call Of Duty MW (2019) (XBone)

13/05: Control (PS4)

02/06: Call Of Duty WWII (PS4)

18/06: God of War 2018 (PS4)

26/06: Shadow Of The Colossus (PS4)

05/07: Animal Crossing: New Horizons (Switch)

06/07: Resident Evil 2 (PS4)

07/07: Universal Paperclip (web)

09/08: Carrion (Xbone)

10/08: Robocop (Arcade)

12/08: Sly Spy Secret Agent (Arcade)

14/08: Bad Dudes vs DragonNinja (Arcade)

16/08: Batman Arkham Knight (PS4)

19/08: Vigilante (Arcade)

20/08: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2: Campaign Remastered (PS4)

25/08: Glass Masquerade (Switch)

30/08: Erica (PS4)

08/09: Into The Breach (Switch)

12/09: Rastan (Arcade)

19/09: Super Mario Bros (Switch)

24/09: A Short Hike (Switch) 

26/09: Halo 3 (Xbone)

28/09: Halo 3: ODST (XBone)

03/10: Halo: Reach (Xbone)

08/10: Halo 4 (Xbone)

11/10: Aliens (Arcade)

11/10: Halo 5 (XBone)

 

24/10: Until Dawn (PS4)

 

Finally worked up the bottle to play this and enjoyed it. The characters were suitable annoying but despite my best efforts I managed to save everyone. Like, even the dog. Properly chuffed with that but Jesus it was tempting to shoot Emily in the face. 

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1. Metro Exodus
2. QUBE 2
3. Darksiders 3
4. What Remains of Edith Finch
5. Ori and the Will of the Wisps
6. Doom Eternal
7. Journey to the Savage Planet
8. Dark Souls 3
9. Carrion (Game Pass)
10. Fractured Minds
11. Dark Souls: Remastered

 


12. Return of the Obra Dinn

 

You can see from the list above, I’ve played some absolute stunners this year. Well, this one is easily up there with the likes of Edith Finch and possibly above the Dark Souls games. It honestly might be the perfect video game. You play an inspector for the East India Shipping Company, tasked with deducing the fates of the Obra Dinn, a ship which returns 5 years after it set off, with no one left alive on board.

 

You see glimpses of how they died and are tasked with naming the individuals and their fates based on these glimpses and the clues you find around the ship.

 

It is absolutely wonderful, and I would encourage anyone who hasn’t played it to give it a go. I don’t want to say too much about it here, but it’s the best puzzle/mystery game I’ve ever played and the characters in it are incredible. 

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Deliver Us The Moon

 

This was the final game in my Game Pass Microsoft Reward-athon, during which I played a bunch of shorter games I would otherwise not have looked at twice. It's been my first exposure to walking sims, and I guess this in the same family. The question of how much friction you present to players in these games is an interesting one - in this, you play an astronaut who's life is often in danger from the harsh realities of off-planet existence, so there are plenty of opportunities to die. On the one hand I appreciated being chucked into situations where I had 2 minutes of oxygen and having to work out what to do next, on the other the game is clunky enough that some segments were pretty frustrating.

 

When Dead Space came out a few of us wondered what it would be like to play a game where you simply explore the sci-fi environments and fix stuff without monsters trying to rip you apart every few metres. This is basically it, I guess. I was pretty impressed overall - the changing environments and gameplay keep things fresh, and the story is compelling. I particularly liked the zero-g and rover sections. The third-person platforming less so.

 

If you liked the feel of recent Brad Pitt starrer Ad Astra you'll probably like this - it has a similar aesthetic and sense of loneliness. I'd definitely be up for playing something similar but more refined, perhaps with a couple of core, really engaging gameplay mechanics. Anything involving thrusting around in micro or low gravity would work well, as would navigating a delicate rover across vast extraterrestrial landscapes. This has some of that but it could be expanded upon to great effect.

 

Overall I found it to be a novel and engrossing six-hour experience despite the jank.

 

 

Star Wars Squadrons

 

I played all the old X-Wing games except for XvT, and X-Wing Alliance is one my favourite games. When I finished that game I couldn't wait to see where the series went next. The Battle of Endor was good but there were quite a lot of cheats - the huge fleet was a background image, and the Death Star run was a discrete stage. I was imagining a future Star Wars space combat game with actual fleets duking it out, a fully-rendered Death Star and perhaps even seamless segues into planetary atmospheres!

 

Of course, none of that happened, and the only decent Star Wars dogfighting games since were the Rogue Squadron games. So this is a bit of a dream game for me. Despite tempered expectations, I'm still a bit disappointed that it's basically just a shiny version of a 20 year old game. It looks great and plays excellently, but hasn't really moved things on. I do appreciate that Motive have focused on delivering something polished and with a controlled scope, though.

 

I thought I'd be all about the single player, but the Fleet Battle MP mode has really grabbed me. I can't get enough of it at the moment. Crucially, the 'loop of death' that can afflict aerial combat games can be avoided by boosting back to the safety of your capital ships. I just wish there were more modes and ships!

 

Single player is decent enough, but not a worthy successor to TIE Fighter of X-Wing Alliance. It takes place in as-yet lightly-sketched post-ROTJ era and picks up on the idea from The Mandalorian of the Empire descending into in-fighting as Imperial officers protect their domains. Hera from Rebels makes an appearance. It's a bit low-stakes, no doubt due to the setting. I imagine they couldn't do anything too grand so as to keep the era fertile for future TV shows and movies. Again, the range of ships is a bit limited. Lots of Star Destroyers, CR90 Corvettes and Nebulon Bs. I think I need to try it again on a harder difficulty - at times it seems like it was playing itself and I was almost unable to die. The main cause of failure, as usual with these games, is from not protecting mission-critical ships closely enough.

 

It was a good move releasing it at £30. It's clearly a passion project from a bunch of devs who wanted to recreate the old games, and I'm incredibly thankful that it was made at all. They've done a superb job - I just hope it ends up being the pilot project for something a bit bigger and more in-depth. There's bags of potential here.

 

 

Spoiler

 

1. Jedi Fallen Order

2. COD Modern Warfare

3. Outer Wilds

4. Dishonored 2

5. Trials HD

6. Trials Rising

7. Streets of Rage 4

8 The Last of Us pt 2

9 Forza Horizon 4

10 The Division 2

11 Hitman 2

12 Prey

13 What Remains of Edith Finch

14 The Turing Test

15 Tacoma

16 The Gardens Between

17 Untitled Goose Game

18 Tell Me Why

19 Deliver Us The Moon

20 Star Wars Squadrons

 

 

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Luigi’s Mansion 3 

Went back to it almost a year later. It’s good but can be extremely cheap and it often asks you to do things that the controls aren’t really up to handling very well. By the end I hated Luigi.

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Previously...

Spoiler

1) AM2R - PC - 2016 (1991)
2) Ecco The Dolphin - Mega CD - 1992/3
3) Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - 3DS - 2012/14
4) Mega Man X - SNES - 1993
5) Super Metroid - SNES - 1994
6) Donkey Kong Country - SNES - 1994
7) Chrono Trigger - SNES - 1995
8) Star Fox 2 - SNES - 2017 (1995)
9) Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island - SNES - 1995
10) Xenogears - PS1 - 1998
11) Sonic the Hedgehog - Megadrive - 1991
12) Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars - SNES - 1996
13) Kirby Super Star - SNES - 1996
14) Earthbound - SNES - 1995
15) R4: Ridge Racer Type 4 - PS1 - 1998/9
16) Tomb Raider III - PC - 1998
17) Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation - PC - 1999
18) Tomb Raider Chronicles - PC - 2000
19) Shenmue HD - PC - 2018 (1999/2000)
20) Shenmue II HD - PC - 2018 (2001)
21) Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy - PS3 - 2012 (2001)
22) Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness - PC - 2003
23) Jak II: Renegade - PS3 - 2012 (2003)
24) Jak 3 - PS3 - 2012 (2004)
25) Tomb Raider: Legend - PC - 2006
26) Tomb Raider: Anniversary - PC - 2007
27) Uncharted: Drake's Fortune - PS4 - 2015 (2007)
28) Tomb Raider: Underworld - PC - 2008
29) Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Spirit of Justice - 3DS - 2016
30) Uncharted 2: Among Thieves - PS4 - 2015 (2009)
31) Final Fantasy Adventure - GameBoy - 1991
32) Alpha Protocol - PC - 2010
33) Day of the Tentacle Remastered - Vita - 2016 (1993)
34) Lego Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game - PC - 2011
35) Star Fox 64 3D - 3DS - 2011 (1997)
36) Limbo - PC - 2011 (2010)
37) The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D - 3DS - 2015 (2000)
38) Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception - PS4 - 2015 (2011)
39) Super Mario 64 - Switch - 2020 (1996)
40) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - Arcade - 1989
41) Alan Wake - PC - 2012 (2010)

42) Warioware Gold - 3DS - 2018

43) Alan Wake's American Nightmare - PC - 2012
44) Super Mario Sunshine - Switch - 2020 (2002)
45) Quantum Conundrum - PC - 2012


46) Super Mario Galaxy - Switch - 2020 (2007)

120 stars (Mario only). The last of the 3D All-Stars collection and the best one by far. Mario Galaxy didn't just retread old ideas, it came out bursting with new ones at every turn, and it knew that a 3D Mario game doesn't have to be constantly filled with exploration of 3D spaces - it can take the simple but satisfying A-to-B gameplay of 2D Mario games and deliver it in all new ways. It has variety, it has that compelling "one more go" factor, it's not a hard game but it knows what's fun and what isn't, and it delivers all of this with some of Nintendo's best graphics and presentation ever. From the epic orchestral score to the dramatic lighting effects, 60fps presentation and slick character animations - this was always a looker, even on the Wii, but the HD conversion reveals just what a showstopper it always was.

My favourite Mario game and still one of my favourite games of all time.

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A little bit of catching up here:

 

Super Mario Sunshine – 02/10

I was never a Sunshine hater. I had a few issues with it (Ferris wheel, pink boos) but I have 100%ed twice on the ‘Cube. I still really enjoyed this All-Stars replay but found the urge to explore levels lacking. I mostly just did the shines as expected and picked up the odd blue coin when they presented themselves and I had absolutely no desire to put myself through Yoshi’s Fruit Safari. I do love the way Mario controls in Sunshine, for me, it’s the tightest outside of Odyssey. Due to it being slightly rushed it’s not an all-timer but it is still a very good game.

 

Super Mario Galaxy – 09/10

I don’t remember much of this game from the first time around as I was going through a bad break up at the time and only ever played it through once so this was the one I was looking most forward to on the collection. Did not disappoint. Just level after level of pure joyous platforming and the only one of the All-Stars I 120’d. Special mention to Bouldergeist Daredevil Comet; I do remember that taking me the best part of 2 hours to do first time round, this time I smeshed him on the third go so maybe my gaming skills haven’t atrophied as much as I thought they had thanks to 64.

 

Fables 1 – 3 – 23/10

While I wait for CyberPunk I thought I’d go back and play some older stuff off Game Pass and these caught my eye. I’d only ever played the Fable games at their respective launches so was curious how they would hold up. Fable has held up surprisingly well. I know it’s the Anniversary edition but I still had to keep reminding myself that it was an OG Xbox game. Combat was pretty fun (apart from the ranged stuff which was next to useless) and it was mostly an enjoyable if slightly old-fashioned RPG experience.

 

Fable 2 was easily the best of the three. Refined mechanics, better story and generally slicker. Story was a bit rushed at the end.

 

Fable 3 is an odd one. While still a fun game it removed or hid pretty much all of the RPG systems; loot amounted to not much more than tattoos and the same 3 potions over and over, removal of the expressions wheel distilling NPC interaction down to pretty much holding A or X for five minutes. So many odd decisions. I’d also forgotten how much you get punished during the end game if you didn’t spend the first half accruing wealth like a Tory landlord. I think I became ruler with about 50k gold in my pockets and then it gives you 400k in the treasury. If you want to be a benevolent monarch your first decision pretty much wipes that out. It has little bearing on the actual game in the end but it’s still a bit annoying as was the time skip to the final battle, which I remembered was going to happen but it’s still a tad shit that your days are ticking by at about 40 or so per scenario then suddenly, BAM! It’s been a year and the entire city is on fire. The whole end game was a really good idea badly implemented IMO.

 

I am now very much looking forward to seeing how the next Fable modernises the franchise.

 

Previously

Spoiler

01/01 – Lego Builder’s Journey
28/01 – The Outer Worlds
01/02 – Untitled Goose Game
04/02 – Wandersong
11/02 – Ghostbusters

28/02 – Darksiders Genesis

04/03 – Slay the Spire

27/03 - GTA V

03/04 - Tomb Raider Go & Monument Valley 2

10/04 - Journey to the Savage Planet

24/04 - Ori and the Blind Forest

28/04 - Murder by Numbers

29/05 - Battle Chasers: Nightwar

13/06 - Picross S4

19/06 - Xcom 2

06/07 - Thronebreaker

07/08 - Paper Mario - Origami King

04/09 - Ghost of Tsushima

23/09 - Super Mario 64

 

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32. Aaero (PC)

 

Aaero1.gif.457a6d570195afd44492ba56fa12f9db.gif

 

Aaero.gif.383616aa57cce8f4ed4a8dca466ca68b.gif

 

Aaero is a British-developed, rhythm-action, on-rails shooter that came out on PC, PS4 and XB1 in 2017 and then Switch a year later. It's made up of two principal gameplay elements.

 

The first involves the player using the left analog stick to guide their spaceship along 'ribbons' that come flying towards the screen (top gif). These ribbons typically match the pitch of the bassline in the song that comprises the level. Although fiddly at first, this mechanic works well because it feels like your actions have a direct bearing on the music that's playing in the background: veer off track and the bass simply doesn't play properly; hit every note perfectly, however, and everything builds and drops in exactly the right way, which is very satisfying and had me nodding along with a big smile across my face.

 

The second gameplay mechanic - the on-rails part - involves you using the right analog stick to target and shoot enemy spaceships that suddenly appear from off-screen and start firing at you, similar (I imagine, not having played them) to Rez and Panzer Dragoon (bottom gif). Sometimes you'll do this while also trying to navigate the ribbons, but most of the time the levels are split into shooting sections and ribbon-guiding sections. The shooting bits are less successful because they don't really have much correlation with the music at all; at these points, the game stops being a rhythm-action experience almost entirely and just becomes a pretty limited shooter instead, one where it can be frustratingly difficult to see what's happening on screen. Thankfully, these parts don't last too long and you quickly find yourself at the next ribbon section where you have to pick up the music once more.

 

Overall, it only took me 90 minutes to play through each of its 15 tracks/levels (I played on Chillout mode, where you don't die if you get shot but are allowed to respawn after a few seconds), and while I doubt I'll be going back to attempt to improve my high scores, I still enjoyed what I played, especially the levels that were more rhythm-action oriented than on-rails shooting focused. Your enjoyment of it will likely depend upon whether you enjoy the filthy, Skrillex-style EDM tracks that make up the soundtrack, and also upon whether you have a decent audio setup to listen to the music properly as you play. Although, as a rule, I don't really go in much for aggressive dubstep or dirty house (or whatever else you want to label it), in the context of the action taking place on screen, and when played through a decent pair of headphones, cranked up nice and loud, I thought the music was a pretty perfect fit and the game was largely good fun.

 

If, like me, you found Thumper too difficult and Just Shapes and Beats too finickity, then I'd give this a try. I think it cost me all of 89 pence in a recent Steam sale, so it's worth adding to your wishlist for sure.

 

7/10

 

Completed this year:

 

Spoiler

1. Death Stranding (PS4) - 8/10

2. Mark of the Ninja Remastered (Switch) - 7/10

3. Firewatch (PS4) - 7/10

4. Dishonored 2 (PS4) - 7/10

5. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019) (PS4) - 6/10

6. Uncharted: The Lost Legacy (PC) - 8/10

7. Half-Life 2 (PC) - 9/10

8. Gears 5 (PC Game Pass) - 8/10

9. Animal Crossing: New Horizons (Switch) - 9/10

10. A Plague Tale: Innocence (PC Game Pass) - 7/10

11. Half-Life 2: Episode 1 (PC) - 7/10

12. Lonely Mountains: Downhill (PC Game Pass) - 8/10

13. The Last of Us (PS4) - 10/10

14. The Last of Us: Left Behind (PS4) - 9/10

15. Sniper Elite V2 (PC) - 6/10

16. Amnesia: The Dark Descent (PC) - 6/10

17. Rayman Legends (Switch) - 6/10

18. Monument Valley (Android) - 7/10

19. The Last of Us: Part II (PS4) - 10/10

20. The Gardens Between (PC Game Pass) - 6/10

21. Subnautica (PC Game Pass) - 7/10

22. Observation (PC Game Pass) - 7/10

23. Ape Out (PC Game Pass) - 7/10

24. Dark Souls 3 (PC) - N/A (Replay)

25. Paper Mario: The Origami King - 7/10

26. Superhot (Switch) - 6.5/10

27. Ori and the Blind Forest (Switch) - 9/10

28. INSIDE (PC) - N/A (Replay)

29. Botanicula (PC) - 7/10

30. Disco Elysium (PC) - 9/10

31. FAR: Lone Sails (PC) - 6.5/10

32. Aaero (PC) - 7/10

 

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January

Injustice 2 (story)

 

February

Don’t Die, Mr Robot

Untitled Goose Game

Titanfall 2 (campaign)


March

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

Middle Earth: Shadow of War

 

April
Rogue Aces

Burly Men At Sea

COD: Modern Warfare 2 Remastered

Rory McIlroy PGA Tour

Prey (2017)

 

May

Prey: Mooncrash

Far Cry: New Dawn

 

July

Stardew Valley (will go back once the 1.5 update releases)

 

August

Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell

What Remains of Edith Finch

The Last of Us Remastered

The Last of Us Left Behind
Watch Dogs 2

God of War III: Remastered

 

September

God of War

 

October

 

The Last of Us 2

 

At times fantastic, occasionally a slog, often spectacular. It goes places, and I enjoyed the shared narrative for the most part, albeit think one is more successful than the other.

 

There are some great set pieces, some lovely offbeat moments and almost claustrophobic feelings of helplessness and dread. Certainly rare to find games that evoke similar emotions; it’s the most reactive I’ve been during a game in a long while.

 

Maybe a chapter or two too long, but that feeling could be a result of me bingeing through it. I’ll go back and replay parts of it to drink in the details and settings as I usually do with Naughty Dog’s games.

 

There’s a lot more that can be said of course, but as a summary think it’s a successful sequel but one not without some bumps in the road.


 

Lego Marvel’s Avengers

 

Picked something light after TLOU2. It’s a Lego game, with all the positives that brings. However, felt a bit stale in some levels, with some sloppiness and fussiness in design that hasn’t been as glaringly obvious in other Lego games.

 

Still a fun bit of escapism, but will be interested to see if the next Lego Star Wars is a bit more polished as a result of having been delayed.

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1. Resident Evil 7(XB1) 8/10

2. Batman Arkham Asylum(XB1) 7.5/10

3. Halo: CE Anniversary(XB1) 5/10

4. Life is Strange(XB1) 8/10

5. Luigi Mansion 3(Switch) 8/10

6. New Super Lucky’s Tale(Switch) 7/10

7. Catherine: Full Body(PS4) 8.5/10

8. Untitled Goose Game(Switch) 6/10   

9. Sleeping Dogs(PS4) 9/10

10. Doom 2016(PS4) 9/10

11. Peggle 2(PS4) 7/10

12. Spider-Man(PS4) 9/10

13. Crash Bandicoot(PS4) 7.5/10
14. Resident Evil 3 Remake(PS4) 8/10

15. Spyro the Dragon(PS4) 6.5/10

16. The Order 1886(PS4) 6.5/10

17. Resident Evil 2 Remake(PS4) 9.5/10
18. Sayonara Wild Hearts(PS4) 8/10

19. Resident Evil Revelations 2(PS4) 7/10
20. Donut County(PS4) 6.5/10

21. Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition(PS4) 8.5/10
22. Ratchet and Clank(PS4) 8/10
23. Crash Bandicoot 2(PS4) 6.5/10
24. Crash Bandicoot 3(PS4) 7/10

25. Dragon Quest XI S(Switch) 9/10

 

26. Super Mario Odyssey(Switch) - Decided to give this another play though before playing the Mario 3D Collection, loved it just as much as I did the first time, great fun and a joy to play. 9/10

 

27. Super Mario Galaxy(Switch) - I think this is not only my favourite Mario game but one of my favourite games of all time, loved every second of it and will be sad when I collect the final 16 stars and finish everything you can do, I hope Nintendo bring Super Mario Galaxy 2 to Switch next year now. 9.5/10

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Need For Speed: Payback

 

Get beyond the embarrassing characters and plot (it's a driving game for christsakes so I couldn't give a stuff about narrative) and at its core this is a splendid if derivative racer. I'd never have given this a look if it wasn't free on PSPlus but happily ploughed 37 joyful hours into it. If nothing it's made me take an interest in driving games again, a genre I've largely ignored for a decade.

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33. Final Fantasy VIII Remastered (Switch)

 

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I completed this when I was about thirteen but haven't played it since then, and I've forgotten how bloody weird it is.

 

Broken down into its constituent parts, there's a lot about it which could generously be described as not very good. The story starts off relatively straightforwardly, even if the underlying premise is somewhat questionable (children being brought up and trained as mercenaries by an avuncular headmaster in idyllic surroundings...), but then quickly descends into complete cobblers by the second disk before the ludicrous levels get notched up even further for the final act, in which you hop on a rocket for a short jaunt to the moon for some reason, before then travelling forward in time so you can visit a medieval castle and do battle with a heretofore unmentioned sorceress, who just so happens to be the game's true antagonist. I'll admit that I may have skimmed through some of the dialogue towards the end.

 

The infamous magic-junctioning battle system, a massive departure from the much more involved and compelling materia system from VII, is also entirely buggered and allows you to break the game pretty easily from quite early on. Indeed, by the time I was midway through the second disk I had already drawn a lot of high-level magic, junctioned it to my main party and from that point onwards was able to kill most regular enemies within seconds, most bosses in less than a minute, simply by holding down A and having my characters take it in turns to use their regular physical attacks. I literally didn't die once throughout the entire game, even while getting all of the hidden summons (none of which I ever used) and fighting the two optional challenge bosses.

 

The way the levels are designed is also really quite poor in places. Without the '!' and '?' pop-ups introduced in IX, it's often very unclear which parts of the pre-rendered backgrounds you can and can't interact with, or even where paths or doors from one screen to another can be found. This led to some frustrating backtracking and running around in circles while I figured out where exactly I needed to be standing in order to press A so I could proceed. Had it not been for the No Random Battles and Speed x3 QoL options that this remaster adds then I imagine these sections would have been enough for me to put this down and not come back to it.

 

However, through a combination of these added options and the largely frictionless experience the game presented, and also the nostalgia of certain in-game locations and events that I half remember from nearly twenty years ago, I did manage to see this through, and in less than 20 hours, too. I'm never going to play it again, and it's a difficult game to recommend for people who didn't play the original release, but in an odd sort of way I'm glad to have gone through it all again one last time, just like when I revisited the Switch port of VII last year. The PS1 Final Fantasies formed a big part of my adolescence and have had a huge impact on my interests, not only when it comes to gaming but media in general (it's because I loved them so much as a kid that I started reading fantasy novels, for instance), so I'm grateful of the chance to revisit them, even if time hasn't treated them all that well. This is the weakest of the three, and you can definitely see how the devs attempted to make it markedly different from its predecessor, but if you played it back in 1999 and haven't touched it since, it may be worth a revisit, if only for the kick-ass opening cutscene, anyway, which was the coolest thing ever when I was ten years old.

 

7/10

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Shadow Point (Quest)

 

A wonderful puzzle game that reminded me a lot of The Witness and Monument Valley but also has plenty of fresh and ingenious ideas of its own. The added bonus of a touching story, narrated by Patrick Stewart, make this a highlight on Quest which lacks story-based experiences. Be warned though, some of the later puzzles are truly mind-bending but you feel very smart when, and if, you work them out.

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23/10/2020 - Ember (PC)

 

A real-time with pause RPG set in a dull land with dull characters, dull loot and dull customisation.

 

It didn't have a lot going for it really, the story never really got going (you're resurrected because...well, you just are, I can't remember) and have to run around the admittedly quite pleasant looking world (it has an Ultima vibe to it) doing the standard run-of-the-mill quests. The problem is that loot is never much good and skills are tied to your equipment - and you can only have 3 at once. That, coupled with the lack of customisation (you can only add points to one of four stats, but there's no distinction between characters' power - put 20 points of strength in one person and 20 in intelligence in another and they'll both do exactly the same base damage) makes for a dull plod through the world.

 

The combat irks, too. You only directly control the main character with Diablo-esque clicking on the ground and once in combat this still holds true - but for the other 2 people in your party you have to drag lines from their bodies to an enemy to direct their attack - but misclick and instead it'll send the player character there instead. It's clumsy and can be frustrating. Even when it works, it's incredibly basic. As noted, with limited skills (none of which do big damage) you just let the AI handle it and occasionally move a character to avoid an AOE or click a skill. The sound design is poor, so there's no feeling of power in strikes, either, so it ultimately feels very hollow.

 

Being so basic, it means it far outstays its welcome and is happy to send you all around the land for arbitrary reasons. With limited fast travel and a need to constantly click on the ground (why the devs didn't implement click and hold as a movement option I don't know), even getting from A to B is painful.

 

I did eventually get to the end after about 20 pretty unenjoyable hours and was very happy to remove it from my Steam library.

 

You could say I poured water over these Embers.

 

(wi-fi)

 

Spoiler

13/10/2020 - Midas Gold Plus (PC)

30/09/2020 - Hellenica (PC)

23/09/2020 - One Night Stand (PC)

19/09/2020 - Blackguards 2 (PC)

16/09/2020 - Destiny 2 (PC)

02/09/2020 - Combatribes (Arcade)

18/08/2020 - South Park: The Stick of Truth (PC)

16/08/2020 - Marvel's Avengers Beta (PC)

15/08/2020 - Deliver Us The Moon (PC)

06/08/2020 - Bombshell (PC)

01/08/2020 - World War Z (PC)

01/08/2020 - For Honor (PC)

30/07/2020 - Soda Dungeon 2 (PC)

17/07/2020 - Swords & Souls: Neverseen (PC)

05/07/2020 - Hellpoint: The Thespian Feast (PC)

04/07/2020 - A Short Hike (PC)

22/06/2020 - Late Shift (PC)

22/06/2020 - Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning (PC)

21/06/2020 - Final Fantasy XV (PC)

14/06/2020 - Bright Memory (PC)

11/06/2020 - A Normal Lost Phone (PC)

09/06/2020 - The Outer Worlds (PC)

07/06/2020 - Sin Slayers: The First Sin (PC)

26/05/2020 - Astrologlaster (PC)

25/05/2020 - Demon Stone (PC)

23/05/2020 - Stories Untold (PC)

03/05/2020 - Streets of Rage 4 (PC)

29/04/2020 - Inside (PC)

21/04/2020 - Call of Duty WW2 (PC)

19/04/2020 - Wheels of Aurelia (PC)

15/04/2020 - Sword Omen: Legacy (PC)

02/04/2020 - Mother Russia Bleeds (PC)

29/03/2020 - Operencia - The Stolen Sun (PC)

20/02/2020 - Ruzar: The Life Stone (PC)

20/02/2020 - Alder's Blood: Prologue (PC)

17/02/2020 - Universal Paperclips (PC)

15/02/2020 - Gris (PC)

21/01/2020 - Gears of War 5 (Xbox One X)

19/01/2020 - Diablo 3 - Reaper of Souls (Xbox One X)

05/01/2020 - Night Call (PC)

02/01/2020 - Remember Me (PC)

 

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Spoiler

 

1. Star Wars: Jedi: Fallen Order (XB1) 7.5/10

2. Jurassic World Evolution (XB1) 7/10

3. No Man's Sky (XB1) 8/10

4. Brothers: a Tale of Two Sons (XB1 - Game Pass) 8/10

5. The Last of Us: Remastered (PS4) 8.5/10

6. The Last of Us: Left Behind (PS4) 8.5/10

7. Overcooked 2 (XB1) 7.5/10

8. Journey (PS4) 8/10

9. Untitled Goose Game (XB1 - Game Pass) 6.5/10

10. Horizon: Zero Dawn (PS4) 8/10

11. Streets of Rage 4 (XB1) 8/10

12. Mortal Kombat X (XB1 - Game Pass) 7.5/10

13. Spider-Man (PS4) 10/10

14. Moving Out (XB1 - Game Pass) 6.5/10

15. Marvel v Capcom: Infinite (XB1 - Game Pass) 6/10

16. Doom (2016) (XB1) 8.5/10

17. Carrion (XB1 - Game Pass) 7/10

18. Gears of War 4 (XB1 - Game Pass) 8/10

19. Borderlands - GOTY Edition (XB1) 7/10

 

 

20. God of War (PS4)

 

I felt like I had to play 3 of the 'big' PS4 exclusives this year - Horizon, Spider-Man and God of War.

 

I have loved all of them - worth the hours and hours of exploration, crafting, combat etc. 

 

I'm pleased that GoW is notably different to the other 2. It's incredibly well polished, looking and sounding as good as anything I've played on this generation. 

 

What surprised me most - in a good way - is the story and the characters here, particularly Kratos and Atreus and the relationship between the two. It's not easy to forget about the 2 dimensional lead role of the PS2/PS3 games but here, he's infinitely better and it helps the journey massively - I felt like there was something worthwhile from the very beginning here, aside from 'slay anything that moves'.

 

Combat is fun, if a little too nerfed at the beginning which requires a very steep learning curve but as you collect upgrades etc, the strategies you incorporate means it's a lot more than a button mashing hack and slash.

 

Although I have completed the campaign mode, I've not quite finished with GoW yet because I want to play more side quests and collect more items. Purely because it's just great fun. One of the most fun games I've played this year.

 

Tremendous.

 

9.5/10

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