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What games did you complete? 2021 Edition


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04/05 - Picross S 5

 

Another fix of the world's most addictive substance has cleared it's way out of my system. I'm kinda glad as I could do with a brea...

 

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Damn.

 

Spoiler

01/01 - Assassin's Creed: Valhalla

15/01 - Immortals: Fenyx Rising

22/01 - Uncharted 4: A Thief's End

27/01 - Yooka-Laylee: The Impossible Lair

19/02 - Cyberpunk 2077

06/03 - Final Fantasy 14 ARR Quests

21/03 - Final Fantasy 12 Zodiac Age

31/03 - Batman: Arkham Knight

06/04 - Sam & Max Save the World

13/04 - Avengers: A-Day

 

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So far:

 

Spoiler

 

1. Alba (Apple Arcade)
2. Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity (Switch)
3. My Friend Pedro (Switch)
4. Don't Look Back (iOS)
5. Bowser's Fury [Story] (Switch)
6. Super Ghouls 'n' Ghosts (SNES/Switch)

7. Yoku's Island Express (Switch)
8. Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Museum Collection Complete(Switch)
9. Donut County (Xbox Game Pass)

10. The Medium (XSX, Game Pass)
11. GTA V (XSX)

12. Monument Valley – Ida's Dream (iOS)

13. Gears 5 (XSX, Game Pass)

 


14. Resident Evil 7 (XSX, Game Pass)

If not for Game pass, I’d have probably never played this. I stuck it on Easy mode and that was stressful enough, but found the challenge acceptable without being frustrating. The game itself is excellent, creepy and with enough gross-out and jump scare moments to keep you feeling uneasy throughout. I’m even tempted to buy Village now. Highly recommended.

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Final Fantasy VII Remake (2020)


This was absolutely brilliant. It’s the first modern RPG with a real-time (rather than turn-based) battle system I’ve really clicked with and it’s a belter. As well as the usual staples, it also introduces the concept of staggering enemies - pelt them with attacks that hit their weakness to fill the stagger gauge, then wail on them for maximum damage while they’re staggered. Dodging, blocking and running around the arena are also necessary if you want to win out and, despite a few complaints, it’s a wonderfully fun game. 
 

It looks the business too - best looking PS4 game, right up there with Last of Us Part 2. The level of detail in character faces is astonishing. The life behind their eyes is vivid, it’s a template for all others to follow. 
 

It has lots of fan service and nostalgia, mixed up in fun ways for fans to appreciate. Probably a bit too much questing, of which I’m not a fan, but that aside, I couldn’t recommend this any higher. 

 

Spoiler

 

09/01/2021 - Bloodborne

10/01/2021 - Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

10/01/2021 - Halo 2: Anniversary

13/01/2021 - Little Nightmares

26/01/2021 - Donut County

27/01/2021 - Astro’s Playroom

06/02/2021 - The Medium

13/02/2021 - Paper Mario: The Origami King

21/02/2021 - Spider-Man: Miles Morales

28/02/2021 - Super Mario 3D World: Bowser's Fury

03/04/2021 - Dark Souls Remastered
03/04/2021 - Halo 3

15/04/2021 - Yakuza 0

08/05/2021 - Final Fantasy VII Remake

 

 

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Gravel

This is an weird little mid-tier off-road driving game. I had never heard of it before it appeared in the weekly Xbox sales, but I took a punt on it for about 7 quid, hoping it would scratch a Sega Rally itch. It kinda did, but it lacks a bit of the arcade fun factor of that title.

It started off badly, with naff presentation (those posing "celebrity" rival drivers!) and too many big-trucks-in-mucky-stadiums races early on, which are just too slow and cumbersome to be much fun.

However, after you get to drive some speedier vehicles in some proper off-road environments (some of which look pretty darn good), it improves. And after I switched off the terrible announcer, the awful music and all the driving "assists" (which only serve to make it a more sterile experience), I enjoyed it a bit more. Also, it benefited greatly from a mid-game XB1->XSX 4k60 upgrade.

It gets extra kudos from me for being a simple racing game with no extraneous team/sponsorship/garage/social-media/balance-your-career-with-your-relationship bollocks to deal with. In the end, I quite enjoyed it. 7/10

 

Spoiler

01/01/2021 - Syberia

07/01/2021 - Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince

11/01/2021 - Fe

13/01/2021 - The Touryst

19/01/2021 - The Gardens Between

22/01/2021 - Donut County

22/01/2021 - Virginia

23/01/2021 - The Witness

08/02/2021 - Trials Fusion

22/02/2021 - Streets Of Rage 4

14/03/2021 - Death Squared

08/04/2021 - The Medium

19/04/2021 - Control: Ultimate Edition

30/04/2021 - New Super Lucky's Tale

01/05/2021 - Kameo: Elements Of Power

08/05/2021 - Gravel

 

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Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii)

 

Well, that only took 11 years.  I'm trying to go back and finish the games that I got some way in but didn't see through for whatever reason.  I've always loved Mario, but I just didn't get on with Galaxy 1/2.  I do hate motion controls, but I don't know if it's that or the constantly jumping between planets.  Some of the levels were great, and others I found it tricky to line up jumps and things, so I found it a bit of a slog, but good to get through finally.  I've somehow got Skyward Sword untouched on the Wii, so I should really get to that one next.... but like most of you, I'm sure, there's a massive backlog on various platforms at all times, so I'll see what I'm in the mood for next.

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02/05/2021 - Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms (PC)

 

I've completed this in the sense that, after 50-odd hours of wasting my life I'm calling time on it.

 

What we have here is not, as the title would suggest, an idle game, but a really, really boring and pointless time sink, with no redeeming features (unless you really geek out on D&D stuff, I guess?)

 

Whilst, in theory, it should be an idle clicker, in reality it is nowhere near because of the frequent housekeeping you need to do in order to see any progress, which is by far the worst I've experienced in any of the other idle games I've played. The problem here is that, unlike normal clickers - where a reset of your progress earns you bonuses to the effect that, post-reset, you can get back to where you were before in about 10 minutes - the only way to make further progress is through the powering-up of your heroes - which means you have to actively manage that, else they hit a wall very quickly and your progress comes to a stop. Sure, you'll still be earning the various universal currencies that bestow bonuses, but it's at such a slow rate as to be useless if you wanted to make it any further. Not that there's anything to see, mind, just different heroes to access (so: no point then.)

 

In truth, I only re-installed this after a very, very long break because of the Epic giveaway and, I won't lie, for a few hours I felt quite invested in the little scenarios, but then I came to my senses. I should also point out that I hadn't meticulously been playing for those 50 hours - a vast majority of that was the aforementioned wall being hit against, to little benefit.


Anyway, this is rubbish, even with free stuff thrown at you.

 

09/05/2021 - The Medium (PC)

 

More pap with this one, too.

 

If I wanted to play something with skittish controls that lack any kind of precision, fixed camera angles, insta-fail "stealth" and "escape" sections and non-sensical puzzles I'd emulate a PS1 and pick something on there. This was rubbish and had it not been part of the new console cycle I doubt anybody would even have heard about it.

 

The gimmick is of course the rendering of two worlds at once - the material and spiritual - but this serves no interesting purpose, offers no gameplay hook and just gives you a performance hit. Of course there are some puzzles that necessitate flipping between the two planes of existence, but it feels rather arbitrary and had it all been handled in the 'real' world I don't think the game would've been much different.

 

The plot is also hackneyed and whilst at the start it tells you it deals with adult themes, it doesn't really deal with anything and just seems quite generic and familiar, whilst at the same time feeling quite...immature? That's not really the right word, but I didn't get a lot of nuance or subtlety from the script. There's certainly nothing clever going on here and I'm not even sure it even makes any sense (even within the logic of the world it operates in).

 

It has nice sounding rain in it though, and I do like rain in games, so that's a plus.

 

I hope they at least got a decent chunk of money from MS for putting it on Game Pass.

 

Previously completed:

Spoiler

01/05/2021 - Shadows: Awakening (PC)

21/04/2021 - Rain on Your Parade (PC)

20/04/2021 - Wasteland 2 (PC)

04/04/2021 - Secret World Legends (PC)

02/04/2021 - She Sees Red (PC)

27/03/2021 - Greedfall (PC)

26/03/2021 - Freedom Fighters (PC)

10/03/2021 - Breath of Death VII (PC)

05/03/2021 - Dungeons & Lesbians (PC)

04/03/2021 - Quantum Break (PC)

26/02/2021 - Marvel Avengers (PC)

20/02/2021 - Life is Strange (PC)

02/02/2021 - P.O.W. (Arcade)

28/01/2021 - Devil's Hunt (PC)

24/01/2021 - A Mortician's Tale (PC)

19/01/2021 - The Touryst (PC)

19/01/2021 - Druidstone: The Secret of the Menhir Forrest (PC)

15/01/2021 - A New Life (PC)

05/01/2021 - Vostok Inc. (PC)

02/01/2021 - Call to the Sea (PC)

01/01/2021 - Suikoden (PS1)

 

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On 30/04/2021 at 08:54, Pelekophoros said:

3/01: Night Slashers (Arcade)

13/02: Ghosts Of Tsushima (PS5)

20/02: Kitty Letter (Android)

21/02: Concrete Genie (PS5)

04/03: Maquette (PS5)

03/04: 198X (PS5)

07/04: Moonwalker (Arcade)

27/04: Apex Legends Season 8 (PS5)

29/04: Call Of Duty: Black Ops: Cold War (PS5)

08/05: Star Wars: Jedi: Fallen Order (PS5)

 

Dialled it back to easy, still average. The developers seemed as bored as I was by the second half.

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09/05/2021 - Devolverland Expo (PC)

 

Despite this being a series of interactive adverts (none of which were for games I'm even interested in), I enjoyed this more than a few of the other games on my completion list - certainly more than The Medium, at any rate!

 

I enjoyed the feeling of walking around the event hall and the layouts of the booths (Serious Sam 4 and Shadow Warrior 3 being the standouts) and I liked that there was no real challenge or pressure (the guards don't really exist as much of a threat). Honestly, I'd prefer this type of experience than watching a trailer on YouTube - E3 take note!

 

Previously completed:

Spoiler

09/05/2021 - The Medium (PC)

02/05/2021 - Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms (PC)

01/05/2021 - Shadows: Awakening (PC)

21/04/2021 - Rain on Your Parade (PC)

20/04/2021 - Wasteland 2 (PC)

04/04/2021 - Secret World Legends (PC)

02/04/2021 - She Sees Red (PC)

27/03/2021 - Greedfall (PC)

26/03/2021 - Freedom Fighters (PC)

10/03/2021 - Breath of Death VII (PC)

05/03/2021 - Dungeons & Lesbians (PC)

04/03/2021 - Quantum Break (PC)

26/02/2021 - Marvel Avengers (PC)

20/02/2021 - Life is Strange (PC)

02/02/2021 - P.O.W. (Arcade)

28/01/2021 - Devil's Hunt (PC)

24/01/2021 - A Mortician's Tale (PC)

19/01/2021 - The Touryst (PC)

19/01/2021 - Druidstone: The Secret of the Menhir Forrest (PC)

15/01/2021 - A New Life (PC)

05/01/2021 - Vostok Inc. (PC)

02/01/2021 - Call to the Sea (PC)

01/01/2021 - Suikoden (PS1)

 

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New Super Mario Bros Wii (Wii)

 

Continuing the Mario on Wii theme from last night, I realised I hadn't finished New Super Mario Bros Wii.  My daughter and I had played it years ago and actually got up to the last level, but at that point, and many parts leading up to that it was much harder to play with multiple characters on the screen.  The last level was a bit frustrating, I spent about 40 minutes messing up and kicking myself until I managed to finally finish it.  The overall game was a pretty nice 2D Mario, but the big gimmick it sold itself on (albeit in 2009) about having a multiplayer Mario experience, I felt, was the worst part of the game.

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April

 

7. Resonance of Fate (PS3) 24/04/2021

 

Before I finish the next thing on my list, I thought I'd write up this to avoid a backlog, and this being Resonance of Fate, an RPG published by Sega and made by Tri-Ace. I've been on a PS3 kick for a bit now and got this a few months back knowing next to nothing about it whatsoever other than vaguely recollecting its title. I was surprised to find that the makers of Star Ocean were actually behind this, however it's actually incredibly different from that in just about every aspect. In fact I've come to learn that generally it's regarded as quite a unique RPG in its own right and people either get it or they don't. The main difference is how the battle system operates among other things which I'll get onto later. 

 

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RoF features two guys and a gal operating to form the core of a team right from the off. There's a brief introduction showing the girl (Leanne) attempting to commit suicide a couple of years prior, but being saved by Zephyr, another team member, however once it's over you are pretty much left to explore and have full control of abilities right from the off. This also makes it a steep learning curve to work out how to battle and while I was wandering the map world I ended up landing my first random battle which led to mighty confusion and ultimately a game over screen not having the foggiest about what to actually do. Fortunately there's an arena nearby and a listed tutorial showing you how to battle properly. Sadly this is quite long and it can take a while to go through, not to mention it's not explained too well so can take a bit of perseverance to get your head around. This is one of the aspects that has put people off, but once you get the basics, the rest follows and it really is an excellent and enjoyable system that's so different from any other RPG I've played to date. Guns are the main fighting force (along with grenades and molotovs) and it works by controlling each player at a time and setting up a shot either directly at an enemy or allowing the character to go into a mode where you'll run in a straight line and blast while running or jumping and shooting. Depending on the weapon, you deal either normal damage which tends to take off very little or "scratch damage" which isn't real damage, but if real damage touches a scratch damaged person, then they lose it all instantly. It's a bit like working with a shield but is weapon dependent. There are a bunch of other tricks to get your head around and dealing with shields surrounding the enemies is another important aspect. It's also got less to do with Hit Points as it has to do with losing bezels, each of which have 1000 points of scratch damage. Once all the bezels get damaged then you're on your last legs with HP damage and this is where things really do get hugely disadvantaged and leave you open. Ultimately there's a lot to think about tactically while undertaking a battle, but with a fluid action orientated feel that keeps it moving without feeling like a TRPG. 

 

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The world is set up a huge tower run entirely by clockwork, but rather than being inside a tower, there are a series of outer platforms connected above and below one another almost like leaves on a vine with elevators running between each platform. The higher the platform, the closer to royalty and therefore wealth and affluence the area is, while trundling to the depths much lower down reveal hostile areas with broken, run down and dirty places with the poor taking up residence there. The towns (of which there arent a great deal of) actually look really nice and have that Final Fantasy 7, 8 and 9 look and about them with lots of detail made to the environments where you'll see all sorts of mechanisms made of cogs turning and alive. Outside of these however, it's not quite as impressive. There are dungeon areas and generally the spots where the fighting takes place and they look rather dull and more like a step down in generation in comparison, featuring very bland and basic 3D looking areas. What's more is that a dungeon is made up of a series of connecting blocks (or hexagons to be more accurate) which act as rooms where each one has a fight inside. It's not about exploring but more about fighting and fighting and yeah you get the point. It feels manufactured for the sake of the game rather than an organic flowing environment urging you to look around, take in the sights and explore. On top of this is the main map which isn't like most RPG's and looks like a board game with a marker on top of a board of hexagons. You are blocked by filled in hexagons at first, but get hold of tetris-a-like pieces which can remove the blockages, uncover pathways to progress and reveal hidden items while you do. There's more to this part of the game too but I'll not go into it too much. You also find yourself going backwards and forwards all the time, expecially if you attempt to do all the side missions, and each time you'll find that talking to the same people dotted around will reveal new information during each new chapter of the game. It's cool but did make the whole thing feel repetitive, and I didn't quite feel like I was exploring a huge world but rather a small section of a structure spread across 12 or so floors. I was yearning to leave the entire place and end up on some planet at the bottom but that never happens. 

 

The story is one of the things that grew to annoy me more and more as it progressed, and it's largely down to the lack of direction. For a very very long time you get very little information on the main plot aside from brief cutscenes at the beginnings of chapters and ends which for the most part can be very confusing as they are so detached from what you'll be doing, especially as almost all the missions tend to have nothing to do with the main story. It's also purposely cryptic and I read the Western release has some cruicial cutscene information removed about one of the characters. I spent literally about 115 hours on my play through, way longer than I expected but tbf I've done this many many times before on lots of other RPG's. As time went on, I just lost interest in the story and had only half an idea of what was going on at the best of times. Japanese games love to do this sort of thing but I feel it was far too loose and disconnected leading me to just end the game with more confusion than when I began it. I wanted to like it as it does have some interesting ideas. After reading up the main thread on here about RoF, I've seen something about there being 10 difficulties but I don't fancy playing it ever again I don't think. In some ways I felt this way when playing Bravely Default, as there were things I hated about it but at the same time I really liked it. I have to also point out the clothing options which are purely aesthetic, and while not usually the sort of thing I'd be into, the designs of clothing in here are really really good. They look more like actual real fashion and not some pseudo-RPG-centric outfits. 

 

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Overall it is a decent game if you can get into the battle system, then you'll have fun and I can say that it does have a lot of depth to it which make you think first before blindly running into a battle. Some battles are a bloodbath unless you use the right approach which quite often makes a battle go from insanely difficult to super easy once you know the correct exploit. 

 

I'm going to settle on a 7.5 for this. 

 

Previously completed... 

 

 

Spoiler

 

January

 

1. - Summoner 2 (PS2) 15/01/2021

 

I really fell off this thread last year for the first time since I started recording my completions and part of it was due to building up a back log of text I needed to write but ultimately couldn't face. Therefore I've started afresh for the new year. At some stage last year I decided to go back and return to my PS3 for a few titles and that then led me to go back further and start buying for and resurrecting my original PS2 again. I've been through Siren which was strange, extremely slow paced but fascinating and Drakengard 2 and more recently, Summoner 2. 

 

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Some years back around 7 or so I played the first PS2 RPG Summoner game and while it was clearly dated, I did really enjoy it, and now I've had chance to take a stab at what the 2002 sequel has to offer. Overall it's pretty good once you get past the fact it's from 2002 and evidently quite dated and jankey. There are definitely improvements over the first game graphically as it feels as though there's much more variation in locations and more vibrant colours and better looking environments. One of the biggest changes though is the action which presents itself as a straight up action RPG. The original game from what I vaguely remember was more of an automated battle system where your characters would engage in battle but there was a system which allowed you to chain together multiple successful hits by timing presses. You'd physically walk but not attack in the same way as you do in the sequel which is straight up typical action orientated, allowing you to strike enemies with equipped weapons, use items and scrolls and various types of magic abilities. I did quite like this change and it pauses the game while you are in selection mode for whatever item or magic you are choosing to use. This adds an element of strategy. There are a bunch of characters that quickly get involved in the storyline and usually you'll have up to 4 on the go at one time whilst having several reserve characters in the wait. 

 

I'd say there's definitely quite a bit of challenge going on as it wasn't a breeze to get through, but there's a particular way it has been made that can really land you into trouble if you aren't prepared properly and happens a lot. Generally the game, while open to visit areas you've previously been is quite linear. In many cases once you start the next section of the main story, you're often prevented from going back until the whole segment is complete and this can vary as to how long you'll be unable to do things like shop for items or change characters. It allows you to save at any time apart from when there are enemies around and this can be dangerous as you'll end up saving but then realising you can't turn back to better prepare unless you've got a second recent save. This is made worse when it decides to split you up sometimes even solo or have you cycle through small teams making you utilize character who may be unprepared. Sometimes it auto assigns roles but others you get to choose and if you make the wrong choice I can see this leading to problems. There was a bit near the end where the main character has to leave and I was left with two characters who couldn't use any support magic including healing. Luckily I had heal items, except within moments of tackling some fairly difficult enemies, you end up in a scripted fall scene and suddenly it tells you all of your magic potions and health potions have broken, literally ALL of them so you have nothing. Fortunately one of my characters had a weapon equipped which caused 20% instant death (luckily) and it worked on the enemies I was fighting at the time. I think I'd have massively struggled if I didn't have that. One of my characters during the second to final boss was constantly healing the enemy just by fighting and I had to keep him dead in order to get by. It just felt like the sort of thing generally that wouldn't wash these days, but getting by felt good. 

 

It contains a lot of lore and things you can read and there are some references to the first Summoner game including one of the characters being from the old game, albeit the one I kept dead at the end as he was trying my patience. The cinematics are pretty good such as the opening sequence and the final showdown is great, although I wasn't too sure about the sudden twists in characters you fight at the end as they make a sudden entry into the action very unexpectedly and don't feel as though they are integrated well, especially the last boss character who is barely mentioned in the game at all and so has no real connection and impact. Still it's a pretty decent game with a lot of quirky sidequests, many of which I've not fulfilled but can often almost feel like a point and click in the way you try to suss them out with very little hand holding, but often you'll feel really great when figuring out something unexpectedly. 

 

It's not an overly long game at I'd say probably around 40-45 hours, but still enough to get involved. There are some really quirky moments like the city of masks which has you changing what mask you wear in order to speak to specific people in a strange world beyond. I'd probably have not bothered with this game except of my curiosity since having played the first and knowing it's also the last in the series, however I'm not quite sure which of the two games I prefer. I had really fond memories of the first and pretty sure that one lasted a bit longer. The more I got into it, the further away it felt from the first, but I liked how the first started from the perspective of a guy who had nothing compared to how you're a queen who has a lot of allies and power at her disposal. It felt like it could have been longer in some ways too where as I felt it was about right in the first game. They aren't the sorts of RPG I usually tend to go for as I'm more of a JRPG person when it comes to RPG's as a whole, but it's pretty good.

 

I think I'll give it a 7/10. 

 

February 

 

2. - Forbidden Siren 2 (PS2) 02/02/2021

 

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I've started creating a backlog of completed games to write up so I've got a few, but the main game I finished a few weeks ago was the PS2 game (on the console itself) Siren 2. In fact I'll talk a bit about both Siren 1 & 2 because I went through that later on last year but never updated the thread. 


Siren is quite an obscure, in fact very obscure and forward thinking survival horror title that's mostly forgotten about or unknown generally, however is in some respects an amazing series, but at the same time super frustrating. Interestingly it was created by one of the original guys behind Silent Hill 1 and is very obvious once you start playing as the general atmosphere, designs and even some of the enemies (such as the nurse in 1) are all reminiscent of that title. The difference here though is that they have added a lot of innovation and abstract thinking when it comes to game play and really tried to make something different. In some ways it's good but definitely won't appeal to many unless you're quite a hardcore survival horror fan of the older stuff. Siren 2 also only ever got localised in Europe and didn't make it to the US so it's quite rare really. 


The general way both games work is that you play out a series of individual stages which represent a part of the bigger story, although they are always played out of order and regularly switch between different characters each doing their own thing but merging towards a common aspect to the overall story where often they pair up with one another. Sometimes you'll be on your own and other times with a second character guiding them along a dangerously cautious path. It's very hard to get your head around even after completion but there's a village in 1 and an island in 2 which both end up suffering from some mysterious goings on where the cast of characters get dragged into and end up between worlds just like in Silent Hill with there being a dark and sinister world. There's even a warning "siren" sound just like can be heard in Silent Hill (from what I vaguely remember). The game play involves a really interesting concept where you "sight jack" into other people's vision including enemies and see their point of view as you stealthily attempt to make your way past them or take them on at the right time. It's really well done and adds a massive fear factor which genuinely comes across extremely effectively, but the biggest problem is that general movement and actions in the first game are extremely slow. Factor in the fact you mostly have to restart the whole mission if you die or you're spotted by a rifelman and shot dead instantly. Fortunately, the sequel manages to improve on a lot of things as there are many issues that let the game down but I still really enjoyed the first a lot. One thing for sure though is that it takes a huge amount of patience to get through especially if you aren't using any guides which is pretty much what I did. 


Both games have very similar styles of game play with very similar menu navigation and level select methods, but it took me forever to figure out how everything properly worked in the first game. There's far too little to aid you in that one and it's led to me playing levels and being stuck for a couple of hours only to realise there is no solution available until a condition is met on a different stage first. The sequel never allows you to fall into this trap and purposely goes out of its way to give you more guidance and hints. Not only are you playing lots of stages out of sequence and jumping between characters, but each stage also has a parallel alternative mission which differs a little from the first run through as though something new happened in the story which didn't occur the first time round and can only be activated by carrying out a specific task on another level. Essentially there's a lot that really hadn't been properly thought about in Siren 1 and it makes the game much more of a chore and a headache as a result. 


Another massively frustrating thing about Siren 1 is that when you die, if you happen to have found any collectibles, you lose them all and have to find these again. What's more annoying is that say you reach a checkpoint, if you start the checkpoint, you can restart it but will still be missing those items. This comes across like bad design more than anything else and all of this was fixed in the sequel fortunately.I have to point out that from what I've heard online, it's known as one of the hardest survival horror games out there. Siren 2 is definitely easier but still can be tricky but the first one is ridiculously frustrating and will require lots and lots of attempts like a dark souls game until you really get to know the level and what's going on. I love though how every character is different and control different, has their own weapon or no weapon at all. The rifle on Siren 1 is ridiculously bad to control, like the worst I've ever known for a sniper style sight shot because of the speed and lack of finesse of control. They fix this a great deal with Siren 2. 

 

I have to point out the really unique character model aesthetic design choice to go with modelling real japanese faces onto characters. It can often look goofy and hilarious but also often it really works well, especially in Siren 2 and the fact their faces are animated smoothly, makes it look very real and radiates that emotion perfectly, you know that emotion technology they always talked about (whatever that was) well this is better. There are some brilliant moments that will leave you in tears of laughter. The voices in the first are an odd mix of English over Japanese characters and it does feel out of place, but the sequel has Japanese voice actors who try to do the English in some odd accents. 


Despite the negatives, I was absolutely fascinated by them both and really got sucked into them and the atmosphere. There are several endings and each can be found by just trying to complete all the missions for each stage. It was really odd when I got the first ending the first time though (in Siren 1) because I'd just finished a stage with an 8 year old girl hiding and trying to escape somewhere, only to suddenly be greeted by a cutscene which had nothing to do with her at all and instead a bunch of other characters who played out a scene I'd not even known about so had no idea what was going on. Only by playing other levels afterwards did things start to slot together. It really messes with your head the whole time. I got every ending in the first game but the second one was a massive kick in the balls as I'd just finished the first ending with a few more sections to work on and the save file suddenly corrupted not to long after. These are long games and I must have spent about 50-60 hours on the first one alone. I've ordered another PS2 memory card anyway but it's a shame as I don't think I can be bothered to go through it all again, still I got credits rolling. 


Siren is definitely not going to be for the majority so I probably wouldn't advise playing it, but it's one I'm not going to forget at all and really think it's brilliant. The enemy designs of 2 are really mental and there's a secret made up mini game you find on a fictitious console from 1982 called Kunitoris. I haven't played Deadly Premonition, but I can imagine this being somewhat similar in the way it's portrayed (from what I understand it) as a genius mess. You just never know what to expect as you make progress and it will often pull some really crazy stuff out of the bag. Siren also came out on the PS3 and this is supposed to be a complete remake of the first game. I'll definitely have to check that one out one day but I'm going to leave the series for a while. I'd just bought the first two together from someone on here which is why I played them both. I wonder if we'll ever see a return to the world again in the future?
 

Siren 2 - I'll give it an 8.5 out of 10. 

 

 

3. Celeste (PS4) - Farewell DLC 10/02/2021

 

This is another I've finally managed to get back to and finish off after deciding to take a break for a long while as it's so intense and far more difficult than the main game. Just to get proper access to the DLC you are required to do all the b-sides and collect all the hearts from every chapter prior to it, and that's not easy to do at all. I know it's possible to change the difficulty by tweaking settings but I was very reluctant to do so and in the end refrained completely. I thought I was actually quite close to the end having got through a huge chunk of Farewell but it still took me another 20 hours or so to do the last few sub chapters/verses of the DLC. Trying to get good with wave dashing is highly difficult but eventually I think I got the hang of it. There were many bits where it was easy to mess up the direction of the dashes with the d-pad whilst trying to do multiple sections in a single succession as my thumb would slip slightly. I also found that the best way to deal with the feathers was to switch from d-pad to analogue stick and then back again when out of it and that's something you end up doing a few times over the course of Farewell. 

 

What I love overall is that despite the bar seemingly raising and it being a super difficult game that gets harder and harder, I was always able to get by and nothing felt unfair. It was designed with absolute perfection and I loved how it often has you pondering how on earth to make progress only for persistence to pay off when I'd realise there was something critical I wasn't doing initially. It has a simple set of controls but there are many very subtle things that are really important to pick up on such as how a spring board will give you a jump back. The DLC also introduces quite a few new interactive elements which take a bit of getting use to but once you do then it all seems to fit into place. 

 

I can't stress though this was one extremely difficult challenge and far more intense than the main game but it amazes me how persistence paid off and I could feel myself getting better and better. In the end it took me about 93 hours to get to this point and I had around 20.8k deaths with almost half of them in the DLC alone. Farewell was something like 37 hours for me and it amazes me how there are runs that take it down under an hour; one I've seen within about 18 minutes with outrageous twitch speed play style. 

 

My main goal with Celeste was to get the DLC done and that's achieved now so I can feel it's done, however I still have the C-Sides to do and have managed to do the first two areas so far. I got 5 strawberries from Chapter 8 to get too but I have the rest. As for the golden berries, that's not even something I consider part of the main game. It's like an insanity mode for speed runner experts. I only found out recently that there's literally another area that appears if you manage to get through the entire DLC without dying and it supposedly starts you back at the beginning of the DLC on death. It's like that trophy on the Megaman 9 or whatever where you had to finish the game without taking a single hit. 

 

Overall though, Celeste was pretty much my Game of "my" Year in 2020 and sits in a special place. 

 

10/10

 

4. Limbo (PS4) 14/02/2021

 

After all the hectic stress of getting through Celeste DLC I wanted to play something very different in tone and Limbo is the perfect game to relax to with its slower pace and artsy yet moody picturesque visuals and theme. This one's getting pretty old now but one I always liked the look of back when I first got my PS3 and in fact it was released before I even got one of those. Limbo takes me back to when I first noticed the surge of indie titles sweeping in amongst the consoles, along with a few other well known ones around the time such as Braid and Fez. Well received and well loved from what I'd seen and it always sat there in the back of my mind that one day I aught to check this one out. That never really materialised until I decided to fire up my PS4 for the first time in quite a while and (aside from finish Celeste) browse through the store. I'm not one for buying digital much but I was looking for a cheap sale and this came up at a very modest price of just £2 which sealed the deal for me quite quickly. 

 

The game itself is nice; I'm not going to say it's the best game ever and should be a 9 or a 10 even though it's highly appreciated by many, simply because I enjoyed it but it's just not long enough for me personally and I didn't find myself attached enough unlike Celeste which was such a different experience and left far more impact. It didn't take long at all, maybe 4 hours and I have no desire to return to it again either, however it is amazingly nice looking and holds up amazingly well considering its age. I can see why it really must have made an impact back when it was new but these days there are so many mesmerising artistic experiences out there to compare it to. It does do a really good job of setting up an atmosphere and the silhouette black and white noire style feels, make it fathom something that belongs from a 30's dracula esque style era in some ways, giving it a strong sense of identity. The blends between layers and blurry out of focus elements work brilliantly like you're playing through a microscope at times. There is a deep moody loneliness filled with immediate dangers around each corner or rather screen, and what I love about this is that each experience is different. It never repeats the same thing over and over but rather attempts to switch things up continually to keep it interesting and envelops a sense of wonder as you carefully tread forward ever wary of the next trap, no idea what to expect.

 

Featuring numerous puzzles, this physics based game really impressed me as to how organic and natural it handles when being put into motion as you drag, push and pull or swing on things. There's a lot of subtle attention to detail and often I found myself in situations were I'd momentarily be scratching my head only to suddenly realise what the genius solution actually was in order to get up to an impassable platform. I wouldn't say that these puzzles are particularly difficult overall though but there's a little bit of a challenge here and there. It didn't take long to get by though each time I'd arrive at a new dead end but if I was to say what this game reminded me of loosely, it would be Another World but I enjoyed that one more than this and only played it for the first time in recently years. 

 

Once you arrive at the end it gives you the option to replay again and hides a number of cleverly hidden eggs (many of which I missed) but I don't think I'm going to bother as I wasn't invested enough and just wanted to play something to bridge a gap. For that purpose though this is the perfect game and at a price that couldn't be scoffed at whatsoever. 

 

It's a very nice game and can see why it appeals to many, for me personally though I'm going to give it a respectable 8. I'm sure many have already played this one. If you are into your short games and want something relaxing, historically renowned amongst modern indie puzzle platformers, not too intense, visually appealing and less than 4 hours long then this is for you.

 

5. Ziggurat (PS4) [2014]

 

I've got a couple of completed games I've been meaning to add but putting it off and as I'm now approaching the end of a new one, decided it would be best to get these up on here now. Back in Feb I downloaded Limbo and Ziggurat from the PSN Store, while already familiar with Limbo but not with Ziggurat thought I'd take a punt especially as it was quite literally about 79p. Turns out it's well worth checking out and has a lot of replayability. Ziggurat has been around since 2014 and plays very much like Hexen but exists as a rogue-like. That is to say that it's a oldskool fast paced FPS style game in a modern engine (Unity), where you can choose from numerous characters to play as and try to get past 5 stages with 5 bosses where a death spells the end of the game requiring a restart.

 

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In true RL fashion, the dungeon crawl style layouts always randomly generate with many different weapons and abilities becoming available every restart. You pick up cards which give you an option of choosing one of 2 or more which enhance various abilities such as faster attack speed, or being given the location of a hidden room on the map, sacrificing weapons to gain another random set and loads of others. The more you play, the more types you unlock in addition to unlocking new available characters each providing their own stats. The level progression has the player traversing through many different rooms where you'll either find some sort of pick up item inside (for example to unlock a boss encounter) or more commonly fight a wave of enemies. Once a room is cleared you can then move on and try the next, but once you enter a room of enemies you can't leave until it's complete or until you die. To make it more interesting there are many times that a caveat will be placed on the battle for the room you enter whereby every enemy and yourself take on a special set of rules and sometimes this puts you at an advantage then other times you will be put to the test as the enemies have the upper hand. There are loads of these and some are truly annoying such as only being able to fire when in the air. Additionally there are several possible bosses that you can come up against per stage, so it keeps each play fresh as there's no way to know who you'll be fighting until you get there. It progressively gets harder, but you also build up abilities to try and balance that difficulty in hope that you can make it past the fifth and final boss. 

 

I've only completed it once, but actually managed it quite quickly after around 6 attempts as I got a good run. I got the last boss another time on a separate playthrough but was much weaker and found it very tough. It's quite addictive due to the nature of this style of game and all the unlockables you get after continuously replaying. There's also a daily challenge which is different each time but you always get one chance and no more to see how far you can progress on an endless run. Visually it looks nice and the controls are tight. It can often get really hectic but there's this itch to get back on and try again if you like these sort of games. I think the actual standard price is less than £3 so would recommend it for those wanting quick blast game play with a focus on action. A full run may take about 2 hours at the most but there's a trophy to make it through in about 45 mins so it can be done quite fast. Kept me entertained for a week or two and I can see myself coming back to this on and off, although I'm spending more time with other consoles so haven't touched it in a while. 

 

7.5/10

 

6. Drakengard 2 (PS2) 2005/06

 

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Currently I've been really getting back into my PS2 and PS3 buying games again that I've missed and bagged this on ebay a while back some point late last year. As a fan of the first game and owning that for years, I've wanted to try out the other two games but this one has always been pricey, often around the £60 mark when I last looked. I was fortunate enough to get it for just under 30 and having now fully finished it completely, it's time to talk about it here. Originally I was supposed to add this to my last few games I finished last year, but I never actually got round to writing those up, however I can justify it being here this time because to get the true completion, you are required to play the whole game from start to finish 3 times in total, each time gaining a different end boss fight sequence and a different story ending and I've done just that so here we are. 

 

I think Drakengard 2 has often been regarded as a hit and miss, partly because it's not very well known anyway but I seem to recall comparisons made between the overall tone of this one vs the grittier nature of the first and better protagonist. Whilst it's true that the this comes across a little that way, it's really cool how you meet the protagonist from Drakengard 1 in here along with his dragon Angelus, and it's such a cool badass entrance which paints a reminder of that title. It isn't quite as mental as the first one either as I distinctly remember fighting a giant baby fetus or something like that and the music was a darker too, but it's still a decent game with a really good story that sucked me in. The style of D2 remains very much like the first with huge waves of enemies in open areas but also progressions through smaller corridors in caves and buildings that switch it up with a Dynasty Warriors vibe about the action but with a style of story and tone I prefer over ancient Japan. It's also got the flight stages too which play out very like Panzer Dragoon. You also build up your character's levels and also build up the level of weapons you use, gaining new combos as you go similar to the first, however a big difference this time is that you journey through the land building up a small team of 4 characters who can be switched on the fly, each with their own weapon types and health/magic bars. Each person is suited to their own enemy types and situations so you find yourself hopping between each one a lot if the situation arises. 

 

One of the things I loved about the first Drakengard was how it brought in the 5 endings without the need to actually restart from the beginning. You'd go through a bunch of chapters, but there were gaps missing and upon completion of the first ending, you'd learn it wasn't over and that you needed to play specific stages prior to the hidden chapters/verses and qualify a challenge (finishing a stage under a certain time limit I think) before being given access to a completely new story branch that not only had new stages and new ending, but also a new final boss and new key characters who would come into the story. Drakengard 2 makes it a pain in the arse because it means completely restarting again as a new game+ or ++. Each time you start though, you continue with your stats and get given a bunch of money and keep all weapons. There are also new one's to be found and you find yourself improving the characters as you go along. It also starts off with you being overpowered but then that changes further into the game as the difficulty increases beyond the last play. It's challenging but doable and doesn't have a super annoying final boss encounter like in the first game. If you know the game then you'll know exactly what I'm referring to (those black and white rings). It is a pain in the arse at times though but I managed to pull through and get it done. Turbo feature on a pad massively helps with the fluidity of pulling off combos without constantly bashing the buttons over and over destroying your fingers. It should be a standard feature in the game. 

 

Graphics are obviously dated but they still look good and I felt very much in control when I got good at it. There are some annoying moments where I'd spend half an hour on a stage only to die and have to start over, but I was determined to keep on going. It does get repetitive with the hordes of enemies but I still love it. If you die then you get chance to restart with no experience lost, although the biggest flaw is that you can't save it until the level is complete. This means if you're on a stage and have spend a couple of hours trying to get past it and still struggling, you're either going to lose ALL the experience gained or must keep going. It seems stupid not to let you save. 

 

Music wise I love it, really really love it. The main theme for example is outstanding. Orchestral and really full of emotion and cool melodies and energy. 

 

I'll conclude here, and say that it's a really good game, but that's because I'm a massive fan of the series. The bosses are enjoyable as they are quite different and present their own challenges which can appear tough but are doable. The last playthrough really pushes you though and by the time I got to the last boss, I initially found it impossible until I switched a certain item that helped massively and did some more levelling up. I did pretty much every optional quest and must have spent a total of about 130 hours or so going through it three times. It's long but I've played many RPG's that take me just as long to do them once. I'm the kind of player who hates to repeat games more than once but did so because I got every ending in the first game, so wanted to try and get the most out of this too and for the price I paid, I easily got something out of it. While I was playing this, a friend of mine suddenly asked to borrow the original from me and finally got all 5 endings for the first time and I've just lent him this one a few days back. I'll definitely be getting Drakengard 3 at some point. 

 

Score 8.5/10

 

 

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April

 

2. Destiny 2: Beyond Light/Season of the Chosen

 

Yes, yes I know before we even get started you can't 'finish' D2.  However you can pretty much play out all the available content at any given time, get the season emblem and well 'complete' the expansion and I'm fairly content that I have rinsed this one as far as I'm going to get until season 14 at least.

 

Now my relationship with Destiny is a bit like that old flame that you can't ever really let go; you think you're done, you think that everything that could play out already has and you have grown apart and moved on.  And... then they come back flashing coquettish eyes and before you know it you've abandoned everything else you were doing and are three months down the hole in a dependent relationship. 

 

Okay maybe I'm stretching this metaphor to breaking point more than a little, but the point is I've been playing this game or an incarnation of this game since 2014.  I've spent more hours of my life playing it then possibly anything else ever and I've walked away on at least erm 4 occasions now....but somehow it keeps dragging me back in and before I know there's another 300 hours gone.

 

So anyway, me and D2 last had a big break up after I wore Forsaken to breaking point....which was a great expansion but I eventually grew tired of the weekly tyranny of the power grind and I had seen all the content and well I was done.

 

I resisted Shadowkeep on release and it wasn't until it arrived on Gamepass that I was tempted to return.  And this time it was controlled, I played the new stuff, enjoyed it, ran the expansion quests and well moved on - probably helped that I was not that enamoured by the then seasonal content and skipped it (season of the arrivals).  It was a fun campaign and plenty to do afterwards but I was done after 20 hours.

 

So having rinsed Immortals, I thought I'd give Beyond Light a spin - that easy confidence I can just dip into to Destiny now - it doesn't have to become an all consuming obsession - play the campaign(s) and an exotic quest or two and come back in 12 months time.  No problem

 

Oh my sweet child of summer...

 

So turns out Beyond Light is rather good....very good in fact, undoubtedly the best Destiny content since Forsaken and in that top tier of expansions with The Taken King.  Its a generous slice of content no doubt - we actually get 2 campaigns as a returning Guardian (you can play the new 'New Light' campaign, which whilst probably not comparable to either the original Destiny/The Dark Beyond campaign (which was really good honest) or the Red War is actually quite fun and a much better introduction to the complexity of D2 than the eyes up Guardian mission before go and randomly try the earlier campaigns for no explicable reason which make no sense in the current story continuum.

 

But the new campaign on Europa here is the main event and a very tasty event it is too.  It seems to be a truism that Destiny's best content coincides with a new class or new powers for an existing class.  Here we finally get to toy with the Darkness and a whole new class which stole my dark Nightstalker's heart away - I will always miss my invisibility on dodge or smoke bomb (dependent on tree) but I can't resist the new destructive powers of the ice/time slow class that my Revenant now boasts.

 

So we get a good length and well paced campaign on a brilliantly realised new area with a far bigger map than was immediately obvious.  Post campaign there's a hell of a lot to do - a great exotic quest line for a fantastic sword, new trappings for my new favourite class and lots of stuff to grind as I gradually get committed to head to the soft cap.

 

By this point once again I'm invested, invested enough to pick up the steam key so I can play on my preferred format and I also dabble with the tail end of Season of the Hunt - I think it would probably have dragged was I not rushing it all in the last few weeks but there's a couple of great story missions in there and Harbinger is an experience, albeit one that really needs a fireteam (which being a anti social lone wolf is not my preferred way to play Destiny story content).

 

By this point I'm at the soft cap and its new season time so I pony up the required £8.  And I'm impressed for what you get.  Battlegrounds are a fun addition (somewhere between a strike and a public event) and the weekly unfold of story content ties nicely and is lots of fun.  And then we get Presage - which is without a doubt the best single level of Destiny content I've ever played (kind of Dead Space meets Halo)- so good in fact that it can easily tolerate a weekly play through solo just to experience it again and the new audio on each run.  And a rather decent new strike and the return of a couple of old D1 favourites.

 

What is it about Destiny that draws you in and then makes you play it to the exclusion of everything else?  Maybe its the skinner box, the thrill off making a number go up, the fun of messing with a new weapon that fits your play style.  But mainly its the shooting - there is nothing else that gives quite such good shooting as Destiny manages...

 

So I was sucked in and played this exclusively for...hmmm just over 3 months and 200 hours according to Steam (which clearly isn't counting my first 10-15 hours on Xbox) - I got the title - I cleared all but 4 seasonal challenges - I did love almost all of it.  But the fatigue is setting in - I've torn myself away 2 weeks before season end (I'm max power - I will never get the required wins in Osiris and GM's even now are beyond me) so I'm not going to get all the seasonal challenges and Guardian Games is just as shit as it was last time.  Its time to play something else - anything else maybe.  Having just watched the trailers for season of the splicer I'm well just a little excited but this time it'll be paced - I only have 10 power levels to clear - I can dip in, clear the story and get to pinnacle and dip out again - honestly - I will play something else in the next 3 months other than Destiny 2...

 

3. Narita Boy (Xbox/PC)

 

So having broken the Destiny claws, time to play something less all consuming and easily digestible.  As I'm lazy I'll copy and paste my thoughts from the main thread

 

Quote

Played through the rest of this today and in conclusion I really liked it.

 

Yes the story tied itself up in knots with masses of meaningless technobabble, but it’s riffing on Tron quite literally in both a good and a bad way.

 

The main ‘story’ told by flashback by finding the creators memories is really charming and beautifully executed.

 

Anyway once I zoned out on the waffle from the NPCs and focused on the visual and aural beauty and the quite clever combat mechanics it proved to be quite compelling. Every enemy has a particular method you need to work out and then use in a systematic order and I really liked the colour changing mechanic the game gradually introduces.

 

Several of the bosses are actually quite challenging and require you to properly work out patterns and plan your attacks accordingly. There is as it’s been pointed out a slight lag on the controls you need to get used to and the game would have benefited from using the dpad in places but it’s all quite manageable.

 

Overall very satisfying to play through and I loved then Back to the Future nod for the sequel tease.

 

Definitely worth investing a few hours of your time Gamepass owners 

 

Yeah I did really like this, it leans heavily into the an 80s retro pixel art thing that is way more beautiful than could ever have been the case at the time and it sounds great, but heavy handed story aside its a linear combat heavy 2d platformer than didn't outstay its welcome .  A nice pallet freshener.

 

May

 

4. Destroy all Humans (PC)

 

This was a nice surprise to see it turn up on Gamepass as I was tempted on release last year to pick this up as I never played the original but have a real weakness for Pandemic's open world games (I maintain Mercenaries 1 and 2 were fabulous).  The asking price however seemed a little steep for a remaster of a 16 year old game, but who can argue with 'free' (I pay my Gamepass subscription from reward points - currently I have 18 months worth and all I ever paid was the £1 to convert the Live I already had and have topped it up from rewards ever since - biggest bargain in gaming even if its the kids that get far more from it than me (because I'm playing Destring and/or Ubisoft epics).

 

Anyway being at a gaming loose end as its another 2 weeks before a new Destiny season and I wasn't quite ready to dive into Immortals DLC I thought I'd give it a dabble.

 

So this is very much a 2005 open world game given a current gen lick of paint - it does look very nice, but it still plays like its 2005. 

 

Which actually has its merits - Crypto has a fun box of tricks to play with - even if you do end up leaning heavily on his psychic powers like you are playing a very early version of Control (throwing Men in Black into the sea never gets old).  There are a few maddening mandatory stealth bits that would have been best left in the past and having been a fun breeze through the first 22 levels the final level and the two bosses represent a nigh on Everest shaped difficulty curve that is only surmountable by doing a little grinding - but that's early 21st century game design for you.  I still managed it with a little application/perspiration and it was undoubtedly a diverting 15 hours or so.

 

Recommended for gamers of a certain age....

 

And so now the eternal question approaches, what to play now?  A new season of Destiny beckons but a wild remake of the Mass Effect trilogy (with 2 and 3 yes 3 being two of my favourite games ever) with the promise of making the first game actually playable in 2021 is also arriving in the same week - meanwhile I've started dabbling with Outriders and quite enjoying it so far - so what will be the next title on this list? (clue if there's no more movement on here for about 3 months I went for Destiny!!)

 

Previously

 

Spoiler

January

 

Immortals: Fenyx Rising (PC)

 

So I finally reached the conclusion of this one (does it count as 2021 completion when you played more than half of it in 2020?). 

 

I'm going with yes.  So this is Ubi's answer to the inspiration Breath of the Wild took from Assassin's Creeed and then Ubisoft formula more generally - this is very much Zelda meets AC. 

 

In the spirit of mutual inspiration Immortals steals the pastel tinged vibe of BOTW and also the idea of having little little self contained dungeons (Vaults as they are known here) along with the typical Ubi vibe of filling up an open world map with icons  The difference here is where as AC would have  a collectable or a fort to storm for each and every icon instead  here we get a little environmental puzzle, which are almost always very satisfying to solve, even when incredibly obvious.

 

So yes its a busier BOTW or maybe Darksiders meets the open world template.   Every side activity is both fun and adds another little smidge to your  awesomeness.  And you know its fun to solve the 90 millionth block pushing puzzle or to light some furnaces with fire laden arrows.

 

I'll admit this hooked me god. 83 hours later I've cleared every icon from the map in the main 4 locations.  I cleared all of the 12 labours tasks.  Yes the plot and the slightly awkward design of the closing two areas did leave a few places still unexplored but boy did I get my monies worth.

 

If you were wondering if you could stretch Zelda's mechanics over the course of an Ubi open world then this is the answer  - yes you can and yes its bloody brilliant

 

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So far:

 

Spoiler

 

1. Alba (Apple Arcade)
2. Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity (Switch)
3. My Friend Pedro (Switch)
4. Don't Look Back (iOS)
5. Bowser's Fury [Story] (Switch)
6. Super Ghouls 'n' Ghosts (SNES/Switch)

7. Yoku's Island Express (Switch)
8. Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Museum Collection Complete(Switch)
9. Donut County (Xbox Game Pass)

10. The Medium (XSX, Game Pass)
11. GTA V (XSX)

12. Monument Valley – Ida's Dream (iOS)

13. Gears 5 (XSX, Game Pass)
14. Resident Evil 7 (XSX, Game Pass)

 


15. Rain On Your Parade (XSX, Game Pass)

Another game I'd not have played had it not been on Game Pass. It's a technical powerhouse and the first real example of next-gen tech... no. It's not. You all know you play a cardboard cloud in a janky world full of janky graphics. It's so much fun though. It's genuinely funny, chops and changes the gameplay up surprisingly often and is at times a love-letter/piss take of many classic games. It's short and a good one to play if you're going for the 10K Reward points available for the next three weeks and many of the achievements are easy enough to obtain. Now go. Mess up someone's day.

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Dead Space (XSS, EA Play)

 

This was excellent, incredibly impressive for a 13 year old game. It controls well, is quite scary for the first few hours, has a great selection of weapons and handles it’s upgrades and inventory management really well. The environments look great and are really cool, there’s a good variety of enemies, with a nice balance between variation and remembering how to handle them. Different weapons are useful against different enemies and the ammo is scarce enough that you’re careful but there’s enough to keep it fun.

 

The story is good, and the acting holds up surprisingly well. I don’t know if I played it on release, but I see that it’s a solid 10/10 game for the era.

 

Spoiler

1. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim 

2. The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope

3. Portal

4. Resident Evil Village

5. Dead Space

 

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So far:
 

Spoiler

 

1. Alba (Apple Arcade)
2. Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity (Switch)
3. My Friend Pedro (Switch)
4. Don't Look Back (iOS)
5. Bowser's Fury [Story] (Switch)
6. Super Ghouls 'n' Ghosts (SNES/Switch)

7. Yoku's Island Express (Switch)
8. Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Museum Collection Complete(Switch)
9. Donut County (Xbox Game Pass)

10. The Medium (XSX, Game Pass)
11. GTA V (XSX)

12. Monument Valley – Ida's Dream (iOS)

13. Gears 5 (XSX, Game Pass)
14. Resident Evil 7 (XSX, Game Pass)

15. Rain On Your Parade (XSX, Game Pass)

 


16. Titanfall 2 (XSX, Game Pass)

THIS is how you do a SP campaign. No bullshit. All fun. 5-6 hours tops. New mechanics or remixes of your skills every level. Makes you feel like a badass throughout. Completed it on PS4 when it launched and just as into it on this play through. Essential. 

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 Previously...

Spoiler

1) New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe - Switch - 2019 (2012)
2) Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze - Switch - 2018 (2014)
3) God of War - PS4 - 2018
4) Shenmue III - PC - 2019
5) Sonic Mania - PC - 2017
6) Abzû - PS4 - 2016
7) Night Trap - 25th Anniversary Edition - Vita - 2018 (1992/3)
8) Secret of Mana - SNES - 1993
9) Rez Infinite - PS4 - 2016 (2001/2)
10) Moss - PS4 - 2018
11) Halo: Reach - PC - 2019 (2010)
12) Papers, Please - Vita - 2017 (2013)
13) Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary - PC - 2020 (2011/2001)


14) Undertale - Vita - 2017 (2015)

Undertale is a quirky and inventive 'condensed' RPG set in an 8-bit style underground land of monsters. It takes all the tropes of RPGs and turns them on their head, giving you surprising choices in battles, unexpected mini-games and a very funny script. Think Earthbound, but more contempory and much weirder. Much like Pony Island, Undertale often subverts the game's very interface, turning it into part of the narrative or breaking the fourth wall. Even the save system has some tricks up its sleeve. The typical RPG stylings, travelling through towns, random battles and levelling up, all play on your expectations and familiarity with the genre, and then surprise you with twists. Often it can be a bit frustrating or misleading, the game's main subversion being that you can talk to the monsters or try to not kill them but this doesn't always seem to work and it's not always clear where the choices are. I ended up getting the middle-of-the-road neutral sort of ending, which was a little bit unsatisfying. Still, a very thought-provoking game and much cleverer than it initially appears.

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Resident Evil Zero (2002)

 

I had fond memories of this from back on the GameCube, and having completed REmake last year again I was quite excited to indulge in another slice of classic Resi action… but sadly this is Resident Evil by numbers and doesn’t get close to the pleasure of playing its remake predecessor. There are some fun locations, and it’s solidly playable, but the two-character system is under-utilised and the inventory management is a huge step backwards in terms of game mechanics, that has you backtracking frequently to collect things left on the floor in earlier rooms instead of from the magic chests which are absent in this game. Load times on the Switch are truly unforgivable - compounding the misery of traipsing around the place by adding in 10-15 second load times between every room. 
 

One for ardent fans only. 

 

Spoiler

 

09/01/2021 - Bloodborne

10/01/2021 - Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

10/01/2021 - Halo 2: Anniversary

13/01/2021 - Little Nightmares

26/01/2021 - Donut County

27/01/2021 - Astro’s Playroom

06/02/2021 - The Medium

13/02/2021 - Paper Mario: The Origami King

21/02/2021 - Spider-Man: Miles Morales

28/02/2021 - Super Mario 3D World: Bowser's Fury

03/04/2021 - Dark Souls Remastered
03/04/2021 - Halo 3

15/04/2021 - Yakuza 0

08/05/2021 - Final Fantasy VII Remake

15/05/2021 - Resident Evil Zero

 

 

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So far:
 

Spoiler

 

1. Alba (Apple Arcade)
2. Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity (Switch)
3. My Friend Pedro (Switch)
4. Don't Look Back (iOS)
5. Bowser's Fury [Story] (Switch)
6. Super Ghouls 'n' Ghosts (SNES/Switch)

7. Yoku's Island Express (Switch)
8. Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Museum Collection Complete(Switch)
9. Donut County (Xbox Game Pass)

10. The Medium (XSX, Game Pass)
11. GTA V (XSX)

12. Monument Valley – Ida's Dream (iOS)

13. Gears 5 (XSX, Game Pass)
14. Resident Evil 7 (XSX, Game Pass)

15. Rain On Your Parade (XSX, Game Pass)
16. Titanfall 2 (XSX, Game Pass)

 


17. Batman Arkham Knight (XSX, Game Pass)

I've been chipping away at this for what seems like an eternity. Another one I completed back on PS4 and thought I'd give another go. You know, the thing that bugs me about DC is that it takes itself so seriously. It's so dumb. You have grown men dressed as clowns, bats and scarecrows running around and it's all deadpan delivery and no self awareness. Technically it's a powerhouse and still looks incredible, but I think that's the last time I go near the game. I have no desire to go back and do a hundred car battles or brawls, especially the former. There is way too much car in this game and the car platforming is – frankly – utter shit. Despite all off that, the game is really good and I would recommend a play through... though maybe of the superior Arkham City if you've not played that.

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Literally the only thing I completed this year is Picross S4 and even then I haven't really finished it because I didn't do the 30xwhatever Extra puzzles because fuck that. It's bad enough I now have to wear glasses to play the fucking Switch without having to squint WHILE wearing bastard glasses to see the numbers on the columns and rows. Life's too short.

 

Other than that it was more Picross. I love Picross but I'm beginning to think 40+ hours per game is a bit too much.

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 Previously...

Spoiler

1) New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe - Switch - 2019 (2012)
2) Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze - Switch - 2018 (2014)
3) God of War - PS4 - 2018
4) Shenmue III - PC - 2019
5) Sonic Mania - PC - 2017
6) Abzû - PS4 - 2016
7) Night Trap - 25th Anniversary Edition - Vita - 2018 (1992/3)
8) Secret of Mana - SNES - 1993
9) Rez Infinite - PS4 - 2016 (2001/2)
10) Moss - PS4 - 2018
11) Halo: Reach - PC - 2019 (2010)
12) Papers, Please - Vita - 2017 (2013)
13) Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary - PC - 2020 (2011/2001)
14) Undertale - Vita - 2017 (2015)


15) Halo 2: Anniversary - PC - 2020 (2014/2004)

Completed on Heroic difficulty (approx. 15 hours). This was rather hard, particularly towards the end.

 

I think it's fair to say Halo 2 is not as good as the original, but I would like to focus on what it does well. The new weapons are pretty well balanced, dual-wielding small-arms is surprisingly good (it removes your grenade-throwing ability, so it's not overpowered), and playing as the Arbiter adds some stealthy opportunities with your camouflage. The Flood are not as pervasive as they were in the first game, being isolated to just a few levels. The level design is less repetitive, more varied and interesting. You can switch weapons with squadmates, NPCs can drive vehicles (often badly) and there are a wider range of transport options. Several action set-pieces are very impressive in scale, and the overall presentation is a step up - particularly this new version. The music and graphics are excellent and the new cinematics are stunning. 343 tried to make Halo 2: Anniversary a showcase for the Master Chief Collection and I think all four studios involved did a good job with it.

 

But, y'know, Halo 2 is famously divisive. Delving into the internal politics of the Covenant can be a bit dull, several levels are confusing with who you should be shooting and who are your allies, and the plot is hard to follow. Giving the Elites English speech was obviously necessary for the plot, but it makes them less mysterious and/or amusing. In gameplay terms, the difficulty is more frustrating. Choke points are caused by snipers or excessively tough enemies and I found myself repeating tricky sections several times. There were points in Halo 1 and Halo Reach where I thought "I could probably have handled that on Legendary" but here I had no desire to go above Heroic. According to People On The Internet, the hardest levels in the franchise are in Halo 2, so I'm still pretty impressed with myself. FPSs haven't always my strong suit but I managed to get through this, with some gnashing of teeth towards the end. Overall, I still consider this a fantastically fun shooter that does so much right compared to others I've played in the genre. Harder than Halo 1 and not as fun as Reach.

 

However, I'm now half-way through this collection and at the risk of becoming all Halo'd out, I'm going to take a break and play something else for a while.

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11. Lego Marvel Avengers (XB1) - Ah that's better. All of the save glitches from the Super Heroes game we last played are gone, it looks a bit better, plays a bit smoother and has just enough extra guidance to make it something a youngster can get through without too much confusion. It's all just a bit more refined and closer to the likes of the more modern Ninjago one we did earlier in the year. Gameplay is the standard affair and the story essential charts the movies The Avengers and Age of Ultron with a few other film tie-ins along the way. My 5yo and I had a lot of fun co-oping it together. - 7/10

 

Lego Super Heroes 2 was fired up straight after the closing credits of this as his Mum was in bed post Covid jab so that will likely be next.

 

 

On 19/04/2021 at 20:27, FiveFootNinja said:

1. Uncharted 4: A Thief's End (PS5) - 8/10

2. Gris (PS5) - 9/10

3. Fez (PS4) - 8/10

4. Horizon Zero Dawn (PS5) - 9/10

5. Horizon Zero Dawn: Frozen Wilds [DLC] (PS5) - 7/10

6. Maquette (PS5) - 5/10

7. Lego City Undercover (XB1) - 7/10

8. Lego Ninjago Movie (XB1) - 7/10

9. Phogs (XB1) - 7/10

10. Lego Marvel Super Heroes (XB1) - 6/10

 

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15/05/2021 - Lords of Xumila (PC)

 

Going back to this after quite a hiatus, I kept thinking about the 'Difficulty...' thread, because this game is brutal.

 

Not because of accessibility or the need for twitch reactions - no, it's brutal because it hates the player, has no respect for your time and has no problem leaving you wandering aimlessly around with no real steer on what to do or where to go. It's uncompromising in every way and, needless to say, it soured me so much on the experience that any positive feelings I may have had evaporated along with my patience for yet another elongated combat.

 

Lords of Xumila is an old-skool party-based RPG that sees the main, predetermined class, character joined by up to 5 other followers that you can create from a range of the usual archetypes (bard, paladin, mage etc) and off you go on your vaguely defined journey. The Steam page boasts it having more than 100 hours of adventure (it used to say 80-ish) and man, it isn't lying. In addition to the standard sensibilities of the genre, LoX also adds a food system, whereby every step you take consumes your supplies and becomes something you need to actively manage - especially as you can only ever hold up to 8 days' worth and different terrains consume it at different rates. And with this, the problems begin.

 

You see, food costs are ridiculously expensive - something like 8,000 gold to fill your pack and, initially, you'll get a few hundred gold for each battle. And the enemies in any region are finite, too, so you can't endlessly farm for cash (though, ironically, you can literally farm for cash every 3 in-game days in the starter town). Whilst this places a limit on your exploration, it's more annoying that it means you have a constant back-and-forth to get supplies, which gets old very quickly. There are some skills you can learn which reduces the impact of different terrains on your consumption and generate some food from your kills, but you won't appreciably benefit from these without pumping loads of skill points into them at each level-up, so the payoff is a long way down the line. That's further hindered by the fact that the best way to heal/restore power points (used for skills/magic) is by resting for 8 hours - and given that enemies hit very hard, you need to rest frequently, leading to a cycle of fight/heal/fight/go back to town/fight etc. It's exhausting.

 

Then you have the battles themselves. As noted, you will take a lot of damage from the numerous scraps you get in to. Enemies will layer various bleeds, poisons and stuns on you in addition to weapon damage and they can often see you limping through a fight with some/most of your team dead. Bleed damage especially is devastating, not only because of the constant chip-damage itself but also for the fact that your healer will only get a spell to reduce it only after many, many hours of adventuring. The game hits you with the double-whammy of enemies being damage sponges, too, so even the most minor fights, where you know the enemy really hurt you, become slogs to get through. And there's a huge amount of fighting to be done.

 

The real kicker to all of this, though, is that the balance of your skills/spells is completely out of whack. Spells and skills don't scale with your levelling, they only increase with the investment of skill points. Now whilst that is not unusual, the problem is that the power point cost also increases with each level, and not by a trivial amount. Furthermore, there is no basic mage skill that can take you through the game as a staple because the power point cost for everything is so high (especially relative to the damage it puts out, which often doesn't seem worth it) and, as your characters don't get a lot of power points to play with, it means you really have to juggle when to use a skill versus your food management/ability to end a fight slightly quicker (because spells don't even really do all that much damage until right near the end - and then the power point cost is even more insane). Some might call this risk vs reward, but it's really not, it just feels like a way to keep padding things out.

 

It got to the point that, at just under 40 hours in I was probably not even halfway through the game and I just got tired - so I had no shame in using a mod that reduced every enemy to having only 7 hit points - and it still took me more than 12 hours to get through the rest of it. Better that than plugging another 40-60 hours into it, at any rate.

 

Whilst this has been a hugely negative summary - and don't get me wrong, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone - certainly for a while I was enjoying it. Levelling-up was fairly frequent, the graphics had a charm to them and the soundtrack was very nice in places. Having to wander the world, not knowing if the next fight was going to lead to a party wipe added a tension, and having to discover your objectives was fine, too. There are plenty of little nooks and crannies as well, which rewarded exploring. But ultimately there was just too much of it; as I've said quite a bit in my summaries of games on my completion list of late, if it had been perhaps a 30-hour experience then this would've been a good example of an updating of the RPGs of yesteryear. Instead, it became a chore, with a world that wanted to punish you with every step without ever giving you the satisfaction that you were ever going to see a payoff at some point.

 

It's a shame that turn-based party RPGs aren't really abundant these days, because I do have a hankering to play a good one - sadly, this was not it.

 

Previously completed:

Spoiler

09/05/2021 - Devolverland Expo (PC)

09/05/2021 - The Medium (PC)

02/05/2021 - Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms (PC)

01/05/2021 - Shadows: Awakening (PC)

21/04/2021 - Rain on Your Parade (PC)

20/04/2021 - Wasteland 2 (PC)

04/04/2021 - Secret World Legends (PC)

02/04/2021 - She Sees Red (PC)

27/03/2021 - Greedfall (PC)

26/03/2021 - Freedom Fighters (PC)

10/03/2021 - Breath of Death VII (PC)

05/03/2021 - Dungeons & Lesbians (PC)

04/03/2021 - Quantum Break (PC)

26/02/2021 - Marvel Avengers (PC)

20/02/2021 - Life is Strange (PC)

02/02/2021 - P.O.W. (Arcade)

28/01/2021 - Devil's Hunt (PC)

24/01/2021 - A Mortician's Tale (PC)

19/01/2021 - The Touryst (PC)

19/01/2021 - Druidstone: The Secret of the Menhir Forrest (PC)

15/01/2021 - A New Life (PC)

05/01/2021 - Vostok Inc. (PC)

02/01/2021 - Call to the Sea (PC)

01/01/2021 - Suikoden (PS1)

 

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Dishonored: Death of the Outsider

Continuing my obsession with Dishonored, this is the only one I've not played before. I was hanging out for a 60fps boost on Series X, which duly arrived a couple of weeks ago. This is a more streamlined entry, with no High/Low Chaos meter, and pre-set powers that are unlocked during the course of the game. At first glance your avatar, Billie Lurk, has far fewer powers, but you soon realise that Arkane have attempted to combine things into a smaller power set to reduce the amount of switching required. For example, there is now an all-purpose recon power that lets you float outside of your body while time is paused, gliding through small gaps and marking enemies. The 'windblast' power from D1 is now a regular sword move that gets unlocked partway through the game. The biggest change is to your power meter, which fully recharges over time rather than needing consumables to top-up. This is a massive improvement and I'm going to find it hard to lose that when I go back to Dishonored 2. All immersive sims should ditch the need to drink consumables to use the magical powers as it just dissuades experimentation.

 

I'm assuming that these streamlining experiments will carry forward into Deathloop, as that game seems built around the fluid first-person parkour action that Dishonored specialises in. This is something I've realised about Dishonored - it's one of the best first person action series out there, but because of the stealth/low violence opportunities, I expect a lot of people simply spend most of the games silently choking people out and firing darts from perches, missing out on the countless ways of combining powers to really rip the piss out of the AI. Once you go to town with the sword you realise just how many brutal finishing animations Arkane have put in there.

 

Like the D1 DLC, the game is short enough that I went right back in for a second playthrough. The lack of a low-chaos option was a bit of a bummer (as is the lack of NG+) as I ended up being pretty clean and merciful on my second run, armed with foreknowledge of the level layouts. It also has some of the best non-lethal options of the series, in particular the Hook Mine which snares anyone who gets too close, resulting in some great mischief. That said, the variety of approaches is still there, and the bank heist mission in particular played out entirely differently second time around.

 

It's more Dishonored, and the quality is still there, but it's perhaps slightly less good than the others due to the reduced replayability options.

Spoiler

 

Dishonored + DLC

Days Gone

Dishonored: Death of the Outsider

 

 

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15/05/2021 - Resident Evil Village

 

Well this was uneven, but often great fun and sometimes terrifying. 

 

Ethan Winters continues to be a bit rubbish as the lead, but it was cool to catch up with Chris Redfield. The villains made for campy fun, definitely veering towards the sillier side of Resident Evil which is fine by me. The story itself wasn't great, but generally stayed out of the way and I did appreciate the attempt to link it to the rest of the series.

 

Outside of the story there was a surprising amount of variety to enjoy. The Village served as something of a hub, linking a bunch of locations with their own take on videogame horror. One of these I found genuinely scary, for reasons I won't spoil, while the rest managed some fun spins on more actiony horror. I don't think I enjoyed any of it as much as I enjoyed the Resi 2 remake though, or even bits of the Resi 3 one, but I can't fault it for trying something new. There was one location that came close to the classic Resi experience, requiring you to hunt down keys and solve simple puzzles, and while this might be played out now I think I'd still enjoy a whole new game that did this to the scale of Resi 1 or 2.

 

I did feel that the bosses could be a bit awkward in first person. The perspective does work to elevate the horror at points, but there were certainly moments which would have benefited from third person. This wasn't so much of an issue with 7 as I remember it being a lot less combat heavy.

 

Ultimately I have to praise it for, I think, judging the difficulty really well. I only died a couple of times on normal (ignoring a rubbish trial and error sequence near the start), but was certainly hurt enough to make me feel very much in danger. Too many deaths in a horror game tends to end up weakening the effect of the scares, so it must be quite a skill to pitch things just right. I imagine I'd find the harder difficulties a bit annoying.

 

So yeah, good stuff. I still want to play through the games I've missed from the series at some point. They'll have to wait until after the Mass Effect trilogy though. :D

 

Spoiler

January

25/01/2021 - Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

February

21/02/2021 - The Room

March

06/03/2021 - Gorogoa
07/03/2021 - The Room 2

April

Nothing!

May

03/05/2021 - Resident Evil 3 (Remake)
15/05/2021 - Resident Evil Village

 

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So far:
 

Spoiler

 

1. Alba (Apple Arcade)
2. Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity (Switch)
3. My Friend Pedro (Switch)
4. Don't Look Back (iOS)
5. Bowser's Fury [Story] (Switch)
6. Super Ghouls 'n' Ghosts (SNES/Switch)

7. Yoku's Island Express (Switch)
8. Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Museum Collection Complete(Switch)
9. Donut County (Xbox Game Pass)

10. The Medium (XSX, Game Pass)
11. GTA V (XSX)

12. Monument Valley – Ida's Dream (iOS)

13. Gears 5 (XSX, Game Pass)
14. Resident Evil 7 (XSX, Game Pass)

15. Rain On Your Parade (XSX, Game Pass)
16. Titanfall 2 (XSX, Game Pass)

17. Batman Arkham Knight (XSX, Game Pass)


18. Call of the Sea (XSX, Game Pass)

I don't really have much to say on this. It's a puzzle adventure set in the 1930s with a pretty nice art style and a modest play time. Great, I thought. Sounds good. I found it was quite dull tbh, with most of the play time taken up by the excruciatingly slow 'run' speed and some puzzles which involved a lot of walking only to realise you'd incorrectly entered some sequence and have to do a shit load more backtracking. Then you'd just open up a press up to hear exposition dialogue for the next few minutes. The story was OK, but I don't think it was anywhere near as emotional as it was intending to be which is a shame as I thought it had potential. It was just OK all in all.

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