Things in my personal life just got really busy. In the time since my last post here (which apparently was more than 3 months ago now) I’ve finished my undergraduate degree at university, changed jobs, gotten my first COVID-19 vaccination, and numerous other things. Gaming (and especially writing) kind of took a back seat for a lot of that.
That said, I’ve also had quite a few gaming experiences over the past few months – some of which I’ll be talking about here, and some of which I’ll be saving for separate posts. I’m mostly going to concentrate on giving an update on my progress towards my 24 in 12 challenge.
Jet Set Radio
I tried this out and played it for a couple of hours. The tunes are awesome and the graphics hold up better than one might expect for a game of its age thanks to the cell-shaded art style, but the gameplay is ridiculously clunky and I got pretty turned off by that. I don’t know that I’ll be returning back to this one, so it might just be retired from by 12 in 12 and my overall backlog.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning
I gave this a go and have been enjoying it a fair amount. The story is a weird combination of generic fantasy elements and some interesting ideas, and the combat is really fun and fluid. I’m going to keep playing this at some point, but it hasn’t grabbed me and really sucked me in yet.
I’ve enjoyed what I played quite a bit, as expected. Supergiant has done it again – yet another game with a unique style, gorgeous visuals, and an amazing soundtrack. I love the roguelite gameplay and how the story is delivered through those mechanisms. It always feels like I’m learning more about the world and the mysteries it holds, and I find Hades to be a really compelling overall package. I’ll definitely be playing more of this, it’s just been on the backburner for a few weeks. The cross-save between PC and Switch is an absolute godsend as well, and the secondary purchase was well worth the price for that reason alone.
Half Life is one of the most highly regarded franchises in gaming, but I’ve always had a bit of a tenuous interest in it. I wanted to give getting into Half Life another shot after all the amazing things I heard about Half Life: Alyx and its story, so I thought what better way to do that than checking out a well-regarded remake of the first game in the series to get the ball rolling? As it turns out, I think Half Life may be one of those series that I enjoy hearing about much more than I actually enjoy playing. I don’t know exactly what it is that put me off, but Black Mesa really wasn’t grabbing me. I didn’t find the moment-to-moment gameplay to be particularly enjoyable, but I don’t think that’s all it was. In any case, I think this may end up retired for good.
Dragon Quest 3
I’ve been popping into Dragon Quest 3 now and again when I have nothing else to do, mostly because I heard Dragon Quest 11 has a lot of references to the original trilogy included within it, and I’d like to be able to appreciate that when I finally get around to playing DQ11. That said, Dragon Quest games (to me) have always seemed to have a really slow start, and it can be difficult to get that momentum going. I’m sure I’ll finish this at some point throughout the rest of the year, I just don’t know when that will be just yet.
Yakuza 0 – UPDATE: I started playing Yakuza 0 again!
I really enjoy the story of Yakuza 0, but really dislike the brawler combat system. It feels overly clunky and I don’t enjoy constantly running into groups of enemies I will inevitably pummel in just a few seconds when I’m in the middle of trying to do something else. Yakuza 0 has been on the backburner for a few months while I play through some other stuff, but I’m definitely going to try and finish it up at some point, mostly so I can move onto Yakuza: Like a Dragon guilt-free.
I played this while streaming it to a friend over Discord and was having a great time. I’m not usually into purely exploration-based games, but something about the way Outer Wilds is presented had me on the edge of my seat the whole way through. I always felt like there was some direction I could go or something I could do that I saw but didn’t have the chance to pursue on the previous “run”, and that makes for some really compelling exploration. That said, it can be difficult to wrangle a game like this one where you’re not really sure you’ve ever made clear “progress”, and now it’s been a little while since I played it so I’m a bit worried that it will be difficult to go back to. That said, this is definitely something I want to take the time to finish up at some point throughout the rest of the year.
Nioh is a weird game to play because of how much I’ve heard about it over the years. It seems to always get described as a soulslike, which is fair, but it seems to play a lot differently. Areas are a lot larger, more sprawling, and less methodically designed, but it’s really fun to choose a combination of weapons and there are some interesting ideas on display. The “diablo style” randomized loot is also fun at times, though I did find it a little grating to have to keep messing around with my inventory, even though I only played for a short time. I’m definitely intrigued and willing to play a bit more, though it didn’t grab me and suck me in the same way a From Software souls game would.
God of War
I’ve played further in this than I ever had on previous attempts, but it’s been on the backburner for a little while as I play through some other things that caught my eye. That said, it’s a beautiful game with an interesting story and characters, and the world is designed with interesting puzzles and combat encounters. I really enjoy what I’ve seen of God of War so far and look forward to playing more of it throughout the year.
Ratchet and Clank (PS3) – Update: I beat Ratchet and Clank!
I… I’m still playing this on and off. It kind of feels never-ending at this point. I was having a great time in the early stages of the game, but somewhere in the mid-section it started to grate on me quite a bit. I think one of my big problems with this game is the combat. You’re given a lot of fun weapons you can use in creative ways to solve combat challenges, but there is a decent amount of clunkiness at play, and the later stages of the games seem to always be filled with a large amount of enemies that attack you at once, which I’m not a fan of. I’m pretty close to the end so I feel like I should finish it, but the game definitely overstayed its welcome for me and my enjoyment has dwindled quite a bit.
Ghost of Tsushima
Man, this game is nothing short of incredible. A lot of people sell this game short by describing it as though it is a competent open-world experience with no (or few) big new ideas, but I think that’s a bit of a disservice. In a time when we’re getting huge but highly flawed open world games (ie many Ubisoft titles or Cyberpunk 2077), I find the more condensed but content-packed world of Ghost of Tsushima to be a really compelling one to explore. Sure, the game doesn’t have a wealth of brand new ideas for things we’ve never seen before and the story is just okay, but the combat is great, the visual style is beautiful, the loading screens are super fast- and there are a lot of really smart game design choices that Sucker Punch Productions have employed to create an immersive game with great flow. I could go on about how smart having the wind (semi-optionally) guide you toward your destination is and how it helps keep you immersed in the game, or how smart it is to have the yellow birds that show up near points of interest, but I’ll attempt to restrain myself. Instead, I’ll just say that Ghost of Tsushima is even more than the sum of its (great) individual parts and highly suggest you play it if you get the chance – it’s easily one of my favourite open world games of all time.
The Witcher 1 – Update: I beat The Witcher!
I love the world of the Witcher – I’ve read several of the books, watched the TV show, and really enjoyed the bit of 3 that I actually got around to playing. Consequently, The Witcher 1 has been on my list of games to play for some time now, but every time I tried to play it in the past I was quickly repelled by the game’s weird and clunky combat system. This time I forced myself to push past it and found myself engrossed in this really interesting world with a lot of harsh realities and interesting things to explore. I love how you need to go around and basically conduct research on things rather than just blindly charging in. For instance, you can’t complete Witcher contracts for a monster if you don’t have the relevant entry in your beastiary, which forces you to explore the world and find a way to get it – maybe completing a quest for an NPC will have them offer you the knowledge, maybe you can buy a book on the creature in a shop, or maybe you’ll just find one laying about somewhere. I also have really enjoyed some of the indirect methods of storytelling the game employs, though it’s far from perfect. The Witcher 1 is definitely a janky game, but it has a lot to offer in terms of its story and its world if you can get over the clunkiness of its combat and some of the other rough edges. I could definitely do without the excessive horniness as well, but oh well. I’m glad I was able to get into this and look forward to bringing my save over to The Witcher 2 later down the line.