December 10, 2023 - Day 343 - NewPlay Bonus Review
Total NewPlays: 364
Platform: Epic Game Store
Release Date: Apr 29, 2019
Installation Date: Dec 9, 2023
Mordhau is a first-person or third-person medieval combat simulator/slasher.
I picked it out of my unused Steam keys list last night, then realising I already owned it on EGS, decided to install it there.
I thought, for some reason, it was a Soulslike.
It is not. It like a twin to Chivalry II, right down to the annoying knight doing the tutorial.
Multiplayer game, enter tutorial, use the mouse to try and do a bunch of different sword moves and parries.
Unlike Chivalry II, you also get the option of training with a bow and arrow (which was OK), and jumping on a horse and using a lance.
Somehow, as frustrating as Chivalry II was, this was *more* frustrating. I could not, for the life of me, coordinate the horse and the lance, and after spending half of my playtime trying to hit the second of four targets with the lance, my frustration exceeded my patience, and I quit the game, and recovered 36GB of SSD space.
For someone who's into multiplayer swordfighting, this game might be right up your alley, which is why I'm throwing the Steam key into my giveaway list.
Like Chivalry II before it, Mordhau is a big old:
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November 15, 2023 - Day 318 - NewPlay Review
Total NewPlays: 338
Game: BPM: Bullets Per Minute
Release Date: Sep 16, 2020
Installation Date: Nov 15, 2023
BPM: Bullets Per Minutes is a rhythm-based FPS roguelike. I discovered BPM when I was reading about Metal Hellsinger, and added it to my wishlist.
Joke was on me. Turns out I already owned it.
After the 250Mbps fibre was installed today, I went looking through my unredeemed Steam keys list, and spotted BPM. "Ooooh! I'll install that!"
While this has the same basic concept as Metal Hellsinger, it plays very differently.
Instead of raiding hell, you're a Valkyrie raiding randomly generated Viking-esque dungeons, rendered in an eyewatering, almost monochromatic colour palette.
You also absolutely MUST fire on the beat, or the gun just doesn't fire. Even on easy mode, the mobs hit hard. Each hit does 25% damage.
You walk into a darkened room that may or may not have a wild number of mobs in it, and you run around trying to make out where you're going, and not get hit.
If you're unlucky, there's a boss in the room, who might completely blind you for a moment... and then you're dead.
Ultimately, it was the graphics that killed it for me. I would probably persevere if I could easily make out what I'm shooting at against the backgrounds, but it just becomes too much work, particularly when there are a lot of mobs on screen.
I really wanted to like this game, but unfortunately, BPM: Bullets Per Minute is another:
November 14, 2023 - Day 317 - RePlay Review
Total RePlays: 10
Game: Hardspace: Shipbreaker
Release Date: May 26, 2022
Library Date: Jun 20, 2021
Hardspace: Shipbreaker is the first game in this month's Humble Choice bundle, and on the short list of games that I've completed - on July 24, 2022.
Also, you may note that the "Library Date" predates the "Release Date", and this is not a typo.
It was released in Early Access in 2022, and I did not once regret buying it.
Hardspace: Shipbreaker is a 6DOF first-person action-adventure sim, in which you play a blue collar space worker, who has signed up to work with Lynx Corporation as a ship breaker.
Living in space, it's your job to dismantle, sort, and destroy, recycle, or recover, all the parts of junked spaceships.
There's just a small catch. While you can make good money ship breaking, Lynx Corporation uses cloning technology, and when you sign up with them, they own you and your DNA until your pay out the billion credit debt you incurred in training.
Ship breaking is a dangerous job, with a lot of risks; for instance, one of the big ones is death.
But that's OK; if you die, Lynx will just reconstitute you, and you get to keep on working. The cost of the reconstitution is added to your debt, so no biggie, right?
The actual mechanics of breaking up the ship involve a ruggedised spacesuit, a tether tool, and a laser cutter.
The procedurally generated ships become increasingly complex, with new dangers involved as you level up.
Each ship floats in an orbiting salvage yard with a furnace & salvage bay on both the left and right hand sides of the yard, and a recovery barge below.
You use the laser cutter to break up the ship, and the tether tool to either send recoverable whole objects to the barge, recyclable materials to the salvage bay, and junk to the furnace.
You're paid on the basis of how much usable material you recover from each ship, as well as earning "Lynx Credits" that you can use to upgrade your tools and skills.
It's a surprising amount of fun cutting up a ship, and tethering all the recyclable parts together and firing them off to the salvage bay.
As long as you don't get too close, and get recovered too, because... yeah, I died that way. A few times.
The whole thing is set to a soundtrack that wouldn't be out of place in an episode of Firefly; in some ways, the whole game has a bit of that vibe.
Hardspace: Shipbreaker isn't just a game, it's a game with an excellent narrative that has lot to say about capitalism, corporate exploitation labour abuses, and unionism.
I genuinely love this game, and it's up there with Firewatch as one of my favourite games.
It's worth buying this month's bundle JUST for this game, because Hardspace: Shipbreaker is:
October 19, 2023 - Day 291 - NewPlay Review
Total NewPlays: 311
Game: Metal: Hellsinger
Release Date: Sep 15, 2022
Installation Date: Oct 19, 2023
Metal: Hellsinger is a rhythm-based FPS. The rhythm in question is heavy metal. Very heavy metal.
This is the second of the October Humble Choice Bundle games, and the second game that I'd looked at before and decided "Ah... no."
It's nothing to do with being an FPS, or a fundie* aversion to the setting, or being a rhythm game.
It was the soundtrack, which seemed to me more like death metal than heavy metal, but I'm old.
In any case, you're more likely to find me listening to Sara Bareilles than Slayer. Dire Straits rather than Dio. Counting Crows, not Cannibal Corpse.
You get the idea.
The idea of a game with a soundtrack featuring the lead singers from bands like System of a Down, Dark Tranquillity, Trivium, and Lamb of God is not my idea of a good time.
I found Nine Inch Nails in Quake was a lot to deal with.
So... I was wrong. Killing mobs in hell, slashing or firing on the beat of screaming thrashing metal is an intense but incredibly fun time.
It's not a game I'm going to play to unwind, by any means, and I can't understand a single word they're singing (which is probably for the best), but Metal: Hellsinger is:
*actually, the whole hell theme does still make me feel a little uneasy. Not sure I'll ever shake that.
September 22, 2023 - Day 265 - NewPlay Review
Total NewPlays: 285
Game: In Sound Mind
Release Date: Sep 28, 2021
Installation Date: Aug 31, 2022
Unplayed: 387d (1y22d)
In Sound Mind is a first-person psychological survival horror game, and that's a three out of three for a express train to nopeville.
I tried to give it a fair shake. The atmospheric design is pretty much exactly what you'd want in a horror game, as is the audio.
The environmental design is considerably more frustrating, with the things you can use being highlighted with an icon, and everything else just being... there.
You play as a psychologist who appears to be going quite mad, having woken up in the basement of a building in a completely flooded town.
You need to solve some puzzles, as the atmosphere got increasingly tense, I was less and less inclined to keep going.
For complex reasons, I get no enjoyment out of horror games, and this game has not changed that.
I'm sorry, In Sound Mind. It's not you, it's very definitely me, saying:
September 18, 2023 - Day 261 - NewPlay Review
Total NewPlays: 282
Game: Journey to the Savage Planet
Release Date: Jan 28, 2020
Library Date: Sep 12, 2023
Journey to the Savage Planet is a first person comedy sci-fi adventure game.
FOMO is a curse, and when it comes to a games wishlist, it's self-inflicted. I started using tracking sites like IsThereAnyDeal and GG.deals after missing out on one-too-many ridiculously cheap games that I'd wishlisted.
The downside is that it's not necessarily the best choice when that mixes with ADHD impulsivity.
"After all, why shouldn't I buy another sci-fi game nine days after I got Starfield?"
In Journey to the Savage Planet, you find yourself in a company exploratory ship that's "landed" on the aforementioned planet.
Unfortunately for you, the company is less Weyland-Yutani and more Jupiter Mining Corporation by way of Planet Express.
The snarky onboard computer walks you through the first steps of the tutorial, including a cheesy intro video from the founder of Kindred Aerospace, "the 4th best interstellar company!"
You've been sent out to survey this planet as a possible option for human settlement. but you're basically stranded on this planet until you can find your way off, with the help of your trusty on-board 3D printer, and "Glob", which is both food and critter bait.
When you're teleported outside your ship (because no doors means no airlocks), you discover a planet that looks like it was designed by Jack Kirby on a bender. You might not want to play this game if you're prone to acid flashbacks.
Your job is to walk around this deserted planet and scan it.
Your first available weapon is a backhanded slap, but if you hold the attack hey, it's a *hard* backhanded slap.
The first critters you encounter are delightfully rounded little birds, who the scanner declare "love you", which makes it even harder to slap a few of them into oblivion to collect resources for your 3D printer, but there don't seem to be any other options.
Twenty minutes in and structures that appear to already exist on the planet indicate that this planet might not be as deserted as the initial scans appeared, and the message from Kindred's CEO upon this discovery seems to indicate that he's not quite everything he seems.
After 40 hours of Starfield, Journey to the Savage Planet is an amusing palate cleanser; it's:
September 12, 2023 - Day 255 - NewPlay Review
Total NewPlays: 276
Game: The Forgotten City
Release Date: Jul 28, 2021
Library Date: Sep 12, 2023
The Forgotten City is a first-person narrative-driven adventure involving time loops, and an ancient Roman city.
It's the third game in this month's Humble Bundle, and if you're a fan of narrative adventures (eg. Firewatch) or time travel gameplay, this might be the game for you.
It was a bit slow at first; I was 10 minutes in, and I was thinking it wasn't really a game for me.
...and that was three and a half hours ago.
The graphics are pretty good, the sound design is great, but the narrative is excellent.
However, I'm not going to write a longer review. The problem with this game, and it's highlighted upfront by the devs is that to say too much about it spoils the game for those who haven't played it.
Thus, please consider my three and three quarter hours of straight playtime, and having reached one of four endings my way of saying that The Forgotten City is:
September 11, 2023 - Day 254 - NewPlay Review
Total NewPlays: 275
Game: Deceive Inc.
Release Date: Mar 22, 2023
Library Date: Sep 11, 2023
Deceive Inc. is a first-person multiplayer PvP hide-and-seek extraction shooter mash-up. It's the second game in this month's Humble Choice bundle, and I'll admit that I was a bit disappointed to see it.
I'd looked briefly at Deceive Inc. on Steam in the past and added it to my "Ignore" list, because it didn't really seem like my kind of thing, and having played it now, I was right.
Deceive Inc. does seem kind of unique. It's part Among Us, part Midnight Ghost Hunt, part extraction shooter, with bit of Deathloop's swagger, all by way of Fortnite's graphical styling...
...as well as Fortnite's monetisation model. It seems almost impossible to release a AA game now without including a battle pass of some kind.
It feels like so many games want to be the next Fortnite, and I don't want to pay for a battle pass in any of them, particularly a paid game (*cough* Diablo IV *cough*).
As a game, it's stylish (in that Unreal Engine 4 way) and the gameplay is OK.
The biggest problem for me is that I despise solo PvP extraction shooters [exasperated sigh in the direction of The Division 2's Dark Zone], and I just don't enjoy hide-and-seek style games that much, and mashing them up like this is like offering me peas and corn as a meal.
It might be that if I played one of the 2v2 or 3v3 modes with friends, I might enjoy it more, but if I was already down to play something with friends, this probably wouldn't be on the list of options to begin with.
Deceive Inc. is:
September 7, 2023 - Day 250 - NewPlay Review
Total NewPlays: 271
Game: Mirror's Edge Catalyst
Release Date: Jun 7, 2016
Library Date: Nov 26, 2022
Unplayed: 285d (9m12d)
Mirror's Edge Catalyst is a first person parkour & melee game.
Today I also learned, after giving in and playing it without playing Mirror's Edge first, it is not in fact, a sequel. It's a reboot.
I use a Logitech G13 Gameboard for my gaming, which has a terrible design flaw in the thumb button, which causes the activation lug for the microswitch to snap off.
I have the thumb button set to "jump".
I've had some replacements 3D-printed, but they usually don't last more than a few months.
This one didn't last the game.
The thing about this game (which looks gorgeous!) is that learning each of the moves feels a little bit frustrating to try and pull off, but once I started to "get" it, it felt good.
When I managed to start stringing them together it felt great.
But then when you get into that flow state, where you start anticipating the moves just before you need to pull them off, that feels amazing...
...until the jump button stops working.
Anyway, looks like I'm pulling my G13 apart again tomorrow to swap out yet *another* activation lug.
Mirror's Edge Catalyst is:
September 3, 2023 - Day 246 - NewPlay Bonus Review
Total NewPlays: 267
Release Date: Sep 6, 2023
Library Date: Sep 3, 2023
Starfield is a first-or-third-person space-based RPG set in a post-Earth universe... but you probably knew that already.
I'm aiming for no spoilers here.
My kids bought me Starfield Premium as a Dad's Day gift, which meant I spent far too much of yesterday sitting in front of my PC.
I will spend far too much of tonight doing the same thing, in all likelihood.
Todd Howard, Executive Producer at Bethesda has described Starfield as "Skyrim in space", which is ridiculous, because I'm enjoying Starfield.
My entire playtime for Skyrim (the original 2015 edition) was 5.8 hours.
When the Skyrim Special Edition was released, I started over. I completed 6.3 hours.
I essentially got to the same point each time and got bored; it's not that I *dislike* Skyrim, it just didn't grab me and make me want to keep playing.
I do wonder whether more than a decade playing WoW just burned me out on fantasy RPGs.
I sank far more time into Fallout 4, but gave up on that because 50% of the time my 130+ hour save game crashes on load, and Bethesda's response was "start over".
So Starfield feels more Fallout 4 than Skyrim to me, but YMMV.
Which is another interesting thing, now that I think about it. Fallout 4 and Skyrim feel like they have a lot more in common with each over than with Starfield, particularly when it comes to the UI.
Starfield feels... different.
The two games it most reminds me of are Star Citizen (thanks for the free weekends reminding me not to spend money on it!), and No Man's Sky.
However... there are a couple of things that have surprised me so far.
"Space is big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to space.” - Douglas Adams
In No Man's Sky, space *feels* big. Overwhelmingly so. (Total playtime, 13.9 hours).
In Starfield (so far!) not so much. You open a star-map, choose a planet, choose a location, and effectively fast-travel there (launches and landings are cool though).
Then there are the space battles; I have a T.16000M HOTAS (thanks, pandemic!). I love to kick back in Chorus and shoot down a bunch of space bad guys.
In space, no-one can hear you scream in frustration at the mouse & keyboard controls for space battles. I assume it works with a controller, but thrust into an unexpected battle, I didn't get to the point of trying that yet.
That's the extent of my critiques. Starfield's launch is everything Redfall wasn't, and Starfield is:
September 3, 2023 - Day 246 - NewPlay Review
Total NewPlays: 266
Game: The Entropy Centre
Release Date: Nov 3, 2022
Library Date: Nov 6, 2022
Unplayed: 301d (9m28d)
The Entropy Centre is a first-person puzzle game. It answers the question "What if the Portal gun controlled time instead of space, in a lab environment built by the architects of the Oldest House?" This is a game that capital-L Loves the brutalist architecture of Control.
This is not -technically- unplayed. I played the demo before it was released, then almost immediately purchased it, and forgot I'd purchased it.
That's not a bad thing; The Entropy Centre appears to have received a number of updates since it was released, so much so that it felt like I was playing it for the first time.
You ("Aria") wake up in a remote and overgrown and deserted lab, with no idea how you got there, or even *where* you are.
Upon starting your exploration of the facility, you encounter a gun that can rewind time, within a specific set of circumstances.
Given the sheer weathered and damaged state of the lab, this provides an in-game explanation for why it can only rewind some things, and not others.
Much like Portal, you have to make your way through test labs, and move boxes around to open doors.
Also much like Portal, there's an AI assisting you, but instead of being a disembodied voice, the AI ("Astra") AI is embodied in the gun itself.
Unlike Portal, though, you have to think in four dimensions, and frequently need to think through the solution, then reverse engineer it to work in reverse-time as well as in space.
As someone who enjoyed Portal and the many variations on the theme (Q.U.B.E. 2, Relicta), I also am enjoying this game.
It's just unfortunate for The Entropy Centre that my kids gave me Starfield for Dad's day, otherwise I'd be throwing the cubes around for the rest of the day because The Entropy Centre is:
August 11, 2023 - Day 223 - NewPlay Review
Total NewPlays: 243
Game: Tin Can
Release Date: May 13, 2022
Library Date: Aug 4, 2023
Tin Can is game number seven in this month's Humble Choice bundle, and answers the question, "What if Breathedge, but serious?"
Tin Can is a first-person space survival sim. Your goal is to survive as long as possible in real time.
The tutorial walks you (an on-board janitor) through the basic systems of the escape pod through a set of cute over-the-radio interactions with an on-board engineer who has to be in two places at once, and seconds you a few times to run through some repairs, then diagnostics, then troubleshooting.
Then the ship starts to explode, and suddenly you need to be in that escape pod.
You have a handful of spare parts, a technical manual, and a few minutes to solve whatever problem the escape pod is experiencing before that problem kills you.
The game tells you upfront that you will die. A lot.
I wouldn't describe it as fun, per se; it's stressful, but very engaging.
With only one game left in this month's bundle, I'm genuinely surprised at the number of bangers this time around.
If you don't already own the games I reckon you can't go wrong dropping AUD$17 on the bundle, even if the final game turns out to be a fizzer.
Tin Can is:
August 10, 2023 - Day 222 - NewPlay Review
Total NewPlays: 242
Release Date: Aug 14, 2022
Library Date: Aug 4, 2023
Game number six: SuchART.
I figured this might be the game where I sigh, and force myself to 15 minutes and write my little review.
Almost two hours later...
Conceptually, this game is much like Passpartout: The Starving Artist that really surprised me back in January.
Instead of a humble garage in Paris, you find yourself in a future where all art is created by robots, and realising the dead end of this, real live artists are being sponsored to create real art, with real paints and canvases...
...based on a space station.
It's a cute twist. You're supplied with everything required to make basic art, and you can paint commissions or just create paintings and sell them in the "marketplace" (no other players required).
My first commission was a request for a unicorn from my sister.
It was a very bad unicorn. She loved it. Of course.
You can pretty much grind out anything, and it will be accepted and loved by those who commissioned it.
White polar bear in a snowstorm doesn't cut it though.
You have to put *something* on the canvas.
I kept painting, and churning out crap to complete quests and level up. It was kind of fun, and a chill way to kill some time.
Then... I saw something. An idea. An actual idea. In fiddling around with the in-game tools, something unlocked, and I found myself frantically grabbing paints and rollers and brushes, and a water pistol filled with paint, and *creating*.
When I was done, I sat back in my chair, and just loved that thing I'd created.
August 9, 2023 - Day 221 - NewPlay Review
Total NewPlays: 241
Game: Arcade Paradise
Release Date: Aug 11, 2022
Library Date: Aug 4, 2023
There comes a time in every monthly Humble Bundle where you hit the cruft. The games they chose to pad out the bundle to eight games.
...and so we come to Arcade Paradise, game number five.
This is not that game.
I really didn't expect much of this from the title. The apparent love of retro games by indie devs is lost on me, and going on the name and the artwork, I made the assumption that this was going to be something a la Capcom's "Arcade Stadium" with a bunch of retro-styled games, and maybe some vague narrative thread to string them together.
Having just finished re-assembling my PC at 11:45pm, I figured I'd put in my 15 minutes and write the review later.
The game intro didn't do much to assuage my fears. A bunch of hand-drawn animated graphics. Not *badly* done, but I've been burned before.
The intro ends, and the screen morphs into... full first-person high resolution 3D.
This is a pleasant surprise.
As it turns out, Arcade Paradise is a love letter to retro arcade games, wrapped in a business sim.
As 19yo college dropout Ashley, you've been handed the keys to one of your father's run-down laundromats, in the hope that you'll "make something" of yourself.
The game opens with you dropped off by the bus in front of said laundromat, with a series of answering machine messages from your father telling you each step of managing the laundromat.
Hope you don't mind doing laundry, kid. There's a lot of it to do. There's also cleaning, garbage collection, maintenance, and emptying coin hoppers.
Oh, and there are a couple of arcade machines in the back room.
This is the heart of the narrative. Yes, you need to do all that stuff in the laundromat, working long days, to earn money... so that you can afford to buy more arcade machines, and prove to dad that there's more to life than just the grind of doing laundry.
I was hooked, and am tired this morning as a result.
There are some things that frustrate me about the gameplay. The "opening the safe" process gets old *very* quickly. The inability to interact with the garbage piled outside the laundromat just annoys me.
I WANT TO CLEAN IT UP. There are empty vending machines that I want to fill, and cannot interact with. I don't just want to build the arcade, I also want to clean up and renovate the laundromat, but that's a "me" thing.
Ironically, you can also play the arcade games themselves, something that just doesn't grab me at all, but that's OK by me.
In a completely unexpected twist, Arcade Paradise is:
August 7, 2023 - Day 219 - RePlay Review
Total RePlays: 7
Game: Road 96
Release Date: Aug 16, 2021
Library Date: Nov 16, 2021
Playtime: 40m (Total: 3h)
Road 96 is a cel-shaded procedurally generated first-person adventure RPG set in a vaguely midwest alt-American quasi-dictatorship in the summer of 1996.
It is the third game in the August Humble Choice bundle, and the second of the games that I already owned, having bought it three months after it came out.
You play a succession of teenaged runaways attempting to escape cross-country by whatever means possible to reach the titular Road 96, the one route out of the country.
As you make each journey, you encounter a cast of characters, slowly piecing together their backstories as you make each journey.
Each journey can end in arrest, or (apparently) death, or escape.
So far, my first two chapters have resulted in being arrested each time, so at least I'm not dead?
The soundtrack is quite wonderful, and I find the storyline quite moving.
Between this and Disco Elysium, I think either game justifies this month's bundle, but if you don't have either, it's a definite buy. Even if you do end up with Chivalry II as well.
Road 96 is:
August 6, 2023 - Day 218 - NewPlay Review
Total NewPlays: 238
Game: Builder Simulator
Release Date: Jun 10, 2022
Library Date: Jun 4, 2023
Unplayed: 63d (2m2d)
Builder Simulator is a first-person work simulator, and most work simulators suck.
In my experience there are two kinds of games I describe as work simulators.
The first involves cleaning. I'm not sure why, but when I was experiencing quite a dark time in my mental health, I discovered House Flipper. Leaving aside the real-world ethics of house-flipping, the game is essentially a cleaning & decorating sim.
Power Wash Simulator is another oddly satisfying work sim.
Building Simulator... is not.
Building Simulator opens with your new assistant, Bill Derr. Mmm, I love the smell of bad puns in the morning (I do not.).
Bill Derr is Claptrap from Borderlands mashed up with a cement mixer, and the annoying dialed up to ten.
Bill's role is -apparently- to tell you how to play the game. I found myself in the middle of nowhere, with an outline on the ground that I had to turn into a foundation.
A cement mixer, a wheelbarrow, a couple of piles of sand, and gravel, and... "OK, now build".
I spent the next few minutes poking around trying to work out exactly what I had to do. Eventually I dug into the options menu to find the controls to see if there was something I was missing, and it turns out that the tools menu is accessible through the middle mouse button.
If only there was some kind of in-game character to provide that sort of instruction.
Once I had access to the tools, grab shovel, dig out the marked outline, buy formwork through your handy tablet computer.
How much? Who knows. Not enough, not enough, too much. Install formwork. Sell overpurchased formwork back to story. Buy reinforcement. Rinse and repeat.
Now make concrete. Fill wheelbarrow with concrete. Lay foundation.
Look, there's probably someone out there who finds deep levels of satisfaction in this. It's just not me.
There's something soothing about cleaning work sims that I don't experience in this kind of work sim.
I got to play the beta of PC Building Simulator 2, and having actually run my own real-world computer store for several years, I found it teeth-grindingly frustrating.
The biggest problem with Building Simulator is that it's just like starting a new job, where no-one will tell you anything, and you just need to poke at things until you get what's going on.
I have a job, I don't need to simulate having a second one.
August 5, 2023 - Day 217 - NewPlay Review
Total NewPlays: 237
Game: Titanfall 2
Release Date: Oct 28, 2016
Library Date: Nov 25, 2022
Unplayed: 253d (8m11d)
Titanfall 2 is a first person shooter with mechs. While it has a multiplayer mode, I was focused on trying the campaign.
Technically, this is not the first time I've played Titanfall 2. I attempted to play it via Gamepass on the Xbox a few years ago, and try as I might, I just couldn't coordinate on the controller in any way that felt playable.
It was one of those games that I'd heard people rave about, and when it came up on deep sale late last year, I took the bait.
A seven year old game, with mouse and keyboard?
Yeah, that's the good stuff. Wall-running, which is a critical part of this Titanfall 2, went from making me want to throw the controller in frustration to something fluid and fun.
The gunplay while in pilot mode is incredibly satisfying. The guns feel weighty, and the sniper rifle in particular has a wonderful heft to it; putting a sniper round into a drone is particularly enjoyable.
By the end of my 78 minutes, I'd just loaded into the mech and completed the first mission, with the mech's abilities being a lot of fun, particularly the "catch all the projectiles and return-to-sender" ability.
Titanfall 2 seems:
August 1, 2023 - Day 213 - NewPlay Review
Total NewPlays: 232
Game: Shadows of Doubt
Release Date: Apr 25, 2023
Library Date: Aug 1, 2023
When I read a review of Shadows of Doubt a few months ago it absolutely fascinated me. You're a private-investigator in a first-person voxel-based fully-simulated city sandbox, solving crimes, and through that, hunting for a serial killer.
I added it to my wishlist, and it came up as a flash-special on one of the sales websites, which in turn I had a voucher than gave me a further 10% off, which meant it was almost half-price.
I want to say I love it, but I don't know if I do. It looks wonderful. I fell in love with voxel-based games thanks to Cloudpunk, and Shadows of Doubt has a similar kind of cyberpunk visual flair.
By fully simulated, they mean that the area of the city you're in contains NPCs and critical characters that are actively going on with a life, irrelevant of your presence. It felt strangely realistic.
Unfortunately it's not an easy game to make headway in, and I don't know if that's a "game" think or a "me" thing.
You collect evidence, and you can pin it together Pepe Silvia style, but by the time I decided to quite out, I was feeling like Charlie. I'd collected so much evidence, I felt overwhelmed, and I didn't know what to throw away.
However, I was incredibly exhausted, and that probably didn't help at all. It's definitely a game I'm going to go back to, as it's in Early Access and is still being developed.
Shadows of Doubt is:
July 28, 2023 - Day 209 - NewPlay Review
Total NewPlays: 228
Game: Call of the Sea
Release Date: Dec 9, 2020
Library Date: Mar 10, 2023
Unplayed: 140d (4m18d)
Call of the Sea is a first-person 3D puzzle game, set on an island near Tahiti, in 1934.
You play as Norah Everhart, a woman trying to unlock the mystery of the disappearance of her husband on an expedition to this remote island.
I bought this game as part of an "International Women's Day" bundle, where all the games have female protagonists. Capitalism will find any excuse for a sale, but in this case, part of the money was going to charity, and I wanted more games with female protagonists, so it felt like a win/win.
This is a wonderful game. The graphics are lush and gorgeous, and the puzzles are mostly of the kind that pushed me just enough that I enjoyed them, but not so much that you need to keep a walkthrough open in a web browser. The kind that are satisfying to solve.
The kind that kept me playing non-stop until I'd completed the game. The last game that hooked me into playing through in a single session was Firewatch, which is one of my all-time favourite games, and Call of the Sea comes close.
The game opens with Norah waking up from an odd dream, in a cabin on a ship, which has just reached its destination.
As Norah looks down at her hands, they're covered in small brown blotches, and her voiceover starts talking about her illness. These blotches are symptoms of her illness, and her husband's expedition to this remote -and possibly cursed- island was an attempt to find a cure.
It's Norah's illness that is at the core of this game. While to say more would involve spoilers, I think if this were just a puzzle game, I'm not sure it would have hooked me. But Norah's story, the mystery of her illness, but a smart & capable woman who refuses to let her illness define her, and whose relationship with her husband appears to be one of equals, drew me in, and as each puzzle solution revealed a little bit more of the story, I just wanted to solve one more puzzle.
The call on Call of the Sea is:
5: Excellent* (see next toot - spoilers)
July 17, 2023 - Day 198 - NewPlay Review
Total NewPlays: 218
Game: The Outer Worlds: Spacer's Choice Edition
Release Date: Mar 8, 2023
Library Date: Jul 16, 2023
Well, I'm back on my Humble Choice arc again.
First cab off the rank, is The Outer Worlds "Spacer's Choice Edition". The Outer Worlds is a first-person ARPG that answers the question "What would the love child of Fallout: New Vegas and Firefly look like?"
The "Spacer's Choice Edition" includes all of the DLCs and some graphical spit-and-polish to the original release from October 2019.
As it turns out, after turning to Google, I suspect the main reason it feels like that is because it was developed by Obsidian who also developed... Fallout: New Vegas.
Once I reached the ship ("The Unreliable") that apparently serves as the main hub of the game, and completed the first quest onboard, I turned around and started exploring the ship.
Entering the hold, was an immediate raised-eyebrow moment, as it could have all but been the Serenity. Up the stairs, and further exploring lead me into the galley/dining area, which - once again - could have been lifted straight from Firefly.
There are differences, of course; it's obviously a homage, rather than a straight-up lift. With Disney owning Fox, I'm sure the Microsoft-owned Obsidian wasn't looking for a lawsuit.
Still, it provides some nice sans-Whedon warm-and-fuzzies.
So far -and in 39 minutes, I really didn't get very far, what with the character conversations and all, it seems like a capable ARPG that want to give a bit more time to.
It's very polished, and is gently tugging at me to come back and play a bit more, but... alas, the incessant coughing means I really need to try and sleep.
The Outer Worlds: Spacer's Choice Edition pretty much justifies the cost of this month's Humble Bundle; it's:
June 28, 2023 - Day 179 - NewPlay Review
Total NewPlays: 198
Game: Recursive Ruin
Release Date: May 18, 2022
Library Date: Jun 8, 2023
Recursive Ruin is a first person narrative-based puzzle game about grief.
I read about this game last year, and added it to my wishlist; when it popped up on sale three weeks ago, and so I added another game to the pile of shame.
The game's conceit is in the title, because a large chunk of the game's environments are recursive. This is deeply disorienting, and feels like the diametric opposite of a cozy game.
It's standard WASD keyboard and mouse navigation, and with the addition of what is, effectively, a companion cube, it's a bit like "What would it be like to play Portal on psychedelic drugs?"
This is an interesting, but disquieting game; I'm genuinely not sure if I like it, or just solving puzzles.
Recursive Ruin is:
June 25, 2023 - Day 176 - NewPlay Review
Total NewPlays: 195
Game: Kingdom Come: Deliverance
Release Date: Feb 13, 2018
Library Date: Sep 7, 2019
Unplayed: 1387d (3y9m18d)
Kingdom Come: Deliverance is a first-person open world RPG set in medieval Bohemia. You play Henry, a young man set on a mission of vengeance.
This was a game that I really knew nothing about, that was part of the August 2019 Humble Bundle. After I disappointed @bluntelk by not enjoying ToeJam & Earl, he asked if I'd played this.
I had not, and since I owned this on one Steam, away I went.
Once again, going into the game without knowing anything about it proved somewhat beneficial to the setup of the story. RPGs often follow the pattern of the Hero's Journey.
Henry's life in this bucolic village in Bohemia was obviously not going to be the whole of the game. Had I read the logline for the game on the Steam page, it gives away the catalysing event that sets Henry on his journey, so it was devastating to experience it first-hand, but also gave me a fire in my bones that I might have lacked knowing what I was in for.
In terms of gameplay, it's a good looking game for a game released five years ago, & built in Crytek's CryEngine.
Will I complete it? I'm not sure. Statistically, it's unlikely. I've started multiple Assassin's Creed games, and haven't completed any of them. I was hours into Cyberpunk 2077 before discovering I hadn't even completed the prologue. In all my time gaming, the only open-world game I've even completed is FarCry 5.
There's also the issue of playing a male protagonist. When I play a game with a female protagonist I feel a sense of connection that's noticeably absent with male protagonists; in fact, recognising this was another small piece in understanding the puzzle that is myself.
However, the story did pique my interest, and it might be one of those games that draws me back, so I'm going to sit with it for a while.
Overall, (and this should make @bluntelk happy), I think Kingdom Come: Deliverance is:
May 25, 2023 - Day 145 - NewPlay Review
Total NewPlays: 161
Game: Demon Pit
Release Date: Oct 18, 2018
Library Date: Aug 17, 2022
Unplayed: 281d (9m8d)
This was the third unplayed game I played today. First was Due Process, a free multiplayer shooter with no players. Quit, uninstall. Then Bomjman, which had an auto-translated and generated voiceover that was so bad, I quit and immediately uninstalled it too.
Then came Demon Pit. Apparently I bought a bundle of mash-up games on the same date. Unlike yesterday's game, though, Demon Pit did not scratch any itches.
It's a retro-styled first-person boomer shooter, with a grappling hook, like a mashup of Doom and Just Cause. You're in a single arena where you need to kill a set number of mobs to end that wave, then you get a new weapon, the arena re-arranges around you, and more mobs spawn.
Keep going until you die.
It's a short review because... there's not a lot to it. The grappling hook mechanic is OK, but you frequently get flung past your goal into more mobs.
It gets repetitive very quickly, and it's just not much fun after that.
Demon Pit is:
Apr 28, 2023 - Day 118 - NewPlay Review
Total NewPlays: 133
Game: Unfortunate Spacemen
Release Date: Jun 13, 2020
Library Date: Jun 14, 2020
Unplayed: 1048d (2y10m14d)
Unfortunate Spacemen feels like a first-person mash-up of Among Us, Dead By Daylight, and Alien. It's a free multiplayer survival game that's suffered the same fate as most of the other free & paid multiplayer games that sat in my Pile of Shame for too long: no-one is playing.
The game starts with a slightly over-the-top tutorial playing as one of the titular Spacemen. It's frustratingly slow as the voiceover drones on endlessly, switching out halfway through in what was (I guess) supposed to feel funny, but just felt odd & forced. There's nothing here you don't already know from every other FPS.
Next, the "playing as the monster" tutorial. You start out disguised as one of the spacemen; you can then switch into monster form to kill a spaceman, then back to spaceman again, or even take on the identity of whoever you killed.
The gameplay feels a bit janky in the way it plays, but the biggest problem is the same one experienced by most F2P PvP games: get big quick, or go home.
The servers are still running (unlike many other games), but there aren't a lot of players, & apparently most are just griefing.
Which makes Unfortunate Spacemen a:
Apr 25, 2023 - Day 115 - NewPlay Review
Total NewPlays: 129
Game: Sir, You Are Being Hunted
Platform: Steam PC
Release Date: Aug 19, 2013
Library Date: Nov 24, 2017
Unplayed: 1978d (5y5m1d)
Sir, You Are Being Hunted is a first person stealth survival game.
If you've been reading up on my reviews, you might assume how this is going to go, and you'd be correct.
Up front, though, let me say how utterly refreshing it is to have a game where the gameplay voiceover heavily features a gendered honorific, & allows you to change that from "Sir" to "Madam" with a button at the main menu.
Unfortunately, any potential gender euphoria from this change is overwhelmed by playing a stealth survival game.
For the newcomers: I'm not a big fan of survival games, and even less so of stealth games where you're primarily helpless; this is both. Not great for a woman with anxiety issues.
If that's your cup of tea, have at it; a game set in a quaint & creepy English countryside, where you're being hunted by robots was always going to be a big ask, & it was a "please be over, please be over" every time I died and checked the clock.
There's a whole layer of real-world subtext for me about being hunted by English people who want me to not exist that really drives the final nail into this game's coffin.
Sir (Madam), You Are Being Hunted is a big old:
Apr 17, 2023 - Day 107 - NewPlay Bonus Review
Total NewPlays: 116
Game: Dead Island Definitive Edition
Platform: Steam PC
Release Date: May 31, 2016
Library Date: Dec 4, 2018
Unplayed: 1595d (4y4m13d)
Dead Island is another first-person zombie killing game, but this time it's set on a resort island.
It's a pretty run-of-the-mill "kill zombies, collect stuff, make stuff, kill more zombies" gameplay loop. Being set on a tropical island seems (so far) to give it a slightly different feel to other zombie games.
But it also felt kind-of familiar, not just like other zombie killing games, but like I'd played it before.
When I logged out, and looked up who'd made it, that feeling made sense; Dead Island is made by Techland, the same studio who make the Dying Light franchise.
Techland know how to make zombie games, but with the familiarity of the gameplay loop, if I was in the mood for killing zombies, I'd probably choose Dying Light 2 over this, as a more recent game with gameplay improvements.
Dead Island Definitive Edition is:
Feb 28, 2023 - Day 58 - NewPlay Review
Total NewPlays: 65
Game: A Story About My Uncle
Platform: Steam PC
Release Date: May 28, 2014
Library Date: Jan 11, 2019
Unplayed: 1509 days (4y1m17d)
I'm on call this week, and it's kind of messed up my ability to play AND review games, so I played this on Tuesday, but am now getting the review done.
A Story About My Uncle is a first-person 3D platformer. It has something of a push-pull effect on me.
On one hand, the story (as it is), keeps pulling me forward, but the control scheme keeps pushing me away.
Unfortunately for ASAMU, the pull isn't enough to overcome the push.
In terms of design and sound, it's an atmospheric game, that really reinforces the story, but unfortunately, I just found myself repeatedly getting frustrated with the controls.
I'm not ready to delete it, but I'm unsure as to whether I'll be drawn to play it again.
For now, I'll give A Story About My Father a rating of:
Jan 25, 2023 - Day 25 - NewPlay Review
Total NewPlays: 32
Game: The Norwood Suite
Platform: Steam PC
Release Date: Oct 2, 2017
Library Date: Feb 3, 2018
Unplayed: 1817 days (4y11m22d)
Today was quite an odd day. I woke up after 6 hours sleep. Which feels quite offputting after sleeping 4.5 hours per day on average for over a year.
Made myself some breakfast, sat down to play this game, and... things got weirder.
The Norwood Suite is a first-person point-and-click adventure game, set in the Hotel Norwood.
It is quite a surreal game. It's unclear why the driver of the car who's dumped you outside the Hotel Norwood has done so, but you've been given a voucher for one free night, at this hotel, and thus your musical adventure begins.
Apparently, the Norwood was built by a once-famous musician, and the interleaving musical cues are great, but slightly unnerving, which is kind of the way I feel about the game.
After 20-odd minutes in-game, I was still just scratching the surface, and I feel like the game may be good, or may turn out to be a disappointment. This may well end up as a RePlay.
For now, The Norwood Suite is: