Masthash

#ThirdPerson

Digital Foundry
4 days ago

September 19, 2023 - Day 262 - NewPlay Review
Total NewPlays: 283

Game: Lies of P

Platform: Xbox Game Pass PC
Release Date: Sep 19, 2023
Installation Date: Sep 19, 2023
Unplayed: 0d
Playtime: 32m

Something a little different today. A review of Jodie Whittaker's Australian accent.

OK, not really (although it's passable, and justifiable with her backstory of having been living in the UK and returned to Australia).

As far as I remember, this is the first time I've reviewed an Xbox Game Pass game, which means I get to play Lies of P without dropping A$100 or more on it.

Lies of P is a third-person soulslike set within a retelling of the Pinocchio story. You play as P (ie. Pinocchio), who's suddenly awakened, seated in a train, in what very much appears to be mostly-human form, with the exception of a mechanical arm.

A voice calls to you to meet her at a hotel, but to get there, you first need to escape the train station, which is full of mechanical people determined to kill you.

You're presented with one of three initial playstyles, and I chose the one with the (seemingly) most straight-forward attack style (and the most HP).

Lies of P is set in the Belle Γ‰poque era. I had no idea what that was, but it's basically late 19th Century Europe through to WWII. The environment is beautiful.

One of the most lessons I learned the hard way, is don't make the mistake of skimming each of the tutorial pop-ups. Turns out they're kind of important.

Even so, by the time I hit the 32 minute mark, I'd traversed the same set of mobs five or six times, and died on the first boss repeatedly.

Blocking is incredibly important, both for restoring energy, and for staggering the mobs. Unfortunately, it requires very good timing, and I don't quite seem to be able to pull it off yet.

This is where XGPU is most useful to me. If I put in another couple of hours, and it's not a game I'm going to improve at (some of them aren't, thanks hand-eye coordination!), then nothing lost.

Not quite sure what I'll do when I have to start paying full price for XGPU, but that's a problem for 2027 Allie.

For now, Lies of P is:

4: Good

#LiesOfP #ThirdPerson #Soulslike #MastodonGaming #Gaming
#Project365ONG #Project365 #NewPlay

September 8, 2023 - Day 251 - NewPlay Review
Total NewPlays: 272

Game: Synced

Platform: Steam
Release Date: Sep 8, 2023
Library Date: Sep 8, 2023
Unplayed: 0d
Playtime: 1h4m

Synced is a free-to-play third-person post-apocalyptic sci-fi co-op PvE or PvP looter-shooter with roguelite elements.

Today's apocalypse is brought to you by [spins wheel]... nanotechnology!

This is another Tencent game. Fans of Ring of Elysium (a F2P battle royale set for shutdown on December 1st) assert that Synced is just Tencent recycling game assets, but as I never played Ring of Elysium, I cannot verify this.

I have, however, played Synced.

It feels like a game designed by sticking a bunch of post-it notes with gaming-related words on a wall, and throwing darts while blindfolded until a set of ideas was assembled to wrap around the core gameplay element.

Of course, being a Tencent game, the core gameplay element is microtransactions.

The tutorial puts you in the shoes of "Deadcut", a "runner" (yeah) who's a gambling man with a sarcastic running commentary.

Joy. I get to play as a man. I never managed to enjoy pretending to be a man in real life, I prefer not to play one in a game.

The basic tutorial lays out the story, introduces you to your... familiar? Nano tank? Nano pal who's fun to be with?

During each level, you can weaken a nano mob to the point your can "Sync" with it (thus 'Synced') and... then it lives in your nano-infused arm except when you need it?

Once introduced to the basic gameplay loop of killing mobs, collecting power-up goop, and trading that goop for power-ups at regular "exchange stations" that offer "random" power-ups (the roguelite bit), you then make it to "Haven".

The sassy leader of Haven declares that you must be something special to make it there all by yourself; she sends you off on your choice of 3-person PvE or PvP quest... with two other players with identical avatars. I feel so special.

There's a touch of PUBG to the looting, with a much smaller weapon selection; you fight your way through the nano mobs, and nano minibosses to the nano boss of the level as "the surge" (yes, really), grows in strength until it reaches 100%.

There's a safe zone around the mini bosses & bosses when they've zoned in, and if you're outside the eye of the storm... erm.. in the surge, you'll be taking constant damage.

Finish this part of the tutorial, and suddenly you can become one of the other two F2P "runners", or pay for the battle pass (nobody expects the Battle Pass!) to increase your choices.

I assume that much like Ring of Elysium, Synced will last for a few years with a handful of whales paying for the Battle Pass, until Tencent rebrand their studio and release their next big microtransaction-looter.

I'm really not sure who this mashup microtransaction engine is aimed at; Synced is just:

2: Meh

#Synced #ThirdPerson #ShooterLooter #MastodonGaming #Gaming #Project365ONG #Project365 #NewPlay

September 5, 2023 - Day 248 - NewPlay Review
Total NewPlays: 269

Game: Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine - Anniversary Edition

Platform: Steam
Release Date: Sep 6, 2011
Library Date: May 29, 2015
Unplayed: 3021d (8y3m7d)
Playtime: 23m

Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine - Anniversary Edition was released in 2021 as a free update to Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine, with all of the previously released DLCs and add-ons included.

The game is a third-person shooter-hack-and-slash combo.

A few minutes after starting the game I found myself thrown straight into combat as an Ultramarine Space Marine(?), with the game throwing multiple combinations of mouse button and key presses at me, as a barrage of Orks attacked me.

Such frantic combinations as "Press f then mouse button 5 then e". My dude, I have no idea which button on my mouse is mouse button 5. I can't even tell my left and right apart most of the time, let alone which of the other seven buttons on my mouse beyond 1 & 2 are which.

Even the G Hub software just calls them "Forward" and "Back". It took a torch and a minute of trying to find the right viewing angle and distance for my 49yo eyes to work out which button had "G5" stamped into the plastic ("Forward", for the record).

Trying to remember which of the buttons are which in the middle of a pitched battle was a lot, particularly when - on top of all this - the mouse view is bizarrely restricted, even with my mouse set to 3200 DPI.

I had to pick up my mouse, move it, and put it down again more than once just to do a 180 degree sweep. I don't think I've had to do that since mice were functionally male.

After surviving that mission, and slowly starting to mash the right buttons in the right order, I started to feel like the game was making sense.

I was slamming my way around the map, Orks getting splattered by my big gun, and my big knife making short work of any Orks who got too close.

Unfortunately, as with many other games that have a few years on the clock, there are games that have been released since that provide a similar gameplay experience with a better user interface and/or user experience.

In practice, if the Warhammer 40k branding were stripped away, the battle gameplay feels a lot like Outriders, but less refined; unfortunately for the game, I have no emotional bond to Warhammer or 40k, so there's not a lot to keep my interest.

If I'm in the mood for "big weapons make enemies go splorch", it's probably going to be Outriders or Gears of War before this.

Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine - Anniversary Edition is:

3: OK

#Warhammer40K #SpaceMarine #ThirdPerson #Shooter #HackAndSlash #MastodonGaming #Gaming #Project365ONG #Project365 #NewPlay

August 29, 2023 - Day 241 - NewPlay Review
Total NewPlays: 261

Game: Hellblade: Senu'a Sacrifice

Platform: Steam
Release Date: Aug 8, 2017
Library Date: Jun 29, 2019
Unplayed: 1522d (4y2m)
Playtime: 31m

Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice is a third-person action-adventure game, in which you play as Senua, a Viking-era Pict warrior, on a mission to enter Helheim, and save the soul of her dead lover.

The game opens with a mental health warning that it features representations of psychosis, with good reason.

Senua is experiencing psychosis, and hears voices.

I immediately found this challenging. I have lived with mental health issues for all of my adult life. While I have not experienced psychosis, I felt... a familiarity... with the game's expression of psychosis.

The game opens with Senua in a canoe paddling into a horrifying gorge in which bodies are floating in the water, and are impaled on stakes along the riverside, as the narrator speaks of Senua in the third person.

Senua is paddling into Helheim.

This tableau, however, is not an expression of Senua's psychosis.

The narrator is.

As the Senua paddles on, the narrator joins with a cacophony of other voices challenging, attacking, and goading Senua.

This is discomforting.

As Senua makes landfall, and progresses on foot through an environment that is no less harrowing than the river, light appears and fades; the screen distorts, the voices rise and fall.

The weight of this presses down on me. On Senua. On us.

Memories explode into view, and then fade.

Senua reaches the gates of Helheim, and engages in her first battle, which is frightening, and devastating in turns.

This has been a difficult and long review to write; the way in which the game shifts between the mental and physical is both visceral, and somehow weightless.

This too, feels familiar. It makes this a complicated game to play.

On a technical level, the visuals are excellent. The sound design is is something else; it lifts this game to another level.

There is no HUD, no health bar. No instructions on what to do.

With keyboard and mouse, the game relies on the standard WASD + F to use. Swordplay and blocking felt instinctive.

This game is only a few months newer than yesterday's game, yet almost perfectly embodies "show, don't tell". The attention that was seemingly lacking for gameplay in yesterday's game, is seen here in buckets, and the game is better for it.

However, these reviews aren't entirely a review of the quality of the game, but also whether I want to invest my gaming time in a particular game.

That is far more complex, because while this IS an excellent game, it's a difficult one for *me* to play; it is affecting on a level that I need to assess further.

As such, for me Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice is:

4: Good

#HellbladeSenuasSacrifice #ThirdPerson #ActionAdventure #MastodonGaming #Gaming #Project365ONG #Project365 #NewPlay

August 16, 2023 - Day 228 - NewPlay Review
Total NewPlays: 248

Game: Praey for the Gods

Platform: Steam
Release Date: Dec 15, 2021
Library Date: Mar 10, 2023
Unplayed: 159d (5m6d)
Playtime: 29m

Praey for the Gods is a third-person "open-world" boss-climbing adventure game.

Set in a harsh frozen post-apocalyptic wilderness, you play a nameless woman on a quest to kill the "Gods" in an attempt to try and save your world.

I bought this as part of the "Humble Heroines" bundle in March, and had no idea what the game was about. I started playing at 11:58pm last night.

After playing it, I was still struggling to grapple with understanding exactly what was going on.

Apparently, the game is inspired by a PS2 / PS4 game called "Shadow of the Colossus"; the PS2 version was released in 2005, and remade for the PS4 in 2018. I have no experience with that game either, & I feel like the devs expect the player to be familiar with the concepts underlying the gameplay.

The game opens with an intro giving the basic concept of the world, & the "gods", after which you find yourself in a tutorial level that guides you through navigation & interaction; you progress through a map, interacting with various items along the way, including a pull-switch that you "attack" to open doors and activate items.

Until suddenly it doesn't.

I activated one of these switches as I had several times before, and instead of moving into the next section, I was somewhere else entirely different, with nothing in common with the environment I'd just been in (that would give me some clue to how I'd arrived there), with a skyscraper-sized monster trying to kill me.

I'm unarmed.

At this point, I'm glad I'd left the difficulty set to the easiest level, because otherwise I would have been dead. A lot.

After punching the monster proved ineffective, I eventually realised that maybe I could climb out of the way.

Success.

After an eternity of sluggish climbing, there was a switch at the top which activated a bell that affected the monster.

At which point I noticed that the monster had three of the switches attached to its body. Turns out you can climb the monster too.

Did I mention that climbing is sluggish and awkward?

These boss fights are the core of the game, and the core gameplay is just frustrating. Each time you attack the boss with one of these switches, which you need to do multiple times for each switch, it tries to shake you off, so you need to wildly tap a button to stay on.

This drains your stamina, until you get knocked off and have to climb back up again, frustratingly grinding your way to killing the boss.

The game is a good looking game, and apparently open-world with a "survival" mechanic as well, but with feeling like I'm just grinding to achieve anything, it doesn't feel worth the effort.

Praey for the Gods is:

2: Meh

#PraeyForTheGods #ThirdPerson #Adventure #MastodonGaming #Gaming #Project365ONG #Project365 #NewPlay

August 15, 2023 - Day 227 - NewPlay Review
Total NewPlays: 247

Game: The Stillness of the Wind

Platform: Steam
Release Date: Feb 8, 2019
Library Date: Jun 5, 2023
Unplayed: 71d (2m10d)
Playtime: 22m

The Stillness of the Wind is a third-person game about loss and getting old.

Talma lives alone on her farm in the middle of nowhere, with a couple of goats, and a few chickens.

This is a very quiet game, that involves just... living. As Talma, you milk the goats & make cheese. You collect eggs from the chickens, and mushrooms from under the windmill. You plant seeds, and collect water from the well, to water them. You cook dinner, read a letter should one come, and go to bed to start over.

Rendered in warm watercolour tones, you feel Talma's age as she makes her way around her tiny farm. Various items bring memories to mind, and several of them are quite sad.

This is not a game to play for fun. It evoked in me a sense of melancholy and loneliness.

I will probably play it through to completion, but when I'm in the right frame of mind to engage with it.

The Stillness of the Wind is:

3: OK

#TheStillnessOfTheWind #ThirdPerson #CozyGaming #MastodonGaming #Gaming #Project365ONG #Project365 #NewPlay

August 14, 2023 - Day 226 - NewPlay Review
Total NewPlays: 246

Game: Submerged

Platform: Steam
Release Date: Aug 4, 2015
Library Date: May 13, 2023
Unplayed: 93d (3m1d)
Playtime: 24m

Submerged is an third-person post-apocalyptic open-world exploration game. You play as a young girl, Miku, who is trying to save her brother's life, and to do so, must sail around a submerged city, climbing the buildings and exploring the ruins to locate crates containing survival items.

It's very pretty, but based on my movement through the game so far, it seems like it will be a reasonably short game that won't outstay its welcome.

I think the sail->search->climb->find gameplay loop could get pretty old pretty quickly.

As you move through the story, you uncover pieces of Miku & her brother's story, and the story of what happened to the city in the form of pictographs, and as you explore, there are 60 collectables to find.

Submerged is:

3: OK

#Submerged #ThirdPerson #OpenWorld #MastodonGaming #Gaming #Project365ONG #Project365 #NewPlay

August 6, 2023 - Day 218 - RePlay Review
Total RePlays: 6

Game: Disco Elysium - The Final Cut

Platform: Steam
Release Date: Oct 16, 2019
Library Date: Nov 9, 2021
Playtime: 1h12m (Total: 3h)

Disco Elysium - The Final Cut is an upgraded version of the original Disco Elysium, a detective RPG. It's one of those games that seemingly everyone raves about. Reviews all give it a 9 or 10 out of 10.

It's the first game in the August Humble Choice bundle, and a curious choice for a AAA game, as most people who would be interested in it would already own it.

I've tried to get into it twice previously, and it just didn't click for me. I'd racked up 108 minutes of playtime, and just sat there in my library, taking up space.

The necessity to review it meant starting over again, and turns out to be third-time lucky. This time it clicked. Not sure what the difference is, but I "get" it now.

It's a largely text-driven affair, and I now understand that the dice-role checks are taken from tabletop RPGs, which makes a little more sense of what's going on.

You play a cop who wakes up drunk and with amnesia in a wrecked apartment. You, the as-yet nameless cop are in a pretty bad way, and your mission is to find out who murdered the man hanging in the tree behind the hotel where you woke up, and who you are.

It seems like you're not a very nice guy.

I paid more attention to the dialogue choices this time around, and nobody (including yourself) respects you, and as it turns out, you're on the verge of resigning.

Thank goodness for autosaves, because I've twice triggered an unintentional resignation from the police force, and ended the game unexpectedly.

Disco Elysium - The Final Cut is:

4: Good

#DiscoElysium #ThirdPerson #RPG #Detective #HumbleChoice #MastodonGaming #Gaming #Project365ONG #Project365 #RePlay

July 15, 2023 - Day 196 - NewPlay Review
Total NewPlays: 216

Game: Vampyr

Platform: Steam
Release Date: Jun 5, 2018
Library Date: Sep 25, 2022
Unplayed: 293d (9m20d)
Playtime: 27m

Vampyr (or "I don't vant to suck your blood, but I might have to), is an open-world third-person ARPG, set in London during the 1918 Spanish Flu.

Yesterday's "I feel like hot garbage due to lack of sleep" turned out to be "Actually, sick. Again." so a game set during the Spanish flu feels vaguely appropriate.

The setup of the game is interesting, but gameplay turned out to be a little more frustrating than expected. You're a doctor who wakes up in a mass grave to find he's been turned into a vampire.

However, for some reason that I would dig around and find if I was feeling a little less half-dead, any time I turned in game, the experience would make a whip-pan seem positively leisurely in comparison.

More than once while I was trying to escape the men pursuing me, and seeking to kill me... again?... in attempting to turn a corner, I'd find myself having turned so fast I was disoriented, or worse still, running TOWARD my pursuers.

It hasn't really grabbed me at this point; if I'm in the mood for a supernaturally themed ARPG, I'm more likely to load up Ghostwire: Tokyo than Vampyr, or for vampire-on-vampire violence, probably Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodhunt (at least as long as the servers are live).

I'll probably give Vampyr another shot when my hearing isn't going wild, but for now it's:

3: OK

#Vampyr #ThirdPerson #ARPG #MastodonGaming #Gaming #Project365ONG #Project365 #NewPlay

July 9, 2023 - Day 190 - NewPlay Bonus Review
Total NewPlays: 210

Game: The Surge 2

Platform: Steam
Release Date: Sep 24, 2019
Library Date: Apr 30, 2023
Unplayed: 70d (2m9d)
Playtime: 79m

The Surge was one of the earliest reviews I did in this project, and the game that gave me an understanding of the mechanics of Soulslike gameplay.

In April I found that I had a Steam Key for The Surge 2, from the Humble Choice July 2021 bundle, and so I loaded it up.

For the last few days, it's been bugging me that the gap between play days and new plays was 19 days. It feels... unordered. Threw in a bonus newplay to round it up to 20.

The Surge 2, like its predecessor, is a sci-fi themed third-person Soulslike action-RPG.

It's also the game I've sworn more at than any other since January 1.

I've gotten frustrated with some games, but my frustration with The Surge 2 was on a whole different level.

After a cut-scene intro, followed by a character creator, you wake up on a hospital table in a prison.

Unlike the first game, you don't have an exo-suit, just a couple of defibrillator gauntlets. Yeah, I have no idea why.

The game does the same thing as the first one, too. Throws you up against larger enemies to teach you the movesets, and then suddenly throws you up against an armored boss.

Clad only in a hospital gownsuit (no bare bums here), and a pair of defibrillator gauntlets.

I died.
And died.
And died, and died, and died some more.

For the first 45 minutes I couldn't even land a single hit on him before he took me out.

The swearing became increasingly copious, eventually quitting out in frustration, and looking up a Google video on how to kill the boss.

It didn't help.

I went back in, and locked on, targeting the one exposed part of his body (his head).

Died.

Died some more.

Eventually I got a single hit in.

Died a few more times, ragequit and went grocery shopping.

Came back from the shopping, sat down at the PC and tried again.

I died.

I honestly don't understand what people see in Soulslikes. The sheer frustration of dying over and over again.

Eventually, I was managing to avoid him, so I was still dying, just slower.

Then I noticed he was telegraphing his attacks, and there were... gaps. I might be able to land a punch and retreat.

I did.

Then two attacks in a row.

I started to feel the pattern. I still died, but I was doing increasing damage.

Then suddenly... I didn't die. He did.

I won the fight.

It was then, that I understood what it is that people see in Soulslikes. Breaking through that frustration to clarity.

The satisfaction of taking down a boss that seemed impossible to kill, or even hit. Not by coming back with bigger guns, but by recognising the patterns, and countering them.

The Surge 2 is the Soulslike that gave me an understanding of the satisfaction to be found in Soulslikes, and is:

4: Good

#ThirdPerson #SciFi #ActionRPG #Soulslike #MastodonGaming #Gaming #Project365ONG #Project365 #NewPlay

July 3, 2023 - Day 184 - NewPlay Review
Total NewPlays: 203

Game: Broken Pieces

Platform: Steam
Release Date: Sep 10, 2022
Library Date: Jun 21, 2023
Unplayed: 12d
Playtime: 89m

Broken Pieces is a third-person puzzle adventure game. You play Elise, a woman stranded alone in a French town called Saint-Exil, trying to work out why everyone else in town has vanished.

It's largely puzzle-solving, with the occasional combat encounter thrown in.

Which is one of my two major issues with the game.

The first, however, is the script. Broken Pieces is set in France, and was built by a French dev team.

I suspect the script was better in French, and then it was just run through Google Translate or something, because it's really clunky.

Because Elise is the only character in the game, she's commentating things constantly. She doesn't use contractions, and some of her phrasing is like nails on a blackboard. This is not a game where you can get lost in the well designed environments, because as soon as Elise starts narrating something, you're pulled out of the game with "wait, what?"

The only thing clunkier than the dialogue is the combat; the "bad guys" suddenly appear out of a swirl of dark mist that will suddenly surround you. For whatever reason, in spite of the fact they seem multidimensional, a very normal gun will kill them. If you can manage to target them.

You can't hit a key to unholster your gun, and begin to target them. You have to wait until the game does it for you, and then start shooting. There's a combination of keys to dodge, which I have yet to successfully manage.

Sadly, while the game is atmospheric, and it has some nice ideas, the execution leaves a lot to be desired. I kept plugging away for almost 90 minutes, drawn in by the puzzles, and repelled by the user interface and how little you can actually do.

Broken Pieces feels like an appropriate name; it's just:

2: Meh

#BrokenPieces #ThirdPerson #Adventure #Mystery #MastodonGaming #Gaming #Project365ONG #Project365 #NewPlay

July 2, 2023 - Day 183 - NewPlay Review
Total NewPlays: 202

Game: Elden Ring

Platform: Steam
Release Date: Feb 25, 2022
Library Date: Jul 2, 2023
Unplayed: 0d
Playtime: 33m

Here we are, at the half-way mark. There are 182 days ahead, and 182 days behind. For today, I decided on something special

Turns out, in return for my upgrading my son's computer last night, he bought me the game of my choice today... which was Elden Ring. Again.

Technically, this is not an "unplayed" game. My kids bought me Elden Ring for my birthday last year, and I attempted to play it, got intensely frustrated with it, and quit out after 80 minutes and got a refund.

I simply didn't understand that death is part of a soulslike.

However, in the process of playing through this project, I grasped the play style of a soulslike, which brings me back to Elden Ring.

In case you've been living under all of the rocks, Elden Ring is a third-person open-world soulslike action-RPG.

It's dark, and brooding, almost devoid of colour. As with other soulslikes, there are points within the game that you can return to either when resurrecting, or to (effectively) save your progress.

However, do that, and it resurrects all the mobs you just killed, doesn't it? (Yes. It does.)

There's a constant trade-off between returning to these points to restore your energy, and effective save your inventory, and upgrade, or to keep moving forward, in the hope of finding what Elden Ring calls a "Site of Grace".

Starting over from the beginning on a fresh save, I learned something that I missed first time around... when I quit out after 80 minutes in March 2022, I hadn't even completed the tutorial. The final tutorial boss frustrated me so badly, I gave up.

Probably should have gone in with a character base far less squishy too.

This time, as a Vagabond, I died twice, and I enjoyed myself.

It's still not "I MUST PLAY THIS UNTIL I AM FINISHED!", but it's definitely "I'm going to willingly spend some time in this game."

Thus, at the halfway point of #Project365ONG, I'm happy to say, having given it another shot, Elden Ring is:

4: Good

#EldenRing #Soulslike #OpenWorld #ThirdPerson #ARPG #MastodonGaming #Gaming #Project365ONG #Project365 #NewPlay

June 21, 2023 - Day 172 - NewPlay Review
Total NewPlays: 190

Game: Stray

Platform: Steam
Release Date: Jul 20, 2022
Library Date: Oct 15, 2022
Unplayed: 249d (8m6d)
Playtime: 40m

This review is going to contain minor spoilers for the early part of the game.

Stray is a third-person game about a cat.

I count any game where I've played less than 15 minutes of the game as "unplayed".

Due to a mix-up around the release date, I missed out on the discounted purchase price, so left it on my wishlist, until it got discounted 3 months later.

As soon as it finished installing on October 15, I started playing.

The graphics are gorgeous. The cat is adorable, and amazingly cat-like. I feel like I'm controlling an almost-real cat... which turns out to be a problem.

As per the title, you're a stray cat; the game opens to find you snuggling with your siblings, high up on the wall of the city, before the intro takes you on all on a little adventure to teach you the controls.

***Spoiler Alert***

At the end of the intro, you jump across a gap in a pipe. The pipe you land on gives way, and you find yourself scrabbling to hold on as your siblings look down on you helplessly... as you lose your grip and fall into the city below.

You finally come to rest at the bottom of a pile of rubble. Gingerly (pun intended) you attempt to stand up, only to find that you cannot stand on your hind leg, and limp for a couple of steps, before collapsing.

It was at this point, at the end of the intro, after 13 minutes of playtime that I logged out of the game, sobbing inconsolably.

This tiny digital cat purrs, and trills, and meows, and looks around, and cleans itself, and feels utterly too real for me to see it get hurt like that.

I was overwhelmed by a sense of grief and loss as I watched this ball of fluff get separated from their siblings, and seeing them get hurt, limping and then collapsing was entirely too much for me (our furball is fine after having a sleep, but still).

I finally started it up again tonight; even 8 months later, I still feel that pain and sadness as I try to play.

The game itself is beautiful, rendering the post-apocalyptic environment full of dead robots in a gorgeous way. There were some fun "cat" moments, just jumping off things, or solving environmental challenges by knocking paint cans off the edges of a building.

The sounds made by this little ball of fur are wonderfully realistic, and everything within me wants to protect this little gem.

On paper, the idea of playing a cat exploring a "cybercity", and solving a mystery seemed like it was the perfect fit for me, as someone who loves cats, but in practice it seems to hurt too much to play.

If you love cats, and cyberpunk, and can disassociate yourself enough, then you might really enjoy Stray.

However it seems that I cannot, which is unfortunate, because Stray is:

4: Good

#Stray #ThirdPerson #Cats #Exploration #Cyberpunk #MastodonGaming #Gaming #Project365ONG #Project365 #NewPlay

June 13, 2023 - Day 164 - NewPlay Review
Total NewPlays: 182

Game: Styx: Shards of Darkness

Platform: Steam
Release Date: Mar 15, 2017
Library Date: Jun 6, 2018
Unplayed: 137d (4m17d)
Playtime: 19m

Just like it's predecessor, Styx: Shards of Darkness is a third-person-ish* stealth RPG game.

While the graphics are better, I found Shards of Darkness somehow more frustrating and difficult than Master of Shadows.

I don't think I died during my run yesterday. I died *constantly* while playing tonight.

As far as I can tell, it feels like the grab/grapple mechanic is a little less certain in Shards of Darkness; that for whatever reason, Styx doesn't always grab onto an object in the same way as Master of Shadows.

Consequently, there was a lot of dropping to my death, whether it be to the ocean underneath the village where the first part of the game takes place, or straight into the path of a roaming guard.

In any case, I spent longer playing it, tonight, but only made it about as far into the game as I did last night (due to all the deaths, and effective restarts).

Styx: Shards of Darkness is, barely:

3: OK

#StyxShardsOfDarkness #ThirdPerson #Stealth #MastodonGaming #Gaming #Project365ONG #Project365 #NewPlay

June 12, 2023 - Day 163 - NewPlay Review
Total NewPlays: 181

Game: Styx: Master of Shadows

Platform: Steam
Release Date: Oct 8, 2014
Library Date: Jan 23, 2023
Unplayed: 137d (4m17d)
Playtime: 19m

Styx: Master of Shadows is a third-person-ish* stealth RPG game. You play as the titular Styx, a 200 year old goblin, who's been captured and locked up while trying to obtain the game's MacGuffin. This may be intentional.

Before I decided that reviewing sequels if I didn't own previous games in the series was OK, I kept skipping over the sequel to this (thanks Humble Monthly Bundle June 2018!). When this came up for sale for $1.65 in January, I added it to my pile of shame.

It's a stealth & assassinate game. There's a storyline about elves and humans and something called amber, but it's basically just an fairly middling framing for a stealth game.

While it IS a third-person game, Styx's stealth method is to crouch, meaning that sometimes the camera breaks to first-person instead, which is somewhat disorienting.

At this point it's not bad, it's not dragging me back to play it again, it's just something that was fine to kill some time on and knock off my list for today's review while waiting for one of my poor decisions to finish downloading. I wouldn't pay full price for it, but AUD$1.65? It was worth it.

Styx: Master of Shadows is:

3: OK

#StyxMasterOfShadows #ThirdPerson #Stealth #MastodonGaming #Gaming #Project365ONG #Project365 #NewPlay

June 9, 2023 - Day 160 - NewPlay Bonus Review
Total NewPlays: 178

Game: Remnant: From the Ashes

Platform: Steam
Release Date: Aug 20, 2019
Library Date: Jun 7, 2023
Unplayed: 2d (2d)
Playtime: 40m

Remnant: From the Ashes is a third-person souls-like ARPG, & game #5 from the June Humble Choice bundle.

The game opens with an avatar designer; while not overly complex, it was enough to be able to create a female character & make her feel like "me".

You then find yourself in a boat for a cinematic intro, while a voiceover sets the scene; after a final shipwreck, you're washed up on a post-apocalyptic shore, with a palette of mostly dark muted colours, armed only with a sword.

So... souls-like.

There's an integrated training section of the game where you're introduced to the main bads, "the Root". Creepy AF spike-shooting black & red trees can spawn out of nowhere, or drop from platforms above you where they're ...rooted... in defiance of gravity, hanging there in exactly the way bricks don't.

Once you're rescued by the inhabitants of "Ward 13", you get a couple of guns (less souls-like), and start exploring this horrifying world in which you're part of the titular remnant of humanity.

The atmosphere is incredibly creepy, and I'll probably spend some more time killing evil trees.

Remnant: From the Ashes is:

3: OK

#RemnantFromTheAshes #ARPG #SoulsLike #ThirdPerson #HumbleChoice #MastodonGaming #Gaming #Project365ONG #Project365 #NewPlay

Hot take: 3rd person is completely superior to 1st person.

(Yet another reason I can't really enjoy #Cyberpunk2077 btw). I am not even one of those people who get motion sickness from games, but having your view limited to a widescreen monitor is like one step above climbing a tree in a knight's helmet.

Edit: I don't mind first person in #Fallout games, because I use VATS for 99.5% of all combat. I don't HAVE to see everything.

#Gaming #Thirdperson #Firstperson #Perspective #gamedesign

June 4, 2023 - Day 155 - NewPlay Bonus Review
Total NewPlays: 172

Game: Dead Rising 2

Platform: Steam
Release Date: Sep 30, 2010
Library Date: Nov 4, 2017
Unplayed: 2038d (5y7m)
Playtime: 74m

After yesterday's Dead Rising review, @Averagegoob responded to me suggesting that Dead Rising 2 was better than Dead Rising.

He wasn't wrong.

It definitely improves on some of the weaknesses of Dead Rising. The new protagonist, Chuck Greene, feels like he moves faster than Frank West in Dead Rising.

The stakes feel higher here. Frank has a daughter he needs to keep safe, as well as [spoilers] that give him (and thus the player) an impetus to keep fighting.

Combat feels cleaner, and a little more fun as well. A nice addition is the ability to create combination weapons, which make things a little more gory, with a side of black humour.

On the downside, you still have to find a toilet to save the game, which is a little annoying, but overall, it's a step up from Dead Rising.

Dead Rising 2 is:

3: OK

#DeadRising2 #ThirdPerson #Zombies #MastodonGaming #Gaming #Project365ONG #Project365 #NewPlay

June 3, 2023 - Day 154 - NewPlay Review
Total NewPlays: 170

Game: Dead Rising

Platform: Steam
Release Date: Aug 8, 2006
Library Date: Jan 20, 2023
Unplayed: 134d (4m14d)
Playtime: 49m

Dead Rising is the first in the series of Dead Rising third person action-adventure zombie games.

I bought it, after starting this project, because of one of the rules I set for myself that I wouldn't play a sequel to a game unless I'd played the predecessors.

Since I already owned Dead Rising 4 from a bundle (still unplayed), I decided I had to start at the beginning with Dead Rising, & bought it on special.

This rule was a mistake, as was buying this game. Changed the rule to add "if I own them".

It's not a bad game, per se. It's just that it was released almost 17 years ago, and is competing with zombie games like Dead Island and Dying Light.

It's got quite a lot of character in the main protagonist, Frank West, a photo journalist trapped in a mall full of zombies. However, his loping run feels frustratingly slow, and the zombies seem to be either ignoring you, or swarming you with little warning.

I got quite frustrated, but was slowly making progress, and then I died. Games in 2006 weren't really big on autosaving, something you don't miss until it's not there.

After more than 40 mins playtime, I found myself at the start of the game again, and quit.

Dead Rising has fallen to:

2: Meh

#DeadRising #ThirdPerson #Zombies #MastodonGaming #Gaming #Project365ONG #Project365 #NewPlay

May 31, 2023 - Day 151 - NewPlay Review
Total NewPlays: 167

Game: Max Payne

Platform: Steam
Release Date: Jul 25, 2001
Library Date: Dec 7, 2017
Unplayed: 2001d (5y5m24d)
Playtime: 30m

No, that is not a typo. Yes, this is the original Max Payne. No, I have never played it. Yes, this will be hard to review.

Max Payne is a... come on, you know: third-person shooter, undercover detective is framed, goes rogue to try & get his life back.

I'd started Max Payne at some time in the past, & closed it after three minutes. Possibly because it's buggy as hell.

As the game starts, "Remedy" pops up on the screen; "Wait... the people who made Control?" It added a new lens with which to judge the game.

Unfortunately, it doesn't help much. I can see why Max Payne was so groundbreaking in 2001, but almost 22 years later, it hasn't aged well.

Firstly, the face-tech that was amazing in 2001 makes Max look constipated, and that's a hard thing to get past. It makes the game feel cheesy now.

Secondly, it is quite buggy. Kudos that it still runs in 2023 (at 2K res!), but audio dropouts & random freezes make it tough to want to keep playing.

However, there's a core to the story there, and a foreshadowing of Remedy's future storytelling prowess. I can see why they're remaking it; I think I might wrestle with it for a bit longer.

Max Payne, even 22 years later, is:

3: OK

#MaxPayne #ThirdPerson #Shooter #MastodonGaming #Gaming #Project365ONG #Project365 #NewPlay

May 28, 2023 - Day 148 - NewPlay Review
Total NewPlays: 164

Game: Sable

Platform: Steam
Release Date: Sep 23, 2021
Library Date: Mar 10, 2023
Unplayed: 79d (2m18d)
Playtime: 1h55m

Sable is a third-person open-world adventure & exploration game. Unlike... any open world game I've played, as far as I can recall, it has no combat.

Sable is the coming of age story of the eponymous main character, and leaving her clan to embark on her "gliding".

Apparently inspired by Breath of the Wild, Sable's quest takes her climbing and solving puzzles across her home world of Midden; seemingly a post-apocalyptic wasteland, Sable rides her hoverbike from destination to destination, picking up quests.

Her goal is to collect a series of masks, which (if I understand correctly), will ultimately lead her to a ceremony to choose a final mask, which seemingly represents her permanent role within her society.

Sable has a quite lovely cel-shaded graphic style with a dynamic colour scheme that changes based on a day & night cycle, and has an almost ethereal soundscape.

Sable is:

5: Excellent

#Sable #ThirdPerson #OpenWorld #Adventure #MastodonGaming #Gaming #Project365ONG #Project365 #NewPlay

May 21, 2023 - Day 141 - NewPlay Review
Total NewPlays: 157

Game: ReCore: Definitive Edition

Platform: Steam
Release Date: Sep 15, 2018
Library Date: Mar 20, 2023
Unplayed: 62d (2m1d)
Playtime: 36m

ReCore is a third-person action-adventure platformer with a female protagonist and robots.

The game opens in medias res with Joule and her "corebot" dog Mack, trying to find out what's gone wrong in the post-apocalyptic desert where they're located.

Joule is on the trail of an unusual energy source reading, and as you go, the game introduces you to the core gameplay mechanics, which was pretty well done.

One of the unusual mechanics is that the corebots that attack you all have energy cores that can be extracted mid-fight, once you've done enough damage, by essentially entering a tug-of-war after firing your extraction device.

Occasionally, there's an "instant extract" option, but I'm not sure what triggers that. Fight through to the end-of-mission boss, defeat, extract core, return to your "crawler" home base, repair, upgrade, next mission.

I quite enjoyed it, and am interested to see how the underlying storyline of "New Eden" and what's gone wrong there develops.

I would have kept playing, but sleep is coming on fast. Again. Will be glad to be over this virus.

ReCore: Definitive Edition seems fun so far, so it's:

4: Good

#ReCore #ActionAdventure #ThirdPerson #Platformer #MastodonGaming #Gaming #Project365ONG #Project365 #NewPlay

May 18, 2023 - Day 138 - NewPlay Review
Total NewPlays: 154

Game: Elex

Platform: Steam
Release Date: Oct 18, 2017
Library Date: Dec 1, 2022
Unplayed: 168d (5m17d)
Playtime: 66m

Elex is a third-person open-world "sci-fi" ARPG. Apparently.

The game opens with a narrator drawling the story of the planet Magalan, and the terrible disaster that befell them, leaving them in a post-apocalypse that feels like the designs of Skyrim, Fallout, and Destiny 2's EDZ got put in a blender, but the devs decided to roll their own gameplay.

They kept the aspect of Fallout's "collect all the things just in case" gameplay, but while I managed to collect a stash of stuff, an hour in I still have no idea what to do with any of it.

Combat feels mushy, and the mobs I've run into feel overpowered.

...and then there's the voice acting. Our protagonist is a gruff emotionless white guy who's been done wrong, and left to die by his faction. Early on, he meets a character from a different faction, and the conversation itself felt like a grind.

To call the voice acting wooden would be an insult to trees.

Unfortunately, I think Elex is another game that might have been interesting in 2017, but suffers in comparison to everything that's come since, and there's little here that makes me want to keep playing.

Elex?

2: Meh

#Elex #ARPG #ThirdPerson
#MastodonGaming #Gaming #Project365ONG #Project365 #NewPlay

Apr 27, 2023 - Day 117 - NewPlay Review
Total NewPlays: 132

Game: Phoning Home

Platform: Steam
Release Date: Feb 8, 2017
Library Date: Mar 13, 2018
Unplayed: 1871d (5y1m14d)
Playtime: 95m

Phoning Home is a third-person open-world robot survival sim. It is also free on Steam (which is why there's a link at the end).

Phoning Home was developed by ION LANDS, who went on to create Cloudpunk, (one of my all-time favourite games).

I've mentioned before that I'm not a big fan of sandbox survival games. Valheim left me cold, and V Rising genuinely left me regretting spending the money on it.

Phoning Home, on the other hand, is a narrative driven survival game, which takes the exploration and construction and gives it purpose.

I only intended to play this for 15 minutes before work, and was an hour late starting work, so deep did it suck me in and make me want to keep playing, and further the story of the cute little WALL-E inspired robot, ION.

To the point that the new Warframe expansion The Duviri Paradox dropped today (it's free too!), and if I'm to have any hope of giving it a fair go, I'll need to play that first, because otherwise I suspect I'll be up all night playing Phoning Home.

Which means this is:

5: Excellent

#PhoningHome #OpenWorld #ThirdPerson #Survival #MastodonGaming #Gaming #Project365ONG #Project365 #NewPlay

https://store.steampowered.com/app/431650/Phoning_Home/

Apr 26, 2023 - Day 116 - NewPlay Bonus Review
Total NewPlays: 131

Game: Honkai: Star Rail

Platform: Standalone Launcher (Win)
Release Date: Apr 26, 2023
Library Date: Apr 26, 2023
Unplayed: 0d (0d)
Playtime: 65m

Honkai: Star Rail is the long-anticipated latest release from HoYoverse (previously miHoYo), the developers of several games, but arguably best known for Genshin Impact.

Like Genshin, H:SR is an gacha-driven third-person RPG. Like Genshin, H:SR you collect multiple characters, 4 of which can be added to your active battle team.

I could create a list of parallels, because H:SR fundamentally feels like a sci-fi-themed reskin of Genshin Impact, right down to the button locations on the UI - but for one critical change.

The main menu is on the right, instead of the left.

Seriously though, while that IS true, it's the combat system that's fundamentally different.

Instead of the frantic character-switching active combos of Genshin, combat is a turn-based attack system from a fixed perspective.

This change does make the game feel significantly different, at least in the hour I played it. There are still character synergies at play, but with all characters in play simultaneously, it becomes a question of how you form your team to balance defense with offense.

While I'll need to play longer to give a more in-depth review, initially, Honkai: Star Rail feels:

4: Good

#HonkaiStarRail #RPG #ThirdPerson #MastodonGaming #Gaming #Project365ONG #Project365 #NewPlay

Apr 24, 2023 - Day 114 - NewPlay Bonus Review
Total NewPlays: 128

Game: Sunset Overdrive

Platform: Steam PC
Release Date: Nov 17, 2018
Library Date: Apr 24, 2023
Unplayed: 0d (0d)
Playtime: 45m

Sunset Overdrive was on my wishlist for several years, & it's on sale on Steam right now for $7.11.

However, it's in a bundle in which I own the other title, dropping the price to $6.26, which seemed too easy.

Still, past me hasn't always made the best decisions with my waitlist, and my eldest has it in his shared Steam library, so I installed it from there & played it.

I spent the six bucks.

Sunset Overdrive feels like an open world mashup of Borderlands, Dying Light, & Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, by way of iZombie.

The core premise of monsters created by drinking an energy drink at a launch party feels like it was lifted wholesale from iZombie; however, Sunset Overdrive originally released on Xbox in 2014, with iZombie being developed in 2014 & released in 2015, which is interesting timing, to say the least.

The bright, hyperkinetic gameplay involving grinding rails & acrobatics while shooting monsters is refreshing, & leans into aggressive offensive gameplay, rather than playing defense like a cover shooter.

It doesn't take itself seriously, breaking the fourth wall, & if you've got a spare 7 bucks, it's worth the buy.

Sunset Overdrive is:

4: Good

#SunsetOverdrive #OpenWorld #ThirdPerson #Shooter #MastodonGaming #Gaming #Project365ONG #Project365 #NewPlay

Apr 23, 2023 - Day 113 - NewPlay Bonus Review
Total NewPlays: 125

Game: Absolver

Platform: Steam PC
Release Date: Aug 30, 2017
Library Date: Apr 7, 2019
Unplayed: 1477d (4y16d)
Playtime: 41m

Absolver is an online multiplayer combat game (apparently).

Other than the initial server login, nothing in the first 20 minutes of gameplay gave me any clue that there was an online component; this lack of information was something that was reflected through the gameplay.

You're a "prospect" wearing a magical mask, on the road to becoming an "Absolver"; there's a lack of clarity around what you're trying to do, and how to achieve it.

The initial 10 minutes of the game largely walk you through the combat process, but somehow the combat feels disconnected and sluggish.

The most annoying part of the process is that there are seemingly four different combat stances, but it requires a frustrating combination of two buttons to be pressed in a particular order, to switch stance, and then it kind of just... switches back?

I even gave it another 20 minutes playtime in case I was missing something, but combat was just as frustrating the second time around.

There might be something here that rewards persistence, but if it's there, it didn't hook me.

Absolver did not absolve itself; it's just:

2: Meh

#Absolver #ThirdPerson #Melee #MastodonGaming #Gaming #Project365ONG #Project365 #NewPlay

Apr 23, 2023 - Day 113 - NewPlay Review
Total NewPlays: 124

Game: Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor

Platform: Steam PC
Release Date: Oct 1, 2014
Library Date: Mar 13, 2018
Unplayed: 1867d (5y1m10d)
Playtime: 74m

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is a third-person open-world action-adventure (some light RPG elements) that is, surprisingly, set in Middle-earth, between The Hobbit and LotR.

However, the most surprising thing about this game for me, other than the ~20 minutes of introduction video, was how it does not feel like a game that's almost 9 years old.

You play as a Gondor Ranger that's been murdered and trapped between life and death, and... look, I'm not sure what the end-game is meant to be, but I was having a hell of a time just sneaking around and kill Uruk-hai.

Combat is fun (if a little counter-intuitive, being that space is "run" and left-shift is "sneak".)

Sneaking up behind an unaware Uruk and shanking them with the dagger is satisfying, as is straight-up swordplay.

You can also "stealth" into wraith mode, and put an arrow into into a distant orc, and watch them drop with a satisfying whistle-and-thunk.

This game feels like motivation to keep playing through library, to discover gems like this that I'd missed completely.

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is:

4: Good

#MiddleEarth #ShadowOfMordor #ThirdPerson #OpenWorld #ActionAdventure #MastodonGaming #Gaming #Project365ONG #Project365 #NewPlay

Apr 13, 2023 - Day 103 - NewPlay Review
Total NewPlays: 110

Game: God Eater Resurrection

Platform: Steam PC
Release Date: Aug 29, 2016
Library Date: Mar 31, 2018
Unplayed: 1839d (5y13d)
Playtime: 45m

God Eater Resurrection is a bit of an odd duck of a game.

Firstly, you cannot (and never have been able to) buy it directly on Steam, as it comes bundled with God Eater 2: Rage Burst

Secondly, it felt a bit like another game I'd played in the past six months, and it turns out that Code Vein is (apparently) set in the same universe.

Unlike the soulslike world of Code Vein, though, GER is a hack-n-slash.

As for the game itself, it would have been difficult to stop the game at 15 minutes, because at that point, having spent a few minutes in the character creator tweaking my avatar, it was *still* in the intro video, setting up the universe. All up, it was 19 minutes from when I'd started the game, until I could first move around in-game.

The between-mission area has a fixed camera, and I couldn't find a comfortable playstyle on K/M or with controller, but in-game fighting has a free-movement camera, and I ultimately settled on K/M.

There is a LOT going on in switching weapon modes, and managing the different options in-battle, but it feels like it might be worth getting to know it a bit better.

God Eater Resurrection is:

3: OK

#GodEaterResurrection #ThirdPerson #HackNSlash #MastodonGaming #Gaming #Project365ONG #Project365 #NewPlay

Mar 29, 2023 - Day 88 - NewPlay Bonus Review
Total NewPlays: 95

Game: Zombie Army Trilogy

Platform: Steam PC
Release Date: Mar 6, 2015
Library Date: Jan 30, 2019
Unplayed: 1519 days (4y1m29d)
Playtime: 17m

In the past six months I unexpectedly discovered that I'm seemingly gluten-intolerant. I've spent most of the last few months avoiding gluten, and subsequently enjoying not having my gut feel like a broken garbage disposal.

This evening when my son got home from work, he arrived a large bag of various types of hot cross buns, including my all-time favourites, apple & cinnamon. They were most definitely not gluten-free, and I'd forgotten the near immediate effect it would have on me, leaving me feeling like I need to puke.

"Zombie" games tend to spike my anxiety through the roof, and I generally avoid them, particularly at night.

This is to say, I made two terrible decisions tonight. 17 minutes of Zombie Army Trilogy at 11:15pm might be almost as bad for my sleep tonight as that hot cross bun.

Which is a shame, because Zombie Army Trilogy is effectively a reskinned Sniper Elite III, with all the fun and gore that comes with it; with the constant groan of zombies around you, and spikes of terror as they appear from the ground in front of you, it's a great zombie game.

Zombie Army Trilogy isn't wrong, it's just wrong for me; it's:

3: OK

#ZombieArmyTrilogy #ThirdPerson #Gaming #Project365ONG #Project365

@sloopjonb1960

I haven't even described either of my MCs

Interesting. First off, if your readers like the way you write, then you are good!

If you are writing in 1st person, you need not ever describe your character. Even in 3rd person, you need only describe what other characters might key in on, and nothing more. ("Your tie isn't straight and where's your name tag, cadet?")

What does this gain you?

Potentially a lot. If you don't describe race or ethnicity, your reader can see more of themself in the character. The implications can be amazing. If you can avoid gender, and that's hard, even more so. 1st person narrative almost inevitably requires somebody else to call "I" by name... but that could be derogatory label like, Hey, Idiot!

Take care, though. All of this could generate an aura of mystery, which you may or may not want. If you want it, you could drop hints along the way in the story, but only if identity will make a difference to your story or help you message.

#writing #writers #author #writingCommunity #fiction #description #amWriting #character #firstperson #thirdperson

Mar 26, 2023 - Day 85 - NewPlay Review
Total NewPlays: 90

Game: Tomb Raider: Anniversary
Platform: Steam PC
Release Date: Jun 5, 2007
Library Date: Mar 4, 2018
Unplayed: 1848d (5y22d)
Playtime: 22m

The Tomb Raider series has a long and storied history, as I learned when I reviewed Tomb Raider (2013) on March 4th.

Tomb Raider: Anniversary was released in 2007, by Crystal Dynamics. It's a sequel that's a prequel to "Tomb Raider: Legend", and is a remake of the original Tomb Raider from 1996.

Released 4 years after the second Tomb Raider movie, I got an Angelina Jolie vibe from the character design, and it's entirely unclear to me whether Jolie was just well cast in the movies, or whether the design team were making a deliberate callback.

Unfortunately, as with a lot of older games I've tried to play this year, this Tomb Raider has not aged well. Graphically it feels rather bland, but more critically, the follow-camera seems like it's never quite sure what it's following, and shimmies & bounces all over the place, making me feel slightly queasy trying to navigate.

The initial tomb-opening sequence sees your helpful "native" guide die; it's entirely unclear whether it's the wolves who came running out of the freshly opened tomb, or a stray bullet from Lara's dual-pistols, but Lara's "shrug-and-move-on" left me cold.

I don't think I'll be coming back to Tomb Raider: Anniversary, it's just:

2: Meh

#TombRaiderAnniversary #ThirdPerson #Project365ONG #Project365 #NewPlay

Mar 20, 2023 - Day 78 - NewPlay Review
Total NewPlays: 85

Game: Evil West
Platform: Steam PC
Release Date: Nov 22, 2022
Library Date: Mar 20, 2023
Unplayed: 0d
Playtime: 34m

Evil West is third-person rails shooter (for want of a better term?), set in the USA's old west. This old west, however, is full of supernatural monsters that you have to kill in increasingly bloody ways.

This is not (at least so far) a game that will test your brain with complicated puzzles, and deep ethical questions.

See Jesse. See monster. See Jesse punch monster with gauntlet, or shoot monster. Rinse and repeat.

What the combat does test, however, is your coordination, and this was where I found myself struggling. I currently have it on Normal difficulty, but I'm stuck on one fight, and just can't get my timing right to beat all of the mobs.

Running around punching monsters into a mess of gore isn't usually my kind of game, but when I spent the weekend knowing there were Nazis running and transphobes saying the vilest things about trans folks just because we have the temerity to exist, sometimes punching a few monsters into piles of goop hits the spot.

The old west atmosphere and landscape is well done, and the game comes together very nicely.

Evil West is:

4: Good

#EvilWest #ThirdPerson #RailsShooter #Project365ONG #Project365 #NewPlay

Mar 17, 2023 - Day 75 - NewPlay Review
Total NewPlays: 82

Game: M.A.R.S.
Platform: Steam PC
Release Date: Nov 21, 2021
Library Date: Nov 21, 2021
Unplayed: 481d (1y3m24d)
Playtime: 21m

M.A.R.S. is a free-to-play third person cover-shooter. I am glad I didn't pay for it.

This is a game with gameplay that feels like it came straight from the early 2010's... which is a problem for a game that was released in 2021.

A cover shooter in a world where Gears of War, The Division, and Outriders exist, has to bring something to the table in terms of gameplay that other cover shooters don't offer.

Technically, they've done that. Poorly animated characters, sluggish movement, and utterly woeful voice acting, is definitely something I haven't seen in the other cover shooters I've played, particularly all at the same time.

Some games are so bad they're entertaining; The developers of M.A.R.S. seem to have taken one look at the mountain of mediocrity, and decided to set up base camp about three feet up.

M.A.R.S. Not even once. It's:

1: Nope

#MARS #CoverShooter #ThirdPerson #Project365ONG #Project365 #NewPlay

Mar 16, 2023 - Day 74 - NewPlay Review
Total NewPlays: 81

Game: Saints Row
Platform: Steam PC
Release Date: Jan 23, 2015
Library Date: Sep 7, 2020
Unplayed: 921d (2y6m10d)
Playtime: 22m

I appear to have possibly broken my "no sequels" rule, because it appears that this is a sequel to Saints Row IV. (Checked before posting, and it's actually a standalone expansion).

I realised this too late, and so this is, unfortunately, my NewPlay for the 16th.

If you've played Saints Row IV, this is basically Saints Row IV in hell. Not in a "this is terrible" way, but literally the Saints Row version of hell.

It too is a third person action-adventure game, in which you play one of the characters from SR:IV, trying to rescue your boss from Lucifer, where he(!) is being married off to Satan's daughter Jezebel Morningstar, because he's so chaotic, that the devil decided he was perfect husband material.

I think my head is going to explode from writing that sentence. If you enjoyed SR:IV, you might enjoy this, if not, well... you probably won't.

Saints Row: Gat Out Of Hell is:

3: OK

#SaintsRow #GatOutOfHell #ActionAdventure #ThirdPerson #Project365ONG #Project365 #NewPlay

Mar 15, 2023 - Day 73 - NewPlay Review
Total NewPlays: 80

Game: Mini Ninjas
Platform: Steam PC
Release Date: Oct 9, 2009
Library Date: May 1, 2018
Unplayed: 1780d (4y10m15d)
Playtime: 19m

The 15th was my birthday, and while I played this on my birthday, I spent the evening with my family, so the review is much later than I planned.

Mini Ninjas is 13 years old, and feels like a 13 year old game; while it plays at full 2K resolution, it just feels kind of empty, and a little frustrating.

It's a third person action-adventure game in which you play... mini ninjas. You're the last remaining ninjas in the dojo, sent out in desperation to find out what happened to all of the other ninjas sent out to investigate strange events.

Mini Ninjas is just barely:

3: OK

#MiniNinjas #ActionAdventure #ThirdPerson #Project365ONG #Project365 #NewPlay

Mar 4, 2023 - Day 62 - NewPlay Review
Total NewPlays: 69

Game: Tomb Raider
Platform: Steam PC
Release Date: Mar 5, 2013
Library Date: Jan 8, 2018
Unplayed: 1881 days (5y1m24d)
Playtime: 29m

No, not that Tomb Raider. Not that one either. The other one. The 2013 reboot. In terms of franchises I've never played, Tomb Raider might be at the top of the list.

The closest I've come in all the time since the first Tomb Raider in 1996 to playing anything in the series is Tomb Raider GO several weeks ago.

Not exactly representative of the series. If you've been living under a rock for the last 27 years, Tomb Raider is a series of action-adventure games centred on the character of Lara Croft, an archaeologist.

The biggest surprise to me about this game is that it does not feel like a 10-year-old game. It plays like something far more recent.

I'm already hooked; the only reason I didn't keep playing is that it was time for our evening walk.

Yeah, I think Tomb Raider is:

4: Good

#TombRaider #ThirdPerson #ActionAdventure #Gaming #Project365ONG #Project365 #NewPlay

Feb 4, 2023 - Day 35 - NewPlay Review
Total NewPlays: 42

Game: Hi-Fi RUSH
Platform: Xbox Game Pass PC
Release Date: Jan 25, 2023
Library Date: Jan 28, 2023
Unplayed: 7 days
Playtime: 55m

Hi-Fi RUSH was announced unexpectedly by Bethesda during the Xbox Developer Day on January 25th.

Apparently developed in parallel with Ghostwire: Tokyo (which I love, (5: Excellent)), and given my history with Bethesda games, given it was immediately available with Game Pass, installing it was a no-brainer.

I got stuck into it this morning, and it was every bit as fun as the rumours suggested. It's a third-person rhythm action game, in which your attacks are performed in sync with the music, and if you land the attack on the beat, you do bonus damage.

However, playing for more than 30 minutes, I suddenly encountered an unexpected 2D platform level, which yanked me out of the zone, and left me trying to time jumps just right, with the unexpected context switch.

I like the storyline so far, loving the music, and without that jarring context change, this would have been excellent. Time will tell if I can adjust to the platform levels, or if I need to play with a controller, but it's still a great game, and free if you have a Xbox Game Pass subscription.

Hi-Fi RUSH is:

4: Good

#HiFiRUSH #ThirdPerson #Rhythm #Gaming #Project365ONG #Project365 #NewPlay

Jan 26, 2023 - Day 26 - NewPlay Review
Total NewPlays: 33

Game: Overgrowth
Platform: Steam PC
Release Date: Oct 17, 2017
Library Date: Mar 12, 2018
Unplayed: 1781 days (4y10m14d)
Playtime: 19m

In the mid-2000's, I bought my first Mac. I picked up some games along the way, and one of them was called Lugaru.

Lugaru was an indie third-person game in which you were an anthropomorphic giant fighting rabbit. I did not care for it.

I opened Overgrowth, and saw "Lugaru" listed as a game campaign option, but bypassed it and went for the main Overgrowth campaign, and... once again, I am a giant running, jumping, and fighting rabbit.

The graphics are middling, the controls feel sloppy, the character movement ungainly. The ragdoll physics are OK, but the actual fighting is frustrating.

The storyline is... there, but holds little interest for me. I do not feel any care for the generic rabbits or their plight, and forced myself to keep going to hit fifteen minutes.

I got to 19 minutes, because I literally got distracted by a different game on my iPad for a few minutes.

Overgrowth feels like a sandbox game, with a storyline awkwardly shoehorned in, and as it turns out, is a sequel to Lugaru. Almost 20 years later, I still do not care for it.

A lot of people seem to love Overgrowth, but for me it's just:

2: Meh

#Overgrowth #ThirdPerson #Action #Project365ONG #Project365 #NewPlay