Category Archives: fun fridayz

PCP: Artorias of the Abyss

Fun Fridayz #Souls – Dark Souls

I finally managed to make it to the Artorias of the Abyss DLC after 112 hours in Dark Souls and I need to go back to the Abyss now.

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PCP: Before the Storm Episode 2

Fun Fridayz #25 – Freedom to Forget Feelings

I don’t really have any puns to bust out for this one. Honestly, as much as I love Life is Strange and Before the Storm, they might be the most damaging thing to my gaming I’ve ever experienced. School and work were never this distracting.

These games just create this melancholy in me because I know nothing will ever compete with the way I feel while playing them. The journey is so powerful that it makes everything else feel almost fake. There’s this beautiful atmosphere that envelops you like a cold fall wind.

At least Before the Storm is doing its part in keeping my mood in tune with the weather. Episode one was great and a true surprise for its consistency and quality. Episode two just ramps it up, developing the characters and drama in preparation for whatever gut punches the finale will offer.

It really says something about the emotional investment a game produces when I’m genuinely fretting over the fact that I picked a beach towel instead of a pirate flag to cover a seat. Of course, the inability to quickly go back and redo a key decision is what makes choice-driven stories so powerful– or, in the case of the original Life is Strange, the subversion of the one choice mechanic makes every decision that much more impactful.

So yeah. The soundtrack continues to astonish, with Daughter once again knocking it out of the park. The story is fascinating and the mysteries confounding, the characters human and mostly decently acted. God. I just can’t wait for this game to ruin me.

PCP: Shadow of War

Fun Fridayz #24 – Fire and Freedom

Mordor’s War Opens Doors, Expands the Floor, and Leaves Us Wanting More

The short of it: It’s more of what made the original great, with just a few stagnant stumbles to slow it down. 

There’s basically three major points of discussion for this game:

  1.  The game itself
  2. The lootbox debacle
  3. The role and appearance of women

Well technically…

It runs pretty great. It looks just a little bit better than its predecessor, but it feels a lot smoother. The facial animations are fantastic, the character animations and motion performances are just delightful to watch.

The most pressing problem I run into is character pop in after fast travelling. With a lot of emphasis on the bow as a tool, it makes it feel a bit useless when you have to wait out the orc load time to skip manually climbing up a cliff face. Other than that, though, nothing really performs poorly.

Once again, the story’s been pretty mediocre. It’s doing an okay job of building up the tension between Talion and Celebrimbor, but it’s more obvious than an orc ambush. There’s certainly more allies and actually interesting NPCs, which surprisingly works in the face of being a death-defying god. These regular people and orcs with their regular Middle-earth problems offer a different side of Talion– I think my personal favorite moment so far has been Talion sitting back and listening to a guy talk about his personal problems and worries. Just a casual type of buddy interaction. It doesn’t drastically impact the story or up the stakes. It’s just Talion getting the chance to be human again.

Boxtroversy

Yeah, there are lootboxes. Yeah, you can blow cash on them for premium items that would otherwise be difficult or time-consuming to do. And yeah, lootboxes need to be discussed as a form of gambling and appealing to children and those with addictions.

But man, it’s barely a thing here. The best you can get is something you can just stumble upon in the massive field of orc captains. It’s a waste of game to roll on these boxes. I’m drowning in currency without ever equipping any currency generating items. The premium currency is pretty consistently accidentally acquired through daily challenges, and I’ve yet to spend any of it.

I think the worst part of this whole thing is just how many bad buzzwords are sunk in these systems. Gems, gold coins, silver coins, legendary, epic, heroic, followers, daily challenge: all of these are garbage.

Forming a Feel for the Female Form

Alright, that’s not a great subhead.

But here’s the thing: I need to finish this game to truly see how this game handles its women. There was some argument about Shelob’s female form, and it made sense at the time. Why make the giant spider into a sexy lady? Well, it actually serves a pretty good knock against Talion’s hero complex. Like a spider, she lures him into this web by preying on his weakness for women. Of course, Talion’s complex is deeper than a hero stereotype due to the fact that he watched his wife die as he watched, powerless. And again, this is such a deeper debate than initially expected because it shifts the power dynamic that’s typically so one-sided.

And then there’s the sexy tree lady. And the woman soldier who apparently earns her title of “Warrior” by superseding her femininity (“She’s no longer a woman, she’s a warrior!”).

So I’ll be back for this one. I’ve got to get my corkboard and yarn ready.

PCP: The Witcher 2

Fun Fridayz #23 – Forget Fighting

Something Witcher This Way Comes

 

I’m playing it without having played The Witcher. So I watched the recaps and read the wikis and felt pretty good about starting up halfway into this world. Squirrels were the rogue non-humans, the classic guerrillas that dance the line between freedom fighter and terrorist. Witchers were roided out monster slayers, equipped with enough magic and mutations to make them nearly as monstrous as the creatures they hunted. Kingdoms were fighting for lands. Pretty classic fantasy stuff.

So I got along with the world perfectly. The things that tripped me up were the relationships. I knew The Witcher used amnesia to allow the player to create their own relationships with characters. These relationships, as fresh as they were, still carried over into The Witcher 2— including Triss, Geralt’s (pretty much for everyone’s first playthough at least) romantic partner.

I can kind of deal with Geralt’s best friends, since the stereotypical bard and dwarf characters are pretty easy to enjoy. With Triss, though, I feel like I’m walking down a bridge when I never took the first step on the initial plank.

PCP: Layers of Fear

Fun Fridayz #22 – Freaky Frames

Layers of Tears

The short of it: The only thing more impossible than this game’s geometry is not getting super spooked.

An artist starts work on his magnum opus.

A player gets up and turns on the lights.

This is how Layers of Fear starts.

It’s a game without any real direct threat. There are no batteries or night vision cameras, no lockers or beds for hiding places. It’s a journey into delusion and loss and a fair bit of fear.

Jokingly referred to on the internet as “Cabinet and Door Opening Simulator,” most of the game is just opening doors and progressing through the increasingly derelict mansion. That’s it. And it’s fantastic.

Playing on the Xbox One was less fantastic. I know Unity can create beautiful, impressive games and all, but Layers of Fear initially runs terribly. The framerate hovers at around 15 any time you move, controller movement is brutally slow, and interactions feel nearly impossible. Once the options get tweaked (no headbob, lowest field of view, highest sensitivity), the game becomes manageable and, for the most part, stays playable for the rest of the playthrough. Stutters and slowdowns were never quite as surprising as the jumpscares though.

The main mechanic of the game is its use of impossible geometry; in this case, it’s probably better referred to as impossible architecture. The video game instinct to create a mental map is useless in the face of constantly changing hallways and doors that go nowhere. All you can do is go one layer deeper.

PCP: Overcooked

Fun Fridayz #21 – Fire and Friends

Overcooked, Overused, Underplayed

The short of itIt’s frustration with a smile, like an extended Mario Party minigame. 

So I was lucky enough to have a buddy come over for a day, meaning several drinks and video games were consumed. One of those was Overcooked, a coop cooking game where changing environments and a shrinking timer push you and your fellow cooks over the edge into full-blown screaming/laughing matches.

It’s pretty popular on YouTube. 

Beyond the fact that Let’s Play bait is getting to become an annoying subgenre of games nowadays, this seriously underplays the value of this game.

Sure, it’s fun watching your favorite ensemble shout at each other, but Overcooked is one of the few new games that wholeheartedly embraces local multiplayer. Stick this game in the oven with a few friends, and it’s guaranteed to be a lot tastier than Part 231 of a series that lasts exactly as long as the ad revenue does.

PCP: Trials Fusion

Fun Fridayz #20 -Frenzied Flash Feels

A Fusion of Fun and Frustrations

The short of it: It’s got wheels, and they run wild.

Once again, I get my dose of gaming variety through the Games with Gold program.

Trials is arguably a classic of the seventh generation. It was a flagship of the Xbox Arcade and a standard of any Let’s Player of the past few years.

And it’s fine. It’s like every bit of gameplay you’ve seen from it or its predecessors. It’s fun enough and checks all its boxes.

The problem I run into is the delayed satisfaction– or at the very least, the delayed possibility of satisfaction. I admit to being obsessed with achievements, despite the fact that I still haven’t broke 100,000. Yet.

Trials’ campaign of sorts is a series of worlds, each with their own levels and minigames. Each level comes with three varying challenges, like don’t tilt backwards, do a 50m wheelie, run over all the flowers, or do five flips. Here’s the thing: not all of these challenges are immediately accomplishable. I spent far too long on the first world, only to find out that I couldn’t do certain moves until I advanced. Then the same thing happened again in the next world. I kept having to earn new licenses to learn to new tricks to beat challenges in levels in earlier worlds.

It’s a minor complaint about a longstanding way to teach gameplay mechanics in consumable bites. But it still grinds my gears.

PCP: Divekick

Fun Fridayz #19 – Free Flyin’

A Divekick Built for Two (Buttons)

2 Button 2 Furious

The short of it: Simple and sweet, Divekick is deceptively competitive and delightfully fun.

Divekick is a two button fighting game where you can either jump or kick. These kicks tend to be diving ones, unsurprisingly.

It’s one of the rare times where a meta joke works better than an actual joke. Divekick is a bit of a tongue-in-cheek poke at the blown out mechanical complexities of most fighting games. The absurdly in-depth meta that forms around fighting gameplay, from the straightforward combo into combos to single frame parties, becomes void with just two buttons.

The most difficult part of learning the meta is remembering how other characters kick and their special kick. Even then, it’s pretty obvious in the first few seconds of a match. It’s incredibly friendly to players who don’t have a lot of experience with fighting games. It’s quick enough to never get boring, but the matches can last long enough to really draw out tense competition. Plus, since it can be played with one hand, it’s reeeeal easy to play it with a drink in the other hand.

I’ll be honest though. I came into the post thinking I’d laud the game’s simplicity thanks to its controls, but the reality is that there’s a lot more depth than first glance would reveal. There are gems to modify your kicks or up the stakes to sudden death. There are two variations of special moves that charge with every attack. There’s a headshot/concussion mechanic to slow opponents.

Divekick, in its winking grin, is a love letter to fighting games. And it’s far from a dive.