Category Archives: fun fridayz

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.

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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.

PCP: 3D Ultra Minigolf

Fun Fridayz #16 – Finite Flaws

Minigolf, Many Fun

The short of it: It’s about as much fun as real crappy minigolf. 

No real excuses here. Felt bad, fell asleep. 

So my buddy Max and I had a few and booted up the ol’ 360 arcade game, 3D Ultra Minigolf. 

I downloaded it a few months ago for a few bucks after watching Achievement Hunter’s wonderfully classic Let’s Play 3D Ultra Minigolf.

It went about as well as one could expect. Mixing wonky physics and alcohol turned into a series of terrible failures, where a max power shot was a hole in one, but putting became an extra six strokes on a Par 2 course.

For a cheap laugh, though, it’s a real sinker.

PCP: The Long Dark

Fun Friday #15 – Ffffffffroze Fun

Long Dark, Short Arrival

Alright, I’ll be honest, I took a personal day to recover. This’ll be updated tomorrow

Hey, it’s updated. The short of it is I’m exhausted and this game is dope– if you’re into survival and atmosphere, pick this up ASAP. As much fun as I had, I think I’ll wait for a sale to pick this up.

Okay, so I survived the long dark.

Not the game, the skull splitting hangover I got from a single sugary alcoholic drink for my birthday coupled with a week of exhaustion.

I did not survive The Long Dark.

That might be because I was playing the trial version of the now “finished” game– a rarity in the survival genre. Along with the fact that this is true survival, not survival horror, not survival zombie base building early access, or whatever other obnoxious tags get tacked onto the remnants of the Greenlight program, The Long Dark is almost a miracle.

Not only did it emerge from dreaded Early Access, it did so with a flourish, adding a story mode with its ultimate release. After playing through five or so days in said story mode, it’s delightfully competent. The animations for character interactions (depicted in flashbacks and only a little interaction) are these moving painted styles that manage to work with the gameplay’s very-obviously-Unity looks.

With a hotbutton for managing all of the important tasks for survival, like eating or crafting, the tension for survival is built on your management of resources, both material, chronological, and caloric. Instead of losing yourself in the frustration of management menus and mysterious blueprints that require a wiki, it’s truly all on your ability to survive.

So you find yourself, alone, with the wind howling in your ears as you desperately try to make a fire out of an old newspaper and the scattering of branches from the snowstorm.

Days pass. Maybe you don’t make it. Maybe you do, maybe you luck out and stumble on a cache and the corpse of its creator. Either way, you’ll eventually end up in a similar situation.

You find yourself, alone again, but you’re locked in the comfort of your cave. The fire is roaring, stocked with reclaimed wood and lumber, with a guaranteed burn time of nearly half a day. Your supply of venison and dog food give you a few days of comfort in the face of a blinding blizzard. The three bullets you own are always near your grasp, protecting you from the harsh realities of a devastated world.

And yet you feel no better than you did when your vision started to blur from exhaustion and hypothermia and your numb fingers struggled with tinder.

This is the possessive, enthralling terror of The Long Dark. There are no hordes to outsmart, no bosses to beat. Every sunrise isn’t a symbol of the warmth and hope. Instead, it’s a cold reminder that in just a few short hours, your body may consume the final calories of energy left in your body. Your new shelter may become a mangy wolf’s new home. You might just forget to boil your water when your thirst becomes too great.

Or you just might forget where your shelter is when the storm hits and the snow blinds you, leaving you to become just another victim of the long dark.

 

 

PCP: DemooD

Fun Fridayz #14 – Freaky/Free

Mood: Doom –
Doom Doom Doomdoom Doom

The short of it: The Doom demo demolishes for its demo, despite being dodgy for doubters, dredging up demonstrations from dangling in the depths of demise.

I cracked and finally got Doom, even though I already listened to its soundtrack in its entirety multiple times. And, much like Prey, my purchasing decision was based on the demo.

While a sale actually made me pull the trigger, trialing the first level made me pick up the gun.

As nice as “Free Weekends” and betas and such are (shoutout Path of Exile beta), it’s hard to argue against the value of a downloadable, specially focused trial that gives a sense of consumer-friendly development.