Tuesday, July 29, 2014

No Game New Year: Progress report

Since various projects are wrapping up right now, I'm trying to increase the time I spend playing games as well as reading comics.  Here's a few more I've been getting to:

Brothers - I was able to sit down and finish this one.  The controls were still uncomfortable, but I was able to get through to the end.  I think some of the emotional impact was lost on me because I had seen reviews that were trying to remain vague but gave enough hints about the ending to spoil me.  That said, I won't go into too many details myself so I don't spoil anyone else.  I recommend giving it a try.

Skullgirls Encore - This game was free on PSN so I downloaded it and gave it a try.  I like the art style and the fact that the main boss fight requires strategy rather than just slamming down on the buttons is a neat idea, but far above my skill level.

Retro Game Challenge 2 - This game technically does not have an American release, but I am playing a fan translation.  Like the first game (that was released here) you are challenged by Arino from Game Center CX to complete challenges in various games.  The games are originals that often parody successful retro games from different eras.  So far I've played through the challenges for the Pac-Man clone, the Mario-like platformer, Kung Fu sidescroller, detective based adventure game, a Tetris clone, and a shooting game.  I'm currently on the Dragon Warrior-esque JRPG, and part of me doesn't want to rush to get past it, though the severe grinding required may make me move on.  It's a lot of fun as both a fan of Game Center CX and of retro games in general, though as with any collection, some of the games are better than others.  The detective game was super annoying, mostly because it required you to just ask people the same questions multiple times rather than doing any actual puzzle solving.  The Tetris clone has a lot of similarities to other match three puzzle games, so of course I also enjoyed that one quite a bit.  Most of the challenges are reasonable and the games in the collection are an improvement over the first Retro Game Challenge, which had a fun similar idea but not as good an execution.

Resident Evil 4 - No, just no.  It's different than the first three games, that's for sure, but it seems to specialize in sending waves of the zombie-like villagers at you, and I guess you're just supposed to run and maybe also shoot them by pulling off perfect shots and I'm not good enough at aiming with the controller so just forget it.  This game was the opposite of fun for me.

Mass Effect - Been wanting to try out this series for ages.  I played for about an hour and a half, creating a character and going through the first mission on Eden.  I'm playing on the PC so trying to shoot things isn't as awkward as it normally is on a controller for me, but I still had the game warn me multiple times that I was about to die so I better heal.  I'm playing on the easiest settings, both Novice difficulty and the aiming assistance turned all the way up, but I still suck.  The one thing I noticed though is that with the team behind me is pretty smart AI, so for at least some of the time I bet I could hang back and let them do most of the work, though I'm sure that won't last forever.  Nothing about the story has grabbed me yet, but it's also super-early so I'm not making any judgements.

On the Rain Slick Precipice of Darkness 3 - Despite not touching this game for nearly a full year, I was able to pick right back up and play again.  It's a turn based RPG, but does its part to try to keep that more entertaining by having the characters gain 1 MP per round.  So you can either just use a physical attack and build up MP or use a basic special attack each round.  You also become fully healed at the end of each battle, so there's no worry about using up magic in between battles to heal.  The humor is about what you would expect from Penny Arcade, which means a fair number of misses with occasional good humor.  I do enjoy the setting though, and I've reached an interesting part of the game where you go through doors and enter different worlds, like a haunted house or a spaceship.  It's a nice game to play to waste away an evening.

The Sims 2 - EA recently put out the complete version of this for free, and since The Sims 3 very nearly made me break this resolution earlier this year because it looked so entertaining, I figured I'd get it.  However I went through the effort of building me and my two cats, moved us into an apartment complex, and then didn't do anything else.  Maybe I just need to add some more Sims of people I know to help make it more interesting.

Samorost 2 - This is a point and click puzzle game with no dialogue.  The fact that it's a sequel doesn't really matter, as the story is self contained.  A little gnome's dog get stolen by aliens and you solve puzzles to save him and return home.  The biggest problem I had is that you can really only solve most of the puzzles by trial and error, just clicking around the screen to see what each thing does and then figure the proper order to do them in.  Some of them also require timing to get just right.  It's also a super quick game, I got through the whole thing in an hour, but you could do it even faster depending on how quickly you figure out the puzzles.  I figured out the final puzzle but missed on the timing, and faced with having to do a series of annoying tasks again, closed the game and looking up the ending on Youtube.  It's a pretty cheap game so if it's on sale or part of a humble bundle (how I originally got it) it's worth picking up if you like these kinds of games.

I feel like I should point out that the guy who I originally got this idea from has cracked and has been buying games for a while now.  The Steam Summer Sale tempted me, but I reminded myself that given how difficult it has been so far this year to find time to play games, I really shouldn't spend money on something I'm not going to have time for.  I also recently let my Playstation Plus membership expire, so some of the games on my list have been eliminated because they were free only if my membership was active.  That at least makes getting through my backlog a little easier.  I also let my Xbox Live Gold membership expire, because I barely even touch that system and they finally wised up and allow you to use the streaming apps without paying like all the other system do.

Being more than halfway through the year, it seems pretty obvious to me that I'm not going to play every single game in my backlog before the year is up.  But I think the whole experience has at least broken the habit of "It's so cheap, I might as well get it" because now I realistically know that even "cheap" is too much when I'm not actually going to play it.  Note that I'm not saying I'm giving up on this challenge, just that when the year is done I'm not going to keep restricting myself.

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