State of the Game: #BlaugustReborn Recap

August is quickly drawing to a close, but due to Blaugust Reborn, I’ve had to write more posts and that means playing more games to have things to write about! I’ve touched on a bunch of smaller titles that I’ve been playing in spurts, and in nearly all of those that I’ve talked about this month I’ve made some progress worthy of a round up post! Today, we’ll be revisiting games that I’ve been playing through August along with some other titles I’ve talked about but haven’t written that “this game is complete!” post for yet. With that said, we’ll be touching on Battle Chasers: Night War, Fallout 4: Far Harbor, Questland, Chasm, and one other game I haven’t talked about yet, Pacman Championship Edition 2. Let’s get started, shall we?

Battle Chasers: Night War

One problem with trying to play a bunch of new games so that you have something to write about on your blog is that you don’t really make much progress in any of them. I’ve subscribed to this play style for a number of years now, as I haven’t committed to a single game (like an MMO) for years and the last one I did play super regularly was a MOBA (League of Legends). For the past year or so I’ve been focused on clearing my backlog, but have also sprinkled in some new games that I’ve completed as well. Battle Chasers is a game that I picked up quite a while ago, but have been plugging away at here and there in my spare time. The last time I talked about it, I had recently finished up a couple of the early dungeons. Since then, I’ve picked up the final two members of our group (one that was on the airship with us at the beginning and another guy who is the descendant of someone who has defeated this world’s evil in the past.

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As JRPGs go, this one is reminiscent of the greats from the 1990’s. I haven’t played a more modern JRPG that plays like those of old but has the nuance and polish of today’s games. Most of the time they feel lifeless and uninspired, whereas Battle Chasers has a charm about it that really speaks to the source material. There isn’t too much in the way of character building which is a bit of a disappointment, but it’s got a decent storyline (it’s still the hero’s journey at its core) and the artwork is fantastic. I’ve explored a large portion of the map at this point and would suspect that I’m either at or just past the halfway point of the game. I’m hoping to be able to complete it before the end of the year at least.

Fallout 4: Far Harbor

The other RPG I’ve been playing here and there is Fallout 4. With Fallout 76 coming in a couple of months, I wanted to clear the DLCs for the game. I completed Automatron back in June and have been playing Far Harbor as of late. Wanting to complete this and the Nuka World DLCs before the new game is out. I’ve explored a large chunk of the island at this point and I’ve been enjoying it. I do have one complaint though, and that is that the island feels sort of lifeless. It’s not that there aren’t mobs to kill and people to talk to and a good number of locations to explore, but it feels like there’s more open space and less stuff to loot in buildings. I’ve poked my head into most buildings I’ve come across and have found that a good majority of them have been barren. This probably comes down to production costs and it is a large chunk of land to populate but for paid DLC it feels a little sparce. The story is good though, and it’s interesting to see how other parts of the world have progressed as you were pushing through the main story.

My recent adventures on the island have been doing side quests for the residents of Far Harbor. One lady has been obsessed with revenge for wrongs done to her, which lead me around killing bandits and wild beasts. Another quest ends with a battle with a Mirelurk Queen, which was a really difficult fight back on the mainland, but not overly difficult here (probably due to my level). I’m nearly level 40 at this point and progress has been swift. I’m looking forward to seeing how this storyline ends and of course finishing up the final DLC as well.

Questland:

The mobile game that I talked about a week or so ago, I’ve still been playing it daily. It’s the closest thing to an MMO or ARPG on my phone that I’ve played. It’s not because it has those types of gameplay, but more that it has the same sense of incremental progression. You’re mostly looking at a series of menus but you get the same effect of upgrading your gear a little at a time, applying orbs and upgrading them and micromanaging your inventory. Crafting has become more involved, I’ve joined a guild and have opened up the PvP arena which is an interesting concept.

As you progress through the game and these new modes open up you have a flood of things to do each day. There are daily tasks, donations to make, crafting to do, events to participate in and PvP battles to get to. PvP is interesting because your opponent’s character is controlled by the AI rather than the player. You can be attacked without being in-game. You’re given a selection of players to attack and should aim for someone with a power level similar to yours. I’ve had enough success to promote to the silver tier, but most of the players anywhere near me on the leaderboard have more power than me so I’m kind of stuck without leveling up. The weekly events are interesting as well, as they allow you to use particular items with multipliers on them on a separate page that essentially multiplies your power level. Then you fight through a special campaign and fight special bosses that are huge. It’s satisfying to see those multipliers in action! I’ve also pushed through a large portion of the main campaign, along with a large chunk of the difficulty 2 levels. It’s a fun game and I think I’m going to stick with it!

Chasm:

I wrote about Chasm earlier this month as well, and I’ve made forward progress with it. At that point I had just found a special item that allowed me to traverse areas I had not been to (Spiked Gloves) and had just finished up the mines and wound up in the catacombs. At this point I’ve found two other areas of the game, the Gardens and the Keep, though in the Keep I wasn’t able to make much progress as it seems there’s probably an item needed to get further. Ditto the Gardens, it appears there are some underwater areas but I can’t swim down into them yet. I did grab another special item (Shin Guards) that allows me to slide, so I cleared out a few old hidden areas with that and am working further into the Gardens.

The boss of the Catacombs was rather difficult but I managed to down him and also rescued the blacksmith and found his hammer. Each character rescued populates the town but each also has a side quest to find particular items that end up helping you out in the process. One vendor sells potions and you can bring her back recipes to make others. Giving the blacksmith his hammer opened up the ability to craft items with some of the materials found in the dungeon. I’m sure there’s more to find but so far each addition has proven its worth. Being partially procedurally generated means that the puzzles are always unique (which means looking them up doesn’t really help) and your experience may vary from mine but that also gives replay ability. As Metroidvanias go this one is up there towards the top of my list.

Pacman Championship Edition 2

I looked through my archives and couldn’t find any posts about the first game, but I remember during the 2014 or 15 NBI where me and Doone were competing for hi-scores in the first game. I just happened upon the sequel here and it changes things up a bit. The first Championship edition was vastly different than normal Pacman because instead of just collecting all the dots and power pellets in a level you have predetermined lines to follow and ghost mechanics are different. This game has taken that altered formula and changed it further. It’s hard to describe with words, but if you enjoy Pacman and variants, you’ll probably like this one too.

There is a ton of customization available to get the look just how you like it. Besides a tutorial that will get you up to speed with what’s changed, there are also score attack and adventure modes. Adventure mode doesn’t open until you’ve cleared a few score attacks, and that’s really all there is to it, besides trying to get S ranks on all the levels. I did just that with the first game, so I’m sure I’ll eventually do the same with this one. That’s really all there is to say, it’s a fun little diversion.

And that’s all for this week’s round up. Happy Gaming everyone!

Further Thoughts on Battle Chasers: Nightwar

I first jotted down thoughts about Battle Chasers: Nightwar a couple of months back. It was a round-up post though, so I didn’t go into too much detail, and hadn’t really played it for more than a few minutes to that point. It wasn’t too long ago that I was burning through my backlog at a rapid clip, but that train had lost some steam in recent months mainly because I was having a hard time deciding what to play. I’ve spent some time in a fair number of titles but none had really sunk their hooks into me. I came back around to this game and it’s been holding my attention more than the others, so this is likely the next game I’ll play through to completion.

I’m in love with the aesthetic of Battle Chasers. It was apparently inspired by a series of graphic novels, which makes sense given the artwork in the game which appears as a hand-drawn style. The mixture of high fantasy and some sci-fi elements works, and the gameplay is the normal tried and true JRPG turn-based style but it doesn’t feel stale. You’ll be earning levels in no time, and that means new abilities and actions will become available to you. Starting with a group of three adventurers, you’ll eventually reunite with others and have a little variety in your group composition on top of the new gear and upgrades you’ll earn along the way. There’s even an alternate advancement tree that will allow you to further customize your heroes.

When I left off, I had made it to the little town that serves as an HQ of sorts, complete with an Inn to rest at, and vendors to buy/sell goods too. There’s some light crafting too, so everything you pick up tends to have a purpose. Soon enough, my party was heading into their first real challenge… a dungeon!

The Iron Outpost:

The Iron Outpost was easy enough, it was the first dungeon of the game after all. The final boss was a sword demon thing… there’s not a good way to describe it, but it looked pretty cool nonetheless! It was mostly overrun with bandits and they were XP fodder leading up to the final battle.

The Rushlands and Path of Fangs:

Long story short, we were trying to get to another part of the map and it was blocked by a large cannon that would shoot anything that came too close. Unfortunately the only way around was via a teleporter, but the power had been lost. We headed to another cave and fought off some elementals to get a power source which we used to turn the teleporter back on. Soon we were in the Rushlands, and we came across our second dungeon, The Path of Fangs. This one was headed by a bunch of lycanthropes (called something else but similar) and I was charged with killing off the leaders of a couple of tribes. After doing so, one of their kind let me pass through the other side of the dungeon. We then took out the bandit manning the cannon, and could then freely pass through a short cut back to the starter town.

Fishing:

Like many an RPG before it, there is a fishing mini-game that is fairly easy to partake in. You have to use one character in particular (pictured above) to fish, but he comes equipped with the rod and line to handle business. I managed to catch a couple of unique fish so far, some of which can be sold for some alternate currencies that can buy you some skins and bad ass gear in large quantities.

Story:

The storyline plays out over time, and like most RPGs of this style, you only get bits and pieces as you go along. We’ve met what I think is either the main villain or at least an antagonist, but she was nice enough to our faces. We later learned that she was behind some of the goings-on, so that leads me to believe we’ll see more of here soon. We eventually found one of our lost party members and he’s a pretty powerful mage. There’s also some random events where you can be attacked by a passing airship, which I thought was pretty cool, though a little more difficult than the typical battles, and confusing as to how you end up fighting on the ship itself. Nonetheless, we found ourselves heading into Junk Town, which I think may end up being the 3rd dungeon but I have yet to enter.

Overall I think the game is great, and it’s been on sale recently on both PSN and Steam. If you like JRPG style games, I’d highly recommend this one!

State of the Game: New Classics

Last week I had a couple of days of strenuous labor in a row, and over the course of the weekend my back was feeling pretty sore. I’ve thrown it out a couple of times over the past few years, and I think I aggravated something one of those days. Over the weekend I took it easy but when I woke up on Monday morning it was a smidge worse, enough that I went into work but then immediately found someone to come in to cover me and went home. I stayed home Tuesday as well but was back to work by Wednesday. Nevertheless I ended up having a bunch of spare time to play some games that were mostly free that I hadn’t played yet. From last month’s Playstation Plus games, I tried out Grand Kingdom. From this month’s Humbly Monthly package, I played Lost Castle. I also touched on a few of the new games from Playstation Plus this month, Mighty No. 9, Bombing Busters, and finally played a game I picked up at some point on sale, called Battle Chasers: Night War. Lastly, I played through an indie title called Uncanny Valley that also came via Plus but I don’t recall when. This is on top of recently completing Shadow Warrior 2, and playing more of Crash Bandicoot and Shadow of the Colossus. It’s been a busy quarter for me, having completed several games and spending a bit of time in others. The theme for today is that these games all stem from a classic formula but put their own spin on their respective genres. Let’s take a closer look at these titles:

Grand Kingdom:

Grand Kingdom struck me as being a game I would enjoy, but it ended up being different than I expected. The only other title I can remotely compare it to is Has Been Heroes, which I wrote about back in January. The titles really aren’t that similar, but the combat systems are. In both, you’ll have different lanes in which you can move about to attack your enemies, but can only attack those in the same lane as your character. There is an element of timing as well, because you actually mash buttons when attacking, or must time button press correctly as the cursor moves during ranged attacks and magic spells. That’s where the similarities end, but it’s such a different way of doing things compared to most RPGs/JRPGs. There’s a storyline here but it’s not really all that important. You’ll spend most of your time on these mission maps, where you move a chess piece around a map and occasionally run into monsters and the game will swap over to the combat screen. Here you’ll move your forces around and fight the enemy. That’s really all there is to it, yet it still was a spot of fun. It was free last month via Plus so if you’re a member you’ve probably already added it to your account. I don’t think I’d pay money for it, but it’s decent nonetheless.

Lost Castle:

I mentioned having resubscribed to Humble Monthly for the month of March only because they were offering Dark Souls III as part of the $12 bundle. I still haven’t played that game yet (have yet to beat the first two games) but seeing the rest of the bundle reaffirmed my decision to stop paying for the service. It’s always one or two good games and a bunch of chaff, and this month was no exception. I’m happy to get a cheap copy of a game I wanted, but the rest of the package is never worth it. Lost Castle was literally the only other game I downloaded, but it’s pretty fun so it’s not a total loss.

A 2-D side-scrolling brawler, Lost Castle has rogue-like elements in that you will die, but you’ll get points to put into a tree of skills that will help you on further runs. You basically run around and kills shit until that happens. There isn’t much of a storyline, but it’s a fun little time waster and I enjoy these sorts of games so I’ll put some time into it here and there. Not sure what the MSRP is for this game but I’d pay a couple bucks for it.

Mighty No. 9:

Part of this month’s Playstation Plus offering, Mighty No. 9 is the Mega Man clone you didn’t know you wanted. It has had a troubled history being a successful Kickstarter that didn’t exactly keep its promises, but it’s been out for a while and it was something I wanted to try but didn’t want to buy. I’m thankful for that, as I would not have paid money for this one but it’s entertaining anyway.

The graphics are 3D models on a 2D plane, which is something we’ve seen before. It feels slow and kind of clunky, but then it still seems to work. I don’t know how to describe it, but basically I was unimpressed but it was still fun to play. Still has a bit of challenge like the old Mega Man titles too. It’s just sort of meh though. Thankfully it was free.

Bombing Busters:

Another free Plus game this month, Bombing Busters is basically Bomberman. The level design is the same, the bomb mechanics are the same. It’s more cutesy than its inspiration, but also less inspired. Fun to waste a few minutes with, not really worth the time.

Battle Chasers: Night War:

This game I actually paid for, and I’m glad I did. Hearkening back to old school console RPGs, Battle Chasers is actually based on a comic book from the 90’s. It plays like a combination between Final Fantasy titles and the likes of Secret of Mana, etc. You’ll move around on a world map, where you’ll come across encounters, and then warp to a fight screen, which is turn based and uses a series of menus to control (this is like 99% of RPGs of this style). In some areas, you’ll enter into a dungeon and will control your character from an isometric viewpoint. You have a party of 3, and each has a “dungeon skill” that can help you navigate around so you can swap between characters on the fly while in the dungeon. You’ll still run into creatures and swap to the combat screen. Otherwise when you are in town and talking with NPCs, a beautifully rendered comic book style conversation will take place, most of which is voice acted.

Of all the titles on this list, this one is certainly my favorite. It speaks to my generation of gamers who grew up with classic RPGs on the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis, but it has the depth and graphics of newer generations. I fully recommend this one to RPG junkies, and it’s not too expensive either (I paid $17).

Uncanny Valley:

Finally, a trip into the strange world that is Uncanny Valley. This is one of those 2D pixellated horror games, a genre which has basically always been around but with which I have little experience. I can’t say that I have completed the game, because looking at the trophy list it appears that there are a bunch of different events that I did not witness. However, I lived through several days in the life of this main character, saw an ending and saw end credits. The storyline is loosely put together but it appears that this large building in the middle of a forest has been closed down (or hasn’t open yet) and you are hired as a security officer to watch over it. You run the night shift, and relieve a rather large man. The apartment you are provided as an employee is through the woods nearby. That’s really all they give you to go on. From there you’ll explore the building, meet a nice girl named Eve, have all sorts of weird dreams and hallucinations, and do your job.

In the end, I made Eve fall in love with me somehow, but then she murdered me at the end, severing all of my limbs from my body — roll credits. It was an abrupt ending and I still hadn’t really figured out what was going on at that point. I kept finding tapes and listening to what sounded like a therapist talking with a mental ward patient. Strange machinery was present throughout the building. But nothing was ever made very clear and the bouncing back and forth between reality and fever dreams was a bit confusing. Honestly I think this would have made a better 3D or first person horror title, but it’s still serviceable in its current form. I’d give it a whirl if you’re into that sort of thing.

That’s it for this round up. I have posts in the works for another RPG that I started that hearkens back to the good ol’ days, and the 2nd season of TellTale’s Batman game. Be back soon!