State of the Game: Backlog Goals

Despite having a pretty regular posting schedule these days, I still don’t touch on all of the things that I’m doing in my day-to-day life. I play other games besides the ones I write about, have thoughts about various titles or my progress on projects, and still mess around with my Magic cards. I also do that thing called “living” so there’s much more going on than might be alluded to here on the blog. It’s been a while since I did a round up post so I thought I’d take the time to do so today. Besides working on Everquest II and making my way through the backlog, I’ve got some specific updates and then some thoughts to round things up. Let’s get started.

I’ve made steady progress with Clash Royale, the only mobile game I play with any regularity. The last time I wrote about it, Supercell had just added another arena. The Electro Valley arena became Arena 11, pushing Hog Mountain down to Arena 10, and making the Legendary Arena #12. At that time, I was placed in Arena 11 due to my trophy count, so that was a nice little boost. I have since pushed my way into the Legendary Arena and also upped my King level to 12. Hitting 13 is a long ways off, mainly because it’s going to take 80k points to get there and I have somewhere in the neighborhood of 20k at the time of this writing. My highest trophy count is 3914, which happened recently. I pushed into Legendary status a while back but then fell back down into Arena 11, and pushed my way back up to 12 where I have stayed for the last month or so. Getting to Challenger status isn’t too far off.

 

My two main decks are above. I used to only focus on one deck, but I have found that having a couple to choose from is nice to break up the monotony. I tend to use my Hog/Loon deck the most, especially when trying to work my way up the ladder, while I use the Golem deck primarily in 2v2 matches, but I have a feeling that it might be more consistent as I get up into the Challenger scene.

 

I finally got my hands on a Mega Knight (actually upgraded him to level 2 already as well) since my last post, which was the last card I needed to “catch em all” at that point. Since then the Royal Ghost released and I recently got one of them out of a chest. The most recent card is the Magic Archer, which we just got to check out in one of the Challenges, but he hasn’t released just yet. He’ll be the only card I need once he comes out. Overall the game is still a blast to play and I do so daily.

I’m still plugging away at The Order 1886, which has been a pretty fun title, but a bit more challenging than those I played through recently. There are some stealth bits that require you to not be detected, and if you are it’s instant-death which is rather frustrating. Regardless, I have worked my way through the 6th chapter and progress is steady. I want to complete this one before really starting on something new, as I have been trying to keep focused on clearing out my backlog. I have some ideas for where I’ll start next, but I’ll get back to that in a bit.

Over the weekend my girlfriend and I did some errands and while we were out I spotted a couple of older MTG starter decks that I picked up on a whim. At $15 a pop they tend to have alternate art or Planeswalkers at the helm, a preconstructed 60 card deck along with a couple of booster packs for whatever particular set they are from. I picked up the Nicol Bolas Planeswalker deck from Hour of Devastation, along with a starter deck from Eldritch Moon (a few sets back, before they started doing Planeswalker decks for each set). I really only picked them up because I wanted the Nicol-Bolas Planeswalker and the alternate art Noosegraf Mob that came with the starter kit.

The face cards are on the right there, Noosegraf mob is a card I needed for the Alesha deck I’m building, and Nicol Bolas for another EDH build I’m working on. I ended up pulling some nice additions out of the booster packs – Unesh will slot into my Sphinx deck and Tamiyo is another Planeswalker that will go into the deck with Bolas. Nice pulls!

I also resubscribed to the Humble Monthly service again for March, as Dark Souls 3 + DLC was the featured game. Steam is having a Lunar New Year sale at present, and this game was on sale for $15, but via Humble I was able to get it plus DLC for only $12. This is great for the wallet, but unfortunately I still haven’t completed the first two games in the series, so this is just more fodder for the backlog!

Speaking of which, I am having trouble deciding what to start next after I complete The Order. I have Alien: Isolation which I started just to check out and only played for about an hour, I also have Shadow Warrior 2 which I spent a few hours on but didn’t complete. There’s Monster Hunter World which I would like to dive into, along with the aforementioned Dark Souls trilogy. The latter few would be a significant time investment, but still worth doing. I also have plenty of other titles that are collecting dust, so it’s going to be a tough choice! I’ll write about The Order again once I’ve completed it, and perhaps by then I will have decided what to do next.

That’s all for this wrap up. Until next time, happy gaming!

Mini Impressions: Humble Monthly May

Another month in the books, and here we are with a new bundle of games in our Humble Monthly Subscription. This month also marks a year since I started using the service, and I believe that was fairly close to when the company started providing it. I know I missed a couple of months at the very beginning before deciding to see if it was worth the cost. I feel like over the course of the year I was able to check out a large variety of games, including titles that I wanted, some that were still expensive to buy otherwise, and some that I had never even heard of. Some were early access, some were full release, and some were AAA titles that I wouldn’t have expected to get at such a value. Some of the games made me wish I hadn’t bought them already (great titles I already owned have been included over the past year) and others made me glad that I never bought them for full price. Overall I feel that the service is a boon, being around the same price as a Netflix subscription for a handful of decent games each month. I always find at least one that is worth the $12/month entry fee, so any others are a bonus. I only started reviewing the bundles each month (my opinion on these titles that is) a few months back, but I’m sure some of you might think that it seems like I’m always bitching about some portion of the bundle (probably am) but I honestly feel like it’s worth the money. I always have gifts lying in wait for gamer friends, some I gift for no reason, and some I have others stashed for a rainy day. Games that I’m not interested in or already own go into this pile. Others get played and I share those experiences here, while commenting about owning such and such game or having no interest in another. I’m overly honest that way. Still, I would recommend this service because overall each game is pennies on the dollar compared to their MSRP, there are some neat surprises from time to time, and giving the extra loot away feels pretty good. Your mileage may vary.

Let’s get on with the games, shall we? The list this month:

Dirt Rally
Inside
This is the Police
Undertale
Metrico+
The Turing Test
GoNNER
Super Rude Bear Resurrection

Early unlocks for the month were Dirt Rally and Inside. I played both and have opinions. This is the Police, GoNNER and Super Rude Bear Resurrection were the titles that appealed to me this month, so I’ll be able to comment on them as well. I did not install Undertale, Metrico+ or The Turing Test as they all feel like games I wouldn’t enjoy, and I’d rather save those keys for friends. Speaking of which, if you check out the list at the bottom of this page you can check out the games that have been included in past bundles and if we’re friends and you see a game on there you might want, drop me a comment. If I have the key still I’ll send it your way.

Dirt: Rally

I hadn’t played a game in the Dirt series before. Apparently it dates back to the turn of the century, but I hadn’t really even noticed until the third game was out. At some point, Humble provided a free key for Dirt 3, which I redeemed but never played. Ditto for Dirt Showdown. Rally came out last year, and Dirt 4 is on the way this year. Apparently it’s a thing. I really wanted to like it too. The game ran great and looked beautiful. I enjoyed the fact that the career mode felt like playing Gran Turismo, where you start out with a shit car, make money, upgrade it, and eventually buy better cars and qualify for more difficult events. However, in Gran Turismo this is all done on asphalt. Rally racing appeals to me, I’ve watched events and one of my favorite cars of all time is a Rally car (WRX STi), but playing this game didn’t do it for me. I’ll be uninstalling this and I don’t think the predecessors will be getting much time out of me either.

Inside

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Inside took me completely by surprise. I had never heard of it, and it doesn’t look like my type of game. But it was gripping right from the start. A beautiful art style with great depth of field, yet still played on a 2D plane. It is very atmospheric, and there is no dialogue to the point I got in the game, so the story unfolds before you in a way that says it all without saying anything. I really enjoy this one and look forward to seeing more of it.

GoNNER

I have no idea why the title of this game is stylized the way it is, but I have no control over that now do I? A rogue-lite platforming shooter, it has a very strange art style and direction. It looks interesting enough in it’s minimalist way, but can sometimes become confusing. It appears that you can buy different upgrades between deaths, and though it wasn’t too challenging, it wasn’t something that I could see myself putting much time into.

This is the Police

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Another game I was on the fence about. Looking at the screens on Steam, I figured it could be a fun little management game. It’s heavily story driven to start off, with a comic book like introduction, and some dialogue decisions to make along the way. The meat and potatoes of the game seems to be managing which officers you send out to handle crimes. Depending on who you pick depends on the success rate, and it seems like even making the “best” choices still resulted in loss of life — civilians and officers mostly. Half the time the perps get away. The management aspects were sort of limited, but I honestly didn’t play it that far. Those of you into management games might have better luck and find more enjoyment in it, I should have passed.

Super Rude Bear Resurrection

SRBR seems like the type of game that has a story behind it. Perhaps there is an original version of this game somewhere and this is a sequel of sorts? Reboot? Remaster? In today’s age, who knows, and though it’s a simple Google search away I don’t really care. I like this game. I’m not huge on platformers anymore, but this feels like the sequel to Super Meat Boy in the best possible way. The game plays similarly enough, the familiar mechanics are there. The graphics are surprisingly good, and done in a way that feels good but still has that cartoon feel-good aspect. The words aren’t coming out so well because it’s late, but hopefully you catch my drift. If you like old school tough platformers, this one is for you.

Overall this was a fairly solid month. The early unlock for June is a game called Stellaris, which is made by the same guys as Crusader Kings. I have CK2, which was gifted to me at some point and I simply couldn’t get into it. A more intuitive tutorial might have been helpful. It looks pretty good nonetheless so I’ll be giving that a whirl soon enough. Until next month, it’s been swell.

Mini Impressions: April Humble Monthly

Another month has passed and another new bundle of games has been unlocked from Humble Monthly. The early unlock for April was The Witness which I already knew wasn’t my thing so I gifted that copy away to my sister. The remaining bits of the bundle unlocked earlier this month, and I finally had a chance to check out some of the pieces of the puzzle. I didn’t play all of the games but I still have thoughts to share, so let’s take a look at the list:

Black Mesa
Kingdom: New Lands

Layers of Fear
Tumblestone
Event Zero
Slime-San
Jawns

I’m not sure why, but I basically never play any of the Humble Originals. They’re always DRM free copies and I just don’t install games that aren’t via some sort of launcher. I don’t know why that is, but you can bet that I didn’t play Jawns for this reason. Same goes for prior months. I also didn’t play Event Zero which is one of those narrative games that bore me. Slime-San falls into the same uninterested category, as it was a pixellated platformer and I’m just not that into platforming these days.

Layers of Fear looks interesting. I get more of a Amnesia or SOMA vibe to it, but I haven’t played either of those titles despite owning both. If I remember correctly SOMA was in a bundle a few months back. Having just completed Resident Evil VII, I thought it might be worth jumping into right away to keep up with the creepy vibe, but I have yet to jump into it. Still on my to do list.

Black Mesa is a remake of the original Half-Life that is supposed to add some modern convenience along with better graphics to the beloved title. However, it’s still in Early Access and apparently the tail end of the game is not present just yet. I had my eye on this one for a while and wish to play it, but I think I’m going to let the developers finish it before diving in.

Now, on to the games I actually did try out. Kingdom is a cute little side scrolling base management game that came out a while back. I remember friends talking about it and I almost picked it up myself a couple of times. The bundle came packed with both the Classic version of the game, and the expansion “New Lands,” Though having experimented with them both, it doesn’t seem like there’s a whole lot of difference between the two. Let me show you what I mean:

Kingdom Classic
Kingdom: New Lands

I mean honestly, do you see a difference? All I noticed was that my character went from having light skin to dark skin, and now there’s some clouds. I’m sure it’s one of those types of expansions that adds new stuff, I did notice that the tutorial was more fleshed out in the latter game. Both install and play seperately though, despite not being a sequel. They both had their own Steam cards and whatnot too, so it’s probably more like a directors cut or additional bits added in. You guys that have played more of the game could probably clear that up for me. Overall, it’s a fun little time waster but not a game I’d spend a load of time with.

Lastly, a little puzzle game called Tumblestone. It’s got match 3 elements, but you match bricks that are already existing, and don’t add to it. You also have to clear bricks to get to bricks behind them, so each puzzle has one or more ways to solve it, rather than being more like traditional match 3 games where you can add extra bricks and then clear them later. It seems alright as far as puzzle games go but nothing super engaging.

That’s it for this month’s games. The early unlock for next month was Dirt Rally, and if you’ve been paying attention, both Dirt 3 and one of the other titles in the series were free on Humble Bundle’s site over the past few months. So plenty of rally racing to be had. Apparently the 4th game in the series is coming out soon as well. Inside was the other early unlock (two this month, which is different) and it looks like a little platformer with some cool art direction and a mysterious story. I’ll check these out and get back to you next month. Until then.

Mini Impressions: March Humble Monthly

I’m a bit earlier with my initial thoughts for this month’s Humble Monthly lot, mainly because I have basically called it quits with Destiny and got stuck on a boss in RE7 long enough to experiment with the new games. I’ve made it a point to at least try the games I get each month (unless completely uninterested — in those cases I gift the keys or hold on to them to gift later) so as to not let the backlog completely stagnate. It’s true, I still have too many games to play and not enough time, but at least if I get a taste I can determine if a title is even worth keeping on my system. This month is the same as most months: there is one title I really enjoy and had on my wishlist, and then there are a couple of hidden gems I hadn’t really heard about prior. March’s bundle included the following titles:

Total War: Warhammer
Poly Bridge
Space Run Galaxy
One Piece Pirate Warriors 3
Flat Heroes
RIVE
Morphblade

The early unlock for April has already been paid for as well. It seems that through the early unlock you can glean a little something about the remaining titles that will come in the bundle. The pattern as of late for me personally has been either a title I know and love or one that I want being the early unlock, and then titles I’m less excited for composing the rest of the bundle, or vice versa. For example, this month’s early unlock was Total War: Warhammer and I was excited to be getting that for $12, but the rest of the bundle was less noteworthy. Next month’s unlock is The Witness (a game I’m uninterested in and already gifted to my Sister) which should mean that there will be something better coming in the bundle. Of course, this observation is clearly biased by my own opinions and interests, so your experience may vary.

Total War: Warhammer appears to be a great game. It runs smoothly on my system at max settings. The lore feels appropriate. I’ve played for a while and have enjoyed what I played. The only real thing keeping me from playing it very seriously at the moment is the fact that it will take some time to learn the game. Oddly enough I have never played a Total War game. They always looked interesting and I’ve almost bought several of them in various sales and bundles, but never pulled the trigger. As is I have several unplayed or unfinished 4x games on my hard drive, so I don’t want to delve too deeply just yet. I have heard positive things about it though and know it will get its due eventually. This title alone made the bundle.

Poly Bridge is one that I passed on. It’s one of those build-a-bridge-over-a-chasm type games, complete with a physics engine. Not my cup-o-tea. If you guys are reading (and we’re friends elsewhere, like on Twitter/Steam) feel free to hit me up for spare keys. I have quite a few from the past near-year of monthly bundles. This title is one of them.

Space Run Galaxy took me by surprise. At first it appeared to be an indie game that I would quickly lose interest in, but after having played it last night, I was impressed. It feels like sort of a Faster Than Light sort of Rogue-lite experience, but doesn’t feel quite as randomized. Perhaps it isn’t random at all. What is interesting is that you have a hexagonal ship that can have various parts affixed to each hex. One hex comprises your bridge, and you’ll start with certain pieces that you can add as a “run” takes place. You’ll be delivering goods too, which also take up spaces. You’ll be building thrusters to move through space faster, and laser cannons to destroy obstacles and enemy pirate ships. There isn’t twitch game play, it is purely strategic and your ship flies in a straight line to the destination while various sensors warn you of what dangers are coming. You gather resources from things you destroy to continue to upgrade your ship. The run ends, you get some upgrades and you do another, but you then have to rebuild these upgrades during each level. I’m not sure if it’s endless or if this story has a conclusion, but the gameplay was fun for short spurts and I will be spending more time with this title for sure. Take a look:

In theory, One Piece Pirate Warriors 3 is a game that would appeal to me. In practice, not so much. It’s a Dynasty Warriors sort of game, which means you control a hero, mash buttons and kick the living shit out of huge groups of enemies. Sounds cool right? Well… this port leaves things to be desired. I read somewhere that it’s not even a port of a recent game, that it’s actually a port of a Playstation 3 title. It did look alright on max settings on my PC, but the controls are wonky even with a controller, and I’d imagine that it would be downright unplayable with the keyboard (no mouse support at all). The graphics weren’t impressive and it’s a manga I know nothing about so there is absolutely no appeal. I’d avoid this one were I you.

I’m not into minimalist games. Flat Heroes is one of those types, and I’m not a fan. This key is up for grabs too.

RIVE was the other hidden gem this month. A game I had never heard of though it’s been out for 6 months at least, it’s a run and gun platformer along with having some sci-fi elements. Think games like Galak-Z or Cryptark. Side scrolling, bullet-hell, shoot-em-up with some puzzling bits. There really isn’t much to say there, besides it looks great, plays great, and I had a good time with it. Would recommend. Take a look:

Lastly, a title called Morphblade. Another key up for grabs, it appears to be a puzzle game but didn’t appeal to me.

There are other titles that have been added each month that I haven’t even tried. Like other Bundles on the site, many times there are DRM-Free copies of games that are included but aren’t linked through services like Steam, and I tend to like to keep most of my games in one place. Humble Originals that are supposed exclusives to the monthly format have been there from the start and I don’t think I’ve played a single one. Just more shit to clutter up my hard drive most likely, but if any of you think I’m missing a good title in there, let me know in the comments. Have you been enjoying Humble’s Monthly service? Or do you find most of it not worth your time?

Mini Impressions: February Humble Monthly

8b07875633d9d8a63aa346eedbbca59d28022f0b

These days months just seem to fly by. It feels like New Years was a couple of weeks ago, but here we are coming up on March already. Soon it will be summer and we can all bitch about how damn hot it is. But for now, let’s focus on the newest round of Humble Monthly entries. I did this post last month and figured it’s a good way to keep me trying out newish games and writing about them. This month I don’t have nearly as much to share, but I’ll explain why. Let’s take a look at the list of games included this month:

X-COM 2
Ryse: Son of Rome
ABZU
Steamworld Heist
Okhlos
Project Highrise
Husk

Just like every other month since I started subscribing to the service (since May of last year), there are some titles included that I already own, and some that I’m just plain not interested in. This isn’t something new, but only slightly annoying as most months there is at least one game worth my time where I feel like I got my $12 worth for the month. Honestly, I pay the same amount for other monthly services (like my bank that likes charging me a service fee to hold my money and use it as they see fit until I want it back) so it’s always worth the investment despite having some dry months where I’m completely unimpressed. This month would have been fantastic, had I not already owned the two best games included (this is my opinion at least). That seems to always be the case though, so again I’m not upset about it.

X-COM 2 was the early unlock for the month, and I picked it up rather early in January, mainly because my Dad’s birthday was coming up and it’s a great game that I figured he would enjoy. I already have it along with all of the DLC so it was great as a gift and it served its purpose. If you haven’t played X-COM 2, it’s more of the same as the first game that re-started the series a couple of years back, but improves the formula in a number of ways. It’s been out for over a year so you probably have already heard all you need to hear, but I’d recommend it again anyway.

Ryse: Son of Rome is a pretty typical action game. It reminds me of games like God of War, those that I’ve not really played or enjoyed since I was young. I played plenty of beat-em-up games throughout the years, and this feels like a natural 3-D and more “mature” version of those titles from yesteryear. I’m just not really into these types of games. Sure, a title like Uncharted or other games that are shooters are essentially the same time of game, but I prefer the stories and nature of shooting over the wonky button mashing of games like Ryse. I didn’t play it much, and probably will never play it to its end, but it’s a bit on the meh side. If that’s your thing, or if you have a teenager who thought 300 was the best movie ever made, you might get some value out of this.

I didn’t even redeem the code for ABZU. I remember Eri talking about this one when it released and we were still doing the podcast, but looking at the store page on Steam I could tell it’s a game I just wouldn’t play. Not my cup o’ tea. With that said, you might enjoy it, so I’d recommend looking it up. I should also notate that the same went for Project Highrise, which is one of those building management games I have never really been into. Sim City was a title that never really grabbed me, save to just build a city and hit it with natural disasters. So again, I’d use your own discretion when looking up these two titles. My opinion is nil.

Okhlos was a weird looking title that actually tickled my fancy a bit. You basically start off with one character, gather up a mob, and let the mob do your dirty work for you. Mobs get balanced by collecting different types of people hanging out in the level. You’ll eventually be able to trade some of those mob members in for heroes that provide different buffs. It’s a random and weird pixellated game that was fun to play, but nothing that you’re going to play for years.

Steamworld Heist is the other game I already owned. I picked it up once it was available on PS4 and nearly completed it before being distracted by other shiny new games. It’s a pretty awesome turn based strategy game with familiar characters from the Steamworld Dig title that came before it. I’d recommend this one to anyone who likes strategy games… it’s pretty long and very entertaining.

Lastly, the game Husk. I don’t really even know what to say about this one. It’s trying to be a first person horror game, but it starts slow and feels unfinished. Apparently the devs have had similar feedback from those who bought the game and they are “working on fixes and improvements.” I don’t think I’m going to wait around for that day. You might like it, but it did not impress. Resident Evil 7 is definitely worth your time in comparison.

The early unlock for March was Total War: Warhammer, and I’ve had that on my wishlist for a long time. Was just waiting for the right sale to hit, and $12 for the game is a smoking deal as it’s still $60 on Steam. However, there are multiple DLCs out, and no sort of package that brings them all together. I’ve nickled and dimed them all to this point, which felt like a bit of a rip-off, but it is what it is. I have enjoyed what I’ve played so far, and it has definitely made March a better month than February without even seeing the rest of the bundle.

That’s my two cents at least.