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!

State of the Game: Shorts

Due to having had surgery yesterday, I’m in recovery. As such I’ve taken a couple of days off of work and have been trying to do as little as possible. Mobile Games like Clash Royale and Questland which I recently wrote about are fun and keep me occupied for a time, but after a while I want something more meaty to sink my teeth into. I’m limited to short stints of sitting in my computer chair, so I’ve been trying to prop myself up in bed and game on the Playstation. I’ve been neglectful of the Playstation Plus titles I’ve downloaded over the past couple of months, having titles like Beyond Two Souls and Heavy Rain still collecting dust, but I’ve managed to try out a handful of games that have been waiting for attention. I’ve also picked up a copy of episode 1 of the final season of TellTale’s The Walking Dead which I look forward to digging into (more on that later this week). Let’s get some first impressions over with, shall we?

So, earlier today I started off with Absolver, a game I knew literally nothing about. Billed as “online melee action,” that really doesn’t give us much to go on. It turns out to be a bit of a martial arts meets Dead Souls sort of game, where you’ll have some difficult to master combat tricks paired with character development and a semi-open world to explore. You start by picking a “fighting school” and after a short cutscene you are basically thrown right into things without much direction. This is fine, things start to make sense as you go along. I wouldn’t say the game is as difficult as Dark Souls, but it has the same sort of vibe, because you have more deliberate combat mechanics, and more importantly people can drop in and out of the world (though you can limit this to invite only) and PvP can breakout at any moment. I was jumped by someone who had some gear when I was fresh out of the early safe zone but then me and another newbie took him down together.

It’s a pretty game, and runs well enough. I didn’t have any hitching even when random people were jumping on and off of the server. You’re given the goal of defeating a bunch of different people before you’ll be able to become and “Absolver” but I don’t really know what that even means at this point. I think it will take some time to dig deeper and see what it’s all really about but because it was free I don’t have a problem getting to it when I can.

Next I tried out Dead by Daylight. This is one of those asymmetrical pvp games that pits a team of players against a lone enemy player (hence the asymmetrical bit). We’ve seen this done before in games like Evolve (which didn’t last) and Friday the 13th. Having never played anything like it, this was my chance to see what this type of game is all about. There is a short tutorial that will allow you to get the hang of playing as either a survivor or the killer. As a survivor your goal is to avoid the killer, turn on some generators and then exit the level. A typical round sees you and your four teammates turning on the five generators, getting attacked, hiding, being offered up to some creepy spider god (the killer throws you on a meat hook) and rescuing each other. As the killer, you’ll be hunting the survivors and have the advantage on not needing to hide, and being able to down a survivor in two hits. You’ll then throw them on the meat hooks and hope they don’t get saved. All the while you’ll want to break down the generators so they can’t escape.

The lone round I played saw me being the first one downed and hooked and I ended up dying as my teammates didn’t bother trying to rescue me. Boo hoo. Overall it seems like a game that I’d rather enjoy with a full group of friends, but otherwise it gets pretty boring rather quickly. A shame, as it’s a cool premise. Some DLCs added to the game allow you to play as killers from several different Horror movies and that’s a cool idea but the game just feels to fall a little flat for me personally.

Last up, I tried out Mafia III, which was one of this months freebies. I was first introduced to the Mafia series when at some point my sister was raving about the game prior to this one. I played it a bit at her house and wrote it off as a Grand Theft Auto clone. From what she tells me, it’s much better story-wise than GTA ever was, and from the little taste of this game I’ve come to the same conclusion. I have GTAV on my PS4 but never beat it. I always get distracted by blowing shit up or dicking around in the online version. Mafia feels like the same kind of game — it’s 3rd person, it’s about crime, and there are some on foot shooty parts and some driving parts. It could be written off as a clone or just another entry into the open-world genre, but it seems rather well done.

Right from the get go the devs display a message about the racism and bigotry throughout the tale, but they give their reasons and I tend to think they are the right reasons to go ahead an include such things. You play Lincoln Clay, a half-Dominican half-White guy who’s just come back from Vietnam (this is set in the late 60’s) and looks to be getting involved in the mafioso life. There’s a cool montage at the beginning with news bits and a chamber of commerce message along with some testimonials from those close to Lincoln, and then we flash to Mardi Gras. On this day, you and a pal Georgi are taking part in a heist on the federal reserve, bringing in counterfeit cash that is to be burned, but then you manage to grab some real money but shit gets real. Then there are some flash back bits from when you first get home and you play through a couple of days of seeing how your family has gotten entangled in some mob stuff and you’re gonna have to help them out. I assume this leads to the heist so you can pay off some mobster your dad owes money to. As I said, there are the same sorts of bits as the GTA games, but I’m already more invested in this one that I was the last couple of GTA games.

So my initial impressions having me leaning towards playing through Mafia as I rather like it, but Absolver looks like it might vie for some time. Dead by Daylight is a solid “meh.”

State of the Game: Recent Updates

Hello everyone, and welcome back to our once in a while round up post. A few different things came up that I wanted to talk about and didn’t feel like they’d flesh out a whole post so here’s a mash up post instead. The first game I want to talk about today is Clash Royale.

It’s still been my go-to mobile game, though I’ve found a few other games that I’ll play here and there from time to time. Clash is still going strong, and my clan is still plugging away at the leaderboard. I finished my 2nd season in the challenger league, this time with my highest trophy count yet at 4139. Last season I made it into challenger but dropped out before the reset and my highest trophies then was somewhere around 4010 or so.

A big update dropped within the last week or so, revamping things for clans. There used to be a clan chest once a week where everyone in the clan had to grind matches so that you’d earn crowns towards a grand total. There were 10 levels of chests, and we’d get the level 10 chest most of the time, providing more cards for the clan. That feature has since been removed, and Clan War has been introduced. Instead of mindlessly grinding for crowns, you now have 3 matches to play on “collection day” and depending on your results of those rounds, you’ll earn cards for the clan. The following day is “war day” and you’ll build a deck out of the cards earned and fight one round. Wins are tallied up against four other clans and whoever comes out on top gets better rewards. Clan wars end after the two days and can be then started immediately again. Apparently the season is monthly, and you’ll earn trophies to work your way up the leaderboards again. As of now we’ve worked up to Bronze 1, but we’re not far off from breaking into the Silver tier. I like this version better because there’s less of a grind but also because it encourages skilled play rather than just throwing yourself against the leaderboard and your crowns counting for a cumulative chest. The game is constantly improving and I still love it.

My best friend and I have been plugging away at Dying Light in our spare time, or more appropriately when we can meet up. It’s a great game and we’ve progressed through about half of the storyline, not counting the little side quests and errands we’ve participated in. At this point we finally got some proper guns, rather than the stupid bats and pipes we’d been using, and it seems that we might be able to hang onto them for the foreseeable future.

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Here’s hoping that this is the case, because the game is much more difficult without them. We did end up getting them taken away again when we had to fight in the pit, but after completing that mission the gear was given back to us. It seems that despite being sent in by a government organization, they are just using you and now it’s coming to a point that you’ve got to be the hero and save all these innocents. Too bad everyone you come into contact with seems to be dying left and right. We’ll see how the story unfolds and I’ll report back once we’ve finished this one up.

I’ve played some more Pillars of Eternity only minimally, as I mentioned in a recent post I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately and haven’t been focused enough to finish up any one game. Spreading my time around has been fun, but that means little to no progress on most games. So I’ve cleared a couple more pieces of the map, but haven’t progressed the story any further, still looking for some spirit or old lady or something from a vision, clearly I haven’t been paying close enough attention. I enjoy the game, but I guess I should hurry up and beat it since the sequel is out now.

Lastly, one of the Playstation Plus games this month was Rayman Legends. I’m not a huge fan of cartoony platformers, but games like this don’t maintain a following for so many years unless they’re pretty decent.

So far it’s been entertaining… it’s sort of along the lines of Crash Bandicoot and other games in the genre. I’ll say I’m pretty impressed by the graphics and smoothness of the animations. Nothing feels wonky, the game controls great. It’s not the most ambitious game, nor is it something I was dying to play but a good little time waster. Beyond Two Souls was the other freebie for the month but I haven’t gotten around to trying that one yet, so I’ll report back on that once I do.

That’s all for now. Just wanted to jot down some notes. Until next time, happy gaming!

State of the Game: Playstation Plus Goodies

For a while I wrote about Playstation Plus and its free offerings every month, but eventually tired of the formula because simply put: Some months are better than others. When months would inevitably roll around that contained games I already owned or titles I just wasn’t interested in, it felt silly to just write about how much all the games sucked (or were great but I had already played ’em). This column has become my catch all for miscellaneous games I’ve been playing and it just so happens that this month’s games from the service are rather good. So without further ado, let’s talk about some games!

Coincidentally I’ve had my eye on this title for a while, and almost bought it a time or two. It’s not a new game by any means, but it piqued my interest with its Hot Wheels style tracks and it’s kid-friendly design. I figured it would be a game I might be able to get some time in with the boy, and I was pleasantly surprised by its performance. It’s a blistering fast romp through bite sized tracks, each that becomes increasingly more ridiculous (and difficult). To this point I’ve managed to clear the first 20 or so tracks and there have been some tricky ones in there.

Trophies range from catching big air to going really fast and clearing chunks of tracks. Watch out for the invisible walls when you go airborne though, you can have some spectacular crashes if you don’t heed this warning! It seems that the campaign is pretty long, and that’s all I’ve played so far, but it appears that there are plenty of other modes and options to explore. Not sure what the asking price is, but if you have the service I’d definitely check it out.

This title has been around for a long while as well. Somewhat based on the Mad Max Fury Road movie that came out around the same time, it’s got what you would expect from a movie based on a famous IP. You play the title character, you drive a post-apocalyptically appropriate vehicle, and the world is a wasteland — all of which lines up with the lore of the IP and with what you expect. Where this game goes a bit more above and beyond is in the execution. It seems to be almost RPG-esque and also has the feel of most open world games that have come out in the last decade. I guess that’s more of the same, but at the same time it’s an interesting IP so I’m cool with that.

I’ve only played this one for about an hour, but long enough to get a vehicle (which you get to choose from a few) and complete a few missions. So far it’s been fairly entertaining, and I’m glad to have this copy on my PS4. I owned this on PC from Humble Monthly way back when but hadn’t played it, and it feels at home on the console. Probably worth it if you enjoy open-world games, or the IP itself. It is pretty much more of the same but still isn’t bad.

This one came out of left field, it was a title I hadn’t heard of before. It’s a Brazilian game and as such has some Spanish language/cultural influence, but it’s presented in English and is clearly inspired by games like River City Ransom. I rather enjoyed that title from way back when and newer iterations that have released since, so I figured I would enjoy this title just the same and I have so far. There are several characters to choose from, but as I noted here on Twitter, I clearly had to pick this one:

As I said, it looks like River City Ransom, and it plays just the same. You’ll punch and kick your way through various bad guys, grab power ups and there are some light RPG elements. It’s not a new formula but it works and this is a serviceable title. I’d check it out if you’re a fan of this style of game.

Lastly, we have In Space We Brawl. It’s a clever title but it really just amounts to Asteroids on crack. It’s the same sort of twin-stick shooter, but instead of clearing asteroids until you eventually can’t survive any longer you’ll fight against up to three other people while still trying to avoid space debris.

You’ve got various ships and weapons loadouts to choose from and a variety of levels to compete on, but that’s really all there is to it. It’s a fun little time waster, but nothing too deep or serious here. This is the last title I’ve got to talk about this time, but overall it was a pretty decent month for Playstation Plus, and it’s been a while!

State of the Game: Couch Co-Op Time

Sometime in recent weeks there have been various sales (the store updates every Tuesday with different discounts) on the Playstation Network, and I was able to get a handful of games super cheap. None of them were games I had seen before, as it’s fairly difficult to keep up with every single game release, but also because I hadn’t really been buying too many games in the last few months. My little family has all been playing games together lately so I purposely looked for games that could be played at minimum by two players, but most of these support 4 or more players in couch co-op/competitive modes. As such, none of these games really warrant a full individual posting, so I thought I’d do a little gaming roundup as we managed to play all of these in the last few days. All of these titles were played on my Playstation 4, but I assume that most are available on Steam as well, save for the last one that is an exclusive.

This game caught my eye due to its cartoony graphics and silly nature, I figured my step-son would enjoy it. I was correct in that assessment, as he seemed to have a lot of fun killing little skeletons and gathering loot. It plays like a Gauntlet style dungeon crawl, with traps, powerups and bad guys to kill. The controls are simple enough, as are the mechanics. You pick one of four bros, and none are very unique when the game starts. You have color selection, a couple of weapons to choose from (that don’t really change up gameplay) and that’s really it. As you play through the game though, there are ways to unlock more weapons and characters and appearance gear, so you’ll be able to feel a bit more unique fairly quickly.

Gameplay consists of controlling your bros through dungeons killing bad guys, avoiding traps and collecting loot. For the most part it’s pretty straightforward and there isn’t anything super deep here, but it’s good for kids looking for a simple dungeon adventure, and being able to play with up to four players means it can get pretty hectic pretty fast, particularly because you all share the same screen! I’d recommend it if you’re trying to play with little ones.

Recently he has been playing Mario Kart on his DS, and he’s really into it. I know that Mario Kart is a game that’s restricted to Nintendo platforms, but there have been other IPs that have attempted similar types of titles. Notables are games like Crash Team Racing or Little Big Planet Karting. This is another of those types of games, though it’s not from anyone with a recognizable IP. Some generic characters drive some generic cars, and you’ll race while being able to disrupt each other with various power-ups. Sounds familiar right? And it should, because it is.

There’s nothing special here that sets it apart from other kart racers, but it’s more of the same and that can sometimes be a good thing. You’ll be able to jump right in (we were) and understand the controls and what the power-ups do. The AI isn’t too terrible either, so you’ll have to play well to win, and that’s not something that can always be said about these sorts of knock off games. Overall it’s not going to blow your mind, but it’s still appealing to kids and can be a spot of fun.

This title came out of left field and I happened to look at it because what the hell is going on here? I had no idea what to expect with this one, but I went into it at least knowing that I could expect a frantic top-down shooter. It’s more than that, but that is the main core of its gameplay.

You will play as Tesla (yes, that Tesla) against the author Lovecraft who leads his Cthulhu armies. You don’t actually see Lovecraft though, and it seems that Tesla’s experiments are actually responsible for opening these rifts. You’ll have to suspend your disbelief a bit to really enjoy the story, but the gameplay is top notch. Each level is limited, in that there are borders to it, along with obstacles you’ll have to be mindful of. Enemies will spawn, as will power-ups and you’ll fight until they are all eliminated. As you make kills, you’ll gain levels and each level comes with perks that improve your speed, HP, bullets, etc. Different weapons will also drop, and eventually you’ll get some pretty cool gadgets that will slow down time, allow you to teleport, or allow you to summon a limited time mech that really fucks shit up. The levels increase in difficulty as you go, but it becomes a frantic kill fest for a few minutes and it is glorious. Highly recommended for all ages.

The last title I want to touch on was another game I got during one of these sales. Alienation is from the creators of Dead Nation, which was actually one of the very first games I ever downloaded from the Playstation store on my PS3. They also created Super Stardust and I want to say Resogun as well, but regardless, I’ve played most of the games from this developer and they are all pretty damn good if not being a bit low budget. This game is basically like the sequel to Dead Nation, but instead of focusing on Zombies, it’s an Alien invasion. The game plays pretty much the same otherwise, and despite having better graphics than its predecessor, it’s still pretty simple isometric graphics. Nothing wrong with this, and it works, but it is what it is.

This one is different from games like the Tesla one above, because it has an actual campaign, more of a storyline and will eventually end (until you start up New Game +). If you played Dead Nation you’ll be familiar with the formula, and if you haven’t played it, well I’m sure it’s pretty cheap to pick up (and it was ported to PS4). I think it was free via PS Plus at some point as well, but I’m not entirely sure. Overall though this one is a little more mature but I still think it would be fine for older kids.

All of these titles were recently on sale and will likely be again. Cheap options to play with friends or loved ones in the same room are always good because we have so much online multiplayer out there that won’t allow split screen options. Nothing better than being able to give a high five to the person next to you after finishing something particularly challenging! That’s all for this post, but as always, happy gaming!