What games have you been playing, and what's your opinion on them?
What have you been playing lately? Discussion about video games and board games are both welcome. Please don't just make a list of titles, give some thoughts about the game(s) as well.
I’m playing The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening on the Switch. For context: The original Link’s Awakening is probably my favorite Zelda. But it is a game defined by the limitations of the original Gameboy hardware, which are absolutely ridiculous by modern standards. I’m struggling to see what the Switch version adds to that, though, except for a cute (but rather generic) graphics upgrade. It’s the same old Gameboy game, almost tile for tile, which makes the price a bit steep next to, say, Breath of the Wild.
The only really new feature is a dungeon building mode that, at first, sounds almost like a Zelda version of Super Mario Maker but the limitations are so severe I barely even see the point. You can only arrange rooms you’ve already seen in other dungeons and you cannot share dungeons online (apparently you can do offline via amiibos but that seems like a hassle). So you basically just play your own dungeons using rooms you’ve already beat which makes me question the point.
Having played the original multiple times, I started the game in some hard mode but ultimately just find it annoying since enemies don’t drop hearts so it just means backtracking to a fairy before every boss fight, not a very interesting challenge. You can’t switch to normal mode later which I found out the hard way.
Again, I love the game in general and almost played it through. It’s great. But I would have just as good a time playing it on the Gameboy or and emulator. Maybe I’d prefer to do just that. As a remake it seems a bit like a cash grab and a waste of developer time. If it’s a stepping stone to a proper Zelda Maker, it might have been worth it, though!
The Switch version plays radically different to me because of a lot of minor control and mechanical tweaks that I felt refined the game into something properly modern. I agree with you on the price, but as somebody who extensively played, but never beat, the original, I find the GameBoy version way more difficult.
Zelda Maker would be great, though.
I dipped my toes into console gaming for a few months but I realized sitting on a couch to play games is not really for me, so I upgraded my computer, but most importantly my GPU. (Took a risk and upgraded to an Intel Arc A770 from a measly GTX 960.)
It just made me remember how good PC gaming is. I'm currently waiting for Diablo IV to release, but in the meantime I'm playing a bunch of games, both old and new, like a kid who found themselves in a candy shop.
I spend most of my time in Flight Simulator though, because I just can't get over great it feels and looks. I gave it a go on my Series S (in fact, it was mostly the reason why I bought it) but not being able to connect my joystick to it took a lot of fun out of the experience. On my desktop, it's just breathtakingly good. I used to spend a lot of time in FSX back in the day, enhancing it with mods and spending hours flying in real time. It was a blast. This new version is better in every way. I'm so glad they didn't give up on the whole franchise when they easily could.
Ori and the Blind Forest
Specifically, not the Definitive Edition.
I’ve played through the DE twice already, but I had the original game release in my Steam library, and it had no playtime, and I hadn’t earned any of the achievements on it yet, so I figured I’d use that version to do a fresh, brand new 100% runthrough of one of my favorite metroidvanias (and games in general).
Well, I’m not happy to report that it commits a heinous genre sin: the game has missable items in areas you cannot return to.
This is a bother in general in most games, but in Metroidvanias — with their built-in backtracking and percentage-clear stats — it is specifically heresy.
The missable items are fixed in the Definitive Edition, but wow did it take the wind out of my sails on this playthrough. I got all of the abilities and then excitedly started to do map cleanup when I discovered that I was locked out of several pickups. I went from “yay! get all the items!” to “why bother?” pretty quickly.
The game is still a great game, but for anyone interested in it: go straight for the Definitive Edition. It’s the version that has paid penance for its sins and excised the heresy from its ranks.
I didn’t actually like this game on release despite usually loving driving/racing games. Time heals all wounds though, and a creeping sense that I should return to it and give it another chance has slowly built up over time.
(That, and I was experimenting with getting old Ubisoft titles running on my Steam Deck by using Protontricks to replace the old broken Uplay launchers with the new Ubisoft Connect one. Surprisingly, it works!)
Unfortunately, this game also commits a sin, and this one is outright unforgivable.
There is literally no way to reset your save. It is stored server-side on your account. Even Ubisoft support won’t delete it.
So I booted it up and was promptly greeted with my nearly 10-year-old save file and no way to start fresh. I remember little to nothing about the game’s mechanics or world. Being a straightforward racing game, I’m sure I could figure it out, but it feels off-putting to pick up where I left off so long ago. I wanted to kick off a brand new experience, not dredge up an old one.
Unlike with Ori, this gaming sin has no absolution. As such, I won’t be returning to the game at all.
Cassette Beasts. This game is giving me a feeling like I had when I got back into Pokemon with Sun and Moon. It was made by Studio Bytten who also made the great Lenna's Inception, but never attempts to be a Pokemon parody, which was a refreshing twist. I will say this game did as good a job with a Pokemon-style setup and unique twists that Lenna's Inception did for the 2D Zelda feel.
The way this game works is you wake up on an island with aggressive monsters on it. To survive, they learned to fight the monsters by catching their essence on audio cassettes so they can transform into them. This also means in a battle, capture is not defeat, so you have to finish them off so they'll flee the battle. You'll also take damage equivalent to the blow it took to "break your cassette," this game's equivalent to "fainting your Pokemon," but also effectively fainting the Trainer. You can also have a party of two people, so 2v2 battles are an option you'll likely encounter.
I got through the demo content, which is basically the introductory chapter, and got into the whole open world part. It's the Pokemon game I kinda always wanted: Open world, fresh, 3D environments with 2d sprites for everything, monsters on the overworld so you can interact with them by chasing them off, being chased by them, or watching them play around. Each monster species has its own personality that will determine how it reacts to you. You progress quests like a conventional RPG: Talking to people to get clues like rumors to progress storylines. You get a quest that has you fighting twelve Ranger Captains, like in Pokemon, but you also have to defeat 8 "Archangels," which feels like a conceptual extension of the core goal of Lenna's Inception.
It just launched, I believe it's on sale still for like 10% off, and definitely recommend it (and its predecessor "Lenna's Inception"). I was super excited for this game, and while usually I kind of just settle in and vibe with it, I've just been more excited the more I played it.
EDIT: Oh, yeah, types: You don't just have increased/decreased damage given. Attacking with the wrong type of monster will buff the enemy if you, say, have a plant type do a melee attack/plant-type attack on a poison type, the canonical justification being "Plant material is used to make poison." Every beast has one type, unless you "fuse," which you can do when you have a positive relationship with your travelling companion, then they get two types. I assume the same rules apply for fused monsters.
After trialing a few couch multiplayer games, my housemate and I settled on completing Unravel 2. A puzzle platformer where you try to complete levels while being tethered to the other player, limiting how far you can move away from them. The levels are well-designed and balanced, providing equal responsibility to both players. Easy to pick up for a newbie gamer, with the optional Challenge levels providing a good challenge to seasoned gamers.
There weren't many other similar games we could think of aside from the Hazelight Studios games which we skipped, since I've previously completed A Way Out and my housemate's completed It Takes Two.
Have you ever tried the Trine series? They are all very good, and similar-ish to Unravel. I played them with a buddy and we had a blast.
Heard of it. Didn't realize they were co-op. Thanks for the recommendation!