11 votes

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.

62 comments

  1. [13]
    Notcoffeetable
    (edited )
    Link
    Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree First impression: the term DLC undersells what is on offer here. I'd pay full price for this as Dark Souls 4: Elden Ring Redux. This feels more like an expansion...
    • Exemplary

    Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree

    First impression: the term DLC undersells what is on offer here. I'd pay full price for this as Dark Souls 4: Elden Ring Redux. This feels more like an expansion in the World of Warcraft sense. Much like an MMO there is an explicit assumption that you have cleared some of the hardest base game content and want a difficulty reset.

    How far I've gotten: Without spoilers I have killed 3 mainline bosses and a good number of optional and mini bosses. Two mainline bosses which were shown off in prerelease footage and a third big boss. Each were in large legacy dungeons that you easily find. Most people will find the first two pretty easily, the third is on the main path but I found it early. As context the most complaining seems to be about the final boss of the DLC, but I'm not there yet.

    I was more hyped for this release than any game in a long time. I spent the last couple month getting a save ready and I took Friday off work so I could stay up late Thursday night. Went in at 130ish with an arcane bleed build (SW Rivers of Blood, Occult Uchigatana, and some faith for Lightning Spear and Flame, Grant me Strength), and 40 vigor. I pretty quickly found a greatsword I like and switched to a strength build.

    On difficulty

    Because the main narrative since launch is the difficulty I'm going to provide some flavor of what type of player I am. I'm fairly mid when it comes to these games. I used Mimic Tear and NPC Summons when available but hold my own when they aren't available. I found Mohg hard, it took a bit of grinding and tuning my build to kill him, but I was able to down him around level 90 after ~20 tried with ~30 vigor. I haven't finished the base game but my next boss is Maliketh. With the Mimic Tear and the bleed build I've found most mainline bosses easy. Aside from the Mohg the only other bosses that took repeated tries were Starscourge Radahn (~15) and the Fire Giant (~10). I haven't beaten any other Dark Souls, Sekiro, or Bloodborne (on my list to revisit once I finish Elden Ring).

    For reference 150 and 60 vigor seems to be the recommendation at this point. So all things considered I came in a touch underleveled. Word on the street is that the DLC scales a bit with you so unsure how much it was scaled by being at 130 versus 150. But people at level 300, and 700 seem to be finding it more or less the same difficulty.

    So far I have not found it unfairly difficult. It's on the high end of what I experienced in the base game. Mohg is a good baseline. Expect more of that and expect bosses to be harder. Even with summons you need to learn move sets. If you got through some bosses by panic rolling while your Mimic Tear solo'd the boss (guilty as charged) that won't fly here. I treat my Mimic Tear more like a PC summon now. Trading aggro and trying to keep the boss close enough that when I'm tanking the mimic can get some hits in. Dropping aggro to flask and then get my own hits in. Rinse and repeat. Bosses also give you much less "prep time." In the base game I can usually summon, flask, and then have time to engage. In the DLC I am having to plan and execute my first 10 seconds tightly. When I get that does I can get through a first phase and then I have to practice that phase so that when the next phase starts I'm not tapped on resources.

    A lot of enemies hit very hard and have combos that can wreck you. Most of them die in a one or two hits, I have a rotation that works well on stronger enemies too. There is more of an emphasis on clean execution throughout. I can easily explore dungeons and feel pretty comfortable but whiffing on my rotation is punished. Graces are much more sparse as well so resource management feels more important.

    To me the main crux of difficulty complaints seems to be people unwilling to engage with the progression system or using tools the game clearly intends you to use. For example, some fights have NPC summons and these NPCs have dialog and quest lines dependent on them being in the fight. Seem to be a pretty good hint that maybe NPC summons are part of the balance. And the game is very clear (more clear than From usually is) that you should be using Scadutree fragments to level up. I'm not sure how obvious From can make it beyond multiple dialog pop ups explaining how they are used and putting them next to GIANT GLOWING CROSSES that you explicitly directed to find.

    On the content as a game

    From Software leveled up again on the art and level design here. It is another level of beautiful and complex. I mentioned above that there is more direction here than the base game. But that is made up for in map complexity. Miyazaki said at one point that it was "about the size of Limgrave." I'm not sure what he considers Limgrave, but this feels more like everything in Limgrave, Weeping Penninsula, Caelid, and Liurnia packed into an area about 80% that size. Verticality plays a big role here. Some areas of the map are doubled because it's layered on top of itself. I still have two (three?) map fragments to recover (south), three revealed areas I haven't explored yet (north and north east), and a whole river basin I don't know how to get into.

    I've just been exploring and when I get a couple of scadutree levels I go back and try whatever boss I've been struggling with. It's very easy because I pick a direction and more and more branching paths open up. learning a lesson from the base game I've been using the map markets much more to mark areas to return to and marking places I picked up important items as completed.

    If you liked the base game, you will like this expansion. It's more Elden Ring, and it's tighter, more challenging, but rewarding. In classic From Software fashion they will fuck with you a bit.

    As with the base game, my main critique is the crafting system. On one hand I'd prefer it just wasn't in the game. I never craft items and I rarely use consumable buffs. But I kind of like that it is there, I just don't want to become reliant on a consumable and then end up farming materials. A bunch of new stuff to craft in the DLC, if you like crafting consumables that's cool for you.

    My journey (ALL SPOILERS) So first I just explored, found some scadutree fragments, leveled that up. Then went south and found an area with a couple mini bosses. ONe guy drops your first beast claw weapon. He wasn't too hard, beat him on my first try but played it sloppy. Others struggled with him more. Found some a big knight who was challenging but also killing him first try. Then I found the infamous Blackgoal Knight. Failed at fighting him ~10 times. Went back out and explored Castle Ensis where you find Rellana (a main boss). She absolutely wrecked me over multiple attempts. So I went back to the Blackgoal Knight, recruited the help of a PC summon and killed him after two more attempts. This guy is honestly not bad, I think his purpose is similar to the Tree Sentinel in Limgrave. An entry barometer for you power level and build.

    From the Blackgoal Knight I picked up his Greatsword of Solitude and armor set. I switched up my build from bleed to strength to give the greatsword a try and really liked it. The Ash of war on this thing is kind of like Moonveil's midrange vertical slice which you can add an R2 to and add a big gap closer with heavy attack. This has become my bread and butter against non-bosses. L2, R2, usually knocks NPCs down, wait a beat for some stamina recharge, then jumping R2, R1, this usually staggers and then crit R1 and another R1 will finish off anything that isn't a boss or large enemy.

    Continued exploring and ended up in the middle of the map and found Shadow Keep this is a massive legacy dungeon that started with one of two bosses (depending on how you enter) there is the Golden Hippo which I had no issue with (but other seems to struggle) and some type of Erdtree Avatar which I haven't et killed. This dungeon culminates with Messmer. Very surprised to run into him so quickly. At this point with all my exploring I was around Scadutree level +7 or so? He absolutely ate my lunch. So I left and went to explore Belurat (probably the first legacy dungeon you should do). This is where we run into the Dancing Lion Dragon previewed. I believe my Scadutree Blessing has outleveled him and it only took a couple tried to down him.

    From there I explored a bit north and tried to find my way down south. Explored some other ruins, goals, etc and leveled up more. By this point I had advanced from level 130ish to level 150ish, improved my vigor to 60, and reached Scadutree level +10. Decided to give Messmer another shot. Spent about 45 minutes and learning his patterns and was able to down him.

    This covered about 12 hours of playtime. Next I need to get into the Ellac river basin and explore south. I also found Gaius, the Scadutree Avatar, and a dragon boss (not Bayle). I spent about 30 minutes on each and feel powerful enough but need to get my strategy down. Gaius and the Scadutree avatar will open up some new areas. I also am confused about the north. I spent a couple hours exploring but never really figured out the way forward.

    12 votes
    1. [12]
      intoxicated_diver
      Link Parent
      I've also been predominantly playing Shadow of the Erdtree, and I agree with most of what you've said here. However, I've seen discussions elsewhere online about the difficulty of the expansion...

      I've also been predominantly playing Shadow of the Erdtree, and I agree with most of what you've said here. However, I've seen discussions elsewhere online about the difficulty of the expansion and I can see where the complaints are coming from. But otherwise a great review of the expansion.

      3 votes
      1. [7]
        WhiskeyJack
        Link Parent
        I think the discussion of difficulty in this DLC is getting a bit muddled because there's so much variety on how hard the content can be. If you find the Scadushards first, the difficulty isn't...

        I think the discussion of difficulty in this DLC is getting a bit muddled because there's so much variety on how hard the content can be. If you find the Scadushards first, the difficulty isn't "that bad" (more on this point later). However If you're like me and struggle to find the shards, when you fight the bosses you'll hit a brick wall.

        I had a problem where I'd explored what I thought to be all of the areas in the first zone, and I was only level 3. I'd beaten multiple dungeons and explored every area thoroughly, but when I went to fight the second major boss I was getting two shotted constantly. I don't want to spoil the boss details, but they had a very long combo and a punish window of one second, I couldn't find any other opening. So even though it was possible to beat at any point, it wasn't very fun at level 3 since the odds were so stacked against me despite me exploring the majority of the content in zone 1.

        I didn't know where else to explore as the boss was blocking off the next batch of content, so I looked up a guide for the shards. Turns out I'd missed plenty in places I'd already searched. I found the problem to be there was no consistency. Some shards drop from enemies, some are found under statues, some are from random caves along with other random loot, some are in small rooms you can easily miss (I walked by a location 3 times and didn't see the entrance).

        I think being underleveled has caused a lot of people to complain the difficulty is too hard, for example when I leveled up and came back to the second major boss, they weren't anywhere near as difficult. They were still hard but not impossibly difficult and broken as I've seen some people say.

        I've always felt the entire of the base game of Elden Ring was balanced around Spirit Ashes, and the bosses were unfair without them, they had way too much aggro and no downtime. So seeing people say the DLC bosses are unfair without Spirit Ashes seems a bit strange to me, the developers intend for you to use them, and the original game never felt playtested without them. Saying the bosses are too hard without Ashes is a weird complaint. I understand if people want to play without the Spirit Ashes, that's fine. But complaining it's too hard and deliberately handicapping yourself seems the equivalent of doing a SL1 run on the original Dark Souls and complaining the bosses deal too much damage.

        I'm only up to the third major boss in my playthrough, so maybe I'll change my mind, and I've heard the final boss is completely broken, unfair and unbalanced (even using Mimic Tear) so will probably get a nerfed soon.

        And for what It's worth I've solo'd Dark Souls 1, and Dark Souls 3 without summons. The difficulty of Dark Souls 1 & 3 bosses without summons is about the same difficulty as Elden Ring using Spirit Ashes. Trying a no Ash boss fight in Elden Ring seems masochistic. More power to people who want to do it, but saying the bosses are too hard while doing this is absurd and a weird complaint.

        1 vote
        1. [6]
          Notcoffeetable
          Link Parent
          I'm beginning to agree on the placement of scadutree fragments. I'm interested in seeing how the general opinion on them shakes out. It's clear what the intent was: reward exploring. I think it...

          I'm beginning to agree on the placement of scadutree fragments. I'm interested in seeing how the general opinion on them shakes out.

          It's clear what the intent was: reward exploring. I think it accomplishes that. But I can understand how their placement and lack of environmental signaling can create some anxiety.

          I'm just going to continue exploring. I keep finding them so I guess I'm exploring sufficiently?

          1. [5]
            Gaywallet
            Link Parent
            Too many of them are blocked off from early game, in particular with regards to Rellana. Rellana is going to be a point of contention for most players in this game. It's a spot where right now if...

            Too many of them are blocked off from early game, in particular with regards to Rellana. Rellana is going to be a point of contention for most players in this game. It's a spot where right now if you drop a summon sign you'll get summoned instantly and most folks will spend a long time trying to get 2 summons in because they really struggle with this boss. It's pretty clear to me that this one probably needs a bit of tweaking, especially with regards to scaudtree frags and not having him wreck your life with his long combos.

            Some detail/tips on the fight, if you're struggling. A lot of his attacks won't drain a ton of stamina, bring a shield and start to learn his move set. In general rolling into him, especially to the right or left is useful for many attacks. Many of Rellana's moves are also parryable, bring a shield with golden parry or carrian retaliation. Be sure you're running a heavy fire and heavy magic reduction talisman.

            Two big points to watch for. When he enters second phase, the animation is good for a solid punish. If you punish him he'll almost always do the flame pillar move, so punish and roll back a few times.

            When he jumps in the air with two blue orbs, get ready to jump 3 times or have a good shield and full stamina. You might want to run a bit away from him to make timing the jumps easier.

            Some of the bosses are designed in a way it's clear they want to gate you from fighting them with scaudtree fragments in that they'll kill you in 1-2 hits and just have a metric fuckton of hit points if you haven't collected enough fragments. Most of them have movesets you can learn, but in particular making it to phase two and how much health they have can be really annoying. I haven't played the game since release so I'm really rusty and a lot of the more difficult bosses are taking 30-40 tries whereas the easy ones often take 1 lol.

            1. [2]
              Notcoffeetable
              Link Parent
              I think I was about Blessing Level +5-7 (don't remember) or so when I finally beat Rellana. There's a way to circumvent Ensis Castle that lands you in the area mostly densely packed with...

              I think I was about Blessing Level +5-7 (don't remember) or so when I finally beat Rellana. There's a way to circumvent Ensis Castle that lands you in the area mostly densely packed with fragments. I cleared Shadow Keep before even revisiting here.

              I'm honestly blown away that people who did the 3 hours preview event were able to kill these first two bosses while being restricted to the first map fragment area!

              My strategy has been to try out a boss when I first launch the game, give it a couple tries, spend the rest of my time exploring, and then the boss another couple tries before I shut the game off. I've probably averaged 1.3 scadutree levels per hour. (around level 13 with approximately 10 hours in).

              1 vote
              1. Gaywallet
                Link Parent
                Ohh interesting didn't know you could get around it. I ended up doing him with like +2 lol took me a good number of tries to learn the moveset because there's a lot of points where he can continue...

                Ohh interesting didn't know you could get around it. I ended up doing him with like +2 lol took me a good number of tries to learn the moveset because there's a lot of points where he can continue an attack chain or stop and you need to learn them and where to position when he does. I've come back a fair deal of times to help out in coop and he's way easier once you hit like +8

                1 vote
            2. [2]
              frowns
              Link Parent
              One thing I found interesting is that there were a couple of bosses I flat-out demolished with a bleed build and mimic tear. I’m talking first try with 2 red and 1 blue flask used. Recognizing the...

              One thing I found interesting is that there were a couple of bosses I flat-out demolished with a bleed build and mimic tear. I’m talking first try with 2 red and 1 blue flask used. Recognizing the bleed part of my build did heavy lifting, I dropped a summon sign at that boss for a bit to share the wealth, enjoy the battle again, and hopefully stockpile some souls.

              Amongst the three bosses I dropped signs for, I was summoned probably 30-40 times, and only succeeded once. The difficulty seems to ramp WAY up with human summons. It always has ramped up, but it seems especially rude in the DLC.

              I’m guessing that you’re summoned at the scadutree level of your host, so maybe I got unlucky and only was summoned by people with a way lower scadutree level than I had? Either way, word to the wise that summoning may be actually detrimental in the DLC vs. just using your ashes.

              1 vote
              1. Gaywallet
                Link Parent
                Heh, most recent patch changed how quickly scadutree absorption ramps up with less fragments. That's a convenient way to fix some of the early difficult bosses. I'm fairly certain this is true as...

                Heh, most recent patch changed how quickly scadutree absorption ramps up with less fragments. That's a convenient way to fix some of the early difficult bosses.

                I’m guessing that you’re summoned at the scadutree level of your host, so maybe I got unlucky and only was summoned by people with a way lower scadutree level than I had? Either way, word to the wise that summoning may be actually detrimental in the DLC vs. just using your ashes.

                I'm fairly certain this is true as I was inspecting/changing gear and noticed my resistances to damage way down when I was summoned.

                The difficulty seems to ramp WAY up with human summons.

                First summon is 60% more health and 50% resistances. Second summon is 130% health, 10% damage buff, 100% poison resistance buff and 50% other resistance buff.

                If you use mimic tear or any other ashes, you don't get any of the boss buffs. Given the way scaling works and the fact that sometimes players just aren't very good it's usually easiest to solo w/ mimic. Occasionally you'll get people who really know a boss or are geared to really destroy them and that can be helpful but if you're gonna summon one person you might as well summon two as the penalty for 2 is less than for 1.

                1 vote
      2. [4]
        Notcoffeetable
        Link Parent
        I can commiserate in that I bounced off these games for a long time due to difficulty. I'll reserve full judgement until I've actually beaten the DLC because it sounds like the last boss is a...

        I can commiserate in that I bounced off these games for a long time due to difficulty. I'll reserve full judgement until I've actually beaten the DLC because it sounds like the last boss is a pretty big spike. I'm kind of surprised because I always considered myself quite bad at these games and it seems players on both sides of my ability are upset by it.

        Maybe I'm secretly pretty good at these. Or maybe I'm just more flexible in my approach.

        Edit: I wish it were easier to try out weapons. I'm kind of bummed that I'm using a greatsword. I just don't want to theorycraft builds and use resources for something I might not like. Eventually I'll spin it up with a save on my PC and test stuff out a bit.

        1. [3]
          CptBluebear
          Link Parent
          +24 or +9 probably isn't life or death (except for that one time where the boss has like one hit point left and you lose). You don't have to max something with a precious ancient dragon smithing...

          +24 or +9 probably isn't life or death (except for that one time where the boss has like one hit point left and you lose).

          You don't have to max something with a precious ancient dragon smithing stone before a weapon starts becoming effective.

          The DLC also seems to be showering you with these things as they clearly want you to experiment a bit more with other - or the newer - weapon types.

          So with that in mind, I do recommend upgrading some weapons you'd like to try to +24/9 before you commit to +25/10.

          What's most limiting is respeccing and switching your entire stat build. There's a hard cap on how often you can do that so I understand it feels limiting. I tend to shy away from that too. A tip for that is to find a cross over weapon.
          There's usually some real out there weapon that scales with your main stat but shouldn't. It allows you to experiment a bit with the look and feel of a complete shift.

          1. [2]
            Notcoffeetable
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            Oh yeah, I have all the bell bearings and can easily boost something to +24/+9. I think the greatsword I've been rocking is still at +9. It's more about the time spent making sure I have a good...

            Oh yeah, I have all the bell bearings and can easily boost something to +24/+9. I think the greatsword I've been rocking is still at +9. It's more about the time spent making sure I have a good stat build for the weapon and the friction of limited number of respecs. I have a decent bank of larval tears but it'd be easy to blow through it respeccing to try everything that looks interesting.

            1 vote
            1. CptBluebear
              Link Parent
              Yeah no for sure, the tears feel restrictive. You can have like 14 of them and I still barely use them, afraid I can't switch back to my favourite build. Though as I said, sometimes there's a...

              Yeah no for sure, the tears feel restrictive. You can have like 14 of them and I still barely use them, afraid I can't switch back to my favourite build. Though as I said, sometimes there's a magic weapon with strength scaling, or a greathammer with arcane scaling. It allows for some experimenting of different builds without totally overhauling your stats and spending a tear. Though that's also rather limited.

              It's clear that they want you to experiment, but I'm the type of person that ends an RPG with all of their potions. Those Larval Tears are sacred.

              edit to add: I just remembered. You can try a save copier! I can duplicate my main character and just respec that one. If I don't like it I can always switch back without losing anything.

              1 vote
  2. [5]
    BashCrandiboot
    Link
    I recently picked Death Stranding back up after reading some suggestions in another thread, and I'm so glad I did. Is it weird to say this game is scratching the same itch for me that Stardew...

    I recently picked Death Stranding back up after reading some suggestions in another thread, and I'm so glad I did. Is it weird to say this game is scratching the same itch for me that Stardew valley does?

    Its something about the accumulation of resources coupled with having different options for outputting those resources. But the gratifying thing for me is having control over the process between resource input and resource output. For example:

    In Stardew Valley, you can grow different crops. Crops have different grow times and sell prices, and even further, a rating, so a gold-rated crop will sell for more than a silver. On top of that, you can refine things like wheat into either beer, pickles, flour, etc each with different sell values or uses in other processes. So you have some freedom with how you use your crops.

    But if you play with the economics of it, you can go even deeper. I can spend an entire season growing a shit ton of corn, and then instead of spending time to further refine it, I can sell it for a large lump sum now, instead of a greater profit spread out over more time. Then, I use my liquid cash to purchase resources I'd normally have to hunt for and stock up on my own like wood or coal, and then use those resources to create kegs or whatever. And then next year I can focus more on crops that will maximize the value of my newly acquired kegs, and it was all purchased with measly, non-maximum-value corn.

    But this is supposed to be a Death Stranding comment. I think the key is having the freedom and space to refine your gameplay loop for how you want it to work, without being railroaded along and forced to progress. In Death Stranding, its similar, except instead of figuring out prices, grow times, and refinement methods, you're working with cargo weight, travel time, and obstacles in the world.

    I could just bee-line straight to each main objective, but the satisfaction that comes with exploring different paths, cleaning up those paths to make things easier, and creating a hyper-efficient transit system for all my clients is like crack for me. I can't get enough. I'm still not even to the part where everyone says the game REALLY opens up, because I enjoy refining my delivery process so much.

    Before I started Death Stranding, I switched from Stardew to Stellaris, thinking I'd find similar systems at work in that game. Don't get my wrong, Stellaris is super fun and I had a decent playthrough, but I found that the looming competition of the other galactic civilizations prevented me from creating the hyperefficient galactic society of my dreams. It became more about winning, and less about growing. I'm finding thatI really enjoy self-optimization and growing at my own pace.

    9 votes
    1. [2]
      Nemoder
      Link Parent
      You have tried Factorio right?

      I'm finding thatI really enjoy self-optimization and growing at my own pace.

      You have tried Factorio right?

      6 votes
      1. Pavouk106
        Link Parent
        And if you want to feel the satisfaction of all the optimizations of your factory, you should also try Satisfactory.

        And if you want to feel the satisfaction of all the optimizations of your factory, you should also try Satisfactory.

        1 vote
    2. Grasamucor
      Link Parent
      I really enjoyed wine farming in Stardew. I don't know why because after a certain point there really isn't much to progress or earn outside of money, but something about making my farm look nice...

      I really enjoyed wine farming in Stardew. I don't know why because after a certain point there really isn't much to progress or earn outside of money, but something about making my farm look nice and make and sell quality wines was satisfying to me for a good 70 or 80 hours.

      3 votes
    3. CptBluebear
      Link Parent
      Sounds like you need some more Dyson Sphere Programs in your life.

      creating the hyperefficient galactic society of my dreams.

      Sounds like you need some more Dyson Sphere Programs in your life.

      1 vote
  3. Grasamucor
    Link
    Sekiro It was game of the year from quite a few outlets in 2019 for a reason. Typical souls formula; respawning enemies once you die or rest at a checkpoint, difficult bosses, obscure but...

    Sekiro

    It was game of the year from quite a few outlets in 2019 for a reason. Typical souls formula; respawning enemies once you die or rest at a checkpoint, difficult bosses, obscure but interesting lore, amazing levels and atmosphere. Where it really differs is the combat. If you've played Souls or souls-likes, you know its mostly dodging or blocking your way through enemies and bosses, waiting for their attacks to end so you can get in 2 or 3 attacks yourself. Sekiro totally changes that format, and for the better in my opinion.

    Instead of dodging and being counter-active in combat, you are very much an active participant. Aggression and defense must be equally considered, and the result is a faster, more satisfying combat that feels more like actual sword combat. The issue however -- in the eyes of some players -- is you can't really circumvent the system. In souls, and especially Elden ring, there is typically a best Strat, or you can use magic or a different weapon, or summon AI or actual players to help you to make the boss fight much easier. In Sekiro, you really do just have to learn the combat system because thats all you really have -- your katana that can strike and defend -- outside of some limited use special attacks.

    The hardest of the souls games for that reason, but man is it a polished game. I've got 23 hours in it and it's shaping up to be in my top 5 games of all time already.

    8 votes
  4. [2]
    kru
    Link
    Manor Lords is on game pass for PC. It's still early access, and lots of features are missing, so I can't suggest anyone play it. However, it's certainly impressive for where it's at and provided...

    Manor Lords is on game pass for PC. It's still early access, and lots of features are missing, so I can't suggest anyone play it. However, it's certainly impressive for where it's at and provided me a solid weekend of entertainment. Definitely worth keeping an eye on if you like the city-builder. It's got some interesting mechanics for building aesthetically pleasing medieval cities (the road tool can be used to shape the plots of farms, pastures and housing). The presentation is excellent. I read someone describe it as Kingdom Come: City Builder and I think that's pretty apt.

    5 votes
    1. overbyte
      Link Parent
      The main thing that sold me on the game was the militia. Your town's population are same ones defending your land if you don't have mercenaries, and you need to work your way into building up your...

      The main thing that sold me on the game was the militia.

      Your town's population are same ones defending your land if you don't have mercenaries, and you need to work your way into building up your retinue which makes having even a handful of professional soldiers a big deal. This makes it more personal that the bulk of your forces aren't just RTS units being cranked out of a factory from the start, they're the very same families working your farms and building up your plots so it can end your run if you lose too much people from a raid or a bad fight.

      1 vote
  5. [3]
    first-must-burn
    Link
    I have been playing Desert Golfing as recommended by @Wes in an old thread about mindless Android games. It's got a truly minimal interface (No ads, menus, or loading screens). The game play is...

    I have been playing Desert Golfing as recommended by @Wes in an old thread about mindless Android games. It's got a truly minimal interface (No ads, menus, or loading screens). The game play is very simple, but strangely compelling.

    5 votes
    1. EsteeBestee
      Link Parent
      I am now utterly addicted to this game. Thanks for the rec!!

      I am now utterly addicted to this game. Thanks for the rec!!

      2 votes
    2. Grasamucor
      Link Parent
      there is a follow up by the same dev, Golf on Mars. It adds a few things to the game, and is a bit more random in its level generation, but keeps its minimalist nature. It also goes on forever I'm...

      there is a follow up by the same dev, Golf on Mars. It adds a few things to the game, and is a bit more random in its level generation, but keeps its minimalist nature. It also goes on forever I'm pretty sure, vs Desert Golfing does eventually have an end level.

      Both great games.

      1 vote
  6. [7]
    semsevfor
    Link
    Just started Against the Storm this weekend, it is fun and interesting but also so complex and confusing. I am annoyed when tutorials hold your hand and make you click every box to do everything,...

    Just started Against the Storm this weekend, it is fun and interesting but also so complex and confusing. I am annoyed when tutorials hold your hand and make you click every box to do everything, but in this case I think that may have been beneficial.

    I am kinda just blindly playing through and figuring stuff out as I need to. Which I think with the complexity is the only way to really learn. I didn't learn about the 3 different types of water until I needed water to craft items for example.

    So it's very interesting in that regard, I wonder if eventually you get to a point of actually understanding the intricacies of all the mechanics cause right now there's so much I don't understand. But I'm enjoying going through it and learning as I'm going. It's a fun game and I enjoy the premise as well.

    4 votes
    1. [6]
      fefellama
      Link Parent
      I definitely wouldn't call myself an expert in the game, but I have a few dozen hours in it and if it makes you feel any better, I felt the exact same way when I first started out. I could tell it...

      I definitely wouldn't call myself an expert in the game, but I have a few dozen hours in it and if it makes you feel any better, I felt the exact same way when I first started out. I could tell it was a good game, but it was a bit overwhelming having so many mechanics and building choices and materials and foods and etc. etc. etc.

      But like you said, the tutorial kinda only introduces you to stuff as you need it. And given the roguelike elements of the game. The knowledge that you gain from one settlement to another settlement is part of the process. Little by little things clicked for me after I'd fail a settlement and then realize on the next one 'oh yeah gotta remember to do this' or 'oops should have been prioritizing fuel more'.

      4 votes
      1. [5]
        semsevfor
        Link Parent
        That's good to know. Since you've played quite a bit more than me, can you explain a little bit about the rogue like element? Is it just that you are starting a town fresh every time? Or is it the...

        That's good to know. Since you've played quite a bit more than me, can you explain a little bit about the rogue like element? Is it just that you are starting a town fresh every time? Or is it the cycle? I'm a bit confused on that aspect. Cause you make towns, but then at the end of the cycle everything gets washed away when the storm comes, but then you also have xp and levels going on which give you better perks and options.

        1 vote
        1. [4]
          fefellama
          Link Parent
          You basically nailed it. There's an overarching story about reclaiming the wilderness for the Queen (hence her getting impatient with you if you fail to complete objectives in time) but to be...

          You basically nailed it. There's an overarching story about reclaiming the wilderness for the Queen (hence her getting impatient with you if you fail to complete objectives in time) but to be honest, a lot of that stuff confuses me too.

          But basically yeah you have a set number of years in a cycle in which you can establish settlements on the map, and then the blight storm hits and wipes everything out. But you unlock bonuses in the meantime that make future runs easier, so its sort of expected that you'll fail quite a bit in the beginning while your starting supplies are low and your knowledge of the game is minimal and you don't have much time to explore the map. And you can also gain seals that extend the length of time you have in each cycle, which allows you to explore more of the map, which allows you to gain more rewards, which allows you to get more seals, and so on.

          2 votes
          1. [3]
            semsevfor
            Link Parent
            Are the seals a one time thing or do you keep getting them each run to keep extending your time?

            Are the seals a one time thing or do you keep getting them each run to keep extending your time?

            1 vote
            1. [2]
              fefellama
              Link Parent
              I knew there were multiple of them but to be honest I wasn’t sure how many, so I looked up a better answer for you:

              I knew there were multiple of them but to be honest I wasn’t sure how many, so I looked up a better answer for you:

              In each new cycle you will have two seals like the one you've last beaten and two that are one level above that. So right now you should have two bronze and two lead seals available. You can go for bronze again to get the percentage bonus on citadel resources at the end of the cycle or you can try and go for a lead seal for a slightly bigger percentage and another increase of eight years to the length of the cycle. Or just ignore them all together.

              1 vote
              1. semsevfor
                Link Parent
                Interesting, ok, thanks! I appreciate you doing that! I'm excited to see what that looks like and how that changes things. Can't wait to get home and finish my first cycle! Good luck on yours!

                Interesting, ok, thanks! I appreciate you doing that! I'm excited to see what that looks like and how that changes things. Can't wait to get home and finish my first cycle! Good luck on yours!

                1 vote
  7. Thomas-C
    (edited )
    Link
    I've been making my way through Shadow of the Erdtree, in the same fashion I did the original game. I wander, explore, just look at things and see what's out there, deliberately ignoring any guide...

    I've been making my way through Shadow of the Erdtree, in the same fashion I did the original game. I wander, explore, just look at things and see what's out there, deliberately ignoring any guide material/walkthroughs/etc. Just me and my claymore, smackin dudes till there be no more dudes to smack, seeing the sights.

    In particular, two areas just blew me completely away, the Abyssal Woods and the Jagged Peak. The woods feel like something from Bloodborne, it's a creepy, still sort of place, foggy and dark, full of horrible things that scream and chase you. You're forbidden from using your horse there, so you have to make your way through with this eerie, creepy music, bit by bit, sometimes having to sneak past a particular sort of abomination that can wreck you no matter how good you are. The legacy dungeon in this area is pretty straightforward, but features a boss I never expected to see. The Jagged Peak feels like something out of Conan, you're ascending this gigantic mountain full of crags and jutting cliffs, with dragons losing their minds on each other, howling wind and red lightning. Reaching the summit was an experience that easily ranks as the best content I've ever seen in these games (the NPC quest in this area is particularly awesome). The final encounter there is like Hell itself made manifest as a boss fight and it is just mindblowingly cool.

    Another area, called the Ancient Ruins of Rauh is like being in the cover of a fantasy novel. Just incredible. Even the side dungeons feel like "main game content" if that makes sense. Not a single piece of it feels half baked or lacking in attention. And everything I've shown here is just a tiny view, there is so much more to it. Multiple times, I've cleared a boss or found a place, and just sat there for a second dumbfounded. I fought the Dancing Lion (from the trailers) and at the end, just put my steam deck down for a sec to marvel at the experience of it.

    With this DLC in place, Elden Ring to me represents the absolute height of what Fromsoft has been trying to do since Demons Souls, the end of an era just about. I don't want another one. Not because Elden Ring is perfect, but because it as a single experience deserves to stand on its own. The knowledge and experience gained by FS across the years came together into this brilliant project and the DLC is like capping it off with a final, triumphant push. And it's not just the game, it's the whole cultural event surrounding it that impresses me so much - of all the games, I never expected I'd see my dad playing a fantasy action RPG, but here we are. My dad, my last boss, my friends who don't play anything anymore, my siblings, damn near everyone I know at least tried to check this one out. The community around its lore has grown into a sort of entertainment niche, with many people creating whole careers out of making content about what all this game has in it. And, a whole lot of people took from it exactly what it was meaning to deliver - they got an experience, of encountering great adversity and ultimately overcoming. I can't think of a better thing for a video game to do, than deliver something like that to so many different people, all together across the world.

    It's rare I feel this strongly about a game, but this one earned it and the DLC is like getting to see it at its very best. I cannot recommend it enough and look forward to continuing to explore what all is there. Imo, if you decide to play it, I'd recommend just ignoring the entire world while you do it. Too much, imo of the dialogue around these games revolves around efficiency, optimal play, the length of time it takes to finish, and my recommendation to anyone is to ignore all of that. Because if you do, and just jump into it, you'll have this amazing experience of being an explorer in a fantastical place, with a whole world of other people out there ready to show you what all is actually in it if curiosity becomes irresistible.

    Edit: I finished it. Explored all areas, beat all the bosses. And of course, that happens just before they put out a balance patch. DLC or not this was one of the best experiences with a video game I've ever had. The final encounter was terrifyingly difficult, but as always, with patience and practice all falls before the claymore. One cool thing for the base game - you can use Torrent in the final battle now, and doing that after the DLC feels like the best sort of victory lap.

    4 votes
  8. [4]
    Boojum
    Link
    Horizon: Zero Dawn This has been my main game for the last couple months or so and I'm coming down to the end of both it and the Frozen Wilds expansion, judging by the completion percentages. It's...

    Horizon: Zero Dawn

    This has been my main game for the last couple months or so and I'm coming down to the end of both it and the Frozen Wilds expansion, judging by the completion percentages.

    It's definitely an interesting game and the first that I've played published by SIE. It's mostly been a fun mix of combat, story, very minor puzzles, and exploration. In some respects it feels like a game that wants to be a movie with all of the cut scenes and the over-the-shoulder shot/reverse-shot framing for dialogue.

    In a lot of single-character CRPGs (such as MMORPGs) I tend to favor stealth archers, so in many ways this is right up my alley. After so many hours of play, though, I think I'm finding the main combat loop a little stale. Maybe it's just how I'm playing, but at this point other than maybe laying out some trap wires ahead of pulling some enemies, the bows are pretty much the only things that do any effective damage to them. The slings were nice before I got a war bow, but firing the war bow is much easier and faster for applying status effects since I don't have to worry about the range and the arc of the shot. The spear just doesn't do enough damage to justify the risks of getting whacked in close range combat.

    Graphically, the tech-art is generally astounding. I see now what the presentation about the sky in HZD back at SIGGRAPH 2015 was all about. I noticed right away that they have proper filtering on the shadow maps (it looked like some sort of PCF) which was really nice. The Cut in the Frozen Wilds was particularly neat for the tech-art. I loved the little details like the indentations in the snow as you walk around, and that even things like the point of your spear passing through the snow will leave a mark (or an animal running through.) Another couple of details that I noticed there were the snow accumulating on your outfit, and the snowflakes on the surface of the ponds clearing as you wade through them. On the down side, there's way, way too much geometric and light sourcing popping for my taste; it was really distracting in the tutorial section until I started getting used to it. Even then, there are still areas where I find it really noticeable. It was a surprising flaw in what seemed to otherwise be a solidly AAA graphics engine.

    Considering it's contemporary with Breath of the Wild, it's been interesting to see how they compare. BOTW puts a lot more emphasis on melee whereas HZD emphasizes ranged combat. Weapons not breaking in HZD is a blessing, but then I have a lot more weapon mods to juggle instead. Both have lots of climbing, but BOTW is all free form but slow whereas HZD has deliberately placed points that allow for cool climbing animations. Link is mute (on-screen), while Aloy is definitely not (and is quite sassy). Cell-shaded graphics in BOTW vs. photorealistic in HZD. And of course story-wise, both take place "after the end".

    Final Fantasy VI

    I had fun replaying this again on SNES emulation. I'd started a run in late December, got most of the way through, and then set it aside for real life. I recently finished it. Story-wise and game play wise I think it still holds up quite well. It does get a bit broken towards the end with the right mix of relics and weapons, but I think that's part of its charm. And I still love hearing the music again in context and remembering how well the various character leitmotifs go together. Locke and Celes are the famous pairing, of course, but I also noticed again just how I always feel like I can hear echos of Locke's theme in and Edgar and Sabin's theme and v.v. I'm no musician but I think I hear it especially during the bridges -- timestamped: Locke's, Edgar and Sabin's. And of course, I always love the ending music for the wonderful intermingling.

    Metroid: Zero Mission

    I played this on emulation while taking a short break from HZD. Short and sweet. I'd never played it before and found the depowered stealth section a surprising and interesting change of pace from other Metroid games. The way you get powered up right after that section and the triumphant Brinstar music theme letting you know it's payback time was amazing. It was a memorable bit of game design for reminding you just how strong you've gotten by that point.

    3 votes
    1. [3]
      first-must-burn
      Link Parent
      I really enjoyed HZD. I liked the progressive disclosure of the story and all the little collectible items that give you a window into the past. 10/10 for story. In writing this comment I realized...

      I really enjoyed HZD. I liked the progressive disclosure of the story and all the little collectible items that give you a window into the past. 10/10 for story.

      In writing this comment I realized I missed the release for Horizon Forbidden West on PC. So that will be on the wishlist.

      1 vote
      1. [2]
        Boojum
        Link Parent
        Yeah, I picked it up for $12.50 on Steam back in early March during the Dinos vs. Robots Fest. It seemed too good to pass up for that price. I'd definitely say that I've gotten my money's worth...

        Yeah, I picked it up for $12.50 on Steam back in early March during the Dinos vs. Robots Fest. It seemed too good to pass up for that price. I'd definitely say that I've gotten my money's worth out of it. I believe that the Steam summer sale starts this week, so I'll be looking to grab Forbidden West then, though I'm ready for a good long break with other games before I start that.

        The story and the collectible items have definitely been fun. Long ago I used to live in Utah (in "Maker's End" :-) and loved the outdoors there, so it's been especially delightful seeing some of my favorite areas there recognizably rendered as a video game setting.

        1 vote
        1. first-must-burn
          Link Parent
          Fwiw, Horizon Forbidden West is 20% off right now, a historic low according to Steam DB. That sale runs through June 27. I don't know what the Steam summer sales are like though. I guess I will...

          Fwiw, Horizon Forbidden West is 20% off right now, a historic low according to Steam DB. That sale runs through June 27.

          I don't know what the Steam summer sales are like though. I guess I will have to keep an eye peeled.

  9. [3]
    Protected
    Link
    I tried Laika: Aged Through Blood. In a mad max type future, you play as Laika, a dog... who rides a motorcycle! The devs call it a "motorvania": It's a 2d sidescrolling world with freedom of...

    I tried Laika: Aged Through Blood. In a mad max type future, you play as Laika, a dog... who rides a motorcycle! The devs call it a "motorvania": It's a 2d sidescrolling world with freedom of exploration (as long as you're on your bike) - cool concept, right? The game sets the tone right away when your daughter calls you to tell you that "the birds" (they are the enemy) crucified your nephew (a puppy) with his own entrails. Time to go murder some birds and show them they can't oppress the dogs forever!

    You control the motorcycle the way you're expect, with a throttle button and the ability to tilt up and down while in the air using the analog stick. Laika has a gun, and so do the birds. Laika's gun can fire two bullets (at least early on) and she can also deflect one projectile back to sender if you use a well-timed button press. Both the gun and the deflect need to be reloaded after being used, so Laika can kill up to 3 birds without reloading.

    And how do you reload? Well, you need to use ramps and other accidents in the terrain to take to the air, and once you're airborne a 360 degree spin of the motorcycle forward will reload your gun and backward will reload your parry. This means reloading can require some riding back and forth and cumbersome acrobatics. Unfortunately, you also need to angle the bottom of the motorcycle at incoming bullets to block them, because if any of the birds' bullets touches any part other than the bottom of the motorcycle, Laika will die instantly. And the birds shoot continuously until you kill them. Laika will also die instantly if she touches the ground directly (that is, if the motorcycle doesn't land on its wheels), so you're trying to angle your motorcycle at the bullets, flip forward, flip backwards or land properly in a tight time window. At the same time, you also need to use the other analog stick to aim your gun and shoot the birds.

    Oh, and on several occasions there are more than three birds between checkpoints, so you just have to block some of them/get lucky (they'll keep shooting at you after you pass). If you die, you'll start at the latest checkpoint... And every bird in the game world will have respawned. So just to go from one checkpoint to the other you might have to spend half an hour training yourself to use your actions in the right sequence with perfect timing and to react quickly and go in the right direction. Fun!

    I don't know who this game is for, but it's certainly not for me. Maybe there's something I don't "get" about it? I found it difficult and frustrating to the point of unfairness, and I don't think the devs and I are on the same page about what makes a metroidvania fun. I want snappy controls, quick traversal and power upgrades. I want to feel like I'm exploring and making progress. Maybe the speedrunner crowd would enjoy having to try for each checkpoint twenty times? When I stopped playing the game I realized it had been just short of 2 hours, so I took a step I almost never take and refunded it, because I realized I'd never want to play it again. It's too bad because the game was stylish and the concept was good.

    I took the refund money and spent it on Tchia! (It was 50% off on a daily deal, lucky me.)

    Tchia is also an interesting one. The game will tell you right away that it's a love letter to New Caledonia, an island nation and french dependency (it's on the UN decolonization list) located east of Australia. It's an open world exploration and narrative game crammed full of local culture, fauna, flora, food, songs and stories, although the characters and geography of the in-game world are fictional. Characters are all voiced by local talent, in French and Drehu, the most widely spoken local languages (don't worry, there are subtitles!)

    You play as the titular Tchia, a young girl who lives alone on a small island with her father. One day, a mysterious villain comes in a helicopter and kidnaps Tchia's father. During the confrontation Tchia discovers she has a superpower. I'm gonna spoil that for you - Tchia can possess objects and animals. This is a game in which you'll want to keep a crab in your backpack so you can go into it and cut things with its pincers, ride the mind of a birds so you can fly across long distances, or become a chicken and lay your own eggs. Tchia attempts to go and meet the ruler of the archipelago, only to find he's a cartoonishly evil monster. She has to save her people and liberate the islands!

    The game combines a lot of different systems, usually not too badly. Tchia can go wherever she wants in her little raft. She has a glider. She climbs rocks and walls. She can dive for pearls and collect braided trinkets and later trade them for many, MANY, MANY items of clothing and accessories. Every piece of clothing gives her a stat bonus! She has a magic ukelele which can do all sorts of cool things, but the game also contains many (optional) rhythm game sequences to the tone of the ridiculously good soundtrack. Tchia has a map, but the map doesn't show where she is (only her raft), so orientation may require paying attention to compass and landmarks! She has to set fire to demons made of fabric. She has to carve totems and use them to gain access to platforming challenges. She has to climb peaks to add surrounding landmarks to her map. She can do diving and racing challenges. There are even japanese style claw prize machines (and they suck just as much as the real thing!) There's a long, convoluted scavenger hunt running at the same time as the main quest, rewarding exploration. The islands are scenic and colorful, and I had fun roaming around for more than 20 hours (this for a highly completionist run).

    The story is very sweet, often goofy, sometimes surprisingly brutal. I don't want to spoil much past the beginning, but as an example, when Tchia needs to find a chicken to offer as a gift, another girl will matter-of-factly grab a chicken and chop its head off with a machete. The chicken will then not die and proceed to hang out for the rest of the game, headless, squirting blood. At one point, Tchia will kiss another girl, and this has made some keyboard warriors on the Steam forums really mad; apparently that's what makes the story "inappropriate for children", and too "political". Can't say I see it.

    Tchia is best played if you're in the mindset to chill and take your time. There's a journal where you can document all the types of plants and animals in the island, for instance, which rewards wandering around. But if you're just trying to rush into completing everything, the game can feel slow or grindy at times, especially when collecting braided trinkets or traveling between places, as there's only fast travel between docks. You can gain a lot of time by maximizing your stamina and spirit power and becoming good at jumping into birds that are flying by (birds are very fast) and planning routes that let you get a lot done between points A and B.

    Unfortunately, some aspects of Tchia show the game's limitations, notably the NPCs - outside the main story, NPCs all just spout random tips, and are not fun to interact with. A lot of rewards don't "matter" because there's no way you'll get to use all of the cosmetics you can get before playing through the whole game. Some parts of the plot feel a bit rushed or simplistic. It's fine, though! It's still a pretty good casual game and I enjoyed playing through it. You get some real photos of New Caledonia during the credits sequence!

    I have to say I was a bit miffed that there isn't an option in the main menu to replay just the rhythm game sequences. You have to use the chapter select and go to each relevant chapter, I suppose.

    3 votes
    1. [2]
      Stranger
      Link Parent
      On Laika, I found the game's controls incredibly frustrating in the beginning and the biggest roadblock to progress but after a few hours the handling felt much more intuitive and I ended up...

      On Laika, I found the game's controls incredibly frustrating in the beginning and the biggest roadblock to progress but after a few hours the handling felt much more intuitive and I ended up having a lot of fun with the system.

      Your description of the gameplay loop is essentially correct. Get from checkpoint N to checkpoint N+1 by learning enemy placement, figuring out the optimal sequence of movements and kills to survive, and replaying the segment until you get it right. Each biome has its own gimmick, lots of branching paths that open up as you progress for exploration and treasure hunting, and boss battles capping it off. Pretty standard Metroidvania stuff.

      I will say though that the controls do feel a lot more smooth and satisfying after you get the hang of it though (which, granted, took me a few hours). Especially once you get the shotgun which doubles as a movement buff vis-a-vis the recoil giving you a momentum burst. You can actually fire the shotgun straight at the ground from a dead stop to perform a sort of jump with enough air to do a flip for reloading, eliminating the need to backtrack for a ramp. There's actually a hill I discovered at one point that requires this technique (shotgun jump and flip reload) to scale an almost sheer cliff face.

      Some points get pretty technical, especially when you're being shot at from every direction, but I enjoyed that aspect of it. It reminds me of the whole Dark Souls "bang your head against a brick wall until you break through" style. Never gets to Path of Pain levels of difficulty, but it's enough that I wasn't breezing through it either.

      Overall thoughts:

      Some parts of the late game can get repetitive as you retread areas again and again to find things. The story came across a bit "edgy" in a gratuitous way that I felt detracted more than it added to the tone. The story overall felt a bit weak; some wonderful moments but less than the sum of its parts. The side characters paradoxically felt underutilized given how interestingly they were characterized. Laika, Puppy, and grandma have a lot of dialog but aside from a small handful of characters who get brief story importance, everyone else seems to only get about 3 lines of repeating dialog. Given how often you come back to the main hub, it would have been nice to have more dynamic NPCs.

      The soundtrack was amazing and the art style/aesthetic was gorgeous. After a rocky beginning, the gameplay totally hooked me through the mid-game into the late game. That said, I put the game down while in the final stretch (when she gets to the bird city) and never finished it. Not because I was unhappy but moreso that I'd felt like I'd gotten enough out of the game and wasn't compelled to see the ending.

      2 votes
      1. Protected
        Link Parent
        Thank you for your more informed perspective! It definitely doesn't seem like the game for me; I have never played Dark Souls nor do I want to! I think it's a design failure if the game takes...

        Thank you for your more informed perspective! It definitely doesn't seem like the game for me; I have never played Dark Souls nor do I want to! I think it's a design failure if the game takes several hours to become fun. I'm happy to know though that it does become worth the effort to some people.

  10. [2]
    MacGuges
    Link
    I've recently begun playing Kittens Game again on my Android, and I'm still impressed by how engrossing it is. This is an idle game on mobile, but most games of that kind there are no ads, no...

    I've recently begun playing Kittens Game again on my Android, and I'm still impressed by how engrossing it is. This is an idle game on mobile, but most games of that kind there are no ads, no micropayments, and a very low tech presentation. It's been called the Dark Souls of idle games, which I feel is very apt.

    The premise is that you're guiding a civilization of cats from growing catnip to discovering the calendar and astronomy and further on to inventing solar power and space travel. While you can play it occasionally when you have a free moment, you can also dig into micro-managing your kittens to find optimal methods to your goals. Indeed I feel that Kittens Game is best understood as a puzzle game in the guise of an idler.

    For example, when you start a new game the only actions available are to gather catnip or to refine catnip into wood. You won't have any kittens until you build huts from wood, so you'll have to click that gather button a lot until you can assign kittens to chopping wood. Kittens also eat catnip, and you can invest catnip into increasing the level of your catnip field. So you begin managing two resources, catnip and wood, to build your village and expand it's population. So far so familiar.

    Naturally you'll want to increase your catnip field and huts, accumulating more kittens, catnip, and wood to convert into new types of buildings. But you might not have noticed that you started the year in spring when catnip yields are 150% of normal. Before long you've built a second or a third hut and maybe have a half dozen kittens. When winter comes, catnip yields drop to 25%. Most new players discover this the hard way when multiple kittens have already died of starvation.

    You can avoid losing many of your kittens while beginning a new game, but it's tricky. And even hours into the game you can lose a lot of your kittens if you neglect your catnip production in the autumn in favor of focusing on some new obstacle.

    Besides playing the game on Android or Apple, you can access the most current version online at https://kittensgame.com/web/

    3 votes
    1. Pavouk106
      Link Parent
      Bought. I like the idea of "pay upfront" (aka oldschool model) so I bought it partly based on that. But I will deginitely have a dive into the game. Thanks for heads up!

      Bought.

      I like the idea of "pay upfront" (aka oldschool model) so I bought it partly based on that. But I will deginitely have a dive into the game.

      Thanks for heads up!

      1 vote
  11. datavoid
    Link
    I'm slowly getting prepared to start the Elden Ring DLC - I realized I missed a few things, and want to change my gear and spec for the new content. It's an amazing game, although extremely...

    I'm slowly getting prepared to start the Elden Ring DLC - I realized I missed a few things, and want to change my gear and spec for the new content. It's an amazing game, although extremely difficult.

    I've been working on finishing 3 other games leading up to Elden Ring, but only managed to finish tears of the kingdom last week. It's long, repetitive, easy, and extremely beautiful. The final boss is really cool (although easy if you finish a bit of the games side content).

    The other 2 are doom eternal (been working on it for years... meh), and Tunic.

    Tunic might be in my top 5 favourite games of all time, although I clearly have a disposition for Zelda and souls likes. Tunic is much more than that though, it's one of the most lovingly made pieces of art I've ever encountered. Be aware that it too is quite difficult, and if you want to beat it without guides (which I would HIGHLY recommend), it is likely going to take a lot longer than advertised. I don't want to spoil anything, but if you experience the game fully you are going to need a notepad. It also kind of requires general gaming knowledge, as it is definitely not going to give you any direct instruction.

    2 votes
  12. [3]
    MikeB
    Link
    I've been playing Dragon Age: Inquisition (PC). I first tried it when it released almost 10 years ago, back when my old PC was rocking a GTX 750 Ti (and struggling to hit 60 fps in the Hinterlands...

    I've been playing Dragon Age: Inquisition (PC). I first tried it when it released almost 10 years ago, back when my old PC was rocking a GTX 750 Ti (and struggling to hit 60 fps in the Hinterlands lol). At the time I didn't really know what I was doing and found my sword and board warrior kind of boring to play, so I didn't get much farther than that. Veilguard looks pretty great though and I had a blast playing through the Mass Effect trilogy a couple years ago, so I figured I'd give it another go.

    I'm about halfway through it now and I'm enjoying it a lot more now than I did then. It has a lot of MMO DNA in its veins (I seem to remember that being controversial at the time?), with a frankly absurd amount of side fetch quests, but the nice thing is I don't feel at all compelled to do everything -- the main reward for doing them is XP and "Power" points to spend to do the main missions, so I just kind of follow my nose and do what's close until it's time to push the story forward. It's... surprisingly chill and relaxing. Even ten years later I think the environments are really beautiful and atmospheric, and wandering around exploring is just good vibes.

    I think my main disappointment with it are the keyboard/mouse controls. The tactical view is so hilariously clunky that I've given up trying to use it and just trust the AI to do its thing. It makes the combat not particularly interesting, but I'm playing a mage this time so I at least get to sit back and watch the chaos unfold while teleporting around the battlefield. I also turned on damage numbers for the whole party, which strangely made battles feel a lot more satisfying. Maybe it makes me feel like I'm playing more of a macro role? I dunno. I just know flying numbers make brain happy.

    That said, the balance feels a little odd -- mages can cast some stunningly devastating-looking spells, but the actual damage they do is pretty underwhelming. Granted I'm not paying as much attention to resistances as I should, but... still. I'm running two warriors in my party and they do by far the bulk of the damage -- while also tanking everything. Mages feel more like supports, doing chip damage, inflicting status effects and crowd control, and keeping barriers up. The animations are so satisfying though that I don't mind the lack of damage output too much.

    The storytelling is pretty good and keeping me engaged, though it is (so far) not my favorite from BioWare. I am surprised by how big the scope and scale feels though, even compared to newer games like Baldur's Gate 3. You get a huge map of the country to explore, a stronghold full of supporters and soldiers that grows over the course of the game, and story missions that range from leading assaults on castles to political intrigue at the royal court. It's got me hooked and I think I'm actually going to finish it this time.

    Last note: I'm not sure I could play this game for very long without the mod that makes looting instant. By default your character kneels down to pick things up, and there are so many things to pick up that it makes looting way more tedious than it needs to be. Thankfully the mod resolves this by removing the animation entirely, so you can just run around and hit the F key to grab stuff without stopping.

    2 votes
    1. [2]
      Anatolian_Archer
      Link Parent
      I have been playing through Origins-II-Inquisition as well, unfortunately I have found it to be the most underwhelming of the three as 10 hours into the game. I am also annoyed by not being able...

      I have been playing through Origins-II-Inquisition as well, unfortunately I have found it to be the most underwhelming of the three as 10 hours into the game.

      I am also annoyed by not being able to import my previous saves, although this particular marathon was similar to canon.

      Controls definitely haven't been made with keyboard/mouse players in mind, I agree on that.

      1 vote
      1. MikeB
        Link Parent
        Yeah I can understand being underwhelmed with Inquisition. I think it caught me in the right mood where I've not been wanting to play anything too mentally taxing, I just want to chill with a good...

        Yeah I can understand being underwhelmed with Inquisition. I think it caught me in the right mood where I've not been wanting to play anything too mentally taxing, I just want to chill with a good fantasy story and some light adventuring/exploration.

        I got really far into Origins awhile back but I got so frustrated with the random bugs and crashes that I ended up quitting (maybe 40 or so hours in?). I was looking into it recently and saw there's some kind of community patch out there you can apply that supposedly helps, so I might start over and give that a try after I finish up Inquisition. I definitely liked Origins' gameplay more overall.

        1 vote
  13. DanBC
    Link
    I'm gently obsessed with the 4x CivHero, a free to play game on Itch.io. Rounds are short, and it gives me that 4x hit but in a tiny burst. I've moved up to "Prince" difficulty, which is 3 out of 5.

    I'm gently obsessed with the 4x CivHero, a free to play game on Itch.io. Rounds are short, and it gives me that 4x hit but in a tiny burst. I've moved up to "Prince" difficulty, which is 3 out of 5.

    2 votes
  14. [4]
    kfwyre
    Link
    Spirit Hunters: Infinite Horde My dog just had surgery and needs constant support, and I also got COVID and am exhausted, so I needed a mindless game that doesn’t ask too much of me, that I could...

    Spirit Hunters: Infinite Horde

    My dog just had surgery and needs constant support, and I also got COVID and am exhausted, so I needed a mindless game that doesn’t ask too much of me, that I could pick up and drop at a moment’s notice, and that I could play one-handed so that my free hand could comfort my pup.

    This is that game.

    It’s a simple survivorslike/bullet heaven game. I can play one-handed by binding the A button to a back paddle on the Steam Deck. I’ve been playing it in bed, snuggled up next to my dog, and listening to Fern Brady’s audiobook.

    I’ll be honest: if I didn’t need to have this sort of setup, then I wouldn’t keep playing this. There’s nothing fundamentally wrong about the game, but there’s nothing exciting about it either. It’s hard for me to tell if it’s this game specifically or if I’ve just tired of the formula (I’ve played probably 10 of these games at this point, so genre fatigue is undoubtedly setting in).

    2 votes
    1. [3]
      first-must-burn
      Link Parent
      Wow, how is the Fern Brady book relative to her standup? I find her standup right st the line between entertaining and offputting, so I'm not sure how I would do with a book.

      Wow, how is the Fern Brady book relative to her standup? I find her standup right st the line between entertaining and offputting, so I'm not sure how I would do with a book.

      2 votes
      1. [2]
        kfwyre
        Link Parent
        I haven’t actually watched her standup. I only know her from Taskmaster Series 14 and enjoyed her enough that I figured I’d read her book. I was expecting comedy, but the book is actually very...

        I haven’t actually watched her standup. I only know her from Taskmaster Series 14 and enjoyed her enough that I figured I’d read her book.

        I was expecting comedy, but the book is actually very sad. She mainly focuses on how she grew up autistic in a world that didn’t understand autism. As such, she didn’t have a name or framework for her feelings or support needs, and everyone else just thought she was being difficult.

        It’s very good, but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone looking for humor. There are some funny moments, but the bulk of the book is Brady processing a difficult life and feeling out-of-place for so long.

        3 votes
        1. first-must-burn
          Link Parent
          Thanks for the detailed explanation. Sounds like something worth checking out.

          Thanks for the detailed explanation. Sounds like something worth checking out.

          2 votes
  15. EsteeBestee
    Link
    I've been playing Shadow of the Erdtree! This expansion is so beautifully and carefully crafted that it's absolutely mind blowing. I expected good, but got an expansion that completely revitalized...

    I've been playing Shadow of the Erdtree! This expansion is so beautifully and carefully crafted that it's absolutely mind blowing. I expected good, but got an expansion that completely revitalized my love for the souls games. The new weapons and abilities are fantastic, the new boss fights are excellent, and the game world has so many nooks and crannies with interesting things! I'm playing a big bonk build and found a gigabonk, an anvil on a stick. I am now anvil main.

    Besides that, Destiny 2 still! The Final Shape still holds up as excellent three weeks later. At this point I've more or less done everything new and am finally feeling the want to reduce my playtime a little bit again (I was borderline addicted for the last 3 weeks). The new raid is still excellent after multiple clears, so I'll still be doing that with my group for the next few weeks/months even if I'm doing less play on my own. Besides the new season being a bit slow to start (we'll see how that turns out later), this is the new golden age of Destiny and it feels great, there's just so much to do now!

    2 votes
  16. [3]
    nul
    Link
    The Callisto Protocol (Xbox One) I haven't played too much of this. Maybe around an hour. It's extremely similar to Dead Space, almost like it's a AAA clone. That said, many of the devs for DS...

    The Callisto Protocol (Xbox One)

    I haven't played too much of this. Maybe around an hour. It's extremely similar to Dead Space, almost like it's a AAA clone. That said, many of the devs for DS worked on this game. I'm playing on an Xbox One S which is an older console, so it only goes to 30 FPS and it has a motion blur on by default. I'm not sure if I like that or not. That said, the game is decent so far. My only issue is the combat mechanics. You have to move the left thumbstick in the direction of your enemy's incoming attack to dodge it, and it's difficult for me to do. I mostly run into battle frantically moving it left and right while swinging my melee weapon (trying to save bullets). The game has a dark and creepy atmosphere, and it is more interesting for me to play right now than even the DS remake simply because it's new, not a retread of something I (re)played a few years ago.

    It's on GamePass so I figure I can finally give it a shot even though it got mixed reviews.

    1 vote
    1. [2]
      kru
      Link Parent
      It's been awhile since I played Callisto Protocol, and I recall not liking it very much, so I might be mis-remembering this but: I don't think it matters which direction your dodge is in, just as...

      It's been awhile since I played Callisto Protocol, and I recall not liking it very much, so I might be mis-remembering this but: I don't think it matters which direction your dodge is in, just as long as your subsequent dodges are in the opposite direction. In other words, you can always start a dodge chain by dodging to the right, for example.

      2 votes
      1. nul
        Link Parent
        A lot of reviews say the game turns less horror and more action/fast-paced later in, and that's where it really falls apart. I'm expecting to dislike this by the end, but it was free and it's like...

        A lot of reviews say the game turns less horror and more action/fast-paced later in, and that's where it really falls apart. I'm expecting to dislike this by the end, but it was free and it's like Dead Space but different, so I'm hoping I'm happy to have played it when it's over.

        1 vote
  17. kaffo
    Link
    I just finished Pumping Simulator 2 which is another kinda janky life sim Unity game. It was really good though, I had a lot of fun for 20 hours. It really scratched that itch that my favourite...

    I just finished Pumping Simulator 2 which is another kinda janky life sim Unity game.
    It was really good though, I had a lot of fun for 20 hours. It really scratched that itch that my favourite flash games and Half Life 2 maps from the mid 00's left.
    That kinda game loop where you're always busy doing stuff and building up your garage with crap, but it's not just the refined clicker/idler format we get nowadays. Lots of running around and a fair bit of grinding, but you're always getting a new toy so it's not bad grinding.

    After that I'm back on Mech Enginner which I love to hate. I rage quit it after I got into a bunch of fights I basically couldn't win, but came back with a fresh pair of eyes and some new ideas to a new playthrough and it's going really well. It's not for everyone that's for sure, it's really frustrating, but the payoff is great.

    1 vote
  18. SpecialtyCoffeeDad
    Link
    Shin Megami Tensei V Vengeance My first SMT game was Nocturne. My main experience of JRPGs to that point was Final Fantasy, which I was a massive fan of. But that game was a revelation to me. I...

    Shin Megami Tensei V Vengeance

    My first SMT game was Nocturne. My main experience of JRPGs to that point was Final Fantasy, which I was a massive fan of. But that game was a revelation to me. I felt like there was so much more thought put into the battle system, like how it encouraged strategic use of spells, and you couldn't rely on brute force to get you through.

    I've since played Personas 3 through 5, which I appreciate, but to me feel a bit overstuffed with all the social connection stuff. I know a lot of people love those games for that stuff, and fair enough. I just want to fight and recruit demons though.

    I'm still pretty early in the game, but I'm pretty happy with it so far. I'm stoked with how quickly it you get into the meat of the game. And the battle mechanics seem sufficiently deep without being overwhelming in their complexity (I recently tried playing Disgaea 5 and was thrown off by what felt like a massive tutorial dump at the start of the game).

    I do have some issues. While I'm mostly into the visual style, it noticeably lacks the visual flair of, say, Persona 5. Comparitively, the visuals here feel a bit washed out.

    I'm also slightly concerned about the amount of samey sandy landscapes I've been navigating so far. It can feel a bit difficult to keep track of where I have and haven't explored, since most areas I've been to look more or less the same, which makes the treasure hunting parts more difficult than they maybe should be.

    Still, I'm excited to keep going. Will try post updated feelings as I go.

    1 vote
  19. BeardyHat
    Link
    I think I can finally say that I've given up on Abiotic Factor. It was fun for awhile, but I got to the pens and encountered the enemy that hunts you and just kind of got bored with the overall...

    I think I can finally say that I've given up on Abiotic Factor. It was fun for awhile, but I got to the pens and encountered the enemy that hunts you and just kind of got bored with the overall loop. I knew this would happen, as it usually does with Survival/Crafting games, but I was kind of hoping it wouldn't. Ah well...

    That said, this afternoon, I completed Skald: Against the Black Priory, which took me right about 26 hours and I must say, I loved it. I very rarely see games through these days, as they just don't hold my attention, but I just found myself really engaged with Skald for the last month and haven't been able to put it down. It has some issues and I got a bit tired of combat towards the end, but I really wanted to see the story through and I think it ended in the most appropriate way it could have. Loved it so much, I left a Steam review, which I just don't really do; in my 20 years on Steam, this is my 5th.

    Just this evening I started Yakuza: Like a Dragon, so far, it's mostly watching the cutscenes, but it's exactly what I want right now. I'm hoping I play this one a little more than Yakuza 0, which I did play 36 hours of, but got very bored with the not great, not terribly fun combat in it. I genuinely love Yakuzas sense of humor and I'm really enjoying being told a story right now, so I hope I continue.

    1 vote
  20. [2]
    Tiraon
    Link
    Stellar Blade(PS5) The first impression is of course that this is a very fan service heavy game, almost as much as is possible without going into soft core pornography territory. On one hand and...

    Stellar Blade(PS5)
    The first impression is of course that this is a very fan service heavy game, almost as much as is possible without going into soft core pornography territory. On one hand and in my opinion we could generally really use better attitudes about sexuality, on the other here it is very blatant and not well integrated into the word.

    It had surprisingly decent story though it suffers from insufficient investment in characters and instead has too heavy handed foreshadowing. It could really have been something that set the game apart but instead it simply surprisingly good, for a video game.

    The general idea of combat is good but it is certainly something to get used too. The timings are way too tight and the input delay is annoying. Personally I was parked on story difficulty the whole game and it felt more like normal.

    And then there are some genuinely stupid parts - though thankfully not that many. The most egregious is an optional fishing minigame where you can eventually catch a whale probably bigger than the body of water you fished it out of???

    1 vote
    1. Notcoffeetable
      Link Parent
      I picked up Stellar Blade around release, I have the same fan service reservations but I did enjoy the combat. But I found the timing on some bosses very annoying, I've been meaning to turn it...

      I picked up Stellar Blade around release, I have the same fan service reservations but I did enjoy the combat. But I found the timing on some bosses very annoying, I've been meaning to turn it down to "story" difficulty when I revisit it.

  21. AI52487963
    Link
    This week we reviewed Holocure: Save the Fans! for our podcast on roguelike/lite games. My cohosts and I aren't super familiar with the VTuber scene, but one of our friends and fellow VTuber was...

    This week we reviewed Holocure: Save the Fans! for our podcast on roguelike/lite games.

    My cohosts and I aren't super familiar with the VTuber scene, but one of our friends and fellow VTuber was kind enough to be a guest and walk us through all the lore around Shubangelion and Spiderchama.

    Overall: we really enjoyed it. We just recorded an episode on Vampire Survivors prior to Holocure, so it was interesting to compare the differences between them. I think the baffling amount of creativity and character that Holocure has really separates it apart from the rest of the Survivor-like games. You can really tell how much work the solo-dev Kay Yu has put in, and I'm excited to see what further updates bring!

  22. Lapbunny
    Link
    I'm playing Void Stranger in short bursts. I'm convinced most of my video game taste is just my music taste, because there aren't many cases where hours of hundreds of Sokoban puzzles would keep...

    I'm playing Void Stranger in short bursts. I'm convinced most of my video game taste is just my music taste, because there aren't many cases where hours of hundreds of Sokoban puzzles would keep me so engaged... But man. Good music.

    The story dressing feels a bit mechanically like Oneshot, which helps. There's definitely something I am not getting regarding some of the random objects/statues/"rocks" lying around...

  23. SingedFrostLantern
    Link
    Meta-Ghost: The Breaking Show Wrote about its Next Fest demo before, but having purchased the game and reaching the current Early Access endgame, I can say that I had a lot of fun with this action...

    Meta-Ghost: The Breaking Show

    Wrote about its Next Fest demo before, but having purchased the game and reaching the current Early Access endgame, I can say that I had a lot of fun with this action roguelite and it met my expectations, but it also has a lot of ARPG influence that I didn't expect. The endgame is basically grinding out the team matches (the non-story mode with optional 3-player co-op) for equipment and the traditional art of finding the right set bonus, rarity, equipment quality on top of rarity, and the random stats for mix-maxing, along with trashing or merging anything that doesn't match up to what you need. There's extra rewards for meeting the time requirement, so naturally everything revolves around killing things as fast as possible. With my gear, I can only meet the +6 Heat door (there's a +9) on Difficulty 5 (of 6) on Jean, the tank character because I've accepted that I'm just going to facetank the hell out of everything. It also gives me the same ARPG feeling of not knowing at all how to optimize and staring blankly at a spreadsheet; all I understand is that the flywheel fusion works for heavy attack spam.

    That said, the game does something a little odd with having split scaling. Of the 5 sponsors providing boons, 2 of them, green (crit/atk spd) and purple (digital clones) scale off of weapon attack while the other 3 sponsors, light blue/pink/yellow scale off of tech attack. Naturally, some roguelikes run into this with passive items, but this is the first time I've seen it with a Hades-esque boon system. The "duo boon" equivalent here requires combining 6 drives from 2 sponsors, so you're incentivized to reroll a lot until you find the sponsors for your equipment build.

    Vernal Edge

    It's a 2D metroidvania with emphasis on its combat, but it felt kinda mid overall and unrefined. The air juggle potential and pulse attacks to recover HP do have thought put behind them, but the poise meter made it feel like a slog. For normal enemies, their poise isn't displayed until you break a bar which makes it a gamble between whether you're about to start a combo or get punished for your hubris. Charged attacks have a lot of endlag too, so it's something that's either used for knocking enemies into each other or quickly punishing boss attacks to hit and run poise. That leaves the basic boring ground combo most of the time until their poise is broken simply because it can be quickly interrupted with the guard or dash. As a metroidvania, it just feels lacking behind the genre in terms of features, and the story from start to finish is Vernal wanting vengeance on her mad scientist dad with not much more to it.