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 don't know how many of them are available on Xbox (that's what you're playing on, right?), but the Sim Settlements mods do a fantastic job of fleshing out settlements and enabling you to basically ignore them.
If you don't want to bother building up a settlement, you can just go capture it, place down and administrator desk, assign a character, and the settlement will build itself.
There's a lot more to these mods though, if you really want to get into it.
Yes I’m playing on the Xbox Series S. Looks like a cool mod. Unfortunately, most mods require all the DLCs, and I only got the base game. I’ll look into it, thanks.
A Plague Tale: Innocence.
Graphics are pretty awesome for a small studio....but this game has a lot of problems. The gameplay is incredibly predictable and fairly tedious. Plot progression vs time spent is a very bad ratio. Doesn't help that the plot is very predictable (wife and I guessed basically the entire plot within the first 30 minutes of gameplay) and the game is very short (< 12 hours easily). It's pretty much on rails, but with an occasional hidden offshoot to find some collectable or something. I wouldn't have picked it up after the first 30 minutes if not for my wife insisting to finish to see if our predictions were true. After hour 3 was like pulling teeth.
Nice kid-friendly FPS/farming simulator. Lotsa fun, especially on easy.
The Long Dark
This game has been decently playable since 2012, and it has been updated and refined tremendously since then. No DLC or expansions, just added content to the base game. The survival mode is one of my favorite in the genre. Too early to comment on the story, but so far no major red flags.
And there's the little things. Devs contribute a lot of money to charities, including Doctors without Borders. It uses HDR and Steam Controller integration. This game is obviously a labor of love, and despite putting dozens of hours into it, I've barely scratched the surface.
Katamari Damacy REROLL
I loved this game back on the Playstation. This PC port is terrible. You can't set options, even simple ones like "fix resolution and fullscreen," until after you've finished the tutorial. I had a whole host of random problems, and it was the first game so bad I requested a refund.
SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom Rehydrated
I never played this game before. Holy crap is it good. It plays like a bit like a less-glitchy Psychonauts, and while not quite as amusing as Psychonauts, the lack of glitchs makes up for it.
Castle-crashers style combat with a roguelite layer on top of it (almost like Rogue Legacy's). It's got a lot of potential as a good couch co-op title, but the balancing for single-player is just not great.
A nice "real time but not really because you need to pause every 50ms to make good combat decisions" squad-based tactical RPG. Plot was kinda whatever, but combat was so fun it made up for it.
I'm finally going to beat A Link to the Past. I always got through the prologue and quit because I hate the Dark World pyramid start, but apparently it's only an issue until you clear the Dark Palace, so I'm actually committing to this run. I decided to use LTTP Redux for no good reason, too.
Previously, I had said that Pillars of Eternity seemed too linear. Well, I stuck with it, and have since discovered that that linearity was just in the beginning (first few hours of gameplay), and that it gets much more open after that. There are many quests of various sizes/lengths available, and you can do them in any order. There are also lots of map areas available, and you can freely visit and revisit them in almost any order.
So I'm enjoying this game a lot, and I can see why it's received so much acclaim. Great writing (text), decent voice acting, good graphics, nice mechanics (RPG game system) which is quite rich and deep (in a good way), rich world history/lore, and a pretty good storyline.
Normally, in a given gaming session, I play a mix of 2 or 3 games, but lately, I've been devoting all my gaming time exclusively to Pillars of Eternity.
I had previously played Little Orpheus and liked it. The gameplay was so-so, but the world was quite nice. However, I had played it with the sound off. A friend pointed out that the story told by the narrator during the game makes it a much better game. So I decided to try it out and he was right! In the original version there were no subtitles, and I didn't feel like putting headphones on during playing. Well I relented and played with headphones and I have to agree that it's even better with audio. The music is quite good, too. And I noticed in the prefs that you can now turn on subtitles as well.
I'm still making my way (slowly) through The Return of the Obra Dinn. I'm at 18 deaths solved. I haven't had as much time to play it this past week as I would have liked. I've seen all the flashbacks there are to see, but clearly have some details here and there wrong as a few that I thought were pretty straightforward turned out not to be. I'm curious from others who have played it, if I haven't solved all of the deaths and I leave the boat, what happens? I see that I have to meet up with someone to get more information, but it's not clear how much has to be done before doing that.
cc: @Adys, since I know you love Beat Saber
Picked back up my VR headset which, up until now, had only been used for Beat Saber. Don’t get me wrong, I love the game dearly, but I ended up un-modding it since updating was a hassle, which means I no longer have custom songs which were a huge part of the game’s draw for me. Thus, I decided it was finally time to branch out beyond Beat Saber and see what else VR has to offer me, so I tried out two new games...
...that are almost exactly like Beat Saber. 😁 I definitely “have a type” when it comes to VR games.
Audica is Lara-Croft-plays-musical-Duck-Hunt-in-2077. You have double pistols, one in each hand, and you shoot targets in time to the beat of songs in futuristic settings. It’s very fun, and the aim assist is pretty generous, so you don’t have to be super accurate. I pretty much play it as if I am doing this the whole time.
Synth Riders is almost exactly like Beat Saber, but instead of slashing oncoming boxes, you just have to have your hands in the right positions to hit oncoming orbs. Some of them are standalone, some of them are grouped, and some of them are on long rails that you have to follow. At lower difficulty levels the game has a very Samba de Amigo feel, but at higher levels you’re forced into moving your arms through fluid arcs and bends nearly constantly. If Audica had me being Lara Croft, Synth Riders has me being Loreen Croft.1
Both are fun in different ways, and each is a complete safe bet for anyone who likes Beat Saber. The better workout definitely goes to Synth Riders which can get pretty intense — though in fairness to Audica I haven’t started playing its hardest difficulties yet. It might pick up, but I still don’t think that it would match some of the rapidfire interpretive dancing that Synth Riders forces you to do. I’ve entered both into daily rotation, with Audica acting as the warm-up before I hit some hard Synth Riders levels.
1. My husband wanted me to make sure that I credited him for this joke. “Loreen Croft” was indeed his wordplay. I can forward any and all complaints his way.
Thank you for the ping!! I've not been able to play beat saber for over a week due to fatigue from my medication :(
I have been looking for more workout games though and primarily, I'm curious about ones that work more than the arms and shoulders as beat saber does. I did pick one up recently that was on sale... I think it's called OnShape. It looked interesting but haven't tried it yet.
Can you talk a bit more about the workout aspect? Are they a bit more varied? From your message it sounds like I'm at least going to pick up synth riders.
You can probably get a better workout workout from an actual fitness-focused app (which it sounds like you bought) but Synth Riders has me moving my arms and shifting my body weight a ton — enough to work up a sweat. It’s still a “stand in one spot” game like Beat Saber but I feel less like a rigid tree trunk swatting pests with my branches.
Another thing I think helps is that Synth Riders lets you scale up/down the track. I have long arms, so I scaled it up 1.5x (the highest it goes), which moves everything farther apart. Thus, I have to crouch for some low notes and am reaching over my head for others. On fast songs or through intense patterns, I may loop through my whole range of motion multiple times in seconds.
I’m terrible with actual workout workouts because I hate them and end up avoiding them and thus never actually do them with fidelity, but I’ll gladly do something that’s fun over and over again, so while Synth Riders might not be optimal, it’s far more likely to have sticking power for me.
A word of warning on Synth Riders: it has crashed on me several times. Doesn’t seem to be the most stable of apps. Restarting the app fixes it, but I figured I’d mention it here as a temper to my otherwise glowing review.
Audica isn’t as much a workout as it is an endurance test for your arms. If you don’t pull your arms in between shots, they get tired from being fully extended very quickly. Probably not what you’re looking for if you’re wanting something whole-body.
Yeah no I'm not a fan of working out for the sake of working out either :) I enjoy beat saber for the difficulty, the challenge, and the superbly satisfying muscle memory training. The problem I have with it is that it seriously works my shoulders and triceps, but I get almost nothing elsewhere muscle-wise. For the amount i play it (when able to), it's a problem as I feel really unbalanced.
I hear a lot of good about Ring Fit Adventures but it needs extra gear on the switch i believe...
FYI beat saber now supports custom songs. If you still have a backup of your modded install, you can probably just drag and drop the custom song folder to the clean beat saber install. There are some songs that require mods, but most will work out of the box.
Oh nice! I’ll have to look into that. I don’t have my old install; but I can just redownload stuff as needed. Thanks for the heads up.
I've been reviewing every game I finish or drop so I'm going to link the ones I've posted in January. A lot of these are just line or two comments, so I've bolded and italicized the ones that are slightly more meaty and that I'd stand behind:
Museum of Mechanics: Lockpicking
The Solivagants (or, Videogames Fail at Character Context)
My Dream for the Future
Yamasen-Chan's Hermit Home Designer
It is definitely a flawed game, but it delivered exactly what I was expecting. The characters are all believable and convincing, the art is stunning and the gameplay is just fun. I really enjoyed the main story. I opted not to clear the whole map in my first play through and instead explored the world more organically. I know I'll want to revisit this one once DLC/fixes arrive later this year. I ended up spending most of my time driving through the city exploring and playing around with photo mode.
I love the movement and speed this game allows for. There are all kinds of nice little secret challenges around the different stages that allow you to decide how difficult of an experience that you want. The story was nice for what it was but I wish there was a setting in the options to disable all cutscenes. There is already an option in the pause menu to skip a cutscene so it just seems like it would be a nice quality of life improvement for those who like to replay the levels to find secrets not to have to pause and skip everytime.
I started playing the Fallout NV mod "The Frontier" that came out a week or so ago. It's got some pretty rough spots but so far there is a ton of variety in the quests. The opening NCR quests play out more like the opening of a CoD game which is different if you're going in expecting Bethesda-style Fallout, but not bad. The last quest I did involved rapidly passing surgical equipment to a doctor via the grab (z) button and was chaotic and fun with that engines pretty terrible grab physics, I could see that quest being an even bigger blast if FNV ever gets VR and the mods the skyrim modders are making with physical hands and force-grab like in HL:Alyx.
That said don't go in expecting a smooth experience, the steam version has been delayed and getting it working via mods requires a lot of reading and configuration, and even then it's got moments that will chug or even hard-crash on even a powerful rig due to amateur optimization. The worst crash I had I was full-screened and wasn't able to alt-tab out of the app to kill it, so I had to bring up ctrl+alt+del and log out to kill it, so I'd recommend running it borderless windowed with the app "borderless gaming" since it doesn't have a native borderless windowed mode.
I pretty much completed all local achievements for Dirt 3, and after some research got some more Dirt games since I liked 3. Dirt 3 was fun, kinda crossed between sim and arcade racer. I would pick it up for a couple days then put it down for a month or more. Took me probably 6+ months to get through and 100% win all the courses and get plat trophies for all the challenges. It's a good game!
Dirt Rally is like, 100X better.
I don't know what it is, but this game has me feeling things that I haven't felt since I was young playing games. It's all sim, no Arcade feel to it. It's fucking HARD. I thought I was a decent driver getting through Dirt 3 with relatively little effort. But SHIT, I've almost broken my controller multiple times from frustration of getting caught in the Swedish snowbanks. But then....... you get that perfect run through a course; beautiful drift through a
tires squealing across the finish line - everything came together for that run. You came in first. And that's what I'm living for right now. This game is amazing. It's frustrating for sure, you really need to go slow at first to get to grips with how to control the car, and probably watch some tutorials on youtube. But god damn, do those little glimpses of the Rally driver that you could be make you forget about the driver that you are.
Plus the memes on the subreddit (/r/dirtgame) are pretty funny too :)
In other news, when I get a new car i'm turning my old one into an amateur rally car.
Do you have experience with any of the Gran Turismo entries? How does Dirty Rally compare to GT in terms of difficulty?
I only played GT2 that was released on the PS2 wayyyyyyy back in the day. Nothing recent to compare it to :/ it's definitely a SIM, not an arcadey racer
I prefer closer to the sim side than the arcade side of the spectrum, so maybe I'll try Dirt Rally out, on your recommendation, if I see it on sale. I see there's a 2.0 as well.
FYI: it's currently available for $1 from Fanatical as part of their Build Your Own New Year Bundle.
Honestly I'd go straight to 2.0 . Rally isn't a bad game in the slightest, but from what I've heard (and seen) 2.0 has several changes in place that really add to the experience.
Here's what others are saying about the difference: https://www.reddit.com/r/dirtgame/comments/c7sjlt/dirt_rally_20_or_dirt_rally/
Assassin's Creed: Valhalla: What can I say? This one continues the AC franchise with the playbook established in AC: Origins and refined in AC: Odyssey. If you've played those you know what to expect. The open world is colossal and gorgeous, but mostly just superficial dressing for filler content (half-baked side quests and collectibles). I've been playing the series since AC2, and I've never been able to resist exploring every viewpoint on the map the moment they're available, before I continue the story. I always regret this. In Valhalla this is a Herculean task. I'm something like 30 hours in and I've finally got 90% of the map revealed, and I've still barely advanced the plot.
I like some of the new mechanics added for this title. Flyting is a proto-rap battle contest minigame that rewards success with Charisma stat points. It's silly and immersion-breaking but I think it's fun. Reminds me of insult swordfighting from the classic Monkey Island games. You can summon your clan to raid monasteries, which results in a full-scale viking assault complete with looting and burnination of thatched-roof cottages. There are drinking contests, which are pretty pointless but fun. I'm still not a huge fan of all the RPG elements added to recent AC games, like elaborate skill trees and leveled equipment with magical effects and "rune slots." I miss the more grounded realism of older entries that didn't have you hunting legendary monsters and killing gods (handwaved away here as hallucinations or Animus glitches, but still). Even so, I'm having fun and looking forward to actually seeing what the story is about.
Hitman 2: I'm a little late to the Hitman party, this is the first game in the series I've ever played and a newer one just came out so I'm already behind the times. I've only completed a couple missions so far but I'm really enjoying it. Each mission is an elaborate "puzzle box" you can solve in myriad ways. The game holds your hand for some of the solutions but you're really encouraged to experiment and find your own way. Looks to be highly replayable with lots of challenges available for more skilled players (which I am decidedly not).
The game demands a high degree of patience and unfolds at a leisurely pace as you familiarize yourself with each scenario. I'm a bit intimidated by the expectation to spend several hours in a new one, learning the lay of the land, studying character behaviors, eavesdropping on conversations, identifying useful item and disguise locations, etc. Maybe I'm playing it wrong? I think part of the fun comes from having advance god-knowledge of how the entire scenario plays out deterministically, and injecting yourself into strategic moments to manipulate the timeline. The first few plays are a slog but as you master it you discover a lot of room for creative improvisation. It's a fun sandbox with surprising emergent properties. I'm liking this one a lot.
Sounds like you're playing Hitman exactly right. Almost the entire series is built to elicit exactly what you describe there since it's meant to be highly replayable as you experience more of the puzzle box worlds and find new opportunities. There's always a somewhat-guided way to meet your objectives, but the fun is in finding all the other ways to do it. The new trilogy actually makes this more accessible by providing possible scenario completion suggestions upfront whereas the previous games were purely through experimentation and player discovery. There are still methods that aren't suggested so those opportunities are still around.
Basically, almost none of the Hitman games are designed to be played once, and it's impossible to experience everything they have to offer even with five playthroughs. It's part of what makes the series so unique in gaming.
(I say almost to everything above because Hitman Absolution exists as a dark horse entry to the franchise that was built more like a traditional linear stealth game.)
While waiting for Cyberpunk I finally picked up The Witcher 3. I know this is a controversial hot take, but it's a good game.
But seriously, I'd been putting it off because I tried on PC ages ago and found the controls painful and sloppy, but playing with a PS4 controller is a much better experience, and after leaving White Orchard the story does get a lot more engaging than I found it initially.
Now I'm working through the DLC and am considering giving the show a go, which shows how much the game sucked me in.
Last week I played There is No Game: Wrong Dimension.It's another "meta" indie game, but manages to do something reasonably new with the concept - the game that you are trying to play "isn't ready", so you get kicked around other games with an somewhat frustrated anthromorphic version of it. Gameplay consists largely of breaking and messing with said games, which is reasonably enjoyable if a bit unintuitive at times (there is a built in hints system, which is perhaps an admission of that fact) - though like many indies of its sort, it's still largely a means to carry the narrative.
Overall though, I'd say I really enjoyed it. My only major qualm would be that the ending is somewhat contrived and tonally discordant, but that's something I can forgive given that the dev's Kickstarter campaign failed.
Hades: speedrunning. Hera, zeus, and achilles are so fun.
Hollow Knight: Picked this up at the winter sale. I was planning on waiting for the sequel but had steam wallet money and it was at it's lowest price so I figured why not. It's really well done, my only criticism is that I have this sinking feeling like I missed something, since I'm at the final boss and don't feel like I know what's going on in the world. Game says I've got 55% completion, which seems low for being to close to the end of the story.