14 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.

18 comments

  1. TheJorro
    (edited )
    Link
    I recently played through much of the Forest. I say much of because it's a non-linear, discovery-based survival game that has a full story that you have to discover as you play the game, and I...

    I recently played through much of the Forest. I say much of because it's a non-linear, discovery-based survival game that has a full story that you have to discover as you play the game, and I accidentally stumbled across the endgame at one point and saw it through to the end. I've gone back to continue playing the world but I've seen the ending now.

    I'm not really into survival games, or any freeform sort of games. I'm simple, I like clear objectives, so games like Minecraft, the Sims, Terraria, Animal Crossing, etc. never really kept me. I recognize their quality and all, but it's just not what I look for in games. I decided to check this one out because of the story, that it was something of a horror game, and the unique approach to enemies and world that I haven't quite heard of another survival game doing. Mandalore's video is what turned me onto this game, so I'll leave it here for anyone else to check out.

    So, uh, this game is fucked up. But not in that shitty edgelord way that you usually find with games like Hatred or even Outlast, it's surprisingly well done. Well, as well done as anything with a head bomb can be (Breaking Bad did it!). In the first hour, I clambered out of the wreck of a plane determined to find my kidnapped son. I built a small shack for warmth from the elements and so I could finally have a place to save. Fast forward a week, and I have a compound with multiple deadly man-traps, decorated my walls with burning effigies of human limbs and heads, and I had a dedicated corpse oven out back where I would burn bodies to create armour out of the bones of my enemies.

    This game was apparently inspired by grindhouse cannibal movies like Cannibal Holocaust, and it sure feels that way, but somewhere in the act of playing it out and finding out more of the mystery of the island in a way that plays out kind of like how Outer Wilds slowly reveals more of its mysteries, it comes out the other end not feeling like kitschy shitty grindhouse and instead feeling more like the artsy and deliberate ultraviolence of Bone Tomahawk. There's a lot of gory, violent visuals throughout this game that are not for the faint of heart, it's some of the most graphic stuff I've seen anywhere (though very little nudity, if that's somehow worse for you than bodies cut in half vertically) but they really only there to set the tone. The game does not have any ultraviolent interactions that you see or participate in, so it doesn't quite revel in its gore and griminess as much as the tone suggests it could. You'll never actually do or see anything in action like you would in Gears of War or several other horror games in recent memory that seem to go with the Saw approach to horror.

    I think what really elevates this game is the enemies and their surprisingly good behaviours. They're not just mindless zombie type enemies that you always have to fight like in almost literally any other game. They seem to have likes and dislikes regarding what you do, and even their own fears and superstitions. They'll actually watch you from a distance, and they come up close and posture to intimidate. They have huts you can come across along with decorations and other personal tokens. It's a bizarre sort of humanity they've given these cannibals, in a way that I find most games don't give their cannon fodder at all. They're still alien, hostile beings who won't think twice before caving your skull in, but they're not othered nearly as much as I expect games to other enemies.

    Beyond the usual crafting stuff, the gameplay involves exploring a handcrafted island with a network of underground caves. There's a mysterious sinkhole in the middle of the island that you must reach the bottom of, somehow. The caves are where you find a lot more clues, answers, mysteries, and equipment. The game hands you very little and you must explore and find things yourself or miss out on some things entirely, including a map and compass if you're not careful or just unlucky enough. The game is well-crafted enough that finding a lot of the necessary equipment, story points, and areas happens for most players as long as they pay the barest bit of attention, while at the same time always being found by virtue of the player's observation—there are no tutorial sections, tooltips, or UI markers to guide you to these things. The world also helps reinforce this well, especially how the game handles nighttime and darkness in caves. It's not a simple dark blue filter like most games, the darkness is truly dark here, and you'll really need to prepare yourself to face that.

    I don't want to delve into more about the game past here since there's a charm to it that is shared with games like Outer Wilds where much of the joy is in the discovery and revelation of the mystery. I'm glad to say the game held up throughout, constantly surprising, keeping the tension and level of horror going, and throwing real surprises at the player. The story was surprisingly involved by the end as well, not even by survival game standards, but by most games' standards. As an indie game, they could definitely take this game in places that most big budget studio productions refuse to explore and I think it worked out really well here.

    That all said, it's not exactly the most polished game. There's plenty of bugs, and a lot of inconsistent mechanics and design choices. For example, one thing that bugs me is that you can't make climbing ropes of any length you want, it's always a set amount. It was a game made over the course of years and years, spending four years in Early Access with some, but limited, post-launch support. It's a quality product, especially at its fairly low MSRP, but don't expect Ubisoft levels of slickness here.

    5 votes
  2. rkcr
    Link
    I played through Ori and the Will of the Wisps last week. I enjoyed it, but I think the original game is tighter. As one example, there's a few dozen perks you can choose between, but I only found...

    I played through Ori and the Will of the Wisps last week. I enjoyed it, but I think the original game is tighter.

    As one example, there's a few dozen perks you can choose between, but I only found a handful of them to actually be useful, and some of them are downright useless cruft. It sort of felt like they were just adding more so that there was more content, not because it necessarily served the game design well.

    Also, I hadn't played Hollow Knight when I originally played Ori and it puts Ori's combat system to shame. Ori's system in both games is squishy at best; it depends on the fact that you will regularly take damage and it'll be NBD, whereas Hollow Knight is a lot more refined.

    5 votes
  3. [5]
    NaraVara
    Link
    Persona 5 Royal and Guilty Gear Strive Persona 5 Royal I bounced off vanilla Persona 5 around Futaba's castle. I love the social link and time-management aspects of this game, but the JRPG combat...

    Persona 5 Royal and Guilty Gear Strive

    Persona 5 Royal

    I bounced off vanilla Persona 5 around Futaba's castle. I love the social link and time-management aspects of this game, but the JRPG combat encounters are something I basically force myself to suffer through. I got Royal to give it another try and I've liked it a lot more. For starters, the translation and voice acting (English) has VASTLY improved. It wasn't bad in the vanilla version, per se, but Royal just does such a better job. Each character has much more of a distinctive voice and personality that comes through in their dialogue. They also made the phrasing of terms sound a lot more natural to English teenagers. They also added a lot of quality of life improvements to make the gameplay smoother and the new character, Yoshizawa, is a really cool addition. I do not regret double paying for the game.

    I also let myself set the difficulty to Easy which is helping a lot. I usually set difficulty to hard in most games I play, but I figure I don't actually enjoy JRPG combat anyway so why make it harder? That's dramatically improved my gameplay experience.

    Guilty Gear Strive

    It's still just an open beta. I've missed fighting games and I've bounced off the last few I tried to play really hard (SF V, Dragon Ball Fighter Z, Mortal Kombat 11, and Tekken 7). I just find them too hard to get into and frustrating to execute on for how little time I can put into practice. Guilty Gear Strive has addressed the big issue there. The combos are short and impactful and the input difficulty isn't quite as extreme or dependent on memorization. I'm sure some hardcore fighting gamers will say it's dumbed down, but I'm impressed by how well they've reduced difficulty of execution while still keeping a real depth and strategy.

    The aesthetic and, particularly, the music choices of this game are very much not for me. In fact, I find a lot of it quite annoying. But the gameplay is strong enough that I'm actually looking forward to the formal release in spite of all that.

    5 votes
    1. [2]
      Deimos
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      I recently decided I was going to get into fighting games, and have been playing a lot for the last few weeks. If you're willing to try another game in the search of a less-overwhelming one to get...

      I recently decided I was going to get into fighting games, and have been playing a lot for the last few weeks. If you're willing to try another game in the search of a less-overwhelming one to get into, I'd highly recommend Granblue Fantasy Versus. It's the most recent Arcsys game (same dev as GG Strive), and they've done an amazing job of making an accessible game that still has most of the depth of the major ones (e.g. the ones you listed).

      About the only complaints I have about it are:

      • The online player population is quite low, and the netcode isn't great (delay-based). I'm assuming you have a PS4 since you're playing P5R, and I have no idea how many people are still playing it on there, but the PC version is pretty dead. Even so, I've still always been able to find a reasonable number of matches for my (low) skill level anyway, between the Ranked matchmaking and the online lobbies that usually have a small group of people hanging around in the evenings. I just tend to end up playing against the same people a lot more than I would in a more active game, but that's still fun.
      • It's expensive, especially if you want DLC characters.

      I've been playing it a lot and really enjoying it. I think it's probably the best option as a "starter" fighting game right now as long as you don't mind those downsides. Combos are mostly straightforward, the special moves for almost all characters use the same set of motions, and it has an interesting "cooldown-based" system for specials that gives you the option to do any of them with a simpler input (like Special Button + a direction) at the cost of being able to use the move less often than if you do it "properly".

      2 votes
      1. NaraVara
        Link Parent
        Yeah I'm on a PS4. I assume the player population is probably higher just because fighting gamers tend to gravitate to consoles? Granblue was actually the one I wanted to play, I'm more into its...

        Yeah I'm on a PS4. I assume the player population is probably higher just because fighting gamers tend to gravitate to consoles? Granblue was actually the one I wanted to play, I'm more into its aesthetic than the 90s alt-rock styling in Guilty Gear. But Strive was free since it's in Beta and Granblue was not so that won out.

        Real shame about the netcode on it though. Honestly one of the things that's bounced me off playing fighting games online has been the abysmal netcode. The lagfest in Street Fighter V is so bad that I just rematch people who WAAAAAY outclass me over and over (and tank my own MMR) just to play against someone with a decent internet connection. And in Mortal Kombat there are characters whose 50/50s you just can't react to.

        The rollback netcode in GG:Strive and Tekken 7 has been life changing. I can't believe devs are only now deciding it's a must-have!

        3 votes
    2. [2]
      Pistos
      Link Parent
      Check out Fantasy Strike. It is designed to have a very low barrier to entry. Very small move lists per character, boiling down the fighting to the core essentials of tournament-level play...

      I just find [those fighting games] too hard to get into and frustrating to execute on for how little time I can put into practice.

      Check out Fantasy Strike. It is designed to have a very low barrier to entry. Very small move lists per character, boiling down the fighting to the core essentials of tournament-level play (spacing, countering, etc.). It's probably becoming my favourite fighting game (for reference or comparison, I've played these series: Street Fighter, Tekken, Virtua Fighter, Soul Calibur). It is free to play, but I actually voluntarily paid for it, because I like what the developer is doing with the innovations in FS, and want to support them. Cross-platform: Switch, PS4 and PC, and the versus play is also cross-platform.

      2 votes
      1. NaraVara
        Link Parent
        Yeah I reference Sirlin's article on "playing to win" in a variety of non-fighting game related issues. It's just a good lesson about life really. That said, Fantasy Strike is a little too simple...

        Yeah I reference Sirlin's article on "playing to win" in a variety of non-fighting game related issues. It's just a good lesson about life really. That said, Fantasy Strike is a little too simple for me. But definitely a worthy effort. For me it's not that I find the execution stuff intimidating, it's more like I just don't have the time or social groups to practice it like I used to.

        3 votes
  4. Pistos
    (edited )
    Link
    I'm still playing Euro Truck Simulator 2 (my earlier review is in the last "what games" post) and Valheim. Nothing new to say about ETS2. Still having fun, enjoying the increased immersion...

    I'm still playing Euro Truck Simulator 2 (my earlier review is in the last "what games" post) and Valheim.

    Nothing new to say about ETS2. Still having fun, enjoying the increased immersion afforded by my 3-monitor + steering wheel setup, and growing my transport company with more trucks and NPC drivers. I also bought and tried American Truck Simulator (by the same developers), but it was a big turn off to see that my character/company development has to start from scratch there. So I'm putting that on the backburner for now, and may or may not return to it, depending on how itchy I am to see American landscapes and landmarks. The base game seems to be centered around the west (California and neighbouring states), so that restricts the appeal even more.

    Valheim: I'm plodding along, growing my character, and seeing our community develop the world (new tech, new buildings). Player activity still seems a bit on the low side; I'm sometimes alone on the server, other times just with one other player, and usually in different parts of the game world. Also, I am not sure I'm liking how the game has joint/co-op advancement of the world, tech/research trees, and boss, quest and dungeon completion. I don't think I have an easy solution to apply, but it just feels like a negative experience to see things advanced or completed while you were gone from the game world. Like, in a single player game, it would be like returning to your saved game, and finding someone else played the game and advanced your game state. Perhaps this is just me being new to co-op world games, and not understanding that this is standard in this genre?

    Last night, I started Kingdom Come: Deliverance . I liked what I saw from the preview videos, etc. so it was an easy sell for me to buy it on sale. I'm scarcely an hour and a half of playtime into it, but I'm liking what I've seen. Graphics and mechanics are nice, and reminiscent of Skyrim. It's mostly first-person perspective, but dialogues are third person view. The cut scenes are lengthy, but in a good way, and the acting and character animation is decent. The tutorial/intro system is good and helpful. The story is engaging and intriguing. Also, of course, the whole context of the game is rooted in history, and I like history, so that increases the game's appeal for me. I look forward to progressing through this game.

    4 votes
  5. joplin
    Link
    I tried out Card of Darkness, and I didn't really like it. It's not a bad game, but it's just not my cup of tea. It's a "roguelike card game" with hand-drawn animations. I didn't like the art...

    I tried out Card of Darkness, and I didn't really like it. It's not a bad game, but it's just not my cup of tea. It's a "roguelike card game" with hand-drawn animations. I didn't like the art style of the hand drawn animations, and it turns out I don't like card games like this.

    Having said that, this is one of the things I love about a subscription-based game platform like Apple Arcade. I can try out something I wouldn't have tried previously if I had to pay for it (or if it was going to be the typical "free-to-play" game that uses all the scummy dark patterns). I don't have to worry about if a game isn't very fun. I can just try it, say, "nope" after a few minutes, and move on.

    4 votes
  6. [2]
    eve
    Link
    I started playing Eastshade and boy howdy, it ticks a LOT of boxes for me. I haven't gotten very far, but I em deeply enjoying the books you can find, the various characters, the DESIGNS!!! Dear...

    I started playing Eastshade and boy howdy, it ticks a LOT of boxes for me. I haven't gotten very far, but I em deeply enjoying the books you can find, the various characters, the DESIGNS!!! Dear God the designs, especially the clothing, have me frothing at the mouth I fucking loooooooove it. There's a lot of collection stuff, but I feel like there's so much personality so far and I'm only a couple hours in. So far, it's great!

    4 votes
    1. Pistos
      Link Parent
      I have this wishlisted, but keep putting it off, even when I see it on a modest sale. Sounds like I should up my "max spend" threshold on this one.

      I have this wishlisted, but keep putting it off, even when I see it on a modest sale. Sounds like I should up my "max spend" threshold on this one.

      2 votes
  7. knocklessmonster
    Link
    I fired up American Truck Simulator after getting the Colorado DLC recently. SCS's trucking games are the only games I buy DLC for because they discount the game heavily, and even discount the DLC...

    I fired up American Truck Simulator after getting the Colorado DLC recently. SCS's trucking games are the only games I buy DLC for because they discount the game heavily, and even discount the DLC eventually.

    They changed a lot! I like to spam my horn, and found a doubletap of my L-stick button activates the air horn. I got to a point I have my own truck, and lost something like 30,000 on some bad decisions, like hauling ass across the US to get back to my base in New Mexico to regroup, but I'm going to try to play it in the direction of a truck tycoon, and actually work on establishing my company.

    I just tried out Ultimate ADOM, which is the version Thomas Biskup and his (small) team are writing in Unity for cross-platform console support. It had some controversy over the team's inability to have saving in the game at EA release, which was an unfortunate combination of C# features and a heavily modular game, but it plays nicely, and looks good. They've just sorted out the save issue after months, and I look forward to actually trying a few runs. People are complaining about their decision to not have 8-direction movement, but apparently they found 99% of players they tested with don't use it anyway, and decided to simplify the game a bit. Even with 4-direction movement, it plays just fine.

    4 votes
  8. [3]
    dubteedub
    Link
    I have been playing Final Fantasy VII Remake on the PS5 and it has been fantastic so far. I really like how they turned what is normally the first 8 or so hours of the game in Midgar into a full,...

    I have been playing Final Fantasy VII Remake on the PS5 and it has been fantastic so far.

    I really like how they turned what is normally the first 8 or so hours of the game in Midgar into a full, fleshed out game in and of itself. While every story beat is still there from the original game, they have all been expanded and built on to more fully explore these characters and add to the story. I was worried that the pacing would be too slow or that the added materials would feel like unnecessary fluff or time-wasters, but that has not been the case for me.

    The graphics are top notch and the music is fantastic in remixing the original score for a new generation. I also really enjoy the gameplay structure where you are handling a lot of the fighting in real-time, but can pause it to use an ability / spell / item. I think this is the perfect mix of real-time and strategy gameplay that I would love seeing more of with the Kingdom Hearts series for instance.

    Right now I am in the final chapter before assaulting Shinra HQ and just enjoying time fully exploring Midgar now that it has opened up before the final mission.

    3 votes
    1. [2]
      pocketry
      Link Parent
      There's a chance I'll play this sometime this year. I never played VII because turn based combat isn't really my thing and the new combat system with XV and VII remake have me interested. I think...

      There's a chance I'll play this sometime this year. I never played VII because turn based combat isn't really my thing and the new combat system with XV and VII remake have me interested. I think my friends are going to push me to play VII before XV.

      3 votes
      1. dubteedub
        Link Parent
        I'll say that I really did not enjoy the combat in XV. It felt way too light and mostly amounted to holding down the attack button. The story was also a complete mess and was clearly rushed...

        I'll say that I really did not enjoy the combat in XV. It felt way too light and mostly amounted to holding down the attack button. The story was also a complete mess and was clearly rushed through. Ive played every Final Fantasy game since IV and it has been my least favorite of them all.

        2 votes
  9. mrbig
    (edited )
    Link
    I have been playing Far Cry 5. Some consider it the best Far Cry since the fantastic third installment. It is hard for me because FC3 is among my favorite games of all time. So I will necessarily...

    I have been playing Far Cry 5. Some consider it the best Far Cry since the fantastic third installment. It is hard for me because FC3 is among my favorite games of all time. So I will necessarily have a very biased evaluation of any change.

    That said, let me be a little biased.

    FC5 is a brilliant game and having a crazy Christian cult as villains is awesome. Instead of just one major antagonist, this game has several, and there's a great degree of narrative sophistication. The messages from the lead cultists are sometimes eerily persuasive, which is awesome and uncomfortable.

    I don't care for the puzzles. FC3 "puzzles" worked because they were simple and always consisted of figuring out how to climb towers. Here, in many puzzles, I have to look up YouTube, and when I finish I always think "no way I would have figured that out. Not in a million years!". I get that puzzles are cool and everything, but this is a first-person shooter, NOT Portal.

    This to me reflects the tendency of always increasing the scope and complexity of game sequels. I suppose this is fine for the majority of players because they are very patient and skilled. I am not. So I must look up YouTube from time to time and that sucks.

    All in all, a very good game. Especially for the price I got it.

    3 votes
  10. pocketry
    Link
    Before Saturday I didn't imagine I was going to start playing Valheim. Then I saw 2 of my friends playing and watched them stream on Discord. They were having a good time and I decided to choose...

    Before Saturday I didn't imagine I was going to start playing Valheim. Then I saw 2 of my friends playing and watched them stream on Discord. They were having a good time and I decided to choose it as the game to make my friends play for a bet I won. I won our 2020 season of https://www.fantasycritic.games/home so my prize is I get to pick the game we all have to play together. The list of multiplayer games that support at least 5 people on the same team, in a genre I like, was rather small. I had been considering Minecraft, but this will be a better choice I think. I've been playing a little on the Tildes server mentioned by @Good_Apollo and trying to survive on my own until I can extend the wall to surround my humble bed and workbench.

    After Blizzcon, I decided to try Hearthstone again. I downloaded it on my phone and have been playing a little. I think I'll stick to the solo adventures because I'm actually not a huge fan of building my own decks - I've never been able to do that very well.

    While I've stopped playing the story, I'm still playing and enjoying the multiplayer in Ghost of Tsushima. Legends is the right mix of melee combat, teamwork, and leveling up to keep me coming back. Once I got my Ki up to 100, we had a group of 4 to start the story raids. I think we spent 4 hours on the first Chapter and cleared it. However, we tried the second chapter on Friday night and were not able to finish it. We'll keep trying because I think everyone in the group wants to clear it eventually.

    It's been almost a week since I've played Jedi Fallen Order but I think I'll keep going. Valheim is competing for the time, but I like the story and combat in Fallen Order. Every time I turn it on reminds me that I really want to update my graphics card, but can't find any in stock :(

    3 votes