Hello 2019! Been a while since we spoke. Last we left off, I'd finished Return of the Obra Dinn and gotten myself a PS4. I'm still regularly playing Warframe
, which I won't mention here until I do the next bunch of key things, but that's been pacing me somewhat, and I've been playing Super Smash Bros Ultimate
intermittently, and Puyo Puyo Tetris
as and when. Additionally, I've been playing a series of microgames made for an art game project called Meditations
, which is extremely hit-and-miss. They're 1-to-5 minutes long and are sometimes just toys, not even games per se, and other times they're surprisingly nice. Others have actively left me annoyed, but that's how hit and miss they are. Anyway, onto the list of games I've played so far this year!
I received this as a gift from a friend, who wanted me to see if it was any good. It's a colourful, Ico
/Shadow of the Colossus
looking game where you play a small boy wandering around an island and... solving light and shadow puzzles, clambering up walls Assassin's Creed
style, and pushing boxes around. It also has perspective puzzles, though these are far and few between. If you like artsy games, you may enjoy it. I thought I would. I did not. This game is... insufferably pretentious. I say that as a fan of Team Ico games, a fan of Nier: Automata and The Witness
ffs. RiME is neither big nor clever. It's being sold for £30 right now (thankfully my friend bought it at a huge discount) and clocks in at a measly 5 hours with little actual gameplay, and a condescending and vague story. Spoilers ahead: The Chapter titles are
Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance
and the whole story is about
a dad mourning his son who drowned at sea
, or in other words,
you were dead all along and the whole story is a metaphorical purgatory
. Thoroughly unsatisfying. Peak moment: swimming in an ocean while an angry bird pursues you. Unsafe on the surface, and unsafe below. A brief scene of genuine tension, otherwise lacking. It does have a few cute setpieces, including a cute fox and a robot/golem like entity, but the payoff for them is cheap heartstring-grabbing pablum. I will admit it's been over a month since I played it, and every time I think back to it my opinion sours more. When I first finished it, I was uncertain, and it was seeing the aforementioned chapter titles and this full-spoilers article
that absolutely cemented my opinion that I'd wasted my time. Very disappointing. Could have been so much better, instead it just left me bitter.
Horizon: Zero Dawn!
Or HorZeD as I took to calling it, as it turned into a lot of horsing around on robot cows/deer/rams. Despite being made by Guerrilla Games, the Killzone developers and exclusive Sony partners, this is for all intents The Ubisoft Game
. You know the one - big wide open sandbox, an epic story, towers to climb, mysteries to solve, places to clamber up, a map full of icons to collect and history to unveil. And yet I genuinely think it's done it better than any Ubisoft Game I've played to date, any Assassin's Creed from the first to the fourth, and has more character and charm than most of them put together. It's not a particularly challenging game, but fighting and hunting the mechanical animals that roam the post-apocalyptic verdant tribal society world of HZD is always fun and engaging. Great combat, simple but satisfying stealth (good thing that all these red plants exist for our flame-haired protagonist to crouch in!), and a genuinely engaging story to learn about. Sure, Aloy is unrealistically heroic and well-adjusted for a girl raised by one man in the wilderness, an exile from what would've been her tribal society, but she's still a damn fun and fairly original hero to play as. Even the subtitle of the game and the robot dinosaurs are well justified in the story. Still not sure why it's called "Horizon" though. If you own a PS4 and you even remotely enjoy third person action adventure romps like Assassin's Creed, Uncharted or even Zelda - In fact, it's uncannily similar to Breath of the Wild in many ways! - then this is an absolute must-buy, must-play. Strong recommendation.
Kingdom Hearts III
! I waited the better part of a decade for this. I'm one of those lore-digging aficionados. I turned 30 last year, and yet here I am, writing about my experiences of Anime Boy Sora and his friends Donald and Goofy as they go on a quest to uh... Obtain a nonspecific and vague power that Sora had and lost in the previous interquel title, Dream Drop Distance. Oh boy. My sympathies go out to anyone who didn't play every single Kingdom Hearts title up to this point and watch all the recaps - even the ones for the bloody mobile/browser game, Kingdom Hearts X/UX. The Disney Worlds are fantastic, beautifully realised and fun to explore, even in the ones which are shot-for-shot retellings of their corresponding film where Sora just sort of exists on the periphery, instead of being involved in a new story set afterwards. The trailers showed off snippets of every single world, so I'll just say them here - Monsters Inc and Toy Story's worlds were my favourites, being original stories and environments extending on their existing worlds. Frozen was probably the weakest. Pirates of the Caribbean was interesting but could have had a longer main story to justify its open world design, same as Big Hero 6. Combat is floaty but fun, and Situation Commands are mostly great except attraction flows, which neither attract nor flow - they're way overpowered. Challenge is very low, and I may come back to this in a year to play it at Lv1 on Proud. It does satisfactorily wrap up the story and many loose plot threads, though not quite as well or as elegantly as it could've. It's fundamentally a good game, and scratched a decades-long itch, but it's not a great game. It's ultimately a glorified PS2 game and I'm happy with that. More elaborate thoughts will have to wait. Oh, it's a little on the short side though - I beat it at 40 hours on the nose at a meagre Level 39, compared to prior games which typically took 10 levels and 10 hours longer. I can only recommend this to a fan of the series or someone who's already played the collections of the titles - if you're looking to get into the series, buy Kingdom Hearts: The Story So Far
before considering this. Or maybe wait for the hypothetical bundle of The Dark Seeker Saga
containing all 12 games.
Cute little indie platformer about deforming the very platforms themselves by dashing into them, and being a squishy blob fighting back some sort of crystalline infestation that is bothering your squishy land. Slingshotting and clever deformation. About four hours long. Simple and sweet. Buy it cheap and have a little fun. I think it may have been attempting to tell a story at one point with the cave paintings? Regardless, it's cute and not too taxing. It's no Stephen's Sausage Roll
, but not everything can be that good! (Have I mentioned that Stephen's Sausage Roll is the best puzzle game of all time, alongside The Witness
? I feel like I don't mention this enough.)
With that, I'm actually not sure where to next - I still have a fairly large library of games to get through. I'll pop them under a cut if anyone feels like suggesting something.