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What games did you complete? 2021 Edition


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G-Darius HD - 1cc, Lambda route (10)
 

Spoiler

Solid State Survivor - 1cc, TLB (10)

Dangun Feveron - Fever arrange 1cc (10)

GG Aleste 3 - 1cc Normal (10)

Aleste - 1cc (8)

Power Strike II - 1cc (10)

GG Aleste - 1cc (8)

GG Aleste 2 - 1cc (8)

GG Aleste - Special mode 1cc (8)

Power Strike II - Hard 1cc (10)

GG Aleste 3 - Special mode 1cc (10)

Natsuki Chronicles - 1cc Arcade, Normal (10)

 

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06/03/2021 - Gorogoa

 

This was very short, but also unique and rather clever. Its brevity ensured that none of the mechanics it introduced had a chance to get tiresome, and it always managed to tread a perfect balance between making your options clear while still giving you space to figure things out on your own.

 

I think it was honestly almost perfect for what it was. It could have done with being a little longer perhaps, but at the same time I wouldn't want it to be stretched out without new ideas to support it.

 

I think I might just start buying anything that Annapurna put their name to, as I've yet to be let down by anything I've played from their label.

 

Spoiler

January

25/01/2021 - Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

February

21/02/2021 - The Room

March

06/03/2021 - Gorogoa

 

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6. Maquette (PS5) - There is a really nice idea for a puzzle game in there somewhere, with the live recursive scale mechanic working technically very well throughout. However in this instance it never really gets going into anything that mind-blowing, with challenge level largely dictated by just not providing any sort of guidance or direction. It did make good use of the built in PS5 tip system though (first time I've really used it). The whole thing is also wrapped in a pretty dull narrative about two irritating people getting together via cheesy dialogue, and then having a very normal relationship (also via cheesy dialogue) followed by a dull and uninteresting break up (also via cheesy dialogue). It did nothing for me at all to be honest. To its credit the whole 'through the looking glass' aesthetic was pretty effective and it does look really good, I also don't think you can really complain about something you get for free (via PS+) but it's just a distinctly average experience overall which isn't what I usually get from Annapurna Interactive titles. - 5/10

 

 

Quote

1. Uncharted 4: A Thief's End (PS5) - 8/10

2. Gris (PS5) - 9/10

3. Fez (PS4) - 8/10

4. Horizon Zero Dawn (PS5) - 9/10

5. Horizon Zero Dawn: Frozen Wilds [DLC] (PS5) - 7/10

 

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16 minutes ago, Mogster said:

I think I might just start buying anything that Annapurna put their name to, as I've yet to be let down by anything I've played from their label.

 

5 minutes ago, FiveFootNinja said:

...but it's just a distinctly average experience overall which isn't what I usually get from Annapurna Interactive titles.

 

Just saw this above my post when I clicked submit. Sorry! :doh:

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21 minutes ago, FiveFootNinja said:

Just saw this above my post when I clicked submit. Sorry! :doh:

 

Heh, don't worry. I haven't played Maquette yet so maybe that's the one that breaks the magic. ;)

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Mar

 

16/03 Beach Head 2:The Dictator Strikes Back (C64) Replayed after listening to @squirtle's brilliant C64 podcast Zapped to the Past. https://zappedtothepast.com/ (Cheque is in the mail right @squirtle?)Back in the day my brother and I played this a bit and obviously in single player it loses some of that magic. Even though it's short the four mini games feel a bit sluggish now and go on for just a little too long but the speech and animation remain impressive for the time.

 

Beachhead2attack.gif

 

13/03 Assassin's Creed Chronicles:India (PS4) First impressions for this instalment are excellent. Gone are the greys and browns of the previous game replaced my a myriad of colours. It's quite stylized too in a way that reminded me of the 2D section of Alice:Madness Returns or the skyboxes of Okami.

 

60

 

Unfortunately this has been playtested to perfection. And by that I mean that the majority of the levels feel like they have one solution. And all of the chase sequences are so well timed that losing more than a second through a stumble can lead to instant death. Death here means a short but annoying reload and eventually this felt similar to Rick Dangerous where I felt like the game was playing me rather than the other way around. Most of the time there doesn't feel like room for too much improvising. It also has my least favourite stealth game trope, levels where being spotted results in instant death. It looks so much better than the previous game but isn't as good.

 

Again, if you're interested Mark of the Ninja remains the better choice.

 

07/03 Alvastia Chronicles (PC) Unremarkable chunky retro style RPG where you play the hero Alan (not joking) in his quest to save the world. The battles are pretty quick and while the idea of collecting 100 player characters to boost your party is neat there's no base like in Suikoden that would have carried it over into something more interesting. There's also some weirdness implied about the relationship between Alan and his 14 year old sister. Is this an anime thing? I played this through to the true ending. Why? It was low stress in a high stress week and it threw achievements at me thick and fast. Looking back though I could have spent my time more wisely. It's about to leave gamepass but I'd recommend plating Astrologaster instead. Unless you seek something as uncomplicated as the early (really early) Dragon Quest games.

 

(Also the music is pretty repetitive.)

 

 

Abandoned

Assassin's Creed Chronicles:Russia

The Medium (PC) 

 

Previously

 

Spoiler

13. 27/06 Oxenfree (PC)

12. 26/02 Assassin's Creed Chronicles:China (PS4)

11. 11/02 Beyond a Steel Sky (PC) 

10. 02/02 Stories Untold (PC)

9. 31/01 Katamari Damacy Reroll (PC)

8. 28/01 2020 Game (Browser)

7. 26/01 Observation (PC)

6. 25/01 Hades (PC)

5. 23/01 Donut County (PC)

4. 17/01 The Touryst (PC) 

3. 13/01 My Friend Pedro (PC)

2. 03/01 Tell Me Why (PC)

1. 01/01 Tales from Off Peak City : Vol 1 (PC)

 

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07/03/2021 - The Room 2

 

I seem to be on a puzzle game streak at the moment, and despite being lukewarm on the first Room I figured I'd see where things went in the sequel. 

 

While the first game restricted you to one room (sort of), this takes you through a bunch of them. This doesn't make too much difference to how it plays, as the first game also had chapters with fresh sets of puzzles, but it does make things more varied at least. More importantly I think the puzzles were much better this time around, as it felt like I was having to think a bit more.

 

I've yet to run into a puzzle I though was particularly clever in these games though, as it seemed more effort was spent on making everything pleasingly intricate and mechanical. They were still entertaining enough though, and I've got the third downloaded to play through soon.

 

Spoiler

January

25/01/2021 - Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

February

21/02/2021 - The Room

March

06/03/2021 - Gorogoa
07/03/2021 - The Room 2

 

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1. Uncharted 2(PS4) 9/10

2. Rayman Origins(PS3) 8.5/10

 

3. Astro’s PLAYROOM(PS5) - I agree with the general consensus that it’s a great tech demo to show off the Dual Sense controller and also is a pretty fun game, relatively short with getting a platinum in 5 hrs, hope they do a proper full game with the ideas they have in this game as I’d love to play more. 8.5/10

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Donut County (PS5)

Sometimes a simple idea can make an enjoyable game, in Donut County you control a hole across many stages swallowing everything you come across. The more you swallow the larger the hole grows until everything is gone.

 

Mira works in the local donut shop with her friend BK who is engrossed in a mobile app trying to gain enough points to unlock a drone. The story is intially told via flashbacks, all of the town residents are sat round a campfire deep underground having a conversation about what happened and why?

 

You will get to meet the various residents from a Chef whose restaraunt is infected with Bugs to Salt and Pepper, siblings who constantly fight. Each level will introduce a new gameplay element for you to figure out. There is nothing too complicated in the game but you will need to use the hole for different purposes from filling it with water to putting it on fire.

 

Accompanying the gameplay is a lovely soundtrack that will have you humming along with some great tracks, I especailly enjoyed the Gecko Park level & would reccommend listening to the soundtrack on Spotify.

 

I am sure like myself you will enjoy this short indie game in one sitting, coming in at just over an hour, there are some small challenges you can complete during the game but you may want to try these after completing the game and using the level select. Enjoy and have a garbage day!

 

 

Previously

Fortnite Chapter 2 Season 5 https://youtu.be/aQgiOjVhHr8
Slay the Spire https://youtu.be/UWV1vTsvdsc
Gorogoa https://youtu.be/PaCL3IxlIRE
Lost Sphear https://youtu.be/UHMVeN319aI

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10/03/2021 - Breath of Death VII (PC)

 

I'm not one for RPG Maker games (whilst this isn't one, it has the same sort of visual style and presentation) but I remember buying this a number of years ago because it was well-received (based on Steam reviews), it was part of a double pack (it comes with Cthulhu Saves the World) and it was, if I recall, 59p for both of them in a sale.

 

I still feel ripped-off.

 

I suppose these games are meant to ape the late 16-bit RPGs but I don't really recall ever seeing games that looked like this; compare it for example to something like Shining Force II (which is about the only frame of reference I have for the era) and it looks poor graphically and mechanically. It tries hard to be funny, too, starting with the title of the game; there are no previous Breath of Death games, this is the only one - how zany - and doesn't get any better than that. The combat engine, which is the heartbeat of any RPG, is dull and traversing the nondescript landscape is a chore.

 

The one aspect that it does do well in is the fact that you are shown how many random battles you have left in an area, after which you are free to explore without peril. Not that there is anything worth exploring, but the idea is nice. This does also mean entering a new area becomes a case of moving around the same spot (bonus if you are next to a save point), clearing it of all the random battles (which range from 15 to 50) and then doing whatever needs doing. You don't have to play it like that of course, as characters revive/refill HP after every battle, but for the sake of not being interrupted every few steps it can be worthwhile.

 

There's nothing really to do though. There's just a main quest to follow (which I can't even remember what it's all about) and that's it. Skills and loot are 'there', but nothing exciting and that's certainly in part because there's no graphical expression of your attacks - you just see a different number in the information box. It makes you really appreciate those early games where they did try to show something when you attacked.

 

My original intention was to play both games through - allegedly this was meant to be about 3-4 hours, but that's probably for speedrunners (although I got very confused wandering around a couple of very samey dungeons before finding my way out - again, the benefit of doing this without being attacked was appreciated). I think I probably had closer to 6 hours on the clock, which still felt too long, but I digress. Whilst I've read that Cthulhu is meant to be better in every way, I loaded it up for a few minutes after this and it is effectively the same but a bit more. Certainly not enough for me to want to invest any time in it - so at least I gained something back, which I immediately put to good use by playing Hearts of Iron IV for a couple of hours instead, rather than chipping away at my other games on the go.

 

I guess if you have a love for that pseudo-RPG Maker house style you may find something here, but it's not for me.

 

Previously completed:

Spoiler

05/03/2021 - Dungeons & Lesbians (PC)

04/03/2021 - Quantum Break (PC)

26/02/2021 - Marvel Avengers (PC)

20/02/2021 - Life is Strange (PC)

02/02/2021 - P.O.W. (Arcade)

28/01/2021 - Devil's Hunt (PC)

24/01/2021 - A Mortician's Tale (PC)

19/01/2021 - The Touryst (PC)

19/01/2021 - Druidstone: The Secret of the Menhir Forrest (PC)

15/01/2021 - A New Life (PC)

05/01/2021 - Vostok Inc. (PC)

02/01/2021 - Call to the Sea (PC)

01/01/2021 - Suikoden (PS1)

 

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On 25/02/2021 at 10:44, cassidy said:

Finished Yakuza last night so that's 8 in 2021. 

 

Onto Ass Creed Val now.

Just finished Gears 5 campaign.  And I have to say on the Series X and on the OLED it's a bloody feast for the eyes.  

 

No 9 for the year so far. Started Hivebusters now but only as a break from Ass Creed Val where I have now reached England. 

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Previously...

Spoiler

1) New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe - Switch - 2019 (2012)
2) Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze - Switch - 2018 (2014)

 

3) God of War - PS4 - 2018

 

Completed the main story and did a few side quests along the way (23 hours).

This was more 'RPG-ish' than I expected, and perhaps more than I have the tolerance for these days. I found the menu options bewildering even by the end of the game, and any time I dared venture off the main path to try a side quest, I'd generally get killed by higher levelled enemies, which also killed my incentive to explore and made little narrative sense (I've just killed a god, but this random zombie thing has slayed me with one swipe?).

 

Negatives aside, I still really enjoyed this. It's a technical marvel, the "single unbroken shot" presentation is mad clever, and the moment-to-moment action is satisfying and chunky. It takes some getting used to using shoulder buttons for attacking, and the game does fall back on repetition of enemies and puzzles a few too many times, but the story is a pleasure to play through and the characterisation is deeper than one might expect from a game in this franchise. A worthy and successful reboot/sequel.

(I don't know how long this game took to develop, but I'm guessing it wasn't quick. It leans on a lot of the tropes that were popular around that time, the 'dad game' genre, looking after a child character, survival themes, and hunting with a bow and arrow on snowy landscapes. I'm glad it had more to offer beyond that.)

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Control (PS5)

Great game enjoyed it, glad I waited to play it on PS5 and even better it was given away with PS+, finished just in time for the new season of Fortnite.

 

 

Previously

Donut County https://youtu.be/yUxgq9bbJiU

Slay the Spire https://youtu.be/UWV1vTsvdsc
Gorogoa https://youtu.be/PaCL3IxlIRE
Lost Sphear https://youtu.be/UHMVeN319aI

 

 

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On 10/03/2021 at 16:58, Gabe said:

10/03/2021 - Breath of Death VII (PC)

 

I'm not one for RPG Maker games (whilst this isn't one, it has the same sort of visual style and presentation) but I remember buying this a number of years ago because it was well-received (based on Steam reviews), it was part of a double pack (it comes with Cthulhu Saves the World) and it was, if I recall, 59p for both of them in a sale.

 

I still feel ripped-off.

 

I suppose these games are meant to ape the late 16-bit RPGs but I don't really recall ever seeing games that looked like this; compare it for example to something like Shining Force II (which is about the only frame of reference I have for the era) and it looks poor graphically and mechanically. It tries hard to be funny, too, starting with the title of the game; there are no previous Breath of Death games, this is the only one - how zany - and doesn't get any better than that. The combat engine, which is the heartbeat of any RPG, is dull and traversing the nondescript landscape is a chore.

 

The one aspect that it does do well in is the fact that you are shown how many random battles you have left in an area, after which you are free to explore without peril. Not that there is anything worth exploring, but the idea is nice. This does also mean entering a new area becomes a case of moving around the same spot (bonus if you are next to a save point), clearing it of all the random battles (which range from 15 to 50) and then doing whatever needs doing. You don't have to play it like that of course, as characters revive/refill HP after every battle, but for the sake of not being interrupted every few steps it can be worthwhile.

 

There's nothing really to do though. There's just a main quest to follow (which I can't even remember what it's all about) and that's it. Skills and loot are 'there', but nothing exciting and that's certainly in part because there's no graphical expression of your attacks - you just see a different number in the information box. It makes you really appreciate those early games where they did try to show something when you attacked.

 

My original intention was to play both games through - allegedly this was meant to be about 3-4 hours, but that's probably for speedrunners (although I got very confused wandering around a couple of very samey dungeons before finding my way out - again, the benefit of doing this without being attacked was appreciated). I think I probably had closer to 6 hours on the clock, which still felt too long, but I digress. Whilst I've read that Cthulhu is meant to be better in every way, I loaded it up for a few minutes after this and it is effectively the same but a bit more. Certainly not enough for me to want to invest any time in it - so at least I gained something back, which I immediately put to good use by playing Hearts of Iron IV for a couple of hours instead, rather than chipping away at my other games on the go.

 

I guess if you have a love for that pseudo-RPG Maker house style you may find something here, but it's not for me.

 

Previously completed:

  Reveal hidden contents

05/03/2021 - Dungeons & Lesbians (PC)

04/03/2021 - Quantum Break (PC)

26/02/2021 - Marvel Avengers (PC)

20/02/2021 - Life is Strange (PC)

02/02/2021 - P.O.W. (Arcade)

28/01/2021 - Devil's Hunt (PC)

24/01/2021 - A Mortician's Tale (PC)

19/01/2021 - The Touryst (PC)

19/01/2021 - Druidstone: The Secret of the Menhir Forrest (PC)

15/01/2021 - A New Life (PC)

05/01/2021 - Vostok Inc. (PC)

02/01/2021 - Call to the Sea (PC)

01/01/2021 - Suikoden (PS1)

 

 Chris Morris. Just from the description, 10.

 

Sword of Hope - 10.

 

"Talk to the Jamaican" - Shadowrun, Snes

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Cotton Reboot - Arrange 1cc (10)

 

Spoiler

Solid State Survivor - 1cc, TLB (10)

Dangun Feveron - Fever arrange 1cc (10)

GG Aleste 3 - 1cc Normal (10)

Aleste - 1cc (8)

Power Strike II - 1cc (10)

GG Aleste - 1cc (8)

GG Aleste 2 - 1cc (8)

GG Aleste - Special mode 1cc (8)

Power Strike II - Hard 1cc (10)

GG Aleste 3 - Special mode 1cc (10)

Natsuki Chronicles - 1cc Arcade, Normal (10)

G-Darius HD - 1cc, Lambda route (10)

 

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When the past was around (PS5) - Enjoying some smaller indie titles before the new season of Fortnite, completed this & currently enjoying Undertale.

 

 

Previously

Donut County https://youtu.be/yUxgq9bbJiU

 

Slay the Spire https://youtu.be/UWV1vTsvdsc


Gorogoa https://youtu.be/PaCL3IxlIRE


Lost Sphear https://youtu.be/UHMVeN319aI

 

Control https://youtu.be/kkZD43bjHw4

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Doom (1993) - Never played this, it's clearly very technically impressive for the time, especially when you know a few things about how the engine works, i.e. no ability for level geometry to be overlapping, and holds up a lot better due to those limitations than later games like Duke Nukem. And the combat system is surprisingly balanced, and having just played Doom Eternal recently, oddly similar in its feel, if not in actual mechanics. But the level design is pretty hit and miss, there's a bunch with no flow or weird trollish things like fake-exits that can't be reached with the real exit on the other side of the level.

 

ESO: The Clockwork City - I think this is one of the earlier expansions, and they were still working on the formula here, as it's not one of the best. The environment doesn't help, a brown scrapheaps and big mechanical city filled with clanking robots might be unusual for fantasy, but it's not very visually interesting. The really impressive thing is that going back to ESO they've managed to add a whole bunch of content, reduce the total install size and do one of the most impressive optimisations I've ever seen - when I last played it would choke to 30fps or 40fps in busy areas on High, now it's locked 60fps everywhere on Ultra. Anyway, onto Catmandu.

 

Spoiler

Superhot: Mind-Control-Delete
Genshin Impact

Sayonara Wild Hearts (twice!)

Control

Death Stranding

 

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Death Squared

Basically, a 3D block puzzle game, where each stick controls one colour of robot. You have to get them to their respective "home" squares while avoiding various devious traps. A nice trick is that some features of the level (blocks, lasers, etc) move around relative to the X/Y/Z position of the one or both of the robots, so it can get a bit fraught and mind bending. All in all, not much wrong with it, really, but it gets a little samey after a while. A weird fatigue sets in when you complete a tough level and the next one looks similarly daunting with loads of switches and stuff, so I often switched off and came back the next day, ending up playing it in chunks of 3-4 levels at a time. There are a total of 80 two-colour puzzles, and 40 four-colour puzzles, where a large portion of the difficulty is wresting with the extended controls. 6/10

 

Spoiler

 

01/01/2021 - Syberia

07/01/2021 - Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince

11/01/2021 - Fe

13/01/2021 - The Touryst

19/01/2021 - The Gardens Between

22/01/2021 - Donut County

22/01/2021 - Virginia

23/01/2021 - The Witness

08/02/2021 - Trials Fusion

22/02/2021 - Streets Of Rage 4

14/03/2021 - Death Squared

 

 

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On 10/03/2021 at 16:58, Gabe said:

10/03/2021 - Breath of Death VII (PC)

 

I'm not one for RPG Maker games (whilst this isn't one, it has the same sort of visual style and presentation) but I remember buying this a number of years ago because it was well-received (based on Steam reviews), it was part of a double pack (it comes with Cthulhu Saves the World) and it was, if I recall, 59p for both of them in a sale.

 

I still feel ripped-off.

 

A shame you didn't like it. I played it a few years back and recall it being enjoyable, albeit not too remarkable. Although, you look to play a lot more indie RPGs so you may expectations may be greater 

 

I only say, because I enjoyed the Penny Arcade games that the same developers made after this one. They're a bit more fleshed out. I'm also interested in playing Cosmic Star Heroine from them as well 

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Cotton Reboot - Arrange hard 1cc (10)

 

Spoiler

Solid State Survivor - 1cc, TLB (10)

Dangun Feveron - Fever arrange 1cc (10)

GG Aleste 3 - 1cc Normal (10)

Aleste - 1cc (8)

Power Strike II - 1cc (10)

GG Aleste - 1cc (8)

GG Aleste 2 - 1cc (8)

GG Aleste - Special mode 1cc (8)

Power Strike II - Hard 1cc (10)

GG Aleste 3 - Special mode 1cc (10)

Natsuki Chronicles - 1cc Arcade, Normal (10)

G-Darius HD - 1cc, Lambda route (10)

Cotton Reboot - Arrange 1cc (10)

 

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7. Demon's Souls (2020) - PS5

 

2028412260_Frontimage.thumb.jpg.6577f781f31673342a6722c32ac04070.jpg

 

Another review for Mental Health Gaming.com. Clicks or feedback always appreciated!

 

Spoiler

The Depraved Chasm in Demon’s Souls is a stinking, poisonous valley lined with rotting scaffolds that break underfoot. It’s populated by a motley of deformed mutants who lunge at you from the shadows or play dead before jumping up and stabbing you in the back. You begin the level at the top of the chasm and eventually descend to its bottom, a toxic swamp infested with giant mosquitoes and writhing slugs. Anyone who’s played Dark Souls, From Software’s spiritual successor to Demon’s Souls, will immediately be reminded upon encountering this area of their first terrifying visit to Blightown, the vermin-riddled cesspit deep beneath Firelink Shrine. Here, like there, are the same ill-lit shanty structures clinging to the cliffsides, the same toxic swamp, the same slugs, the same dog-sized mosquitoes spitting venom at you off-screen.

 

It’s easy to trace the lineage of other Souls levels elsewhere, too. Boletaria Palace, the initial area you encounter, is an obvious forerunner to the Undead Parish from the first Dark Souls, itself a forerunner to Lothric Castle from Dark Souls 3. Upper Latria, with its narrow bridges and crumbling spires, will put you in mind of Heide’s Tower of Flame from Dark Souls 2, while the bloody quagmire at the bottom of the area, teeming with grotesque scorpion creatures made from the assembled body parts of discarded corpses, wouldn’t feel out of place in Bloodborne.

 

1406671305_DemonsSouls_20210223214723.thumb.jpg.8e7a387768375596b4dc164a78510654.jpg

 

For someone who counts Souls among their favourite game series, but who’s never played the original Demon’s Souls, the most interesting part of Bluepoint’s remake is making these sorts of comparisons as you play, drawing parallels between the gameworld created here and those that would come later. In most respects, however, veterans of From Software’s games will know what to expect. Gameplay involves cautiously pushing through an area, keeping a wary eye out for enemies, traps, ambushes or pitfalls. When you do encounter foes, you invariably end up using arrows or magic to draw them away from their allies so you can take them on one by one. Archstones (read: ‘bonfires’) restore your health but respawn enemies. Souls used for levelling up or buying items are lost upon death. Most levels contain at least one shortcut and end with a boss encounter. Patient, defensive play is rewarded while recklessness and rushing are punished, mercilessly so. 

 

It’s Souls, in other words, and if you like the formula already – the tension, the fine balance of risk and reward, the exhilarating highs and crushing lows – then this remake provides a lot more of it. Demon’s Souls is demanding, unforgiving and often obscure, and that’s even with the addition of tutorial videos you can access at any time. Players new to the series, however, may still find this entry the best place to start. At under 30 hours from beginning to end, it’s a lean game by the standards of other Souls titles. Levels feel shorter and less labyrinthine, the lore not quite as wilfully arcane. Bosses (with a few notable exceptions) tend to have some sort of trick to them and are conquerable after a handful of attempts, less of a roadblock than the often arduous, multi-staged duels of Dark Souls 3 or Sekiro.

 

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The structure of the game also sets it apart. After defeating the first boss in Boletaria, you’re given access to four other zones you can reach at any time from the Nexus, the hub world you’re whisked away to the first time you die. While having the choice of which way to proceed will be nothing new to Dark Souls players, here the inclusion of fast travel from the off and the way the various zones feel entirely discrete from one another encourages a different style of play. Do you dabble, attempting the first section of each level before proceeding to the next? Or do you commit, pressing forward through an area to face progressively tougher enemies, eventually coming face to face with its mighty archdemon? If you’re having trouble with a particular area or boss, being able to zip back to the Nexus and choose a completely different zone is refreshing, the route through the game feeling less prescribed than it does in later entries, even taking into account the freedom they offer.

 

The World Tendency system is also new (or is that old?). In a Souls-esque take on the karma systems that were all the rage in RPGs a decade ago, doing good deeds (helping NPCs, killing online players who invade your world) will push your tendency to the ‘White’ side of the spectrum. Make it pure white and you’ll open hitherto locked routes in each level, or gain access to previously fenced off items. Do bad things, however, and you’ll skew your tendency the other way, making enemies tougher and causing elite Black Phantoms to appear, though a darker tendency comes with the carrot of increasing the drop rate of rare items as well as the number of precious souls you receive from downing your foes.

 

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In typical Souls fashion, however, you only learn whether an action has a bearing on your World Tendency once it has been performed, and only then if you happen to look in the menu and compare it with what it was like before. There’s no pop-up to tell you that the world tendency has changed nor warning to say that following a course of action will cause it to. In fact, even dying, at least while in human form – immediately after defeating a boss, for example – in addition to halving your HP will cause you to lose a big chunk of white world tendency. Seeing as it’s all too easy to irreparably darken your tendency, players wishing to keep theirs pure and see all areas that the game has to offer in a single run are encouraged to return to Soul form by killing themselves in the safety of the Nexus before proceeding. Suddenly all those bloodstains – remnants of other players’ dying moments – you find at the top of the big staircase here make sense.

 

The most apparent change to the game, however, is the complete graphical overhaul it’s received. After the brilliant work they did on the Shadow of the Colossus update back in 2018, Bluepoint have outdone themselves here: this, surely, is the best-looking launch game ever released. From the start you’re offered the choice of ‘Cinematic mode’ – native 4K at 30 frames per second – or ‘Performance mode’ – dynamic 4K at 60. Playing the game with the latter of these two settings enabled is what feels most palpably ‘next gen’. Never has Souls felt so god-damned smooth and looked so beautiful at the same time, the entirely rebuilt lighting, textures and character models impressive to the point of becoming distracting. The addition of a (highly addictive) photo mode would suggest that the developers are well aware of how easy their game is on the eyes. Even if the Flamelurker does insist on tossing you around like a rag doll, at least you’ll get a good few shots out of it.

 

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It’s a shame, therefore, that the immersion in this fantastical, horrifying world is so frequently broken, though this comes from the remaker’s loyalty to the original release rather than any issue with how the game looks. The braindead AI feels the most out of place in 2021. Shooting one enemy soldier in a group and having his fellows just stand there, unblinking, waiting for their turn to be impaled, is often laughably ridiculous. Enemies, generally, are too static. They mostly just stand around, patiently staring off into space until you happen to step inside their bubble of awareness, at which point they immediately rush you. Other little foibles also irritate. Things like the hit detection around objects: all too often you’ll fire an arrow at a target across the room only to see it embed itself in a invisible barrier half a foot above a balustrade, or some other sort of scenery. Enemy attacks clip through walls. The camera takes the occasional rogue turn at some fatal moment. Any kind of platforming section seems to be a complete crapshoot as to whether you’ll survive or fall instantly to your death. These are all quirks that Souls fans have accepted and turned a blind eye to for over ten years now, but in a game of such graphical fidelity as this one, a flagship exclusive for Sony’s new console, their datedness feels far more noticeable through juxtaposition.

 

Which is not to say that Demon’s Souls isn’t worth your time. From’s level design and creativity coupled with Bluepoint’s superlative spit and polish was always going to make for an entertaining package, and this is assuredly the case here. Like every other game in the developer’s arsenal of the past decade, this is a deeply compelling and often wondrous experience. For the Souls fan, however, its adherence to its source material, warts and all, makes it at once a peerless tribute to the original game but also a reminder that the formula has perhaps had its day now. With leaks this month of the upcoming Elden Ring, players can only hope that release is as important for videogames as this one was back in 2009.

 

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TL;DR: I thought it was very good and looks excellent, but I'm definitely ready for something new from From, now.

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6. Final Fantasy XII

 

This is the third time I've started FFXII but the first time I finished it. Previously on PS2 and PS4 I enjoyed it but eventually lost interest, but this time (on Series S) it got its hooks into me and I saw it all the way through to the end of its ludicrously overwrought story.

 

My favourite thing about this was the Gambit system, and between this, Dragon Quest XI and Nier Automata I've come to realise that I much prefer games where I can tell the characters what to do and let them get on with it, rather than directly controlling their every move at all times. It must be my deteriorating reflexes and arthritic fingers! There's something very satisfying about setting up your team with loads of commands for what to do in different circumstances and then seeing it all work out (or not, in which case it's time to tweak the "code") which I imagine is a version of what programmers feel when they test their creations.

 

So now I'm on the lookout for more "indirect action" type games if there are any...

 

Spoiler

1. Dragon Quest XI

2. Donut County

3. Tell Me Why

4. Slay the Spire
5. The Medium

6. Final Fantasy XII

 

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1. Alba (Apple Arcade)
2. Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity (Switch)
3. My Friend Pedro (Switch)
4. Don't Look Back (iOS)
5. Bowser's Fury [Story] (Switch)
6. Super Ghouls 'n' Ghosts (SNES/Switch)

7. Yoku's Island Express (Switch)

8. Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Museum Collection Complete(Switch)

Taking this as a win because 1. it took fucking ages and 2. it prevented me from playing any other games. After a year on my island, I had four pieces of art in my sorry-looking museum, so I got fed up and time travelled. Even so, it has taken me the better part of a fortnight to find all the pieces as Redd's stock is random. In the-recess, I've managed to amass a huge collection of genuine and fake art, including four Venus De Milos, two Mona Lisas, a few Sunflowers and Starry Nights and other classic art pieces totalling a few billion dollars.

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No games finished in February (not all that many played, to be honest), but today I played and finished one game:

 

Adios

 

What the writer of Paratopic did next. Both are first-person stories told in interactive forms, but where Paratopic was a multi-perspective, creeping-horror of a drama steeped in a mid-90s aesthetic, Adios is a gentler, albeit deeply morbid slice of life. You're a pig farmer. You're also, on the side, a convenient disposer of body parts for a crime boss. Only, you've decided to stop helping with that. Enjoy your last day, your last conversation with the erstwhile friend who'll be tasked with killing you should you follow through on your refusal.

 

It remains a rare pleasure to play a story-based game that doesn't feel the need to run for tens of hours and pad itself out with melodrama and/or Exciting Gameplay Experiences, but instead contents itself with exploring a single character's life and relationships, drifting in and out of vignettes of his life.

It's a touching piece, and while the "criminal underworld as exploration of man's nature" is a trope I've long since tired of in film, it's rare to see one so fixed on the periphery, so uninterested in bombast, and specifically focussed in the life, losses and priorities of a single man. In its ~80 minute runtime, where the average game may have just gotten to the point of giving its hero whatever justification it needs for them to spend the next few tens of hours murdering fodder, Adios manages to explore the fragile nature of being at macro and micro-level; public/performative expectations of grief; hobbies as mindfulness; and the conflict between personal relationships and power dynamics. Amongst other things. That it does all of this without feeling like a parable at any point is all the more impressive.

It's a game with a lot to say, but no conclusions. And it's distressing for me to realise just how rare that is. I can't wait to see what Mischief do next.

(also, the dialogue and voice work throughout was fantastic, and I will never tire of games where I can pick up and rotate items at will; thanks, Shenmue, for setting off that lifelong source of pleasure in games. More in-game handling of inanimate objects, that what I say!)

 

Spoiler


On 31/01/2021 at 19:44, Wiper said:

Two games in January:

 

Nightshade - ninja-themed dating sim, played through to one happy ending (opting for the Hanzo Hattori route, because of course I did). Will probably try a couple of other routes at a later date, as it was enjoyable, if pretty by-the-numbers.

 

Star Renegades - two successful playthroughs; enjoyable and tactical, but frustratingly, er, unfrustrating. Playing for 12+ hours and winning twice without loss made it a tad dissatisfying, as roguelites go. Still, a very enjoyable setup (in terms of deterministic strategy, unlocks and general presentation).


 

 

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Assault Shell - 1cc, Original single (10)

Assault Shell - 1cc, Void arrange (10)

 

Spoiler

Solid State Survivor - 1cc, TLB (10)

Dangun Feveron - Fever arrange 1cc (10)

GG Aleste 3 - 1cc Normal (10)

Aleste - 1cc (8)

Power Strike II - 1cc (10)

GG Aleste - 1cc (8)

GG Aleste 2 - 1cc (8)

GG Aleste - Special mode 1cc (8)

Power Strike II - Hard 1cc (10)

GG Aleste 3 - Special mode 1cc (10)

Natsuki Chronicles - 1cc Arcade, Normal (10)

G-Darius HD - 1cc, Lambda route (10)

Cotton Reboot - Arrange 1cc (10)

Cotton Reboot - Arrange hard 1cc (10)

 

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21/03/21 - Persona 5: Strikers

 

Been working through quite some long games this month so this is likely to be the one and only game I complete in March.

 

I was a bit unsure of it at first. It seemed like they tried to condense an incredible amount of mechanics into the first couple of hours of the game so was a little overwhelming, I can't imagine what it would be like for those unfamiliar with the Persona series. That said, I can't recommend you start out with this game if you haven't played Persona 5. It's a continuation of that game and doesn't really give you any backstory the characters or relationships.

 

By the end of it I did grow to enjoy the gameplay quite a lot. Enough variety of battles, particularly with the bosses, to make sure it never got boring in the 25 hours it took me to complete. And the music as always, was superb. It's all about the story though, and I did enjoy reuniting with the Phantom Thieves and going on one more adventure across Japan.

 

8/10

 

Spoiler

January

10/01 - Spiderman: Miles Morales

23/01 - Yakuza Like A Dragon

 

February

14/02 - Concrete Genie

18/02 - Mega Man 11

21/02 - Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Remastered

 

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01/01/21 - Dark Souls (360)

02/01/21 - Untitled Goose Game (PS4)

27/01//21 - Death Stranding (PS4)

23/02/21 - Star Wars Squadrons (PSVR)

 

22/03/21 - The Last of Us 2 (PS4)

Really enjoyed this, I find that some games can turn me off a little if it's too tense as I worry forever about dying and having to repeat huge sections.  TLOU2 was just right in this regard.  Supplies could be scarce, but there was just enough and you weren't punished for screwing up.  In the later parts of the game I just became a silent murdering stealth ninja so didn't need as much anyway.  The twists and turns, I guess, could be seen as obvious in retrospect, but I loved the different point of view to play the game from and by the end I was busy emphasising with everyone and hoping they'd become friends.

 

Not sure what to play next - I've got a few older games on the go: Tomb Raider 2 on the PSX because I really enjoy hurting my eyes with how shocking that looks and attempting to play through Vice City on the Xbox (original) finally.  Wow, that is an old game mechanic with no camera movement!  Will think about a modern game to play as well

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Assault Shell - 2-all (10)

 

Spoiler

Solid State Survivor - 1cc, TLB (10)

Dangun Feveron - Fever arrange 1cc (10)

GG Aleste 3 - 1cc Normal (10)

Aleste - 1cc (8)

Power Strike II - 1cc (10)

GG Aleste - 1cc (8)

GG Aleste 2 - 1cc (8)

GG Aleste - Special mode 1cc (8)

Power Strike II - Hard 1cc (10)

GG Aleste 3 - Special mode 1cc (10)

Natsuki Chronicles - 1cc Arcade, Normal (10)

G-Darius HD - 1cc, Lambda route (10)

Cotton Reboot - Arrange 1cc (10)

Cotton Reboot - Arrange hard 1cc (10)

Assault Shell - 1cc, Original single (10)

Assault Shell - 1cc, Void arrange (10)

 

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