So finished Max Payne 3 on PC last night. Second time through but again, much more fun with keyboard and mouse. looking forward to trying out the new york minute mode, but that will have to wait as the steam backlog is calling me.
Picked up Sine Mora for the grand total of $2(!) I mean it is an indie game and what not, but almost felt like robbery at that price. Not complaining though. I've never been one for bullet hell games, but having polished off super stardust delta I've found i rather enjoy the act of being a tiny ship shooting at bigger things, go figure. Sine Mora seemed to be a critical darling, and at 2 bucks who cares. Anyway the game has a really pretty visual style. Almost like Talespin X Starfox x Max payne Bullet time. The humannoid animal protagonists are pretty neat too, my favorite being the grizzled man Bison pilot with the eye patch Surprising mount of cursing in too, but I would expect nothing less for a game that has the grasshopper name stamped on it. Though mind you, I've also only got past the first level because the game is hard as balls. Not unfairly, but it doesn't use the standard Contra-like get-hit-once-and-die model: its all time based: You start with a set amount of time that counts down, and as you kill enemies it increases, and whenever you get it it goes down. At fist the game seems to easy because of the abundance of stuff onscreen to shoot; the abundant enemies provide tons of time that in turn gives the equivalent of a massive life bar. the catch is that after the first level you ditch the wide open skies and plentiful enemies for an underground/underwater setting where the enemies are much more sporadic and hanging rocks and walls to crash into are plentiful. Then killing enemies takes on a huge importance because if you keep bumping int stuff the time penalty is much more significant than getting shot, and you can just make it up by shooting the occasional rock worm. Its is fair though, and to help you out you can slow down time as well. Its funny to think that no game thought to use the time mechanic in such a frenetic game genre such as this, Sine Mora does it very intelligently, giving you enough power to make you feel like you have a serious upperhand when the reality is that no, you will die and you will die a lot. interestingly its also out on Vita, and I think that's a perfect fit for its bite sized gaming chunks and that pretty OLED screen. Gets me hyped for Murumasa's blade when that comes out on Vita later this year (hopefully).
But the real game that has my full attention now is Of Orcs and Men. I admit I hadnt heard of this game until Vinny did a quick look on it last year. Seemed to tick all my boxes: Gritty realistic fantasy setting like the Witcher 2, real time strategy combat a la Dragon Age origins, and a refreshing take on probably the most played out tropes in fantasy, orcs and goblins. To have them be the heroes and humans be the assholes that you fight against is great to experience the voice acting is surprisingly good: the protagonists have believable chemistry, and there a great sense of dark humor throughout (again much like the Witcher 2) These definitely aren't the Orcs of warhammer or the goblin sappers of Warcraft. the combat is worth mentioning too as its sort of a hybrid of Dragon age origins and Mass effect. Dragon age as in you have enemies of different tiers and types whom you have to prioritize and focus on or they will wipe the floor with you, but its not as intricate with programing behious types with modifiers. Like Mass effect you slow time and queue up command you want the characters to perform. Where it gets interesting is that each other two protagonists are very different, with Arkhail being the tank and Styx being the dps/ranged/(de)buffer character. You control both simultaneously in real time, and can flip back and forth at any moment, combat or not. Its a little confusing at first, but it soon becomes second nature and you start to develop plans of attack where they play off of each other. My favorite example is to have Arkail yell to attract enemies to him, then have styx stab them in the back causing bleeding and weakening their armor, have akhail hit them with a wind up punch, and have Styx pelt them with poisoned throwing knives. Something as convoluted as that is very easy to to do, and the fact that you can slow down time add or subtract to the action queue on the fly give the battles a very dynamic feel. Add that each character has 3 separate skill trees that you develop as you wish to play and it all becomes a combat micromanager's dream. Compare to say Dragon Age where i would spend literally hours tinkering with my characters action queues to have them synergize with each other, only to go into battle and have it immediately fall apart. in this game that system is very stripped down, and keeping it to a max of 4 actions keeps it fluid and not locked into a course of action that looks great on paper but is worthless in practice. Supposedly the game is difficult but checking on a few forum posts recommended focusing on health upgrades and crafting upgrades for your gear and i can see how much of a help that is. Certainly doesnt take away from the challenge of the enemies, particularly once you start fighting groups of fully armored knights. Prioritizing is everything at that point. i'm actually interested to see how long and deep the story goes. its a linear game, but there are optional sidequests with rewards to do, and actually i think its was a smart design decision to keep it that way. The pacing is good and you always know where to go next. As i get older I don't always have the time to wander until i stumble upon the answer. So far very much living up to expectations!