Games to Shocktober [Final Update 10/21]

Nonsensical titles aside, I've suddenly found myself with a wide-open month of October. That being the case, I figure now is as good a time as any to catch up on some games I've been meaning to get around to. Only a handful are "horror" games, but I'll be holding onto those and playing them closer to the 31st.

Updated October 21st, 2013

With my trusty red sharpie, I'll be crossing things off the list as I finish them. There's something supremely satisfying about the idea of a physical list and a big red pen that makes me think I'll actually get through most of these. Stay tuned to find out. You know, if you want. I'll be updating this blog with new, more red line heavy, photos. I'll also be writing down some thoughts on any games that I find warrant as much.

I've already gotten started on Alice: Madness Returns a couple of days early. I look forward to crossing it off soon. After that? I guess GTA V, maybe. We'll see!

[General Update 10/6]

Feeling pretty good about my progress thus far! I've managed to cross off five games in six total days of October having gone by. I've actually been getting caught up in games not even on this list, such as The Last of Us and Demon's Souls, so perhaps my list could have been better conceived. Regardless, I'm on an excellent pace. I've played about six hours of Assassin's Creed III so far, and I'm anticipating that to be my biggest challenge here. Stacking or Hotline Miami will likely be the next I cross off, assuming all goes to plan. Onward I press.

[Final Update 10/21]

Against all odds, I've completed my entire list! Ten days early, even! I definitely surprised myself with this. I think the physical list really did make a difference; just having a list to look at, and then being able to physically cross things off of it, really made a the process a lot more fun. I'd recommend the process to anyone who's had trouble finishing a backlog.

Now that this silly pursuit is through, I'm free to concentrate on writing for the upcoming National Novel Writing Month. That gauntlet will be even tougher, but I'm lookin' forward to it.

Thoughts and Feelings [Updated 10/21]

Alice: Madness Returns

I was very much impressed by this game. It does unexpected things from time to time that made me excited to be playing a 3D platformer—probably for the first time since playing Mario Galaxy. But actually, some of the more impressive moments was when it took a dimension away, and the game became a 2D sidescroller, complete with a unique art style. The game has a few very impressive tricks up its sleeve for sure, but I found that there were also a set of not-so-impressive tricks that were reused over and over throughout the game. This is a game that I feel would benefit from being about two thirds as long as it is, as I felt it really started to drag toward the end. Luckily the environments and art direction is stronger than ever in the final chapters, so I didn't have too much of a problem solving the same types of puzzles over and over.

This is a great game, and it seems to almost defy the 3D platformer genre with its unexpected—and downright cool—gameplay twists. I just wish there were more of these twists. I'd very much recommend it if you have a good chunk of time to kill, and can appreciate a truly insane adventure.

Gunpoint

Gunpoint feels to me like a creative and interesting game marred by a lack of realization. There are such good mechanics here that it's a shame when you realize that the game's over just a couple of hours after starting it. And the pacing of even that short journey manages to feel off. This game feels like a missed opportunity in many ways. However, looking at the history of the game's development it's easy to make guesses as to why it's the way it is. I'm expressing such disappointment here, but it's only because so much of what's there makes for a charming, unique, legitimately fun(ny) experience that's totally worth a couple hours of anyone's time. I just wish there was more to it. The sky was the limit with this concept, and it just feels like the developer stopped at about the fifth floor or so. I'd play a Gunpoint 2.

Grand Theft Auto V

**Fairly inconsequential end-of-game dialog-based spoiler mentioned**

This game... I don't even know what to say about it. It impressed me, but at the same time disappointed me. The last line of the game pretty much wraps up my feelings on the entire series. The last thing Michael says before the credits roll is that he's getting too old for this. I can't get it out of my head that this line was a commentary on GTA as a whole. I believe one Jeff Gerstmann, Videogamesman of Giant Bomb dot com (a website about video games) mentioned how he didn't know where this genre could possibly go to remain interesting and relevant going forward. I think Rockstar realizes this as well. I think they know that if there's another GTA game, it's not going to resemble the past five entries in the series. It's going to be something significantly different.

All that said, I enjoyed this almost-nostalgic romp for what it was. It's a finely crafted game that's really quite amazing in many ways.

Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP

Interesting game with some neat moments, but ultimately I enjoyed this game for its art and music above all else. The story seemed obscure to the point that it was hard to care about it. Worth the time if you're into atmospheric exploration. I just wish it was a bit less plodding between the neat moments.

To the Moon

Wow, this game is an emotional roller coaster. It had me laughing, crying, and... well, crying some more. It's really quite touching. I was able to quickly relate to the characters, and it made the journey supremely rewarding, especially in the back third or so where things really get interesting. To the Moon—similar to Superbrothers—can feel plodding, especially early on, but the basic gameplay systems are just enough to string you along through the story. And what a story it is!

Hotline Miami

This game's great. I had a real hard time getting into it back when it first came out and the fervor surrounding it was at an all-time high. I feel like being in the proper mindset for this game helps a lot. When I got into a groove, I was able to run through almost the entire game in a single sitting. It's just so addicting! The music draws you into a kill-craving trance. The best part about Hotline Miami is its speed. Even when you're failing, you're right back with another attempt so quickly that you don't have time to stay frustrated—especially when you're taking out any and all frustration on unsuspecting guards' heads over and over... and over.

I hated the boss battles. They were the worst part of the game by far, and I just felt like they were so fundamentally different from the rest of the game. It almost felt like every time I'd get to a boss, everything I'd been learning up until that point would just be thrown out the window and I'd have to die many times over learning whatever trick was required to beat the current boss. Not fun. But ultimately not the biggest deal, either.

Stacking

I'm not sure why, but after I finished Stacking, I began to think about how I'd score it on the Giant Bomb scale. I came up with two stars of five. It's a brilliantly cute premise that I want to love so desperately, but I just didn't have fun with the core mechanics of the game. It's entertaining in spurts, but by the last world I found myself glancing at a quick guide so that I didn't have to spend any more time with the puzzles than I needed to. That said, it was legitimately funny in spots, and the overarching narrative is decent (and really gets good toward the end). I just couldn't help but be disappointed, though.

Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine

I did not expect to enjoy this nearly as much as I did. I've come to a realization in my relatively recent gaming history, and that is that I enjoy mediocre third-person action games way more that I reasonably should. Seriously. I freakin' loved Binary Domain, for example. I also bought, of all things, Garshasp: The Monster Slayer and enjoyed beating that. Point being, I wasn't sure quite what to think of this game, but I wanted to give it a shot. Turns out it's pretty good! Or maybe it's just me; I can't tell. But really, it's a good length at about six hours on easy. The only way I can see that stretching out is by way of more deaths, and that wouldn't have been any more fun. I'd recommend playing on easy and just enjoying a short (yet electrifying) narrative about an Ultramarine captain and his crew. As someone who's not at all invested in any kind of Warhammer fiction whatsoever, the game was enjoyable. And that's all you can really ask for, right?

Dead Space

Wowzers. I've owned this game forever, and just have never gotten around to playing it—until now! And man, I was missing out. This game's fantastic! Rough around the edges in spots, but so fantastic. Honestly, by the end of the game I not only went directly into new game plus for a good hour or so to keep playing with my advanced gear, but then I jumped directly into Dead Space 2! That game's not even on this list! I just wanted to keep going. Keep seeing this universe. It's funny, the first time I was exposed to this game and its fiction, I wasn't too impressed. I always felt like I should enjoy it in theory, but it just never quite hit for me. Now I look at the character design, the environments, just everything, and it all just seems so damn cool. Some of the item usage and general controls felt clunky in the original Dead Space, but from the hour or so of 2 that I've played, most if not all of that has been smoothed out. I'm really looking forward to jumping back into 2, but I'm going to focus on my list here a bit more just to make sure I can finish it, because I'm on a heck of a pace.

Dead Space is great. A tad rough this day and age, but pretty much totally amazing once you acclimate. I finally see where you were coming from, Brad.

The Witcher 2

Alright, this is a weird one for me. I really liked the original game a ton, but I felt the changes to 2 made the game less fun. Just the game part, though. The part where you play it wasn't quite as satisfying. Which is probably weird, considering just how antiquated and crusty a lot of the original game feels this day and age. But there was a charm to the first game, while I found 2 to be less charming and more frustrating.

But the story was still there. The world that I've come to know via the first game as well as multiple books was alive and well. I enjoyed exploring the universe of the Witcher more than any other part of the game.

Antichamber

I really was enjoying myself with this game initially, but there comes a point where the puzzles become obscure to the point that I just feel like I'm wasting my time. And I guess I get it; it's supposed to be tough like that. But maybe that sort of puzzle game just isn't for me. I ended up watching guides to find the guns and finishing the game that way. And hey, that was still fun. I got to see a bunch of weird stuff without banging my head against the mind-numbing laws of the world for who knows how long. Interesting experience, but maybe not my cup of tea.

Costume Quest

This game's fantastic. Just super charming, which makes up for it being simple as can be. Eventually the amount of encounters became a bit grating, but the game's short enough that it never became a huge issue. Not a whole lot more to say, other than I look forward to playing the DLC a bit later in the year.

Anna

So, I don't usually play horror games. Like, at all. But I've been getting into horror more and more lately, both in movies and games, so I figured I'd give this a shot. I played it at night, and it made my skin crawl. As mentioned, I don't have a lot of experience with horror as a general genre, so those moments where I'd turn around in the game and suddenly the room would be different in some way (a trick this game dabbles in quite a bit), those really freaked me out. I mean, shivers down my spine. It was never scary to the point where I was screaming or anything like that, but that feeling of suddenly having goosebumps covering your entire body was commonplace. And that was kind of exciting! I feel like I'm starting to enjoy horror, and being scared, in a way I never have before. It's a means of eliminating every other thought process from my brain. When you're afraid, you're in the moment. Nothing exists but the fear. And sometimes that's exactly what you need, you know?

The story was actually fairly engrossing, and there are even multiple endings. I ended up using a guide here, too, as the game gets a bit nonsensical in its puzzles the deeper you get into it. Some of them are the kind you look back on and feel fine about using a guide because you never would have solved it otherwise. Even so, highly enjoyable.

DmC Devil May Cry

Having never played any serious amount of any previous Devil May Cry game, I really enjoyed this. Perhaps not quite as much as one Bradley Shoemaker, but it was a fun experience. Lots of insane shenanigans. I guess I was just expecting more after hearing Brad talk about it.

But yeah, more weapon combinations than I could ever want, and the whole game just felt good.

Alan Wake's American Nightmare

I loved Alan Wake, and I can't believe I waited so long to play this follow-up. It has one of the best uses of licensed music I've seen. I finally understand what Patrick was talking about when he mentioned playing through the game three times. It's a much more natural process than he made it sound, but yeah, it gets a tad repetitive. Thankfully it mostly works.

Assassin's Creed III

On my personal list of favorite Assassin's Creed games, this game only narrowly falls below two and Brotherhood. I just loved those other two so much, but this one is pretty freaking great, you guys. All of you who claim to be super disappointed by this game? You're all crazy people. It feels like everyone got together and played some kind of big elaborate prank on me. You guys all tried to trick me into not playing this fantastic game! But seriously, I just don't understand the hate. This is a great Assassin's Creed game. It has flaws, sure, but I just don't see where these people are coming from after having completed it.

Great experience, and highly recommended. I'm actually slightly excited for IV now, which I really wasn't excited for at all before.

10 Comments
10 Comments
Posted by TruthTellah

@jjweatherman Good luck! I really think you'll enjoy Antichamber, the Witcha 2, To the Moon, and Hotline Miami.

I might start with the shorter ones on that list if you can. Will give you some momentum going toward the bigger titles.

(Also, did you get my response to your last blog? You sounded pretty frustrated.)

Online
Posted by Hunter5024

You and I have very similar backlogs.

Edited by JJWeatherman

@truthtellah: Huh. I clicked post and my text disappeared. This site's awesome.

Anyway, the jist of my post was that I did indeed get your previous message. Thanks, I appreciated the thoughtfulness. It was one of those things where I read your post, absorbed it, meant to reply, and then never did. Just thought that I'd let it be. But thanks for the response.

I'm already largely done with some of these games (GTA V, Witcher 2), so I hope to cross even some of the bigger games off relatively quickly as a result. I look forward to playing To the Moon and Hotline Miami.

Posted by JJWeatherman

@hunter5024: Nice. Which games do you most hope to get through?

Posted by TruthTellah

@truthtellah: Huh. I clicked post and my text disappeared. This site's awesome.

Anyway, the jist of my post was that I did indeed get your previous message. Thanks, I appreciated the thoughtfulness. It was one of those things where I read your post, absorbed it, meant to reply, and then never did. Just thought that I'd let it be. But thanks for the response.

I'm already largely done with some of these games (GTA V, Witcher 2), so I hope to cross even some of the bigger games off relatively quickly as a result. I look forward to playing To the Moon and Hotline Miami.

I see! No sweat; I was just worried you had accidentally not seen it since I didn't tag you in it. I'm glad you're gonna try to tackle these games, and I wish you the best of luck in it!

Online
Posted by Hunter5024

@jjweatherman: Hotline Miami, To The moon, Super Brothers Sword and Sworcery EP, Costume Quest, Antichamber, and Gunpoint. I was trying to get through Madness Returns as well but I lost my save file so I think I've given up on that. The Witcher games I'm saving for when I finally get my pc finished.

Edited by Tireyo

Next time you ought to sign it in blood, rather than a red sharpie. =-P

Edited by JJWeatherman

@tireyo:

I'll start using blood when I begin the horror games, haha. That would be awful.

@hunter5024:

That's unfortunate about your Alice save. It's kind of a long game, so I'd be pretty demoralized by losing progress as well. I wrote some thoughts up about it, though. It's quite good if you can get past some repetitiveness. A handful of very enjoyable moments, and stellar art direction made my time with it very much worthwhile.

Edited by Tireyo

@tireyo:

I'll start using blood when I begin the horror games, haha. That would be awful.

@hunter5024:

That's unfortunate about your Alice save. It's kind of a long game, so I'd be pretty demoralized by losing progress as well. I wrote some thoughts up about it, though. It's quite good if you can get past some repetitiveness. A handful of very enjoyable moments, and stellar art direction made my time with it very much worthwhile.

It wouldn't be awful. It would just be hardcore and creepy like a horror game.

Edited by pyromagnestir

Hmmm... I can appreciate a truly insane adventure...

Sadly I have no time to kill.