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beard_of_zeus

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2013 4440 38 34
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beard_of_zeus

2013

Forum Posts

4440

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Tunic is the big one that I want to go back to, it was very intriguing on its face but some of the design choices were off-putting. I actually finished most of the games I started this year, surprisingly enough. Any of the other big games I can think of that I didn't finish were just because they are on the longer side, but I am still actively playing them (see: Soul Hackers 2, Xenoblade Chronicles 3).


I finished Stray as part of my "let's finish some 2022 games" stuff but it took me 3 separate "periods" of picking away at it, which is a lot for a 5 hour game, and while its extremely pretty and atmospheric it's also not at all a cat simulator and has middling gameplay. I'm kind of glad I played it because I did enjoy seeing all the set pieces and a few of the puzzles but I think it was very overrated. Not a bad game but pretty average.

This was basically the exact same experience I had with Stray. I started playing it when it came out since I already had the PS+ plus that let me play it for free, and I didn't finish it until a few months later. It really shouldn't have taken me multiple sittings months apart to finish such a short game, but it just didn't grab me that hard. As you said, it was worth seeing in the end I think, mainly for the lighting and environment/character design, which I thought was quite good. But I think the "oh you play as a cat" gimmick really pushed it into getting way more talked up and overrated.

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beard_of_zeus

2013

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Just wanted to say I loved your Pentiment write-up, I had a extremely similar takeaway as a dirty non-believer vis a vis Wojslav's journey. (actually your whole post was very good, thanks for sharing!)

I was looking through some of the staff lists today and realizing that I miss the days where there were insightful writers on staff after seeing some lists that were mainly GIFs and short blurbs, I'm sure some community folks will put out good stuff though. (hopefully there will be some good guest lists as well).

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beard_of_zeus

2013

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Love this game! It has its issues but I found it quite addictive.

Game Freak actually has a second 3DS eShop exclusive game called Harmoknight that I equally enjoy and would recommend people check out. It's a rhythm platformer in the vein of the Bit Trip Runner games. I like bringing this game up whenever I get the chance, haha.

It's nice when Game Freak puts out non-Pokemon games, most of them are quite good, and even the ones I think are a little more mediocre or have design issues (see: Giga Wrecker , Little Town Hero) are at least interesting.

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beard_of_zeus

2013

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@icemael: Okay, that makes me feel better at least lol

I was inspired to play some Crimson Clover this morning after mentioning it, yeah that game rules. It is somehow incredibly manic and totally manageable at the same time. I also played the Arrange mode for the first time and it is pretty interesting. The difficulty seems halfway between the novice and Arcade modes, but it also grafts a Gradius-like powerup mechanic onto the game where you have a changing row of upgrades to choose from.

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beard_of_zeus

2013

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#5  Edited By beard_of_zeus

@icemael: Espgaluda 2 is like the only one of these types of games I have felt was just way too hard and overwhelming for me. Not sure if I wasn't utilizing some mechanics correctly or what. Even like halfway through the game, there were just...too many bullets.

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beard_of_zeus

2013

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#6  Edited By beard_of_zeus

I kinda went down the rabbit hole of this genre over the past couple years, I think it was mainly of the combination of a lot of Cave games getting re-releases (many by M2, which feels like the gold standard) and the Switch having a ton of games of this type. My previous experiences before that mainly amounted to playing a ton of Ikaruga on the Gamecube and Radiant Silvergun on Xbox.

I definitely can't tell you the best one, as I don't think I am a genre expert by any means, haha. I wish I had maybe a slightly better vocabulary for discussing the mechanics. I'll usually play a game for a bit just to try it out and get a handle on it, and then graduate to frantically Googling how some of the scoring systems and mechanics work when I don't find them super obvious.

But here's some I played recently that I enjoyed the most:

  • Danmaku Unlimited 3: I know this isn't the only game to have a "Graze" system where you incur benefits by letting bullets get super close, but I really like the implementation here, and the bullet patterns support the mechanic pretty well.
  • ESP Ra. De. : This is definitely my favorite of the recent Cave re-releases, this game rules.
  • Crimzon Clover: World Explosion: This is not a Cave game, but is definitely inspired by it. If I had to pick a favorite shmup at the moment, it miiiight be this game. Super well made, easy to identify things on screen even thought it gets super hectic. great music. The big mechanic is something called the Break system which is very good at making you feel very powerful.
  • A ton of Darius games got re-releases lately, I really enjoy G Darius and Darius Gaiden.
  • Rolling Gunner: I think this is only on Switch at the moment, I really like this one though. It's a horizontal shooter where the main hook is controlling the direction that your gun shoots (e.g., locking it into place or not). I think it was designed by a former Cave employee.
  • Natsuki Chronicles: This is another off the beaten path horizontal shooter I don't see mentioned at all but I really liked. It actually has a full fledged story mode where you unlock and upgrade a TON of weapons and ship customizations as you play. Another very neat thing is that all the bullets get their trajectories painted (And they pop more on the screen as the danger increases). It sounds like it would be info overload, but it is super well implemented and quite readable (and you can also just turn it off if you want, but I like the feature).

I'm playing Dangun Feveron (a Cave game that got an M2 port) and Deathsmiles I&II at the moment, they both seem pretty good. Dangun has a very goofy disco theme that I am into.

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beard_of_zeus

2013

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I am curious to see if there are any New Game+ features to help accelerate exploring the different branches of the plot. I would like to see some of the alternate missions at some point, but I definitely won't be jumping back in immediately unless I can skip ahead to the chapters where there is some sort of exploration/decision making/combat.

That would be a nice feature; they had that exact thing in Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together for PSP that unlocked when you beat the game the first time. It was super nice to be able to basically teleport to all the branch points in the story (with all your gear, characters, etc. intact) and try out all the different story paths rather than starting a new save file from scratch.

Related, I keep wavering on checking out Triangle Strategy because a) I see a lot of people saying it is overly chatty and b) I am worried it will just feel like a worse facsimile of Tactics Ogre to me. Have I mentioned I like that game...like a lot?????

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beard_of_zeus

2013

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Honestly, it was probably Pig Eat Ball for me, which as far as I can tell, almost no one has played based on me trying to find guides/walkthroughs/help while trying to 100% the game. Only a couple dozen Steam reviews too.

It is rare that I am genuinely surprised by a game, but this one has a lot of fresh mechanics with a simple premise (eat and barf stuff, mostly tennis balls, but also other stuff) coupled with really clever and devious level designs. And every world adds new, different mechanics that all build on top of one another. It's a bit of an arcade action puzzle game.

It is also unabashedly fucking weird - your dad who is a cake is trying to marry you off against your wishes, so you wear a glasses + mustache disguise and try to win the Royal Space Games to not get married off. Also there is an evil baboon professor trying to crash the ship?

This game feels like someone was trying to re-imagine Pac-Man into a modern game but accidentally took a bunch of drugs.

Maybe I'll do a longer blog post with my thoughts on this game, I truly loved it.

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beard_of_zeus

2013

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#9  Edited By beard_of_zeus

If anyone cares:

GOTY 2021

1. Fuga: Melodies of Steel This game somehow manages to balance being hopeless and hopeful, mixing the horrors of war with a cute, ragtag band of animal children. And did I mention the children are riding around in an unstoppable, enormous tank that you can choose to sacrifice them to in order to use their life force for an ultimate attack? (Obviously, I would not do that, I am not a monster, I grew to love all the characters).

This narrative is paired with a really fun gameplay loop and battle system that requires a decent amount of strategy. You have to also engage with an entire metagame of improving your tank's facilities, progressing the relationships between characters, growing and cooking food, etc., all with a limited number of action points to spend on doing so.

There is also a very good battle that does some great storytelling via gameplay which really stuck with me (although you only see it on the bad ending route...yes, I did play through this game twice. Also yes, I did lie earlier, I may have stuffed some children in the soul cannon..). This medium doesn't do enough of that, so it really strikes me when it happens. I recently read that cyberconnect2 hasn't recouped their dev costs on this game, which is depressing to me. I suppose that is one of the risks of switching to self-publishing. I hope more people play this game!!!

2. Psychonauts 2I can't believe this actually turned out so well after such a protracted development. It is supremely creative and inventive in a lot of ways; the level designs and theming are second to none. And I was very impressed with how deftly it handled the topics of trauma and mental anguish, honestly.

3. Ender Lilies: Quietus of the KnightsThis game is why Metroid Dread did not make the cut, I think it is a much better example of the "Metroidvania" genre than the actual Metroid game that came out this year. Don't get me wrong, I had a lot of fun with Dread, but it felt more like a fun action platformer to me because of how much it keeps you on the critical path, and didn't give the player a lot of opportunity to explore.

Ender Lilies is beautiful and haunting, with a big world to explore (and you actually get to explore!), fun combat, a lot of cool upgrades (both required and optional), etc. It has a lot of nice quality of life things like tons of fast travel points, and a VERY detailed map. It is not the traditional "graph paper" map, instead much more expanded out. You can see the actual size of rooms, with very clear connections between all the doorways. It also does the modern Resident Evil thing of color-coding rooms to tell you when you have completely cleaned out of room of all items.

4. Undernauts: Labyrinth of YomiI love DRPGs, and Experience (the developer of this) has made quite a few (Demon Gaze, Stranger of Sword City, Operation Abyss/Babel). I have mostly enjoyed them all, but this is definitely their best game for my money.

Undernauts eschews the boilerplate anime storyline/visuals of a lot of Experience's past work for a beautiful look that reminds me more of their horror game Death Mark. And the narrative of Undernauts is two types of horror: the horror of a mine full of monsters trying to kill you coupled with the horror of exploiting workers and labor for capitalism's sake.

Mechnically, it is a solid game, with a couple twists on the genre that I really liked. One, you are actually modifying the dungeons by doing things like building doors, bridges, and ladders as part of your mining job, and the levels are smartly designed around this. Two, in battle, you have buffs that you can use and recharge that do things like guarantee your party goes first or hypercharge all your skills. Deciding when to use these is a big part of the strategy for some of the harder battles. And overall, this game removes a lot of the cruft of the genre to the point where I think I would recommend this to people wanting to try out the genre.

6. Ys IX: Monstrum NoxLike SMT, this is one of those series that I adore (luckily this game came out in February, so I finished it no problem, unlike SMTV), so you know this was gonna be on my list. I really liked the story in this game, it goes to some cool places by the end, and there is a lot of references/callouts for long time fans of the series in this game that also serve the plot in some ways. The movement/exploration mechanics they added in this game are great, being able to run up walls and basically grappling hook around is really fun.

7. Death's DoorThis is a humorous, delightful, slightly melancholy action adventure with fun combat and exploration. Just a really well made game that I had a lot of fun playing. The writing was funnier and more charming than I expected, especially for the boss characters that you meet.

8. Scarlet NexusThis was a game I went into without knowing a lot about, the American cover art looks like a new Killzone game, and I did not realize it was secret anime. I ended up really enjoying it from top to bottom - super fun combat, a lot of likeable characters that are fleshed out pretty well with far more dialogue scenes that I had expected, all encased in a wild plot that definitely goes places.

9. No More Heroes IIIThis game probably brought me the most unabashed joy this year. It constantly up-ended my expectations over and over. It has so much style, it's ridiculous. You know whether you are in for this game or not, it is definitely for people who already like this series.

10. Marvel's Guardians of the GalaxyThis was my biggest surprise of the year. I don't really care that much about Marvel stuff, and I bought this on a bit of whim during Black Friday because there was a lot of positive buzz. But I really enjoyed it! Some truly great writing and characterization, and a story with a far more emotional core to it than I was expecting.

5. Dungeon EncountersI'm glad Square Enix finally let Hiroyuki Ito direct a new game, you can DEFINITELY tell this is a game by him. It is barebones, stripped down to just well-designed game mechanics, and there is a lot more depth to this game than it might initially seem. You gain a lot of skills over the course of the game (assuming you are actually exploring the dungeon floors) that change how you explore and battle.

This game will definitely not appeal to everyone, but everything about it clicked for me. This doesn't surprise me, an interesting battle system is like 85% of my enjoyment of a JRPG. It's interesting comparing this game against the 100 hours I spent on Bravely Default 2 this year (which falls in the pile of really fun battle/job mechanics, but boilerplate story). I played Dungeon Encounters for less than half that amount of time, and got the same kind/amount of (or even more!) enjoyment out of it. Maybe there is something to be said for just cutting out the cruft of a game - develop a good story, or just don't have one at all.

EDIT: I don't know why my number 5 shows up at the bottom, so be it

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beard_of_zeus

2013

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I don't have Twitter, so I'll take your word that this is A Thing. But this is pretty easy for me to do, I have a decade worth of documentation on this site in the form of my GOTY lists from every year! (except for 2011, I don't know why - I have a list for 2010 though!)

  • 2012: Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward
  • 2013: Bioshock Infinite
  • 2014: Bayonetta 2
  • 2015: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
  • 2016: The Witness
  • 2017: Nier: Automata
  • 2018: God of War
  • 2019: Baba is You
  • 2020: Desperadoes 3
  • 2021: not 100% sure yet...either Fuga: Melodies of Steel or Psychonauts 2, those are my 2 favorites ATM

This was actually a fun trip down memory lane. And honestly, I would still totally back all these choices...except for Bioshock Infinite, I think that one hasn't aged all that well in retrospect. I had The Last of Us at #2 and Fire Emblem: Awakening at #3 that year, I think either of those I would say is a better game.