Games Completed: 2015
A running list of the games I've finished in the year of 20 and 15.
A running list of the games I've finished in the year of 20 and 15.
Bloodborne is great, and Bloodborne is disappointing. It's got beautiful, densely packed environments. It's got fast, satisfying action and that perfectly measured FromSoft game feel. But an emphasis on the half baked Chalice Dungeon concept, and a profound de-emphasis on player customization and build variety really drag the experience down.
Axiom Verge is a welcome trip through a classic Metroid approximation. The traversal abilities all feel fresh and unique and the selection of weapons is very robust. The ability to manipulate glitches is novel and serves as the games one true "hook". The speedrun mode is extremely appreciated. On the other hand, the environments are drab and ugly, and the late game suffers from strange balance issues(Ukhu) and anti climactic bosses. Very satisfying to Platinum.
Early last year I got about an hour into this before getting annoyed with some of the presentation choices it made and moving on. When I spun it back up on a whim I started ignoring the story and the memes that litter the backgrounds, and treated it as a podcast game, and I'm very happy I did. The art is beautiful and bursting with colour. The combat is fluid and fairly unique for a metroidvania style game. The platforming is satisfying and tied smartly with the combat mechanics. I ended up liking it so much that I'm in the middle of a second playthrough, this time on the Super Turbo Championship Edition that just hit PS Plus. I've been pleasantly surprised to find new levels, bosses, mechanics and an altered progression that's just served to make a good game better.
This game looks gorgeous and the traversal mechanics are very fast and satisfying to use. The combat is pretty mediocre though, which makes the emphasis on it's battle arena very disappointing. Seattle feels small, and the mission design is not particularly interesting, but as a little taste of an open world game it does it's job. It bears mentioning again that it looks Fantastic.
I was busy using my PC for Half Life and pretty much nothing else in 1998, so I missed Grim completely the first time around. There's been much ado over the years on it's legendary status so I couldn't NOT play the remaster. The puzzles in many spots weren't quite as obtuse as some earlier adventure game classics, which was a nice surprise. The art, writing, music, and voice acting was all superb. Very glad I got the chance to come back to this. Bring on Day of The Tentacle!
I used my free week of PS Now to catch up on another classic I missed out on back in the day. It was ok. It still controlled well enough, but there were quite a few rough spots. In particular I'd like to call out the rhythm game boss as complete garbage. So too are most of the side activity levels. If someday enough games I care about come to PS Now I'll probably still check out the other Sly games.
At some point last year I made the claim that I'd probably never go back to finish The New Order. I guess that was a lie. It continued to strike me as a pretty, serviceable shooter with an ok story. Nothing particularly great, but I'm glad I went back and saw it the whole way through.
This game is fucking great. It feels so fast and flows so well, it's perfect for those that enjoy getting into a zen like flow state with their games. The progression and difficulty curve is extremely well tuned, when I started I felt useless at the game and figured I wouldn't get passed the second world, but before I knew it I was flying through the Hard campaign and having a great time doing it. Definite top 10 material.
This game feels so much like Binding of Isaac mutated into a first person shooter. This is about the highest praise I can give to a rogueishlike game. I started this just after trying (and hating) Tower of Guns, and it looks even better for the comparison. Ziggurat runs a clinic on how to design a tight, fast FPS roguelike. The only real knock I have against it is that I've found it can get pretty buggy. I haven't seen anything game ending but visual glitches are very common, especially on the final floor. Also, the framerate gets destroyed if you let a room get too wild.
The Unfinished Swan is visually gorgeous. It's short, charming, and gives each level its own clever twist on the paint splatter mechanic. I'm a sucker for interactive credits.
Shovel Knight is super charming and sounds fantastic at all times. That said, it feels like a throwback to me in a way that left a bad taste in my mouth. Whereas a game like Axiom Verge is also a throwback, it achieves that feeling while acknowledging and successfully incorporating elements of modern game design. It feels retro AND it feels of its actual time. Shovel Knight feels slavishly dedicated to reproducing the feel of a retro game, warts and all, to its great detriment. Confusingly, despite the dedication to authenticity on the gameplay side, it's presentation is gussied up in a number of ways that are notably inauthentic to the era they're shooting for. This graphical and audio modernization is extremely welcome, but contribute to making Shovel Knight feel like an oddity.
What a strange expansion. The new map is large and filled with activities, but the flow of the story is very... strange. I kind of stumbled my way to the ending accidentally by doing random tasks after about 3 hours. I was caught way off guard by the ending (and by the two mid-game cutscenes that pop up out of nowhere), and was left with more than half of the landmass unexplored, and with almost all of the "diversions" incomplete. It wasn't particularly satisfying. Hell is way overpopulated with collectibles; there are many, many more things to collect than in the main game in an area that's around half the size. The flying mechanic is not nearly as smooth or as satisfying as the glide. Kinzie was a playable character (and was the character I preferred to play as. Fuck Johnny Gat) but the story had nothing to do with her at all. The whole thing is a strange bit of business.
I finally got around to this in preparation for the fall. For a Metal Gear game, Ground Zeroes plays fantastically, easily the best feeling MGS. A little disappointing that what little story stuff there was basically only existed in the intro and outro cinematics. An effective and fun demo for MGSV, but one that is definitely not worth the price tag. Kiefer Sutherland was not David Hayter so hard that it was distracting.
Ether One is an interesting game, but has a lot of flaws. The structure is kind of strange. If you want you can charge through the game in an hour or two playing it as a straight "walking simulator", but much of the world and character building story meat is locked behind a collection of often obtuse adventure game puzzles. Many of these puzzles are difficult, many of them are bad. To add an extra layer of annoyance your movement speed is extremely slow, and many of the later puzzles involve tracking back and forth between a fairly large area. There was one puzzle involving canaries in a mine shaft that I still have no idea how I solved; I got lost in a pitch black room for five minutes, stumbled out of it and I guess the puzzle was solved? Way too much plot information was dumped into the ending sequence. The plot itself is interesting, but suffers in my mind because I've already played To The Moon, a game which tackles a very similar subject and handles it much, much better. The Idle Thumbs references were very appreciated though.
Decided to clear out a couple games from the steam backlog. VVVVVV is short, but satisfying. Great visual and sound design. It provided a sometimes stiff but always fair challenge on the main story screens, while providing a number of much stiffer optional challenges that I was more than happy to pass up. Definitely worth the couple of hours it took to crash through it.
Grow Home is super charming. BUD is an adorable avatar, and the consistent trickle of MOM jokes were quite welcome. I love 3D platformers, and this seems like a very smart evolution of the genre, and an interesting test bed for the fun and intuitive new climbing mechanic. Soaring through the sky on a blooming plant, or with the help of the jetpack or just taking a dive straight to the ground is exhilarating and fun each and every time. I love collecting things, and there's a whole lot of stuff to collect here. Those final 5 crystals I can't seem to find may gnaw at my psyche forever.
Well, Act 2 anyway. Broken Age is as beautiful and charming and joyful as it was a year ago, but now it comes saddled with a second act full of frustrating, unwelcome puzzles. Act 1 hit the perfect balance of challenge and accessibility with its puzzles, and seeing Act 2 revert to more "classic" (read: more difficult, less satisfying) style adventure game puzzles was a big disappointment. Everything else that was great about Act 1 is certainly still present however, the voice work is top notch, the music is excellent, and the dialogue is as sharp as ever.
A mediocre duel joystick shooter variant of a Tomb Raider game. It was fine. It's short and to the point and never really provides much of a challenge. It's fine, I guess.
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