Decided to get into the spirit of Giant Bombs impending GOTY and use my newly born YouTube channel and drag in some friends to create our own ordered list of the best ten games released in 2017 (we went with anything released this calendar year whether it appeared before or not)
My YouTube channel primarily focuses on the fools errand of ranking every single soccer game ever and playing through each of them in turn but we've decided to add more content along the lines of games to also draw in additional viewers, one of the which is this GOTY. You can either listen via http://shoutengine.com/TheJoypadsforGoalpostsPodcast.xml (itunes is still verifying) or via the video below;
So as I said last month I did not think my super fast pace would continue. I beat 12 games in total in January including a number of short titles but also Fallout 4. February has been a crazy month in so many aspects. Gaming wise we’ve seen the Xbox One release of the time sink that is Rocket League. I’ve spent a great deal of time on it and what a game it was worth the wait. I think I’m with a lot of people in that I’m not particularly good at it but I just cannot stop playing. That’s not to say I haven’t had some great moments. This goal for example starting off a mean scoring streak;
The other slightly prohibitive factor has been the number of games I’ve been reviewing this month. It’s kind of knocked my momentum in some respects but I do still feel progress has certainly been made. I feel like I should touch on some of the game I didn’t finish but have been formative experiences in many ways. I actually previously touched on how I outright do not play RPGs I’ve spent a lot of time with Final Fantasy Type 0 this month. I picked it up for a bargain $14.99 and thought it would be worth it to at least try. This has been my first JRPG I have really stuck with and I think I may finish it! As a result of this I’ve also taken on Strangers of Sword City for review which appears to add another bewildering layer of depth I’ve not been exposed to. As a DRPG in this case it’s a very slow paced first person game where early on you seem to spend most of your time just staring at static character art telling you a million different mechanics work.. I’ve also been trying to get through Gears of War 2. Much like with the Halo series I never played Gears as I didn’t own a 360 so I want to get through them before Gears 4 hits. I’m hoping March will have full write ups of all 3 of these as finished games.
Finally work has been hectic as hell, we’ve been going through some restructuring that seems to have largely been weighted towards me getting more work than the 3 people on our team. I’m hoping at some point I get a better grasp on this new stuff and feel a bit better about it and less like death when I get home every week.
Anyway enough with the excuses, here are the games that really matter the games I beat;
Of all the game I’ve made so far this year, this is one I the most indifferent to. It was neither great nor bad. I only actually wanted to play it so it was done as I have Dishonored sat unplayed as well and I’ve heard that Thief suffers by comparison (in fact I think on the Bombcast when talking about Warren Spector’s latest move Brad said something similar)
King’s Quest Chapter 1
I was a huge fan of point and click games back in the day namely the Lucasarts games along with the Simon the Sorcerer games. However Sierra’s games somehow passed me by. Telltale have slowly built up to where we are now with the likes of The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones etc…. Their Sam and Max games and Back to the Future brought that classic point and click adventure to the modern era but have since changed tact with their narrative driven take on the genre. King’s Quest seems to find a slightly better middle ground between the two competing takes. Christopher Lloyd is wonderfully cast as the old King retelling stories.
Perfect Dark Zero
The Neverending Slog that is clearing the Rare Replay backlog continues….Perfect Dark Zero got a lot of rave reviews upon release….well time has not been kind to this. From its opening music cinematic you can tell they are trying really hard to impress. The one point I’d really like to focus in on is the games level design. Having recently played Banjo Kazooie as well I’m beginning to think as great as Rare are they actually are kind of bad at creating levels that have a flow and make sense to the point where you still feel like your exploring but make progress. So often in Perfect Dark it simply would not be clear where to go even when it slaps down arrows on the floor.
Dying Light Enhanced Edition The Following
This was one game and I was not expecting to play as it landed on my digital Slack desk for review. It’s a pretty long game so it definitely detracted from my progress in other games. Not that I was particularly upset as it’s a fantastic game. I never finished Dead Island as it simply got so so boring, no amount of analogue combat could break up the tedium. Dying Light added parkour and a wonderful day night cycle that adds so much tension to the experience. Death truly has repercussions in the regards to leveling up and the first few hours can certainly be a rough ride. The Following DLC somewhat flips this on the head by getting rid of a lot of the verticality but adding an upgradable buggy. I’m with Brad on this one I cannot believe that more of the Giant Bomb crew did not dig this game.
Layers of Fear
Another game I got for review that played through in pretty much one sitting. I’m still working on the review for it but here’s my conclusion;
Layers of Fear at first glance is nothing more than a generic horror game; with it’s abandoned house, doors ajar and uneasy audio cues. However playing past the opening ten minutes will open your eyes to a game that both celebrates art whilst showing the crippling mental effects the pursuit of perfection can have on a tormented artist. It’s this dichotomy/duality that runs throughout the game, the raw exploration of which leads to fascinating experience that will linger long after you’ve left it’s haunting corridors.
Yes that may go against the grain of what many reviewers feel but that’s the great thing about this industry especially these smaller experiences some can really resonate with you and leave a lasting impression.
A game I desperately wanted to love but I found it somewhat lacking. Let’s get it straight Yarny is super cute and also very much a character despite his relative lack of ways to display emotions. He cowers when he is scared, shivers when he is cold and in one level peeks over some bushes in a way that is genuinely mischievous way that made me grin from ear to ear. However I think the general story telling was somewhat lacking even though it was clear trying to tell a very heartfelt story. I also found that the game never really progressed past its blend of yarn management, swinging and physic based puzzles, it never becomes more challenging. It almost makes me feel like the game may have been better as a shorter “walking simulation” based experienced.
So pace continues fairly well, again some shorter experiences but also one tent pole larger game? That’s it from me other the 3 games listed up at the top I also plan on playing Dead Space 3 a game I never finished but following Tim Turi’s passionate defence of the game during a recent Unprofessional Friday I have to go back to.
I’d like to leave you with a question does Final Fantasy XV Episode Duscae count as a game towards my total? Now I assumed not as it’s just a demo but now I’ve been lead to believe it’s a separate stand alone episode that won’t be the main game so perhaps it is something I’d add to the list when I beat it
So as last year rumbled on I slowly began to realize the sheer about of games I was beating and finishing. Using the website backloggery.com I track how many games I beat each year and how many I acquire I always try to end each year beating more games than I bought.
In November of last year I realized I was at 86 and tried desperately to beat 100 games. I actually blew my shot at beating the 100 games by going away for Christmas and not finding any time to beat games. I tried to get through Gunman Clive 2 but got stuck, I was playing FRAMED whilst in Berlin but got stuck towards the end (more on that later) and the New Years Eve just ticked over and me firmly stuck on 99. However I couldn’t be dispirited, I played a lot great games including 108 hours of The Witcher and if anything my final list of games beaten in 2015 showed how diverse the industry has really become.
Before I go on and discuss the games I’ve beaten this month. I should at this point explain a few caveats. Backloggery method for inputting episodic games tracks individual episodes as a beaten game, however in a world where short games release on Steam every week I don’t think that is too big a stretch to class them as individual releases. Another slightly odd part of their set up means that DLC is also classed as a separate game. I’ve tended to assess them on an individual basis and if they are lengthy I will include them as a seperate games. It also allows for multiple entries for the same game, however I won’t be allowing myself to stack games in that way, so for example if I beat Beyond Good and Evil HD on 360 then that doesn’t mean I’ve also beaten my copy on Gamecube. However if I chose to play them separately then I can. I’m unlikely to do this as I want to try and consume as many different experiences in 2016 rather than simply repeating the same old games.
Announced seemingly out of the blue this was a surprise and despite it’s short length it was a wonderful game that revelled in the nostalgia and wonder of the hit 80s cartoon. It’s actually done enough to get me interested in Transformers again after Michael Bay continually takes a dump all over my childhood and I’ll be keeping an eye out on the multi-media story as it goes forward.
I was drawn to this game by its art style what followed was nothing more than a simple point and click game, it had a few clever puzzles. The main lure of the game remained the art style the world is made up of paper and card, solving puzzles makes the world mould and shift to aid progress and it was these transitions that were the most interesting part of the game.
This was the game that nearly became number 100 last year. You control a black detective looking pair of avatars (one male, one female) and have to reorder comicbook frames in order to sneak past guards to steal briefcases and the like. You reorder the frames and then hit play and watch the level play out. Where I got stuck was that one level towards the end required you to change frames mid run it wasn’t apparently obvious this could be done, there had been strips that had pins and let you twist panels but at no point was there any indication that you change up things this way and it got left unfinished.
Picked this up after all the GOTY discussions that involved this game in some way shape or form. I’m not one for JRPGs whether its older classics or newer ones, I often find they are overly complicated and find the grind too long. However Undertale’s twist/hook the shorter length and the unique combat system drew me in. I really enjoyed the game although I accidentally killed two enemies which prevented me from getting what’s known as the pacifist ending and from I understand I can’t truly get that ending which is a bit frustrating.
Plug & Play
What a weird weird game, I had some doubts about even adding this as it was over in 15 minutes tops but hell it was a game I paid for as part of a humble bundle had a steam code so it’s a game. An odd interactive art thing is the best way I can think of describing this game. I’m not quite what it’s trying to say other than if you have a plug for a head you should probably shove it in a butt if there are no sockets around.
MISSING: An Interactive Thriller Episode 1
One of the shorter games on last my list clocking in at little under an hour. An FMV point and click adventure game with high production values. You play two characters, one's a detective the other is someone placed in a situation that wouldn’t look out of place in the earlier Saw movies. There really isn’t much to go with as the game was so short I was left wanted more to see if this is worth pursuing further.
You’re trapped on an island having crash landed on a plane. You basically take charge of a group of survivors and through discussions you help shape their time on the island. Who survives and how do you try to escape? It’s decided by you and the decisions you make. Each playthrough is less than 2 hours and it lends itself to multiple playthroughs, however due to the nature of this challenge I can’t see myself going back.
As a whole I was largely disappointed with Fallout 4. I feel it was far too similar to it’s predecessors. There was a real opportunity to tell a unique fish out of water tale about a man trapped in the future looking for his son. Instead we got a man who just took everything at face value and somehow becomes invaluable to each of the world’s warring factions. Towards the end things did get slightly more interesting but I still feel that there wasn’t enough to keep me yearning for me and if the next Elder Scrolls came takes a similar path I don’t think I’ll be rushing to buy it day one.
Gemini: Heroes Reborn
A Bit of a mixed bag really the lack of actual Heroes content can be taken two ways. It's not caught up in the increasingly complicated timelines of the franchise and aside from a few collectibles and a one line mention of a plot point, there isn't enough to keep fans hooked solely on their love for the show. It does manage to pack a lot of surprises into a short game with its interesting mix of powers but excellence is prevented as it gets bogged down in not allowing its own mechanics to properly flourish. (I adapted this from a review I wrote)
I feel about The Room how many feel about The Witness. A lot of the discourse around that game has been how yes it is nothing more than panel puzzles but also its about so much more than panel puzzles. The Room is just a collection of devilish puzzles where you manipulate dials, switches, panels, dials, cogs and more all with the aim of opening a box on a desk in a room. There are however notes and cut scenes that litter the game with a fiction around previous attempts to open the box and what may lay inside. This was enough to hook me and spur me on to discover what's inside...
Valiant Hearts: The Great War
Games don’t often touch my top 5 of all time. That list has been pretty much set in stone for many years now. 6-10 will change at will but that Top 5 is tantamount to the ten commandments in that it will stand for all of time. That’s until I got round to finally sitting down with Valiant Hearts: The Great War. I’ve always been fascinated by the first world war but not on the global scale as such. Every knows the story of how it started and the sheer number of people who died during the war as the allies and Germany dug in for a protracted trench based war. What interests me much more about the WW1 is the personal stories, this is fueled by my own family's history in the war with my Great Grandfather surviving under his own extraordinary and extremely unique circumstances. Valiant Hearts is no different to this it's not necessarily about you ending WW1, it’s about a collection of stories of individuals who paths cross multiple times during the onset of the war. I don’t want to spoil too much around that as there certainly some twists and turns that make the game and really put you through an incredible range of emotions. Another aspect of this game I loved was the historical facts that were served up at each location providing context to the importance of the beautifully drawn locations as well as the collectibles which give information about seemingly innocuous items. One particular pick up even shed light on some family keepsakes we have left from Great Grandfather's war time adventures.
I kind of have mixed feeling about this game. I love innovative narrative experiences and this is certainly that. You take the role of Nina Jackson/Cibele in this semi-autobiographical tale, the story telling takes two forms. The desktop sections allow for a non-linear experience where you sift through pictures, chat logs, poems and more whilst the more linear MMO experience plays out audio conversations between Cibele and her online love Ichi. These parts do drag on a bit too long for amount of exposition and the repetitive simplistic nature of the MMO game don’t help this at all. The soft porn parts really don’t sit well with me, It’s not something I knew about going into the game I feel they weren’t necessary and a little voyeuristic however there is a second way to look at it as an actual portrayal of the intimate nature of online dating. I found the ending particularly harrowing and anyone who has suffered from the breakdown of an online relationship may find it even more worrisome than I did.
Current Pace 144 games (There is no way this will stay the same)
Games Beaten 12/100
That's it for now but I'm already well on with battling February and will back to report and that very soon!
I recently finished Dragon Age Inquisition and was at a lose as to what to play, the wife had the TV in the lounge so the Xbox One was out, there was nothing I fancied on PC....and I saw that Dark Souls Limited Edition still sealed staring me in the face.
So with trepidation I decided now was the time. I also recently bought an Elgato for Extra Life streaming which I hadn't tested with my PS3 so I thought why not hopefully so one would pop along and help me out. Thankfully 5 people were in there helping me and it was a massive help.
At this point I should rewind and explain what I knew about Dark Souls;
It's unforgiving, people say it's ridiculously hard but
Your not told what to do per say and you struggle...also that perhaps the game didn't have the best english.
It's slower paced than most usual "action" game.
When you die you lose progress (as souls) but then you can do something at camp fires.
That's about it really so not a whole lot else. I went in with much slow poking. Had a moment pretty early on where there was a ledge and I couldn't tell if I was going to die when I dropped off....I was delighted to find a plain where there were 4/5 chests.
My best moment was beating a boss. This came after around 3 and half hours and a lot of dying both here. I also witnessed what I'd call Souls Rage, where you are in such a rush to get your lost souls back that you end up rushing and just die as a result of not playing diligently enough. So I shook off went and got a diet pepsi (still containing aspartame thank god!) sat back down and finally beat that boss. You can watch it here (apologies for the video quality);
Some would call it skill, I'd say I was very lucky. I screwed up the falling attack and was lucky that I didn't get landed on. I'd say the camera really is a huge part of what makes these encounters hard. Now to me that's not acceptable in terms of well it's a Souls games, you'd like to think that they have worked on this for Dark Souls 2 and Bloodbourne (of course I'm staying spoiler free from those so I have no idea) This amazing boss encounter was only surpassed by my excitement at finding a short cut. I had no idea that such a feature was in there. I had assumed progression was maintained by finding new bonfires and exploring new areas but instead it's a case of finding shortcuts and then finding new routes and manipulating your way around.
I finished playing not long after this boss (well after around 5 hours) of little to no progress, beating a boar is the last meaningful thing I remember doing. I know I've barely scratched the surface and cannot wait to get cracking.
So yeah I'm going to stream some more stuff. You can join me over at twitch.tv/flameboy84
Before anyone (if anyone is indeed reading this) starts to wonder what happened to the podcast it’s coming!!! I’ve settled on the name A Gaming Life it defines what the show is but also leaves plenty of scope for what the show can evolve into. Here is a hint at some of the subjects that are coming up in Episode 1; Tetris, Gremlin Graphics, Balloon Fight and Repton.
Also in other news I’m going to try and review some games I’ve been playing in 2014 as well formulating some kind of GOTY list! People have said 2014 was disappointing but I’ve found plenty to keep myself occupied.
Life is hectic, you sometimes never know where you be from one moment to the next, this is something I explained when ending my hosting stint on the Last Save Loaded podcast. I just didn’t have the consistent time slot I could commit to on a weekly basis. However I miss podcasting, I’ve ended up filling quite detached from a number of people who I interacted with consistently over the last year. With that in mind I’ve decided to work on a solo podcast project. It’s a personal project of sorts as well. I plan to produce a show that looks through my life in gaming through the years, I was born in 1984 and have recently (June) celebrated my 30th Birthday (there’s a story to be told there but that will have to wait till we reach 2014). Whilst yes I won’t be talking to people on a weekly basis my hope is that twitter will again be my friend and a community will form around the show. Not taking this for granted I’m just really hoping it happens.
The idea is that the podcast will go through 1 year at a time from 1984 to present day. My earliest gaming memory isn’t until much later but I will be still be recounting gaming moments that I’ve accessed since their heyday and I will also be relying on a few older friends to chip in. I’ll not only be discussing games but also where the world in general was during those years and personally of more importance where I was, along with any of my own stories/anecdotes about things that occurred during those years. I’m hoping I’m able to keep the show interesting to others and it doesn’t become too self indulgent again I’ll be relying on the community to let me know what’s good and what should be consigned to the waste bin.
I will be attempting to publish one podcast roughly every two-three weeks. With the intention being that it is heavily edited and fingers crossed have the production values to justify the slower turn around. Obviously the nature of the show means from the offset there will be a finite about of shows; 30.), however who knows where the show will go afterwards. There is obviously the potential for at least one show per year as a catch up if the audience is still there…granted getting people to keep their feeds live for a once yearly podcast is unlikely.
Now here is where I need YOU to be involved, yes YOU, put down that cup of tea/beverage of choice NOW! What should I call the show? Here are a few ideals I have floating around my head;
A Life in Gaming
A Life through Gaming
A Gaming Life
My Gaming Life
1984-2014 A Gaming Life
3 Decades of Gaming
Lifestyle of the Geek and Gamer
Lifestyle of a Geek and Gamer
Lifestyle of a Geeky Gamer
Lifestyles of the Geeks and the Gamers
A Journey through Games
A Personal Journey through Games
The Reflective Gamer
I’m not sure which I prefer if any, I’m not even sure if the name should come from this list as none of them have been that eureka moment as of yet…if anyone out there has a better name then please get in touch either via twitter @flameboy84 or send me a PM on here!
Once the name is decided I will set up a new blog to supplement the podcast and hopefully some small bits of video content.