When I started this blog, I planned to be posting reviews of the video games I played. That doesn’t seem to be happening, but I’d still like to take a moment to mention interesting games I played this year, however briefly.
Dark Souls 3
I’ve spent a ton time with Dark Souls 3 again. I’m about halfway through my second playthrough and the game is amazing.
This second run is a bit of a self-imposed challenge, because I’m doing it all without any summons. I’ve had a ton of help with some of the harder bosses in my first go and I wanted to do it all on my own at least once.
Similarly to Spelunky, once you get familiar with the game, it can be a very relaxing experience. I often put on a podcast and just dance around the monsters. It’s weird that this super hard intense game can give you a sense of calm, but once the repetition and familiarity really sets in, it’s about your approach to it.
If you want to have a challenging run and push through, there’s plenty of opportunities to do that. But you can also just sit back, relax and bash some skeletons without a care in the world.
Torment: Tides of Numenera
Planescape: Torment was my favourite game of all times. It is amazing. It showed that you can have an RPG with a ton of great writing that doesn’t involve you saving the world or anything like that.
Numenera seems to have impacted me a little less, but it holds a lot of the same beats that I loved in PST: the world is beautifully diverse and weird, it’s full of great writing and fantastic little stories.
It’s the world and the stories you encounter while playing the original game that stuck with me for all these years much less so than the overall plot.
Numenera follows suit. My favourite is when you find a person who seems to be moving a little strangely. You approach her and find out that it’s a remotely-controlled avatar by some unknown alien from another world. Except when talking to her you find out that usual controller is away on some errands and her daughter snuck in to play with the toy. She’s not familiar with the controls and so has trouble moving the avatar properly.
On top of all that, your character is virtually immortal, which means that even if you don’t focus on combat (of which there’s far less than in most RPGs), losing just leads to a different way of advancing the plot, not a Game Over screen and forced reload.
Plus it means you can sacrifice your body to say undergo a very invasive surgery that would have killed a normal person and get a new ability.
Fantastic game if you like to read. And a world full of potential, just like the original Planescape: Torment.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
This game does deserve its own blog post. However:
I bounced off of it about four times before I finally got into it. I would have given up much earlier, but I really enjoyed Witcher 1 and 2 and everyone seemed to agree that this game is absolutely fantastic.
Being a massive fan of the original Witcher novels and stories by Andrzej Sapkowski (the very title of this blog comes from the books), I was deeply dissatisfied with what they did with the characters and the main story.
It was really difficult for me to stop comparing the events and characters to the books and picking up on gratuitous copying of the events and inconsistencies between the real story.
A combination of my strong dislike with what they do with the world and its characters, the glaring disconnect between the world they portrayed and what you actually do in the game and the constant small bugs made it I almost gave up on it.
But in the end I persevered and I’m having a huge fun. Spent a good portion of my Christmas break playing it and it’s great. Although the controls are really fiddly.
My Twin Brother Made Me Crossdress As Him And Now I Have To Deal With A Geeky Stalker And A Domme Beauty Who Want Me In A Bind!! or, Ladykiller in a Bind
It is the latest game by Christine Love. So far I’ve played and greatly enjoyed every game she made, this being no exception.
It’s an erotic lesbian crossdressing dating sim that happens on a cruise. None of that would sound particularly appealing to me, but I really like the humour, the characters and the writing. Love’s writing is really compatible with my sensibilities.
I think I’ve only ever played three erotic games and none of them was motivated by arousal. For some reason, games just don’t do it for me. Also, in contrast with the popular male stereotype, I am not particularly intrigued by the portrayal of lesbian sex.
Which isn’t to say I minded the romantic and sexual scenes, they just weren’t my cup of tea.
A have enjoyed the humour and characters and writing tremendously, however.
Can’t wait for whatever Christine Love comes up with next.
Coming Out On Top
Following a theme, this is an erotic gay dating visual novel.
That would again not be my cup of tea, but I came across it [in the fantastic S.EXE RPS column][rps] and when it mentioned “Joss Whedonesque jokes” I knew I had to try it.
It’s quite funny and I’ve enjoyed it, but the sense of humour was not exactly compatible with mine. Ladykiller’s jokes are the perfect match for me, this a little less so.
However, the writing is great. The game starts with your character coming out to your friends and I got teared up. It was beautiful.
Just like with Ladykiller, I can’t really comment on the erotic scenes much – I had no issues with them, but they weren’t really my thing.
Throughout my life, Diablo represented all that was wrong with games to me. I prefered turn-based RPGs with a ton of dialog and choices, where you could avoid all or most of the combat. Diablo was a realtime monster bash that was basically constant combat.
And yet, I ended up really enjoying Bastion (mostly thanks to its beautiful world and fantastic narration – I’ve still struggled with the combat) and then at some point, dumped countless hours into Spelunky and Dark Souls – games with a ton of realtime combat.
So I figured, why not give it a go.
And I quite enjoyed it. Action RPGs are probably never going to become my favourite thing (I’d still prefer as little combat as possible in my playthroughs), but I can give them a go occasionally.
The fact that the normal difficulty is actually really easy and you can get to the end without much trouble also helped.
But my god, the story this game has is so ridiculous. Absolutely horrible. I still can’t figure out whether it’s all to be taken seriously or it’s just a huge joke.
It’s the daftest story I remember in a computer game. Oh wait, it’s not the daftest one…
…because while I was on the Blizzard streak I played Starcraft 2. It’s so bad. Absolutely horrifyingly bad. That cannot be due to laziness or lack of attention, though. A positive ton of work must have gone to it. It’s as if someone instructed the writers to crawl through TV Tropes, find the most egregious clichés and stuff them all into a single story.
It just cannot be taken seriously. And yet I wonder.
The game itself is pretty cool though.
I used to play a lot of realtime strategy games (mostly Star Craft, Red Alert and Command & Conquer, never really got into Age of Empires and that), but I rarely do these days.
I played a few SC2 missions and I’ve had fun, but my desire has been sated. I’m probably no more than third through the Terran campaign and unlikely to return any time soon.
Divinity: Original Sin
I thought I’d enjoy it. All the systems the game was built on sounded fantastic.
However, the writing and atmosphere didn’t really sit well with me. Not sure I’ll return to it.
Everyone’s raving about it, but I’m having trouble getting over the writing. It’s just off enough that I can neither get into it nor shrug it off as I could with Diablo 3 and Star Craft 2.
I had high hopes for this one, but I didn’t like the combat at all. And the game seems to have a ton of it and it’s pretty difficult, so it’s a pass.
I’ve never played Civilisation or any of the other 4X games and I kept hearing that this is one of the most interesting of the bunch.
I’ve had my fun with it, but it doesn’t really seem to be my cup of tea. There were entire areas of the game (diplomacy) that felt impenetrable for me. On the other hand, I enjoyed the exploring and building. The combat not so much.
It reminded me of Heroes of Might and Magic 3 a lot, though. And I realised that what I really want is to play another HoMaM game.
Unfortunately, the later versions (we’re at 7 now!) all switched from hex-based combat to squares and that just kills it for me. Sorry.
I should try Age of Wonders.
A 7drl where you should evade the monsters rather than kill them.
I really liked it. As with most roguelikes, I’ve not completed it, but it’s more approachable than most. I actually feet that I had a reasonable changce to beat this one.
Fun little game for sure.
This year was notable by how little Spelunky I played. I think Dark Souls basically took over that area for me.
It’s still an amazing game, but I’ve finally had my fill I think. But, Spelunky 2 has been announced, so…
A short funny game. Heard about it tons. I liked it.
Heard great things about this one. The screenshots looked really unappealing, though. In the end I played it a little and didn’t mind the graphics at all.
I think it’s got potential, but I’m not sure I’m really willing to learn and engage with its systems. I quite like when have to make do precious little resources (year early game in Fallout 1 and 2), but this seems to be too much for me.
Now this game just genuinely looks bad. I saw the screenshots and was sure I would not play that thing.
Ages later, Alec Meer wrote an article begging people to look past it, so I tried. And I quite like it.
Only had a few runs yet, got to the second floor a handful of times, but it’s fun. It’s a roguelike with the combat being implemented as a collectible card game (you build your deck from scratch with every playthrough).
I’m not really into CCGs in general, but I’m really enjoying it here. The combat is way more intriguing than in the vast majority of games.
Definitely going to play more of this.
Games I’d like to try in 2018:
There’s a few smaller games that I keep hearing about and wouldn’t normally go for, but that I’d like to try:
- Stardew Valley
- What Remains of Edith Finch
- West of Loathing
I also really want to try some of the older indie RPGs I got that I didn’t get around to properly:
- Age of Decadence
- Dead State
If any of these come out in 2018, I’ll probably play a ton of them:
- Cyberpunk 2077
- Pillars of Eternity 2
- Spelunky 2
- any game that Christine Love releases (if she does release any)
Since Dark Souls is getting remastered this year, I’ll probably do another run in Pretty Dark Souls.
And there’s a couple of games I was recommended directly that I’d like to try:
- Nier: Automata