Aimlessly Going Forward

blog by Tomas Sedovic

Games I Played in 2018

Another year has gone past and I've played a bunch of games I didn't have time and energy to review. Here's a couple of paragraphs on each.

Life Is Strange plus the Before The Storm prequel

I finally got around playing it this year and I loved it. Absolutely loved it. It's got a few issues, but I've really enjoyed the writing, characters and TIME REWIND.

Rewinding the time is the best kind of fun.

Life Is Strange 2: Episode 1

I liked it. Expected to have a harder time getting in to it (on account of it having no time rewind and being about two brothers).

At the time I write this, only the first episode has come out and I'm looking forward to the other ones. I get to have the proper episodic experience I've missed with Life is Strange 1 -- we'll see if it's better or worse.

The beginning is really harsh though :-(. This is not a happy game. I mean the first Life is Strange gets pretty dark, but this starts bad and then kind of hopefully gets better, but idk?

Some of the racism towards your characters (the brothers are of Mexican origin in the north of the US) feels a bit too much on the nose. I went with it, but it did leave me wonder if it would get that bad (which it very well might! I just don't know enough).

Dark Souls Remastered

It's Dark Souls but prettier and with some UI improvements. I loved it. Really happy it exists. I see no reason to play the original Dark Souls now that I've got this.

Some people disagree.

I've played it through twice this year and one of those playthroughs was recorded and written about on this blog.

Nier: Automata

Super torn about this game. I love the visuals and the world. It's got cool characters and some absolutely amazing music.

But I'm really struggling with its combat. I'm not enjoying it at all. This is similar to my experience with The Witcher 3 combat -- I think Dark Souls just spoiled me too much. I'm about maybe a quarter of the way through and I'd still like to return to it and play it some more. Apparently the story keeps getting better.

Bayonetta

This is the game I'm playing right now and, unexpectedly, I'm having a lot of fun!

I've had this recommended to me after I complained that most computer games have overextended shit endings (I'm looking at you, Witcher 3) and I didn't expect to enjoy the game. But I tried it anyway just in case and I seem to be getting along.

I'm not very far, so I can't tell whether it'll keep up or whether the ending or the promised endless escalations will actually be worth it.

But it's good. It's this sort of absolutely ridiculous thing that (unlike the Blizard games) knows it's ridiculous and it's making the best out of it.

The Lord of War

This is not a game per se, but it very well could have been. The Lord of War is a custom (fan-made) map for Heroes of Might and Magic 3 (a.k.a. the last good Heroes game because all the newer ones dropped hexes).

It is a really challenging map with a simple but powerful storyline, utilising everything the base game and its map editor has to offer. I love the fact that it seems to shower you with riches. You work with orders of magnitude more monsters and resources than in normal games. But so do the enemies. And very soon you'll discover you have to defeat them by rate of growth, always on the edge of defeat.

It is incredibly well-paced with lots of stuff to explore. If someone made this into a standalone RPG, it would be better than a lot of what's out there.

The only downside I've noticed is that the whole thing slows down once you're down to the last two enemies. And this is where I got stumped.

Until then, the progression curve is absolutely spot on -- keeping things challenging, but possible. But the second-to last enemy you encounter (the more powerful of the two) is way far above your league.

It's quite possible I've missed something else, but I'm not at a point where it feels I'd just have to keep skipping turns doing nothing other than waiting for my (hopefully faster growing) army will catch up.

If you want to try it, there's a lot of versions on the internet. Almost certainly reuploads by other people, but hard to tell. I happen to be playing this one:

http://www.heroes3maps.com/map/5738-the-lord-of-war

This one may be the closest to the original version (judging purely by the creation date on the site):

http://www.heroes3maps.com/map/1905-the-lord-of-war

but I couldn't even find out who the original author is -- there's a good chance it's not even an English-speaking person (HoMaM seems to have been huge in Russia, for example).

Avernum 6

I've played a good chunk of Avernum 6 for like the third time. Every time I played it I got pretty far, then lost the saves and started from scratch.

So this year I wanted to finish it, found out I've lost the saves and started from scratch :-). It's a cool game (if you enjoy Spiderweb Software's games which I mostly do) and this being the last in the series, I really want to find out how it ends.

But I've never been able to finish these games in one stretch. I end up taking long breaks in between and I'm in a middle of one such break right now. This time I'm backing up my saves.

(for the record, I've only finished Avernum 1 and Geneforge 5 so far. Of the two, I've enjoyed Geneforge much more and I hope they'll get around to remastering the earlier ones like they did with Avernum.)

Fallen London

I generally don't play multiplayer and online-only games. I don't enjoy the human interaction, and the something about the "onlineness" makes the game try to demand more out of me than I'm willing to give.

Any sort of regular commitment is simply not workable for me.

But I've heard a lot of great stuff about Fallen London and decided to give it a go. I've played it for about a month before deleting it.

It's a text+pictures game in the browser rather than something more interactive requiring its own client. And the writing is really really good. The game has a fantastic atmosphere combining over-the-top Victorian-era-like Britishness and Lovecraft in an absolutely delightful mix.

It's also a game that has the best gender choice I've ever seen:

Gender selection screen in Fallen London

When someone approaches you, based on your selection they'll call you:

  1. Sir
  2. Madam
  3. ah, Si-, er, Mad-, er, yes

Needless to say a) this is super woke and b) I chose the third option (with a gender-neutral name and an indistinct character portrait).

If this were an offline game that didn't make you feel you were missing out by not logging in every few hours or interacting with other people, I'd play it to death.

If the above doesn't bother you, give it a go!

The people behind Fallen London have made singleplayer games (Sunless Sea and to-be-released Sunless Skies) in the same universe. I'd love to give them a chance at some point.

Cultist Simulator

A lovecraftian-themed card game that gave me a lot of the same vibes as Fallen London (the founder of Failbetter Games -- the Fallen London devs -- founded the Weather Factory who made Custist Simulator).

Your character gets access to some occult texts and whether willingly or unwillingly, gets suckered in, goes on to building a cult, learning more about the underlying truths, performing rituals, trying to ascend all the while having to keep doing their day job to survive and fund their endeavours and keep right on the edge between reality and insanity.

Fantastic atmosphere, the game lets you discover its rules on your own. I've played it intensely for about a week and then never really got around to it again.

But I've had tremendous fun and I'd love to see how it evolves.

Hoplite

This is a fantastic little roguelike for Android and iOS. It's hex-based (instant thumbs up) and you're a Greek soldier descending a little dungeon full of demons.

It's got brilliant tactical combat with a perfect balance of moves, abilities and variety. This is what I wish my games were like.

I've been playing it on and off for the last few years -- mainly because after finishing it for the first time, I decided to try the Atheist challenge and... I've still been unable to do so but I keep trying!

Basically, every floor (there's 16 you need to defeat to complete the game) has a shrine to a Greek deity you can pray to get a bonus for. These bonuses are crucial for giving you more options to deal with the increasing number of enemies.

And doing an atheist run, you ignore the gods and the bonuses they give you :-). Which makes the game much harder, but still really fun.

Dose Response :-)

Yea this is a pretty cheeky entry. Dose Response is a game I've been working on for years and I've finally released it a few weeks ago.

So obviously I've played a ton of it. Despite knowing the ins and outs of it, I still like it (and so do the people who managed to get past its visuals and controls).

I still can't play it without noticing all the things I could do to make it better, so there are only a few times I got to enjoy it as a normal player could (a gamedev's course), but yeah, I like it.

You can play it here if you're interested:

https://tryjumping.itch.io/dose-response

Games I'd like to try in 2019:

I wanted to try these in 2018, didn't get to them, still kinda want to:

And I want to add Minit to the list.

Games coming out in 2019 I'm most excited about:

I'm also finally considering to get PlayStation 4 so I can play Bloodborne. The last few years showed that the Dark Souls formula works really well for me as does anything Lovecraft-inspired.

I'd have basically played this already if it were on PC. This year, I might actually shell out the money to get the PS4 necessary to play it.

I'd also love to play some proper RPGs. It's my favourite genre and I didn't get to play a lot of them lately (Witcher 3 and Avernum 6 being the most recent ones).

"proper" in this context means broadly: lots of dialogs, towns, areas to explore, choices and consequences, different ways to play through, not being a JRPG (a genre yet to grow on me).

I.e. more like Fallout 2, Arcanum, Planescape: Torment and less like Diablo, Final Fantasy, Legend of Grimrock or NetHack.

The problem with these games is that they require a lot of time (which I don't have) and worse, they require a lot of time to even decide whether they're worth it. It's increasingly hard for me to spend 15 hours just to figure out if I want to keep playing.

People should start making shorter RPGs that are still proper RPGs and not roguelikes, adventure games, puzzles or whatever else.

Tomas Sedovic on 31 December, 2018