It’s the weekend! Time to ditch work, abandon all chores, ignore your social obligations, and settle down with some video games. If you’re looking for some ideas for what to play while you neglect your family, we’ve got you covered. Here’s what has tickled us pink this week:
It’s done! Dark Souls III has finally been conquered, so you don’t have to read about it here anymore. If, however, you would like to read more about Dark Souls III, here’s a review in which I heap praise on it.
In between bouts of frustration, I have found myself looking for a palette cleanser from the dank decay of Dark Souls. Last week I got back into Football Manager; this week I got back into Star Wars: Battlefront. The new Outer Rim DLC has just been released, so me and my girlfriend have got back into the Survival mode for some couch co-op. The release of this DLC means that you get a couple of free maps for Survival, but this consists of multiplayer maps from other gameplay modes that have just been retooled. This is a disappointment, but you get what you pay for. Considering that paying for the Outer Rim DLC grants you access to three new locations and a handful of new heroes, guns, and a gameplay mode, I don’t think I’ll be buying it or the Season Pass any time soon.
There’s a lot I have to say about Star Fox Zero, but all of my criticisms and praises are being gigantically overshadowed by one startling fact: Fox McCloud’s father is named James. It’s just… so baffling; we’ve got Falco the falcon, Pigma the pig, Slippy the toad, and then we’ve got Jim the fox. Needless to say, I’ve been finding it hard to take the cast of Star Fox seriously.
Another startling fact is that I made it to the end of Star Fox in the space of roughly 5 hours, and found myself confounded and irate when I saw the credits pop up. Of course, there is still a lot of replayability, with levels having multiple routes, and arcade and training modes to play through. Nevertheless, I thought I’d have a few more stages to explore. I’ve only really started to feel familiar with the intricacies of the unusual controls, and would like to see some more banter between the characters.
So, I’ll be curiously poking Star Fox Zero with a stick for a little longer, and you can expect to see my final thoughts on it soon. Then I’ll be fleeing back to playing The Last of Us, and waiting eagerly for the new Teenage Mutant Turtles title, mainly because it’s being developed by Platinum Games.
After what has been, in my opinion, a fairly muted start to 2016’s gaming line-up, a pair of absolute beauties have come along to wet my whistle all at once. The first of which is Dark Souls III, a nightmare fantasy land in which giant trees have testicles, onion men get stuck in wells and everything is out to kill you. While having dabbled in the original Dark Souls for quite a bit of time, the series had never truly spoken to me. That was until FromSoftware let loose their gothic, werewolfy side in Bloodborne: Dark Souls’ PlayStation-exclusive spiritual successor.
Dark Souls III shares a lot of Bloodborne’s offensive qualities, namely, speedy combat in favour of the sludgy sword swipes of previous games. Dispatching enemies is sometimes easier, and more satisfying, as a result; if you can be quick. Skill is still needed in terms of defence, however, as enemies appear in swarms, and are also much faster. Getting crowded by a group of flying bird men is as nasty as it sounds.
Bosses, as well as general enemies, are impeccably designed. The aforementioned Curse-rotted Greatwood is a vomity monstrosity; a giant tree with a pair of big balls, which sets free a spindly white hand of death whenever severed. Creations such as this show much creativity amongst the orcs and elves of other modern fantasy titles.
Speaking of creatures with big ears, I have also been playing Ratchet and Clank; a remade version of the 2002 game, which also ties into the 2016 movie. I’m glad to see that Insomniac Games has put the tower defence/co-op days behind it, and is now focused on the traditional, yet still surprisingly modern, Ratchet experience. The humour, heart and fun that you love is still here, but both a beautiful sheen and smoothness have been added to the visuals and combat respectively; levelling weapons and collecting bolts are forever satisfying, and it looks like a playable Pixar movie. Ratchet and Clank is must-play for fans, and is perhaps PS4’s best exclusive.
So things were going well in my Banished village, a little too well, it seems. I had my wilderness area for hunting, foresting and gathering herbs. I had my orchards, farms and huge pastures for my four-legged friends. And I had the town itself; a medieval-styled wonder of stone houses, multi-level buildings and a lot of expensive civic buildings that nobody ever seemed to actually use.
But then, disaster struck. A tornado blew into town and quite efficiently ripped the guts out of my tiny little civilisation. The town hall, the library, the market, the schoolhouse and a good chunk of our supplies were all gone with the wind, along with most of the population and all the children. Once the dust settled, my thriving town of 50+ settlers had been reduced to just seven adults scattered around the outskirts, too disparate to function effectively in any kind of rebuilding effort.
Nonetheless, it was up to these lucky seven to repopulate humanity so the village could start to grow again. And after about a decade of hand-to-mouth faffing about, they actually did turn things around. I just hope none of them were related.
Currently, I’m trying to finish Shadow Warrior (2013). I bought it a while ago, but I didn’t really have the time to play it. It’s rather linear, and most of your time will be spent shooting demons in corridors, but it’s still fun as hell. The biggest challenge I’ve found are these two huge demons that charge straight at you. You gotta shoot them in the back with the shotty like 20 times to finally take them out. Put two of them in the room with you, and that leads to a lot of restarts.
I recently bought two new Indie titles that I’m currently stuck in; Hyper Light Drifter and Stories: The Path of Destinies. Both are isometric action RPGs, and both are beautiful in their own right. HLD reminds me a lot of Zelda, complete with gorgeous pixel art, a pretty awesome soundtrack, and a rather brutal difficulty. Stories: PoD has lush scenery that reminds me a lot of Crash Bandicoot, satisfying swordplay, and a pretty cool “Choose Your Own Story” structure to it.
I also got an alpha copy of Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem direct from Wolcen studios. Formerly called Umbra and built using the awesome power of the CryEngine, it’s another isometric action RPG (can you tell I like those?), very similar to Diablo III or Path of Exile. They still got some work to do on it, but the world is lush, the enemies are abundant, and I can’t wait until it’s done, which should be soon at the rate they release updates for it.
The biggest game I played this week that’s worth mentioning is the Mirror’s Edge Catalyst closed beta. The game plays similarly to its predecessor but makes some noteworthy and welcome changes. The concept of the game fits perfectly into an open-world making the transition feel not only natural but nearly essential. This is also aided by the fact that DICE has created a world that provides the necessary obstacles and paths for movement fluidity. There’s also a much-needed upgrade system, interesting characters, and a brand new, brilliant social aspect that I can’t wait to try against friends. I’ll have a full impressions write-up for Catalyst posted on the site soon, so look out for that.
If you know me or happened to have listened to any of the recent PUGcasts, you know what I’ve been playing. Rocket League! For those of you who do not know, Rocket League received its “Hoops” update and, just as the title suggests, it’s basketball! The game mode is just as fun as it sounds with plenty of air-flying, wall-shotting, car-dunking, rim-stuffing madness. It’s an absolute blast and something I look forward to sinking several hours into. Now, if only we can talk Psyonix into making the mode 3v3 online.
Phew. After a long slog that seemed to last an eternity (but really was about 40 hours or so), I have finally finished Bravely Second: End Layer. For a while there, around the 25th hour, it got very long and very boring. But every good JRPG, both retro and modern, has sections like these that are included to try our patience. And once the slow segment of the game drew to an end, the pace of the storytelling was quick, and the story was very engaging until the final scene of the game. Square Enix have carefully crafted a wonderful neo-vintage JRPG franchise that bases itself on intense and mind-boggling plots, plenty of character customization options, and lots of replayability.
Tonight I have also just begun to play Severed, the newest title from DrinkBox Studios. Scott got his hands on the game nice and early and already has a review up, so be sure to check that out. I am not far along in the game, but I am loving the visual and art style, the music, and how fluid the combat controls feel. Severed is providing me with the perfect reason to utilize the unappreciated PS Vita.