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This week I had a lot of free time to grab two more out of the backlog.

The first is Lego the Hobbit. I've had poor experiences with these games. A casual co-op beat em up game with puzzle elements sounds right up my alley and a great sort of game to play with friends, but these always feel like much lower quality than they ought to be. Definitely the kind you'd expect from PS1/PS2 era licensed games which I guess Traveller's Tales was chiefly known for. I want to like the Lego games, but the level design is always so obtuse that it makes me genuinely angry, the idea that millions of kids get excited to play a game based on a movie they like and then getting stuck in such poorly designed levels. They deserve something better.

There’s almost no overlap between character specific skills based on the weapon they carry. For instance two of your dwarves carry two handed hammers, but only the bigger one can push big stone statues into place. Thankfully this game lets you press the character switch button at context sensitive moments if you don’t care to remember which of the dwarves has the sling, as you then sift through a menu to select them. But it doesn't always work, and the expectation that it will work has had me stumped a few times. Like any Lego game there are lulls where no path forward has presented itself until you’ve backtracked to find the one coffee table you hadn’t destroyed and yup it breaks into the parts you need to build a door handle. Great. And you gotta stand on this magic pixel here to get the prompt to interact with this obvious thing in the environment. Wonderful. Both of these phenomenons actually got me stuck on the very first screen of the game. But altogether this ended up being the most straightforward Lego game I've ever played. I only had to pull up a video guide a couple times. Can't say I had much fun with it though. The biggest surprise at the end was finding out the plot only covered up to the second movie. I don't see why they would make this game before the final one. It must be because the Hobbit Trilogy was itself planned to be two movies until they expanded it into a third one unexpectedly.

The second game I was pleasantly surprised with, Mega Man Zero 3. Zero 2 took the original game’s concept but toned down on the difficulty and especially the ridiculous level of grinding. Zero 3 does the same thing, only to a point where I think it may have gone overboard, unless you’re playing this game without the save assist feature which I am. I don’t mind the game a bit easier, but I feel like the point of the Zero series up to now was always “this is mega man, but less about getting creative with special weapons and more about blindingly fast gameplay and the sort of advanced techniques you’d find in a fighting game”. There is a hard mode, but it's only unlocked when you beat the game.

One way they’ve cut down on the grind is removing weapon experience. All four weapons are maxed out at the start. Cyber elfs still need to be fed, but their upgrades come in stages that make sense. Upgrading them once turns them into “satellites” which can be equipped in one of two slots, letting you benefit from those abilities much sooner. Upgrading them completely lets you equip them permanently. I love that change in character progression, It's kind of like Ravio's Shop in A Link Between Worlds. But I also wish these games would give us more than one new weapon to play with when the Z-saber is still absurdly versatile, and the Shield charger still doesn’t block enemy shots that you would care to block. Heck in this game you can slash or shoot the shots that are blockable out of the air so it’s even more useless. This is the third game and I’m using the same attacks against many of the same boss fights from previous entries. Still I can see why people say Zero 3 is where the series gets good. The narrative doesn’t feel like a hastily constructed afterthought, and it actually expands on its own vague lore and introduces a decent villain. I was so pleased with the conclusion I booted up the fourth game for a half hour, and wow it’s not only running with that ending but finally tying in the world of the Zero series to the X series while showing us the human side of the conflict that we never saw. Awesome.

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I'm about one hour into AC Valhalla. Liking it a lot so far. My biggest problem with Odyssey was the weightless combat and "bullet sponge" enemies. It's slightly improved in ACV (though, still not where I'd like it to be tbh). Can't comment much on the open world yet. I've heard it's more concentrated and less copy/pasted than Odyssey... fingers crossed. I am kind of disappointed with the combat animations. It looks like you use the same animations for both single wielding and dual wielding. Maybe as you get more abilities, it will be become varied. We'll see. Still pretty early, but overall I'm optimistic and liking it. 

EDIT: Had some more time with the game. My new biggest gripe by far: the audio quality. It's horrendous. It's almost inexplicable how a AAA company shipped something with this level of audio degradation. I'm staggered and a quite a bit annoyed. It's very jarring. It's hard to explain without hearing it - but the environmental/ambient audio is the worst quality audio I've ever heard in a AAA game. Heck it's worse than most indie games and movies I've played/watched. Hoping for a HQ audio pack that isn't as poorly compressed (FWIW, the voice audio is mostly passable).

Edited by Aegius_NaTL

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Played a bit of Civ6 the last few days, for the first time in 8 months or so. First game was as Korea - quite fun overall, conquered my neighbor Mali early on and then scienced my way to victory. Today, I wanted to start a game as Victoria of England, since I never played as her when the game first came out (I think she was fairly bad back then). The first starting location was... less then ideal.

Spoiler

england.thumb.jpg.74dd3bfd35c3d3176560ded969486330.jpg

 

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4 hours ago, ping said:

The first starting location was... less then ideal.

  Hide contents

england.thumb.jpg.74dd3bfd35c3d3176560ded969486330.jpg

 

London, the capital of eternal snow, be careful as you drive past Buckingham Palace, the wild penguins tend to cross the street there. I don't think I've ever had a start that bad. 

As for how good England is, Gathering Storm redefined England by removing the cultural aspect it has in the base game/Rise & Fall, gaining to a later-game well-rounded industrial boost. Workshop of the World replaced The British Museum as the Civilization Unique Ability, giving extra yields (production, gold, culture, science) when districts are being powered. England gained a starting bias for Coal too, so hopefully you'll have some for the Coal Power Plants to electrify your empire (although this means you'll be responsible for global warming). Whether you opt to conquer with England via Redcoats or play peacefully instead, Workshop of the World can help.

For an alternative, you could try Eleanor of Aquitaine as England's leader if you haven't already. For her:

  • An ideal map is Pangaea, sea level set to "high", with a reduced number of City-States, a cramped map is best for fun with Eleanor.
  • Build Theatre Districts and fill them with Great Works, build Entertainment Complexes for running Bread & Circus projects.
  • Get your spies out ASAP to Neutralize Governors and Foment Unrest. Avoid making alliances with those you wish to spy on, they banned spy use in allied cities in just the last update.
  • Get Amani's Emissary title and place her in a border city.
  • Reset if Dido is in the game, she'll ruin your fun. 
  • Once you have done all of the above, hopefully the Ages will work out so that one of the nearer empires is in an Dark Age and that you're in a Golden, but as long they aren't in a better Age than you, it should be able to work out.

Look for a red down-arrow on an enemy left of an enemy city's name, next to the empire symbol name, and wait until it rebels against its master and offers to join you, which for Eleanor happens instantly once its loyalty hits zero, no free city phase of at least ten turns. Fill your new city with another Theatre District and Entertainment Complex if you can. Once you've peacefully stolen one city from a rival, the rest may not fold overnight, but the pace of a country crumbling should quicken, even the enemy capital may eventually rise up and hand itself to your governance.

Eleanor is very finicky to make work, she is slow to do her thing, partly dependent on luck with Ages and geography to make happen, and requires a sizable amount of infrastructure. But, the premise of conquest without firing a single bullet can be fun.

 

If you haven't played in eight months, you might not be familiar with the New Frontier Pass they're selling. My summary of it so far:

Spoiler

The new civilizations so far are: 

  • An OP military Gran Columbia.
  • The rough start Tall Science Mayans.
  • The faith-heavy Ethiopians.
  • The manspreading industrial empire of Gaul.
  • The religious and dominating Byzantines who get oil-free tanks from constructing stadiums.
  • And in a couple days, Babylon. Hammurabi get the entire tech if he triggers its Eureka, but has -50% Science gain the entire game as the civ's price. You can roll out Classical era Musketmen if you chain your Eurekas right (good luck affording these though). Be sure to build the Great Library.

NFP also provides Catherine de Medici with a Venetian carnival mask that can run a project for Tourism based on how many luxuries she has (buy up all the copies you can from fellow states). And Theodore Roosevelt was split in two: 

  • Rough Rider "Bad American Imperialism" Roosevelt
  • Bull Moose "Good Conservationist" Roosevelt.

The Rough Rider unit and +5 Combat Strength on the home continent got paired with double Envoys to City-States you have an active trade route to. The +1 Appeal to all tiles in a city with a National Park got paired with +2 Culture to every Breathtaking tile adjacent to a World Wonder or woods, and +2 Science for every breathtaking tile adjacent to a Natural Wonder or a mountain.

NFP also adds:

  • A highlands map script to the lineup.
  • A pirates multiplayer scenario.
  • An apocalypse mode where the by the endgame cities are being wiped out by meteors.
  • The Dramatic Ages mode wherein you instantly loose cities on entering a Dark Age, and Normal Ages no longer exist.
  • And, the Secret Societies mode, wherein you get to supercharge your civilization by joining one of: the alchemists, the Illuminati, vampires, or worshippers of Cthulhu.
  • And they're adding some kind of new mode where you get to have a hero like Sun Wukong or Hercules or Mulan as special unit with secondary abilities useful outside of war too.
  • The Temple of Zeus and the Biosphere are new World Wonders. Bermuda Triangle, Patiti (El Dorado), and the Fountain of Youth are new Natural Wonders.

 

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14 hours ago, Interdimensional Observer said:

London, the capital of eternal snow, be careful as you drive past Buckingham Palace, the wild penguins tend to cross the street there. I don't think I've ever had a start that bad. 

It was one of the non-standard map scripts (Terra - multiple continents, but all civs start on the same), which might not be as well-tested as Continents or Pangaea. Needless to say, I didn't play that start. Check out London, the capital of the rain forests, famous for its sheep, cotton and cocoa plantations:

Spoiler

england2.thumb.png.c195b40014340770ad5cbad3331873f6.png

(i moved east one tile for the +2 gold on the harbor; not sure if it was the best decision given the dearth of nearby sea resources)

 

14 hours ago, Interdimensional Observer said:

If you haven't played in eight months, you might not be familiar with the New Frontier Pass they're selling. My summary of it so far:

"Not played in eight months" also means that I don't know if I want to invest another 40 bucks into the game, especially since there's a bunch of the old civs/leaders that I haven't played yet (like Eleanor, although I'll probably play her France). I'll probably see if there's going to be a sale at some point - maybe the more bonkers civs will be rebalanced until then, too. ;):

(I might also be content to just play every game as Pachacuti, even though I'm still sad that he didn't keep his hill movement ability from Civ5)

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49 minutes ago, ping said:

"Not played in eight months" also means that I don't know if I want to invest another 40 bucks into the game, especially since there's a bunch of the old civs/leaders that I haven't played yet (like Eleanor, although I'll probably play her France). I'll probably see if there's going to be a sale at some point - maybe the more bonkers civs will be rebalanced until then, too. ;):

Whoops! Didn't mean to try making a sales pitch just trying to catch you up in case you were interested.

Personally, I'm probably going to buy it, but on a matter of principle, I refuse to do so until the last bit of content for this New Frontier Pass is revealed. It is foolish to buy a DLC pass before you know what's in it, because I can tell some people are feeling a little burnt and regretful from Three Houses and Smash.

 

 

 

---

In the past week, I did a second playthrough of Trials of Mana using the three characters I didn't use the first time. The game is a bit more fun when you know to keep your expectations low concerning the plot and characterization. On Hard, it's a good simple and not too long Action RPG, though I wish it didn't take until the second class change late in the game for everyone to become really fun.

 

I've also been working my way through Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town. I grew up with the franchise formerly known as Harvest Moon, but then suddenly stopped playing them for no real reason. It's been over a decade, and with fond memories of Back to Nature and GBA Friends of Mineral Town, this would be my point for an attempted reconnection to the franchise. 

The game is definitely too simple and too small for those not already drawn to the franchise. The new artwork earned only my disgust initially barring a few redesigns, but stare at it enough, and the distaste goes away. NPCs need more varied dialogue, I do miss not having BtN's tomato festival, and the 3D models if you zoom in are too simplistic. Days are really short and farming consumes too much time, unless you hire the Nature Sprites, who wind up divorcing you almost entirely from agriculture once you've befriended them and put them to labor.

This said, I am enjoying it, it's a good return to my childhood. For whatever flaws it may have, I think I'll try to make a permanent return to the farming sim genre.

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I finished up the MMZ series with Mega Man Zero 4. It's strange to see a mega man game with such a definitive ending. Even Mega Man 11 didn't leave us with any definitive conclusion. I was told repeatedly by Zero fans that the plot is a huge selling point and you can tell they began trying with 3 and 4. 4 follows very logically from 3's finale which was a refreshing example of serialized story telling. But really it's nothing to get worked up over. We're still presented with unlikeable/unrelatable characters, grade school dialogue writing, and predictable twists. In a lot of ways this felt more like a traditional Mega Man or Mega Man X game by presenting us with 8 robot masters and an anti-hero character. Also it's weird that the other maverick hunters of the previous three games didn't get a sendoff in this series finale. It's like they just forgot.

The progression system of previous games has been replaced almost entirely. Now instead of buying individual upgrades, you have one elf to manage and are presented with more upgrades as it levels up. This allows for some opportunity cost scenarios like choosing between moving faster or having constant shots come out of your elf. But for the most part each new upgrade is better than the last. Upgrading the elf costs a ton of crystals, and the best farming strategies aren't available until you’ve already grinded enough to hit level 5, which you’d never reach just blazing your way through the game normally. You also have to grind enemy materials to build parts that grant you new skills. The game hands you some recipes if you talk to certain NPCs, but most are hidden so you’d better break out the guide to find how to make the double jump boots. Overall this game is about as grindy as Mega Man Zero 1. Which is unacceptably so.

One change I do like is with EX skills. To earn them, all you need to do is defeat bosses when the weather favors them, rather than requiring the player to maintain a high rank. The boss and level do become harder under such conditions, but not in a way that I found unmanageable due to the save assist feature. I like it, but since you can’t refight bosses when revisiting stages, it’s still permanently missable content just like in the previous games. I still enjoyed myself with Zero 4, but I think Zeros 3 and 2 are superior action games in just not prompting the player to grind so damn much

The other game I played is Affordable Space Adventures, a stealth/puzzle indie game exclusive to the Wii U. In a distant future where space travel to uncharted planets is commonplace, the company Uexplore provides cheap voyages for explorers of little means. How bad can it be, if there's a coupon for it? It's a game where you get past enemies and obstacles by adjusting your ship's systems to squeeze and float your way through obstacles. There's no combat elements, so it's up to you to manage your ship's output of sound, heat, and electricity to get by the notice of enemies. Checkpoints are generous, although load times between levels were pretty obnoxious in their length. My favorite part of the game was the final levels where you're losing your ship's systems one by one and forced to hold your engine together against the planet's harsh elements. And the ending was the most deliciously nihilistic I have ever seen in a video game. 

The game also features co-op controls where multiple players can control the ship's various systems. I didn't get an opportunity to try this out, but I'm imagining something like the game Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime. The game also featured Miiverse support which obviously no longer exists and I imagine took the shape of players leaving you hints within levels

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Started to play Nights of Azure 2 (besides Persona 4 Golden). It's a game which was recommended on Youtube for being one of the shorter (great) RPGs. I haven't played the prequel, but it's not necessary. I was warned about its fanservice, and I can see why. Still the cast looks interesting, furthermore the combat is very even a bit hard to get used to due to the big amount of attack combos.

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I played Deadly Premonition. And I truly don't know where to begin with a game like this. Just when I thought I was getting to the bottom of what this game is about, the final act upended everything. To start with the basics, it's a survival horror game with open world elements. The action based gameplay wears its Resident Evil 4 inspiration on its sleeve between every gun having a laser sight and the game relying heavily on QTEs for everything that's not pointing and shooting. It's largely failing as a survival game by giving you an infinite ammo pistol at the start of the game. Your food and sleep meters need to be managed, but I mostly addressed them as a formality since they never came close to depleting when you're being handed a great deal of food for free and always have a place to sleep, even within zombie dungeons. Zombies largely don't put up a threat when you can run right by them with ease. The most threatening are the ones with guns, which obliterate your health far faster than anything else in the game, and are introduced surprisingly early with no warning.

The game is rough around the edges, but its strangeness invites you to stick around to see where it's going. The entire time I wondered if the narrative's supernatural elements were even considered supernatural in the context of its universe when none of the characters stopped to seriously acknowledge them. And our main character, York, is probably the most psychopathic of all of them by displaying obvious schizophrenic behavior in front of strangers. The game takes place in an open world with side quests, but most were difficult to find. Often only being available at certain points of the story and could only be found by walking into a random house that an NPC exists in. Seeking them out can be worthwhile though, as you're rewarded with better cars and weapons. The cars are hilarious to control - like bars of soap, but can be annoying when they flip over and cause a mission failure. If you refuse to wash York's clothes, you can cause a mob of flies to appear circling around him as the game goes on, even appearing in cutscenes. It's great. 

I'm glad I finally got to play Deadly Premonition on Switch. Many years ago I put it on my must-play list after watching Protonjon stream it, but when I bought it on Steam, it simply refused to run on my computer. Or anybody's computer without significant patching and altering of the game's files which I was not willing to deal with. I can't recommend the game to anybody who isn't already curious. I can only compare it to The Room, both in terms of its quality and how talking about it and riffing on it is always going to be more fun than playing it as a solitary experience. But on the other hand, Deadly Premonition's strangeness feels more like a treasure hunt where you must make your own fun in the game's optional content. Perhaps I'll do a more thorough playthrough in the future.

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I'm playing an old game named "Gta San Andreas" . Just roaming around with K-Rose music. This game is so popular in other countries. but not in my country

 

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I decided I would try some JRPGs that I had been looking at for a while. I got the free demo of Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age: Definitive Edition (definitely a Square Enix game) on the Switch, and I bought Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana on the PS4 since it was on sale for 67% off and I had been meaning to get the game for some time. 

I am fairly new to JRPGs; for the longest time, the only ones I played were Fire Emblem, and it was only within the last few years that I also played Xenoblade 1 & X, Valkyria Chronicles 4, and Final Fantasy 7 Remake. 

Of the two games, I have to say that I find Dragon Quest XI's gameplay more intuitive so far, though that may only really be because it being turn-based gives me more time to get used to how it works, and also because I used to play some online RPGs that had similar turn-based combat with menu systems. I can't really think of anything I've played that's similar to Ys VIII's combat.

Both games have interesting stories so far, but in different ways: Dragon Quest XI is a rather familiar fantasy story of an adopted chosen hero (at least so far; I suspect it might have some subtle twists well past where the demo ends), while I haven't really experienced anything like Ys VIII's story before; I haven't really seen many castaway-on-a-magical-deserted-island stories (though I know they exist), but the closest video game story to Ys' among the games I've played would probably have to be Xenoblade X's, and even that one had a last-of-humanity sci-fi angle on top of the stranded-on-an-unknown-magical-land story. 

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Three days ago during the Steam sale I bought Transistor, Star Wars Galactic Battlegrounds Saga, and Valkyria Chronicles. I haven’t started Transistor or Galactic Battlegrounds yet, just Valkyria. Valkyria Chronicles is a game I’ve been eyeing for years, but haven’t bought because my Laptop (probably) couldn’t run it, but earlier this year I inherited a PC from my brother, so I’ve been catching up on games I couldn’t run before.

Valkyria Chronicles is just as good as I hoped, I’m on chapter 11 right now. The only issues I have with the game is that I hate fielding Largo and Rosie just to get extra CP, and I have had two crashes during my 21 hour playtime, which is annoying because Steam thinks the game’s still running even though it’s not and the only way to get it to actually stop is by restarting my computer.

Edy is by far my favorite unit, she’s very cute, cute enough that I might change my profile picture to her, but I don’t know. Something else I like about the game are the weapon trees, I love deciding who gets what based on their potentials and how I use the unit. I also like the character’s last names, some of them are really cool, I’m partial to surnames that end in “-son” due to growing up in a state where everyone is of Scandinavian descent.

 

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11 hours ago, MyLuckyHaiku said:

Valkyria Chronicles is just as good as I hoped, I’m on chapter 11 right now. The only issues I have with the game is that I hate fielding Largo and Rosie just to get extra CP, and I have had two crashes during my 21 hour playtime, which is annoying because Steam thinks the game’s still running even though it’s not and the only way to get it to actually stop is by restarting my computer.

Oh, right! I planned on also getting Valkyria Chronicles during the recent sales like I did for Ys VIII, but I completely forgot. Thanks for reminding me. Hopefully it's still on sale. 

Edited by vanguard333

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Fire Emblem Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light

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I'm slated to finish Fell Seal: Arbiter's Mark tonight. I recommend it massively - it's effectively the FFTA3 we never got, and you can tell how much love went into it as well as the QoL improvements it has over most other TRPGs. I've been poking at ranked online Age of Empires 2: Definitive Edition sporadically, as well as comp-stomping. I was given the confidence to give it a shot basically through watching T90's Low Elo Legends series. 'I could do better than that', I thought, and... apparently am correct, given that my Elo's currently 1069. And as ever still poking in at Myth 2 every now and again. It's nice to be... one of the unquestioned best players in the world of a thing, even if it's purely due to longevity and lack of competition.

And of course at all times I need some kind of MMO just to press the 'bars go up' button. That looks like being Final Fantasy 14 for the forseeable future; I just got to the end of the MSQ so far, less than a week before the new patch comes in. Fuuuck that last trial.

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after having completed and revisited once more both God Eater Resurrection and God Eater 2 Rage Burst, i'm currently playing with God Eater 3.

i gotta say, out of all three, GER is probably the best one in terms of background story and overall characters development, while GE2RB has so many features and content to offer that it's almost overwhelming. they're all interesting titles nonetheless, especially for people that might like action games a la Monster Hunter, but with anime visuals instead.

i've also made some videos for builds showcase, will probably do more once i'm done with GE3 as well:

Spoiler

 

 

 

meanwhile, i'm also still playing with FE Blazing Sword, currently on Hector Hard mode around chapter 20. trying to do a no deaths run as usual for the sake of characters lore, and i have already lost count of all the times i had to reset( seriously, the other modes are a joke compared to HHM ).

i decided to pick different units for every scenario, and i've been quite pleased with some alternative characters so far. Hector and Oswin have always been broken units no matter the mode though.

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On Ch. 18 of Path of Radiance, this time on hard mode. It's been a great time. Good challenge compared to normal, even if it's not terribly difficult. I've had lower-tier units be great (Mia, Zihark), and my high-tier units be mediocre to struggling (Oscar, Marcia). Astrid has been a standout, being strength blessed by about 5-6 points. I hope to finish up soon and use those transfer bonuses on a second Radiant Dawn playthrough.

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currently playing Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night after i completed Trails of Cold Steel 4 (with Platinum Trophy)

i must say, this is probably the best metroidvania i've ever played

 

and no, Castlevania 1 isn't above Bloodstained RotN simply because the former isn't a metroidvania

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Just beat Transistor today. I don’t think it’s as good as Bastion, but it’s still a pretty good game. The combat could be frustrating at times due to lacking any sort of dodge or blocking mechanics, so you kinda have to run around like a headless chicken to avoid getting hit.

Now I’ll be trying to get as many achievements as I can on this next playthrough, but I’m also still playing Valkyria on chapter 15 so I’ll have to balance those out. In terms of VC1, snipers are actually useful in the late chapters.

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I'm gradually cleaning up games I never got to on my Wii U in hopes of retiring it to make some temporary space. Next on my list is Child of Light, and I guess you could say I was Child of Late. A turn based, ATB rpg made in the same UbiArt engine they used for the Rayman reboot in the early 2010s. Past Child of Light and Valiant Hearts, it hasn't been seen for any game except for the yearly Just Dance. That's a shame because this game looks fantastic. It plays great too. The battle system is easy to understand, the game gives you a new party member to play with every 1-2 hours, and the skill trees make them highly customizable. A single playthrough of the game will let you progress through about half of the available skills, but no matter which direction you go in, they all seem great. That sort of makes up for the lack of respec-ing, but I still would have appreciated that feature just to experiment with different builds within a single playthrough. The game also has no currency or item drops on common enemies, thus no way to earn more items as far as I'm aware, which are very potent for reversing a bad situation. I played the game on Normal mode, and encountered little challenge but I imagine ramping up the difficulty would make items seem too good to use due to their finite-ness.

I have few gripes with Child of Light, thus not much to say. It's a short RPG, ending long before it feels like the game has run out of ideas. All of the game is written in the ABCB rhyming scheme, where sometimes the rhyming word turns the dialogue to logical gibberish. But I wasn't bothered by the game's syntax when the plot is primarily focused on the emotional state of characters and how they are forced to grow up like the main character. If this game is hanging out in your steam library or wherever, I recommend booting it up and trying it out.

I also played Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag. I got it as part of the "Legendary collection" which was recently on sale for sixty dollars. I have not played a game in this franchise since 3 came out, and I remember being displeased at the sloppier engine when it came to climbing and sword duels taking forever because the enemies just kept piling on. Black Flag has a lot of that, but its imperfections in those areas are handily overshadowed by the sailing gameplay which handles like a dream. Ship duels are fun enough that I felt like seeking them out just for the resources in paying for upgrades. The kenway's fleet side game was also surprisingly enjoyable, serving as an easy way to make some cash to pay for more upgrades and aesthetic additions to your ship. Apparently it has a tie-in mobile app, reminding me of the mid 2010s trend of triple A games all having some companion app for you to donwload. Deep sea diving areas and harpooning also made for consistently fun side quests, and the new shanty collectible, though infuriating to collect as you flounder against the game's busted parkour system, is just such a theoretically perfect addition to an Assassin's creed game that I can't get mad at it. 

As mentioned, when the game does prompt you to climb buildings and get in sword fights, it always feels clunky. While climbing, Edward would jump past something I was aiming at, or unintentionally clamber up a nearby wall just because the game detects the player as being close to that wall while the run button is held down. When trying to be stealthy it's especially annoying to get stuck climbing the wrong thing as an enemy spots you. Sword duels are straight forward, but I repeatedly felt the game was ignoring my inputs to counter an attack. I also encountered much difficulty getting the game to allow me to dock my ship or board an enemy vessel, as the prompt would just not appear until I waited around for several seconds. Sometimes giving me a reason such as being in combat or being in a storm when that was certainly false. Also lootable chests and crates require you to stand on one particular side of them to interact, making them very finnicky as our character instinctively wants to climb on top of the chest when you get near it. All Edward does is kick or smash them with his fists to open them, so I don't see the need to force the player to stand at one particular angle for such a rudimentary animation to play out.

Perhaps the biggest shortcoming in the game is its narrative. Until the last 10-20% of the main mission line our main character not only lacks a motivation, but rejects the notion of needing one until the world smacks some empathy into him. The ultimate conclusion felt a touch too neat and unearned. The greatest eyeroll came in an epilogue cutscene that confirms our character is the dad of the previous game's antagonist. That may sound like a big deal, but if you played AC3, you're already aware of the connection. And if you hadn't played AC3, you're left wondering what the point of the scene is. Nothing else about it adds to the narrative of either game, making it functionally useless. Still I had a blast with Black Flag, and I can see why so many people recommended it to me over the years as their favorite in the franchise. I've got the next four entries waiting for me as well. Say what you want about Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed and Far Cry franchises, they make good junk food games. Never demanding of much attention, overflowing with content, you could just eat all day.

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26 minutes ago, Glennstavos said:

I have few gripes with Child of Light, thus not much to say. It's a short RPG, ending long before it feels like the game has run out of ideas.

I'd say my major gripe with the game is that it feels rushed. It needs probably another two or three areas. You shouldn't get the stars right when your journey begins, and it doesn't have a real final dungeon; I think the world map has an unused area with a name label on it. This is a big issue, because the game is already short, so for it to feel rushed is a serious blow.

Otherwise, the game worked for me.

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11 minutes ago, Interdimensional Observer said:

I'd say my major gripe with the game is that it feels rushed. It needs probably another two or three areas. You shouldn't get the stars right when your journey begins, and it doesn't have a real final dungeon; I think the world map has an unused area with a name label on it. This is a big issue, because the game is already short, so for it to feel rushed is a serious blow.

Otherwise, the game worked for me.

I guess from my perspective, I tend to venerate the 10-20 hour rpg that is so uncommon in the 21st century. Especially when they offer multiple difficulty settings or a NG+ mode, which this game does on both counts. I'd prefer a game trying to be "all killer and no filler". Too many rpgs just lose me by progressing at such a sluggish, meandering pace. No story is good enough to warrant 80 hours to tell it, but lack of gameplay progression is an equal issue. If hour 5 is me mashing the attack command, and hour 50 is me mashing the attack command, then the game didn't have enough ideas to last five hours, let alone fifty. Child of Light, despite being fairly simplistic and not all too challenging on its Normal setting, does introduce new elements. For the entire game you're rewarded for landing interrupts on enemies, and towards the end bosses are countering your interruption with a free buff or heal. The consistent pace of new party members every hour or two also expands your options for gaining an edge on enemies that become progressively more resistant to a strategy of just brute forcing with damage and healing.

This may not come as a surprise, but I also tend to come on the side of movies as a superior medium to a season of television. Because the shorter length of a film forces writers to identify the core elements of story to inform every scene. The best aspects end up getting more emphasis. Like cream that always rises to the top. 

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1 minute ago, Glennstavos said:

I guess from my perspective, I tend to venerate the 10-20 hour rpg that is so uncommon in the 21st century. Especially when they offer multiple difficulty settings or a NG+ mode, which this game does on both counts. I'd prefer a game trying to be "all killer and no filler". Too many rpgs just lose me by progressing at such a sluggish, meandering pace. No story is good enough to warrant 80 hours to tell it, but lack of gameplay progression is an equal issue. If hour 5 is me mashing the attack command, and hour 50 is me mashing the attack command, then the game didn't have enough ideas to last five hours, let alone fifty.

I understand.

My perspective on Child of Light is that it was "faux-indie", made by a major company, but with the artsy appeal of some indie games. If you want to be artsy, and "artsy" often equates to "short", then you best do it well. The perceptions that areas were cut and things rushed, not helped by the sudden dragging from the penultimate boss to the final boss, undermined that poignance I was supposed to feel.

You're looking at it more from a gameplay perspective, I think I'm looking more at the story. I almost never go indie with my game choices, so I was expecting a good indie feel according to my preconceived notions, with the gameplay a nice second that made getting CoL more palatable to me.

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