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What game are you playing?
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Synonamess Botch
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December 16, 2017 - 6:22 pm
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xtal said
No other year has delivered as many heavyweight blows to me as this one. I've never enjoyed so many "AAA" games in one year.

Me too!  Horizon Zero Dawn, Persona 5, Nier Automata, The Last Guardian (OK 2016, but it started the run), Until Dawn (a little late to the party on this one).  Also still got Nioh on my backlog and need to pick up Hellblade.  This is been a stellar year for me gaming-wise.

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Steerpike
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January 1, 2018 - 11:18 am
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It really has been, especially given that the AAA world has been kind of iffy the previous few years. All those you mentioned and even some I haven't played, like the new Resident Evil, and those on platforms I lack, like Breath of the Wild. It's a good time to play games. I just picked up Gravity Rush 2 and the latest Uncharted, both of which I'd been looking forward to.

And don't forget the upcoming Shadow of the Colossus remake! I'm very excited about that one. 

Life is the misery we endure between disappointments.

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xtal
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January 2, 2018 - 1:34 pm
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Steerpike said

One I can strongly recommend is Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice. I'm working on an article about it but in advance of that, it's definitely worth the money. Very intense, gorgeous, well-done. Ninja Theory at its best!  

I just finished Hellblade a few days ago, after playing the first half on my Extra Life stream. I almost quit near the end during the Fenrir boss fight. I then realized I could lower the combat difficulty, and did so. Way better. To anyone going into that game, play it with the combat on Easy. The combat is the least interesting part of the game and goes on too long every time it happens.

Also, the game seemed too long to me in general, which is surprising since it's relatively short. I guess I thought it was going to be shorter. The run toward the end (with the 4 stone things you do before getting Gramr) seemed repetitive. All that said, it was one of those cool experiences that I didn't necessarily love playing, but am glad it's out there. Kinda like Papo & Yo.

Oh, and Steerpike, if you liked the demo of Nier: Automata, you'll probably like the game. The demo (intro section) is easily the crappiest part.

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Dix
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January 4, 2018 - 12:12 am
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I've gone back to Nier: Automata after bouncing off of it hard several months ago and though I've put more time into it I'm still feeling mostly an alternating sense of irritation with it and being severely underwhelmed by it. I don't know if the number of people who have recommended it vigorously to me has just subconsciously moved the bar impossibly high or if I've just played certain games that make Nier: Automata feel less impressive (many of Platinum's previous games being primary culprits). It's not bad, but it's definitely currently at a threatening level of dull for me.

I've just defeated (encountered?) the "humanoid machine" for the first time. How much longer should I give this game before I'm at the point where it's either got me or it's not going to?

"Home is not a place.  It is wherever your passion takes you."

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geggis
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January 4, 2018 - 6:43 am
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The hype probably hasn't helped!

Nier: Automata ultimately didn't live up to the hype for me, but there's a lot I loved about it, particularly how its direction constantly surprised me. I was somewhat underwhelmed with the first playthrough, finding the antagonists laughable and the story arc intriguing but kind of shallow perhaps? But the thing that kept me going was the cracks of something greater peeking through every so often, questions left hanging and knowing that this was just the beginning. The second playthrough (obviously) opens up more and from there you should be intrigued enough to want to continue down the rabbit hole... but if not, then I'd probably say just move on. I mean, the third playthrough is... yeah, it's hard to talk about.

I'd like to add that the side quests are worth doing, even if some of them stumble over into busywork. They often explore the themes of the game in ways that the main story doesn't really slow down for. I wish the difficulty had been tuned better so that the looser and more forgiving combat was a little crunchier but otherwise it helps keep things progressing at a fair clip.

I was surprised to see aspects of SOMA in Nier: Automata. I preferred SOMA; it was shorter and more focused but it was grounded too so I found it a lot more conductive and affecting. Nier: Automata explodes in so many directions that it's hard to process. The memory of it is fading now so I wonder how I'll feel about it over time.

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Synonamess Botch
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January 4, 2018 - 4:01 pm
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I'm finding that my fondness for Nier: Automata wanes as time goes on.  I mean that I'm forgetting what exactly it was that kept me engaged.  The open world is not particularly captivating, the combat is just OK, and parts of the story and many of the side quests weren't that interesting.  I think the fact that I wanted to see what was "really going on" is what really kept me going.  I did appreciate how the gameplay seemed to change every few minutes.  Still, after seeing the three main endings, I was ready to be done.

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xtal
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January 4, 2018 - 4:28 pm
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I can't remember, Dix, what's the machine to which you're referring?

I've found myself looking back on my time with it more fondly, in contrast.

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Dix
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January 4, 2018 - 4:32 pm
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xtal said

I can't remember, Dix, what's the machine to which you're referring?

The naked one that looks like Sephiroth.

"Home is not a place.  It is wherever your passion takes you."

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xtal
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January 4, 2018 - 4:38 pm
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Oh okay, that was the fight in the desert? I think that's right around the point where I was very curious and certainly hooked.

Right around the "this cannot continue" moment.

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Dix
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January 4, 2018 - 4:41 pm
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xtal said
Oh okay, that was the fight in the desert? I think that's right around the point where I was very curious and certainly hooked.

Right around the "this cannot continue" moment.  

Yeah, see, maybe I've just consumed too much sci-fi in my time, but everything that area was doing feels super cliche to me. To the point that I think I'm less engaged with the story than I was when I started to mission.

"Home is not a place.  It is wherever your passion takes you."

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xtal
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January 4, 2018 - 5:05 pm
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Interesting. What else would you say it's similar to, or borrowing from, if anything? I'm curious!

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geggis
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January 4, 2018 - 5:42 pm
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xtal said

Right around the "this cannot continue" moment.  

I loved that bit. In addition to the other 'mantra tune'...

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Dix
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January 4, 2018 - 5:43 pm
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xtal said
Interesting. What else would you say it's similar to, or borrowing from, if anything? I'm curious!  

I don't know that it's borrowing from anything specific because to me the themes feel so common to sci-fi. The notion of machines developing or possessing emotions is something that sci-fi has hit hard since basically the moment robots became a thing in fiction, with some great stuff among Asimov, Gibson, and more than a few Star Trek episodes.

Similarly, the notion of some sci-fi thing facilitating soldiers fighting a war against an enemy who is not quite what they're told is also reasonably well-trod: Ender's Game (and arguably Speaker for the Dead) has a similar premise, many military sci-fi stories have at least an incidental technological tweak (a drug, an implant, etc.) to drive soldiers to fight and not question why, etc. Right now I'm fully expecting this to have a situation similar to a third series Black Mirror episode:

In "Men Against Fire," the military uses implants to have their soldiers see their targets as vampire-like creatures who are not capable of communicating intelligibly. In reality, they are normal people who have simply been deemed genetically inferior.

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Synonamess Botch
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January 4, 2018 - 5:57 pm
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OK now I know what part you're referring to Dix.  This point in the game definitely felt a little bit like it was going off the rails.  Still, if this part doesn't hook you into wanting to know more, I'm not sure anything will.

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xtal
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January 8, 2018 - 1:31 pm
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Dix said

I don't know that it's borrowing from anything specific because to me the themes feel so common to sci-fi. The notion of machines developing or possessing emotions is something that sci-fi has hit hard since basically the moment robots became a thing in fiction, with some great stuff among Asimov, Gibson, and more than a few Star Trek episodes.

Similarly, the notion of some sci-fi thing facilitating soldiers fighting a war against an enemy who is not quite what they're told is also reasonably well-trod: Ender's Game (and arguably Speaker for the Dead) has a similar premise, many military sci-fi stories have at least an incidental technological tweak (a drug, an implant, etc.) to drive soldiers to fight and not question why, etc. Right now I'm fully expecting this to have a situation similar to a third series Black Mirror episode:

In "Men Against Fire," the military uses implants to have their soldiers see their targets as vampire-like creatures who are not capable of communicating intelligibly. In reality, they are normal people who have simply been deemed genetically inferior.

  

All fair points. I've never read Ender's Game but have only ever heard good things. I should but am currently trekking through the works of one Kurt Vonnegut Jr. Might put EG after that!

I do have notoriously low standards sometimes (ardent defender of Lost and the last season of BSG, here) so maybe it's just that I mind that stuff less. I really did find the world and characters intriguing; not necessarily original, but uniquely coloured at least. I connected strongly with the more sombre, bizarre and weird moments, while connecting much less so with the more anime qualities (Adam and Eve were a bit much, even though I empathized with them).

I think most if not all of my favourite moments involved the various pockets of civilization that the machines had formed. I especially loved the forest machines. Strange in a wonderful way. Not many of my favourite moments involved the androids, with exceptions for the main characters 2B, 9S and A2 who all had their moments.

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January 8, 2018 - 1:42 pm
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I also think Lost is unjustly maligned.

I wouldn't say my standards are particularly high, and I don't insist upon originality at every turn because that would be insane, though I do ask that if you aren't showing me something new you're at least showing me something well done; many of my favorite games are old concepts executed excellently. Nier: Automata just so far hasn't offered up anything in terms of narrative or gameplay that feel executed well enough to meet that standard. I'm in that limbo at the moment where when I think of playing Automata I kind of groan internally. I've come to a place with it that I feel like a) if I wanted a Platinum brawler to play I could find a better one and b) the game isn't going to offer me any particularly revelatory thoughts on the existential nature of life and free will, and thus I'm left with only this sense of obligation to drive me. This usually isn't conducive to a positive play experience.

"Home is not a place.  It is wherever your passion takes you."

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xtal
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Anyone played Celeste? I'm enjoying that on the Switch. I've seen it compared to Super Meat Boy, but it seems less grueling than that game, to me at least.

I'm also curious about Sea of Thieves. It seems like Guns of Icarus Online, with a few more wrinkles (and in a boat, obviously).

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Steerpike
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March 26, 2018 - 5:05 pm
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I think Celeste is a PS+ freebie this month, if I'm remembering my games-with-girls'-names correctly. Is it sort of 16-bitty?

Sea of Thieves was the subject of great interest among my little multiplayer group, but it looks like it needs some more time before we take the plunge (little nautical pun for you there). The early reviews have me concerned for all the wrong reasons.

Life is the misery we endure between disappointments.

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Synonamess Botch
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April 2, 2018 - 4:02 pm
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I'm playing The Order 1886 right now.  Got it for really cheap.  I know Max liked it.  I really like the presentation and the general quality, although as a game it feels a bit rote so far.  I'm curious which side of the fence I'll come down on once I've completed it.  The gaming press: "It looks great but it sucks!  I could play a half-dozen other games which all do the things this game tries to do, but much better!".  Xtal: "WTF is with you clueless philistines?!  This game does exactly what it sets out to do.  You suck at criticism!"

I recently finished XCOM 2 and Until Dawn.  The latter is the closest I've ever seen a game come to fulfilling the "Interactive Movie" claim.  To be fair, I'm not even sure it makes that claim.  Whatever it's doing, it does it pretty well.  I put it down for a while, then came back to it and made some dumb mistakes.  Dumb mistakes in this game generally equate to "another dead teenager".  I feel bad, but I'm not quite ready for a replay.  I would like to see how many of the characters I can actually save though.

XCOM 2 is good.  Really good.  I am fully on board with the alternate storyline they went with in which the aliens are the victors of the first game.  The focus on guerilla warfare (to a degree anyway) as well as actual stealth fit nicely with the existing gameplay.  It's not a perfect fit, but I very much enjoyed it.  I went back and checked out the first XCOM and was surprised at how much more primitive it looks graphically.  It has been 5 years.  The one downside is the poor performance on PS4.  It significantly detracted from my enjoyment.  It's also buggy.  Most likely PC is the best platform for this game, it certainly was for the first one.

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xtal
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August 20, 2018 - 2:53 pm
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How's it going, folks? Everybody having a nice hot-as-hell summer?? I sure am. Whoooweeee too hot.

I came to see if anyone else has played Dead Cells? It's the latest Switch game (also on the other platforms) that I've become hooked on. It's been giving me a lot of the same stuff I got out of Spelunky. And while Dead Cells is also run based (as in: die, restart whole thing), it feels a lot less brutal since you're acquiring blueprints for new weapons and buying unlocks regularly, which constantly increases the variety of the gameplay.

I recently played a wonderfully unique game, called Yoku's Island Express. It's a Metroid-style exploration game, with the twist being that it's also a pinball game. One of the best things I've played this year for sure. I'm also still plugging away at Owlboy and Celeste. I devoured State of Decay 2 back in May/June and have put it on the back burner for now, though it has a really nice built-in replayability system that the first didn't have. It's surprisingly similar to the first game which I think didn't help, but for anyone like me who loved the first, the second has a lot of depth on offer. It's a particularly good roleplaying-in-your-own-head-canon type of game; I think it helps to think of the game as a base management board game.

Lastly, I bought a game on Steam for the first time in three years! Stellaris is a 4x space strategy game that finally let me through the door of that genre, and I've enjoyed it a great deal.

That's about all of what I've been playing lately. Anyone else having good gaming times in 2018?

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