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Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. It's, you know, a 2D Castlevania game with the names changed so no one gets sued. You control Miriam and you're exploring a big castle to vanquish a great evil. The concept doesn't have the Universal Horror punch that Castlevania has always had, but in every meaningful way it's the same and if you're into that sort of thing, it's just as good, and maybe even a tad better since it's got slicker production values than the post-Symphony of the Night games that were on handheld systems.

Metal Slug. I play this somewhat regularly. As arcade games go, I find it pleasantly easygoing in that you can learn it pretty quickly and not have to worry about feeding it credits to push through more hectic sections. If I die, I feel like it's much more my fault than the developers being jerks, and even if that wasn't the case, it's a beautiful and funny game.

Demon's Forge. An early graphic adventure game by Brian Fargo (he recycled the title for Hunted: The Demon's Forge, but as near as I can tell the games have no relationship to each other beyond that). I played this as a kid and I was surprised at how much of it I remembered. It uses a text parser with relatively early Apple II-level graphics to depict the rooms you're in. A particularly fancy touch for the time is that objects you can pick up are shown on-screen, and if you drop something, it will also appear after the graphics are redrawn.

The parser is quite basic and a lot of the challenge in the game is simply trying to figure out what you can actually do with it or how to communicate your ideas in ways the game will understand. Most of the puzzles aren't actually too difficult or obscure, but there are a few that definitely tip into moon logic territory, and you can get stuck in dead-end (or just plain dead) situations, too, if you're not careful. It took me what seemed like ages to get through it as a kid, but if you know what you're doing, it will only take like a half hour to win. I have some fondness for it, but I'll admit there's probably some nostalgia involved. It's no Infocom or Sierra-level game, for certain.
I'm really struggling to complete games right now. Five PC games I've played this year have resulted in crashes and freezes so bad that I'm worried there might be permanent damage to my PC. It started with FEAR and the expansions and I thought maybe that's just a really buggy game. But Tower of Time, Hard West, Call of Juarez, and now Pendula Swing have also crashed several times. I wonder if its just time to get a new PC as this one is about nine years old now.
Prey (XSX)

Haven't been finishing as many games lately because I'm playing too many games that don't end, like MLB The Show. But Prey is finished for my first play through, and it's one of the best games of recent years. The console versions traditionally are not great, but not anymore. Now it runs at 1440p and 60fps on an XSX due to Microsofts new FPS doubling feature. Plus AI driven HDR and no more 1-1.5 minute load time for this game- 10-15 seconds instead. It's gone from being a terrible console version to an excellent one, well worth playing. It still looks great too, as do most CryEngine games.

Prey (of course I'm talking about the 2017 game) gets compared to System Shock all the time. I played System Shock 2 way back when it came out and I hated the game and still do- weapons that wear out in just a single battle, constant respawns in closed areas, maze levels that make no sense (why would they design a starship that way?). SS2 was a tedious slog. Prey takes the concept and removes all of the bad stuff. Enemies only respawn into areas at certain times in the story, not just as soon as you turn your back on them. Weapon wear is part of the optional survival mode. The space station is logical and looks like it would really work.

I thought the story and mood were A grade. The game is full of decisions and choices that are organic, not tied to pop up yes/no choices. There is a hidden morality system behind the scenes, sort of like Metro 2033, that an astute player may or may not pick up on. Do you want to augment with powerful alien psionics? That sort of ties into the endings as well. Tired of games that force you to listen to someone waffle on and then have them ambush you? Well here are free at any time to pull out your zapper and knock them out mid conversation. This is how I like games to be designed instead of the modern "cinematic" forcing you to make stupid decisions via cut scenes and scripted sequences.

Awesome, underrated game. I'm trying to think of something negative and about all I can come up with is that the stronger enemies that become more common as the game goes on are very damage sponge...but even that serves a purpose and makes you treat them with respect, though even then you can often just find a way around them or just run past.
Post edited May 04, 2021 by CMOT70
Borderlands GOTY Enhanced

I'm literally drowing in an ocean of unplayed games, to the point I systematically pause my Humble Choice subscription if there aren't at least 4 games in the selection that interest me.

I'm drowning in good and yet unplayed games: Control, Red Dead Redemption, Death Stranding... and I keep going back to oldies like Boderlands. Guess it shows how good this game is for me.

Played a base run with Roland. Much easier than I remembered, especially the final boss fight. I guess all those years playing Borderlands 2, the Prequel and 3 made me better at this kind of game.

Too easy maybe, but still an immense pleasure. I might play something else but I know that next I'll play Borderlands 2... again !

So far in 2021:
The Darkside Detective

A little point and click adventure in which you have to solve paranormal cases. Very easy, the difficulty is low and the cases goes from 5-10 minutes to an hour. The music and the art style is very good. Recommended to play a bit each day to enjoy more.

The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark

It contains the same graphic style. It´s funny and the cases are longer than the previous ones. Maybe the difficult is a bit more.


Cyberpunk story, retro graphic style, pure point and click adventure game, excellent music, challenging puzzles, long play. I liked a lot. For me at the same level of Beneath a Steel Sky.

Slormancer (Gifted to me by Doc - thanks!)

Slormancer is an aRPG in early access - the April 5 launch was release 1 of 6 towards a final product. It contains the first act of the game, where all is lost, and you'll never have guessed this next part, but an unlikely, unwilling, and even un-competent hero steps in to save the day!

In short, the initial batch of content is pretty well-polished, largely bug-free, and has at least an initial view of how the game's many systems work.

On the whole I found the game satisfying and enjoyable to play, even in it's very early form, albeit it is not yet overwhelmingly "joyous" (as compared to say, Chronicon which has a thinner story but jumps more quickly to action action action! part of aRPG).

But everything works well, and if you like grinding and unlocking things (on a limited array of tilesets and enemies), there is basically unlimited content here already through the Expeditions. The second release is due in July, and if you're one of those people who values a game at $1/hr, I think it's safe to say the game will comfortably pass that marker with that second version that moves the story over to the prison.

The great:
The game has an array of systems ranging from ok (attribute selection, early gear options) to very promising (the skill options, the weapon selection & leveling system). While there are only three classes, the freedom to customize them is very wide.

Also, I'm not a game music person, but the music and most of the sound effects here are very enjoyable. Well done sound people!

The good:
The story is silly, but compared to the standard aRPG release, it is actually present. Don't expect it to be on the level of say, Children of Morta for depth of storytelling or any emotion other than humor, but it's engaging for what it is.

All three classes are relatively fun to play, albeit it wouldn't hurt to unlock at least one secondary skill a bit more quickly.

The maps are so-so.

Still Needs work:
Act one currently takes about 4-5 hours if you did nothing but clear straight through the narrative/dialogue and 15 campaign maps in the first act. I think the bigger issue here is the first 7-8 maps are a bit thin, things start to pick up around map 10, but then the game sucks the air out of itself by dialing things way back again for the two maps where you rescue the two level 1 heroes (playing again as level 1) you didn't pick initially.

Conversely, the game also has a free-play "Expeditions mode" that you unlock around lvl 7, but if you try the expeditions right away they're super easy. The devs should flip the script here a bit - do the two class quests first, and then only open up the adventures when the harder of the two available difficulty settings has some heft to it.

But it picks up again for the last campaign map or two, and the final boss fight of Act 1 is a reasonably strong way to end the available part of the campaign. All in all it's highly promising and I'd say a decent value at $15 even in its current form if you'll spend any time experimenting with each class (which I did) and running at least a few expeditions once you get to the end of the campaign.

The other thing they should fix is the font on the tool tips or expand the tutorial early in the game. Interact/talk is 'F' but the font is tiny and just a poor choice (it's going for a faux medieval look), and then picking up gear is 'E' for some reason (you might think 'Equip' but picking it up doesn't equip it) and that tool tip is just horrible. had to open up the keybind menu to figure out how to do anything beyond move/attack because on first glance I couldn't tell those tool tips were even letters, and know even knowing that is an 'E' it still really doesn't look like one to me. The F is lousy, but at least recognizable.

A few minor bugs: I did have one instance of losing 30 minutes of progress when my game didn't save properly on exiting the game to desktop rather than going to main menu first, and there were a few points where killed enemies disappeared rather than doing their death animation, though if the latter isn't fixed I wouldn't actually care.

But subjectively/personally, if this game ultimately is just 20-30 hours of the campaign in its current form (not to mention the Expeditions promising to scale up?), I think even that would be a reasonably successful game, and there's reason for optimism that this is the foundation for a strong release.
I (finally) finished Disco Elysium, and I am absolutely enchanted. I've never been into games that required so much reading, but this title might've changed something in me. The humour was just delightful, the plot kept me on my toes till the end, the art style was amazing, even the most minor characters were well written and felt authentic. This is what I call a good game!!!
Lords of Darkness 3 - Alanya's Secret (NWN:EE, Review)
Lords of Darkness 4 - For Crown and Country (NWN:EE, Review)

The Inn of Chaos (NWN:EE, Review)
Post edited May 06, 2021 by Leroux
The Final Station
Gothic 2 Gold

Haven't played it for at least a decade and it took me a few hours to get back into it. Back in the day I was quite natural with the controls but from a modern perspective it really has it problems, especially the stupid focus system in the fights. But after 2 or 3 hours I adapted to it and had again a lot of fun. Great game with a fantastic and unique atmosphere, even if it gets a bit lengthy towards the end.
Destroy All Humans (XSX Game Pass)

The newer remake version is the one I played, though I do also have the original Xbox version too. The remake is an improvement for sure.
The game is mostly fun, but maybe not as funny as it means to be. If you think monkey Island games are funny then you will probably think this is hilarious as well, it's simple humor for simple people.
Game play is actually enjoyable once you get past the really easy tutorial missions. The upgrade system is odd though, in that you will not get far into the upgrades simply by playing straight through the campaign missions, you really need to do the challenges by revisiting maps. Plus you have a full upgrade path for your Saucer...but really only use it for a handful of missions- making it feel like a waste upgrading it.
Missions are okay, except for one particularly fiddly escort mission...and then there's the final boss mission. Screw the final boss mission. It took me two hours to finally defeat the last boss, or more to the point the final phase of the final boss. Part of the difficulty was no doubt because I didn't do many optional challenges to fully upgrade all my weapons. I'm glad it over.
Alone in the Dark (3) is in my opinion the worst of original trilogy. Game has same terribly control and uninteresting story. On the other hand this is first Alone in the Dark with real outro video.
Just beat Abzû on PS4, which you could get for free through PlayStation's "Play at home" program a few weeks ago.

I knew that the game was made by people who had previously worked on Flower but I didn't expect it to be so similar to that one. Honestly, it's basically underwater Flower. The minimalistic gameplay is virtually the same, even though you control a diver instead of "the wind". And even the cryptic narrative is basically the same, just with a different dressing.

So, briefly put it's kind of an interactive art film, like Koyaanisqatsi or something. It's a very linear affair where you control a diver who... well, follows fish around and touches a few things. You can find some secrets if you take your time and explore a bit but really, there isn't much of a game here - like Flower it's more of an "experience".

It's difficult for me to tell if I actually liked Abzû. Visually it's pretty bland to me, at least by today's standards. I've always loved underwater games but this one kinda just doesn't feel that way due to its sterile and simplistic graphical style that looks a bit like paper theatre - which is about the most dry thing I can imagine. The floaty controls feel nice and do let you feel like you're swimming but it's kinda not enough to me. That said, there are admittedly a few visually beautiful moments.

But really, to me what sells the game is its music and how it is synchronised with the things happening on screen. In its best moments Abzû is like an impressive music video - but sadly it also has about as much substance as a music video. I'm sure I would have felt differently about it if I didn't know Flower. Alas, I do.

Oh yeah, also: it's super short. It took me about one hour, I think. That certainly makes me glad that I got this one for free.
Outlast 2 (XSX Game Pass)

Technically speaking this one is pretty great. It runs at 4K60 since it's just the Xbox One X version under backwards compatibility, this means it's also the only version with HDR using Xbox's AI deep learning method. The texture work and detail are a credit to the small developer team as well. They also achieved great atmosphere and a suitably adult horrific setting, not the more comedy/OTT horror of something like Resident Evil.

Unfortunately though, I think the first game was better. Outlast 2 falls into the trap of too much trial and error game play and too many chase sequences. Far too much of the game consists of carefully progressing only to be screwed over during a cut scene that you have no control over and then thrown into a chase/avoidance sequence. The main problem is it's rarely clear where to go, so you run around trying each door until you die. Then try again, and again, and again until you finally notice some tiny crawl space hidden in the shadows. Then repeat just a bit further along the path. After a great start it gets tedious really fast.

Some people do like this type of horror experience and this game would be great for them, but I prefer horror to be more psychological and slower paced rather than hectic and in your face. I thought the original Outlast got the balance much better in fact and recent Bloober games like Blair Witch and The Medium are better as well. However Outlast 2 takes only about 9 hours if you're slow, and may still be worthwhile on sale if you like this sort of thing.
Redneck Rampage collection from GOG

Weakest Build engine game from Grand Four,
Terrible shotgun with massive horizontal spread. Music is the best part but quickly get old because it wasn't designed for videogame and playing for more than 15-30min is exhausting.

Aiming is terrible, autoaim often sabotage your effort by sending bullet/explosives elsewhere (even under our feets) or can't detect enemies that are above us. You know - that's what the autoaim in old shooters is used for. It just doesn't work in RR.
FInal boss had no ammo in the arena. Healing system was funny but it's not suited for a boss fight - getting drunk while alien cut you in half with their firearms is awful.

For some reasons they made dynamite pickups explosite so they works as pickup and red explosive barrel. And guess what - autoaim have more luck hitting them than enemies.
Expansions had better maps, in RR they were almost maze-like sometimes.

Had bug in the Ruins map - last doors didn't open.
Post edited May 09, 2021 by SpecShadow