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Tale of a Mage, Chapter One: The Uvudry Threat (NWN EE)

Murder By Numbers, Jun 9 (GOG)-It turns out I only like picross if there is a visual novel or Pokemon attached to it. So I thought this was pretty fun. The plot and cases were fun. The picross puzzles were fun but rather easy, really only difficult because I couldn't use a stylus. But as much as I liked it its still just picross. The soundtrack was absolutely banging though.

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Dirt 5 - on PC

It's an iteration of the Dirt formula first and foremost. It's incredibly pretty and it has a very robust dynamic time/weather system, even if it, at times, feels a bit gimmicky. They also tried really hard to distance the game from the traditional rally/off-road disciplines, and tried to make it fun for all, but I don't think it worked that well. Gymkhana and its derivatives still suck, I think it's worst than on Dirt 3 (I didn't really play 4 yet), any discipline with one or two cars only feel like just boring padding after the first two or three races, and the time trials added in the expansion campaigns, possibly to pad things out or maybe bring back some sense of traditional rallying, are terribly balanced and hard as hell.

In fact, terribly balanced is a good definition for the AI in this game. Codemasters racing AIs are traditionally very predictable (usually 2 or 3 ultra competent drivers in front ruber-banding crazily and a bunch of drones packed behind), but in this game it was, initially very easy. Later, around the time of the release of the 4th expansion pack, they changed it to "make it more challenging" and completely broke it. Sure, it made it more challenging indeed, but on many campaign stages, the AI became unbeatable on normal difficulty. This made me drop the game for a long long time, even if I kept nibbling on it on very rare occasions. Recently, I had managed to finish the 3rd chapter of the main campaign with just 6 points missing, so I decided to try and drop the difficulty to very easy and see where it would get me.

Well, very easy AI plays just like the initial normal AI, so I kept going until I finished the main campaign and, later, each and every one of the 4 expansions. The main campaign has 125 races, and the usual disembodied voices are back to talk to you and narrate a story between events. This time around they put real Donut Media guys and a few made up characters in it. It's silly, has some fun to it, but it isn't amazing. Brazilian version features the guy who voices Goku as James Pumphrey from Donut Media and I kept expecting him to throw in a Dragon Ball reference or another (he's also cartoon Jackie Chan and SpongeBob). He's a great voice actor, but the familiarity of his voice as Goku made him to be a little distracting when he's in any game.

The campaigns were fine, if a bit padded out, they could all be around 2/3 of their size and they would still work. And while you can finish any campaign with little over 1/3 of the events completed, I found it ridiculous that there are still events that repeat down to the car type, time of the day and weather settings outside of the above mentioned disciplines with one or two cars. Also, for some reason, expansion 4 had some very bull shitty events in it, particularly, a pair of very unfair time trials.

Still, there's fun to be had in this game, specially if you can enjoy its pretty graphics and you aren't ashamed to drop the difficulty to very easy to have fun. I'll keep playing it for some more time just to get the final achievement, that requires the player to drive 1000 miles, since I'm less than 25 miles away from it.

Streets of Rage 4 - Android

I had already finished it on a free Game Pass month I got a long time ago, but I managed to pick it up on Android some time later. Played a bit, dropped it for a while, came back, played a bit more, dropped it again, and recently I managed to finish it. Still a great beat'em up and the Android version doesn't miss any beats from the PC and console ones. I started checking out the Mister X Nightmare expansion, but didn't play it a lot yet.
Post edited June 11, 2023 by Falci
Kena: Bridge of Spirits (PS5 PS Plus)

It's sort of like a modern God of War, I'd say it is cuter and more family friendly, except that it actually gets quite dark in the end. Unlike God of War (2018) you don't have to put up with gaming's second most annoying kid (The one from the Plague Tale games is number one most annoying). Also, unlike GoW, you don't solve every puzzle by throwing your axe at it and if you don't work out how to solve a puzzle in 10 seconds the game doesn't actually tell you how to do it. You really have to work it out yourself in Kena! Lastly, also unlike GoW, the major boss fights are not just disguised cutscenes with QTE's. You really have to fight the bosses here with skill and dexterity.

I liked the game actually. It has mostly clever puzzles and combat that ramps up progressively as you learn as the player. It starts off looking like it's going to be a cute family friendly game with easy puzzles. As it goes on some of the boss fights make you work pretty hard- since you don't have an invincible side kick like in GoW! The puzzles also ramp up a little, but not to the point of becoming obnoxious in any way. The only part I didn't like much was that some of the bosses were of the "gimmicky" variety- I don't like puzzle bosses.

It's not a really long game and worth playing, I'd class it as being somewhat underrated.
Post edited June 11, 2023 by CMOT70
I've treated myself to a PSVR2 for my upcoming birthday and I decided to go through a bit of my PSVR1 backlog first because 1. I want to have a better comparison between the two sets and 2. the odds that I will ever play those PSVR1 titles will surely drop dramatically once I've tried PSVR2.

The first of these PSVR1 titles I finished was Batman: Arkham VR. Even though Arkham VR is a paid title it honestly feels more like a demo that should have been released for free. It's honestly amazing how forcedly inoffensive and uninspired Arkham VR is all around in its design. It's a criminally short VR experience where you follow a nonsensical plot. You visit several locations where you can usually teleport around between three spots max in Myst-like fashion and all you do is pull a few levers and use a few gadgets from your tool belt. Don't expect interesting puzzles or anything like that, the entire "joy" here is the complete standard VR stuff of grabbing and moving things with your hands. Yawn.

Frankly the only impressive thing about Arkham VR is its presentation - it is easily one of the best-looking and sounding titles for the PSVR and that's exactly why the aforementioned "inoffensive" design feels like a middle-finger to me. Early into the demo you get to pick whether to move out in the Batmobile or the Batwing and once you make your choice... the screen goes black and you're there. I mean, Jesus, how could they not at least give you the satisfaction of sitting in either vehicle's cockpit for a minute? Likewise, whenever you use the Batclaw or move between vantage points it's a hard transition, sucking all the potential joy of swinging around and getting to actually feel like Batman for a moment from the experience. I get it that it was done out of respect for those with weaker stomachs but the result is just an utterly boring and unimpressive experience.

To top it off, the VR implementation is one of the worst I've seen on PSVR. In literally every other PSVR game I've played, holding the start button for two seconds just resets the camera, basically moving the game to your location. Not here! What happens instead is that you end up in a useless calibration "room" where you can't actually calibrate shit, you can only pick whether you want to play standing or seated and either way the game isn't really suited for a seated experience - also the pathetic options don't help with that. The actual "center" of the game, however, is actually fixed in relation to the camera so depending on the environment you're playing in you're gonna have a really bad time. I decided to play on my couch and some of the stuff you have to interact with is so far away from the immovable center that I kept bumping into the arm rests of my couch. I could have moved the camera to a more suitable position just for this game but given that it's literally the only PSVR title where I've run into issues like these I'd rather just rant about the game.

Admittedly saying that I "finished" the game might be considered a tad dishonest because yes, the main portion of the game is a brief challenge-free narrative experience that takes maybe an hour to finish but most of the actual gameplay involves solving Riddler puzzles that are absurdly placed in the game world and I only did two of these. Apparently doing all of this optional stuff can increase the playtime by up to three hours. Alas, I'd rather just move on to a better game.
Please enjoy your stay at castle Wolfenstein, torture starts at 6pm.

Return to Castle Wolfenstein. (2001)

I remember this was well regarded at the time so I thought I'd revisit it, turns out it's still a fantastic game with well-crafted game design, varied & challenging missions which scores highly in every category and perhaps rivals modern shooters in 2023.

Played in partly ironman mode without mid-level saves. Fascinating with modern developers technology and resources the enemy AI perhaps behaves better in a 22 year old game, often performing cinematic flips, one soldier casually kicked a grenade back at me.

Deaths - More than I wanted to count.
Time - 28hrs
Post edited June 12, 2023 by bad_fur_day1
Until Dawn, Jun 11 (PS5)-Like a cinematic Telltale Game. I enjoyed it. It wasn't as scary as I was expecting due to the many cutscenes and QTEs. I was a little disappointed it shifted from straight horror to supernatural towards the later half. And I was disappointed I failed a don't move challenge resulting in a character death at the very end. I checked online and it seemed like getting other endings was going to be a lot of work so I'll just leave it as is.

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Yakuza: Like A Dragon (Xbox Series X)

I gotta say, this is one of the best games I've played in the last few years. It has a dynamic turn-based combat system, a loveable cast of characters and a interesting story. And there's always something to do, no matter where you are in the city. I think I put around 80 hours on my save, with plenty of side content completed as well. Now I'm looking forward to playing the remastered Yakuza collection this summer.
Post edited June 12, 2023 by Random_Coffee
Calico - available on GOG

This is a game about magical girls (or boys if you'd prefer to make a boy character), magical cats, and lots of positive energy.

The controls are the worst thing about the game but as there is no combat, you're not going to die while trying to fumble about. The issue is most likely that the developer designed the game around using a control pad when it's the sort of thing where you would play keyboard + mouse. The primary issue is that you can't remap controls. They are what they are but as I said previously, you're not going to get killed.

The character customization is really great for this sort of game and is better than some RPGs. If you want to be a blue skin alien person with green hair that wears purple clothing and red shoes. This game will let you do just that. However since I am color-blind, I mostly went with black and white after tuxedo cats.

Until I got the potion for magic hair that turned my avatar's hair black with lighting effects. Okay it's hard to see from this screen shot as I was more interested in getting the giant cat.

There's also a potion that allows you to turn into a cat, and you can ride cats while cat for double cat.


Also because I got this game through one of the charity bundles on itch, I don't know if GOG Database is correct or not for the build version.

The itch version is up to 2.01 (also known as the Pawsome Update)

GOG Database shows that GOG version is only up to 1.0.5

While this update adds a few knew animals, the main difference is that it turns cooking into this really bizarre mini game. Okay, cooking in this game was always a bit bizarre. I mean bizarre even for what this game was originally. The biggest thing that is lacking in 1.0.5 that is that in the Pawsome Update, you can customize the walls and floors for the cafe. Completing optional side quests unlocks design patterns.

Plus the character creation screen was upgraded to be more user friendly, even when playing with keyboard and mouse.
Metal Hellsinger (XSX Game Pass)

A rhythm shooter where you shoot to a heavy metal soundtrack. Honestly, I suck at this game just as much as I suck at all rhythm games. It's quite possible that I just don't have any rhythm, maybe I'm Jewish? You know, because Jews don't have any rhythm. I learnt that on South Park, and South Park has never steered me wrong ever. Also, for my brain, keeping to a rhythm whilst trying to aim, avoid being hit and just generally staying alive is just one thing too many for me to handle all at the same time. I'm not a multi-tasker, I'm more of a focused type.

So, I had to play on easy, but I kept at it because the game is actually fun even though I'm bad at it. Luckily it is short though, as the game doesn't really add much over its 4-5 hour length. So, it was a hard (for me anyway), but short and fun experience. It ran perfectly, as it needs to...rhythm games are hard enough for me without bad frame rates.
Post edited June 13, 2023 by CMOT70
Vampire survivors

Not even scratched the end game.

but had my brainless fun with 7h of this game.

unlocked bunch of weapons, reached stage 4, survived in stage 1 and 3 to be eaten by death.

more is just grind to me.
Amnesia: The Bunker (XSX Game Pass)

What I like about this series is that each game is a different type of horror game. This triggers some people, I know, so many just want the first game repeated 4 times over with different maps. This time it's like a short version of Alien Isolation. You spend most of your time trying to creep around and not draw the notice of "The Beast", which is invincible. You can drive it away for a bit, but never kill it. The only other threat are the annoying rats.

I like that this type of game feels much less scripted. It can also be frustrating of course. The game also adds in a time limit of sorts to all your exploration runs from your safe room. The generator that lights the bunker can only hold so much fuel. However, I soon found that fuel wasn't in short supply.

Overall, I think this game has the best game play in the series, whilst I still think that the unpopular A Machine for Pigs has the best creepy, disturbing story and atmosphere. It took me just over 4 hours of actual playing time, but felt much longer than that- probably due to a lot of time spent paused whilst I figured out what and where next.
I was browsing the PlayStation store for PSVR2 games and noticed that Humanity is among them and that it's actually included with my PS Plus subscription. A buddy talked about it like it's the big next thing in puzzle games even though he hasn't played it yet and I decided to just give it a try... and I beat the whole thing, mostly in one long sitting, and even snatched the Platinum trophy.

At first glance it's a Lemmings clone in a Japanese arthouse format - it's pure melancholia with its grey worlds, depressing music and faceless crowds. You control a dog who, in what appears to be the afterlife, has to guide literal endless streams of humans to portals by placing markers that will make them execute commands like changing their movement direction or jumping. Right off the bat there's also some godlike entity saying vague stuff about this sad place and your role in it.

So for a while that's what the game is, 3D Lemmings with some action and platforming elements. You usually have to create loops so it often feels a bit like Factorio or a Zachtronics game and I got a little frustrated at first when it turned out that there are occasionally real-time elements to the actual puzzle solutions, e.g. that you need to isolate a group from the endless stream that will keep walking a certain area for all eternity without ever making it to the goal. For a moment I felt cheated by this but at that point I had literally no idea what kind of game I'm dealing with.

Turns out that Humanity is one of those games that don't strictly follow one core idea and build upon it - it's a game that constantly adds and removes mechanics. It explores and sometimes downright breaks the boundaries of what it can do to the fullest - between the different chapters you will often feel like you're playing entirely different games altogether. At first I didn't know what to think of it and it's bound to frustrate some players who just wanted a fresh take on Lemmings but you know, the variety and originality in this game is surely part of what kept me from putting the controller down. I did get frustrated at times, some levels had such obscure and unintuitive solutions (especially if you want to also snatch all the optional golden fellas) that I got close to rage quitting but I never did. I just constantly kept pushing forward, curious about what awaits me around the next corner, and to my satisfaction the game kept bombarding me with completely new experiences. I don't want to go into more detail on this because I feel that it's best experienced without knowing too much in advance.

And as I mentioned above, there is a narrative which also provides additional motivation to beat the whole thing. I did find it a bit interesting but to my disappointment the story and the themes it explores are almost identical to a certain other famous puzzle game but Humanity is more vague and pretentious about it. The narrative context is a nice touch but don't expect a life-changing experience here, no matter how hard the developers tried to provide one.

I also mentioned that the game has VR support but honestly, it's a pointless gimmick. I mean, sure, it's cool that these levels which are designed a bit like living dioramas can be observed as kinda holographs floating in front of you, making you feel like a god of thousands of little people, but it does not really enhance the gameplay experience and makes the game much more difficult to control.

Anyway, I've enjoyed this one a ton. I don't think I would call it a masterpiece on the grounds that it only remixes ideas we've seen in quite a few other games, most of them from at least two decades ago, and that the execution is also quite uneven. But: I did find it to be a very engaging experience that also managed to evoke strong emotions in me. It's at least a strong 8/10 for me.
Click, click, die, die, get loot.

Diablo 2 + Lord of Destruction (Original Version)

My return trip to Tristram was a pleasant change after completing several challenging games. Felt a ranged Necromancer was the best option tactically, summoning skeletons/golems and using bone armour.

Fellow travellers should beware of bosses on their journey. Duriel, Diablo & Baal were challenging without abusing mechanics like kiting & town portals in my playthrough.

Game completed No. 109
Post edited June 17, 2023 by bad_fur_day1
The case of the golden idol (+ dlc The spider of Lanka)

A sort of puzzle game, similar in its basic concept to The return of the Obra Dinn. It's divided into about a dozen scenarios (ten larger ones, a prologue serving as a tutorial and a short epilogue summarizing the game's events). Each scenario consists of one or more static screens, depicting the aftermath of the (usually violent) death of one or more persons. You have to figure out what happened. By clicking on persons, objects, documents etc. you collect names and verbs which you then have to use to fill out screens about the identities of persons, the course of events leading to the result shown in the scenario etc.
Oh the whole, very enjoyable game. Managed to complete it without hints, difficulty is very reasonable, never felt frustrating. Compared to Return of the Obra Dinn, I'd rate it a bit below that one, imo the latter is a more intense experience, because it's one single integrated experience, and also features a unique graphics style. On the other hand, The case of the golden idol's division into separate scenarios makes it easier to play the game in shorter self-contained sessions. The game also does tell an over-arching story, which comes together very nicely in the end and has some pretty cool twists. It's similar in atmosphere The return of the Obra Dinn and deals with similar themes.
The dlc The spider of Lanka contains three additional scenarios and is a sort of prequel to the main game. Quality is as high as in the main game, definitely a nice addition.
Would highly recommend it to anybody who enjoyed The return of the Obra Dinn or who has even a slight interest in games that are about logical deduction skills instead of fast reflexes.
Rating: 4/5.
Post edited June 17, 2023 by morolf