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Redfall (XSX Game Pass)

Best "bad" game I've played in many years, probably since Homefront: The Revolution or Generation Zero. It also in the top 5 games I've played this year. I don't really understand what people's problem is with this one. It is basically Arkane's shot at doing Borderlands with Vampires and they nailed the world and atmosphere. Reading through people's issues in reviews reveals many that are just simply factually wrong. For example, it is odd that people liked the graphics of Deathloop but not Redfall. They look the same- it's the exact same Arkane style as all their other games. The graphics are sharp and colorful, have excellent HDR implementation and the characters bear the usual Arkane style of strong exaggerated facial features- almost caricatures rather than going for realism. Releasing the game at 30 fps was stupid and the reason I waited until they patched it to 60fps. It runs just fine.

I played as Jacob who is the combined stealth and sharpshooter character- sort of equivalent to Mordecai in Borderlands. His special abilities were awesome fun to use, scouting first with the spirit crow then cloaking in for stealth kills after sniping a few enemies. I haven't tried the other 3 characters, so cannot comment on them- one of them in particular looks to be more of a co-op healing character.

It is a mission based open world looter shooter. With vampires as your strongest opponents. Most of the missions leave from your safe house and are mostly quite fun- often taking you on an expedition all the way across the map, giving you ample opportunity to use your abilities to deal with, or bypass, outposts. Human enemies are easy and have pretty dumb AI, a problem with all Arkane games really. The Vampires are way harder and like vicious dogs- one is easy enough to handle- but in a pack they are deadly. Just like Borderlands, when you die you only loose a percentage of your currency and go straight back to it- even enemies you were fighting keep their health bars where you left off. Some of the bosses on the second map are huge difficulty spikes- but doable.

Exploration is fun, with lots of lore and even extra side quests to find. I did all the story quests, all optional story quests, cleared all zones by securing their safe houses and killing the underbosses. It took me almost 30 hours and I never got bored and always looked forward to getting back into the game, that's all I can ask from a game. I played it entirely solo, many say it is even better in co-op. Just like most looter shooters, I'm looking forward to trying one of the other characters at a later point.
Sunset Overdrive, Nov 10 (Xbox Game Pass)-This game had a lot of character and it reminded me of Hi-Fi Rush but wasn't nearly as fun. There were parts that I enjoyed but the gameplay never really clicked. The first few hours were a struggle but I read online that I it doesn't get good until you get the air dash ability. So I stuck it out and the game did get better but I was never really invested in it and I rushed thru the main story as fast as I could doing no side quests. The worst part was the final mission which was just awful. First is an uninspired, tedious fight with a bunch of robots which culminates in your death. Then you come back and have to fight the final boss. I mistakenly thought this was two separate missions so after struggling with the boss for a while I quit not realizing I'd have to start over with the battle again and have to sit thru unskippable cutscenes. The final boss itself was a pain requiring timed precision platforming. I had finally finished the second stage and the boss ran away so I used fast travel and the game ended the mission. So rather than replaying all that garbage again I uninstalled. A couple of really bad design decisions on the last mission for a game that never lived up to all the hype it gets. Better to just play Hi-Fi Rush.

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Jusant (XSX Game Pass)

If you enjoyed short, thought provoking, games like Journey, but have thought to yourself "how awesome would it be if they had a bit more game play depth". Well, here you go. You play as a person (no idea which of the 40 genders, nor does it matter), in a world where the oceans have disappeared. The inhabitants are slowly migrating across the salt flats in attempts to find water. You, on the other hand, decide to go the opposite direction and climb the huge mountain- believing that is where the secret lies to what happened.

You piece together the worlds story and lore the usual way- letters and journal entries that you find during your ascent. What sets this one apart from games like Abzu or Journey is the climbing mechanics that you have to master to climb and traverse the world. Make no mistake, there is no fail state- you never fall to your death. However, to make progress you still have to master the use of your limited number of pegs and rope length, as well as stamina. It's gets more involved as you climb higher and have to deal with other hazards- but you can always just keep trying if you get it wrong.

It's about 5 to 6 hours, depending upon how much you want to get sidetracked looking for collectibles along the way. The very final chapter was just starting to wear out its welcome and become a little tedious- so lucky it ended at the right time. The visuals are actually outstanding, with the view distance you can look downwards after an hour of ascending and see where you were earlier. It was a good experience. The only real annoyance was the habit of the game blocking you from backtracking after certain story milestones- this prevented me from getting a few collectibles that were within reach, meaning I'd have to replay the entire chapter using chapter select.
game, Nov 5 (GOG)-It's a pretty solid point and click adventure game. It's probably a little too long and a little too easy. I never really had problems figuring out what to do and where to go and most of the puzzles were solved with items in the same room or one screen away. The voice acting was atrocious though and the mixing of dialog and music/sound effects was really inconsistent even after I turned everything but the voices down.
timppu: Jedi Knight: Dark Forces 2 + Mysteries of the Sith expansion pack

Finally finished the last mission in the expansion pack. I must have started the base game over a year ago, finished it some months ago and slowly played the expansion pack.

I guess the slow pace reveals it wasn't that exciting to me. I guess the age of the game shows, but I just generally didn't care that much for the levels, story or gameplay. It was ok-ish, but meh.

A couple of notable things I didn't like in the game:

1. Finding the level secrets, preferably all of them, is quite important as that is the only way to get "stars" to improve your force powers. To get the maximum number of stars, you have to find all secrets. I did find all the secrets but still there was no abundance of stars, I still had to think carefully which powers I want to learn properly, especially in the expansion pack.

In many levels this was quite irritating as there were points in many levels after which you couldn't go back towards the start of the level. So if you missed some secret before that point, you either have to load a save before that point, or restart the whole level.

2. The light saber combat was not as exciting as I hoped. At first I was totally lost how you were supposed to fight with the lightsaber (with other lightsaber wielding enemies) without constantly getting killed, by trial and error I learned that the most successful tactic is to try to run past your enemies swinging your saber, hoping it hits the enemy at the back while you run. Rinse and repeat. If it hits from the front, the enemy just seems to block it every time.

Overall I would have hoped the lightsaber combat would have been more tactical or something, with proper blocking and timing.

Anyway, now it is done. That game must have been in my backlog for like 20 years. :D Just like Blood Omen which I finished last week.
Dragon Mania game, Nov 5 (GOG)-It's a pretty solid point and click adventure game. It's probably a little too long and a little too easy. I never really had problems figuring out what to do and where to go and most of the puzzles were solved with items in the same room or one screen away. The voice acting was atrocious though and the mixing of dialog and music/sound effects was really inconsistent even after I turned everything but the voices down.
Post edited November 11, 2023 by zodsidra
Yakuza 2 Kiwami. This was pretty good, and I actually indulged in more of the side activities than I usually do. Mastered the home run derby and the indoor golf stuff. Really I just skipped over the gambling stuff, and I only did a bit of the tournament fighting. I found it quite a bit easier than the original version - by the time I got to the end of the game I was mostly clowning the end boss and didn't need to consume any health refill items.

Of the new additions, I wasn't crazy about the clan creator minigame - it's just a bit too simplistic - but I played it to completion anyway because I was won over by them having you fight classic pro wrestlers like Mutoh, Chono, and Tenryu. And you can recruit wrestlers for your team, too, so I wanted to see which ones would show up. Kind of weird to flash back to a time when Okada was lower ranked than Tanahashi... I also appreciated them ditching the wandering street boss concept from the previous two games, which got annoying fast. Otherwise, it feels very much like the original except with nicer graphics and some references to Yakuza 0 and foreshadowing for later.


River City Ransom EX. I think playing Yakuza gave me an itch to replay RCR, but I thought I'd try the EX version instead of replaying the original again. Similar to Kiwami, this is mostly the same but there's a big change in that you can play with an AI buddy, and you can also recruit bosses to form a full gang using an Ultima IV-like under-the-hood reputation system. If you have all four guys in the team, you can really make hash of most of the game, although it does take the recruits away when you go up against the final boss, so you need to not get too lazy about powering up. The graphics are pretty nice, although I prefer the classic NES look as the backgrounds sometimes fall into an uncanny valley of looking slightly too realistic and incongruous with the chibi-ish characters.


Ringlorn Saga. I was intrigued by the concept of a Hydlide homage designed to evoke MSX graphics's fine. It's a pretty short game that I was able to comfortably beat on my weekend downtime. It uses the old bump combat system, but it tries to jazz things up by incorporating a rock-paper-scissors approach where switching between combat options will produce better results according to enemy type (e.g., bash works best on spiders and skeletons while stab is ideal for slimes and vampires). You'd think this would make combat more involving but I found myself getting bored of it after a bit and simply running past a lot of enemies, just stopping to deal with ones directly in my way. It's easy to master the rhythm of the combat and avoid getting hit most of the time, and I after I'd leveled up sufficiently I stopped getting killed by random slip-ups where enemies could really damage me. I comfortably defeated all the bosses in the game and never really bothered using the magic system even after getting all the spells.

The exploration aspect is more engaging to me. The overworld is small yet twisted enough that just looking around for things never stops being fun while the game lasts. It's easy to keep playing to see if you could just do one more subquest or get another item or beat another boss. The music is pretty nice, too. I wonder if they could actually make this for the MSX, because I think I'm more impressed these days by games made for actual retro hardware instead of games that are just made to resemble retro games.... Anyway, I would say this is a good game to pick up at a good sale price, as it's probably a bit overpriced at regular.
Alan Wake (XSX)

Played it twice on the 360, way back. Got the urge to experience it again due to the sequel releasing recently. For me, Remedy is one of the few devs that can pull off the "cinematic experience" in a way that I can tolerate- they don't shove cut scenes up your ass every 5 minutes, and rarely in the middle of boss fights. They use them more to link game play segments into each other between episodes. I still like Alan Wake slightly better than Control.

I still think the game has some masterful moments- such as finding a record that you play to learn a major plot point and what you need to do by listening to the lyrics. Plus, there are all the obvious Twin Peaks references. Still a game very much worth playing, even if the combat gets a bit dull over the journey- you can always just run from most encounters if you want, in fact that is what I did almost entirely back when I originally replayed the game on impossible difficulty on the 360.
Operation C. Contra for the Gameboy. I was under the impression for a long time that this was Contra cut down for the handheld but it's actually a totally original installment in the series, with distinct levels compared to the NES and arcade versions. Three levels are standard horizontal ones and two are overhead vertical scrolling. Like a lot of of Gameboy titles, it's pretty short and relatively easy, although it does get challenging around level 4. On the downside, though, the main reason it gets challenging is that I found the character's hit box a bit large and tricky to get used to on the cramped screen. The jumping on the horizontal levels also took some getting used to because it's really strong vertically but the guy doesn't cover much ground, so I was falling to my death on jumps that I thought would be easy to make. In all other respects, it's a solid Contra game, although there are only two weapon powerups - the spread gun and the fireball gun - and you can power those up with a second straight pickup. The designers much have realized that everyone always tries to get the spread gun and just let them have it whenever they want.
Dordogne, Nov 13 (Xbox Game Pass)-It felt like the French version of Lost Words. It was more relaxing and exploratory than that game. It was setting up an ending like Lost Words but it swerved at the last minute and it didn't hit nearly as hard. I'm still left wondering about the nature of the father and grandmother's falling out and generally what was going on with the grandfather. Maybe I missed a letter or two somewhere that better explained it.

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Gris (XSX Game Pass)

I actually played this a few years ago on PC- it was an early PC Game Pass title. It only recently made it way to console. It's a very artistic 2D platformer with light puzzle solving. Sometimes these arty platformers can be either too obscure or too pretentious or preachy. Gris is actually straightforward and is a journey of a woman suffering from grief or depression. It starts out with a monochrome world then, as you track down small shiny orbs (I think they represent small glimmers of hope), you bring color back to the world as you pass through the five stages of grief. At the end, she puts herself back together again. That's what I get from it anyway.

It's only about 4 hours long. It's not really all that difficult, but a few segments require surprisingly precise platforming and the parts where the world turns upside down could be hard for some people. Overall, it's one of the best of its kind in my opinion.
After defeating the Ethereal Queen for the first time in Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness on my PS4, I have decided to go for full clear of the first floor of the Ex Dungeon again, to obtain more Orichalcum for the crafting trophy. But because I have finished it sooner as expected, I have went to challenge the final boss of the game's storyline as well. As expected, due to trying to get all of the Private Actions, I got again Miki's and Relia's Endings, but it has unlocked one more trophy for me as well. For finishing the game on Universe Difficulty. I have also finished every Battle Trophy in the game, with the exception of 1 million hits on enemies. I am still under 250 thousands, so it will probably take a lot more time :( .

List of all my games finished in 2023 can be found >>>here<<<
Old Man's Journey

Cat ->

The cat shows up fairly early on in the game. When you click on the cat, it wakes up and leads you as to where to go on this scene.

Also my own cat has been looking over my shoulder watching me play this game the entire time.
CMOT70: Shadowrun: Hong Kong (XSX Game Pass)

They fixed one of the most glaring faults this time- you can usually begin combat on your own terms when you ambush the enemy. Unfortunately, they also ruined something that wasn't broken as well. I never did like the cyber space action very much in the first two games, hence the main reason I steered clear of playing as a Decker and simply using a Decker as a team member when needed. This time they took something I didn't like much and made it ten times worse. The Decking sequences are now a real time stealth "dodge the view cones" style of thing- like Commando's. It's terrible, the controls are just not up to the precision needed and the cyber combat is actually difficult- as opposed to the regular meat space combat that is actually really easy. Unfortunately, one of the final big missions is mainly a lengthy Decking mission, to a time limit. I only got through it by save scumming.
With the exception of that one terrible mission, the game was about on par with Dragonfall- with slightly better combat. Again, I played as a combat rifle specialist- since it worked so well for me in the other games. This game has a lot more walls of text, without being any more interesting. Add to that a couple of pretty major bugs that I needed to look up workarounds for online. These bugs have, apparently, existed since the game first released on PC- so are not new issues for these console versions, and these problems definitely should have been fixed.

The series overall has some good aspects and a great setting, but the games lack a bit of polish at the same time. I'm happy I played them all, but they are not classics that I'll ever return to.
i respect that
Colony ship rpg

Cool game. I liked the developer's previous game Age of decadence a lot and had quite a bit of fun with this too. Comparison to its predecessor is a bit of a mixed bag for me. In quite a few ways it's an obvious advance. Graphics are much nicer, and you now get actual "dungeons" to explore, something which was seriously lacking in AoD. On the other hand, I feel it isn't as replayable as AoD. The latter had quite a few issues, but for me was a really unique, almost experimental experience where playthroughs could vary drastically and you had dozens of potential outcomes. Colony ship rpg doesn't have that kind of drastic branching and possibilities to see the setting from many different perspectives. You do get to make choices, but your starting position and much of the progression through the game will always be the same. It's a longer (at least regarding a single playthrough), but much more conventional game than AoD. I understand why Iron Tower studies went down this route and they've clearly learned a lot regarding their skills as game creators, but it's still a bit sad (if probably unavoidable given resource constraints) that AoD's more open approach couldn't be implemented in Colony ship rpg to a greater degree.
Regarding difficulty, it's more forgiving than AoD. Since you can play with a party, it's possible to cover most skills. My main character was a bit weak (though he could handle a shotgun) and focused on talking and some utility skills, but I still did a lot of fighting with the help of three party members, including many optional encounters against special enemies. So it should be more accessible even to those who thought AoD was too hard. There's even an easy difficulty mode now.
The general setting was also very interesting and atmospheric. Didn't find many characters memorable though and the conflict between the different factions felt a bit under-developed in the end. More could have been done here.
But to sum up, this is a very nice game, not revolutionary, but some very good entertainment for any rpg fan. If you like and care about rpgs, buy it, so Iron Tower Studios can stay in business and create a sequel.
My rating: 4/5.
Post edited November 17, 2023 by morolf
Alpha Polaris: A horror adventure game

It was an ok adventure, a bit too short to fully set up and develop its themes and characters, but still decent overall.
Most of the puzzles were fine with a few irksome ones.
The visuals were good and the voice acting solid enough (though I do have a tolerance for these things).
The game ran fine, but the text box would often cut out the last line; not a deal breaker, only slightly irritating if you try to read the text rather than listen.
Post edited November 17, 2023 by KruhLatry
A Castle Full of Cats - Hidden Object
Available on GOG:
Plot: An evil human who hates cats cursed a castle full of nice cats. Each time you find a cat, they become uncursed and likewise once all cats are found and uncursed, the castle itself reverts back to normal.

The Catherine's Mission mini game that is part of the bag of treats really is like it appears on the store page. Here's the screen when you lose:

In the GOG library, this Catherine's Mission appears as an Extra for A Castle Full of Cats and not as its own separate entry. This means that if you're a GOG Galaxy user, you'll need to manually add it to Galaxy.