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Which games are keeping you company this weekend?

Videogames are great at helping us escape reality but sometimes they choose to throw us inside some even more distressing realities that might be oppressive, sinister, or just incredibly bleak. And we love them for it! What was the best time you ever had with a less-than-cheerful game? Did it make you think? Did its themes hit too close to home? Was its suffocating setting a breath of fresh air in a sea of light-hearted or superficial games? Speak up!

Surely you've got some gaming planned for this weekend, too. Go on, share your Weekend Playlist with us. It can include single-player games, multiplayer games, console exclusives, anything - we are not judging. In fact, we are sharing too!

Looking for some additional inspiration? The releases of the week might help:

- <span class="bold">Headlander</span> puts you in control of a floating head, looking to overthrow our mechanical overlords by gaining access to the space station's most secure areas. There's a strong 70s campy sci-fi vibe going on here, similar to <span class="bold">Deadly Tower of Monsters</span>.

- <span class="bold">INSIDE</span> is a strong candidate for Most Bleak & Thought-Provoking Masterpiece of the year. It definitely got people talking, including the folk from CraveOnline who attempted to offer their own -SPOILERY- explanation on <span class="bold">what it all means</span>.

- <span class="bold">LIMBO</span>, the somber, beautiful, but occasionally horrifying puzzle/platformer that put Playdead on everyone's radar, is infamous for its ambiguous ending. A while back, Kotaku gathered some of the most plausible (yet mostly morbid) theories about what actually happened in <span class="bold">this article</span>, that's obviously full of SPOILERS.

- <span class="bold">Cossacks 3</span> is a grand strategy that challenges you with managing both your vast armies and the economy behind building and sustaining them. If the guy from the main art seems vaguely familiar, perhaps it's because he looks a bit like your good pal <span class="bold">Olgierd von Everec</span>.

- <span class="bold">Offworld Trading Company</span> is a great way to test your economy skills in a foreign environment that constantly tries to throw you off-balance. PC Gamer had some <span class="bold">nice words of praise</span> to spare for it.

- <span class="bold">Batman</span> hardly needs introductions. Protector of Gotham by night, unwilling member of the city's aristocracy by day, he is constantly faced with tough choices, as Telltale's adventure game aptly demonstrates.

So, GOGlanders, what are you playing this weekend?
Skyrim remastered for the weekend.

As for a bleak game, probably the Metro 2033 series. not much in the way of hope spots, and any that happen seem to come at the cost of bits of your soul.
Zork Nemesis for me, babe ;P
INFINITY1967: Still playing Disciples 1 Gold
Whoa, supreme game. Good choice.

Got me some Zork hour, and now onto Patrician III and Eador once again! :D
I think the Dark Souls series and early Silent Hill games nail the "bleak" feel nicely. Everything about those games from the story and setting to the design and gameplay work with that.
Saints Row 2
Saints Row: The Third
Black Desert Online

Those are keeping me company this weekend.
Post edited November 27, 2016 by candesco
Small update: INSIDE is a bloody masterpiece. I'm only halfway through, so I have no idea how the story will pan out, but the visual design is simply exquisite and the boy's deaths are once again deliciously freakish. Strong recommendation for anyone who liked LIMBO.

I managed to play some Dishonored 2, as well. I've barely started my adventure (about to leave Dunwall) but it feels like the original in all the right ways. Runs smoothly enough, but I don't think I've hit the more demanding areas yet.
Mostly playing Gwent at the moment, really enjoying it too.

As for bleak games... the first one that comes to mind (atmosphere wise anyway, can't quite remember if the story was bleak but I believe so) is Shadow of the Colossus. A game that feels really vast and empty (in a good way) and manages to capture that sense of bleakness really well.

Not sure how many other bleak games I've played... nothing else comes to mind right away.
I could argue that Lennus 2 feels a bit bleak, especially near the end. I think it's the choice of colors for the world map.

The game it's a sequel to, Paladin's Quest, did not feel bleak at all, even with a machine threatening to destroy the world. Maybe it's because the game uses bright pastel colors for its graphics, particularly on the world map?
I've been playing a bunch of Dark Souls 3. It's definitely not my favorite in the series but as it's the first (and it seems for the foreseeable future, last) Souls game I got to play on Day 1 and experience along with everyone else (well except for the people who got it early when Bamco pulled their dirty move of releasing it in Japan a month before the rest of the world got it even though it was already fully translated in English as evidenced by the Xbone version and ready to ship already, being the end of Japan's fiscal year and all, gotta milk that for all its worth I guess. -__-), through all its patches, changes and whatever antics went on with the PvP and co-op (not a PvP fan actually, I only do it for ranking up in covenants if farming for covenant items is too tedious - then they decided when designing the Darkmoon Blades/Blue Sentinels, two separate covenants that are literally exactly the same, you get the worst of BOTH worlds - it's tedious to farm for and it's tedious to try and get summoned for it! It's greeeaaat!). The Ashes of Ariandel DLC is OK. My least favorite Souls DLC by far but it has its moments. The new weapons are easily my favorite thing about it. Most are fun to use with highly unique movesets or at least weapon arts. And some just fill in much-needed gaps in the main game's repertoire (finally a Greatbow for strength builds! and the Crow Quills, which in addition to being just an amazing weapon in general gets S dex scaling with a sharp infusion, a first for weapons in this game, where at best you'd get a, still-good-but-ain't-no-S, A scaling with regular infusions at best - well there was the S faith scaling for lightning infusions for some weapons but lightning infusions are so bad in this game it barely matters).

The level itself, Painted World of Ariandel, is pretty-looking but rarely if ever awe-striking because there's little in the level that doesn't feel like I've seen it elsewhere, whether in this game in particular or any other game in the series. Level design itself leaves something to be desired. Main complaint I've read is that it's short but for me it's that they do little that's interesting within its short length. There's a decent diversity of enemies, some much tougher than others, but the areas themselves feel like I'm going through one enemy mob to another enemy mob with a bonfire in between. Definitely no Ariamis, which also was a fairly small level but was clever about it with more labyrinthine structures with meaningful shortcuts to open up. Boss fights... well I like some of the main game bosses better if you ask me. The one "optional" boss is basically an NPC in dorky fashion (a dark mask with chain mail and I think leather gloves with... a loincloth? lol) using his main weapon that you get as a drop after defeating him, then pulls out a sorcerer staff and fires soul arrows and snap freeze (one of the new spells in the DLC, actually probably the only good one of the four, though I read the Way of White Corona got a buff - how much of one I haven't tried out yet) at you. The wolf is more of a challenge, like Vordt on speed, decently aggressive, but its design isn't the most inspired.

The other boss, the main/last boss, everyone praises to high heavens as one of the best bosses in the series while I'm like "yeah, the boss is pretty hard and the fight is long but..." A boss with three phases/health bars and 18,000(!) HP total. Has its moments but I think they tried too much at once and each phase doesn't transition that well to the next, the second phase is just plain crap altogether, let me be honest there, the fight would've been better without it. Without spoiling too much for people who haven't played it or know much about it yet, the boss has been compared favorably to a certain well-loved boss fight in Bloodborne and there is definitely a resemblance, but the BB boss in question was a smooth, gradual change and transition between their different phases where here you have two phases which would blend together well but are split in the middle by a second phase that plays completely differently and breaks the flow completely (this phase is also something of a callback to a beloved Dark Souls 1 fight but... not good). I will give it is easily the most difficult boss in the game but that's about it. It also makes for a great spectacle though the boss does have a few cheap grab attacks that can either instantly kill you or just waste a bunch of your Estus. The grab in the third phase is especially nasty (both in damage and how it looks) but once you know the "tell" for it you can dodge it easily enough I guess. One of the biggest sources of rage for me when I first fought it but I got better at it the more I fought the boss. Still, though I don't think as badly of it as I initially did I still don't find it an especially enjoyable boss, it's just... long. And that second phase is just SO bad. Well the DLC is definitely not bad but it could've been a lot better, I'm hoping the next and final DLC they pull out all stops on and deliver something worthy of closing the series.

Oh and I just played INSIDE the other day. Short but sweet. Not sure if I like it more than LIMBO or not. One thing I will say is that INSIDE has a more coherent narrative (environmental storytelling is still storytelling) and level transitions than LIMBO which is more "dream logic" in its structure. And though there are definitely enough ways to die in the game INSIDE doesn't seem as kill-happy as LIMBO where every other step was a trap or hazard of some sort. The puzzles are fun, not too hard but still clever enough to require some thought. As it neared the middle/end segments I was reminded of a more morbid Oddworld in some ways. Though the ending sequences themselves are... something. I had no idea until I looked at a video afterward that there are secret "photography room" with objects to dismantle which leads to an alternate ending. They must be very well hidden because, though I played through the game fairly quickly I did try and explore as much as I could and couldn't find anything that would lead to different rooms or anything (save for one floor I broke with that underwater craft thing you get partway through - I decided to go through a red door instead and found I couldn't go back - maybe I missed something there. hmmm...)

Good bleak games (won't elaborate too much, but these do a good job in this regard for on reason or another): Spec Ops: The Line, Yume Nikki, Mother 3, the "genocide" route of Undertale (which I haven't done, looks 2hard5me), Silent Hill 2 as mentioned (I'd consider all the early Silent Hill games really), Conker's Bad Fur Day (no seriously, it takes a significant and bizarre tonal shift toward the end), Demon's and Dark Souls, Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth (naturally, it's too bad that the PC version is pretty much unplayable for most people even with the fan patch - someone needs to find the source code for this, too bad this was the studio's only game before being unceremoniously shut down), Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number (that ending Jesus Christ), The Cat Lady (props whoever mentioned that), Downfall (also by the same creators), some of Yahtzee Croshaw's early games, well in particular 1213 and the Chzo tetralogy.

Bleak(-seeming) titles I haven't played yet but would like to get around to: This War of Mine, Pathologic, I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream, Papers Please, LISA the Painful/Joyful, the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games, Bloodborne
Post edited November 27, 2016 by cannard
The one bleak game that stayed with me is Blackout, a danish adventure title from 1997. You are a freshly born personality belonging to a guy with multiple personality disorder. Another personality seem to have somehow been involved in a snuff production. Suddenly you have a blackout, and while you're gone, another personality takes over. You wake up in whatever weird place the personality left you in. Sadly, danish games didn't really stand out much after this. (Okay, Limbo is an exception)
Finished Shantae and the Pirate's Curse this weekend. Loved those chunky Metal Slug looking graphics.

Metro 2033 on the frigid, ruined surface had one section outside the Library where I stepped into a radioactive puddle and started taking on damage and the geiger counter was going mad and my breath turned to a short, guttural wheezing and my vision turned bloody from the radiation damage while the howling diseased winds of the nuclear winter filled with the cries of wingèd demons - our future - and I felt a desperation rivalled only by the lonesome suffocation of the underground - in the very same game - when the preternatural voices speak to you and you succumb to your dark visions.
Metro 2033 is a heavy experience.
Looks like I got sidetracked by Planet Coaster this weekend. I'm still getting used to its building system so I was just playing around with it and my first custom coaster in the first super easy beginner's scenario. Three to four hours later (yikes!) this is what I came up with. I actually had lot of fun building it, and the smoothing options for track-building are terrific. That's an issue I always had with RCT 3 and many coasters feeling janky in parts, no matter what I did. Anyway, the cave/grotto with the shops I built before I even thought of including the coaster and they seem to work quite well together. Now the outside terrain still looks a bit like an amorphous blob, so I still need some practicing with it, but, overall, I'm quite happy with the final result. :) Yup, I'm really enjoying this game so far.
I'm playing Witcher 3 GOTY. I got it on launch for PS4 when the vanilla version came out but I just didn't care for it on there. Yet it's been itching at me ever since. Now that I have a gaming PC I figured I'd get it where it gets the most praise.

I can honestly say I'm enjoying it greatly on the PC. I'm not far yet. Only to that garrison outpost early on but its so good and pretty!
A successful weekend; I finished Megami Tensei as planned (pretty good dungeon crawl at first, but its extremely repetitive nature caused it to overstay its welcome. Some day, I'll beat the sequel, but not any time soon), and the third case of Phoenix Wright: Trials and Tribulations, right on schedule. It's part of the Phoenix Wright charm, but I can never fully get over how completely incoherent the prosecution's theories always are.
cannard: sniiiiiiiiiiip

maladr0Id: Small update: INSIDE is a bloody masterpiece.
*Cries in 4gb*

Good.. good for ya, pal!

Post edited November 28, 2016 by vicklemos