July has come and gone which is great because I’ve been sick and tired of summer since around March. There have been a few relatively big releases this past month which I would love to talk about but which I haven’t picked up yet so those are going to have to wait. There are several other games that I was hoping would have launched by now but which are still absent. I’m thinking about Dark Souls on Switch and what’s got me worried came in the form of an e-mail sent by Nintendo a couple of days ago: The e-mail advertised hardcore action games on Switch, one of which was Dark Souls but the release date was changed from Summer 2018 to simply 2018. I could really use some demonic action-horror in general and while I’m disappointed that Dark Souls was potentially pushed back again, I was able to scratch that itch this past month. Here’s what I’ve played during the month of July:
(Once again: a list and some doodles)
I’m going to lump Night in the Woods, Longest Night and, Lost Constellation together into one or two paragraphs since they’re all a part of the same entity. I don’t remember if I got this game on sale or not but it’s a game that I was highly anticipating once it was announced for Switch and when I started playing it, I had a lot of trouble putting it down until I finished it. I needed a break from Hollow Knight and last month’s David Cage double feature was still fresh in my mind so I can’t fully describe how refreshing it was to really get into this narrative. Night in the Woods has you play as Mae Borowski, a young woman who returns home from College and reconnects with her friends and family while all around her everything seems to be changing. I too am a college drop out but I dropped out of a community college, and I have experienced living away from home for a while and returning to see how things have changed so this is a narrative that speaks to me on a couple of levels. Night in the Woods is packed with great character moments to the point that it strongly encourages repeat playthroughs. I don’t think it necessarily changes the nature of the narrative overall but there are background and character details that can be affected by the things you do, or don’t do, as Mae.
Longest Night isn’t much of a game but it was included with the Switch version of Night in the Woods. It serves to expand some of the internal lore and also a few lines of dialog in the full game. Basically all you do in Lost Constellation is hang out with the main cast of Night in the Woods and find constellations. Each one you find has a back story attached which may or may not come up again during the main game. Playing Longest Night isn’t necessary unless you want to hang out with the main cast of Night in the Woods for about half an hour but I would say Lost Constellation is slightly less unnecessary and definitely more of a game. Lost Constellation is presented as a story being told to Mae by her Grandfather and has you playing as Adina Astra, an astronomer who wishes to cross a frozen lake in the hopes of meeting the ghost of her former lover and seeing the Ghost Star, where the spirits of the dead all wind up travelling to. Adina Astra is mentioned in the main Night in the Woods, as are the stories that Mae’s Grandfather used to tell her as a child so playing through this feels really satisfying from a narrative standpoint. It makes the world feel that much fuller and gives Mae’s Grandfather some character moments which I think were needed in the main game. Lost Constellation plays similarly to Night in the Woods: walk through each scene, interact with and pick up key items, talk to key characters and, solve simple puzzles to progress the narrative. It’s not necessary and the story here is linear with and without branches but I can still see myself playing through this again and recommending it, especially to people who enjoyed their time in Possum Springs. Lost Constellation was also freely available and accessible in the main Night of the Woods game.
(Grandpa Borowski is the best)
Last month I started playing Hollow Knight and this month I finished my first playthrough. Last month, I hit a couple of difficulty walls and this month was very much the same: I don’t think there were many bosses who didn’t kill me at least once but during my playthough of Hollow Knight this month, I learned to loathe The White Palace. It’s necessary to go through The White Palace if you want the chance to see a couple of endings but it’s perhaps the greatest platforming challenge in the base game. It’s not enough to jump between fast-moving, instant-death hazards, it’s not enough to attack those instant-death hazards to give yourself more height in a given jump, it’s not enough to know exactly when to use a dash or a double-jump: there are instances where you have to do all of these moves and more to make even the smallest bit of forward progress in this labyrinthine palace. It was absolutely satisfying to make it to the end of the White Palace but it’s also one of many examples of how challenging this game can be. Unfortunately, while I do enjoy Hollow Knight, once I finished the final boss and watched the ending, I felt burned out. I was satisfied of course but it was different from how I felt when I beat Bloodbourne earlier this year: I feel like I could go back and get into Bloodbourne relatively easily but I still feel like I need to recover after Hollow Knight. Part of that is knowing that I finished the game with 76% completion. It’s a fantastic game but Hollow Knight took a lot out of me.
(Seriously, I want this as a tattoo)
Last month I played the Octopath Traveler demo and this month I was able to transfer that data over into the full game! Since launch I’ve put just over 40 hours into the JRPG and like everybody else, I’m feeling mostly positive about it. I say mostly positive because I’ve hit a couple of instances where I felt it was necessary to grind to catch my party members up with each other. I’ve also had to do some grinding to prepare for new chapters of each character’s story. Grinding is to be expected of course and when I realized that there’s no penalty for changing up secondary jobs whenever you want, that made the grind seem less tedious. At the moment, I’ve finished up everybody’s second chapter and I have no shame in admitting that I used a guide to quickly unlock all but the four bonus job classes. It’s somewhat annoying that your party only really interact through dialog that pops up sporadically but I’m still holding out hope that everyone has a shared fifth chapter. I’m also annoyed that my starting character can’t be swapped out of the group at all (or at least until they finish their fourth chapter, from what I’ve read). I wanted to keep my party evenly leveled but as it stands right now, my lead character (H’aanit) is at level 50 whereas everyone else is almost at 40 (they range from 37 to 39). This is another nit-pick and it hasn’t stopped me from playing the game. The stories I’ve played through have been compelling after all and I’ve loved the designs of most of the bosses I’ve fought against. If I had to choose a favorite character right now, I’d go with Tressa overall but I’m also very compelled by Primroses’ story. Out of everybody, I feel like Olberic is the most generic of the eight stories and I wish there was more to Therion’s story too but I’m only on their third chapter. I have a lot of story to go through before I get to any kind of conclusion.
(I used to be a Mercenary, but then I took several stairs to the knee)
Taiko no Tatsujin is a game series that has mostly stayed put in Japan but if I remember correctly, there was an American release of entries on the PS2 and possibly the Wii. It’s a rhythm series that has you playing a Taiko drum to the beat of songs that I suppose are well known and important in Japan. The Switch version boasts some Nintendo songs but the demo only had 2 songs to choose from. I chose to play the demo using motion controls and I don’t know if it’s my fault but I had a little bit of trouble controlling the game. It seemed to have a lot of trouble understanding that I’m hitting the drum once rather than several times in a row. It also had trouble telling if I was hitting the drum directly or tapping the side of the drum. I like rhythm games in general and I was excited to find out that this game is launching in the west but the demo didn’t really sell me on the game. The most damning thing about it though was the revelation that the west isn’t going to get the drum peripheral so really, what’s the point?
Last month, I played Fallout Shelter enough to get nice and disgusted by it. Then I swapped over to Fallout 3 which I played until I got to the point that ducking made me invisible and I had a million stimpacks. This month I started playing Fallout for the third or fourth time. Fallout was an isometric game in which you role play in between the main quests and this time, I’ve definitely put in more time and effort than the last few times. Unlike the last time I tried playing the first Fallout, this time I’ve downloaded Fallout Fixt, a mod that offers all kinds of quality of life updates. I think the main reason I’m sticking with Fallout though is just how immersed I am in the game overall: It’s to the point that I’m considering writing a full-on Wasteland Diary that fully details my adventure from Vault 13 to Necropolis and back.
Another demo I played this month was what I thought was something called Waku-Waku Doubutsu Land but which turned out to have a western release and is called Fun-Fun Animal Park. My first impression was tainted when it told me I couldn’t use my pro controller. I was further soured when it told me I had to use 1 joycon and I felt downright miffed when I was told this is a multiplayer experience only. What I didn’t get from the eShop description is that wakka-wakka is a party game somewhat like Mario Party but without the board game aesthetic. Instead I was bothered by talking hand puppets who seemed to know four or five spoken phrases that clashed with their respective word balloons. I played one mini-game: a motion-based curling type thing, before I deleted this thing.
The last game I played in July was actually a game that I bought weeks ago, possibly in June, when it was put on sale. Goetia is a game that I have on my Steam library but since my computer is a potato, I’ve found that I can run that version at about 3 to 5 FPS. the Switch version has had some glitches but since it seems to save every time I enter a room or solve a puzzle, I haven’t been in a situation where I’ve lost a lot of time after a blank text box pops up and keeps me from leaving a room. Now then, what is Goetia? Ars Goetia is a book detailing the procedures and necessary materials needed to summon any of 72 (or 73) Demons; Marquis, Dukes, Presidents, Princes and, Kings of Hell who rule over many legions of Demons and who can offer things such as honest answers, secrets, familiars, power, longevity, love and other such things the conjurer may desire. Goetia the Game takes several of the demons from The Goetia and uses them to block off access to areas of The Blackwood Manor. You play as Abigail Blackwood, the ghost of a girl who died a few decades before and your role is to find out why you’ve been brought back from the Dead and what’s happened with your family. Goetia features lengthy puzzles that run the gamut from possessing an item to make it interact with something else in another room to, remembering something you’ve read in a note to solve a combination lock. As you solve puzzles and progress through the story, you gain more powers which can highlight hidden things depending on what you possess or allow you to travel to an alternate reality. I’m still very early on in the game but I only know that because I’ve checked an FAQ and realized that I’m solved portions of puzzles that I shouldn’t be bothering with until much-much later in the game. This is a game that I’m definitely going to finish playing and mention again in my next journal, not only because I enjoy puzzle games but because I’m really fascinated by this subject matter. The developers really did their homework with this one and it would have been so easy to simplify the subject matter here. I’m playing the Switch version but it’s also on Steam and it seems to go on sale relatively frequently so if you’re into demons and gothic horror, or if you’re into point and click puzzle games, I would strongly recommend Goetia.
(For more information on Paimon, see Hereditary...just don't expect it to be accurate)
I had a much clearer sense of what was coming out in July so I’m going into August knowing that I’m going to be spending more time playing Fallout, Octopath and, Goetia. As for upcoming releases, I’m still waiting for confirmation that I’ll be able to play Dark Souls on my Switch this year. Okami HD is launching soon on Switch and it’s not as expensive as I would have guessed so maybe I’ll finally go through that in the coming weeks. Other Switch releases I know of for this month are 2064 Read Only Memories and Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate: a story driven game I have on my Steam wishlist and a Monster Hunting game respectively and both that I’m mildly interested in. I’m writing this before noon on the first of August and I have no idea what PS+ is going to be offered as a freebie yet which feels very strange to me so for all I know, something like Final Fantasy Type-0 will be available for me to download in the next few days. I do want to play my PS4 a little bit more than I have been but there isn’t much available on that platform that I can’t also play on the Switch...well I don’t have Crash on the Switch and I’ve been talking about Crash 2 for months now. See you next time everybody!