So maybe this was unexpected considering I recently released my overview of 2018 as a whole. Here’s the thing though: habits are difficult to break and the worst time to stop doing a thing is when there’s only one more of that thing to do. Besides, my 2018 journal was focused exclusively on games that launched IN 2018. So, what games DID I play during the month of December?
(Few doodles this month)
This is the Hitman that launched in chunks from 2016; I knew it existed and I feel like I’d heard about it before but my main reason for picking it up was the fact that this was a $60 package being sold for $15 during black friday. When I finally started playing it, I thought about why someone might spend several hours on the first level of any given game. In Hitman’s case, it’s because the stealth mechanics and the various ways you have to kill your targets are so nuanced and satisfying to pull off that I was compelled to spend a lot of time in all but two levels of this game. In general, I wouldn’t call myself a big fan of the Hitman series because of how unforgiving previous games had been. WIth this iteration though, I could make pretty massive mistakes during a mission without feeling like I completely ruined a playthrough. It didn’t take long for me to view Hitman as more of a puzzle game than an action or stealth affair. I did start feeling some twangs of frustration during later levels where safe spaces were becoming harder to come by...then the final level in Japan turned out to be nothing but a safe space which provided difficulties I wasn’t really anticipating! There’s a lot more that I can do and unlock since, on the grand scale of things, I only really scratched the surface of Hitman’s challenges so I can see myself going back to Paris or Sapienza at some point in 2019.
(I strongly appreciate this reference)
I played nine demos this month so I’m just going to go ahead and run through them in what I hope will be a rapid-fire sort of way. The main point I’d like to get across though is that I only played a couple of demos that really sold me on the games they represented.
(I didn't play Warframe this month, I was just a filthy otaku)
Monster Hunter World was the other game I picked up for $15 during the Black Friday sales! I’m not new to the Monster Hunter series but I never got into it in the same way I got into the aforementioned Hitman series (and even that series is one that I wouldn’t say I’m completely into). I mostly played Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate during that time when it was the only game to play on the Wii U that wasn’t New Super Mario Bros or ZombiU though without actually making it too far. As for Monster Hunter World, I enthusiastically put about 40 minutes into the character creation menu and then another fifteen or twenty to create my Pelico. Then the game told me it started and I had to get through a scripted escape sequence and a not-quite-as scripted escape sequence that taught me how to hide in shrubbery. My first impression of the game part of Monster Hunter World was not positive and I wasn’t completely onboard during the first couple of hunts either. Once I noticed that more than one giant monster was stalking around the map, I finally felt some sense of excitement. Then I lost resources and a kill to a monster that could pound me into the mud by farting. I don’t dislike Monster Hunter it’s just that the grind kills my interest to continue on. I would love to craft a poison weapon and strong armor but it requires me to kill the same things more times than I would realistically care to. I put down Monster Hunter World much more quickly than I put down Ultimate 3.
Hollow is a game in which you wake up in a futuristic facility of some kind, I’m pretty sure it’s a space station. The atmosphere is relatively thick and I felt apprehensive as I explored the first few hallways and was eventually tasked with finding a power supply. The problem with Hollow came almost immediately after I found a power supply and encountered the first enemy in the game: it wasn’t alone and the game seemed to want me to kill everything even though it still controlled as slowly as a first person horror game. The sudden introduction of first-person shooter combat and a literal wave of hostile monsters was such a sharp shift in tone that I just couldn’t deal with Hollow any longer. I only paid 90-cents for this game and I feel like I was overcharged.
I checked out the NES and Famicom application long enough to forget about four fifths of what was loaded onto the thing. The main draw for me this month was Ninja Gaiden and all I did was what I usually do when I play Ninja Gaiden: I played up until about level 5-1, died several times in a row and quit.
Soma was the next game I played in December and it was definitely a highlight. I’ve written a blog about Soma a few weeks ago so I’ll try not to gush too much here. I was immediately drawn into the world and it didn’t take me very long to get into the spirit of solving environmental puzzles like a boss. Then things changed slightly and I was a bit more apprehensive about solving those puzzles because every little sound could have been a hideous monstrosity out to bludgeon me to death. As the narrative progressed, choices were presented to me which I agonized over for minutes at a time. The world of Soma was this incredibly bleak and lonesome place and yet I can’t recall the last time I felt such tension while going through a game. Once I started playing Soma, I didn’t really play anything else until I finished it: I had to stop a few times to collect myself and calm down but once I started my focus was resolute. I don’t know if I’ll be able to play it again anytime soon but while I went through it that first time, it was incredible.
(Soma in a nutshell)
After Soma destroyed me I needed something of a lighter tone to build me back up from the emotional mound I had been reduced to. Onrush happened to be exactly what I needed after Soma and it was provided for free to Playstation + subscribers! Onrush is a very arcady racing game where it seems like destruction is the name of the game. Sure, your vehicle is racing around an outdoor circuit but you gain the ability to boost by bumping into (and thus destroying) fodder racers. Thinking back to my time playing Onrush, it seemed like position and overall speed didn’t matter so much as how many points you and your team have at the end of each race. Points are earned by destroying other racers, performing stunts while driving off of ramps and...well I think those might be the only two ways now that I think on it. After each race you’re given some in-game currency, some experience points and each time you level up you’re given a free loot box to open up.
During December, I took some time to play some games that I played earlier on in the year just for the sake of it. I didn’t really put any time into it but I put Persona 5 back into my PS4 just to see how quickly I might be able to unlock the three trophies I have left before the platinum unlocks. Starlink and Dragon Ball FighterZ are games that I played a little bit of simply because they launched this year and I needed a clearer opinion of them before I started up my end-of-year thingy. Starlink disengaged me quickly thanks to its high encounter rate while traveling through space but Dragon Ball FighterZ was still fun to play with even though I kept getting my ass handed to me. Then there’s Dark Souls Remastered: I kinda kept coming back to this game ever since I got it on launch in October and I feel like I’ve said more than enough about it already. Playing as a ranged, magic user has been more trouble for me than playing as a muscle-bum with a massive sword but I’m still having a lot of fun with this game.
Super Smash Bros Ultimate...It’s Super Smash Bros Ultimate. It took me about five days to unlock everybody outside of World of Light but IN World of Light I only have about ten who I’m able to use. I’ve spent a majority of my time fighting spirits directly from the Spirit board. I don’t think I’ve put enough time into this to officially rank it but I’ve made some obvious observations like how Palutena is much more powerful now than she was in Smash For and how it seems like Cloud was depowered somewhat. I know I’m pretty terrible as any of the Fire Emblem characters and even though it feels like he was slowed down, I still really like playing as Bowser. I don’t see myself beating classic mode with every fighter and I don’t see myself playing Smash online often if ever but I’ve already had a lot of fun with Smash and apparently I’ve had the game running for over 20 hours.
(WHERE THE HELL IS MY TELEROBOXER REVIVAL!?)
December has passed and with it, 2018 has also reached its conclusion. I played more new games than I expected to in 2018 and I’m hoping that trend continues into 2019. I’m relatively optimistic for 2019 as a whole but my main focus is likely going to be on Nintendo. I can’t wait for Fire Emblem: Three Houses for example and there’s almost definitely going to be new Pokemon and Animal Crossing titles launching on Switch this year. The most pressing question I have though, going into the new year is this: When the Hell can I play classic Final Fantasy titles on my Switch?