Behold the month of the Friday which is blacker than the blackest, black. This is prime-time for picking up recent games, especially this year since it seems like all of the games dealers are hosting sales. Then again it’s often said that Black Friday sales are for suckers and lucky me; I won download codes for a trio of the hottest games of the year! So check out this awesome list of the games I played over the month of November.
(I keep forgetting to doodle...)
That’s right, I’m still trying to genocide this game. Admittedly, I’m starting to hit a wall. I’ve cleared out a bunch of areas, and I’m currently working on the post Congregation area of Tseldora, but I’m feeling a lot of fatigue. This is part of the grind though so I know I’ll make it past the boring bits eventually and get on to more exciting parts of the run sooner or later. It was great killing the creep who forgives sins though...creepy spider-dude.
My expectations for Ace Combat 7 were in the neighborhood of optimistic, but at no point did I expect anime shenanigans. For a game that features so much modern-military airforce porn, I expect that at some point mobile suits will make an appearance. In the first few levels I played through, I had a lots of fun engaging in dogfights a mile or so above cities. Air-to-ground combat was different though: I either had air-to-ground weapons that made engagement kind of disengaging, or I had exactly the wrong kinds of weapons which forced me to recklessly divebomb ground-based units. It’s the story that makes me think of anime though: The world isn’t our Earth with different countries and entirely different issues instigating war. It’s a space elevator and the economic hardships of making one that seems to have been the reason behind the airstrikes which call you to action. Space elevators aren’t all that out of the realm of possibility, but it only takes a couple of missions before I’m set up against a super massive drone carrier with an overshield. I’m sure I still have a long way to go before I see the end of this narrative, and I’m convinced there’s a mobile suit or metal gear in the wings waiting to fire nukes from a railgun at me. I’ll see when I get back into the cockpit.
(High! Way! To! This! Hand! Of! Mine! (which is BURNING RED))
Final Fantasy Type-0 certainly could have been better and worse. It reminds me very much of Crisis Core, Final Fantasy VIII, and My Hero Academia; War is brewing and since this is Final Fantasy, crystals are at the center of the conflict. Class-0 is dispatched to neighboring cities on missions and frankly I only played a few of these missions so the overarching story isn’t something I have a very firm grasp on quite yet. So the elements I mentioned earlier: Type-0 is a lot like Crisis Core in that the action takes place in real-time. It’s almost like playing a button masher depending on how many enemies are on screen at once. It’s like Final Fantasy VIII and My Hero Academia because Class-0 is a literal class, in a literal school, where all of the students are playable characters with their own playstyle. I think that’s part of why I’m not feeling too engaged with Type-0; it’s not a bad game at all it just reminds me of other things that I’d also like to engage with. My copy of Crisis Core is probably long gone, but I haven’t played Final Fantasy VIII in months, and I only just started season 4 of My Hero. It’ll be a nice thing to have on in the background while I draw up fan art of Sice and Cinque.
(More like Zero-Type! BAM, Got em'!)
Brutal Doom 64 is a lot like Brutal Doom and Brutal Doom 2, only...ya know, applied to Doom 64. I don’t have as much experience with Doom 64 as I do with the other 2 titles; the first time I played Doom 64 was roughly a decade ago when I found a complete-in-box copy at a flea market for $10. I still have it too, and an N64 to play it on but unlike that humble little cartridge, Brutal Doom 64 lets me paint floors, walls, and ceilings with blood, gore, and brain matter. Demons and zombies are blown apart spectacularly with basic weapons, more are added to the mix, an entirely new, though short, level is added in the beginning, and somehow I was able to beat Hectic in this version! This is just something that I play casually from time to time, and I don’t see myself uninstalling this or the other two Brutal Doom games I have on my system. They’re all great unwindy games.
(Blacker than the Blackest, Black)
Yakuza 0 is a really familiar game which is weird because I’ve only ever played this, Kiwami, and 3 but I’ve only played those briefly. This, and indeed those, aren’t bad games at all, in fact I’ve had a lot of fun wandering the streets of Kamurocho, beating up people using bicycles, and eating all of the food from all of the restaurants. I tried really hard to do some story-related content this time around though, which I usually don’t do because of distractions like restaurants and slot car racing. I swear one of the other Yakuza games I’ve played involved Kuze being a dick to, and eventually getting beaten up by, Kiyru. After that was a brief investigation into a shady real estate agency who seems to have better connections than the Yakuza. Then there’s chapter 3 which let me play as Majima in the best character introduction I’ve ever seen for the series. I know I’m right about to be able to start the Cabaret Club time sink, so that could be why I stopped playing. Then again, looking at my list, I seem to have started several other massive time sinks. Yakuza 0 has been a lot of fun, and I don’t see myself uninstalling it for a while. I’m not tired of the combat yet, in fact playing as Majima basically unlocked a fourth combat style and I’m sure there are more beyond that. The writing has been consistently great in my opinion so that isn’t pushing me away either. I think I’m just jealous of Kiryu and Majima, and how they have near constant access to takoyaki.
(So close to buyng real estate...so close to cabaret...)
I played The Outer Worlds months ago when I got it for the PS4...probably as a gift, but maybe it was on sale. I’m playing the real version on PC now though, and I wasn’t expecting hard mode to be as hard as it is. Color me surprised that hard is hard, but a part of me wants to turn the difficulty down and start a new solo-Supernova run. I remember this game being a whole lot easier when I played it before, but back then I played on the normal difficulty setting rather than a harder one. Some aspects are still easy-peasy: stealth in this game can be a bad joke if you’re in a “restricted” area but have the holo-shroud and the right holo-disguise. It still gives me 3 chances to get out of a danger zone if someone realizes I am where I shouldn’t be. It’s kind of funny though; I can tell a lot of thought went into the writing for these scenarios. In one area I got stopped by robot guards three times and all three times I told it a variation on the old, “this statement is false” paradox. Getting stopped by organic guards though gave me the chance to tell them that this was my first day and I’m not at my work station because one of my parents died. It’s kind of like that part of Star Wars where Han has a bluff check, only I reliably pass those checks. I still feel mostly positive about The Outer Worlds, even though I know it pretty much just takes its formula of faction A vs Faction B, choose, and runs with it several times over before giving you a slideshow. I like the writing, the characters, and the settings though, so it’s all good.
(Oh snap, I just realized I have DLC to play too!)
Shin Megami Tensei IV was a game that I started, put about 40 hours into, stopped playing, then came back and started from scratch earlier this month. Now I’m about 20 hours into a new playthrough but I think I’m more or less where I was when I played in that initial run! What I like about SMT is how familiar it is in a way: in this game I’m essentially just a Pokemon trainer, but all of the Pokemon are monsters, youkai, Gods, demons, and angels from all of the mythologies and folklore of the world. Unlike Pokemon though, this game is actually challenging. I remember a fight against the Minotaur being a lot harder the first time I tried it years ago, but the following fight against Medusa killed me dead a couple times over before I summoned a wind-based elemental. I’m at that awkward stage where I’m in a new place and I’m not sure where I need to go or what I need to do, but I did just finish a side-quest that involved killing a tough violin-wielding skeleton! I’m hoping Atlus puts these coer SMT games on Steam eventually; Nocturne is likely going to end up on Steam, and I have a very definite itch for more of these games.
(I never saw it come...oh wait...)
Persona 4 Golden is another game scratching my SMT itch, and the reason I wasn’t able to post this blog on the first of the month. Like the core SMT games there’s dungeon crawling, Pokemon-style demon wrangling, and incredibly tough boss fights. Unlike the core SMT games though, the Persona games (like this one) gently fold it into a mixture of slice-of-life anime action, and time management gameplay. Right now for example, I’m waiting for two characters to recover after I saved them from the TV world, where the dungeons and monsters are. While I wait for them to recover, I’ve spent my days at school, my afternoons hanging out with friends or tending to job requests. During the evenings before bed I’ve been reading or building model kits. Summer exams are coming up, so I should really consider spending time studying; since it’s the rainy season I should be able to study very efficiently indeed! While I’m not doing that though, I suppose I could also summon and fuse demons to further consolidate my awesome power...I don’t understand how Persona 4 works: I don’t understand how the mixture of dungeon crawling, turn-based JRPG combat, time management, and social sims combine to make such a great gameplay experience. Yet here I am spending dozens of hours getting very, very into it! Maybe by next month I’ll have beaten it once, I dunno, stay tuned.
I don’t think Spider-Man: Miles Morales is optimized for the PS4 slim, but it’s nice to know I can play it on one! Thanks to random chance I won a download code for this, Sackboy, and Demon’s Souls and of those I only have to get a new console to play one of them. I loved PS4 Spider-Man so I put a lot more time into Miles than I did for Sackboy. As much as I enjoyed Spider-Man though, the DLC add-ons didn’t feel completely debugged. This game feels very much like those; the moment-to-moment gameplay is still really entertaining. Web slinging works like it did in the older game where you have control over momentum, there’s an emphasis on looking good while swinging too. Combat is more or less the same too in that it’s very Arkham-like. Spidey-sense telegraphs when it’s time to dodge or counter, simple combos knock enemies out of the way, and web-based gadgets can instantly take enemies out. Unlike the original though, Miles can use the strangely named power of Venom to cause area-of-effect electric damage. Miles can also turn invisible, but I’m not quite far enough in the story to have much control over that yet. While I’m swinging around Manhattan, this game is mostly a good time. The frame rate is usually consistently high, and the physics only really messes up if I make a last-second choice on where I want to go.
Finding collectibles has been mostly fun, but I just really didn’t like the first few costumes I unlocked. Then there are the holo-training side quests which I absolutely hated. I like the concept of stealth, movement, and combat challenges, but I don’t think what I needed to do was conveyed as well as it could have been. What’s funny is, one of the challenges completely broke: I failed the air-combat challenge a few times before it decided to break and let me get a Spectacular (That’s Silver on the 3-tiered scale) on it. The final training challenge is a boss fight though, and a really good one too...until a clone of the boss spawns in and it turns into a fluster-cluck. Another minor annoyance I have with Miles is how limited the voice acting seems to be. I’ve cleared out a handful of enemy bases now and I keep hearing the same lines about not eating yellow snow, and how criminals don’t neglect their paperwork. The other issue I have with Miles Morales is Miles Morales himself.
I’m not very familiar with his character admittedly, I’ve only watched Spiderverse and a couple of episodes of the Spider Man animated series from 2012 or so. In that media, Miles seemed like a less experienced Peter Parker. In this game it sometimes feels like I’m piloting someone who won’t stop whining. Miles quips from time-to-time sure, but during story beats he can get to be so grating that it almost takes me out of the game completely. I feel like there’s a long word for this kind of thing, but what I’m doing in-game as Miles doesn’t seem to sync up with all of his whining and Steven Universe-esq “Oh No’s” and “Oh Man’s”. I have a feeling there’s a plot twist coming too and I’m hoping the narrative isn’t too heavy when it does the obvious and turns the mega-corporation with the PMC into the main villain. I like this game, I just don’t really like the story or characters...it makes me want to play Ultimate Alliance 2 again. (This is why I’m a criminal; I can’t deal with paperwork. Just because we’re on the wrong side of the law doesn’t mean we don’t do paperwork. Don’t eat the yellow snow. Miles whimpering.)
(That cover art is SO BORING)
Sackboy: A Big Adventure is one of those PS5 games that also launched on the PS4. I won a digital code, and last month I played the first level. It reminded me very much of Yoshi’s Crafted World by way of Super Mario 3D World. If the first level I played was re-skinned, it could easily be a 3D Land or 3D World level, and that’s not as much of a slight as I’m intending it to be. Like that one Little Big Planet game I played, this one oozes charm out of every fiber of Sackboy’s rendered head. The story doesn’t seem to be much to write home about: a bad guy is being a bastard and it’s up to Sackboy to save a bunch of kidnapped villagers by travelling to various elemental worlds. There seems to be a skill upgrade system, cosmetic upgrades, dabbing, etc, and I like what I’ve played so far. What I DON’T like is the absence of Stephen Fry as narrator. You can’t have Stephen Fry narrate a whole trilogy of these games and expect me to accept it when he’s replaced by someone who sounds like The Moon from Bear in the Big Blue House. 2/10.
(It's pretty alright)
I’m giving Batman: Arkham Knight another chance. I picked up the PC version from humble and so far my PC hasn’t caught fire. Maybe it’s because I’m ready to give Batman another shot, maybe it’s because this game looks better next to Miles Morales,but something about my current attempt at Arkham Knight is really clicking with me. I’m going to chalk it up to the fact that I’m dressed in the Keaton Batsuit. Story-wise, I’m still in the first chapter. I’ve established a base at the GCPD, I’m aligning a satellite in the old movie studio, I’m checking out some neato corpses, some opera fan hung up, it’s been a laugh! I love how when Batman messes up he doesn’t moan about it or say, “Aw geeze”. I like how Batman decisively shatters mandibles and collarbones like it ain’t no thang. I like how Scarecrow isn’t fucking around with his plan and effectively got the city to evacuate. Then I got to an early predator section which let me stealthily take out two dudes before stopping everything, giving me a new suit, and setting up four tutorials (or maybe challenges?) between myself and the remaining four henchmen. It’s annoying, but the gameplay so far has been a lot of fun! I can see myself actually getting through the narrative this time around.
(If it wasn't for Unity, I never would have given it another chance)
It’s December! We’re almost done with 2020 and things have been looking better and better since August. I have a lot of stuff to play through, and hopefully my next monthly won’t be late. I picked up a bunch of games during the last Steam sale, and there’s no telling what or if I’ll be getting anything else as the Hogswatch month plays out. I’m mostly focused on playing through Persona 4, but playing Arkham and Spider-Man again made me realize that open world games are really fun. Here’s hoping you have a great December all, see you on the next one!