October is usually the best month of the year, and while this has been a really good month for me, there are little factors that kept it from being as good as it could have been. It’s basically November now, and yet my area is still humid and seeing days at 60° and...well, that’s all I’ve got really. It’s raining more, but I enjoy that kind of thing. So anyway, here’s the list of what I’ve been playing while avoiding the unseasonable warmth and adjusting to a new night-schedule.
(I firmly believe Tama is foul-mouthed)
Dark Souls II has become my wind down game, mainly because of my genocide run. I’ve discovered though, that there are certain enemies that respawn indefinitely. All of the areas ruled over by The Rat King for example will respawn enemies indefinitely. There’s also at least one room in Dranglic Castle where the Stone Warriors spawn infinitely, likely because of the doors that only open when they’re given souls. The odd thing about that is how those doors don’t close if you leave or die, they stay open. Once I clear out The Shaded Woods completely I’ll do another stream where I show off what I’ve done and kill some bosses. I’m curious to see if the Undead Chariot arena will feature respawning Skeletons after I kill the undead Chariot.
Earlier this month I had to sit and wait for a dryer repair and washing machine replacement, so I booted up Bloodborne in the living room. I forgot how pretty that game can be, but I also forgot how much of an ass the Shadows of Yarnham are to deal with. I didn’t beat the game, I didn’t even start a new one, I just logged onto a hitherto forgotten save file and played for a little while one day.
During one of the sales Steam hosted this past month my attention was drawn by a certain Pinball game that had its price slashed. Then I noticed Demon’s Tilt, which was cheaper than Peach Ball and had a very interesting setting so I chose pixel-art Satanism over anime, furry waifus. There’s only 1 primary table in Demon’s Tilt, but it’s broken up into 3 sections. Each of the sections have their own ramps, bumpers, and specific criteria that unlock smaller bonus tables. It’s hard to really sell the concept of Pinball: the goal is always the same, you need to use paddles and tilt mechanics to keep your ball in play and try getting a high score.
The only times I can really critique pinball is when a video pinball game doesn’t work well, and Demon’s Tilt features a great sense of fluidity and a great approximation of physics. I don’t know if it features vertical monitor support, like I’ve seen featured in other games recently, but even in the standard horizontal presentation it’s easy to keep track of where the ball is, and where it’s going. Mostly anyway: In my first hour or so of gameplay I had to adjust how quickly and sharply the camera follows the ball since, at default, I was feeling something close to whiplash at times when the camera would suddenly jerk up or down the table. Slight camera-jank aside though, I’ve really been enjoying Demon’s Tilt. I’m not great at pinball, but I’ve seen 3 of the bonus tables and my current highest score is a modest 117 million. Demon’s Tilt is going to be one of those casual unwind games that I pop on for a few minutes here and there rather than something I pour hours into in single play sessions, and if you’re into pinball I’d recommend it.
(Oh hey, it's coming to Switch!)
World of Final Fantasy is pretty neat, it’s also very familiar. Aesthetically it looks like a Kingdom Hearts game. A lot of the monsters are taken directly from classic Final Fantasy games. There are cameos from previous Final Fantasy protagonists, as well as settings from previous Final Fantasy games used here in World of. I’ve played for about 9 hours this past month, so the overarching story hasn’t fully unfolded quite yet. Amnesia plays a major role, since the two main characters Lann and Reynn have it. When it comes to gameplay, World of Final Fantasy features random encounters (which can be turned off) and turn-based combat. Stacking is introduced early on and it’s basically a way to combine your power with the power of the monsters you can capture Pokemon-style. Each monster you catch has their own skill trees, and many of them can be evolved once you put enough ability points into them. It reminds me of a mix between Final Fantasy X and Pokemon overall, and it felt really rewarding for me to develop level 1 monsters into much stronger forms. Like I’ve said, I’m not very far into World of Final Fantasy. I’m enjoying the combat and seeing the references to past games, but I’m not really connecting with the story yet. I’m sure It’ll get more interesting sooner rather than later though...Honestly, I’ve spent an hour or two in the colosseum.
(I can't wait to see the terrifying plot that subverts this much cuteness)
The Cube Escape Collection combines 9 previously free-to-play mobile puzzle games into a single $5 package on Steam. What was lost on me when I played these games previously was just how firmly connected these games were. The Cube Escape games are a series of escape the room puzzles. Sometimes you’re playing as an investigator, sometimes you play as a windmill attendant, sometimes you play as a parrot named Gary, but all nine of these games center around the death of a woman named Lisa and the mysterious circumstances surrounding it. Puzzles range from finding items to complete in-room assets, figuring out patterns, combining items to get a code, and some really obscure puzzles can be solved by playing completely different games in the collection. In addition to puzzle solving the Cube Escape games are notable for the disturbing imagery and scenarios they feature. Some of it is absurd; like using chewed gum on a mouse trap to catch a fish. A more disturbing setpiece has you follow a corpse from a grandfather clock into another room where you find it hanging upside down despite it not being there before.
Despite the difficulty of some of the puzzles, and indeed a couple of these games, this was one of the easier games I was able to complete on Steam when it comes to unlocking achievements.There’s a hint system available and there doesn’t seem to be a penalty for using it.As I mentioned earlier though, I was familiar with some of these games already since they’ve mostly (probably all) been available on mobile platforms. This isn’t really a spooky collection of games, but it’s close and I would say it’s an appropriate Halloween-time game to play.
(The past is never dead. It's not even past.)
Titanfall 2 certainly had one Hell of a single player campaign! Moments before being deployed onto a hostile planet, your cadet is sent through a fully immersive VR training program which nicely introduces shooting and movement (ie: wall-running). After trying your hand at beating a time trail, you’re deployed to a battlefield where a mercenary group helps the rival military faction absolutely destroy your side. Once you wake up you quickly find that one of your side’s Titans hasn’t been totally destroyed, but it requires a pair of batteries before you can use it. The first level is mostly a mix of defending yourself from local wildlife, remaining enemy forces, and getting to grips with parkour in a setting where it’s not quite as obvious where you can and can’t wall-run. At the end of this first stage you’re finally allowed to climb into the cockpit of BT and come to grips with piloting a Titan.
What I liked about the Titanfall 2 campaign is how every level introduces something new to the gameplay. The second level introduces an enemy Titan which acted as an effective boss fight. An early level set in a manufacturing plant strongly emphasizes verticality and introduces a unit that’s greater than usual soldiers but lesser than an enemy Titan. A stage soon after introduces time travel, then an item that directly manipulates the setting and set pieces, then later in the game your side regroups for large scale battles against the enemy faction’s forces. The issue with Titanfall 2 is that each level seems to be its own thing rather than carrying the new mechanics forward. Time travel is contextualized but you can’t utilize it after that one specific level where it’s introduced. Large scale battles can’t happen in a majority of the game for plot reasons, but it would be nice if more levels featured them. In a way it felt to me like the entire single player campaign was a tutorial or even a teaser for what’s potentially on offer in Multiplayer.
Since I loved the single player portion of Titanfall 2 and I suspected it was just an excessively elaborate means of preparing players for multiplayer, one would assume I tried and enjoyed Titanfall 2’s multiplayer. One would be wrong though, because I hate multiplayer. Titanfall 2 might have excellent MP content, but it’s just not my thing. A 6 hour single player campaign is fairly short, and I would have preferred a longer experience, but I enjoyed what was there and look forward to replaying it sooner or later.
(Get shooty; run on a wall)
I’ve played Doom 64 years ago when I was a kid with an N64, and when it launched for $5 on Steam I double-dipped. I didn’t actually start playing it until this month and even then, I’ve only really played it casually. The last time I played anything Doom related was a few weeks ago when I booted up some Brutal Doom and Brutal Doom 2. Obviously those Brutal projects are clearly different from the official Doom 64. For one thing, there’s no looking up or down, and I don’t think it’s possible to crouch. The movement is much slower compared to Brutal, but Doom 64 is anything but. The level design is very maze-like, but the combat is fast paced. There’s not really too much to be said about Doom 64 though since it’s just Doom again but with different models for the enemies. Their overall aesthetic reminds me a lot of claymation for some reason, even though they’re definitely not. This is often said of Doom 3, but Doom 64 is a lot darker than I remember it being too. Like so many other games, Doom 64 is going to end up being something I play very casually from time to time rather than a game I play obsessively for hours at a time.
And then I downloaded the Brutal Doom 64 Mod and just like with Brutal Doom and Brutal Doom 2, I enjoyed a bit of really fast-paced FPS gameplay and a great deal of ultra-violence. Maybe it’s because I’m less familiar with Doom 64 overall, but even the Brutal mod just doesn’t seem to make me want to play this game as much as the first two. Childish as this is going to sound, Brutal Doom 64 doesn’t seem to have the “flip the bird” button, and as fast as the game becomes with Brutal it still doesn’t feel as fast as Brutal 1 or 2. It’s still a damn fine mod, I just prefer Brutal Doom 2 over this one.
(Rip and Tear)
I’ve had my eye on Final Fantasy Type-0 for years, but I only recently picked up the HD edition from Steam. A part of me wanted to import it and play it on the PSP, but then it became one of those games I planned on getting on the PS4, then it became a game I would get eventually. Since we’re officially in Eventually I can say what I heard about Type-0 previously: it’s kind of strange, this one. Type-0 is part of the same continuity as Final Fantasy XIII, Fabula Nova Crystallis, and centers around an Empire launching an attack against totally-not-Balamb. This prompts Totally-not-Balamb Garden to deploy the legendary Class Zero to repel Imperial invaders and their fearsome White Tiger l’Cie.
After a prologue mission I was introduced to a classful of characters who I can use at my discretion. A pair of characters, Mechina and Rem are new to Class Zero, but the player I was put in control of (and indeed, the one on the box art) is Ace. The missions I’ve taken part in so far were easy enough to complete within 10 to 15 minutes and they’re replayable so it’s easy to grind up experience and items if need be. The cast of playable characters is one more than a baker’s dozen and since the only characters who level up are the ones who were active participants in a mission, there’s going to be a lot of grinding ahead if I want to level everybody up evenly. Some of the character models leave something to be desired, but there are a few characters who I can point out and say I’ve begun growing attached to.
Cater, Eight, and Rem for example, are characters I’ve enjoyed using but I’m early enough in the plot that their characters haven’t made me hate their utility. Right now they’re essentially just Gun, Punch, and fast-knives to me. I’m also early enough in the plot that I don’t know how heavily the “super powered teens at school” theme is going to show itself as the narrative unfolds: I’m ready for Type-0 to shift hard into familiar anime tropes, but enough time has passed since I’ve exposed myself to that kind of thing that I should be fine. Besides, I like those kinds of anime, so if anything the tropes will keep me engaged. The combat in Type-0 is real-time and reminds me of Crisis Core so I’m really enjoying that. What I’m not enjoying as much is the micromanagement that comes from making sure everyone has the best possible weapons and equipment before I bring them along on a mission with me. Overall, I’m actually really liking Type-0 and I look forward to seeing where it goes.
(Heart of the Cards)
Sex with Stalin isn’t really a game, it’s a lengthy conversation with 27 end points and mildly amusing animations. The prologue introduces the player character as a time traveller from 300 years after the death of Stalin who uses his neighbor’s time machine to teleport himself into Stalin’s office at some point in the mid-to-late 1940’s (this game definitely takes place post-war). The future isn’t such a great place, and the time traveller is hoping that a nice chat with Uncle Joe will be enough to make the world (or at least Russia) a better place. As you talk to Stalin an encyclopedia will be filled in with information pertaining to the man himself, world events involving him, the occult, anime, etc. There might be some really interesting information here about The Five Year Plan, Marxism, and such but then I get to the end of a conversation thread and suddenly I have to look at Stalin’s pepperoni-nipples again.
Suddenly I no longer care about Russian history, but at least I get to watch a vignette of Stalin either dressed as a Japanese school girl, or practicing nude yoga, or kung-fu fighting a clone that guy who ruined Charlie Chaplin moustaches. If you’re the kind of person who wants to have a really impressive Steam profile page then it’s worth noting that Sex with Stalin is a really easy game to unlock all of the achievements on. It took me about 2 and a half hours, but if I had just mashed the spacebar I probably could have wrapped this one up in 2 hours or less. It made me chuckle a couple of times, but I wouldn’t have missed out on anything if I just watched all of the endings on youtube.
Something funny happened: I usually write these at the last possible moment, but several hours before that last possible moment I played the Age of Calamity demo. My most concise summary of the latest Zelda Musou game is that it so uninterested me that I forgot that I'd played it within a few hours of having played it. I remember that using items like the bow/arrow, bombs, the ice skill, etc felt really clumsy and unintuitive. I went from blandly mashing the standard 3-hit combo that I've been using in Musou games since Dynasty Warriors 2 to being told I need to aim before I can shoot an arrow or toss a bomb. What's really odd is how effective the bombs are in Age of Calamity when they're so useless in Breath of the Wild. I only played the first level, and I might play more, but I'm just not feeling Age of Calamity. I'm curious to see if new settings launch and I'm curious to see which characters are introduced through DLC. I don't hate Musou games, I just like the broader ones: Nintendo Musou for example would be a game I buy on day 1. I'm also waiting for a remastering of the Dynasty Warriors Gundam trilogy.
Now that spooky-month has come and gone it’s finally time for food month! Since this was such a horrible dud of a year there isn’t very much that I’m even aware of let alone anticipating in the coming weeks. Sure, new consoles are about to launch but cost aside buying a new console on day one is more like paying to be a beta-tester than anything else. I would love to join in with everybody who’ll be playing Demon’s Souls R and Miles Morales but I’ll be happy to watch the various reactions and reviews of those lucky people who do get the new hardware. Besides, most of what’s coming to those consoles will be perfectly playable on my PC when the time comes (except for those exclusive games I just explicitly name-dropped). Whatever you’re looking forward to this coming month, please be safe and please try not to lose your mind. Please for the love of God, stay safe.