I still hate the summer and I still hate July but that ugliness is behind us now. The blazing heat and wildfires and, humidity of July will break under the pressure and intensity of heat and wildfires and, humidity of August. Luckily for all of us, there are hundreds of great reasons to stay inside of climate controlled homes and libraries and other such public institutions. While most of you have likely been enjoying your time with the latest Fire Emblem or playing with the latest addition to the Smash Bros roster, I’ve spent my July playing catch-up and enjoying older titles. So, here’s my list:
(I'm not very good at drawing ships)
The first time I played through Doom to story completion, I was playing it on the Nintendo Switch. This was during that golden time when playing games online using the Switch was still free so I didn’t have to worry about my playtime being interrupted by spicy memes. I did play it on the easy setting though and once I beat the game I spent a few hours playing team deathmatches. Fast-Forward to this past month and I’ve finished the Doom 4 campaign on Normal and it was just as satisfying, if not more so, than my first time through. I had forgotten how much of a pain it was to find one of the later Doomguy collectibles and I didn’t even try playing multiplayer this time around but the story experience was pretty incredible. It was largely the same as when I played it on the Switch but this time I was using a better control scheme...also the frame rate was higher so everything felt faster...and load times were much shorter. I can see myself re-installing this from time to time in the future, like when Doom Eternal launches and I decide to wait for a price drop rather than be a day-one player.
(Somehow more respectful than what happened to Billy during E3...)
Elite Dangerous is a game that I’ve been curious about since Yahtzee and Gabe played it on their show, Let’s Drown Out. I was intrigued by how open the game seemed and yet, how intricate and detailed the actual mechanics of the game seemed to be. If Steam is to be believed, I’ve put about 14 hours into Elite Dangerous but I only really play it at night and while my housemates are asleep to really immerse myself in the experience. During my current playthrough of Elite Dangerous, I’ve played passively: I haven’t engaged in combat outside of tutorials and on the two occasions when I was pulled out of warp, I evaded my attacker until I was able to jump again. At time of writing, I’m harmless and helpless but I’m also mostly aimless and a dealer. Here’s a funny aside: That last sentence took me about 90 minutes to type up because while I was checking my stats, I took a quick spin over to Cassiopeia where I’ve docked at J.F. Kennedy station (which, hilariously, is orbiting an Earth-like known as Trojan). This is the most immersive RPG I’ve played in a long time, though I realize it’s not marketed as one. I love how I can basically go anywhere and do anything in this game, even though a lot of the locales are similar. What makes it worthwhile to me though are those times I find something unexpected. While working a courier job, I had just fallen out of warp and was preparing to make another jump but what I didn’t expect was to see a Pulsar. Looking through the game’s codex, it seems like I could potentially find Black Holes too which I look forward to finding and ‘accidentally’ fly into one.
(Stuff like this keeps me coming back)
After beating Dark Souls 2 last month, there really wasn’t a whole lot more that I could be doing with my initial run. I did have a second run started but I don’t see myself following through with that second run for a while. On my first run though, I did look around a little more and found that there’s a pair of pants that reduce fall damage. Combining that with the cat ring almost trivializes fall damage though it was mostly useless to me in the end-game. What I did do in the end-game world was backtrack and take on the Undead Chariot which I was absolutely over-leveled for. Ava the King’s Pet on the other hand, humbled me a couple of times before I was able to take it out. More interestingly though was the barrel that murdered me before I actually fought against Ava for the first time. Ultimately, I uninstalled Dark Souls 2 this month: I had my fun with it earlier this summer and the glacial DLC area wasn’t engaging me on the same level as other hidden content in the series. Dark Souls 2 definitely isn’t my favorite of the series but it’s a game that I’m glad I played. It was the one I was most apprehensive about starting but that could be why I remember it more fondly than I do Dark Souls 3.
RPG Maker MV is a game I’ve spent more time on this past month than Elite Dangerous, if Steam is to be believed. What started out as me just playing around with the database and map editors has turned into an item-based, point and click adventure game about some schlub who needs to have a slime removed from his sink. I don’t have anything to show off quite yet, I haven’t made any custom art yet, I don’t have a positive end-state set up yet but I have programmed a few failure states and created a reprehensible NPC. I do want to make a short video to showcase some of what I have set up so far but I’d like to make some art assets first. I want to keep this project small but I do eventually want to release it, hopefully before the end of the year. My free time is limited but I’m happy with what I’ve crafted so far and I’m optimistic that what I’ve made is better than at least 45% of the other asset flips that get thrown onto Steam on any given day.
I’ve picked up my 3DS and started getting back into playing with it this past month. I gave Pokemon Moon a shot for a little bit but after taking on the trial that involved the Minnow Pokemon who...kinda evolves but doesn’t...I put the game down and really wished I had my copy of Soul Silver or Black on hand instead. Putting down Pokemon Moon did have the positive effect of getting me to pick Metroid: Samus Returns back up! I started up a new game in the third save slot (the other two are occupied with beaten games) and I forgot just how quickly Samus finds power-ups. Even as I’m finding new power-ups and abilities though, there were a few times during my playthrough where I was momentarily stumped about where I needed to go next. Since this is my third playthrough, I remember how most of the enemies and boss encounters work so that’s a plus.Granted, I haven’t yet made it to that one boss in my most recent playthrough and I’m far from that final boss too so for all I know, I could find that I’ve forgotten how to handle them when the time comes. Samus Returns might be my favorite 3DS game and it’s hard to say if it’s because of its quality or because it’s just what I’m focused on at the moment. I definitely recall that it wasn’t talked about all that much after launch though: For the most part, I remember there being bitterness about Nintendo pulling the plug on AM2R but I do remember Samus Returns reviewing well.
I started playing Abe’s Odyssey several times over the past couple of years but I’ve never actually made it outside of Rupture Farms. During my most recent playthrough though, I’ve managed to keep that momentum going by failing to escape Rupture Farms. I did save some of my fellow Mudokon’s but after a play session that felt like it lasted a couple of hours, I stepped away from the game to do something else. When I returned, I found that I had forgotten to save my progress and just uninstalled the game. I want to give step-platformers like Oddworld, Out of this World, Blackthorn and Flashback a chance but I’ve always had trouble fully engaging with those kinds of games and I’m not sure if I’ll ever find one that really clicks with me. I don’t dislike Abe’s Odyssey but I would rather tinker with my RPG Maker thing or play Elite Dangerous than continue feeling my way around Rupture Farms.
There was a sale this month on Steam and thanks to that sale, I wound up picking up Skyrim (special edition) and Fallout 4 (Game of the Year edition) for about $11 each. It was a bundle deal and I couldn’t refuse it: Todd finally got me. I’ve owned and played Skyrim before, on the PS3, receiving it as a gift at some point between 2013 and 2015...probably. I’m fairly certain I got the platinum trophy out of it too but it’s not a game I actually completed because I liked certain NPCs enough to not want to finish certain quests. It’s been so long since I’ve played Skyrim that I’m mostly happy to wander around the vanilla version of the game, though I think I might have to mod it since something’s up with the audio. Music, footsteps, voices, these all work fine but certain background noises don’t occur at all. For example: the sound of bows and arrows, falling boulders, weapon clash, I don’t hear any of these things and it’s a little bit annoying. It hasn’t been annoying enough to stop me from playing the game though: apparently I’ve spent 5 hours in the glacial country of Skyrim, where I’m already improving the fortunes of the Thieves Guild. I’m playing as an Argonian female who wasn’t willing to kill while escaping from a Dragon but who quite recently, chose to slit the throat of an old woman who was being mean and terrible to orphans. It was odd how the children started laughing and hailing the Dark Brotherhood...I wonder if anything will come of it. My main focus in Skyrim at the moment is going through the Thieves Guild quests then after that I may go through the Civil War quests. What I like about Skyrim though is just wandering around and taking in the scenery. Comparing my current edition of it to half-remembered PS3 gameplay though isn’t even fair: I don’t recall the PS3 version featuring god rays or mist effects though as I demonstrated several sentences ago, I have a terrible memory.
(Being a dick to poor people is always fashionable)
One of the major influencing factors for what I play in a given month is the Band of Bloggers prompt’s usually posted on the first of each month. I already have a good idea of what I’m going to be playing in August because of my amazingly forbidden insider knowledge on what the prompt for August is going to look like but even if I didn’t know, the games I plan on playing in August are games that have been in my backlog for just about long enough anyway. I’m going to continue playing Elite Dangerous, as it’s quickly become my go-to game for when I need to cool down and unwind after a stressful day. I’m also going to continue using RPG Maker MV to make a game that clearly isn’t an RPG. Since Walmart* in my area has reduced the prices of their games there’s a chance that I may pick up Fire Emblem or Ultimate Alliance soon too but I don’t have any solid purchase plans in my immediate future. Really the only thing I know for sure is that I need to find a port that can outfit my ship with a passenger cabin dammit...and find a pass to get me into the Sol system.