Quick Thoughts: Iron Crypticle and Sunless Sea

This post has been sitting in my drafts folder for a while, and since I’m not ready to share some of my opinions on more recent titles (I’ll have posts for Fallout 76 and the Torchlight Frontiers alpha soon) I figured this was a good time to find something in the draft folder and post it. Honestly I don’t remember exactly when I picked up these two titles, but they were on sale at some point on the Playstation Store for a couple bucks each so I thought I would try them out. Sunless Sea was something that came out on PC first and I had thought about buying it a few times, but happened to catch this sale. Iron Crypticle is a low-budget indie game that just happened to appeal to me via its gameplay loop. Let’s dive in.

If you’ve played any of the twin-stick shooters or rogue-lites of the past decade, or even if you enjoyed games like Gauntlet, you will probably like Iron Crypticle. The game has a story premise but it doesn’t really matter. The main gist of it is a top down arena, set up as a series of rooms, making up a dungeon of sorts. You have the twin stick action, as one would control movement and the other controls your fire. There are some special abilities and limited ammo weapons but that’s really what you have to work with. Each room will contain a set amount of monsters that increase in difficulty as you progress. It doesn’t seem to have a permanent progression that lasts between games so I guess it’s not really a rogue-like, but it still feels similar enough. At the end of a dungeon you will face off against a boss, and then move on to the next level.

There really isn’t much more to it, but i like that they’ve kept things simple and it works despite that simplicity. If you can get this on sale for a couple bucks like I did it’s worth the diversion.

Sunless Sea has been out for a while as I’ve mentioned, and apparently at some point there was some DLC released, which has been since bundled into one package. This is supposed to be a captain’s simulator, but set in a lovecraftian world. It boils down to a bunch of menus to tell the story, give you missions, and present other random events. Most of the time you’ll be clicking through these, and then you’ll set sail to do stuff. It’s very sandboxy in this regard, where you get some breadcrumbs and can follow those or just do whatever the hell you want.

This one is supposed to have progression where certain things carry over to the next session, your captain’s memoirs if you will. It’s not an action packed game but is intriguing nonetheless. I’ll have to put more time into this to give it a proper review, but so far I’ve been interested to learn more.

That’s all I have for today. Have a happy Thanksgiving tomorrow if you’re in the States.

The Council: Episode 4

The other narrative adventure game that I’ve been playing for the last few months is The Council. Episode four of this five part series released last week and I played through it a few days ago. With this particular title, there is no such thing as action, just a bunch of running around this island manor and discussing things or solving puzzles. It’s more about the political intrigue than anything else, or at least it was up until this episode. Before I go any further, this post will be spoiler heavy so avoid it if you’re still playing through.

You’ve found your mother and she has discovered that the spear that pierced Christ’s side by a Roman soldier hidden in the catacombs below the manor. You had opened this new section during the last puzzle of episode three, the same puzzle that cut off your mother’s hand. She also reveals to you that Mortimer is a Daemon. This Council of men is actually headed by a Daemon who is trying to sway humanity’s fate. An interesting twist, and a new take on history and the supernatural. Something that is almost believable given the current political climate of my country. But I digress.

Your mother sends you on the mission to figure out which spearhead is the correct one, and there are an assortment of clues you’ll need to find around the island. I’m unsure if you have to be correct with this choice, or if it will only allow you to pick the correct one. I cheated a little because I knew I would be annoyed with the running around for these clues, so I looked up the answer and picked what the general consensus was online. As such, it shows that I failed to find them all in that chapter’s summary which you’ll see below. People in the comments on one post I was reading were saying that the story takes a turn after this, and some people even quit when they got to the twist. Having finished the episode myself, I can say that picking the spear I chose didn’t affect anything in this episode, but I also believe that it won’t make a difference until the finale. So are you ready for the big twist?

You’re a Daemon too! Mortimer is your father, and Sarah isn’t really your mother. She’s technically your sister, as she is also Mortimer’s daughter. Obviously you’re a little taken aback by this. The other face painted gentleman is also his brother, your uncle. Mortimer reveals that Daemons have been around for centuries, and that there are several families that still exist, but yours is the most powerful, hence this whole council thing. He wants to sway the countries of the world towards democracy, yet your Uncle believes monarchies are easier to control. However, Daemons aren’t supposed to outright control humans, yet Mortimer teaches you how to read thoughts and later how to possess bodies, which they call “envelopes.”

I’m skipping over much of the plot here, but that was enough to make me much more intrigued by the whole thing. You have various confrontations with the cardinal (including possessing him to forge a letter), Napoleon (he believes you’ve stolen something — it’s the spearhead) and Emily/Sarah (turns out I got the real Emily shot and her sister wanted to kill Sarah — I also got pissed at Sarah for hiding so many truths from me and somehow made a selection where I killed her). Here are my results from the chapters:

It appears that the story will conclude in episode five but I have no idea where its going to go now. I look forward to finding out.

The Walking Dead: Final Season Episode 2

I’m as surprised as you are that I’m even able to write this post, but here we are. A couple of weeks ago, TellTale announced that they were essentially bankrupt and that they were laying off all but 25 employees. This came after the release of the Final Season of The Walking Dead, where we would finally see the end of Clementine’s journey. The first episode released a while back and I wrote about my experience. Another story from a few months back says that TellTale and Netflix were teaming up to create a Stranger Things game (for other platforms) along with some Minecraft interactive thing on the streaming service. It sounded like the company was doing fine fiscally at that point, but apparently things were different behind closed doors. During the layoff announcement, the company admitted that episode two was ready and would still release, so that’s the only reason we get to even talk about it today as it came out last week. Episode three was due out in November and the finale would be released in December. At this point it’s unclear if those two episodes will see the light of day. Rumors state that the third episode was basically done but very little work has been put into episode four, and that the company might be shopping around to get those finished. I suppose we will see what happens — I really hope it gets finished because I’d love to have played through them all and see how the story ends.

This episode was a little different than some of the prior seasons in that there were some third-person shooter elements that haven’t ever really been present in these interactive novels. The game is still on rails but there are segments that are a bit more action packed than the norm. When I had left off at the end of episode one, AJ had just shot and killed Marlon, and we were basically being asked to leave. Things were put to a vote and we left. One the way out, we’re attacked by raiders, one of which is a character from way back in season one, a character which I (playing as Lee) had left behind once we got on the train. She took a little bit of pity on me, delaying capture and then some of the kids from the school attacked and enabled our escape. AJ was unfortunately hit by some buck shot, and carrying him became an issue as walkers were alerted by the skirmish. This meant a fight scene with walkers, before one of them (clearly wearing a mask) stops me and leads me off to his camp. This guy doesn’t play too integral a part in this episode but I have a feeling he would have been back. He helps me with nursing AJ’s wounds and then helps me back to the school. The school kids know that the raiders will be back and grudgingly accept my help in fortifying the school. I’m welcomed to stay for a while. The attack happens, people die, and at the end a couple of them are captured. We vow to go after our comrades, and can do so with the help of one of the wounded raiders still at the school after the larger group retreats.

Normally this is where I would slot in some screenshots of the results. They displayed after I had completed the episode but I didn’t take screenshots because usually you can check your choices from the main menu. For some reason things bugged out, and I was unable to see those results. I assume this has to do with not being able to connect to TellTale servers, which usually display the stats for choices and perhaps those servers are down due to the company’s recent actions. Whatever the case, I hope this is something that is fixed going forward if they do end up making the final two episodes, but again we don’t know if that’s going to happen. Whatever the case, I have enjoyed the season thus far, it’s just a shame that we may never know how Clementine’s adventures end.

Quick Thoughts: Games on the Cheap

Generally speaking, there are far too many games released in a given year to play them all. Sometimes you have to spend your limited expendable funds carefully, and that means skipping some titles in favor of others. What’s great about our current gaming climate, is that typically a year or so after a game releases (or stops releasing DLC) it typically has a “Game of the Year,” “Complete” or “Ulitmate” edition. This bundle will save you money, because a) you didn’t pay full price for the base game and b) you now get all DLCs included for either the same asking price or less. Give it a little more time, and you can usually catch these bundled titles on sale and save even more money. You won’t be on the cutting edge, playing the newest, hottest games on release, but in the case of most titles, you’re not missing anything by playing them late. In most cases I’d argue you’re smarter that the guy who pays $60 at launch for a title and then pays $10-20 per DLC on top of that. Nevertheless, I have found a few titles I’ve wanted to play in recent years but hadn’t gotten around to, bundled as I’ve mentioned and on sale to boot. It was very difficult to resist a copy of each of the games I’m going to discuss, and yes that means I purchased them once I saw the price was right. Let’s jump in, shall we?

I absolutely wanted to play Horizon: Zero Dawn when it released. The first time I saw it at E3 I knew it was a title that would be up my alley. I’m at a stage in my life though, that some games that I believe will be enjoyable aren’t always. I’ve also been trying to cut down on spending on games due to the fact that so many either collect dust or disappoint me. But for $10, I knew I needed to grab a copy, particularly because the Complete Edition came with bonus goodies and the game’s lone expansion The Frozen Wilds. I have not been disappointed by this title, and the inexpensive nature of the purchase doesn’t affect this — it’s a damn fine game. You play as Aloy, a young girl outcast by a tribe in a post-apocalyptic world where robot creatures roam the landscape and tribes of humans fight among themselves.

There’s a lot to digest in the early portions of the game. It’s clear that “the Old Ones” died off for some reason or another, and somehow, robots have formed into various beasts (perhaps a form of evolution or created by the dead ancients). You’ve been taken in by Rost, an outcast from the Nora tribe. He has sheltered you, but as a little girl you don’t really understand why the tribe won’t talk to you. On one fateful day, you end up falling into a cave that is a ruin from the old days, and find a “focus” which looks eerily similar to a bluetooth ear piece, but is definitely more useful. It provides information on the environment and things within it, becoming an excellent tool. Wanting to rejoin the tribe, Rost agrees to train you for “the proving” which is a ritual that allows tribesmen to become “braves,” and for outcasts to rejoin the tribe. The meat of the game is a third person shooter style, with some stealth elements, RPG progression, and a beautiful world to explore. It’s open world to a degree, though you’re held back for a time as you grow up, complete the proving, and become a “seeker.” Having that title allows you to leave the sacred lands of your people, and find answers. At certain points you are given “choices matter” styles of conversation prompts, and are allowed to choose your path. I assume these actions have consequences, but not many have shown up yet. I’m still in the early portions of the game though, so perhaps some of these will come back around. Overall the game looks great and plays great. It’s a title on the level of games like those made by Naughty Dog, where the graphics are top notch and the game play and story matches its beauty. I’m in love with it, and definitely look forward to what comes next.

I bought the original Titanfall for PC. In the past year I’ve decided to boycott Origin though, as I prefer my PC games to be linked up through Steam. As such I wasn’t going to buy the sequel on PC (and have already purchased a copy of Dragon Age: Inquisiton for PS4 so I can avoid having to use the additional platform). That might sound stupid to some, but I don’t mind playing EA games on the console, whereas I’m annoyed with the company on PC. So here we are. Titanfall 2 looked amazing when I first saw it — it’s more of the same, but that’s definitely not a bad thing. However, I just didn’t pick it up on release and hadn’t though about it for quite some time. Seeing the Ultimate Edition on sale for $8 though, and I was sold. This being a multiplayer game, there was worry about whether or not people would still be playing it, but unlike its predecessor, this one has a single player campaign, so I knew at least I’d get to experience that. So far, it’s been okay. Very similar to Call of Duty campaigns I’ve played in the past, just with the benefit of being a better game than CoD.

Being a Titanfall game, you get the requisite boots on the ground action along with the mechs that you pilot. There’s still wall running and double jumping, fast and furious gunplay and of course, MECHS! It’s a blast to run around, jumping and sliding and calling down your titan to fuck shit up. I have yet to play the multiplayer but I did check out the menus and saw a pretty healthy population despite being fairly late when I was playing. I think because it sets itself apart from other shooters on the market it has managed to keep a following. I’m glad that not everyone is off playing Battle Royale games and still appreciates a good ol’ fashioned FPS. I’m sure I’ll have more thoughts about this one soon.

The last game isn’t a bundle deal, but is a remastered version of a game I first played on PS3. Burnout Paradise was a fantastic title that came out of nowhere for me. I believe it was my sister’s (now-ex) husband who showed me the game, and I only played it at his house and didn’t get too much out of it. I just remember thinking that it reminded me of Need For Speed Underground, which was one of my favorite NFS titles of all time. The remaster here takes the original game (and appears that the DLCs are present, so perhaps this is a bundle after all) and polishes it up a bit. The intro movie is still clearly PS3 graphics, but once you get into the game it looks a bit better than its OG version, and definitely runs at a higher frame rate.

You start the game with a crappy car and have a semi-open-world to explore. Like the Need For Speed games, you can roll up to points on the map that will start up a race, or can battle with random NPCs on the road. There are also stunts and collectibles along with challenges where you can pit your high scores against those on your friends list. It’s the same experience as before, but due to my limited time with the game in the past, I can now delve further into it. I managed to upgrade my license and open up a few new cars in my first session, and I look forward to getting down with more racing — it really is a blast.

As I said, I’ll likely have more thoughts on these games as I progress. At this point I would say they are all worth your time, even if you don’t get them for as cheap as I did. Each scratches a different itch, and I’m pleased with the expenditure.

Getting Started in Destiny 2

I was late to the party with the original Destiny, and I guess you can say the same is true with its sequel. When the first one released I was slightly interested but didn’t get around to purchasing it until after The Taken King came out. I didn’t play much then either, only checked it out for a little while but had a sour experience with a so-called friend and that turned me off from the game for a while. I ended up going back to it and running through all of the main story and side quests through The Taken King, and even purchased the next expansion but didn’t put much time into it after that. I had the intentions of picking up Destiny 2 at release just so I could hit the ground running and play the game while it was still the new hotness. But then when Destiny 2 released, it was pretty universally panned by critics and people whose opinions I trust, so I didn’t bother. Well, at this point the game has just released it’s first major expansion, Forsaken, and Sony decided to give it out for free as part of the Playstation Plus program.

Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I downloaded the game right when I found out it was available early. I convinced my best friend that he should download it as well, and we have been able to get in a couple of sessions together.

Session 1:

I’m not really remembering all of the issues people had with the game upon its release, as that was a year ago and my memory isn’t what it used to be. Still, having played it myself now I don’t really see much of a difference between this game and the first. There was a little snippet at the beginning when I logged in where my Destiny save game was imported into this game and I got to see the things I accomplished in the first iteration. The two characters that I had played were still there too, one being the Warlock I started with and the Hunter I ended up running through the game to max level. The storyline is a little convoluted but essentially a big alien threat has attacked The Traveler and essentially robs all guardians of their light.

Despite the fact that my friend and I were in voice chat together, we had to play through these first bits of the story alone. We have the big attack and you’re pretty fucked up, you come too and wander about for a bit, then we’re treated to some cut scenes of the storyline and then eventually you wind up in a place called “The Farm” which is shown on the map as a separate place from Earth, but still looks very much like Earth when you are there. Whatever the case, it’s the new Tower, and you get your social interaction here along with some vendors, your bank, mailboxes and the Crucible guy.

The main story pushed us to head to where a bit of The Traveler had broken off and landed near by. We’re warned that it’s a place of death, but after killing off some bad guys, we get our light back and can move on to bigger and better things.

Graphically it’s still a beautiful title. I really thought Destiny was up there with games like Uncharted that can really push this system to its limits. It’s surprising that a game can look this good on a stock PS4, considering most games are a bit more washed out. I assume on a PS4 Pro or on PC it looks even better, but it was free here, so this is where I’m going to play it.

By the end of our first session I was level 3, as we took a couple hours to get to the point where we could even play together, and by that time it was getting late so we called it a day. We got together to play again last night, and ended up pushing further into the story.

Session 2:

More fighting on Earth as my Hunter and my friend’s Titan leveled up and went on Adventures, participated in public quests and followed the story to it’s end here. Clearly there will be more to do on Earth at a later time, but for now they’ve sent us to Titan to help out with some network building.

We also see Cayde being held captive by our antagonist, and because I’m not blind or deaf I have already heard the spoilers about his demise and the plot of Forsaken having to do with getting revenge for him. But since I don’t know the particulars, I’ll play my way through and see for myself. If this ends up sticking like I think it will (we’ve been having a blast so far) I will likely pick up Forsaken once we’ve completed the main story.

When I was playing the original Destiny, I never did end up playing any of the game’s PvP mode, Crucible. I decided that I wanted to try it out. That was probably a bad idea. I assumed that as you entered into matchmaking, you would be paired up with and against other players of similar level/power. That doesn’t seem to be the case, as one guy was level 20 and the other 50 (?) I think. Either way they were much better equipped and felt way to hard to kill. We did get kills nonetheless, but lost the match and decided that we should level up a bit before bothering with that again. It does feel pretty good as shooters go but I didn’t like the level disparity.

By the end of our second session I was level 7 and had looted my first exotic from a quest. Nothing too special but I’ve found my groove. I don’t really like the new subclass that you’re stuck with at the beginning, and look forward to opening up others. I’ve found that while playing in a duo, I can experiment with my weapon loadout more though, and have settled on a Scout Rifle as my primary and a pistol for the side arm. I do like me some auto/pulse rifles and sub machine guns too, but for now these have worked as my friend’s titan is typically using a shotgun so he heads in first and I take out the long range targets. Overall it’s been a blast and I look forward to progressing through it!