State of the Game: Housekeeping Edition

Recently I’ve been doing some housekeeping when it comes to the backlog. As you well know, I have a problem. That problem is being sensitive to sales and bundles; having a subscription to both Playstation Plus and Humble Bundle, and being a frequent shopper when deals are presented. I’m seriously a walking Darth Kermit Meme.

That inner monologue goes something like:

Me: “You shouldn’t buy that game,  you don’t have time to play it.”
Also Me: “But it’s been on your wishlist for ages! You’ll make time! Plus it’s only $10 bucks and  you get all of the DLC!”
Me: “Damn me, you always know how to spot a great deal! I’m in!”

And so it goes.

Because I have this habit, I tend to play games a while after they are new. Occasionally I’ll spill for a full priced game, and in most cases that’s a good thing, but sometimes it’s a bummer. Other times you get a game for a great deal and it sucks. These are all things that have happened recently. Isn’t going to stop me from buying more games I don’t have time for. Me is right, I’ll make time eventually. The thing is, games aren’t making the cut as often as they used to. I’ve honestly bought more games in the past 5 or so years than for the remaining 30 years of my lifetime, and yet I play less of them to completion. It seems I have become more picky, and my time more valuable. As such, some games have been marked as completed, or as completed as I’m going to get them, and other games have been marked for deletion (in some cases I’ll card farm them and then delete). Some games I desperately wanted to like turned out to be not so great. And in some cases the games were simply there to add to the collection, not necessarily for immediate use. I do this from time to time, then kick myself for not playing the damn things. Regardless, let’s move on to the games discussion, shall we?

Mobile: 

I’ve been playing Clash Royale daily. It’s my go to game when I’m not at home. This makes sense because it’s a mobile game, but I do have other titles installed on my phone. A big one coming up is Super Mario Run, which was previously an iOS exclusive. That looks like it will be fun. I’m still playing Fire Emblem Heroes as well, but I typically only play that one when I’m stationary for a while. Clash is something I can run on my breaks at work and when I’m hanging outside of the house. Progress has slowed due to the fact that I’m level 10 and getting to the upper eschelons takes a while, along with being stuck in Arena 8 for quite some time now. I know my deck works, and I’ve tweaked it here and there to make it work even better, but it seems that I’ve hit a wall, and will continue to beat my head against that wall until some of my cards are levelled up. It seems to me that I only lose when someone has a card I don’t (of which there is only a handful at this point) or they have similar cards of a higher level. I know several members of my clan are in the highest arena and have far more trophies than I, so it’s doable, but I’m not there yet. Also, I deleted Tiny Tower from my phone. It was becoming more of a chore than fun.

Console:

During a recent sale I picked up a copy of a few games on PS4. Winkings is a arcade style game in the vein of Joust, but with far more creatures on screen at once. It’s got local co-op that I have yet to try (but will soon), and feels like a fun little time waster. Nothing amazing, but if you enjoy running around and killing stuff with a variety of weapons with a viking themed character, you might enjoy it too. Plus members can get it right now for like $3. Another game that was on sale was Q-bert Rebooted, which is one of those classic titles everyone should have in their library. Not only did it come with a rebooted version of the game, but the original is included as well, and boy is it a tough game. I was interested in picking this one up as I bought a bundle of other classic arcade games including Pac-Man, Galaga and Dig-Dug a few months back, and I enjoy having old collections of games. I have a version of Tetris and of course my Sega collection on Playstation consoles as well. It’s fun for me to go back and play some of these old games once in a while, and it’s great to have on hand to introduce people to some classic titles when the opportunity arises.

Lastly, the closed beta for Paladins, Hi-Rez Studio’s latest multiplayer free-to-play title went live on PS4. I had access to the beta on PC as well, but just like SMITE, I figured I would be more attracted to the game on console. It’s a team shooter similar to Overwatch or Battleborn, but has enough there to differentiate it from the others. I’m a big fan of SMITE on the console and still play that regularly, but I’m hoping that this one picks up steam too. The console SMITE population is excellent, but so far it seems that there might not be as many people playing Paladins. It was a buy in, but with that you instant access along with some perks. I’m sure the population will level out once it’s out of beta and anyone can join in. I liked being in on the SMITE beta and watching the game take shape on the console, so being in on this game from the start should be fun as well.

Housekeeping wise, this list of games are mostly ones that are those that aren’t going to be completed, so they don’t really take up backlog space. I’ve called it quits with Destiny. I had fun making my way through most of the game, completing The Taken King and leveling to 40. But I’m just not interested in the Light grind. With talk of Destiny 2 around the corner, and other games like Mass Effect Andromeda coming out soon, I know I’d rather spend my time elsewhere. I’ll do the mad dash light grinding before Destiny 2 releases, if the rumors about some of your progress transferring over are true.

PC:

I’ve more random tidbits on the PC side of things. I’ve mentioned recently playing Shadow Warrior 2. Within the last couple of days there was a 2nd free DLC added to the game, and this one adds a slew of new content. Talk about DLC done right! I have made about 30% progress through the main story, and plan to try and knock this one out soon. That is if they don’t flood me with DLCs! I’ve also toyed around with the games I mentioned in a recent post called New and Noteworthy. Along with those newer additions, I’ve also dipped my toes into some other games that came with bundles or were otherwise purchased but never mentioned. One game that popped up in my discovery queue was called Disgaea PC. It’s a PC port of a Playstation 2 JRPG. I remember seeing the title in the past but hadn’t played it, and it turned out they ported the sequel to the game as well so I picked them both up. I know of at least two more titles in the series as well, so perhaps those will come down the pipeline. The game looks like a Final Fantasy Tactics style game, but centers around the prince of the underworld rather than a typical hero type. The combat is sort of wonky, but that’s to be expected from an old console title that is just now being ported to PC. I relish these sorts of experiences; being able to take a trip into the past to experience something you missed.

Sometimes, games that you really wanted to love just don’t do it for you. Last month’s Humble Monthly provided a copy of Total War: Warhammer, and I thought I would love the game. I gave it a test run, found it alright, and then plunked down some cash to get all of the DLC. After playing it a bit more, I felt that I didn’t really enjoy the combat, the strategy, or really any facet of the game. Just putting a Warhammer skin on something doesn’t mean you’re going to automatically love the game, and that’s a shame. A painful lesson. Speaking of Warhammer, Vermintide dropped a new free DLC that adds lore page drops to the game. Having neglected to check out any of the DLC since the Last Stand game mode was added, I decided to do just that the other night. 2 new areas were added to the game, both with 3 maps each. I tried finding players to play with, but ended up running around with dumb NPCs and not getting far in any of them. The new areas look cool, but it’s really just more of the same. I’d love to run through it with some friends, had I enough to fill up a party. A shame that the population has died out so quickly, as it was a very promising title.

Lastly, I finally got around to booting up the Skyrim Special Edition. Every time I looked at it, I just couldn’t justify the 100s of hours I would put into another playthrough when I have so many other RPGs that I want to play through for the first time. But one day I had the itch, and I wanted to play it though I wanted to also play around with some mods, as I have only played the vanilla version of the game. I did some research, and though it appears that you can just install mods via the client itself, I went ahead and installed two programs that were highly recommended: the Nexus Mod Manager and LOOT. The former is a one-click install tool for mods for the game. The latter allows you to sort the booting order of mods in case of issues arising. I ended up installing 20+ mods and it ran fairly well the first time. There was a laughable bug during the opening scene, but eventually things were working great. I didn’t get far enough into the game to really see all the mods have to offer, but again, didn’t want to put too much time into it. I intend to revisit soon.

Housekeeping wise, I have put some of the above titles on farm status. They will be uninstalled afterwards. Others are works in progress, but progress nonetheless. Until next time, happy gaming.

Mini Impressions: March Humble Monthly

I’m a bit earlier with my initial thoughts for this month’s Humble Monthly lot, mainly because I have basically called it quits with Destiny and got stuck on a boss in RE7 long enough to experiment with the new games. I’ve made it a point to at least try the games I get each month (unless completely uninterested — in those cases I gift the keys or hold on to them to gift later) so as to not let the backlog completely stagnate. It’s true, I still have too many games to play and not enough time, but at least if I get a taste I can determine if a title is even worth keeping on my system. This month is the same as most months: there is one title I really enjoy and had on my wishlist, and then there are a couple of hidden gems I hadn’t really heard about prior. March’s bundle included the following titles:

Total War: Warhammer
Poly Bridge
Space Run Galaxy
One Piece Pirate Warriors 3
Flat Heroes
RIVE
Morphblade

The early unlock for April has already been paid for as well. It seems that through the early unlock you can glean a little something about the remaining titles that will come in the bundle. The pattern as of late for me personally has been either a title I know and love or one that I want being the early unlock, and then titles I’m less excited for composing the rest of the bundle, or vice versa. For example, this month’s early unlock was Total War: Warhammer and I was excited to be getting that for $12, but the rest of the bundle was less noteworthy. Next month’s unlock is The Witness (a game I’m uninterested in and already gifted to my Sister) which should mean that there will be something better coming in the bundle. Of course, this observation is clearly biased by my own opinions and interests, so your experience may vary.

Total War: Warhammer appears to be a great game. It runs smoothly on my system at max settings. The lore feels appropriate. I’ve played for a while and have enjoyed what I played. The only real thing keeping me from playing it very seriously at the moment is the fact that it will take some time to learn the game. Oddly enough I have never played a Total War game. They always looked interesting and I’ve almost bought several of them in various sales and bundles, but never pulled the trigger. As is I have several unplayed or unfinished 4x games on my hard drive, so I don’t want to delve too deeply just yet. I have heard positive things about it though and know it will get its due eventually. This title alone made the bundle.

Poly Bridge is one that I passed on. It’s one of those build-a-bridge-over-a-chasm type games, complete with a physics engine. Not my cup-o-tea. If you guys are reading (and we’re friends elsewhere, like on Twitter/Steam) feel free to hit me up for spare keys. I have quite a few from the past near-year of monthly bundles. This title is one of them.

Space Run Galaxy took me by surprise. At first it appeared to be an indie game that I would quickly lose interest in, but after having played it last night, I was impressed. It feels like sort of a Faster Than Light sort of Rogue-lite experience, but doesn’t feel quite as randomized. Perhaps it isn’t random at all. What is interesting is that you have a hexagonal ship that can have various parts affixed to each hex. One hex comprises your bridge, and you’ll start with certain pieces that you can add as a “run” takes place. You’ll be delivering goods too, which also take up spaces. You’ll be building thrusters to move through space faster, and laser cannons to destroy obstacles and enemy pirate ships. There isn’t twitch game play, it is purely strategic and your ship flies in a straight line to the destination while various sensors warn you of what dangers are coming. You gather resources from things you destroy to continue to upgrade your ship. The run ends, you get some upgrades and you do another, but you then have to rebuild these upgrades during each level. I’m not sure if it’s endless or if this story has a conclusion, but the gameplay was fun for short spurts and I will be spending more time with this title for sure. Take a look:

In theory, One Piece Pirate Warriors 3 is a game that would appeal to me. In practice, not so much. It’s a Dynasty Warriors sort of game, which means you control a hero, mash buttons and kick the living shit out of huge groups of enemies. Sounds cool right? Well… this port leaves things to be desired. I read somewhere that it’s not even a port of a recent game, that it’s actually a port of a Playstation 3 title. It did look alright on max settings on my PC, but the controls are wonky even with a controller, and I’d imagine that it would be downright unplayable with the keyboard (no mouse support at all). The graphics weren’t impressive and it’s a manga I know nothing about so there is absolutely no appeal. I’d avoid this one were I you.

I’m not into minimalist games. Flat Heroes is one of those types, and I’m not a fan. This key is up for grabs too.

RIVE was the other hidden gem this month. A game I had never heard of though it’s been out for 6 months at least, it’s a run and gun platformer along with having some sci-fi elements. Think games like Galak-Z or Cryptark. Side scrolling, bullet-hell, shoot-em-up with some puzzling bits. There really isn’t much to say there, besides it looks great, plays great, and I had a good time with it. Would recommend. Take a look:

Lastly, a title called Morphblade. Another key up for grabs, it appears to be a puzzle game but didn’t appeal to me.

There are other titles that have been added each month that I haven’t even tried. Like other Bundles on the site, many times there are DRM-Free copies of games that are included but aren’t linked through services like Steam, and I tend to like to keep most of my games in one place. Humble Originals that are supposed exclusives to the monthly format have been there from the start and I don’t think I’ve played a single one. Just more shit to clutter up my hard drive most likely, but if any of you think I’m missing a good title in there, let me know in the comments. Have you been enjoying Humble’s Monthly service? Or do you find most of it not worth your time?

Mini Impressions: February Humble Monthly

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These days months just seem to fly by. It feels like New Years was a couple of weeks ago, but here we are coming up on March already. Soon it will be summer and we can all bitch about how damn hot it is. But for now, let’s focus on the newest round of Humble Monthly entries. I did this post last month and figured it’s a good way to keep me trying out newish games and writing about them. This month I don’t have nearly as much to share, but I’ll explain why. Let’s take a look at the list of games included this month:

X-COM 2
Ryse: Son of Rome
ABZU
Steamworld Heist
Okhlos
Project Highrise
Husk

Just like every other month since I started subscribing to the service (since May of last year), there are some titles included that I already own, and some that I’m just plain not interested in. This isn’t something new, but only slightly annoying as most months there is at least one game worth my time where I feel like I got my $12 worth for the month. Honestly, I pay the same amount for other monthly services (like my bank that likes charging me a service fee to hold my money and use it as they see fit until I want it back) so it’s always worth the investment despite having some dry months where I’m completely unimpressed. This month would have been fantastic, had I not already owned the two best games included (this is my opinion at least). That seems to always be the case though, so again I’m not upset about it.

X-COM 2 was the early unlock for the month, and I picked it up rather early in January, mainly because my Dad’s birthday was coming up and it’s a great game that I figured he would enjoy. I already have it along with all of the DLC so it was great as a gift and it served its purpose. If you haven’t played X-COM 2, it’s more of the same as the first game that re-started the series a couple of years back, but improves the formula in a number of ways. It’s been out for over a year so you probably have already heard all you need to hear, but I’d recommend it again anyway.

Ryse: Son of Rome is a pretty typical action game. It reminds me of games like God of War, those that I’ve not really played or enjoyed since I was young. I played plenty of beat-em-up games throughout the years, and this feels like a natural 3-D and more “mature” version of those titles from yesteryear. I’m just not really into these types of games. Sure, a title like Uncharted or other games that are shooters are essentially the same time of game, but I prefer the stories and nature of shooting over the wonky button mashing of games like Ryse. I didn’t play it much, and probably will never play it to its end, but it’s a bit on the meh side. If that’s your thing, or if you have a teenager who thought 300 was the best movie ever made, you might get some value out of this.

I didn’t even redeem the code for ABZU. I remember Eri talking about this one when it released and we were still doing the podcast, but looking at the store page on Steam I could tell it’s a game I just wouldn’t play. Not my cup o’ tea. With that said, you might enjoy it, so I’d recommend looking it up. I should also notate that the same went for Project Highrise, which is one of those building management games I have never really been into. Sim City was a title that never really grabbed me, save to just build a city and hit it with natural disasters. So again, I’d use your own discretion when looking up these two titles. My opinion is nil.

Okhlos was a weird looking title that actually tickled my fancy a bit. You basically start off with one character, gather up a mob, and let the mob do your dirty work for you. Mobs get balanced by collecting different types of people hanging out in the level. You’ll eventually be able to trade some of those mob members in for heroes that provide different buffs. It’s a random and weird pixellated game that was fun to play, but nothing that you’re going to play for years.

Steamworld Heist is the other game I already owned. I picked it up once it was available on PS4 and nearly completed it before being distracted by other shiny new games. It’s a pretty awesome turn based strategy game with familiar characters from the Steamworld Dig title that came before it. I’d recommend this one to anyone who likes strategy games… it’s pretty long and very entertaining.

Lastly, the game Husk. I don’t really even know what to say about this one. It’s trying to be a first person horror game, but it starts slow and feels unfinished. Apparently the devs have had similar feedback from those who bought the game and they are “working on fixes and improvements.” I don’t think I’m going to wait around for that day. You might like it, but it did not impress. Resident Evil 7 is definitely worth your time in comparison.

The early unlock for March was Total War: Warhammer, and I’ve had that on my wishlist for a long time. Was just waiting for the right sale to hit, and $12 for the game is a smoking deal as it’s still $60 on Steam. However, there are multiple DLCs out, and no sort of package that brings them all together. I’ve nickled and dimed them all to this point, which felt like a bit of a rip-off, but it is what it is. I have enjoyed what I’ve played so far, and it has definitely made March a better month than February without even seeing the rest of the bundle.

That’s my two cents at least.