With November nearing its end, it’s only a matter of time before we’re all tossing back adult beverages and watching a giant ball descend on television. At least, I hope we’re talking about the same ball.
A little background first.
I finally decided to become a full time student back in August, and although I’m only going for my Associates in Science right now, I’ve been out of high school since 1999. My body and brain were not prepared for this amount of work, or studying, or math. Or anything college related, really. How in the hell do people get plastered every night and still graduate, is my question.
I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I moved from the busy city of Baltimore to the middle of nowhere in order to help out my parents (disabled mom, terminal dad). That being said, there’s no such thing as community college here; let alone civilization.
I attend all of my classes online, but still have to make a 6 hour round trip every three weeks to the “local campus” in order to take my math exams. Needless to say, I’m usually too tired to or too busy to get much writing done here lately.
I try not to burn myself out too bad, so of course I turn to my favorite pastime in order to unwind. On top of college, I have the significant flaw of juggling multiple games at once. In the middle of a 100 hour JRPG? Start another one!
So that’s pretty much happening right now. But instead of two RPGs, it’s three. And an adventure game.
My goal is to have all four of them finished by the end of 2015. I’m getting a Playstation Vita for Christmas (because I need more RPGs) and a handful of games, and I want to make sure I can give them my undivided attention before Nintendo launches JRPG-MA-GOD-DAMN-GEDDON in the first half of 2016.
So what’s on the menu?
Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth
I’ve already written a bit about my Persona Q experience, but long story short I’m about 12 hours in and can’t get enough of its dungeon mapping mechanic. The frequent random encounters are beginning to dent my cranial armor, although right now I’m all about sketching my own maps on the 3DS’ bottom screen.
I appreciate the depth of its combat as a Persona fan, but since I’m already juggling another challenging JRPG (the next game on the list) sometimes I just want the battles to be over as soon as they begin.
The story is comedic and lighthearted, and there’s a lot of dialogue to digest, but thankfully it’s pretty easy to swallow. Four multi-floor labyrinths, each containing a boss, along with giant monsters patrolling the grounds that I need to avoid? I can handle that. 21 characters to choose from? Fuck me.
That’s really my only complaint. Persona Q draws its roster from the third and fourth games in the series, which are arguably the best. Having to narrow down 21 all-stars down to 5, and then splitting them even further by balancing ranged and melee attackers.. it’s depressing. I want to use Kanji, Yosuke, and Teddie all the time. Who doesn’t? But I can’t have four front-row fighters (the hero is front-row). My interest in grinding out 21 different characters also lies somewhere between “maybe someday?” and “not fucking likely.”
Current playtime: ~12 hours
Average completion time, according to HowLongToBeat.com: 62.5 hours
Likelihood of finishing: Pretty good, but I’ll be cutting it close. I’m hammering it out and I’ve only been at it for two days, so I’m confident I’ll see the credits roll in 2015.
Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride
I love Dragon Quest. Love it. I just got through sinking ~50 hours in to Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree’s Woe and the Blight Below, and I know for sure that it’ll end up as one of my favorite games this year when we all start making our typical GOTY lists.
Somehow I managed to skip Dragon Quest V when it was localized on the Nintendo DS back in 2009, so I decided to fix that. I’m not unfamiliar with the series love-it-or-hate-it necessity of grinding, and I actually enjoy doing it. It gives me something to do when I have a few minutes (you know what I mean), or I just want to take a break from school without having to absorb walls of text.
If you ask a Dragon Quest diehard what the best game in the series is, chances are they’ll tell you IV or V. At about 10 hours in, I’d have to agree. Hand of the Heavenly Bride is incredible, and if it keeps the pace through to the end, I’d probably put it there in the upper echelon of classic JRPGs alongside Chrono Trigger, Earthbound, and Final Fantasy IV & VI (II & III).
It’s a meaty beast, that’s for sure. Like the fourth entry, it takes place over three different generations and allows you to see the characters grow over time. You start as a six year old child, killing slimes and ghosts alongside your new friend Bianca, and eventually become a teenager with the ability to recruit monsters for use as additional party members. That’s about where I’m at right now.
Current playtime: ~10 hours
Average completion time, according to HowLongToBeat.com: 30.5 hours.
Likelihood of finishing: Extremely good. Barring something happens to myself or my 3DS, I will definitely finish this game in the next few weeks. I’m already a third of the way through it.
I’ve never been a big fan of the Monster Hunter series. I know that’s blasphemous, but I gave Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate a shot on Wii U and it just wasn’t for me.
I tried. I really did. I teamed up with my girlfriend on her 3DS, completed a bunch of quests, farmed materials to craft new armor, killed some monsters, and then realized that’s the entire game. I’m good.
Yet somehow I’m totally sucked in to the world of Toukiden: Kiwami on PS4, which is essentially Playstation’s answer to Monster Hunter.
Like Monster Hunter, there’s a variety of weapons to pick from and each have their own special abilities, fighting style, etc., but unlike Capcom’s game, Toukiden actually has a narrative. You know, a story to follow between quests. Characters to develop and fight alongside. A town to defend.
I like that it offers a tutorial for each of the weapon types, and after spending the first 12 hours using a spear, I decided to switch to the bow for more range. Some of the giant bosses hit like trucks and I don’t always enjoy stabbing them while camped out under their grundle. So yes. Bow. It’s life.
Another cool feature is the ability to unlock souls of fallen historical figures and attach them to your weapons for added bonuses. Souls (called Mitama in the game) have different types, like attack, defense, plunder, that assist in different ways. Most weapons have their favored Mitama family, so unlocking as many as possible has been my primary goal as of late.
You can team up with other players online, but it’s advised to finish the campaign first since it’s the only way to upgrade your storage container. Thankfully the campaign has been a lot of fun, so there’s no complaints here.
Current playtime: ~17 hours
Average completion time, according to HowLongToBeat: 48.5 hours
Likelihood of completion: Maybe. This is my main console game right now, but with my overall lack of free time I’ve found myself lingering more toward the 3DS games. I play for at least an hour per day, but this is the one I’m just not sure I’ll finish before 2016. Especially once I delve in to online play.
As someone who’s loathed every David Cage game he’s ever played, I’m surprised by how much I’ve enjoyed/am enjoying Supermassive Games’ Until Dawn. Given my 30 year obsession with the horror genre though.. I guess I shouldn’t be.
Many are calling Until Dawn their surprise hit of 2015, and I have to agree. Every ounce of footage shown leading up to its release had been laughably bad, and the developer didn’t have the greatest resume, but somehow it worked.
Luring teenagers to their deaths has never felt so satisfying, and I’ve enjoyed killing off every last one of them.
Wait, that’s now how you’re supposed to play it? Well I assure you it’s a lot more fun that turning objects over in my hand or listening to a bunch of giggling yuppies make sex jokes and converse in meaningless banter that rival the most uninteresting Twitter updates.
The entire cast is written in such a way that begs me to hate them. It’s like playing the greatest slasher films the 90’s had to offer. Like Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer stepped in to the 80’s and merged with April Fool’s Day and My Bloody Valentine. I love it.
We actually picked this up to play over Halloween, but only managed to play for a few hours. With only three chapters remaining though, I’m sure I’ll be seeing Until Dawn through to its completion.
Current playtime: ~5 hours
Average completion time, according to HowLongToBeat: 7.5 hours
Likelihood of completion: 100%. There’s no doubt in my mind that I couldn’t crank this out tomorrow if I wanted to.
That about wraps it up. If I can pull off all four by New Years Day, it’ll be a damn Christmas miracle. But I’m going to try. Praise be to Yevon, I’m going to try.