Friday! Video games! Let’s talk!
Most of my time this week was spent with the nightmarish rhythm game Thumper on Nintendo Switch. I just reviewed the game over at Switch Player, which will also show up in issue #4 of their printed magazine. If anyone out there is interested in acquiring a copy, you can pledge over at their Patreon today (yes, just today) or buy an individual copy at the website once it’s published.
I absolutely loved the game, particularly its uneasy tracklist by way of Brian Gibson and its haunting aesthetic. The gameplay is intense and frantic, inducing white-knuckle anxiety in the best way possible.
Between reviews, I like to take in a palate cleanser to feel like I’m doing something for myself. After Thumper, however, I struggled to find anything that held my attention.
I signed up for the new Xbox Game Pass on Xbox One, which was the first time I’d turned the console on with the intention of gaming in about five months. Since it’s the only console my girlfriend and I own more than one of, thus being the chosen place to continue our Destiny adventures in the upcoming sequel, I figured now was a good time to show it a little love.
For those unaware, Game Pass is a $10 per-month subscription service on Xbox One that allows you to play over 100 different games by downloading them directly to your console. In that regard, it’s similar to PS4’s PlayStation Now service but works off of direct downloads instead of Sony’s streaming-only option. Having the ability to download games instead of streaming them is a huge win since my internet speed is often abysmal. If you’re familiar with EA Access, it’s basically the same thing (including purchase discounts for supported games and DLC).
Right now, Game Pass is mostly riddled with older games that were already offered for free as part of the Games With Gold service, along with many of the titles found in the Rare Replay compilation. There’s also a ton of Xbox 360 games supported via backwards compatibility. As someone who subscribed to Xbox Live Gold for the first two years of the console’s life-cycle, and owns Rare Replay, there’s not much on the list that’s enticing me to stick around once the free two-week trial ends.
That’s not to say there isn’t anything worthwhile for others. Halo 5: Guardians, Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, Mega Man Legacy Collection, Braid, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, Payday 2: Crimewave Edition, Saints Row IV: Re-Elected, DmC Devil May Cry: Definitive Edition, Mad Max, and Resident Evil 0 are among the games available, and all of them are worth checking out.
I played around a bit with Samurai Shodown 2 and King of Fighters 98: Ultimate Match, which are two of my favorite fighters of all time. Outside of those, though, I downloaded Braid and Electronic Super Joy and didn’t click with either. I skimmed my digital backlog and jumped into the monochromatic horror game White Night, but wasn’t feeling it. Then I checked out Type:Rider on PS4, which is a 2D platformer based on fonts and written communications (weird, I know). It lost me pretty early, despite its novel effort.
I rented Prey from GameFly, but ultimately gave up after a few hours due to its awful combat mechanics. I liked the idea of a weird, sci-fi Groundhog Day experiment gone awry, but groaned heavily anytime I was forced into combat with the game’s mimics. The mimic idea in itself was fantastic, providing a sense of dread by fear of the unknown — any object in the environment can be a monstrous mimic, like a coffee mug that morphs before your eyes as you pass it by.
I just wish I didn’t have to kill anything since swinging around a wrench was a clunky mess and it’s a good six hours before you find your first real weapon. Knowing the game was easily thirty hours long, there was no way I was enduring its mediocre combat when it’s such a big part of the overall experience.
I finally landed on The Wolf Among Us, which I completely forgot about buying years ago when it launched on Xbox One alongside the first two seasons of The Walking Dead. I picked up the launch bundle and never even installed it, which seems to be an ongoing trend.
I’ve managed to complete just the first episode of The Wolf Among Us, which is based on the FABLES comic series published by Vertigo/DC. The short version is that characters from fairytales are forced to live among humans and use magic to disguise themselves in order to blend in. They all live in the same town and you play as their local sheriff, Bigby Wolf (Big Bad Wolf). You begin by investigating the murder of a lesser-known character, but, of course, things take a turn for the worst and, before you know it, a serial killer is on the loose.
I tend to like Telltale’s storytelling, despite their game engine being an outdated piece of shit. It’s typical Telltale fare where you’re engaged in quick-time events and making story-altering dialogue choices, which is fine. The characters have been excellent and the tone has become far darker than I anticipated, particularly in the first episode’s stunning finale. I look forward to continuing my adventure over the weekend.
Outside of gaming, I’ve been catching up on comics and TV. I just rented the first two volumes of Gotham Academy, as well as Final Crisis and Identity Crisis. Throughout the week, I’ve managed to binge watch the 2nd season of The Flash (which was great), the first season of Riverdale (which was surprisingly good), and I’m halfway through the ultra-depressing, entirely relatable Netflix exclusive 13 Reasons Why.
What about you folks? What are you up to this weekend?