It’s the Freakin’ Weekend! What are You Playing?

Friday! Video games! Let’s talk!

Lately, I’ve been chipping away at the backlog, which mostly involved playing catch-up with the various Telltale games I’ve neglected. I’ve also been juggling whatever rental arrives from Gamefly while deciding that it’s definitely time I took a break from accepting review requests.

I love writing reviews — it’s my primary focus — but I don’t want to spend my entire summer break doing them. I’m fine accepting one here and there and squeezing it into my own personal adventures, but I’ve been bogged down with them since my spring semester ended in April. It’s my own fault, really. I received a handful of review keys almost in unison and I’ve been working my way through them ever since. Right now I’m in the middle of a meaty JRPG, with a visual novel on Vita to follow.

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I just need a break. Not from reviewing games in general, mind you, but actively learning to say “no” and putting mental strain aside for the purpose of learning and “exposure.”

The notion hit me while playing through some older stuff I’ve had clogging up my physical shelves and various hard drives — games I had no intention of playing for the sole purpose of analysis and critique, but for fun. I still shared my impressions in bite-sized snippets on Twitter, and I’ve been reviewing games for so long that everything I play will likely be looked at with a critical eye. That’s fine, and it’s not to say I haven’t enjoyed the games I’ve been reviewing, but it definitely felt nice to be playing something for me. Something I picked out.

wolfamongus

I finished The Wolf Among Us for the first time, which was pretty incredible. I loved its noir aesthetic and crime drama feel, the fleshed-out cast of familiar characters, and the way the storytelling changed my way of thinking about Bigby Wolf and how he’d handle a given situation. I’d still firmly state that Tales from the Borderlands is my favorite, but The Wolf Among Us is a close second.

This is noteworthy for being the first Xbox One title I finished this year, so high-five for that.

marswarlogs

Afterwards, I took on an older Xbox 360 action RPG (by way of Xbox One’s backwards compatibility) called Mars: War Logs. Developed by Spiders Games (Bound by Flame, The Technomancer), Mars centers around a pair of prisoners who make a grand escape and are forced to live with the consequences of their choices made in-game. The combat is janky, the voiceovers aren’t much better, but there’s something special in there somewhere.

Spiders did a stellar job designing a world that resembled Total Recall if it were introduced to dangerous magic. The lower-class and prisoners are suffering, over-exposure to the sun and horrible experimentation has created a new breed of mutant slaves, and much of the working class has turned to gangs, drug use or prostitution to make ends meet.

Mars: War Logs felt like a game crafted around a series of novels, where there was clearly a ton of internalized lore at Spiders, but their smaller team and lack of proper funding clearly showed in the end — though not an entirely accurate comparison, imagine Mass Effect as a melee-focused game with a fraction of the budget and manpower, jammed into a 12-hour adventure.

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The team put together some neat ideas, like scavenging for materials and using them to craft and customize weapons and armor, as well as three unique skill trees that focused on hand-to-hand combat, stealth and roguish trickery, and technomancy (lightning-based spells). Character models weren’t the greatest, but the world design sucked me in as a fan of dystopian sci-fi settings and I was always invested in the goings on of everyone around me.

After finishing up Mars: War Logs I wanted to spend more time in its world and learn more about the game’s lore, so I picked up The Technomancer during a Gamefly sale for about $5. It’s available on PS4 (which I purchased) and Xbox One and it takes place side-by-side with the events of Mars. It just arrived yesterday and I hope to put a few hours in over the weekend.

evilwithin

I jumped into The Evil Within afterward, since I was jonesing for a horror game and it’s been in my Xbox backlog since Halloween — along with all three DLC campaigns. The file size is also absurdly huge and I wanted to get it off of my hard drive to make room for Gears of War 4 (which is one of my current Gamefly rentals) and its equally absurd 90GB install.

My girlfriend and I had already watched someone play through the game in its entirety, so I wasn’t compelled to finish immediately and ended up shelving it again after chapter six. It’s an incredibly rad and visceral game that pulls no punches in the gore department, but a combination of the lack of surprise and stumbling into an unfortunate groove of never having enough ammo to deal with the quantity of monsters thrown my way kind of killed it for me. Not permanently, but I’m once again in no hurry to finish playing.

Oh, and instead of exiting out of the game I uninstalled it. So that sucked. Not even sure how that happened.

michonne

Xbox One is having a killer Telltale Games sale this week, so I picked up the third season of The Walking Dead: A New Frontier and The Walking Dead: Michonne mini-series. I won’t get to season three for a while, but with Michonne only being three one-hour episodes I worked my way through it on Wednesday in single go.

It was essentially every Walking Dead experience I’ve ever had crammed into three episodes, which didn’t really work. Telltale’s games excel at storytelling, and forcing character development and plot threads into three hours instead of ten didn’t allow Michonne to elicit much emotion.

The titular character from the comic and TV series is the only redeeming quality of the game, struggling to focus on survival while traumatized by the deaths of her two daughters. The rest of the cast, though, not so much. There are some crazy death scenes involving a cash register and a flare gun, but even that couldn’t save it from mediocrity. It’s not Back to the Future levels of bad, but it’s the second worst I’ve played.

minecraftstorymode

My girlfriend recently finished Minecraft: Story Mode’s eight episode run and loved it, and although I’m not a big Minecraft fan she assured me that I’d enjoy it anyway. I’m currently in the middle of episode five and I can safely say it’s far better than it has any reason to be, particularly the male character’s delivery by Patton Oswalt. I’ll wait to give a full verdict until I finish the series, but before diving into Minecraft I took in a palate cleanser on the Xbox 360 in Beyond Good & Evil HD.

Beyond Good & Evil is one of those games I’ve heard so much about, I’m aware that everyone loves (despite nobody really buying it), yet I’ve never given it a shot — similar to Binary Domain and Mirror’s Edge. It was free during an old Games With Gold promotion and since I just renewed my subscription during a $1 return event I figured I’d give her a go.

beyondgoodandevilhd

I’ve only managed to play for a few hours, but from what I’ve gathered you play as a martial artist photographer named Jade who gets paid to photograph and document the various species that share the planet. Joined by her bipedal pig companion Pey’j, the duo work together to solve environmental puzzles, hang out with rasta polar bears, and repeatedly lose at air hockey to a shark named Francis.

It’s an action-adventure game with lots of colorful characters and mini-dungeon crawls, that also has surprisingly good combat mechanics. Jade has a dodge-roll, as well as basic combo and charge attack, but it’s pretty fluid and (thankfully) doesn’t feel very half-assed. I’m intrigued by the story and digging the early-2000s flare, but the camera controls during that era were fucking abysmal, weren’t they?

Right now, my priority is to finish up Minecraft: Story Mode’s remaining episodes and then immediately muscle through Gears of War 4 so I can return them to Gamefly. Beyond Good & Evil HD will serve as my “juggle game” between other projects, and I’ll continue chipping away at the PS4 JRPG I need to review.

Oh, and tomorrow we’re going to see Wonder Woman. I’m beyond (good and evil hd) excited.

What about you, folks? What are you getting into this weekend?

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44 thoughts on “It’s the Freakin’ Weekend! What are You Playing?

  1. I’m so glad you enjoyed The Wolf Among Us. I really liked it too, though as I mentioned before, I hate having too much choice in games. I am generally an indecisive person in real life, so I often hesitate and fret after making decisions in games. And in those that give you the option to be evil, I just can’t do it! I’ve tried, but I can’t!

    I’m hoping to finish up Phantasy Star (finally!) but am feeling a bit bogged down from having to have my root canal redone. I’m sore in the face, which doesn’t make for good streaming. I might give it a whirl though!

    I hope you have a great time playing games without any pressure attached. Enjoy :)

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    1. I like when my choices feel like they matter and I can see that reflected in the story. I can rarely be an asshole in a game like that unless the setting calls for it. Mars: War Logs (also mentioned in the post) was dystopian and mostly every man for themselves, so I didn’t hesitate to be a dick there.

      Root canal swelling suuuuucks. Hope you have a speedy recovery!

      Thanks =)

      Liked by 2 people

  2. The Wolf Among Us is a excellent game. I enjoyed Beyond Good and Evil too, but I’m not a huge fan of it. I do want the sequel though.

    I’ll be spending the majority of my weekend on my Switch. I got Disgaea 5 and I’m in love with it. I also brought my first Tekken game! Tekken 5 released on PC and I really need to get into another fighting game since Capcom is determined to kill Street Fighter 5 with their shitty DLC policies. I’m a little underwhelmed with my Switch library right now. Only good game I have is Disgaea 5 and I’d rather not play Puyo Puyo Tetris, or Has-Been Heroes again. I’m trying my best to give Has-Been Heroes a fair chance, but it’s hard because the game is brutally hard right now.

    I also want to complete Starcrawlers, and get back into Darkest so I can prepare for the first expansion :).

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      1. I was going to reply to you on Twitter about Has-Been Heroes, but I’ll do it here since I have more space to work with :).

        It sucks! Can’t believe I paid $20 for that crap. The game is unbalanced, unfair, and sends hordes of enemies at you when you don’t have spells, or stats to take them on.

        Next small game I’m buying is definitely Thumper. Should have just got that yesterday instead…

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      2. Lol. I’ll let the Nier thing slide since you were right about Has-Been Heroes, and Cosmic Star Heroine :).

        I don’t feel like I wasted my money with Puyo Puyo Tetris because my wife plays it a lot, but no one here likes Has-Been Heroes and I can’t refund a digital purchase on the Switch :(.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Fair enough, haha.

        That’s a huge bummer. The only place that sold that game physically was GameStop since they were the publisher. Hopefully Nintendo adopts some sort of digital refund policy (same with PlayStation).

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Playing with Injustice 2’s Multiverse for now but I’ll probably start up Everspace at some point.
    We ‘played’ through Late Shift last night which was cool. I’d like to give it another run to find some other endings.

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    1. I enjoyed The Bunker for the most part but found both endings abrupt and unsatisfying. Same publisher for Late Shift, I think, so it has my interest.

      I’d like to pick up Injustice 2 later on when all of the DLC characters are released. Did the same with MKXL and that was a whole lot of game for the asking price.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I had a great time with Forza Horizon 3 and ended up spending upwards of 20 hours zooming through Australia during its launch weekend. I’d like to check out the DLC packs at some point but it’ll be later down the line when it’s all discounted. I don’t even have room for it on my XB1 hard drive right now lol. It’s probably the best exclusive I’ve played on the console.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I’m a big fan of the series, in general. I’m not usually one for DLCs on release but I just couldn’t resist to be honest. I gotta say that Sunset Overdrive’s been my favourite exclusive so far though.

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      2. I’m not big into racers, so Horizon 3 caught me off guard. It was the first game in the Horizon series I’ve played (I have Forza 5 and 6 on XB1, which were gifts I rarely touched) and I ended up buying it solely because Target had a price error at $20 for the digital version the week of release. Couldn’t say no and glad I didn’t.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. That’s how I ended up with Forza 5 and 6. My dad was a mechanic his entire life. He lived and breathed cars, so he got my Forza 5 for Christmas the year the Xbox One launched. He didn’t play games at all, but when he became disabled to the point where he could no longer leave the house, touch cars, or even drive, he bought himself the fancy Forza 6 Xbox One that came with the game bundled in. I inherited it when he passed away and have no idea what makes a car tick, so the sim aspect has always been a turn-off.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Side-note: Sunset Overdrive was great. I just wish it had full-on co-op support for the campaign, not just the shoddy tower defense mode. That and supporting multiple save slots. I went back a month after release and had no idea what I was doing, but couldn’t start over unless I wanted to delete my 40-hour save data.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Sunset overdrive was interesting, but it just made me want to play Jet Set Radio Future. I need a sequel or at least an HD remake ASAP

        Liked by 1 person

      6. I loved Jet Set Radio and Jet Set Radio Future back when they released. JSR was my favorite game on the Dreamcast, but when it was re-released in HD on PS3/360 I couldn’t stand the way it played anymore. It still looks great, but the gameplay aged poorly. I’d be all over a reboot of the series, though.

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  4. I’m enjoying the Marvel Heroes Omega Beta on PS4. I now realize I didn’t make it as far as I thought I did on the PC version since I’m seeing a lot of unfamiliar material sooner than I expected. It’s a nice break from the trap NieR had me in(although I loved that game), it’s good to break away. Sunday may involve some of The Division on XB1 and then Monday I’m leaving open as I have extended my weekend by taking a vacation day.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m kind of in my usual quandary, part way too many games. Between Persona 5, Prey, Andromeda and trying to catch up on Final Fantasy XIV its hard to know what to buckle down on!

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    1. Juggling normal games with any MMO is a clusterfuck in itself. I did that for 13 years with WoW and now that I’ve given up I’ve had so much more time to clear out the backlog. I still enjoy MMOs and got sucked back into ESO and Neverwinter during the winter months, but it’s so hard to play anything *but* them (more so when you’re paying a sub fee).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s basically me with every WoW expansion, haha. I really liked FFXIV and even picked up Heavensward near its launch, but there’s way too much catch-up to do for new players to get into the new stuff. I finished the core storyline but had 40 more quests to do just to step foot into the Heavensward content and unlock the new classes. I gave up and never went back because that was an insane amount of questing that still needed to be done. I got zero use out of my purchase.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yeah I feel you. I’m biting the bullet on the jump potions, I played through the base game and actually made it to Heavensward but fell off midway through. It’s crazy, I think it’s like 600+ quests to get to this new dlc, someone estimated around 150 hours of playtime to do it. I just need my samurai, and once I’m at end game I will let it drop off eventually. Haven’t been this hyped about a game for awhile, though!

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  6. I’ve been all over the place rexently. However, Stardew Valley has been a recent favorite. I also started playing Banjo Kazooie as part of the Xbox Game Pass deal… But I just quit. Sometimes certain older graphics just get to me now :P

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was just talking about this on Twitter with someone last week, about how visiting games from that era for the first time is often a mixed bag. Developers were taking risks and creating new ways to take advantage of increased console power, like 3D games with movable cameras, so the execution was so bad in comparison to today. Back then, we didn’t know any better lol. The pixel sprites of NES, Genesis, and SNES have also aged significantly better than the LEGO block polygons of yesteryear.

      I’m feeling that way right now going through Beyond Good & Evil for the first time. It’s originally a PS2 game, so it not only looks like a bit of an eyesore but the camera fucking suuuuucks sometimes.

      I still have Banjo’s games on my backlog through Rare Replay, but I didn’t stick with it long for the same reason.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m so late on this. My blog backlog is a bitch. I saw WW and it was freaking amazing. 10/10 would see again.

    I doubt I could be a pro reviewer because I play games like I read, because I like what I read/play. If it doesn’t capture my fancy, I don’t continue and I only play what I like or what I like enough to get through. I’ll review and explain why I didn’t finish, but yeah, I’d have trouble playing/reviewing something like Destiny since it’s not my cup of tea.

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    1. Wonder Woman was incredible. I look forward to watching it again when it releases digitally or as a Red Box rental. Also just watched Logan and holy shit that was great too. Not at all what I was expecting. A friend of mine had the Assassin’s Creed film on their VUDU account and I liked that quite a bit as well (as a fan of the games).

      I hear you. I’ve played countless games I had no interest in for the purpose of a review. I wanted to adapt and improve by undertaking games out of my comfort zone, but the reality is that I just enjoy talking about games I enjoyed playing (or, at the very least, picked out myself).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I might see it again in the theaters, but I don’t think any movie will ever beat my Avengers record of five times in the theater. I still haven’t seen Logan. That’s next on my superhero movie list along with Dr. Strange, which is on Netflix now. That’s good to know about Assassin’s Creed! There are a lot of dud video game movies even among the opinions of gamers.

        I think you can say much more about games you actually enjoyed than ones you forced yourself to play.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I saw Fight Club in theaters 5 times, which is my record. It was at a $1 theater, if that counts lol.

        Having an understanding and adoration of the AC series certainly helped. Had I not, many of the concepts would have seemed ridiculous, poorly explained, etc. But it captured what I like about the games fairly well — great action, parkour, stealthy stuff, conspiracies, etc.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. *jealous* Not of Fight Club five times, even though I love that movie, but $1 theater. It’s like $15 around hoighty-toighty King of Prussia, ugh, and $20 for IMAX.

        I just love assassins. That whole concept is just fascinating. I’d probably enjoy the movie for what it was I like Max Payne. The cinemetography in that film was amazing. I keep thinking of this one scene where it was snowing and it looked like the snowflakes were frozen in midair.

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      4. It’s $13 for a ticket here if we go into the city of Columbia, but there’s a tiny theater 30 minutes away that only shows two movies. It’s always new stuff (saw Rogue One, Deadpool, Batman vs Superman, Suicide Squad, and Wonder Woman there on release day!) and only $7 per ticket. It was the first theater built in the city too, so it has this rad historic vibe inside.

        Liked by 1 person

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