Friday! Video games! Let’s talk!
With Four in February in full effect, I’m proud to announce that I’ve finished three of the games on my list: Life is Strange, Life is Strange: Before the Storm, and Slayaway Camp: Butcher’s Cut. The final game, Moon Hunters, was pushed aside in favor of Matt Thorson and friends’ new platformer, Celeste.
On paper, Celeste is definitely not my kind of game. I’m over 2D platformers, especially the super tough ones (take my recent review of The End is Nigh, for example), but this wonderfully designed tale of overcoming anxiety is all I’ve been thinking about over the last 24-hours.
You play as Madeline, a girl who wants nothing more than to push herself to climb Celeste Mountain. You have to overcome increasingly complex platforming challenges along the way, using her air-dash, wall jump, and wall climb abilities. Similar to how the reload mechanic works in Downwell, Madeline’s air-dash is recharged whenever her feet touch solid ground. Each section is so well-designed and bite-sized that its trial-by-dying approach is never mentally exhausting. There’s even a loading screen that encourages players to take pride in their death counter because it means they’re learning — I love reading stuff like this.
Games like these typically trigger my anxiety pretty badly and I’m often quick to put them down in favor of more relaxing, “fun” experiences. But knowing that Celeste is all about overcoming anxiety, I’m (in my best Undertale voice) filled with determination to see it through. A bit of text early on in the game reminds Madeline to “just breathe,” which sets the tone for the rest of the challenging experience. “Just breathe” has become my mantra whenever I struggle to complete a stage or anxiety starts to kick in, and it’s been working out pretty well.
Between the tight controls, beautiful aesthetic (I *loved* Amora B’s art style in TowerFall, what she’s posted of the upcoming Skytorn, and now Celeste), and Lena Raine’s wonderful soundtrack, Celeste has been an almost cathartic experience thus far as I struggle with anxiety alongside Madeline and those she meets along the way. I’m roughly halfway through the Nintendo Switch version, having just finished the hotel area, but I’m saving most of the optional strawberry collectibles for later on. My goal is to finish it up this weekend.
Earlier this week, my girlfriend and I caved and picked up two copies of Monster Hunter World. We struggled to get into Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate on Wii U and 3DS, but we were stoked to dive into World and have something meaty to play together. Unfortunately, playing with other people in Monster Hunter World fucking sucks.
There’s a lot of menu tinkering and workarounds to play the open-world expeditions and even more just to co-op the campaign quests. It’s all doable, of course, but neither one of us wanted to endure that nonsense for the next 100 hours. Ten hours later, we both agreed to sell our copies in hopes of the multiplayer being retooled later on. I’m doubtful that’ll happen, but with Capcom confirming Monster Hunter World shipped and sold (a combinatino of the two) six million copies already, anything is possible.
I ended up renting the Shadow of the Colossus remake at Red Box, which is one of the most exhilarating games I’ve ever played. I really enjoyed it on PS2 and PS3, but the remake on PS4 is absolutely something else. I only managed to topple 7 colossi before its due date, but I know I’ll pick it up (or re-rent it again) at some point. The massive bat-like colossus still remains my favorite boss encounter (and one of the best of all-time, in my opinion). Luring it over with a well-placed arrow and grabbing hold of its fur during a dive bomb at the last possible second… man, what a rush. Then you have to scale its wings and tail while it barrel-rolls and soars through the air, trying to buck Wander off its back. So good!
I’m doing my best to avoid new game purchases, but once I finish Celeste I’m tempted to pick up Night in the Woods on Switch. I love me some narrative adventures and I’ve heard a lot of great stuff about it from folks who played the PC and PS4 versions. Lost Sphear is still on my radar as well, despite being unimpressed by its demo and equally turned off by the $50 USD price tag. I’m going to wait for a sale, though, especially since Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology comes to 3DS this time next week. I never got around to the DS version, but I hear it’s one of the most well-written JRPGs and that’s exactly what I’m in the mood for right now.
On the reading front, I took a step back from Low’s fourth volume after coming to terms with the fact that I had no idea what was happening. Instead, I went to the library and re-rented the first three volumes in order to brush up. I also knocked The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time off of my to-read list, which looks a little something like this.
Genevieve Valentine’s Mechanique is probably next on the list, primarily due to its glowing recommendation from my favorite author, Cherie Priest. Then it’s on to Maplecroft (a Lovecraftian take on the Lizzie Borden tale).
Have you read any of these before? I know Vonnegut is a popular author, but Slaughterhouse-Five will be my first foray into his work. My girlfriend really loved The Road and I’ve been told it’s similar to The Last of Us, which has my attention. The Kingdom Beyond the Waves‘ “steampunk fantasy and sci-fi with a Victorian-era feel” mini-review on the front cover piqued my interest, along with its underwater motif that harkened back to BioShock’s Rapture. The two M. John Harrison novels were both highly reviewed sci-fi novels and were dirt cheap at a used bookstore.
That about does it for me. What about you, folks? Have any gaming plans this weekend?