I was too busy last weekend to get a wrap-up post put together, but today I’m up early, I’ve had coffee, and it’s time to make the fucking donuts. Happy Friday, everyone.
For starters, I’ve been shopping for a new hat to replace my current Overwatch one for a while now and landed on this. I love the simplicity of the Xbox logo and black on white is kind of my jam. Plus, it was on sale with free shipping on the Microsoft store.
Ignore the scruff and tired look. It’s self-isolation season.
Since the last time we talked, I’ve finished Far Cry Primal and thought it was awesome. It’s now tied with Blood Dragon as my favorite in the series, thanks to its rad world design, rewarding upgrades, and lack of climbable towers (thank fuck). The story was also pretty solid.
Life is Strange 2 is the current du jour since it’s leaving Xbox Game Pass at the end of the month. I loved the original series, Before the Storm even more so, and this one is still somehow exceeding my expectations.
This one focuses on two brothers who lose their dad in a police shooting (unarmed minorities dying at the hands of untrained police is topical). As a result, the younger brother develops a strange power that allows him to control objects with his mind, and the two set off on the road trip of their lives down to Mexico.
Unlike the original game, you don’t actually play the character with the powers — instead, controlling the older brother and struggling to protect (and control) the younger Diaz. This not only makes for a more interesting narrative perspective with choices and consequences, but unfortunately caused the opening episode to feel like a bit of a slog as you watch the game play itself.
The ship righted in the following episode, with more emotional punches and twists, and with the younger sibling becoming more confident in his powers you can ask him to help during certain scenarios.
I have two episodes left and need to finish them before the 30th. Plenty of time.
My partner and I played quite a bit of a new first-person horror title Those Who Remain, but I don’t think we’ll finish it. Here, you play as a guy who seems to be an alcoholic that’s cheating on his wife. You get a message from your mistress to meet her in a hotel, but when you arrive there’s no one around.
There’s no combat or anything, with the threat instead being the darkness itself. While exploring, collecting items to solve puzzles, and switching between different versions of the same world, you need to avoid the shadows at all costs. You can alleviate most of the terrors by simply flipping a nearby light switch or finding a generator to illuminate your surroundings, which is kind of unfortunate. There are a handful of poorly-designed stealth scenarios where you’re tasked with avoiding a stalking monster, but their design is kind of confusing since their faces are giant floodlights. Isn’t the light… bad?
The story doesn’t move along very well and stumbling around rooms while opening drawers and hunting for items isn’t exactly fun. You basically end up being the “judge” for a demon that has to read into why and how people died, then choose to absolve or condemn them. I didn’t find these to be very interesting either and, to top it off, none of the achievements I should have popped on my Xbox ever unlocked.
The premise of Those Who Remain is cool and I dig the way the “shadow people” look, but with threats so easily dispatched and the gameplay hook being more chore than reward, it’s hard to stay interested. It also runs pretty poorly on Xbox, making it even harder to recommend.
There are other, better horror games out there to spend your money on. Kudos to the developer for trying something new. It just could have used a bit more time in the oven.
Another game I’ve spent some time with is the retro-inspired first-person shooter, Project Warlock. And HOLY FUCKING SHIT is this game good. G O O D.
It’s kind of a mix of Doom, Duke Nukem, and Hexen, with projectile, magic, and melee weapons dispatching all sorts of monstrosities. Killing stuff awards XP, which you can use to boost your stats, while also upgrading weapons and spells along the way. Since it’s a tough, old-school shooter, this makes failed attempts still feel rewarding. Project Warlock isn’t a roguelike or anything, but there are no save points during scenarios and you have to survive to reach the workshop and spend your points. And I’m bad at games so I die a lot. Like, a lot.
The visuals are the star of the show, though — seriously, watch the trailer up there. Not that the shooting doesn’t feel good too, but mannn, this is a strong contender for the most stylish game of 2020. It has the aesthetic of a modern Doom game, or a spiritual successor to Blood, with layers upon layers of beautiful pixels and animations and a banger of a soundtrack. It’s a solid love letter, and, to top it off, it was created by an 18-year-old high school student. Man, what have I been doing with my life?
Anyway, If the original FPS games of yesteryear are your jam, then Project Warlock is worth checking out. It’s not perfect, with certain weapons being noticeably overpowered and level designs feeling a bit too samey, but it’s a rad trip down memory lane that I wish I could go back in time to show my younger Doom-obsessed self.
That about does it for me, though. Most of my weekend will be spent finishing up Life is Strange 2, playing more Project Warlock, and probably starting a new, undecided game.
What about you, folks? Any big gaming plans this weekend?