[WEEKEND GAMING] Psychological Horror, a Polarizing JRPG, and a Super Chill Tea Party

As the weekend quickly approaches, it’s time for us to chat about our upcoming gaming plans! As usual, I’ll list mine out below and, if you feel so inclined, sound off with your own down in the comments.

I was incredibly busy last weekend so I ended up missing this weekly wrap-up. To catch you up, I spent A LOT of time playing through Outriders on Xbox. It’s a third-person shooter that can be played solo or with up to four people, so you know I went through the whole 30-hour campaign by myself.

It had some buzz surrounding it at release since it was developed by People Can Fly, the team behind the cult-hit shooter Bulletstorm. It also launched day-one on Game Pass, which apparently worked out incredibly well for them. Outriders kind of mirrors Mass Effect Andromeda’s narrative, with Earth on the brink of destruction and a select group of people entering cryo sleep en route to a brand new planet. You play as an Outrider, which is basically like Andromeda’s Pathfinder, who are the first boots on the surface to make sure everything is kosher before waking everyone else up. Shit goes south when a massive storm hits and most of your team gets vaporized, with you being mortally wounded in the process. However, a squad mate saves your life by slipping you into a cryo pod where you eventually wake up 31 years later.

It’s an interesting premise that sets up the following events, where “humans are the real monsters” and we just can’t stop waging war against one another. The new planet is already in shambles, resources are slim, and you’ll spend the next 15-30 hours blowing shit up and doing quests.

What sets it apart is the class-based combat system, allowing you to begin the game as either a flame-throwing pyromancer, a tech-savvy drone-spawning long-ranged badass, a crowd-controlling trickster, and a beefy tank boy. Each have their own magical skills, similar to Destiny, and three different skill trees to invest points in. For my playthrough I went for Pyromancer, which expectedly sets things on fire and restores some of your health whenever you kill something that’s burning. My specific build focuses on setting things ablaze with fire bullets, restoring more life with a big health leech spell, and dealing frequent area-of-effect damage.

I do wish Outriders had more interesting things to do once the campaign was over. It’s set up as a multiplayer experience with improved loot and challenges, but it’s just a paper thin offering akin to running the same Destiny strikes ad nauseum. The campaign itself, though, was really enjoyable and took some crazy turns in its final acts. Although it released back in April and it’s published by Square Enix, it’s still very buggy and gave me more than a handful of quest tracking problems that could only be resolved by quitting out to the main menu.

Anyway, Outriders was a lot of fun and it’s the perfect Game Pass game — one that I’d never give a look at otherwise.

I also just finished revisiting my absolute favorite game of all time: Final Fantasy VIII. I played through the newer Remastered version through Game Pass, which adds a 3x game speed option (perfect for draw spamming), the ability to turn off random encounters (which is awesome for a game that has scaling enemy levels and an end-game super boss that can one shot your entire party if they’re at the max of 100), and for folks that are just in it for the story, a toggle that regenerates health in combat, permanently fills your ATB meter, and lets you use Limit Breaks whenever you want.

Final Fantasy VIII Remastered also has upgraded visuals, especially by way of new character models. No longer does Squall’s face look like scrambled eggs when Rinoa refers to him as “the best looking guy here.”

I adore this game so much. The characters, story, breaking it with the junction system, and ESPECIALLY the music. “Eyes on Me” is timeless and is always guaranteed to make my eyes water uncontrollably, but “The Castle” is *the best* final dungeon theme of all time.

With the speed boost I was able to 100% Final Fantasy VIII, unlocking all of the achievements on Xbox, in about 30 hours. And when it was all over, I was ready to start it up all over again. It’s just so fucking special to me.

So, what’s on deck this weekend?

In Sound Mind

This first-person psychological horror game recently released on Xbox and it’s just in time for Spooky Month. You play as a doctor magically transported into the minds of their dead patients, by way of listening to cassette tape recordings of their sessions. It’s interesting stuff.

I’m not really sure what I think of the game as a whole yet, since I’m still really early in the first chapter, but it definitely has some neat visuals during the “tape” sections while being mostly generic outside of them. I haven’t had to battle anything yet, just solve some puzzles and backtrack a lot. I’m eager to get back to it, though. Some folks with similar taste in horror games speak highly of it.

Final Fantasy XIII

This is a love it or hate it entry in the series and I’m the former. I love XIII. It has my favorite battle system in the series once it opens up a bit in chapter 3, a killer soundtrack, a story that isn’t anywhere near as complicated as some would have you believe, some of my favorite characters in the series, and the Xbox Series X enhancements look SO FUCKING GOOD! This game doesn’t look 11 years old, I swear. Between this and Panzer Dragoon Orta I am in awe of what the Series X can do with older games.

I actually started replaying this on the PS3 about 2 years ago and was nearing the end of all the open world stuff in chapter 11, but I got side tracked with a bunch of review stuff and just never went back. I always hoped Square would release a modern remaster of the XIII trilogy so I kept holding out just in case. Obviously, that never happened. This feels like a remaster anyway with some crazy fast load times, gorgeous visuals and HDR color spreads, and I’m so happy to be playing it again. It’s a top 5 Final Fantasy for me.

I also just noticed that I don’t actually own the Xbox version of Final Fantasy X | X-2 HD Remaster like I thought I did. It’s currently on Game Pass so I may actually put off this XIII playthrough in favor of that one because I’ve really been wanting to finally play X-2 and I don’t want to have to cram it in when it eventually leaves the service. I also want to play the entire XIII trilogy in a row. Knowing that, it would be a while before I could get to X and X-2.

Teacup

I just received a review key for this yesterday and it looks like something I’d be into. It’s a short, chill adventure game about a shy, introverted frog who goes on a journey to collect ingredients for a tea party. Visually, it reminds me a LOT of A Night in the Woods, which I loved to death. I’m also a sucker for story-heavy games that I can knock out in one sitting.

Stay tuned for my review within the next few days!

That does it for me, though. Outside of gaming, my partner and I (we got engaged by the way!) are watching the Fear Street trilogy on Netflix and Halloween Kills releases today on Peacock. So it’s horror aplenty.

Got any big gaming plans this weekend? Let me know in the comments.

3 thoughts on “[WEEKEND GAMING] Psychological Horror, a Polarizing JRPG, and a Super Chill Tea Party

  1. Omg the 3x speed was the best thing ever in the FFVIII Remaster. It made drawing so much quicker. I also liked the option of turning off battle though I used that rarely. I wound up replaying VIII way sooner than I planned. It has my favorite card game of all time. Triple Triad is the best. I still need to play FFXIII. I know it’s not nearly as bad as the critics say. All of the complaints seem more like preference issues as opposed to actual problems, but I’ll hold my tongue until I finally play it myself.

    Teacup looks adorable.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love XIII but admit it’s slow going for the first 10 hours, in terms of combat. It opens up the class system a bit too slowly. And yes! I used 3x speed and set cursor to memory so I could hold X and draw with everyone.

      Liked by 1 person

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