We’re sharing what games are trending in our own personal zeitgeist in this week’s edition of We’re Just Playing…
So how’s everyone doing? Are you OK? It’s understandable if you’re not. Even if you are holding it together, sometimes the nervous/negative/hostile energy of others can drag you down. That’s why we all need our outlets. My outlets have always been writing (mostly for myself before I started working here 8 months ago) and gaming. So I find something I love and I immerse myself in it.
– Johnny Malloy
Firstly, an update from last week. I managed to finish Spirit Hunter: NG, so here’s a mini-review. First of all, I was horribly wrong about what the eponymous NG means, as it does not stand for No Good. It actually ties pretty heavily into the game’s narrative. Don’t know where I got that initial impression from. Second, this was a really good sequel, in that it was a fairly significant improvement to the original.
One of the issues I had with the original is that many of the spirits felt rather gimmicky, which undermined the more horrific nature of the story. For instance, one of the late game ghosts was a woman with a bunch of different animal body parts that she uses to attack people. It was rather goofy. In NG the spirits still have designs that tie in directly to their horrific back stories, but they all remain rather disturbing throughout, including one in the late game that channels the awesome Legion design from the Castlevania series. The spirits all manage to be legitimately disturbing pretty consistently through the game’s run time. Also like the first game, their back stories tend to be genuinely horrifying, with them touching on some extremely dark subject matter, but it does so rather elegantly. One of the spirits you confront, an abducted young girl, could have come across as exploitative, but it was handled rather well.
Speaking of being handled well, I had expressed concern last week that NG would continue the first game’s trend of trying to dole out creepy and pointless fan service, and that I had already gotten an underwear illustration. I’m happy to say, though, that this game shows restraint in that regard. For the most part, the focus is squarely on the storytelling. It mercifully doesn’t try and titillate by putting its female characters in bad situations and providing lewd illustrations of them. It lends a sense of cohesiveness to the story arcs since there’s nothing in them that take you out of the mood the game builds. It keeps you immersed in the macabre and unnerving world.
I would definitely recommend the game to horror Visual Novel fans. The series as a whole has a great hook, with investigating and confronting spirits, and this one was a refinement of everything that worked well about the first game, except now it’s even more creepy and disturbing.
Once I beat NG, I moved on to Daemon X Machina, last year’s hit mech game that, through a series of shenanigans, I managed to get for free (no, I didn’t pirate it). I’m only an hour or so in, but I’ve already completed several missions and they’re very enjoyable. The mech strikes a good balance of responsive controls while also feeling weighty. It’s tough to describe, but you know how in the best giant robot movies, the robots just feel huge due to the way they move? Daemon X Machina manages to give the player that feeling while still having nice, tight controls. I don’t have too many customization options open yet, but I can already tell that it’s going to be a blast fine tuning my mech to have exactly the load out and look that I want. But while the gameplay offers enjoyable, bite-sized action, I am already sick of the story. Exposition is displayed with a simple back and forth between characters, but said characters seem to come and go at will. There’s a lot of talk of mercenaries, ancient AI (presumably the titular Daemons), and all kinds of other stuff and I just do not give a damn. Character voice acting is grating, and the pre-mission dialogue scenes ramble on for far too long. I just want to blast some robots, damnit.
Lastly, I am ripping and tearing my way through Doom Eternal. I’ll keep this brief, because I wrote up a whole Day 1 review here, but at about two-thirds of the way through the game, it’s another brutal good time. Id Software knows how to strike a good balance between being legitimately challenging while still making the player feel like a powerful badass. I’ve gotten most of the weapons, including the ever-present BFG, and they’re all fun to use. I would like to give a shout out to the game’s sense of humor. For reasons, Doomguy has to get to the core of Mars at one point, so he fires a hole in the planet using the monstrously sized, and appropriately named, BFG 10,000. Then he launches himself out of a cannon. The developers know that the idea of Doomguy is inherently ridiculous, and they play that up more so than in the first game. Even though I still find it odd that the game has such surprisingly in-depth lore, I love that Id Software has managed to give knowing winks to the players. Sure, there’s a story here, but you shouldn’t take it too seriously and instead just have fun. These little moments of humor, coupled with the wonderfully fast and brutal gameplay, never fail to put a big stupid grin on my face.
The question should probably be, “What haven’t I been playing?” since my attention span is quite limited these days. I’m usually tired and drained (physically, emotionally, spiritually) and can only seem to focus on games for tiny bursts before sighing and moving on to something else.
However, two games have been the exception, and are currently in heavy rotation on my Switch and PS4. The Bloodstained games!
I have already beaten the Curse of the Moon several times on several different difficultly modes, but I returned to it after getting 50% through Ritual of the Night. There is a certain hidden area in RotN that pays homage to the earlier games in the Castlevania library, and it made me want to replay CotM now that I know these character’s backstories more.
I’ve decided that I’m going to do full length reviews on both Curse of the Moon and Ritual of the Night. And yes, I, the master of good/bad/awful puns, will indeed call it “Stainlining the Bloodstained Series.” Stay tuned for that.
OK, so what other games am I playing? I honestly couldn’t tell you much about them, because the only two holding my interest are these two glorious crowdfunded games that impressed me more than I expected.
I do still play The Binding of Isaac on the reg. It’s just the perfect game to me. I read in an interview that Edmund McMillen finds it odd that people would still play it after all this time, especially a lunatic like me who has Platinum-ed the main game and all the DLC, but I can’t help it. I see all these other titles in my PS4 and Switch home screen, and more often than not I turn to Isaac, often simply to play the Daily Challenge. And Edmund’s wife, Danielle, still plays it all the time too, so I’m in good company.
This game is my comfort zone. It’s my cave, like from Fight Club. I can turn it on and have whole conversations with myself while I play. I was an only child, so I’ve always had full on convos with myself. We all cope in our own ways.