I realized that I’ve started most of these posts with “another month”, so instead of that we’re starting on a meta note. Still hoping you’re doing well out there in the big wide world. Things have reopened in my area and people have taken that as an excuse to pretend the pandemic never happened in the first place. Thankfully there is a city mandated law about wearing masks while within public spaces. Despite that I still think we’ll continue to be blessed with this plague through the coming months.
Anyway, video games!
July was another great month for the blog. Less unique visitors when compared to June, but more total views. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t ecstatic about the traffic. As with last month I credit this entirely to chance, but I’m glad people are reading the things that I’ve written.
I’ve also been enjoying the greater amount of discussion taking place in the comments sections on my posts. More of what I’ve been writing has invited a response from readers which has led to the comments sections on some of my articles being three times longer than the posts themselves. It’s a really nice feeling to be able to take the discussion further in the comments instead of things being entirely one sided with me being the only one who is sharing their opinion.
As far as August goes I don’t have any plans for content, but I do have some things in flight. Hopefully those will be published in the coming weeks.
July was a month where I finally wrapped up a number of titles I’d been playing and also finished a few new titles I started. Here’s the cliff’s notes for the whole of my month.
Animal Crossing New Horizons
After months of playing New Horizons I finally had my interest taper off. When Mir and I were both playing it at the same time I was having a lot more fun, but she dropped out of playing in June. I continued to play for a few more weeks to finish paying off my house, ensure I was still earning an S rank for my interior decorating, and to plant enough flowers to cause the game to run below 30 fps while passing through certain districts of our island.
I wrote a review to bookend my time with New Horizons which was published last week. Overall I think the game offers largely the same experience as all past entries in the franchise. The biggest changes are the inclusion of systems that are designed to tug at you psychologically so that you feel compelled to continue playing out of obligation or a misplaced sense of accomplishment. It’s fine if you enjoy that sort of thing, but I found it dragged my experience down much like it does in other games.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider
I would have been a lot happier with Shadow if it had went all in on the tomb raiding. Owning the definitive edition of the game meant I was able to play the seven tombs in the base game and the seven additional tombs. They’re all quite fun and if the whole game had been based around that kind of exploration and puzzle solving I’d have enjoyed it a lot more.
Unfortunately, Shadow is filled to the brim with the same sorts of unimaginative dribble that is present in every big budget game. The combat has both sneaky and loud elements which are equally viable and shallow, the map is littered with a ton of crap to justify the open world design, and worst of all there is a skill tree that exists out of obligation. It’s design choices like this that makes a lot of big budget titles feel like they’ve been churned out of a factory.
That’s all without mentioning the story being utter nonsense. Shadow, much like the first game in the reboot trilogy, features a story that is completely disconnected from what the player is doing. I could really tell Lara was remorseful for stealing a cursed ancient dagger by the way she spent the next twenty hours continuing to steal everything that wasn’t nailed down. It’s a bit hard to take any of the story seriously when the central conflict is at odds with the gameplay.
Tombs good. Everything else is middling, or downright poorly executed.
Also, I wrote a post about how I liked the way the difficulty was implemented if you haven’t checked that out already.
Neat concept, focused, worth a looksie.
The Pedestrian is a puzzle platforming game, more leaning toward the puzzle side of things. The main gimmick is that you play one of those washroom sign people and all of the levels are made out of street signs. You have to reorient the signs in order to get through each level, which leads to some genuinely interesting puzzles. It’s only about two to three hours in length, so the full price might be a bit steep for some folks. Still think it is worth checking out as it’s a pleasant experience.
I regret not getting to Disco Elysium earlier. This is a game I had my eyes on back when it was still going by its old name of No Truce with the Furies, but I only now got around to playing it. You’d think someone who prides themselves on playing the very best of what indie gaming has to offer would have played the most critically acclaimed indie of 2019. Well I have now. And I think it’s really good.
I’ve got a written piece in flight already, so I’ll keep it brief on this one: I hate reading. This game is almost nothing but reading and it’s great. Take that for the incredibly high praise that it is meant to be.
Stay tuned to the blog for an article on my extended thoughts.
What’s this? Another indie card game primarily centered around deck building and resource management? Wooooooooooow I’m sooooooo surprised you enjoy it! Yeah yeah…
Monster Train is something I didn’t know about until it released on Steam and is quite possibly the only game recommendation Steam’s algorithm has given me that was actually good.
As previously stated, Monster Train is a deck building game (not unlike another game I’ve written about before), but it has a few of its own unique twists to create a wholly enjoyable experience. Instead of building a deck around defending and attacking with a single hero you’re deploying monsters on a three floored train trying to defend a pyre from taking damage. In this way the game plays similar to tower defence titles. This twist adds a surprising amount of depth to a familiar idea and I’ve been having a lot of fun with it.
As with Disco Elysium, stay tuned for a potential future article on Monster Train. I haven’t started anything yet, but I want to write something about it.
With the launch of the free-to-play version of Fantasy Strike and two new characters there has been a bit of an upsurge within the Fantasy Strike community. I’m so glad people are finally giving one of my favourite games from recent memory a shot now that there is no barrier to entry. What’s even better is that for the first time in ever I’ve been able to consistently find ranked matches. With the new surge of players I was able to get back into diamond in under two days following the rank reset. That. Is. Insane.
I hope the game finally gets to enjoy the success it deserves. If you’re at all interested in fighting games and like the idea of playing one that has a very low barrier to entry now is a great time to give it a shot.
I’ve been doing more art lately in my continuous quest to improve as well as because people apparently like watching me draw stuff on Twitch. As someone who enjoys drawing I never would have imagined that people actually like watching others draw. Outside of tutorials on specific techniques I’ve never really enjoyed watching others draw. Still nice to have some company while I doodle on Fridays.
I’m presently struggling with defining my style. I know I have a bit of a style already, but I feel like the swap over to the new art program (Krita) made some of it disappear. I need to think on how exactly I want things to look and continue practicing until I can deliver a result I’m fully satisfied with. I know I get praise from a handful of folks who really enjoy how goofy my art is, but I still think I have a lot of area to improve.
The one opportunity a month I give myself to shout-out the work of others that I enjoyed. Here are another five posts* that I’ve read over the past month that I think are worth a look. I hope you enjoy them as well.
Neppy | Nep’s Gaming Paradise – 5 bad Steam designs and how to fix them
Pix | Shoot the Rookie – Dear Atlus…Please Make a Persona Fitness Game!
Ian | Adventure Rules – Doing Difficulty Right – How the Hard Mode of Bug Fables Encourages You to Push Yourself
The Jenkins Comic | The Jenkins – Lie Detector
*I realize one of the shout-outs is a 4 part series and another is a comic, but this is my article so I make the rules!
Also want to give a big shout-out to Kim and Pete of Later Levels and Solarayo (aka Genni, aka Ellen) of Ace Asunder for organizing the Great Blog Crawl of 2020. Additional shout-outs for Quietshisto of RNG and DeiSophia of Virtual Visions for their support of the final event with the former supply video tutorials on how to craft cocktails, and the latter providing a multitude of prizes. The event was very fun and the whole thing was a huge undertaking. I look forward to next year’s.
Alrighty. That’s where I’ll call it for now. Thank you again for reading my monthly rambling post. I hope that the posts I create in the coming weeks will also be to your liking. Until then: stay safe and happy reading.