With August coming to a close we’ve got another month in review. With things opening up I hope everyone reading is still finding themselves safe. It seems that not a day goes by without some terrible news being published. Despite that I hope you’re all doing well.
-Best performer: A Rant About Fall Guys’ Technical Short-Comings
My blog is three years old. It’s been a long journey and if I’m perfectly honest I hadn’t thought this far ahead when I started. Writing for another publication for almost a year between years one and two kind of stunted my blog’s growth, but it made me a hell of a lot better at writing, so it was a worthy trade. Over the past year I’ve seen a huge amount of growth, however, which I’m fairly pleased with.
Some of you may have already noticed, but I did a slight upgrade as part of the three year anniversary. Given that I’ve been doing this for three years, I figured it was high time I actually pay for a WordPress plan, so welcome to Frostilyte.ca – now with no ads. I hope that improves the viewing experience throughout my blog for those of you who don’t use ad-block.
And a big thank you to everyone who has ever read or commented on one of my posts, got into a debate with me in the comments, or who helped me improve my writing. I wouldn’t have gotten to where I am today without all of you. Even the smallest bit of support means a lot.
I’d also like to offer a special thanks to the discord server of degenerates that have been reading my stuff since day one. Mads, Thomas, Keith, Niko, Nick, Charlie, and Vitz: you are all great. You’ve been there since day one. You were reading my posts back when they weren’t worth reading. You’ve offered subtle encouragement over the past three years in your own ways. It hasn’t gone unnoticed. Not everyone is so lucky to find friends that are as supportive as you all have been to me. You guys are the best. Thank you.
I wrote a post about my recent addiction to Monster Train and that will continue with a free expansion set to launch in September. It promises to expand the current number of champions from five to ten while introducing a slew of new advanced mechanics much in the same way that board game expansions add complexity and variety. I expect I’ll continue to have a lot of fun here mixing and matching new cards to find new overpowered combos.
I also played Outer Wilds and wrote a post about it. I didn’t have a lot of interest in playing the game, but I’m glad Miranda pushed me into it. Outer Wilds is definitely one to look into if you like the idea of gameplay being almost exclusively driven by your desire to explore. While the rumor log was one of my favourite mechanics, I think that the twenty two minute repeating cycle helps to add urgency to each outing which keeps things from becoming stale, even into the late game.
Outer Wilds and Monster Train have made my short list for the best games I’ve played in 2020, so take that as a recommendation for both.
I picked up Ape Out on sale and really enjoyed it. The game is only about two hours long, but that is the perfect length for it. It’s kind of like a stealth game, but you’re playing as a four hundred pound gorilla and you only need to be stealthy because bullets hurt.
The main gimmick of the game is that it plays a jazz soundtrack that adds to the percussion layer of the background music as you scramble through the level killing people. The music really helps to give Ape Out an extra punch, but it’s doesn’t have long legs. Ape Out lasts exactly as long as it needs to with optional high score chasing for those who want more of it.
A Hat in Time
In August I replayed A Hat in Time for a third time – this time with the final DLC. I had a lot of fun. I grew up playing platformers in the mid-nineties, so A Hat in Time is to my nostalgia what Shovel Knight is to people who are a decade my senior. It exhibits all of the aspects and charm I remember from those old games while deliberately updating what didn’t work to modernize the 3D platformer.
The Nyakuza Metro was the new content featured in the final DLC and is quite possibly my favourite level. It’s densely packed and full of neat visuals with a ton of platforming. The motif of having a cat themed metro station was also something I enjoyed. Not for any particular reason beyond cats. I am a simple man: I see cats and I am pleased.
I was going to write about Necrobarista, but couldn’t bring myself to. I really didn’t enjoy it. The game is fine, but it feels simultaneously too long and too short. I know that’s a contradiction so let me explain. In the middle of the game you’re introduced to three different characters all of whom never get any additional screen time. It feels like more was planned for them, but it never actually manifests.
On the flip-side, the whole first half of the game’s story could be chopped out. A lot of time is spent mulling over details and tangents that don’t amount to anything. This makes Necrobarista frustratingly slow to get into and the payoff at the end doesn’t make the fluff worth it.
I will admit that the visual presentation of Necrobarista is quite nice. Every scene makes use of a dynamic camera to frame characters helping to sell the emotion better. Other visual novels could learn from Necrobarista in that regard, as the visuals were far more interesting compared to looking at two still images fading in and out of the background.
You knew it was coming.
I really don’t like the pop culture sensation of 2020. On top of the astonishingly large pile of technical problems, I generally don’t find Fall Guys very fun. It gets tiring seeing the same handful of twenty games over and over. I think for this kind of game to work there needed to be a lot more variety so that players don’t get sick of seeing the same games repeatedly.
A big part of the problems stems from each round having different game pools. Because more than half the players are eliminated after the first two rounds you’re going to see the games used in the round one and two pool a lot more than you are the games from later pools. This leads to an absolutely insane amount of repetition on games that, frankly, lack the kind of depth to be enjoyable when played so many times.
After an hour of playtime you’ll have seen everything Fall Guys has to offer. The only thing to keep you going from then on is a loot treadmill that slowly doles out rewards. My brain, unfortunately, doesn’t seem to respond to this kind of manipulation so I was bored to tears while playing. If you can get a group of friends or family together Fall Guys is alright, but there are far better games you could be playing cooperatively or competitive that deserve your attention more.
In Other Waters
So you know how I said the biggest compliment I could give Disco Elysium was that I enjoyed it despite it being a massive amount of reading? In Other Waters needed to hit a similar stride. It didn’t.
I think the biggest indictment of In Other Waters as interactive fiction is that I could get virtually the same experience from reading a book. And not a choose your own adventure style book. There is so much reading here with almost nothing to support it. You spend a bunch of time exploring, but your paths are limited and predetermined which makes it feel as though you’re heading in a straight line for your destination along a guided tour rather than actually forging your way through the unknown on a journey of discovery.
Here’s five more posts from throughout the community that are worth giving a look from the past month. I had a hard time choosing this month. More so than the last few months. Good effort everyone.
Kim | Later Levels – Frosti-writes: honesty in your posts
Quietshisto | RNG – Video Games don’t make me love my wife enough
Meghan | Meghan Plays Games – On writing: Why Should I Care About My Video Game Wife? (a response)
AK | Everything is bad for you – Do your protagonists or leads have to be relateable?
Athena | Ambigaming – The Interesting Case of Fable, or Proto-Skyrim
Okay. That’ll be it for me. I have at least one post planned so far for September relating to that weekend where I helped out with AnimEVO. Until the next post: thank you for reading.