I realize I’m a bit late on posting this one, but it is time once again for a month in review.
As we head into the tail end of the year I’ve been thinking about my year end content. I’m not exactly sure how I disperse it because I feel like having it all poured into January might be a bit too boring from a reading perspective. Though I say that, but my “top 5” and “bottom 5” posts are always some of my most viewed content every year so I’m probably overthinking it.
Anyway, video games.
Best performer: Is There Value in a Game You Can’t Win?
The blog wasn’t able to keep the upward trend on views going for a third month, but November still came through with relatively high traffic (second best month overall). The biggest surprise for me was my article on the value of a game that can’t be won doing so well. I really enjoyed writing it and that almost invariably means that it will do fairly poorly because what I enjoy so rarely lines up with what other people seem to be interested in reading.
As for what’s coming up, obviously I must partake in the annual cataloging of the best and worst games I’ve played in 2020. As per normal, posts on that topic will not emerge until either the very end of December or the first week of January. I tend to play things right up until the end of the year, so I have to wait until the calendar rolls over. Also, after a brief conversation with Quietschisto I now have a firm line of thinking for my bottom five games, so be excited for that.
After getting burned out on Hades from earning all the achievements I took a few weeks off, but then slipped back into playing it for the back-half of November. I still feel as strongly about it as I did before: Hades is an outstanding game. I’ve mentioned it a few times on the Frosty Canucks, but I’m fairly certain Hades will end up being my game of the year. Though at this juncture I’m fairly certain that will surprise exactly no one.
I spent quite a bit of my continued playtime raising the heat levels while digging more into meta-gaming. I think I have a fairly good understanding of which boons work well together and how to get the most mileage out of the weapons I enjoy using the most. However, I still feel as though there is a bunch of depth and combos I’ve left unexplored. I’m fairly tapped out now after over a hundred hours, but at least I know there will be more to dig into if I decide to return to Hades in the future.
Lucifer Within Us
As a bit of a running theme for November, I spent quite a bit of time playing games that I wrote about in conjunction with my indie variety hour series. Lucifer Within Us was one such game.
Going into Lucifer Within Us I knew it was short. That was a fairly consistent complaint across all of the Steam reviews. However, I didn’t realize how short it was. The demo I played earlier this year was one of three investigations from the full game. Yeaaaaaaah.
Having said that, I will take a short, impactful experience over a long boring one. Lucifer Within Us doesn’t manage to take its gameplay elements as far as I’d have liked in the three hour runtime, but it does an alright job of drawing the player in to its central premise. As a bit of a spoiler, the story is written such that it feels like it starts picking up momentum just as the game ends, which will inevitably and rightfully leave a bad taste in a lot of player’s mouths. Still, if you’re looking for a detective game, what’s on offer is okay albeit short lived.
Raji: An Ancient Epic
Raji was the second game I played in the vein of following up on games I’d previously written about. Similar to Lucifer Within Us it was alright, but it didn’t blow my mind.
Raji was fairly inline with what I expected based on the demo. The combat and visuals were flashy and satisfying even if there wasn’t a whole lot of depth to the combat or platforming. My favourite aspect of the game was the recounting of various Hindu myths, though I almost wish that had been what the game was actually about as those seemed more interesting than the story that was presented.
Similar to Lucifer Within Us, Raji ends on a moment that feels as though it should transition into something more instead of rolling credits. After beating the big bad, he escapes and instead of giving chase to finish the job the credits roll. Though, unlike Lucifer Within Us, Raji’s story feels satisfactorily concluded as you do manage to accomplish the goal you originally set out to complete.
Maize & Paradigm
Bundling these two together because I already wrote extensively about both as well as the associated game-swap that prompted me to play them. Go read the post here if you want more details as I don’t have anything new to say.
The final game this month was yet another follow-up on a demo. Unlike the previously mentioned games, Fae Tactics is the only one I didn’t finish.
Things were fairly smooth sailing for the first few hours of Fae Tactics, but that quickly went off the rails. The further into the game I got the more and more random things became. Your party and the enemies start unlocking abilities that trigger a percentage of the time on top of everyone having an evasion chance. This results in combat where you can’t reliably predict the outcome of anything which makes any kind of tactical planning excruciatingly difficult. Fundamentally, I was taking an action with a single character and then adjusting everything else I did based on whatever result happened.
The game also heavily favours turtling, which I find very boring. Games where you’re playing on defence can be fun, but winning by way of huddling in a corner and killing everything that gets too close isn’t my idea of a great time.
The straw that finally broke the camels back was when I encountered a boss who one shot every member of my party except the tank character (he died in two hits instead). I tried the fight nine different times running a different combination of characters and spells each time, but still couldn’t put a dent in him before he wiped my party. It was at this point that I decided I’d had enough and uninstalled the game.
And if grinding was the solution to beating him then the game deserves to be drop kicked into the Sparta Spike pit along with every other terrible game where grinding is the solution.
Here’s this months collection of monsters. I looked at some of my art from earlier in the year and am only now realizing how much better it looks. I think I might do a post reflecting on and examining my art. That seems like something interesting, plus it’d give me time to reflect on and identify what is and isn’t working so I can continue to improve.
Oh, I also signed up for Instagram and am presently using that as a place to post art I’m doing. If you just want to follow my art related content that might be an easy way to do so. I don’t know what social media everyone uses, but I hope this is more convenient for some folks out there.
five six posts from around the community written in November that I think you should read.
Ian Shepard | Adventure Rules – The Slaying Game: Which Slay the Spire Hero is your Ultimate Match?
I’ve been reading a lot of Ian’s stuff lately by virtue of Jett and I convincing him to play Slay the Spire. This post was born out of Ian’s adventures through the spire and is one of the funniest things I’ve read all year.
AK | Everything is Bad for You – Copyright Law Needs to be Reformed (ft. Liru)
AK, similar to Ian, has had a great month for content over on his site. If you put a gun to my head and asked me to choose my favourite article though it’d be the discourse he put out once again lambasting US copyright law for being terrible. What’s I found most interesting is how in other countries the same stringent attitude toward copyright isn’t upheld in the way it is here in North America.
Also, shout-outs to AK for introducing me to Steely Dan which has dominated my music feed for the entirety of November.
Kim | Later Levels – General Horse: why the long face?
Kim wrote about her time playing General Horse. It’s one of the most offensively stupid games I’ve ever watched anyone play on Twitch, but it had numerous laugh out loud hilarious moments. And Kim surmised that in a year like 2020 sometimes having a game you can laugh at is incredibly valuable.
Gaming Omnivore | Gaming Omnivore – 10 Favourite Games of the Generation
With the generation coming to a close, Omni wrote up a list of his favourite games of the generation. Unsurprisingly the list has a ton of crowd pleasers on it, but it also does a great job of capturing the generation in a single snap-shot.
McKenna | McKenna Talks About Games – Majora’s Mask Dungeon Ranking
McKenna has continued her long running series of Zelda dungeon rankings by tackling Majora’s Mask. I recently played through Majora’s Mask for the first time and found myself nodding in agreement to a lot of the points she made about each of the game’s dungeons. I’m looking forward to her thoughts on Wind Waker’s dungeons which might actually arrive before this post goes live.
Athena | AmbiGaming Corner – So Obsessed: The Line Between “Fan” and “Fixated”
Bonus post: Athena’s excellent article. It is a must read that tackles the differences between those who are and aren’t obsessed and how, as a society, we’ve devalued the meaning of that word by way of overusing it. I promise reading this article will make you five percent smarter.
That’s a wrap. As always, thank you again for reading my stuff. Stay safe out there.