Month in Review – October

I never know how to start this post.

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Unsurprisingly October was my slowest month thus far in the year. I say that because I took a week off from writing, so a not insignificant portion of October had to be carried without new content. Luckily some of the posts that tend to drive consistent traffic continued to do so and my Alatreon Guide has proven a useful addition as it also brought in some traffic. Despite the lower view count, I’m glad I took the brief break as my everything needed it. Constantly forcing yourself to be creative is rather suffocating, so a break to recharge a little was a nice change of pace.

I have a few ideas for posts going into November, but I’m not entirely sure if they’ll actually materialize. There’s also another post in the works from Jason, but I don’t exactly know when that’ll come out as that’s reliant on his schedule. Here’s hoping I can write some quality content over the next few weeks.

Video Games

The Riftbreaker

I didn’t actually realize it until I started writing, but I played a LOT throughout October. Part of that came from renewing my Gamepass subscription, so I took advantage of that to play a bunch of smaller indie games. While I don’t have much to say about most of them, I do have a lot to say about The Riftbreaker.

The Riftbreaker is a title I actually covered back on one of my indie variety hour preview posts last year. It was the longest demos I played, yet I was so engrossed by the experience that the almost two hours flew by. If that isn’t a grade A demo I don’t know what is.

The full release of Riftbreaker was similarly enjoyable. I’d loosely describe it as a logistics game. The core loop involves collecting resources which you then use to build up your defenses and expand your resource collection so you can increase the efficiency of your base and the power of your defenses. It’s very much a game that taps into the fun of exponential growth over time. As a result, it’s very easy to lose several consecutive hours as you work toward completing player driven objectives that seamlessly feed into one another.

It won’t be for everyone, but I found The Riftbreaker to be relatively compelling across the twenty odd hours campaign so if it seems like your sort of thing it’s probably worth checking out. That’s doubly true if you’re presently subscribed to Gamepass.

Guilty Gear Strive

As I’ve mentioned on the podcast I’m still playing Strive quite regularly. I’ve gotten myself up to the ninth floor (of eleven) and have enjoyed seeing my steady improvement over several weeks. What I find most interesting is that I actually see greater improvements if I play less because my brain has time to internalize whatever I’m learning instead of getting overloaded with too much information.

The biggest improvement made over October was using May’s 6K more often. I hadn’t been using this move at all because it doesn’t naturally combo into anything May does without using meter. This made it feel like a gimmick move that didn’t really have a defined purpose, but I later learned that I was very wrong in that assessment.

For starters, 6K is an overhead meaning it can be used for high/low mixups against your opponent. This means that it is particularly useful as a combo starter when you do have meter as you can get a lot of mileage out of a roman cancelling 6K into a proper follow-up combo.

Additionally, the properties of 6K mean that May is airborne for the majority of the attack’s duration. A lot of people try to throw on wake-up because a mistimed okizeme attack will lose to a throw. Thanks to 6K being throw immune I don’t actually have to worry about if I’m slightly off in my timing as it will always beat out a throw. I should clean up my oki timing, but for now this works as a strong stop-gap to fill a hole in my offense until I can reliably hit the proper meaty timing on May’s c.S and 214P.

It should go without saying, but I really enjoy Guilty Gear Strive. As we draw closer to the end of the year I’m thinking that it will likely make my short list of the best games I’ve played in 2021.

Back 4 Blood

Now time for something a bit less favourable.

A friend (Charlie, I think I’ve mentioned him before) asked if I wanted to play Back 4 Blood noting it was on Gamepass. This was the catalyst for my current subscription and after a couple of play sessions with the game, we both concluded it was kind of mediocre.

For those not aware, Back 4 Blood is a four player co-op shooter and is a spiritual successor to Left 4 Dead. Generally I think the shooting is satisfying, but the levels themselves feature a lot of similar objectives and locations which makes the game feel very homogenous and repetitive. I strongly dislike the progression system, which exists solely to artificially elongate the time that players spend with the game. This resulted in a game that I couldn’t be bothered to play through the entirety of.

I also really didn’t care for how often the game threw special units at the player. Normally these units are reserved for adding tension or otherwise forcing players to adapt their strategy. In Back 4 Blood specials are so omnipresent that they feel like standard enemies, which removes their ability to do either of the things they’re designed for. If you always have to deal with specialized enemy types then all of your strategies will be targeted at removing them and they won’t make situations more tense by suddenly appearing.

I’m glad I played this one with Gamepass because I’d have been a little miffed if I blew almost a hundred Canadian on it.

Pokémon Unite

It probably won’t come as a surprise given my most recent article, but I also spent some time playing Pokémon Unite in October. Generally speaking I don’t know where I fall on the game. I like that it exists as a gateway game for MOBAs, but also found some aspects of its design frustrating. I suppose it’s better for it to exist as an approachable game than it is for that space to continue to be devoid of anything.

I also want to throw out that I didn’t have a completely one sided terrible time with Unite. I think my favourite character to play as was Slowbro, but that was a double edged sword. Slowbro has some fantastic option for hard lockdown, but you can’t really do any damage on your own so you’re very reliant on your team. Still, it was highly entertaining to grab someone from the enemy team and watch my teammates delete whoever I caught. I do wish there was an easier in-game way to coordinate that kind of thing so I could tell someone to stick with me the entire game while I feed them kills.

If you’ve always been too intimidated to play a MOBA or otherwise really like Pokémon then checking out Unite might be worth your time. Note that the pay to win stuff has been removed from the game so you’re no longer able to buy power, but the alternative free system for acquiring said power is still just as grindy as when a paid alternative existed.

Art

It was October so of course we had to do a spoopy version of my avatar for Twitter. This year I decided to turn her into a vampire. Generally I think it came out quite well.

I’ve also begun working on Quietschisto’s annual company Christmas card commission. Things have been slow going on that front as the request for this year’s theme is a little…creatively limiting. A nativity scene was a the chosen theme and you just know if I do anything too goofy that someone is going to get pissy since devout Christians are more easily tilted than people who can’t tech throws in fighting games. As such I’m relying quite heavily on Quietschisto for what I should and shouldn’t do, but that also means that I had to restart my rough draft before I finished it. Here’s hoping we figure out what’s good and I deliver the goods on time.

Also, Quietschisto if/when you read this – I mean no offense. If we weren’t friends though I’d want to slap you with a fish.

Community

As always, here are five posts from around the community that I think are neat that you should check out.

Ian Shepard | Adventure Rules – Ikenfell May Be the Best RPG I’ve Played This Year

Meghan | Meghan Plays Games – A Decade of Dark Souls

AK | Everything is bad for you – A review of Yakuza 0

WCRobinson | WCRobinson – Film in 500: No Time to Die Review

Jon Spencer | Jon Spencer Reviews – Found in Translation – A Discussion on Accessibility in Media


That’s it for October. See you at the tail end of November.

14 thoughts on “Month in Review – October

  1. Thanks for the mention! Much appreciated. I’m happy I finally got around to playing Yakuza 0 after all these years of thinking I should.

    Barely ever played any Guilty Gear, but I’m sort of familiar with the series just for its character designs, which I really like. I also recently learned that I-No is supposed to have been largely based on singer/musician/composer/etc. Shiina Ringo, who I’m a big fan of. I’m the sort of person who would probably try to learn how to play I-No for just that reason if I got into the game, but I don’t know how she measures up of course.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re quite welcome.

      I’m glad you finally got around to finish Yakuza 0 and enjoyed it. I take it you’re going to slowly work your way through the whole franchise now that you’ve started?

      The aesthetic of GG is a big part of what drew me into it in the first place. I’m glad that Strive lowered the bar just enough to make entry into it a lot easier than other games in the franchise. Rollback netcode also helps.

      Generally speaking I-No is on the more complex side of things, but I don’t think that’d stop anyone from learning her if they really wanted to. The biggest difference for her compared to other characters is that her running dash puts her in the air, which changes up how you have to think about your approaches. She also doesn’t do a whole lot of damage off smaller combos, so learning when and where to dash and jump cancel is more important with her than it is with someone like May. You’ll also be referred to as a Booba main, but I doubt that would come across as an insult. Most booba mains embrace the title as a badge of honour lol

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It seems like a long one, but maybe I will start slowly playing through it. I do have Kiwami already, currently up to the third chapter only though. This series certainly likes its twists, though that’s to be expected in any organized crimes stories like these.

        If I ever pick up GG, I might just go for I-No then, even if she takes a little more work to learn. And I wouldn’t take offense at being called a booba main, no. The title makes sense at least!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. That it does. It’ll certainly be a crazy long undertaking. It’ll certainly be interesting to see how your opinion evolves over time much like it has been with Atelier, but don’t feel obligated to play through them all. I’m pretty sure the Atelier games change more release to release than the Yakuza games do, so playing them all consecutively might be exhausting.

          Strive is a great place to start and you could always add me on Steam so we could organize some sets if you picked it up.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. If Back 4 Blood hadn’t been on game pass, I definitely wouldn’t have ended up playing it post-launch. But… Since it was, I’m glad it’s there and it has been a bit of casual fun with friends which was great after bouncing off New World so dang quickly.

    After getting through the campaign on normal difficulty not sure I’ll ever touch it again. It doesn’t seem to possess the same ability to drive a desire to play through on harder difficulties like other games in this genre — including the L4D games before it — unfortunately.

    Ah well. Yay Gamepass!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That seems to be the general consensus from a lot of folks. I know why I don’t like it very much, but most of my complaints could be categorized as, “Vermintide did this thing better”. Between the somewhat middling reception for B4B and the much maligned launch of Evolve back in 2015 it seems Turtle Rock can’t catch a friggin’ break.

      Yes indeed. Almost feel like there is a post there: Gamepass is the best deal in gaming. Or something like that.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t think the “creative limitation” comes from the topic and being careful about devout Christians. I mean, with cat Jesus we’re basically blasphemers anyway 🙂
    The limiting factor this year is probably that I had a pretty clear idea of how I wanted the card to look. In the previous years, I just told you a rough concept and let you come up with something. This year, you even got a sketch from me, basically telling you what to do.
    One day, we’ll have you slap me with a fish on a card!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I mean…yeah, but I didn’t want to out and out say it like that.

      Still though there have been some benefits to you having a more strict vision of what you want done. Means I just need to sit and make the thing instead of thinking too hard about it. All I really ended up doing was thinking about how best to fill the available space so that the design hooks together properly instead of being a complete visual mess.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hey thanks so much for the mention, always appreciate it!! Sad to hear you didn’t have a great time with Back 4 Blood, my friends and I were excited for it a while ago but never got around to it and I feel I haven’t heard as much buzz around it as I would’ve thought…

    Liked by 1 person

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