Month in Review – March

Lord almighty above.

Okay so you know how last month I said that March was supposed to be the light at the end of the tunnel? That was a fucking lie. I can’t get into full details for potential legal reasons, but my old team found a somewhat legitimate excuse to block me from leaving. Now, I am still officially listed as being a resource on my new team, but they had to loan me out to the old team for the full duration of March. That’s not uncommon, but usually it doesn’t happen for the length I was on loan. What’s worse is my old team thought they were going to continue to have access to me for the next several months, and I wasn’t about that life.

At the time of writing my new manager is in a slap fight with my old team. It’s looking like the new team is going to cut off my old team’s access to me almost full stop after April. I won’t keep my fingers crossed because of what happened in March, but here’s hoping I can finally escape this shitheap. The gaps caused by all the attrition is really starting to show, and I want no part in the inevitable collapse as the captain-less ship continues to sink into the abyss.

On a more positive note, I’ll be moving at some point in the near future. My SO’s brother is moving out, which means after something like 7 years of dating we can live together. Mir’s pretty happy about it, though I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about it. We already spend the weekends together, but I’m so used to living on my own that I expect it’ll feel a bit weird. At least, at first it will.

I’m also a little worried about how Chives will respond to meeting Mir’s cat Mea. Mea is something like 100 years old, but still likes to pick fights. Chives is 2 (probably), and still actively picks fights with me. I’m pretty sure if Mea tries to start anything, Chives will completely fuck her shit up. So…uh…there is some logistical stuff to work out.

Between the news of the incoming move and job related shenanigans, I didn’t get much writing done in March. I mean…I got some work done, but nothing was published. That’s a bit of an important distinction. I’ve finished editing one smaller post, and am just about ready to pass my Dark Souls retrospective off to my editor friend. Hopefully that’ll mean there is some content in April. Writing when you feel like you’re stuck in a rut is pretty difficult, doubly so when every attempt that you’ve made to break out of said rut hasn’t panned out. Here’s hoping things start to pick up in April. That or I get hit by a bus.

My time spent gaming last month was just as much of a shithead conga line as work was. That’s not to say I wasn’t playing games in my free time. Quite the opposite. I bought another month of Xbox Gamepass, but I only played most titles for an hour before binning them. I suppose that’s actually a good thing. If a game doesn’t immediately grab you then there isn’t any reason to continue investing time in it right? I just don’t tend to view games as such disposable products, so dropping things I wasn’t immediately engaged by was a little weird.

One of the games I didn’t end up dropping was Tunic. I’m very hot and cold on it. On one hand, I think Tunic is yet another unremarkable indie Zelda clone. Games like this are a dime a dozen, and your enjoyment will usually stem from how much you enjoy the Zelda formula. On the other hand, Tunic is one of the most fiendishly difficult puzzle games I’ve played with some obscure Fez level shit. That does come with a caveat though: in Tunic you can actually work out the majority of the puzzles with the in-game resources, whereas Fez’s puzzles frequently dipped into complete bullshit territory.

Though, the question I keep getting asked is if Tunic is any good. Honestly, that really depends on what you like. If you’re okay going through a pretty unremarkable game that is intensely punishing for a couple hours before you “unlock” the “real” game then you’ll probably find something to like. I certainly did, otherwise I wouldn’t have bothered finishing the title. However, if you’re not able to interpret any of the clues provided for the puzzles then you’re probably in for a rough time. It’s certainly an interesting title once you get into the weeds with it.

One title I found a lot less interesting was Unpacking. I wanted to give it a look on the basis of it having a wordless story. While I did indeed find that, and enjoyed it, I also found some of the most anxiety inducing gameplay I’ve ever put myself through. Fighting Manus, Father of the Abyss in Dark Souls? Easy. Alatreon in Monster Hunter: World? No problem. Unpacking several boxes of someone’s shit? Please end me. I don’t know why I found the gameplay so stressful, but every time I started a new level my stomach would turn at the thought of all the things I had to put away. I even feel that way thinking back on it as I’m writing. While I’m sure the majority of people will find Unpacking relaxing, if you, like myself, find large volumes of mundane tasks stressful then I’d recommend staying away from this one.

After Tunic and Unpacking, I decided to pick up Infernax. Similar to Tunic, on one hand I enjoyed the game enough to finish it, but I also kind of hate it. It’s a deliberately old school platformer with some light RPG elements. It’s trying to be a modern interpretation of one of the old NES Castlevania games, but I’m not versed enough in that era of gaming to tell you which. Still, there is a simple charm to the whole experience, and it makes a few changes to clean up the gameplay for a modern audience.

The thing that rubbed me the wrong way with the title was how quests were handled. You have a hidden morality score based on your actions, which determines what quests are available to you. Because of this, I kept running into roadblocks where I was decidedly under-equipped for the next section of Infernax. You also get completely locked out of optional dungeons unless you do full binary good or evil choices, which makes the morality system feel just as shit as those found in early 2010 games. This obviously wasn’t enough of a turn off to keep me from playing Infernax, but it left a really bad taste in my mouth when I finished it.

Finally, I played Lumines. It’s Tetris and Dance Dance Revolution put together. You have to match 4 of the same coloured blocks in a square pattern, and then they’re cleared by a bar that travels across the screen to the beat of the music. It’s a simple premise, incredibly engaging, and is the most fun game I played on Gamepass. Without a hint of irony, this is a game of the year contender for me because of how fun it is to play. If that sounds like your sort of thing, go play Lumines. It’s fun. Very fun.

Oh, also Guilty Gear Strive.

Unlike the past few months, I actually did an art in March. I redrew Fufo (the avatar lady). I think she turned out quite well. I’d been trying to think of how to draw her hair a little differently so that she’d be easier to draw without doing a mirror flip when I want to draw her from the other side, but I think I ended up creating a design where most people wouldn’t be able to tell anyway. Regardless, I’m pleased with the result.

Finally, it wouldn’t be a monthly wrap up without a couple community shout-outs. Here are five posts from the past month written by fellow bloggers that you should read if you haven’t already.

drmabian | Abstracting Games – Toxic Help

Meghan | Meghan Plays Games – Level Design 101: The Art of Trolling in Elden Ring

Cary | Virtual Bastion – I Play Video Games Wrong

Krikket | Nerd Girl Thoughts – Nothing is For Everyone, But Everything is For Someone

AK | Everything is bad for you – Talking shop #2: Two types of success in online writing

It was genuinely hard to choose this month. I read a lot of great articles in March.

As always, thanks for reading and I’ll catch you next time.

6 thoughts on “Month in Review – March

  1. I liked Unpacking, but it did start to get a little overwhelming towards the end. It felt like times I say I’m gonna do something like…I dunno, cleaning out the garage, but lose interest after an hour or so when the task begins to feel endless.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah it do be like that. Though I always get an endorphin hit after finishing some house work, while in Unpacking I just…didn’t. Probably because it feels good to clean up your actual house, whereas in Unpacking you’re just playing a video game.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sorry to hear about the ongoing work troubles. I hope you can finally get out of that situation soon. And congratulations/good luck on the big life change!

    Thanks as well for the link. There were a few reasons I quit trying to write professionally years ago, and at least one or two of them are in there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. Things will certainly be interesting the next little bit. Hopefully in a good way.

      And you’re quite welcome. It’s always interesting to read your talking shop posts. Your experience with having done some professional writing gives you a perspective that most of bloggers (at least the ones I follow) tend to lack. That’s not a bad thing, but it does mean that decisions you’ve made about style, or how you cover subjects have a bit more thought about them whereas most of what I cover here is simply “this is what I felt like writing last week.”

      I dunno. I just think it’s neat. XD

      Liked by 1 person

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