Recently completed Sakuna of Rice and Ruin. Very surprised by this game. It's a perfect example of what I would call a "hidden gem".
I basically picked up this game completely blindly. Didn't know anything about it beforehand, only randomly saw a single trailer and then stumbled over a physical version on Amazon. That was enough for me to think to myself "This actually looks kind of interesting, so why not give it a try". Definitely don't regret this decision, it very quickly turned out to be a really fun game.
Sakuna is a game with a farming component and a combat/exploration component. I assume you can compare it to games like Rune Factory, but I've never played one, so I could be wrong. In any case, where most games in this genre allow you to plant and farm many different things, this one is focussed entirely on rice. While this might sound boring at first, it's actually not, because the rice farming in this game goes really in-depth. It basically simulates an entire year's cycle of rice farming in all its details. Not gonna lie, I barely knew anything about rice farming before playing this game, so I can safely say it taught me quite a bit. There's so many things to do and so many little details that can influence your harvest that there's always something to do and that it never gets boring, and the longer you play the game, the more you understand and the better and better your harvest becomes. It's really satisfying to finally get a good harvest after one or two rather bad ones.
What I really love most about the rice farming is how it holds the entire game together, though. It not only ties into the story, but also directly into the gameplay. As in, the combat gameplay. Combat and exploration are the main ways in which you advance the plot in this game. However, you won't actually be able to make it very far early on, because Sakuna starts out rather weak. So how do you make her stronger? That's right, by planting rice! Rice farming is the only efficient way of boosting Sakuna's stats. Every time you harvest rice, her stats are increased, base on the quality of the harvest. Since you only harvest rice once per year (consisting of twelve in-game days), this gives an big incentive of doing well with the farming, since you don't want to wait such a long time only for a minor stat boost.
Though there's even more reasons to go for a good rice harvest. Rice also functions as one of your main currencies in the game. Being able to trade more rice means you can afford more expensive items. This means you're not only aiming for high quality rice, but also for a big harvest size. And on top of all that still, eating food also grants you temporary stat bonuses (such as health regenration), which will allow you to do even better during exploration. The combat is basically designed to be so difficult that it's difficult to explore very far without these bonuses, meaning you're generally expected to go exploring with a full belly only. It's definitely possible to do without, but some of the areas in the game get really big, so without at least health regeneration, you usually won't get very far. Now rice isn't the only food in the game, however, I'd say about 80% of recipes are in one way or another based on it. On top of that, rice is one of few ingredients in the game that doesn't expire, so harvesting a lot of is is definitely the best way of assuring you can always go exploring with health regeneration. In short, rice ties pretty closely into all facettes of the game, and I think that's why it works so well.
Now while the game is definitelly really good and a lot of fun, that doesn't necessarily mean I have no complaints. Naturally, there's a bunch of things that bothered me, and most of them are related to combat and exploration. Now while the game's combat definitely has a solid foundation and some good ideas, I have to say it feels very "off" a lot of times. I think what happened here is that a lot of times, the odds are stacked so much in favor of the enemies that the combat in its entirety can feel quite unsatisfying. To give a few examples: Pretty much all of Sakuna's attacks have gigantic animations, yet for some reaons really tiny hitboxes. This constantly leads to the frustrating situation where you clearly see your attack animation touching the enemy, yet nothing happens. It's outright awkward how close you have to get to enemies for some of those attacks to land. However, when enemies attack, it seems you only need to get even remotely close to their animation to take damage.
A similar thing can be observed with invulnerability frames. When Sakuna takes damage, she gets barely any invincibility at all, to a paint where if you get stuck between a group of enemies, they can fling you back and forth for a ridiculous amount of time without any chance of escaping. On the other hands, enemies often times get such a high amount of i-frames that it feels outright ridiculous. Basically, once they land on the ground, don't even think about attacking them again until their stand-up animation has finished completely, otherwise your attack will just go right through them. One of my favorite moves in the game was a special attack that dealt like maybe eight to ten consecutive hits, and you won't even believe how often I had not a single one of those hit an enemy, simply because of the ridiculous hitboxes and the absurd amount of i-frames enemies have. It outright feels broken at times. It's also very inconsistent. As I said, enemies have a ridiculous amount of i-frames, but only when you attack them directly. There is several moves in the game which let you fling enemies around, which I would consider a key gameplay element in combat, and when you fling one enemy into another, they apparently don't get any i-frames at all. Just because of this, catapulting enemies was basically my dominant strategy in the game. I just didn't want to deal with the i-frames, and flinging enemies also happened to deal a lot of damage.
A bunch of enemy types in the game were also really, really annoying. One of the biggest themes I've noticed in this regards were enemies with super quick movement, making it really difficult to hit. The early game already has a few of those (mainly birds and fishes), but then the second half of the game has enemies that just jump around so unpredictably that it gets outright annoying. This coupled with the small hitboxes and the high amount of i-frames means you will often see yourself just slashing at thin air, and yeah, it often becomes frustrating.
A final frustration, at least for me, came in the form of really ungenerous checkpoints. Basically, the game only gives you checkpoints whenever entering a "room", and since rooms in the game get really big towards the end, it means you will have to replay quite a lot of stuff whenever you die. And with some enemies being able to kill you in just a few hits (especially at night, where they're stronger), this will happen quite often. To make it just that tiny little bit worse, whenever you die during a boss battle, their cutscene plays again. Yeah, you can fast-forward through it, but that just shouldn't even be necessary. I mean, even the fact that there is a fast-forward in the first place is kind of annoying. Like, why a fast-forward and not a skip? Just to waste more time? Funnily enough, a cutscene skip actually exists in the game, but only for the final boss for some reason. Talking about the final boss, it actually is the worst offender in this regard. Not only does it replay its cutscene every time, but it also teleports you out of the boss room upon death, unlike all previous bosses. This means whenever you die, you're forced to sit through at least one two loading screens before you can attempt the battle again. Not only that, but the battle also has a small tutorial at the start, and this one is unskippable, so you will have to redo it every time you die. Incredibly annoying.
Now despite all of these frustrations, I wouldn't say combat was terrible, or even game-breaking. It took some getting used to, but aside from a few really frustrating sections and bosses in the game, I wouldn't say it was too much of a problem. Like, it worked, and flinging enemies into one another was also kind of satisfying. It's even possible that most of these frustrations were an intentional gameplay choice, to emphasize the importance of raising your stats via rice. I mean, if so, I'm not sure if that's necessarily the best way of accomplishing that, but it's at least a possibility that this was the idea.
Story-wise, I think the game turned out surprisingly well (you know, for a game that is all about farming rice). As I said, the farming ties into the story really well, and the game knows how to utilize this to hit the player where it hurts the most. Obviously I won't spoil anything here, but I was quite surprised a couple of times. I do have to admit that the game feels slightly padded towards the end (you will not only have to beat every boss multiple times, but will also have to replay a bunch of levels), but it didn't bother me all to much, since at least the story stayed interesting throughout all of that. All of the characters in the game were also really interesting. I loved how at the end of each day, when having dinner, all the characters would sit together and have a conversation, and all of them would have really detailed eating animations. Not only does the game display the actual food they're eating, but you can even observe their bowls slowly getting empty. If you keep one of their text boxes open, you can even prevent them from eating (as they'll be stuck in ther speaking animation), and as result, they finish their meal after everyone else. It's really neat little touch and made everything feel so authentic.
Overall, I really just had a lot of fun with this game and won't forget it. Recommend it to anyone who has remote interest in this genre.
Recently played a little bit of Moving Out with my girlfriend. It's a really silly and fun little multiplayer game that never takes itself seriously and will definitely entertain you quite a bit, especially when playing with friends. It's the perfect multiplayer game when you don't need anything profound and deep, but just want some mindless fun.
Started playing OMORI with my friends last week. Another game I picked up more or less blindly. So far, I'm enjoying it, but the pacing also feels a bit slow to me (though this could just be because I'm playing it with my friends and don't want them to get too bored, so maybe slower sections feel even more slow because of this). I definitely expected this to be a bit more on the horror side, but there's quite long stretches of just regular RPG gameplay (smiliar to games like Earthbound, I guess) before anything horror-related even happens, and then it usually doesn't last very long. Still, I'm very itrigued by the game so far, and maybe this pacing is just how these RPG Maker horror games usually play out. I haven't really played any of them myself yet, so I'm not sure. I don't really care much for the combat (which can make it feel like a drag sometimes), and I also think the game's interface can feel a bit clumsy (especially in battles, where it's difficult to know what's going on if you don't pay attention), but at least so far none of that is really so bad that it gets in the way. Basically, it's just something I can deal with because the game otherwise feels kinda promising.
Started playing Stardew Valley on Switch today. Have had this game for quite a while, but always avoided starting it because... well, you probably know the reputation this game has. It's a game that is said to easily get you hooked for hundreds of hours once you start playing. I simply wasn't ready for that yet. Still not quite confident that I am now, but started to go ahead with it, anyways.
After a few hours of play, I haven't quite reached the point yet where I'm obsessed by it, but I definitely do see how there's quite a lot to do in the game. There's so muchs tuff that in-game days basically feel way to short to do it all. You go exploring for just a little bit, and the sun is already setting in-game. Nevertheless, I'm having fun so far. I loved playing Harvest Moon on the SNES, and this game definitely brings back some of that nostalgia.
It's kinda funny how I'm dropping from one farming simulation to another one. These games really aren't too great for my sleep schedule. I love to play games before sleeping, but in this genre in particular I have found that it's difficult to put down a game before finishing an in-game day, and since every day can easily take like ten minutes or so, you will often find yourself still playing these games past 2 AM or so before you finally force yourself to put them down. It's just one of those ways in which games fuck with our brains, because there's no logical reason for us to have to do everything in one sitting, but wanting to do so is hard-wired into our brains and difficult to prevent.
I can relate to staying too late playing games like Harvest Moon.
Particularly on DS, when I used to play these, I could stay the entire morning or night and almost forget time. It's just relaxing and addicting, the type of game you can keep playing and not get tired quickly. Like it's super easy to get hooked, even if you're not on the mood at the beginning.
Yeah, that definitely adds to it. These games tend to be super chill and relaxing and (usually) not very stressful, so it's easy to play them in almost any situation.
In addition to that, I think what really makes it difficult to put these games down is how their gameplay loops work. Pretty much all of these games have some kind of routine (usually an in-game day or something like that), and it's really difficult to put the game down in the middle of one, because that will make you afraid that you'll forget what you were doing the next time you pick it up again, and that means you run the risk of wasting a day. At least that's the problem I usually have. Even more so in Sakuna than in Stardew Valley, because in Sakuna, a season only lasts for three in-game days, so it's really easy to miss something important you planned to do. In Stardew Valley, a season at least has 30 days or so, so it's not all that bad to waste a single in-game day. It's still difficult to shake off this feeling of "I have to finish this day before I can stop playing".
I've had my eye on sakuna for a while, if there was a PC version, I would have probably got it already.
Okay, looks like there's a steam version and I've been blind. I didn't want to get it for the PS4 and wasn't so sure about how the game performs on switch. In that case, I'll just wait on whichever version has a sale first.
and wasn't so sure about how the game performs on switch
In my opinion, it performed nicely. It's running at 30 FPS, I think (although there might be sections where it's running at 60? Not sure), and I also think it ran mostly stable. There oculd be some slowdowns when a lot of stuff was happening on the screen, and the game also seems to slow down when your rice harvest has reached a certain stage and you enter the field for some reason, but I actually found this to be more funny than annoying. In any case, the Switch version is definitely perfectly playable and also still looks pretty nice in my opinion. Though if you want the game at a full 60 FPS, I assume you'll have to go for either the PS4 version or the PC version.
EDIT: Apparently, the game is running at an uncapped framerate in battles on Switch. That would explain why it seems to run smother occasionally. Though realistcally, I assume that it's only actually reaching a full 60 FPS in a few very small areas, such as boss rooms.
I've never really cared about framerate, as long as it doesn't slowdown often, I'm fine with it being 30, 60 FPS or whatever else. But maybe it's just because I'm not used to modern gaming at all. I grew up with 8-bit and 16-bit consoles and handhelds too, which are kinda prone to that. lol
Actually, I'd say if anything, old 8-bit and 16-bit games more often ran at smoother framerates than modern ones. Aside from a few complex 3D games (like Star Fox or Doom), I don't know many SNES games that ran below 60 FPS (aside from maybe some dips in a few badly optimized games). I think that's simply because of how much more complex 3D rendering is as compared to 2D rendering (especially on old consoles with a fixed graphics pipeline).
That being said, I think bad framerates really feel way worse in 3D games, anyways. Can't quite say why that is, but maybe it's due to affecting the camera movement, which is probably more noticable to the eye? In any case, I've also gotten quite desensitized towards bad frame rates. In the past, I used to be quite disappointed about games not running at 60 FPS. Nowadays, probably because I play so much on the Switch, I'm more like "Oh, well that's a bummer. Anyways,". Even unstable frame rates don't affect me as much anymore. I've seen a lot of people being really angry at the frame rate problems of Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, whereas I was just like "haha, look at how slowly the game is running, now that's funny".
That's interesting, because I don't play many 3D games.
So maybe most of the games I've played were in 60 FPS, but I'm still sure some were just 30. But again, I don't really care, as long as it doesn't slows down often.
A few days ago, I completed Bowser's Fury. It was really good. I had a lot of fun with it. That being said, it didn't exactly set my world on fire. For me, it was kind of missing that "magic" that Mario games usually have. You know, that creative spark. Aside from the Bowser mechanic, which really feels more like a level gimmick, I don't think the game does anything really new. It just mixes the progression system from Odyssey witht he level design from 3D Land and 3D World, and ultimately, I think all of those games were kind of the better experience. Like, I really had a lot of fun completing Bowser's Fury, but afterwards, I just had this feeling of "man, I really need to replay Super Mario Odyssey".
I think my main problem with the game is that the "levels" lack any real themes. Think of Odyssey. Every level in that game feels so unique and memorable. You have the hat level, you have the dinosaur level, you have the food level, you have the city level, you have the toxic island level etc. The levels in Bowser's Fury don't really have that kind of theming. At least not to a large degree. Sure, you have a fire island and an ice island, but that's as much theming as you'll get. Most islands don't have any theme what so ever, and the only thing that sets them apart is what obstacles you come across in them. Like, you might have an island focussed on glass pipes, an island focussed on rail platforms, an island focussed on launch platforms etc. In that sense, these islands really feel a lot more like levels in 3D Land. They're all really fun to play, but I don't think I will remember any of them in a few years from now. Personally, I think in an exploration-based Mario game, having themed levels is quite important since it directly ties into how much fun the exploration actually is.
Despite my one flaw with the game, as I said, it's really, really fun to play through, and I'm really excited to see how the speedrunning scene for this game will evolve. I think speedruns for open games like this are always super exciting, since there's so many possibilities on what order to do things in. And since this is an addition to 3D World, which is already a great game, you really can't go wrong with playing this. If you're a Mario fan, you should definitely at least give it a try.
Also have obsessively been playing Stardew Valley for quite a while now. It's just such a fun and addicting game, there's so much to do and way too little time to do it all. I've really gotten out of the loop with this type of game, so I have to relearn quite a bit about how to make money quickly, but I'm slowly getting there. Managed to befriend Penny, we're now in a "relationship", but I have to say this feels quite half-baked in the game. Aside from an icon in the UI and a single event scene, there's really nothing in the game that even changes when you're in a relationship. The character will still deliver the exact same lines to you when you speak to them and won't acknowledge your relationship in the slightest. As I see it, you could very well cut out relationships entirely from this game and jump straight to marriage.
On that note, I'm not actually able to marry her yet, because I didn't make enough money and couldn't upgrade my house yet, but as I said, I'm getting there. Hope that will actually have more of an impact than the relationship thing.
I've been playing 2 hacks for the past few days, it has been a while since I played any hacks. And I'm enjoying them both. They're Super Mario /v/orld 2 Moot Point and Super Mario Bros: Peach's Adventure.
I played Moot (I'll call it that from now on) first, and it was super enjoyable. It definitely feels inspired by VIP, while still being its own thing, the level design is not VIP-like, but the spirit is there, with level quality varying, but generally being enjoyable, in a very dumb kind of way, which I admire, it's just unpretentious, and I enjoy certain levels that are just there to be fun and not necessarily ground-breaking, or even traditionally good. It's hard to explain, but sometimes we get our standards too high. The janky levels only make the better levels seem even more amazing too.
My favorite levels so far were Two In The Pink, >tfw no gf, that green switch palace (the Rouge the Bat thing made me laugh, and caught me off-guard), THE LEATHER CLUB and Moot Party /v/eekends. They stood out to me the most, with amazing level design and creative gimmicks. The only levels so far I didn't like were Sip-opolis and Sonic Was Never Good, the former is a darkness level, and I'm not fond of those, and the latter is just a bit too messy in its layout for my tastes, but they're still pretty passable. Chad's Forest an amazing example of a bad level that's still fun, the level design is super messy, but playing it doesn't feel bad somehow.
That's pretty much it for this hack. Now to the next one.
Peach's Adventure is a more simple game, no crazy gimmicks all over the place, no chaotic ideas, just a straightforward platformer. It has a super charming aesthetic based on SMB1, and it's really consistent, giving me a SMBDX (GBC) vibe, especially with the custom sprites and certain little details, like the stuff on the world map.
This one has a lot of nice powerups, and even a shop, which can be convienent, but essentially optional, since the game is really generous with powerups. I find the early levels really easy, but it's definitely fun, picking up all the coins is basically the main challenge early on, but around the 6th world things start to get actually hard, and I like the difficulty in those levels. It was the first time I actually had to go the shop many times during certain levels to help me out.
I like this games' take on exploration, the fact that you need to get all coins in one go makes the levels more replayable too, while adding a certain layer of difficulty. Generally there would be 2 to 3 runs through a level, a regular one (just exploring the level and beating it), and a coin one (going out of your way to get all coins without dying), 3rd is a secret exit, if the level has one.
This game is honestly pretty close to what an official Nintendo game would be like, and it's a great example of how a nice presentation and art direction can change everything and make a much better experience, since I find it way more enjoyable than something like the NSMB series, simply because of how visually appealing this one is, other ideas like the shop and the great powerups help too.
The level design is a mix of SMB1/2(J)/Deluxe and SMB3's style of design, for the most part. With some level sections actually being nods to existing levels in those games. Most levels don't really stand out from each other in any major way, since they all follow a particular theme based on the world they're in, but certain little setpieces are really memorable, I like how the world feels pretty legitimate, with taverns, theaters and other stuff that you only see in Mario RPGs. My favorite location so far is Koopa Industries, I like the visuals, as they bring a sense of dark atmosphere that you don't tend to see in Mario games, makes the villains seem more evil too (reminds me of devastated towns in Mario & Luigi RPGs). It's also where the game becomes hard.
Other contenders for favorites are Tasty Trail and the extra levels (the secret ones, which have unique themes based on a non-Mario game, which I don't want to spoil), it still retains the 8-bit aesthetic, so it manages to not look out of place and it's a great change of pace.
Overall that's it, I'd say both hacks are great examples of polar opposites, one being easy and simple, great for beginners, not really being too different from regular Mario games, but offering a unique visual style and a myriad of nice powerups, plus an attempt a plot (nothing amazing, but it's more than the main games). While the other one is harder, aimed at people who already know SMW's mechanics and has a lot of chaos and crazy gimmicks. Both are fun in their own way, and one can be a good way to rest and take a break from each other, depending on the mood.
Started the PC-Engine version of Ys 1. It's been fun so far, but I like the visuals of the Chronicles version more. Just got to the Abandoned Mine. Afterwards I plan to play Ys 2, maybe a version of Ys III I haven't played yet since I've already finished the PCE version. I'm leaning towards the X68000 version since I like that version's soundtrack. Then after I either play Ys III again or skip it, I'm going to play Dawn of Ys, which I've heard is the best version of Ys IV, and having played Mask of the Sun and Memories of Celceta, it's probably not too high a bar to get over. To be fair to MoC, I don't think it's bad, but it could be better. MotS though is the only Ys game I didn't enjoy. And I've played all of them except IX and Dawn of Ys.
Also been playing Rune Factory: Tides of Destiny (Oceans in the rest of the world) on PS3. It's alright, there's been a bit of an adjustment period as I've never played a RF game before. It's annoying how there's no way to adjust the camera beyond snapping it behind the player. I get in the Wii original, there isn't really enough buttons for something like that, but they still could have implemented something like that for the PS3 version... right?
Completed the first route/ending of OMORI in the playthrough with my friends.
The game certainly had its lengths and even felt quite padded at times, which didn't necessarily make it the ideal game to play with friends sporadically, but
man, that ending definitely got me. The entire ending sequence sure was long - maybe even a little bit too long? - but it definitely went into a direction that none of us saw coming, and I think it left an emotional impact on all of us. I'm definitely interested in seeing more of the endings, but it's difficult to find a spoiler-free guide for getting them, and it also seems like getting some of them would require an entire replay, which I don't think I'm willing to do quite yet.
The game is definitely worth playing if you're into quirky RPGs in the style of Earthbound or Undertale, but note that it doesn't quite have the emphasis on horror that you might expect. I haven't really played a lot of games in the RPG Maker horror genre, but I assume most of them have more of a focus on horror and tell their story more quickly. OMORI definitely isn't like that, it's really more of an Earthbound-like RPG with horror elements inbetween. That being said, when the horror elements do appear, they certainly can go into some dark places, and that trigger warning on the start screen is there for a good reason. Just know that the majority of the game will play like a traditional, turn-based RPG, and that the chapters tend to be on the long side, so if you don't enjoy this kind of gameplay, this might be a tough game to recommend.
I've mentioned playing Moot Point before, and I didn't like Sonic Was Never Good or Sip-opolis. And while I still find these levels pretty bad, I realized during some actually interesting parts of Sonic Was Never Good, that some of these levels are made by people unexperienced with SMW hacking or have never done anything like that before, which explains the jankiness and some parts which have interesting ideas, but bad execution. Which makes me feel more less harsh towards the game. That said, I mentioned both of these bad levels being passable in my other post, which I retroactively can say, they're not, I had to go through SWNG with savestates in the last half. My least favorite thing about that level is definitely how the floor pushes you around for some reason (probably the tileset), however, I like how some parts attempted to have Sonic's momentum physics, including a (square) loop, that was actually pretty cool. Still a pretty stressful level though.
Sip-opolis has terrible visibility with the darkness, and most of the level is just a bunch of nets hanging over nothing, with boos (big and small) being a nuisance, especially since it's hard to deal with them while on the net. This level unfortunately, didn't even have a single cool setpiece, unlike the Sonic level.
Anyway, past that, Based Beach and the second castle were pretty good levels, and remotivated me to keep on going with the game. I especially like the Quickman lasers being implemented pretty well on the castle level, including having non-instant vertical scrolling, just like 8-bit Mega Man. That said, I took a break during these past few days and started playing some other hacks.
____ Rise to the Challenge (a really old one that I don't even remember anything about other than nice color palettes for each level). I'm glad I decided to play it, because it definitely put my "core" SMW skill to the test, no gimmicks or anything new, it's just the default gameplay, but it does so many cool things with it. The game has a bold move starting with the water world from the get go, it might be the only hack I know that does this, and it feels cool. It does everything it can do with tides and certain other mechanics related to water, and really tests you on precise swimming, and when you finally get to the secret level and it's a land level, it just feels so satisfying, especially with the cool music. I'm not going out of my way to get the Yoshi coins though, since they don't show up on the overworld as a counter (that's usually the only time I go for them honestly).
I beat the first world (secret exits included) and played a little bit of the second world.
I also played Nachos and Fried Oreos and JUMP. I went up to the 3rd world of JUMP (including secret exits) and played only a few levels of NaFO. I really enjoy these games, I find NaFO surprisingly harder than I remembered, but it's super fun, I love the main mechanic of making lives meaningful and arranging them to be the difficulty options. I always thought it could be a nice thing to do in any game, and the fact that playing like that is optional is nice, since it doesn't hurt accessibility for others. I prefer playing it with limited lives, since it makes the playthrough feel more intense.
I also plan on playing Sicari Remastered eventually, played the first level just to check it out and it's definitely one of those super custom hacks I missed. I loved playing super custom hacks when I was younger, and now they still bring out a sort of magic, I love how it actually looks and feels like an original game that plays similarly to SMW, rather than a hack. And if I just played without that context, I might think the game was a homebrew or something.
Just completed the Demon's Souls remake, aka the game that made me want a PS5 in the first place. This was my first time playing it - didn't play the PS3 original.
So after completing it, what do I think? Well, it's pretty good - but also definitely the first Souls game. Like, don't get me wrong. It's definitely a great game, and I'm actually surprised at how well it still holds up. I kinda expected it to be very janky, but it actually played great and felt just like the later Souls games. I'm sure whatever minor improvements Bluepoint made to the game also helped a lot. The core gameplay in Demon's Souls was definitely already rock-solid, and I can see how it spawned an entire franchise.
All of that being said, yeah, this is still definitely THE first Souls game. It felt quite a bit more experimental than most later games, it had quite some pacing issues (regularly switching between really easy and really hard sections), the checkpoint pacing was a lot more cruel than in the later games (often making you replay ridiculously long and nasty sections if you died during a boss fight), you outright can't even level up in this game before beating the first real boss (which is especially cruel when coming from a New Game+, because you're still carrying all the Souls from your prior run), and worst of all, the bosses. Oh lord, the bosses.
The bosses in this game really weren't very good... it had like two or three bosses that I legitimately liked and that reminded me of some great bosses from the later games, but all placed after some nasty sections that you really didn't wanna have to replay. Then it had a few bosses that were quite decent and fun, but not too spectacular, and also often placed after horrible sections. Then there were many bosses that were inoffensive, but really boring. And finally there also were a ton of bosses who were just borderline jokes, if not even completely broken jank - and ironically, these bosses were always the ones placed right after a checkpoint. I'm not kidding, the game has five levels, each ending with a major, lore-relevant boss - and only one of those was actually good. A lot of the major bosses were really just like "alright, come over here and kill me, I'll just jerk around slightly to pretend I'm actually doing something". The game's final boss probably being the biggest joke, it was like fighting a worm with an axe.
Overall, the game relies very much on puzzle- or parcours-based bosses and has very few skill-based ones. The later games certainly do have those as well, but not to such a large degree. Like, Dark Souls probably has like three or four at most. These bosses usually require you to find their one weak spot, and then they become laughably easy. It just wasn't really satisfying most of the time, and the levels leading up to the bosses ended up being the best part of the game (these still had some rough spots here and there, but overall got very close to the quality of the later games and didn't feel as disappointing).
Overall, the environments were definitely this game's biggest strength. Especially in the remake, all of them looked amazing, and also very terrifying. The game was still really great at making you feel scared for your life, and some sections were still hellish, unfair nightmares (in a good way - if that makes any sense to you). Bluepoint certainly did a great job at making these environment look amazing without making them any less scary.
I do have mixed feelings about this games healing system. On one hand, healing items just being regular quantity-based items in this game had its benefits. It actually made me use the stronger healing items occasionally. This is something I literally never did in the later Souls games, where your Estus refills at every bonfire and thus there's little reason to ever use anything else for healing. On the other hand, if you run out, it does mean you'll have to grind. This happened to me at several occasions in the early game, where I was stuck on a boss and had to go back to farming healing items every time I died. Once I played a certain level an accumulated tons of healing items, this was no longer a problem for the remainder of the game, but that early bit still left a very bad after-taste. I do think I prefer the Estus system overall.
In summary, I do think Demon's Souls is still a great game and still holds up surprisingly well in almost every aspect aside from the bosses, but it does definitely feel rough in places, and in my opinion, was surpassed by every single FromSoftware game after it. Still, it's absolutely worth playing even today, the remake probably even more so, and if you're a series fan, then you probably won't get around this one, anyways.
I've been Playing DJMAX Respect V on steam, this game is pretty crazy.
In games like guitar hero or Project diva I hate whenever it just seems to mute the sound of the song whenever you miss a note. This is a game all about that, except in this game it feels really good to play. It's probably because the game doesn't mute anything for most of the songs, you can mash a button on your keyboard and it will play the sound that was lined up for the next note as much as you want until that note is actually supposed to be hit.
I don't know what the word is.. Tactile? Kinetic? Intuitive? this game feels like all of those things to me. I haven't even gotten into the meat of the game personally, I only play like 5 songs total because I really like them and want to get good at them before I move on. I enjoyed Playing with 4 keys, but I thought I would feel better about myself being bad at the game if I played 6Trax, so that's what I've been playing it on
I've finished Peach's Adventure a few days ago, I think the
levels are a bit of a mixed bag, some of them are fun, but others overstay their welcome by being just too long. Thankfully, none of them are downright bad or anything. The
level in special feels weird, since the level is not only long, but it feels slow due to the digging mechanic and the default tool is the leaf (raccoon tail), even though after experimenting, I went of the level to buy a
and it works extremely better, being so much more fast. I guess the only reason the leaf was default was to simulate the one block at a time thing from the source material.
That being said, the game was definitely pretty enjoyable and I loved looking at all the extras in Peach's Castle, that part actually impressed me with how much there was, including
a completely new powerup that doesn't show up in the regular game at all!
I've also started playing Sicari Remastered, I talked a bit about my first impressions on the previous post when I was just testing out and checking out the initial levels, but now that I've actually went through a full session, I can talk about it more in-depth.
I absolutely loved it, I love how the characters feel different from each other, but all feel pretty good to play, having the main gameplay (jumping and wall-jumping) being used by everyone, and other stuff such as flying, swimming (haven't got to a water level yet) and whatnot being unique to characters.
I talked about the presentation before, so there's not much else I can say yet. I really like how it feels like its own game, due to everything being custom. On the map, I like how the secret levels actually feel like secrets, because it's easy to be unsure if a level has another exit or not, the map doesn't have an obvious indication like red levels or anything like that in SMW or many other hacks, you have to pay attention to details on the actual map drawing, like if it looks like a path might continue, or something subtle like that (I like the hand drawn style on the map, including the names of locations).
Looking forward to play more of that and keep talking about it.
(I've also played a few more levels of Moot Point, but there's not much to say, I played just a little bit of it and JUMPhalf).
Meanwhile, I recently completed Spider-Man on PS4. Not sure if I mentioned it in the Bar & Grill, but I was basically forced to pick up my PS5 as a bundle including Miles Morales, which itself also included a download code for the older PS4 Spider-Man (in an enhanced PS5 version).
This game was actually damn great! It's hard to believe I ended up enjoying it as much as I did, but it really was just a pretty great experience. It basically felt just like playing a Spider-Man movie - and I mean that in the best sense possible. The game feels like you are actually Spider-Man, while also have a narrative structure and cinematics that feel a lot like the movies, thus giving you this feeling of "I'm playing a Spider-Man movie". I don't necessarily mean this in regards to the gameplay (this isn't one of those games that barely let's you do anything), just in regards to the general feel.
The main story, aside from a few somewhat annoying stealth sections I wasn't really into, was just great from beginning to end and had a pretty epic climax. Like, towards the end, the game did that some some stuff that was so messed up and trippy that it could even rival a Tetsuya Nomura game (like Kingdom Hearts III or Final Fantasy VII Remake). Again, I mean this in a positive sense.
The side content, while not quite as great as the main story, still all ranged somewhere between "okay and inoffensive" to "pretty good". I didn't do all of it (and ulatimately a lot of it just boils down to following markers on your map), but I still did a good chunk and mostly had fun with it.
Afterwards, I played through all the DLCs (which were included for free), and those where also quite nice. Not as nice as the main game's main story, but still fun with a couple of memorable moments. I especially liked the chemistry between Spider-Man and Black Cat and kind of ship them.
Naturally, if you're somewhat familiar with Spider-Man lore, you're gonna be able to see many of the plot twists coming from miles aways. I've only seen a couple of Spider-Man movies and yet still a lot of it was super obvious. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, though. If anything, this cheesiness factor just adds to the game feeling like the movies.
If you never liked Spider-Man at all, then this game probably isn't for you, because, well, it's Spider-Man through and through. But if you have even just the slightest interest in the character - which is really all I can say for myself - then the game is absolutely worth checking out.
Afterwards, I also briefly started Miles Morales (Spider-Man 2, if you will). It definitely feels very similar to the first game in gameplay, although it looks a lot better due to being a native PS5 game. That's all I can say at this point, though. Have only just started playing it.
Also completed Miles Morales now. My PS5 crashed after the final boss, right in the middle of the ending cutscene, lol. Luckily the game saved just before the cutscene and I didn't have to replay anything.
The game was overall much shorter than the first Spider-Man, probably just about half the length. I'm not even surprised, because apparently, they made this game in just two years, which probably wasn't enough to do way more than that.
Gameplay-wise, I think I slightly prefer Miles Morales over the first game. The gameplay is very similar, but there's a few minor additions and changes that, in my opinion, led to a slightly better combat flow. Basically, playing this game, you get to use finishers and flashy attacks a lot more often due to these changes. A camouflage technique was also added to the game, which makes you invisible for a short amount of time. This is actually a great addition to the game, as it makes stealth fit way more naturally into the game. In the first one, you basically had a single chance for stealth-killing your enemies. Once you were discovered, that was that. In this game, even if you're discovered, you can turn invisible and and hide for a little bit to reenter stealth mode and get another chance. This actually made me use it way more often voluntarily. There weren't even any mandatory stealth sections in this game in the first place. I consider that a place.
Story-wise, I think I do prefer the first game. It felt a bit more epic overall, probably due to being longer and featuring more characters and scenarios. This also allowed getting more attached to the characters, which helped, because pretty much all of the conflicts in the game were quite personal to Spider-Man. While this is also true for Miles Morales, there was a little bit less of an attachment due to the shorter play time. The entire ending bit in particular was also a alot shorter and less memorable than the ending bit of the first game. That one's ending really got so messed up that it stuck in my mind.
Another thing worth mentioning is that, naturally, both games play in Manhatten. Aside from that, both games feature very similar progression systems. This of course makes them both feel quite similar, which does make this game feel less fresh. It does have slightly prettier graphics and those gameplay changes I mentioned above, but all of that aside, this could very well be a DLC to the first game (both in size and content). I do think it's definitely still worth playing, though, and third game seems all but certain at this point.
Also briefly started playing the PS4 version of Ratchet & Clank, which I got for free thanks to Sony's Play at Home thing. It looks like a really nice game. Can't wait to dive deeper into it once I'm less tired.
My brother and I finished the Shadow of Revan expansion in Star Wars: The Old Republic the other day. It was a marked improvement over Rise of the Hutt Cartel but it still wasn't terribly interesting. I think we're both starting to feel some TOR fatigue as we've played all the class stories (I did one of the jedi classes, he did the other, I did one of the non-jedi classes, he did the other, etc.) and now these two expansions. We were told that F2P players like ourselves could only play up through SoR until we had to spend money to unlock more stuff, but it seemed like we could access the next expansion. Regardless, we decided to call it quits (for now, maybe) and move on. So we decided to start FF14. I'm not totally sure how much of it we'll play as my brother was reluctant but we'll see.
In non-MMO gaming, I've been chipping away at Rune Factory: TIdes of Destiny on PS3. I can only play it for a little while at a time before I get bored, but I've still been enjoying it. I have no idea how close I am to finishing the story, but I feel like I've been making steady progress.
And I resumed my Tokyo Xanadu playthrough. It's pretty fun, but the gameplay kinda kicks my butt, even on Normal difficulty. It's interesting how this is how Falcom revived Xanadu as it's nothing like the previous entries haha