Games Completed 2024

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ratsoalbion
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Re: Games Completed 2024

Post by ratsoalbion »

I'd say DK94 is a platformer with puzzle elements where MVDK is a puzzler with platform elements.

We reviewed it within our first Donkey Kong podcast:
https://caneandrinse.com/donkey-kong/
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Alex79
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Re: Games Completed 2024

Post by Alex79 »

Alex79 wrote: January 2nd, 2024, 12:11 pmJAN - Strider (Arcade on Evercade)
JAN - Strider (Megadrive on Switch)
JAN - God Of War (PS5)
JAN - Universal Paperclips (Android)
FEB - Alwa's Awakening (Evercade)
FEB - Little Inferno (Android)
FEB - Spider-Man 2 (PS5)
FEB - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Arcade on Switch)

After watching TMNT: Mutant Mayhem (which was really excellent) last night I was in the mood for some more turtles action so I popped the Cowabunga Collection in my Switch and played through a Donatello run on the arcade original. The Cowabunga Collection really is such a great package. Lots of games, some really nice extras, it's how a collection should be done. The only downside really is that you cannot change turtle mid-game if you die and put more credits in. This is a shame as I normally like to mix up characters as I'm playing. I suppose in that regard it's emulating the 4 player cabinet where each character has their own coin slot, but I'm more familiar with the 2 player cabinet which lets you change character. This is a classic arcade game though, and anyone of a certain age will remember the "COWABUUUNGA!" when you dropped a coin in to the slot.

The game, whilst rather basic, holds up as a fun brawler. It lacks the sophistication of later games, with their combos and special moves, but it still looks and sounds so nice. I remember playing the demo of this arcade game over and over again on my Amstrad via a cover tape with a magazine back in the day, but never got the full game. The arcade game munched plenty of my 10p's as a kid, though. Still fun, still worth a play.
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Alex79
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Re: Games Completed 2024

Post by Alex79 »

Alex79 wrote: January 2nd, 2024, 12:11 pmJAN - Strider (Arcade on Evercade)
JAN - Strider (Megadrive on Switch)
JAN - God Of War (PS5)
JAN - Universal Paperclips (Android)
FEB - Alwa's Awakening (Evercade)
FEB - Little Inferno (Android)
FEB - Spider-Man 2 (PS5)
FEB - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Arcade on Switch)
FEB - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game (NES on Switch)

This, somewhat confusingly named, game is a NES port of the first Turtles arcade game. And my word, it's absolutely cracking! What a great job they did here of porting over the arcade game to the limited NES hardware. It looks, sounds, and more importantly plays, absolutely fantastic. It really is a marvel! The game itself is a little easier than the arcade original, however it's tougher to actually beat because you have limited lives and continues.

There are a couple of additional stages too, one set in a snowy area and one that seems to be in a Japanese inspired temple type setting where you fight a couple of tigers. As with the arcade game on the Cowabunga Collection you can't change characters mid-game, so I stuck with Leonardo through this run. I can imagine being so impressed with this as a kid and over the moon that they'd managed to capture the feel of a proper arcade game on the NES. I bet it's an absolute blast in two player, too. I'll definitely be back for more with this one, it's so good!

FEB - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project (NES on Switch)

I really ought to be working... Another great Turtles game here. An expansion, I suppose, on the arcade game on the NES, it features the same gameplay but with a few new moves for each turtle and some great graphics and nice music. And, you can switch turtle mid-game, woohoo! This is really fun, difficult in places but once you drop to minimum health you can keep spamming the special move which makes you invincible, because although it takes away your health it'll never kill you (top tip). Nice bosses, varied stages that are a little more interesting than the previous game although the final stage ends up being a fight with Krang and then Shredder, again. This was great, would recommend a playthrough!

Now on to the Gameboy games...
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Re: Games Completed 2024

Post by oni-link »

ratsoalbion wrote: February 26th, 2024, 3:27 pm I'd say DK94 is a platformer with puzzle elements where MVDK is a puzzler with platform elements.

We reviewed it within our first Donkey Kong podcast:
https://caneandrinse.com/donkey-kong/
Yeah I'd mostly agree with this. Every non boss level is a puzzle, but working out how to solve that puzzle often requires some level of platforming finesse in order to execute the solution
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Re: Games Completed 2024

Post by Indiana747 »

(Jan) Battlefield 3 - Series X.
(Jan) Hi-Fi Rush - Series X.
(Jan) Daymare 1998 - Series X.
(Jan) The Beast Inside - Series X.
(Feb) XIII - Series X.
(Feb) Close to the Sun - Series X.
(Feb) Atomic Heart - Series X.
(Feb) Return to Grace - Series X.
(Feb) MADiSON - PS5.
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Alex79
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Re: Games Completed 2024

Post by Alex79 »

Alex79 wrote: January 2nd, 2024, 12:11 pmJAN - Strider (Arcade on Evercade)
JAN - Strider (Megadrive on Switch)
JAN - God Of War (PS5)
JAN - Universal Paperclips (Android)
FEB - Alwa's Awakening (Evercade)
FEB - Little Inferno (Android)
FEB - Spider-Man 2 (PS5)
FEB - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Arcade on Switch)
FEB - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game (NES on Switch)
FEB - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project (NES on Switch)
FEB - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters (NES on Switch)

Bit of a novelty throwaway game on the Cowabunga Collection this, especially when you have the SNES and (arguably inferior) Megadrive versions to play, but this was a fun little curio to spend an hour with last night. played through the 'story' mode twice, once with Donatello and once with Leonardo. There is no story mode really, it's just the tournament mode with a bit of writing at the start and end! Is it worth a look? Yeah I guess, if only to see how they do a 1v1 fighter on NES, but it's no Joy Mech Fight, that's for sure!
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Re: Games Completed 2024

Post by Scrustle »

Spoiler: show
12/01 - The Legend of Zelda: The Missing Link
28/01 - Tony Hawk's Underground
02/02 - Max Payne
03/02 - The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD (Hero Mode)
07/02 - Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne
14/02 - Max Payne 3
23/02 - Splatoon 3: Side Order (first clear)
28/02 - Splatoon 3: Side Order (all Palettes cleared)

I’ve now cleared a run with every single weapon class available, which constitutes more or less the entirely of what this mode has to offer. The only remaining things are a few insignificant collectables, and optional self-imposed ultra hard runs that I don’t care for.

It was a lot of fun to try out all the weapons. Very cool to see how each one plays differently at the same levels, and how many of them can evolve to having a pretty different play style even using the same base weapon. There were quite a few that I didn’t expect to enjoy but did, often thanks to being able to get myself really overpowered with upgrades outside the main characteristics of the weapons themselves. There were a few occasions where I could beat whole levels using only my special because it recharged so quickly, and that was a really fun experience that you can only get thanks to the systems you get to play around with in this mode.

I found the Dualies to be weirdly difficult though, to the point where I think they messed up and made them underpowered. This shouldn’t have been a problem for me, as this is the weapon type I spend most time with in PvP. Pretty much every weapon type starts off in a state where they are okay at best, so that they can be a base to improve as you go through a run, in whatever direction you want. But even before that, usually they aren’t completely terrible. They will have a few things they are at least passable at. But the Dualies are just bad at everything. Pitiful range, poor damage, relatively ink hungry, and only have a single dodge roll. It’s like the worst of all possibilities. You have to spend a lot of resources making their basic functions actually decent, if you get lucky enough to have that chance. And even if you do, that means sacrificing other options of course. It makes me wonder if this was intentionally done to emphasise the need for upgrades, as they are also the default weapon you begin this mode with. If so I think they overshot things, and just ended up making Dualies disproportionately weak and artificially inflating the difficulty at the start of the game. Even a couple of high level players I follow have had a comparatively hard time with them.

The final run where you use the Octoshot is a really tough challenge, as it has some restrictions that other weapons don’t. You can’t rely on the permanent upgrades, as the more you have enabled the fewer level reward upgrades you get on a run. Although this does give it a bit of choice in what type of challenge you want to take on, so there’s some wiggle room in exactly how hard you want to make it. You can also skip levels, although doing so is very expensive and will tank your overall score. Even if you do take the help that is offered, this is still a pretty hard challenge, but one that feels reasonable. And it also lets you crank things up to the absolute maximum toughness if you really want as well. As I was playing through with the other weapons I tried to avoid unlocking too many of the permanent upgrades as I suspected something like this might show up, and so I thought it would be good to not get too used to being overpowered and giving myself a huge difficulty spike right at the end. It also seemed a bit pointless to upgrade any more past the point where I could already beat a normal run too.

As for the extra bits of story that you get in this post-game section, there isn’t really a huge amount unfortunately. It does go a bit further in filling in some blanks and answering a few questions, and gives a bit more context for the villain’s motivation. But there’s not much overall. It never really makes good on several of the more obscure things it hints at, even new stuff brought up in this section. It does better explain what is going on and how this situation came about in the first place through Marina’s diary though. There are also a few snippets showing the backstory between her and Acht as well, which were a nice glimpse in to a part of these characters’ lives we’ve not seen before. There’s occasionally some cute banter between the cast, but nothing particularly substantial. It all feels like a drip-feed, and somewhat anticlimactic as this is all just coming from the normal text box dialogue. There are no unique cutscenes, no secret ending or anything like that. Not that I dislike any of the stuff that is here, I just wish there was much more of it. I guess it makes sense they wanted to put the main substance of the story in to the first run that most players will see. But that leaves this story in an awkward situation where it feels like it’s holding back on both sides of the credits roll for different reasons, but it ultimately hurts both parts.
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Re: Games Completed 2024

Post by Alex79 »

Alex79 wrote: January 2nd, 2024, 12:11 pmJAN - Strider (Arcade on Evercade)
JAN - Strider (Megadrive on Switch)
JAN - God Of War (PS5)
JAN - Universal Paperclips (Android)
FEB - Alwa's Awakening (Evercade)
FEB - Little Inferno (Android)
FEB - Spider-Man 2 (PS5)
FEB - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Arcade on Switch)
FEB - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game (NES on Switch)
FEB - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project (NES on Switch)
FEB - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters (NES on Switch)
FEB - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fall Of The Foot Clan (Gameboy on Switch)

This is a game that is far more fun than appearances would suggest. It's incredibly basic, simply walking right on a 2D plane, fighting members of the Foot Clan. But the game looks really nice, big chunky sprites, cool bosses to fight, it's technically really sound for a Gameboy title. If you've got the collection and haven't tried the Gameboy games, give them a go! I need to know if I'm way off the mark here, but I thought it was great! Can be beaten in about 40 minutes, too.

FEB - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: Back From The Sewers (Gameboy on Switch)

More of the same, but a little more advanced. This time on some stages you can move in a 3D environment, and there are some skateboarding levels, too. But it's the same fun gameplay from the first game, looks just as nice. Really enjoyed this. Looking forward to trying the third Gameboy title as it's more of a Metroidvania style game, I've heard. Give this a try though, it's good! It's a real shame the GBA games weren't on this collection, though. I'd hoped they might be added as DLC at some point, but it never happened. I suppose that's because they were from a completely different software house though, they were Ubisoft as far as I can remember.
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Re: Games Completed 2024

Post by markfm007 »

Spoiler: show
January 6th - Persona 5 Royal
January 11th - Control: Ultimate Edition
January 23rd - Alan Wake 2
February 13th - Batman: Return to Arkham - Arkham Asylum
March 2nd - Cocoon

Really well designed game. It never says a word and only gives you one button to interact. But through pure visual language and smart design, I was always able to intuit what the game was asking of me. This really pays off in the last quarter or so of the game, where all of the concepts come together in very fun and satisfying ways. It’s a very mechanical feeling game, lots of moving parts, pipes and buttons. At times very abstract. The sound design and soundtrack also help provide atmosphere, with some synthy sci-fi sounds, and some nice rising, inspirational “you get it” music as you start to solve a puzzle. I’d still place it behind Inside overall, but it’s a more mechanically enjoyable game, just really satisified that part of my brain.
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Re: Games Completed 2024

Post by Jobobonobo »

Spoiler: show
Jan 7: New Super Lucky’s Tale
Jan 7: Super Mario Land
Jan 9: Tetris Attack
Mar 2: Yakuza: Like a Dragon

Managed to blaze through this just in time for the C&R podcast on this next week. Great game, love this new turn based direction and it maintains a lot of the badassery and goofiness the series is renowned for. Exactly what the series needed to keep itself fresh and interesting. Recommended for newcomers but especially rewarding for those who stayed with the series since the beginning.
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Re: Games Completed 2024

Post by Michiel K »

24 February: Star Fox 64 (N64)

I was at the b'day party of a good friend and he had an RGB-modded NTSC N64 set up with this one, connected to a 4:3 LCD display. Of course I had to have a go as I only ever played the PAL version (Lylat Wars).

Definitely a schmoove experience, though it wasn't a night and day difference from what I was used to, so I'm thinking Ninty might have done a little bit of optimisation for 50Hz on it, at least.

My route was: Corneria - Sector Y - Katina - Solar - Macbeth - Bolse - Venom, so let's say middle difficulty and I absolutely smashed my poor host's top score, in a fairly casual manner.
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Re: Games Completed 2024

Post by Michiel K »

2 March: Triangle Strategy (Switch)

I put a lot of time into my first Triangle Strategy playthrough in 2022 - 2023 and it and Tears of the Kingdom were responsible for me not making a whole lot of progress in my backlog. I got stuck in the penultimate chapter for a bit, with 2 maps where my units kept getting one shotted and completely decimated by enemy troops that were higher in level, so I kind of dropped the game for a while, fearing it was time to grind some practice maps for experience.

Thankfully, Triangle Strategy deserves the Strategy in its title, as when I picked the game back up recently, it was some upgrading of individual units with resources that I found and bought along the way and switching up tactics that were the deciding factor, not simply grinding and leveling up my troops.

So last night I finally saw the ending credits. As is my M.O. with anything RPG related, I never looked anything up on the optimal path in the game and stood by the sometimes tough and almost always impactful decisions I made in the narrative and dealt with the consequences. And as such, the ending I got wasn't all bad, but did upset me a bit, after putting at least 54 hours into my playthrough lol

Reading up on it now, as superficially as I could, the 3 regular choices you get before the endgame all lead to different endings that are at least bittersweet in their own way. And it was a single, I thought pragmatic but far from inhumane, decision I made that kept me from accessing a 4th choice that gets you the most satisfying, "true" ending.

My backlog isn't getting any smaller, so I'll leave it there for the moment, but maybe I'll get on that new game plus a few years from now and attempt to get the best ending.

All in all, Triangle Strategy is a pretty great SRPG, with not only some solid and sometimes refreshing and unusual tactical design, but also a provocative narrative experience that demands a lot of involvement from the player. I'm a sucker for the visual presentation too and though the voice acting is wishy washy, there is some great music in it to enjoy as well.
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Re: Games Completed 2024

Post by Indiana747 »

(Jan) Battlefield 3 - Series X.
(Jan) Hi-Fi Rush - Series X.
(Jan) Daymare 1998 - Series X.
(Jan) The Beast Inside - Series X.
(Feb) XIII - Series X.
(Feb) Close to the Sun - Series X.
(Feb) Atomic Heart - Series X.
(Feb) Return to Grace - Series X.
(Feb) MADiSON - PS5.
(Mar) TDPA: House of Ashes - PS5.
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Re: Games Completed 2024

Post by oni-link »

Two for me this weekend:

Super Hang-On (Arcade)

I didn't technically beat it (only the beginner stage) but I made it about 50-70% of the way through the other courses. I played the Wii VC version, with my Wii hooked up to a CRT, though sadly I don't have a replica of the bike from the arcade units.

It's a really fun game. It kind of blows my mind this came out in 1987. It looks fantastic and the scrolling is lighting fast. The four music tracks are great (well, 3 of them are) and I really love the mood and atmosphere of the game.

It's a simple game but it always leaves you feeling like you can do better the next time.

Dead Island 2

This one surprised me. I had no interest in the first game and only gave this a go as it was on Game Pass. I ended up playing the whole thing co-op with a few friends and had a great time.

It's almost feels like an Arkane game at times as the levels are all wide and dense, with lots of ways to get to different areas and with secrets everywhere. The combat (melee especially) feels really weighty. First person melee combat is rarely done well, but it's fantastic here. I also love how the zombies can crawl out of gaps at any time so you need to be constantly aware of your surroundings.

It's more goofy than scary, though it is decadently gory. It's a really polished game with a lot of variety in it's locations too. The story was pretty by the numbers, but it's told really well and the cutscenes are really well directed/acted. Overall a really underrated game.
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Re: Games Completed 2024

Post by Alex79 »

oni-link wrote: March 4th, 2024, 11:18 am Dead Island 2

This one surprised me. I had no interest in the first game and only gave this a go as it was on Game Pass. I ended up playing the whole thing co-op with a few friends and had a great time.
Did you play the first Dying Light game? Wondered how this compares to that. I enjoyed Dying Light but didn't really get in to the first Dead Island game, but I hear the sequel improves upon it in almost every way. (They are all made by the same studio, right?)
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Re: Games Completed 2024

Post by oni-link »

Alex79 wrote: March 4th, 2024, 2:14 pm
oni-link wrote: March 4th, 2024, 11:18 am Dead Island 2

This one surprised me. I had no interest in the first game and only gave this a go as it was on Game Pass. I ended up playing the whole thing co-op with a few friends and had a great time.
Did you play the first Dying Light game? Wondered how this compares to that. I enjoyed Dying Light but didn't really get in to the first Dead Island game, but I hear the sequel improves upon it in almost every way. (They are all made by the same studio, right?)
I've not played Dying Light, though I do own it, so I'll get to it one day!

Dead Island 2 went though some development hell I believe, it was in the end made by Dambuster Studios, who made 2021's Chorus (also underrated in my view) and Homefront: The Revolution, which I've not played
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Re: Games Completed 2024

Post by Scrustle »

Spoiler: show
12/01 - The Legend of Zelda: The Missing Link
28/01 - Tony Hawk's Underground
02/02 - Max Payne
03/02 - The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD (Hero Mode)
07/02 - Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne
14/02 - Max Payne 3
23/02 - Splatoon 3: Side Order (first clear)
28/02 - Splatoon 3: Side Order (all Palettes cleared)
05/03 - Alan Wake

This isn’t the first time I’ve attempted to play through this game, but when I tried before it didn’t quite click with me and I dropped off before finishing. This time though I had a much better time, and I think having the context of having played the Max Payne games before this helped a lot. Before when I bounced off it, I struggled to enjoy it in the context of being a horror game. Even though I knew at the time that wasn’t quite accurate, I still didn’t really know what other framework to come at it with. But now having more familiarity of Remedy’s style and where they were creatively at this point in their existence, I think I could get what they were going for much better. I could understand it better as being more of a homage to pulpy thrillers that has a sense of self-awareness, as it’s not really a horror game, despite what Alan himself might say.

The way this game evolves the metatextual ideas is really cool. How it presents itself as being a story within a story, integrating both layers of the text and metatext together, before eventually going even further and folding them in on each other is really clever and fun to think about. So instead of just mixing media together in the way of simply placing different forms within one experience, it instead makes the idea that it knows its a story an actual part of the story, while still keeping it all diegetic. It’s a really impressive achievement in storytelling. The basic plot and characters may not be the most compelling or fleshed out, but the way it tells that story is brilliant. Although in a sense that act of telling the story is also part of the plot as well, so you can’t really separate those two things.

There were some things I was a bit ambivalent about early on though, before things really got up to speed and this game showed its true colours. At first it really shows its inspirations on its sleeve, to a degree that I think does harm to it carving out its own identity. It showers you with explicit references to stuff like Stephen King and Twin Peaks, and it comes off as pretty desperately derivative. I’m also not sure what I think about Alan himself as a writer. His prose isn’t exactly the most inspired. I get that it’s supposed to be part of his character that he’s kind of a schlocky genre writer, but I’m not sure what higher purpose that is supposed to serve by the end of it. But I have to admit all those concerns ended up fading away by the halfway point as this game really gets in to its stride and starts doing its own thing. That stuff isn’t really that important outside of setting the tone, but what this story ends up doing with those components is the really interesting thing.

I also really like how this game looks too. This was just the original non-remaster version, and it still looks great. I really like this kind of Rocky Mountain redwood forest locale, with lots of scenic nature and log cabins and such. This game has a great realisation of it too, with lush dense foliage, lots of attention to detail, and fantastic use of light and shadow. The supernatural effects used when the darkness closes in are very impressive too. They create a spooky and hazy atmosphere that comes across as very natural and not out of place as something that obviously stands out as a special effect. It does a great job of making it hard to pick things out in the darkness without it also feeling like it’s obstructing you in an obtuse way. It’s clearly an early version of the sorts of effects Remedy would go wild with later, but even here they do a good job.

And so I’m now starting to get towards the end of this exploration of Remedy’s back catalogue. I haven’t done the DLC yet, which I do plan to do soon. I’ve also got American Nightmare to go through, which I’m pretty curious about. It also occurred to me recently that between these games and Splatoon, I’ve been playing shooters way more than anything else lately, which is very unusual for me. I’ve tried to add in a few other things to spice things up a bit and avoid getting burned out on this style of gameplay, but nothing has been able to stick right now. Not that I’m getting particularly tired of shooting as of yet, and I’m at the home stretch now anyway.
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Re: Games Completed 2024

Post by Indiana747 »

(Jan) Battlefield 3 - Series X.
(Jan) Hi-Fi Rush - Series X.
(Jan) Daymare 1998 - Series X.
(Jan) The Beast Inside - Series X.
(Feb) XIII - Series X.
(Feb) Close to the Sun - Series X.
(Feb) Atomic Heart - Series X.
(Feb) Return to Grace - Series X.
(Feb) MADiSON - PS5.
(Mar) TDPA: House of Ashes - PS5.
(Mar) RE Village: Shadows of Rose - PS5.
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Scrustle
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Re: Games Completed 2024

Post by Scrustle »

Spoiler: show
12/01 - The Legend of Zelda: The Missing Link
28/01 - Tony Hawk's Underground
02/02 - Max Payne
03/02 - The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD (Hero Mode)
07/02 - Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne
14/02 - Max Payne 3
23/02 - Splatoon 3: Side Order (first clear)
28/02 - Splatoon 3: Side Order (all Palettes cleared)
05/03 - Alan Wake
08/03 - Alan Wake's American Nightmare

This game is a strange little anomaly, that definitely isn’t as enjoyable as the original, and goes in some questionable directions, but I honestly can’t say I had a bad time with it. On the one hand I can see why people were unhappy with this as a follow-up, but I don’t think it deserved the hate it got at the time. It’s trying some things, and it doesn’t necessarily feel totally out of step with what Alan Wake already established. But the end result is something that doesn’t quite feel right as being the next big step for this series.

The big obvious change here is that there is now a much bigger mechanical/gameplay focus. It’s way more concerned with being a more engaging action game this time around than anything else. I neglected to talk about that stuff in my post about the first game, but it’s relevant context for this. I never cared much for combat in the original to be honest. It was okay, but far from the highlight of the experience. It’s very simple, with only a small basic arsenal and enemies that weren’t that varied or interesting. The poltergeists in particular were always annoying. Alan’s movement was slow and unresponsive, his stamina was very low, and the dodge was pretty unreliable and vague. There is something to the idea of having to burn away the darkness covering enemies before you can hurt them though. It slowed down the pace of combat a bit to add some tension, and you could read it as a metaphor for first having to understand fears before being able to overcome them I suppose. But overall the combat pales in comparison to the narrative and aesthetic in terms of what’s actually compelling about the game.

So this game does a lot to “fix” those issues. Controls are way snappier and more reliable, you have way more stamina, and you’re way more powerful in general. There’s many more weapons that even include automatics and a crossbow that doesn’t even require you to burn away enemies’ dark shield first. There’s a wider variety of enemy design too which act in different ways and have different methods to deal with as well, which push them in to a more superhuman direction. I have to admit all this does actually result in a more enjoyable combat experience. It feels better to play and is more satisfying as an action game for sure. But I’m not sure if this is all actually a good thing. It makes the experience feel a lot more “gamey”, which I’m usually not that bothered by, but it does rub up against the aims of what Alan Wake is trying to do. It also lessens that sense of tension of going up against enemies too. Despite them being more numerous and aggressive, this game is definitely easier than the first, so they’re not exactly threatening.

The setting is also a big change this time as well, switching things all the way to the Arizona desert. Another very strange choice on the surface of it, but I can see it making sense in a way. While it doesn’t have the same scenic beauty and rustic feel of the first, it does have its own charms. It’s got a sort of eerie vibe to it in its isolation, and brings to mind spooky goings-on like alien abductions and the like. But the reason for this locale is that this story is framed as taking place within an episode of Night Springs, the in-universe Twilight Zone-like parody, that Alan is trapped within in his imprisonment in the Dark Place. Not only that, but it’s later revealed to be part of a time loop, as he has to keep going through the same sequence of events to escape the episode. I can see this time loop thing being something that people could’ve had an issue with, calling it “re-using content” or something like that. But I can appreciate a good time loop. It can be a really interesting way to approach a story, giving you extra angles and context on the same events, making each moment carry more meaning the more you see it. That kind of unconventional storytelling seems right in line with the kind of thing this series likes to explore. But I have to be honest, the actual story here isn’t that interesting. There’s not really that much going on. Maybe there’s a few interesting lines of dialogue from some of the characters when they start to realise what’s happening, but there isn’t much more to it than that. It does at least cut down unnecssary repetition pretty well. There’s only three loops, and each one is shorter than the last, as you get to cut out some of the objectives thanks to Alan having that knowledge from preceding loops.

Another big part of the story that is more interesting is the character of Mr. Scratch, Alan’s sinister alter-ego who has trapped him in this place and torments him through TV broadcasts. He’s really entertaining to watch, and he serves as a metaphor for Alan’s darker impulses. He goads and mocks Alan about how he’s what Alan wishes he could be. He even acts out the sadistic acts of violence that Alan writes about in his books, revelling in it the whole time. It’s all done in live action too, which is a part of Remedy’s cross-media aspect that wasn’t quite as prominent in the original game. The performance sells it really well too. It’s interesting to think about what that says about which version of Alan is more “real” as well. One thing I’ve heard about this game is that it feels redundant and that it doesn’t really add anything of value to the series, but giving Mr. Scratch screen time and exploring this dynamic between him and Alan is definitely pretty significant and worthwhile I think. It also follows up on something that otherwise would feel like a weird pointless loose end in the first game, where this character just shows up at the end for seemingly no reason.

But overall, outside off fleshing out Mr. Scratch, there isn’t a whole lot to this game in terms of how it impacts the plot of the series overall. Not much important happens in the story, and it ends in a pretty inconclusive way. It feels less like a full follow-up and more of a smaller experiment that is using the Alan Wake setting to play around with some ideas, but not really ever attempting to be the next big entry. I guess that makes it pretty appropriate to frame it as a Night Springs episode, like this is just one chapter in a serialised anthology that is trying out stuff for its own sake. It ends in a way that clearly indicates they fully expected there to be more after this. Perhaps that points to a possible alternate version of events where we got more smaller games like this that experimented in other areas instead of waiting so many years for a big sequel. Whether that would be better or worse than what we got, who can say.
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seansthomas
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Re: Games Completed 2024

Post by seansthomas »

Jan 4th - Shadow of the Tomb Raider (PS5)
Jan 10th - Jusant (Xbox Series S)
Feb 6th - Resident Evil 4 (PS5)
Feb 19th - Resident Evil 4 - Hardcore (PS5)
Feb 25th - Interaction isn't explicit (PS5)

Mar 10th - The Last of Us Part II: Remastered (PS5)

I've never played this sequel, but bought it on sale years ago, so the cheap upgrade offer felt like a good excuse to rectify that.

For context, I liked Part 1, but didn't love it. I really rate the world design aesthetic and appreciate the production values, but I didn't care for the story as much as I feel the game wanted me to. It was more daring as AAA games go, and well handled, but nothing life changing for me. The bigger issue was I found the actual gameplay amongst the cut scenes, on rails escapes and slow walking sections a bit sluggish. It just never quite clicked in a way the combat did in Tomb Raider / Horizon, nor did I feel the stealth was as solid as Metal Gear / Deus Ex / Hitman.

I tonally struggled a bit with Part 1 too. It's pretty bleak and unrelenting, but also very silly. It goes to such great lengths to be realistic in it's visuals and writing, but your character seems to be fine after taking an axe to the head and safe combinations are left written on walls 5 feet away. So I found that a bit jarring.

My friend recommended I up the difficulty here to Hard to make scavenging items more vital and combat encounters more tactical, and it was a great shout. If anything I wish I'd played it on an even harder setting, as by the end I was pretty unstoppable and realised I ended the game having saved up, but never used, a Molotov / nail bomb / smoke bomb. That shift in tension transformed my enjoyment of this series; and whilst I do feel it's thematically still more of a far fetched game than it is a deep essay on humanity, I loved Part 2 so much more than Part 1. I'm tempted to buy and replay the Remaster of the original one day.

Abby and Ellie's increased movement and move sets make things so much more fluid, and I felt like I was chaining together my abilities so smoothly. I went from stealth, to picking off a few people, to setting traps and then unleashing bullet hell on people often within one encounter. I stealthed through whole camps, without being spotted once. I avoided whole sections of the game. I set infected on enemies without doing anything. I walked into an infected room with a flamethrower and stood my ground like Elena Ripley. Picked off whole patrols without them ever knowing I was there. The variety and control I had felt thrilling. In particular Days 2 and 3 for both characters were amongst some of the best I've experienced in a while.

I also liked that this game felt a bit more human on human, than a zombie fest. I am not the bravest gamer and shy away from jump scares and horror titles, so that probably also added to my increased enjoyment of Part 2 Vs 1.

I should also say, whilst I'm not someone who always gets swayed by visuals, this game is pretty remarkable for a game half a decade old. Many times I found myself taking photos or marvelling at how gorgeous it was. I loved the change in light and tone in the final section too. And played with headphones on, the sound was really quite spectacular. The sound design of things like the workbench upgrade table and the infected is immense.

I won't go into anything storywise for spoilers, but I think it builds on Part 1 smartly and goes interesting places. The story (and probably the game itself) could have done with some editing and landing it's points a bit faster in places, but I'm intrigued to see where a further chapter goes narratively.

I'm excited to play the cut content now with the commentary on and replay a few chapters I particularly loved in a different way. I definitely favoured stealth over firefights, so an alternate play on those levels would be fun.

All in all, TLOU2 just feels a far better game to me than 1. And I can see why the people who love it, really love it. Whilst the story of the first probably stays with you longer, I know which one I'd rather play.

And if... or rather when... Part 3 lands, I'll be there day one.
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