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2017 in review

Posted: Fri Feb 02, 2018 6:33 am UTC
by Koa
Huh? What? Oh.

2016 2015 2014

Hollow Knight is my GoTY. It has strong artistic cohesion. Ori and the Blind Forest is a somewhat similar game, and both are pretty to look at, but for some reason Ori didn't leave a lasting impression in terms of art-style/world/sound. Hollow Knight alludes to a greater history that is never explained through intriguing environments that are fun to even backtrack through because of the movement mechanics. I like the full air control to deemphasize platforming, the brief delay before a double jump, the general power of a wall jump. The challenge comes in the combat. Though you do get damage upgrades, throughout the whole game you don't feel very powerful. However you have a fast strike, you can evade the telegraphed attacks, and perseverance makes up the rest of it. Enemies have a lot of presence on the screen, and when you have multiple enemies of different types, things can get very difficult. You will find new opportunities for strikes with each movement ability unlock, and things really speed up as you learn to exploit the new tools to their fullest potential. There's something like twenty unique boss fights that test your movement, and overcoming them translates into useful skills throughout the rest of the game because it's about tightening your mechanics and positioning. Eventually it feels very methodical to blitz through a level and dance around enemies. It's a challenging game of deliberate movement rather than timing and learning patterns. Since the movement skills often translate between one fight to the next, even though the complexity of new encounters is increasing the relative difficulty isn't because of previously learned skills. I find it frustrating when too much emphasis is put on learning the enemy's moves rather than learning your own.

Therefore, also a shout out to Nioh for what I wanted from Dark Souls. It shifts the focus away from learning enemies and more towards learning your character with an actual combat system of some complexity.

I haven't gotten very far in Darkwood yet. It's a survival game with progression and an end. Low res gore and spooky things. With the isometric camera you can see your surroundings, but to see certain details your character needs to be looking at it. Like that unspeakable horror that you can hear hot on your heels as your stamina bar is running low, that you can't see until you turn around with your last shotgun shell to paint the woods the only vibrant color in the game's palette. I like how you can hear real threats off screen as well, allowing you to avoid enemies you might not ever see. I was getting into it until I entered the second area with a second hideout and I got a glimpse of the structure of the game's acts. It took the mystery out of the game because up until that point I had no idea what to expect. When I realized there would be multiple hideouts requiring a logistic chain and defenses each time, with progressively more dangerous events at night and more loot to deal with it... I lost most of the motivation. It doesn't help that it's yet another survival game with items and crafting and whatnot. It's definitely clever in small ways persistently that has me interested in what might come later on though.

Re: 2017 in review

Posted: Sun Feb 04, 2018 8:04 pm UTC
by rmsgrey
Breath of the Wild (also Super Mario Odyssey). Epic Nintendo gaming - I've not played a modern open world game before, but the word is that BotW's take on it is pretty unique. I don't know that it'll age so well as some older Zelda games have, but in the current context it's a standout game.

Life is Strange: Before the Storm. More of a personal favourite than a universal classic. The original Life Is Strange made use of the time-rewind mechanic to bypass a lot of the issues with adventure games and narrative choices not going as you expected from the choice descriptions, and this prequel doesn't have that, and also doesn't have Max, the POV character from the first game. But young Chloe makes a good replacement for Max, and Rachel Amber makes a good replacement for Chloe as the inciting manic pixie dream girl who keeps making things happen. Most people will get different mileage out of this game, but I enjoyed it.

Yooka Laylee. Meh. It's the Banjo-Kazooie remake you never knew you wanted - with all the quirks and issues of an N64 era game with modern graphics. I've completed the game aside from the super-secret hidden collectibles that are only mentioned in achievements, and beating the final boss. A couple of the retro mini-games are needlessly hard - not because of the minigame design, but because the controls are crappy. And the final boss is pretty rough. It's not a terrible game, but it's not as good in a modern context as Banjo-Kazooie was back in the day.