Weekly: Absolutely Barbaric!

Tasting three different flavours of post-apocalypse.

Maybe it’s 2017, but from time to time fond memories still bring me back to the Newgrounds. This time I’m revisiting Barbarium, a humorous take on heroic fantasy themes and post-apocalyptic setting. This 2D platformer begins with our hero, a half-naked muscular savage wielding a sword and a laser blaster, pushing through a scorched wasteland to reach remnants of a modern city. Then he wanders among ruins slaying mutants, releasing bikini-clad babes from shackles and gulping beer, guided by cryptic advice from archetypal crazy old Chinese savants. The visuals won’t earn it any prize, but the game sure is fun.

20171015233536_1.jpg

Recently, I have begun my final approach to The Final Train. I’m doing it to refresh my memory because the game certainly deserves a longer Just Finished post on this blog. If you haven’t played it, the story may seem trivial and full of clichés (zombies, alien invasion, giant robot, etc.), but playing just for a few hours reveals a certain depth. This is my favourite approach to horror games: subtlety and quiet dread instead of gore and shock value.

20171018233657_1.jpg

Even if I’m still stuck in Sierra Madre, it’s not so bad because I learned how to enjoy the game again. All thanks to the wonderful piece of technology called the Holorifle. Typically for me, I barely used and used the Police Pistol to decapitate the Ghosts, saving the energetic weapon for That One Special Moment (which usually never comes and you’re left with a shiny new weapon and lots of ammo), but I changed my approach. Dodging spears and gas bombs thrown by the revenants while blasting their heads with two shots each feels great. Another reminder to play in a more relaxed and, well, crazy way.

Goals: Nothing specific. Just drag through the mud.

Advertisements

Weekly: Men Among the Ruins

Stealing from the evil Old World and giving it to the poor. Then going for a slow walk through a burning forest.

After a prolonged break, I got back to New Vegas and found my Courier in the same place where I had left him: slowly, painfully crawling through the killing cloud in the abandoned Sierra Madre casino. The reason it’s going so slow is, as always, my obsession with collecting all achievements, which includes snooping through each pile of trash in search of a special deck of cards. Note to myself: next time I should play NV in a more relaxed way.

20170904232433_1

The main antagonist, Father Elijah, hardly counts as a villain in my book. Maybe I don’t know his full story yet, but he got my attention with one speech in which, essentially, he pictured breaking into the casino as a revenge against the corrupt Old World which destroyed itself and condemned its descendants to this existence full of misery. Speaking more generally, his determination to reach the goal, the ruthlesness, the weariness behind each word he speaks make him a very relatable character.

All right, Father, at this point I’m ready to forgive you everything, the exploding collar on my neck, poisonous gas and traps everywhere, finally the not exactly charming companions I’m stuck with. Let’s get into that fortress and claim what is rightfully ours.

20170108224011_1

Firewatch seems to be the perfect game for the Autumn season. After all, if I understand it correctly, one of its main themes is the passing of things. The great fire will devour the forest just like the coming winter will take all the light and warmth. The people our protagonist loves so much will leave him too, just like the long Summer evenings have abandoned me. At least, in the so-called real-life I can always hope for a new dawn and coming of spring, but after watching the ending I doubt there will be renewal and rebirth for the game’s anti-hero. Actually, I began to despise him for his weakness and passivity, but maybe I’ll write more about it next time.

What is really great about playing it for the second time, I can finally stop following the conversations and focus on the visual side. This time, the goal is to take some screenshots which capture the essence of the game and make a gallery post. We’ll see how it works out.

Weekly: Pale Grey Sky

As much as I love Roman numerals, it’s time to become more creative and try to invent titles for my weekly reports.

20170925230214_1

This may sound really weird, but I discovered that GTA V is becoming one of my designated Autumn games, just like it was with San Andreas. When the landscape behind my windows looks like the set of a Tarkovsky’s film, I find it comforting to immerse myself in the twisted landscape of California, and even the violent action and crazy cults don’t spoil the mood. Fortunately, I finally managed to overcome my unhealthy perfectionism and actually began to enjoy the game after I gave up my obsession of finishing every mission with Gold rating — which is quite stressful, time-consuming and simply boring.

(maybe I should write an entire post about playing in Autumn. just give me some time)

Big things are happening! I finally returned to strategy games after a very long break. Again, it was a Steam sale which tempted me into buying Crusader Kings 2. My first playthrough is staying on the safe side and I’m playing the ruler of Iceland. Since I’m isolated from invaders, it plays like a family drama, finding a proper spouse for my child and fending off jealous courtiers being my jarl’s main concerns.

Goals: since I have a dozen of unfinished sketches in my virtual WordPress drawer, it’s time to finish and publish them before October 1. Wish me luck.

Weekly (VI)

This week reminded me how important it is to appreciate classics, and also why I’m Against the Modern Gaming.

20170917020930_1

Saturday was a wonderful nostalgia trip back into the Erich Chahi’s masterpiece. After having played the refreshed version of Another World, I cannot help but feel amazed. Sure enough, now I can see the game’s flaws which escaped me when I was a naive teenager and the 20th Anniversary edition doesn’t add too much to the original (hi-res graphics, of course, and adjustable difficulty setting), but Chahi’s vision and the realisation how far ahead of his times he was have convinced me again that Another World is a true masterpiece. The only flaw that I cannot overlook is its shortness — mere 63 minutes of playing and I’m near the ending. Maybe I should try to play the supposedly failed sequel, even if every review was decidedly negative. We’ll see.

On Sunday, I decided to experiment and try out Tom Clancy’s The Division which was temporarily made free to download by Steam. I didn’t read much about it and thus I didn’t expect much, but an open-world shooter set in the NYC turned into Sarajevo by a plague seemed to be a nice prospect. What was I even thinking?!

20170917170509_1

Less than an hour of playing was enough to decide that I’m definitely not buying it. Don’t get me wrong, this is an AAA+ title definitely not made by amateurs but, as a fan of the Fallout and Stalker series, I will not waste another second on it. I don’t say it’s boring, since hiding behind trashed cars and shooting looters was quite exciting for a while, but the entire experience felt empty. Hollow. Soulless. The developers even managed to do the incredible and make the surroundings, properly littered and full of abandoned vehicles, look s t e r i l e like an old-fashioned theatre set. I don’t consider it wasted time, though, as it was an important lesson about carefully choosing your games, especially made by mainstream giants like Ubisoft.

Plans for this week? Just do something, I don’t know, maybe try to finish Sunless Sea. And don’t forget to write for posterity about it.

Weekly (V)

One week and one day behind the schedule. Oh, well.

As almost every human being, I regret some thing I missed in the past. This time, playing Sunless Sea made me regret learning about its predecessor too late to join the Early Access or play the final release without later add-ons. Sure, Sunless Sea was hard to play, but I found the reviews complaining about it too exaggerated, since every patch made things a little easier. Meanwhile, after spending a dozen of hours with the new Failbetter’s game I can imagine how zee captains must have felt while exploring the raw version of SunSea. In short, I’m sailing through a cold, empty void which openly hates me.

20170912231821_1

There are few locations and even fever quests, so money and resources are hard to replenish. The cramped hold is another problem – at one point, I was forced to jettison valuable cargo because otherwise I wouldn’t be able to get enough supplies and reach my next destination, The new terror mechanics makes it more difficult to maintain sanity, because this time pub-crawling in the docks or spending some money on vacation in your luxurious mansion is not enough. This time, when the dread metre goes to high, our brave voidfarer gains a so-called Condition and needs to undergo a literal therapy in one of the ports, which just happens to be a literal asylum. Do I need to add that there’s no free healthcare in the frontier and you have to pay for it with some rare items?

Fortunately, this time there’s no permadeath and it’s possible to return to the last save location if things go full Alex Kennedy. I’m still proud of never having used this feature in Sunless Sea, but this time, facing an early version of a game which is possibly infested with bugs, I’m going to use it freely. We’ll wait for the Iron Man challenge until the final version is released.

That’s it. I’ve had little progress in other games so there’s nothing else to add to this post.

Goal for this Week: Focus on Sunless Sea and beat the Death to death. It’s about time.

 

Weekly (IV)

Do you want to hear a comparison my vidya experience last week? The closest think is playing Verdun for the first time. You’re crawling in the No Man’s Land wearing a gas mask choking you and obscuring your sight, slowly making progress and stopping at the bottom of each shell crater, only to get caught by barbed wire right in front of the enemy trench and slowly bleed to death.

Yeah, that’s how it felt like. At least I had a sweet short trip back into the innocent past.

Sudden nostalgia attacks usually happen to me on Sunday afternoons when I sit over a cup of coffee. This time it was a game which definitely has nothing to do with typical Sunday mood.

Myth1

Long time ago in my teen years, I spent many hours leading my ragtag army in a desperate struggle against the Fallen Lords and almost finished it. This time I spend just two hours playing the first three battles and slowly begin to realise that I’m too old for it. Not that I mind the outdated graphics, but crazy camera control and sluggish movement of my troops are a bit too much for me (at least the zombies have an excuse). Still, the story, the amazing soundtrack and voice acting… maybe if my backlog wasn’t insanely long, I’d spend more replaying Myth. Anyway, thanks for the memories.

This Week: We’re going to the stars and watch them die! That is, the sequel to Sunless Sea is to be released on Thursday. The main goal is to download it from Steam as soon as possible and write down my first impressions. Ideally, I should finish my Final Captain’s quest for immortality in SunSea first, but somehow I feel it’s not going to happen.

Weekly (III)

Not exactly an eventful week. I mostly focused on polishing my shooting skills in the one and only Ernst Jünger simulator, and then I made some slow, painful progress in other games marked for finishing. The week’s highlight was my fifth live RPG session, but this is a vidya blog, and I did really weird things playing a shell-shocked half-orc, so maybe I’ll leave it at that.

Still, I found some time for sweet nostalgia gaming…

20170820174018_1

…by buying the remastered version of Full Throttle, my favourite LucasArts title.

Yeah, I’m really glad that I did. And I’m even more glad that it was a sale and I didn’t play the full price, because I expected it to be something more than smooth HD graphics, minor interface adjustments and some bonuses which aren’t really that interesting. Maybe it doesn’t even matter, because playing Full Throttle is still a magical experience, and all too often I caught myself staring at the screen in stupor. This game has a soul, you know.

Goals for the Next Week: finally leave that ork-infested planet for good. Write about it. Publish it.

And make sure you finish SunSea before SunSky is released.