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.

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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.

 

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First Hour: Sunless Skies

Time for a new idea for this blog: spending exactly one hour with a new game and trying to describe the experience. Today is an excellent opportunity to try it, because the Early Access version of Sunless Skies has just been released by the Failbetter Games.

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Although it appears that the residents of Fallen London are not able to return to the surface, their Queen managed to find a new way to expand her dominion by reaching into the stars. Fittingly for the setting, the explorers use clunky steam locomotives to travel between settlements and outposts. Obviously, both hazards and opportunities can be found in the High Wilderness. On the one hand, the Londoners can find plenty of new goods here, with time itself becoming a strategic resource, but as it was to be expected, there are void-faring monsters and even worse horrors lurking out there. Of course, the protagonist is a commander of such a locomotive.

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Sunless Skies is a direct sequel to Sunless Sea and comparisons are inevitable. The first glance reveals that the graphic artists did a really good job. The locations are depicted in tiny details, the background has several layers and the sense of space is breathtaking at moments, even if currently there’s no chance to move in three directions — not even a ‘dive’ option like in the Zubmariner add-on. Character portraits and images illustrating the ports you’re visiting are excellent, especially when you remember the clumsy graphics from the browser game which were later recycled in SunSea. Even the interface looks pleasant to the eye, which hits my soft spot (interface aesthetic was one of the reasons why I loved the Silmarils’ games so much as a kid). My favourite addition are the short pieces of text slowly appearing after our space engine reaches a new location.

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Flying the steampunk cousin of Apollo 13 isn’t much different from sailing on the Unterzee, but some important changes happened. First of all, it seems to be faster even with a basic engine, but also more inert, so it’s quite difficult to change direction and avoid collision. Fortunately, our locomotive is far less fragile than the vessels from the previous game and suffers damage from hitting obstacles only at high speed. The other significant change is the possibility of strafing which becomes very useful in space fight. This time there are no turrets and gunnery officers to speak of, instead we are required to target manually by moving the ship and shooting two types of weapon. After a moment of confusion, I emerge victorious from my first scuffle with an unidentified foe.

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This reminds me that I’m playing an early beta version. Unlike Sunless Sea, I’m not able to see the name of my enemy and their health. Is this a bug or a feature? Maybe I need to have special equipment or gain knowledge to see who is attacking me? I’ll have to check that later.

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Another novelty is the new system of character progression. Instead of enlisting an officer and asking him for training, now we are able to determine the past of our supposed hero. The ascension to Level 2 required me to answer whether my alter ego was happy with their prole life. I’m really curious what happens next. Anyway, this was a very pleasant surprise, because I love character creation and role-playing.

There’s not much more to add after a mere hour of playing. All I can say that I’m excited to see more and really glad that I’m playing in Early Access. Waiting for new updates and watching the game develop sounds very promising. Of course, I will mention the changes in my weekly reports.

Meanwhile, I have a dead settler on board, the hull is damaged and fuel is running out. Damn, I love you, Failbetter Games.

 

 

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.

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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…

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…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.

Weekly (II)

There’s been little progress since the last entry. First it was the ungodly heat wave which hit my part of the country and sucked every little bit of energy from my veins, then the slumbering beast called ‘social life’ suddenly opening its eyes and making me engage in unexpected activities like a music festival or a fishing trip (the latter apparently being the real-life equivalent of Dark Souls).

So, I barely touched the games mentioned in my last post, like Sunless Sea or Verdun. Still, despite the circumstances I was able gain some ground…

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…in a game which is perfect for short sessions after work, when your body is melting down. Meet Völgarr the Viking, a retro hack’n’slash platformer I’ve been casually playing for a year. The game has never mentioned on this blog because I’ve never treated it too seriously and expected to get far in it due to its very demanding difficulty level, but, to my surprise, I somehow managed to reach the final level and enter the devil’s den, as pictured above. Even if I beat it in the coming days, this will give me (spoiler alert!) the worst possible ending, but maybe I’ll play New Game+ then, testing my patience even harder.

As for other goals, everything tells me that I will be very busy again, so it’s the bare minimum: finally close the Space Marine playthrough and write about it. With some nice screencaps if possible.

Cheers and see you next Monday.

 

Weekly (I)

…and here it is, my first report from the week that perished. Posted with a little delay, but the first step is always the hardest.

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The best thing that happened to me last week was the sudden realisation that I’m not the worst Verdun player in the world. Playing a few matches every day, I noticed that my score is quite decent and I’m somehow able to give basic advice to less experienced players. Who would expect that an online shooter makes you feel paternal instincts.

FAther's Bones

The final journey on the Unterzee began a month ago, but during the time given for this report I was finally able to make constant progress, even if it was a bit slow. And I really have to hurry up because the sequel Sunless Skies will be available on the Steam Free Access with the end of this month.

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While Captain Titus is having a pleasant conversation with an Inquisitor (and his personal torture expert) on board of a Black Ship, I’m finishing my Space Marine playthrough after a prolonged break. Maybe the lack of patience is one of my weakest points, but somehow I was able to beat the game’s hardest difficulty level and now all that remains are a few single-player achievements to complete.

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‘Only in death does duty end’. Even though my Adeptus Astartes adventure didn’t end yet, I shed the ceramite-and-plasteel armour for the baroque attire of an Inquisitor. After a few hours I can certainly say that it’s worse than disappointing — it’s a shame to the fictional universe I love so much, especially when the game is based one of the best WH40k novels. Still, I’m willing to be very forgiving and just enjoy the story and voice acting.

Back with a Bang (or rather a whimper)

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I LIVE

I DIE

I LIVE AGAIN

My WordPress dashboard tells me that I published the last post more than half a year ago, shortly after I bought my brand new, shining gaming rig. A very long period of silence followed. How to explain that? An abyss of confusion.

Playing on my old laptop gave me a very limited choice. Oldies or indies. Getting a PC more suitable for my favourite hobby made me think really hard about the concept of choice cost. Suddenly, a whole new galaxy was opened before me – and Steam sales certainly don’t help you to focus on a single target. Yeah, time to change my approach and avoid hoarding unfinished games in my library — which is, by the way, the most disgusting form of consumerism.

Mad Max

The best mediocre game I’ve ever played.

Sure, just like I mentioned in that post, all the reviews I’ve read before and during playing Mad Max were right. It’s flawed. A disappointment. And yet I consider it to be one of the best experiences in my lifetime of a vidya fan.

Sure, I can see the flaws mentioned by other reviewers. Gameplay is repetitive. There are no dialogue options and the text is scarce. Difficulty threshold is way too low and you ascend to the position of a wasteland demigod too soon. Maybe there are many other minor details which would make me criticise this game if I only were a professional reviewer?

Too bad I’m just myself. Someone who finds the weakest points of this game really appealing.

There is no such thing as repetitiveness when you’re impersonating Max Rockatansky in the middle of a wasteland. Everything, driving, fighting, exploration, is hypnotising — which would be hardly possible in another setting.

Verdun

Just a few heartbeats and shell explosions after I’ve entered my first battle, I meet a small team of professional and extremely polite German players who are ready to guide me, a complete Grünschnabel. Out of sudden, I have just found my regiment, the local equivalent of a standard multiplayer clan. The battle is finished and immediately after the new map loads, one of my new trench friends quotes a very gloomy German poem about dying in the trenches. Just a few seconds later I find myself lying on the bottom of a trench, covering from artillery barrage and looking at the uncanny depiction of a hole in human skull and a pulsating brain beneath it. Shivers.

Yeah, maybe I found a FPS shooter which I can enjoy playing online after all.

Goals for this month

Verdun: Reach player level 100

…and stop being such an embarrassment to my dear Kameraden. Seriously, some of them have reset their rank to plain zero since I’ve started playing the game in December.

Space Marine: win it for the Librarius

…finishing the game shouldn’t be a problem even on the hardest difficulty level. What really makes me excited is collecting the missing floating skulls – just because it made me leave the playthrough in the past. Funny, searching for them is far more frustrating than repeatedly dying after a close encounter with a Traitor Marine who still remembers the Heresy Era.

Sunless Sea: Finish it!

According to my Steam counter, it’s almost 700 hours spent on the Unterzee. No wonder I’m so lousy at finishing games. Besides, maybe Sunless Sky is still in development, but there is a fan-made spin-off to give a try to. Hurry up, Captain!

 

This Blog: Summaries.

Amazing! Extraordinary! I’ve actually managed to finish some games since the December. It’s only polite to write about it and feed my Just Finished category.

Constant Feature: Your weekly report

What I need is some discipline. Writing a report about my progress every week seems to be a good start. Of course, it should include noting down my thoughts and posting screenshots which are to brief or irrelevant to make an entire post. Since I do most of my playing on weekends, Monday is the best choice for such reports.