Thursday, February 11, 2016

Duelyst Impressions

I played a bunch of Duelyst and it's a fun mix of strategy, turn based games, and deck building.   I really like the potential here.

The battle system has a general who can use abilities and summon monsters from your deck.  You draw new abilities and monsters every turn so your options are constantly changing and evolving.  Instead of these being cards they turn into actual characters that go on a board.  The game mixes current digital card games with turn based strategy games on a grid based field.  It's a really fun combination.

It honestly reminds me of a fresh modern version of Hero Academy which I loved when it came out.  Except with Duelyst the battles happen much faster because it's not asynchronous.

Duelyst is still early access but it's obvious that this game has lots of potential.  I played enough to know that I like it and that I'll want to play it when it actually releases.  But, I don't like pouring a lot of time into early access games so this one will go to the side until it's officially released.  When it does, you should seriously think about trying it.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Voyager Season 4 Review

Right near the beginning of the season some big changes happen on Voyager.  Kes leaves the ship in a blaze of telepathic glory that superspeeds the ship another 10 years closer to the Alpha Quadrant.  Right around the same time Seven of Nine comes aboard.

Seven of Nine is a Borg who is freed from the collective and quickly becomes one of the most interesting characters on the ship.  She brings into question what it means to be human and how to discover your humanity after being raised without it.  The episodes that focus on her are some of the best of the season.

There's also a lot of development between Tom and B'elanna.  It's the first real romantic relationship on the ship that we see consistently being developed.  This is the season where they finally come together and have an official relationship.  It's a nice common thread that keeps moving forward throughout most of the episodes in Season 4.

Not to mention that the Doctor once again gets a couple cool episodes with things that only his holographic self can do.  He's still my favorite character.

One of the most exciting developments of the season is that Voyager finally communicates with the Alpha Quadrant through an alien communications relay before once again getting cut off.  But they got updates from home, and now Star Fleet knows they're alive and on their way back.

It's nice to see big progress on the trip back to the Alpha Quadrant.  I'm still having a good time watching the show and I'm excited to start season 5!  I'm glad this Star Trek clicked with me.  It's making me really excited for the new Star Trek that CBS is launching later this year.

Tharsis Impressions

I played a bunch of Tharsis after hearing about it a few weeks ago.  I thought it was still early access, but it turns out it's a "full game".  It sure doesn't feel like it though.

The core of the gameplay system is there but it feels like it needs options, missions, difficulty settings, and more fleshed out gameplay.  But, I really like what's there.

Tharsis is a game about traveling to Mars and everything goes wrong.  It's a crisis management game.  Every turn you decide where your crew goes in the space traveling vessel and you roll dice for the crew to try to complete objectives.

It's honestly like a board game made to be a video game.  I love board games and video games these days, which is what attracted me to Tharsis in the first place.

Honestly, I really like it, but it feels incomplete.

This one is going to go on the backburner for awhile until they add more to the game.  It's obvious that they intend to add more to the game and tweak it over time.  I bet it's going to be really fun in about six months.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Firewatch Review

I just played through Firewatch and loved it.  The game only clocked it around the 4 hour mark for me, but it was wonderful.  I'm so happy when a dev tells their story and then wraps up the game.  This is the perfect example of a game that doesn't need to be 8+ hours to be worth the money.

In Firewatch you get a little bit of backstory about your character and then start your first day on the job of watching for forest fires from your tower.  Your only line of communication is through a walkie-talkie to your direct supervisor and that's where the majority of the narrative takes place.

But things quickly start to happen that you need to go investigate.  Most of the game finds you wandering the wilderness around your tower digging into things that are going on.  You use an actual compass and map along with a limited gear set to traverse the terrain.

Not to mention the in-game disposable camera!  It only has around 20 shots, so make them count.  At the end of your game you get to see all the pictures you took and it even generates a webpage where you can go download them.  That screenshot above is a picture I took in-game with the camera during my playthrough.

It's an amazing game for explorers and for narrative driven gamers.  I haven't had a game grab me and amaze me like this in such a long time.  I'm so happy to have found a game that clicked with me so easily.

I know that the price point of ~$20 matched with the playtime of 4-6 hours will drive some people away, but I felt like it was worth every penny.  I already know that I'm going to end up replaying it very soon.

I highly recommend this one.  Check out Firewatch.  It's out on basically every major system today.

Voyager Season 3 Review

Voyager is still going strong in season 3.  I don't have a ton to add to my initial impressions of the first two seasons, but it's worth noting that the show has remained consistently good.  I'm happy I've been able to find a Star Trek to enjoy... I was starting to worry that I wouldn't be able to recapture my ability to like the series.

Season 3 finds the crew still on their roughly 70 year voyager home after getting flung into the Delta Quadrant of the galaxy.

All the characters continue to develop but this season had particularly good episodes for The Doctor and Kes.

The Doctor keeps evolving from his initial holo-programming and after one weird time travel episode he gets the technology to have a portable holo-emitter which allows him to finally walk wherever he wants.  It's used to great effect and he has some fantastic episodes.  I love seeing his personality continue to grow and I'm convinced that he's one of the best actors on the entire show.

Kes' telekinetic abilities keep growing.  Sometimes they get out of control and sometimes they develop at a reasonable pace.  It's obvious by the end of the season that she must be nearing the end of her story arc.  I think next season is where she leaves and they bring on another crew member as a replacement.

Finding Voyager has made Star Trek fun again!  I hope the show keeps up it's quality throughout the entire run.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Perfect State Review

Perfect State is a Brandon Sanderson novella.  As such it has a unique world and fantastic worldbuilding, just like all of his writing.  I really liked it.

In Perfect State each person is in their own version of the matrix but they know about it.  The computer generated world adapts to them as they live their lives.  The worlds can be anything from a modern setting, to a fantasy realm with magic, or super futuristic high tech.

In the end the human race is basically brains in jars.  They've generally come to terms with it.

The really interesting parts occur when these humans interact with people from other "states".  Essentially people from other matrixes.  Someone who has lived their entire life in a realm of magic can suddenly find themselves dealing with future tech and robots.  It's a very interesting culture clash.

Since it's a novella it's a quick read.  I listened to it on Audible and it was about a 3 hour listen.

Perfect State is the best novella I've read in the past year.  I highly recommend it.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Final Fantasy Explorers Impressions

Over the past couple days I've gotten to start digging into Final Fantasy Explorers.  It's a Final Fantasy spin-off game for the 3DS.

It's basically Monster Hunter by way of Final Fantasy.

After somewhere in the 6 to 8 hour range with the game I'm feeling very "meh" towards it.  I love the premise, getting to use Final Fantasy classes against monsters in the world.  But the game itself feels slow and directionless.

It has really bad messaging to player.  It's hard to know what to focus on or what to do to improve your character.  There's also almost no story, which is typically something that keeps me invested in Final Fantasy games.

I've finding Explorers less fun than I hoped it would be.  But it's not a straight up bad game.  There can be moments of fun against enemies or fighting giant eidolons out of the Final Fantasy lexicon like Ifrit and Shiva.

I think I'm going to put this one on the backburner.  It might be better suited as a game to play while doing something else, like watching TV or listening to podcasts.  Honestly, I'll probably pick it up next time I have to do air travel.  That always seems like a good time to dig back into 3DS games that I've moved on from.

I'm also going to wait and see if the community puts together good resources for this game.  I feel like if I understood how to progress my character better and had a clear goal to work for I would be having so much more fun with this game.