Showing posts from July, 2015

Nearing the End of my Backlog

This is really weird.  I'm almost at the end of my game backlog. Since I got my first job at age 15 (and got my first real buying power) this has never ever ever  happened.  I'm 28 and I've had a gaming backlog for 13 years at this point. What do I do when I finish all the games I intended to play!? This doesn't mean I'm about to stop playing videogames.  It just means that I've always had games I own that I intend to play but haven't.  That list is dwindling fast. I've noticed that I'm going through games faster these days.  Since I've been playing videogames for as long as I can remember I'm now really good at analyzing a new game.  I figure out it's systems and what it has to offer, usually within the first 30-60 minutes of play, and then I decide if it's offering enough newness that I want to keep playing.  Usually I don't.  I have enough experience with games that I don't need to retread old ground most of the tim

Visual Novel Gameplay and Pacing

I've really been working through my backlog this year and I've finally made it to a few visual novels that I've been meaning to play.  Namely: Phoenix Wright Dual Destinies Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright Danganronpa I utterly failed to get into Dual Destinies.  The pacing was so unbelievably slow.  I was led to believe that these games had a lot of gameplay mixed into their narratives, but it turns out that Dual Destinies is mostly narrative.  It's much more like reading a book than playing a game. I moved on to Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright.  I've enjoyed a bunch of the Layton game in the past.  Typically they have a bit of narrative followed by a puzzle followed by a bit of narrative.  And this one is structured similarly.  When I'm in the Layton sections of the game I have a lot of fun and make a lot of progress.  Unfortunately, the Phoenix Wright sections suffer from the same slow pacing as Dual Destinies does.  I really want to like

Arkham Side Missions

BATMAN! ... um... so... batman.  He's still cool. That is to say, I'm still having fun with Arkham Knight even though I beat the game.  I basically did a critical path run through of the game and didn't touch any of the side missions. Now that the game is complete I've moved on to all the various side missions and I'm finding them really fun. There's a great variety of activities to experience and it feels like there's always something different to jump to if I get bored of an activity.  This has turned into the perfect game to play while I'm exercising on my stationary bike.  I can put on a podcast and just work through side missions while exercising. Chances are high that I'll beat all the side missions this way.  Well, except for the 100+ Riddler puzzles.  Those are kinda bullshit filler.


My overall take-away from this book is that Armada is a fun read.  It was a fun page-turner and I'm glad I read it, but I don't think it's for everyone. The main thing this boils down to is that Ernest Cline's first novel, Ready Player One, was better.  It's more accessible and it's much more unpredictable (in a good way).  Armada was completely predictable all the way through.  I still had fun reading it, but it didn't have any surprises for me. But, Armada might be for you if..... You read Ready Player One and enjoyed it You are really into video games You like VR You're interested in drones and government conspiracy You're a teenage boy If any of those apply to you then there is something in Armada that will appeal to you. But in all honesty, if you haven't read either of these books I would definitely suggest picking up Ready Player One.  It's fantastic and feels much more accessible than Armada.  I think it's muc

Bloons TD 5

If you haven't notice by now, I'm playing simple games on my phone a lot more lately.  I was craving them so I downloaded a bunch and have been working my way through them. Bloons TD 5 is an amazing Tower Defense game.  Before this, my favorite Tower Defense game of all time was Bloons TD 4... so this was a logical extension. It's just as good as I hoped! If you aren't familiar with the Tower Defense genre this is how it goes.  Some kind of invading force is coming down a path and if they get to the end of the path bad things happen for you.  Typically if a set number of enemies make it to the end you lose.  You place towers along the path to try to stop the invaders.  The invaders come in waves and between each wave you get some breathing time to build new towers or upgrade existing ones.  That's Tower Defense in a nutshell. Bloons TD is that, except the invading forces are balloons and the towers are monkeys.  It's amazing. This is a game I can e


I've been playing around a little bit in Trove the last week or so.  It's an interesting game. At it's core it's like Minecraft, but much more directed, and with combat that is actually fun.  The combat and dungeon exploration is actually a much bigger part of the game than it is in Minecraft.  Trove is more of an open world MMO, but it's still made of voxels and you can construct buildings and a home base. It's an interesting mash-up of Minecraft and MMO.  It's been fun to get into. I especially love what they did with your custom plot of land.  You have an area that is personally yours to build on, but you can summon it many places in the world.  This way, your home basically travels with you into different zones and throughout different levels.  It's a really cool way to tackle the player housing problem that many MMOs have. The combat isn't super complicated but it's more involved than Minecraft.  You pick a class and that class g

Black Mirror Season 1

I had a bunch of independent sources recommend Black Mirror to me within the space of about a week, so I checked it out. I like the overall aim of the show.  It's basically set up as a modern day Twilight Zone all about technology.  There are twists and turns and the typical Twilight Zone type of vibe, but it's been updated with technology in mind. Some of the episodes revolve around social situations that could happen with our current level of technology.  Others take place in a dystopian future (one of my favorite settings). In the first episode I especially liked Episode 2 which takes place in a dystopian future where everything has been gamified.  I'm sure you can see how that would appeal to me. It's currently available on Netflix to check out if you're interested.

Her Story

I don't know what I was expecting going into this game, but I had heard a lot of positive reviews without a lot of details attached. I'm so glad this game wasn't spoiled for me.  It's amazing. It's an experience more than a traditional game. You are sitting at a computer from the 90s with a backlog of video clips related to a certain police case.  You use words to search through the clips and try to piece together what happened. There is no traditional end of the game.  Whenever you decide you've found out enough you log out of the computer and it's over. I want to talk about all the intricacies of this game but it would ruin the experience.  I might do a spoiler post about this one later in the week.

MMOs, Guilds, Endgame.... and Kids

After hitting level cap and completing the story in Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward I feel like I'm pretty much done with the game until the next story patch hits. The end game content of MMOs is usually tuned to be really fun with a consistent group of people.  Typically this is called a Guild but it goes by many other names.  In FFXIV it's called a Free Company. I have a fantastic free company and they're always up for running content with anyone.  They're super inviting, friendly, fun to talk to, and a blast to run content with. "So", you might ask, "what's the problem?" Well, I have kids.  2 little kids under the age of 5.  They need things at all hours of the day.  It's better now that they're both out of the baby and toddler stage, but they still consistently need things even after they're all tucked in for the night.  Sometimes it's some water for their water bottles, other times my little one needs help with the pot

Rocket League is Rocket Powered Car Soccer and It's Amazing

This game should just be called what it is... Rocket Car Soccer. That's what you need to know.  You are a rocket car and you're playing soccer.  The premise is simple. I expected nothing from this game, but I found a world of fun.  This is amazing. The game just launched on PS4 and Steam, but if you're a PS Plus member like me then you got it for free through PSN this month.  It's probably the greatest PS Plus free game that I've gotten.  It's amazing. I don't think I can do this game justice with words, you need to see it in motion.  But just know, if you have PS Plus you absolutely need to grab this game (it's free!) before the end of the month.

Final Fantasy XIV Heavensward

Ok, I finally finished the main story of Heavensward.  Let's talk. This is Final Fantasy XIV's first expansion and for me it's a mixed bag.  There's both good and bad. First, The Bad.  I hated leveling through this expansion.  Heavensward increased the level cap from 50 to 60.  The first 5 levels weren't too bad, but the xp curve after level 55 drove me crazy.  The story no longer gave enough experience to keep leveling up and I had to do a ton of grinding.  I nearly gave up on this expansion at level 57, 58, and 59.  I would finish literally every quest available to me and still have half a level of experience points left that I needed.  It was infuriating. But the reason it was so infuriating was because the story was level gated... and the story was fantastic. So, let's talk The Good.  The story is amazing.  It is easily the best story in an MMO expansion that I've ever experienced.  It builds on the story from Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm

Tavern Brawl is so FUN!

As I alluded to yesterday, I'm still playing Hearthstone off and on. The single biggest thing that has pulled me back in is the new Tavern Brawl mode.  It is a mode that is open from Wednesday to Sunday each week and it has a rotating rule set.  Every week is a new and crazy set of parameters.  As soon as you win your first Tavern Brawl game for the week you instantly earn a card pack. All of this together totally appeals to me. I highly recommend checking out Tavern Brawl if you've even played Hearthstone.  The rulesets are so fun and varied.  This is the most fun I've ever had with the game.

Random Mobile Gaming

I've been trying to level up and finish the main story in Final Fantasy XIV Heavensward lately with my core gaming time, but I've also had little spurts of time to play mobile games on my phone.  They're all fun in short bursts and I've talked about most before, but I thought it would be fun to give a quick rundown. Spider Solitaire I used to play this for hours on one of my old Windows PCs before I had a gaming rig.  I found a great version on iOS and I've put much more time into it than I thought I would.  Spider Solitaire is my favorite form of classic Solitare out there. You Must Build a Boat A fantastic match-3 puzzler that is a follow up to 10 million.  I loved that game and I love this one too.  I've almost beaten it, at which point I'll retire the game.  It's really nice to have a match-3 puzzler with a definite end.  It makes me feel invested all the way through. Hearthstone I'm still occasionally playing Hearthstone on my phone.  I

Arkham Knight

I caved in.  There were too many good reviews of Arkham Knight, I loved the other two games in the Arkham series that were done by this developer, and I just couldn't resist. I picked up Arkham Knight for the PS4. The real inciting incident was when my brother asked, "Have you played the new Batman yet?"  He had never really played the others, but he knew I liked the series and he had just picked up Arkham Knight.  I would much rather play a game at the same time as him and be able to talk about it. And I'm so glad I did.  It's a fantastic game.  Every step of the way I feel like the most badass incarnation of Batman ever.  It's amazing.  Everything the developer has built up to in the last two games comes to full fruition here. All the systems are still in place and more has been added on top of it.  The range of options for everything is staggering.  So many Bat gizmos, attack options, stealth gameplay, driving sections, batmobile battles, and so

Revisiting the Wasteland

I went back to Fallout 3 for the first time since 2008!  The announcement of Fallout 4 got me really excited for the Fallout universe again, so I decided to revisit this game.  I loved it when it first came out in 2008, but I only played it for a few weeks before beating it and moving on. How does it hold up today? Well, it's pretty good, but not fantastic.  Everyone is so wordy.  The dialogue system breaks me out of the immersion in the world every single time I enter a conversation.  That's easily my biggest gripe.  But the tone and the world building in Fallout 3 are amazing.  They're still spot on.  The graphics are fine, not as sharp as modern day, but totally acceptable.  The combat is still fun and well done.  The VATS system is a joy. Really, the game just holds up well, even after 7 years. This time I played way differently than I normally do. In a normal game I go down every speech path, try to talk my way out of everything, sneak, lockpick, stealth,

Tales from the Borderlands Episode 3

This was another great entry in the Tales from the Borderlands series.  I'm always super excited when new chapters of these Telltale adventure games get released and this one is no exception. Tales from the Borderlands remains fun, entertaining, and funny.  Emphasis on the funny. I'm constantly amazed by the ability of this game to make me laugh.  Not many games make me laugh out loud, but this one does.  It's the perfect crazy setting for all kinds of comedy to happen in.  It never takes itself too seriously, and I appreciate that. This is one I would recommend to any adventure game or story-driven game fan.  Unlike some of the other Telltale games, you don't need to know the other source material this game is based off of.  It's fully playable without previous knowledge. So, while I would only recommend a Telltale game like Game of Thrones to fans of Game of Thrones... Tales from the Borderlands should be played by anyone who wants to laugh.

Telltale Game of Thrones Episode 4

I caught up on some gaming over the holiday weekend last week.  I was super excited to get back to both Telltale games series that I'm in the middle of right now.  The first one I caught up with was Game of Thrones. Episode 4, Sons of Winter, was another good entry in the series.  We're definitely in the middle episodes now.  Characters are getting closer to their objectives but nothing major happens with the main characters in this episode. Instead, there is a lot of development of characters around the main cast.  We learn a lot more about side characters that have been with us since episode one.  It was nice to see their stories fleshed out and given more relevance to the main plot. Enough happened with the main characters that I'm really excited to see where they end up.  I'm expecting big revelations and conclusions to happen with the final two episodes.  Hopefully I won't have to wait too much longer for them to release!

Playing You Must Build a Boat

I've been looking for a mobile game that kills small bits of time and is entertaining.  I've had many over the years but nothing has been hooking me lately. That's when a friend recommended You Must Build a Boat.  It's the followup to a match-3 game that I played and finished a few years ago called 10000000.  It's almost the exact same gameplay, with a few added tweaks but it's apparently exactly what I needed. I've been playing You Must Build a Boat in little five to ten minute bursts and it's perfect for that purpose.  I would highly recommend it to you mobile gamers out there, especially if you like match-3 type games.

Heavensward Leveling Woes

This still isn't my full review of Heavensward, but I need to vent a little bit. The story in this expansion is great, I have fun every time I get to do main story quests.  But, the experience curve in Heavensward is crazy. There is so much downtime between levels and since story content is level locked it gets annoying quickly. I would pay good money to just skip leveling and be able to play the story quests of this game without being interrupted. I want to see the end of the story, but I really don't like grinding levels in MMOs.  It's not my thing.  I hope this doesn't turn me off of the game permanently.

My First Steam Refund

The only game I paid more than a few dollars for on the Steam Sale a few weeks ago was Europa Universalis IV. I started it up and within five minutes I knew it had been a mistake buying it.  The premise and description had gotten me intrigued, but the reality of the game was much too complex to be fun for me.  It was overwhelming and I knew I wouldn't like it. So, I did my first Steam refund.  I just went to the support page, requested a refund, gave my reason as "Game is not fun" and went on my way. Within a few days I had all the money refunded.  It was super easy.  I chose to put all the money into my Steam wallet since I know I'll use it eventually, but there was also an option to refund to credit card. I was super impressed with the new Steam refunds.  I think this will actually end up getting me to buy more games to try since I know I can return them as long as I play them for less than two hours.  It's awesome!

Fallout 1 and 2

Woah, blast from the past. I had never tried out Fallout 1 and 2 before this, but since they were so cheap on the Steam Sale I grabbed them to take a look. My history with the Fallout franchise is that I played Fallout 3 to completion right when it released (2008 I think?) and that's all I've done with the franchise.  I liked my time with Fallout 3, but it never felt as mindblowing to me as it did to others.  That being said, I'm really excited to get my hands on Fallout 4 later this year. Anyway, Fallout 1 and 2 are kind of interesting.  They nail the tone of the Fallout universe perfectly, even though they're really old games at this point.  The tone is just spot on. But, the gameplay in these two games is essentially unplayable by modern standards.  It's brutal to try to do anything in these games.  They appear to be running on the same engine, and it doesn't hold up to my current standards.  I tried each game for about half an hour before giving

Battleblock Theater

It seems like this week's posts are turning into "What did I buy in the Steam Sale?" posts, but that's ok. I tried out Battleblock Theater, since it's another game I picked up for very little money in the Steam Sale. It's from the same developer that made Castle Crashers, which is a fantastic game.  I think I was expecting something of the same caliber. I didn't find it.  Battleblock Theater is a fairly forgettable platformer.  I've played so many platformers in my lifetime, it's a genre that I absolutely love when it's done well, so a platformer needs to either be Mario or something unique that blows me away to get my attention.  This is not that.  This is generic and has loose controls. I didn't love this game, so away it will go into the "Games I'm Done With" folder in Steam.  At least I barely paid anything for it.


Monaco is another game I picked up for super cheap in the last Steam Sale.  I had played a little bit of it when it originally came out on Xbox 360 and just remembered that I found the premise interesting. I found the same thing again this time.  It's basically a heist game with super simple controls.  You move with one analog stick and use special items with the A button.  That's it. And each character gets a special power.  Maybe you can see further than your other partners.  Or unlock locks faster.  Or knock out guards if you sneak up on them.  It adds variety and pushes you to work as a team. I really think this game was designed to be played with a full team of 4 people.  It's an interesting premise when I'm playing it single player but I feel like the game would truly shine if I had 4 people to play local co-op with. I'm going to put this one away in my backcatalog and keep it in mind for local multiplayer in the future.