Games You Played Today: 358 Threads Over 2

I picked up Black Book as a Christmas present for myself. It mixes visual novel and point-and-click adventure with card-based RPG battles. It’s set in 19th Century Russia. You play as a young village witch who wants to break the 7 seals of the Black Book to bring her fiancé back from hell.

Everything happens during twilight or the dead of night. It looks a bit like Kentucky Route Zero. The narrative oozes Christian and folkloric superstition. There’s a sin stat. You keep servant demons in a basket and need to assign them to torment villagers to keep the demon’s from tormenting you instead (I think this affects the sin stat).

Battles, so far, are about balancing your defensive barrier against your damage output. Seems straightforward 2 hours in, but there are some complicating interactions between cards, which are pages of the Black Book. Battles are one-off affairs, and I find them pretty engaging. The music sets an amazing mood, and there are some very cool but understated spell animations.

Very moody, evocative game.

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I’m amused at the way New Colossus finds ways to increase the spectacle and hilarity, getting to kill my dad, the moment of triumph clearing the courtroom level, followed by the emotional ventilation of it being a daydream sequence, feeling of sadness from the execution scene, genuinely wondering if I am getting a bad ending, or if this is a specific timeline from choices I made, going through all the stages of grief until I start nervously laughing at BJ getting the DIO treatment, all of this cleverly lampshaded by the following conversation with Anya about whether this is all a dream or the afterlife, but oh no, no time to love your hot pregnant wife BJ because you have sneak into Hitler’s base on planet venus where you get to watch him piss and puke himself on screen. I especially like that part because it’s like, “We have to have Hitler in our game for plot reasons and we want to avoid making him seem like a cool badass villain by any means so we are going to give him the most cartoonishly senile and paranoid interpretation we can so you know that we hate him”. The writers broadcast how intentionally they took every corner of tone shifting with this game and I love it. still gonna finish it later but for now it just keeps delivering

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playing a lot of disgaea. the first one. i played very far into it back in my teens but never really finished it. kinda trying to “quickly” put together an overpowered team, which means i’ve probably spent more time in the item world than doing story missions.

the mechanics really are novel and fun in how you just kinda break stuff in weird ways. like, the geo effects where you can either try to play a sequence puzzle game while trying to not kill all the enemies, or use their effects to your advantage. or how you can undo player actions to set up the same characters for multiple team attacks. or how you can use the infinitely stackable throw mechanics to pretty much move anywhere you want in a single turn.

had a very long time where i just considered this game very slow and grindy, and getting back to it and using all this stuff to speed through leveling up feels good.

also played and finished pythagoras’ perpetual motion machine.
it’s a block pushing puzzle game about setting up perpetually looping patterns of rolling boulders.
not very long or difficult. still very satisfying to get these 3d contraptions to work and seeing the resulting loop.

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yeah it fucking rules

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Tim’s Cyberpunk review was not very remarkable except for the sympathetic guilt I felt for how much effort he dedicated to thoroughly exploring such a boring thing, but I did catch a renewed interest in open world game design after watching it. I’m starting to think of “Open World Videogames” not as the Ubisoft model which is impossible to run away from for too long but rather this thing which Ubisoft derives an incredibly boring style from.

Playing the PS2 GTA trilogy has me thinking that the “point” of open world games may really be movement and the modulation, or pace, of movement across and throughout the open world over any other element like shooting or cutscenes. This is why I think GTA got worse and worse the more they seemed to think driving cars in cool ways wasn’t enough, exposing their terribly limited mission design. San Andreas was so expansive that in order to “do anything” in that game, like progress the story to the point you can unlock Las Venturas, the most exciting part of that world, you just drive really fast between mission start points, and you miss out on all the really interesting world detail and strange emergent stuff that happens in the city streets. After SA, with GTA IV, Rockstar neared brilliance once again by deeply simulating physics, which breathed life into the long neglected core of GTA, which has always been driving. The missions, however, constantly take you out of your car, constantly see you walking down alleys, always put guns in your hand that suck to shoot except when they are rocket launchers. It’s literally not worth playing GTA IV to unlock the whole map. Which is a shame because the weight of cars and the density of traffic and all the simulated things around those make for a really great chase videogame. GTA V is a regression in every way.

RDR2 is actually the best modern Rockstar game because they have struck on the perfect pace to constrain player’s movement. It’s a slow game, you lumber everywhere you go, and this sets a pace slow enough that you can’t help but notice all the world detail and crafted scenario work – which is now the thing Rockstar cares about more than anything. If that world interests you is another matter, but I actually think it’s pretty amazing a lot of the time.

I played through Subnautica and really delighted in the feel of swimming, the way technology gauged mobility as well as my ability to explore the world. It’s a brilliant open world survival game, maybe the best I have played. It is also one of those games that artistically uses a low draw distance, inspiring mystery and dread in the shadowy unknown up ahead (and below you, above you; the shadowy unknown floats all around you in Subnautica, terror).

Death Stranding is also a real strong articulation of the mobility and pacing thesis I’m roughly sketching here. I don’t know why the open world videogame has become the formal structure every studio that hasn’t embarrassed itself into shame for not having exorcised its dumb ass anxiety about producing in an “inferior” storytelling medium has chosen to tell its middle-brow prestige videogame stories through. Death Stranding’s plot is what it is, but the story of Death Stranding is the one which emerges from moving across its map at a pace which is modulated by the challenges that make that movement not always smooth. Bumpy. I wonder if there is anything more that open world videogames can learn from Katamari Damacy.

I could probably appreciate the recent Spider-Man game a bit more now, I think. That’s a good game to sling webs in, but maybe there are better worlds with other things going on in them (to see or perhaps to touch) which would also be more fun to sling in.

The original Dead Rising, and maybe its two sequels, seems legible to this idea of the Open World Videogame. Level progression gating your actual speed, and, in a search action way, but also not, the paths available to you either by unlocking shortcuts or giving you the ability to treat walls of zombies as navigable that once would have slowed or stopped you outright.

If I were to keep this going, which I should be able to, slowly, as these games are always very long and I do get anxious thinking I could play other games, then I will play The Evil Within 2 (it has enough people rooting for it as an underdog) and I am interested in grabbing Days Gone while its on sale for similar reasons. Oh and No More Heroes as a tonic criticism to go along with all the worst examples of Open World Videogames.

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Tried Gears Tactics for a couple of hours yesterday. Despite the harsh devastated setting, it’s actually a cozy, nonthreatening version of X-Com EU, even on the 3rd-out-of-4 difficulty level I picked. There’s tons of abilities and random swings in the player’s favor but almost never in the aliens’. They don’t even seem to get critical hits. And it seems there’s not much room to rathole into a losing strategy on the strategy layer either, e.g. you can never lock yourself out of any part of the skill tree.

I guess this ought to appeal to me since it removed every element of X-Com that filled my heart with a salty brine of bitterness. But the aesthetic is tasteless (not to mention clashing with the cozy substance of the experience) and the gameplay is too familiar to hold my interest.

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yeah, I wound up playing for all of 3 or 4 hours and putting it down, but not regretting any part of that

the game pass experience

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It clarifies for me a bit why X-Com and the original FFT felt the need to be so swingy and punishing. The effort of calculating every tactical detail starts to feel pointless unless there’s a sword of Damocles hanging above your head on every single turn.

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yeah both of these games go supremely out of their way to make sure nazis are seen as pathetic little pissants who are both evil and extremely uncool. it rules

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I’ve had this Pythagoras game in my steam wishlist for ages now but even with steam sales it never gets knocked down to “what it costs to buy on a smart phone” (I am a man of admittedly odd principles). Glad to hear it is at least fun to see the loops working, that was what struck me about it.

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Played One Step From Eden on gamepass. I love this game’s vibe, great character designs and soundtrack. I don’t think my brain is big enough for it though. It’s like a double-speed Megaman Battle Network game where you get a new move every single time you win a battle. During battle, you’re constantly cycling through these moves like they’re cards in a deck, and you have to remember what each move does, aim it, and time it all while dodging enemy fire. I can’t keep up! If the game were like 75% slower I think I’d be pretty into it.

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As it turns out this is why I was inquiring in another thread about the MMBN games. I was like “I don’t know if the speed of this new thing will kick my ass too hard”

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I haven’t played MMBN since high school, but I don’t remember it being especially punishing. It definitely didn’t require the intense cognitive load this game does.

I bought a bundle ages ago to play the Blacksad adventure game. It’s a comic where a couple of folks in france tell stories about racism in america in the 50s using extremely racially caricatured


furries. The creators worked on a Goofy Movie! They definitely take a ‘both extremes are bad’ approach to racism in the deep furry south, even if they think the furry KKK is worse than the furry black panthers.

(if you want a furry detective comic Grandville is way better)

But anyway, Microids and Pendulo (the folks who did the runaway series aparrently) decided "Let’s bring dubious racial metaphors to the field of interactive adventure games but with telltale/quantic dream style quciktime events!

It’s…pretty much exactly how it sounds.

Take a look at some of the sights of this interactive…thing:

(that’s paint)

And of course it has a whole bunch of non puzzles, tons of bullshit arbitrary events, and exceedingly signposted deduction mini-game on top of all the usual stuff.

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“press B for racial issues” is killing me right now

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I was all fucked up because there’s another furry detective game called Backbone and after the last few posts I was like “I could have sworn this was a pixel art racoon”

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That’s on my list! Or well, hypothetically it is.

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This is the pinnacle of interactive fiction

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