Games You Played Today: Actress Again: Current Code (Part 1)

Took a break from my Twitch Prime backlog to play a vidyagame on my dang Playstation 4

Bound is a really beautiful game. I absolutely adore its aesthetic. (I’m just a sucker for minimalist polygon shit okay).

It’s not challenging in the slightest, which is a shame. The player avatar moves like a ballerina and I think the ballet “move set” so to speak could really make for a compelling action game if it were developed that way. Alas it’s just motif. Each level is a memory from the protagonist’s childhood presented as sort of an interpretive dance through a platforming level. That probably makes it sound cooler than it is, although really it’s such a treat to look at that I kept playing even past the point of the mechanics getting kinda boring. (And the devs clearly knew this because they put in a photo mode that’ll even let you hide the player avatar).

The game’s whole soundscape grated on me though, woof. I played with the sound turned pretty far down so I wouldn’t have to listen to it.

If you’ve got access to this game somehow, play it for an hour or two there’s some really cool visual flair that I think is pleasing enough to warrant some of your time. Or watch a Let’s Play I guess, that works too.

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Bound is a neat little slice and resonated with me as someone who, as a child, witnessed many prolonged home arguments resulting in my parents’ divorce. I found a lot of the fun was just exploring the moveset but it is a shame that it doesn’t really ‘do’ anything. I’d love to see more games experiment with incorporating dance into movement.

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One of the coolest things this game does is provide you with a computer that constantly tracks all the leads you need to investigate, collates your notes about individual suspects and victims, gives you a timeline and a map, and summarize each person you meet in an introductory spiel that they often seem dryly amused by, considering your character already knows most of the characters you’ll interact with. (Don’t be dismayed about the “computer AR vision mode” like I was–it’s literally only for determining the location of characters, save points, and computers in the world. You don’t need it, and it’s not something you want to rely on. You need to focus on the environment itself.) Folks were right to compare it to the Outer Wilds computer; it summarizes your discoveries, but it makes no deductions about what it all means or how you can best confirm the stories you’re getting from the people you interview.

Speaking of which, I groaned in delight and despair when I realized that characters become more trusting as you hang out and shoot the breeze about stuff outside the scope of your investigation. You’ve gotta talk to 'em all multiple times anyway, since they all either validate or contradict the stories the others are telling you.

I was a little too harsh on the game initially, I think. I have a very negative reaction to the affected dialogue that omits a lot more commas than it really ought to, but the world itself is grisly and conceptually ambitious. The prime suspect really won me over despite his one-dimensionality.

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Like @captainlove, I also finished Super Mario Bros. for the first time last night. I was only allowing myself saves at the start of each world until I finally arrived at 8-4 after much struggle with 8-3. At the start of 8-4, I had fire power but only 1 life. I recalled that 8-4 is a maze level that frequently sends you back to previous points, and I doubted I’d ever make it back here from 8-1 with fire power again. So I abused save states at two points in the level to reset lost maze progress, and then I incinerated Bowser with fire balls.

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Jsnlxndrlv answered perfectly, I’d add that a good game that fits that description is La Mulana 1. It’s impossible to finish with your own brain and the limited tools the game gives you, and it demands rigorous notemaking and note organization to have a chance to solve the game’s most obscure puzzles; I only ever managed to get halfway through on my own but I respect it

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yeah, the la-mulanas definitely fit. I played through both (remake of the first) and fell in love with them partly because of the notemaking. I have a pile of A4’s with scribbles for both!

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Okay, one definite downside of Paradise Killer is that the hacking minigame is really unnecessary. It’s not frustrating at all, which I appreciate, but so far the “build a silhouette out of tiles” isn’t adding anything, either. What’s weird about it is that there are three upgrades you can get which improve your hacking so you can unlock additional computers, so it’s obviously intended to be a pacing tool. The way I played it, I got all three upgrades one right after the other, and the last one I got was actually the one that was clearly intended to be most accessible. The open world strikes again, I guess. Not really a complaint, but it just seemed funny how that worked out.

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Have only played a little of Paradise Killer so far and I really dig the world. The gameplay is a lot better than I’d given the initial trailers credit for. I love that I’m not really railroaded through a case and can come and go whenever I damn please. Getting Silver Case vibes from the few ‘scenes’ that play out where characters are highlighted by a box when they speak. Robo voice and blood crystal collectibles also reminds me of this timestamp:

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I’m currently playing Earthbound on Wii U VC with my favorite Wii Classic Controller. It’s my first game on my new CRT that I got pre-Covid and it makes me feel so happy looking forward to future sessions with it.
I promised a friend for years I would play Mother 3 but I wanted to play EB first so til years end those will be the only two longer RPGs I plan on playing. For now I’ll just say it’s unexpectedly REALLY funny and I’m settling into it’s aesthetics nicely, especially the OST. Some real magic and strangeness in there.

This post will focus on my experiences beating Call of Duty: Black Ops and Flower on PS3 which I played in sessions an hour at a time each, back-to-back.

Games have worked their way into my backlog through a myriad of methods outside of my own personal relentless pursuit of all the classic franchises I was only able to peer into in younger years. One big moment was the joining of my wife and my collections when I got married and the subsequent searching of games together. On a trip to a local shop over five years ago she wanted to get a game that reminded her of playing with her brothers back home. And it was that way that “blops” became part of the backlog.

My relationships with FPS’s is largely tenuous and unexplored at best. I played Goldeneye and some Perfect Dark with friends in elementary school, sure, but I always liked the more story-oriented sci-fi and fantasy journeys I found in RPGs or the simple joy of jumping and collecting in platformers. But while I recognize the tendency towards those types of games in myself naturally I by extension close myself off of whole other potential worlds.
When I stopped playing games for most of high school and became heavily focused on exploring music it became ingrained in me that genre-exclusive listening was going to create aural blinders and prejudices for what sounds I could or would be able to enjoy. Those steps outside comfort always require good-faith efforts and in the world of gaming FPS’s sit in cacophony well outside that comfort.

When I turned twenty-two I became fully dedicated to building a backlog of desired games and playing through them. It has been one of the things in life I most treasure. In these eleven years I’ve amassed the following beaten FPS experiences: Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Medal of Honor (the PS1 original), Half-Life, Half-Life 2, and BioShock. The most interesting and memorable times of those was Half-Life 2 but other than that I’ve not loved any of the games. They’ve been interesting pieces of history with some iconic or fascinating choices but largely decent filler in the context of my overall journey.

blops was something else entirely to me. A military-style shooter without the distraction of the uncanny valley effect to acknowledge the game-ification of aiming and pulling the trigger. And apart from a few goofy missions (one in Kowloon and the other in a crumbling underwater station) I could not shake myself of the discomfort and joylessness I felt mowing down waves of ‘enemies’ in the games warzone settings, playing as this character fighting to covertly uphold the rights of the developing US military complex to go and do what it wants, where it wants (the campaigns final image of aircraft carriers and military boats with a US flag preening mightily in the sea breeze might as well have been scrapped in favor of bolder than bold text, reading: JOIN THE MILITARY. BAD GUYS WILL PAY. YOU SAVE THIS WORLD.)
As a game structurally there’s little clever there: clunky tank and helicopter sections, and throw-shit-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks enemy placement. I also thought the big story moment(s) were telegraphed without curiosity from distances away.
The idea of growing up playing this at friends homes, a desire building for the next session, secretly purchasing and hiding THESE types of games from my parents instead of as I actually did with Chrono Trigger…what kinds of thoughts and feelings would I have had to navigate through?
I don’t want any misgivings about what I’m saying here. If you like this game or ones like them there’s no judgement; I just want to articulate this in reflection of who I know I was and who I am always learning that I am.

Before playing blops I was sure I would someday play most of those ‘classics’, like Modern Warfare 1 and 2. But playing is another opportunity to know yourself, to know what you like and what you are like. I had one of the worst gaming experiences I’ve had in years and felt miserable throughout. I’m grateful because I now definitively know: this is not for me.

Flower, by starkest contrast, was like the first breath of fresh air taken after a dumpster dive. I have less to say about it certainly than blops but the musical element of Flower was wafted through the levels like a pleasant dream. It never hits on any specific note sequence that will stay with me but it generally felt kind and embracing. When I got opportunities to rush low to the grass, painting it with a new color or light, I felt a lightness that I would leave myself to meander in for whole five minute sequences without progressing the game. It’s massively simple in concept but also rewarding to explore when finding secret flowers or stumbling upon a particularly breathtaking view.

The last few stages also led to some interesting discussions with friends about the underlying politics of thatgamecompany (I have not played any of their other games). Your task to clear broken telecommunication infrastructure to pave way for bright new buildings, adorned with the eponymous Flower(s) of course, led to a lot of introspection into the moral standing of the game re: urbanization. I don’t know that I have any immediate answers but it was interesting to think about and I likely will explore it further when I one day play Journey.

To pair one of my least enjoyable gaming experiences ever with one that just let my mind float unperturbed into the night was some emotional whiplash I doubt I’ll seek to engage in again. In hindsight it will likely stand as some of my more memorable 2020 gaming sessions and I’ve come away with a previously unexplored part of my brain now known to me better known than ever. For that it was worth it.

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i haven’t finished reading this yet but i already hit the BP button based on this sentence

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I played 30 minutes of Yume Nikki last night though it felt like an hour. First impression: Nice title screen jingle and vibe, cute bedroom (sweet music that plays when you’re sitting at your diary), go to sleep to enter dream world and pinch yourself anytime to wake up, cool. I love how right off the bat you can play a little game within the game on the TV in your bedroom (Famtendo (echoing the theme that there are rabbit holes within rabbit holes?)). I like how when you fall asleep, you “wake up” in the dream world on the balcony outside of your room rather than just getting out of bed, it feels…right. I went into 2 of the dream doors. Maybe three? Loving the background art but some of the background music is so repetitive and phrased in such a way that I kept associating actual phrases of language to them and start driving myself loopy (not the game’s fault perhaps). And then the boredom set in. Walking is so SLOW. I know adding a run button to this sort of thing would probably cheapen the experience but 15 minutes in and my experience was one of tedium. Maybe I just wasn’t in the right mood, I think there’s something there that I’ll be into. I’ll come back to it.

So then I played some Sky Odyssey, starting a new playthrough with the jet plane I unlocked after my first run. Game is so good. Will maybe say more in the voting thread.

Wrapped things up with the ROM hack SM64 Sapphire. Of the three I’ve dipped back into over the last few days, this is the most enjoyable. For the most part the game isn’t trying to stretch the formula to its breaking points or trying to add more NPCs/story/whatever (and it embraces non-linear mission completion very nicely). The platforming is kept simple (maybe too simple but I’m only 10 stars in out of 30) and picks up where the original game left off with ideas like: Well what if you have to shoot out of a cannon and through a fence that requires the vanishing cap? What if you jump up a series of mushrooms, but the last mushroom with the star is way too high but you have one of those crazy boxes and you have to grab it and hold it back to stay in place until the final big leap? There was one sequence with a series of Goomba-sized platforms with one Goomba on each. I had to long jump onto the first Goomba, then bounce from Goomba to Goomba over an abyss to reach the star. It looked intimidating at first but I was surprised how well it worked, first try! So this hack is the one I’d recommend to anyone curious. It very much feels like an expansion pack to the first game (with the usual hodgepodge of assets and bugs one might expect). This also happened (and keeps happening, so I can’t get that star!?)

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There’s a bicycle which is basically a run button available in one of the surface-level dreams, but you need either get lucky/be patient or know which door and what landmarks to get to it in the big looping stage. Do yourself a favor and google how to find it. Then don’t look up anything else about the game

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Will do. I want to like this game, I love the vibe but the slow movement kills me. I think it’s hilarious that, while there is no run button, there is a “sit down” button. Wondering if I’m going to have to like, sit down somewhere and wait for something to happen. Won’t spoil anything for myself beyond the bike though.

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Finished Mutazione. I’d say it’s more than the sum of its parts. I wasn’t a huge fan of the art style or animation, usually a necessity in a game like this. The music was nice. I like the way the game’s schedule encourages you to get comfortable with the environment at the same rate as the protagonist, but hate how it encourages relationship completionism and how you have to set like boundaries for yourself (when I do my loop I will not go all the way out to the lighthouse or to the temple, even though I could be missing a conversation). Garden growing, the game’s only mechanic other than walksimming, is simultaneously nicely simple and insultingly dull.

But I just found all the personalities of the inhabitants of this close knit little island community, the way they bear the weight of their past trauma, authentic and affecting. I choked up at the game’s emotional climax. You can play with just the mouse so you can eat a snack. One of the better IGF style games I’ve given a shot.

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that was my impression as well, glad someone else here gave it a go

GOTY

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Painfully between games atm. I’m so listless when I’m not in the middle of a game.
Last night I tried out the first Alone in the Dark, and this afternoon I launched up Siren for the first time through PCSX2. Both seem intriguing. I think it could be really enriching, as a fan of Resident Evil, and that era of Japanese survival horror, to go through and finish both. Mechanically they are both a jolt to what I’ve been playing lately, which always helps me to shift gears after finishing a game and when I’m not sure what I’m looking for next.

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Tried to play FF Tactics for the first time this week (in Japanese) since I figured it was time, given how much I enjoyed playing FFTA when I was younger.

It is kind of jarring how serious the tone is in FFT versus the Advance titles. FFTA goes to some very dark places, but overall it feels quite lighthearted by default. I’ve only played a few missions in FFTA2 but I got a very similar vibe from it.

FFT in comparison is this political bullshit snorefest I do not have the patience for. I kinda get having played bits of FFT, FF12, and Vagrant Story throughout the last year that “political bullshit snorefest” is the actual Ivalice, and that FFTA is kind of a bad introduction to Ivalice that is in no way representative of the rest of the games that take place in it, but Jesus Christ, if these games weren’t so interesting for mechanical/aesthetic/historic reasons, I would have quit them almost immediately.

Maybe I am just extremely worn down by Politics All Day Everyday and the last thing I want to do is come home and play a game that is absolutely dripping in politics. All I know is that it is extremely not the game I want to be playing right now. Made some sweet character build spreadsheets though.

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ahem

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and there it is