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    Cell to Singularity (iPd)    by   jp       (Sep 26th, 2023 at 18:38:18)

    I've reach the point where the main simulation takes too long to make any real progress AND I think I tapped it out in terms of things to unlock and see? I think because some things get unlocked based on progress in the other idle game simulations that are part of the game as a whole. So, with the main one getting a bit tiresome (the dinosaurs is the only one that seems to have a pretty regular/even progression - I can cycle/restart every few days and there are still new things appearing and getting added) and the space one being quite uneven (sometimes it moves faster, but other times it's super slow with no progress).

    So, I'm going to delete it - mostly because I've installed a few other games on my phone and I don't want to play too many at once.

    BUT - it's been really interesting to see this game. Most of what I've learned comes from the fact that there are multiple idle games in the game - and they all function slightly differently from each other AND the experience playing them is noticeable different for me. So, the rate at which you can make progress is important, and the feeling of things being fast or slow is also super important. And how often new things get added/unlocked, etc.

    The other thing I think characterizes this game is how much of an element of surprise there was as I played - new stuff opening up, new games, mini-events, etc. All of this kept me playing longer because it was fun to discover an entirely new idle game - plumb its depths (at least a little) while continuing to play.

    So, good stuff!

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    Shootas, Blood & Teef (Switch)    by   jp       (Sep 26th, 2023 at 17:01:49)

    I picked this up on a lark - no research, no references other than HEY, it's ORKS! (and 40k). I guess the art style intrigued me because it's cartoony, simple, and with a sense of humor. Sort of like what the orks used to be in 40K before it was called 40K - it was all darkly funny and a bit stupid, but hey - that was the game's flavor. It's interesting to see how quickly and effectively Games Workshop was able to wipe the past and overwrite it with a darker, grittier, and grimmier (not a real world) flavor of ork. To be fair, it made sense - and was thematically more consistent with the rest of the universe.

    So, what's the game? Well - couch co-op (one of the main reasons I got it actually, with the idea of playing with the kids) side-scrolling platforming shooter. I played it a few months ago (so this entry is way late) - but I recall there being a control scheme I didn't quite get used to...and the game was doing everything it should by the numbers (points, upgrades in between levels, there's some sort of story, boss levels, and so on).

    From what we played - (2 levels?) - you fight orks and humans (guardsmen and marines) and it was fine. Not boring, but fine - fun enough for a couch co-op experience, but I realized that neither of us was urging the other to play the game again, so it started to collect dust (the box at least) and so I've decided to just put it on the shelf.

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    Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair (PS4)    by   jp       (Sep 23rd, 2023 at 17:20:55)

    On the one hand this is a by-the-numbers platforming game with collectibles out the wazoo and cute characters and a silly story. On the other hand...

    (a) The game's difficulty is a lot higher than I expected - and it's not easy to pick up (sometimes even find) the five bonus coins hidden in each level (that you need to use to pay to open access to more of the overworld map). On the other hand, if you fail a section too often - the game lets you skip it (I haven't done this myself yet, but it's what a character promises AND they even make fun of the developers while they're at it by muttering things like "I told them it was too hard" and stuff like that). Also, one of the game's collectibles is "tonics" (like potions?) you can select. Up to three per level. Many of them make the game a bit easier - slow it down, add more checkpoints, give you more time to grab Laylee if you've taken a hit (Laylee is sort of like a shield, take a hit and she flies around - catch her and your shield is back, don't and one more hit and game over). The tonics come with a price - they lower your feather rewards (the currency used to unlock tonics when you find them) at the end of the level. It's interesting to see how many different options and ways the game incorporates to help smooth out any difficulties.

    (b) The game's main conceit is that you have to defeat the big baddie - and he's in an "impossible lair". So, to make things easier for you, you need to rescue bees and each bee acts as a "one hit shield". Presumably you can attempt the lair whenever you want. I thought you just had to defeat the baddie, but it turns out that he runs away (after taking a few hits) and it's a whole level you need to clear - and it's really hard. I wasn't able to make it past the first area (after hitting the baddie a few times). Officially I completed 3% of the impossible lair! I'm guessing there are people that can just clear it - without any other stuff - and I wonder if playing more will result in more stuff to make it easier other than more bees. You can only rescue one bee per level! (I've got 11? 12?)

    (c) The game has an overworld from where you enter all the levels - they're like pages from a picture book. The overworld itself has secrets and things you need to puzzle out to open more areas and reach more book pages. So, that's really neat to - and it's a lower stakes activity. BUT, you can also just straight up teleport to the pages - so even here the game is accessible, but allows you to explore and so on. I've really enjoyed this part of the game as well...

    So, there's lots of smart and considered design here - my guess is that the designers were trying to make a game accessible to a new (kids) audience, while also keeping things interesting for (older) fans of the franchise.

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    Metal: Hellsinger (PC)    by   jp       (Sep 17th, 2023 at 15:35:47)

    Wow, this game is really metal! It really is...which makes sense, given the name. But, the more I play the more I realize that the game really does a good job of making you feel the music (you can't just "tune it out"). It's badass in the way that DOOM is badass - and it makes me think of this game as a sort of "alternate universe" version of doom. It's a FPS, with demons and stuff, and you feel like a badass as you jump around, dodge and strafe, all to the beat of heavy metal music.

    It would be unfair to compare the game to Guitar Hero or other music games where "doing poorly" is equated - aurally - with muted music, loss of certain parts (e.g. vocals) - leaving only the beat (I wonder if the beat is on top of the music's drum parts?). But, that's how the game operates. BUT, where things get different is that here you really want to get your streak up - back to back kills/hits and an overall multiplier result in doing more damage, which feels more badass, and so on. The game does seem built around the positive feedback loop...when you miss though, it's a bummer and hard to recover from.

    I've completed two levels (after the tutorial) and failed a few times with the 3rd. Which surprised me, tbh - because I felt like I was "pretty good" at the game (despite losing at least once in each of the levels played, but resurrecting in them - at a score cost). Anyways, the difficulty jump seems more about my failing to keep a streak up (and not dodging all that well?) But, it might also be that I chose my weapons poorly? (unlike other FPS games where you either have all the weapons or you find them along the way, here you choose a weapon to use - presumably leaving the others behind - which feels annoying as I kept trying to switch over to the shotgun only to realize I didn't have it - because I'd picked twin pistols instead).

    So, I then played a few torment levels that are basically short challenges that reward you with what I think are permanent boons to make things easier. There are 3 for each level, so perhaps the ideal progression is to complete a level, then do the 3 boons and then move on to the next level? We'll see how it goes the next time I play level 3.

    Am I having fun? Yes - but it's tricky for me - you have to do everything on the beat, and missing the beat on the keyboard as you're also trying to hit the reload (R)_, or switch weapons, or all might be a bit too much for my middle-aged hands at this point. I could always lower the difficulty level, but I'm playing on the middle one now...which I've assumed is the "regular person" one.

    Oh, there's a leaderboard for scores from the campaign as well - it surprised me that this wasn't separate. As in, I though it might have been a competitive mode as a separate thing. My guess is that they really want to encourage replayability (there aren't THAT many levels in the game for - I assume - content/song licensing challenges) - so, go back and see if you can beat your earlier score or your friends' might be part of the intended experience.

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    Strange Brigade (PS4)    by   jp       (Sep 17th, 2023 at 15:22:48)

    I've been playing this for a lot more than I expected - but I'm starting to tire a little. I might not finish it but... I've been super impressed by the game's art direction, they really leaned into the "Indiana Jones-style" temples and stuff, more fairly on the adventure pulps the game mimics. And, it's just fun.

    I'm a bit confused by the game's meta-progression and collectibles. The game has lots of things to find/collect as you play and, when I wasn't paying too much attention I missed a few and assumed that it would all work out because the meta-progression elements would just unlock as you hit certain thresholds. So, get 10 relics and unlock this boon, 15 for the next and so on.

    Here, the relics are grouped thematically - and you get the boon when you complete a full set. And, 3/4 of the way in - I have LOTS of sets that are all missing just one relic. I then assumed that perhaps each set of relics corresponds to a level - so I played a level with a guide (so as not to miss anything) and...that didn't yield a full set either. If I had been paying attention I would have noticed that the sets aren't constrained to a level. BUT, this means that what I had assumed was one of the draws for playing more (to be fair the story is forgettable in a way that is consistent with the genre) is actually kind of out of reach. I'm a bit let down by this, because it seems that these boons are more like Campaign+ type rewards, but - why bother then? I don't have any particular desire to go back and play earlier levels (other than to find/unlock stuff I missed)..

    Similarly, the game has a rune-system where you find runes you can put into slots on weapons that change how that weapon behaves - more damage, heal you on kill, freeze enemies, etc. It's fun - BUT, once you use a rune you can remove it from a weapon by destroying it. So, I filled up a weapon with runes, and I've been using that while hoarding all the other ones because I feel like I don't want to waste them. I think this was another design mistake - I want to experiment with the runes, mix and match, try different combinations, but their relative scarcity means that I feel locked in to my choices. Of course having a system with re-usable runes would require MORE rune-types - but that still might have been better from the player experience side of things?

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    A Mortician's Tale (PC)    by   leonayao

    No comment, yet.
    most recent entry:   Wednesday 26 September, 2018
    Since I already finished the game, I replayed it once again.

    If this game’s purpose is to get people to think about “what is death?” then it is considered as a successful game. There are various people died in different ways. For example, there was a woman who died from breast cancer, an old man who died from aging, adolescence who killed himself and the list goes on. After replaying I had some thoughts on what was the reason they displayed different ways of death, maybe the creator was trying to let us think about the people who were already dead in our life or people who might have a risk to die. In the process of cremation required the player to take the bones and pieces, and turn it into ashes. Then we have to put the ashes into a vessel. The last step of this process is to put a name tag inside the vessel, which is made by a piece of small metal for identification. This makes me think of how people will turn into dust and become nothing. The identification metal is what we endow meaning to it, a prove that we have existed in the world.

    There were two corpses that made a deep impression of me. One was the teenager who suicided. Before receiving the body, players had the option to refuse to take care of the body for the funeral. “Is suicide something hard for you to deal with?” the email said. If anyone who suffered a loss of a close one who suicided, will they be offended when the scene is recreated in a game? I think it is acceptable because I get to choose. I chose to deal with the corpse and attended the funeral once again, and I paid extra attention to the dialog of the family member. Just in a few sentences, but I can tell the family member was not expecting this to happen. Is this a message from the game to ask players to pay more attention for those who are mentally suffering? If so, I hope that there were more content in the game. The game threw out ideas and messages, but they were weak, it did not extend it to the next level. Although it is an indie game, it doesn’t change the fact that due to the poorly written dialog and awkward 3D motion of the characters lowered the player’s experience. Another corpse that made a deep impression of me was a corpse of a homeless people. He had no accessories to identify him but only a metal name tag. The player was the only one who “attended” his funeral. In this case, less content means a lot. The game successfully recreated the scene of loneliness for a human being having nobody. In this case, less equals more.

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