Thursday, March 2, 2017

February Game Buster

I used all 28 days in February to put in work on my Gaming Goals in 2017. First up: Axiom Verge. This game rules so hard. If you liked Super Metroid, you'll love this game. It's got a slick 16-bit look, complete with a fitting, atmospheric soundtrack, non-invasive storytelling and tight controls. My first play-through was on Hard, and I also wanted to collect all items, scattered throughout the map. There is no in-game indicator of hidden items, like Super Metroid/Castlevania's white map dot, or like Metroid Prime's item hum. Instead, you get a dot when you've collected all items in an area, which is really only handy when you're in the last parts of collection cleanup. All this took me 17 hours, and I was shocked that my subsequent play on a lower difficulty didn't feel much easier. The last thing I'll say is that the game is great in its own right, but the art, programming and music were all done by one talented Tom Happ. Bravo, mate!
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The second game went on sale for $5 (frugal fist-pump) the week after I wrote about wanting to play it: Life is Strange. This interactive story has very little action gameplay, as you primarily examine objects and talk to people. Whereas Mass Effect, Chrono Cross, and other choice-influenced narratives had a lot of gameplay and production value, this game has a much smaller scope, but is richly produced. For me, Mass Effect had scenes that fell flat because awkward voice acting, animation, or maybe I was just not in the right frame of mind. Plus, for all the choices to make, the handful of similar endings was infamously lackluster. Chrono Cross had 12 different endings which were vastly different, and may have been a better execution of an evolving story, but the 40 characters were too much to handle. Instead of saving the world or galaxy, Life is Strange wins significance for exploring a part of life that everyone can relate to: high school.
Rip it, Chloe!
This game is probably the most linguistically modern thing I've ever played. There is a lot of swearing, the collocations are alive and cracking, and the NPCs feel like real people. While you go through some pretty mundane experiences, like building friendship via friendly conversation choices, there is a hint of supernatural, and the end product is pretty compelling. It's definitely one of the easiest platinum trophies out there, but challenge wasn't the point of Life.

As a bonus, the last day of the month saw Defense Grid 2 go on sale for $1.50! This is another game from my 2017 list! (So, double-arm frugal fist-pump). Go-go-tower defense!

Lastly, one surprise is that I fired up the free-to-play MOBA Kill Strain for the first time in a while, just to get the 2 remaining silver trophies (and thus platinum) in one very lucky round! That brings a 6 month platinum path to a close.

Update: I made a video about Kill Strain!

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