Friday, August 18, 2017

August ventures in Controllerville

Between now and my last game-related post, I have gone to Korea, suffered 90-degree summer weeks, and started about 10 games. Summer is my least favorite season by a long shot. Spring brings enough warmth and a reason to go outside, but has these things called wind and rain to cool stuff down. Summer is just a miserable 3 months, and considering I've been in Asia for almost half the summers in my life, I know miserable weather intimately. That said, a couple fans and cold drinks kept me in the chair, gaming on.

First up is Until Dawn, one of PS+'s free July games, and a playable movie in the slasher horror style. The game is exciting enough, and the writing is pretty average; your 8 characters have a few good lines, some bad jokes, and some questionable relationships. The worst part about this game, and the horror genre in general is two particular tropes; jump scares and illogical eyesight. The game takes place in snow-covered forest, and I've jumped out of my chair half a dozen times from crows and caribou - two things that I am absolutely not afraid of. Also, like movies of the genre, there are parts where a character is scared because they can't see what the camera can't see, as if they have no peripheral vision. I think these two features undermine the genre and cheapen the experience. If you want a good movie within the genre, you'll just have to watch Get Out, by my man Jordan Peele. Also, this game has one constantly-overwritten save file, meaning your consequences are permanent. This is a neat feature that would be neater if I weren't trying to get trophies with minimal playthroughs.

Shovel Knight is a 16-bit style platformer that was developed by Yacht Games, who is clearly a fan of the genre. The rockin 8-bit soundtrack that is among the greatest OSTs out there, the gorgeous 2d sprites and the legit challenges via enemy AI and tightly controlled and timed jumps make this game one of the best in its genre. My only issue is that to get all the trophies, you have to beat the game a total of 7 times, with 3 of those times being without dying. However, you can restart the entire level and try again if you do die, so it's not sadistic, just a bother.

Died? Rewind!
Mm...that's one Doomed space marine!
Duke Nukem 3d: World Tour
is exactly what you'd expect: a bawdy, wise-cracking smartass hero who knows he's the man. This game translated very well from the PC to the controller, and you can even use cheat codes and still get trophies. However, that's not even necessary, as there is only one difficulty-based trophy.

Can't tell if that's the monster's nads or its heart.
It's a great example of a trophy list where the devs just want you to enjoy and finish the game. Duke Nukem still holds up because the weapons are fun: you'll pretty much use the chaingun and shotgun the whole time because anything with explosives will kill you, and the other novelty weapons like the freeze and shrink rays have limited effectiveness. This was the only game I platinumed outright.

Xenoraid was on sale for $2. I had such a great time with Xeodrifter that I figured games that start with X must be badass. It's true! This game is a top-down shooter with the gimmick that you have up to 4 different ships that have upgrades. There are a few hard trophies such as killing X amount of enemies in survival, but it's an enjoyable game overall with no major flaws.

Pyre has SuperGiant's usual glorious art. This locale is part of the overworld, which is basically purgatory.

Last, but very far from least is Pyre, by one of my favorite indie developers SuperGiant Games. I blindly preordered this game because I enjoyed Bastion and Transistor so much. Pyre is quite unique, but carries the dev team's signature beautiful graphics and amazing soundtrack.

The actual gameplay is split between a choose-your-own path and...street soccer. Pyre's setting is that you're stuck in some kind of spiritual prison, and the way out is to perform Rites before other wandering groups of people. A Rite is where your triumvirate (group of 3) use a celestial orb to extinguish the enemy team's pyre. Yep. I was pretty surprised to discover this gameplay, expecting it to be the isometric beat-em-up with leveling abilities that the last two games were, but am quite happy to have something as cleverly put together as this.

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I am one of those people that uses the word  perfect subjectively. I think something is perfect if it does what it's intended to do ...