Sekiro is a ton of fun!

It’s been a while but I started playing Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice and have really been enjoying it. I think there are a lot of reasons as to why I’ve enjoyed it so much so far… Hence, I’d like to talk about that today. So, I haven’t played a lot of Sekiro yet and I doubt that I’m anywhere near the end of it but I already got through my fair share of boss encounters! I’m currently 15 hours into the game and defeated the Horse Guy and Lady Butterfly already… I passed the Snake and did fight a fair few minor bosses… meanwhile I’m currently stuck at Mr Bowguy… and when I say “I’m stuck” I mean that I stopped playing since I’m frustrating and since I’m not good enough at this game.

Sekiro is a challenging souls-like Action-Adventure by From Software. In Sekiro, you follow a Shinobi known as the “Wolf” on his mission to take revenge on a clan of Samurai that attacked him and kidnapped his lord. After escaping death once, you’re given a second chance with a shinobi-tool arm-prosthetic that allows you to do new things… and all in all, it’s an interesting story that offers you a lot of challenge and lots of areas to explore. I personally really enjoyed it so far for a plethora of reasons:

Gyoubu Oniwa, a man on a horse wielding a naginata, is storming towards "the wolf" aka Sekiro's protagonist.
GYOUBU ONIWA! MY FAVOURITE BOSS SO FAR!

For starters, it’s very hard and frustrating but in a good way. Sekiro doesn’t feature stats or a stamina bar like in Dark Souls. Gear isn’t a thing and items don’t matter as much. It’s all about skill and mastery. Your enemy is your goal and to beat him is your mission. There are a bunch of attacks you can utilize from heavy and swift blows to special attacks you learn via the skill tree but overall, you mostly need to master the parry and the dodge skill in order to damage the enemy’s posture and bring them down in one fell swoop. As the wolf, you’re given a second chance after your first death, so don’t give up easily and fight on.

I personally found this very enjoyable. I never felt like an enemy was unfair. I never felt like the game was being unnecessarily hard on me. Instead, I’d rather have to learn patterns and tread carefully. Posture is important, something that is quite accurate in Iaido, the way of the sword. Alas, I enjoyed Sekiro’s combat and the way that From Software shaped the combat around “Samurai-culture”. From the design of all the characters and enemies to the stances and poses they take and even the sound design in the menu, the game feels rather polished and cohesive. There are instances of mythical creatures and ominous elements in the story that didn’t seem realistic, but Sekiro never claimed to follow a true story or anything like that. My point is that it combines real elements and values of Iaido and Iodo with mystical and magical elements and creatures and it… feels good. It works well. I, as a geek on that topic, can’t complain. I doubt anyone else really cares. The bamboo sounds in the menu, the stances that characters take in combat, and the different schools of sword fighting… Even if it’s only inspired by things that I loosely remember at this point and even if it’s not supposed to be “realistic”, it feels kind of authentic in a way, which is nice.

Anyways, I love Sekiro. And I’m currently stuck in this fight with General Bow-Guy (not his actual name). I get very close to the end but ultimately fail because I’m not good enough at the game yet. It’s not a matter of the fight being too hard… it’s a matter of me not being good enough and no matter how much I try, it never feels too bad really to fail because you have a chance! You immediately know what you’ve done wrong. That’s something that I love in this game.

Sekiro's protagonist aka the wolf is standing alone in a hall that is caving in and burning right now.

In Dark Souls 3, on the other hand, there are points where you can decide to grind to make the game easier for yourself… You need souls to advance your level and your stats. With stats, you’ll be able to dodge more as you have more stamina or to deal more damage due to your dexterity or strength going up. It’s nice and works well for an RPG but Sekiro is not that. Sekiro doesn’t need that. Instead of grinding for a certain weapon or for the next level up, you’re only relying on one thing and one thing alone: Your Skill.

Sekiro’s philosophy could be summarised using the words “If you suck, just get better”. It’s not about grinding the same area for ages but rather it’s about making the best out of the weapons that the game gives to you and mastering them. It’s about skill and mastery over grind and frustration. It’s about reflecting on your mistakes and instead of cursing the game… okay, you can add a bit of salt into the mix, too, which is understandable. Everyone gets frustrated at times, but what counts is that you have fun and for me, the fun comes with getting better and getting that super clutch kill all of a sudden after you lost your lives already in Phase 1 against Lady Butterfly and still managed to kill her not once but twice thanks to an incredible amount of luck and thanks to some form of transcendence that you’ll most likely never achieve again. Oh gosh, I hated that fight in so many ways!

Sekiro can be frustrating but it doesn’t have to be. If you die a lot, just don’t get hit. If you suck at the game, get better at it. If you don’t want to get killed, just kill the enemy before they have a chance to kill you. And I personally just love that about it. You can’t really avoid fighting. You’ll fight those bosses and you’ll murder them unless they’re optional. It’s fun. It’s hard. It’s rewarding.

General Bow-Guy asking Sekiro's protagonist how "grandfather" is.
There he is… General Bowguy!

Sekiro’s most frustrating moments made the victories, however small they were were, a lot sweeter, which is a nice thing that I enjoyed about it. I’m looking forward to getting gud again. I’m looking forward to beating General Bow-Guy in Sekiro.

Cheers.

This post was first published on Indiecator by Dan Indiecator aka MagiWasTaken.

Off-Role in League – ADC as Jhin, the Virtuoso

I know I said that I won’t play League again for a while… but I still like the game and Ranked is just frustrating, so I’ll get back into normal games. Initially, I felt as if normal games were as frustrating as ranked games, so I ended up only playing ranked for a while. Since people are never trying in ranked… and since they always do in normals… I figured I may as well play off-role in normal games with occasional support game.

Alas, I’ve been practising Jhin a lot since he used to be my favourite ADC and he essentially still is. My other three ADCs of Choice were Caitlyn, Jinx and Ashe, but I didn’t have a chance to play those yet. I’d like to get better at the other roles since there are a lot of cool themes in the jungle, the mid lane and the top lane but for now, I’ll just practise some ADCs… and since I love him so much, this post is about Jhin.

My favourite thing about Jhin is most likely this theme of the tortured artist that is going mad in search of his magnum opus. Jhin’s a bit of a serial killer if I remember the lore correctly trying to create the perfect murder of sorts and orchestrate it to perfection. His weapon of choice is a revolver with only four shots. Jhin’s obsessed with the number 4. His name, Jhin, has four letters. Four in Japanese is “Shi” which can also mean death. If you follow the letters J-H-I-N on your keyboard right now, you’ll see it forming a four. Forming? Fourming! The Four is everywhere. Jhin’s in your head now. But yeah, I just kind of live for that. I love it. It’s amazing. Him counting up from 1 to 4 with each shot he fires (he can only attack four times before reloading) and just the effects of his abilities make every game a lovely experience and I could never get tired of it. 

On top of that, his builds are quite versatile. You can go for a lot of different mythic items like Galeforce (which is probably the best item on Jhin right now), Eclipse (which adds a bit of survivability and a lot of damage against squishies) or even Krakenslayer (which makes his 3rd shot deal as much damage as his 4th shot) and they all kind of work. You essentially go for a lot of attack damage and crit chance or lethality. Attack Speed gets turned into extra attack damage which is great, although you don’t get to reach 1000 AD like previously anymore…

Anyways, I did seven games in the last few days and had a lot of fun. I planned on making this post when there were four games with a 100% win rate but… then I postponed the post and now there are seven games. Either way, I’m still out of 7 wins out of 7 games, so that’s quite nice and my positioning doesn’t seem to be the worst. My first game was annoying as the enemy team had a super fed and super tanky Rengar that could one-shot everyone and then just run away… On top of that, the enemy Akali also did a lot of damage to me while Teemo has a blind… yup. Hence, that was a very hard game for us and rather close as well! I ended up getting to my third item and suddenly, I was useful! Despite the many deaths I had. After that game, I ended up having a great game with Eclipse (16/7/12), an okay game with only a Galeforce (forgot to buy at the end so it only shows one item… but yeah 3/1/7), and a very good game that turned into a bit of a stomp with 18/2/6 for my final stats. That game was a lot of fun, to be fair, as I ended up getting interrupted a ton of times by either the enemy Senna or the enemy Leona, so that I’ve never been able to go back and buy items. Alas, I had no mana and was staying in lane with 4k gold… but I got one kill after another and it was hilarious in a way.

The other three games turned into okay performances (ha, pun intended!). My positioning wasn’t the best and it was a bit late over here, so there’s that… What I did improve on, though, were my CS skills in the early game as well as my mana-pool as those are issues I have every now and then.

Hence, 

  • I’ll have to figure out my optimal rune layout during the next few games… 
  • I’ll also try and get better at CSing
  • I’ll also need to bully enemies more early on while keeping my mana at an alright point
  • I need to be more careful about my positioning
  • and even though it makes me kind of sad… I want to try out AP Jhin, even if that will probably end in a loss.

Jhin is a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to making more progress and learning him some more. I mean, I know how to play him but I’d love to get even better at it and maybe pick up some tips and tricks from people that play him a lot more than me. That’d be amazing!

Cheers!

This post was first published on Indiecator by Dan Indiecator aka MagiWasTaken.

Difficulty in Games and Accessibility

So, the other day, a streamer that I follow on Twitter, AshleyRoboto (link to her website), tweeted a video about her wanting to enjoy games on the difficulty she wants to play on without being shamed for it. And I agree quite heavily with that. Hence, I wanted to write about my thoughts on accessibility and difficulty in games today.

For starters, the issue that Ashley was commenting on was about people gatekeeping others and essentially roasting people for not playing games on the hardest difficulty possible and whatnot. This sort of gatekeeping is similar to the whole “you’re not a gamer” type of thing where you “get your gamer card revoked” if you only play Indie Games or farming sims or if you play Dark Souls for the story and not because you want to be in pain all the time. It’s a stupid way of thinking really. If you enjoy games, play them the way you want to. If others enjoy games differently from your way of enjoying them, leave them the fuck be. As easy as that.

But people like that will always exist and they’ll gatekeep the shit out of you or defend their position by saying that “the developers intended the games to be played on the highest difficulty” or whatever… which is a bullshit point to make since every difficulty in any game is intended. Sure, you may see a game that has options for different difficulty settings and a small note that says “this is the way the game was intended to be played” but the developers wouldn’t put in other options, harder or easier doesn’t matter, if they wouldn’t want those options to be played. Most developers probably want their games to be enjoyed by anyone even if they don’t have the quick reaction times or the hand-eye-coordination to deal with things… I mean, some people have to play games with only one hand or even their feet and I feel like it’d be cruel to exclude people like that by not featuring any accessibility options. Apart from remapping keys and having the option of changing a certain aspect of a game to customise the experience/difficulty, there are a lot of other ways to make games more accessible. Celeste, for starters, has the option of adding more dashes or even invincibility, which is great if people want to see the story or if you get stuck in one part but want to see other parts. Despite its appearance, Celeste can be really difficult and frustrating actually, which you may not expect from a cutesy art style like that. Similarly, the idea of Grounded may be phenomenal for a lot of people… but spiders are a huge no-go for a lot of players (including me) which is why Arachnophobia mode makes it a lot less terrifying and hence more accessible. 

Colour Blind Mode, Remapping of Keys, Difficulty Options, Subtitles, and hud/UI customisations are great ways of making games more accessible. People replied to Ashley’s tweet with a plethora of good reasons for including an easy difficulty in your game as a developer… Some people don’t want to pay 60 bucks on a game only to then get frustrated with it after a few hours… Some people are frankly getting a bit slow in regards to reaction times… Others may want to unwind with games after a lot of stress or a busy day and may want to have a nice time with games without having to get overly frustrated… I personally struggle with my hand-eye coordination a lot and end up fat-fingering plenty of times or I end up not reacting quick enough in games because it takes ages for my hands to react. Games end up helping a bit. Typing a lot at my PC helps a lot with it as well. Cranking up the difficulty can be fun and I don’t oppose it but every now and then I just want to have a nice time and enjoy the story. Dark Souls 3 has great lore and is quite punishing… but it can also be really rewarding. If it had some options to give you more stamina regeneration or higher health, more defence, more damage or reduce the base damage of enemies… that’d be great. People like me would be able to enjoy it even more…

And I get that it is part of the appeal of souls-like games to be hard and punishing… or rather… to be challenging. I get that Challenge is a big part of why people play games and I get that honing your skills is a big part of why people enjoy them so much. There’s nothing wrong with that… but it doesn’t have to be the standard thing in every game. Just like how these “core gamers” wouldn’t want every game to be relaxing and chill like Stardew Valley, a lot of “casual gamers” wouldn’t want all games to be as punishing and frustrating as Sekiro. I’m not too opposed to a good challenge, myself, but I don’t need it in all of my games if that makes sense.

So all in all, accessibility is important to make games enjoyable for a lot of people. Having no accessibility options or no difficulty options is bad. Just because you’re defending easy difficulty that doesn’t mean that you always play on easy. Similarly, just because easy mode or nightmare difficulty or whatever is an option in the games you play, that doesn’t mean that everyone that plays the game has to use those difficulties. Every difficulty is the intended difficulty. There is no shaming in trying to relax with games or to focus on different aspects of games, like the story, the side-quests or the combat. There is no shame in enjoying other parts of games. There is no shame in not enjoying games. If people don’t harm others, mind your own business and let them enjoy their thing. If you’re developing games, please include accessibility options. 

And if you’re reading this right now, please stay safe, be kind to others, take your meds if you need to take any and forgot to, stay hydrated and have a nice day. Also if you haven’t yet, please check out Ashley! She’s a great human and streamer and everything. You’re not gonna regret it!

Any thoughts? Let me know! Would love to hear about your thoughts on accessibility and game difficulty!

Cheers!

This post was first published on Indiecator by Dan Indiecator aka MagiWasTaken.

Late to the Party #8 – For Honor

I’m not sure when but at some point in time, I actually got a free copy of For Honor on my account. I think Steam was just giving it away in 2018 or something… and then again in 2019… and again last year… So, I basically grabbed it for free a few years ago and then I just never played it and didn’t even bother looking at it. For whatever reason, I just figured that “freebies are nice” and that “For Honor is probably just another shooter”, so I basically didn’t really care about it… That was until Chris, a lovely streamer from the Stream Team that I’m a part of, streamed it and actually explained to me what it was about… so… now, I’m actually kind of enjoying it a lot. Alas, welcome to another post on a game that everyone but me has tried already. I’m sorry but it seems that I am Late to the Party.

Notice: This is not a review. These are my first impressions… sometimes also my second impressions. I tend to rant about games in ways that I wouldn’t rant about games I’m reviewing… I tend to praise games in ways that I wouldn’t praise them usually… Similarly, I compare games or cover non-Indie titles that I usually wouldn’t cover… Hence, these are no review posts. Just FYI. Move on.

“1v1 me bruh” – I won by spamming poison spears!

For Honor plays in an alternative timeline where Samurai, Knights and Vikings fight against each other… constantly… for territory and *For Honor*, I guess? There is a story of sorts but nobody really cares about that, as far as I know. It’s funny to see that not even Steam’s store page tells me anything about the story. You basically play as one of the three factions, deploy units on battlefields and play in a bunch of different modes from Dominion to Breach to Skirmish. But even if you belong to the Samurai faction (like I do!), you can still play Knights and Vikings and whatnot. It’s quite cool. Winning battles rewards you with different bonuses like experience for your battle pass, for your character and steel (which is the in-game currency that you need to purchase new heroes). Your character/hero can be customised once you buy them and you can level them up to unlock different skill variants to customise your playstyle. It’s an interesting concept, for sure, especially as you get to influence the battlefield with your victories and as you get to deploy units that you get from playing a lot in order to conquer a territory.

The season goes on for ages and within the season there are a lot of different campaigns and challenges and bounties to fulfil. I like this Real-Time-Battle-system a lot and really dig the whole idea behind it. As you complete matches, you end up conquering lands or battling it out with other factions and when your faction wins at the end of the season, you leave your mark in the world, as well. 

Between matches I can pretend to be a master strategist that is deploying units to these battlefields… noice.

Combat itself also has a rather high skill-ceiling. Enemies can strike to your left, right and top, so you’ll have to block accordingly and use feints or repeated attacks to trick your enemies into blocking the wrong way. Similarly, you can dodge attacks and cause the enemy’s stamina to deplete. There are also throws and a bunch of combos, specific to each hero, resulting in a rather in-depth melee-focused combat-system. But more important than the micro is obviously the macro in most games. You can be a mechanical god but it won’t help you unless you’re doing a 1v1-Deathmatch against other enemies. Most players seem to play Dominion, which is why you’ll need to keep an eye on the different points that you need to control as well as where the enemies are heading to, where your allies are, and all of that. Having a 4v4 mode like that is quite fun. There are also other modes like Capture the Flag and whatnot… but the activity in those modes is super low and I don’t have unlimited time to waste waiting on a match over there. If it’s not going to find a match in five minutes, I feel like I’m being cheated out of my time… y’know? Also, there has to be a reason that nobody plays those modes.

Now, while combat can be quite fun… I noticed that some heroes aren’t that fun to play against. For starters, I love playing Nobushi who’s an agile Samurai wielding a Naginata (which is basically a long spear… with a sword on top of it… and that btw really exists). Naginatas are annoying IRL… In For Honor, Nubushi also uses poison attacks, so, you just spam those attacks and win by default unless people know how to counter it… which… often doesn’t work because of latency. It’s annoying, to say the least. Similarly, despite being called “For Honor”, nobody honours the duel between two warriors and because of that, the most effective strategy seems to be that you group up as four people and steamroll over the enemies, especially in spots where you can easily gang up on them from behind without any issues. It’s annoying. It’s frustrating. There isn’t really a whole lot to do against it unless Ubisoft does something against it… it feels kind of as if Ubisoft is encouraging it, though, since there is no penalty for fighting together as four against one… and there is no penalty for killing the same people over and over again at their spawn…

Hooray, I’m stomping people!

And while the different bounties and game modes are quite interesting, I kind of feel like I’m burning out already from it. It’s a multiplayer game, so maybe it will be more fun once I get some friends to play it with me (on that note… add me if you wanna play?) but as it is right now, I just get frustrated because of AFKs in my team and people grouping up as four together against one single person… and that kind of stuff is just depressing. Unless of course, I get to play Nobushi because… then I can at least spam poison attack at the enemies to counter-frustrate them. 🙂 

Just kidding.

But personally speaking, I’d rather have a game where I can enjoy myself and where the enemies also have fun… than a game where every round is either a stomp by your team or a stomp by the enemy team. Sadly, that’s the case here. It’s either win or lose. It’s usually decided at the beginning of the game. It’s never really close or anything like that and you hardly ever see a comeback, which is something I’d really like in this sort of game. Instead of actual comeback mechanics, For Honor introduces “Breaking” which is something that prevents you from respawning when you’re getting stomped in games. It’s basically a mechanic that makes frustrating games more frustrating…

Oh well,… I’ll play it for a while and drop it again. At least I get to play as a Samurai here… that’s quite rad, y’know? Another game off the list.

Cheers!

This post was first published on Indiecator by Dan Indiecator aka MagiWasTaken.

More on the Frogwares-Nacon-Dispute

So, not too long ago, I wrote about Frogwares and Nacon and The Sinking City and tried to explain my stance on it in combination with the information that was open to the public. Then Frogwares DM’d me about some information I got wrong or that I portrayed in a wrong way, so I figured I should write a small update on the situation with information from those Twitter direct messages. I could have just updated the post but since a lot of people read it and seemed interested in it, I figured I should make a new post on it so that people actually see the updated information and so on.

For anyone that doesn’t know what this is about: Here’s the previous post, I’d say read the previous post… I’ll try summarising it quickly but it’s quite difficult to put it into a TLDR of sorts. So, Frogwares are a small studio that is behind the popular Sherlock Holmes games among others and have been developing The Sinking City for a year but required more financial support for the development of it. Nacon, formerly known as BigBen Interactive, was supposed to contribute to the game financially per contract on certain milestones and they’d be able to be the sole contributor of the standard version of the game and they’d take a revenue share as well. Nacon ended up agreeing to the terms but didn’t deliver the money on-time or would stop it completely, presumably because they wanted to get Frogwares’ source code for another game and Frogwares refused to give it to them. Nacon doesn’t own the IP or anything and has no right to stop financing the studio just because of Frogwares protecting their IP but they just ended up being dicks about it. Stuff went to court and now it gets complicated.

So, Nacon basically demands a version for them to sell on Steam and basically started selling an older version without any Frogwares logos on the boxes and stuff… That’s against the agreement, too. They also nearly breached the deal with Epic Games that Frogwares had by trying to sell on a different platform despite the exclusivity agreement. Frogwares had to issue DMCAs on different storefronts to prevent that. Nacon went to court.

July 2020: The Judge refused to order the continuation of the contract and the delivery of a new Steam Master version to Nacon. Nacon did after all breach the contract multiple times.

October 2020: The Appeal Court ruled differently. The contract continues but Frogwares does not have to deliver a new Steam Master version of the game. Nacon did receive a version before for the commercialization on the Epic Games Store and since there was this exclusivity agreement there, there was no commercialization on Steam yet. Hence, they should use the EGS version and be happy with it… So, the judgement from October 2020 is not preventing Nacon to release the game on Steam since they have the Master Version (from EGS) from April 2019. For whatever reason, however, Nacon wants a new version instead. Since the court didn’t say that Frogwares has to do that, Frogwares doesn’t do it. Frogwares proposed three times to find an agreement on that older version but Nacon refused it every single time.

Fast forward to February 2021 where Nacon still has the Steam Master Version from April 2019 but refuses to use that one. Frogwares still doesn’t have to deliver a newer version. Nacon refuses Frogwares’ proposals of settlings. Instead, Nacon goes and buys a commercial version that is newer from Frogwares only to then crack it open and edit/hack/pirate it to use it on Steam. They do not have the right to do so per contract or per court case or whatever. Piracy isn’t allowed at all in this case or any case. 

Another part of public information is that the decisions of July 2020 and October 2020 are summary court decisions and hence not final. The final decisions are sent to the trial court. I assume this means that the legal dispute will continue and with Nacon not only breaching the copyright agreement but also pirating a copy to sell their own, I’d reckon that the tides may shift in favour of Frogwares here. We’ll have to see about that.

Another part here is that Nacon still has to pay Frogwares the money they’re owed. Nacon is selling units of the games right now but is sending negative sales report without any indication or explanation. Nacon refuses to explain to Frogwares how they can sell the game but actually lose money. They have to pay Frogwares but make reports that there isn’t anything to pay. They don’t give any details on sales figures nor any documents that would explain this phenomenon of selling a lot but losing money. Hence, Frogwares’ only real option here is to start a new court case so that the judge can order Nacon to give them the actual documents and actual sales figures that are also part of the contractual obligation. 

My stance on the matter doesn’t change here. Nacon still behaves like a huge child that wants a new version despite the court ruling that Frogwares doesn’t have to give them one. Nacon doesn’t understand that no means no, which is an issue. I still think that Frogwares deserves all the support in the world. With these new bits of information, I still believe more in Frogwares. Nacon still just says “no, you” in there statement and says the opposite. We’ll just have to wait on the court’s ruling and see how things turn out in the future.

Any thoughts? Let me know! I still think that the topic here is quite interesting and since I apparently misinterpreted information or phrased it in the wrong way, I’m happy that Frogwares reached out and let me know about the bits of information that I was missing.

Cheers!

This post was first published on Indiecator by Dan Indiecator aka MagiWasTaken.

But is it worth the full price?

From time to time, I’ve caught myself thinking that a game is worth the full price or not worth the full price… sometimes, I’d wishlist a game to buy it on a sale while I’d immediately buy other titles even when they’re not even on a discount and that lead to me think… how do I set those standards and why am I allowed to judge whether or not a game is worth the full price tag? Hence, a small post on that topic.

Sometimes you play a game solely for the experience. You can’t play it again after your first time really… or rather, you can play it again but the experience won’t be the same and it’s maybe even ruined for you, like in Outer Wilds. Similarly, other games add a lot of replayability to them or have a ton of content in them, like Hades or Risk of Rain 2, while other games have collectables and great stories or enjoyable combat, etc. like Bioshock 2. Hence, it’s very hard to put a price tag on your time and answer whether or not your time has been well-spent on a game that cost ten bucks, twenty bucks or sixty bucks. It’s hard to give a good answer… but sometimes you see a game that costs twenty bucks and it doesn’t even give you twenty hours of content out of it, while a lot of other games have so much replayability in them or offer so much extra content that you could spend days in them, past completion, to discover all the little extras and bits that were hidden.

Stardew Valley costs 14€ on Steam. I remember buying it from one of my first paychecks back in 2016. I worked three hours as a waiter and had to deal with very annoying guests on that one Sunday there while my boss was taking a nap and while everyone else was not in the house. I had to prepare drinks and coffees and even food from the small menu and it was absolutely not worth it as I didn’t even get tipped by those annoying and very demanding guests. 14€ isn’t the steepest price tag but I got 112 hours out of this game so far and I have yet to get through the game and get to the newest content and the modded content and all of that. The game is super underpriced in my opinion but I probably wouldn’t have bought it for 60€. 30€? Maybe. 25€? 100%. 14€? Way too cheap! If I donate half a litre of blood, I get 20€ meaning that I can buy Among Us and Stardew Valley for half a litre of blood on Steam. I can get my blood’s worth out of those games easily and it would still be enough. But for what it is, I wouldn’t be able to pay more than 10€ for Among Us, especially since it has a free version on mobile… yup.

So time = money doesn’t work in games, since games don’t work like that. Monster Hunter World and Stardew Valley cost different amounts of money but I love both of these games in different ways. While I may have clocked in less time into Outer Wilds, I paid mostly for the experience, the soundtrack, the art style, the story, the gameplay in Outer Wilds… and it was 100% worth it. Monster Hunter World has this beautiful and stunning world, these epic monsters, no spiders, not too grindy grinds, fun co-op, lots of quests and event quests, a lot of stuff to do, cosmetics and an end-game that is worth it. It has a high skill-ceiling as well, which is amazing to have in games, in my opinion, which is why I clocked so many hours into that game…

Meanwhile, the 2020 remake of Destroy All Humans! costs 30 bucks, adds no new content compared to the old game, and the graphics have been barely touched “to keep it nostalgic”. The game still has annoying controls, there are little to no things to do in the world, there isn’t any extra content past the story, really, and there are still a lot of bugs in the game that made the game rather frustrating… including a very annoying escort mission. Regardless, it was fun at first… but eventually, I regretted the purchase, especially after that refund-window was over.

I feel like that it’s a common theme for developers these days to re-release games on different platforms and sell the nostalgia feel while front-loading the early game… and then everything else feels “eh” but you can’t refund it anymore… or people stop playing after a few hours.

And that’s a problem because you can’t really evaluate games based on their price tags or playtimes. You can’t evaluate it based on the contents and essentially, it’s all a rather personal thing and statements like “not worth the full price tag” don’t really say anything really… if anything it feels wrong to say stuff like that and I’ll have to be careful not to fall into that habit myself. 

Rather, I feel like we need to move away from trying to play through games or to play “at least” a certain number of hours in it. I feel like mentalities like that can take out a lot from games and make them less enjoyable, which is a bummer. Instead, I feel like the only value you can get out of games is your personal enjoyment. Based on you and your preferences, an hour of a game can be worth nothing or priceless already. 

Krikket actually put it into some really nice words by calling it “play to satisfaction”, which essentially enables her to drop a game if it doesn’t work at all or to grind the heck out of it if she absolutely loves it – and I feel like more people need to get to games with that mindset. I still sometimes regret purchases… but it’s less of a thing for me as of late and I’ve really been enjoying games no matter how long they are, especially due to the experience they gave me so far and have yet to give me and especially with the challenges I sometimes tend to impose onto myself. It’s great to change the mindset a bit and not ask “how much is this game worth?” but rather “how much is my time worth?” – The first question is more about the money/price tag. The latter question is more about prioritisation and whether or not you want to play one game right now and another later or which game you may enjoy more. It’s less about the actual money you worked for or that you paid… it’s more about what game you may enjoy more and testing out boundaries and new genres.

But that’s it mostly for today’s thoughts on a random topic that rushed through my head. I hope that I kind of made sense. Check out Krikket’s post! Krikket is cool! Uh, happy St. Patty’s Day! Happy Humpday! Hope you’re well! Let me know if you have any rules or ideas on how to evaluate games… or if you, too, think that it’s stupid to do that.

Cheers!

This post was first published on Indiecator by Dan Indiecator aka MagiWasTaken.

Why I don’t play Valorant anymore?

A while ago I wrote a piece about Valorant and why I liked its take on the genre… but eventually, I ended up regretting that entirely as Valorant turned out to be like all other games in the genre… but potentially worse.

You see, what I liked about Valorant was the simplified art style and the satisfying gunplay. It’s a CSGO-like game where the user has abilities that allow you to block off areas or block off vision or maybe even fly through the air and dash around and stuff. It’s new for me to enjoy games like that but at the time during the closed beta, I really enjoyed playing it…

Once it was fully out and accessible to everyone and anyone, however, I noticed that there’re two faults with the game:

  • abilities
  • the community

Riot Games themselves said that abilities wouldn’t overshadow the gunplay by any means. They would enhance the experience and change how you play the game… but they would not matter as much as skill and the guns in the game… but then they released Raze and suddenly I didn’t enjoy the game as much anymore. Don’t get me wrong, Raze may not be overpowered anymore but she’s a complete contradiction to what Riot Games said about their own game… Raze featured three abilities that could one-shot enemies and one ability that gave her some mobility and enough damage to kill enemies in two shots, using two charges. I didn’t like that at all. Why do abilities suddenly matter so much?

I mean, Sage’s heals are quite strong in this game since there isn’t that much healing involved, but Sage doesn’t have direct damage in her kit. Other characters have mobility and vision control or can crowd-control enemies… Viper, one of my favourite characters, utilizes poison damage and controllable vision barricades, but she felt really balanced. Her poison wouldn’t one-shot you or anything like that.

So, abilities matter a lot suddenly and characters end up being overpowered on release with some of the later character releases having a lot of self-healing and just sitting at a 100% pick-rate. 

The other point is that the community is super toxic, especially with voice chat being a thing. A reason for why I stopped playing Overwatch was the community’s levels of toxicity… but Valorant is nearly as bad as Overwatch and CS:GO in those regards. The quality of some people’s microphones is horrendous. At the same time, some of them are just being racist, bigoted, homophobic or harmful in a lot of ways because you can’t punish them for it without recording them or whatever… I had this one guy scream at me for a whole game because I refused to heal him. Then he’d tell me that I sucked and that I’m the worst player in the game. He started shouting into the microphone when I said that him dying first every round contradicts me being the worst player. I mean, he’d probably be right about me sucking at Valorant. I’m not very good at shooter games after all… but if he wants to get healed, he shouldn’t insult people, so I just refused to heal him in particular.

Of course, you can mute people in the games and you can ignore everyone and all of that… but… I don’t see a point in there being Voice Chat if you don’t use it. Playing with friends would be a solution to fix the issues I had with Valorant… but none of my friends actually play the game anymore because abilities are just so overpowered.

Apart from that, I also noticed that people who are good at Valorant aren’t really good at CS:GO… but people that are very good in CS:GO are just god-like in Valorant. Hence, I feel like you can’t play the game as a newbie without getting stomped every game by some guy who’s just godlike or smurfing or whatever. It feels silly how often games are completely one-sided or where one player is the only good one…

And of course, I could get super good at it by playing a lot of it and whatnot… but I don’t enjoy it that much really and I don’t have fun at it anymore, which is why I figured: Hey, I should make a post about this because I posted about liking Valorant before… and I don’t really like it anymore. I don’t play Hyperscape either, btw, for similar reasons… and yeah, there’s a statement on that, I guess.

Do you guys play Valorant? If so, wanna play it together? 😛

Cheers!

This post was first published on Indiecator by Dan Indiecator aka MagiWasTaken.

Roguelikes and Burning Out

I love playing Roguelikes and Roguelites. I like the challenge and the strategic/tactical element of it and how different weapons, skills and items can synergise in unexpected ways. I love how I can play Curse of the Dead Gods and have a very bad run that forces me to use heavy weapons all of a sudden… and it works… and it feels good… and suddenly, I’m more comfortable with taking heavy weapons and focusing builds around those… and I like new and innovative concepts that developers come up with in the genre, allowing players to enjoy new iterations of the same gameplay-formula without the risk of potentially not enjoying it.

But at the same time, Roguelikes and Roguelites (to make it easier for myself, I’ll use “Roguelikes” for both of the terms from now on) end up being quite challenging and sometimes even frustrating. Getting a bad run or not receiving the upgrades, stats or resources you wanted is… unfortunate… luck is a big factor in these games after all… and that can lead to frustration building up to the point where I get tired of it.

It’s a bit of a bad habit of mine to play a roguelike for a lot of hours to the point of burning out from it, only to quit playing for a while and to only pick it up later. Remember that post I did on 100%ing Risk of Rain 2? Well,… I’m half-way done with the next post but I’m just not getting the right seeds for my runs to get some of the achievements, which is… unfortunate.

And Curse of the Dead Gods is amazing but after a run or two, I need a break and play something else. Similarly, I’ll play Loop Hero for maybe an hour or two in a row before eventually deciding to switch things up.

The problem is that you’re not guaranteed any good runs. Rarely do you ever have mechanics in place that allow you to have a guaranteed great start. The Binding of Isaac has some mechanics like that in place… but it doesn’t help a lot when you don’t get the damage you need and end up dying because it takes you too long to kill something… or you’re just way too slow in Risk of Rain and die because you can’t dodge fast enough or manoeuvre fast enough around the map.

But while this may sound dooming,… I feel as if it’s fine. It’s fine to take a break from games and to come back later… and with Roguelikes, I tend to come back more often than with other games. I can play a lot of Hades for hours only to then take a break from it for another two weeks. I love taking breaks and coming back with a fresh mind. Sometimes I crave that Isaac run. Sometimes I crave another expedition in Loop Hero. Sometimes I want to Enter the Gungeon again or to climb the Nuclear Throne. Sometimes I just feel like spinning for more coins in Luck be a Landlord or I want to bring out the big guns in Risk of Rain 2. Sometimes, I want to be evil in Despotism 3k and punish humans… or I want to throw poison daggers in Slay The Spire… or I try to understand Heroes of Hammerwatch and Noita.

I could go on and on about frustrating mechanics in challenging games or I could just take a break and come back to them when I feel like it… and that’s the magic of Roguelikes. It’s kind of for that reason that my dynamic collection of “Roguelikes” on Steam features about 79 entries that all are amazing… well, most of them are.

And I figured I’d share that. Take breaks. Go for a stretch. Get something to eat/drink. Come back to a game later before the frustration and the salt ruins it for you. You can do it, I believe in you! And I encourage breaks. Breaks are important. Burning out is fine… just come back later.

Note: The featured image for this post is the same one as one that I used in a previous post… I figured I could use that one again because the games depicted in it were quite fitting this time as well. Celeste isn’t a roguelike but I also burn out from that game… so,… that’s why… Don’t hold that against me, thanks.

Cheers!

This post was first published on Indiecator by Dan Indiecator aka MagiWasTaken.

The Sinking City – The legal dispute between Frogwares and Nacon continues!

On June 27th, 2019, The Sinking City was released on multiple platforms, including Steam. Then there’s been a bit of an issue between the developers and their “publisher”, which lead to it being delisted and eventually the matter being taken to court. Alas, I figured I should talk about it since it now is being stirred up again.

First things first. The Sinking City is an action-adventure game developed by Frogwares, the creators of Call of Cthulhu. It is inspired by H.P. Lovecraft’s stories and set in the fictional city of Oakmont, Massachusetts, during the 1920s where the private investigator Charles W. Reed searches for clues to the cause of the terrifying visions plaguing him and the mystery of Oakmont’s unrelenting flooding. The game was announced in 2016 with footage eventually shown in 2017, and the game getting released in 2019 as a timed exclusive on the Epic Games Store. Nacon (formerly known as BigBen Interactive) was licensed as a distributor until 2020 but pretended to be more than that, aka a “publisher”. Their contract with Frogwares on account of both intellectual property violation and lack of payment, which is why the game was delisted from Steam, the EGS, as well as the XBOX One and PlayStation 4 digital storefronts until the legal dispute between the two parties was done. In exchange for a financial contribution, Frogwares gave Nacon the right to sell and commercialize the game on four platforms, but the intellectual property would still belong to the only producer and owner of this game, Frogwares. The deal was signed and payments were to be received for each production milestone completed. On top of that, there would be a revenue share in place starting from the first dollar earned.

According to Frogwares who addressed this in an open letter, “BBI/Nacon was hundreds and hundreds of days behind in payments in total”, followed by BBI/Nacon buying out a competing studio working on another Lovecraftian game and demanding that Frogwares would give their source code for The Sinking City to their competitor. The problem here is that they don’t really have the right to demand anything like that since they do not own the IP. When Frogwares refused, BBI/Nacon stopped financial contributions for over four months. Nacon would also not deliver any consistent sales figures or business plans and otherwise refuse to collaborate. Eventually, the game was released and despite them approving of all the previous milestones, they refused to pay up or give Frogwares the shares they deserved. They didn’t document sales figures or any other data on how many units were sold. At the same time, they would make up things about console manufacturers not having paid royalties for more than five months, despite the same manufacturer paying up without delay during that time for Frogwares’ other games. Hence, Frogwares went to court.

On top of not paying up or contributing financially, Nacon also has been still earning money from the release. While not holding their end of the deal, they profited from the game while pretending to be the publisher and owner of the IP and game. They listed Frogwares as a technical partner while removing any proof of their involvement in the game on all boxes, packaging and other material, resulting in them creating this illusion of them being the owners of the IP. The contract between the parties was then supposed to be terminated as a result of the court case but Nacon is refusing to accept that. Nacon also refused to take the games down and to pay up, so the matter wasn’t ending anytime soon. Frogwares’ only option was to take the game down via a DMCA notice on multiple occasions. Nacon then tried to still sell the game as their own property on multiple occasions by buying one copy of it, then hacking the game’s source code and editing it in a way that suggests that it’s owned and created by Nacon and not Frogwares. Then they started re-distributing it on Steam and other platforms. Features like achievements would be missing since the game would only be offline. Logos by Frogwares were removed or changed and overall, the game would behave differently.

Frogwares also explained that they purchased the Deluxe Edition from their store and then released the altered version of that copy on Steam, which is a further breach of their contract. They didn’t pay them for any of the previous game but even if they had and were still contracted to them, they wouldn’t have been able to profit from the extra content and DLC offered in the Deluxe Edition, hence essentially pirating/stealing that extra content from Frogwares. Obviously, the game was taken down, yet again, on Steam but Nacon seems to continue the attempts of theft, robbery and profit from the game, despite not having any right to do so at all. They even launched the game at a 60% discount, to make as much money as possible before it would be taken down, which is ridiculous, to say the least.

Now, Nacon actually responded to this publicly just recently, saying that they are “contractually the sole exclusive distributor of The Sinking City on Steam”, but the court decided in favour of Frogwares that the contract is terminated. Nacon then denies all of the allegations, saying that they paid all of the financial contributions and the payment of royalties to Frogwares in time, accusing Frogwares to act in bad faith and saying that they have no right to make the game available to Nacon on Steam. What’s truly evil is that Nacon is actually turning it the other way around saying that the court has decided in their favour and prompted the continuation of the contract, while pulling quotes of their butt. According to Nacon, Frogwares tried to sell the game again on Steam without mentioning Nacon at all (an incident of which I know nothing of as I can’t find any sources… hmmm….). Now, Nacon is threatening with legal action as well, saying that Frogwares has apparently not indicated that “all court decisions in the dispute between Nacon and Frogwares have thus far been favourable to Nacon”.

The issue with this is that to make a lie seem true, you mix in a bit of the truth. They mentioned that Frogwares encouraged the gaming community via Twitter to not buy the game, which is true. There is proof of this… but Nacon doesn’t provide any truth at all towards their accusations here. Meanwhile, Frogwares showed the changes made in the most recent version on Steam in a video, which I’ll link below, and they provided sources and proof to everything they mentioned in their open letter. Frogwares doesn’t pull up any quotes or anything that the court apparently said out of their arses, they actually show parts of the contract, screenshots and other proof to make you believe them, while Nacon is just pulling the “Uno Reverse Card” here by saying that Frogwares is lying. 

Frogwares: “Nacon stole our property, didn’t pay us in time, is still not paying us, isn’t in a contract with us anymore and has yet to pay us, and they now are trying to profit off our IP without any right to do so while pretending to be the creator of the game.” – Nacon: “No, you’re lying. We’re right. Shut up.”

I don’t get why people are still so endazzled with Lovecraftian Horror when Corporate Horror is so much scarier. Nacon here, an evil corporation, is also trying to sway over people by pretending to be the only ones that made this game possible through their financing and support, when in fact, they started giving money to Frogwares after two years of development, and they stopped giving money to Frogwares after Frogwares denied them to incorporate Frogwares’ source code into a different studios’ game, which is ridiculous. Nacon is like an orange man-child of a Giant that has too much money and power while Frogwares is the tiny David trying his best to deal with this endless legal trouble. Eventually, Nacon gave Frogwares a 48-hours ultimatum to produce a functioning version to them so they can sell it on Steam or else they would “use all solutions available within the law and the contract”… so piracy is within the law, I guess, as they stole the game and started selling the altered version of it. Counterfeit, intellectual theft, piracy, and threats are apparently within the law and the contract (that btw is still breached). 

And I thought that Epic Games was evil but I guess there’s always someone worse out there. Nacon even tried to breach the exclusivity agreement that Frogwares and Nacon had with Epic Games by publishing the game on a different platform. While Frogwares didn’t know how many units were sold, how much money they would make and whether or not the revenue share was accurate on Steam (since Nacon didn’t provide any real documented sales figures), the minimum payment agreement in the Epic Games contract that actually gives developers a minimum amount in case their game doesn’t sell too well, would have been a lifeline. This is a wild guess and purely based on speculation… but what if… WHAT IF… Nacon tried to sabotage Frogwares on multiple occasions to tear them into ruins and disable them to make money to eventually buy them up like the competing company mentioned above. That’d be stupid, right? But what if Frogwares hadn’t delivered the game due to the lack of payments? Well, Nacon would have gone to court and probably won because they’re an evil corporation and they have money. This court case is already turning into a really long battle between the two but I’m not sure how Frogwares will hold up against Nacon. I don’t get why Nacon is trying so hard to get a two-year-old game back to Steam. I don’t have a huge understanding of business practices but I feel like they’d lose out on that, big-time… the only real idea that crosses my mind is that they want to buy Frogwares after wearing it down slowly and potentially bringing them to ruins. Wear them down, crush them, buy them, rebuild them, make money. Maybe that’s it? But I doubt that… again, it’s all speculation and it’s super silly as well. 

Nacon published some games that I have in my library now… and honestly, I don’t like Nacon. I’m calling them evil over here and I even compared to Trump for whatever reason because this whole ordeal seems dumb and pointless, just like Trump’s era in the States. I don’t see a point in their refusal to just pay up and continue with the revenue shares they get from the game (if their contract is really still in place). I mean, according to them, the contract wasn’t terminated… so why don’t they just grow a pair and stop the legal bullying here. They go through such huge lengths to pirate that game and make little to no money off of it when they know that they’re only screwing themselves over it. 

Apparently, Nacon also has (according to them) the right to use a third party to deliver the game on Steam without Frogwares’ approval, according to their contract… but nobody’s showing the contract and Nacon doesn’t have a contract with Frogwares anymore, according to Frogwares. I believe Frogwares for the most part here since they are ready to show more proof than Nacon. Meanwhile Nacon is just doubling down on their stubbornness and continuing to bully and provoke Frogwares until they can win a court case of something. As seen in their press release, they’re not even trying to deny that they stole and hacked the game. Ridiculous!

Any thoughts? Let me know! I’ve been meaning to write about this for a while now but then I thought it was over… in 2019… but then it started up again and even though big sites have already covered it plenty of times, I figured that maybe some people may be interested in hearing about it and spreading the word. In case, you want to read up on more info regarding this… 

Here are the sources:
Frogwares’ open letter on the situation
Frogwares’ proof of Nacon’s piracy
Frogwares’ video (see the link on Nacon’s piracy and the video above)
Right of Reply from Nacon following Frogwares’ allegations
“The court’s decision” according to Nacon and this press release
Dates and names were taken from the most reliable source on the web
Pictures used for this blog post to make things prettier were taken from the gallery/press pictures

Alas, if you want to get the game yourself, you cannot do that on Epic Games, Steam, or the XBOX/PS4 digital storefronts since there’s this whole thing still going on and the contract between Frogwares and Nacon states that Nacon is the sole distributor on those fronts… However, Frogwares self-published the game for the Switch as well as on their own site (linked above) and on Gamesplanet, so you can get it over there.

Cheers!

This post was first published on Indiecator by Dan Indiecator aka MagiWasTaken.

Modding in Games

I was always a bit reluctant with modding games. The only titles that I’ve ever modded were Minecraft (stuff like Mo’ Creatures, Optifine, Inventory Tweaks, or Shaders) and The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+ (that mod that tells you what the items do), so I figured I should try and broaden my horizon a little bit and explain as to why mods are good and why I hesitated so much with installing a lot of things.

For starters, I’d like to point out that I don’t hate mods entirely. For me it’s just a bit hard to install them and I end up doing something wrong somewhere, so I need to redo everything, and then I give it up altogether, resulting in a rather unpleasant experience. At the same time, some mods disable Achievements in games on Steam and I ended up avoiding mods due to that reason, especially as I didn’t know what games did it and which ones didn’t do it. I’m not a completionist by any means and I expressed some thoughts on Achievements before as well… but I still kind of care about them and don’t like playing a game while they are disabled as it kind of bothers me. 

Mods are great though. Stuff like Optifine or Shaders can make a game like Minecraft actually rather pretty and add a lot of nice details to the world, even without you running that raytracing stuff (is that out already btw? Asking for a friend). At the same time, there are plenty of mods that add more content to a game without taking too much away from the vanilla-experience or they add so much awesome stuff to the game that it becomes an entirely new experience, which is amazing. There are also cases where games only are held together and popular because of the modding community, which is amazing and which must be a good thing. 

But despite modding being such a common thing, I still kind of hesitated to install any in some of the games that I played. I ended up shoving aside the idea of modding RimWorld as I wanted to learn how to play the vanilla game, first. At the same, there are titles like Skyrim or Torchlight that have fantastic examples of community-made content that maybe (or probably?) surpasses the original developers’ ideas and creativity. New classes, smarter pets and enhanced GUI in Torchlight’s case or new enemies, more character customization and roleplaying capabilities in Skyrim’s. The potential is basically endless and I felt like I should maybe try it out myself.

Alas, I started up Stardew Valley again, which is a great and very underpriced title that I’ve only spent a hundred hours in so far. I last played it on March 23rd 2020, so I was a bit rusty… and with new additions that were made to the games, I was a bit hesitant of starting it up again. But well, I figured, I may as well try it out with the Expanded mod among others, to give it a completely new vibe and more interesting things to discover as well as new NPCs to romance and new crops to place down. 

The picture below shows the installed mods that I’ve chosen. I used a Pastebin that KingArgaroth shared for his playthrough of this mod pack and alas, I figured I may as well copy that and share it with y’all. Make sure to check him out if you haven’t yet! I talked about him and other great streamers briefly in this post here. The mods mentioned in the Pastebin technically make use of SMAPI but I ended up having trouble with that, so I opted in for “ModDrop” which is a piece of software that made the whole process A LOT easier. I installed a lot of mods that are needed for both Stardew Valley Expanded and for Ridgeside Village. Both of these mods add a lot of new areas, events, dialogue options, features, and NPCs to the game. Apart from that, I also made use of the Season Villager Outfits that are actually quite lovely and the Dynamic Night-Time mod. 

In today’s stream, I then started it up for the first time and to my surprise it went quite well. There was a hiccup at the beginning where it took a while to load but honestly, that’s quite understandable when there is so much going on in the game and when there are so many mods involved. I didn’t have any issues after that with it apart from the Experience Bars Mod (that I now uninstalled) constantly showing… and I need to add a mod to update the map to also feature Ridgeside Village… but other than that it worked pretty well.

I’m quite overwhelmed with all of the content but overall, it was more than enjoyable. The new farm layout is fantastic and the new NPCs in the game are a lot more diverse and fun than the previous ones who all felt a bit one-dimensional… From RSV’s Flor, Corine and Maddie to SDVE’s Sophia there are plenty of cool characters in the game… but it’s actually not that easy to decide on who to potentially date/marry yet as the bachelors in the game are all rather cute as well and as I haven’t gotten to know them all just yet. 

But yeah, I really enjoyed that experience. ModDrop really helped with the hurdle of installing things easily… and the mods that I used actually don’t disable achievements, which is also incredibly cool. Looking forward to playing more soon!

Have you ever modded a game before and what were your experiences with the install-process and the game itself? What are your opinions? Do you like modding games or are you more of a Vanilla-Only person? Let me know!

Cheers!

This post was first published on Indiecator by Dan Indiecator aka MagiWasTaken.

#LoveYourBacklog2021

It’s February which means that it’s #LoveYourBacklog Month… but I kind of procrastinated and alas, we’re already 75% done with the month and I haven’t written about it yet.

“Backlog” as in… the collection of games, books, and other things that you bought to try them out but never got to. The collection of games, in my case, is something that is ever-expanding (partially due to Humble Choice) but never shrinking. I’ve accumulated a huge collection of games over the past couple of years thanks to freebies I grabbed, sales that tempted me, and bundles/choices I took/made. It’s a bit of an iffy that I can’t get to all of them as fast as new additions make it into the log, but what should I do? Dread about it? Well,… no. 

Kim created a tag a while back and in 2021 it’s time for this tag to reappear. Love your backlog! Be proud of it! Yay! Positivity! 

I mentioned it in yesterday’s post already but thanks to the daily blogging and the increase in reviews, I was able to accomplish things that I haven’t gotten to. I got to play through a lot of titles and test out titles that I’ve been meaning to test out. I got to play demos of games and write about them. I was able to lay titles ad acta after reviewing them, celebrating that I finally got to play them to the point where I was able to decide whether or not I enjoyed them and whether or not I could recommend them. I’m celebrating the fact that I have so many opportunities for games to play. Bioshock? I’m two thirds through the trilogy! Assassin’s Creed? I’ve just started playing the second game and it’s a lot of fun!

Heck, I recently got gifted a game that I’m really enjoying and am looking forward to writing about it… once I’ve edited someone’s review on it (Yes, this is a teaser!). 

I’m enjoying my time with games when I have spare time after chores and studies. Starting tomorrow, I may finish some of the reviews on games I played through a while ago… and I really am looking forward to seeing what games are still waiting there, lurking in the deepest shadows of my backlog. 

Love Your Backlog. Don’t dread over it!

Do you wanna see my collection? You can find it over here! (not including GoG, Uplay, Origin, Epic Games, the Racial Inequality bundle, and other DRM-free copies as well as physical copies that I own).

Alas, I’m rocking this badge over here that shows the whopping 950 games that I still want to play through before I’ll die or lose my ability to do so. A lot of these games include titles that I want to review or that I have to review due to the review copies sent by developers. Some of them include titles I frankly got gifted or bought myself. I got gifted 300 random steam keys by friends for my 18th birthday and while there was a lot of trash in there made by people that just created the same game over and over again, gave it a different name, and sold it for two bucks on Steam… there also have been some gems in there like Tropico 3 and Tropico 4… which was amazing. Kim made this badge over here with 1000+ games but since the time that she made it, I already had been able to chunk it down to less than 1000… but I’ll take it still! 

Kim’s tag includes a few questions to answer, so I’ll get to those now.

  • What effect did 2020 have on your backlog?

Frankly, I had a bit more time to play games since I didn’t have to travel as much anymore. I didn’t visit my family as much (since my father’s in the risk group) and ended up spending a lot less time outside/with friends. Since the university was closed down and since classes happened online, I didn’t need to use the bus as much anymore and due to me buying groceries bi-weekly instead of every few days, I also had to spend less time walking around or taking public transport… So, naturally, I spent more time in games. The backlog didn’t increase a whole lot but I ended up chucking down at it and playing through a lot of titles, mostly on stream!

  • What’s the oldest game in your backlog in terms of release date?

Since there is no feature on Steam to sort your library after the release date (at least not to my information), I have to take wild guesses and google afterwards. My immediate thought was that Assassin’s Creed 1 and Bioshock 1 were quite old… but then I noticed that Fable Anniversary came out in 2004 and is, alas, a lot older than those two games. But that’s not the oldest game I own! Serious Sam: The First Encounter, my next prediction, is actually from 2001… and it’s a proud member of the backlog! I also own the first Fallout game, which is from 1997, so that’s already getting warmer and warmer as for the oldest game in my library. Now,… that’s still not the oldest game… but it’s getting harder and harder for me to find out which games are older… so I took a few guesses… 

And Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards might actually be the winner here with a release date of 1987! There are other titles that I had in mind earlier but I can’t think of their names and browsing through this endless list is taking up a lot of time, which is why I’ll leave it at that. 1987 is still quite old… So, it could quite potentially be the oldest game in my library.

  • Can you name a game that you bought on day one, only to not play it immediately?

The only two games that come to my mind here are Risk of Rain 2 and Monster Hunter World. I was really looking forward to both of these titles… but my laptop at the time couldn’t handle either of them, so I had to play them much much later… But then I had a ton of fun!

  • What’s the game that has spent the most time on your backlog?

The game that has spent the most time on my backlog is probably Enclave. I got it for free via Indiegala back then in 2014 but haven’t played it at all to this day. Enclave is a game from 2003 by Starbreeze that the PlayMagazine rated 90/100. The PlayMagazine also called it “illegally beautiful”, venturing as high as saying that “it ranks among PC’s best-looking games if you have the power to run it optimally”. Alas, I maybe should give it a go eventually? 🙂

  • What’s the most recent addition to your library?

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice! I bought it, I started playing it, I’m loving it. It’s a lot of fun! Can highly recommend it!

  • Can you name the person responsible for adding the most entries to your backlog due to their good recommendations?

I would say Total Biscuit. It’s a bummer that we lost Bain and I hope he gets to review games in the afterlife as well. Rest in Peace.


At last, Kim from LaterLevels says that the Backlog Appreciation doesn’t end in February as there is more to come in March… hold your socks… because I’ll participate in that #MaybeInMarch tag! The game I mentioned above, Enclave,… I’ll play it in March… maybe. And then I’ll write about it. Yay! 

If you want to read the post by Kim yourself, check out this link here. Feel free to leave your own answers to those questions up there in the comments, if you want to! Take care of yourself!

Cheers!

This post was first published on Indiecator by Dan Indiecator aka MagiWasTaken.

The Greydwarf Incident in Valheim

So, for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been chilling in some discord calls with people that have been playing Valheim… and eventually, I got it myself… and then I started playing and immediately understood, why it’s so hyped right now.

Alas, I wanted to talk about my experience and that one fated Greydwarf Incident.

Odin essentially sealed some baddies in the 10th world and noticed that they have been gaining power again, which is why he also sent us (and other Vikings from Valhalla) down to Valheim, the 10th world. In an attempt to get back to Valhalla, we now have to forage, craft, farm, build, and fight ourselves through the world to get stronger and kill those aforementioned baddies. Hugins, the raven Odin sent, is also there to guide us, and I think that summarises the story quite well. The game overall feels quite good. I am having a lot of fun with it right now.

Honestly, I love how you can improve your skills by actually doing things. Running a lot lets you increase that skill reducing the stamina used, while jumping a lot makes you jump higher. Attacking things increases the damage you deal with the spear, knife, axe, club, your fists, or whatever weapon you’re choosing. There are a lot of different skills and it kind of reminds me of Runescape in a way… in a good way, I should say. Progress is tied to the achievements you get. Fighting the first boss means you’ll gain access to the pickaxe that allows you to farm resources such as copper and iron in some areas. To get there, I need to gear up and also find a deer trophy to activate the boss fight. I’ve been playing for 6.7 hours (but mostly have been buildings things, to be honest) and I already got some deer hides and trophies thanks to my trusty spear-throws. The issue is that I need more leather scraps for the tanning rack to unlock even better recipes. On top of that, I need to hunt more deer to get those leather tunics, etc., which are going to be a solid upgrade to the rags I’ve thrown over myself. Currently, I’m wielding a spear and a tower shield most of the time, although I sometimes go for the axe in fights instead when I’m dealing with skeletons, for instance, that attack rather slowly.

After settling on a nice spot over here as well and building up two beehives, a nice little hut and a warehouse, I’ve decided to explore a little bit upwards. My seed “DrPepper” features a black forest to the north with some very interesting areas. For starters, there is a dungeon there filled with skeletons… and they don’t like me which is weird since I’m a lich IRL… but whatever. Otherwise, I found some ruins with loot and skeletons as well as some other structures that looked interesting. Upon further investigation, I was swarmed by a bunch of Greydwarfs as well as a Greydwarf Shaman. Among the Greydwarfs were a bunch of red ones as well as a lot of blue ones. I decided to do my best and block off any incoming attacks to increase my blocking-skill. It levelled up to Level 10, which was nice, but I sadly also got hit a bunch by rocks thrown from afar. The Greydwarf Shaman was fairly tanky and was spreading a lot of poison around that only seemed to harm me. On top of that, the Shaman was able to heal his allies by spreading spores upwards. The heals are coming in seemingly endlessly while my food is running low, alas, I decide to block and slowly crawl backwards. 

My kiting attempts and the occasional rolls actually worked out rather well, allowing me to get quite close to my base in no time with no further hitpoints lost. The Shaman seemed to protect something, which is why he stayed near that area. Alas, I ended up finishing off the small fry by stabbing my spear into them whenever they decided to turn their backs on me. At the same, I’d block all other attacks and eventually finish them off one by one. At last, I regenerated some health when the greed came over me. “Oh, Odin!”, I said. “Forgive me for straying from this path and not getting rid of these foes first. I decided to run but I shall run no more!” My flatmate probably heard my prayers and alas decided to knock on the door to ask if I was okay. “Uh, I was quoting something in class”, I said and he shrugged it off. “But Odin, I shall run no more and I shall rid this earth of these foes”, I continued, before heading back to the Shaman. The Shaman, now alone, posed no threat to me as I was able to roll away when he spread his poison while landing a few rather strong hits with my spear whenever he used his heal spell. He fell in no time and dropped nothing of importance. The chest he was guarding featured some gold and feathers as well as some Amber, but again, nothing major. Alas, I decided to explore more before stumbling across a Greydwarf nest. I struck it down and got rid of the remaining Greydwarfs only to notice that the nest here happened to drop an Ancient Seed, which according to a friend is required to summon the second boss. I held onto it tightly as I travelled back. Pressing it against my ear, lets me hear whispers. This shall be useful. “I shall burn their young and obtain their power”, I say, “but first I need to strike down Eikthyr.”

So, I basically need to gear up some more, prepare the area around the boss by chopping down some of the trees, and then I need to summon it in order to progress some more. I think I’ll leave that for the next post on Valheim. I’ve been enjoying this game quite a bit and since other bloggers have been posting about it recently, including Wilhelm, I’ve been meaning to make some progress so that I don’t spoil myself too much when I read their posts. 

Have you been getting into Valheim? If so, how are you liking it? I personally am enjoying it but I’ve noticed that it is somewhat poorly optimised. It is pretty but a bit rough around the edges. The issue I’ve been having is that it does use up a lot of CPU from my Computer, meaning that I probably won’t be able to stream it. Hope they fix that soon. 

Cheers!

This post was first published on Indiecator by Dan Indiecator aka MagiWasTaken.

LoL – Do we need more champions?

For the past couple of years, I’ve been enjoying a game called League of Legends by a “small Indie Studio” called Riot Games. The reason why I’d stick so long to one game was that it was challenging and had a high skill ceiling based on the champion, that the meta was changing, and that you could get to meet new friends through it and play with a lot of different people. I even met one of my best friends through the game, which is amazing. Riot kept the game relatively fresh with new enhancements and changes each season like the Rune/Mastery changes, item reworks and new additions to the map but as of late, I just feel overwhelmed with how fast new content is added to the game while old content seems to fall behind and not be used as much anymore.

Part of me wants to play those fun game modes again like Nemesis Draft (I know that everyone hated that, but I enjoyed it a lot) or Blackmarket Brawlers (I know that everyone loved that, and I did, too) but those just don’t make it into the game’s rotation anymore. Instead, we only have ARAM available to us as well as the Summoner’s Rift maps in Normal, Solo/Duo, and Flex Queue with some occasional modes added here and there for a temporary amount of time, like ARURF or Nexus Blitz. I don’t get why old modes or why the story modes that Riot developed don’t make it back into the rotation anymore but it’s something I like to see more that would keep the game fresh. Be it Blackmarket Brawlers, Nemesis Draft, Nexus Siege, Dominion, or even Hexakills, there’d be a lot of opportunities for Riot to even cash in on these modes with custom flares, map effects or other cosmetics that would only work in those modes and that would allow players to use their Riot Points to fatten Riot’s pockets.

Blackmarket Brawlers was a great game mode and I still wish they’d bring it back.

But while part of me wishes for that variety, part of me also wants Riot to stop doing what they’re doing right now. Recently, they claimed that due to Covid (or other reasons), they slowed down their VGU (Visual Game Update) team considerably and want to release fewer reworks during the upcoming year while still doing their best to release six champions per year. You heard me right: SIX champions. This may not sound like a lot but the game already has way too many different characters in the game and adding more is not going to help the player reduce the load of information that you have to get through to understand some of them.

A lot of the older champions can’t be played as much anymore like Udyr who is receiving an update next year (after a successful vote this year?) or Dr Mundo who’s getting updated this year. These champions have issues with their kit where they are too basic and also don’t look the part too well, making them unpopular and bad in a way. Udyr is kind of in the meta right now but that’s mostly because of one specific playstyle and certain items. If those items get nerfed, he’ll be weak again. It’s not him being strong, it’s items being strong. Mundo is alright right now but again, he doesn’t have gap closers or dashes and he shouldn’t have those since he’s a tank… but without those, he’ll probably be not as popular as other characters and won’t see much play.

Viego, the latest problem added into the game.

Right now the game features 154 released champions with the latest one being Viego: The Ruined King. There was a time where there would be only weeks between champion releases but the champion pool at the time was limited to a lot less than the current champion pool. But during the past few months, Riot Games has been cranking out champions on a nearly monthly basis, resulting in me still not quite getting what Aphelios does while also having champions like Lilia not see any play really while Rell didn’t get any love or play until she got picked up in the Pro-Scene… and even now she doesn’t quite get played that much… and then there’s Yone who also got released rather recently who does things at times that I don’t quite get and Seraphine who is rather strong right now besides being quite basic… and then there’s Samira who is a bit overloaded and the Ruined King who is quite overloaded as well in a way… and when you get this many champions as new additions to the game, it just feels weird for me.

You hardly understand what Rell does and suddenly the Ruined King comes to the game and it just feels bad because you didn’t quite get to understand how to play against Rell and you now have to also deal with Viego… and then there’s Samira and Seraphine and Sett to deal with as well…

And you can only ban five champions per team. There are too many champions that already are too strong and you can’t ban all of them. On my must-ban list, there’s Twitch, for instance, whose AP-Build does way too much damage and just one-shots me with no counterplay at all unless I play a CC champion. Even with tanky CC supports like Leona or Nautilus, he’s going to poke me into oblivion and shred me because daddy Riot doesn’t allow Tank supports to get tanky with the current item situation. Alas, I need to ban Twitch. There are also Draven, Kai’Sa, Fizz, Katarina and Yasuo for potential bans here but my team has their own nemeses, so I can’t rely on them banning my worst nightmares, especially since I wanna ban Yasuo to prevent my own team from playing that champion. No silver Yasuo should be allowed to play that champions as it ruins more games than it ever wins.

I mean, they even fucking brought back Yone who’s basically just a better Yasuo but people still play Yasuo into the worst matchups with no experience on the champion and without a clue about the game… Why do Yasuo players not just play Yone? Idk.

Yone came back from the dead to get the 0/10 powerspike.

Because you don’t see the enemy bans, you could in theory only end up banning five champions instead of ten, especially when people skip bans, resulting in the game potentially featuring annoying champions with little to no counterplay or champions that are broken beyond belief or champions that were already super strong (like AP Shyvana) that offer some counterplay but just got buffed to increase their strong points even more although their play and winrate hasn’t lessened.

Sometimes I feel like Riot Games isn’t playing their own game. Maybe they’re actually playing a different one and dishing out changes and nerfs and updates to the game without the player in mind. I feel like Riot Games is trying their hardest to keep the game fresh and interesting right now but their focus is bad.

Instead of dishing out six fucking champions every year, they should focus on making old champions that are not viable or fun anymore fun again. They should try to update their champions, bring them up to today’s standard and make them fun again. Nowadays, every fucking new champion has a thousand different ways to one-shot me on top of being super mobile, having a lot of sustain and either stealing my ultimate or my summoners or my base abilities or they have an execute or they are super tanky and still deal a ton of damage or they just suck.

Rell is cool but just like Lilia she doesn’t get enough play compared to other champions in her role… maybe because she’s not op.

Riot Games should make boring or outdated champions fun again. Volibear started seeing play again but then his update came and people thought he was weak… but then people noticed how to play him and his win rate skyrocketed… But since Riot Games doesn’t play their own game, they decided to buff him and ended up buffing him beyond belief, so I swapped from Support to Jungle because it’s easier to carry my team through the game as Volibear than to carry my silver ADC through the laning phase. Riot Games has sometimes no clue about their champion. Did they buff AD Katarina because… it wasn’t broken enough already? They buffed AP Shyvana because nobody plays AD right now… I don’t get why they’re doing this. Fizz, an old champion that sees no nerfs these days, has damage over time in a hidden passive basically that you don’t expect at all, has two dashes, one of them makes him invulnerable, and he has high burst and great wave clear. On top of that, if that wasn’t enough, he gains a two-digit percentage damage reduction because he is “slippery”. Doesn’t make sense but fuck it, Riot Games.

Instead of nerfing a champion like Fizz that is unhealthy for the game and that is able to one-shot even tanks in late-game… in a meta that doesn’t allow people to customize their builds well against AP champions… Riot Games buffed it recently if I remember correctly. Riot buffed Fizz and items that Fizz uses and didn’t touch him in ages because: Why the fuck not? We’re here at Riot Games.

And I love the game. I do a lot. I enjoy playing it a lot recently… but I may not enjoy it anymore if they continue to give ADCs a dash when they are balanced to be immobile and if they continue to break the game by buffing stupid champions and releasing overloaded characters into the game. And I feel like other players will also stop playing.

Alas, do we need more champions? No, please. Don’t add more champions before you haven’t fixed your game.

Instead of adding more champions, I feel like Riot Games need to check out what Bungie is doing and release an expansion that vaults content and removes champions temporarily based on their win rate. That’d be fun, right? No, it wouldn’t but it would reduce the things I’d have to ban each game to maybe one or two.

What do you think about this? Let me know!

Cheers.

I want to be evil but not too evil

Ever since I was a child, I’ve loved the idea of summoners and necromancers. Skeletons are cute and the idea of resurrecting fallen (potentially enemy) warriors to fight by your side is a great idea and I love the whole thematic around it. However, when it comes to games, I feel like there aren’t enough games that let you do something that is so immoral. In a way, reviving corpses is desecration, after all, right?

Similarly, I love it when games let you perform choices that are immoral in a way, even when I myself in real life (at least the human that I pretend to be) would never do anything like that. In Fable, for instance, you can decide if you want to be an angelic hero of justice… or you just slaughter people, rob the poor, take bribes, and sacrifice people to the Chapel of Skorm in order to gain your lovely devil horns and your demonic aura.

And I know, I know… Being bad is… bad. Obviously. I’d never kill anyone in real life or I’d perform robbery… but the aspect of being this character that you could never embody in real life is actually quite intriguing and I feel like there are not enough games that let you do. Of course, you have these few titles with two different endings that let you be “bad” or “good” and it influences your ending which then… blablabla… Bioshock 1 and 2 did that btw where you could show mercy on people and rescue the Little Sisters or you could kill them and harvest the little brats and it would give you a different ending… but I feel like those games aren’t going far enough. You basically just have two choices: Right or wrong. Good or evil. But there are a lot of things beyond good and evil (great game btw) that let can’t just be seen as inherently evil or good. Robbing people would be bad but what if you redistribute the money you rob to the poor to enable them to live, for instance? Or what if you have to kill someone to save someone else (like with the Trolley problem)?

Games often try to make you believe that there are only two choices and that you can’t be in the middle or go even further… it’s a bit of a habit that some companies have to make it easier for themselves, and I find it somewhat lazy.

Catherine Classic does a great job by letting you achieve one of nine endings ranging from “very evil” to “very good” and it has some neutral endings in the middle… but the problem with that game is that it still abides the traditional values of “good” (aka marrying, only having sex to reproduce, no fetishes, etc.) and “evil” (aka Lust, hedonism, cheating, fetishes, etc.). You have to answer some questions and based on your answer it (sometimes rather randomly) assigns a value to your Karma that basically influences your ending. Your texts with either Katherine or Catherine also influence your ending… and generally, the game wants you to think that going for Catherine is bad and that going for Katherine is good… despite there being plenty of things that are wrong with Katherine. Just a hot take, I guess.

Overlord does a great job of letting you chose what to do. You get to become an “evil” Overlord and either save towns and be celebrated or enslave them and be hated and feared. You’re not just some bad guy but you’re actually THE Overlord that rules Hell itself… or at least your dark domain. The game lets you perform whatever choice you want to perform as you’re kind of the hero of your own story. The heroes that are in the game that oppose you, more often than not, seem to be twisted themselves and resemble caricatures of hero tropes, which is a great take, in my opinion. Dungeon Keeper lets you experience the story of some sort of evil being that is creating the living space for the undead, the monsters and the other evil beings that get threatened by those pesky humans. Fable lets you be a devil. In Skyrim, you can be an outlaw.

My point is that these games don’t judge you for being bad but they don’t condone it. When you perform an evil deed, you’ll notice and the characters will treat you differently. Fable has this weird thing where you get booed and insulted by everyone if you go for an evil playthrough, even though everyone is afraid of you… which is kind of silly in a way. In Overlord, you actually receive rewards for being the good guy and saving people and stuff. In Skyrim, you can murder bandits and nobody will judge you, even when murder is bad… and you can join a creed of assassins… which is quite cool, y’know? In Carrion, you’re the monster that is escaping a research facility… and you murder everyone… and that’s cool. The game WANTS you to be evil and I love that!

But how far can you take this? I feel like there are boundaries that you shouldn’t cross, I’d just love it if we could still move more freely into this chaotic evil kind of playstyle in games where you’re the villain and do bad things but don’t take it too far. I feel like it should be possible for you to be the bad guy in games without getting judged for it by the developers and without the game putting you at a disadvantage. I’d love it if games would more often get into that mindset of this evil lich or other villaineous beings that try to conquer the world. I’d love it if you could play as a skeleton (like in Skul or Osteoblasts) more often instead of this scrawny Prince Charming that saves the day yet again.

Obviously, games shouldn’t take things too far. I don’t think that you need to show how someone slowly thrusts a knife into someone’s throat (talking about The Last Of Us 2 btw) or how your character tortures someone by pulling out their fingernails or by breaking their fingers one by one (like in GTA V)… I also don’t think that you need to murder children (I’d never do that in Bioshock btw) or that you need to r*pe women in games to be “evil”. You don’t need to kick puppies or burn people alive in order to be able to play out that fantasy. I think games don’t need to go that far but they still should allow some sort of freedom. They should restrict the player when it comes to things like the points mentioned above but also allow you some freedom of choice when it comes to “do you want to be evil or good or somewhere in-between?” and I feel like I haven’t seen too many games that pulled that off well. Beholder has some interesting mechanics and ways of letting you do things that aren’t ethical to potentially save people… and it also allows you to do similar things to do bad things or punish people or frame them. Meanwhile Catherine Classic was quite obvious when it came to what choices the game wants us to make to achieve certain endings.

So, frankly, I’d love to be the villain in more games. I’d love it if I could be that demonic character that conquers the world or that heroes want to defeat… I’d love it if I could play games with characters like that more often and I’d love it if games would let me have that choice without pushing me onto some sort of path that is rather obvious.

I feel like that could be great. I feel like that’s something that I’d enjoy and that other people could potentially enjoy playing as well and that games need to explore more often. Obviously, we don’t need a game where you just assault people and r*** them and whatever. I think that certain boundaries are obvious to anyone.

Edit: I’ve added the example of Carrion to one of the paragraphs as I love that game and I forgot to mention it despite intending to. #fixed

What do you think? Do you know any games that do this quite well? Let me know!

Cheers!

This post was first published on Indiecator by Dan Indiecator aka MagiWasTaken.

Late to the Party #5 – Bioshock 2

During the Spooktober of last year, I played through the first Bioshock game on Twitch. I loved it. I loved the universe, the soundtrack, the combat and the way the whole world is fleshed out. You can read about all of that in my post on it from November 28th. Alas, I recently got into the second game on Stream as well and we managed to play through it just a little over a week ago. Alas, it’s time for another LttP post!

Note: There may be minor to small spoilers for the game. I didn’t talk about certain things to not spoil them or ruin the effect on you… but I guess you wouldn’t read this if you didn’t know already that there could be spoilers. In any case, you’ve been warned about potential spoilers. Enjoy the post!

First things first, I’d like to say that the Bioshock games are somewhat old already. Alas, I played the Remastered version of the second game as it’s just a bit more pleasing on the eyes. There are also fewer bugs in it and the sound doesn’t have as many hiccups as the original version, which is great. I guess you could argue that it’s not the same as playing the actual Bioshock 2 game but honestly, I don’t see the point in differentiating between the two games. The Remastered version did perform better on my newer PC, alas I just played that. 

While we were playing as some sort of agent that infiltrated Rapture in the first game, the second game lets us play as one of the most iconic denizens of Rapture, the Big Daddy. We explore through the decrepit and beautiful fallen city, chasing an unseen foe named Lamb, in search for answers. Our little sister was taken away from us as we were asked if we would kindly shoot ourselves. Somehow, though, we survived and got revived in a vita chamber in Rapture, which is where our story begins.

From the getgo, I was in awe. I love Rapture and the Bioshock universe but in this game… it’s just more rotten and devastated. The sunken city is incredibly pretty, especially when we get to explore the underwater world in our Big Daddy suit. I loved the new perspective on things as we hear the ground trembling as we stomp through the areas. While we’re somewhat slow, the game equipped us with a powerful drill as well as a bunch of different weapons and powers to add to our arsenal. 

Just like in the first game, you’re able to sling spells, so-called “Plasmids” at our foes and opponents, all in order to survive. If that’s not your style, you still have the option of using guns or melee attacks. What surprised me was that while I wasn’t unsatisfied with combat in the first game, I really enjoyed the changes to combat in the second game. For instance, we’re able to use plasmids and weapons at the same time, resulting in some cool interactions. Our drill is powerful but requires fuel, which adds a new type of ammunition to the game. If you’re out of it, you won’t be able to use your drill’s charge attack but you can still wack enemies rather well, smashing their faces and breaking their spirits. Apart from that, the camera that you use to find out about enemy weaknesses now doesn’t require ammunition anymore.

On top of that, you now have a hacking tool to remote-hack turrets, cameras and doors, which is lovely. Even the hacking tool, however, can be used as a weapon to place down miniature turrets that deal a good amount of damage.

Hacking in the first game was kind of janky in a way. Often, you’d rely on luck rather than skill as you were pressured by the time running out and as you needed to guide water through a circuit board, which didn’t typically make sense. The mini-game was fun but kind of unlogical in a way. Meanwhile, in this game, you’re able to hack enemies while in combat and you actually have to prove your skill as you hit certain areas in a smaller sized mini-game. It obviously isn’t the best solution but it is one that exists and that doesn’t utilize water, which is a good thing. 

Overall, the second game offers a lot of quality of life changes that improve combat and hacking. The soundtrack is still amazing. The game looks stunning.

But the issue with Bioshock 2 is that you don’t really have an enemy of sorts for most of the game. You hear about Lamb here and there but you never really know who that’s supposed to be. In the same manner, you’ve got Sinclair who just stops by and suddenly starts to help you but I couldn’t just get attached to him as a help, especially as our helper in the first game ended up betraying us. By the end of the game, I felt a bit let down as Sinclair didn’t betray us at all… that’s a shame? I guess? Or not? I don’t know.

The world-building is well-done and the game feels immersive. Characters have an actual backstory and their own motivations and ideals but in the end, the story overall feels somewhat lacking in a way especially as you go through the first few areas with little to no clue about who you are, who Lamb is and what your goal is. You need to free your little sister but that’s about it, I guess? Why do you go that far and what makes you special from other Big Daddies? 

Another nice addition is that, after defeating Big Daddies, you get to adopt (or harvest) their Little Sisters. You then get to harvest bodies for Adam while defending your Little Sister in order to attain more of that scarce resource that you need for your upgrades. Lovely! 

Just like in the first game, you have a good and a bad ending. Harvesting the little sisters ends up giving you the bad ending while adopting and rescuing them gives you a good ending. On top of that, you have these scenarios in the game where you can kill the leaders of the different areas or you spare them. Each of these decisions also influences your ending a little bit. In one of the early areas, I had the option of killing an unarmed black woman. She put us through hell but I decided to walk away. She then realised that I wasn’t some sort of baby-snatcher and monster but rather more than that: A human being.

Alas, she provided us with some support and she got to live. I would have liked it if we would have heard more of her later on… but in the end, that didn’t happen. No idea what happened to her. 

So, the story feels a bit weaker but in the final hours, it got rather emotional and nearly brought me to tears. The additions and improvements to the game felt great. The new spells and mechanics are interesting. The story, while at first somewhat weaker, made me feel… things. On top of that, we finally were able to see through the eyes of a Big Daddy (and more, wink wink). And all in all, I really enjoyed this game. I hope that I get to play Bioshock Infinite soon. I’d also like to play the Bioshock 2 DLC “Minerva’s Den” eventually… but that will have to wait until it goes on sale. 

For now, this just means that there is another game that I played through (in a time of nearly 10 hours with 27/53 achievements completed) and I really enjoyed it. The backlog ended up shrinking a little and hopefully, I get to have more fun with other titles in the future again.

Nice.

What about you? Did you play Bioshock 2 and if so, did you enjoy it? Let me know! Also, are there any other titles that you’d like to see featured here that I may not have played yet? I’d love to get into the Fallout Games eventually and maybe write something about Borderlands 3 (as I still haven’t played that game in the franchise) or about NieR Replicant which is coming out soon. But that will have to wait until I get to it and until I have a bit more time. 

Cheers!

This post was first published on Indiecator by Dan Indiecator aka MagiWasTaken.