Well it’s November now, and that means it’s time for a recap of what I played in October. Much like September was spent primarily playing Spider-Man, I spent the majority of October playing Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey. I posted my review of it last week and you can find it here. Since I already talked in-depth about it, I won’t be including it on my “games I played in October” list since I’d just be retracing my footsteps over topics I already discussed.
However, despite me putting 80 hours into Assassin’s Creed, I still managed to find time to play a few other games. I played a few levels of Mega Man 11 on the Switch, and that wasn’t the only side-scroller I got into. I also played Castlevania Requiem, which is the rerelease of Rondo of Blood and Symphony of the Night. I also spent a little bit of time in Dark Souls Remastered. Finally, I played a really interesting game called Return of the Obra Dinn and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Toby Fox’s fantastic (and free!) follow-up to Undertale – Deltarune.
So let’s dive in and talk about some games!
Mega Man 11 (Switch)
I was super excited to play Mega Man 11 after playing the demo of Block Man’s stage at E3. I got it on the same day as Assassin’s Creed Odyssey so my plan was to play through it from start to finish first and then dive into Odyssey. Instead what happened was I played through Block Man’s level (which was hard, but also easy since I’d played through it before and was familiar with it) and finished it, then played a little bit of Odyssey and got sucked into the world of Greece and never actually finished Mega Man 11.
I did play through a few different stages at random times – Acid Man, Bounce Man, and Blast Man specifically – and while I didn’t beat any bosses other than Block Man, I did get a feel for the new game’s level design and the new Double Gear system. The levels are much longer compared to more classic Mega Man games with two and sometimes three checkpoints between the start and boss room of the stage. (Most older Mega Man stages have one checkpoint in the middle of the stage.) The stages are also much more challenging and mastering the Double Gear system is actually almost required to beat some of the levels. Of the ones I played, though, the designs seemed unique (Bounce Man’s level was cool but also mildly frustrating) and each had their own personality. Blast Man’s in particular was probably my favorite stage aesthetic.
The Double Gear system is two-fold – you can use the L button to make your blaster stronger, or the R button to slow down time and make it easier to dodge pesky enemy attacks. I don’t personally like the Double Gear system, but it could be because I’ve played through every Mega Man game and am used to powering through levels using only the Mega Buster. I would often forget about the mechanism of slowing down time until it was too late, or never use any powered up shots on a mini-boss. But the game is definitely designed around the Gear system as some attacks are just too hard to dodge without a little help.
I definitely want to return to 11 and play the whole game to get a better opinion of it. Now that Odyssey is in my rear view mirror I will hopefully have more time to play this (and the other games I dabbled in as palate cleansers between Odyssey sessions) and be able to review it with a more complete experience. For now, though, it’s pretty okay.
Castlevania Requiem (PS4)
Castlevania Requiem is a port/rerelease of the Dracula X Chronicles – a PSP compilation release of Rondo of Blood and Symphony of the Night. Now, Symphony of the Night is one of my favorite games of all-time (#6 on the list, actually) and I’ve been aching to play it again. With my PS1 packed away who knows where, I jumped at the chance to be able to play this on my PS4. To my credit, I did play a whole two levels of Rondo of Blood (a game I’ve never played before) before throwing it aside and gorging myself on Symphony of the Night.
SotN is a classic from the Playstation era and the game that partially inspired “Metroidvania” as a genre of video game. You play as Alucard, son of Dracula, and must explore Dracula’s Castle to discover why Richter Belmont (the protagonist vampire hunter from Rondo of Blood) has summoned the castle. It’s not a linear game – it involves a lot of backtracking with many secrets – but part of the fun is the navigation of the ever expanding castle. It has minor RPG features – you do level up and have different weapons and armor you can equip – but it’s mostly an action-heavy side-scroller.
Requiem is a pretty decent recreation of the game – it’s the PSP version, though, so all the voice lines are rerecorded. Some of the absolutely awful (but cheesy and amazing) lines that fans are used to have been reworked to make more sense. No longer does Dracula say “What is a man?” And the demon doesn’t say its ever charming “Ooh, a switch! Why don’t I press it and SEE?” The sound effects are also much louder so you can’t hear the amazing soundtrack as well – and some enemy noises come from the controller which has its own independent volume.
But for me, stepping back into Symphony of the Night was like wrapping myself in a warm blanket of nostalgia. It took me about five hours to 100% the game on the save file (the game goes to 200.6% for reasons I will explore in a later blog post, I think) and it was pretty effortless on my part. I remember where most of the secrets are and could probably navigate Dracula’s Castle with my eyes closed. It’s not a challenge to me anymore, but it does put a smile on my face.
Return of the Obra Dinn (PC)
This was a game that I didn’t even know was coming out until the day of its release. But when I saw people discussing it I immediately ran to Steam and purchased it because I knew it would be right up my alley. It’s another game I haven’t completed yet – I took a short break from Odyssey to play it for an hour or two – but the first impression was so good that I definitely want to return to it and finish the whole thing.
Return of the Obra Dinn is a puzzle/investigation game, but unlike most puzzle games the solutions are entirely logic based and you must figure everything out for yourself. The Obra Dinn was a ship that disappeared in 1803 with 60 crew members and passengers. When it mysteriously reappears in 1806, you are sent to board it and figure out what happened to everyone. You’re given a magic pocket watch that, when placed over a corpse, transports you to their exact moment of death. With that, a few pictures of the entire crew, and a list of the 60 passengers, you have to figure out how all 60 people on the Obra Dinn died (or didn’t die?).
It sucks you in almost immediately because despite the simple graphics, you become invested in the story of the crew almost immediately. Through bits and pieces you slowly figure out what’s going on as the big events are divided into “chapters” which eventually fill in who died. The goal is to identify three things – who each person is, how they died, and who (or what) caused the death. You’re given bits and pieces of information – somebody shouting a name, or someone naming that the room they’re in is such-and-such’s quarters and it’s up to you to deduce who is who from the context. The cherry on top of the deduction, though, is that the game only tells you if you’re correct once you’ve properly identified the three goals for three different people. So everything is confirmed in threes, and if you have three completed but don’t get confirmation you know you have something wrong but not what it is.
So far I’ve only fully solved 9 out of the 60 fates and I imagine I’ve only seen about 20-25 events total. It’s a slow burn, but the game lets you revisit every event once you’ve witnessed it for the first time, so you can go back and re-analyze things and possibly catch something you missed on the first go round. It’s a very unique game that isn’t given to gamers very often – there’s very little hand-holding and finishing the game is strictly on you and your brainpower. It’s a breath of fresh air to me and I’ll be glad to return to it to complete the story of the Obra Dinn.
Dark Souls Remastered (PS4)
I’m a huge fan of Dark Souls (#17 on the list) and I’m also a huge fan of steelbooks – so when they announced a Dark Souls Trilogy steelbook for the PS4 I snatched it up (after trading in my unopened copies of Dark Souls Remastered and Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin). The trilogy steelbook is pretty sweet and goes well with my collection, and it’s also a space-saver since I now have all three Dark Souls games in one case instead of three. I haven’t touched Scholar of the First Sin yet, and only played a little bit of the remaster of the first while I took a short break from Odyssey. (Are you sensing a pattern here?)
Dark Souls, like Symphony of the Night, is a game I’ve beaten several times before. This is my fourth time playing through, and while I know Lordran like the back of my hand it’s still Dark Souls so if I get too cocky I die (and I did die several times). But I made it all the way past the Taurus Demon and a little ways into the Undead Parish before I returned to Greece, which wasn’t too shabby for only an hour or so of playtime. I played a new kind of build – heavy knight focused on strength, shielding and parrying when I usually focus on Dex or Magic builds – and it was a bit of an adjustment in play style. But that’s the fun of Dark Souls, trying new things to navigate familiar territories.
The remaster looks slightly off. While I understand it’s upscaling from PS3 graphics to PS4, the player character looks a bit shinier and out of place. I can’t quite put it into words, and it doesn’t really detract from the game at all, but in general my character just looked different from what I remembered. Otherwise, yep, it’s more Dark Souls. I’ll probably jump back in and out for an hour or two of gameplay at a time. I don’t see myself dedicating long sessions of playtime to this again (after all, it is my fourth try) but it’s another game that I enjoy revisiting every now and then.
On October 31st (just in time to qualify for this month’s summary) Toby Fox dropped a completely free “demo” for a new game. Deltarune is his follow-up to Undertale and clocks in at around 3-4 hours of playtime. It turns out this was chapter 1 of a multi-chapter idea that Toby has had for years, and while the rest of the game hasn’t even begun production yet, the internet has already fallen in love with the characters and world established in Deltarune. And I can’t blame them.
The battle system is a variant on Undertale’s – this time you have a full RPG-like party of three and the battles take place on the field in color instead of using black and white sprites. It still uses the bullet hell dodging system when the enemy attacks, but the attack can damage a single person or your entire party. Somebody commented that Deltarune feels like the Chrono Trigger to Undertale’s Earthbound and I can’t say I disagree with that assessment. The new system allows for some new wrinkles and interesting twists, which was to be expected knowing Toby Fox’s MO.
I powered through it in one (and a half) sittings, and I loved it. It was an amazing short but fulfilling experience that left me craving more. The music is fantastic as always (here’s a link to one of my favorite tracks) and I want to talk more about it and Toby’s use of leitmotifs in a later blog post. The new characters make a wonderful impression just like the ones from Undertale and I genuinely laughed out loud a few times at the humor.
I won’t spoil anything story-wise about the game, but let’s just say it’s fantastic. I (and everyone else who has played it) is dying for Toby to finish the rest of the game due to the nature of the story and ending. If you liked Undertale, you definitely need to play this. And it’s free! You can download it here completely free! (Just don’t delete anything if you do download it, apparently there may be some bugs that could delete vital computer stuff if you try to remove certain things that are installed.) I still can’t believe Toby released it for free – if you want to support his endeavors you can buy the soundtrack to the game at his bandcamp page.
It’s gonna be a long wait for the rest of the game.
So there you have it. That’s my October. A lot of testing the water with games when I needed a break from Assassin’s Creed, not a lot of finishing games (except for Deltarune, which was short and to the point). This month I should be able to complete a few more – I have Hitman 2 arriving tomorrow and Darksiders 3 later this month. Neither game should be as much of a time sink as Odyssey was, though, so I should have plenty of time to finish up things like Obra Dinn and Mega Man 11, and maybe poke into a few other things I pushed to the side while I was on my Greek binge. Until next time!