I didn’t like The Last of Us. I want that to be clear before we go into this. It was a combination of factors: the internet spewing absolute nonsense about how it was the greatest game of all-time, how it revolutionized storytelling and no video game had ever told a story before like it and all the EMOTIONS that people felt thanks to it was a major one. But I also played it on a harder difficulty that made the actual gameplay a chore, dropped it in the middle due to the difficulty and ended up finishing the second half a month or two later so I was never invested in the story, and really just preferred light-hearted Naughty Dog to “trying to make Citizen Kane: The Game” LOOK AT THESE EMOTIONS Naughty Dog.
I wasn’t going to get The Last of Us Part 2 because honestly I didn’t care about it. But much like Animal Crossing earlier this year, my will bent very soon after release and I picked it up – but for a very different reason than the calm serenity of AC. See, this game has become a hot button in gaming discourse and will be a hot button for months (if not years) to come thanks to all sorts of opinions flying.
I was gonna have opinions on The Last of Us Part 2 no matter what, so I decided it’d at least be better if they were informed opinions. If I didn’t like the game or if it was somehow worse than The Last of Us, I’d at least have tried it and could say so. Thankfully, TLOU2 is a better game than its predecessor – but it’s still not fantastic.
This review will be full of spoilers for all parts of the game, so be warned.
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So I’ve put over 70 hours into Fire Emblem: Three Houses – probably the most time I’ve dedicated to a single game since Assassin’s Creed Odyssey last year. I’ve still not completed my first route (Blue Lions represent!) but I’m closing in on the end. I don’t know when I’ll get to the second and third playthroughs for the other houses, but I legitimately want to see everything from the other perspectives. That’s how engrossed I am at the story level.
The mechanical level has also hooked me, obviously. Three Houses is the best Fire Emblem has ever been on the tactical battle level. Critical battle information has been streamlined and made much easier to access. Leveling up your characters outside battle is also more engaging and you have a lot more options at your fingertips to create bonds between your characters. And the characters are all stellar. I love the Blue Lion house and their interactions both on and off the battlefield. The recruitment system has also allowed me to nab the characters I like from other houses as well.
I’m starting off glowing about the game, but there are a few low points which I’ll also get to. As a heads up, this review won’t contain any major main story spoilers, but might contain minor support conversation spoilers.
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Before I begin, I’d like to say that this is being posted on January 31st, which means I have officially made it through the entire month of January with posting some sort of content on my blog on every weekday. That is an accomplishment I’m very proud of and nobody can take it away from me! Aha!
Now with that out of the way and before I get completely sucked into the thrall of Kingdom Hearts 3, I’d like to focus your attention on this wonderful indie platformer game that I got on the Switch called Pikuniku. Devolver Digital published it and I saw an ad for it via their Twitter earlier in the month. The short minute and a half ad was so charming that I knew I had to get it when it came out.
And I’m really glad I did. It’s quirky and simplistic but amazingly fun. I haven’t quite finished it yet, but from what I understand it’s a fairly short overall experience. But if you’re looking for a quick 3-4 hour game that has a lot of humor and heart I highly recommend this one.
Well, I guess I’m getting ahead of myself and spoiling my own review, but who cares! Pikuniku is great!
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Last week I was on vacation in New York City and before I left I took advantage of the Black Friday eShop Sale. I wanted to make sure I had plenty of games on my Switch for entertainment while we were taking it easy. I added The Messenger and Valkyria Chronicles 4 to my library, in addition to having Pokemon Let’s Go, and I figured between the three that’d be enough to keep my attention.
It turned out I only needed to buy one game because The Messenger was all I touched the entire trip. I started it on the Monday train ride up and beat the last boss on the Saturday train ride back home. And let me tell you something: this little game kept my attention the whole time. I was never bored, frustrated, or wanting to switch it up with another game. Once this fun ninja platformer got its hooks in me it never let go.
This fun, amazing game released on PC and Switch at the very end of August – basically when I was avoiding starting or grabbing anything new in prep for the upcoming Spider-Man – so that’s why I didn’t play it when it released. But I’d heard good things about it so I thought I’d give it a try as a fun distraction during vacation down time. I was not expecting it to charm me and become one of my favorite games of the year.
So let’s dig a little deeper into why I loved the game in a full review – general spoilers for the game will follow:
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So I’m closing in on 60 hours of playtime in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, and while I’m still not finished with the main story (not for lacking of trying, mind you) I’ve reached a sufficient point where I think I can give a good review of the game. It’s pretty much the only game that’s had my attention over the last month (although there were a few others that I will go over in my monthly recap as well). I was a little wary going into the game because the last big game I played was Spider-Man and I was possibly risking burnout by jumping into another action-oriented open world game. Especially since Odyssey’s map is much larger than Spider-Man’s NYC.
I talked a little bit about my specific problem with Odyssey’s map design and traversal aspects in an earlier blog post, and they continued to persist as I got further into the game. I abuse fast travel like nobody’s business and often have my horse or ship auto-take me to the next place I want to go while I turn my attention to Twitter or Facebook for a few minutes. That is probably the game’s biggest flaw in terms of design – you do a lot of traveling from place to place in the game but the journey is never interesting.
But as the famous saying goes, it’s not about the journey – it’s about the destination. Wait, that’s not right. Well, regardless of how the saying goes, I’m going to take a deeper dive into my experiences with Odyssey and how it stacks up against other massive open-world games.
(Some main story and sidequest spoilers for Assassin’s Creed Odyssey will follow.)
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Earlier in April of this year I posted this article – and on September 7th, I was finally able to get my hands on Spider-Man to play it. I got the Collector’s Edition and also upgraded my PS4 to the limited edition Spider-Man PS4 Pro. It is an understatement to say that I was excited to play the game. And a little over a week later I’ve completed the game – I earned the Platinum trophy (only one of five that I’ve earned, the others being Horizon: Zero Dawn, Day of the Tentacle Remastered, and two Telltale games which basically only require you to play the entire game to get them).
Spider-Man was an amazing game that I loved almost every minute of – it will almost assuredly be between it and God of War for what I consider my personal game of the year, unless something coming in the next three months manage to impress me more (here’s looking at you Super Smash Bros). It wasn’t a perfect game, though – in fact it actually had a few glaring problems. But considering how Insomniac absolutely nailed everything else, the highs totally outweighed the lows.
So as someone who’s pretty much done everything the base game has to offer, it’s time for my review. There will be mild spoilers for certain parts of the game, but nothing regarding the major plot points that Insomniac wanted to keep secret.
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Octopath Traveler is a very interesting game. I was originally only going to talk a little bit about it in a more general sense instead of giving a full review but after playing it off and on for the last few weeks I suddenly realized I’d accumulated 50 or so hours of playtime in the game. At that point I felt the game deserved an actual review instead and so here we are.
Octopath Traveler is a game that tries to hearken back to the old-school SNES days of JRPGs where sprites and beautiful enemy artwork were abundant. Despite the older games it tries to emulate, Octopath has its own unique graphical style that isn’t just “trying to be retro.” It’s one of the more perfect blends of retro and modern designs, unlike say Undertale that was fully pixel art. Not to say Undertale’s graphics are bad, but Octopath’s blend of 2D and 3D makes its landscapes pop and the beautiful art stand out.
Before I go any further in my review, I’m going to go ahead and give a mild spoiler warning for what follows – I’ll talk about a few plot details and the endgame and postgame content while giving a thorough overview of the whole game. So if you want to be surprised by gameplay secrets and what-not be warned I will go in-depth on them. I will try to keep any story spoilers as vague as possible, though.
Now let’s continue.
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I finished God of War about a week and a half ago. I started trying to write a review for it but ended up with an immense case of writer’s block, which struck me as weird because I really, really liked the game. So I shelved the review and stepped back to think about why I was having issues writing it out. And the writer’s block basically creeped into all writing as I just sat and stared at the computer screen any time I attempted to write for the last week.
What I finally realized was that I was trying to contextualize my review and base it off of my pre-God of War post – which you can read here – and trying to discuss all the things I brought up in that post and that was not only overwhelming me but it was causing me blockage (heh heh) because I didn’t know where to begin or how to approach all the issues. So instead I’m just going to review the game like I would normally and maybe touch on a few things here or there related to my initial musings on the game before I actually got my hands on it.
There will be some mild spoilers on early game story beats in the review, so if you aren’t a few hours into the game and care about those sorts of things this is your last chance to abandon ship. For the rest of you, let’s begin!
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Celeste is an interesting game that I’ve been both hot and cold on. It released on January 25, a little less than a month ago, on pretty much every current platform – PS4, Switch, XBox One, PC, etc. It’s a single-player platformer from the maker of Towerfall: Ascension, a very fun multiplayer game that my friends and I enjoyed. I even made a few videos of it for my YouTube channel a while ago. As Towerfall was only multiplayer, it seems fitting that the creator designed an only single-player game using similar platforming mechanics.
The object of Celeste is simple: you are a young girl named Madeline who is climbing the mountain Celeste for…some reason. Through sheer will and determination (along with the ability to dash-jump) you help her navigate the treacherous pitfalls of Celeste. You meet a few interesting characters along the way, but the story is a very light backdrop for the real meat of the game – precision platforming fun.
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So as of writing this, the in-game counter for Xenoblade Chronicles 2 has me at about 50 hours of playtime. I haven’t finished it – in actuality I just finished Chapter 5 and it supposedly can take close to 100 hours to finish entirely – but I figure 50 hours is a solid enough amount of time to spend with a video game for a good review. And while I can’t say Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is a bad game since I’ve spent over two days playing it, it definitely has issues that detract from the overall experience.
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