Review the last game you finished

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Re: Review the last game you finished

#321

Post by Marilink » Mon Jul 29, 2019 11:13 pm

I beat Cadence of Hyrule tonight, and it’s awesome.

I may flesh those thoughts out more tomorrow. I might not. I might also replay CoH to get a faster time. But I also might not. So much uncertainty.

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Re: Review the last game you finished

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Post by Marilink » Tue Jul 30, 2019 9:50 am

Cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the NecroDancer Featuring The Legend of Zelda

When I heard that Nintendo was giving the keys to the Hyrule kingdom over to the team that made Crypt of the NecroDancer, I got ridiculously excited. While I'm not a big fan of Hyrule Warriors, I have to give it credit for opening the Zelda Spinoff floodgates so it could lead to some amazing collaborations like Cadence of Hyrule. It's all so perfect--a Zelda-based remix score by Danny Baranowsky? Yes please. Official guitar covers by FamilyJules? Of course. Beat-based combat in the Zelda universe? I'm all for it. Zelda as a playable character right out the gate? Gimme gimme. Bosses that have names like "Gleeokenspiel" and "Wizzroboe"? Just take my money already.

The caveat of this game is simply that if you didn't get into Crypt of the Necrodancer or had a hard time with its combat style, well, this is more of that. For my own part, I loved Crypt of the Necrodancer, so the patterns of the enemies in Cadence of Hyrule were familiar to me and I didn't have much trouble getting into it. If you do have trouble with the beat-based gameplay, though, you can switch to "fixed beat" mode, which almost turns the game into a strategy game, causing the enemies and elements on the screen to only move when you do. In other words, you can stand still at any moment and plan your next move while the world just freezes around you.

The way they handle the dungeons is interesting. In the original Crypt, the entire game is procedurally generated. In Cadence, they still kept some of that, which I wasn't expecting. The overworld is designed and static, which makes for fun exploration and intentional puzzle-solving, and felt truly Zelda. Once you get into a dungeon, though, it's a little different. There's a "hub" part of the dungeon that is designed, but each dungeon has 2 or 3 sections that you enter that are procedurally generated like the original Crypt. Basically, when you get into a dungeon, the slider on the "Necrodancer-Zelda" spectrum slides a bit more over to the "Necrodancer" side.

The rogue-like aspects were interesting, too. In Zelda-like fashion, you get items and weapons that carry over regardless of Game Overs. In Crypt-like fashion, your gear and equipment deteriorates and needs replacing, and does not carry across deaths. Rupees also completely go to 0 at each death, which I found very punishing until I got the hang of things.

My one complaint with the game is that the difficulty curve has a really sharp start. Having only 3-4 hearts in the early stages of the game is very difficult, especially for people who might not be familiar with CotN-style combat and strategizing. I love the gameplay style, and I still game-overed about 5 or 6 times in the early stages of the game. However, once I got more hearts and access to potions, I basically stopped dying altogether. It made for a weird difficulty curve as the game went from almost-too-hard to almost-too-easy. For instance, when I got to Bass Guitarmos Knights, I barely did the fight in the intended way--I just tanked a bunch of hits and kept going straight at them, because I knew I had enough hearts to do just that.

But overall, I loved it. It took me just under 4 hours. The final boss was excellent with a fantastic gimmick, which I won't spoil. I'm hoping to spend more time with the game, either by attempting a speedrun or 100%ing my existing file.

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Re: Review the last game you finished

#323

Post by I am nobody » Sun Aug 04, 2019 11:07 am

52. Total War: Three Kingdoms (8/2) (PC)

Shogun 2 is one of my favorite strategy games ever, but Rome 2 and Thrones of Britannia didn't review well and Warhammer isn't my thing, so it's been the better part of a decade since I've played a new TW game. Fittingly, it's set in a period I honestly didn't know much about - despite reading a ton about China's recent history, I've never done much research quite that far back and I've also barely played Dynasty Warriors. Missing out on four games worth of mechanics changes and having minimal familiarity with the setting could've been a confusing mess, but the new gameplay is almost all intuitive and the character descriptors give you a pretty good idea of who you're dealing with.

The biggest change is the focus on characters. You've got a whole court to manage on top of keeping track of your generals, and each of those characters has skills and satisfaction that you've got to manage to stay effective. Certain units are only recruitable to retinues lead by specific character types, and each type provides different onuses or skills as an administrator or commander, so there's a lot to consider when placing them even before dealing with the ones who don't get along. Diplomacy is also much more about the leaders you're dealing with and their personal strategies.

The other big difference compared to the last game I played is with research and economics. Instead of filling up meters to progress down a rather linear tech and culture tree, there's now a much more interwoven (literal) reform tree that you use every five turns. Reforms are split into five broad classes that connect with their neighbors and unlock direct or indirect (through buildings or units) bonuses that change nearly every system in the game. The depth of customization on that screen alone is stunning.

Because I'm weirdly obsessed with underdog stories in grand strategy games, I did my usual thing and ignored all the famous playable factions in favor of Zheng Jiang, The Bandit Queen, who starts with no territory and already at war with two neighbors. My first to tries were, predictably, disasters caused by underestimating the aggressiveness of one of my enemies and not understanding how supplies worked. But it all clicked on my third playthrough and I was able to consolidate few commanderies and sign a peace agreement relatively quickly.

That's when the game got a lot more interesting. My particular faction starts out in mountains in the north-central part of the map, so you're surrounded by larger nations on all sides and have to play a careful diplomatic balancing game to make sure you're never in more wars than you can manage. That's made more difficult by Infamy, their unique resource, which is gained from winning battles and (especially) sacking commanderies. It provides major boosts to morale and tribute, but it also makes everyone like you less as it builds up. To add extra pressure to play aggressively, there's no food in the mountains and only a handful of unoccupied settlements nearby, each of which is extremely expensive to resettle.

They key to all of it is the Bandit Lair building chain, which greatly reduces a settlement's income in exchange for a massive universal boost to your army replenishment rate. With one of those and a a couple other bonuses picked up from elsewhere, you won't need to stop to recover from anything but the most devastating losses and can overrun vulnerable opponent's territory as quickly as your army can move. That was also where the game stopped being very hard, because the Normal AI doesn't understand how to deal with catapults and could only win battles when it had 2-3x more troops. Still, the AI leaders are much more dynamic than before and will declare surprise wars or break agreements when it suits them, so there's a lot to plan for at the map level even if they're not much of a threat in an even fight.

All told, it's a phenomenal strategy game that's easy to recommend to pretty much anyone with an interest in the genre.

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Re: Review the last game you finished

#324

Post by smol Kat » Sun Aug 04, 2019 10:08 pm

Finished up Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. I played through the first two and part of the third a few years ago and sorta vaguely remembered the outcomes of the cases but getting from Point A to Point B was still entertaining.

I'll add to this post when I complete the whole trilogy, but I really gotta say, at the end of Case 5 when the guilty party breaks down, that really belongs on a big screen. hahaha
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Re: Review the last game you finished

#325

Post by I am nobody » Sun Aug 11, 2019 6:50 am

53. Fire Emblem: Three Houses (Switch) (8/11)

Everyone is already playing this, and I've said a bunch in the thread for it, so I'll gloss over everything about the tactical gameplay here by saying: Removing the level cap made having a handful of super-units do everything by far the best option. The game is far too easy as a result, even when you're deliberately making trouble for yourself, but it's still enjoyable because the core FE experience is largely unchanged.

The school parts are bizarre. Everything is really shallow, with everyone only having one thing to say per month despite there being up to five opportunities to talk to them, quests almost always telling you exactly where to go and press A to win, and everything else openly being an interface to move skill and motivation sliders up and down. It's enjoyable for a while because stat raisers are fun, but there's really not enough here to justify something like two years of it. I was just mashing through by the end.

Speaking of bizarre, this game shares an unbelievable number of similarities with Trails of Cold Steel, including the school structure, a some broader plot themes, characters, and very specific events and plot twists. It's way beyond the normal overlap in JRPGs, and even how CS was openly a new take on Persona at first. One of the big things it tries to copy is the way that CS1 built up its world through monthly assignments to various parts of the empire to show off the different cultures and locales, and how things change in the home town from month to month. But it just whiffs both of those completely. You never see more than a battle map of any of the places you visit, and almost all of those can fit into a handful of effectively identical archetypes. Every month has an animated intro that insists the world is alive and tells you all these things are happening, but you never see any of it, and nothing ever changes in the school. The weather is always the same, any "events" are represented by reusing the standard dinner and choir activity graphics, and no one is even ever stressed about exams. FE has never been good at worldbuilding, so I can't imagine why they chose a structure that would so heavily emphasize how dire it is if they weren't going to put more effort in.

Since I already did a rant about how the story is awful in the other thread and it'd be impossible to say why without spoilers, I'll just talk about character writing here. It's a mixed bag. The dialogue is massively improved from Fates and even Awakening, but they're still leaning too heavily on one-note characters for you to be able to get invested in any of them. Overworld dialogue is stale because they never know what your relationship with any specific character is, so almost everyone just spouts generic lines that'd fit all of them and any support state. A couple of these characters have legitimately interesting setups and could've gone somewhere cool with more attention, but most of them don't end up just being a collection of sketches about whatever their one quirk is.

It's a decent enough tactics game on top of one of the bigger missed story opportunities I've seen in a while. It has a great foundation, and I think a more focused version of this game that did a few mechanics and story beats well could've been a really special, but as it is it often feels more like a collection of decent proofs of concept rather than a finished game.

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Re: Review the last game you finished

#326

Post by Apollo the Just » Mon Aug 12, 2019 7:02 pm

IAN wrote:as it is it often feels more like a collection of decent proofs of concept rather than a finished game.
my reply here isn't about FE3H because I haven't and probably won't ever play that game, but this is one of those lines that is an absolutely, completely, wholly valid critique of a product, and yet perfectly describes a lot of my favorite games lmao.

Well, not Persona 3: FES or Tales of Symphonia, those products are flawless, but many others that I like such as Sonic Forces etc.

Like this is the most succinct way to describe Tales of Zestiria, and yet I like Tales of Zestiria better than many of the more applauded titles because I think those proofs of concept are more interesting than some of the more "finished" games. It kinda goes to show that sometimes a better product isn't necessarily more enjoyable to a person if the potential of another product is more appealing regardless.

EDIT: I guess another way to put this is even if the presentation of a game is a mess I sometimes find its content so interesting or appealing that I end up loving it even if it isn’t polished or could be vastly improved. Versus there are surely some comparable games that are much more polished and thoughtful experiences but either their message doesn’t jive with me as well or I don’t find them as fun or maybe I just don’t dig their aesthetic as much. I know I’m getting into “objective vs subjective” territory which usually turns into very pedantic and unconstructive arguments, but I’d say sometimes it’s better to have something cool to say and say it poorly than to have something kinda whatever to say and say it phenomenally. I’m rambling though and this isn’t really about the game you were talking about. Honestly based on your comments in the other thread I would probably agree with you on that one.

I have nothing else to add to this thread because the only video game I ever play is Tales of Symphonia btw

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Re: Review the last game you finished

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Post by I am nobody » Wed Aug 14, 2019 5:05 pm

Yeah, the key is that your proofs of concept have to be really interesting. 3H's are small improvements to the existing FE formula mixed in with a whole lot of things Persona and/or Trails already did as fully developed mechanics.

Inazuma Eleven from a few months back in this thread is a good example of something I liked mostly for being interesting. It doesn't do anything exceptionally well, but nobody else has tried most of it.

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Re: Review the last game you finished

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Post by Apollo the Just » Thu Aug 15, 2019 11:44 pm

Totally fair. I haven't played 3H and probably won't, that thought just made me think about 'good' games vs 'games i like'. I definitely agree that it really only works if the game actually has something interesting to say though. :p

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Re: Review the last game you finished

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Post by I am nobody » Mon Aug 26, 2019 8:18 pm

54. When Our Journey Ends (8/11) (PC)

I had this one on my Steam wishlist forever, probably because it inexplicably reminded me of a book I had as a kid even though that book has nothing in common with it. It's about some girl who takes a train in Japan and ends up in another world. There are a lot of obvious fairy tale inspirations, but it inexplicably chooses to borrow some of its big moments from epics, and the game is 20 minutes long. I don't doubt that there's a way to make a self-discovery story work at that length, but it'd take something more clever than the usual "pass these really obvious holy trials" trope. Pretty forgettable overall, which is why I took over two weeks to get around to writing about it.

55. Supraland (8/24) (PC)

It describes itself as a mix of Portal, Zelda, and Metroid. For a game primarily made by one guy, it does a great job of combining those influences, but I don't think the puzzles are quite as "fair" as in Portal. Those games succeeded as puzzlers because they gave the player a handful of tools that operated in very simple, predictable ways and asked players to get through rooms that required thoughtful application of that limited pool of verbs. Supraland mostly gets that right, but in trying to be Metroid I think by the end it gives you too many tools with too many abilities and some of the puzzles are just messy. The game was clearly aware of part of this problem, because one puzzle about halfway through opens with a guy asking if you're ready to see if you're "part of the 90%". If you take too long on the puzzle, he then reveals that 90% of players have forgotten one use of the first item by that point in the game. That's not good game design to me.

The bigger problem, though, is that the new abilities are barely tutorialized and their interactions aren't always obvious. There's no logic to what you can or can't pick up in this game, and you're unable to pick up anything you can spawn until literally the last item in the game. The forums are filled with people saying they wasted forever trying to move those items with other tools (which works, barely) because they had no reason to believe they'd be able to just pick it up.

Still, it's a mostly fun enough puzzle game, and you can do a lot worse than not being the next Portal. Worth checking out if you're after a decently sized puzzle sandbox.

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Re: Review the last game you finished

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Post by Marilink » Mon Aug 26, 2019 8:46 pm

I finished Fire Emblem a week or two ago, and I really loved it. Don’t have the energy to write full review right now, but I thought the character work was some of the best it’s ever been in the series, and the addition of a hub area was a wonderful idea. The game was too easy, even for a strategy game imbecile like myself; but honestly, the combat was second-fiddle to how much fun I had with Teenage War Monastery Teacher Simulator 2019

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Re: Review the last game you finished

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Post by smol Kat » Mon Aug 26, 2019 11:26 pm

ok i wasn't expecting it to take me this long to finish Justice for All but there you go. Still a good game with some very fun cases. Case 3 in particular gives me feelings. Pearl is best character; Adrian Andrew smells

e: finished T&T and CASE 5 THOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
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Re: Review the last game you finished

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Post by Marilink » Thu Sep 12, 2019 3:12 pm

Rocking a baby so I’ll keep it brief: the Celeste DLC is delightful and even tougher than the base game. They made wavedashing into a core mechanic instead of just s niche speedrun tech, and they had a lot of fun with it. They even taught the tech in a really cute faux-PowerPoint.

But yet again, even after its 10/10 gameplay, the star of the show was the story. Madeline is extremely real, even if everything around her is decidedly not. This crew really figured out how to deliver a wonderful narrative of a wonderful game.

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Re: Review the last game you finished

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Post by I REALLY HATE POKEMON! » Fri Sep 13, 2019 1:11 am

I don't usually get around to beating games, but I did finish Bonkers for SNES a few months ago (with save states, admittedly). It's really good, I usually have no interest in Disney games anymore, or anything overtly cartoony, but I was just trying it out because it was made by Capcom and kept playing. The short play time was nice, probably less than two hours.

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