I know what you’re thinking, where the heck has Jon been this past month? Has he actually been playing any video games? Where else can I get my “hottest” takes on the news in the gaming world? Well fear not dear reader, for after a brief hiatus I have emerged to highlight some of the past week(s) in the world of video games.
Owlboy - ($24.99) PC
Even The Ocean - ($14.99) PC
Hitman - ($59.99) PC/Xbox One/PS4
After finishing Mafia III and getting my thoughts down (read them here) I was kind of lost in the woods when it came to what to play next. I’ve been dabbling with a few titles in the past couple of weeks but nothing has really “stuck” so far.
The tale of Owlboy is apparently a long and arduous road 10 years in the making (read more about that here) and from the couple of hours I’ve spent with it so far it looks like it’s been worth the wait. As Otus, a young boy/owl whose mentor treats him with open disdain, you are thrust into an adventure that includes robot pirates and all sorts of unique creatures. The game plays like a blend of Metroidvania style platforming/exploration mixed with the combat of a twin stick/bullet hell style shooter. Your attacks are carried out by one of your companions you carry, each with different attributes and utility. The game looks amazing, and plays great with responsive controls that you never feel like you are fighting with to do what you want. One of the best parts of the game is how it never has to explicitly tell you how to conquer an enemy. The actions taken by the enemies and even their look communicates the method by which they can be defeated. I’ve heard the game runs about 10-12 hours, so I’m going to try and finish it up some point in the next week or so (hopefully).
I’ve never actually played the developer’s previous game Anodyne but I know a few of my friends (Dan included) said it was an excellent title. I had a chance a few years ago to play a very early version of their latest game which just released this past week and I’m happy to say the quality of their work doesn’t appear to show any signs of stopping. The surprising thing about the final game vs. the early build is the amount of actual story that is being told. I wasn’t expecting something as “adult” in my 2D platform puzzler, but it’s a pleasant surprise for sure. Another interesting thing I noticed is the difficulty seems to have been tweaked on the side of easy compared to that early build. I’m not super deep into the game so far (about 2 hours) but I’m interested to see if the difficulty ramps up a bit and also see where the actual story goes.
After spending almost the entire year watching people play this game online, I finally decided to take the plunge when the entire “season” was on sale for $30 this weekend. I’ve never played one of these titles before, but as a fan of stealth and assassination games, it was pretty much a no-brainer. There’s a LOT of things going on in the game, almost to the point of being overwhelming, with all the “mechanics” involved in attempting to infiltrate a location. The inclusion of trackable “challenges” makes approaching a target a bit more reasonable, but if you want a “pure” experience you can turn off all the prompts. I’ve gotten through the first “real” assignment in Paris and did pretty well. I’m wondering if my prior knowledge of the “quirks” will actually be to my advantage or not, as it seemed like I was able to get through the first mission with relative ease. While the game encourages you to replay missions for better mastery, I’m not entirely sure I’ll engage in the larger metagame when it comes to running through a level multiple times from different angles. Luckily, the developers have confirmed a new season so even after I finish this I’ll be primed to play the next one when it is released.
Cool Story Bro
In general gaming news, Xbox One has added a couple of serious “bangers” to their backwards compatibility lineup over the past few weeks, with Mass Effect 2 & 3 finally being added to the lineup on the 7th (in celebration of N7 day) and making them accessible for free for EA Access subscribers. That service becomes more and more worthwhile every month, and the $30/year subscription pays for itself even if you just play one of the free games per year. In addition to completing the Mass Effect Trilogy on the new platform, they finally added Burnout Paradise today. I’m hoping to jump back in there with a few friends and see how the online experience holds up, as that game has a special place in my heart as being the best multiplayer online experience I’ve had on a console ever.
In my ever growing obsession with Star Citizen, the CEO/Founder of the project made a very interesting announcement regarding the development of the title last week, and announced something fairly unprecedented in order to address some of the growing “concern” regarding the progress on the project. The decision was made to make the production schedule for the upcoming release public, including all of their current goals/timeframes. You can read more specifics about the announcement here.
It’s no secret that I like a good open world action game, and thanks to some gentle prodding by Dan several years ago I gave a little title called Sleeping Dogs a try. Many hours later it still holds as one of the best open-world games of the last 5 years. The story, gameplay and visual style all came together to create a wonderful homage to Hong Kong cop/action flicks that made me hopeful it was the start of a new franchise. Alas, it was not to be, and the developer (United Front Games) finally closed its doors recently. With this closure, some details regarding the early in development sequel were released today. I highly encourage you to take a look at the article here for all the details. One last tidbit regarding this is the announcement today that the “Definitive Edition” of Sleeping Dogs will be one of the free Games with Gold on Xbox One means if you have a Gold subscription you have no excuse not to give this game a try. Trust me you won’t be disappointed.
That’s all for this week, I’m going to go gorge myself on turkey and enjoy some games.