Lack of Short, Story Driven Games

As a 30 year old male I find the amount of time I have for ‘gaming’ growing shorter and shorter. Its not that I don’t want to play games actually quite the opposite I would love to play more but, unfortunately life tends to get in the way.

Gone are the days of sitting for 6+ hours (some time much more back in the day ;D) and tackling the latest single player story. I look at games like The Witcher 3 now and while I own it, I just can’t dedicate time it deserves. Born in 1988 I am part of the generation where games and gaming have been part of my life since I was born. I first played my Dads Sega Master System before getting my own PS1 when it was released back in 1994. Is this why my Dad stopped gaming, he just didn’t have the time being a father, having job, husband etc.

I am constantly on the hunt for solid story based, single player games with a main storyline less that 20 hours that I can complete with only 30-40min here and there. I guess this is why we have seen this rise of the Battle Royale and MOBA genre where they provide 15-20min of high intensity, high octane gameplay allowing you to play 2-3 games/rounds and be satisfied.

With the largest demographic of gamers being 26-35 years of age surely I can’t be the only one that struggles to find time to play games while holding down a full-time job, be a husband and maintain an active social life?

If anyone is aware of short single player games let me know!

Warframe a 6 year old gift

I’ve known about Warframe for years but just never got around to giving it a go. The game first came out in 2013, any 6 year old game still being actively developed with a thriving community must be doing something right. After a dry period in my gaming catalog I finally decided to jump in and give Warframe a shot and have since racked up almost 30 hours of play.

Firstly the game is great, it runs flawlessly, looks great and plays great the next update (coming soon) brings a graphics overhaul to bring it inline with most modern day AAA titles.

You play as a Tenno (aka Space Ninja’s) a long lost race of noble warriors who one day in a world full of conflict just up-ed and left never to be seen again. Starting a new game you are given the option to play in 1 of 3 ‘frames’ each with there own unique traits and abilities. The game as of writing has over 20 unlockable frames so there is a play style to suit everyone.

Movement is a big deal in warframe and once you master the power slide, into jump, back into slide combo you with literately be flipping about the levels at blistering pace slicing up enemies left, right and centre it really is one of the best parts of the game, its so fluid and you do really get that Space Ninja feel as you glide around. With 14 planets to visit in the game each with around 10 locations the game is nothing short of massive but not necessarily demanding you are able to play very much at your own pace only clearing a few levels if that is all you have time for. The game does a good job of keeping you on the right track making sure progression doesn’t slow down.

Its a free to play game with micro transactions but thankfully its not pay to win. Everything in Warframe is fully unlockable in the game absolutely free you can pay to speed things up but it is absolutely not necessary. At is core Warframe is a farming/grinding game with the end goal to become as powerful and possible if you want a specific weapon be prepared to ‘farm’ the materials required to craft said weapon which could require running the same mission over and over until you meet the required quota.

Warframe is available to every platform at the moment so there really inst a reason you can’t play a small drawback is its not cross platform so any frames I have unlocked on my PC account won’t be available if I were to start playing on my Switch.

The upcoming expansion Warframe: Empyrean brings a graphical overhaul, space ships (fuck yea!) and a new enemy race. If there was ever a time to give Warframe a shot now is the time. If none of this has give you even the slightest inclination to play watch the intro trailer and think of the Space Ninja you could be.

Gorn 1.0 Arrives (Lamps will be broken!)

Tomorrow (18/07/19) sees Gorn the brutally hilarious VR gladiator fighting game move out of early access to version 1.0. I’ve followed the games development regularly playing while in early access for over a year and am super stoked for it to finally be released.

Its a VR only game so if you don’t own an Oculus Rift or Vive (PS VR soon!) this article is not for you. In Gorn you take the role of a Roman gladiator battling against groups of meat heads who rightly so approach you rather cautiously. Before a game beings you are presented with plethora of weapons to choose from and upon selecting your favourite you raise your hands in the air saluting Caesar to begin the fight. Don’t let the cartoonish graphics fool you this game is brutal I’ve lost count of how many hearts I’ve plucked from men’s chests with a spear or how many skulls I’ve sliced in half with the battle axe. This game comes with a massive warning, play in an open area as furniture is likely to get broken or at least smacked with flailing arms when you get overwhelmed. I took a golf swing at the free standing lamp in my living room while playing this, in game I was trying get an achievement of hitting 5 enemies out of the arena so had taken to using a 2 handed war-hammer like a 5 iron.

The game uses the pull yourself along movement system if you are familiar with VR games this most likely wont pose a challenge but can take some getting used to if you are trying VR for the first time. Depth wise Gorn has a large amount of additional weapons to unlock by defeating bosses or meeting certain kill criteria which gives the game a surprising amount of longevity. Version 1.0 brings the Crab & the “diss” track below if its anything like the rest of the game it wont be anything less than bonkers.

This game is a must for parties or introducing people to VR it comes in at £14.99 and is well worth the price for the hilarity it brings alone.

Review – My Friend Pedro

While I was on holiday a few weeks ago, I noticed a game that I was following had finally been released. That game was ‘My Friend Pedro’. My thoughts on the media released on the lead up to launch was that this game looks like an insane, matrix style bullet time chaos, cluster fuck and those initial thoughts hold up pretty well after the play time I have had.

I’ve racked up about 4 hours of in game time. Upon starting you are shown the basics and the controls to let you dive in fast. Throughout the initial levels with each new mechanic/puzzle being introduced you are taught how to interact or overcome said mechanic. This style suits me to a tee where you are hand fed mechanics step by step rather than with some games I often feel overloaded and thrown in at the deep end expected to be a master from the word go. The games controls are pretty simple, I can’t get into the habit of holding W to dodge but I assume I will get used to it in time.

The game lets you live out some of the wildest action movie scenes you can think of, be that racing through the streets on a motor bike, shooting down missiles,kick-flipping a skate board off someones head or slaughtering near endless bad guys while free falling from a skyscraper. Right off the bat the volume is cranked up to 11/10 as you begin to clean up the streets, all with the helpful direction from your yellow banana friend Pedro.

My Friend Pedro is arguably the first ‘big’ title from independent indie developer DeadToast Entertainment being released on Steam, GOG.com, Humble Store, PS4 and Nintendo Switch the game is currently £15.50 and I am really looking forward to what’s next for DeadToast and My Friend Pedro. Be sure to check out my ‘Lets Play’ over on my YouTube Channel.

Darkest Dungeon Top Tips

My quick blurp on Darkest Dungeon that I posted yesterday has been my most popular article to date. When writing I never expected such a response. Following suit to my previous post I through I would outline my top 5 tips for players new to the game.

1. Death is Inevitable

The nature of Darkest Dungeon boils down to you vs. the game. The game will do its up-most to knock you down and beat you black and blue. During your initial dungeon runs if a party member is below level 3 then I wouldn’t bother to much if he/she should fall as they can be easily replaced. Party members at level 3 should be given more care keep them alive as they will be prime candidates to receive upgrades to fight back against what the dungeons throw at you.

2. Don’t Squander All Your Money

During the initial stages of the game I wouldn’t bother upgrading your town until you have a lot more gold in the bank. Upgrading the town is expensive and the benefits gained from the upgrade can’t really be utilised properly until you have around 60-70k in the bank.

3. Bring Enough Supplies

Always prioritise spending you hard earned gold on getting/having enough supplies for your next run. There is nothing worse than running out of food ¾ of the way through a dungeon and have to deal with the stress and after effects of hunger when you could have just purchased those extra 4 at the start of the run. Below is a helpful overview to give to the base supplies required for each run.

Short: 8 torches, 8 food, 1 shovel, 2 bandages, 1 skeleton key.

Medium: 12 torches, 16 food, 2 shovels. 4 bandages, 2 skeleton keys.

Long: 18 torches, 24 food, 3 shovels. 4 bandages, 2 skeleton keys.

Sometimes I change the keys or some herbs or antidotes depending on what run I am about to jump into.

4. Take your Time

There is no need to make a split second decision in Darkest Dungeon. Think about what you are about to do think about your party members positioning, think about the enemies position. Consider your moves and try your best to turn the tide of battle in our favour.

5. Use an Occultist

She’s the only real healer and has got me out of many a sticky situation by keeping those on deaths door standing.

 

To wrap it up my tips my I would say have a backup party so should your main crew need a rest you can easily swap in an out counter-parts of similar skill. Currently my main part consists man-at-arms heading up the front line followed by a crusader. My 3rd slot sees the most change but at the time of writing I am using a jester for his stress reducing abilities finally an Occultist at the back to heal my party when needed.

Darkest Dungeon Review

Darkest Dungeon was available in early access for just over 1 year before it’s official launch a few weeks ago on January 19th. So while the title indicates that this review is a first impression, it is more my thoughts on version 1.0 rather than first impressions on a game which has been around for a fair bit of time.

Darkest-Dungeon

Having signed up for the early access to Darkest Dungeon, I previously racked up around 3-4 hours of play but then made a conscious decision to stop playing. Various aspects of the game were still changing on a frequent basis, so I figured I would wait, biding my time for the game launch to complete it, which in my view is the best experience.

If I had to describe Darkest Dungeon in a few words, I’d say it is a side scrolling Dungeon RPG in which the game tries its up-most to make you lose.Set somewhere in 15th-16th century, Darkest dungeon is a game about management and taking risks, pushing your luck where you think you can and dealing with the consequences when that game hits back at you for pushing to hard. You are the player and as far as story goes are tasked with restoring an old man’s manor. The only problem is that the depths of hell have spilled out below the manor and taken over the surrounding cellars and grounds. You assemble a party of 4, based on many different classes available and set out into the Darkest Dungeon to reclaim what has been taken away and left to rot.

The first thing you realise is how much the game is against you; at every turn you are taking damage, be it a blow from a cult zealot or from looting treasure from a cursed wardrobe, you are always fighting an up hill battle to survive and keep your party alive. Darkest Dungeon works on both health and a stress mechanic. Health is as you expect. Should a party members health reach zero, they die. Stress brings a whole new element to contend with, for if a character gets to stressed then he/she can develop a bad trait that will in turn bring the rest of the party down resulting in more stress and potentially more bad traits.

Darkest Dungeon looks great, taking its art style from graphic novels it provides an eerie feel as you wander the depths of the manor trying to stay alive. So far, I’ve played about 12 hours of the game. I’ve been taking it slow, trying not to lose anyone along the way and thinking about each move before I decide to commit. For the most part I feel I am doing well, but I have a feeling death in this game can’t be helped and it won’t be long before a key party member falls and I have to pull in a rookie to fill the gap.

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When I first ventured into my medium size dungeon I thought I was stocked up to take on anything, and while I had an answer for the most part, nothing was going my way. Every strike was a miss and every chance to loot some goods had some ill effect on my party. My party was stressing and so was I. Finally made the choice to flee, valuing the lives of my party over the glory of completing a dungeon. Fleeing allows you to keep all the loot you have currently gathered, but your party takes the hit of keeping any stress and ailments that were endured during the run. Some of the ailments can have dire effects on the moral of the rest of the party; for example a party member can become abusive and will shout curses and jibes at their comrades, thus in turn bring down party moral even more.

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Darkest dungeon has a nice pace that I could and have passed a whole Sunday afternoons playing. Anyone who enjoys a good RPG dungeon crawler or rouge like games then Darkest Dungeon is for you.

XCOM 2 – Initial Impression

February 5th has arrived. Any PC gamer who keeps there ears close to the ground, or should I say eyes close to the screen, knows that today is the release of XCOM 2.

XCOM 2 is the squeal to the 2012 BAFTA award wining strategy game XCOM more specifically XCOM: Enemy Unknown.

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Although I am no stranger to combat strategy and RTS games, I’ll hold my hands up and say I have never played an XCOM game before. I’ve watched XCOM on streams and I’ve had no end of recommendations telling me XCOM is a must have for any PC gamer, but I just never got round to it. When XCOM 2 was announced I promptly added it to my steam wish list, patiently waiting on the release date to come to break my XCOM virginity.

As I launched the game, I was greeted to the usual menus you would expect to see in an AAA game in 2016. I went straight to video options to ensure I was playing everything on maximum graphic settings. I fiddled with the sound levels to get them on my preferred levels. Upon launching a “New Game” I was presented with the difficulty menu. As a new player, I went straight for Iron-man mode, as having watched many XCOM streams I figured this was the mode for me… No that’s a lie. Having never played an XCOM game before, I selected Rookie like the little bitch noob I am.

The game begins with a standard tutorial teaching you the basics, i.e. how to move and shoot while ensuring you have any understanding of the UI. The tutorial does a good job of getting you into the swing of things quickly and unless you are a die hard XCOM player, then its probably best you give it a quick run through. From what I’ve played, at no point was I confused about what is going on or what I’m trying to do.

During the tutorial I lost two of my squad, and I am still trying to work out if that was meant to happen as part of the tutorial to educate you on how cut throat the game can be should you make the wrong decision? In the end, the tutorial was done and I progressed into the 1st cut-scene that will lay the ground work on the story to come. The cut scene itself looked great but it was a little lost on me. Having not played the first game, I didn’t have the back story to appreciate what was happening that I guess most others would, although it doesn’t take a genius to work out what roughly went down.

The game play is excellent. It flows well and looks great, from the characters and the cover your ducking behind, to the enemies you blasting from afar, giving you the polished feel you would expect from a AAA. A major bonus these days is that the game so far for me has run without a hitch, which for some developers and publishers is a big ask.

I took a tour of my ship which acts as your main command hub, visiting the various rooms to see what could be done while not fighting the baddies. Upon visiting the Command Centre, I jumped into my first mission and got my first experience of that XCOM magic. It took me 3 attempts to beat the first mission, jeez. The first attempt I lost most of my guys in a fire fight and when power core (the mission) blow up it killed my last 2 squad members resulting in a fail. During my 2nd attempt I faired better but just didnt have my guys in the right place to get the core before it blew. By my 3rd try, I had it down and was getting the hang of things. I lost one man to mind control but for the most part it went without a hitch. Feeling good after getting through the 1st mission. I took my promotions and jumped straight into the next and aced it. Every move I made, every shot I took was going my way. I was slaughtering enemy’s left night and centre and the feeling is great when a well thought our plan comes together.

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As it stands I’ve played just shy of 90min of XCOM 2 now. While I would say this isn’t enough to give a full review, the initial impressions are excellent. The game looks great and runs without a hitch and is a blast to play. In a time where massive RPG’s and short multi-player focused FPS’s reign supreme, it is great to sit back down to a good combat strategy where I don’t need to make split second decisions and can take things slow to ponder my moves and think about what will come next.

When I started writing this initial impressions review, I said i would keep it sort and sweet and on that note we’ve come to an end. This is my first attempt at doing a game review; while I have been a PC and Console gamer for many years I’ve never tried anything like this. All comments and advice are welcome and on that note I’ll catch you all later. I am away to play some more XCOM 2.

If you want to watch my 1st hour of play then check out the youtube video below: