What I’ve Been Playing This Week
Bloodborne: 7th play through finished. 8th is a NG+ that’s half way done, and the Rakuyo run will start soon. Let’s just assume this will be here until I say it’s not. That’ll be easier.
I think one of the reasons I keep playing Bloodborne is how streamlined the whole thing is (at least in my eyes). As an example I’ll compare it to Horizon Zero Dawn. Now I really like Horizon Zero Dawn. But when you want a new weapon or suit of armour you have to not only have the necessary payment but a bunch of random parts. With Bloodborne, it’s just blood echoes. That’s it. In HZD and Nier: Automata to upgrade weapons you need a bunch of random parts, in addition to currency. In Bloodborne, it’s just shards/chunks/rocks and blood echoes (and it’s a really small amount of echoes). That system really comes into its own when doing multiple runs. I just love it.
It is worth pointing out Blood Rocks are sparse (only two in the game – 1 in the regular game and 1 in the DLC) so very few weapons ever see top level. But any particular build will dovetail to a few weapons anyway, and you can always buy Blood Rocks after offing Mergo’s Wet Nurse. But that is an advantage of the crafting system. You can always scavenge for more parts, therefore upgrading more weapons.
But as someone who does settle on weapons, the Bloodborne system does wonders for me. I know which weapons are going to feature in a run, and I can just set about upgrading them. I don’t have to find 3 rabbit tails and 4 broken twigs to fix up a bow. It really takes out unnecessary down time.
The Last Guardian: I’ve talking about playing this for a while. I think I’ve hit the halfway point. The first night I turned it on I figured I would play about an hour or so to get a feel for it. I proceeded to play the game for 5 hours straight. That’s a pretty good first impression. With some more time under my belt, I still like it but there is some jank there.
I want to talk about Trico. Trico is a most wonderful creation. I’ve found him to be (mostly) responsive and full of character. His little head shakes and when he sits down to scratch behind his ear contribute lots to his being. It appears that if I’m patient with Trico, everything is fine. If I give Trico one command he takes it in, listens and then does it. If I spam commands, then he gets a little cranky. Basically, if I treat Trico as an actual animal and less a video game character, we get along just great. And I make sure to pet him every time he does something good. However, like an actual animal, he can get distracted. One time he just started staring at a lantern until I got him to jump up to a ledge. I can see how people find that frustrating, but I found it endearing. Another occasion I worked out a plan to get to a tall ledge but then I saw Trico playfully batting a chain around so I just climbed onto his back and got on the chain. That was pretty great right there. And gripping onto Trico’s back when he jumps across a chasm is an amazing experience, almost unparalleled in video games.
The camera however can be very janky. It can swerve at abrupt angles sometimes losing sight of the player character entirely. And the player character controls thoroughly okay. He isn’t awful to control but he’s not excellent either. I thought he was pretty good but then I went and played Bloodborne again and upon coming back…well, I know that combat controls require more responsiveness, but for even just walking around, the little kid is a little unresponsive. Not cripplingly so, but enough for some adjustments to be made.
As a last point, the game’s writing is a little off. It has great moments of storytelling with game play alone and then insists on having a voice over explaining that point when it doesn’t need it. It’s rather infuriating and completely unnecessary. Journey set my standard for this and Bloodborne continued it. If the point has been made with game play and the environment, leave well alone.
Not many, if any other games out there play like the Last Guardian. It’s a completely different experience and I’d argue it’s worth trying out, even with the jank. And it’s always nice to see something unique in mainstream gaming.
Jotun: Jotun follows the story Thora, a Viking women who met an unfortunate fate at sea. However, the God’s grant her a second chance to ascend to Valhalla if she can defeat 5 giant’s (Jotun). To fight the Jotun Thora must locate runes located in levels accessible from a central hub world (Ginnungagap).
This is an absurdly beautiful game. It’s just glorious to look upon it. The hub world, the levels themselves and the characters are just beautifully illustrated and animated.
The combat is pretty simple, consisting of a light attack and a heavy attack coming from Thora’s axe. But it feels good, and there is a feeling impact with each hit. The game controls well, and everything feels responsive from walking around to axe swinging, and in a game featuring combat that’s always good. There’s a dodge roll as well, and a good dodge roll is always welcome. The levels themselves are sparse, but I love that. There’s a great sense of exploration and scale, with you being small, and the world being massive. As well as the runes, there are shrines dedicated to various Norse figures that bestow Thora with special abilities. And they are all pretty useful, ranging from healing to a weapon buff from Thor’s lightening to a burst of speed.
Another thing in the games favour is authenticity. The game is subtitled as the language is Icelandic, and it works just right. Thora’s voice actress does a great job. Throughout the level there are points that trigger events that not only look great but hand out information about Norse mythology. Ratatosk is a squirrel that climbs up and down the great ash tree (Yggsdrasil), carrying Vethrfolnir’s (the falcon that sits on the head of the unnamed eagle that lives atop Yggsdrasil) thoughts down to Nidhogg the great worm. A video game taught me that with game play and exploration alone. I love that. That’s great!
I’m just having a great time with this.
What’s in Limbo:
Nier: Automata: (Possible Spoilers) I’ve got two endings left to get (C and E). I’m torn between blitzing the two of them, or just setting the game aside for a few months so I can replay it later on down the line. Truthfully, I’m struggling to summon up the want to play it. I don’t know if I’ve approached the game with the wrong mind set because I and the game haven’t jived at all. There’s a major disconnect here, and I’m trying to figure it out.
I’ve found the open world very tedious to navigate, resorting to fast travel for every eventuality. The gameplay of the side quests has annoyed me greatly. I’m marking points on the map then fast traveling just to talk to someone and repeating that as many times necessary. Or I’m fast traveling somewhere to kill some robots just to find parts for someone. There’s been escort missions but they’ve been simple as well. The content of the quests can be pretty damn great, but not great enough to offset the tediousness of the side quests. I’m getting very little from the combat. It’s not badly done or anything like that. It functions well enough and looks pretty damn cool but it’s not meshing with me. I think it’s to do with the weight of the combat. In Bloodborne it actually feels like him hitting something. Hits have weight to them, and for boss fights a sense of consequence. In Nier, it feels like I’m reducing a health bar, just hitting the thing until it dies. It doesn’t really feel like I’m hitting anything. Particularly with humanoid enemies. There just seems to be a lack of feedback. Maybe I should play some other Platinum games to see what the combat is like in a more dedicated spectacle fighter like Bayonetta, or Revengence? This is my first Platinum game, so maybe that’s got something to do with it. 9S comes with a hacking ability which I used a lot just to circumnavigate the combat. I’ve found the boss fights to be very drawn out. They have reminded me of (in the worst way) Dragonball Z fights. Lots of noise and flash, with a new move appearing once in a while, but nothing really sticking. Also, a lot of them end with cut scenes, as opposed to me landing the final blow. That’s annoying to me. As much as I didn’t like them, I did the work to get that far so I to have the final moment represented as cut scene and not gameplay is a little off to me.
Many of the characters haven’t really grabbed me and I have very little investment in their endeavours. Also, did 9S go to the Darth Vader Episode III acting school? You don’t have to yell and scream every angry or sad emotion you have.
There is great stuff there. Some of the perspective shifts are great. Pascal is just the best character, followed closely by Engels and there’s some genuinely touching moments. And some parts of the world are pretty damn great. Well, at least on the first go through. I also really dig the hacking mini game as I alluded to before. Taking over machines is great, and detonating a machine in the middle of a crowd is pretty great. I particularly like when the hacking is incorporated directly into the story. That leads to some great stuff.
I’m aware of this critique lacking somewhat due to the fact I haven’t finished the game. But I really don’t want to. It’s at the point where I look at the game on my PS4 and just think “Do I have to play you? Really?”
So yeah, perhaps it’s best I just sit this out, give it a while and try and come back fresh. It’s not gone all that great the first time through. I’m just disappointed more than anything with how this has gone.