Welcome back to this insane project! After a couple months break in which I packed up a house, moved to a newly built one and unpacked again, we’re back to your regularly scheduled deep dive into old games. It took a long time to finally unpack everything and be properly set up once more, but it is so worth it - turns out having a kitchen, a shower door, floors that don’t creak and air conditioning is pretty great! Not so much the “in debt for what feels like the rest of your life” thing though, but you take the good with the bad yeah?
In order to get comfy in our new home, I did what any normal person would do - spend a ton of time locked in a single room staring at screens.
That is normal, right?
Anyway, I took the opportunity to christen my new games room by replaying a couple of my all time faves - Fire Emblem Radiant Dawn and Nier Automata. This time through FE:RD was my 10th time through according to my NG+ save files, and weirdly enough, it just never gets old. I’ve talked about it briefly before, but the twists in this story along with its political machinations make it the best in the series to me - plus, manipulating and maxing out those numbers are just so satisfying.
I used the excuse of “needing to play through again to see the DLC” for Nier Automata, but the truth is I just wanted to see that story and be with those characters again. After deciding to just mainline the story to get through to the end to see said DLC, I promptly spent 65+ hours doing every side quest, finding (and upgrading) every weapon, grinding out plug in chips for the perfect ability set, hunting down all the secrets and just simply enjoying the world. Still haven’t played through ending E this time round though… I just can’t y’all.
It wasn’t all just old favourites though - I tried a bunch of games on the list, many of which I found just weren’t for me. All Walls Must Fall was released recently, and while it’s aesthetic and ideas were cool, I just couldn’t get into its particular brand of turn based combat and time-shifting shenanigans. The Room 2 is a cool puzzler for iPad, so much so that it is very similar to the first - while I enjoyed the original, it kind of was a one and done thing for me. I should have probably listened to the people I follow regarding Xenoblade Chronicles 2 - I loved X on the Wii U, but this isn’t like that at all - I just can’t get passed that voice acting, and the art style isn’t doing it for me weirdly enough. ICO no doubt has its place among the history books, but I think if anything I need to just play Shadow of the Colossus (likely on PS4) to understand the Ueda game. Ninja Pizza Girl is probably the one I liked most from this bunch, given it’s message and gameplay mechanics regarding bullying, but a 2D platformer needs to be really special to hold my attention. Finally, I’m almost sad to say that Red Dead Redemption simply isn’t for me. Despite loving GTA 3/Vice City/San Andreas back in the day, I almost hate played through GTA V, and RDR is a step back from that. I’ve never been a western type - the only western media I’ve ever consumed is Westworld - and after playing a few hours of this game, I could not care less about it’s systems, gameplay, characters, nothing. I’m so glad it’s some peoples’ game of the generation, but it’s just not for me.
I did latch on to one game so hard however that I 100%’d it and played through the DLC/standalone game - Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag and Freedom Cry.
I see why everyone loved this game when it was released. While everyone was sailing through the reportedly empty & repetitive Sea of Thieves, I was happily making my way around the Caribbean, looting and pillaging and rescuing and upgrading. It is simply a beautiful place to be in - the water tech is fantastic, the storms are fierce and the colours are just so vivid. The story was pretty great all things considered, and being a self confessed modern day AC apologist, the “work for Abstergo game studios” schtick worked for me. Edward was a good main character, albeit a retread of a hundred protagonists; Blackbeard was phenomenal, easily taking the spotlight in every scene he was a part of; despite that, Mary Read and Anne Bonny were easily the most interesting characters that I actually cared for through the end of the game. And yes, the sea shanties were brilliant.
As much as I enjoyed the main game, it was Freedom Cry that ended up being the pinnacle of the experience. A smaller, contained story about something very specific, housing enough side content and upgrade paths to be fun without overdoing it, with a smaller world that felt large enough to hide secrets while small enough to not get too lost in. It really was a fantastic distillation of what Assassins Creed is (or was, at least) in a way that sums up the best parts of the massive series. If there’s one you ever want to play, let it be this one.
I don’t know if it was because the team behind Freedom Cry had a longer leash being DLC or what, but they certainly go all in with their focus on black slavery during this specific time in history. Honestly, I want to keep this as spoiler free as possible, but I will say is this - the second-to-last mission is the most successful blend of mechanics and storytelling, and the most satisfying/devastating sequence I’ve played in a game, for a long time - leading the final assassination to be the first one ever that I truly felt desperate to execute. This DLC most definitely deserves its place as a standalone game, and is a game I will remember for years to come.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a successful house move without me uncovering a bunch of games in my collection that I’m actually keen to play and belong on this list. For a long time, a lot of my games were stored in boxes in cupboards, so I wasn’t entirely sure of everything I had - now that I finally have space for them, I’ve unpacked everything and am able to see it all clearly.
A copy of Far Cry 2 made itself known to me, and after hearing for so long from Austin Walker/Heather Alexandra/Kirk Hamilton how great this game is, I just can not pass it up. After missing out on CRPGs when I was young, I fell in love with Pillars of Eternity in 2015, so Baldur’s Gate 2 and Planescape: Torment have become classics that I simply have to play - plus, picking them up for $3 each on iPad was a no-brainer. Speaking of Pillars, while I made sure to add kickstarter backed games to this list, I’d totally forgotten that I’d backed Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire on Fig, so when the email came through asking me to claim my key I was quite excited. I’d always dismissed it given I’d played the 2 more recent in the series, but The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind has sat in my steam library unloved for years - it’s alien landscape begs to be explored. Finally, two other Xbox 360 games I’d never gotten to but have found in my possession are Divinity 2: Ego Draconis and Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, a pair of RPGs that have me super intrigued to dive into. There’s even a bunch of others that I’ve decided not to include, like Lost Odyssey, Way of the Samurai 4, Suikoden Tactics, Zone of the Enders and more - all games I’m intrigued by, apparently own, but for now should stay off. Because I totally needed to add games to this already insanely long list.
So, that’s where it’s at. Some games taken off, others added on - but, at the very least, we’re moving forward. Before we go though, a little housekeeping: to help alleviate the feeling of being on a treadmill, I think I’ll cut back to posting once a fortnight instead of weekly, giving me more time to not feel like I have to constantly be playing something (this shouldn’t feel like a job, it’s meant to be fun!) If this still doesn’t work out it might go monthly, but we’ll see how we go.
Well then, that begs the question - what have you been playing lately? Have you managed to tackle any games that have sat on the pile for the longest time, or has God of War/Into The Breach/Battletech/any number of 2018 releases crushed those dreams entirely?
Also… what the bloody hell do I play next?
Games Left to Play: 104
Budget Remaining for 2018: $294