While I haven’t been devoting as much time to my controller as I usually like, I’ve still had the chance to poke a few things; there’s been a hidden gem, a dash of status quo, and perhaps the biggest sting of disappointment that I can recall.
In no particular order, I present the games of the past season. Enjoy.
Diablo III: Reaper of Souls
D3 still forms a large portion of my gaming diet. Mindless click grinding is soothing to me, and the fact that Blizzard sees fit to keep tweaking the formula and throwing new toys into the mix keeps me happy. Season 4 is no exception, providing some new mechanics and a new pile of shiny Legendaries to collect while not destroying the basic amusement and functionality of the software. It’s not lose your mind awesome – at least, not to me – but Kanai’s Cube is certainly entertaining to mess around with and provides some new build variety and the opportunity to listen to Zoltan Kulle laugh at your decisions is always welcome. Of course, it still does nothing to repair my bad relationship with RNGesus, and I still find myself mashed against a glass ceiling, knowing that with just one more piece of gear I could exponentially increase my performance, knowing that it will absolutely never drop regardless of how many shards I spend with Kadala or how many times I stick a Topaz in my helm and do T6 marathon Rifts, but I’m still there and still clicking, so it must be doing okay… right?
In the “I did not expect to enjoy this nearly as much as I did…” category comes Until Dawn for the PS4. If anyone out there is familiar with Fahrenheit / Indigo Prophecy or Heavy Rain, then you know the sort of game it is; the interactive movie style. It’s not for everyone… someone wanting more interactivity, or those who troll the internet for the “best” way to play anything will probably feel their $60 was wasted – though, if you’re curious and just want to check it out, Markiplier has an excellent Let’s Play over on YouTube of the game – but for someone who wants to settle in, put on their blinders and just play the game however and see how the dice fall, this was intensely amusing. The game serves as one giant love letter to the bad horror films of the 80s, dropping you at a abandoned (supposedly… dun dun dah!) ski lodge with a batch of 8 teenagers and try to help them survive… well, until dawn. There’s tons of possible outcomes, with endings that range from relatively happy with all of them still alive to doom and gloom with a handful of survivors to “and they were never heard from again” with everyone dead, but it’s really the ride you’re here for. Sporting delicious visuals and a surprisingly well-acted script that will make 80s kids laugh hysterically as they play “spot the reference” in every scene, Until Dawn almost took the sting away from the next item on my list. Almost.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
This one hurts. It really does. We waited for so long, have weathered the storms, the rumors, the tragic news that Kojima was taking off. We endured Ground Zeroes, which was, despite being very good at what it did, essentially a $40 demo disc. And then we were punched in the balls. Not in the good way, not the way MGS3 did at its conclusion. But the bad way. Very bad touch. From the introduction – which includes a ridiculously shaky camera that is glued up our player’s butt and throws all kinds of bizarre things at you without bothering to make them make sense – I very nearly gave in to the urge to eject the disc and snap the damned thing in half. Thankfully, once you’re done with the torture that is the game’s prologue, the camera retreats sensibly – perhaps no longer so scared it needs to be hugging Punished “Venom” Snake’s hip like a lost child, and doesn’t suffer spastic fits at every little noise – and the gameplay gets a little better… but it’s still just not feeling right. I honestly feel like I’m playing a bunch of disconnected Assassin’s Creed side missions with all the story and cutscenes ripped away. Yes, I’m aware, there’s a story hidden in the cassette tapes, and things feel sketchy for a reason that I won’t divulge here, but it just doesn’t feel right or good. I honestly think I’d have rather the series stopped at Ground Zeroes, which despite its length – or lack thereof – at least had a story that actually related to the mission at hand, and still felt like a damn Metal Gear game. I feel bad bagging on it, to a point; one, it’s my favorite series and picking on it now feels rather rude. Two, it’s quite competent at what it does, looks good and plays well. Its just not the game I was promised or wanted, and I’m hurt by it. The final revelation makes the rest of the game feel pointless, and like an ill-conceived band-aid to a plot hole that wasn’t all that hole-y to start with (at least not compared to some of the more gaping ones that have plagued the Metal Gear series.) Also, stupid online is stupid. Dropping constant updates and boosts and messages saying “Hey, come play online, it’s what you bought this for, right?” drives me bugshit.
Those form the trifecta of my gaming lately. I’ve also been digging into Bloodborne (which is quite fun, if you enjoy games that encourage you to bludgeon your head against a wall until the wall cracks… which I do) and poking the PS4 reissue of Dark Souls II (which, honestly, I’d recommend over Bloodborne. The latter suffers from a lot of weird hitbox issues and ridiculous load screens while DS2 behaves itself properly… though you can’t imagine it as a Jack the Ripper simulator), and Five Nights at Freddy’s 4, which has surprisingly effective shifts in the gameplay mechanics that focus more on listening and patience than rote memorization and frenzied bursts of activity.
But never fear! For despite having gotten the Platinum for Until Dawn, being bitterly disappointed in MGSV, and having hit the glass ceiling in D3, again, there’s something coming in a few short weeks to rob me of all my existence.
Yep. My life is over. Until next time, kids!