All right. This is (probably) going to be my last post on games for this year. Maybe. I will say that my Christmas game (the one I ‘m hoping to play over the holidays) is Sea of Stars (Sabotage Studios). I have it downloaded on Game Pass, and I have heard such good things about it.
To that end, let me talk about the games I’m most looking forward to in 2024. Here’s yesterday’s post on my gaming in 2023 first, and then let’s move on to my most anticipated games of next year. There are two, and they are both not new, per se. You’ll see what I mean in a second. There was a third, but…
Ok, look. Cozy Grove was one of my favorite games of 2021. It’s played in real time, which means they’re only so much new content on any given day. You can farm resources and whatnot, but the specific story-related events that push the story forward? Once you do the quests for that day, you’re done for twenty-four hours. There were fora and fauna that only showed up in certain seasons, and if you missed them in that season, you were SOL until the next year. It was a big gamble, but I thougt it really paid off. At the end of playing this game, I would have heartily recommended it.
Until the DLC came out. It introduced three new characters, and I ompletely adored one of them. A shy, introverted writer mouse who was bullied in her job. She broke my heart over and over again, and I just wanted to wrap her in a comfy duvet and give her a cup of tea.
I had no problem with the new content . In fact, I really liked the new content. It’s the bugs and glitches that completely turned me off the DLC. I won’t recount what those bugs were because I raged about it at the time I was playing it, but it has dampened my enthusiasm for the sequel. I’m still going to play it, probably, but I’m not as hyped for it as I once was.
I also forgot to talk about a game I played quite a bit of, but ultimately gave up because I just was not having fun with it. Once again, the developer had taken the wrong lessons from the FromSoft games and dialed it up to a hundo. Shall I give it an award? I shall not.
It’s Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty by Ninja Theory. And, yes, it’s a soulslike-ish. The term has lost all meaning, really, In this case, it’s just ‘the game is hard as balls and you’re going to die a lot’. I actually think it’s a Nioh-like/lite (their other games) rather than a soulslike.
Either way, it’s clear that they have bought their own hype. I just read an interview with one of the devs, and he said that they only have one difficulty because they want it to be hard, but they give a ton of ways to beat the bosses so players can tailor their gameplay.
Which sounds good in theory, but it’s not actually true. Also, the tutorial boss was bugged in a very unpleasant way for me, which put me off the game. It was a bug that I didn’t know was a bug until I looked it off (after dying thirty or so times). At a certain point in the boss fight, a cutscene was supposed to trigger. It never did for me. I had to quit out of the game and restart it in order for it to work. In other words, it should have taken me five or six tries to beat the boss, but I had no way of knowing that.
I felt like the devs mad eth esame mistake so many From admirers made–they didn’t realize what actually made the games so good. It’s not how hard the game is or how many times you die to the bosses–it’s the intricate levels and the exploration. Even From forgets this now and then.
I made it halfway through Wo Long before I just gave up. It wasn’t the bosses–it was the levels. They were horrible, and I was not having any kind of fun.
Oh. The two games I’m looking forward to next year. Hades II by Supergiant Games. I played the first one after it came out of Early Access. I was skeptical because I did not gel with any of their previous games. I tried all three (and they are all different from each other). I loved the ethos and garphics of each game, but I did not care for the gameplay. A roguelike-lite about Greek gods, though? I might be able to get down with that.
Much to my surprise, I devoured the game. I loved it so much even as it frustrated me. I could not stop playing it, and I eventually platted it. What I like about the achievos is that you can get most of them just by thoroughly playing the game. I only had six or so I had to actively work towards, and while they weren’t easy, they turned out to be doable.
The most amazing thing about the game is that it has 300,000 lines of dialgoue. That meant that I kept getting originally lines even after I got the ending of the game. (I missed a whole NPC questline, which I did after the credits rolled). And you had to beat the final boss ten times to get the true ending (if I remember correctly). The game was brilliant and was one of my favorite games of 2020/2021.
The sequuel, Hades II, is coming out in Early Access in the sceond quarter of next year. I may hop in then or I may wait until it releases as I did with the first game, but either way, I am thrilled that I’ll be able to play it.
The second game is not a game at all. It’s DLC. It’s DLC for Elden Ring. We’ve known there would be DLC, of course, since the game was announced. They put out a still of someone draped on Torrent (the spirit steed) at some point last year). There has been speculation, of course, as to what the DLC will be about, but there has been nowt else from From themselves.
Most people thought there would be a trailer at the Game Awards, but there wasn’t. Me, I’m fine with it coming out whenevr it comes out. I will admit I thought they would release it on Feb. 20th of next year beacuse it would make two years since the game rlease (and they usually release the DLC a year after), but I’m fine with waiting. I just want it to be as good as possible upon release, no matter how long that takes.
I have two actual more actual awards to give out. The first is tongue-in-cheek-ish, and the other is for real.
The game that keeps giving to me and that I keep playing because it’s my favorite (tied) game of all time
We all knew this was coming, right? There was no way I could let a year pass without giving some kind of award to a From game. Yes, I gave one to Armored Core VI, but that was for a game I hadn’t played.
In this case, it’s for a game I’ve played– a hell of a lot. It released in Februrary of 2022, and I’ve been playing it since.
I have platted it the old-fashioned way (playing through it three times for the three endings needed for the hundo chievo), and then I kept on playing it. I have a sttronk character and a character that is loosely following Aunty Finchy’s (RKG character) dex adventures. Which is hard as hell for me, by the way. I cannot do dex. I have a few other characters as well. I have put several hundred hours into the game, and I will keep on playing it. Next up is a dex/arcane/bleed build!
The game that hit me hardest in the feels
Not all games have to be sprawling open world games. Not all games have to be hundreds of hours of gameplay time. Not all games have to be visually stunning and include intricate levels.
In this case, there was one game by an indie developer (Visai Studios) that I was looking forward to playing. It was a light cooking sim, but it was more about family ties. And it utterly broke me. I was expecting it to be–well, I’m not quite sure what I was expecting.
Venba is the titular protagonist of the game. A young Indian woman who had to leave India after marrying her beau who was from a diffreent caste. They emigrated to Canada, where they had difficulty adjusting to Western life. Her husband, Paavalan, is having difficulty finding anything other than a menial job. This was in the eighties, I think? Or the nineties? Venba had been a teacher in India, but can only manage to be a substitute in Canada.
They are struggling. They consider going back to India when Venba finds out she’s pregnant. She tells her husband by making three idlis (fermented lentil cake) with faces instead of the two she usually made.
If I had’nt already bought into the premise of the game, I might have found that twee. But for whatever reason, I was vibing with the game that I found it poignant. By the way, the art direction is lovely. Just perfect.
The son, Kavin, wants to be Canadian. he doesn’t want to speak Tamil or eat the food Venba makes for him. He has to interpret for his parents when he’s as young as eight. I can so relate to him, even though I don’t speak Chinese or Taiwanese. I did not want to be the weirdo. I wanted to eat American food and I hated my name. Anything that marked me as an outsider, I was not pleased with it. What was brilliant of the game, though, was that it made me sympathetic to Venba as well, more so than I would be to my own mother. I can see why she would want her son to uphold the old traditions, but I was also impatient wit hher. He was Canadian first and foremost, and it was not fair to expect him to hew to traditions that were not a part of his daily life.
The last third of the game absolutely crushed me. I felt it in my heart, and I just could not stop thinking about the game after I played it. I cried my eyes out while playing the game, and I probably will buy it on Steam (I played it for free on Game Pass) to support the developer and hundo achievo it.
I loved this game. It was only a few hours, and the gameplay/cooking part of it was my least-favorite bit. It was the heart and the story that really made it impactful.