Games in Isolation: Ongoing Thoughts and Shenanigans

I was meant to have this out by the beginning of May, but life got in the way. Apologies! I’ve been so far behind game articles lately. It’s a shame, because I’ve been playing so many!

So I figured it’s as good a time as any. I’ve got a good list of games to discuss, so let’s get down to it! Just a few reviews, completed and ongoing, so hope you guys enjoy. I’ll always be up for discussing games, so drop me a message!

 

Pokemon Sword

Oh boy, did this generation of Pokemon cause a stir.

 

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From the Dexit nonsense to it’s rather lukewarm reception, 2019’s latest Pokemon franchise really pissed off some people. I initially wasn’t going to pick them up, having gone off Pokemon in recent years. However, before the UK went into it’s lockdown, I ended up trading in at CEX for a copy of Pokemon Sword, based off my few hours playing it at a friends house in Edinburgh.

I’ve missed going out.

36 hours later, I defeated the champion. And…eh. I see the criticism. It’s so mindless I barely feel motivated to get the box legendary, and that hasn’t happened to me before in a Pokemon game.

Let’s start with the bad and the bland. Let’s be blunt, Pokemon was never really decided to have a good story. It’s had times with good characters, and Generation 5 (Black and White) were the high point of story in the games. Pokemon Sun and Moon and its Ultra versions had some strong characters and story, but badly let down by its awful pacing. It feels the developers just wanted to race through, as Sword and Shield’s story is both bad and lazy. The Darkest Day never really did much for me, and the main character (you) is completely irrelevent. It might just be the worst story in the entire franchise, and that’s including X and Y.

The Wild Area too…I like the concept but the graphics and draw distance is atrocious. The route designs too were extremely undercooked, almost like the game was in pre-alpha. The draw distance really put me off, seeing trees pop up 10 meters away…ugh.

A lot of people blast the game for it’s short playtime, but I feel thats part of its design. The Max Raid mechanic gives you a crapton of EXP candy, and with the EXP Share unable to be turned off (A design flaw), it’s very easy to level up your team. That in itself isnt a bad thing, I was able to level up 2-3 full teams quickly and experiment.

Which leads me to the good parts of the game. Dexit aside, I really liked the new Pokemon designs, for the most part, and what was in the game, I was happy with. Time will tell whether their Season Pass will be an improvement over the past “Release third version” bullshit, but Pokemon has always been predatory in this regard. While the plot sucked ass and the game was too easy, some characters were well made. I liked the Champion Leon, and his brother Hop as he evolves alongside you. Marnie was a high point as well. That…was about it.

The Raids were a lot of fun, and in spite of how undercooked a lot of the gameplay is in this game, I really enjoyed the catching and raiding part of it. The Pokemon Camp mechanic while seemingly meaningless was good too, and I couldn’t help feel impressed by some of it. Hence in spite. There is a good game buried in here, amongst all the bad.

That’s why I give Pokemon Sword a 7/10. It is riddled with flaws, but I somehow enjoyed this game more than I did the previous two generations. Which isn’t saying much. While it was badly undercooked with some poor design, and a pretty bad idea of what a Switch Pokemon game should have been, it was suprisingly enjoyable for such a subpar game. I would recommend waiting for some kind of sale, but it’s Nintendo. You may be waiting for a while.

It’s just disappointing, man. This could have been so much better, but I guess it’s proof a game doesn’t have to be particularly well made to be fun? *shrugs*

I’ll keep an eye on this Season Pass, anyway.

 

Score: 7/10

 

Desperados III

What a treat this game is shaping up to be!

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I was lucky to get an early copy of this game thanks to the guys at THQ Nordic (Thanks for hooking me up with the key!) and I’ve been playing this game steadily over the past month, while embroiled with editing and other projects.

Made by Mimimi Games and published by THQ Nordic, Desperados 3 is an excellent sequel in the series, and by the same awesome guys who made Shadow Tactics.

The gameplay…my word, the gameplay! You get a bunch of different, fleshed out characters, each with different and specified abilities, and you’re thrown a gauntlet of challenging missions to test your skills on. From Cooper’s knife throwing, loud guns and coin distractions, to Hector’s traps and axe play, to even some mind-fuckery with Isabelle, you get a ton of options for completing the levels. The characters are well designed, and while I haven’t found anything particularly enthralling about the story, it’s serviceable and keeps me entertained.

Shadow Tactics was known for it’s difficulty, and Desperados III is no exception. I’ve never been one for difficult games like this, so I look at my 38 hours played (by this article) and barely halfway through the game as a kind of humiliation. But it’s a good difficulty. The game blesses you with a no-penalty quick-save option and pause to plan your moves real time, and the sheer versatility and options it gives grants you a lot of replayability. I know i’ll be replaying this game on completion to try and get the achievements.

As for flaws? There aren’t many. They did a really good job here. I have seen a few instances where my game refuses to load saves, forcing me to backtrack (though it may be to repeated quick saving and saving over them, causing corruption. Don’t abuse that mechanic like I have). The repetitive dialogue of the enemies when looking for you can also be a bit grating, but these are minor nitpicks. This is a chunky, well made game, and well worth its hefty price tag. Don’t be put off by that, give it a try.

I rate Desperados III an easy 9/10. I’ll update the score when I finish the game, but I can already see this making my GOTY list in December. It’s that good.

Ongoing Score: 9/10

 

Black and White (2001)

 

No, not the Pokemon version. The old Black and White. I’ve been replaying this on my Twitch channel, and it’s a nostalgia jolt to the balls.

That intro is still amazing, though.

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It’s certainly under-appreciated in the present day. It is a hidden gem which I think everyone should play at least. Lionhead Studios, the guys behind this game, has long closed down. They eventually collapsed under the weight of their expectations, but games such as Dungeon Keeper, Fable II and this game make me remember it fondly, and even “almost” make up for Fable III and the appalling video game Godus.

Essentially, the game is a god-sim, where you control the lives of your little subjects and do anything you want to them. Me? I’m a prick of a god, and enjoy torturing them. I reviewed its sequel Black and White 2 in my second edition of Flash Game Reviews, but this game just had an edge in overall depth. BW2 was dumbed down a lot, and while many features in the first game weren’t as polished as they should be, it is still an enjoyable experience.

What do you do in this game then? Well, in Black and White, you take the role as a god over a village of people (who demand everything and breed like rabbits, an annoying mix which is frustrating at times to handle, not to mention the bugs which occurred at times), take over other villages while playing quite an extensive campaign which can last dozens of hours, depending on your skill.

I say extensive, which is half a lie. There are only five lands and while all of them were immersive, and rarely got bored, this game is a lot shorter than I remember. (This is in far contrast to its sequel, which despite its bigger range of features, skimped out on in the campaign, I feel. Was kind of a disappointment.) There are several mods and custom-made maps you can download and play as well, which heightens the gameplay. Remember, if you can mod the game, it goes huge lengths towards making the game better!

You feed your villagers, keep them housed, they pray for you and you fund this with Prayer Power at your Temple, which is converted into Miracles. Casting Miracles is always fun and you can do anything from water forests/give food and wood to your people, to torturing and killing them with fire, lightning and storm. You can even pseudo nuke stuff with the Megablast miracle, though its expensive and hard to get, only in Land 5.

There are skirmish maps, but always the same and hard to get into, though there are plenty of mods available for it. You also get a creature who you nurture into your own, though this is often buggy, and you can teach it miracles too. Many different creatures await your control and you can swap them throughout the game if you want, but there isn’t really much difference between them, except a couple of options like speed/intelligence.

Your creature is the biggest part of the game, and theoretically you can teach it anything you can do. It can dance, learn miracles, gather for your villages, and so on. However, in playing I found this to be buggy at times, with many of the miracle learning exercises to be extremely slow and had a habit of “forgetting” at times. Once, I spent 5 hours teaching my creature (An ugly looking, evil Zebra) the Megablast Extreme miracle. It reached 100%, then tried to cast it, Boom, back to 0%. That was a frustrating bug, though it didn’t happen often. It was a huge shame though. it would have done brilliantly in murdering that stupid god Nemesis on Land 5. . .

You can be good or evil in this, whichever you want. You don’t even need to do any missions if you don’t want, and there is no time constraints; the world is your oyster. Of course, you don’t get some of the fancier bits like making buildings (through buggy scaffolds, the game wasn’t fully utilised to use this), or making miracles until Land 2, but the option is there if you want if you want to just hang in the first land.

There is also an expansion pack Creature Isle that has a considerable amount of content, though focuses solely on the creatures itself. Another thing worth looking at, though as both games are now vaporware, you should be able to download it from anywhere.

I’ve been streaming this game on my channel, and while it’s been buggy and a strong reminder that old games sometimes don’t age well, it has been a lot of fun. https://www.twitch.tv/diabound111

Score: 7/10

 

 

What I am currently playing

I ended up having to make a rota system, it got out of hand.

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Right now, my current list are:

 

Persona 4: Golden – It finally came out on PC! Not quite Persona 5, but it’s arguably the best in the series, and it’s a good port too.

Desperados III – I’ll try and finish this game.

Rimworld – Responsible for 80% of my gaming hours since early May, this has retaken over my gaming life. So many mods, so much fun.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons – I plan to review this at some point. I’m enjoying it, but I’m putting it aside for now. I’m…not sure what to think of this game.

 

And that’s it for now! This was fun to write, but hopefully I’ll be back soon. Things have…been hectic.

 

 

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