Clearing out the backlog of little digital games I got for free or super cheap on PS4, because I have no time to start something big, because DAT PSVR COMIN BABY!
A free PS+ game. Journey is not the kind of game I usually play. It’s one of those games that people describe with words like “whimsical” and “profoundly calming”, which usually translates to “boring-as-shit, pretentious walking simulator”, but after a very slow intro area, where I almost turned the game off, I saw what they meant. Once things get moving it really is an oddly relaxing game. You just wander around these really nice looking environments, trying to find your way through with your vaguely defined flying magic scarf powers, running into anonymous online co-op partners who spontaneously appear to run around with you, unable to directly communicate with anyone. It’s all quickly over in no more than 2 hours, but it was enjoyable while it lasted.
Another PS+ freebie. Oh. An intense combat game with nothing but large boss battles and a Carpenter Brut soundtrack? How could this possibly go wrong? Well, by being really fucking boring, that’s how. To be more specific, there’s the unpleasant, cringe-inducing characters and dialogue, a lot of which you’re forcibly exposed to as you’re forced to walk very, very, very slowly through long empty areas between boss fights. Then there’s the boss fights themselves, which aren’t particularly challenging in any way, just big exercises in patience. Both you and the boss you’re fighting have multiple health bars that need to be painfully slowly chipped away at. The boss has about 8 health bars compared to your 3 or 4 at the beginning. If you mess up and take too long to finish off a boss health bar, it will refill and you’ll have to start that whole health bar phase again, but at the same time, the boss will be dropping health packs on a pretty generous basis, so you’ll be fine too. So you just keep rolling around, dodging attacks and getting your little jabs in when you can, over and over again, for all those health bars, and even more if you’re not fast enough. It’s not difficult, it’s just boring. When you hear “nothing but boss fights!” you can’t help but think that that sounds fun, but the sad reality is that sitting there poking the same guy for 30 minutes straight until he dies, so you can move on to do it all again to another similar fight, is unbelievably boring. Next!
Aaaaand another free PS+ game. This was a weird multi-directional space shoot-em-up, that is clearly trying very hard to feel like some kind of 80s style exported-to-America anime, like Voltron/Robotech/etc., yet somehow never actually feels like one. Controlling your ship takes some getting used to, as it operates on a weird Solar Jetman-ish (I don’t know what else to compare it to) flight system where inertia makes everything kind of clumsy and weird, but it was kind of fun once I got used to it. The game is semi-roguelike in that dying means you would have to replay the entire episode (or season, as they call them here) of 5 levels all over again, or just 1 of the levels over again on the easier difficulty setting. That would be acceptable if this wasn’t one of the worst performing game I’ve ever seen on a console. As you get further into the game, battles start getting more crowded and intense, and that’s where the massive lag starts appearing. When you’re playing a game with tough combat that can end you in one false move, and the consequence is you have to do everything all fucking over again, and the game starts lagging and throwing 1-2 second complete freezes at you every minute or so, well you can guess what happens next. Fuck this shit. Next.
Yet another free PS+ game. This one was pretty fun. It’s basically just like the old-timey Gauntlet games of the old days, just with a hint of Diablo-style mechanics added in, but not enough to make it an actual RPG of any kind. It’s still just about surviving waves and waves of enemies, trying not to shoot the food and potions, and getting all that sweet, sweet treasure. Playing as the wizard was especially rough, as you have to input 2 button combinations to change between spells, and you’re given zero info on how to do this and what each spell does, so you need to mess around a lot and memorize all those good spell button combinations, because you will not survive without them later on. I think maybe this game was not at all designed to be played solo, because it got ridiculously tough in the later levels, especially that complete asshole of a final boss, but I made it in the end, and it was a good time overall.
Yep. Free PS+ game again. Ugh. A walking simulator. I would never have touched this if it hadn’t been free, but since it was I figured I might as well give it a chance, because who knows, maybe all that hype was true. Nope! I don’t know how to say this nicely, so why even try: this is the kind of game for people who don’t like video games. You do nothing but walk around, read text files, and listen to audio files. That’s the game. If that’s all you want, you might as well just read a book, and the book will probably be a lot more exciting than this. You just wander around this house watching/listening to this story unfold at an excruciatingly slow pace, and what’s it all even about? Well, the big secret is that your sister is a lesbian and ran away from home. I didn’t come anywhere close to finishing the game, so how do I know this? Well, if you’re not a complete moron, you would have been clued into this “twist” within the first 5 minutes of the game, when you hear an answering machine message of a girl calling your sister, crying about how much she misses her and wishes they could work things out. I guess you are supposed to assume that this is just an argument between friends at this point, but the tone of the message makes it really, really clear that this is not just a platonic buddy thing. So, after I turned the game off later, I looked it up, and yep. That’s the whole story. Secret lesbian sister. That’s it. I don’t know how socially maladjusted you have to be to have to sit through this entire boring game, with all it’s many not-so-subtle clues that your sister is a lesbian, and not realize until it spells it out for you at the end, and I don’t want to know. Next.
Actually paid for this one, unfortunately. That’s what I get for ignoring all the terrible reviews because I so wanted there to be another good Overlord game. Nothing good about the original games has survived here. It’s just a pseudo-Diablo clone with really bad controls and design. Walking animations make the simple act of turning around feel clunky and uncomfortable. Levels are packed full of treasures and challenges that can easily be missed, and can’t be re-attempted without starting the whole level over again. The minions, which are basically the whole point of an Overlord game, are basically useless and mostly just run around getting killed and doing everything else possible except helping you in the unpleasant combat. Wah.