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by adam mathes
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Video Game Consumption Q4 2017

I played a lot more games at the end of 2017. I even liked some of them!

Shadowhand

From the makers of Regency Solitaire, one of my favorites, I have been looking forward to this game for a while.

It did not disappoint.

I’m not sure how to explain the pure joy of an RPG-battle solitaire game set in 1800’s England.

But it’s good. It’s very good.

I love it. (It’s a little too hard by default but the developers listened and added an easier mode. I play on the hardest mode now.)

★★★★★

Valley

This game is so beautiful, and the visceral feel of motion and fun in the gameplay and level design was so satisfying and fun.

The plot and story mostly works as a way to propel things forward. I really liked this.

I love contained, complete, well crafted 5 hour games like this. I want more of that. Most games don’t need more than 5 hours to tell their story and provide a compelling and memorable time.

★★★★

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus

It’s a weird world that we live in that a 2017 over-the-top FPS alt-history of Nazis winning WWII and Americans rebelling agains them in the US is unexpectedly politically poignant.

The scariest parts of the game aren’t any of the action sequences, but the quiet bits of seeing Nazis and Klu Klux Klan members in charge on alt-history streets of the US.

The New Order was amazing, and The New Colossus suffers for it by trying too hard to do different, crazier, more over the top stuff, while gameplay and level design overall doesn’t feel as solid.

Enjoyable and memorable.

★★★★

Cuphead

Cuphead looks great but is too hard. I didn’t really have fun with it. I got to the end but didn’t beat all the levels on the “hard” difficulty so don’t get to play the end boss? Lame.

It’s a throwback in a lot of ways – it felt like it was substituting difficulty as a way to lengthen an experience (an aspect of 80’s games I’m happy to leave behind.)

I’m glad Cuphead exists and is successful because I hope it encourages more games to experiment with visual styles but overall I was kind of like, meh.

★★★

A Golden Wake

I pretty much always love Wadjet Eye games, which are basically new “classic” adventure games.

Despite a really promising context (the roaring 20’s and the development of Florida!) But the art, story, and puzzles in this one just weren’t that interesting to me.

Basically, I wanted this game to be Gold Rush! but it wasn’t.

Although I’ve just now found out that the rights reverted to the original authors and Gold Rush was remade in 2014 and there’s a 2017 Gold Rush 2 so maybe if I wanted Gold Rush! I could have just played Gold Rush! (How did I miss that?)

Uh, anyway, A Golden Wake – ok-ish.

★★

Tacoma

From the creators of Gone Home, I was excited to play this.

But where Gone Home enabled storytelling through setting, and exploring items, Tacoma is a sci-fi context where in addition to exploring and looking at items, you “replay” the actions of the inhabitants of a space station via an augmented reality mechanic and read their digital screens.

This has the unfortunate effect of making it feel like you’re watching a play (with the actors portrayed as blobs) rather than being an active participant in solving anything.

Gone Home evoked a ton of emotion in me as I played it – I felt nothing as I played Tacoma, sadly.

Tacoma looks great but the writing, mechanics, and overall game just didn’t work for me.

★★

Obduction

The thing is – I don’t like Myst so I should have known this was a mistake.

But it looked so cool!

Anyway, I don’t have the patience for this. Not just the puzzles, but at one point I got annoyed and looked at a walkthrough and saw how to solve it but literally the load times and constant back and forth through “worlds” to solve the puzzle made me quit the game. (Turns out I was pretty close to the end, so just watched a video of it.)

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