Category: Now Playing

Posts about a game we’ve just started playing. Think of these like journal entries as we work through a game or demo.

Crossout: Surprisingly Fun Car Building & Car Destruction

Crossout: Surprisingly Fun Car Building & Car Destruction

Super quick pitch here since I’m only an hour or two into Crossout. What is it?

Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts car building
with
Mad Max, post-apocalyptic styling
set in
Online arena battles between two teams

The description bills it as an MMO but Crossout is much simpler than the long-lost “CARPG” Auto Assault. The real draw is the Build mode where you pluck from an expanding array of car components, mods, and weapons to build your ultimate fighting machine… or the dumbest thing on 4 (or more) wheels.

While I’m simply trying to balance a Howitzer on top of a 4×4 others are offering up insane creations in the Exhibition area. There are plenty of cool looking tanks but I laughed out loud when I scrolled to a vehicle named “Bruce Willis”. Using the various car parts and paints, someone managed to create a Minecraft-like character model holding two cannons that’s too big to get out of the garage. Elsewhere was a 28-wheeler with no weapons and a ton of booster engines. Are they useless in combat? Maybe? I’m still very early on with the game but the idea of loading in and seeing Bruce Willis stampeding around the battlefield is enough to keep me coming back for a while.

Crossout comes from Gaijin Entertainment, the folks behind War Thunder, so there’s more going on than simple run ‘n gun. Waiting in ambush or building an artillery vehicle to fight at a distance are already viable strategies. Each of your vehicle’s parts can also be individually destroyed so it’s possible to pick off someone’s guns or leave them spinning in circles with 2 tires. It puts even more emphasis on your build: do you weigh yourself down with layers of protection? Do you keep your weapons close, sacrificing their attack radius to protect them from damage?

These are the things I started to realize just as I was about to write the game off. I’m glad I stuck with it just a little longer because now I’m hooked on what I can create, how I can get the most out of my lowly level-6 parts, and what new toys I’ll unlock next.

Crossout is out now and free-to-play on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One but coming to Steam as well, presumably by the end of June.

First Impressions: Flinthook

MenuBounty

Oh, crap. This game is difficult.

The first thing you need to know about Flinthook is that it is merciless in its mechanics. It’s a roguelike, so that means I’m back at the beginning of the level every two minutes or so. I’m having such a hard time just trying to shoot enemies, fire my hook in the right direction and not step in the bad stuff all at the same time. I loved Spelunky, where I felt like I was actually making progress in the caverns before dying a hero’s death (not really). Flinthook is not like that. Flinthook doesn’t care about your feelings.

On the upside, the game is beautiful and has really fun music. I mean, check this out. This is cool. I fell in love the second this started playing, not knowing that I would be crying within five minutes.

So, onto the combat itself.

You have a gun. It shoots plasma orbs. You can slow down time. I always forget this feature exists, because I’m too distracted. It would probably help a lot if I remembered to use it. I could not fathom playing this game with a keyboard and mouse, however, if you’re using a controller I hope you can get used to everything being mapped onto one side because you can’t change it. Hahahahaha!

Ha.

…Damn.

Honestly? This doesn’t bother me. While playing I never stopped to think, “man, I really wish I could reconfigure the controls.” Some people might, but for me, it wasn’t a deal breaker. I’m just bad at the game, and a different control scheme is not going to save me.

SquareSpinningBalls_NickOfTime

Fortunately, even though I’m dying a lot I’m still making progress. I’m still leveling up and collecting items that will open up new worlds to explore. The downside is that the worlds are all a bit samey. I haven’t played far enough to see if this ever changes, but it seems like all the worlds are pretty much the same theme which might get a little bland after a while. It also seems like there’s a fair amount of grinding involved. This will either be hit or miss for some folks. I personally don’t mind shutting off my brain for thirty minutes on the couch while I grapple hook around and break things. It’s cathartic.

SquareDodgersHelmet

So far, I like Flinthook a fair bit but I really wish it was on the Switch. I’d like to curl up in bed and play it.

Developer: Tribute Games (Shawn says he enjoys the look of their stuff but doesn’t actually like playing any of it. Shawn, you’re not going to like this one either. Go back to Spelunky.)

Release date: April 18th, 2017

Platforms: PS4 (played), Steam PC, Xbox One

Regular price: $14.99

Official website

 

First Impressions: Thimbleweed Park

thimbleweed

It took me exactly one minute and thirty seconds to fall in love with Thimbleweed Park. A hobo laid in the dirt beyond a pixelated gate, and it was obvious he was drunk. Upon speaking to him, a variety of dialog options appeared.

“Are you a victim of the inferior American support system?”

And that’s how I knew I was in the right place.

Terrible Toybox (seriously, that’s the studio name and I love it) created a spiritual successor to Monkey Island and Maniac Mansion that you didn’t even know you wanted. In fact, it’s by Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick, creators of Monkey Isle and Maniac Mansion. The point-and-click adventure genre may be only in our distant memories but…oh, who am I kidding? No they’re not. This is 2017. We’re so obsessed with nostalgia these days we aren’t even given the opportunity to miss things. Was this game necessary? No, not at all. Is it good? Absolutely. In fact, I would even say it’s spectacular. But if you hated the point-and-click adventure games from the 90s, you probably won’t want to touch this. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

 

According to the Steam store page for Thimbleweed Park, a joke is guaranteed to happen every two minutes. I don’t doubt it. Every ten seconds I’m cracking up, but to be honest I kinda sorta just laugh at everything so you might not find the jokes as funny as me. For real, I laugh at most things. The game takes place in 1987, which was a pretty good year, I think (I was four, so it was probably the best), and follows a mystery surrounding a corpse found in a river. Pleasant! At first you’ll be taking control of two federal agents sent to Thimbleweed Park to investigate the death, but you’ll be switching off to different characters throughout the story. Be warned, one of those characters is an insult comic clown, so if you’re still scarred from the new It trailer, you might wanna pass.

 

There’s 80s trivia peppered throughout the game. I wish I could permanently forget about Max Headroom but this game forced me to remember him and that scary signal intrusion thing. Thanks, Terrible Toybox, for that nightmare fuel.

 

thimbleweed2

 

I’m only a few hours into the game but so far I’m really diggin’ it. Did I mention the art is gorgeous? It’s so beautiful that Fangamer was a true friend and made some prints of the iconic scenery. Heck yes I am hanging that print up in my living room.

 

thimbleweed3

 

The game is fully voiced. Some of the actors are awesome. Others are middling. I don’t think I’ve encountered anything I would consider ‘bad,’ like they just strolled in off the street to read a script. That happens way too often even with large studios.

 

thimbleweed4

The soundtrack is pretty great, but I’m not rushing out to purchase it. The score is atmospheric and provides a decent enough background while you solve puzzles. As for the puzzles themselves…so far, haven’t been stumped. I also set the game to ‘casual’ rather than ‘hard.’ That’s something that I haven’t really encountered before – difficulty settings in an adventure game. You’re given the option to set it however you want in the very beginning and it says something about giving you more puzzles to do if you select the more difficult option. I’ll probably stream hard mode at some point so you can all laugh at me as I fall into a pit of despair weaved out of the strands of my own stupidity.

 

Whatever. Just so long as we don’t have any repeats of The Longest Journey’s duck fiasco, I won’t put my head in between my knees to cry. Promise.

The Longest Journey ducky: This picture legit still triggers me.

The Longest Journey ducky: This picture legit still triggers me.

 

Most reviews are complaining about the over saturation of easter eggs. To these complaints, I say…meh. Yes, there are easter eggs. They are numerous. Some of them are cute and clever (I liked seeing Maniac Mansion characters make cameos, for example), and then some are REALLY on the nose. You’re told upfront by a pair of sisters clad in pigeon garb that you won’t need to save your game often. Nope. You don’t have to. Because unlike Monkey Isle, you can’t die!

 

It’s true. You can’t die. You can explore freely as much as you want and not die. However, that does not mean freedom from consequence. I poked around an alley a little too much with one of my agents and then he was abducted by a monster and thrown into a sewer that became its own puzzle to escape from. It’s like when you get caught in Maniac Mansion by one of the weird family members and tossed into the basement, but nowhere near as dire.

 

Overall, I love the game so far and once I get through casual mode I’ll be hitting it up again on hard mode.

 

At the start of the game, make sure you pop into the menu settings to fix the toilet paper. Otherwise, all the toilet paper rolls are going to be UNDER, instead of OVER, and you don’t need that kind of anxiety and negativity in your life. You’re welcome.

Does this picture give you anxiety? Me too.

Does this picture give you anxiety? Me too.

 

Terrible Toybox

$19.99 ~ Xbox One, GOG.com, Steam, Apple Store

For Windows, Mac, Linux…damn they really put it all over the place. Too bad there’s no Switch version, that would have been cool…

Help, I’m drowning in the pool of my own back log

232407-zoombinispizza

This screenshot has nothing to do with the post, except that while I was typing up all the games I’m playing I remembered how Shawn told me Zoombinis was on Steam. Crap, I wanna play this too!

Hi guys. Long time, no write. You may recall me as being the woman who was strangely obsessive about a certain marine arcade game at the boardwalk. Still in love with it, by the way. So, you may be thinking that I probably haven’t been up to much, gaming wise. Actually, this post is a legit SOS because I have so many games that I need to either pick up or finish it’s unreal.

So, let’s see what I’ve got on my docket right now…

Thimbleweed Park – A game in the spirit of the 90s point-and-click adventure titles that Lucas Arts used to put out. I have an impressions piece I’ll be posting about this.

Yooka-Laylee – I’ve been waiting on this for forever. Reviews are…not good. Mostly they’re complaining that it’s very 90s to early 2000s adventure platformers. Way to miss the point, guys. That’s exactly what people wanted and why they kickstarted it to begin with. Anyway, the frame rate issues that people are reporting kinda scare me, but I’m going to remain optimistic.

Persona 5 – Yeah, so this game alone will end up being more than a hundred hours. Which would be perfectly fine…if this was the only game I purchased this year. Anyway, I’m about seven hours in so far and I’m really pleased with it so far. It’s so stylish it hurts and the soundtrack is of course, brilliant. But I have no idea when I’m going to find time to finish it. Maybe in twelve years. Just in time for them to re-release with bonus content or something.

Story of Seasons: A Trio of Towns – I feel so bad for neglecting my farm. Totally going to woo Ford, by the way.

Psycho Pass: Mandatory Happiness – I have the collectors edition of this dang thing, too! It’s really good. It’s just that whenever I lay down to play it in bed on my vita (yes, people still own those…or at least, just me), I end up falling asleep.

Runner2 – I just got this off Limited Run Games and I played it for a solid hour. Strangely soothing for my anxiety.

Flinthook – Hopefully will be nabbing this off Limited Run Games in a couple days. Found out this game exists from Fangamer, when I saw their awesome t-shirts. Ironically that is how I found out about Thimbleweed Park. I think their marketing teams need to step up their game a bit…

Ray Gigant – Another vita title I’ll be nabbing off Limited Run Games if I can manage to remember.

SERIOUSLY WILL SOMEONE PLEASE HELP ME FINISH SOMETHING BECAUSE THEN…

Zelda: Breath of the Wild – Haven’t even TOUCHED IT yet. When will I be able to?! I still have WORK I need to do, guys. And then worst of all…

Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood – Let’s be honest. I’ll be playing this, mainly. Because it’s an MMO, which means it’s a horrible time sink.

I think I might just cancel my pre-order for Fire Emblem: Shadows of Valentia because let’s be REAL. I’m never going to play it. Not at this rate. Nope. Maybe I’ll get around to it in 2024. I don’t need to buy anymore games for another five or six years.

…But I know that once Supergiant’s Pyre comes out I’ll be throwing money at it. Geez, it’s feast or famine with the gaming industry. Last year I didn’t even really play anything other than Final Fantasy XIV because there was nothing interesting to me coming out. Now it’s a torrential downpour of games. What are you all playing? Are you collapsing under the weight of your back log or are you somehow managing?

The E.D.F. Deploys on PlayStation 4!

Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair launched yesterday and we dug right in! It’s a gussied up version of EDF 2025 that was released last year on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 but those are some satisfying gussies. Check out 46 minutes of some early gameplay featuring remixed missions, new features and vehicles. Oh yeah, the echo-y reverb only lasts for around 8 minutes. Using multiple headsets with microphones on PlayStation 4 is a little confusing.