Month in Review – May

Well we’re up to June. Almost halfway through the year. I’m really glad I copied other folks and started doing these posts as I’m rather enjoying them. Is this enough of an intro? Perfect. Let’s dive in.

Blog

Stats wise I think it was an alright month. Just a tad under what I aim for view wise, but I’m willing to attribute that to some views going directly to McWriteStuff because of a collab post I did. Speaking of, I had a lot of fun writing that post. I was worried before Alex did an editor’s pass because I thought I was a bit too sarcastic, but he was content and the feedback I received was positive so it seems my worries were unfounded. For the record, this post was the one I referenced in my last monthly review as the one I hoped I’d get published in May. Glad to finally have it squared away.

I also put out a review last month. Huzzah! I was hoping to also post about One Step From Eden, but I’m still writing said post so look forward to that in the coming weeks. I enjoyed writing a review for Murder by Numbers, which has me thinking I need to rethink how I approach reviews. Having a loose outline of topics I want to cover and going free-form with the structure makes them a lot more enjoyable to write. I know my writing probably still has a rigid structure, but trust me when I say this is a lot more creatively fulfilling than having a checklist of bullet points on a piece of paper and meticulously writing about each.

Fantasy Strike

I hope you’re not tired of reading about Fantasy Strike as it is will continue appearing in my monthly wrap ups. More tournaments this month, but far fewer with good results. I adopted a new character into my rotation and brought her out one week only to get stomped and finish without a single win. Not a great showing, but I’m seeing a lot of my weekly rivals improve. They’re getting harder and harder to beat as they work on their own improvements each week, much in the same way that I too try to improve each week. Despite not doing as well in May it has been really cool seeing people who I once bested finally beat me. Now I need to train up to return the favour.

Oh, as an aside I also made it into diamond rank again. This is the third consecutive season I’ve done so. I don’t think I’ll level up enough to where I can hit the final tier (masters), but it’s good to see that I’m still consistently able to rise to higher end of the community.

Murder by Numbers

As stated above, I finished and reviewed Murder by Numbers last month. Here’s the review if you’d like to read my full thoughts. It’s alright for what it is, but I feel like more could have been done to blend the detective point and click elements with the picross puzzle elements. As it stands it is far too heavily skewed toward picross and that flatlines the pace of the game.

One Step From Eden

I’ve played a lot of Eden, but I didn’t quite get around to writing about it in May. I was originally planning to do a review, but that’s not how the article panned out so here’s a few brief thoughts.

I think Eden is an excellent game and it is one of the best new experience I’ve played in 2020. Yes really. It has an unreasonably high learning curve, but once you get over the hurdle it feels so very rewarding. And continuing to fine-tune your skills and explore more of the game’s depth very much speaks to how I enjoy games.

There is also a lot of variety on play with the various character classes available and that has made experimenting to find my preferred play style a mostly enjoyable journey. Some of them were fairly polarizing, which I always think is a good thing as it highlights how different the classes actually are. There’s a style for everyone whether you want to turtle up and rely on a strong defence, land high damage skill shots, or take a scorched Earth approach and light everything on fire.

It comes highly recommended.

The Longing

I did it.

I, an incredibly impatient person, got through all four hundred days. I don’t really think I have much else to say on the game though. I still firmly believe that it lacks the amount of content that it probably should have to make players wait for so long. Perhaps having more time based triggers later in the game so there is a compelling reason to check in on the shade would have helped. The Longing is still one of the more interesting games I’ve played this year, but I’m not entirely sure I’d recommend it.

Shovel Knight: King of Cards

I have finally played through the last of Shovel Knight and it ended on a high note as King of Cards was my favourite of the four campaigns. King Knight’s moveset is a bit more complex than Shovel Knight’s by virtue of having numerous states, but there is a satisfying rhythm to playing him. You’re able to shoulder bash enemies and platforms, which causes King Knight to do a jumping pirouette during which he can land on enemies from above. Doing so resets your shoulder bash, so there is a lot of platforming goodness based entirely around managing when you have a shoulder bash available.

The levels are also shorter resembling Mario levels. Instead of having nine levels which can take between ten to thirty minutes you have closer to thirty and they’re all around three to five minutes long. I’m a much bigger fan of this structure entirely because it feels less drawn out.

There is also a card mini-game. Having completed all of the card battles I’d say avoid this feature outright. I can’t quite put my finger on why exactly I didn’t enjoy it, but I think it has to do with how volatile the game is. There are so few times where I felt like I won because I actually did the right thing. More often than not it felt like my wins came down to change.

Platforming good. Cards not so good.

Moving Out

Moving Out is one I played with Mir. I was hoping for an experience like Overcooked, but that’s not really what is offered. Overcooked was choatic, but if you were organized and executed well you were always able to land a triple star rating on each level. I enjoyed working with Mir to optimize our way through each level and overcome the challenge the level specific parameters set before us.

Moving Out is a game where janky physics and the general inconsistency of the characters and objects is the challenge. This leads to chaotic situations that you can’t really mitigate with planning or coordination. You just have to roll with the choas. Mir thought it was entertaining, but I was frustrated by how irritating and inconsistent everything was. So instead of spending the time required to get a perfect rating on each level we went through the game getting what we got and then put it down. I think I’d have had an aneurysm trying to complete all of the additional challenges.

So with that said, Moving Out is great fun if you just want to have a laugh and goof around with your friends. If you’re a grumpy old curd like myself and want to aim for high scores then you might find this an incredibly frustrating experience.

MO: Astray

Here’s an interesting one. MO: Astray is a platforming game with an exceptionally high user rating on Steam. And it is, in fact, a really good game. Instead of opting for a more traditional movement setup, MO has you using the right analog stick to aim the eponymous MO’s jump arc and then you fire him off. It’s a little weird at first, but works surprisingly well within the context of the game.

I think the thing that I find the most curious about MO is how it handles difficulty. There are three options to choose from and each ramps up the intensity of the puzzles and the platforming on offer. Not many games re-design entire segments to accommodate different levels of skill and I think that’s pretty rad. And I’m not just saying that just for accessibility. I really appreciated having an extremely hard version of the game to play through that lined up with my own platforming ability.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

So with another month of play have I warmed up to Animal Crossing: New Horizons?

No.

It’s still fun in a casual mindless sense like all of the previous games, but I’m still finding New Horizons to be tedious and not terribly enjoyable for long stretches of time. Were it not for the turnip stock market I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have paid off many of the later loans. I can’t even fathom how Mir had the patience to pay off almost all of her housing loans in the span of two weeks.

I will say that the town customization aspect is the one area that New Horizons meaningfully improves over past titles. You have so much control over your town’s appearance and that has enabled a lot of creativity in how Mir and I customized our island. Mir has erected two separate restaurant style areas on the island: one that resembles a ritzy outdoor patio and the other a street vendor style sushi shop. Meanwhile, I came in and adjusted a zen garden she’d made to have a bit more pleasing visual asymmetry and also laid out a graveyard and various gardens. Together we’ve really given Wisp (that’s the island’s name) its own unique visual flare.

Though, I’m going to immediately follow my praise with yet more criticism. The tools for customizing your island are so horrendously limited that it’s hard to believe New Horizons was actually released this year. Just how limited the tools are became abundantly clear when Mir and I started playing the next game in this post. It takes far too long to do the overwhelming majority of the customization activities and like so many other aspects of New Horizons feels as though it was designed to be as tedious as possible.

Terraria

After seeing Divinearchangel stream Terraria over on The Support Role Twitch Channel, I had a want to play it again with Mir. The last time we tried to play Terraria I wanted to build an underwater base. Unfortunately that took a very large amount of work and most of the tools to make it possible weren’t available until way into the late game. This time however we rolled with what the world generated for us. We found a giant lumpy hill that had a cavern shooting out of it and decided to build a dwarven fortress. From humble beginnings as a cave in a hill we have evolved the structure to look as follows.

Contrary to normal gender roles, I’m the far more artistically inclined of the two of us so I’ve spent the overwhelming majority of my time carving out and constructing the base, while Mir gathered materials from the abyss. With how it is right now I think there is a bit too much stone, so I’d like to start implementing more of the building materials we’ve been digging up into the structure. I also need to construct something like fifteen more rooms for a variety of unique NPCs, so we have to expand further underground.

And tying back into my statement about New Horizons, it is mind boggling how the creation tools in Terraria are more sophisticated and easier to use by comparison when Terraria was released in 2011. To the best of my knowledge the general tool set hasn’t been updated since its release, but it’s still easier to create your magnum opus than it is in 2020’s New Horizons.

Hollow Knight

We’re almost through the critical path of Hollow Knight and I’m thinking that we’ll wrap this one up, at least from a streaming perspective, in the early weeks of June. Thank you for those who’ve joined me while I’ve been streaming the game. It’s been a real treat to share one of my favourite games with folks and have them respond so positively to it even if they themselves aren’t equipped with the ability or willpower to push through many of the game’s harsher challenges.

Community

Here’s five posts from last month I enjoyed reading. If you haven’t already read them shame on you. Repent by taking a look through them now.

Michelle | A Geek Girl’s Guide – TV Shows With Mental Health Representation You Need to Watch

Kim | Later Levels – Beautiful Desolation: big decisions, little choice

Ian | Adventure Rules – What Would I Actually Want From a “Return to Form” Paper Mario?

Solarayo | Ace Asunder – There’s More to Life Than Having Sex

Alex McHotStuff | McWriteStuff – What’s the Point of Blogging?


Well I think that’s a wrap for May. This was the first of many posts written well in advance of when they went live. Out of respect for events that I’m sure no one needs reminding of I’ve deliberately elected to push all of my June posts back. So there is going to be a rapid fire of posts over the next few weeks.

I hope that everyone reading this as well as their loved ones are safe where ever you are, whatever you’re facing. As always, thank you for reading my month in review post and any of the additional posts you may have read throughout May. An additional thank you goes out to Quietshisto who comments on almost every post I put out. Though I think you share my enjoyment when we get into a serious game design discussion on either of our respective blogs.

6 thoughts on “Month in Review – May

  1. I think it’s interesting in competitive games how you always essentially create your own goal to reach in a way. Hope you continue to play and enjoy Fantasy Strike though! 😀
    It will be interesting to see how you do as the community expands as well I reckon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think that is a big part of “why” games like this continue to stay interesting. Playing for the sake of playing is only fun up to a point. Beyond that point you need short term and long term goals to continually work toward in-order for things to continue being interesting.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Agree but I also think it’s why they are so short-lived experiences with some people who are for whatever reason more driven by external goals maybe?
        Usually I think you need to generate a lot of your own motivation to play competitive games in some ways.
        But maybe some form of (good) grind-mechanics, cosmetics, achievements, etc can help keep players who would otherwise lose their own motivations and interest too easily?

        Like

        1. That’s an interesting point and might be a large reason in why something like Overwatch has been so successful. Why the loot box aspect has been criticized, it does offer some sort of reason for people to continue playing the game and naturally over time those who continue to play will get better. While the goal is different it still helps to push people to improve through prolonged play.

          Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s