Category Archives: gaming

Brief Thoughts: Tacoma, Steel Division, Cook Serve Delicious 2

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Personal difficulties have been resolved, and so I’m catching up on writing about some of the vast backlog of games I’ve accrued over the past few months. I’ll never have time to write full reviews of all of these, so I’ll instead settle for a few paragraphs about each one.

Tacoma

An interesting one. Tacoma is the next game from Gone Home developers Fullbright, and while I liked Gone Home very much I didn’t get on with Tacoma quite so well despite the setting being very much My Jam: instead of wandering around a spooky abandoned house trying to piece together what happened prior to your arrival, you’re instead wandering around an abandoned space station trying to piece together what happened prior to your arrival, with some AI stuff thrown into the mix. It’s a more sedate game than Gone Home was because at no point does Tacoma really try and trick you or really throw you any curveballs; the focus is instead purely on unravelling the station’s immediate past, with very few twists concealed within that past. It’s also more overtly linear than Gone Home was; Gone Home’s mansion allowed it a little more artifice in how it camouflaged its plot rails, while Tacoma doesn’t even try to hide it — there are four areas of the station, you tackle them one after another, and you cannot move on to the next one until you’ve finished all the plot in the current one.

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Thoughts: The Shrouded Isle

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Yeah, I don’t think I like Shrouded Isle very much.

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Thoughts – Divinity: Original Sin 2

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God, this was not a good choice of game to get me back into the reviewing business. Original Sin 2 is a huge, sprawling monster of an RPG, in a way I’ve not quite seen since… well, since the first Original Sin game, but before that it was Ultima VII, a game which the Original Sin series pays knowing homage to. It took me sixty hours to get to the end, which should tell you two things.

  1. This is a really big game. Really really big. There are “only” four acts, each taking place in a single area of the game, but the first tutorial act took me 8 hours to get through.
  2. That I played Original Sin 2 all the way through to the end after ragequitting from Original Sin 1 because of increasingly unforgiving and unfun quest and encounter design indicates that Larian have made some significant improvements to their formula in the sequel.

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Thoughts: Carrier Deck

Carrier Deck is Cook, Serve, Delicious with fighter jets.

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Thoughts: Nex Machina

Going to try including some video of the games I review now, and Nex Machina is a good place to start since screenshots don’t really do it justice. If nothing else I’ll eventually figure out how to upload in 1080p without Youtube mangling the encoding.

I really liked shoot ‘em ups back in the day. “The day” in this case being the period around 2002-2003, when I was just starting university and had no money and the plethora of free/abandonware shoot ‘em ups perfectly fit the requirements of a man on a non-existent budget. I got quite deep into games such as Raptor: Call Of The Shadows, screwball stuff like Every Extend, the great Tyrian 2000, and Best Shoot ‘Em Up Of All Time Cho Ren Sha 68k. (An Underdogs-sourced copy of Mr. Driller was another favourite of this period, if not quite fitting the description of “shoot ‘em up”.) That being the case, it’s possibly a little surprising that I haven’t really bothered with the genre in the fifteen years since. Partly this is my tastes changing over time — I’m less into being incredibly stressed for fun than I used to be — but mostly it’s because the most interesting games tended to be released on the Playstation. Yes, I know Steam has roughly one billion pixel shooters available, but there’s so many of those I basically view them as shovelware at this point1. If something was going to tempt me back into bullet hell again it would have to have some exceptional selling points behind it. As it turns out, Nex Machina has two.

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  1. Which is probably unfair to a lot of them, but there’s so much junk on Steam now that as a player I have to do this sort of ruthless triage to protect my time.
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Thoughts: Expeditions Viking

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I didn’t play all that much of Expeditions: Conquistador. Based on my experience with its sequel Expeditions: Viking, I’m starting to think that may have been a mistake.

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Thoughts: Endless Space 2

Warning: getting maps off other people makes the endgame chug a bit.

It took me a while to warm up to Endless Space 2. I regarded the first game as something of a qualified success, but the fantasy followup Endless Legend left me completely cold despite having some ideas and mechanics that were, objectively, very good indeed – it’s the first time ever that I’ve bounced off a game without being able to really explain why, and to start with I was afraid that the same might be true of Endless Space’s sequel. Partially this is because I made the mistake of buying it a week before it came out of Early Access, foolishly assuming (because I’d done the same thing with Battle Brothers and had a whale of a time) that it wouldn’t be too different from the finished article; instead Amplitude released a 3 gigabyte patch on launch day that papered over a lot of the obvious Early Access holes and made it significantly more coherent as an end-to-end experience.

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