Yeah, I don’t think I like Shrouded Isle very much.
Well, that didn’t go according to plan. I thought this would be a good time to pick the blog back up again as we’re now deep into the autumn games rush, but unfortunately the universe has picked precisely this moment to drop a couple of significant changes in my personal circumstances on top of my head. Full resumption of posting will unfortunately have to wait while I sort out what I’m doing with my life, but in the meantime I do have a few smaller posts to throw in here as I was still writing during the 3-month drought, just not finishing stuff. So there should be something going on here if you check back every couple of weeks. By December I should be able to either resume a normal service, or I’ll have gone too far the other way and have nothing but free time to write things – either way I don’t intend to let this place lie fallow for long. Stay tuned.
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.
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.
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.