April 18

Thoughts on itch’s Bundle for Ukraine, Part 1

I tried to support the people in Ukraine through a few different organisations, but one of the more “fun” ways to support is the bundles that have become a staple on itch when humanity needs assistance. It is amazing to see the indie game community come together to spread help and awareness while also delivering an overwhelmingly large numer of colorful games.

As with the previous bundle I’ve started to try as many games as I can muster and I decided to write a little bit about each one I’ve tried. Disclaimer that my thoughts might be a bit harsh, since there are so many games I had a rule that I would not continue to play a game if it somehow lost me from it’s grasp (be it because of bugs or gameplay). I only played for close to 10 minutes on certain games which is too little time to make a nuanced report. That said, I have the greatest respect for anyone who puts their game out there and manage to find an audience, hats of to you, but these are my raw experiences playing through the first few games in the bundle.

Evergate

Developed by Stone Lantern Games and published by PQube.

Link

I thought the art style was pretty neat for this one, especially the particle effects. They were colorful, playful and pulled me into the game. Unfortunately the main character and esp. it’s animations were a bit lackluster and didn’t really follow up on the first impression.

Having played my fair share of platformers before, it’s a really hard sell for me and the game is gonna have to present me with something really tasty to hook me. Evergate is a puzzle platformer with a sort of sling shot mechanic where you fire the main character through objects to gain a movement boost. It was a bit hard to understand at first but I got a lot of time to figure it out and the game had a nice step by step tutorial.

After the tutorial I went into some sort of portal that took me to China from 300 years ago if I understood the UI correctly. I thought: “Cool, maybe I get to play through a historic event or something considering I’m some sort of death god that travels to earth for the first time.” Unfortunately I was majorly dissapointed when I was introduced to a very classic puzzle game setup playing through room after room of small action puzzle challenges. I got tired of it after two rooms and turned the game off. Did not at all understand the connection between the gameplay and the narrative.

SkateBIRD

Developed and published by Glass Bottom Games.

Link

I was a bit hype for this one. This was one of few games on the vast list that I’d heard about before and really wanted to try out. Also my partner is a big fan of birds so we’ve played a lot of Wingspan (board game by Elizaberth Hargrave) and this felt like it tried to evoke the same emotions through it’s art. I was also a big fan of the Tony Hawk skater games when I was younger, although it was probably 20 years ago I played it last.

The main menu and especially character creation screen is absolutely brilliant! Immediately I got all giddy and tried out plenty of different looks for my little skater bird. There were a lot of options and every bird I made ended up super cute!

The gameplay was a mix of self-expression and mission based, mostly the early missions required me to understand one of the different tricks I could perform with the skateboard. It was a pretty nice learning curve, starting out not being able too do much before falling but steadily becoming more proficient in controlling the board.

I could probably continued playing for an hour or so? But turned off the game after around 30 min feeling quite done after that time. This type of game is not really my jam anymore.

Fuzz Dungeon

Developed and published by Jeremy Couillard.

Link

This game was a crazy ride. Really felt like I was looking into another persons mind with a bunch of references, imagery and sequences that I had no idea of what to make of.

Unfortunately I had some troubles with the game getting stuck and me having to restart. That combined with the fact that I didn’t vibe particularily well with the amount of weirdness I was presented with, resulted in a very short gameplay session. I felt like this game had needed some sort of additional context for me so that I would have a driving force to get through it. One thing it had above the other two above in this list though, I had no idea in which direction this game was headed.

March 30

Thoughts on Elden Ring, Part 1…?

From Software have really been on a streak, continuing to release critically aclaimed games. I haven’t even gotten around to play Sekiro yet but when I heard the impressions from reviewers with Elden Ring I felt I wanted to join the hype train at launch. I was not dissapointed, the game is probably one of the best I’ve played. You get nauseus about the amount of content is packed into the game.

I’ve banked around 70 hours into the game by now and it’s time to write something about it. I’ve hit some kind of rough patch when it comes to playing the game. I haven’t really touched the game for a week and last time I ended my session I had just lost a bunch of runes after dying a few times in one of the infamous Hero’s Graves dungeons which contains the worst enemies in the game.

In the end of the day though, I love Elden Ring. It really lived up to the hype. It’s as close to perfect you could get within reasonable boundaries with a huge game like that. From Software have learned their lessons from previous titles and really sharpened their loops, mechanics and progression systems to something that feels really good. Elden Ring borrows HEAVILY from previous Soulsborne games (Sekiro included) and the novelty it takes on from Breath of the Wild. A pitch that would sound ridicolous but that makes so much sense when you see the results.

First Hour

The “first” first impression was that Elden Ring has used most about everything from previous games. Fonts, UI, animations, game systems, etc. So much that during the secret tutorial I was sort of dissapointed, I was a bit worried that it might “just” be another souls game, but my frown was soon to be turned upside down. From Software have basically invited their own genre, so why fix what isn’t broken? As soon as I got out onto the open world though and secured my horsie, my mind got blown over and over again.

Huge Open World

Exploring the world is so much fun. There is so much content that it hurts my poor brain looking at it all. A lot of hidden goodies to find, plenty of amazing vistas to look at and packs of mysterious characters to be intrigued by. The horse-goat-thing is really what makes it joyful, before I had found it and had to travel by foot and sneak around everything to not get killed, it was instead really scary out there. That makes it so much more intense when you go into dungeons, since you can’t bring your horse down you have to rely on good old shield and rolls to keep out of danger

Combat, any way you want it

Combat is excellent as always. What really makes this game glow is all the options and all the ways you can break the game. I like that the game is a little broken and that there are plenty of OP strategies you can find. It lets you make the game easy if you want to and make the research for yourself. This kind of game is also nearly impossible to balance properly, so certain strategies are bound to be more powerful than others. That said, I’m not at all playing multiplayer so the PvP scene might be completely whack, bu that doesn’t concern me.

Characters and Quests

The characters you encounter are as mysterious as ever and the quest lines need to be googled to be followed with precision. This is the only case where I allow myself to google help in the game, everything else I must explore for myself or discuss with someone else live, but the non-player characters’ storylines are bloody impossible to follow sometimes. It’s basically Where’s Waldo again and again in one of the largets game worlds ever in this genre. They often leave close to none clue of where they will show up next. That said, when you actually manage to figure something out, you feel very smart. That feeling of pure satisfaction when you succeed with something is what makes the souls game so great overall and it is true for its questlines as well.

To be continued

I have more to write about this of course, but this will have to do for now to at least get something on the board. Hopefully I won’t let four weeks pass until next post. Ciao!

February 8

Thoughts on Legends of Runeterra

Think what you want about Riot games as a company, they are quite controversial these times, but they have some solid developers in their midst. Growing up I was a Dota-boy and I transitioned to LoL as early as Beta version. I played it a lot with my brother and some of my friends. Made a lot of new friends in the game. Played it with my students when I became a teacher. Needless to say, the game and especially the characters holds a special place in my heart.

The last six months I’ve started playing Legends of Runeterra a lot; Riot’s card game set in the same world. I played it quite a bit at release as well but I fell off because of other interesting games that popped up. Now I’m really hooked, much thanks to me buying a new phone where you can actually play games. Since digital card games these days are so well adapted to mobile screens it works just as well to play on the phone as it does on the PC.

Rather than talk about how the game works I thought I’d focus in on the stuff that I really like about it.

First: The Champions

Each deck can have up to six champions. You can have fewer if you want to but generally the champions are pretty powerful units so you want them in the deck. You can have a maximum of three copies of each champion in the deck(as with any other card). Champions have a level up condition, when leveled up the champion will switch to a more powerful form which will often speed up the game considerably if not dealt with quickly. The champion often have an effect that helps them on their way toward their level up. Conditions are things like seeing units die, dealing damage, targeting enemies or seeing specific keywords on allies. Champions are often the build around cards for each set. Each champion comes with a set of cards that are designed to use with them, but many champions have overlapping effects where you can double down on a specific strategy or creating interesting combinations.

Second: The Attack Token

To win in LoR you have to lower your opponent’s crystal’s health to zero, the most straightforward way to do this is to attack. This is by no means a unique rulest for card games, what is unique is the way the attack order works. Who gets to attack is determined by an attack token. The attack token starts with a player chosen at random and is then passed back and forth between the players as they pass turns. Since you can attack at anytime during a turn as long as you have the token, this creates a very interesting choice: Do you “open attack” or do you “develop”? The one who has the attack token always takes the first action, so an open attack is simply to attack as the first thing you do on a turn. This often means that you aren’t attacking with at much as you could have, if you have any units in your hand, but it also means that the opponent can’t develop any more blockers than what they have. The other option is to spend your mana to develop more attackers and then attack. Which of these options is the correct one is often not trivial to figure out as it depends on match up, what cards you think your opponent have and what the current health total is.

Third: Spell mana

Often the more simple feature contributes the most to elevating certain games from being mediocre to being great. Spell mana is such a feature. Starting from zero, at the start of each turn you gain one extra maximum mana and then refill. Any excess mana that you don’t spend are lost to you, except if you have available spell mana slots. There are three spell mana slots and you can use them to bank mana for future turns, but you can only use that mana to cast spells. There are three types of cards in LoR: units, spells and landmarks (these were added in one of the expansions). Units and Landmarks stick on the board and have lasting power where spells often have an immediate effect, often a more supportive one. This makes it so that there is a merit to saving some of your mana but only makes it available for certain plays.

Fourth: Passing the turn

In LoR you take turns doing one action each during a round. Passing the turn might seem like a mundane thing at first, but it’s actually quite a brilliant chicken race mechanic. You often don’t want to be the first one to commit to something big, as if you don’t have any available mana left your opponent knows that you can’t deal with anything they play. This makes for a fun dare game were if you have the most developed board state you can dare your opponent to act first or spend their mana.

Finishing thoughts

Apart from those four points, LoR is just a well made game with tons of good voice acting, interactions between the characters on the cards, cool mechanics and right now a really fun meta. They also have expeditions (a form of drafting) and a single-player mode. They also have an extremely generous economy. I haven’t paid anything and I can still make any deck I want. Only reason I would want to spend money on it would be to support the developer, which is something I really should do I just haven’t decided what I would want to buy. There are some cosmetic items that are pretty cool but nothing has fully caught my eye to warrant a purchase.

Well, that’s a few thoughts. Might make another post later about it.

February 1

Thoughts on The Gunk

It’s always a mixed bag of feelings when you release a game you’ve been working very hard on. You both desperately want to keep working on it because there are so many flaws you can see, but you also want to never see it again because you’re so tired of it. Now with some distance between me and the development, I feel that I can be proud of our achievement and think on the game with a clearer perspective.

The Gunk has gone through a lot of phases. It ended up being a short but sweet adventure game where the primary focus on exploring an alien planet and secondary focus on the relationship between the two protagonists. The story and atmosphere are top notch and it has one of the best depiction of a two person relationship I’ve ever experienced in a game. The writing and voice acting between Rani and Becks feel so real and believable that I could almost see myself going to a theatre just watching two stage actors performing the script on a stage.

The game mechanic is quite simple and never gets that challenging but it focuses on rewarding the player and making them feel good about what they’re doing. There are enemies, so there are some risk, but the game never gets difficult enough to put a break to the story or atmosphere. This wasn’t always the goal, so even though I’m quite happy with the end result, there were often times I was worried that we were making a too simple and forgetable game.

Our previous games have had a lot of focus on systemic gameplay where everything else came secondary to the main loop. In The Gunk we started out with that same mentality but as the games focus shifted with time, we also had to change the amount of effort with put in each discipline so that we would have time to finish it all. I eventually shifted gears completely and accepted the fact that gameplay wasn’t really the focus of this game. I would have to work to make gameplay just “good enough” to work with the story and the world.

With that said, I really wish we could’ve done more with the gunk sucking mechanic. That mechanic feel so nice and we put so much effort into it that it’s kind of a shame that it doesn’t evolve more. How it starts out is pretty much how it ends even though there are some smaller developments. I think we should’ve had more focus on that mechanic and perhaps completely removed the enemies and instead made more gunk-related hazards.

The same goes with the upgrade system. In it’s first iteration it had much more in common with a crafting system but it had to be simplified to the point where it’s barely more than a shop menu. Collecting various ingredients in a strange planet fits the fantasy and the story so well. It would’ve been a good thing for the gmae if collecting was more varied and more exploratory. I think we ended up with a good compromise and some juicy loot container interactions, but more experimenting with a more crafting-like feature would’ve made more sense.

All things aside, I’m very happy on how the game has been recieved. Many has had a lovely time with the game and enjoyed it for what it is. The reviews have also been fair in their assesments often pointing out things that we already knew; the game isn’t for everyone but those who it’s for will really like it.

January 25

Thoughts on Deathloop

I think that I could write several posts on this game. It has quite a lot going for it; tight action gameplay, meaningful stealth gameplay, intriguing story, good voice-acting and a clever gimmick to make it stick out. The first few hours were amazing, I’m not at all surprised that it was so well recieved from both players and journalists, but I feel that the appeal didn’t reach all the way through the entire experience. The last few hours or so I just wanted the game to be done and give me the ending. I also had som issues with the game freezing up a couple of times, and since the saves are pretty far between it made me lose considerable progress.

The games story starts as a classic amnesia experience. We have seen it all before (none has made that story as well as Disco Elysium did). We wake up as Colt on a beach, the environment suggests we’ve been drinking and we must retrace our steps. This gets me going, I love Hangover stories. We later discover he is trapped on an island where “the visionaries” (a bunch of asshole scientists, rich people and artists) have created a time loop that lets them party for eternity. Colt is not pleased with this and wants to break the loop so that he can escape the island. Only Colt and another one of the visionaries, Juliana, remembers time between loops and she is fully determined to stop Colt from ending the loop.

It’s a pretty neat setup. What you spend most of your time doing is exploring different parts of the Island on different parts of the day, there are four locations/maps and four time slots. The locations keeps their basic layout but a lot changes between the different time slots. This also lets ju tamper with something at the start of the day and then get an effect at a later time. If you die, the loop restarts and you lose items you haven’t “Infused” yet. Infusing an item lets you keep it between loops.

There are quite a few strategies you can use to traverse a level. You unlock a bunch of differente abilities, weapons and powers over the cours of the game and at the end of the game you have a lot of tools at your disposal. Since you don’t really get much from killing enemies, I felt like stealth was a much more viable tactic than it usually is. That said, I still went for a more tanky build with fire power, I just don’t have the patience to sneak around when I can just kill everyone instead. At certain points though I felt like my usual tactic was challenged and that I needed to switch up.

In fact at the start of the game I died quite a lot. Especially from invading players; if you enable online play other players can take control of Juliana and invade your timeline. Juliana is a tough son of a gun and the more experience the player have with her and the game itself, the more dangerous she is going to be. I turned of online mode later because I felt like it prolonged the game so much when I had to take care of Juliana first each time I entered a new area. I liked the feature in theory but didn’t really want to interact with it, much the same way I feel about red phantoms in the souls games.

Much of my joy came from the banter between Colt and Juliana. Juliana taps into Colts com radio at the start of each map and they have some not-so-friendly banter between them. I also liked getting info about the other visionaries and their relation to Colt. The end goal of the game is to kill all the visionaries on a single day, and to do that you have to collect information about them to make sure they are at a place that’s convenient to you. This was a real fun problem to solve, you get quite a lot of help from the UI of course so if you don’t want to think too much you can often just interact with anything you find and follow the arrows.

The ending left me pretty disappointed as I feel like it didn’t give me the katharsis that I feel the game warranted. I assume that you could explore more and find out more about the world and the story, but not sure that I will come back to it. Maybe to try and play Juliana some, but we’ll see.

January 18

Thoughts on Fortnite

I never thought that I would play Fortnite.

I thought of Fortnite as something that young people, youtubers and other influencers play. Not even from a proffesional angle, to analyse one of the most succesful games in history, did I think that I would ever play Fortnite.

Then it happened.

It was after we had been to visit family in northern sweden. We have a nephew that is old enough now that he and his friends have started more mature games, like Fortnite. He had carefully asked me a few times if I wanted to try and play Fortnite with him (we had played other games together before) but I had kinda blown it off as something that I really didn’t have time to learn as properly as I would’ve wanted.

But then, at that visit, he told me that this season was the SPIDER-MAN season! As I explained in my earlier post, I freaking love spider-man, dude, so this was a powerful catalyser to start me in my Fortnite journey. I agreed to play with him and try it out one time, another draw being that I wanted to try it out on the PS5.

I was hooked after the first match (which we won, and then went on a ten game win streak. Just spittin’ facts y’all).

The game had so much more to offer than I first would’ve thought. The map itself almost fell like a small MMORPG with a bunch of tasks and events that you could take on while the actual battle royal is happening around you. The first few hours I treated it pretty much like any other Battle Royale shooter as I’ve played quite a lot of Apex legends, but the game continously evolved as my nephew presented new features. Tents, cars, hens and of course, constructing.

The building part of Fortnite is was makes it really stick out from other shooters. I feel like it’s such an unlikely feature to add to a game like this and it really gives off the vibes that this isn’t the intended form for this game. Seeing more experienced players use constructing buildings in tandem with firing guns. And there is really a great deal of strategy and tactics in using the building aspect, it creating ways to hide, disrupt enemy fire, isolate targets, etc. I’m not sure I’m particularily fond of it, but I respect the mechanic for what it brings to the table.

And then there are the skins. Holy moly, there are so many skins and it feels like a new one shows up in the shop everyday. I mean I have pretty good impulse control when it comes to most things so I only had my sights set on the Spider-man costume, but it’s hard not to get mesmerized by the sheer volume of skins, emotes, music tracks and weapons. Actually that feeling sums out the game pretty much, “a game with a mesmerizing volume of content”.

There is always more, it never stops since Epic is doing a fine job of keeping the game fresh. Mechanics, items and stage hazards are added or removed continously. Each season often brings entirely new areas and NPCs. This season for exampel introduced web shooters which let’s you swing by shooting strings of webbing, like Spider-men. This allows for unprecedented movement capabilities and is new for this season. Each season also brings new storylines with new quests (although both the storylines and the quests are often quite simple).

And beside everything else, Fortnite is still a fine shooter you can play with your friends where each match can be played within an accepted time frame.

Even though I’ve acheived what I set out to do and got enough levels to earn myself the Spider-man skin I might still continue to play the game some more, but not like I have been. This game has eaten up a lot of my spare time lately, but I don’t regret it because it’s been fun and I’m glad I tried it.

July 30

Thoughts on God of War

Third-person hack’n slashes are not a comfort game genre for me, the mechanics are ofte a bit too execution heavy for my taste and they are seldom varied enough. That said, I’ve enjoyed just about every God of War game that has been released. I think I’ve finished each one except for God of War 3, there aren’t many long running game series I’ve been that loyal to. They’ve often delivered extremely satisfying combat and amazing scenes were you battle gigantic monsters and beings.

I was interested in this game from when it was released, because of the connection to norse mythology. There are some great stories to take inspiration from and I also liked the prospect of the dynamic between Kratos and his son. When the game released I have fond memories of all the “Boy!” memes that flooded the internet and I heard great things about the game. Still, as it often goes, I have not had time to play it until now. I decided to make it this years summer vacation game and it has been a mixed bag with some really nice highs and some dissapointments with some decent gameplay inbetween.

First thing that struck me as curious was that the game had suprisingly little emphasis on combat. All the God of War games that I can remember had a very heavy focus on combat and felt more like arcade games. This was much more of an action/adventure game with quite large doses of exploration, narrative and puzzles. If I would have to guess I would say that I spent maybe 25% of the game time actually fighting? Most of the time I was running around exploring the world.

Second thing that stuck out was how well written the characters were. The narrative was the number one reason for me to want to play the game through. I loved the dynamic between Kratos and his son Atreus, how their relationship constantly shifted and how it affected how Atreus would act in combat. Truly a wonderful story of a single parent trying to raise their child after a tragedy. At the beginning Atreus is really unsure of himself and is extremely respectful towards his father, but as they discover the world together, meet new people and defeat new challenges, his demeanor change with time.

I had some difficulties getting into the combat. At the beginning I died quite a few times so I decided to lower the difficulty level one step, playing on normal. After the first hurdles and when you could start using equipment and skills to optimize your strategy I got comfortable with it. I did get tiresome after while though, when you’ve seen the same combination of enemy a few too many times it becomes more of a chore to push through than something actually enjoyable. I think I would’ve wanted the games main story to end slightly sooner, maybe removing one of the dungeons or making some of them shorter. At the end I was only in it for the story.

The progression system was pretty cool. You have a lot to play around with. Experience to buy skills and upgrade your special moves, silver to buy equipment that give you stat boosts and enhancements that you can slot into equipment. It felt like an interesting enough system that you got rewarded enough for interacting with it. Although I had a hard time figuring out excactly what the stat increases were worth too me.

The boss fights were probably the most dissapointing part of the game. I was expecting to face off against some of the greats in the Norse pantheon but I didn’t feel like that fantasy was fullfilled. There are some really epic fights, especially one against a dragon, but they did not have the proper narrative weight that is often associated with taking down gods in God of War. Most bosses were variants of each other and there were few that were memorable at all. You handle them pretty similiar to how you handled normal enemies. As I mentioned before, would’ve liked a somewhat shorter games with less content repetition and a more balanced expectation from the game for what I would be facing.

Continuing on a similar thought, hitting stuff as Kratos feels kinda awkward. Sometimes he is super duper strong, and sometimes his hits feels very mediocre. Just bashing a monster and getting no visual reaction from it other than small *thuds*, health bar decreasing and a small visual effect. Often not enough of selling the fantasy of you being a super strong god that is killing random undead. Combat feels best when performing gory finishes or when battling really squishy enemies so that you would clear a small army with relative ease. That felt more appropriate to how Kratos should be able to perform.

Last thing to note: Exploration. The exploration gameplay was really excellent. There were a lot of variation on things to look out for in the environment. When looking around for secrets or bonus content, there were always something to find. I’m not a completionist player so I didn’t do too much of the extra content, but the world felt very big because of it. I especially liked the treasure maps, which gave you a written hint and a stylised screenshot of a location where you would find your treasures, and also the rune chests, which were chests with three runes attached to it that you needed to find in connection to the chest and deactivate them to open it.

So to sum it up: Great characters, great exploration gameplay, decent combat but with somewhat dissapointing bosses. Noteworthy is that I might’ve missed something big since I didn’t do much of the optional content, but I never force myself to do stuff like that when I feel done with the game.

February 8

Thoughts on Mass Effect: Andromeda

I loved the first Mass Effect game. Probably one of my favourite space opera stories. The plot has as a nice dramatic development that feels natural and not too over the top. The characters are almost universally memorable. You even remember the bad ones because they stick out so much from all the awsome character design.

Mass Effect: Andromeda has maintained very little of those aspects. The characters are dull and not memorable at all, the directing and acting is sub-par and the animations are attrocious. Bioware clearly had some development issues during the making of this game.

At first I was pretty intrigued by the gameplay, the setting and the story. The gameplay is pretty similar to other mass effect game but I particularily liked the different progression systems in the game. You have a LOT of choices in developing your playstyle, which can be awesome if the combat design can support it. Unfortunately in most fights I felt that it didn’t really matter what tactic or strategy I used, I didn’t feel like one was better than the other. Probably had the wrong difficulty setting, but still I didn’t feel invested enough with the game to switch that around (the power of the backlog gives tough competition).

I really like the setting with a bunch of space travellers that are among the first to explore a new galaxy. The intro sets up a pretty solid premise and I was into it even if I didn’t enjoy the characters, acting or directing. I kept hoping for it to get better, but didn’t feel that my persistence got rewarded.

After putting something like five hours into it I decided to cut my losses and go ahead and continue over to a new game. Maybe I’ll get back to this at a later time to hype myself for the remakes of the original trilogy.

February 3

Thoughts on Torment: Tides of Numenera

This is another one where I’m late to the party. I started my run something like two years ago but I only just recently decided to play it through. Either something else got inbetween or I hit a point which I didn’t find interesting enough and stopped playing. This time I had my mind set on finishing it and I made it all the way.

There are so much to unpack with this game. There are so many weird places, characters and philosophical conundrums presented in this game so I really don’t know where to start when trying to describe it. Also worthy of note is that playing half the game first and then playing the second half two years later affects the overall experience and the ability to get some sort of satisfying conclusion on what the game was about.

At its core it’s an isometric RPG with turn-based combat. Comparetively to other games of its genre, its pretty combat light if you don’t actively go out looking for a fight. I almost always play brawler characters on my first run if is an option in a game, but even then I felt like combat was a pretty fringe part of the experience. Combat is most often implemented for the sake of coming up with interesting incremental power-ups for your character.

All the mechanics are focus around an effort system where you have three different statistics with each character: Might, Speed and Intellect. Each challenge that you come across will test one of these statistics. The base chance to success is based on your skills in the subject but you can boost your chances by spending points of the appropriate statistic. It’s a really neat flexible system that was very easy to learn. I felt a bit too powerful at the end and could manage to get 100% success rate on any test I tried, but I guess it’s fine that you feel like a god at the end of an RPG.

Another feature that I thought was really smart was the Cyphers. A cypher is basically a powerful useable item that can only be used a couple of times. Each one has a unique effect and most of them are used in battle. When it comes to limited consumable items in any type of game I always refer to something I call the “Megaelixir problem”. What that entails is basically that if you hand a player a very powerful item that they can only use once, they will not use it at all (the reference of course taken from the Final Fantasy-series). Torment has solved this in a very smart way with cyphers. You can only carry a set amount of cyphers on each character, if you carry more than you are allowed you get something called “cypher sickness” which makes your base chance less for each test. This makes you want to spend your cyphers to make room for new ones since otherwise you get a debuff. This is much different from a normal inventory system as it creates a much more interesting choice for the player. It might be okay to have only one cypher over the limit since I want to save them for a special occassion, but having two will severly impeed my abilities so if I pick up another one I will have to use my, at the time, most useful one. I really liked the minigame of keeping that balance.

The story is really interesting but I had a hard time following until the very end, and when I got to the end it had been such a long time since I experienced certain story beats so I had forgotten most of them. This made me miss a bunch of reference that was made to things I had done earlier in the game. I think my long hiatus really damaged my experience in this regard. I think this is really a game that demands your focus if you want to get the most out of it.

You play as an incarnation of a god. This god is knows as the Changing god, and throughout the game you get to experience fates of other incarnations. This lets you learn about multiple different worlds and places, many that really doesn’t affect the main story, but they all carry a lesson or some sort of moral. Some of them reconnect in the main story, but it was really hard to keep track of all the names, places, timelines and concepts. There were some time travel shenanigans, where something you did in one of the other incarnations past lives affected your current situation, but not too many. Lots of interesting concepts are explored though, it must’ve been as much a headache as it was an exciting adventure to write it.

Always a good sign is that I kinda want to start over immediately and play through a new run and make some new choices, and this time playing it straight through without a long break inbetween. Unfortunately there are too many interesting games to play so I’m not sure that I will have time to do so. Torment: Tides of Numenera is definately on my “good games” list though, aworthy spiritual successor to Planescape: Torment.

January 21

Thoughts on Street Fighter V

I’ve been playing SFV since it became available in early access/beta. I’ve always loved the Street Fighter series but SFV is probably my favourite one to play. Now, even though nothing has been announced, it feels like we’re closing in on moving on to the next game soon.

There are still some characters that’s been announced that has not yet been released and development have probably been delayed because of Covid-19, so there should be at least a year left for Street Fighter V.

My biggest flaw when it comes to fighting games have always been execution. The timing, reflexes and dexterity you need to perform the most optimal combos in Third Strike and SFIV truly baffles and astonishes me. Big respect to the top players who can perform such feats constantly. Street Fighter V is by far the most user friendly Street Fighter in that department, being more forgiving with timing and not including any extremely tight button links.

That is the reason I like playing the game, because I feel like I can perform most stuff that I see a pro perform. I’ve also come to understand that a simplified system is one reason many dislike the game because it allegedly lowers the roof for how good you can become. I don’t neccesarily agree with that statement since removing some of the execution puts greater weight on strategy, tactics and mind games. Taking the game closer to a chess match mentality.

Finding a main character is always super tough. There are too many fun characters to play and I want a character that both appeal to me aesthetically and mechanicly. I started out using Birdie when the game was new, a slow moving grappler with good buttons and dirty tricks and now I’m playing Ed, a well-rounded character with a punk kid attitude. I’ve tried to migrate to characters I would prefer to play, like Sagat, but when playing more serious matches it never really works out well because of my poor reactions and executions. The good thing about Ed is that he has a lot of one-button special attacks, which mitigates some of the reaction requirements.

Fighting games really is at its best when you have a community to play in. I have my own little fighting game family at work, and it makes it so much more rewarding and fun to put some times into the games. We’ve also been playing in a “swedes only” tournament that’s been arranged during this fall. An online tournament of course because, there was plans of doing a offline finally but that was canceled because of increased restrictions from Covid. Meeting new local players is also a great motivator to continue playing.

I have no ambitions of ever becoming good enough to compete in any high level matches, but every victory feels good. Fighting games is chess on speed where every player has their own set of pieces, so it keeps me interested in the same way that card games do.

Street Fighter will probably always be my favourite fighting game series but I hope that Capcom shapes up when it comes to the tech side of development. The loading times are horrible and the netcode is so-so, there is a lot of room for improvement there. Hopefully it will all be better in the next installation down the line.