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Topic: Games You Recently Beat?

Posts 1,581 to 1,600 of 1,670

MsJubilee

I just finished AI The Somnium Files yesterday needed to gather my thoughts on this game. Before I talk about what I loved about this game, I have to say the Switch port is hugely disappointing! There were no problems in the beginning, but after a few hours(6-7 hours) in the issues reared its ugly head. Frame drops in some scenes(especially in a Psync) drops when moving the camera to look around. It's disappointing, and it's more discouraging when you're in the last two routes, oh boy. The frames dip hard in a couple of places. It ruins the experience to be perfectly honest, and in many cases, the game takes a couple of seconds to load a flashback(you'll get these flashbacks when a character mentions a vital scene). The good thing is the essential scenes don't have these problems, but still, this is unacceptable. A game like this should not run this poorly. Shame Chunsoft never resolved these problems.

With the port talk out of the way, I would like to say this game has exceptional writing. The characters are lovely, and the sex jokes are great(even the bad ones), Date's puns always made me chuckle. The mystery is where it's at, and the game throws you so many curve balls to keep you guessing. It's fantastic! I expect nothing less from the man who directed the Zero Escape titles. But the one thing I will not forget is Date. Kaname Date is one of the best video game characters to date; I love this man. This perverted, goofy, pun-loving old man has had me emotionally invested in him through beginning to end. I haven't had these feelings towards a video game character since Sebastian Castellanos(Evil Within).

To end this, AI is a fantastic game. I would recommend it to any fan of the Zero Escape titles or a fan of a good mystery. I can't recommend the Switch port sadly, those awful frame drops are a killer.

I've died, there is no more me.

If it's bitter at the start, then it's sweeter in the end.

I am reading Roadside Picnic & The second novel of The Saga of Tanya The Evil. Also, patiently waiting for issue 10 of The Saga of Tanya The Evil.

Switch Friend Code: SW-5827-3728-4676 | 3DS Friend Code: 3738-0822-0742

Ralizah

@MsJubilee From what I've heard, the PC port of AI had some issues as well, especially on Windows 7. I don't know if those were resolved yet or not. A bit disappointing to hear about lackluster performance, although, after ZTD, I'm perhaps not surprised.

Playing depressing games alone in my cold, dark room <3

MsJubilee

@Ralizah That's a damn shame. This game does not look that demanding to have these problems.

I've died, there is no more me.

If it's bitter at the start, then it's sweeter in the end.

I am reading Roadside Picnic & The second novel of The Saga of Tanya The Evil. Also, patiently waiting for issue 10 of The Saga of Tanya The Evil.

Switch Friend Code: SW-5827-3728-4676 | 3DS Friend Code: 3738-0822-0742

RR529

Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna, the Golden Country - Prequel to the main XC2 game that's large enough in scope that it was released as a standalone package.

Pros:

  • It retains the satisfyingly complex combat mechanics of the main game, and thanks to further refinements & little changes (such as the fact you have a set party) it's better than it's ever been.
  • I love how Torna (the new, main explorable Titan/continent) is designed. It still has large areas to explore with lots to find, but it's segmented into regions in a way that makes it easier to digest, and I assume makes it easier for the system to handle compared to the main game (it's still technically one large area you can explore with no loading screens, but it's designed in such a way that you can only see parts of the other regions, if at all, from the region you're currently in). Though it also features one of the Titans from the main game (Gormott) that you're able to nearly fully explore as well.
  • Speaking of exploration & progress, it's much better handled here as well. While it still has Unique Monsters (optional bosses that wander the fields and are usually much stronger than the other monsters in the area), it seems like they're placed in a way where you have to be looking for a fight, or going out of your way exploring, to encounter them (unlike the main game with that level 80 King Kong wannabe that terrorizes you in the opening hours). Also thanks to the set party, obtaining the right field skills to pass certain obstacles isn't much of an issue, while it could be obnoxious in the main game.
  • You're required to knock off a certain amount of the game's sidequests (completing them endears your party to the Tornan people, building your Community Level, and at certain points story quests will be locked off until you're Community Level is high enough), and while I understand that this could be a turnoff for some, as it's clearly a padding attempt in part, I loved it in practice. Now, not all the sidequests are standout, however you'll be meeting with the same faces throughout your adventure, endearing you to the game's populous, and it does make the ending mean more, IMO.
  • The story here can be quite melancholy & bittersweet, and while I personally prefer the more upbeat & hopeful tone of the main game, I can certainly understand why it's so for a prequel, and I can't deny it's really good & will pull at your heartstrings.
  • I really like the Japanese flair of the Tornan culture, and the world design itself is quite lovely, with a suitably massive sense of scale in parts. The desert region of Torna looks gorgeous, and this is coming from someone who generally dislikes desert areas.

Mixed:

  • It's not a fault per se, but in some areas it does presume you've played the main game, particularly in terms of lore. Some things in this regard it doesn't really bother to explain (such as what exactly the Aegis' are), or some things that were a mystery in the main game until near the end, are more openly discussed/shown.
  • Like the first game it does seem to push the system. Nothing terrible mind you, but when you first turn it on it will take a few seconds for the world's textures to load up. No issues beyond that though (the resolution may dip in portable mode like the main game, though as I've played it TV only I can't confirm. I've heard it's an improvement over the main game in this area from others, though).

Overall I thought it was fantastic, and the fact that I can't point to something I actively disliked is a huge testament to that. Sure, I loved the thrill of obtaining new rare Blades in the main game (and do miss it here), but I don't miss the gatcha mechanics and legions of common Blades that came with it, and can't deny Torna is the mechanically better game because of the set party.

Currently Playing:
Switch - Blade Strangers
PS4 - Kingdom Hearts III, Tetris Effect (VR)

Tyranexx

SteamWorld Dig 2

This is an excellent sequel to Image & Form's SteamWorld Dig. It's just as addicting as the original and improves upon its predecessor in nearly every way.

Positives

  • There's more to explore this time around, and it also isn't all in one mine/tunnel system. They made some interesting design choices here that, on the whole, paid off.
  • At first, I wasn't too fond of how upgrades were handled in this game, but they grew on me; now I enjoy them more. Besides upgrades that can be bought and found in the mines, there are also cogs used to augment different features and effects with these upgrades. It's impossible to have every single effect in the game, but cogs can be removed and reapplied to other upgrades.
  • More characters were present in a larger town. They weren't fleshed out too much, but they could be entertaining at times.
  • Like with the other Image & Form games I've played, the music in this title is enjoyable. My favorite tune was the one that played in the East Temple.
  • There were more boss fights in this game. They weren't insanely difficult, but there was definitely more challenge this time around.
  • It's interesting how the game's ending more or less foreshadows the events that eventually gave birth to the steambot society of SteamWorld Heist.

Neutral

  • Fen (your little Navi-like partner) is entertaining at times, but I didn't really feel much for this character one way or the other.

Negatives (Nitpicks mostly)

  • While the running time was longer in this game than the first SteamWorld Dig, I still would have liked to have more mining to do after the credits roll. There are many well-hidden secrets that helps make up for this though.
  • Personally, I loved the idea of "intelligent" shiners. While I did like the plot "twist" here (though it was sort of predictable), I would have liked to see some more benign shiners that WEREN'T completely off their rockers.

I had a ton of fun with this game. It's easy to recommend, especially if one likes Metroidvania-style platformers.


Donut County

This was a quirky puzzle game that was enjoyable and had a few unique concepts. It's an impressive effort with a few shortcomings. Emphasis on "short".

Positives

  • You're literally driving holes around with the left thumb stick or touch screen and trying to make them bigger by increasingly swallowing larger and larger objects. The game also changes how the holes behave for some puzzles.
  • There isn't a lot of major character development, but this is explored somewhat. Some of the conversations get pretty interesting, though.
  • The graphics are decent, though there isn't too much to write home about.
  • Raccoons are adorably ornery little scamps.

Neutral

  • The music was passable, but nothing to write home about either.

Negative

  • The running time for this game is pretty short: roughly 2 1/2 hours. This was permissible considering that I got the game half off AND dropped some gold coins into the mix, but the original $12.99 (USD) price point is pretty steep when compared to the content.
  • This game isn't the most replayable. Once you reach the end credits, you've seen everything on offer here.

This was a fun game, particularly if one enjoys games like Katamari Damacy. However, it's best to wait for a sale before picking up this game on the Switch.

Currently playing: Dragon Quest VIII (3DS), Ori and the Blind Forest (Switch)

Switch Friend Code: SW-3478-2466-4791 | Nintendo Network ID: Zelda_By_Night

NotTelevision

I’ve had time to complete some shorter games on the PS4 this week. Several of them I think are also available on the Switch Eshop.

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter- A murder mystery with an emphasis on exploration and some puzzle solving. The protagonist has the ability to “sense” the past and gather information on the events leading up to the disappearance. Overall I didn’t really enjoy my time with this one. The environments felt like bland Unreal Engine 4 foliage and assets and the puzzle solving felt about as welcome as that featured in Hellblade. Some text appears on screen and you need to put into focus to locate items at crime scenes. Then you need to put the scenes in linear order, which was more tedious than engaging. There is also a puzzle where you need to arrange rooms in a blandly decorated house.

Not all of it’s bad. There are a couple of good moments (one magical realist moments involving an astronaut reminded me of something you’d find in Edith Finch) contained in the story, but they were ultimately overshadowed by the boring bits.

Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture- A mystery story that is in many ways similar to Ethan Carter. A lone protagonist investigates an unoccupied town in the aftermath of a tragic event. Luckily this one fares a lot better. Like Dear Ester (another game by thechineseroom which many credit as starting the “walking simulator”) it is more of an interactive experience than an actual game. The character walks really slow and you find places to peer into past events and piece together the story.

The first 30 minutes or so I wasn’t feeling so confident about liking it, but as I played more I began to see what they were going for. The English countryside town on display here has a great about of detail put into it, and the characters conversations that you overhear have a great authenticity to them. There are truly beautiful moments in the 4-5 hours it takes to get through it, and I feel it is definitely worth your time if you like these sorts of experiences.

Abzû- When I first downloaded the game I didn’t realize it came from the lead designer of Journey. It definitely plays a lot like Journey, but that’s a great thing. This is straight up 2 hours of magic. Totally absorbing and spellbinding, like discovering a new world or a long lost culture that has been hidden under the sea.

I’m eager to go back and play this one again because everything feels so fun and alive in the world. The soundtrack is also exhilarating and goes along perfectly with what is happening on screen.

Highly recommend Abzû.

Edited on by NotTelevision

NotTelevision

RR529

Kingdom Hearts III (PS4).

Pros:

  • The core gameplay is refined, slick, and is as fun as it ever has been. I can confirm it's probably the easiest game in the series however (this is usually seen as a negative amongst the fanbase from what I've seen, though as I've never played the series for it's challenge this aspect never bothered me).
  • I generally really liked the Gummi Ship segments. Previously these were rail shooter segments between worlds, but now it's been fleshed out into more of a space exploration theme, and is one of the few aspects of the game that I think is a genuine improvement across the board.
  • From a graphical/aesthetic aspect, everything looks fantastic, and is put to good use with some great looking setpieces during the climax.
  • After years of spinoffs it feels so good to have Donald & Goofy back by your side. I know it seems silly, but it goes a long way to making it feel "proper", lol.

Mixed:

  • World design is a very mixed bag. First up the Disney worlds. The Toy Story, Pirates of the Caribbean, & Big Hero 6 worlds are genuinely great (I especially loved the mecha & ship segments of the former two), Hercules is okay, Monsters Inc is a fun ride but literally a hallway in terms of design, Tangled is a hallway too (and a bit less interesting), and Frozen is just blah. Oh, then there's the Winnie the Pooh world which has been trimmed down to just one little area, that you clear by playing a few different variants of a match three puzzle game...
  • Continuing on with the worlds, and focusing on the original worlds, there's Twilight Town, which is okay but trimmed down in size compared to past appearances, and some late game worlds which essentially exist for boss fights, so there's not much (if any) exploration involved (even if a couple look lovely).
  • In a truly bonkers moment (even by it's own brand of weirdness) is how they try to shoehorn in the Kingdom Hearts mobile title. Without giving away story elements, there's a segment where the Android & iOS usernames of hundreds of people who've played the mobile game will grace your screen in quickfire succession. The segment itself, while it makes no sense, is kinda fun though.

Negative:

  • For something they've spent so much time on, it feels like they just didn't know how to tie up the story threads, so they just really didn't try. The game basically climaxes with a series of boss fights where you fight Organization members often 2-3 at a time, and they maybe each get a 3-5 minute cutscene wrapping up their story (even including characters you basically know nothing about). It even seems like they can't quite be clear on whether or not Sora's adventure came to a definitive close (and they came SOOO close, too) and they end it all with a new revelation & mystery.
  • Outside of the ever present Moogles, and a few easter eggs/nods, it feels fully divorced from Final Fantasy (outside of a brief narration mention of Cloud & Auron in the Hercules world, FF characters are nowhere to be seen).

In all I'm really torn up over it all in the end. I can't deny that I had a huge smile on my face at points, and it was technically on point, but it had bewildering story choices, and in areas felt like it could have been so much more.

Edited on by RR529

Currently Playing:
Switch - Blade Strangers
PS4 - Kingdom Hearts III, Tetris Effect (VR)

gcunit

I don't remember the details of my Wii purchase, but I have a feeling I bought Super Mario Galaxy at the same time, so probably this was 2007.

Last night I beat it.

I wasn't a regular gamer back then, and as lovely as my early experience with it was, I didn't have any prior knowledge of how Mario games are structured and play out, so I found myself a bit lost, and the hub world was always a bit confusing.

Plus some of the game is just downright tricky (at least for a Nintendo newcomer that I was back then), and let's face it, the controls when swimming underwater are a bit of an 'acquired taste', and shaking the Wii remote to attack is still a bit of timing lottery for me even now.

Years later and for no real reason I started collecting Wii games and obviously Super Mario Galaxy 2 was an early addition, but I made a promise not to start playing it until I'd beaten Galaxy first.

Fast-forward to 2020 and Super Mario Galaxy 2 kept cropping up in 'Best of the decade' lists and my shame was too much. So last night I finally beat Galaxy, having chipped away at it fairly ineffectively a few times over the years.

I do love the game. It's one of the few Nintendo games I've got genuine nostalgia for as it's the first brand new retail Nintendo game I ever bought, and was my first non-Wii Sports Wii game. Just the sound of collecting star bits and the sight of Mario swooping around a newly claimed star gives me happy gaming feelings.

I will return to it to try and claim 100% of the stars at some point, but for now I've moved straight on to Galaxy 2 (which is giving me quite the SM3DW vibes) at long last.

So, sorry to Galaxy - you are indeed a wonder of a game and did not deserve to experience 12 years of only occasional play before being beaten.

What better way to celebrate than firing something out of the pipe?

Nothing is true. Everything is permitted.

My Nintendo: gcunit | Nintendo Network ID: gcunit

Vinny

The Wolf Among Us on the Vita. The Vita version is good, just at some fight scenes it drops to ultra cinematic 7 fps. Other than that, it's a nice port overall.
Went for a good wolf route (not 100% of the time).

MGS3 on the Vita as well.
It runs very well, the frame rate rarely drops.
The plot is a cold war spy thriller basically, I'd say MGS2's plot makes you think more but I really enjoyed it. Great characters like Eva and young Ocelot.

On the gameplay

  • it's very satisfying to slam enemies on the ground.
  • Because of the stamina meter, you can spend quite a bit on the menus fixing up snake after he's hurt.
  • It's very fun to feed Snake with basically every kind of animal to see what he will think of it.
  • The motorcycle sequences are amazing.

This one took me a while, I started playing it in 2018 after I beat MGS2 but then I left it until the other day I thought "Mmm, maybe I should play and beat this one!"

Edited on by Vinny

This blue eye perceives all things conjoined. The past, the future, and the present. Everything flows and all is connected. This eye is not merely seen reality. It is touching the truth. Open the eye of truth... There is nothing to fear.

PSN: mrgomes2004

klingki

I recently tackled a few other short games.

The first was Burly Men at Sea. To start with the positive stuff, the game is dripping with charm. The art style, music, sounds, etc. are all really well done, in my opinion. The writing is pretty good overall, and there were quite a few cute and humorous parts that were entertaining to encounter.

Unfortunately, there were some negatives for me, too. Obviously, the best games will have a great story and great gameplay. Sometimes a game will sacrifice one of those aspects, but as long as the other one is solid, you can still have a great time. For example, Zelda or Mario games are not usually super deep on story, but the gameplay is fantastic and really draws you in. Or on the other end of the spectrum, a lot of the best "walking simulators" might not have too much in the way of gameplay, but they have a deep, engrossing story. Burly Men at Sea, for me, was too light in both gameplay and story. One "run" through the game to one of the 12 different endings is very short (like less than 20 minutes). So even though there are a lot of endings, it won't take you long to get them all. The game is also very straightforward, and it's easy to see the points where the story diverges, so it's not hard to figure out how to reach the different endings. Even by "walking simulator" standards, the gameplay is very light, and there aren't really puzzles to solve, just a very limited number of things you can interact with as you go along. The story is very superficial, with the three burly men just wanting to have an adventure. And I guess they do, but there's nothing deeper to it. Each of the 12 endings are extremely similar and not really satisfying. Even when you finally get all the endings nothing happens. You basically just have a couple of characters be like "Hey, that's it, you did everything!" I believe the game was originally designed with mobile in mind, and it definitely would seem to be a better fit for that platform. It's really relying on its art style and charm over everything else.

All in all, getting the game for like $3 on sale, I can't complain. For that price, I'd say experiencing the charming but bare-bones adventure was worth it. For more than that though, I'm not so sure. On a mobile platform, for a mobile game price, I'd say it would be a pretty good periodic timekiller. My commentary might seem overly negative, but I'd probably still give the game a 6/10 based mostly on the style and charm, provided you get a good deal price-wise.

The second game I finished (though not 100%) is 140. This game also came out on Wii U, but I remember dismissing it at the time after seeing a few screenshots. The very simplistic art style didn't really seem that appealing. The problem was that I never actually saw it in motion, and with sound. When I saw the trailer for Switch, I was pretty shocked at what the game was actually like. It's basically a precision puzzle-platformer with a heavy emphasis on rhythm in the gameplay. The art style that looked so basic and simplistic in screenshots is actually pretty mesmerizing when seen in motion and in combination with the pumping soundtrack.

The game is not easy, but fortunately was not that frustrating (except for a few parts). During the regular parts of stages, checkpoints appear frequently enough, and respawning is quick, so every death (and there were many) was not too bad to deal with. "Boss" fights, on the other hand, were a different story. These were super challenging, and in some cases, there were not checkpoints after each stage of the boss fight, so if you died, you had to start again from the very beginning of the battle. And if you quit, you had to start again from the beginning of the whole level. So that was a bit frustrating, but looking at it the other way, if there were checkpoints after each stage of the boss fight, it may have made it too easy. I should note that certain boss fights did have checkpoints though, so it was not all of them, just certain ones.

The original game had 3 levels, with a 4th added as free DLC. So the Switch version has all 4 of these levels from the start. The game basically acts like you beat it after you finish the 3rd level, so the 4th level is still treated like a bonus level. I beat all 4. After this, I believe there are mirror versions of all 4 levels to beat, but I didn't attempt these yet. I probably will go back and do them eventually though. Provided the mirror levels live up to the standards of the originals, I'd say this game is probably a 7.5/10 for me. The visuals and soundtrack are fantastic, and overall I liked the level of challenge.

The last quick mention I want to make is about Fortnite. Obviously it's not a game you really "beat," but I just wanted to brag that I got my second-ever Victory Royale last night, which was the first on my main Epic Games account. I'm not very good at Fortnite, but every once in a while, if you survive long enough, you get paired up with someone at the end who is even worse than you are, haha. Oddly enough, in both of my wins, I never built a single thing. Just won by running around and shooting, using natural stuff as cover.

klingki

NotTelevision

I’ve just completed most of Kentucky Route Zero and figured I’d post some thoughts on it. First off, this an experience that you’re either going to really appreciate and get into, or something you’ll scratch your head and give up trying to make semblance of. It is described as a “point and click” adventure game, but it doesn’t have puzzles and frequently breaks that form.

The Acts consist of you controlling various characters and moving them to look at/ interact with objects or NPCs. You’re frequently given choices on what to do or say in these situations and that shapes some outcomes in the game. I don’t think these choices change too much of the story because it is largely a linear experience, but it does influence interactions which may make multiple playthroughs necessary to see everything the game has to offer.

And it does offer a lot to chew on. These are not your run of the mill “Where do I go”, “How do I get there” sort of conversations. Each one is loaded with personality and details that give fragments of the world, the characters, and metafictional references to the player and how we shape the experience.

In between the Acts are short interludes which operate in the similar way footnotes do in a book, offering us different set of interactions (sitting in watching a play, dialing a number on a telephone) which deepen the context of what happens in the main acts.

All of this is equally important though because what it creates more than anything is a world. It is sometimes silly or boring or profound, but it all has equal treatment in the game.

The setting (an off kilter or magical version of Kentucky) is a big part of the experience since a lot of the places and objects it references are part of the fabric of Southern America life. Being from Louisiana, I really appreciated how the game is sort of a love letter to beauty and hardships people from the south often face.

Really enjoying this one and definitely want to continue diving in and seeing what other surprises it has in store.

Edited on by NotTelevision

NotTelevision

SuperLuigiTime

Quite a few games since November, mostly older games with the exception of one. Red Dead Redemption, Luigi's Mansion 3, The Last of Us/TLoU: Left Behind, Bully, and Watch Dogs 2.

SuperLuigiTime

Switch Friend Code: SW-2814-0794-4500 | 3DS Friend Code: 0619-6949-4255 | Nintendo Network ID: tavorestye92

NotTelevision

I just beat Uncharted 2: Among Thieves which is part of the Nathan Drake Collection on PS4. The only other game I played was the final entry Uncharted 4. I thought the game was entertaining, but don’t remember really getting invested in it. Uncharted 2 is often considered the height of this series though, so I thought I’d give it a shot.

First off, this is a Naughty Dog game so the production value is of the highest quality. The animations, voice acting, and set pieces are all really top notch and amongst the best you’ll find in any game even though this one is over 10 years old. The soundtrack is great and go perfectly with the action on screen. The graphics have also held up very well and the performance on the PS4 is flawless and a joy to play. Everything looks and sounds great.

Essentially Uncharted is the equivalent of playing an Indiana Jones rip roaring adventure through exotic jungles and ruins, so I kinda like that aspect of it. If that film ever happens they could easily just rip some of the scenes from these games because everything has a very cinematic flair to it.

My main problem with the game is the gameplay isn’t super involving. The climbing and platforming feel like they are on rails and rarely feel like you are making interesting choices. You’ll often find yourself at points in the game where you’re just looking for that protruding group of bricks so you can press up and X up a wall, slide over climb up to a platform, and repeat. There are numerous lame cover shooter sequences that I couldn’t wait to be over. I know they needed to have a consistent gameplay loop here, but this whole campaign just feels padded out with parts that just start to feel rather routine and predictable.

I did enjoy these segments occasionally when a new and interesting obstacle was presented but it frequently became tiresome seeing another wave a cannon fodder henchmen approach and “ohh you know what to do now”. “Hide behind that wall and take em down.”

Stealth is an option here but it is rather poorly implemented. You’re never clear whether one of those henchmen are going to spot you, so you’re often caught and then need to go back into your cover and shoot routine.

Whenever there is a puzzle, you probably figured it out in a minute or so, but then it just becomes the challenge of finding that protruding brick or low hanging rope again so they fail to be thoughtful in the right ways. A well crafted puzzle, like the ones found in Zelda games, give you multiple tools that you need to use in the environment to solve problems. Here all the the solutions are given to you in Drake’s journal so none of them feel that satisfying to complete.

I guess I’m being a bit hard on Uncharted 2, but it’s a very well made game for what it is. If you’re looking for an action game that will let you relax after a long day, then it certainly more than fulfills that role.

If you’re looking for something that involves you on a deeper level either gameplay or story wise, then it is probably better to look elsewhere.

Edited on by NotTelevision

NotTelevision

Ralizah

DOOM

Platform: PC, PS4, XBONE, Switch, Switch Lite (reviewed), and a dozen older consoles as well

Completion: Completed all four episodes, although my actual completion rate within each level varied. Some levels I missed a bunch of stuff, whereas, in others I found all items/secrets and killed all the enemies. I also replayed an episode or two on PC.

~ ~ * ~ ~

DOOM is commonly regarded as one of the most important and influential video games of all time. Besides helping to spread the popularity of the FPS genre, it also made at the time unparalleled use of 3D space, full texture mapping, extreme violence, and uneven level geometry within 3D space. I've never actually given this series a go beyond the widely contentious DOOM 3, however, so I wanted to change that. What better place to start than with the demonic grand-daddy of the genre itself?

Untitled

The structure of the game is very weird. The first episode of the game, titled Knee-Deep in the Dead, featured eight episodes and was distributed as freeware. This, more than anything else, contributed to the game's almost immediately titanic impact on the industry, having been installed across 10 million computers by 1995 (following its 1993 release). The second and third episodes, The Shores of Hell and Inferno, were contained in a paid version that was only available at the time via mail order. It was only upon the game's re-release as a boxed, commercial product that the fourth episode, Thy Flesh Consumed was released.

Every episode features eight normal levels, one boss level to cap off the episode, and one secret level. Progress carries between levels in an individual episode, but not between episodes, meaning that, at the beginning of every episode, you're forced to scrounge for ammo like at the beginning of the game. Despite this, there are little screens featuring narration that give the episodes of the original DOOM a minor sense of continuity.

I do want to emphasize how minor this is, though. Aside from these screens and some early bosses showing up later in the game as minibosses, the original DOOM (or "The Ultimate DOOM," as the commercial release in 1995 was called) is really just four short games packaged together. Episode themes as well as level design varies drastically between the various episodes.

Untitled

The first episode features one of the most iconic environments in video game history, and begins in a UAC (Union Aerospace Corporation) facility on one of the moons of Mars, Phobos. You play as a nameless space marine (dubbed Doomguy by fans, who seems slightly distinct from the Doom Slayer of DOOM 2016 and DOOM Eternal) who fights off a demon invasion and, eventually, fights against two Barons of Hell so that he can transport to Deimos, which is also overrun by hellspawn. The militaristic and technological setting of this episode combines with maze-like levels. In general, you'll spend the bulk of these episode trawling the hallways of various installations looking for blue, red, and yellow keycards in order to unlock various doors. A level will end when you reach a specified endpoint, with the level completion screen afterward informing you of how many secrets you found, what percentage of the monsters you killed (there's a fine number in each level), and what percentage of the level items you collected.

The second episode is set on Deimos, and, thematically, is similar to episode one, except for certain changes that emphasize the increased demonic influence in this location. Some levels, for example, require colored human skulls instead of key cards to open doors, and the misty mountain view from Phobos has changed to one outlined by blood red clouds. At the end of the episode, you defeat the Cyberdemon in charge of the invasion of this moon and, discovering that the moon is hovering directly above an opening to Hell, decide to rappel down to the abyss itself to confront the forces that engineered this invasion in the first place.

Episode three is set fully in Hell. The walls have become more fleshy-looking, impaled humans and lava are everywhere, and, in general, the architecture is and level structures are less orderly in terms of their design. It's here you confront the Spiderdemon who engineered the demonic invasion of the moon bases.

Episode four is supposedly set on Earth, although its chaotic, fractured level design and demonic design motifs seem to suggest otherwise. It's in this episode that we learn Doomguy's true motive (it was probably a joke, but I like to think it's true, and it's in the game's narration, so... sticks out tongue): he wants revenge for the death of Daisy, his pet rabbit, making him, I guess, the supernatural, sci-fi-themed version of John Wick. Anyway, the (ostensibly) Earthly setting of this episode suggests that it's a sort of prequel to DOOM II: Hell on Earth.

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The game distinguished itself upon release by being a very fast, brutal game. The antithesis of the sort of plodding cover shooters that were en vogue last gen, DOOM is a game where you will die if you are timid. The best defense is a good offense, and nowhere is that more true than in this game, where you best chance of survival is usually to charge into the fray and start gunning down demons like a maniac. That doesn't mean you don't take note of your environments, of course. There are a variety of ways in which you can minimize damage from large groups of enemies, and certain bosses pretty much require you to take cover behind buildings and walls, but, in general, I found that when I was sprinting around at full speed, shooting my enemies point blank with a shotgun, they often didn't even get a chance to damage me.

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The narration screens in DOOM often opt for eye-bleedingly awful color combinations, for some reason, making all this damn text a bit difficult to read at times

The biggest downside of DOOM is the enemy variety. For a game where you kill demons, there just aren't a whole lot of different ones here. You have a couple of demon types that look like generic soldier dudes, complete with guns. You have Cacodemons, which are like giant floating balls that spit fireballs at you. You have Imps, which... shoot fireballs at you. There are normal pink demons which aren't really much of a threat, because they can only hurt you if you let them get right up in your face. There's also an invisible variation of this enemy, although their outlines are clear enough that they're still easy to avoid and kill. Finally, there are Lost Souls, which are flaming skulls that flying around and try to bite you.

Considering the saminess of the attacks patterns and enemy types, there isn't a lot of strategy involved in this game, and you can pretty much mindlessly run around shooting everything without much of a concern. The game is challenging (on higher difficulties, which I played on... starting with Hurt Me Plenty, and then the one above it), but mostly for reasons that I think weaken the game as an experience.

The few bosses there are seem kind of weaksauce as well. The Barons of Hell... throw green fireballs at you instead of normal ones. They deal a lot more damage, but they're not tremendously harder to avoid. The primary annoyance of this enemy is how long it takes to kill one with normal weapons. The Cyberdemon is better insofar as he actually has a unique attack, which is... to spam rockets the instant he sees you. This means, antithetical to the rest of the game, you'll need to slow down to a crawl, hug buildings, and take potshots at this annoying dude until he dies, which takes a while. The Spiderdemon is even worse in this regard, because, while you can avoid the Cyberdemon's rockets, the Spiderdemon's chaingun attack is pretty much impossible to dodge if you're exposed. So... again, hugging the walls and taking potshots around corners until he's dead. DOOM is at its absolute worst combat-wise when you're fighting these things. Unlike the rest of the game, speed and ferocity are punished.

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The level design in this game... a lot of people like it, but I didn't really take to it. The early levels are manageable mazes, but I disliked the game's tactic of having walls randomly open up behind my character and being hit with a barrage of enemy projectiles all at one. The secrets are mostly mindless, and often involve running around hugging the walls of the UAC facility, trying to find random locations that'll open up and reveal bonus resources. The puzzles throughout are also a bit braindead, and involve a lot of running back and forth between areas to hit switches.

Later in the game (particularly episode 4), the level design breaks down, as it relies on bizarrely uneven floor space, poison/lava floors, and enemy ambushes to increases the difficulty. Perhaps this is meant to reflect the character's increasing closeness to demons and Hell, although I didn't really appreciate the design cheapness in many sections.

I alluded to this just a moment ago, but in lieu of actual enemy variety, the game likes to throw giant hordes of demons at you to freak you out, sometimes trapping you in rooms without warning. Of course, there's little in the way of space or objects to interact with, so, more often than not, it just becomes a matter of whether you have the ammo to mow down the enemies quickly enough because they can gang up and kill you (there's no jumping in the console versions of this game, so it's not like you jump over enemies when their sprites are hogging the screen around you.

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One really high point of this conversion, as of the latest patch, is the framerate. While I'm not sure how helpful it actually is, since I believe the enemy animations are still animated at 35fps, the general feel of the game has been boosted to 60fps, giving movement that lovely, butter smooth feel that games with higher framerates tend to have.

Otherwise, this release was patched to correct image quality issues and deliver a really authentic DOOM experience.

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But what would an discussion of DOOM be without focusing on the weapons available to the player, especially given the game's laser focus on demon-killing action? The arsenal isn't terribly diverse by modern standards, but it was a massive selection of weapons in a game released almost 27 years ago. You start off with the pistol, which... sucks. Thankfully, if you like to poke around, it's not long before you stumble across your first shotgun, which has much more of a visceral feel to it. And, considering how accurate it is even at long distances, it's usually my weapon of choice in this game. Over the course of the game, you gain access to the chaingun, which uses pistol ammunition, but fires at an incredibly high rate, making it ideal for taking down mobs of weaker enemies, the plasma gun, which is possibly one of the most powerful weapons in the game at both close and long range, the rocket launcher, which... has some uses against bosses, or in LARGE arenas, but makes it so easy for the players to damage themselves accidentally by standing too close to the target of their aggression, and the BFG9000 (which, yes, very famously stands for "Big F***ing Gun"), a hyper-powerful nuke of a weapon that is unfortunately so slow to fire and cumbersome to use in general that, more often than not, I just ended up ignoring it.

Melee-wise, you can get a chainsaw, which is cooler than it sounds, because you REALLY want to keep your distance from most of these enemies. You can also punch demons, but, really, don't. It's neither satisfying nor effective, and is only a last resort when you find yourself out of ammunition.

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The 'feel' of the controls in this Nintendo Switch Lite playthrough were my biggest issue with the game. I don't know how much of this is the Switch Lite having thumbsticks utterly unsuited to games involving aiming and how much of it is my long-standing issue with playing shooters on consoles in general, but I generally found it really difficult to precisely aim at enemies as quickly as I needed to. After trying out a source port on my PC to compare the feel, the difference was astounding. Playing this with the stick felt sort of akin to being bundled up in a straight-jacket.

Thankfully, for people who do like to play shooters on consoles, aiming is far easier in DOOM thanks to the complete lack of Y-axis control. This game was originally designed to be played with just keyboards, so if you have an enemy lined up on your X-axis, you'll hit them, even if they're at a radically different elevation to you. It takes a bit of getting used to if you only have experience with most modern shooters, but it does lead to very fast, fluid, satisfying carnage with a minimum of aiming needed.

I also love how fast you can blow through rooms and even entire levels by holding down the run button. With the right guns, this can lead to lightning-fast gameplay that's really cool in the moment.

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Conclusion
Despite all of my complaints about the game, I actually really enjoyed it, and think that it has aged rather well, all things being equal. Despite seeming very basic and rudimentary now, the game was visionary at the time, and light-years ahead of the competition in many respects. Playing it entirely on a handheld device was pretty neat, but I do think that perhaps other platforms might be more ideal to experience this game. Certainly PC, where the mouse gives the player absurdly fast control over where they're aiming, but perhaps, if the thumbstick aiming feels more accurate, on PS4 and Xbox One as well.

Playing depressing games alone in my cold, dark room <3

NotTelevision

@Ralizah That’s a great and very thorough review of this classic game.

Your criticisms of the secrets are valid. Them being hidden behind random walls is a result of Romero and Carmac loving the cryptic secrets in the NES Mario Bros. games, but they do come across as an antiquated design choice now. To find them you are required to run along the walls, jamming the spacebar while doomguy repeatedly groans. This routine has a lot of nostalgia for players who grew up with the game, but I don’t enjoy that aspect as much now. It is very useful to come across the secrets though because they are usually hiding really useful items.

The levels with some of the huge enemies randomly appearing out of a sliding wall (wait that’s alot of levels 😄) are largely just trial and error. You need to memorize exactly where they will appear and give yourself enough distance so you don’t get cornered. I actually like this aspect though because a good Doom level mixes both feeling of empowerment and “ohh sh** I’m being overwhelmed”. It is a very mindless game in a way but the larger enemies appearing out of nowhere requires the player to form a strategy. You know you got to take those imps and zombies and hide out for a bit so the Spiderdemon can’t hit you. I agree that if it is only that enemy on the screen running around in circles and firing the shotgun for a minute can get tiresome, but I can see the purpose of having some bullet spongey enemies to keep the game challenging.

Looking forward to checking out Doom 64 to see if it is as good as the first two games, but until then I’m happy to hammer away at some of extra challenges they through in the Switch versions. The smoother framerate has really improved the ports, as has the change to the default aspect ratio.

NotTelevision

Ralizah

@NotTelevision Thanks!

Yeah, the design of the game is VERY old-school. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but stuff like secrets hidden in random walls and enemies popping out of nowhere behind you sticks out like a sore thumb to me. The original Legend of Zelda had a lot of cryptic, hidden stuff in it, too.

In terms of the Spiderdemon, I do think it was perhaps a victim of that era's limited technology. In lieu of actually challenging boss behavior or having the player target specific body parts first, like a puzzle (both of which would have been beyond the developers at the time, who were already making history with DOOM), they chose to have it kill you almost straightaway if you stayed in its sights for a few seconds.

Eager to see how this stacks up to the other DOOM games, including, yes, DOOM 64, which I'm also excited to try out. Only one I've previously played was DOOM 3, so it should be interesting to revisit that as well.

I'm glad I waited to play this version until after it received all its patches, so that I experienced it optimally on my initial playthrough.

Edited on by Ralizah

Playing depressing games alone in my cold, dark room <3

KitsuneNight

@Ralizah Doom64 is dark.
Really dark turn up the contrast and brightness in game and off your TV dark.
Dunno if they plan to fix that but keep that in mind.

It's also set after all the other PC Dooms but before Doom 3.
Having said that its a worthy addition to the series.

As for me recently I finished
Bioshock 1
Vampire coteries of New York
and Road Redemption

KitsuneNight

NotTelevision

@KitsuneNight There is a popular modded version of Doom 64 on PC that improved the lighting, framerate, and various other problems the original had. I think it’s impossible to ignore that version and do a totally faithful conversion of the original N64 game at this point.

Hopefully the devs are looking to the modded one for inspiration.

@Ralizah For real. They were working with 2D sprites so the possibilities were more limited.

Something else to look forward to is the Switch release of Dusk. Played a little of that one on PC and it was a blast.

I’ve always been a bigger fan of Doom rather that Quake, but Dusk borrows a bit from both.

NotTelevision

KitsuneNight

@NotTelevision

Here is hoping, but a lot of porting studios tend to just do a bare bones basic port.
And I doubt M2, Saber or Feral are contracted to do the port.

KitsuneNight

Late

Beat the main story of HarmoKnight last week and completed it just now. This is a weird one. Beware. A wall of text incoming.

I held off buying it for a long time. I had played some of it previously, thanks to the demo and my sister who has the game, but I wasn't satisfied enough to pay the full price for it myself. The problem is that the game is never on sale. Or rather it wasn't until the My Nintendo discount which happened last year. I finally got it but didn't play it right away. I completed Radiohammer recently and I was still on the rhythm game mood so I decided to continue onto the next rhythm game right away. So I finally started playing HarmoKnight. How was it?

I went in knowing that I'd probably like it if I gave it time and didn't focus on its weak points. When I started, I was reminded that the game has an actual story. But I soon figured out it was nothing special. As for the stages themselves, they were really easy. I finished the story in no time. The only stage that caused me some trouble was the final boss, thanks to its final attack.

And here we get to the stupid things about HarmoKnight:

1. You have 5 hearts, make one mistake, lose a heart. Sounds good? Well, that part is great. But then there are beats you cannot miss or you'll die instantly. Each boss and mini-boss have an attack that can kill you in one shot. And it's their final attack so you better hit the note or you have to do it all over again. Some stages also have bottomless pits which work the same. These actually weren't as much of a problem as I thought they'd be based on my experience years ago. The only one that caused me trouble was the final boss.

2. The camera and enemy placement. Sometimes the level design in general. Most stages are runner type stages where you move automatically and you have to jump over pits and hit enemies on your way to earn notes which determine your final score. The problem here is that sometimes you cannot see the enemy or pit before it's too late. The camera isn't fixed like in Bit Trip Runner or Runner 2, it zooms in and out and moves in front and behind your character. The reason they did this is most likely because the game is on 3DS and they wanted to utilize the 3D effect. But it turns some stages into a memory game.

3. Speaking of memory games, the boss and mini-boss stages are memory games. You know, like Simon. They show you what's coming and you have to repeat the sequence. My biggest problem with these stages is that it doubles the time you spend on the level. And some bosses have really long animations in-between action as well. For example, I timed the snow wolf boss and it takes 20 seconds before the battle starts. And that's on the faster difficulty. It takes even more time on standard difficulty. Unlike in the runner stages, you cannot make any mistakes here if you want the best ranking. So you better get perfect fast or you'll be spending a lot of time waiting for cutscenes to end.

4. There are multiple playable characters but the other characters feel like an afterthought. You rarely get to play as them and when you do, it's only for 20 seconds or so. The main problem here is that each character only have 2 moves and the side characters just aren't as fun to play as. They knew it and that's why you barely see them. Untapped potential.

5. There's one more stage type. They're the "hold A, shut your ears and close your eyes" stages. You are on a rollercoaster in a machine with cymbals. You can hold B to extend your legs or hold A to hit enemies with the cymbals. There aren't many of these stages but all of them can be beaten by just holding A. The only reason you'd ever want to extend the machines legs are to collect some additional notes which give you better ranking. The noise this machine makes is just unbearable.

6. The hit precision seems a bit off. This was probably the main reason why I waited so long.

So I beat the game and unlocked the final world. That had some nasty levels that amplified my issues with the game. After I was done with them, I didn't feel like I was done though and I started going for Greats. The game has three rankings as far as I know, Great, Good and So-So. I only saw So-So once when I tried one the faster version of one of the Pokémon songs before I had even beaten the game. Oh yeah, there are 5 Pokémon songs here too because it's made by Game Freak. I also took notice that the game was directed by James Turner, the same guy who was the art director in Pokémon Sword and Shield.

I'm getting sidetracked. The game has two versions of each song. Normal and fast. I had a lot of fun playing through the stages again on fast now that the game got a bit harder and I knew the level layouts beforehand. It pretty much turned the whole thing around. I honestly forgot how much I hate some things about the game before I started writing this.

All in all, HarmoKnight is full of flaws but it's still a fun game. I'm glad I finally decided to play it but I'm also glad I never have to play it again.

Now the question is, should I play Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan next? Another game that my sister owns (got it for her) but I don't. Or maybe I should say I didn't. It's on its way now with couple other DS games. Ouendan 2 is probably my favorite rhythm game of all time so I don't know why it took me so long to get the original.

I programmed a simple tool that copies all Switch screenshots from an SD card and places them to folders according to the game:
Link

Switch Friend Code: SW-8287-7444-2602 | Nintendo Network ID: LateXD

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