(January 15, 2019)
Week two of reaching into my backlog is a go. I touched on an indie from early 2018, a rail shooter in VR, and even something that might be hard pressed to be considered a game but will influence a series in some unknown way. What are they? Well, look out below!
A superb game that isn’t my cup of tea. I absolutely adore platformers, but there is something specifically about metroidvanias that I can’t find the same enjoyment in. I don’t know if it’s the backtracking, the number of boss battles, puzzles or what; I typically dislike those games even if I can appreciate what they are.
Iconoclasts is like that. I can recognize it’s another fantastic metroidvania, but after two hours playing it, it’s not engaging me. The abilities are cool from the stun gun (quick bursts or charged), to melee attacks and manipulations with the wrench and even the mine gun. The action and characters animate well and the colors give the world a vibrant look adding to the charm.
The story was something I found myself blasting past (another side effect of no interest in these games) although there is a level of personality and wit to the characters. The plot seems to revolve around an authoritarian religion of sorts on the quest to kill the main protagonist Robin, but other factions are willing to lend assistance. Could be something really cool, but I’m never going to find out myself.
The few boss battles I came across were unique and each had a different method to defeat them. One may require a large stomp on the top while another required bombs to be bounced back with the wrench. Assuming the variety in these battles continued, I imagine the game would stay fresh for those who ventured towards the end.
So again, it’s disappointing that this game couldn’t overcome my detachment to this genre, but that’s not an insult to its quality. Iconoclasts is solid from what I’ve played and should be given a try for anyone interested.
The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit
The title is a misnomer since nothing in this game could be identified as an adventure, but developer Dontnod may have some potentially awesome stuff lined up for this character. I knew not to expect much, and not much was provided, but it was still a nice little escape to a sensibility that one would have as a child.
This demo (since it’s not technically a game) was a reminder of the innocence of a child’s imagination. The main character Chris is very much like I was as a child. Obsessed with superheroes and creating worlds around ones to provide some levity while surrounded with so much negativity albeit a very different kind than what I grew up with.
It also gave me a second to think about my son who is at the age where he is drawing supervillains in notebooks and playing with action figures similar to what Chris does in The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit. To pinpoint it a bit more, it made me think about my relationship with my son. I try to be more hands-on than Chris’s dad does, but I realize there are moments that aren’t always the case. I’m not a cliche’ drunk like Chris’s dad, and my wife is still alive, but this demo stirred some feelings of wanting to be a better father.
It’s weird to have any drawbacks to something that was free, but at the very least, hopefully, it’s improved on in season 2. The dialogue felt more genuine than the first season of Life is Strange, but some still felt very generic and expected. The voicework for sure needs to be better. While Chris by himself wasn’t bad during his make-believe, any interaction with his dad or Mrs. Reynolds was more robotic and hollow.
Of course with this demo being tied to Life Is Strange, it does end on a note that has me intrigued when he does return in season 2. Maybe it sticks the landing and maybe it doesn’t, but releasing The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit as a free downloadable was a nice touch and a good way for people to become invested free of charge.
Until Dawn: Rush of Blood
My first big dip into VR, and it kind of works. I’ve heard there are a lot of shooting galleries in VR, and this is definitely one of those. In fact, right off the bat are literal carnival shooting galleries, and then the rest of the game has targets to shoot to increase a high score.
Although the PlayStation Move controllers are optional, I’m playing this game using the Dualshock 4. Probably not ideal since the shooting is mostly accurate, but does have moments of wonkiness where the placement of the in-game arms doesn’t quite match where you are aiming. Plus, based on how my living room is set up, makes it more irritating in general.
The actual mood of the game is quite good though. Many levels are brought over from the main Until Dawn game, and even include some characters from it as well. Each level is pretty detailed with eerie objects or spirits to keep the player on their toes, but is too often “rewarded” with a jump scare.
The jump scares are eye-roll inducing at times and somewhat predictable. For example, the cart will stop and refuse to proceed until you take a good look around. At this point, expect something to leap at you very loudly.
I also finally understand the talk around VR and motion sickness. I noticed feeling a little queasy at several points during the movement of the cart you stay in to where I wanted to sit down. Unfortunately, my set-up makes that almost impossible.
Until Dawn: Rush of Blood isn’t a bad VR experience, but in-line with what I expected. Not completely blown away and I’e found it a little boring to play, but glad it was a VR game I’m trying early on.
Week 2 down and I’ve played five games total and finished three of them. As someone who doesn’t play a ton of games throughout the year, I’m considering this a success so far.
There’s a few more on the horizon ranging from VR, to an emotional visual novel, and even a series that I believe is caput that I’m eager to play with my son. If everything works out, it should be a good week. Overtime at work is possible and my youngest has a screening that might test my stress levels, so we will see how it all goes!
-Written by Josh Miller