Backlog Burning 2022
I wrote some posts about Tildes Backlog Burner event for 2020 - here is the tag to read all the articles, past, present, and future - and it ran again this past february. I took part, and wrote a bit about some games I've tried out this past month.
This game hits a lot of good notes for me. There's lots of story to explore, lots of lore to learn, lots of weird shit happening all over the place. If you're looking for a top-down, original GTA style, steampunk, gothic cosmic horror rpg where you pilot a steam engine through space, then this is the game for you.
This game is a sequel, and I have not played the original. That has not been a problem; I don't think that I am lost as a result, though I have, at times, felt lost, but that's because I have been well and truly lost because of the aforementioned piloting a steam engine through space. It's notable that I'm pretty sure that the maps are unique to your playthrough, so you can't just look up where specific ports are, which contributes to sometimes feeling lost. In this case, the ability to feel lost is a definite plus.
The art style is good, the story is good, piloting a flying steam engine through an alternate world filled with sky monsters is great. One other great thing is that the game has "rolls" for a lot of the RPG elements, but thus far I have not experienced any story elements being locked behind those rolls, which is something that really turned me off Disco Elysium. If you fail a roll, instead of just not progressing, you do whatever you were doing badly and there is a drawback; you often lose some of a particular resource - there are several that you must balance, being fuel, supplies, terror, nightmares, crew - and you are left dealing with the consequence. For example, if your Nightmare level is sufficiently high, you may have a terrible nightmare, that you have to try to deal with emotionally; if you succeed, you may increase your Terror level; if you fail, you may increase the Terror level, or decide you have to turn on more lights, which burns more fuel.
There is also an option to play "Legacy" mode, which means that if you die - and there are a plethora of ways to do that - then your captain is capital-D Dead forever, but luckily bequeaths quests and some relevant items to a new captain. On my first run, I didn't quite get it, and I started again, and thus far my new captain has not died.
Overall, this is a delight. I recommend it without reservation if you like RPGs, especially if you have any interest in cosmic horror or steampunk.
My son requested that I try out Hydroneer, which is a mining sandbox game where you dig for ore and gems to get money to more efficiently dig for ore and gems to get money to more efficiently... well you get the idea. My son's enjoyment probably stems from some Let's Game It Out videos - he loves that channel - and he really likes to try out game-breaking things that he sees, so one of the first things we did was try to find a way to generate "infinite money" by blowing up fish. It did technically work, but it was time-consuming; I ended up spending some time showing him another "hack" to get infinite money, which was just selling the fish instead of blowing it up.
There isn't currently any multiplayer, so when we play "together" we're just playing two single player games near each other, but it's still fun to do that. We've both got little mining setups, and he has liked showing me the ropes, being the one who knows the game a bit more.
It's a cute game - the world is nice, there's stuff to try to figure out, you can make custom houses and crafting areas. The mining itself is a bit grindy, though after some time you don't really mine anymore anyways. It's a cool indie game, and the guy who made it is pretty active with the community and quite approachable. It's well worth the 9 bucks I think I spent on it.
I also experienced - note I do not use the term "played" - The Beginner's Guide, which is a game by the creator of The Stanley Parable. I may not have been in the right headspace for this; it took about 90 minutes, and it is not really a game, but something you work through with the narrator. The Stanley Parable is a 5✭ game for me, so I guess I did have some level of expectation, but the experience overall was... well I think that giving this a rating as a game is almost orthogonal to the point. There are youtube videos that are playthroughs of the game, and you will get exactly the same experience out of watching those playthroughs as you will get from having the game and doing it yourself, so I would recommend doing that if you are interested, unless you want to spend the 11 bucks to support the creator, which is also a good idea.
This game is delightful and cute, and I do not mean that in any way negatively. It is not particularly deep - you will not get hours of gameplay out of it (I mean that literally, less than 120 minutes of time, total), but playing through is fun. This scratched a Stanley Parable itch that I had that The Beginner's Guide did not. Voice acting was great, the concept is fun, and it's free, so pick it up and try it out.