Posted in Gaming, Xbox Game Pass

Game Pass: Gris

Gris was another game that I chose to play last month because it was leaving the Xbox Game Pass. I didn’t quite finish it – but this was one of those games that I could probably watch the rest on YouTube and be content just seeing it.

I say that because the game itself is an minimalist sensory experience with a bit of mechanic and jump puzzles nestled inside. The art style is fantastic and the music is right on point to enhance the atmosphere at all times. Controls are simple with very few mechanics, yet the puzzles could still trip me up from time to time, I admit.

Gris doesn’t use words to tell a direct story, but rather presents a symbolic one. The character you play is thrown into a world that is stripped of all color – I assume a symbol for loss or grief. You must then help guide her through healing by restoring the colors of her world, one at a time.

The journey to do this takes you through several unique and beautifully drawn stages, each with its own look and feel. There appears to be some dark force at work against you that shows up in different forms from time to time. This is as close to a “boss fight” as the game has, though I wouldn’t call it even a boss fight in a traditional sense.

This is one of those games that’s really hard to describe and talk about because it’s meant to be experienced. It probably won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but I spent several hours with it, and enjoyed the concept and figuring out the puzzles quite a bit. Enough so that I regret I ran out of time to play it in the end, so I’ll probably look up some videos to see how it resolves.

I don’t know that there’s all too much replayability since the game is pretty much on rails, but if you enjoy sensory/puzzle/exploration, this might be something for you to check out! Screenshots really don’t do it justice.

Posted in Black Desert Online

Black Desert Online: First Level 50!

One of my unspoken goals for this month was to get my two newest characters – Aywren and Amon – to level 50 in BDO while I still have access to the Olvia server and all the boosts due to the account transfer.

The highest I’ve ever been in BDO was 34 on my Tamer – who is now regulated to my horse trainer and will remain under level 50 so that I don’t have to worry about PKs while training horses.

Last night, my Shai hit level 50!

She’s currently running around the big city Calpheon doing quests and learning about the world there. I’d made it to Calpheon before, many years back, but hadn’t really tried to explore or gather knowledge there yet. So this has been a fun experience.

In order to even level to 50, you have to accept and complete a quest (which is just using an item put in your inventory). This quest warns you that once you complete this and reach level 50, you will unlock open world PVP.

I have heard that there’s actually not all that much random PVP that happens in this game. Not being a fan of gank-PVP in general, I’m still giving this a try due to this. Mostly because I’m interested in seeing my Shai’s Awakening!

On top of that, it appears that my ideas of what BDO becomes after level 50 was skewed due to outdated information from back when I played it years ago. In my mind, I thought that there was nothing but constant grinding and struggle to upgrade gear after that point. It appears that maybe that was right… many years ago.

Huge thanks to Mailvaltar and Naithin for leaving so much good updated information in my comment section on the last post! This made choosing to progress to 50 and beyond a much more exciting prospect for me.

Indeed, the quests haven’t run out and I’m still doing what I did pretty much pre-level 50 — questing around, beating up monsters when directed and gathering knowledge of the world. I might need to adjust my goal for this month to see just how far I can get with what I have.

In the meantime, I’ve shifted back to leveling my archer, Amon. He was level 22 when I logged in last night and level 28 by the end of the night.

If he follows any of the patterns that my Shai did in her leveling curve, it shouldn’t be too difficult to reach 50 on him if I just have some time to dedicate to it. It may be even faster because I already know the quests and the objectives this time around.

I might venture out and work on leveling my Tamer up to 49 if I have the time. I also have a low-level Wizard at 17 that I can try to boost up. I heard Wizard is a strong class to play.

The thing with both of those characters is that they were rolled before the Remaster of the game, so it seems they’re still on the old questlines used at the game’s launch rather than the new more streamlined quests. I don’t know if there will be a spot where these quests merge eventually, but it feels a little more tedious when I was leveling my Wizard just to see how it works.

Anyhow, progress made and progress to be made! Good times!

Posted in Gaming

February 2021 Gaming Goals

Welcome to February!

I’ve got a few light goals this month, but most of what I want to focus on is games in my backlogs. For once, FFXIV doesn’t have quite as much to work on since I’ve finally put my leveling goals to rest.

FFXIV Goals

  • Work on crafting relics
  • Clean up Rak’tika quests
  • Finish up to patch 5.4 on Tai

And really… that’s it. Though the crafting relics alone will take hours to gather and work through, so though this seems short, it’s not.

MISC Goals

  • Switch: Progress on Link’s Awakening
  • Play at least 1 new Steam game a week 
  • Play at least 1 Xbox Game Pass game 

I’m currently at the boss for Catfish’s Maw in Link’s Awakening, which is further than I’ve been before in the game. Maybe about halfway done? Anyhow, I don’t want to lose momentum since I finally just got the hookshot, which is super nice.

I hope to keep making progress on trying games out in my Steam backlog in particular. It was nice to finally budge my percentage played to 55%. I still have a number of games in the “Clear” section that I could nudge out of my backlog before I actually get to games I want to try for a period of time.

So, overall, it’s a light month for goals. Which is fine. I’ve got plans to kick around BDO a bit on top of all this, too.

Posted in Gaming

January 2021 Gaming Goals in Review

It’s a little hard to believe that January is done for this year. But at the same time, it felt like a long month, too.

Anyhow, in terms of reaching goals that I set out to do, I’m pretty pleased with everything I managed to do. Especially getting that one big goal out of the way!

FFXIV Goals

  • Finish leveling Paladin to 80 via Beast Tribes & Quests (and do job quest)
  • Finish leveling Gunbreaker via Trusts (and do job quest) 
  • Finish leveling all Trust characters 
  • Earn Amaro Mount! 
  • Clean up quests in the First 
  • Work on crafting relics 
  • Finish up to patch 5.4 on Tai
  • Finish up to patch 5.4 on Tad 

I finished leveling the last two jobs on my main to 80 in FFXIV, so now I’ve earned my Amaro mount and I can take a break from daily beast tribe quests. It’s been a long road getting there, but I got there. Just in time for the next expansion announcement, right? Or so we hope!

During that process, I managed to clean up the quests across several zones. However, I hit level 80 before finishing two of the zones… so… I kinda took a break there. I still want to finish cleaning that up, though. I might make some of that a goal for next month.

I did start working on my crafting relics and finished one. Yeah. Just one. However, I learned that the gear I have allows me to macro and burn through a lot of this crafting faster than I expected. So if I buckle down to get it done, it shouldn’t be too bad…

…Just in time for the next phase of crafting relics to pop up next week. I’m so behind. 😦

I did finish working through all of 5.4 on Tad, but didn’t get around to pushing through on Tai. He’s a couple patches behind, which means I’m putting off running Elidibus yet again. That’s the one fight that’s making me procrastinate – I can do it, but I just don’t enjoy it. The rest I can do with Trusts, thankfully. Will try again next month.

MISC Goals

  • Play at least 1 new Switch game 
  • Play at least 1 new Steam game a week 
  • Play at least 1 Xbox Game Pass game 

Not only did I finish a major goal for FFXIV, but I did a good job of reaching my other gaming goals.

On the Switch, I actually finished Coffee Talk – the first game I’ve finished in a while. I restarted Link’s Awakening, and I’m now further into that game than I was my first play through. I think next month’s goal will be to continue to make progress on it.

I did “play” several new Steam games this month, too. Most of these are on what I call my “clear” list. These are games that I have an idea I probably won’t play for very long or get too involved in. So I download and launch them and try to play a bit, mostly just to get them off my “unplayed” backlog statistic.

This was actually successful because now I’ve moved from 54% played games to 55% played games! That’s a happy thing! I will keep trying to do this next month.

I also played games on my XBox Game Pass this month – three, in fact. One of which I finished – woot, that’s two finished games in one month! Two of the games were titles that were leaving soon, and I wrote about one of them. The other I’ll blog about next week.

I’m not fully sure what next month is going to look like for me. I have some goals I want to reach in FFXIV, but now that most of the leveling goals are done, I’m not pushing for anything in particular.

I also picked up BDO again, and have been enjoying that. I do not want to set any goals for that game, but I do want to try to level as much as I can while I still have the returner bonus. We’ll see where I go with all of this next month!

Posted in Gaming

The “Leaving Soon” Motivator

Am I the only one who feels motivation from seeing a game or movie in a streaming or subscription service is “Leaving Soon”? Things that were only passingly interesting to me suddenly end up at the top of my watch or play list.

This is the case for games on the Xbox Game Pass for me. I noted, for example, that the only reason I tried Sea Salt was because it was leaving soon. Though I haven’t written about it yet, I’m playing Gris for the same reason. I only have a few days left with that game, so I better get to it!

This is the same for seeing shows on my Watchlist suddenly flagged as “Available until (date)” on Netflix. I’m not much of a binge watcher, and usually like to take my time with shows and movies. However, I’m currently watching through as many episodes of Bates Motel as I can because after next month, it’ll be gone.

I don’t respond that way to everything, I notice. There was some other Netflix series (I can’t remember what) on my Watchlist that was flagged as leaving the same day. Seeing that Bates Motel has 5 seasons, and the other was fairly long, too, I knew due to time constraints, I’d have to choose one or the other. So I removed that one — which must not have been a big deal because I don’t even remember the name. 🙂

Anyhow, being new to a subscription games-as-a-service, I kinda like the motivation that “Leaving Soon” gives me to try something out. I find myself checking back on the Xbox app for not just what’s coming in but what’s going out and adjusting my choice of games based on that.

I still feel as if the Xbox Game Pass is a good setup for someone with my sort of gaming habits. I haven’t actually started paying for it yet, seeing I had a 3 month free trial, but when I do, I hope to get value from it for a while.

What’s your experience with games or movies that are “leaving soon?” Does this motivate you to play or watch stuff you might have only been mildly interested in before?

Posted in Gaming

Sea Salt – Play as a Cthulhu Cultist

I had no idea what Sea Salt was before I played it. I simply saw it was going to be leaving the Xbox Game Pass library soon, and was motivated to give it a try.

What is Sea Salt? The game describes itself as:

Sea Salt is an action strategy hybrid, in which you are an Old God summoning unfathomable horrors to blight the human lands. You will have your sacrifice, and humanity will pay for denying you what you are owed.

I’d say that’s pretty accurate.

First, the game is oozing atmosphere and dark character. Even with the pixel graphic style – with the implied violence of the game, I don’t know how else they could have done it – you still can feel the dark, gritty aesthetics through and through.

This game is violent, as I just noted. You are a cultist who summons up hordes of creatures from the deep. The whole goal is to hunt down and tear apart humans to appease your dark god. While the art style can only imply the violence happening, trust me when I say, drawing and quartering a defeated boss enemy in pixels is still pretty gruesome. I guess my imagination filled in the blanks.

Which is the point of the game. It does what it’s meant to do.

As you beat bosses, move through the story and earn achievements, you unlock more types of creatures with different abilities to add to your horde. You can also unlock new cultist, it seems.

Looking at the reviews, I can see that eventually, this game has a few criticism in the later levels, mostly having to do with its simplicity. The controls are very simple – you move your mouse cursor and your horde follows (for the most part) where you’re pointing. You hold Space bar and they attack.

So really, the strategy of the game is to direct your horde to tear apart enemies while taking as little damage as you can. Each boss fight I ran across had a different strategy to overcome. Though I didn’t play super far into the game, just observing the boss provides a pretty intuitive idea of what you need to avoid and when you need to attack.

The problem, I hear, comes is in the later-stage strategy. You have tanky minions that can take damage but do very little damage of their own, glass cannon casters who die if an enemy so much as looks their way, and others in between.

Unlike standard RTS games, you can’t separate minions in your horde and move them individually. So, you can’t send in your tanks first and make a strategy where they actually protect your casters, etc. Also, sometimes the AI has a mind of its own and goes wandering off or taking the long road. Stragglers to the horde get killed pretty easily.

So all of that means that while the concept of the game is meant to be gruesome fun, in later stages, I read it can get frustrating. I only played a few scenarios in before I decided I had a good enough feel for what this game was trying to do.

A paythrough of the intro to the game

There’s a kind of dark satisfaction in rampaging through town as a horde from the deep, but I couldn’t get past the knowledge I was participating in so much senseless slaughter. After a few stages, I decided it really isn’t my kind of game.

Despite my feelings on it, is this something you’d enjoy?

Posted in Gaming

Astrologaster – A Comedy of Errors

I mentioned in yesterday’s post that I’d not finished just one, but two games last week! Astrologaster was the second game I completed over the weekend.

Though I’m linking to the Steam page for it, I played this as part of the Xbox PC Pass free trial I picked up last month. I had so much fun with this that it alone was worth the price of the Pass for a month (if I’d been paying for it)!

I guess that story-driven (visual novel-ish) games have just been a thing for me lately. I had no clue what this game was about when I started it. But once I understood the experience I was in for, I was hooked and along for the ride.

The game is set in Shakespearian England and carries with it a blend of witty language (all fairly pleasingly voice acted) and a wry, sometimes quite suggestive or dark, humor. If you can appreciate the type of clever humor that the game is shooting for, then you’ll likely have a ball laughing along.

The end of every line of Mary’s songs rhyme. Given that, you can fill in the blank that the “fa la la la” leaves you. 😉

You play as Doctor Simon Forman who seeks answers to his patient’s needs from reading the stars. Interestingly enough, Doctor Forman was a real fellow (I learned after I finished the game and went to look it up on Google), and he actually did keep a case book with information on his querents – which is loosely what the game references.

The only problem is, Doctor Forman achieved his position by fluke in curing the plague. He doesn’t actually have a medical license, and now London is cracking down on anyone who practices without one. So your goal is to earn letters of recommendation from your clients by earning their approval through treating their situations with tact and care.

Only… this is easier said than done. Sometimes you provide the best honest choice (from what you’re given by the stars), and that’s not what your client wants to hear at the moment. They’ll go away annoyed with your answer (you lose points with them), only to come back at the next visit to tell you that your advice had been true (and you earn the points back and often much more).

As the game continues, you quickly start to realize that there’s a web woven between a number of your clients. This can be due to being married, or having met one another somewhere outside of your practice, etc. Some of the answers you provide, should the client follow them, sometimes effect another client – who then comes back to you, completely unaware you were the cause of the fortune/misfortune in their life.

No one in this game, not even Doctor Forman, is a saint by any means. You get that pretty early on as you peek into the dark humorous undercurrents of the lives of his clients. Eventually, you’re “reading the stars” for some characters but providing solutions less due to what the stars tell you and more because of what you know about other people that your current client does not.

I have to admit that though I tried to play the straight and narrow in the beginning, the mischief of this game is infectious. I ended up giving some advice that I knew would lead specific unsavory characters into… less than kind situations… with other characters. I may have been grinning evilly while I did it.

And that’s part of the fun of it all. You never know how a client is going to take even your best-intended advice. So you learn to cut loose and try out some of those what-ifs from time to time.

In the end, though, I managed to earn about 8-9 letters of recommendation from my clients. And that was enough for my fine Doctor Forman to earn his license!

I can see replayability in this game, especially if you weren’t able to secure the letters of recommendation needed for his license, but I’ll be content in my initial experience – blunders and all. While I had good fun and a few regrets on choices I made, I find it even more fun to watch other people play the game through online and see what they choose.

Oh, and I can’t write a post about this game and not mention the hugely talented choir of singers that narrated many songs along the way. They were just icing on the cake!

If any of this interests you, check out some videos out there on the game or just try it for yourself. It’s worth a romp.

Posted in Gaming, Nintendo Switch

Nintendo Switch: Resolutions, Done with my Coffee Talk

I’m pleased to announce that I finished a game this week! (Gasp!) Actually, I finished TWO games, but I’ll talk about the other one later.

It’s been a while since I’ve played a game from start to finish, even one of the shorter indie games. So I felt pretty good to be making my resolutions to play more Switch Games a reality this early in the year.

I wrote about how I was playing Coffee Talk and how the story being broken into 20-30 minute pieces really did well to fit into my nights. I was able to consistently pick the game up just about every day until I finally completed the main story.

Of course, the game let me know that I missed some content along the way (this was stuff you wouldn’t have been able to figure out unless you looked it up online). While I’m curious and really enjoyed my time with Coffee Talk, I have way too many other games to tackle to circle back to it at this point.

By the end of the game, I was a little sorry that the story was over. I had fun getting to know the folks at the coffee shop and seeing how they developed and connected with each other. There were no huge shocking plot twists in the end – it remained all fantasy slice-of-life.

Though I’m still curious as to who/what my character was – it was hinted at but never explained. Maybe that’s the content I missed. Who knows!

Onward!

So, while I still had momentum on my Switch, I decided to pick another game from my backlog to tackle. I looked over titles that I’d started but never finished and chose to return to the remake of Link’s Awakening.

I wrote about my experiences with the game back in 2019 – yes, it’s been that long! I know that I had a lot of fun playing it but… for whatever reason, I just set it down and didn’t get any further than I was at the point when I wrote a post about it.

Seeing that I was only three dungeons in, I had a choice to make. Either I could push on with the save I had (though I only dimly remembered what had happened up to that point) or I could start over since I wasn’t too terribly far into the game.

I decided to start over and picked a clean save spot. In playing it over the weekend, I’m almost back to the point where I was when I left off before. I remembered a few things that helped me get through a bit faster this time around, but for the most part, it was like playing the game anew for me.

I’m going to try to pace myself, like I did with Coffee Talk, and work towards finishing this game. I have a handful of games that are in a similar unfinished state (some which I just won’t spend the time to start over from scratch again), but I’m feeling good about making progress in my Switch backlog.

And it’s fun, too, of course!

Posted in Gaming

January 2021 Gaming Goals

I know that the last few posts I’ve made here have been all about goals, but seeing that’s often what January is about, please allow me a post or two more about what I hope to accomplish this month/year!

Some things are rolling over from December, and that’s to be expected. But starting this new year, this is what I hope to do this month!

FFXIV Goals

  • Finish leveling Paladin to 80 via Beast Tribes & Quests (and do job quest)
  • Finish leveling Gunbreaker via Trusts (and do job quest)
  • Finish leveling all Trust characters
  • Earn Amaro Mount!
  • Clean up quests in the First
  • Work on crafting relics
  • Finish up to patch 5.4 on Tai
  • Finish up to patch 5.4 on Tad

I know that sounds like a lot, but many of these overlap. Most of this is my final push to get all my jobs on my main to 80 in order to finally get that done and earn my amaro mount. You don’t want to know how many beast tribes I’ve run to get this done… I’ve almost literally run beast tribes every single day last year. I’m ready for a break!

MISC Goals

  • Play at least 1 new Switch game
  • Play at least 1 new Steam game a week
  • Play at least 1 Xbox Game Pass game

Trying to branch out here by nudging myself to play games on other systems/store platforms. I really want to make headway on my Steam backlog, so I’ll be starting out by trying and clearing games I own that probably won’t stick with me. But if I’m surprised by one, I might just change my mind and play it longer!

I’m going to be a bit more gentle in my Switch gaming because I’m sure that everything I have on that system is something I want to play. The same for the Xbox Game Pass.

Posted in Gaming, Nintendo Switch

My Nintendo Switch Review Made Me a Little Sad

Nintendo sent out a year in review for Switch-playing folks a few days back. When I got mine, I was surprised and a bit sad about some of the statistics I saw there.

First, it determined what kind of player I was — turns out, I played Animal Crossing the most of all the games this year. This made sense.

It also turns out that I tallied up this many hours…

Wow, did I really ONLY play 23 hours on my Switch in 2019. That makes me sad, for one. But Animal Crossing certainly got me putting more time in on my Switch this year.

What made me sad was the tally of games that I played this year:

FIVE?

Only FIVE games? I could have sworn… no… well… maybe that WAS all that I played this year! How tragic, especially when I had goals set to spend more time with my Switch!!

What were the five games I played?

Bargain Hunter and Graveyard Keeper were both games that I got for my birthday, so I made an attempt to play a few games I got as gifts this year. But the rest of it was simply dismal.

I have got to do so much better than this in 2021. I have a LOT of fantastic games I want to play on this console. It’s just lack of time and focus that keeps me from doing so.

What a wake up call. 😦