Sea of Thieves

While suffering from some flaws, Sea of Thieves is also an incredibly fun co-op game.

I really like Sea of Thieves. I’ve been playing it at least every other day for the last few weeks. Usually, I’d have no problem recommending something I like this much or have played this much, but Sea of Thieves is special and so I have some caveats attached to that recommendation. Or perhaps it might make sense to think of them as warnings. I’ll go into them in more detail in a bit, but here they are in short.

Sea of Thieves isn’t an MMO, it’s a playground. I’ll write more in depth on this later, but the game has no in-game mechanical progression. I think it’s easy to look at this and see a bad thing, especially if you’re used to having leveling and progression systems that make the game easier for you as time goes on. The positive side to having no mechanical progression is that you will always be mechanically equal with your friends, no matter who has played the most. Someone who has never played before can jump in, and be a contributing member of your crew from minute one. The only increase in “Power” that you get is a more solid understanding of the game’s mechanics and systems.

Multiplayer is more or less required, friends are best, randos can be passable, but playing solo is an exercise in frustration. There are a set of people who do a thing called Solo-Slooping, but I think for most of us, the joy of the game is doing stuff with your friends. Outrunning the Kraken, fighting off ghost ships, and booking around an island to dig up treasure are all things that are best done with other people, and the game’s mechanics actively encourage you to play with others. As just a quick example, almost every ship outside of the two player ship has the capstan (boat thing used to drop the anchor) fairly far from the steering wheel, so good luck docking your boat at the dock without multiple people. The way the sails work means that in fights, you’ll want to be constantly changing them to actually get your boat where you want it, and not crash into things. Same for firing cannons, fixing the boat, and more or less every other mechanic.

Finally, the game isn’t super cheap. Most of the folks I’m playing it with got it at $20 on a Steam sale, but that’s still a hefty chunk of change. This might be a bit less of a deal breaker for the anyone with a Windows 10 PC, since you can get Gamepass for PC for like $5 a month, and a month of playing Sea of Thieves is most likely enough for you to figure out if you like the game or not. I debated keeping this section, but I still think it’s worth the callout.

Ed note: The game does have cosmetic microtransactions, and at time of writing, apparently will be adding a battlepass system in it’s next update. I have mixed feelings about this, since a friend already got me the game for $40 as a Christmas present, and cosmetics are the only thing to actually spend in game gold and doubloons on.

Okay, here’s the thing: I love the moment-to-moment gameplay of Sea of Thieves, and if that’s the case, why did I feel the need to put three paragraphs of warnings ending in “Here there be Microtransactions?”

Well, it’s for two reasons. I do love the game, but I suspect there are a fair number of people who won’t, for one or more reasons. I don’t think these categorizations of people who play games are hugely accurate, but I still want to toss them out there for a moment: if you’re the sort of person who plays games in a fairly “hardcore” manner, min-maxing, following meta guides, and going for every inch of DPS you can get, I’m not sure there’s much in Sea of Thieves for you. The only things you get are cosmetics, the “optimal” gold/time quests are fairly dull, and large portions of the game if you look at them from the standpoint of “How much progression does this get me?” are purely grind. On the flip side, Sea of Thieves is not a “Casual” game, but for a different set of reasons: play sessions in which you actually get stuff done can amount to several hours in length, the game can be brutally punishing and wipe out those invested hours quite easily if you get a bit unlucky or stop paying attention, and of course, there’s always the chance to end up in a PvP situation and just getting blown to smithereens.

So why do I play it? Simple: I find it fun. I talked about Sea of Thieves as a playground up above. What I mean by that is Sea of Thieves is primarily a place to be, and a place to play above all else. Everything about it is designed to function in that way, and I can’t actually think of any other games that provide that experience. The fact that everyone is on equal footing each time you log in means that no matter how experienced you are, your friends can always join in and contribute. There’s no DPS checks, no being carried through raids, no dodging queues.

I do have one last gripe though: The fact that you can’t change ship size, which is effectively player party count without remaking your party is a complete bummer. I would really like them to change that. I won’t stop playing if they don’t, but if there was a way to change ship size, it would be a massive improvement.

While the hand to hand combat for both PvP and PvE is clunky, I really enjoy almost every other moment of the game. The clunk of hitting a treasure chest with your shovel is awesome. Working with friends to run around an island working on a riddle is great. The tension and relief of running vaults, and looting them is fantastic, and boat combat is mostly solid.

Like a playground, though, you will occasionally get knocked down and bullied. It’s an unfortunate part of the experience. In terms of pure, primal frustration and rage, Sea of Thieves made me feel a way I hadn’t in quite a while, and when that happened, I had to take a break from playing for a bit. But after that break, I was ready to return. The game is just enjoyable.

Fighting megalodons, trying to outrun other players, and looting bosses are all fun. Like I said above, Sea of Thieves is a playground, and as such it’s more than the sum of its parts. It’s not just treasure hunting, or riddles, or cargo delivery, it’s all the small moments that make up doing those things, from having someone stand lookout, to having one person call out directions, while another steers, and a third person tries to keep you from crashing into the rocks. It’s a place to be together with other people, and enjoy their company, and do things with them. To cook shark, to play silly songs, and to generally mess with each other.

And to Sail Together

Pummel Party

Mario Party minus bullshit. It’ll still make you rage at your friends, though.

Ed Note: I grabbed the images for this article mostly from the Steam Page. I doubt this will ever be an issue, but I do like to make sure people are aware of the differences between images I take, and stuff that is effectively marketing material.

It’s easy to look at Pummel Party and think “Oh, it’s a Mario Party clone, but for PC.” But while Pummel Party does feel heavily inspired by Mario Party, after playing quite a bit, I think it’s actually a much better game. With that said, just like Mario Party, you will need friends to play it with, because playing Mario Party by yourself is incredibly sad. So let’s talk about why Pummel Party is good, and why it doesn’t feel like the 50 minute exercise in coin flipping that is Mario Party. Oh, and it supports up to eight players, instead of just four.

So, first let’s talk about the general structure of the game. If you’ve played Mario Party before, you already know most of this, so you can skip this paragraph.

All players are placed on a large board, and a game consists of a series of rounds. During each round, players can choose to use an item if they have one, then they roll a die to move across the board. Based on where you end your turn, you might get items, coins, or some sort of special event might happen. After everyone has taken a turn, players play a mini-game of some kind, and are rewarded with currency. Currency (Coins/Keys) can be spent to buy victory points (Goblets/Stars), but they can only be purchased by reaching specific areas on the board. Whoever has the most victory points after a given number of rounds, or reaches a threshold first ends the game, and is (probably) the winner.

Okay, boring introductory stuff out of the way. Let’s get into the big differences between the two, and talk about the idea of player agency for a bit.

The biggest things that Pummel Party adds to this formula are a second stat called health, better items, and different turn order mechanics. Lets start with those turn order mechanics shall we?

In Pummel Party, turn order is decided each round by placement in the last round of mini-games. Winners go first, losers go last. This is important because it means that actually being good at the mini-games is important. If two players are neck in neck trying to reach a Goblet, whoever wins the mini-game is likely to reach it first, as they get to move first. In addition, doing well in mini-games rewards items, which are far more useful for interacting with other players than anything in Mario Party.

So let’s talk about those items and health. Health is a secondary stat that caps out. If it hits zero, you lose 30% of your currency (according to patch notes) and get placed back at a graveyard. You might lose health because you ended on a damage spot, or another player’s Reaper Spot (TLDR: First person to touch them chooses either health or keys. Every player who steps on them after that loses that resource, and it’s sent to the spot claimer). More likely though, you’ll lose health because another player has opted to pull out a shotgun and blast you in the face. It’s one of those items that you can get for winning mini-games, or by picking it up from the map.

The big thing here for me is that in Pummel Party, you actually have the ability to stop someone who is starting to cruise their way to victory. You can team up in mini-games, you can work together to drop wrecking balls onto their head, or you can just blast them with a cross map orbital laser. Winning mini-games lets you pull ahead and act first, before your opponents can take action, and losing means you have less resources.

Okay, so now that I’ve sung the game’s praises, lets talk about the elephant in the room: the mini-games.

Some of the mini-games are very good.

Some are okay.

And some are just not fun.

While the game does let you turn off mini-games you don’t want to play before the game start screen, it’s undeniable that some of these games are just… garbage. There are also quite a few that seem to give host advantage, and others that feel buggy or glitchy. (Looking at you, laser train game.)

This doesn’t bother me enough to stop playing Pummel Party, but it does mean that I usually want to actually play the board game mode instead of just mini-games.

Wrath: Aeon of Ruin

Wrath is good, but it’s not finished. You should wait to buy it for now.

Editorial Note: The images in this article I grabbed from the Steam Page. Usually I take my own screenshots, because independence and other stuff, but I had some difficultly with that, and honestly, the screenshots are accurate. But I don’t want to give the impression that I got all these photos myself.

I really like Wrath: Aeon of Ruin. It gives me a wonderful sense of nostalgia for an era of games that I never actually played, that of the old Doom/Quake/Duke Nukem Era. It might be because you will spend most of the game strafing around gothic corridors with a bunch of weapons. It might be because you will use those weapons against monsters that look like they were pulled from a fire sale at low-poly Lovecraft R Us.

The screaming head dudes with multiple faces are legit fucking terrifying.

And it might be because it was actually built on the old Quake engine. I had a ton of fun playing it, which makes me feel a bit bad about what I’m going to say: Even if this is a genre you love, I don’t think you should buy Wrath yet.

My recommendation doesn’t actually have anything to do with the gameplay itself (despite the fact that I definitely have a few gripes with some of the game’s systems), but instead with the fact that the game simply isn’t finished. There are only four levels, and while they’re good and polished, they only took me about 8 hours to play through on the medium difficulty. I actually delayed this write-up a bit because another update was supposed to come out a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, it just got pushed back to this month… so yeah. While I’m sure they intend to do their best to keep their promise, it may be a while before the game ends up in its final state, and as such, I think you can wait on this one. If you’re reading this article after the summer of 2021, you should probably check to see if it’s fully out, as that’s the current estimate for its release date.

Okay, so with that whole thing out of the way, let’s talk about the other simple truth of the game: I had a lot of fun with Wrath. It’s well polished, and very smoothly executed. It’s just fun to run around shotgunning demons and pulping zombies with a stake cannon. I played Wrath because the gameplay was fun. There was no point where I found myself pushing through a boring bit to get back to the story (there really isn’t one right now) or grinding for numbers. Wrath has more or less zero filler.

This doesn’t mean Wrath is perfect by any means. I have some problems, so let’s talk about them.

First of all, while the game is really fun, if you want to actually replay a level, you need to make a brand new save file. There’s no option to just reload a given level, or to skip to a certain point with weapons unlocked. This is annoying. The second part, that wasn’t super frustrating for me mostly because I was playing on the medium difficulty, is the save system. Wrath lets you save by either reaching a checkpoint, or by using an item called a Soul Tether, which you find and pick up as you play through the game. You have a limited number of these, and while this limit caused me zero problems on the medium difficulty, I can see it becoming frustrating super fast on the harder difficulties. Wrath is in some ways a puzzle game of “Connect The Bullets With The Enemies” and it’s entirely possible to get through a section of the game you’ve already solved, only to die over and over again in a specific area. This means you end up replaying the same parts a lot, and if you’re trying to conserve soul tethers, it can take like five minutes to get back to the point you were at previously, just to get another try at something.

Walking in a winter murder landdddddddd

These were my two main problems with the game. Wrath is fun, the levels are well made, and outside of a slight overreliance on “You touched a button, now we’re gonna spawn in 10 enemies in your blindspot” the game doesn’t really have any patterns that are frustrating. I honestly expected to be seeing the same levels over and over again, but the actual layout and design is quite varied.

So yeah. Wrath is fun, but currently it’s not finished, and it’s rather short. I have some gripes with the save system, and how you can’t replay levels, but outside of that, I’m excited to see what the full game looks like. If it maintains the level of polish and creativity that I’ve seen so far, it will easily be worth the $20-30 price tag I expect to see on it.

2020 Wrap Up, and Future Plans For Gametrodon

As we approach the end of the year, it seems like a good time to look back at what Gametrodon has been so far, and give a few thoughts on its future.

I don’t think 2020 has turned out to be anything like what any of us were expecting. When I started this blog, it was after returning from my first planned convention visit of the year, PAX East, which would end up being my only convention of the year, and one of the very few conventions to not be canceled.

Both of my reasons for starting Gametrodon were related to PAX, and the current culture of how gaming news gets processed.

Reason 1 is pretty simple: I want a press pass. I’m tired of paying full price to attend a convention, wait in line, go to the expo floor, only to be told “Oh, press booth only” and then watch as not a single god damn soul walks by that area for twenty minutes. Like, for fucks sake. Let me use that computer. Let me see your game. As long as this culture of the “Content Creator” continues to favor anyone who can shit out a 10 minute video of themselves making faces at the camera interspersed with still frames, I intend to ride its coattails as far as I feasibly can. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

Reason 2 is also pretty simple: Finding cool games to play has become far too difficult, and I want to help try to solve that. Where I once learned about new games from my friends, these days they seem to just be talking about games I already know.

While this runs the risk of me becoming the gaming equivalent of the friend who won’t drink white wine with fish, and thinks that “Electro swing was better before it got popular,” that’s a risk I’m willing to take.

So, if these were the two aims of Gametrodon, how did we do on them in 2020?

In terms of the whole “Cosplaying as a game journalist” thing, I think I did pretty well. I interviewed Max from Resonym on the costs of Kickstarter, and we talked to Jeremy Choo from Ammobox about how their publisher tried to steal their game. I played the shit out of the demos from PAX East, and found a few things worth keeping an eye on.

That part went great! Let’s talk about the other part: Serving as a source of finding neat, undiscovered stuff that might not show up in other channels.

This one I think I can do better on. Let me explain why.

Right now, Gametrodon is set up like a traditional blog. This is great for my rambling rants on various games, but not great for discovery. I’ve also noticed a few other things about how I write my articles that I want to try to change.

The main problem is that the blog doesn’t necessarily structure itself in a way that leads to discovery of the neat things I found. It’s also much harder and takes longer for me to write about games I like, rather than ones I dislike.

As an example, the Didn’t Make The Cut articles require me to play each game for about an hour. After an hour of any specific thing, I feel like I know if I want to play more. Longer form articles about game I actually enjoy lead to me either wanting to complete the game before evaluating it, or “win” based on the structure of the game.

My plan in the short term to try to deal with this is to switch over to writing three types of articles:

  1. Games I play and like. These get their own full article with nice glossy screenshots, and me ranting about their systems, links to their Steam pages, tweets, parades, public executions. The full nine yards. I think I may have switched events somewhere in that, but whatever.
    Ed Thought: Why is the phrase the full 9 yards, when it’s 10 yards for a first down?
    Ed Note: Okay, so after looking up the phrase, it looks like it has nothing to do with American Football. The more you know.
  2. Games I play and don’t like. No more full articles doing what Vonnegut once called “Putting on full armor to attack a fudge Sundae.” instead I’m gonna try to switch over to a maximum of one “Didn’t Make The Cut” per week, with everything I’ve played and dropped since the last week. Just because I don’t like something doesn’t mean its bad, but it also means I’d rather spend that time on things I like. I’m gonna try to put these up on Mondays.
  3. Weekly Wrap-ups/What we’re playing. These are gonna consist of the most traditional bloggy sorts of posts, in which I’ll write about whatever I please. This will most likely be whatever I’ve been playing, what my friends have been playing, and what we’re planning to play. These will go up on Fridays.

I don’t think that this will be enough on it’s own, so I’m still brainstorming some ways to make it easier to find the links to the games I do like, and do recommend, like a “Random Good Game” button or something, but that will be coming in the future.

So yeah. That’s the plan for 2020. To all of the friends who I roped into writing articles, thanks for contributing. And to all my reader, here’s to hoping that when I write this article next year, I can confidently write that as readers.

Who knows, by the end of 2021, I may even have as many as three people who read this garbage.

Poor One Out – 2020 Edition

I was browsing through my Steam library today trying to find a game to play with a parent, when something caught my eye. It was a notice that a game was closing down. So I’ve decided to collect a few games that didn’t make it through the year, and just note them here.

I also want to stress that to anyone reading this in the future, I don’t want you to think that I somehow believe the loss of these games is equivalent or comparable to the loss of human life involved in 2020. Frankly, I was debating even putting this post up. But anyway…

MisBits

After releasing earlier this year, and after I played it at PAX East, Misbits shut down on August 14th. The final dev posts note that it never hit the population needed to sustain it, and as such, it had to be removed. Still, it’s sad to see how quickly some projects close down.

Duelyst

It was fun, interesting, and different. And it survived a few years. Ironically, both Duelyst and Gigantic, games that Penny Arcade seemed to like a bunch both are dead at this point. I’d say it’s a shame. Duelyst was different.

I’m sure there are other things that ended this year, but I haven’t found any that I played or cared about a ton. In any case, it’s a bitter reminder that all live-service games will eventually shut down, and if game doesn’t support player-hosted servers, the game most likely with never be seen again.

Happy 2020.


Didn’t Make The Cut – 12.25.2020

I spent part of this weekend in what I have come to think of as a public service, pruning and hacking my way through through the massive glut of games that is itch.io Racial Justice Bundle. While some might devote this time of year to giving to the needy, feeding the hungry, and other such charitable pursuits, I stayed home and played video games.

Phrased like that, it seems slightly less heroic doesn’t it? Hmm. In any case, here are 3 of the things I played this weekend, and links to the incredibly high quality stream in which I played them. These are all games that didn’t grab me enough for me to really want to continue playing them past around an hour, and I also don’t have enough to say about them to write a full article. So here we gooooo.

Catlateral Damage

In Catlateral Damage, you are a cat, and you must destroy as much stuff as possible within the time limit. You can jump, and you can bat things left and right. And that’s it. That’s the entire game. It’s a cute concept, but it doesn’t feel super well executed. The controls are fairly floaty, and the things you whack around don’t feel like they have much weight to them. Personally, I also really dislike the art. I think these cats are incredibly ugly… and yeah. The game just didn’t feel great, or look good, so I did a single run playthrough and then called it a day for this one. It’s short and chaotic, but I didn’t find it particularly satisfying or fun to play.

From Orbit

If you told me that From Orbit was an early access game, I would believe you. In fact, after writing that sentence, I went and checked to see if it was on Steam, and it is, but it isn’t early access. Where Catlateral Damage has an interesting premise, From Orbit feels like it got to the next stage of making a good game, which was having interesting mechanics. But it kind of falls apart there because then they didn’t really make anymore game. For example, the idea of having your workers being able to shift form based on what you want to use them for is cool! But then it sorta falls apart.

My biggest gripe, though, has to be that you can only have 4 units (5 if you count the spaceship which you can’t actually control), which is strange for a game that bills itself as an RTS. By this standard, playing as Meepo is an RTS.

My other big gripe is that the resources you gather on a given planet are also the resources you use to buy upgrades to improve your dudes, ship, and unlock abilities. So yeah, you could build a auto-miner, if you’re willing to lose 60% of the haul from a planet, or you could just do the whole thing manually. Oh, and the enemies you face are dumb as bricks. (I do like the flashing red outline you get for your units letting you know they’ve pulled agro.)

Everything else I can gripe about with the game is pretty small. The game doesn’t follow standard RTS controls schemes, you can’t queue commands, you can’t make control groups, attempting to select a unit automatically centers the camera on it, even if what you wanted to do was move it where you were looking BEFORE you selected it.

The stream is here, and the itch.io page is here.

Quiet As A Stone

I have a link to the stream of playing Quiet As A Stone here. I say “Playing” but honestly, “interacting with” might be a more accurate summary. My notes for the game have the following:

  • Experimental Photography Simulator
  • Rather Pretty
  • More like playing with actual rocks thana game

Here are some screenshots of Cragthor the Mountain Titan, the only thing I really did in the game before getting bored and quitting it.

Behold his majesty.

I have a few more games I’d like to do writeups for before the end of the year, so keep an eye out for those. One of them might be Depth of Extinction, which is this neat procedural XCOM/FTL style thing.

I’ve linked the names of the games up above, so if one of these looks like your cup of tea, you should go take a look. At the time of writing, I think From Orbit is actually free.

News of the Week

Another week closer to the end of this hellish year, and it’s actually been a pretty interesting one. I’m not really sure where to start with this quick recap, but I suppose Cyberpunk, being one of the biggest releases of the year, is a good enough place.

So yeah, Cyberpunk is finally out, and apparently it’s pretty shit. The two or three people I know who have been playing it have called it “Fine,” which isn’t really what you want to be hearing. Playstation has just straight up pulled it from sale, which is a bit of a “Holy fucking shit” moment, but given that I’ve heard the framerate described as “Less than cinematic,” makes sense. Oh, and in the time I started writing this, Microsoft has now expanded their refund policy for the game. And Best Buy is just letting you return opened copies.

Just in case CD Projekt Red didn’t have enough bad publicity, a re-release of Devotion was going to open on GOG, only for them to bend over backwards to big daddy Xi Jinping. I really love how other articles are calling the game “Controversial” when the only controversy is making a joke about him looking like Winnie the Pooh.

Also in the incredible fight against dangerous things like thought, Twitch has banned the words simp, virgin, and incel. Incredible. It reminds me of when we won WW2 by banning the term Nazi from being printed in newspapers, and saved the free world. I think they’d be better off banning some of the shitfuckers on their site who constantly flout their policies, but whatever.

So what did I do aside from work?

I played a decent amount of Wrath: Aeon of Ruin, and I was planning to do a writeup on that, but it looks like another level might come out next week on the 22nd, so I’m gonna hold off for a bit. Late night existential stream of that is here.

I’ve been too worn out to play more Amazing Cultivation Simulator, but I’m planning to stream some more. Last weekend’s stream of that is here. And I tried Sea of Thieves, but after playing an hour, it really looks like you need multiple people to really play it, so I’m holding out for some more folks to get it.

Until next time.

Super Mario 35

Just go play Super Mario Bros or Super Mario Maker instead.

If you already own a Switch, and already paid for Nintendo Online, you can download Super Mario 35 and play it. Maybe you’ll like it. Personally, I’m not impressed. If you don’t already have both of those things, it isn’t worth getting them for.

When I first set out to write this article, the opening to it was “Super Mario 35 is Fun,” but I’m no longer sure that’s true. What’s true is that Super Mario Bros is fun, and it turns out that if you modify it, it still remains fun.

But this is like putting truck nuts on a Tesla. For some people knowing that they have a pair of balls on their car gives them the strength to forge onward. I’m not sure why? And for some us, it’s like… Sure. Okay. But I’m not convinced I need those there. Or really want them. I don’t need a pair of rubbery dangly nuts.

Super Mario 35 is a weird thing to review for many reasons, one of which is that the game is only going be around for another 3 months or so. You also can’t actually buy it, you can only get it if you have Nintendo’s online membership service. The best thing I can say about Switch Online is that I like being able to visit other peoples’ Animal Crossing islands and outside of that, it’s just about worthless.

So yeah. It’s a time-limited title that you get for “Free” if you spend $20 to subscribe to an online service that makes dial-up look like Google Fiber, and it’s actually mostly just a Battle Royale strapped to a 35 year old game.

Ed Note: I just realized that this is why it’s called Super Mario 35. That might actually be the cleverest thing about this game.

There really isn’t much else to say about the game honestly. It might be worth downloading if you already bought a Nintendo Online switch membership, but like… Super Mario Bros is 35 years old. It’s older than I am. It’s older than most of my friends. In that time, Nintendo made a bunch more Mario games. They’re still making them. Play those instead. Download a ROMhack, or even just get Super Mario Maker 2.

I can usually find something redeeming in pretty much any game I play, but anything redeeming or interesting about Super Mario 35 exists because of Super Mario Bros, not because of this weird… experiment. It’s “Ice Ice Baby“, something built on top of something else that was really good, but every time I hear it, I’d rather be listening to “Under Pressure“.

News of the Week

So, it’s approaching the end of the year. I didn’t really have a post to write last week, just didn’t have anything I felt able to talk about specifically. But, I still like having my streak going, so here’s something.

That doesn’t mean I haven’t found some neat stuff. Amazing Cultivation Simulator is probably one of my favorite games of the year so far, but I just haven’t played enough to really feel like I can do a writeup yet.

Also played some more Among Us, which might be everyone else game of the year, if only because everyone can play it. As someone who was a pretty hard devotee of Project Winter, it’s interesting to see what feels like a much “simpler” game win out in that space.

I did play a little more Unrailed with some folks, so maybe I’ll finally have something interesting to say about it? And I picked up a DCCG called Mythgard, and then put it back down less then an hour later. I don’t need more CCG’s. I already have MTG: Arena, in which I recently did a few drafts that went horrificly badly. Turns out I’m pretty awful at drafting Kaldesh.

In terms of physical games, not really much else to say obviously either. If you’re following the Pokemon CCG at all, you know that the joys of 2020 have made Vivid Voltage Boxes go for like $150 at the moment, so no chance of picking one of those up anytime soon. None of the Kickstarters I’ve backed this year have started shipping yet or anything, and there’s been no news on Sento Fighter.

(Mild Gripe: The fact that Vivid Voltage is over $150 a box is insane, and incredibly stupid. Personally, I blame Rainbow V-Max Pikachu for that, and by extension, Champions Path. The set isn’t worth $160 a box. Because of all the hype around Champions Path, people are thinking these rainbow rares are worth a lot more then they are. It’ll be interesting to see how things settle after a few more sets, given that I think a lot of this price is just speculation.)

So yeah, thats your news of the week. I guess Cyberpunk comes out soon. I hope the people who pre-ordered it liked it. If you want one of the new consoles, you have to sell a kidney, and I already own a PC, so… yeah. Not much to say on that. I’m not paying $1800 for a PS5.

Have a joyful non-denominational winter season in the middle of this unholy hell of a year, unless you’re scalping graphics cards, trading cards, and consoles, in which case, could you not?

Middle of the Pack

While looking for gold, I found silver. Better than finding lead, worse than finding gold.

Editor’s Note: this article was mostly written during the week of the 2020 elections. Then it wasn’t posted. Whoops.

Writing about games this week felt a bit like re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic, so instead of any big full reviews, I have bunch of thoughts on some things I’ve been playing, even if none of them really stuck with me.

Just think of this article as the digital equivalent of a list of abandoned animals looking for a loving home. Except in this case, I’m the one who abandoned them.

Okay, that fell apart pretty fast, but the core takeaway is just because I don’t like a game doesn’t mean you won’t. If you like the look of a game, clicking the name will bring you to the itch.io page.

Airships : Conquer the Skies

Of the games on this list, I think I liked Airships the most. Like the name suggests, it’s a game about building 2D airships and commanding them around.

Much like with other vehicle construction games I’ve played though, after a bit, I kinda just got bored/stuck. There are a bunch of single player missions and an auto-generated campaign with customizable difficulty to play through, but they didn’t grab me. I suspect a large part of the loop of construction games like this is either making small improvements and testing upgraded ships, or trying to build ships and ideas around a gimmick or trick.

Maybe it’ll be the game for you, though?

Midboss

If Airships was the game I liked the most, Midboss was the one I wanted to like the most. The pitch is simple: an isometric, turn-based roguelike where you can process the bodies of enemies you kill, learning and absorbing their skills. It just never really grabbed me, though, and after maybe 7-10 runs, I put it down and picked up something else. The body snatch mechanic is cool, but often runs turned into more tedious chains of trying to build myself back up after losing a valuable body, and being kicked out.

WitchWay

From what I played of WitchWay, it’s a puzzle platformer. You are a witch. You have a magic wand, and you can use it move blocks. Blocks have their own rules and twists on how they can be moved. And then I stopped playing. There wasn’t really a special reason for it or anything, I was just… done.

Haque

It’s a roguelike, in the classic sense. In both classic senses. Like, in the sense that the entire UI looks like it’s projected onto a CRTV, and also in that it’s a fairly standard procedurally generated dungeon crawler. Unlike everything else on this list, which I would say is the game equivalent of “Just Not For Me Thanks,” Haque’s graphics actively made playing the game harder for me (although they are incredibly on theme). There are sliders to turn off various effects and such, but even with those, reading and understanding the UI annoyed me too much.

IN CONCLUSION

I’d say they’re worth checking out if they sound like your cup of tea. I wanna stress that none of these were bad, so much as they never grabbed me. They’re good, well made games, just not for me.