I've had a section of this blog called "What I've Been Playing" for a while now. There are 13 volumes of it, but I'm retiring it because I want to do a more weekly "diary" of what I've been up to in the world of electronic entertainment, while also posing this as a question for y'all to answer yourselves too! So without further adieu, here's what I played this week.
If you follow me on Cohost, you probably saw me inhale this game. I put 52ish hours into it in two weeks. It basically became my full time job. I have lots and lots of thoughts about this game that I'll put in a separate post at some point. But I think the main thing to say about it right now is that despite being janky looking, Astlibra has the most engaging gameplay loop I've experienced in a game in years. The cycle of wiping out screen after screen of enemies to level up your weapons and armor which give you passive buffs you can equip, on top of the dungeon crawler-style stat-upgrading system, kept me hooked like a 12 year old again. I was staying up until 3AM looping through maps over and over again just because it all felt so good.
That said - and again, I'll touch on this in a bigger post - Astlibra is so horny in a very boring, shonen anime sort of way. It's a disappointing mark on a game that I would otherwise consider perfect. So that sucks, but frankly it only slightly detracted from the game for me, both from a plot and mechanical perspective. And I have very little patience for that sort of thing, so that's really saying something about how good Astlibra feels. Check it out if you like Ys, Odin Sphere, Zelda II, Chrono Trigger, or the idea of playing a game made by one man over 15 years of his life.
I played this on Twitch! I absolutely love it. It's an action puzzle game that does something I wish more games did, which is crib from the Y2K Dreamcast aesthetic. No more Super Nintendo nostalgia, let's get into our Power Stone era.
Anyways yeah Vividloop goes hard and it's like $10 on Steam, so check it out if you're curious! I'm excited to plug away at it between bigger games that I'm playing.
I bumped my Steam Deck's settings around a bit and now it's the perfect emulation station again. I have a Steam Deck "review" that I'm writing, and one thing I do mention is how I actually don't use the Steam Deck in portable mode very often, if at all. I'll get into it more there, but what that does end up meaning is that I have a cool little console sitting under my TV that's a PS2, GameCube, Super Nintendo, Dreamcast, and N64 machine, among others.
Right now I'm using it as an opportunity to catch up on PS2 games I didn't play as a kid because of limited resources. For example, Devil Summoner 2: Raidou Kuzunoha vs. King Abaddon, which is something that completely passed me by as a baby Mint, but is super fun and something I wish Atlus would return to. I mean, they won't, because the word "Persona" is nowhere in the title. The mix of action combat and using demons to attack weaknesses and get MP back is a really fun loop. Persona 5: Strikers kind of emulates this structure, but what makes Raidou so interesting to me as someone who knew very little about it is the setting. The Taisho era is extremely cool, and I think more Megaten games should take place in. You know. Not high school.
I'm also finally playing through Shadow Hearts, which is a series I've heard wonderful things about but have yet to experience myself. Again, the setting here is so interesting! I had no idea it took place in, like, the real world, specifically China and Europe in the 1910s. That alone has been enough to keep me engaged in the early hours. The Judgement Ring also has helped keep me awake during the somewhat traditional combat - even though I miss the timing way too often lol. There are aspects that have not aged well, at least near the beginning of the game, but otherwise I'm pretty happy with it. And apparently this isn't even the best game in the series, so that's nice!
Dave the Diver
You've probably heard about this game, and it's as good as you've heard. Dave the Diver is divided into two sections: you dive to collect fish and do story missions in the day, and at night you serve the fish you catch at your restaurant, Diner Dash-style. It's a simple loop that never stops being engaging because of the additional layers that get added to both halves. Diving gets complicated with different weapons to catch fish, upgrading your suit to dive to deeper layers, and other spoiler-y stuff I won't talk about. On the same token, the latter half gets interesting when you add employees that can help around the restaurant, VIP guests that you have to deliver specific dishes to, and new ways you can upgrade your restaurant too.
Dave the Diver was developed by a team at Nexon, and the interesting thing about it is that to me it feels like a mobile game that pivoted towards a console release - but like, in a good way. It's especially apparent to me in the UI/UX, which is so similar to a gacha game called Guardian Tales that I thought it was by the same studio initially. That said, I was struck by how cute this game is! The art and animations are so charming, especially anything involving the chef.
Another thing that I love about this game is that the protagonist is a big guy. We don't have enough big guy protagonists in video games. Dave is great because people underestimate him, but he's kind of a badass. And as of yet there haven't been any jokes targeted towards his weight either. So that's cool! Great game so far.
That's about it! The only other game I'd bring up is Remnant 2, but I'm just getting started with it, so I'll hold off on that. Whatcha play this week? Let me know!