Of course as soon as I wrote that last post, I get laid off! Should have seen that one coming, heh.
Anyways this is a new segment I call "What I've Been Playing," which is exactly what it sounds like. It exists because I find that full reviews of games are exhausting for me, but I still want this blog to have a purpose.
Anyways, let's talk!
Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age - Definitive Edition
Yes that's the real, full name.
DQXIS:EoaEA-DA is a reminder that JRPGs can be good. A "good" JRPG to me is one that isn't stuffed with loli bullshit, and tells a story that isn't groan-worthy. DQXI has both of these things, so it's already a 7/10 for me. What bumps it into fantastic territory is its character moments and town design. The dialogue in this game is sublime, and even the most minor NPCs have interesting things to say, along with full character arcs at times. It's a game that feels like a warm meal on a cold winter day, and I appreciate that.
Also Jade hot.
The only downside I can think of in DQXI is the absolutely atrocious music. Even setting aside the fact that it's made by a bigot, it's just so goddamn bad. Turn it off and play literally any other track you might own on top of it. Or listen to a podcast. This is a good game for that sort of thing, especially during the dungeon crawler segments.
Otherwise, yeah, an amazing game and I hope to finish the third act after taking a break.
Code Vein is called anime Dark Souls, but it's more than that, I think. It feels like Code Vein is designed to spite the standard Dark Souls systems. It's "difficult," but not overwhelming, explorable but not labyrinthian. It's a game that metaphorically and literally gives you a gun to use on people with swords. It's not really a contest unless you're playing the game without an ally, if your cute guy/gal vampire power-fantasy gets interrupted by a swarm of enemies, or annoying tracking attacks.
I liked Code Vein. I finished it in a few days, which is really saying something, considering my gaming habits (finishing shit?? Never heard of her). There are some questionable character designs that I wasn't a fan of, and some melodramatic moments that I skipped, but its gameplay loop was undeniably doing something for me. I recommend it for people who are scared of Dark Souls, because this game definitely is a good entry point into that genre — it'll be more difficult for you than it was for me, but it doesn't punish you for your mistakes as much. Also its character creator is worth the price of admission alone, in my opinion.
It has problems, this is absolutely true. The back-half is too easy for most people, and the lack of fast-travel is a pain. But Indivisible is just so goddamn cute that I can't bring myself to care. I loved Ajna and her group of diverse misfit friends. I loved doing 200 hit combos. I loved the music. And I really loved the platforming. I wasn't expecting Indivisible to change the world when I backed it, but I trusted Lab Zero to make something worth playing, and that happened. It was the perfect length for me, and I see myself doing another playthrough in the future, after the game's issues have been further fleshed out and new characters are added.
Children of Morta
So. This one came out of nowhere for me.
I had heard of Children of Morta before, but I didn't know what to expect from it. I'm only a few hours in, but what I've gotten from it is a beautiful pixel game with engaging dungeon crawling mechanics. Which is great! But what really sets this game apart for me is the story.
I am, in the words of Guile, a family man. It's really important to me and is a long-standing part of the culture I've grown up in. Videogames don't tell stories about family that often. And I'm not including all those games from developers that have a kid and feel the need to make a game about how they'd kill anyone to protect them.
That's what makes Morta so refreshing. It's a game about an entire family that has to fight off a sinister Corruption to protect the land. Between dungeon runs, you get brief moments between the characters that flesh them out and make them feel like more than just character classes you swap between. One of the first in the game is about Kevin, who wants to help his older sister and dad fight as well. I admit that I almost teared up when he was finally allowed to join.
I'm a sap, so this works for me. And just look at that sprite-work! It's gorgeous! I can't wait to keep playing this game and experience more of these story beats.
That's Vol. 1 of "What I've Been Playing!" What about you? Let me know here or tell me @eightbitsamurai on Mastodon! And if you like any of the work I do, consider hitting up my Patreon or Ko-Fi please! :)