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PC Gaming

Call of Duty Vanguard

Completed Call of Duty Vanguard.
And… we’re back to Stalingrad. And now there are sniper duels. Can’t escape this, I guess. There’s an episode similar to Modern Warfare 2020, when you have to sneak around and stab a boss multiple times before he dies. And also there are hard-to-kill machine wielding brutes that came out of Wolfenstein.

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Then we’re in Lybia. There are a few fun guns there: ITRA Burst, NZ-41. Nothing ground-breaking, but again, a nice set of missions. Oh, and you get to play with the Warmachine, but only for a few minutes.

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Then there’s the Berlin ’45 episode. I mentioned that I like when Call of Duty games switch characters. But that’s the first time they do it mid-mission, and it’s great, actually.

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I won’t lament about the game being “too short”. It’s just long enough for me. What I do like is that unlike Call of Duty Cold War it’s a complete story: you don’t need to play 4 more seasons of multiplayer or buy some comics to see it through.

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PC Gaming

Call of Duty Vanguard

Of course there’s Stalingrad. But I’m not complaining. I like the storytelling approach where we switch between characters, instead of having a single character that is a Mary Sue. Stalingrad is alright, no sniper battles at least.

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Then there’s Midway. I don’t know why Call of Duty insist on putting planes in those games. It’s not annoying, but also not very fun.

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Then we’re in jungles of Papua New Guinea. Wade for some reason has a “slomo”+”see through walls” focus ability, something other characters lack. Since we’re fighting against Japanese, there’s plenty of exotic weapons, like Type 100 SMG and Type 11 LMG, that requires you to aim with your left eye 😬

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PC Gaming

Reacher S01

Finished first season of Reacher.


It’s nice, if you look at it as another version of Punisher. Not the TV series, I didn’t actually like those. But Punisher as a concept. It’s a story about a huge guy that refuses to die, and solves every injustice by killing everyone who’s unjust.

I couldn’t care less about the childhood memories. Everything else was fine, though. The dialogues are punchy, and the fighting scenes don’t make you cringe.

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PC Gaming

Call of Duty Vanguard

With the mounting mechanic, the game feels like Battlefield, may it rest in peace. But I’m not complaining, this makes the campaign far less chaotic. Interesting that you can also mount corners.
The entire game feels like a tribute to Inglorious Bastards, so it’s no wonder that the Nazi villain cosplaying Landa.

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From 1945, we jump to 1944, D-Day, but at least not Omaha Beach this time. A paradrop instead. Just a cutscene, really, nothing fancy. We then have a brief stealth episode. Stealth never worked in Call of Duty, because they never bothered with visibility or sound markers or queues. But we’re taught that you can shoot through wooden floors.

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The violence is a surprise. A mean, it’s a 2000s level of violence, with heads and arms blown off. I got used to dolls without even bullet holes in them.

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PC Gaming

Excavation of Hob’s Barrow

Completed Excavation of Hob’s Barrow.
What a beautiful game.
I like how modern point’n’click adventures respect your time. I suck at those games, I really do. But with this game, I didn’t need a walkthrough once. I didn’t even get stuck for more than 10 minutes. Even at the barrow, when you have to do some password picking, there are plenty of clues, and the password is pretty much written down in front of you.
It is indeed very lovecraftian. It doesn’t try to scare you, though, not directly. There are no “screamers”, and nobody actually dies, imagine that!
An archeologist is invited to excavate a barrow. She discovers that her father, who fell into a coma 25 years ago, is the one that excavated it previously. She’s then told that if she removed the seal that he placed, he will come back to his senses.
But it’s all an elaborate lie, of course. Some of the villagers are interested in releasing the ancient god that was sealed in the barrow, and it seeks revenge. Beautiful story, brilliantly voiced by some great actors.

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PC Gaming

Excavation of Hob’s Barrow

A Lovecraftian point’n’click adventure, similar to Shadow of the Comet. Feels a bit like the Last Door too.

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Thomasina, an expert on barrows, is invited to a remote village in the UK to inspect a strange barrow.
Uncharacteristically, there’s is a kind of “Mass Effect dialog system”, where you often have to choose if you want to be pleasant, rude, or to deflect a question or an ask.

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You can see this isn’t ScummVM when the character moves to the background. The pixels are too dense, and also the shadows are too modern.

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Emulation PC Gaming

Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty

I always thought that New ‘n’ Tasty is just a remaster of Oddworld: Abe’s Odyssey. Turns out it’s a complete remake. I never played Abe’s Odyssey, so I gave it a try as well.

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And I think I prefer the remake better.

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The game itself is a puzzle-platformer, akin to Another World, featuring mostly defenceless or at least not very heavily armed hero that needs to sneak past or cleverly incapacitate his enemies.
At later stages he also gets the ability to possess enemies, ride a local version of Yoshi and there are also some weird “puzzles” where you need to repeat a sequence of notes after other Mudakons.

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One notable feature that the remake didn’t need, though, are particles flying into the camera:
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It’s ingenius.

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PC Gaming PSX Sony

Need for Speed High Stakes

I fondly remember Need for Speed 4 from my childhood. I had a friend who was really good at this game, unlocked all the cars, while I always was terrible at racing games, so I didn’t even manage to complete the first tournament race.
So, I decided to revisit it. And it is still brutal. You need to pay entrance fee for most tournaments. You car gets damaged and needs repairs. To compete in eponymous “High Stakes” race, where you stake your car against opponents, you need an extra car.
At first I thought that upgrades, tucked away in one of the menus, will help. But it’s quite pointless, since opponent cars are upgraded as well.
Some of the tracks are extrucicating. With 8 laps, they take 15 minutes of real time. And this is before modern racing features such as time rewind and guidelines.

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PC Gaming

“BlazBlue – Fighting Game Retrospective”, Thorgi’s Arcade

Arc Systems lost rights to most of the original Guilty Gear characters during the Sammy/Sega merger
So they decided to create a new series, with a new set of characters. The authors of Guilty Gear and BlazBlue are not the same, although they’re good friends and both worked for Arc Systems.
Guilty Gear was becoming more and more complicated, so BlazBlue was also supposed to be simpler.
Toshimichi Mori wanted to make JRPGs, not fighting games. That explains the sprawling storyline of BlazBlue

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PC Gaming

Fuga: Melodies of Steel

Slightly melancholic JRPG about Nazi dogs kidnapping a French cats village, and six children from that village commandeering a tank and trying to save their families. Of course Valkyria Chronicles comes to mind here.
It plays as a linear set of battles, with some visual novel breaks in between, where you pick which characters to bond, similar to later Fire Emblem games. Bonded characters get special attacks when they are put together in the same turret.
The fights are turn-based with priority. You try to exploit enemy weaknesses to one of three types of ordnance to push them down in priority, ideally destroying some of them before they manage to attack you.
If your crew dies, you just have to repeat a few battles. It is explained as time-travel in the story, though.

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PC Gaming

Graven

The game made me rage-quit a couple of times. But that is something you should never do. When you quit, enemies respawn. And your valuable ammo does not.
The fight with the Archivist boss instead of being fun felt mostly annoying. The boss can pass through walls, has a ranged attack that kills you in two hits. And another attack which slowly drains your health, apparently? I couldn’t figure out how it works, and the game doesn’t explain it properly. And it can kill you as soon as you respawn. Sounds like fun?
Not as “fun” as backtracking without a map and with tons of respawned enemies. Funny enough, judging by the few game guides, there was a map at some point, until it was removed.
Inadvertently I finished the first episode. I expected that I’d be able to finish some quests, as meaningless as they are, but I was thrown right into the second one.
I rarely drop games, but I think for Graven, I’ll make an exception. Which is a shame, I did enjoy the art style. But the lack of saves, a map, and a combination of too many enemies and not enough ammo, coupled with some bugs ruined it for me.

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PC Gaming

Graven

I expected Hexen 2 or maybe Heretic 2, but it feels more like Strife, with a proper town to explore, or even Arx Fatalis, as you expected to throw boxes around and burn wooden planks with fire spells.
It only takes a few hits for you to fall. Unreal was also quite unforgiving, but at least there was a save/load option. Here, I died a couple of times because I didn’t understand that there’s a lot of stuff that can blow up. Not just red barrels, but also red crates (no, they don’t contain ammo) and what I considered some altars, and turned out to be piles of tar. When you die, you lose some money.
Flying enemies are a bane in most FPS games. But here, they are tiny, hard to hit, almost black, and have an AoE attack that kills you in a couple of hits.

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PC Gaming

Unto The End

Completed Unto The End.
I think that there’s a fine line between being vague and obscure. At some points you’re asked to make an offering or a trade, and it’s not clear what exactly is expected. I guess I guessed luckily and assembled a Wanderer’s Totem, that let me past the “Ancient One”. But I have no idea what would have happened otherwise.

One annoying bit is that the game has frequent checkpoints, but it doesn’t allow you to revert to the last one. The only option is to start the game from the very beginning. And sometimes you do get in an unfavorable situation, like not being able to see your enemies behind obstacles or losing your last torch, stumbling in darkness, unable to progress or die.

Some fights felt like too much guesswork for me too. In those case, you’d be lucky to have a spare spear. And I just ran past some of the enemies. Often they’ll leave you alone if you do.
Only on the last boss I discovered that there’s a setting to slow down fights. To my defence, I didn’t know it’s the last boss either. It’s not graceful, as it slows everything, including character movement. Luckily, the boss is quite fair and takes only a few hits to go down.

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PC Gaming

Unto the End

This is an interesting mix. Minimalistic interface, slow moving character and traps resemble a limboid. But there are fighting mechanics, with telegraphing enemies, resembling soulslike.

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But then there’s no visible stamina, and no penalty for death, no bloodstains. There are campfires, though. There’s also roll vs block mechanic, but here the game adds something I haven’t seen in this genre, although it appears in fightings: high and low blocks. Every enemy telegraphs a chain of high and low attacks, and if you block all of them, you can riposte.

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One nice detail is that you can upgrade your armor by collecting different junk, and it changes your appearance slightly.

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PC Gaming

Chorus

Completed Chorus.
It’s quite a spectacular game, in the most direct sense. You’d rarely see more magnificent space battles as the backdrop of your exploits.
The final battle with “the Dragon” can get overwhelming a bit: swarms of nanomachines, space rays, and meteorites (what?) flying at you from all directions, while you need to chase the ever-rotating serpent. But thanks to checkpoints, it never gets to the point of being truly annoying.

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The story is exactly what you’d expect: a Mass Effect, gather everyone together the beat the Cosmic Evil kind of story. But it’s well executed, in a classic sense.
Funny that although at the beginning, the game tried to force you to switch between weapons, by the end you can do fine with just the minigun.
And the final episode where you just spear through frigates is again, just spectacular.

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PC Gaming

Chorus

The soundtrack of this game is just amazing.

As you get more skills, the game becomes more fluent and less annoying. The enemies that have impenetrable shields and set dozens of mines around them fall prey to the Jedi-lightning.
Despite the game having only three types of weapons, they still managed to have some variety with them. Miniguns can be replaces with slug throwers, which are slower, but pack more punch. And there’s an entire quest line dedicated to getting the Werewolf missile launcher and its upgrades, which, unlike other missile launchers, allows to ready a salvo of hard-hitting missiles.
There are a few annoying episodes. First is when you need to fight Faceless Swarms in a tight cave. You are expect to do so by spearing through them, but doing so in a cave is not the best of ideas.
Then when you replay Rasar’s memory, but without Rites. Dogfights without Jedi tricks in this game can be though.

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PC Gaming

Diablo 4

Just as I complained that I’m not getting any orange drops, I got my first proper orange drop. And a bow at that.
I feel that there’s a lot of backtracking for a modern game in Diablo 4. Maybe that’s intentional, or maybe I’m missing something, but I often couldn’t jump to the dungeon entrance, like with the “cerberus” dungeon, or back to the quest-giver, like with the “druid on a tree”. Sometimes you have to mow through the same mobs again. Sometimes you’re just walking the empty halls. Both doesn’t add anything to the game experience.

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Around level 30, end of Act 2, the game becomes a slump. The monsters are getting more and more meaty, but your gear doesn’t scale with them. And that “orange” bow you picked a few levels ago is now doing same DPS as the “blue” drops.
Also, because it’s an open-world game, and the monsters simply level up with you, there’s this discrepancy that you just defeated The Guardian of Cathedral of Hatred, but then you fell victim to a porcupine.

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Ironic that the one of the best written quests is also annoying to complete. The sad story about the Goose Sign, I mean.

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PC Gaming

Diablo 3 a Cautionary Tale 12 Years of Development Hell, Indigo Gaming

I wasn’t much interested in Diablo 3 when it was announced, as I didn’t even play the Lord of Destruction at the time. So to me all the promises and changes are fascinating, especially as I know the final product well enough.
Even more interesting that some things that they promised in Diablo 3 were actually later implemented in Diablo 4.

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PC Gaming

Chorus

Piloting is quite tricky, as enemy ships are very agile, frustratingly so. Luckily, since we play as Sith turned Jedi, we have an ability to teleport behind an enemy, alighting the reticle while doing so. Helps a lot during fights with the smaller enemies.
Speaking of bigger enemies, Wraiths started to appear during missions, which I guess are frigates or maybe corvettes, the game doesn’t specify, I think. The game also only half explains how to defeat those. First you hit the thrusters to disable other shields. Then you fly inside wrecking everything. That disabled the shields around the tractor. Then you destroy the reactor and fly out as quickly as you can, since it is hinted that the explosion can take you out, although I haven’t stayed yet to validated. All that while invincible until the end turrets are hitting you.

 

The game world is divided into half a dozen zones, each an asteroid field, basically. The zones are quite wide, but not very deep, although there’s still some verticality. The main missions usually have multiple objectives, which you can do in any order. Then there are sidequests and even some random encounters. Can this be called a space-sim-RPG mix?
To add to the metaphor, equipment comes in “sets”, like the “green” items in some Diablo games. If you install 2 or 4 items, you’ll get bonuses. Quite significant, I must say: seeping enemy shields, for example.

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PC Gaming

Chorus

That’s the game I was always confusing EverSpace with. And there are some good reasons for that. It’s also a modern arcade space-sim, for one.
But it’s very narrative driven, unexpectedly so. Nara, the protagonist, served the Cult, and even destroyed a planet with all its population once, which torments her. She has a sentient ship, Forsaken, which she calls Forsa, and the ship has a score to settle with the Cult too.

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As I mentioned, I respect space sims that don’t just threat all spaceships as fighters. Here you’re quickly given a capital ship to pilot for a short while, and it’s interesting. It does have turrets, although not autonomous ones. But you can fire them in any direction, not just the direction the ship is facing, which makes a lot of sense.

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Like in many other games, there’s the shields-and-hull mechanic. Some weapons are better against shields, some are better against hull, so you need to switch all the time. But here they changed the role of missiles a bit. Missiles are used against armoured enemies.
The mechanic Chorus leans heavily into is drift. And I’m not a fan. In some games, you have the inertia system, where you can gain velocity then spin in any direction and still follow your path. Here, by default there is no inertia, you fly where you point your nose. Unless you enable drift. This is a nice system, and in other circumstances I may have even liked it. But the beginning of the game is full of ancient temples with narrow corridors and regenerating locks, that you need to hit in a short period of time while drifting. And this isn’t fun at all.