What Remains of Edith Finch (PS4): COMPLETED!

Spoiler free bit:

Firstly, there are some great toilets in the game. I feel that needs to be said because although there was an inevitability I’d buy the game anyway, I was tipped off about them and it just made me want it more. One of them even features in a most unusual way. More of this sort of thing.

What Remains of Edith Finch tells the story of Edith Finch, returning to a really quirky house where she used to live, after the death of her mother prompts her to discover “family secrets”. The main one being the open secret that the entire Finch clan seems to be cursed and everyone died in unusual circumstances, leaving Edith the last of the line.

It plays out as a narrative discovery experience, and feels a lot like Gone Home and The Vanishing of Ethan Carter. There’s no actual paranormal stuff, like in Ethan Carter, but there’s more mystery than the story and house in Gone Home, so it fits somewhere between the two.

As you explore the house that you’d lived in for years but was never able to freely roam (as relatives died, their rooms were sealed off), how each person died is revealed and some of the mystery surrounding them explained. Edith discovers the conflict between Edie (her great-grandmother, Finch matriarch and oldest surviving member of the family) wishing to embrace the family “curse”, and her mother wanting to hide it from Edith and leave the house which she believed would save them.

Gameplay is sparse as you’d expect from this genre of game, with little more than operating handles and latches. As you read messages left by your relatives before they died, or letters, poems or even comics written about them, parts of their stories play out. It’s here where more control is given, such as chasing a bird, swimming in a bath, or flying a kite.

It’s only a couple of hours long, but Edith Finch is interesting. I didn’t get answers to every question (and seem to have missed how Dawn and Sanjay died completely), but perhaps that’s not the point.

Spoilery bit:

I’ve a complete playthrough video somewhere but Twitch seems to have eaten it. Never mind.

I just wanted to make some additional comments that you really shouldn’t read until you’ve played the game yourself. So if you haven’t, look away now!

The main thing I wanted closure on, was Milton. Like Walter, he just “disappeared”, but whereas Walter’s somewhat bizarre life was eventually revealed, complete with his ironic death, Milton’s never was. Even his gravestone only actually shows his birth. When you enter his room, and it shows his flickbook, it seems to imply he painted a door, went inside, and disappeared. There’s even a painted door in the room.

Of course, this would mean some sort of magical or supernatural element is needed, and although this is implied a few times, it’s possible to explain all of the deaths rationally as just accidents. Aside from Lewis’ mental health effectively causing suicide and Barbara’s apparent murder, anyway. There’s no curse as such, just a lot of terrible coincidences. Isn’t there?

Also: What was moving in the garage at the beginning? That was never explained.

Finally, a point about Edith herself. Her “arm warmers” change from the opening on the boat to when she arrives on the island, so it’s clear she’s someone else. Very early on it’s obvious she’s pregnant, but it would have been nice for this to have not been made quite so clear before the “reveal” at the end. About an hour into the game she even narrates she’s 22 weeks pregnant. As an aside to this, the whole game is her son reading her journal in which she reads other journals or notes which then play out. It’s a bit… Inception.

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Passpartout: The Starving Artist (Mac): COMPLETED!

Ah, the life of a French artist, living off his art, being French. Literally being some sort of frog like a racist stereotype. In Passpartout, you are this frog painter, and it’s your actual art that you sell.

Well, I say art. With tools even Microsoft Paint would sneer at, it’s not easy creating a masterpiece. Thankfully, as it turns out, whatever algorithm the game employs to determine the value and demand for your painting seems unconcerned with skill and it’s more about colour and complexity, depending on your customers.

Take George, for example. He’s easily pleased. My simplistic pictures of legless caterpillars with giant eyes always sold to him. Mary, however, would sarcastically comment on their lack of complexity and Don simply couldn’t abide the colours I used.

After experimenting with colour schemes and shapes, it seems the more realistic the picture the less chance I’d had of selling it. Generally more abstract shapes (big blocks of cheese went down well for a while), cartoony characters (a number of pictures staring a muscular crab sold for a high price) and those ever loved caterpillars allowed me to progress.

By the third act, it was clear that my clients just wanted grey pillys with big eyes, so I plied them with many variations on the same theme. Eventually I created one that was grey and red, and the massive bid I received for it basically completed the game for me. Which is just as well, as after five hours of creating things that either didn’t sell or were virtually the same as previous paintings, I’d started to flag. There’s probably a message in the end sequence where Passpartout is said to have become very rich, but I suspect he was just a caterpillar sellout and drank himself into oblivion to save the agony of 50 years of repeating himself.

Here’s a load of my “arts”, for your perusal:

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Blaster Master Zero (Switch): COMPLETED!

You know my post from a couple of days ago where I said I was going to concentrate on a couple of games from the Christmas Game Pile? Well, I ignored that and started – and completed – Blaster Master Zero instead.

I’d previously played the demo and quite enjoyed it, but not enough to actually buy it. However, I later learned two important things about it:

  1. It was made by the same people as Mighty Gunvolt Burst
  2. It’s a Metroidvania

So that was me sold, and as it was cheap recently, it was purchased. And it’s excellent.

You navigate your surprisingly nimble jumping tank around various areas, which in true Metroidvania style have sections you can’t reach until upgrades are found. Sometimes, you have to hop out and proceed on foot, often entering rooms where the action becomes more overhead. You can run around the main levels without your tank too, but you’re hopelessly underpowered and even a pretty short drop kills you instantly.

There are loads of bosses to contend with, most of them in these on foot areas, although they’re all very easy. Even more so once I noticed you could change your weapon style in a Mega Man sort of way. Ice baddies are no match for your flamethrower, and bosses that consist of many parts (or waves of smaller baddies) can be damaged all together with a spark attack.

Click to view slideshow.

Poorly tying it all together is a crazy plot involving an android, a frog and a load of mutants, but that’s not really important. What is important, is how much fun it is upgrading your tank, reaching new parts of old levels, playing Colour In The Map, and simply exploring. I’ve beaten the end boss, but I suspect there’s more to do here since there are bits of the map as yet unvisited, a number of caves that were too dark to see in (so I left them), and the ending wasn’t as positive as perhaps it could have been.

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Battlefield 1 (PS4) – Completed



Off to a good start on the 52 game challenge, Battlefield 1 completed. Some of the campaign missions were difficult especially The Runner missions where I was playing that section wrong and trying to kill the enemies on route when you simply had to leggit!!

Really enjoyed the Tank & Plane missions.

Next game is Telltale's The Walking Dead New Frontier.

Currently Playing, January 2017

As an alternative to a catchup post, here’s a catchup post. Only it’s more to declutter my game playing mind after a flurry of new games obtained over the Jesus Birthday Period. Got that? Right.

So for Christmas I got four Switch games – Splatoon 2 (which I’ve covered already), Super Bomberman R, The Lego Ninjago Movie Video Game and Fire Emblem Warriors. Because my wife is the most excellent of wives.

I also got quite a bit of eShop credit, and spent a bit of that on Gorogoa (also covered) and a game I’ve had my eye on a lot, Blaster Master Zero. I also accidentally bought the Ghostbusters and Lego Batman story packs for Lego Dimensions.

Oh, and because I had some Steam credit and because Cool Ghosts made me want them, I’ve picked up Passpartout: The Starving Artist and The Norwood Suite. Like most games they may sit unplayed until I buy the Switch version in the future instead. Ho ho.

Mainly, I’ve played Splatoon 2. I completed single player, and have reached Level 4 online.

With my daughter I’ve played quite a few matches of Super Bomberman R and I’m pleased to reveal that whatever was “wrong” with it at launch has now been fixed. Aside from the graphical style (which has never been good since they stopped using pixels), it’s Bomberman. And Bomberman is great.

I’m not actually sure I remember what the issues everyone had with the  game back when it came out now, but I’m not seeing anything now. It’s fun!

Once I finished Splatoon, I moved onto (again with my daughter) The Lego Ninjago Movie Video Game which as well as having the most ridiculous game name ever, is actually a little different to other Lego games. You have lots of fighting moves at your disposal, and instead of red bricks you have XP to obtain that levels you up giving you “powers” to unlock in a sort of skill tree. It’s early days yet (we’ve only done the first few levels), but I’m liking it a lot so far.

And finally, I’ve played a bit of Passpartout: The Starving Artist. Yes, I know I said it’d probably sit unplayed – and it might yet – but it’s quirky and silly and I love making crap art and selling it for peanuts. I mean look:

And of course, I played some more Stardew Valley, but as I posted the other day, I consider that “completed”.

Other than that, I got given a few games by @IndieGamerChick as part of #indiexmas. First up, was a game called Gunmetal Arcadia Zero. It’s by the same team as You Have to Win the Game, which I coincidentally, played, enjoyed and completed recently. This game is a lot like Zelda II and Castlevania II, and has a familiar NES feeling to it. It’s pretty good so far.

Also from her was Kid Tripp for the Switch. Yep, she (and the devs, Four Horses) gave away a Switch game! It’s a simple “forced runner”, but with lovely blown-up pixel graphics. There’s a nice rhythm to each level, albeit not a “musical” rhythm like, say, Bit Trip Runner, and it plays well. It’s just so very, very hard.

Finally, another game (also from Four Horses) is Digger Dan DX for the 3DS, a homage to Boulderdash. Judging from the number of levels, it’s huge! I’m enjoying it so far.

And that… is everything. I think! Phew, eh? For now, I’m going to try and slim this lot down to a couple of titles just to make it manageable. Ninjago will be one, and for the moment at least, Passpartout will be the other. Find out soon if I actually do this or not!

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52 Games in a year

I spent way too much time last year enjoying films instead of playing video games, I am going to try and reverse that this year by playing more video games in fact I am going to try for 52!

This is going to be almost impossible looking at the number of completed games in previous years. 2017 (13), 2016 (22) & 2015 (17) but I am up for the challenge.

I've started with Battlefield 1 (Campaign mode) enjoying the war stories. The tank & plane missions were good fun but the game also shows the horrific side of war. Surprisingly I also watched Dunkirk yesterday (can't totally give up on watching films just limiting them to 1 or 2 a week).

On my list so far I have Prey, Flower (which I have never completed), Wolfenstein 2 & Abzu.
DLC content does not count it will have to be a full game.

2017 Review inc Game of the Year



It has been a pretty bad year for gaming with only 14 games completed (excluding DLC)

Lego Star Wars - The Force Awakens (PS4)
Destiny - Rise of Iron DLC (PS4)
Tiny Rails (iOS)
World of Final Fantasy (PS4)
Tiny Troopers (PS4)
Costume Quest 2 (PS4)
Firewatch (PS4)
Titanfall 2 (PS4)
Letter Quest Remastered (PS4)
Horizon Zero Dawn (PS4)
Steamworld Dig (PS4)
Ghost Recon Wildlands (PS4)
Destiny 2 (PS4)
Lego Avengers (PS4)
Uncharted Lost Legacy (PS4)

It has been very difficult to find any time for gaming & it does not help when that time is wasted playing broken games like XCOM2 or games that just go on forever & I got bored of playing them like Persona 5.

I purchased a PSVR unit in June and have played various smaller games & experiences which are not on the completed list. PSVR has been a breath of fresh air & I am utterly amazed at the technology & experiences it can deliver.

From the list above Firewatch, TitanFall 2, Horizon Zero Dawn & Ghost Recon Wildlands have been the most enjoyable experiences this year but it is Horizon Zero Dawn which I have enjoyed the most this year. Aloy's adventures in a post apocalyptic world overrun with robotic creatures is a pleasure to explore & the combat is challenging with a range of various weapons that you need to switch out depending on your foe.

I have enough on the shelf already for 2018 but it is Red Dead Redemption 2 & Dragon Quest 8 that I am most looking forward to playing.

Stardew Valley (Switch): COMPLETED!

In theory, Stardew Valley could go on forever. However, it gets to a stage where there’s very little left to achieve and so, fun aside, no point in carrying on. I’m not quite where I would want to stop playing just yet, but I do feel that after 120 hours (count ’em) it’s finished.

I’ve achieved most of the achievements, unlocked Qi’s casino, shipped every item, got married (to Emily), finished the Community Centre, broken into the witch’s house for the wizard, unlocked the sewer, reached the bottom of the mine, made (in total) over 4 million gold, reached level 10 in all the stats, and maximised my relationship with almost everyone 1.

So yeah, it’s completed.

Until they release the two player mode update, and then I’m back in, I expect.

Notes:

  1. bar Elliot and Sebastian – Elliot won’t talk to me, Sebastian is a misery

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Splatoon 2 (Switch): COMPLETED!

I am fully aware that the main point of Splatoon 2 is the online component. In fact, I’m sure – like I was with the first game – that the single player mode exists simply because Nintendo has a “Single Player Mode” box that needs ticking somewhere.

But – again, like the first game – the single player mode is excellent and sorely overlooked by so many. In Splatoon 2 it also acts as a fantastic tutorial for the different weapons in the main, er, online game.

It plays out across five themed worlds, with each containing 6 or so levels. They’re inventive platforming, shooting, or puzzle based challenges – up there with 3D Mario games in many respects. A number of types of enemies, giant rolling balls, car wash rollers of ink, invisible platforms, hidden items – it has it all. At the end of each world there’s a big boss battle.

Generally, I found the levels themselves more difficult than those in the original Splatoon, but the bosses were far, far easier. Which is good, actually – some were too hard before.

So it’s short, it’s fun, and it could quite easily exist as a game in its own right. But now, I think I should play online a bit.

 

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Gorogoa (Switch): COMPLETED!

It’s pretty hard to describe Gorogoa. When I originally read a review, it sounded like a cross between The Witness and Yellow, both games I liked so it prompted me to buy it.

But it isn’t like those. Or it sort of is. Like The Witness, there are environments to manipulate to solve depth-busting puzzles. Shapes to match up, find, or merge. Sometimes you can remove a layer of a vista to create a second scene to work with, and it’s here it very much diverges from The Witness.

Like Yellow, it’s not clear how you achieve your goal, but there’s a puzzle to each chapter solved with slightly guided tapping. Beyond that, it’s not Yellow any more either.

The screenshots don’t explain or do it justice, and it’s not about when everything is in motion either. Perhaps an early example will help? OK, so there’s a bit where you have two doors, one diagonal from the other. They’re shut, and a boy needs to go in the lower one to reach the upper one.

In another scene, there’s a pair of doors in a similar layout with open doors and steps joining them. If you overlay these doors over the first set of doors, the scenes “flatten”, like layers in Photoshop, creating a way forward.

But that’s just the start. There are puzzles within puzzles within puzzles. Sometimes two vistas have separate puzzles that when solved create a solution to a joint puzzle. Which is part of another puzzle. It’s puzzles all the way down.

And it made me feel very clever. And there’s a lot to be said for games that do that.

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