What I’m Playing This Week

With the holidays last week, I had a ton of time to play games and managed to get through a few Steam titles plus play some of my Christmas presents. Here’s what I’ve been playing.

Grand Theft Auto V

Oh, GTA, where to begin? I hadn’t played a GTA game since Vice City, and while I completed the game I found the experience just okay. After all the recent discussion about GTAV, and all of the amazing reviews its gotten since being re-released for next gen (and getting it for Christmas), I figured it was time to play it myself. I’m only 5-6 hours in, but I have to ask – how the hell did this game get so many review scores of 9.5 and 10? Maybe it just hasn’t hit its stride yet (it did take me a few hours to start liking The Last of Us or DAI too), but the game is just not that fun. So far the game is 90% driving (I guess the title does kind of give that away), and I’ve never found Rockstar to be very good at driving mechanics. Hit one pole and you knock it over and keep going, hit another pole or a chain link fence and you smash to a dead stop. Lightly sideswipe another vehicle and go fishtailing down the road for 300 meters. Plus as far as I can tell, there’s no drift button. Other than driving, and occasional shooting, I’ve also played tennis, rode a bicycle, and swam. I just unlocked the ability to do triathlons which is bizarre. What the hell am I playing?

I think of GTA in much the same way that I think of Goodfellas. It looks good, it has great cinematography and acting, a script with lots of swearing, but every character is just awful, so I don’t give a shit what happens to them. I don’t need characters to be likable but I need something to make me care about them, make me want to know their story. So far GTA has given me nothing to hold my interest. As I play the game the main thought that goes through my head is – I wish I was playing Saint’s Row.

The Path

I’ve been wanting to play The Path for years (really couldn’t tell you what was stopping me) and I finally picked it up during the holidays. In a take on Red Riding Hood, six sisters are each sent to their grandmother’s house and told to stay on the path. Of course, if you stay on the path, you fail. Each girl must go into the woods to explore and find their version of The Wolf.

The Path - six girls

The Path is hard to describe. Gameplay is minimal, you explore the woods, finding objects that the girls can interact with before meeting the wolf and ending up at Grandma’s house. The narrative is not explicit, most of what happens is up to the player’s interpretation. For me, this was a story about girls venturing out into a scary world that changes them, forces them to grow up and lose their innocence. So it’s not the most cheerful game in the world, but it was worth playing.

Blackwell Epiphany

The Blackwell series are really great adventure games, and the finale is no exception. You play as Roseangela Blackwell who, with the help of her spirit guide, helps lost souls to realize they are dead and move on.

Blackwell Epiphany - Rosa and Joey in a graveyard

Besides having great adventure puzzles, the Blackwell series tell an excellent story that really progresses from game to game. It doesn’t feel like a series of episodes connected only by the characters, but like a true progression, with each game building up to this conclusion. Rosa’s character really develops through the series as her experience grows and she learns more about her abilities. I thought Epiphany was a very fitting, though sad, end to the series.

Catherine

Fuck these fucking blocks.

Tales from the Borderlands

I went ahead and gave this a look, despite tiring of Telltale and only one episode being out. I’m enjoying it. As I expected, the comedy does make a difference. I also don’t feel like this game is deceitfully dangling meaningful choices and multiple paths in front of my face. The options seem more about developing the characters’ personalities to my liking as opposed to changing the story. This game also makes me want to play more of the original Borderlands series.

One thing that is bugging me (which is true of all Telltale games on console) is that the right stick just tries to do too much. It’s used to find and select objects, it’s used for 1st and 3rd person aiming, it’s sort of used for camera. As a y-axis inverter it makes gameplay rather awkward.


I’ve also played The Fall and This War of Mine, but I think I might write up full reviews for those.

What have you been playing?

7 responses to “What I’m Playing This Week

  1. I’ve been playing WoW. I have no console to play and to play games online by yourself is depressing.. I sometimes do play Dragon Nest and Aura Kingdom at times but rarely touch them.

  2. For me the pinnacle of the series was always GTA: San Andreas. Driving around aimlessly was half the fun in the end, you never felt like you were forced into a linear progression. And there was always so much to do outside the main storyline. I never played GTA IV, it didn’t appeal to me, and Vice City I watched my friend play. I have a feeling that the appeal of San Andreas lies in the somewhat cartoony graphics – part of what put me off GTA IV was the descent into Uncanny Valley, and when your game is mostly about violence and crime, that isn’t always a good thing.
    I definitely want to play GTA V, but I think a large part of that is based on the nostalgia of being the same setting as San Andreas. I think Rockstar has tried to make GTA super-serious recently, whereas I found SA to have an undercurrent of fun and satire. It’ll be interesting to see how Saint’s Row compares.
    Dahakha recently posted..2015

    • I think the biggest problem I have with GTA (assuming I’m turning off the part of my brain that sees all the gross offensive stuff) is that I just don’t like the driving. There are a ton of stuff to do outside the major missions, but 90% of them are driving some kind of vehicle so I don’t feel really compelled to do them.

  3. grumpymushroom

    I’ve been playing a bit of WoW and trying to clear some of my way-to-long Steam backlog. I managed to clear out Ethan Carter, J.U.L.I.A of the stars (nice game) and aaalllmost done with Contrast. I am enjoying Contrast but I think my brain struggles with the flat/3D and it can become quickly swear-worthy. I usually stop it for a day or two then play another 30 minutes again before frustration with my useless single braincell kicks in.

    Oh and I’m 30% through The Last of Us on PS3 as well. Very much enjoying that although I need to work on my controller-fu. To many years as a pure PC KB+M gamer!

    • Wow, I hadn’t heard of J.U.L.I.A. before but it looks right up my alley. Space and astrobiology. Plus, I have to say it’s really nice to see a female protagonist over the age of 22. I will be getting this for sure.

      I found Contrast hard to get into. I loved the concept and the look but the game felt kind of empty, like there should have been more sounds and visuals going on. I also found it a bit buggy, and often found myself falling into an abyss because it was hard to tell where the floor ended.

  4. My roommate got himself a ps4 for christmas, and for some reason got the one that came with gta V, so we’ve been playing through it. I found myself caring about franklin around 30-50% through the game. The story is told in a way where I want to trevor and michael to self-destruct, hopefully destroy eachother, but watching the two of them care about Franklin and want to see him succeed kind of makes me care about him.

    It’s not much, but it’s something. In general, it’s the kind of game that is most fun played with a friend, while drinking, and making fun of the game while playing it. When I’ve tried to play it by myself, I keep trying to do things that are far deeper than the game mechanics are set up for. Or sometimes, since the story is so lacking, my roommate will just RP a lot more story into the missions, just to keep himself entertained…

    • Franklin isn’t awful, but he’s loyal to so many awful people that I don’t have that much sympathy for him. I’ll see how that changes as the game goes on.

      I do enjoy doing snarky livetweets of the game.