It is time to bid a fond farewell to November. I LOVE November, it is one of my favorite months. The weather finally gets cooler, we eat lots of delicious things (left over Halloween candy, then baked goods and feasting for Thanksgiving), and along with that I get a 4 day break from work without using vacation time. In gaming terms some of the YouTubers I follow start doing these long videos on upcoming games for the next year or two, and I tend to enjoy those. All in all, just a fine month and I will miss it. I’m counting down the days to Nov 1, 2024!
On to the recap, which I could really just sum up as “more of the same.”
I’ve set a few games in my ‘rotation list’ aside so that I can maybe finish something. I’ve been leaning heavily into Persona 4 Golden this month, a game that first appeared in the recaps in August! I picked it out of my list because I’m playing it on Game Pass, which used to have Personas 3, 4 & 5 on it, but Persona 5 left the service so I was concerned that Persona 4 might as well, so I’d best finish it.
HowLongToBeat says the main story should take around 68 hours, story + extras should take 84 and completionists should be done with the game at around 136 hours. I’m at about 70 hours but don’t feel anywhere near finished. The story of the game follows our protagonist over the course of a year beginning in mid-April. I’m currently in October which makes me think I’m at the half-way point, though time kind of moves in fits and starts. I still don’t think it’ll take me 140 hours to complete since I’ve spent a considerable amount of time grinding and I’m currently somewhat ‘over-leveled’ for the content I’m doing, but it still may take me 100 hours. I would like to finish it before the end of the year but not sure I can squeeze in 30 hours in a month; at least not without abandoning other projects.
Another game from my rotation that I dabbled lightly with is Final Fantasy XVI. This one entered rotation in June and I don’t even like it very much. At this point I’ve turned the difficulty down to the easiest setting because I just want to follow the story, but even with that there are so many aspects of this game that just waste the player’s time that it grates on my nerves to play. So I pop in, do a side quest or a chunk of a main quest, then set it aside for another week. I’ll finish it eventually though!
The big disruption in my gaming life continues to be Snowrunner, which I started playing on a whim since it hit Playstation Plus Extra, and it has just stuck. In fact during Sony’s Black Friday sale I bought a bundle with the base game and 3 years worth of seasons (expansions). I’m closing in on 100 hours with the game and have primarily played on the 4 maps of the first region, and I now have in total something like 37 maps. That should last me a while.
Snowrunner is a hard game to describe. Or maybe it would be more accurate to say it is hard to describe what is enjoyable about it. The basic premise is that you’re hauling cargo from Point A to Point B, but always in places where the terrain is really rough. The first region is Michigan which has been devastated by a flood and you’re helping to rebuild the infrastructure. That’s the 10,000 foot view. But the minute to minute gameplay is mapping out a route that seems like it would be most efficient and then coaxing your trucks through mud and snow and over rocks, often by using a winch to pull yourself through tough spots. Trucks can tip over, which means driving out with another truck to do a rescue (again, using the winch). Cargo can spill, gas is a constant concern, as is wear and tear on the trucks themselves.
It is generally accepted to be a hard game, even on “Regular” mode (there is a “Hard” mode that I haven’t touched) and there are ways you can choose to make it more difficult for yourself. For example there is a “Recover” option that will teleport your truck to the nearest garage. You can use that if a truck tips, breaks down or runs out of fuel, but I try not to use it because to me this is one of those games where some of the most interesting things happen when trying to recover from a disaster. I guess kind of think of it like recovering from a party wipe in an MMO where you need to do corpse recovery to get your stuff back, and doing it without using fast travel. I read one review of Snowrunner that said it was a hard game but that it tests your patience rather than your skill, and I guess that is fair. Though there is definitely some skill involved, just in the sense of learning what a truck is capable of (each has its own strengths and weaknesses and there are a lot to unlock) and learning some tricks to keep yourself on the move.
Screenshots don’t really convey the pace of the game, so I’m sharing a couple of clips of me doing dumb things with bad results. In both these clips you’ll see I’m moving pretty slowly, and what you see are typical speeds in the game. These trucks do NOT do well at high speeds, if they can reach such speeds at all.
Anyway this is a recap, not a Snowrunner review, so I’ll leave it at that. If you decide to try it, know the first hours are pretty painful as you have crummy trucks and no upgrades and nothing to do but drive around. As you unlock stuff and get to where you can drive around in a truck with fat offroad tires that has a loading crane and can easily pull a big trailer, things get more fun and more interesting. Still, I would say it is an acquired taste, but you can try it for ‘free’ on Xbox Game Pass or Playstation Plus Extra. If you want to get a leg up, here’s a great YouTube playlist from zOrShix who is much better at the game than I am!
Over in VR land, PartPurple got hooked on PowerWash Simulator VR and now she’s got me into it. I have objectively better VR games I could be playing (Assassin’s Creed Nexus, for one) but she finished PWS VR so now I feel compelled to finish it as well! Family rivalry in action!
I feel like we’ve been all over the place this month. We went back and finished Invasion (thumbs up) and The Changeling (thumbs down) on Apple TV+ and now we’re into Monarch: Legacy of Monsters and For All Mankind Season 4. Both have been good so far.
On Amazon Prime we finished Wheel of Time Season 2, and we watched Upload Season 4 (I think?). We really love Upload and want to get everyone to give it a try. It’s about a young dude (Robbie Ammell) who is in an accident and about to die, and is uploaded into an exclusive but micro-transaction heavy virtual world by his control-freak (and very rich) girlfriend. It pokes a lot of fun at our current culture while telling an amusing story using characters that we’ve come to love. Hoping we get more of this.
On Netflix we watched Life on Our Planet which is a documentary about… you guessed it. Life on our planet, from the beginnings up to now. If you like nature documentaries you’ll probably enjoy this one. We did.
For my ‘me time’ viewing, I’m watching Attack on Titan (Crunchyroll) now that the series has come, or is about to come, to an end. I struggle with it a bit as it has a lot of that Shonen-style eye-bulging screaming going on. I hate that. Better was Blue Eye Samurai (Netflix) which was an anime-style show about a half-Western warrior in Edo Japan when xenophobia reigned. The warrior’s blue (and somewhat round) eyes mark them as a monster to many people they encounter. Really good show but it does have a lot of explicit violence and sex (though the sex serves the story and isn’t, y’know, ‘fan service’ stuff).
Virtually nothing. Duolingo Japanese study has taken the place of my reading lately. 60 days in, I can now say “rice and green tea, please” fluently in Japan. Another few months and maybe I’ll learn how to preface that with “May I have…” Crazy!
And that’s the recap! Lots going on in December. More games, the apparently now controversial The Game Awards, the winter holiday(s) of your choosing, and watching people who live in places where there are proper seasons having fun skating and skiing. See you next month!