January 2024

Happy End of January for those who celebrate it. I’m never very happy about any month ending that gets me CLOSER to summer heat. Hell as I’m writing this it’s already warm enough I’m contemplating turning on the A/C. In freakin’ January. [Update: We DID have to turn it on as it was 75F in our bedroom and neither of us can sleep when it’s that warm. Since then it has cooled back down some.]

But before I amble too far down the “humans are destroying the planet” lane, let’s talk about games. I’m still deep in the rebound after finishing a couple of long games in early December. If y’all remember I was trying to stick to a small selection of titles until I finished them all. I made it to finishing two of them, then kind of exploded and that explosion continues. I played way too many games this month to list them all so I’ll just select some of the highlights.

Playing:

Horizon Forbidden West – I loved Horizon Zero Dawn and have played through it twice (replaying a game is something that I very rarely do) but for some reason had bounced off Horizon Forbidden West twice before this new attempt. Well I say “for some reason” but bounce #1 was because when I first started playing I couldn’t remember who any of the returning characters were, which elicited that replay of Horizon Zero Dawn I mentioned. And by the time I’d put 100 hours into that replay I was just kind of tired of bows and mechanical beasts and needed a break. But for bounce #2, I just sort of drifted off.
Alloy crouches in grass while scanning a machine

This time, I’m determined to finish and I’m much farther in than I’ve been before. And while I’m enjoying it, I’m not enjoying it as much as I did the first game. Not sure why…might be a case of more being less. I don’t remember HZD being this expansive and I just tend to lose focus among all the points of interest and side activities. I am also not finding the loot system all that compelling and machines respawn REALLY quickly which can be tedious if you’re trying to explore an area. You barely get the spot to yourself and the darned machines respawn. Last in my grumping, the combat system seems way more focused on matching elemental damage to elemental parts of the machine you’re fighting, which means you need to haul around a truck load of weapons so you have the right kind for each machine you encounter. I refuse to do that, so fights tend to be really lengthy for me.

Like I say, I AM enjoying it but I am not feeling compelled to play every single day in the same way I was for HZD. That in turn kind of dilutes the story since it can be weeks (real time) between story beats and I lose interest in the narrative. Interestingly, I had a very similiar experience with Red Dead Redemption (which I positively ADORED) and Red Dead Redemption 2 (which I bounced off of and never finished). Maybe I should just start avoiding sequels.

Hardlight: Shipbreaker – I talked about this one last month but I’m still trucking along and still enjoying myself. The in-game work shifts last 15 minutes which makes it a good game to play before dinner or something. A long session for me is maybe 3 shifts, then it starts to feel a little repetitive, but by the next day I’m ready for more. I just find it really fun to scan a ship and figure out the most efficient and safest way to get it to break apart. I am not sure I’ll finish it, but I’m still going to keep playing for now.

Here’s a recording of a single shift:

Nobody Saves The World – This is a 2D action game where you roam around an overworld looking for dungeons to clear. The twist is that you start as a very generic hollow-eyed nobody, and as you play you unlock new “forms” that you can morph into. Each form has unique attacks, and they’re very diverse. I’ve been a rat, a knight, a ranger, a slug and a horse (among others). It starts pretty simple but eventually you unlock the ability to mix and match skills and damage types (certain enemies are only vulnerable to specific damage types). It’s a highly rated game and I enjoyed it for a while, but I may be done now.

Combat example from Nobody Saves the World. I am playing as a slug.

This is a case of “It’s not you (the game), it’s me.” I generally am not a fan of 2D cartoony action games so the fact I’ve played as much as I have says something about the quality of the title. Plus the art style, which I don’t know the name of, but it’s that deliberately low-fi style that is popular in adult animation today, is not really my thing. Still for a game I got on PS Plus, I got maybe 7 hours of fun out of it. Not going to force myself to keep playing, though.

Snowrunner – I pulled back a bit from Snowrunner for a while, but towards the end of the month I started getting back into it. Last I looked I was at 125 hours or so and FINALLY finished the first area. Or as much of it as I plan to finish. Each map has 1 or more “Contests” that are time-based and the LAST thing I want to do in Snowrunner is feel rushed. The whole vibe of the game is slow and chill, at least for me. What caused my interest to wane were some logging contracts which just got tedious as I had to haul several loads of heavy logs (which means I was going slow, even by Snowrunner standards) along the same route. I’ve since learned there’s a better way to do this but I just got bored doing those contracts and kind of drifted away. But finally done, I’ve left Michigan behind and have moved on to Alaska where there is actually SNOW!

Palworld – I caught the bug like 7 million other people. I have never played a Pokemon game but so far I’m enjoying Palworld, which seems to me like some twisted parody of Pokemon. There’s a million people talking about this game so I won’t spend a lot of time on it, but just know that this is a game where you bludgeon cute creatures into submission, make them work for you, and maybe decide “Eh, what the hell, I’ll just eat them.”

Enshrouded – About a day after Palworld hit Early Access, Enshrouded did as well. This is another survivalbox game and I need to buy two of these at once like I needed another hole in my head, but the voxel-based building system grabbed me. My immediate reaction to it has been pretty positive and I’m looking forward to seeing how the game evolves as it moves through Early Access.

I haven’t spend a ton of time with either of these last two because, as is typical of me, no sooner did I purchase them than something else grabbed my attention (this time, it was going back to Horizon Forbidden West).

Watching:

Apple TV+: Monarch: Legacy of Monsters S1 and For All Mankind S4 both finished this month and we enjoyed them both. If you’re a Godzilla fan you gotta watch Legacy, and For All Mankind covers the Space Race if it had played out very differently and never ended. In the fiction of For All Mankind we’re now at something like 2010 and we already have a permanent base on Mars.

Disney+: Echo is a ‘street level hero’ Marvel show that we went into with pretty modest expectations but wound up really loving. The main character, Maya, is a member of the Choctaw tribe, and is deaf, and the show kind of explores both those facets or her life in a very interesting way. She was also raised by Wilson Fisk to be one of his main henchpeople, and she is a total badass. It’s short (only 5 episodes) which I think was a good call as every episode feels significant. Really a good show.

Netflix: The Fall of the House of Usher was a show I wanted to watch last Halloween but never got around to it. We’re not very far into it but so far it’s delightfully creepy. My only real complaint is a bit too much emphasis on the sexual appetites of each of the filthy rich Usher family members. Everyone seems to be coercing (seemingly, at least…I suppose some of them may be willing) some underling into being a sex partner. Hopefully now that the show runners have made their point we can move on and focus on the spooky stuff.

Reading:

Slowly making my way through The Sword of Destiny, one of the Witcher books. But really not doing a lot of reading lately.

Other

I dunno where this fits, but I suddenly developed in interest in how videos are made. Maybe it was watching a YouTuber recap a ‘season’ of his videos and talking about all the things he needed to learn to make them. But I’ve been started to noodle around with this in the tinest way. I’ve embedded a couple of clips in the post, just for laughs.

And those are January’s highlights. I’m looking forward to the Persona 3 Remake hitting on February 2nd and plan to jump into that big time. Not far behind that are a few more titles that I’m really interested in: Pacific Drive and Dragon’s Dogma 2. I’ll probably give DD2 some time to age before I jump in, but Pacific Drive might be a day 1 purchase for me. We’ll see. I’m juggling a LOT of games lately!

Hope your January was amazing, and that your February is even better!!

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