Minecraft: Story Mode – Episode 5 (PS4): COMPLETED!

Castles in the sky.

Well, this episode improved on the previous one somewhat. Sure, it was more QTEs and terrible fighting, but the story (a mostly standalone one, rather than a continuation of the previous one) was OK. It was funnier than the other episodes too, which helped.

The chicken was great, and although cliché I did like the Fight Club references. Not sure why Ivor has gone from Bringer of Evil to the comedy character though.

Anyway, with that done the setup for the next (and presumably further) episodes appears to be Sliders. As in the TV show, rather than little hamburgers.

Minecraft: Story Mode – Episode 4 (PS4): COMPLETED!

Bacon, anyone?

Meh. This episode was pretty boring. Some puzzles that weren’t (again, you’re told how to complete them, or they’re blatantly obvious). Far too many QTEs, including what would have been an “epic finale” only it was full of QTEs.

Am I missing something? Am I just making the dialogue choices in the game which completely avoid all of the adventure and puzzle sections? Have I put it on “I’ve never played a video game before help me mummy” mode in the options?

I’m also confused as to why the story ended when there are four more episodes left to go. On the plus side, there are only four more episodes to go.

Minecraft: Story Mode – Episode 3 (PS4): COMPLETED!

Dropping the F-Bomb

Things should be getting good now, right? I mean, there are Endermen (nope, no idea) and a massive room made of wool. And we’re making a giant bomb (hilariously referred to as an “F-Bomb”)! And collect five pink blocks that aren’t even hidden in a room. Puzzles? Nope. Interaction? Barely. QTEs? Oh hell yes!

So this is how it’s going to be. I can’t really complain, as that’s just how some games are. It isn’t a bad thing. But I was expecting an adventure game. All of the choices I’ve made so far have had very little impact either. I said something that made Lukas really angry, when presumably one of the other options didn’t. In the next conversation with him no more than two minutes later, he was fine again. What was the point?

Plot-wise, I found Soren, we escaped from his house in “The End” (no idea what relevance that location name has either), then I made a bomb and blew up the Wither. Only, of course, it isn’t dead because this was only the 3rd episode and there are five more.

Am I enjoying it? Sort of. Is it what I wanted? No. What I expected? No. What I’d have bought knowing what it was like? No. Hmm.

Minecraft: Story Mode – Episode 2 (PS4): COMPLETED!

Cutie E.

Did things get better in Episode 2? Erm, no. Not really. More terrible combat, some out-of-the-blue QTEs, and not a single puzzle. Unless you class “click on everything” a puzzle. And if you do that, you’re an idiot.

Jesse went with Olivia to find Ellegaard or something. I had to click on everything outside of her “dome”, which opened her “dome”. Then I just clicked on what I was told to click on. Then we ran away, with some more QTEs. And then you go somewhere else, find Ivor, fight him and it’s the end of the episode.

This really isn’t up there with previous Telltale Games games, for sure.

Minecraft: Story Mode – Episode 1 (PS4): COMPLETED!

Bland crafted.

Minecraft: Story Mode is another of those games I bought in a PSN sale at some forgotten point in the past. Which I then played for half an hour and then didn’t again. But now I did. Done. Have did.

Unlike most 12 year olds, I have no interest in Minecraft. Certainly, I’ve played it to a tiny degree, but it’s all too blocky and tedious for me to find any real fun it it. Aside from dropping TNT all over the place, of course. As a result, I came to this game solely from enjoying Telltale’s other adventure games, hoping my lack of Minecraft knowledge wouldn’t hinder me.

In this first episode, it hasn’t, really. There’s a lot of “lore”, but it’s mostly irrelevant to how you actually play. You have to craft stuff, but you’re literally told how, and essentially given all the ingredients. Perhaps you have to solve a puzzle to get something, but that’s it. So far, those puzzles haven’t been any more difficult than “flip this switch”, so perhaps “puzzle” isn’t the right word.

Unlike most other Telltale adventures, there’s some combat. This combat is little more than a QTE, however, but then there’s a million other QTEs that appear too. In fact, there are more QTEs that actual puzzle interaction, so the game feels more Dragon’s Lair and less Sam & Max. Not a good thing, in my opinion.

Still, there’s a good story to follow, right? Um. Maybe? It’s that lore issue. Some stuff about a witherstorm and traveling through “the Nether” and honestly? I have no idea. There are choices to be made with the characters but they don’t seem to make a lot of difference to how things play out.

Hopefully things will improve in later episodes. This one did seem to just be the setup – bad guy unleashes really bad thing, historical heroes need to be found, some temple “base” of said heroes is reached, and so on. Thing is, the game has been a combination of too-simple puzzles and too-rubbish QTEs so far, and I can’t really see them changing the mechanics.

Murder Dog IV: Trial of the Murder Dog (PC): COMPLETED!

Murder Dog Day Afternoon

Imagine if Phoenix Wright consisted only of the courtroom bits. And the graphics were all photos of plasticine and paper characters. And Phoenix Wright was a murder dog who had murdered thousands of people. And you can murder the jurors during the trial. That’s Murder Dog IV: Trial of the Murder Dog.

No, I don’t know if there were three previous games.

The aim of the game is to get Murder Dog acquitted of his obvious crimes. He is defending himself, and also appears to be narrating the game at the same time, so it’s a little unusual to follow. He can examine and present evidence, or destroy it. He can question witnesses, go on a killing spree, and lie through his teeth. It also appears that Murder Dog used to be a police dog whose job it was to murder people. Bad people, presumably.

I played through it twice (it’s very short). I was executed the first time, and had my conviction overturned the second time. I didn’t get away scot-free that time though, as I was jailed for 5 years on a lesser charge of tampering with evidence or something.

‘Tis a silly game.

Nekopara Vol. 0 (PC): COMPLETED!

Catatonic.

What. The. Hell.

Nekopara is a barely interactive “story” about a load of cat girls and the mundane things they get up to while their master is out of the house. Such incredible events such as making lunch! And cleaning!

There’s supposed titillation when it’s bath time, but it’s just awkward and creepy. Maybe that’s the point.

I did get all the achievements though, with most of them being for petting the catgirls. That’s pretty much the only interaction this “game” has. Should I bother with Nekopara Vol. 1, which I also have?

Unravel (PS4): COMPLETED!

Red Thread Redemption

Unravel was bought about a year ago, but after playing the first level, I didn’t play it again. I’d enjoyed it, but as is so often the case, something else came along immediately and I forgot all about it, until the other day.

I picked up where I left off, and after just a few hours (not all in one sitting), it was all over.

The story follows, erm, I’m not entirely sure. A little yarn man who revisits the life a man and woman as they gradually age, by entering photos of places they’d been. As he navigates each level, filled with minor platforming and mostly simple puzzles, he slowly unravels himself. Because he’s made of wool, see – and that’s the name of the game. Checkpoints allow you to “refill” your wool, but care needs to be taken you choose the correct route – sometimes untying knots you’ve made to release some slack – or you won’t reach!

Unravel

All of the levels look beautiful. Genuinely photorealistic fore- and backgrounds, coupled with gorgeous woollyman animation and great environmental and lighting effects combine to create one of the best looking games ever. One of the snowy areas (complete with a pine cone you roll into a snowball) being perhaps the pinnacle.

It’s short, clever, gorgeous and – perhaps a spoiler – sad, but I loved it from start to finish.

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate (PS4)

That’s it. I’m done.

I haven’t 100%ed it, but I have most of the achievements, all the collectables except a few secrets and helices, and just shy of 50 hours spent it’s time to move on.

There’s got to be something this game is doing right for me to spend that long on it. It’s the best Assassin’s Creed in a very long time, but I think being set in London elevates it a little too. It certainly isn’t perfect, but I don’t think it needs to be.

I could push for 100%, but I think it’s time to move on now.

The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons (3DS): COMPLETED!

Big Girls Don’t Cry

And that, following its pair – Oracle of Ages – from a few weeks back, means that the two best Zelda games have been completed. Again. Like Ages, I originally completed Oracle of Seasons right near the start of this gaming diary’s life. Back then, I finished Seasons first, but this time reversed them.

It didn’t make a lot of difference. The extra heart carried over from the more puzzley Ages helped a little in the more combatty Seasons, but that’s all. I did make the mistake of not playing Seasons for just over a week, meaning I’d forgotten what I was supposed to be doing. I admit, I resorted to reading a guide but only to remind me. I did’t make that mistake again.

Seasons seemed easier than I recall. Backtracking was more of an issue than my memory suggests, mainly because of the lack of useful warp points (aka the seed trees). Warp points exist of course, but they never seemed to be near where I needed to go. I ended up using the same two or three and then walking the long walk instead. Maybe if I’d figured out the routes across Subrosia it wouldn’t have been such a trek.

After beating Onox, the final boss, I went on to fight Twinrova. You can only do this once you’ve completed both Ages and Seasons, but I’d done that. Finally, the half-developed form of Ganon needed to be defeated. I was sure Twinrova was difficult last time around, but it seems my memory was faulty again and it was Onox I struggled with before.

And that’s that. Definitely still the best Zelda game(s). Fact.

Lego City Undercover (Switch): COMPLETED!

Compuper?

Is it really four years since I completed this last time? It doesn’t seem that long ago at all. Not much is different in the Switch version, apart from two major things:

1) It’s two player! OK, so it’s a bodged two player, in that both people play as Chase McCain even though that makes no sense, but that doesn’t really matter. Having two players lets you, obviously, do two things at once – making going for 100% a much quicker and less daunting task.

2) The loading times! Certainly, they’re still there, but they’re so much shorter and less frequent. On the Wii U version there’d be times when you’d wait over a minute – perhaps even two minutes – for parts of the game to load. Around 30 seconds is the most I’ve come across on the Switch, but it’s usually less than that.

Other than those, though, Lego City Undercover is the same game as before. And that’s just perfect because it’s was, and still is, one of the very best Lego games. Perhaps the best, now it’s improved in those ways mentioned above. A toss-up between this and Lego Marvel Super Heroes, anyway.

Now to get everything I’ve missed. Sorry, we’ve missed. Yeah, I’ve played the whole thing through with my daughter this time round, which wasn’t possible before.

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate (PS4)

And that’s all the murder mysteries done. The final one (as part of the video below) is a little… odd. Still lots to do!

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate (PS4)

True to my word, I’m still playing. I’ve probably put six hours or more into it now, after finishing it. Or at least, getting to the point where I assume I’ve finished it.

What I’ve done, is mainly find collectables. I did also go and talk with Henry, who thanked me for my work and said he had something for me. He didn’t. Similarly, I spoke to Clara, who said the same thing. Yet gave me nothing. In addition, I keep getting popup messages telling me to speak to the woman on the train for more train missions, only she isn’t on the train.

Besides that nonsense, I’ve also been solving the murders for the Penny Dreadful side-missions. They’re quite fun, each seemingly based around a known Victorian murder story (like Sweeney Todd) only with a twist (i.e. it wasn’t the barber). They play out a bit like investigations in Batman crossed with something from Phoenix Wright. I think I’ve exhausted them all now though, as I can’t see any more on the map.

Onward with the collecting, then. And the Darwin and Dickens memories too, I think!

Picross e7 (3DS): COMPLETED!

XOOXXXXXOXOXXXXOXXXO

Maybe I miscalculated, or maybe my picross skills are now honed to the point where I complete puzzles on autopilot, but it turns out Picross e7 was actually shorter than Picross e6. Not much – 27 1/2 hours compared with about 28 hours, but it was still a surprise.

Like before, there’s some “cheating” going on by reusing the same pictures for both the picross and mega picross modes, which is a shame. Also, you don’t get many “bonus” puzzles for owning other games in the series – just 15 in total. It’s the same as before, but there are 6 previous titles now, not 3!

And that’s all there is to say, really. It’s more picross. And there’s an excellent toilet in it.

picross e7

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate (PS4): COMPLETED!

Cor blimey guv’nor, there’s bin a murder!

Before I started playing Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, I was reminded of how many people saw it as superior to Assassin’s Creed Unity. It seems that although in the most part Unity was a return to how the series used to be, it was overly “Ubied” up, with map icons galore and bugs a-plenty. The latter of which is par for the course in Assassin’s Creed, of course, but by the time I got round to playing it most had been patched out. I still had plenty of issues, but it was a better game than the version early adopters had despaired with.

That was Unity, however. At first, I found Syndicate a little hard to enjoy. More grimy, more violent than Unity, and with too much of a focus on trains perhaps. I instantly hated Jacob, one of Syndicate’s twin protagonists, for being too cocksure and brash. Evie, however, was pretty awesome, so I used her wherever possible in his stead.

Initially, the mission structure confused me. I didn’t understand how to do the next “story” memory, as they all seemed jumbled up with side quests and targets and other stuff. Eventually, at some point in Sequence 4 or 5, I realised you have to do the “Evie head”, “Jacob head” or “Skull” icons on the map. Until then, I’d stumbled randomly through the game and it didn’t help me like it.

assassin's creed syndicate

Soon enough, though, it clicked. I really got into it. I started liking Jacob more (he’s brilliantly sarcastic). The conquest events, which seemed tedious and dull when a few hours in became one of my favourite bits of the game. The story was simpler, less convoluted, than Unity (and most of the recent Assassin’s Creed games, actually) and I think was better for it. Evie and Jacob take over London and find a piece of Eden. Done. No treachery, no double/triple/quadruple agents (aside from one character, but you can see that from a mile away), no unexpected twists. Just good, old-fashioned Assassins vs Templars.

And I completed it. At least, I think I did. You see, I finished what was clearly the final mission: kill the main bad guy. That’s not a spoiler – it’s literally the aim of the game. After that, no credits. No end sequence. Nothing. Except for an email, as in, a real email in my real-life inbox, from Ubisoft congratulating me for completing Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. Now, I’m no fan of Ubi’s end of game credits, which are often longer than the game itself as they list every human being that has ever lived, and their pets. It just seemed odd not to have them. Or anything.

assassin's creed syndicate

I did, however, have a message with some suggestions. I should do some missions for Queen Victoria, and take over the rest of London. So I did those too. Nothing.

There are non-story missions still littering the map. Associate activities, flowers to collect, and so on. Surely I don’t need these to “finish” the game? My usual metric is to declare a game completed when I hit the credits. That hasn’t happened and I’m not sure it will. In any case, I’m taking it as done.

assassin's creed syndicate

By the end, and I mean the end I got to rather than the end which may or may not exist, I realised that I was enjoying Syndicate way more than I’d expected to. I know I declared Unity a return to form when I played that last year, but this is another step closer. A definite refinement. I may even do what I’ve not done since Brotherhood: Try to get all the collectables, because I’m enjoying it that much. Once more, it isn’t perfect. But if Ubi can take this and polish it a bit more, then I have high hopes for Origins. It has taken a long time to recover from the massive misstep that was Assassin’s Creed III. They’re there now – just don’t ruin it!

If you want to see my complete, but lengthy, playthrough, then watch this video playlist: