When you pay for the Switch Online service, every so often they give you the full, complete versions of retail games for free – for a few days. Then they stop working. This week, they let you download and play Minecraft Dungeons, and my daughter and I completed it before our free trial was up.
That’s not to say it’s short, although it’s nowhere near as long as I expected (partly because two large additional areas are walled off behind DLC payments), it’s just we played it a lot in a short amount of time.
Although it looks like Minecraft, and has a lot of the same creatures and sound effects, Minecraft Dungeons is actually more like Diablo. You take on a series of isometric levels, killing loads of baddies, getting better loot, and making Numbers Go Up. It’s much more simplistic than Diablo, and it doesn’t have anywhere near as much content, variety, or items to collect as Diablo III, but it’s also more suitable for kids and there’s literally no learning curve just to figure out the character and weapon upgrade system.
It’s also a lot easier. The only time we had any problems is when we started a level that was waaaaay above our current player level. Sure, when you complete it there’s a much harder New Game+, and yes, for most levels you can pick a higher recommended player level than your current one, but that seems to make it impossible rather than “harder”.
We did enjoy it a lot though, and if I’d have known it was as good as it was beforehand, I’d probably have ended up buying it. However, if you’re going to, I’d recommend the PlayStation or Xbox versions instead of the Switch if jerky, stuttering framerates are likely to offend – the Switch version is full of it. Not enough to put me off, but that’s mainly because I wasn’t paying for it.
Oh look. It’s The Hunger Games Episode. Which meant more QTEs. All the QTEs. So many QTEs.
Something which has bothered me with the final four episodes of the series, is the lack of “danger”. The huge, deadly, horrible witherstorm thing was clearly a threat of epic proportions, but since then, what have we had? A disgruntled ex-friend of Lukas who wanted a chicken. A computer that literally just needed unplugging. A woman who liked cats and wears pumpkins. And here, a man and a woman who rig some you-never-really-die olympics. Really?
It is all done. I can’t say I really disliked the series, but it’s probably the weakest Telltale Games title I’ve played. Maybe if I was into Minecraft, the references would elevate it a bit to make up for the lack of gameplay and adventure. Maybe it’s aimed at kids, but then why be a PEGI 12? It has put me off playing The Walking Dead now though, because I have no affinity for that series either.
Luckily, I do have a series of Sam & Max still unplayed, so I’ll probably do that instead.
Remember puzzles? I remember puzzles. I remember when adventure games had puzzles. I miss puzzled in adventure games. I’ve lamented this already on the previous episodes.
Episode 7’s story was a tale as old as time itself. Person builds computer, computer takes over the world, creator needs to stop it. Which mainly involved even more QTEs, and one section where there might be a puzzle only – yet again – you’re told how to solve it before you get a chance to attempt it yourself.
I’m repeating myself, I know.
Still, it was reasonably enjoyable. Just one more episode and then I’ll be done with the series. Phew, eh?
As this chapter opened with possibly the longest string of QTEs so far in the series, I wasn’t looking forward to it. Then we entered a spooky old mansion and it was the beginning of a murder mystery, and I thought – actually, this is sort of cool.
Then I realised the other visitors to the mansion were real life “Youtubers”. Good grief.
I get that the game isn’t aimed at me. I don’t know who these people are and in a way it doesn’t matter, but it irked me so much that they were in it. Thankfully, some of them were killed off. Sadly, some were not.
Their horrible voices. Do they put them on? Is it a requirement for being on Youtube? Surely they don’t sound like that in real life? How the hell do people watch them without taking a drill bit to their eardrums? Kids today, eh? I suppose the horror added to the atmosphere so there’s that at least.
One thing I must say here, though, is that although the voices are horrible, the actual voice acting itself is surprisingly good.
Anyway. Once more there were no puzzles. At some point it looked like you might need to think for yourself and decide to make a ladder, but then the game just tells you to make one anyway. Why? In another bit, you have to get a cat off a chest. You’re literally told to make a fishing rod (and shown how) and told to catch a fish (and told where to get one). It might as well do it for you.
Oh, and my daughter figured out who the bad guy was waaaaay before it was revealed.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
A lot of things, it seems. I’ve had a glut of new games over the last month and I’ve been playing each for a short time. I’ve yet to settle down and just work on one or two, so I’ve not made much progress in each. So here’s a list, in no particular order:
Duke Nukem 3D: Megaton Edition (Vita)
My subscription to PS+ was autorenewed before I could cancel it (the whole service got DDOS’d and I couldn’t log in), so I thought I might as well make use of it. This is one of the rentals.
It’s Duke Nukem. A bit easier to control than the 360 version that appeared on XBLA, and with a nice (but often broken) rewind feature if you die. It’s the same game that it ever was, so great. Half way through the first episode so far.
At least, I was playing this until my family hijacked my save game. I’ve no idea what’s going on. You’re a snake which flies around bizarre levels bumping into things which sometimes react, solving puzzles that aren’t really puzzles, in an attempt to reunite with other snakes. I think. You’re just dropped into the game with no explanation and just expected to get on with it. It’s good, but I’m confused and lost. No idea why I bought it, although it was on offer.
Super Smash Bros U (Wii U)
I’m sure the Gamecube version of this was easier to control. I’m still sticking mostly to Mega Man, and I’m trying, but it does seem very vague as to whether I actually pull off moves or not. And I can never remember in the heat of the moment how to do the special moves that try to carry you back onto a platform when you’ve been punched off. It’s utter chaos, but then I suppose that’s the appeal.
Whoa Dave! (Vita)
Another PS+ rental. It’s an 8bit (or lower, perhaps – it’s more like an Atari 2600 title) looking single screen arcade platformer. Eggs drop from the top of the screen, and after a while they hatch. Baddies pop out and when they hit the lava at the bottom of the screen they “level up” and become more dangerous, and then level up again each time they hit the lava. You have to beat them by chucking eggs at them, or by destroying the eggs by throwing exploding skulls at them. Then UFOs appear and it all gets really hard. Really like this game, so much so I’ll probably buy it when it hits the 3DS. My high score is $1.76, in case you want a target (an easy target) to aim for.
I happened to be using my old MacBook, and Peggle was on it, and I couldn’t remember playing it on there before so wasn’t sure it would work and then I ran it to see and it did work and then an hour passed magically. It’s Peggle, and that’s what happens with Peggle. No idea how far I got.
Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate (Demo) (3DS)
I didn’t want to like this because I really wanted a Wii U version instead. Sadly, that doesn’t look likely to happen. It’s Monster Hunter, but made a bit easier to play (on the 3DS) as I’ve a shiny new New 3DS with extra buttons and a prodnipple, so it’s essentially got the same controls as the Wii U version of MH3U anyway.
I chose the Great Jaggi hunt as I know where I am with that, and picked a hunter with twin blades, not a class I’d used before. I don’t know if it’s the different weapons, or the different game, but the combat was so much swifter than I ever had on the previous game. Mind you, that was with a Great Sword and so slow and ponderous came with it. I like how you can now jump on the back of the Great Jaggi and slash at his (her?) neck, and it’s nice to have some new maps to hunt on. Do I want this now? Yes. Yes I do.
SteamWorld Dig (Wii U)
It’s the same as the 3DS game that I completed last year (or the year before?), but that doesn’t matter. It’s just as good, but all in HD and on the tellybox. I bought it as it was on offer and I was trying to spend enough in the Wii U eShop before the end of 2014 to get another £5 credit before they stopped running the scheme. Don’t know why I started this before the other games that I’d bought but haven’t played before – that’d make more sense, surely?
I’ve reached The Old World, and have a couple of upgrades from there. I’m pretty sure by this point in the 3DS game I had the ability to punch by now, so I’m wondering if I’ve missed something…
Rock Boshers DX: Director’s Cut (Vita)
Stumbled across this, and as soon as I noticed it was basically a brand new Spectrum game, I had to buy it. Turns out it’s a twin stick shooter, with Spectrum graphics and sound, and even had a two minute long load (which you can skip – I didn’t). The plot is incredible – you appear to be Queen Victoria, dressed as a man, who decides to go to Mars in a giant bullet shaped space ship that’s shot out of a huge cannon, and, when you arrive, you have to shoot guards and zombies and collect keys and avoid massive centipedes while looking for tea and jammy scones. YES. It’s the best thing ever.
Picross e5 (3DS)
I was having a look at the eShop the other day and realised Picross e5 was out and I hadn’t bought it. So I bought it, and started playing it. It’s Picross, and I like Picross, so I like this. Aside from different puzzles (obviously), it seems to be no different to Picross e4. That’s not a problem, as Picross e4 was lovely.
Oh, remember my 360? Never before has a console so frequently used in the past been dropped so quickly. Mine barely gets touched these days. In fact, the only reason I turned it on was because I finally decided to get Minecraft, mainly for my daughter. I’d a pile of free credit, and since the 360 is the only machine I have that 1) plays Minecraft and 2) I have two controllers for (for co-op), it had to be that version.
Created a “creative mode” map, which was far too vertical to navigate, so after a while we binned it and created a flat world – which we forgot to make “creative”. So cue all the baddies in the world appearing when it got dark and we hadn’t built any shelter because all I had were a couple of oak tree seeds and some dirt. Then we explored a lot and it seems everything wasn’t just flat, as we found a monastery (I think) and I fell in a well and couldn’t get out and drowned. Yay?
Skylanders Giants (360)
While the 360 controllers were out, and we’d just taken delivery of a cheap Skylanders Swap Force starter kit (for the Wii U – to hell with the 360 now!), I thought we shoudl probably finish off Giants.
So we worked through two more levels – Kaos’ castle, and a Ghost Ship. I’m sure the game it waaaay harder than the original Spyro’s Adventure, you know. We’ve about 30 Skylanders and ploughed through pretty much all of them on both levels.
Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I Don’t Know! (Wii U)
This was on sale and even though I know it’s not supposed to be very good, we are big fans of the cartoon and it was very cheap. And it’s multiplayer co-op.
It’s not too bad, actually. For the most part it plays like Gauntlet, complete with food and baddie generators and smart-bomb magic, but there’s also a Rogue Legacy style shop system. You can quit the dungeon after every 5 levels, and then spend your money to get better stats, but any money you have left is lost when you return to the game. The best bit is how the Gamepad becomes a giant Beemo face, who comments on your action with such gems as “food is where the hearts are!”. Excellent.
With various deals and cheap credit, I got this for less than £2. I’ve wanted it for a while, but keep being put of by people who say it’s rubbish. At that price I thought I’d risk it. And I’m glad I did as it’s pretty good.
It’s no Tony Hawk’s, obviously, but is instead an endless runner with things to grind on and ollie off. It’s all about timing, and the tricks are more like the Skate games in how you flick the stick to pull them off. Was getting well into it, and then it crashed. Bah.