What Remains of Edith Finch (PS4): COMPLETED!

The clue is in the title.

Spoiler free bit:

Firstly, there are some great toilets in the game. I feel that needs to be said because although there was an inevitability I’d buy the game anyway, I was tipped off about them and it just made me want it more. One of them even features in a most unusual way. More of this sort of thing.

What Remains of Edith Finch tells the story of Edith Finch, returning to a really quirky house where she used to live, after the death of her mother prompts her to discover “family secrets”. The main one being the open secret that the entire Finch clan seems to be cursed and everyone died in unusual circumstances, leaving Edith the last of the line.

It plays out as a narrative discovery experience, and feels a lot like Gone Home and The Vanishing of Ethan Carter. There’s no actual paranormal stuff, like in Ethan Carter, but there’s more mystery than the story and house in Gone Home, so it fits somewhere between the two.

As you explore the house that you’d lived in for years but was never able to freely roam (as relatives died, their rooms were sealed off), how each person died is revealed and some of the mystery surrounding them explained. Edith discovers the conflict between Edie (her great-grandmother, Finch matriarch and oldest surviving member of the family) wishing to embrace the family “curse”, and her mother wanting to hide it from Edith and leave the house which she believed would save them.

Gameplay is sparse as you’d expect from this genre of game, with little more than operating handles and latches. As you read messages left by your relatives before they died, or letters, poems or even comics written about them, parts of their stories play out. It’s here where more control is given, such as chasing a bird, swimming in a bath, or flying a kite.

It’s only a couple of hours long, but Edith Finch is interesting. I didn’t get answers to every question (and seem to have missed how Sanjay died completely), but perhaps that’s not the point.

Spoilery bit:

Continue reading “What Remains of Edith Finch (PS4): COMPLETED!”

Life is Strange: Before the Storm Episode 3 (PS4): COMPLETED!

That Damon

I can’t say much here, because even some of the basic plot points are massive spoilers.

What I can say, is that oh my did the story twist and turn there. Everything I thought I knew was wrong, and then that was even more wrong.

And that’s the story done. Some parts don’t quite fit with how Rachel was portrayed in the first game (she was much more… promiscuous there than she seemed here), but how close she and Chloe became makes that scene in the original even more horrible.

On the whole, it was a great game. I wish, in a way, that it actually came before the first game rather than be released afterwards. I know that was never going to happen, but my suggestion to people who haven’t played either is to play this first. Why? Because the first game builds on this one rather than the other way round. It’s deeper, more important, more epic, and you’d gain a time travel power rather than feel you’ve lost one.

There’s another chapter coming soon – with Max in it – and I’m looking forward to that, especially to see how it fits in with the rest now. I think it’s supposed to be set before Max moves away? We’ll see.

Here’s the massively spoilerly playthrough, if you’re interested:

Life is Strange: Before the Storm Episode 2 (PS4): COMPLETED!

Burn baby burn

Things have ramped up a bit.

OK, so it’s still low-key compared to the original Life is Strange, but the story is compelling now. There’s been a major twist (that I won’t spoil) which although nowhere near the scale of the cliffhangers from the first game, is still a must see.

Chloe and Amber shared a kiss too. I made them. Genuinely, it seemed like the best option, and instead of being pervy or voyeuristic it was really sweet and romantic and lovely. So well done to Deck Nine for dealing with that in that way.

Overall, and there’s another chapter to come next week so things might change (although that’s unlikely), I can’t say Before the Storm lives up to Life is Strange’s legacy yet. There’s not enough to it, it doesn’t have the sci-fi pull, and Chloe’s new actor pulls me out of the game too much (she’s great, but she’s not Chloe). The story, however much “less impressive” than the other one it is, is still excellent though.

Here be spoilers for the playthrough, if you’re interested:

 

Life is Strange: Before the Storm Episode 1 (PS4): COMPLETED!

Step back in time

A spoiler free, hopefully, entry in my diary here because I know how important no spoilers are in this series. Which is why when I was streaming it I was a bit annoyed to have someone send me a message containing a massive spoiler. Luckily, I didn’t check messages until after I’d passed the reveal but still… why do people do this?

Anyway. I was back in Arcadia Bay! Literally before the storm, but in fact before Max came back and before Rachel Amber disappeared. We know how that ended up, and Chloe didn’t, so I’m not sure where the story is going to go here.

In Episode 1, Chloe and Amber first become friends, but very little of seeming importance happens (bar the spoiler). Chloe goes to school, plays a bit of D&D, skips school, winds up her mum’s boyfriend, stays out late and generally is the embodiment of angst. Without Max’s rewind powers, the game’s gimmick instead involves Chloe’s mouth – she can get her own way by smacktalking people using a mechanic not unlike the fights in Monkey Island. It’s a bit jarring at first but makes sense after a few.

Unfortunately, they’ve replaced Chloe’s voice actress with someone who isn’t bad, but absolutely isn’t Chloe so the whole game feels wrong. The music isn’t a patch on the soundtrack to the original game either, and it was just as important as the story there. There’s also a bug where the HUD is mostly off the screen so can’t be seen, and there’s no way, as far as I can make out, to fix this without buying a new TV.

Thankfully, although it took a while getting there, the story has taken off in Before the Storm and I’m on board for the rest and really want to see how it pans out.

So far then, it’s a B-Team Life is Strange, but I went in pretty much expecting that. If the story stays good, then that’ll be more than enough to justify its existence. Let’s hope so!

Spoilers follow in these two videos showing my playthrough:

Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens (PS4): COMPLETED!

Something may something forks something something.

Some general points:

  1. Lego Star The Force Awakens Wars
  2. Shortest Lego Game Ever
  3. BB8

Taking point 2, my daughter and I completed it – just the story mind – in less than ten hours. Less than ten. For a Lego game. That’s the shortest I’ve ever played by some margin, and we got stuck in a hangar on one level for over an hour because neither of us had seen a thing to jump and hang from.

I’m no snob over the length of games, but even The Lego Movie The Video Game Movie Lego Game was 15 or 18 or something. And, yes, there are extra levels unlocked (although we’ve done the rathtar hunting one already) and levels and worlds to go back to to get the rest of the gold bricks and things… but ten hours?

Ten hours.

The third point, is because my daughter wants to be BB8 now. For real. Because of course she does.

Neither of us are fans of Star Wars. I’ve only seen the first 5 films 1 and part of Phantom Menace 2 but Lego wins out, as always. It wasn’t as much fun as Lego City Undercover, though, but little is. The two new mechanics added to the game actually make it worse. The first is how bricks can now build two or more objects. Odds are, you’ll build the wrong one first. The second is Gears of War style cover shooter sections. Nah, mate.

Still, we’ll be 100%ing it. And then we’ll be on the look out for the next Lego game!

Notes:

  1. You heard.
  2. The sixth one.

Hitman (PS4): COMPLETED!

Hiding in plain sight.

This was a surprising amount of fun. I loved all the different ways you can murder your targets, some by brute force, some by taking the time to learn how to make use of their schedules or weaknesses. Poisoning their food, laying explosives on their route, or setting traps for them to essentially kill themselves.

The episodes were all pretty varied, with some humourous people to meet and quirks to take advantage of. In particular, I liked messing with the guy in Colorado’s OCD, forcing him to calm down by partaking of a cigarette I’d laced with hallucinogenic drugs.

I’m almost certain I’ll return to the game to try some alternative methods of bumping the targets off, even if just to mess around with the game a bit.

Oh, and it has some incredible toilets. Very important, that.

If you want to watch my complete playthrough, with all two thousand game reloads, then you can here:

Guitar Hero Live (PS4): COMPLETED!

Gitaroo Man

As in, the main mode completed. As in, all the tracks unlocked, played and finished in each of the festival sets.

Things that I liked about this version of Guitar Hero: The new fret button layout is actually better than the old one.

Things that I didn’t like about this version of Guitar Hero: Most of the other stuff.

The tracklist is terrible. Yes, GHTV sort of makes up for it with it’s constant stream of mostly poor quality (and wrong aspect ratio) music videos, but even the music catalogue here isn’t a patch on previous games in the series. There are some big names – but not their best, biggest, most guitar-y tracks. It’s very disappointing.

Also, in GHTV mode, the controls seem to be very unresponsive. I didn’t have a single issue in Live mode (the “story” mode), but strums often failed to register on GHTV. The guitar completely disconnected once!

It only cost me £15 so I’m not too bothered by all the negatives, and there’s enough good in it to make it worth that much anyway.

Minecraft: Story Mode – Episode 8 (PS4): COMPLETED!

And finally.

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.

Minecraft: Story Mode – Episode 7 (PS4): COMPLETED!

I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that.

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?

Minecraft: Story Mode – Episode 6 (PS4): COMPLETED!

Whodunnit? Who cares.

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.

That’s that done now. Two episodes left.

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.