Games

My Aim:

I want to provide information that will help readers make an informed decision about whether something I like is for them, without spoiling things.

I generally think the less you know about an experience before hand the better, so long as you were always going to like it. So feel free to stop reading early once sold on the recommendation.

The recommendations are provided in no particular order.

Recommendations


Dark Souls

  1. Platforms: Windows, PS3, PS4, XBox 360, XBox One, Nintendo Switch
  2. Genres: Soulsborne, Action-adventure
  3. Mechanics: Swordplay, RPG Levelling
  4. Themes: Medieval, Horror, Fantasy
  5. Year: 2011

You probably already know everything you care to know about this game. It's the kind of game that is immediately unappealing to a lot of people and those that it does appeal to probably weren't sold on it immediately either.

My initial reaction to this game was quite negative, not just because of the difficulty but because of the way the controls felt. It didn't really start to get good for me until over ten hours in. I was stuck on the second boss and came back to it on occasion over the course of a few weeks. After that, I felt I had a much better understanding of how to play and never thought about giving up on the game from there on. I think it's worth taking the risk with this game, if you're willing to take it.

It forces you to behave in such a different way to other action games, and so it feels incredibly fresh. The game's atmosphere is powerful and is a bigger highlight than any of the mechanics.

The game is difficult enough without all of the obtuse mechanics and irreversible decision making. I tried to embrace this, but there are times when the path forward is very unclear or the effect of an item is unstated and I decided to look things up.

Progress was slow enough that I ended up watching a lot of Dark Souls videos on YouTube to get that sense of short-term payoff for my time, and honestly my favourite areas of the game are the ones that I saw nothing of and knew nothing about before-hand. For me it's anecdotal evidence of the negative effect of "micro-spoilers" because the act of finding something new was detached from the feeling of seeing something new. The two combined are worth more than them both separate because the emotion feels earned.

There's a lot of advice online but my main tips are:


Downwell

  1. Website: [x]
  2. Platforms: Android, iOS, Nintendo Switch, Steam
  3. Genres: Rogue-like, Arcade, 8-bit
  4. Mechanics: Perma-death, Procedural Generation
  5. Themes: Spooky, Hell
  6. Year: 2015

This is what made me want to play the game. It shows off enough about the gameplay for you to decide whether it interests you.

The video doesn't mention that you can unlock different colour palettes, but this isn't especially important.

The control buttons on phones cover the bottom of the screen. This isn't the case on tablets and I assume not on the computer.


Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

  1. Website: [x]
  2. Platform: Nintendo 3DS
  3. Genres: Action-adventure, Puzzle
  4. Mechanics: Top Down
  5. Themes: Fantasy, Medieval, Magic
  6. Year: 2013

This is my favourite Legend of Zelda title. The puzzles aren't as difficult as in other Zelda games but they are still interesting and rewarding. There are 12 dungeons total.

The world is top down 3D, so you can see all around yourself at once and enemies that surround you can be freely fought without any need for lock-on targeting. There is also no grid based movement restriction.

The game has a small open world with collectibles and hidden treasures. The world looks clean and has the best 3D of any 3DS game I've played. Depth perception is great in many high up or multi-level areas, and turning it off makes areas look confusingly flat like in the older 2D Zelda games (although you can get used to it).

It's also a fantastic game to watch get speedrun because there are tons of tricks for getting through the game faster and most of them aren't especially precise. I started the game again and have played most of it along a speedrunner's route.


Super Metroid

  1. Website: [x]
  2. Platform: Super Nintendo Entertainment System, New Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console
  3. Genres: Action
  4. Mechanics: Exploration, Upgrades, Interconnected World, Shooting
  5. Themes: Aliens, Space
  6. Year: 1994

It's a game that makes you continually feel accomplished with your sense of progression with its unlockable powers. The game uses subtle clues to guide you through the game with very little explanation of what to do, allowing you to figure out where to go. The bosses also offer the sense of challenge often not offered by a lot of modern games without going to the ridiculous extent of older games still drawing conventions from arcade machines that were designed to make the player lose and put in more money to try again. However I would recommend using save states especially before boss battles to avoid having to walk to them again from a save point, which is a perfectly fine convenience.


Specter of Torment

The American spelling is the official spelling.

  1. Website: [x]
  2. Platform: Nintendo Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo Switch, PS3, PS4, PSVita, Xbox One, PC, Mac, Linux
  3. Available as a standalone game or part of "Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove"
  4. Genres: Platformer, Retro
  5. Mechanics: Platforming, Walljumping
  6. Themes: Medieval, Magic
  7. Year: 2017

This game centres around parkour-like platforming. You moves consist of jumping, scaling walls a short distance, walljumping, propelling through enemies and certain objects, and grinding along rails riding a scythe. Rather than punishing players for a lack of jumping precision, your character, Spectre Knight, can use his other tricks to rescue yourself from platforming perils by executing well timed maneouvres that require a different type of precision to pull off.

This is the greatest platforming experience I have ever had.

I found the retro music and graphics excellent. The objects are clear and enemy movements are well telegraphed.

I found the collectibles and unlockables great and worthwhile.

If you aren't already sold, you should check out a small amount of gameplay footage from someone who knows what they're doing. A speed run is probably good for this as it shows the amount of use the different forms of movement have.

Comparison to other games in the Shovel Knight series: The movement is considerably more fun and feels more skilful. The game is considerably easier than the others, but I expect this is a good thing for most people as the experience is less frustrating while also feeling more skilful. The bosses, while still great, aren't as satisfying due to being easier. This is coloured by my playing of Shovel Knight first, whose highlight in gameplay is the bosses, and my prior experience fighting them will have affected how easily I won and therefore how satisfied I felt.


Dissuasions


Pokémon Sun & Pokémon Moon

  1. Website: [x]
  2. Platform: Nintendo 3DS
  3. Genres: RPG
  4. Mechanics: Railroading, Invasive Cutscenes, Monster Catching, Turn-based Combat
  5. Themes: Tropical
  6. Year: 2016

The criticism will probably also apply to the "Ultra" version of these games.

Pokémon Moon didn't annoy me as much as Skyward Sword when I played it, but Skyward Sword has way more redeeming characteristics than SUMO where I struggle to think of any other than the fact it's a Pokémon game so the premise is good, but it's been done better tens of times already. As a result, I wasn't as compelled to make a rant, and if I write one it will be much more time consuming than the Skyward Sword one. Until then, I will refer you to this image [x].

Pokémon was a franchise like Pixar in the respect that although they have a young target audience they were enjoyable by people of all ages. This is no longer the case for Pokémon. The amount of care put in to the games has plummeted with features being rushed at the last minute, empty parts of cities that make the games feel unfinished and the upgrades feel like a cash-grab. The attitude has changed from trying to cram in as many features as they can manage to putting in as little as possible because they believe people don't want to spend much time playing, even though they have one of the strongest franchises in the world and a heck of a lot of money.


Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

  1. Website: [x]
  2. Platform: Nintendo Wii
  3. Genres: Action-adventure
  4. Mechanics: 1:1 motion control
  5. Year: 2011

There are some very good parts of this game, but I think so much of it is frustrating and unrewarding that I think a lot of people will not enjoy it.

So much of the game is linear and despite that still attempts to hold your hand and demands that you use navigation aids. The game will constantly ring a bell at you until you turn on the dowsing for an object, even when you're on a one way path. Any sense of exploration is denied instead you have a series of small linear tasks. It also features some the worst side quests not simply because they are fetch quests, but because you are fetching items that you will have already found and been unallowed to pick up until the quest was initiated.

The game really slows down and asks you to perform some trivial tasks in the second half. I think the trials in this game were actually really good. I'm talking more about the repeated boss fights and the music note collecting that simply made me switch off the game.

The motion controls are better than in Twilight Princess due to the 1:1 nature that that game doesn't have. However there is an over-reliance on them and sometimes they don't work as intended — the Shield Bash is a regular culprit.

The item system is good by itself and it acts as a prototype that Breath of the Wild heavily draws from and improves upon. Unfortunately every time you turn on your game and get an item for the first time in the play session, it explains to you what the item is again. This is one of the several instances where the game doesn't respect the player. Another example of which is re-explaining how mechanics in the game work despite the fact that knowledge is required to get to the current part of the game, and also playing a chime repeatedly until you choose to initiate a dialogue that tells you the remote battery is low, even though that information is on the screen.

I wrote a lot more about this here [x]. It's a shame there's no easy way to just play the desert sections and the boss in the Great Cistern. I found out recently that the game becomes incompletable, if you perform actions in the wrong order — namely doing a desert section before either of the other areas. I was able to do one of the boss battles earlier than intended just by visiting its location at an unexpected time. This must be an oversight because the cut-scene was initiated suddenly and out of place, and places online report the bosses in a different order to how I encountered them.