Reigns: Her Majesty

This has quickly turned into one of my favorite mobile games of the year. I enjoyed the first one, but I feel like this sequel is really superior, with a mix of terrific writing and a few little extra gameplay elements that get added to the choose-your-own-adventure base. Well worth getting.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Yeah, I know, it’s about time I get to this. I’d always been wanting to play it, but just didn’t get around to it when it came out, and then the continuous release of other things I wanted to play kept pushing it back. But I finally got around to playing it this week — better late than never — and yes, I’m enjoying it quite a bit so far. I’m only about 3-4 hours in I think, which yes, is a drop in the bucket for a game like this, but I think it’s given me a good taste of the overall experience, and I quite like it. I think having watched the Noclip documentary episodes on the game have even helped me better appreciate what I’m seeing and experiencing — I wasn’t really worried about spoilers, since I’ve already forgotten anything story-related that was said in those episodes. With all the games I still want to play, I can’t really say if I’ll be able to finish it, but I am looking forward to playing it a bunch over the coming weeks.

Sonic Forces

I need to start by saying just how much I dislike the character designs in this game, and the overall messy story. Every character is just so damn ugly, and it’s painful to watch. So what’s good about this game? I will say that I enjoy playing through the 2D levels, just like I did in Sonic Generations, which is the last Sonic game I enjoyed playing. The regular 3D levels are a mixed bag, and can still be fun at times, but I just don’t generally like controlling Sonic in a 3D space, especially from behind. To me, what the series needs is to ditch all of the 3D stuff, and just stick to games that are entirely built on 2D/2.5D levels — while at the same time getting rid of all of the ancillary characters, and just sticking with Sonic (alright, and maybe Tails). I’m probably going to finish it (I’m almost there I think, since it’s not an especially long game) mostly because I want to play through the 2D levels, but this is definitely not a return-to-form for the series.

Uncharted: Lost Legacy

This is such a terrific game. I’ve played through all of the Uncharted games, and I think this is my favorite one so far. Even though it’s shorter (I think I played through it in about 7-8 hours) it felt just right to me, and it means that I got to play it pretty much from start-to-finish in one day, which was a great way to take in the whole adventure. I think the two leads are really great — I like them more than Nathan Drake — and the overall adventure was just so much fun, and it felt to me like there was more exploration than in the typical Uncharted game, which is my favorite part of the play experience. The setting was also great, with some stunning and intricate levels and maps. And just like in Uncharted 4, I really loved all of the jeep driving sequences. Can’t recommend this enough.

Prey

Well, I’m sad to say I’m just not into this game. I was excited to play it, knowing how well it was received (and hearing a lot of friends say good things about it), but I had a play session of about an hour and a half, and didn’t like my time with it at all. The setting is cool, but the one thing I didn’t realize is that this game is more on the horror side, which  I don’t particularly like to experience — I love watching horror movies, but horror games simply stress the hell out of me, and it’s not an extended experience I like to have. Even worse for me, this (at least what I experienced so far) is more about jump scares, which I find to be the worse. Add to that combat that I found to be extremely frustrating — and yes, I realize that it must get better as you find and develop more weaponry, but I don’t find myself wanting to explore this game anymore. I was planning on giving at another try, but I just never found myself in the mood to do so, and knowing how many other games I have waiting for me, I realized, why am I forcing myself to play this? It’s not for me, and that’s fine.

Ode

On top of the Fun House here at Montreal’s Ubisoft studio (where I work), the other Ubi studio making smaller games is Ubisoft Reflections, and they suddenly released a new game this week called Ode (only on PC). I’ve played through half of it (I don’t have a PC at home to play games, so do it at work at lunch time or sometimes after work) and this is by far my favorite game experience from them so far. I wasn’t hugely into Grow Home (and didn’t play its sequel), but this is just a joy to play through, rolling around the gorgeous levels, with explosions of lights and sounds accompanying your journey.

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp

I was admittedly late getting into Animal Crossing — it was only with New Leaf on 3DS, and it happened after my colleagues at the time kept talking about it, eventually convincing me to dive in (before that, I had zero interest in playing it, even though my wife was a fan). I quickly fell in love with it, not just with being in that world and doing the stuff you do there, but also to then talk with friends about the stuff I was doing, and exchanging our experiences. I was disappointed that they never released a version on Wii U, and while here’s hoping we’ll be getting a Switch version, there’s now Pocket Camp to give us a taste of that world again. I’ve been playing all week — probably putting in 1-2 hours every night on my iPad — and I’m quite enjoying it so far. It’s a condensed version of the regular game, but there’s enough to give you the satisfaction of interactions with characters, although you do miss out on the freedom you get in the regular games (at least what you got in New Leaf). Who knows how long I’ll last — I wouldn’t be surprised if I eventually tire of either an increased grind or lack of options — but for now I’m having a lot of fun playing it.

Metroid: Samus Returns

I’ve been wanting to play this ever since it came out, and I finally got the chance this week. I’ve played a few hours so far (I’m now in Area 2) and as much as I like the gameplay, I have a feeling I’m not going to get to finish it (also due to the fact that it’s a 2-week rental). It’s a bit more challenging than I’d like, as I feel like I constantly have to be on my toes, even when backtracking, and the complexity of the map means that I’m constantly zooming in and out to see what I missed and how I can manage to get to a particular point. Using the shoulder buttons to aim and use rockets isn’t as smooth or comfortable as I’d like, and so facing off against Metroids tends to be harder than it should be. I’m torn, because part of me loves it — the exploration is in fact quite cool, and they’ve done a great job with the look and music — but I just feel like I won’t have the patience to get to the end (in part because there is just so much stuff in my backlog that I also want to get to).

Bound

I remember being interested in this game when it originally came out, but I never got around to playing it. It’s one of the games on offer as part of this month’s PlayStation Plus free games, which was the push I needed, and what a joy it was to play. I played it in two sessions on the same day (probably 2-3 hours of play time overall), and it felt just right. The visuals are just astoundingly beautiful, and I really dug the movement of the character you control — dancing along the platforms, and to push away enemy energies. There was one section that I felt was broken — a sort of elevator platform that you activate by jumping on walls, that took me like 30 tries, even though I never encountered anything challenging like that elsewhere in the game. It’s definitely worth taking the time to play though and experience.

Assassin’s Creed Origins

Here’s the background on where I find myself with the series: I fell in love with the series with the Ezio trilogy, which were the high points for me, then enjoyed III mostly because of the setting, but was already starting to feel AC fatigue, and by the time Black Flag came out, as much I was enjoying playing it (especially the ship stuff), the fatigue took over, to a point where I didn’t finish it, and I pretty much skipped Unity and Syndicate (I played a bit of Unity this past year). So the first thing that got me interested in the series again was the setting of Egypt — the Roman/Egyptian era that is used in the game is pretty much my favorite historical setting (and I say this as a History major), and so I was very excited to explore that world. Then, when I started playing, I was a bit shocked at how much the game sucked me in — I finished the “story” part of the game (because you can keep playing after, with still tons of things to do post-“ending”) in about 30 hours, in less than a week, with two consecutive Saturdays of 8/9-hour play sessions. On top of the setting, what really got me addicted is the new levelling system and skill tree, which gives more purpose to doing side missions because you want to level up — to be able to deal with more advanced (level-wise) parts fo the map, and also to unlock new abilities. The side missions were also for the most part more interesting than in the past, and I had a lot more fun with the combat than in previous games — although I still sometimes had trouble dealing with swarms of enemies that surrounded me. But man, what a great game — they made the right changes to get me interested in the series again, and I really hope that these new RPG elements are here to stay. I’d say Origins is my new favorite AC game.