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Video Game Of The Month August 2022

Video Game of the Month Dragon Quest XI S Echoes Of An Elusive Age
Video Game of the Month Dragon Quest XI S Echoes Of An Elusive Age

This video game of the month blog series is definitely one of my favourite things that I do here at Zatu. Every month I get to see the opinions fellow gamers have on a selection of games. Some of which I have my own opinions on, some of which are games that I haven’t even played. And I have played a lot of games! I love to see what others think about games, as different viewpoints are always great to explore. This feature also makes me myself want to get my hands on the games that others write about.

It is also a valuable distraction from my day job. I am sure some of you are aware that I spend my working life in retail. I know, grim times. Especially now that the Christmas stock has started pouring in on the deliveries. It makes me sick to the stomach to be dealing with Christmas stock when there is still a third of the year left! Oof, gaming is the perfect reality escape.

If you are a follower of these blogs, I am sure you are also wondering one thing. Did I write this in advance like I suggested in last month’s blog? The answer is of course, no. You think I have time to just write for hours on end? I have better things to do, like play some of these games…

Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes Of An Elusive AgeMatt Thomasson

Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age Definitive Edition was released on the Nintendo Switch in 2019. I picked up and started playing it back in 2020 but didn’t get very far. I have recently picked it up again and started my adventure from the beginning. I was craving some classic RPG action and Dragon Quest has it in spades.

Dragon Quest is a long running RPG series that has been going since the late 80s and the latest iteration on the Switch is a superb game. Without giving too much of the story away, you play as a young lad going out on an adventure, fairly generic stuff for the most part but with some twists along the way. You are aided by a host of companions, all ranging from fighters to offensive magic, to defense magic, to a loving and vibrant acrobat that will charm your opponents. Throughout the game you will be traveling a big expansive world with tons of loot, monsters, items, and secrets to uncover.

The combat system is very easy to handle with attacks, defend, spells, abilities, and items at your disposal. There are special attacks called “Prep Powers” which, depending on the companions you have fighting with you, will vary. They are super powerful and when activated at the right moment can really turn the tide of battle. The graphics are fantastic and have a cartoony look to them. Personally, I really like the look of the game but can understand that it might not be for everyone. You even have the option of playing through the whole game in the old style 16-bit graphics if you prefer.

As an RPG it has everything that I want and having it available on the Switch to take wherever I want is brilliant. It may not boast the most in-depth or diverse character customisation, the offensive magic user will always be the offensive magic user, but there is something refreshing about having a simpler system to work with. I have poured over 30hrs into the game so far and feel like there is still a huge amount to explore. Combat is fun, the story is pretty good and there is a lot to discover.

The QuarryPaul Blyth

It was an easy pick for me this month as I’ve been eagerly waiting for the latest outing from Supermassive Games - The Quarry. It’s the studio’s first feature-length title since Until Dawn 7 years ago and it doesn’t disappoint.

Everything that made Until Dawn and the Dark Pictures Anthology titles great has been enhanced, and everything that held them back has been done away with. The UI is cleaner, crisper and stands out from the action so you never miss a prompt. Quick Time Events (QTEs) are more streamlined - giving the player much more time to prepare and react to them. You could argue this removes any challenge from the game, but as someone who likes grab platinum trophies this slower approach stops the chance of something going wrong and me having to restart a chapter... which is very welcome.

Once again the story wears its influences on its sleeve with several great nods to some of horrors greatest stories. Sure it’s cheesy in places, but the fantastic script and acting from each character stops it from ever becoming a groan-fest. It also has a great cast, even the support actors are outstanding. And they’re played by instantly recognisable actors from both new and older horror franchises. There’s Lin Shaye from Insidious, David Arquette from Scream and Lance Henriken from Aliens and Pumpkinhead to name but a few.

So yeah, if it’s not clear that I thoroughly enjoyed this game go read my review or, better yet, buy The Quarry and experience it for yourself!

Elden RingCallum Price

My relationship with FromSoftware started many moons ago with the original Demon’s Souls: a solidly difficult game with much to explore. It stemmed from there through the many Souls games and has led me to this, my video game of the month… maybe even decade? Elden Ring. I know this is renown across gamers and praised as an absolute masterpiece of open world exploration and “Souls-like” gameplay. That goes without saying. Why is it video game of the month for me? The reward of exploration.

As you’ll already know, Elden Ring is an open world, action-adventure game with the “Souls-like” feel. You earn a currency to spend by fighting and lose it upon death, there are checkpoints to fast travel between and mark progression, each area is littered in enemies and bosses, you level up chosen attributes… it’s common across these game. But what makes this stand out against all other games of its kind is its approach to how it enables you to discover. It’s wildly open and you are very free to explore as you should choose. At no point are you told you MUST do anything. You’re given direction… but if you want to spend 4 hours exploring catacombs, the world, and its many dungeons, go for it.

You start the game lost in an expansive, beautiful world, broken and damaged by the Shattering of the Elden Ring. Demigods fight for power whilst common folk fight for their chosen deity. It’s full of betrayal, mystery, danger, and lore. Your only drive is the fight to become the next Elden Lord. To say there’s depth in this game is to sell it short! But as you begin your adventure, you’ll meet folk with information and advice to guide you. You’ll collect relics and weapons with historic significance. Play it long enough and you might even meet a demigod or two! How deep you drive a narrative will determine how much you’ll learn about this world. You can play the game four times and still not experience everything – it’s a real treasure trove!

I have loved my first time of playing this game and have easily ploughed over 80 hours into this beauty! I’m still discovering new areas, treasures and bosses and I doubt I’ll be finished any time soon! I’ve got a heck of a lot of gameplay out of this magnificent game and I cannot wait to get lost in the world during my next play through.

Metroid Dread Sophie Jones

I bought Metroid Dread back in January on my Nintendo Switch. Half expecting it to be the next game I played non-stop. Yet, after playing for 2 hours I hit a dead end and put the game down in favour of other titles like Hades, Stardew Valley, and Untitled Goose game.

This summer I loaded it back up and I’m so glad I did! I got passed the bit I was stuck on and haven’t put it down since. This sci-fi, action platformer is addictive! The backgrounds are gorgeous, and I love how each area has its own unique style. The way Samus collects new abilities as your progress makes backtracking fun and each boss fight more challenging than the last.

The story is your usual run of the mill sci-fi; Samus is isolated on an alien planet and lots of things want to kill her. As someone who has never played a Metroid game before, this instalment is easy to pick up and understand. The history of Metroid is summed up in the first cutscene and the following story is engaging.

Just be warned though, the map is a maze, and you will get lost. Metroid also has secret destructible blocks which make navigating the world 100% harder. I had to look at a guide to find this out as the tutorial never told me about these blocks. It's not a game that holds your hand. Instead, it throws you into its perilous world leaving you to figure it out on your own.

Map aside, Metroid Dread is a great game in the series and invites newcomers into the fold. It has the perfect blend of intuitive platforming, exploration, and challenging fights. Initially, I didn’t think it was a game I’d like but once I got over the block issue I couldn’t put it down.

Right, I best get back to it. I’ve got a big monster to fight and I’m hoping I kill it on my twentieth attempt. Wish me luck!

Final Fantasy XII The Zodiac AgeDan Hilton

Yup, that is right. I bet if any game in the Final Fantasy classic line up, you would be expecting me to be playing Final Fantasy X right? Well, you are right, but also wrong. I did start FFX, but after sinking about 50 hours into it, I came to a shocking conclusion: I just do not like FFX. I never played it back on the PS2 so I had no real nostalgia to draw from, much like my time with FFVII Remake. I did however play FFXII, and loved it, even if everyone else hated it. And guess what? I still love it now.

I really love the combat system in this game. As it was the first real game that attempted to bring Final Fantasy away from turn based combat, I think it works really well. The gambit system is a great way to try and script your party members’ AI to react how you want them to, and I am surprised it did not become a mainstay in the series. The main thing the combat lacks however is the presence of magic. It is a big part of the game, and there are many different options available. There are job trees for time battle mage, red battle mage, black mage etc but with the fast-paced action of the combat, it is often just easier to allow your party to attack the nearest target with melee and have someone set to constantly heal. Especially if you are playing the game on speed x4 like me as I love zipping across maps with speed of a god.

I love the world of FFXII, it is the most diverse in terms of races and lore. I know FFX had Sin and Ronsos etc but FFXII has tons of interesting races to meet. I especially enjoy having the freedom to just explore where you want. I am a massive fan of open world games, and this just scratches an itch that I feel was missing in every other Final Fantasy game other than the online one and FFXV. There is plenty of story to find in this game. It is a big game. I have played it many times in my lifetime and have never actually managed to finish it yet. I will this time though. Definitely. Honest!

I think this game is an easy recommendation for me to give. Especially if you passed on the game back on initial release due to it not being like FFX. I think it brings a different kind of charm with it and is a very enjoyable experience. And best of all, no awkward, unskippable forced laughing scenes!

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So, there you are. Another handful of games that we think are worthy recommendations for you. I was especially happy to see another blogger praise the incredible Elden Ring. If I could get away with it, I would have that as my own entry every month. Every single month.

Whatever game you decide to spend your time on, as always, enjoy yourself, and happy gaming!