Well, can you believe the spooky season will have been and gone by the time this feature goes live? Not because I left the collation of this month’s feature until way too late or anything. Don’t look at me like that! I am only human!
I hope you have enjoyed all the spooky content that has inevitably gone up during the Halloween period. I myself got the feeling that people were getting much more into the Halloween spirit this year compared to recent years, which has been great to see! I am NOT however a fan of all these new Halloween products I am seeing: Halloween pulling crackers, Halloween wreaths, Halloween yule logs etc I even saw one store selling Halloween gonks. Like, come on people, what are you trying to pull with this? Keep the holidays separate and unique.
What I AM a fan of however, is video games! I know. Big shocker there. Here are what we have been playing behind the scenes this last month.
Baldur’s Gate 3 - Sophie Jones
I enjoyed playing Baldur’s Gate back in the day and I was intrigued to hear they were bringing it back. However, I was a bit miffed when I realised the combat was going to play like Divinity Original Sin. I know there are a lot of Divinity fans but sadly I am not one of them. I found the combat in that game slow, annoying and it sucked the fun out of an otherwise roleplaying romp. This made me feel uneasy about Baldur’s Gate 3.
I loaded up the game and was greeted with crisp visuals, riveting cinematics and sassy squad mates. It was everything I wanted. But the combat was still a test that needed passing. Despite running a combat system like Divinity, the combat in Baldur’s Gate 3 is smoother and less tedious. As you see a Mindflayer on the horizon the screen pauses and then each character must take their turn and plot their move. Depending on the dice roll their attack is either successful or not so much. This means every encounter is tactful and each action you take can mean the difference between winning and losing. Losing fights can be frustrating as the autosave feature doesn’t happen often. If you have been careless with your saves you may have to backtrack an hour when you die.
Combat aside, Baldur’s Gate 3 is a marvel of gaming. The story seems to have a thousand choices and every dialogue is different depending on you race, sub race and class. I have no idea how the developers plotted all these outcomes and made the game feel fluid and like every choice is your own and matters. Companions are well rounded and each of them has a fun playstyle, unique quest and jaded backstory.
On top of all that, the multiplayer is incredibly fun! You and up to 3 friends and go around the world together with your custom characters and cause havoc. I am currently playing online with my friend and the way each companion interacts with us is different and our relationship score is tracked separately. Neither of us feels like a side piece to the others story.
Baldur’s Gate 3 is a beast of a game I will no doubt be playing over the next few years as I churn through this playthrough and then start a new one to witness all the other options available. This game will be the blueprint for the future... if any other developer can figure out how they did it!
Final Fantasy is an odd little duck. Final Fantasy VII was my introduction to the series and remains one of my all-time favourite games to date. FFVIII came along and was okay. FFIX was and still is fantastic to this day (I revisit it and VII regularly). I liked FFX in spite of the questionable voice acting, but since getting the platinum trophy on the HD remaster I can’t go near it ever again. Didn’t play XI, didn’t like XII once I built out each character’s Gambits and the game essentially played itself. XIII was... there. I haven’t played XIV and I’m yet to complete XV.
So, to call myself a fan of the series may sound odd, but I am. I eagerly await the next entry and, with the exception of the online-only XI and XIV, I play them all. Maybe it was the extended development time of XVI (development began fully in 2016), it could’ve been the disappointment of XV after its own delayed development time. But I didn’t pay attention to FFXVI at all. In fact, I was surprised when adverts started appearing saying it had come out.
But arrived it did and I’m making my way through it. And... it’s great! Combat is fun. The protagonist, Clive, is miserable and tormented but not in an annoying emo way, but in a legitimate way that I can’t explain without spoilers. The world is steeped in lore and history. The story has a much more adult feel, which has been clearly inspired by Game of Thrones with many moving parts working together to create an engrossing narrative. And all of this is interspersed with the best summoning, sorry - “Eikon”, fights in the series ever. Seriously, they’re amazing and really show how powerful these things are, “how powerful?” you ask, powerful enough to overheat some PlayStation 5s apparently! So, get out there, buy FFXVI and find out if it damages your console today!
Disco Elysium – Dan Hilton
Before I jump into my game entry, I would like to point out that I have played FFXVI to completion on a console I got on launch day. One that gets used during every available minute I have. One that has never been opened and cleaned out. And my console never melted away. So yours should be fine too. Should be.
Anyways, my entry this month is a bit of an unusual one. Whilst I am yet to finish my playthrough of Baldur’s Gate 3, or Cyberpunk 2077, I decided to start yet another game. There is probably a reason why I never get around to finishing many games, or books, or projects. I should google it. Turns out I have many symptoms of ADHD, maybe I shouldn’t have googled it. That is a rabbit hole I am not coming out of.
Disco Elysium is simply fantastic. I kept reading comments on the game saying how good the story was, that it was a great narrative experience, that it’s a well-crafted story that adapts to your choices etc. ‘Poppycock!’ I thought. I have heard those promises time and time again when it comes to games. But Disco Elysium really does pull it off. I love how the abilities you choose as you level up aren’t things you unlock, but rather, you are choosing to strengthen the ones you already have. You start with every ability, it's up to you which ones you specialise in. And they are all mental and physical natural things, such as your ability to think creatively, how well you can act and detect lies, how well you can handle pain etc. And not only that, but a lot of them also come at a cost. The higher your perception is, the more you will interrupt yourself just to point out that you can see some birds or smell the brine on the sea. The higher your encyclopaedia skill is, the more your brain will inundate you with useless facts that you just don’t need.
These skills aren’t just things that you have either. These skills are parts of your personality. They will actively talk to you when you are making dialogue choices and tempt you to make certain decisions or offer new ones based on your skills. This makes solving the murder so much more interesting, as you are also fighting with your own personality traits half the time. Oh yeah, did I mention there is a murder? Well, there is a murder you need to solve. Good luck!
Anyone who is a fan of narrative in games needs to check this game out. I am thoroughly impressed with Disco Elysium.
Sam & Max Save The World Remastered – Dan Hilton
This next game is one that I find not many people know of, even though it is simply delightful. I am a big fan of point-and-click adventures. Whilst I played games such as Simon the Sorcerer when I was younger and Stupid Invaders, it was Sam & Max that really solidified my interest in the genre. Side note, I could not remember the name of Stupid Invaders and ended up going on a several-hour internet deep dive to find the name. I even ended up making Reddit posts to try and enlist the help of strangers. Who did not know the game I was trying to remember. I eventually found the game though. I think I was the only person in the world who played it. Is this side story further fire for the possible ADHD diagnosis? Does it prove that I am just a crazy game addict? Both? Who knows…
Anyways, stop distracting me! Sam & Max Save the World has you taking the role of Sam, the anthropomorphic dog who is a freelance police officer. You work with your partner, the anthropomorphic psychotic bunny to solve puzzles that will eventually see you saving the world in the last chapter.
I love the humour in this game (and its sequels) as it's always a wonderful mix of well-crafted quips and spontaneous body humour. In many games I find myself getting frustrated with teammates when they just stand in my way. In Sam & Max however, whenever Max is in Sam’s way, including when Max decides to randomly walk into Sam, Sam will just smack Max into the air. I always forget this is a feature and it always makes me smile to hear Max’s little ‘weeeeee!’ as he is flung away to land somewhere else, out of your way.
Great game. If you are a fan of silly games or point-and-click games, Sam & Max have you covered.
And there you are my friends, another selection of games that we think are worth your time. Whatever you are playing, I hope you are enjoying yourself! Happy gaming!