by Matthew Thompson
Hey everyone! While I finished my year-end posts and talked about some of the games coming in 2017 last month, I didn’t really get to discuss anything I have been playing recently. This post will cover the games I finished and started playing in January and I hope to do this after each month ends to discuss any games I haven’t had the chance to make a more substantial post for. Well, here it goes!
Oxenfree is a fun little adventure that finds a group of kids heading to an abandoned island for high school-aged hijinks before being plunged headlong into the supernatural mysteries found there. It is dialogue-driven in a similar way to recent Telltale games or Life is Strange even if the structure is different. For one it is more of a 2D outing. And it has a slick way of presenting dialogue options to allow conversations to play out as you perform the rest of the gameplay actions such as exploring the island or solving puzzles. The dialogue itself is lovely, capturing the sarcastic chatter shared between friends in a way few games do and reminiscent of the snarky banter in my favorite television series. Oxenfree also deserves kudos for its haunting atmosphere, neat radio mechanic, stellar soundtrack and unique online component. Overall, I had a great time with it and it would have figured into my Best of 2016 posts in some fashion had I finished it earlier. Those looking for a spooky, story-driven adventure will find a lot to love with this one.
Gravity Rush 2
I am still working through this, but it has taken up the bulk of my gaming time lately. Much of what I enjoyed about the original Gravity Rush is present. I have fun just falling around the world collecting gems even when I’m making zero progress on the story or side missions. Kat remains delightful. She’s a true superhero willing to do whatever it takes to help people whether that be large acts like toppling a corrupt government or doing the GR equivalent of rescuing a cat stuck in a tree. It also features the kind of enhancements you’d expect from a sequel. A beautiful new world that begs to be explored. New gravity styles that add more depth to your combat and movement abilities. Improved controls that make for a smoother play experience. It falters elsewhere though. In trying to make this a larger adventure, I feel it took on a bit of open-world bloat. Problematic designs make some missions a slog as well, particularly the stealth-oriented ones and others that steer you away from using your powers. Despite these issues, I’m still having a good time with Gravity Rush 2 and look forward to digging in further this month.
Battlefield 1 (Campaign)
Tackling the first World War in video game form is not an easy task. You can tell DICE wanted to approach this in a different way right from the start with Battlefield 1’s unique prologue. While I respect the story they are trying to tell here, I just find myself bored playing the game. I’m starting to think military FPS games just aren’t for me. I do like the idea of the multiple mini-campaigns and perhaps I will find something more to my liking in the ones I didn’t get to yet, but after a few sessions I’m just not itching to get back to it. And to be honest, even the story hasn’t gripped me nearly as much as Ubisoft Montpellier’s look at World War I, the extremely moving Valiant Hearts: The Great War. I guess this one might just not be for me.
I like the idea of Unravel, but the execution is really lacking. The controls can be very finicky. The save and checkpoint system has resulted in me losing a lot of progress each time I have stopped playing the game which has added more frustration to the whole affair. There are certainly some cool physics and platforming puzzles. Yarny is a cute character and they make good use of the yarn mechanic for ideas such as swinging and creating slingshots. Still, I’m finding Unravel to be more aggravating than fun so far.
That will do it for this post. I am hoping to have a similar TV recap up for January in the next few days. Thanks for reading!