Lunick finished Kingdom Hearts III
20 hrs ago
Lunick finished Prey: Mooncrash
I was pretty skeptical about the prospect of stapling a roguelite mode onto a game that is about exploring a setting that is fueled by its strong sense of place. How do you make a location that is as interesting to explore as Talos I but also have it shift and change across dozens of runs? In the end I think that Mooncrash pulls off this feat with aplomb. The sense of familiarity you develop with the moon base is constantly being fucked with by new hazards, enemy types, and full on room variations that are just different enough to keep you on your toes.
I think a problem inherent to a lot of roguelites is that the final run feels kind of anti-climactic due to you just have complete mastery over the mechanics and also have gained so much power that you can steam roll over nearly any problem. I think that's exacerbated a bit here by the delay loop time item that allows you to just completely avoid taking on higher level enemies or even allowing enemies to repopulate, so on a perfect run by the time you get to character 4 or 5 there's almost no major threats standing in your way, you're pretty much just making a beeline directly to your escape route. I think this offers a pretty neat reward for players that plan their route through a run smartly, but at the same time it does make the ending of your final run feel very anticlimactic. Luckily there is a final sequence as a part of the framing device of the narrative that makes things have a bit more satisfying of a conclusion.
I think the problems here are extraordinarily minor though. Overall this is one of my favorite roguelites or immersive sims that I've played, and just by virtue of tying the two together so well it should be applauded. I'm much more likely to dip my toes back into this than the base game which I think is one of the highest complements you can pay to any DLC.
3 days ago
Lunick completed Starfield
I played this for 7 hours and in that time I’m not sure there was anything that genuinely compelled me about the setting at all. I think that Bethesda games can typically get away with mediocre mechanics because they excel at making fun little worlds, but Starfield is so spread out and dry that I just focused in on all the little things that annoyed me.
13 days ago
Lunick finished Sea of Stars
For a game that is ostensibly a send up to the classics of the genre, Sea of Stars seemingly does not understand a single thing about what makes those games so timeless.
There's a certain level of insincerity that permeates the whole experience. The writing feels very concerned with letting the player know that they're in on the fact that JRPGs are steeped in tropes and can be a bit silly, but all those winks at the camera inherently make me less invested in the world and characters, because it feels like the person writing this actually doesn't like what the genre is but rather what they perceive it to be. There wasn't any moment that I felt like the game was trying to say anything of any value, not even something as simple as "friendship is good" is articulated well, because the characters that are involved in those friendships aren't believable at all. Then out of nowhere they'll dump a bunch of lore on you that seems completely irrelevant to the actual plot or characters of this game, and I assume that's because large chunks of it are related to The Messenger or are setting up more threads to be continued in a later game? Either way the lore dumps aren't actually interesting and often times come off as extraordinarily edgy and completely at odds with the rest of the tone. All this without mentioning that virtually every plot beat of the game is 1:1 ripped from Chrono Trigger and rearranged in a way that only seems to undermine the efficacy of those moments.
The combat system likewise feels like it's a bunch of disparate mechanics stitched together from other games they liked without really considering why these elements haven't been combined before. The positioning mechanics lifted from Chrono Trigger and the action command system lifted from Super Mario RPG are obviously only included because the developers liked both of those mechanics on their own, and yes, both of those mechanics are fantastic in the games they originated in. However, it doesn't take long before you realize why these mechanics have never been combined, and that's because they are fundamentally at odds with each other. Action commands require action-game-like precision timing in order to execute at the maximum level of efficacy, but due to the random positioning of enemies you oftentimes end up missing timing because it wasn't clear where an enemy was in relation to you, or the timing of an attack was slightly different than usual because of the distance, or an enemy will completely obscure one of its comrades so you can't actually see their animation, or the UI will obscure an enemy, or an enemy or your party member will get stuck in a wall, and so on. This might not be such a big deal if the encounters were balanced in such a way that the action commands weren't completely essential to your survival, but unlike in a Mario RPG you're not dealing with tiny integers where the difference between a block and taking a hit is 1 HP, rather the difference between taking a block and a hit could be half of your life bar. It demands 100% of your attention from nearly every single encounter, and after a while that just becomes exhausting because each character only has 3 skills so you're never really getting any stronger so the entire experience just feels really flat.
The one thing that really did resonate with me was the dungeon design. I did find it really compelling overall, you can tell this is a team that cut their teeth on action games (for better and for worse). There's a constant forward momentum and while the puzzles aren't all that difficult to figure out, there's a certain joy in actually executing them that did feel like it came from that action game DNA.
All in all Sea of Stars really does feel like a tacky pastiche of better games made by a team that was really confident they understood what made the genre tick when in fact they did not. Love that pixel art doe.
14 days ago