7 Reviews liked by gebi


At one point I was confident that I would be walking away from the first Pikmin game appreciating it far more than I genuinely enjoyed it. Despite having a Gamecube as far back as its original release, I never touched the series until I played Pikmin 3 on Wii U. That game scratched an arcadey itch for me. I played through it several times, optimizing my strategies further and further. Optimization in games can be a double edged sword, because players will instinctively look for the most expedient means of completion rather than the most fun, so a game that’s all about optimization needs to be as tightly designed as it gets. The third Pikmin game was a resounding success for me, being one of the most addictive and replayable experiences I’ve ever had with a game relative to the game’s actual length.
Much of the criticism I saw for 3 online was targeted at its difficulty. Apparently it just wasn’t as tough as the first two games. I could see that, I never saw Pikmin 3 as particularly trying even if it rewarded knowledge and skill. Only, when I finally went ahead and played the original Pikmin, it seemed less like 3’s easiness was a result from a genuine drop in difficulty and more like a heavy increase of intuitiveness. The game behaves how you expect it to. Your active Pikmin type can be swapped on the fly, they are withdrawn from the same onion, captains tell you when they reach their destination should you split up and multitask, you can bumrush enemies without wondering if the Pikmin are actually all attacking, all Pikmin types can carry bombs, Pikmin don’t stop to perform tasks you never asked them to do, nor do they automatically return to you should they lock onto a task after you dismiss them, when you obviously dismissed them because you didn’t want them following you.
All these things and more, are what initially came to define the differences between the past and future of Pikmin far more than any immediate disparity in danger. Of particular note is the need to dismiss Pikmin in order to select what type you want to use. Even worse is when you have a group of yellow pikmin carrying bombs. When you drop a bomb, the yellow returns to your party, so you need to dismiss again if you don’t want to accidentally use a bombless yellow. Not only is this means of selecting pikmin needlessly obtuse, as the sequels would show, it’s not even going to work how you need it to, as the pikmin groups may not separate far enough away from each other, and you’ll have to delicately whistle so as to not mix and match. Instead of feeling some remorse for the yellows or blues I would set on fire when they joined my band of reds, I’d merely nod my head up and down muttering about how the little bastards get what they fucking deserve. By the end of Pikmin 1, I had dehumanized my forces enough that I could effectively lead an army to defend Stalingrad.
However, there comes a point where you need to stop resenting a trailblazer for not sticking every landing. At the end of the day, several of my problems were mitigated by just gitting gud. Some frustration is to be expected when you’re stuck on a foregin planet and your only allies are creatures at the bottom of the food chain. Not to mention, you’re on a time limit, 30 days to collect 30 ship parts. Many people are turned off by this mechanic, but with a ratio like that, it’s not difficult to understand when you’re running behind. If you didn’t grab a part that day then you’d best reset, it’s that simple. The pressure put upon the player to perform and manage time effectively for both the day and the adventure as a whole feels totally unique amongst most video games, especially something from Nintendo. As you stumble through your first time playing, the sense of relief when you start getting ahead of schedule and accrue buffer days is rarely replicated elsewhere in games.
Each area can feel overwhelming at first, you can have Pikmin populations wiped out and feel forced to either reset or spend a decent chunk of your day building back up. You chip away until what once felt daunting is now just another stepping stone on your journey. Ship parts that are easy to acquire leave breadcrumbs to more treacherously guarded parts. You learn to multitask and plan for the next expedition where everything goes 80% according to plan and you’re forced to improvise that last 20%. Or maybe the ratio is way more skewed towards playing it by ear but you have yourself a lucky day, as luck is just opportunity plus preparedness. The game strikes a balance between making you feel rewarded for pulling off a plan smoothly and pulling the rug out from under you to make sure things will probably go wrong on a few tasks. It provides a lot of wiggle room here, more than you think. You can complete this game battered and bruised, but knowing exactly how you’ll improve should you want to play again. As I continued bettering myself, I realized that, despite my frustrations, the first Pikmin game still had nearly all the replayability of Pikmin 3.
I’m very glad I went to the Distant Spring, the largest and most daunting area in the game, as soon as possible with only a small number of parts grabbed in other areas. The pressure put on me here demanded I deepen my understanding of the game. The map here can be confusing, puzzles that would be simple are made more frustrating by enemies who synergize to ruin your day. If you don’t know how to pick your battles, learn enemy movements, and bring the right pikmin at the right time, you’re in for a world of hurt. One enemy will just blow your pikmin away right into another enemy’s mouth. One, basically innocuous enemy will pick up your pikmin and replant them, but focusing on it would be a mistake. It’s just taking advantage of your loss aversion, making you risk thirty pikmin trying to save two from nonlethal damage. By the time I had wrapped up my business in the Distant Spring, it had gone from so overwhelming that I had to take a break soon after landing to my absolute favorite area in the game.
Returning to the Forest Navel later ended up being a huge boon for my enjoyment of the game. While I still think the area has a few too many walls that require the cumbersome bomb rock juggling, it’s still a great level in its own right. The danger and dread of this place increases as you descend a little lower, a great bit of atmosphere. The unique enemies certainly make an impact. A giant mushroom that will turn your pikmin against each other if you don’t kill it fast enough, and a huge, ball-shaped spider that drops in on you out of nowhere. Both of these can devastate your forces if you go in unprepared. The latter tricks you into stringing along some reds, as there is fire outside its arena, when only yellows will do the trick against it. Hilariously, yellows will carry out a thankless job here, as you’ll have to bring in the reds in order to walk your spoils out of the arena. Meanwhile the former is a great lesson in how to play assertively, as tossing pikmin at this mushroom rather than rushing it with the full force of 100 reds will usually result in failure. This whole area more than any other really wants you to clear it of enemies before you start toting things around. It rewards you for being observant, as this cave is fairly dark, and there could be something waiting to screw over your perfect plan. Fuck those frogs. Little shits take forever to kill and can obliterate your pikmin. The tediousness with which you have to safely and effectively dispatch them makes them the only enemy type in the game I would say drags down the overall quality of the lineup.
Rolling back even further there’s the Forest of Hope. This area is designed for you to return with blue pikmin in order to fight its bosses. It’s also pretty brilliantly composed using very few enemy types. As you progress through here, the space available to you grows tighter. This will encourage you to use the c-stick to navigate around or swarm enemies in order to speed up tasks. One of many examples where there is a lack of tutorializing, trusting you to just read the prompt and find out when to put mechanics into practice. Enough of an explanation that the game isn’t leaving you hanging but not distracting you with segments that feel too safe or boring. There’s no time for that kind of thing when the clock is ticking and you’ve only got 13 minutes to figure out how to spend your time. You’ll also be fighting the best-named enemy in all of video games here, the Burrowing Snagret. Rev up those yellows because it’s time for their weekly mass sacrifice.
Speaking of, the game was not content with the yellow pikmin getting off with just a few purgings. Emperor Bulblax, the game’s final boss, can be stunned with bomb rocks. Now, you can technically pull this off without feeding him your precious yellow pikmin supply, but at this point I had begun to feel yellow pikmin simply did not have a right to life when they decided to hoard the bomb rock reserves. Plus I’m about to leave this planet anyway, so I don’t really care how many innocent pikmin have to die to accomplish that or whether or not I’m creating a horrifying power vacuum by eliminating Bulbmmar Borbdaffi now that he’s committed the cardinal sin of making bulborbs literate.
It’s actually somewhat rare for my appreciation of a game to turn to genuine enjoyment. While I think the original Pikmin makes a few mechanical choices that turn the game into a more cumbersome experience than it should have been, it’s still a well crafted experience where your constant decision making has its consequences felt on both a micro and macro scale. I think I walked away from it really understanding the appeal of the more daunting, demanding progenitor of the franchise compared to its more leisurely successor. So much so that I’m pretty sure my next play through is right around the corner, because a game where your improvement is felt so tangibly can always be understood a little more.

Some people have said that this is the Citizen Kane of videogames. In reality, its enigmatic nature makes it closer to the Lighthouse of videogames. That is, if The Lighthouse had blade saws and zombies and gunboats and building an antlion army and a trashcan and a soda can. Needless to say, this is awesome. The only times I got frustrated were when I was stuck in the mentality of "kill every enemy you face," which obviously won't work in some chapters. Every chapter is uniquely brilliant, and the story is very compelling. Overall, a fine addition to my collection of favorite games.
But minus half a star for not having any music during the final fight.

Omori

2020

A haunting melody that rises and rises with its notes and doesn't stop until you're left utterly broken and hollow.

The developers did a great job providing a "true to the classics" TMNT beat 'em up experience with genuine graphics, backgrounds and overall feel paying homage to the 90s culture.
Gameplay is very solid and introduces much welcomed modern features such as dodge commands and plenty of unlockable and challenges to keep players coming back for more.

While God of War benefits greatly from it's level design eschewing segmented levels for a largely connected space, a camera that overwhelming frames the action clearly and some well designed puzzles for this type of game im afraid the actual combat isn't up to the task of being the bulk of play. Frankly there were no enemies I enjoyed fighting and theres plenty of mechanical decisions that prevented me from getting into any kind of flow. You are routinely forced to bait out multiple attacks in order to block/parry since there is no way to cancel out of a finisher. Dodging will tend to leave you far away from the fight with a long recovery which makes it largely pointless outside of enemy attacks that can't be blocked.
Enemies range from innofensive mobs that can be fun to inflict aoe/crowd control moves on, to frustrating excersises in repeating a basic strategy against a bloated health bar with some boring QTE's thrown in for good measure. Most also have moves that can't be interrupted unlike your own finishers so theres a good chance that you will get hit if you do one. It's this strange mix of being a relatively fast action game with some oddly commited attacks, a combination that im sure can work but here it doesn't and maybe thats due to the possibility space being so small.
All this would be bad enough if the game didn't also present some segments where the gameplay possibilities are stripped back like rope and climbing segments, this wouldn't be so bad but they last too long and don't offer much engagement since once you learn the basics theres no curve balls to keep you on your toes.
Again there are some positives but the core action just isn't at the level it needs to be.

Stray

2022

This review contains spoilers

Started playing Stray and I would say I'm about 10%ish the way through the game so far. I definitely had my eye on the game for a while, especially in development. Cats and a cyberpunk world? You're playing as the cat? I decided then to avoid the publicity and hype and wait for release.
So far, I am blown away. Going in, you must be aware that this is at it's core an adventure game but to clump it in with the "walking simulator" genre would be a massive disservice to what Annapurna Interactive have done with Stray.
The movement, thankfully, honestly feels "catlike". I can't phrase it any other way, it feels pretty good. You're not platforming in the traditional sense, which again may disappoint some who may come in expecting skill based jumps when there are none. The game wasn't developed in the sense that "jumping" would be the element they were going for with Stray.
Instead, you are given little to no information at the beginning and slowly, and actually convincingly, develops a coherent story that I cannot shed any light on without completely ruining it. Just know you are a cat in a cyberpunk city. Go from there.
The game has puzzle solving, rewards exploration, beautiful graphics on our 4K HDR TV and a compelling narrative to keep you playing. This along with several other games made me decide to upgrade to PS+ Extra and I'm glad I did because Stray is a very unique and fun experience I would recommend to everyone.
Update: It's pretty much impossible to discuss the game and my thoughts without revealing spoilers about the story. I personally thought it was very gripping, and as you come to discover that you, a stray but very intelligent cat, have fallen into a failed human society that was built to house it from dangerous, life threatening weather and conditions.
Towards the end we learn that the facility including the control room, had two big problems: Waste and what to do with it. That and of course, the plague that spread through the entire complex, possibly decades ago, killed every single last human being leaving only the robot assistants.
Over time, it appears they not only began to mimic our behaviors, but eventually became self-aware. A group of these robots became determined to leave, by any means necessary, to see the fabled "outside".
I can't say I didn't tear up near the end, but an absolutely phenomenal adventure game with a great story to tell.

It’s a game that feels good and it’s fun to play, but at the end of the day it isn’t fun to collect the moons and doesn’t have a high replay value in my opinion. It didn’t feel worth 60 dollars to me.

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