Last week was Extra Life and it was a day of fantastic tabletop RPG awesomeness. And though I hope that by plugging the event again and casually mentioning to you all our awesome prizes, which can still be unlocked by donating HERE until the end of the month, I can get you to give a bit of your hard-earned money for a good cause, it’s time to move on and get back to usual business.
The first week of November was an eventful one, wasn’t it, with lots of major game releases that we’ve expected for ages. There was the Nazi-punching simulator Wolfenstein, the next in the Mario Saga, and the Assassin’s Creed title with the double task of setting up the origin for its series’ canon and at the same time recover what its predecessors lost, loyalty and trust. There were other releases but in my eyes these were the biggest ones and of course, I got my hands on them.
Let’s say that weekend was an interesting one, switching between these three games, trying to get a feel for them, really getting into them, enjoying my time and then forcing myself away to give the others a shot. It took effort, guts, and a lot of willpower but in the end…in the end I finished Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus and barely scratched the surface of the others.
Now, that doesn’t mean they’re not as good as Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, but MachineGames’ title is a linear one, where getting lost in a vast land is an impossibility, so there’s a clearer idea of progression and completing each level takes considerably less time than it does completing objectives or collecting things in Super Mario Odyssey and Assassin’s Creed Origins.
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus kept me hooked with its narrative and its overpowered laser heavy weapons, which became my tool of choice. BJ’s depressing as ever, his monologue keeping you going and wondering if his fatalism will prove to be true in the end or if he should just shut the hell up. Turns out…I’m not telling you, as that would be spoilers and I don’t want to spoil what is an amazing game.
I will only say this: in Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, if you can sneak-kill a commander, do so…if not, laser weapons, the bigger the better. Also, super stilts are really fun to use.
I fell out of love with Assassin’s Creed when Unity came out, as I thought the plot had gone to hell, the modern era stuff had gone to Tartarus, and the quality assurance had fallen into the gaping maw of oblivion. Assassin’s Creed Syndicate did some good in that regard and I generally enjoyed it, even if it left the modern era stuff hanging dry except for a few disjointed cutscenes that really didn’t add much value to anything.
But from what I saw of Assassin’s Creed Origins before the release of the game, particularly its setting and overall gameplay design, particularly the revamped combat, I have to admit it intrigued me enough to even pre-order the title–which I did with a collector’s edition as I wanted one of those nice Bayek & Senu statues, with Senu being the overpowered badass eagle Bayek controls.
And you know what? I’m back in love with Assassin’s Creed, and I have to hope that this title is a change in direction in terms of quality for the series. The storytelling in the past is tight even with the complete freedom there is in exploring, as your main objectives take you across the land anyway, and the villain’s effect on the land is pervasive, so you’re getting to know more of them and their “evil” as you go along. The title’s RPG levelling and crafting systems further encourage you to explore, find things on the map, gain extra experience and just take in the sights. There are tombs to explore, viewpoints to find to unlock not only fast travel points but also to give your fun eagle, Senu, an increased visual range and tons of quests you just find. One thing I’ve enjoyed as I continue to play Assassin’s Creed Origins is avenging fallen players. After what is an introductory quest, you will, at times, find corpses which look remarkably like Bayek and considering their unusual names, it’s clear they’re fallen players and so your task as Medjay is to find those responsible, which very often are just random enemies, because this is a tough game!
I’ve found Bayek to be a very cool character. He’s intense but he’s not consumed by his darker desires and he feels like a real person. There’s kindness in him and as he often says, he’s a protector, he’s there to fight for all of Egypt. His quest is personal, but he also sees injustice and that adds to the fire inside. The moments with his wife are fantastic, as are all moments when his tenderness comes through, which is often when speaking with people who have lost someone important in their lives, much like he did.
I think I’m nowhere near the end of the game but I can’t stop playing when I get the chance, not just because the game is incredibly fun and engaging, but because I enjoy this journey with Bayek of Siwa.
The above titles both have great voice acting and some amazing soundtracks, but only Super Mario Odyssey has the killer track of the season, which they were cool enough to include the lyrics for in the game case. Pauline’s Jump Up, Super Star! is phenomenal and set the tone for the game before I had even launched it.
When I did, it was clear I was in for one hell of an adventure in Super Mario Odyssey, one that surprisingly every news outlet out there pushes me towards finishing it as soon as possible, as apparently the game really opens up after the credits. As I’m a completionist by nature, at least within reason, that doesn’t sit well with me so what I’m doing is trying to get as many of the Power Moons as I can within a given kingdom until I can’t find one or I can’t figure out how to get to them and then I’m going to the next kingdom. The reason is there are some things in certain Kingdoms that I can’t do anything about yet, maybe because of an ability I’ll unlock along the way and there are certain portals that take you to secluded locations in other kingdoms, so it might be that those are the ones I’m missing.
I can’t get enough of how many Power Moons there are around, how varied the “platforming puzzles” are to collect them and coming from titles like Super Mario Galaxy, it’s refreshing that collecting one moon doesn’t just kick you back to the main hub but instead you keep going, perhaps to capture the next. There are moons just standing there, with the challenge being to make your way to them, others pop up from the ground if you stomp on the right location, while others come out only after a set of perhaps obscure steps. Hell, in Tostarena, the sand Kingdom, I planted three seeds that bloomed into Power Moons overnight. And that’s without going into the sheer genius of the murals, where Mario turns 2D!
There’s so much to do, so many enemies to capture and use their skills to unlock even more amazing things. The variety of gameplay, the great music and of course the hats and costumes to collect and wear with style just keep me coming back and it’s a game that I know I’ll be enjoying for a long while still, not only because of my current pace with each kingdom but because as some outlets have mentioned, the game just opens up once the credits roll. Right now, my goal is to reach Pauline’s city in the Metro Kingdom and hear her sing that beautiful song of hers!
It would be remiss of me to leave this article without mentioned a recent release. It’s not a new game, at least not entirely but it’s a pleasure to dive back into it and make my way through a story that I had once enjoyed and am doing so all over again. That is .hack//G.U Last Recode. Now on PC and PS4 (don’t know if XBOX as well), it’s been remastered and a new chapter added to it. The only downside to this title is that it doesn’t include the wonderful anime series that serves as its prologue, .hack//Roots, because one thing that has always been true about the .hack series, is that they spread their content across multiple media more than any other property on the planet. Most video game have novels or films that recap or tell a side-story, but .hack has major plot in the non-video game stuff, which can mean that if you don’t get your hands on them, you’re losing out on a lot of context.
Still, .hack//G.U does a good job of introducing the character of Haseo aka The Terror of Death and give you some of the context behind his motivations. It’s not perfect, considering that context comes from a 25 episode anime, but it’s good enough, and with three volumes (each of them a full game in itself) to tell the story, there’s plenty of time to learn what you need and to see what The World, the MMO where it all takes place, has to offer. And now we have a 4th Volume, which means even more hours of JRPG goodness.