Last Week’s Gaming – 17th August, 2020 – Back in Form!

A week of no real responsibilities has been great.

So in stark contrast to last week, by the time you read this, I have started working again. That first day back after a week of not checking emails or taking phone calls. I will be getting back into the swing, or wholly wrecked on my first day back. Possibly both, as weird as that sounds.

But what has been great this week is recharging all of the batteries. I could use another such week, and at the end of November, that is precisely what I have planned. The fact this break coincides with Cyberpunk 2077 is purely a coincidence. Pure chance. Not planned at all.

This time has also allowed me to think of a few things regarding the site and other projects. There are a few things I want to start doing, and I just need to work out times and effort involved. But all that is for another article. Today, let me talk about all the fun gaming I have gotten in this week!

I enjoy Escape the Dark Castle. A lot. You can see all my thoughts on the game in my review. Alpal and I also recorded a gameplay session. Because I recently ended my Soundcloud subscription, this isn’t available at the moment. Sorry about that. I am working on restoring these soon now I know that’s been a problem.

Why am I going on about Escape the Dark Castle? Because Escape the Dark Sector is the SciFi follow up in the series! The basic premise is the same – you wake up escaping a prison cell and need to escape. There have been a lot of new additions, such as ranged combat and ‘Acts’ or sections to work through.

Escape The Dark Sector - First Game
Ahh yes. Less than halfway through, and my characters are badly beaten and broken

Escape the Dark Sector is a bit more to manage than its fantasy-themed version, and honestly, I think I may have played it wrong. I either made it much harder or slightly easier on myself. The FAQ on Themeborne’s site isn’t available yet, but a few more games and I should have a good enough feel for the game.

I will be talking more about Escape the Dark Sector sooner than you might be thinking, so if you are interested in it, stay tuned.

Another franchise I just love, I have spoken about Pandemic multiple times. The base Pandemic was indeed my first 10/10 review. Pandemic: Hot Zone takes that base game I love, and condenses it into a quicker play experience.

It’s important to note that quicker does not include making the game easier. Yes, you only need to cure three diseases instead of four. You only have to travel around a single continent rather than the world. There are also ‘only’ 3 Epidemic cards to deal with.

Hot Zone is condensed Pandemic - definitely not simplified Pandemic!

Here’s the thing. In the base game, by the second Epidemic, I have a feel for the real problem spots. This information helps to form my strategy for the rest of the game. In Pandemic: Hot Zone – North America, the second Epidemic card means you have almost finished the game!

Suppose you don’t already have Pandemic or want a satisfying introduction. In that case, Pandemic: Hot Zone – North America is an excellent addition to your shelf. If like me you already have all of the games, I would only nab Hot Zone for the quicker gameplay or collection completion.

Do you remember those little sliding puzzles you played with as a kid? Or last Christmas, if you got those bigger cracker sets? A relaxing diversion, with a *cough* small frustration factor when that one tile won’t go where you want it to. Finish the picture/pattern/whatever, and then you put it away and never think of it again.

Designer Joan Dufour obviously thought that what sliding puzzles needed was a champion. So she has created Flash 8, a competitive sliding puzzle experience. Players create their puzzle board, and then you try and complete patterns on cards placed in the table. Easier patterns are worth one point, harder ones two. Once all of the cards are completed, the player with the highest score wins.

I enjoy Slide Puzzles as a one off diversion. Flash 8 makes them competitive, and it works!

There is even a solo mode, where you use the reverse side of the cards to generate patterns, and you try and create a row or column. When you do complete one, you need to pick a geometric shape and replace those cards.

It sounds kinda meh, but the challenge and timed nature of Flash 8 makes it surprisingly challenging. Not just in a competitive way, but in an “I can do better” way as well, pushing you to play again to do better yourself.

Alpal and I have played Ticket to Ride: New York before, and I have loved it every time. It was the first ‘condensed’ board game version that really clicked with me. Previously, a lot of streamlined or miniaturised version became easier or more complex depending on the game. But Ticket to Ride: New York turned it into a 15-minute full game experience. This is the standard I was comparing Pandemic: Hot Zone to, and luckily it matched up.

Ticket to Ride: London is the next game in the series, and has kept everything that makes the series special. Gone again is the longest route bonus, replaced with connecting groups of stops on top of connecting your routes.

Just like Ticket to Ride: New York, London takes a familiar game and condenses it. There is that word again...

If you want a ‘travel’ copy of Ticket to Ride, I can highly recommend either New York or London. The boxes are small, and the experience is just as good as the ‘full’ game. Plus, games are lightning quick!

Alpal and I played her copy of Geister, Geister, Schatzsuchmeister! (English: Ghost Fightin’ Treasure Hunters) ages ago, and it was bought out for another go this week.

The theme is simple – you are a gang of kids that runs into a haunted house to reclaim treasures. Ghosts appear each turn (kind of like Pandemic infections), and if too many ghosts are in one area, you get a ‘super’ Haunt to deal with.

Ghost Fightin Treasure Hunters
Paranormal Indiana Jones? Capitalistic Scooby Gang? Forget trying to work out the theme. It's just fun.

Ghost Fightin’ Treasure Hunters is primarily a kids game, but the puzzle aspects of managing ghosts and cooperating for treasure makes it a challenge for all ages. 

It might be a more significant challenge to find a copy of Ghost Fightin’ Treasure Hunters though, so if you are interested maybe search for Ghostbusters: Protect the Barrier. It’s the same game, just with the group of kids replaced by the Ghostbusters.

Just some light painting

I have really wanted to get back to painting minis and other game components for a long time now. It’s been so long, I have had to ditch all of my Citadel paints – they are beyond redemption.

Luckily, Alpal also wants to learn some new painting techniques, so we started simple – ‘Golding up’ the coins from Valley of the Vikings. OK, so it’s a simple base coat and single colour paint, but you have to start again somewhere.

Left first coat done, Right base pretty much complete. Now just to decide what more is to be done to them.

If you want to see what the coins looked like initially, you can see them in this Last Week’s Gaming.

Fairy Tail – PS4

While the focus of the previous Last Week’s Gaming,  I earned the Platinum in the first half of my holidays. I could technically spend another 8ish hours ‘completing’ the game. I would need to raise all character bonds up to max level, as well as maxing out the stats of every character to 999. I don’t think I will, though.

I have really enjoyed my time with Fairy Tail, but even now I have no interest in any of the DLC. If you enjoy light RPGs (think Pokemon) and enjoy anime in general, Fairy Tail is worth a play. Just maybe on sale though.

A normal enemy is slightly to the right next to the glowing item.The next quest boss you can only see their feet!

Destroy All Humans! Remake – PS4

I almost left this out. When I am writing this, I have only played the first mission. But it was a game, and one I have been looking forward to, so here we are.

Destroy All Humans! is a remake of the PlayStation 2 classic. It has had a graphical overhaul (which is obvious) and a rework of a few of the gated progression mechanics of the original.

Remember even as pretty as it looks, this is a PS2 game. So lots of things to explore, but it's no Grand Theft Alien.

What does this mean? Well, in the original you would have to grind some levels to collect X amount of DNA to proceed. Now, you only need to complete the main objective, and you can choose to grind for more upgrades.

Destroy All Humans! is not a AAA big-budget title, and that is where it’s charm lies. It’s just an excuse to have fun, from a now-gone studio that just wanted to make fun games. I will be talking more about Destroy All Humans! in the coming weeks, as I have it on my finish list now.

What about you?  I hope you got some great games in.  Or are you looking forward to a new one?  Let me know!  Shout out on Facebook or @JohnHQLD me on Twitter!

Until next time,

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