Last Week’s Gaming

Little Hope of Hot Wheels creating Dead Cells for Operation Tango

Last week, I have been enjoying my first week of holidays. Lots of napping, pottering, and more napping. Work did make a small appearance, luckily it wasn’t anything too bad and I could deal with it quickly and pass it on. What I am really happy with is I got to sit and enjoy some gaming time!

I have started playing with the new site layout, making some headway there. Nothing to share on that front just yet. But I did have a whole day to sit and play with some video editing. something I have been putting on the back burner for far too long. It’s nothing fantastic, but I think it makes a fun Halloween treat!

You can read all about that further down the track. For now, let’s jump into what I did get up to in last week’s gaming!

Hot Wheels Unleashed

Played on – PlayStation 5

I have been curious about Hot Wheels Unleashed since I saw the announcement trailer. Arcade racing around the room like the original toys did in your imagination years ago.

During the day, I watched a few reviews for Hot Wheels Unleashed. One thing kept coming through – the racing had a Burnout feel to it, minus the takedowns. This is what clinched it enough to pick up the Standard Edition.

There are ‘real’ cars, but Hot Wheels have never been afraid of having fun

This is Hot Wheels. You need a car! Starting the game, you are instantly awarded a trophy for opening some blind boxes. Then you race, and the tutorial is rather frustrating.

Instead of showing you the controls and letting you loose, you start a race and are shown the accelerator. Then during your lap, everything stops are you are shown the brake. It’s this jarring stop to the action that is so annoying. Luckily it only happens once.

Once you have finished this, you are free to explore the game properly.

In game tutorial – great. Stopping gameplay as you try and race – not so much.

The main single-player content has you exploring Hot Wheels City. There isn’t anything overly creative here – race and win. Get coins to unlock cars with a primary goal, unlock gears to upgrade vehicles with a challenging goal.

It sounds boring, but this racing is basically the same thing over and over. And I have enjoyed every course so far! Racing up a wall with magnetised tracks, drifting through a turn and jumping from plastic track to the couch as an impromptu slalom is just some of the fun. 

Considering these are ‘toy’ cars, the feeling of speed is up there with Burnout

Online multiplayer may not be for me still. I have only unlocked some basic cars, and it showed in my online play. During my online matches, there was one racer with a fantastic car that dominated.

Now I am not trying to say they bought a victory. At the very least, they had to unlock the car. But in terms of recovery and speed, no one could touch them. Hopefully, some more balanced matchmaking comes with future patches.

I really want to know what that car is

Eventually, I will start messing with the track creator. Making my own horror of a track should be a lot of fun. But in the meantime, pick up and put down arcade racing sounds like an excellent way to start my break!

Dead Cells

Played on – Switch

I have made some decent progress with Dead Cells. This took me by surprise. The changing level design and twitch gameplay are not what I thought I was up to right now.

Playing on Switch is the secret. The quick levels are what is keeping me going. I can clear a level and suspend the Switch, taking breaks I can’t do on consoles. Well, not as easily.

And each time I make a run, I get a new power or find a new level that expands the story piece by piece. Somehow, while I know I am grinding away at Dead Cells, it doesn’t feel like it. This is an experience that many games try and create but fail at regularly. Looking at you, Destiny 2!

Lore pieces are everywhere, not just the loading screens

Dead Cells is continuously drawing me in. I constantly pick up the Switch for a quick go due to the great combat, exploration, and constant progression.

The humour doesn’t hurt either. There are so many little nods to famous games that I always smile. There is even a Souls reference, where using the bonfire bought back defeated enemies!

One day, I will play a soulsborne game

Last week, I talked about some issues that I thought the Xbox or PlayStation could help with. After a bit of experimentation, the problem actually seems to be my Hori Pro. The L2 and R2 buttons are not as responsive as my fingers expect. It’s all how I am hitting the buttons.

When playing in handheld mode, this makes me play more cautiously, especially with Cursed Chests. The chests give you some great rewards but come at a price. Until you can defeat 10 enemies, your run ends with a single hit. When you can’t use half of your arsenal reliably, this becomes a dangerous choice.

Don’t open one of these when you have cleared the level

All in all, this is really making me more excited for Metroid Dread, due out TODAY. Like so many Nintendo titles, I have followed the history, but I have yet to play any Metroid games. Maybe I can finally experience a Metroid game after all! 

Operation: Tango

Played on – PlayStation 5

It has been ages since SpookedShibe and I have had a chance to catch up and play. We still haven’t caught up in person, but we did get to continue our adventures in Operation Tango!

I thought we would be able to catch up while solving puzzles. We completely forgot just how absolutely mad some of the gameplay could be!

The other player can’t see the timing circle – makes timing frustrating!

It’s so easy to forget that both players are seeing completely different things. Playing as Hacker or Agent, you each have only a part of the solution. Communication is vital, and it took a little while for us to start getting into the flow.

One particularly frustrating puzzle had us replaying the mission swapping roles. With words, we couldn’t describe to the other what we were seeing. The solution was simple, and I had hit upon the answer accidentally, but SpookedShibe was floundering. 

After playing as the agent, I understood why!

This is what I see. In the right-hand column, move tile 2 to position 3. It’s easy – from one perspective.

We got through a mission and three quarters after almost two and a half hours when net problems ended the game. Going forward, if we finish Operation: Tango, maybe concentrating on a single mission with more regular play sessions would be required.

We dealt with multiple timed tasks thrown at us at once while working out what we had to do. That wasn’t as relaxing as I hoped it would be. Fun, exhilarating when we did it, but stressful.

Maybe a more social and less taxing game like Borderlands next time will be better for a catch-up!

The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope

Played on – PlayStation 5

I figured I would finally play the shortest of my challenge backlog games on my first weekend of holidays – Little Hope. The second of the Dark Pictures Anthology, I am looking forward to the third coming out shortly.

So I settled in for the afternoon and played for about 4 hours. Then the game crashed. I went to restart the story as crashes are annoying, but I figured not the end of the world.

I restarted and tried to load my save, which I was then informed was corrupted. According to the game, I haven’t even started playing Little Hope. Trophies and game capture must be lying that I was playing!

Such a welcoming opening!

Luckily, my online save was OK. I only lost about an hour of progress. This is a problem with this sort of save system. I understand why Supermassive implements a single save system. On a game based on choices, you don’t want to deal with players constantly reloading saves for the best outcome.

But that’s all the technical stuff. Little Hope had the same issue I had with Man of Medan – they are artificially drawing out a 90-minute horror movie to a 5ish hour experience.

But if you know about the story style going in, this can be dealt with. Unlike Man of Medan, 4 hours in, I was keen to find out where the story was going.

Like any journey, the road can throw unexpected things at you

So I jumped back in, replaying the lost time. I thought I was making progress, but the escalation in story beats ramped up quickly. The parallels with the Salem witch trials were interesting, and the red herrings and little teasers kept me hooked.

No slight against Supermassive, but The Dark Pictures Anthology is a series you will enjoy or you really won’t. The story pacing and the twists in Little Hope were much better than Man of Medan. But if you don’t like playing a 6ish hour horror movie, the series will just never be for you.

Sometimes, the best action is no action

I will say that The Dark Pictures Anthology is a little like Resident Evil. Finishing the story once is not the end. There are multiple paths, collectibles and endings to unlock. Technically I should play again in Movie Night mode to see extra scenes and influence the outcome.

There are also multiplayer modes. Playing a ‘movie’ multiplayer might sound strange, but it works. Playing Man of Medan simultaneously with SpookedShibe was great, especially as we could simultaneously play different paths. There is also the choice of playing ‘couch mode’, where friends can enjoy a long horror movie.

And if you want to get everything out of the game, exploring each mode is required. Some options can only be reached via specific paths. And if you wish to earn that Platinum, this is the way to go.

Lots of branches and things to find, hidden by choices you make at different times

I’m not going to do that right now. I have a few other games that I am looking forward to playing, including the third chapter in the series – House of Ashes.

So I am happy I played Little Hope, and I saw the credits. I’m far enough in to declare, “I’ve seen the story.” Not far enough in to do a proper review, though. 

How to explain if The Dark Pictures Anthology is something you may enjoy?

That is the question indeed

So I am doing a one-off experiment. I will put up my entire Little Hope story in all its (almost 5-hour) glory! From the first load to the final credits, all of the game exactly as I saw it.

I have added chapters to quickly pick a section. What you watch is up to you – watch just the beginning, jump to a section or watch it all as a Halloween horror movie!

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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