Last Week’s Gaming – May 11th, 2020

Sleeping Dogs Tactical Uniform

I don’t know about you, but I have been so tired lately.

The world is as it is right now. Due to work, I haven’t had much real downtime. I have had times that I crash, but that isn’t great, and it has started to take its toll.

So another week without much gaming, up until Saturday where I spent way too much time playing Sleeping Dogs. How much? My controller drained from 100% charge. It was great.

But why tell you about it now? That’s what the entry is for below!

Elder Sign: Omens – PC

I gave this another go this week. Fixed up the screen resolution, so now it looks right when I play.

I only played one game, and I lost badly. Even though the gameplay stops until you make a decision, I was playing distracted and with gaps in gameplay. My team got wiped, mainly because I kept forgetting to see what items they had.

Let that be a lesson for you. Don’t take a ‘simple’ game for granted. Some are designed to punish such lapses in concentration, and Elder Sign fits in this category.

Elder Sign Omens Cthulhu Campaign Start
I haven't played a hard campaign for a while. Jumped straight to Cthulhu. Oops.

Final Fantasy VII Remake – PS4

I tried to get into Final Fantasy again last weekend. I am really looking forward to playing this through, but I was really not in the right frame of mind to play it.

Work has stretched me mentally for a few weeks, and I saved right before essentially a boss fight with Rude. After not playing for a week, I like a ‘normal’ fight to get the muscle memory kicking in again with the controls.

Real-time combat, new boss patterns plus brain rebelling at even minor multitasking lead to a bad time playing. This isn’t what you want to experience when playing games. I have put it down again for a bit, but after a couple of long weekends expect me to come back with renewed vigour to this one.

I did manage to beat Rude first try though. That was satisfying, but I also closed the game without saving. Guess I will have to kick his pretty butt again. 😀

Final Fantasy VII Remake Flower Mural
Earlier in the game, we picked some flowers. This was the result.
Final Fantasy VII Remake Rude
Mid fight cutscene, but it was satisfying to see his glasses broken

John Wick Hex – PS4

This game is the reason I have an Epic Games Store account. Early on in the piece, they were offering $10 credit on purchases to try to bring in people. It worked – I preordered John Wick Hex for about AUD$6.

It came out during PAX 2019. I jumped on and tried to play, but it kept crashing on me. I closed it up, expecting to wait for some patches. And promptly forgot about it.

Well, it came to PS4 last week, so I fired it up. Pure turn-based gameplay sounded right for my frame of mind. I cleared the first couple of levels, and then the crashes started. Again.

I want to get into John Wick Hex. When it works, the gameplay is engaging. The challenges are achievable, just not easy. But the crashing – oh, the crashing. Why.

With no in-round saving (which I agree with, it would be too easy otherwise), having to start and hope the random crash doesn’t happen again is infuriating.

I think I will check out the state of the PC version, and if it’s doing better might try John Wick Hex as an initial streaming choice.

John Wick Hex Gameplay
As you play, everything is cut into time units between turns
John Wick Hex Replay
When you finish a level, you can watch the replay in realtime. It is very satisying - when it works

Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Switch

I haven’t really been giving Animal Crossing the love it deserves. I finally got my island to the level that the shop is upgrading. Turnip sales aren’t treating me well – I barely made a profit from last weeks sales. This is on me though – I forgot to check prices until Thursday!

One thing I did do last Friday was start playing with the designer. My first design? Site logo, of course! And I have made it the flag for my island. That was uber satisfying, and I am sure some smart cookie has already made a way to do this better by importing pictures.

Animal Crossing New Flag
This made me happier than I thought it would.

But sitting at my desk with YouTube playing while drawing dots was satisfying. I also paid off my third room. This week, time to start getting the island ready for K.K. Slider!

Also, I watched Show of the Weekend on Sunday finally. The Outside Xbox/Outside Xtra team is excellent to watch and relax to. And last week, they did the show from within Animal Crossing! Check it out if you want to see some friends having a great time in the cutest way possible.

Animal Crossing Flora Leaving
One of my islanders also departed. I miss Flora the Flamingo already.

Sleeping Dogs Definitive Edition – PS4

Speaking of watching people, a friend of mine spookedshibe began streaming again. She started streaming with Sleeping Dogs, a game that I heard was an overlooked classic from the PS3/Xbox 360 days.

After watching her for a couple of hours, I came away with a lot of interest. Enough that I went and bought it on PSN and started playing it.

Combat is reminiscent of the Batman Arkham series, including environmental takedowns. Missions and adventures are like Grand Theft Auto, but with a mix of humour like Saints Row. Driving is surprisingly reminiscent of Burnout, including achievements for jumps and ‘safe’ driving over 60kph.

There were some frustrations. If you fail a counter, you are exposed for a second or two, just like the Arkham games. There were times though this kind of pause just happened mid-fight. When driving, sometimes I would visibly miss a car, but get launched into the air. It was hilarious to watch, just random.

Given the age of the game and how infrequent these happen though, I will give it a pass. I did one mission that I had to repeat a couple of times because of the combat pause, but it was a unique mission. This will become my explore game between Final Fantasy VII I think.

If you would like to see someone that has played it relive the game, check out spookedshibe’s Twitch channel.

Sleeping Dogs Racing
Stills don't do it justice, but racing really feels like Burnout without the slow motion takedowns
Sleeping Dogs Fighting
Oh, I forgot to mention - you are an undercover cop doing things like this
Sleeping Dogs Tactical Uniform
In a strange game quirk, I can run around in a police uniform, and the triads don't blink at all

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,

JohnHQLD

Last Week’s Gaming – May 4th, 2020 – May the Fourth be with you!

Star Wars Day

It was another light games week. You would think I was tearing through games while stuck at home!

So many things are going on. Working in IT is an interesting experience under the best of circumstances. The mental gymnastics of working with multiple projects, codebases, technologies and time zones is a workout.

We are doing all this while everyone is working from home as well. That is a mental and time management toll that has been hard to manage.

Luckily, today is not only Star Wars Day, but Labour Day public holiday here in QLD! After working Saturday and resting yesterday, I am finally going to see Alpal today! It’s going to be great catching up, and I am sure a game or two will break out.

It’s the future for me, but I would have done it when you read this. Expect to hear the outcome of that next week! 🙂 For now, let’s talk about what I played last week!

Jackbox Party Pack games – PC/Stream

Another streaming games night, have almost everything sorted, which is working well. I not only got to play Jackbox with some of my regular games group but also with my work team! So much Jackbox!

Guesspionage still makes you question the survey results, but Murder Trivia Party is always a group favourite. If we Jackbox this week, I think some drawing heavy games will in the mix this time.

If you catch up with Zoom/Teams/Skype/whatever, you need one person to share their screen with the host game. Everyone else plays on their phones/browsers. The format works surprisingly well!

Murder Trivia Party Ooops
I won a round of Murder Trivia Party! And the hotel exploded. Ooops.

Finally worked out how to get the sound working correctly as well. On the Windows Game Bar (Windows Key and G at the same time), there is an audio mixer. You can drop the game sound while leaving peoples voices alone. If anyone wants a hand with this, drop me a comment, and I will do a quick tutorial! 🙂

Elder Sign: Omens – PC

During the week, I was sitting back and waiting for someone to get back to me. I was in the mood for a dice game I could play quickly, but also walk away from if required.

I thought I would fire up One Deck Dungeon. Somehow, I started Elder Sign. I wasn’t complaining – I haven’t played it for a while, so I jumped into the Hastur campaign.

One of my team was driven insane, but I made it through. I haven’t forgotten everything it seems! It was satisfying to finish a campaign after a few weeks of almost ignoring board games. It also felt great to finally log a play after three weeks on inactivity!

Elder Sign Omens
I'm sorry Kate. She was driven insane. Also, I need to fix my screen settings apparently...

Streets of Rage 4 – Xbox GamePass

I knew this retro Kickstarter had released, but I was surprised it was also available on Game Pass. Free try? Yes, please!

Short version, it’s a faithful continuation of the SEGA classic series. I started a game as Blaze (my old favourite character) and felt at home. The downside? It’s a faithful continuation of the old series. Weird hit windows, being a pixel off on a plane, animation locking – it all exists here.

Streets of Rage (and games like it) work best in cooperative play. You can now not only play with someone online but apparently have 4 players at once? I haven’t tried this, but it would be an excellent way to play.

Streets of Rage 4
Graphically, it's a great balance between retro feel and modern improvements

I will probably grind my way to the end of the story as I have always done with the series. If I can talk Rabbit or someone else into playing with me (even online), I might also do a proper review. But it was fun for an hour, and for no more than my Game Pass subscription for entry, that’s not bad.

Animal Crossing – Switch

Oh, the progress I have been making in Animal Crossing. Honestly, I know I am playing the bare minimum most days. I hit the Nook Stop for my daily miles bonus, find my money tree spot and plant some bells. I visited my first Nook Miles Mystery Island and found the photography island. And of course, I have also been trying to do Nature Day activities.

This week, I built my campsite and invited my first guest. Resident Services got upgraded, and I started adding Art to my Museum.

Is Animal Crossing basically gamified real life? Yep. But it’s so satisfying to be able to run around for 15-20 minutes each night and say “I have done what I wanted to do”.

How’s your island going?

Animal Crossing
Campsite completed, and I even managed to snag a new resident!

Final Fantasy VII Remake – PS4

I finally sat down Sunday night and started playing Final Fantasy 7 Remake again. Rabbit and I set ourselves up on the couch, transferred my save, and settled in to continue the story a bit.

I haven’t played for a while, so I thought I would have trouble with the controls for a little bit. The controls aren’t terrible, just not entirely intuitive. And I have been switching consoles to make things worse.

So I load my save, talk to Aerith, and get dropped straight into a boss fight. This is the best way to describe my weeks lately!

Still, progress was made. I am now in the next section where I can side quest to my heart’s content. Shiva has been defeated, so I have my third summon.

During the week, I will probably chill with the side quests while Rabbit does what she needs to. Then when I am ready to continue the story, we will move back to the couch and play together. Great way to play through everything quickly? Nope. Nice way to spend time together and savour the experience? Absolutely. 😀

Final Fantasy VII Remake Shiva Battle
Don't try taking on Shiva by yourself. You will do OK for a while, then your butt will be handed to you!
Final Fantasy VII Remake Moogle
Not going to lie, not the Moogle I was expecting!

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 tomorrow,

JohnHQLD

Six digital versions of board games to play while inside

Tokaido Following the Road

Staying inside and looking for something to play? Here are four classic games to keep you entertained!

The world is in a strange place right now. It’s been getting stranger and harder the last few years. I have been working from home during the week bar a couple of sick days, and I don’t see that changing soon.

The internet is abuzz with more stories of humanity being terrible and memes trying to make light of the situation. Apart from wishes that I hope you are doing as well as you can, I won’t be going into any detail of what I think of the world at the moment.

What I can do is talk about something I love – board games. Playing games is always something fun to do, and offers some escapism to boot 🙂

Generally, on a Friday, I would be doing a full game review. Today I decided to something a little different, and suggest four board games that you can enjoy in both physical and digital form!

That’s right – you can play with others, or even if you are inside by yourself the computer AI offers a great time.

Enough of what today is about – on to the games!

Ticket to Ride – Steam, Android, iOS, PS4, Xbox

A classic game I have referred to on the site now and then, usually in Last Week’s Gaming. It had been a while since I got this modern classic to the table, but it is as fun now as the first time I played it.

The premise is simple – collect sets of coloured cards, and trade them in to build tracks to complete specific tickets. It can sound overly simple, but the elegant simplicity of Ticket to Ride has made it a favourite amongst new players and veterans alike.

The variety of gameplay offered with a large number of ticket goals randomly given each game, coupled with strategic choke points and eventually recognition of all the routes makes Ticket to Ride incredibly addictive. It also helps that games on digital go very quickly, as shuffling dealing and scoring are all handled by the system!

If you have played Ticket to Ride before or play it enough to master the original board, you can get almost every expansion as well. Explore multiple maps from the USA, Europe and Asia. Each expansion brings new rule tweaks and challenges, letting you see why Ticket to Ride has survived so well in the ‘cult of the new’ in board gaming.

If you have Xbox Game Pass, you can play the original USA board for free! It’s hard to beat that price 🙂 Fair warning though – the train whistles when playing on TV is rather shrill and will let the rest of the house know what you are playing!

Ticket to Ride Title
Like many games on this list, you can play solo or online
Ticket to Ride Gameplay
The actual game plays exactly like the board game
Ticket to Ride Expansions
Mastered the first lot of routes? Go for one of the expansions!

Elder Sign: Omens – Steam, Android, iOS

A lot of people are over the Cthulhu Mythos in gaming, and theme fatigue is a real thing. I adore Elder Sign, though. Cooperative battle Yahtzee is a pretty good description of Elder Sign, and Omens is the digital implementation of the board game.

I will never pull out the physical copy to play solo. There are so many decks of cards to deal with. Playing solo, I spend 1/2 – 2/3rds of my time managing the board. Playing with friends, this isn’t a problem, as you divide up the management and time flies. The general chat and sense of group success when you all work together is well worth the setup cost.

If I want to have a quick round though, I will always fire up Elder Sign: Omens. Technically I have it on my phone and Steam, but I only bought expansions on PC. Gameplay-wise, it’s terrible to watch someone play. Playing yourself though, is an incredibly immersive and rewarding experience. I can’t count how many times I have looked up after what I would have sworn was 10 minutes and discovered it was closer to 90.

The mechanics are repetitive. Pick a location, roll your dice to match symbols to pass challenges, and try to collect a certain amount of Elder Sign before the ‘big bad’ earns doom points. It’s a race to a certain number of points for both sides. But I have spent way too many hours telling myself ‘just one more game’ to not tell anyone to give Elder Sign a play.

Elder Sign Omens Mission Objective
There are various Elder Gods that you have to beat with differing conditions
Elder Sign Omens Mission Select
Different areas have different challenges. They all boil down to match the symbols.
Elder Sign Completing Challenge
Each of these areas are different cards in the board game, making the digital version plain looking

Potion Explosion – Steam, Android, iOS

I have talked about Potion Explosion in my Ramblings and mentioned it in Last Week’s Gaming. Another collection game, in Potion Explosion you pick a coloured marble from a large dispenser. If two matching colours hit as they drop, they create an ‘explosion’ letting you collect them as well.

The random nature of the game already gives it a great replayable puzzle experience. Then I got it on my phone. I think I have close to 100 games on my phone alone!

There are three levels of AI opponents, but if you want, you can also play against others online. This makes it great if you are home alone, and want to test your skills against others 🙂

But the random components dropping and mixing isn’t the only thing you can change up. There are different potions you can create, and with expansions different Professors you can ask for help – at a cost, of course. This gives you a heap of different ways to change up your game experience 🙂

Potion Explosion Opponents
You can pick different levels of AI opponent
Potion Explosion Picking Components
Watching strings of components all connect and fill your flasks is very satisfying

Tokaido – Steam, Android, iOS

My favourite alternate name for Tokaido was given by a friend of mine. They describe it as ‘The Hangover Game’. Every other game engages you in competition or sometimes tricky logic puzzles. Tokaido is a challenge and has many different scoring paths. Where it stands alone is the goal of the game is to have the most fulfilling journey across Japan.

What do I mean by fulfilling? Treat the game as a holiday game. You need to experience different foods, go shopping, paint, chat to strangers, take in the sites, even donate to temples if you feel inclined.

The turn order can take a while to get used to. The person in the last place on the path takes the next turn. If you fly ahead down the road, others will have more time to go slowly and enjoy their trip. Just like when you are on holiday, if you rush through the experience, you don’t come out with as many memories.

While the theme is laid back, and the digital implementation has gorgeous animation, there is still a substantial strategic element to Tokaido. It is nice to sit back and enjoy, but if you relax too much, your competitors will smash your score.

If you think the game sounds overly simple, think again. Each player has different available abilities you need to capitalise on to maximise your score. Owned everyone just meeting travellers one game? That was a lucky draw. You may meet no one that will help your score for the next 10 games.

While it might not look like everyone’s cup of tea, I can’t think of anyone I have taught it to that hasn’t enjoyed it.

Tokaido Following the Road
Travelling down the road in Tokaido
Tokaido Eating at the Inn
Even eating at the end of each day can get you points. But you can't eat the same meal twice!
Tokaido Complete Paintings
No cameras here. Enjoy the sights? Paint a panorama and get points!

Pandemic – Steam, Android, iOS, Xbox, PS4, Switch

I can’t recommend Pandemic enough. Sure, I have seen a lot of memes lately with COVID-19 and Pandemic, but that doesn’t change the fact Pandemic is a great game.

Digitally you can only get the original Pandemic. If you were to look at the physical versions, remember there are many versions with similar mechanics but very different gameplay available.

And like Ticket to Ride, if you have Game Pass on Xbox, you can try it out for free!

Pandemic is the game I am not going to talk about much here, as I have a full review that you can check out here. One thing I don’t touch on with the digital version in my review is the game soundtrack. The increase in tempo as you come closer to losing has a definite effect on you!

Pandemic Disease Cured
One cure down. Now to try and eradicate!

One Deck Dungeon – Steam, Android, iOS

And one last game that I recently reviewed, One Deck Dungeon has grabbed my attention hard lately. Many of my recent gaming challenges have been me playing it, to the point I am contemplating starting to exclude plays!

A card based dungeon crawler with light RPG elements (if you choose to use them), One Deck Dungeon is a great game. The only thing I would warn against is playing on mobile. The gameplay is just as fun as the physical or larger screen version, but you have to switch panels during a round and that hides information.

For my full thoughts on One Deck Dungeon, check out my review here.

One Deck Dungeon Gauntlet Run
My current play mode is trying to beat Gauntlet Mode with fresh characters. I haven't quite gotten a clean run yet.

What do you think?

I can hand on heart say that I have spent hours playing each game, many times multiple games in one sitting. I have spent many an afternoon with all of these games. Hopefully, you can do the same 🙂

Do you think I should have included another digital game implementation? Let me know in the comments, on Facebook or shout out on Twitter!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Last Week’s Gaming – August 12th, 2019

One Page of the Galaxy was so Metal and Pretty, it was Twice as Clever.

So I didn’t get to play as much as I was hoping this week. A bout of illness and general tiredness got in the way (Boo!).

But as usual, I ended up playing more than I thought I did! Maybe not exactly what I wanted to play, but some great gaming in anyway 🙂

So without further waiting, let’s jump in!

This one popped up on a Solo Gaming Group on Facebook, and I grabbed it from DriveThruRPG.

One Page Dungeon: Volume 1: Fire in the Goblin Forge is a fairly straightforward solo roll and write dungeon crawl. Even if the title is a bit of a mouthful. :p Straightforward doesn’t mean boring though, and it was a fun run.

I have only played once, but I made it through so I will be trying again as a level 2 character this week. It’s the beginning of a series, and at the moment its also pay what you want from DriveThruRPG – click on the heading for the link!

I am going to level up after a successful run (yay!). Might try and condense if I keep playing though.

I have had one of those weeks with a lot of ‘I don’t want to’. Tired nights tend to lead to this sometimes.

One of the reasons I enjoy That’s Pretty Clever so much is the system becomes so mindlessly effortless while still providing you with a challenge. And yes, I am aware of how contradictory that statement is!

That doesn’t change how comfortable I am playing it though. I didn’t break any records or anything, but I had a fun few games of an old favourite.

Fill out the sections to maximise your score. Simple in premise, not so much in execution

While That’s Pretty Clever is an old favourite, Alpal pulled out her copy of Twice As Clever and walked me through a game this week.

I don’t have any excuse now to start playing Twice As Clever. I know the rules, and I know my scores will be terrible for a while 🙂

It was great playing multiplayer with Alpal as well. Just talking through and mucking about was fun, as was giving each other ‘helpful’ (i.e. terrible) advice.

There are excellent reasons this series is so popular, and I strongly suggest you try them out if you have any interest at all.

It was great playing a multiplayer 'Clever' game. Chatting and goading during the game was a lot of fun 🙂

Jordan Draper makes quite a few games that I quite enjoy. Kind of like the old school ’20 games in a box’ kit, you get a box of components and a variety of rules to make up a variety of different games.

One of the Kickstarters that arrived recently was METAL, a game where every component in the game (including packaging) is metal.

We played Not Pool, which is a mix between croquet and snooker. The three of us had fun moving around the table trying to knock a little metal ball with the small mallet into the ‘ball’.

It will be fun trying some of the other games soon.

The first game we played from Jordan Draper's METAL - Not Pool!

Roll for the Galaxy. The dice version of the modern classic Race for the Galaxy. Wow, it was fun. It had been a while since I played any of the ‘for the Galaxy’ games, but it came back quickly.

Playing with Alpal, we had a few slow starting rounds, and we forgot the two-player rule that allowed for another phase.

It didn’t take long to get back into a rhythm, and it ended up being a close game. What it did trigger in both of us is a renewed desire to try New Frontiers, the Race for the Galaxy board game, soon.

Watch out for that one between now and PAX Aus!

It has been a while since I played any of the 'for the Galaxy' games, and it hasn't lost any of it's fun

Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot (PSVR)

So I jumped on Cyberpilot to grab some screens for last weeks review.

Even including some setup for the capture, it took me less than an hour and a quarter to finish the game on normal, with one death because I was being cute.

As I said last week, if you are interested try it, but I would wait until it’s on sale. If they come out with another game like this though, I would need to know it was at least twice as long before being a day one purchase in the future.

Rockets or bullets. Why not both?

Wolfenstein: Youngblood (PS4)

I got some kick back time and played a bit of Youngblood this week, and it was fun.

Initially I was a little lost as to what I should be doing, but it didn’t take too long to get back into the swing. Remembering how to throw grenades was a pain though!

But even seeing some units in a new light thanks to Cyberpilot, it just bought home everything in the VR experience I am missing. I spent almost as much time walking around exploring for secrets as I did playing missions, and it was great.

Hopefully next week I can work out a time to play online with someone, and see how it works without the computer AI.

I can't open this door yet, but that looks like a certain room from Dishonored...

Elder Sign: Omens (Android)

So looking on my phone, I realised I had installed Elder Sign: Omens a while ago but I hadn’t played it yet.  The last few times I have thought about playing it, I jumped on PC to play and ended up getting distracted.

If you haven’t played Elder Sign, calling it Lovecraft Yahtzee is kind of accurate in all the ways that count.

You have to collect a certain number of Elder Sign before an Elder God collects a certain level of Doom. You do this by rolling dice and making certain combinations to pass. And the digital version Omens does all of the housekeeping for you!

Roll the dice, get the combinations you need. Simple! And yet, strangely addictive

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 tomorrow,

JohnHQLD