Crossing New Horizon Zero Dawn for Shining Pearl

I was trying for a quiet week. I have a large project starting to come to a head at work. Thanks to Enzo my sleep has been pretty broken. A restful week was what I was looking forward to.

And I mostly got it. It was a chill week. It was the kind of week that let me focus, and recharge my batteries. Maybe not as much as I would have liked, but a recharge.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

It’s been an interesting week for the island of Game Room last week. During a heavy work week, I did the bare minimum of daily tasks to keep things going. At least, that’s what I thought.

I usually have a morning break, and during that time I do some regular tasks. Pick up shells and get a bottle, find fossils, use Nook Stop. Then I stop in for a coffee with Brewster and hit the rocks in my garden.

It’s not a lot of things to do every day, but I try and get it done. I did most of these every day last week, but not everything. I broke my Nook Stop bonus miles streak, pretty sure I didn’t stop for coffee twice and didn’t go for any trips. I don’t even think I hit my rocks every day!

Breaking Rocks
Hitting all the rocks for resources

Some of my residents are giving me attitude for not seeing them every day. I am starting to feel a little guilty about neglecting my island. Not enough to take the Switch downstairs and play each night though!

My hybrid flowers are blooming a bit, as I have an ordinance in place helping this along. I haven’t put in any real effort into seeing what is growing though. Goals have taken a bit of a back seat this week!

I found Money Island
First Nook Miles ticket in ages took me to Money Island!

Saturday, I thought I would spend the morning playing Animal Crossing New Horizons. I would catch up on some tasks and take part in the Bug Hunt event. Well, I did a little bit of the Bug Hunt, but not much else. I ended up trying to catch up on sleep during the morning. Enzo had other ideas though, making sure I was awake from about 5 am. 

It might sound like doom and gloom, or I am not happy with Animal Crossing. I am enjoying my morning ritual, but like any habit, I had a week where keeping it was challenged. Playing at night I was either too tired or wanted to do something else.

Bug Hunt Begins
Last Bug Hunt I spent the day catching bugs. This round, not so much.

So fingers crossed, next week I will get back to normal with my routine. I am definitely trying to get there. But for now, I caught some bugs, tidied some flower beds, and deciding how many turnips to invest in!

A Short Hike

Well, that didn’t take long. A couple of hours over a couple of days, and I now have my first Platinum trophy of 2022. And it’s all thanks to A Short Hike.

I saw the end of the game after a relaxed two hours. About the same amount of time was spent exploring Hawk Peak Provincial Park. The final trophy boiled down to seeing someone at 5 pm.

Sure, I could have played with the time on my PlayStation. Instead, I waited until 5 the next day and nabbed my final trophy. It was a great start to the gaming year.

Platinum Achieved
First Platinum for 2022!

A Short Hike is not an epic adventure, but it is a heartwarming one. There is enough challenge to keep you on your toes. The park is large enough that you need to explore but small enough to quickly traverse.

Not too many people to talk to. Collectibles are at reasonable levels. The balance involved in A Short Hike has been achieved well.

If you have any curiosity about A Short Hike at all, I recommend you nab a copy and enjoy your day with this adorable game.

Hawk Peak with minimum pixelation
Things look different with the smaller pixel size

Horizon Zero Dawn

On April 14th 2018, I got my first trophy in Horizon Zero Dawn. Nothing fancy, it was the trophy for completing the tutorial. I remember playing this with Rabbit in the burrow (dozing on the couch). We both thought it looked amazing and thought I will come back to it when I have time for an open-world game.

Fast forward almost four years. I get a reminder that the sequel Horizon Forbidden West comes out next month. As I was looking for a game to sink my teeth into, why not go back to the original?

So during the week, I fired up Horizon Zero Dawn and started a new game. I cleared my way through the tutorial and began exploring the world. Unlike Persona 5 Strikers, even though I got tired an hour in, I felt the urge to play for 5 more minutes. For about 2 hours.

Aloy harvesting parts from defeated robot
The tutorial is more engaging than Persona 5 Strikers

I have started down the path of the main quest, but I have also finished a side quest. Found the family spear for those that have played Horizon already. Explored a little, got spotted a few times, and I am slowly getting used to the world. Combat so far wasn’t too bad, but I want to investigate the world more.

The first thing that threw me a little was the manual save system. You need to find campfires to save. This isn’t a bad thing to me – this is how you save. For some reason though, I thought you could simply pause and save.

Once I got to the end of the tutorial and used the first campfire, the manual save is made clear. I then got the main story quest marker to find your adopted father and realised there was a campfire on the way. So I explored the small area, saved again, and realised I was right next to where I was meant to be. So I did the next quest step, and then decided to go to the next campfire.

The side quest hunting begins
The side quest hunting begins

This pattern is what drew me into Horizon Zero Dawn for two hours after I thought I would go to bed. At the start of a game, I am used to pushing my way through a lot of exposition and mechanics. Instead, Guerrilla Games managed to dangle the carrot in a way that I didn’t want to stop playing.

Getting this balance right makes and breaks many games. If I had gone to the next campfire in 2018, I would most likely have already finished Horizon Zero Dawn. Today, I don’t know if I will have the game finished before the sequel is out. I am looking forward to putting a few hours each week into finishing the original.

In terms of content, I have all the DLC for Horizon as well. There is likely 80-100 hours ahead of me. At 4 hours a week playtime (conservative guess), I will be spending quite some time with Aloy. This will be interesting exploring the original world and keeping an ear on reactions to Horizon Forbidden West.

Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl

There were a couple of small Pokemon sessions last week. Nothing fancy, no real exploring, simply following to the next goal. This involved taking part in two gym challenges, both of which I ended up beating. Six badges down, two more to go!

This might sound like a couple of hours of gameplay well spent. Time spent grinding, catching and levelling up a specific type of Pokemon. Normally, this is how I play Pokemon. But this is Pokemon Shining Pearl. There were about 20 minutes over three play sessions, and I am still using my starter team.

There are plenty of people that dislike this aspect of Pokemon Shining Pearl and Brilliant Diamond. For me, this semi-mindless gameplay has been a blessing during a big week. I have managed to make progress without pushing myself too hard.

First 6 Gym Badges
Two more gyms, then the end game, then the post end game

What does strike me as amusing is why I stopped playing Pokemon last week. After defeating the Steel gym, Tommy (my rival?) appeared and instructed me to follow him to the gym.

Being told to follow Tommy to the library about 5 minutes after a compulsory fight was the straw. I saved my game and put down my Switch. I was not going to be drawn into an exposition dump!

Tommy starting another battle
It’s bad enough you always insist on battles for no reason

Next week I will likely pick up Pokemon Shining Pearl again. I am close to finishing the story. Well, I say close. I am over halfway there. Maybe a night or two next week I will put in a solid couple of hours and try and finish off the story.

What about you?  I hope you got some great games in.  Or are you looking forward to a new one?  Let me know! 

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Until next time,