Back in October 2021, I restarted Animal Crossing: New Horizons. I left behind everyone at Sleep Cove and started the new island of Game Room.
At the start, I had the idea of building up the isle enough to try out Happy Home Paradise. The expansion was something I was curious about. Its inclusion swayed my decision to upgrade Nintendo Switch Online.
I played some Happy Home Designer in the first couple of weeks. I have designed 3 homes, and have the teaser info of opening other buildings. While I was busy with work, it was fun to jump in and out. But then I got fixated on upgrading my island instead of designing other peoples homes.
For December, the one thing I particularly focused on was creating a rock garden. This is something that took a large chunk of December, but on New Year’s Eve, the garden finally came together.
It never fails to surprise me how much achieving a small goal can leave you so satisfied. In a lot of ways, this is the appeal of Animal Crossing: New Horizons. There isn’t anything pressuring you. No hordes of enemies, devilish platforms or illogical puzzles to overcome.
It’s just your island, some animal friends to make, and whatever you want to do in that session. Even Tom Nooks loans are interest-free, taking the pressure off from repaying them.
So now I am concentrating on tidying up my island and getting that 5-star rating. I also have 2 side goals: creating hybrid flowers and completing the museum donations.
When I have hit 5-stars, I will turn my attention towards the Happy Home Paradise DLC and see where that takes me. Until then, I am tinkering with how else to decorate Game Room.
There are games that a wide range of people can enjoy, and others that are niche. The Five Nights at Freddy’s games are somewhere in the middle.
There are only a relative few people that sit and play through the games to find every secret. But there are hundreds of thousands that sit back and watch those players streams and/or videos.
I enjoyed the original Five Nights at Freddy’s game. Like many, I learned of the game from YouTubers. The gameplay coupled with Augmented Reality type lore puzzles was a fun experience.
Around Five Nights at Freddy’s (now referred to as FNAF) 3, I dropped off. I enjoyed watching others play and reading through lore, but the gameplay had turned me off.
But then came along Freddy Fazbears Pizzeria Simulator and FNAF Help Wanted. The new gameplay had me intrigued. The series was going in different directions, which I always appreciate.
When Five Nights at Freddy’s Security Breach was announced, I was very excited. Free roam stealth and evasion? I was definitely on board and loaded it up with anticipation on day one.
I had been avoiding most of the pre-game examination. The teaser trailers were fun, and I could start to see little clues for games flashing up. So when the game started and I found the stealth evasion factor was front and centre, I was in my element.
In a lot of ways, you can think of FNAF Security Breach as inspired by Alien Isolation. There are three animatronics out to get you instead of one xenomorph. You explore the mall like centre instead of a space station. But the gameplay is very similar.
I am not trying to say the game is a rip-off, but the change to gameplay is so large for the series, warning is nice. No longer do you sit in a solitary room watching camera monitors. Now, you have to hide, explore, and make sense of a fully realised world.
As I described to a friend, Security Breach has some of the best parts of Alien Isolation. Unfortunately, it also has all the game-breaking glitches of a classic Bethesda release.
It took two restarts to get to my first ending in Security Breach. There are videos of speedrunners using glitches to finish the game in under 3 minutes. These are the ‘fun’ glitches we smile and laugh about.
The second time I had to restart, I went exploring. I wasn’t following the mission path. What I didn’t realise is that doing this had stopped Freddy from working. Best guess – Freddy was in a cutscene state, and I couldn’t enter or exit him.
That last bit is rather important. If you are in Freddy when he runs out of power, it’s game over. And this was in all my save slots, hence full restart.
That said, the gameplay is good enough I was happy to jump back in and try again. I have managed to find three endings, and know the path to a fourth. I have the ‘Good’ ending, the ‘Bad’ ending, and I expect the ‘Canon’ ending. I went exploring before making a different choice for one of the endings.
And this is where Security Breach shines. There are so many choices and avenues to explore. There are also many secrets around the game waiting for you to discover.
I am giving serious thought to going for a Platinum run on Security Breach. Not to try and find more endings (though I am sure that will happen). No, I want to explore and find more lore pieces and work out a few secrets I have come across.
For example, there is a puzzle with some characters and the Faz Camera. I have found some elements of the puzzle, but have not solved it yet. And I want to know what is at the end of the puzzle.
Five Nights at Freddy’s Security Breach won’t be for everyone. For a FNAF game though, it will be for more than previous entries. Steel Wool Studios (the game devs) have been working hard with some quick patches to fix up the game. Considering that Security Breach came out a week before Christmas, this effort is appreciated.
That said, I might wait for another patch or two before trying the final trophies. Without trying to spoil the game, once you reach 6 AM you can stay and explore the pizzaplex as you wish. The catch is, you can’t save anymore. This makes exploring new areas dangerous, as you can lose hours of progress if caught.
I am keen to give this a try. But I would like to do so when I know that a glitch like being caught during a cutscene I have no control over isn’t an issue.
Metroid is a series I have a lot of respect for, but not one I have played all the games with. It’s not been because I don’t enjoy games or respect the impact Metroid has had on gaming. Metroidvania is a term for a reason.
The simple reason for not playing them is growing up, console wise I had Atari and Sega, and then PlayStation. I pretty much skipped Nintendo until the Switch with one huge exception. That exception was the handhelds.
I first played Metroid II: Return of Samus on my original Game Boy in the mid-90s. About 10 years later, I then played Metroid: Zero Mission on my Game Boy Advance. This was great, as I got to see where Samus story began.
So it seems fitting that about 15 years later, I played Metroid Dread on the Switch. I know I had missed playing a lot of Metroid games, but I had been keeping tabs on Samus adventures story-wise. I couldn’t wait to see where the series was heading
On the ‘old’ site I described how getting older bad hands made Metroid Dread challenging. Not impossible by any means, but the controls and timings were hard on my old hands. Coupled with working longer hours and playing tired, it was hard to find dedicated time to play.
This might sound like a negative, but this reveals a massive positive for the game. I could pick up Metroid Dread after 3 weeks and jump right back into gameplay. There aren’t many games I can say this about these days. It’s this difficulty in picking a game back up after an extended absence that my backlog is so impressive.
Yes, there were instances of the boss fights being quicker than the new power tutorials. This is when I felt old. But these areas are fairly safe areas where you can practice the new controls, so being ‘stuck’ wasn’t so bad. And after these areas, in the game proper, I don’t remember any area where I had a problem using the abilities.
But coming into the end of 2021, I had made my way to the end game. I had only to make my way to the final boss, beat them, and escape planet ZDR.
This final battle with Raven Beak was one of the best boss battles I have had in a while. Raven Beak is a powered-up mirror version of Samus ability-wise. Anything you have been spamming to get out of trouble, Raven Beak does. This makes the fight challenging right off the bat.
Speed, invulnerability coupled and area of effect abilities in three long phases. The odds for this battle are stacked in Raven Beak’s favour. But, the fight is winnable through practice. Everything Raven Beak throws at you can be avoided or even countered.
The fight took me about an hour to beat, but it never got frustrating. Don’t get me wrong, I got frustrated. That frustration was never with Metroid Dread though. Old hands, tiredness, misreading the attacks – every time I failed, I knew it was because of what I did (or didn’t) do. And I could learn how to not make the same mistakes again.
Metroid Dread shows how old school gameplay can done with new tech. The new graphical style of Metroid Dread even builds on the experience. Subtle environmental storytelling takes place all through the game.
This makes for an amazing and satisfying gameplay experience. And for me, I will wait for the next Metroid experience. There is more of Metroid Dread for me to discover, but I am not up to speed runs or 100% exploration.
So I will take the finish for Metroid Dread, and with luck, I won’t have to wait 20 years for the next Metroid game. My hands couldn’t handle it. 🙃
What about you? I hope you got some great games in. Or are you looking forward to a new one? Let me know!