Shadows of Sparks of Hope lead to Bloodborne

It’s Halloween! My favourite time of year. The only downside was a work conference and server maintenance all fell on Halloween weekend. So it wasn’t the normal chill fun time.

You will read more about it below, but if you enjoyed RE Village I recommend the Winters’ Expansion. I finished the story DLC Shadows of Rose this weekend and enjoyed it immensely. I do wish I had some more energy for some Halloween board games, but there is always tonight!

Let’s see how that works out next week.

Bloodborne

I was hoping to finish Bloodborne for Halloween. Travel and work were two small factors that I forgot to account for though. The good news, I am still enjoying Bloodborne and I did get to play. The downside – so many new games are coming that I also really want to play!

One of those games already got in my way last week. You will read my thoughts on that below. Coming back after not playing Bloodborne for a week, I was worried my muscle memory was already suffering. So Sunday morning I jumped in and did a spot of cheeky exploration.

The good news – I was happy that the controls didn’t have to be relearned. The bad news – I am now locked into mastering a platform section. Gravity is Bloodborne’s unsung boss character!

20221031 - Bloodborne - Gravity - the scariest boss in the game
Ah Gravity, I see we meet again!

I managed some new armour and found a funny path back to Cathedral Ward. Found some new enemies, met some old ones and got smacked by them. The biggest advantage is the one that warped me to the gaol – I call them sack guys – no longer freak me out. I can’t beat them easily, but I win far more often than I get stomped now. That’s progress in Bloodborne!

During the week I should be able to go back to beating an area/boss or two a week. The key to FromSoftware games, not just Bloodborne, is chipping away at them. Consistency – that’s the key.

20221031 - Bloodborne - Dashing new look
A dashing new look – that shows progress, right?

The biggest thing is there is a good chance I won’t try for Platinum in Bloodborne at all though. Dual-playing Bloodborne with God of War Ragnarok or Callisto Protocol is a pretty big ask. Mario + Rabbids, Pokemon, Dark Pictures Anthology – sure. And I want to play all these games over the next couple of months!

Resident Evil Village

I know I picked Bloodborne as my Halloween game. But the Winters’ Expansion for Resident Evil Village came out Friday. How can Resident Evil not be played during Halloween? Besides, I have been super curious about the story addition in the expansion – Shadows of Rose.

All I’m going to say about Shadows of Rose is if you enjoyed Resident Evil Village, it’s a great addition to the story. You play as Rose, and explore familiar yet different areas from Village and take on new enemies. Short version – it’s more Resident Evil. It won’t convert anyone that doesn’t enjoy the games but expands the Winters’ story for fans.

Any more than that would be an actual disservice to fans of the game. While the story for Resident Evil is rarely deep, the twists introduced in Shadows of Rose are best experienced yourself.

20221031 - Resident Evil Village - Shadows of Rose begins
Meet Rose Winters

I had concerns when Capcom was stopping any gameplay preview shots before release. For a game I enjoy, I try not to go into a game with foreknowledge of what is happening. But that little piece of media control had me thinking of Cyberpunk 2077’s initial launch. My consolation was that I already enjoyed Resident Evil Village, so how bad could it be?

Shadows of Rose isn’t perfect. Some gameplay gripes from Resident Evil Village are still present. It’s also short – I completed my first run of Shadows on Rose on Standard difficulty in three and a half hours. But as the story centrepiece for the Winters’ Expansion, I would have paid the AUD$30 for the story DLC alone.

20221031 - Resident Evil Village - RE Ray Tracing Demo
It does feel like some areas are a Resident Evil Ray Tracing Demo

I will talk more about my thoughts in a couple of weeks. Right now, I want to let people that are interested jump in and experience Rose’s story for themselves.

This brings me to the other parts of the Winter’s Expansion. Third-person mode is now selectable in Resident Evil Village. If you were hoping for this, it’s finally here. After playing Resident Evil 7 Biohazard in PSVR, I was enjoying the change to a first-person view. The only part of this addition that excites me is that players have the choice to play the way they want.

And then, there are the new levels and characters in The Mercenaries Mode.

20221031 - Resident Evil Village - Mercenaries is fun bit
The Mercenaries is a fun mini-game, but I was hoping to jump straight into the new characters

I was excited to play as Lady Dimitrescu and Heisenberg. I also thought this would be the incentive I was missing to jump back in. My only obstacle to Resident Evil Village’s Platinum is in The Mercenaries mode. I need to finish all the levels with an S rank – so basically, play horde mode well!

The only issue here is I need to unlock the new characters. I did get to play as Chris Redfield, which was fine. The problem is when you were hoping to jump in and play as Resident Evil Bosses and the game so ‘No’ it’s a letdown. If there was a factor of the Winter’s Expansion that took the shine off, this was it.

20221031 - Resident Evil Village - Happy with that for a first run
Happy with that for a first run!

I can guarantee I will play Shadows of Rose at least one more time. If I am honest, more like two or three more times. Resident Evil Village is a fun game, and it’s rare that I don’t finish a Resident Evil game on a Hardcore Speedrun.

But with all the amazing games coming out over the next 12 weeks, I don’t know if I will have the incentive to grind away at The Mercenaries. This does make me a little sad, but what a great position to be in!

Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope

When you are travelling for work, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. Especially when it’s for a conference where socialising at night is a factor. This is where the Switch shines for me. Thanks to the turn-based combat of Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope and casual exploration, gaming happened almost every night. It was nice to come back to the hotel and fire up the Switch to unwind.

I am making my way through the story at a reasonable pace. The XCOM-style battles are fun, but I am not spending too much time exploring the worlds I am unlocking. Sparks of Hope has a little bit of a collectathon aspect to it. Fans of the first Mario + Rabbids game already know this.

The good news in Sparks of Hope is you can ignore this aspect if you want, so any exploration has been because I wanted to.

20221031 - Mario Rabbids Sparks of Hope - Exploration is optional but not everyone is always happy about that
If you don’t want to explore everything, you don’t have to.

Mario + Rabbids games don’t have the deepest story. I am at the point of the game I am pretty sure I can guess where the final boss battle with Cursa is going. This doesn’t take any of the fun away from the journey though, which I do appreciate.

There have been a few games where I picked the story early on, and that killed the fun for me. Mario + Rabbids embraces the flimsy plot and lets the player enjoy themselves.

I left Sparks of Hope after unlocking the fourth world. I am guessing once that’s done I will unlock the final world. It’s a situation where a quick Google search could tell me, but I don’t feel the urge to know for sure. I am content pottering through the game, and it lets me.

20221031 - Mario Rabbids Sparks of Hope - I feel I am further in than the completion suggests
I feel I am further in than the loading screen suggests

That’s a lot of the appeal of the Mario + Rabbids games for me. Casual enough gameplay that I can pick it up and put it down whenever. But enough of that certain something to keep pulling you back once you have put it down.

My prediction is I will be up to the final boss fight by next weekend. At worst, I will be up to their world. I want to be finished Sparks of Hope before November 18th, so that Pokemon Scarlet or Violet can be my chill game. I am enjoying Sparks of Hope a lot, but so many games are coming out to finish 2022!

20221031 - Mario Rabbids Sparks of Hope - Happy Halloween
This looks Halloween-friendly – had to go for the spooky trifecta!

If you haven’t started Mario + Rabbids yet and are waiting for Pokemon Scarlet or Violet, I would suggest waiting. Sparks of Hope is fun, but I also feel if you were super keen you would already have it. Kingdom Battle got discounted, so I would wait a bit and see if you could pick up Sparks of Hope for a discount as well.

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,

JohnHQLD