The Last Of Us: Left Behind: Gripping

Welcome back everyone.  It’s time for another video game review (and so soon too), and what better way to follow up with a companion piece to yesterday’s review of The Last of Us than with the DLC, Left Behind.  (Finished June 22, 2019)

And I can’t get into this game without some major spoilers from The Last of Us, so…

YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED…ahem.

ANYWAY, so, what we get for Left Behind is a dual-part story; one is the time frame where Ellie is trying to patch Joel up after he suffers that nasty fall onto that rebar in the University of Eastern Colorado as we are trying to escape; the other one is where Ellie’s friend Riley comes back to see Ellie after disappearing and running off to the Fireflies.  But of course, things can’t be that simple in this game.  Riley is being sent away by the Fireflies, and she was essentially doing a farewell trip with Ellie.  But those plans changed after a super pivotal scene in which Ellie kisses Riley, which makes Riley change her mind about joining with the Fireflies.  But, before they could decide what to do next, the Infected make an appearance (drawn in by the music that Riley had put on the store’s PA), and eventually, both girls get bit.

And all I can say is that this was too damn short.  But, it had to be.  This is a pocket view into two small sections; one featuring the “present” with Ellie trying to save Joel in the middle of a Colorado winter (which can be bad enough as they are, I’d hate to see what they’d look like in a post-apocalyptic future); the other featuring the moments before Ellie gained her unique affliction.  It doesn’t need to be any longer.  I finished it in about two and a half hours or so (that might have included a break in there along the way), and that’s perfect.  While there are so many more stories that could still be told, this was a perfect little sampling.

Now that I’ve played both this and the main game, I’m really hyped for The Last of Us 2.  Based on what we got from E3 2018, it looks amazing, and now that I’ve gotten to experience this game series, I’m invested into what will happen with Joel and Ellie from here.

Thank you so much for reading.  I’ll be back next time with another video game review in the future.  Until then, I have been obediently yours.

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The Last of Us: A Rollercoaster of Emotion

Hello everyone, and welcome back to another video game review.  This time, I’m going to dive into

and…

because I have a lot to say.

First off, I want to say just how much the story draws you in.  From the beginning of the outbreak to overlooking Jackson City at the very end of the game, there is so much going for the story.  From the initial hesitation of Joel on taking this cross-country escort mission, to acceptance of Ellie’s skills, to the end where he treats her like his own.  Yes, there were a couple of times that I had to restrain myself from yelling at my television, specifically at Joel for being a complete jerk towards Ellie.  And yes, there are some tear-jerking moments.  And that’s what helps drew me into the game.  Whether they were moments of sorrow, or joy, they were a marker…a beacon of what the story gave us.

Speaking of story, a lot of the story also has to do with a redemption of sorts for Joel.  As I stated before, Joel really didn’t want to do this at first, but Tess, who saw a bigger score, said that they would do it.  Well, as luck wouldn’t have it in this game, we’d lose our extra traveling companion, and Joel is forced to take this young teenager to the Fireflies.  As time goes on, he gains some sort of fondness for Ellie, to the point where he sees her as a daughter.  Meanwhile, Ellie also grows on her journey.  Even though she goes through some very traumatic events (like her section taking on the pack of hunters that has been chasing them since the University of Eastern Colorado), she still also carries a heavy burden that I don’t think she’ll be able to let go any time soon.

And of course, what helps set the mood for the entire game is the music.  As I sit here and type this after beating the game and I’m listening to the music on the menu screen, I’m rather at peace.  It’s very…soothing.  Yet, at the same time, haunting.  There’s nothing more than having the music gently guide us through an area where we’re walking through.  Like any good music score, it helps set tension, or put at ease at any given time.

I also want to point out something that I found fascinating.  A few years ago, I read a novel called The Girl With All The Gifts, which had a similar premise to this game…a fungal infection spreading over the world.  Now sure, the fungi may be different (the novel’s infection came off of the backs of ants, while the infection from The Last of Us came from a mutation in a particular fungi), but the end result is the same…the world is running increasingly low on safe humans.  It’s just an observation that I do find rather intriguing.

Final note, as I completed this game in the twilight hours of June 21, 2019, I highly recommend this game to everyone.  Sure, there are a fair amount of combat elements, but there is a choice between guns blazing combat or to take a more stealthy approach.  Either way, this is one game that I would definitely come back and revisit sometime in the future (and I already am in a way by playing through Left Behind).  Until next time, I have been obediently yours.

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Layers of Fear 2: Messes With Your Head in More Ways Than One

Hello, I am the Baumeister, and welcome back to another video game review.  Today’s review:

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I officially completed this game on June 10, 2019 via the Formless Ending.

And…before I get anywhere…

So, let’s get right into it.

While I’ve said all that I want to about the game in terms of game and story during the course of the credits, I have to touch upon a couple of things in this game.  One of those things is the art direction of the game.  There are a lot of beautiful set pieces in this, ranging from the minimalistic in dark room or bright white corridors, to the elaborate sets like the pirate ship hedge maze escape and the ever-shifting look of our hub room.  A lot of times, the color shifts from a normal color palette to one devoid of color.  Sometimes the lack of color does hinder visual moments, but I do like what the developers were trying to do with it.

Another thing that I’ve really enjoyed is some of the music choices.  Not only the choice of music, but also the choice to not use music in some areas.  One of the songs in particular that I absolutely fell in love with was “Did You Sleep Well”.  While playing and not able to hear some of the sound effects that the audio clip below uses, it reminds me a lot of music that could play in the darker realms of Silent Hill.  Even in death, the sound of the Formless crunching down on you adds to the experience, despite how loud the actual sound clip is.

Now, I’ve skimmed through a lot of reviews, and a lot of the review say that the story isn’t all that scary.  And to tell the truth, the story as laid out, is weird.  Heck, through the ending I finished my first go-round with (Formless), the story is still left ambiguous.  While we find out in the latter half of the game that we are, at least through story pieces found throughout the world, James, the younger brother, there’s still a lot of questions that are left unclear.  Like, how did young Lily and James get on the ship in the first place? What happened to the ship that caused it to sink (I told you there’d be spoilers)? There are so many questions that I have, that may be answered by picking up more objects in the world and getting one of the other endings.

And that’s the beauty of this game.  It gives you choice.  You can decide how you want to play.  Do you want to listen to the director (voiced by Tony Todd), or do you want to go against direction? It’s all up to you in this game.  Oh, and a point I completely ignored in the previous paragraph.  I don’t find this game terribly scary (then again, I’m a weirdo who would watch a horror movie in the dark alone, then go straight to bed), but, I do find myself filled with a sense of dread, especially in tense moments where I knew that the Formless was waiting to come get me, and I pretty much went “nope” all the way down the hallway.

I highly recommend this game to anyone who enjoys games that look good.  Yes, there are moments where it will make you go “I can’t see anything”, but it still is a good game.  Yes, there are flaws.  Yes, there are frustrating moments because the game doesn’t tell you much of anything.  But, to me, it’s good.  And, until the next installment, I have been…obediently yours.

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Super Mario RPG: A Classic For The Ages

Hello everyone, and welcome back to another video game review.  Now, I will admit, there are a lot of games that I have never played in my youth.  I can count on one hand the carts that my family owned for the Super Nintendo (Super Mario World, Super Mario Kart, Jurassic Park, Pac-Man 2, and Goof Troop), and both hands for the original NES (Super Mario 1/Duck Hunt, Super Mario 2, Super Mario 3, Battleship, NES Golf Tournament Edition, among a couple others that I can’t remember now).  So there are several generations of games that I missed out on during the course of my life.  Such is the course with Super Mario RPG.

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Super Mario RPG was a game, once I heard about it, I just had to play.  Even if it meant downloading an emulator and finding a ROM to play it on.  And while the emulation was a little flawed (some of the spells like Blizzard would obscure the entire screen), I still got to play most of the game.  But never beat it, until now.  My initial completion of this game is April 3, 2019.

I only that there were more Super Mario RPG games like that that we had gotten in the future, but instead we still got the still-enjoyable Paper Mario series and the Mario and Luigi series.  This game had just enough elements that would remind a player of a Final Fantasy game, but would come out with it’s own identity.  From the way we decided just how to fight in battle, to the overall humor and interactions that happen between the party characters and the various NPCs.

One of the things that took practically all game to get used to was the 2.5D platforming that we had to do in order to advance in some of the areas.  There was one point towards the end game where it took me twenty-plus tries to cross over a particular section of lava three different times (Over, back across, and then over again).  But that’s more on me as a player than it is poor game design.  Sure, there were sometimes where I cursed out the game for one reason or another, and sometimes it was more my fault than the game’s. But, the game isn’t necessarily perfect, especially when playing on the SNES Classic like I did.  There are some graphical errors and glitches that don’t take away from game progression, but it does take away from my overall personal enjoyment.

Also, I would love to see Mallow and Geno in more games.  Sure, they are properties of SquareEnix, but we’ve only been able to play them in this game.  Sure, they both appear in Super Smash Brothers Ultimate, but only as Spirits, not as playable characters.  Sure, I know there are a LOT of characters that are in good games that we only get to see once, but there has been several chances to put them in multiple games.  It make me sad because we could totally have some fun adventures with both of them.

Well, that’s all I’ve got to say about Super Mario RPG.  It is a fun game, and I wish that they could have done more with the series, but it is what it is.  Until next time, I am the Baumeister, and as always, I have been obediently yours.

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Bioshock: Flawed, But Enjoyment To Be Have

Hello everyone.  Welcome back to another video game review, and one so close to our previous one.  Well, to be fair, this game can be rather short if you sit and marathon through it, like I did.  And I could have probably have finished it sooner if it wasn’t for the necessary human needs like food and liquid intake.  That being said, on May 26, 2019, I beat BioShock for the second time.

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Yes, I did say “second time”. For I played and beat this game over a decade ago in college.  It was the semester after I got kicked out of my apartment in college, and was staying with a bunch of guys that I had met while living in the dorms.  Well, one of the guys had an XBox 360, and was gracious enough to let me play on it if I was home and nobody else was using it (which was fair). And during my time there, between schooling and work, managed to beat this the first time around.

That being said, I won’t put a spoiler alert on this game, but I will give you a warning that if you haven’t played this game yet, you have been warned.

Anyway, I really love this concept of an underwater city.  The development team did a fantastic job of building this city, and the various elements within the walls.  Not only does the whole thing feel surreal as we walk around as sea creatures float around the city, but also how the world looks in an overall setting.

The story itself is compelling, and even though I have beaten the game once already, I was still enthralled with every little moment, especially the big twist that leads into the final act.  The characters are very unique, and while dialogue interaction with this character is very little, but that’s where the story’s audio journals come into play.  The audio journals flesh out the world that we dove into at what is, at the very essence, the end of the world as we know it in Rapture.

However, there are some things that I have a gripe with after a decade of playing other games.  The biggest thing is the weapon reloading in the game.  Now, I understand that this is set roughly 1959-1960, so some of the weapons aren’t as technologically advanced as some of these other games are.  However, there were multiple times where I died as I was switching back and forth between plasimds and weapons, or between weapons, and realizing that I was out of ammo in the current clip and the reload animation would take forever, which would leave us defenseless.

Another gripe I have with the game is the escort mission towards the end of the game.  At the very end, as we are dressed up as a Big Daddy, we have to escort a Little Sister through the latter half of the level, protecting her as she harvests ADAM.  Now, I get why we had to do it (main part is get through a door that would lead us to the final area), but it was still frustratingly slow and extremely frustrating when we lose a Little Sister and had to backtrack to the last point to get another Little Sister.  If it was anything that I could do without in this game, it is this mission.

There.  If you haven’t played this already, I highly recommend playing it.  Now, I won’t be diving into BioShock 2 next (in fact, I don’t know what game I will dive into next), but you can bet I will review it here when I’m finished.  Until next time, I am the Baumeister, and I have been…obediently yours.

Would you kindly come back again soon?

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Horizon Zero Dawn: An Amazing Experience

Hello everyone, and welcome back to another video game review done by yours truly…the Baumeister.  And man, it’s been a while.  A long while.  Why is that? Because I’ve been diving into a game that a lot of people have praised (and goaded upon for a little while by one of my closest friends to play).  And that, dear reader, is…

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I’m going to hit you with this…right here and now.  Because there’s a lot of feelings that I have for this game…and mostly all of them are positive.  So, let’s begin. (Finished the main game on May 23, 2019 for the first time in Story difficulty)

First off, I have to say that the visuals are STUNNING.

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This is one of the in-game captures that I had taken while playing.  There were times where I would just sit and pan around my current view of the world, just taking it in.  Both in the main game, and in the DLC The Frozen Wastes.  Now, I don’t mean to brag…but my neck of the world is beautiful.  Granted, I’m not from where this game takes place, but I used to live near Yellowstone.  Which is where The Frozen Wilds takes place.  The fact that Colorado (and using a bit of map mischieving, Yellowstone National Park), has all the necessary terrain to make the world of Horizon Zero Dawn (further known as HZD) so vibrant…and unique.

The story that the game tells…one of machines overriding and destroying life on Earth as “we” knew it, and life advancing on hundreds upon hundreds of years later…is both absurd, and yet, strangely prophetic about how we are currently living.  I’m not going to go into details here, because this is a game review, not a thesis on themature in video games.  But, at the same time, the story is sorrowful.  It grips you…makes you want to learn more.  Take in every audio file, text file, and hologram to get the full enrichment of just what happened before this world came to be.  I won’t lie to you, but there were a few times where I teared up…from the loss of Rost early on in the game, to the end game where all of those that we had connected with throughout of travels, even DLC characters, had come to our aid.

As for some of the gameplay mechanics, I found that, like a lot of other games that give options between ranged and melee, I chose ranged a lot of the time.  Towards the end, it felt so satisfying to take down an Bellowback or two in one hit after a nice swift arrow in their weakest point (note: aim for the giant tank in the back before they have a chance to discharge it.  If the arrow is aimed correctly, the tank will explode, taking out the Bellowback and any enemy in close proximity).  There’s also nothing like taking on a Thunderjaw or a Fire/Frostclaw and getting a good amount of damage done to them before they get a chance to come up close.  A huge part of that is using the Focus (a piece of Old World technology that Aloy picked up when she was younger and aids her in her travels, whether it’s scanning enemies, surveying her surroundings, or acting as a tracking device) just before combat to highlight some of the weaker spots on the enemies.

Now, the only negative I have about this game is item management.  I’m a huge RPG player, so having the ability to store items that I don’t need can be crucial.  This game…doesn’t have that.  Up to a certain point, we the player only have a certain amount of item space (if we add all of the upgrades and perks to our initial carry weight, we can carry 120 resource stacks at max), and it doesn’t help that if we want to stockpile a certain amount of an item, it takes up multiple slots because it will only stock a “x” amount per slot (depending on the item, it could range between 5 and 250).  ALSO, another thing that bugged me, tying into item management, is that merchants wouldn’t take the ridge-wood that I would accumulate over the course of the game.  And, you will accumulate a lot of it.  Even if one doesn’t pick up ANY of the available ridge-wood stalks that are spread out all across the world, one can find an overabundance in item boxes scattered across the world.  And the wood is only really good for arrows.  Sure, one can use a lot of arrows, but even then, it only takes like 1 piece of wood to build a bundle of 10 (or more, depending on if you have the proper crafting perk) arrows.

But, with all of my misgivings about the inventory space, I really, really enjoyed this game.  It’s fantastic, and even with the characters that you just can’t stand, whether we’ve met them or not (I’m looking at YOU, Tom Faro), I implore you (at east, for any of those that are a PS4 user, since this game is a PS4 exclusive), to pick up this game.  From those that I’ve talked to about this game in person, there does seem to be a mix of those who either love the game, or hate it, for a variety of reasons.  And that’s perfectly ok.  Not every game is for everyone.

I’m going to leave you with some more images that I had taken over the course of my playthrough.  Thank you so much for coming on this journey with me.  Now that I’ve played through that, it’s time to get to editing content so that I have stuff up on YouTube for the month of June…I have it all recorded, just need to get it edited and uploaded.  Anyway, I will catch you with the next review, and as always, I have been…obediently yours.

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Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age: A Very Wild Ride

Hello again everyone! So nice to see you again.  Yes, I have completed yet another game.  This time, it was a long time coming.  That game:

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After all, Dragon Quest XI is a long game to go through.  Full of twist, turns, and the main character getting knocked out over and over again.  Now, the first taste of the Dragon Quest series I got was Dragon Quest VIII a long time ago (back in High School), and while there have been many years since then, it feels like I had played a nearly identical version of the game.  And it’s true.  I kind of have.  Dragon Quest XI follows the path of a unspeaking protagonist with a destiny to fulfill, and along the way, we meet several characters that will help us along our journey, each with their own backstories to reveal along the way.  Now, from here…

…there will be some spoilers ahead.  You have been warned.  Also, I completed the main portion of the game on April 8, 2019, and finished the post-game section on April 21, 2019.

Now, the game can be broken up into two parts: before and after Yggdrasil fell.  Before Yggdrasil falls, it’s a matter of getting our party characters and learning a little bit about them.  Then, after the fall of the World Tree, our characters are scattered to the winds again, and this time, we have to about finding them again.  And, at this point, we gain a new character: Hendrik, at the cost of another character.  There was always a feeling as to: who isn’t joining us? We ended up at Yggdrasil with 7 party members, and now we get an 8th? Then, once we get Serena, and get back to Arboria, we learn the awful truth…that Veronica sacrificed herself in order to let us live through the fall of Yggdrasil.  I’m not going to lie…learning that Veronica had died teared me up a little bit.

Now, granted, after defeating Mordragon and The Lord of Shadows, there’s still plenty of story left to go.  Like Dragon Quest VIII, there’s a post-game, which sets us up right after we defeated the Evil, and have come back to Arboria to celebrate the life of Veronica and the coming of peace to the world.  The whole thing about this post-game is returning to the past to defeat darkness at the point in time where he defeated us at Yggdrasil and bring Veronica “back”, but at the cost of never coming back to the timeline we just played through, but instead, getting tasked to destroy the true evil that plagues Erdrea.

Now, as I was saying above, the game is very much a carbon copy of DQVIII in terms of gameplay mechanics and art style, and while modern day gamers are so used to having a more open world to play through with complex mechanics, this game isn’t that.  And that’s okay.  Every now and then, it’s nice to have a game stay true to it’s roots.  Too many game series change over time, and eventually ruin what makes the game series unique.

I do want to add, as I sit here watching through the final credits, watching the history of Dragon Quest, I really should pick up some more of the older games.  It was a nice touch to add in the history of the Dragon Quest/Warrior series, as a way to look back on just how far we have come.  Also, the post-credits scene has me wondering…what if? But, I won’t spoil that for you here.

Thank you so much for reading.  This was a very long, and trying journey.  131+ hours of gaming, grinding, and yelling in frustration at my TV.  I HIGHLY recommend grinding in this game.  My final team averaged out in the mid-60s, but I still had some things to do.  If you are big into JRPGs, I would highly recommend checking this one out.  And until next time, I am the Baumeister, and as always, I have been, obediently yours.