139 reviews liked by jtduckman

every "character" in this game speaks like they are a sentence away of looking at the camera and saying how fresh the potatoes at walmart are now only at 50% buy it now

a friend has complained to me about getting splatted by the sloshing machine and the bloblobber and i have to pretend to take that seriously

One of the first games I played that showed me you could have fun in this world without killing. After playing every call of duty and assassins creed known to mankind, my mind had experienced several lifetimes worth of trauma and decided it was time to retire on the farm. Genuinely a beautiful and serene experience

Friend recommended this series to me and thats the last time i listen to that fucker

If I had a nickel for every fighting game I played in which I mained Siegfried and had to learn the 2B matchup, I'd have two nickels, which isn't a lot, but it's weird that it happened twice.

No genre has suffered more within the past two generations of gaming than racing games. Need for Speed is a shell of its former self. Burnout is dead. Namco seems to have forgotten Ridge Racer, and Sony has abandoned MotorStorm and seems hellbent on ruining Gran Turismo. Sure, there’s other racing games out there like Forza, Project Cars, and The Crew, but they all feel so utterly inessential, coming and going without much fanfare except from the most hardcore of racing game fans.

Need for Speed: Unbound is fine. It’s better than Payback and Heat, but that’s the faintest praise I could possibly offer it. I just can’t get excited by it because Need for Speed used to be better than just fine. It used to be that a Need for Speed game would come out and it would be one of the best games of the year. Now a new Need for Speed game comes out and it feels like hardly anyone cares.

Albeit left with a super messy toilet roll dropped more times than I have or ever will drop a toilet roll in my life, overall, I enjoyed this peculiar one-man Switch project that even 7 years in stands out as one of the most inventive uses of the Joycon to date. It often presents a real challenge, which by the end I found amplified by the extra traction on my ravaged toilet roll and the exhaustion from moving the heavy box that was the only suitable surface I found, yet the simple satisfaction of completing precise manoeuvres in overcoming imprecise controls encouraged me to persevere. The world needs more creative and experimental games like this.

Kind of tragic to me how often AA projects get no respect. Both from the average gaming public and seemingly the company that put it out. Small scale games that stand out are thrown out in favor of AAA focus tested experiences. Then we're stuck waiting 6+ years for any major releases, the only thing to tide us over in the meantime is an ocean of remakes from the days where boatloads of games of all types came out at a constant rate. Just as every kart racer is a "mario kart ripoff" or platform fighters will always be "bootleg smash bros" ... Games that aren't so generic that comparing them to other games is pointless - are scrutinized even harder than those who didn't even try based on surface level observations. Thousands of overproduced derivative experiences with little to no unique ideas of its own? Game of the year material. Something that only tangentially shares a similar root concept as something unique? It better be the best game ever and overthrow Fortnite in popularity or else it has no worth in the eyes of most. Heck, Palworld's "Pokemon with guns" thing isn't even an apt phrase as the gameplay barely resembles pokemon whatsoever and you don't even get guns til' like 15-20 hours in. So lucky for that game the internet is making fun of pokemon these days. But I digress.

The splatoon DNA lies in this being a third person shooter in a small arena, your team's foam (ink) being a means of map control. That's genuinely about it, you have more mobility on your own foam, and the more overwhelmed you are by the enemy's foam the harder it is to not almost literally get buried in it. Ironically I find this game is succeeding the Splatoon style better than Sploon 2 and 3 did. A big part of the appeal of Splatoon from the beginning was that it was truly fresh. Sick of the decade of samey online shooters? Here's nintendo's crazy take that completely flips the genre on its head. Less about kills and more about playing the maps effectively. There was such variety in maps and weapons, you could look down to your gamepad to send a nuke strike in a satisfying and immersive way. The amount of ways you could approach a situation being so vast just by the nature of your own ink changing the landscape of the battlefield, even without physically changing the shape of the map or anything. But then splatoon 2 came along and it was more of the same but with smaller maps that turned the focus more on face to face close range skirmishes. Then on the same console Splatoon 3 hit and really didn't fix or change much of anything. So many maps not featuring much verticality or well defined ideas to play around...Point being, close range claustrophobic combat in Splatoon kinda sucks. It was never the root of the design philosophy of the original game. It was part of it but it wasn't the ENTIRETY of it. And three games with almost no significant shake-up in formula or style kind of puts a damper on it being a "Fresh" break from the tired online shooter genre.

Foamstars feels like it's onto something. Your foam literally changing the shape of the landscape brings back the verticality and ergo the seemingly endless ways to approach situations. And even better, this game has no mode where the team with the most ground covered with ink wins, it's all focused on direct combat. The kind of combat sploon 2 forced because its dev cycle was too rushed to have bigger maps despite it not being designed around it. Being designed around combat centric modes from the beginning does a lot of favors to Foamstars feeling cohesive. At bare minimum, it's got very similar quality to something like the push a tower mode in ranked splatoon. I just find your movesets for combat are a bit more elegant here, leaning just a tad more into normal shooter territory while at the same time going all in on insane cartoon angle. I think this stands on its own very well as far as gameplay goes.

Still, I can't HONESTLY say I see myself playing this game a year from now. I don't know why games now refuse to offer any way to grind for costumes. Like bruh even if I have to play for 30 hours to get a single skin that's SOMETHING don't straight up charge 45$ for an outfit and give literally nothing for actually playing the game. You gotta have some kind of hook to get people wanting to come back and for that matter, spend money. And as an achievement dork, 12 achievements and no platinum is p'lame. Almost have all of 'em in a single sitting. It's also got a frustratingly mundane presentation, feeling like it kind of wastes its great art style and music. Feels like Square Enix just didn't have full confidence going into this game's release. But I can't honestly blame them too hard considering making anything remotely similar to a Nintendo style game is an uphill battle. Would have liked to see them try to come out swinging with a less heavily monetized system, that definitely would have helped their chances. I'll definitely be at least loosely following the game but I won't be shocked to find Squeenix was ready to pretend they never made this game before it even came out. Hecc you can't even see a hint of this game on the official Square Enix store.

Sad thing is despite liking this game and wanting to love it, it's kinda hard to feel any hope for it moving forward. And while I think it's a bit lame that this game was written off by most months before it even came out, that heavy monetization and lack of customization otherwise was absolutely the wrong way to launch this game despite it coming out day 1 on PSPlus. It's a fun game but that's ultimately not enough. It's exhausting how common it is now for a game to come out and have the conversation immediately be nothing but dead game? Even for games that actually manage to drum up initial hype. Like idk man we've all been playing Mario Kart 8, Splatoon, GTAV, Skyrim, CSGO, League of legends, and minecraft for over a decade bare minimum. I'm ready to move ooooon bro 2010 was 14 years ago can we play foamstars or nickelodeon all stars brawl or crash team rumble or something. Forgive me for projecting a bit I'm just a bit exhausted at all the DOA games that end up as wasted potential. The whole games as a service space is just getting depressing. I really wish a game growing a small group of fans was enough, but it's either a cultural phenomenon we can milk for an indefinite amount of time or it's a flop that will be used as an excuse for why games that don't take ten years to make just don't get made anymore. A game of this scope just doesn't stand a chance against the expectations of the industry, doesn't even matter if it's good or not and that's honestly kind of a bummer. I'm probably looking too deep into this but I think it's rad to see Square Enix try and branch out and consistently put out so much stuff every year. I kind of suspect once they stop due to constant failure hurting their wallets and reputation, we'll suddenly start seeing youtube videos about how Squeenix during this era was one of the few devs consistently putting out cool experimental stuff that wasn't appreciated during its time. I'd certainly take stuff like this over what's happened to so many other major players in the industry. With ten year outputs looking like: The Last of us 1, The Last of us 1, The Last of us 2, The Last of us 1, The last of us 2 online (cancelled), The Last of us 2

Also good heavens why do so many online games love to waste as much time between matches as possible there's gotta be a faster way to do this.

Would love to see this grow into something special but it's looking pretty dire Foambros. If you're at all remotely interested I'd get on ASAP 'cuz Squeenix themselves are probably looking to bury it with their 9th FF7 release.

This review contains spoilers

Justice League: Eeyikes! It's the Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League!

Suicide Squad: We're gonna Kill the Justice League you!

Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League (which I'll refer to as KTJL from herein) is a game I have... complicated feelings on. After the release of my beloved Batman: Arkham Knight, I was excited to see what was next for the Arkham continuinity and Rocksteady as a whole. I mean, Rocksteady released the two games tied for my favorite video game in a row, plus the phenomenal first game, how could I not be excited for what's next? And for a long time I was. Rumors swirled of a Superman game, or a Justice League game, an Arkham continuation, or something entirely new.

Then, just what I was looking for, in 2017 and 2018, a brand new Arkham game was being teased with the recent-ish villain group, the Court of Owls!

...Except it wasn't Rocksteady, it was WB Montréal. Well, ok, I loved Arkham Origins, this can still be great! And it's gonna be about the Bat Family and not Batman? Awesome!

And then it wasn't Arkham. And then we saw the game and it looked very disappointing. And then it came out as Gotham Knights and it, indeed, was very disappointing. And WB Montréal stopped development on a Batman Arkham sequel for it. Damn.

Well, maybe Rocksteady is at least working on- oh no.

To be truthful, up until I actually played the damn thing, I didn't know what a "game as a service" was definitively, I just know that they had a really bad rep, enough that people were saying it would "kill the industry" (Suicide Squad: Kill the Gaming Industry, anyone?), but at the very least I knew that it was not what I wanted from Rocksteady. I also don't even really know what a "looter shooter" is - just look at my profile picture and favorite games on my account and tell me you think I know what that is.

In mid-2020, it was finally announced that Rocksteady's new game was Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League much to my... utter whelmness? I theoretically liked the idea of a Suicide Squad game, particularly in the Arkham universe, and the eventual gameplay footage looked decently fun, just a strange direction to go. The lineup of characters was kind of underwhelming for me. I know that they - Harley Quinn, Deadshot, Captain Boomerang, and King Shark - are more or less the most consistent Squad members, but it also seemed like a shame to not have just one, more obscure character in there (something which so far seems like will continue to be the case in updates). Having a Justice League form off screen with Batman after the ending of Arkham Knight, and then subsequently having to kill them is... something.
Despite all the conflicting feelings, I was still feeling mostly positive about the game, but evidently, others were not. Rising negativity swelled around the game for the years after it was announced, peaking within the last few months before the game’s release. Potential (real and faked) plot leaks were spread, more info about the game in general was shared, some people using the closed beta test to, despite NDA, share information and cutscenes, and so on. It was a mess. To be quite honest, when a game I have interest in or like has a surge of negativity, I tend to want to defend it more, and I’ll admit I did fall into that hole. Defending what I knew was going to be a game I ultimately didn’t really want. But what can I say? I still had confidence to some degree. A lot of the complaints seemed very exaggerated or Batman fanboys being weird.

Anyhow, I’ve talked about the leadup to the game enough. You were all there, you don’t really need to hear about that, do you? Let’s get to the game.

It’s alright.

I normally don’t like to segment my reviews a whole lot, but I think in this particular case, I’d like to separate this review into pieces about various aspects of the games: plot, characters gameplay, visuals, and then whatever else strikes my fancy to talk about.

Even if you’re not a fan of DC or comics in general, you’ve likely heard of the Suicide Squad at this point: a task force of supercriminals with bombs implanted in their heads by the U.S. government, a branch called ARGUS, made to do covert and often impossibly under-odds missions - suicide missions - in exchange for getting time cut off their sentences. Very in character for the U.S. government. They generally do stuff the heroes don’t touch or even know about, and the squad is treated as expendable, the leaders of the operations not hesitating to kill them.

(The next paragraph is a sort of plot synopsis. Feel free to skip if you don’t care or don’t want to be spoiled or don’t care to read, essentially, summary)

That… doesn’t really translate to a game very well. Obviously, in a multiplayer team-based game like this, they’re not going to be dropping members of the squad at all, and yeah, they don’t. I think a lot of people hold this against the game a lot, and I get why, but I think the plot of the game saves it a little. Instead of the squad being sent on a covert op where members might think they can weasel out easily, they’re actually being sent into a very public mission where they are essentially the only line of defense against the end of the world. The entire Justice League, with the exception of Wonder Woman, have become the puppet of Brainiac, a hyper intelligent alien bent on terraforming the Earth, and the only way to stop them is to kill the Justice League. While Task Force X (the official name of the Suicide Squad) is technically expendable, they are the only defense against the imminent threat behind Wonder Woman, who is constantly on the ropes the entire game. I think this is a decent set up; yeah, you won’t be seeing the squad killed off like nothing like in one of the movies (I haven’t seen James Gunn’s movie but I assume it happens there), but they’re still being set up to go into a mission where no one expects them to survive, no less succeed. The squad themselves, in fact, don’t expect to come out on top, and initially plan an escape, but that’s thwarted when it turns out Amanda Waller, who holds the controls to their bombs, was already expecting them to cut and run. Afterwards, they use specific tech meant to take down The Flash and Green Lantern and kill them, leaving only Batman and Superman. After ARGUS sends a nuke to Brainiac’s ship, Superman catches it and takes it off to explode somewhere else. Following this, Superman and Wonder Woman get in a battle where surely the winner will decide who wins the war. Well, Superman ends up killing Wonder Woman, and I think this is the exact moment where the squad realizes they truly are the only snowball’s chance in hell that Earth isn’t taken over. They buckle down and go after Batman, successfully take him out, then fight Superman with specialized Gold Kryptonite, and manage to kill him as well. Just as they’re celebrating, Brainiac captures them, and they only manage to make it out by an alternate universe Lex Luthor teleporting them away, where he informs them that there’s not just one Brainiac to defeat, but thirteen total across thirteen different universes. The squad takes it to Earth 2 where they defeat, capture, and subsequently kill that universe’s Brainiac, and then!

The game ends?

Oh, right, live service.

Apologies for the sloppy summary, but I don’t feel the need to get into super specifics and, well, it’s not really the cleanest plot itself. I have mixed feelings about this plot. Since all the major superheroes have been taken control of and all the smaller heroes don’t seem to be around (Robin and the rest of the Bat Family are heavily implied to be killed by Batman), the villains truly are the only shot against Brainiac. But… wouldn’t you rather just play as the Justice League? Even if it ends with the heroes losing potentially leading into a sequel, it’d be a lot more interesting. It all sort of makes sense in practice, but on paper, I can’t help but repeatedly ask “why are we the Suicide Squad in this game, though?” and the answer doesn’t really seem concrete, although it does feel somewhat earned by the end of the base game. I know a lot of people don’t like that each member of the Justice League (minus Wonder Woman) are taken out by these four doofuses, but each League member also have pretty defined weaknesses. Batman is human, Superman obviously has Kryptonite, Green Lantern loses his strength when exposed to heavy amounts of fear, and, while it is kind of a cop-out one, Flash is vulnerable to anti-Speed Force tech. Take those weaknesses, grab four people who have no choice and no morality, and make the heroes not be fully themselves do to corruption, and I think it’s not a big deal that these four villains can beat them when fought by themselves. The worst part about the story, though, is easily the lack of an ending. You do the goal of killing Brainiac, but it’s not the one you really need to kill, and you know that there’s still twelve more, including the one currently taking over your planet. Credits roll. I understand this is a live service game with much more to come (more details on that later), but why not have a somewhat more definitive ending? I mean, people spent at least $70 on this game, and you’re not even going to humor an ending for them? Why is the actual conclusion locked behind up two, two and a half years worth of more content?

Let’s move on to the characters. The Suicide Squad themselves consist of four members: Harley Quinn, Deadshot, Captain Boomerang, and King Shark; this is a pretty typical lineup which is probably good to have, but I can’t help but feel somewhat disappointed that there’s no one really interesting, and only one character that Arkham fans will know - uh, technically.

Harley returns and she’s a lot more reserved than her last appearance. In the actual Arkham games, she was always presented as a total airhead with absolute reliance on the Joker; even when he died, her existence was pretty much to remind Batman of Joker and to carry on the clown’s legacy. Starting with Arkham City, she also got a much more shrill voice direction (something that Tra Strng is known for) which really emphasized her ditziness. Thankfully, they tone it back for KTJL. Not only is she not quite as shrill-sounding, but Harley also is more of her own. She barely mentions the Joker at all, the talent she brings is something only she can, and, surprisingly yet somehow fittingly, she keeps the team focused. The game never never openly says this in the story, but in her character bio, it’s said that Harley wants to turn over a new leaf. I really wish they made this more of a part of her characterization cause it’s a passive thing at best, and not really there; I guess the old Harley would do everything she could to get out of this, but here she is staying on the mission - by the end, she actually seems excited to continue the mission, killing all the Brainiacs. I think this version of Harley might be headed in a good direction, but this just isn’t a very strong start to this new arc. Maybe the updates will help with that.

Deadshot is notably different than he appeared in the Arkham games. Hell, one of the first lines in the game is said by Boomerang, “Isn’t Deadshot supposed to be white?” (A pretty good line lol) I have zero qualms with Floyd being black, I fully welcome more black representation, though it is very funny to me that that is about the only time it’s addressed. Are there two Deadshots or is this a retcon and the Floyd Lawton we see now the one and only? I guess it’s not super important, but having backstory for your characters wouldn’t be a bad idea, especially because Deadshot is rather lacking in it. Basically the only thing we know about him is that he’s the “world’s greatest assassin”, he has a daughter named Zoe, and he tried and failed to kill Green Lantern (which is a pretty random rivalry, if you ask me). Deadshot is kind of supposed to be the straight man of the group, but he’s just kind of… boring. There’s really not much to him. This is probable spoilers for future content, but according to leaks, his daughter Zoe is going to be another Deadshot (probably from a different Earth) so I think we might get some more from him then, but for now, he’s very milquetoast.

also there was this really uncomfortable scene where boomerang touches a device that stops him from moving at all and shark tries to pull him out and deadshot tries to stop shark from touching him so then all three of them are connected and motionless. so deadshot tells harley not to touch them and she’s looking at his ass and he says not to do it but then she puts her hands on his ass. i don’t like this scene.

Boomerang is the lovable idiot of the group who doesn’t pay attention, runs his mouth, is Australian, and often gets the team into more trouble - plus he easily has the least morality of the bunch. Did I say he was lovable? He’s actually more annoying than anything. You know this kind of character. The kind that will lie and then when called out on the lie, will actually just double down and act like he’s cooler than he is. In small doses, this can be endearing, but when it’s being done the whole game? It’s annoying. Very early on, before they’ve even been tasked with killing the Justice League, Wonder Woman uses the Lasso of Truth of Boomerang and he says, “I mask my insecurities with drink and bad behavior.” It’s a decently funny line, but it would have also been a prime opportunity to loosen up on doing the “Boomerang grandeurizing himself” bit that becomes tired. Most of his personality is about wanting to kill Flash and getting revenge on Flash. So when you end up killing Flash first, you’d think they’d give him something else but he just kind of… doesn’t have more to add. I’ll take this over Suicide Squad 2016 where that Captain Boomerang had the oh-so lol XD random pink unicorn fetish.

Finally, there’s my boy, King Shark. I may or may not be attracted to him.

Amanda Waller is the head of-

Ok, fine. King Shark is easily my favorite of the group. At first, I thought he was just gonna be the Drax fill-in. You know, a kind of stupid guy who doesn’t understand others’ cultures and figures of speech fly over his head, but with a heart of gold that’s extremely loyal? He isn’t not like that, but they also go in a different direction with Shark. He truly is intelligent, and unlike most ocean-dwellers of DC, instead of being outright xenophobic towards the surface world, he’s actually fascinated by it. He has an understanding of some of the surface world’s culture, architecture, and notable figures. He has the heart of a poet and an appetite for knowledge, while also being a skilled warrior as you’d expect from a literal demigod (yeah, they have one superpowered member of the team and he’s a damn god). But while he does have a knack for the surface world, this game’s story is the only real time he’s been on it, so he still does the thing where he doesn’t know what phrases mean (“Bob’s your uncle? I do not have an uncle named Bob? Oh, will we all be assigned an Uncle Bob?”). Considering Drax is my favorite member of the Guardians of the Galaxy in Eidos’s GotG game, I was probably going to end up liking Shark the most, but I wasn’t expecting this direction for him, and it made him easily the most deep (pun intended) character with the most to say. And that’s not even mentioning his past of being the runt of his family and disregarded by his father. I also really appreciate the casting choice of Samoa Joe, that was a great pick.

As a group, the Squad isn't as fun as you might think. They seem rather discordant, and until near the end of the game, they don't really feel like a team that rely on each other, and they never really have that “found family” feel. By the end, they do hype each other up more and actually do feel like a team, but I never had the impression that they'd willingly interact with each other outside of this; and I know they're a group of antisocial (for lack of a better term) criminals so it's not like, again, Guardians of the Galaxy where everyone has a troubled past but are generally good people, but still, you're stuck with these four and will be for the next 2+ish years. My favorite interaction with them as a group was in the endgame where the odds in a mission are stacked against them, and Deadshot says “If it looks like a suicide mission and smells like a suicide mission…” to which King Shark follows up with “Then it must be Boomerang!” Which makes Floyd and Harley laugh (I feel like either Waller or Boomerang himself laugh too but I don't remember - and that's not like Waller). It was a great interaction where they actually felt like friends and not just forced teammates.

Amanda Waller is the head of ARGUS. A no-nonsense, no humor, non-comforting woman who holds the controls to the squads’ bombs in her hand, and constantly threatens to press it. She has a severe lack of trust for practically anyone, and doesn't value the lives of the convicts she oversees. While I wish she were heavy-set like her comics counterpart… usually is, she's otherwise a ruthless character I love. She is the U.S. government's strongest soldier (figurative soldier) so she might be more evil than any villain she could ever oversee! Also, her appearance at The Game Awards years ago was cool.

The rest of the characters of the game are more minor, so I'm gonna rapid fire a bit. There's Penguin, he's delightful as always. Poison Ivy returns, kinda, reincarnated as a child - I found her pretty annoying, frankly, but she led to one of the best Captain Boomerang moments, so I'll allow it. Toyman is here, but instead of being a villain, he's a teen named Hiro who's a genius inventor that wants to help people… did they just copy Big Hero 6? Gizmo - who you might know from Teen Titans - is decently funny, though his role is pretty unimportant and only really comes up in optional missions and one story one. Rick Flag is Waller's right hand man, and he's just a basic military type; though he warms up to Task Force X a little by the end, which was a welcome detail. Brainiac himself doesn't show up until you've Suicide Squaded all over those guys (the Justice League), but he's a pretty good adaptation, although I can't help but feel that his plans are rather… not thought out?

As for the League themselves, there's not much to say about most of them. Green Lantern was already turned before you step foot in Metropolis and pretty much is just a basic gloating “I'm better than you” antagonist. Batman, despite what weirdos online have to say, is a good version of the character; it's still Arkham Batman, just turned to the bad side, and of course Kevin Conroy's performance is killer as always. Batman will even stalk the squad from a distance throughout the game, and give notes to Brainiac. Superman literally doesn't speak outside of the Hall of Justice kid's museum, but he has this cool moment where he catches a nuke that was sent to the mothership, then looks at the squad and Wonder Woman and decides to take the juke away before it blows; a small moment that shows maybe there is some morality to the corrupted heroes. Flash starts off uncorrupted, and he at first continually tells the squad to leave for their own safety, I'm glad they maintained his care for the lives of the villains, even if it was in a small way. He has probably the best boss fight of the game, too. Wonder Woman never gets corrupted throughout the game, so you have the real deal the whole time. Now, I'm not a Wonder Womanhead, so I'm just going off of what I've seen people say - it seems that Wonder Woman fans mostly like this adaptation, but she uses the origin story they hate. She was made by Zeus and that's the only reason she can do the things she does. Because of a man, yay. Other than that, I liked her; up until her death at the hands of Superman, most of Metropolis see her as the only hope against the invasion, and she's constantly on the ropes, but always fighting. She's at odds with the squad because while she knows she has to kill her friends to succeed, she wants to believe she can find another way, and, like Flash, she constantly tells the squad that they need to leave while they still can (I guess she never intuits That they can't leave), which is an appreciable part of her characters. She fights valiantly against Superman, but eventually loses when even impaling him in the chest with green Kryptonite doesn't kill him.

Overall, the characters individually are mostly good. It's just in terms of interpersonal interactions where it sort of falls flat. I know some of this has room to improve with the future content, but I'm not here to talk about a game that doesn't exist (not yet).

i realized in that last paragraph that i forgot to talk about the lex luthors. they're good adaptations, i don't feel like talk about the characters anymore though

KTJL is what is known as a looter shooter. What is that? I don't really know, but it seems to be a shooter with lots and lots and lots and too fucking much gear to equip your character with. Every mission in the game (and some enemies) will give you gear that you can potentially put on your character. The main weapon, a secondary weapon, melee weapon, grenades, shield mod, head bomb mod(?), a charm, and something else I forgot. Iiiiiiii avoided this shit as much as possible after playing, like, half the game. So much of the information it gives you just feels like too much. Every piece of new equipment is a novel and you're looking at minor upgrades or downgrades to see if you want to change your gear or not. I pretty much found my endgame gear halfway through and stopped caring about new stuff. Most of it are minor buffs that you wouldn't even really notice not having, except for your main weapon and melee weapon. Speaking of the main weapon, this might be me, but I found no reason to ever switch to my secondary. Unless I completely ran out of ammo in my main gun, I never touched the secondary one. On top of that, I really didn't like that every character can use all the guns in the game. Wouldn't it make much more sense to let each character have a specialty weapon type, and maybe one or two they share with another character? Like, King Shark gets the minigun as his special weapon type, but he can use shotguns and machine guns. Boomerang primarily uses shotguns but can use snipers and pistols. It would make each character more unique while giving more reason to use each.

The characters are all intended to have different playstyles. To be honest, I didn't use anyone but Shark outside, unless there was a bonus to using a different character for a mission (even then, I wouldn't always do that), so don't take my thoughts on them all as gospel. King Shark was my favorite because his mode of transportation feels the best - this game is very movement-reliant so a good way to travel is vital. Talking in terms of PS5 controls, you hold L1 to charge up a very high vertical jump that's useful for climbing up buildings, or just getting a good angle on enemies. It's a pretty cheap strategy, but I loved spamming this to be high above enemies and shoot down at them until I landed, and then doing it over and over. It's especially effective on bosses who just generally will not even look at you while you're up there. Pair that with a minigun which can just absolutely pump lead, and I had little reason to jump the Shark. Oh, and holding R1 would charge up a leap that gives you great horizontal distance, which is great for traveling, or getting out of a dicey situation, or getting right back into the action.

Harley is… disappointing. Her mode of transportation is a Bat drone that she grapples onto, and she can also just generally grapple to scale buildings. It feels awful. Not that this is nearly the same game, but Arkham Knight had it where using the grapnel boost instantly shows you how powerful it'll be and than LAUNCHING you sky high. Here, you can do a tiny little jump off where you grapple. It's a pathetic jump that doesn't grant you notable height or speed. Grappling off the drone also sucks. Considering it's her man traversal method in an open world game, you'd think that this would be a fast way to travel, but unlike the others' traversal tools, this one seems to mostly be fitted for combat. The swinging on this thing is so slow, which is good for aiming while moving, but bad for everything else. You're also forced to wait a long time, lose vertical distance, or land on the ground before you're allowed to use it again which feels entirely counterintuitive. Maybe this improves with upgrades, but movement is such a vital part of the game that even if it is in upgrades, that's such an awful choice. She's the character most people will flock to, she should feel decent to play as.

Moving on to Deadshot, to be honest, I only used him once. I didn’t really switch from Shark in general, but usually when I did, it was Harley (there are some missions where you have to do critical hits and I thought she’d be better for that, but not really), so I don’t have a ton to say. His mode of transportation is a jetpack and it seems pretty decent. I remember a trailer for the game had him use the jetpack to stay level to some enemies on a building, so maybe it’s good for that. The one time I did use him, I tried to use his melee attack and… yikes. He uses his iconic wrist-mounted guns to fire at enemies for his “melee”. It’s super drawn out and felt inaccurate, which is not ideal for a guy known for not missing.

Captain Boomerang is equipped with Speed Force gauntlets which allows him to throw a boomerang to a specific area and pretty instantly run towards it - in practice, it is teleportation, essentially. I feel that Boomerang’s movement is perhaps the most versatile and potentially most useful of them all, but also the hardest to get used to. Use it right, and you could always be in an advantage state. Throw a ‘rang, pop an unsuspecting enemy with a shotgun, Speed Force over to another set of enemies and use his amazing boomerang melee attacks to incapacitate enemies before taking them out.

There’s honestly not too much to talk about with the gameplay itself. You would think there’s a lot going on with the bonkers UI, but it really is just a basic shooter with emphasis on movement. Use counter shots and melee attacks to do heavy damage, break shields, and heal your shields. Use status afflictions to make enemies even more helpless than they already are. Jump 200 feet in the area to rain hell down on enemies while staying safe yourself, or blitz into enemy lines by going behind enemy force fields and taking them out with reckless abandon. Side missions spice things up a little bit by making enemies only take damage in certain ways - you’ll have to use afflictions, or grenade, or critical shots, or only counters, or whatever - but not very much. Gizmo’s missions put you in a flying car and firing missiles at enemies, but it’s not a huge focus and (as far as I know) you can’t use his specialized vehicles outside of specific missions. The gameplay is basic and repetitive, but I’ll admit I was always having fun. The game reached its peak at the end where a boss fight against a Brainiac with Flash’s powers would switch between the great Flash boss fight and enemy swarms. Sure, it’s recycling a boss fight, but it was fun.

When it comes to the visuals, I’ve seen people give this game a lot of shit, particularly comparing it to Arkham Knight. Personally speaking, I think Arkham Knight is one of the best - if not the best - looking games out there, so it is a high bar, but one the devs themselves set. However, this is going for a different artstyle. It’s slight, but this is going for a more comic book look, rather than just hyperrealism, and I think that plays in the game’s favor mostly. It basically ends up meaning that the world as a whole may not look as stunning as Gotham in Arkham Knight, but the finer details on characters are great. I don’t think King Shark, Superman, or Brainiac would look as good as they do in the old Arkham style. But here? Man, I love this Superman design - suit is a little too heavily detailed, but otherwise, he looks super. In general, this game has style. King Shark looks sick, this is one of the best Harley fits ever (the Birds of Prey movie slays too hard to surpass though), Deadshot looks miles better than his Arkham series counterpart, and you can smell the Australia just by looking at Captain Boomerang. As I said before, I wish Amanda Waller were heavier, but she’s meant to look like her actress, so I won’t fault them too much. I’ve always love the Arkham games’ Penguin design, and he looks just ripped straight out of them; despite the art style change, he fits right in.

The Arkham series has some great music, though a lot of it is buildup or atmospheric. KTJL is a fast paced action game, so it’s only natural that the music matches. It’s bombastic and dynamic, and it’s one of the things I’ll look forward to reexperiencing in future updates.

Speaking of which… god damn, why do so many games nowadays ship out unfinished? Look, I think Kill the Justice League is a good game, I would hope that’s apparent by this point, I have had mostly positive things to say about it. But I am simply not satisfied with the fact that this game is clearly far from finished telling its story and they expect you to spend more money on it even after how expensive gaming is becoming. I like to believe that this isn’t Rocksteady’s choice, that WB is making them do a live service approach (especially as WB has recently said they want to do more live service, for some damn reason), but I’m not really sure if they are being made to do this. If they aren’t, I’m so disappointed at this turn from my favorite development team. If they are, well, this is still so sad to see. This feels like half a game that isn’t going to be completed for at least two more years. And who knows if this game even meets enough sales to justify putting out all that content, especially with such stunning leadership at WBD. It’s so depressing that this studio that made some of the most well-liked games of the past fifteen years has been turned into a GaaS machine, and I hope that by the time they realize the exhaust is toxic, it won’t be too late. But at least until then I can play as The Twinker (coming March 2024 to Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League).

I have a lot of good to say about KTJL, but at the end of the day, this game has left me with much concern. Despite James Gunn’s assurance that they plan on keeping Rocksteady around for more projects, I’m afraid on if that will stay the case in two year’s time, or what that project might look like. Forced to make a game set in a movie universe that doesn’t exist yet, whose story will likely be ignored by films it’s meant to tie into? Another ill-faded live service game that might have good to speak of but is ultimately a shell of what once was? A risky original project that flexes creative muscle but could end in failure? Maybe a goddamn Superman game? Who’s to say. For now, I guess I’ll bide my time and hope the game is better post-updates.

Waller out.

I didn't proofread this.

It goes a little like this: you and your sister are hanging out in the 3 FPS Meadow and see a mysterious butterfly. Your sister wants to take chase and see where it leads you, but you're a bit of a weenie and protest the idea, saying you'll get in trouble and besides, that's awfully close to where grandma said ghosts turn people into butterflies. Even more excited by the thought, she follows the butterfly anyway and lo and behold gets sucked into the titular Mansion. And so into the mansion you must go in hope of saving her humanity.

Inside the mansion you find its inhabitants—butterflies with unconvincing accents and the rooms that represent the interests they had as humans. In the game's best moment, a butterfly tells the player how in her days as a musician she longed to shed herself of her human body. Now, as a butterfly, she just wishes she were able to play the piano again, to be able to do the things that filled her soul. It brings to mind the scene in Wings of Desire where Peter Falk explains to the main character, an angel contemplating giving up his high standing for a permanent return to the corporeal world, his decision to do this very same thing. Being unable to interact with and therefore truly experience the world is an unfulfilling way to exist (to crudely paraphrase one of my favorite scenes in all of cinema). But here in Mansion of Hidden Souls, the words are spoken from someone for whom it's too late. She already made her decision, perhaps hastily in a time of pain, and now she's left in eternal regret of the things she can never experience again. It's a beautiful scene despite the voice actor doing maybe the most insane attempt at a Southern accent I've ever heard.

Unfortunately, that's the first and last time the game succeeds in doing anything emotionally resonant whatsoever. There are other butterflies we meet: an Australian butterfly specimen collector repulsed by the human form but who we never learn enough about to be interesting; an artist who we know is an artist on account of his room having a couple easels in it; a lady whose entire thing is that she's kind of mean and hangs out in bars; and finally a girl who, like, I don't know, is just kinda there.

It's this hasty characterization that makes Mansion of Hidden Souls a mere sliver of its potential. I want to poke around into the lives and minds of complex individuals and find out what made them get entangled in—if not outright seek out—the loss of their human form. What insecurities and sadnesses and ennuis and stubbornnesses brought them here? What brings so many people into wishing they were no longer human? Is there, maybe, a richness to Experiencing and Feeling we often overlook in our misery, like the butterfly who just wishes she could play music again?

Sadly, Mansion of Hidden Souls is largely uninterested in those questions: after all we have a sister to save and only one disc in which to do it.