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Making (& sometimes writing about) games

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Favorite Games

Pentiment
Pentiment
Amnesia: The Bunker
Amnesia: The Bunker
Thief: The Black Parade
Thief: The Black Parade
Anatomy
Anatomy
Dragon's Dogma II
Dragon's Dogma II

154

Total Games Played

003

Played in 2024

010

Games Backloggd


Recently Played See More

Scorn
Scorn

Apr 16

Dragon's Dogma II
Dragon's Dogma II

Apr 02

The Finals
The Finals

Jan 17

Thief: The Black Parade
Thief: The Black Parade

Dec 21

Starfield
Starfield

Dec 03

Recently Reviewed See More

Scorn is an uneven balance of Riven-like alien techno-puzzling and atmospheric existential horror akin to SOMA. The art is a perfect amalgamation of Giger & Beksiński, fleshy organic architecture amassed across the surface of a dying world. The first two-thirds present particularly engaging core puzzles, as you slowly unpick the purpose of the machines you are revving up, often leading to some sort of sacrifice of an innocent(?) being (ranging from tiny weird guys to enormous weird guys) in this abject world. The wordless communication of the narrative through exploration, the environment & your ritualistic puzzling is refreshing (in a time where many games won't. shut. up).

The alien life wandering the flesh-corridors are alluring at first, with some interesting behaviours ambivalent to, & decentering, the player. But their placement and the very awkward feeling combat generates annoyance rather than tension, a very clumsy implementation of what was probably envisioned as a ‘living’ world but grew smaller in scope as they struggled to bring this to release. This is most evident in the very dull final chapter where a (puzzle) boss and most puzzles are solved with blunt-force explosives. Despite my final impressions, Ebb has a really strong foundation here and I look forward to seeing how they grow.

12 years on from the strange, incomplete original, DD2 is more of the same, uneasily sitting between the uncompromising Souls series & more conventional narrative ARPGs. At times evoking a desolate offline MMO, DD2 is at its best when out in the wilds, the sun setting at your back & two or more beasts landing on the path ahead, all Arising out of dynamic systems.

The main questline unfortunately does not play to these strengths, with much of Act I confined to the capital & some really dull writing. Fortunately, writing does not maketh a game, and side-quests that take you out into the unreasonably huge map are much more interesting, and really need to be sought out in the crowds and corners of the world. Keeping track of these with the bizarre quest tracker is uneven and obtuse: you’re either reading the landscape and tracing clues or just beating your head against a wall figuring out what the game requires of you.

Dragon’s Dogma 2 is singular, not quite fully realised, a beautifully rendered physics-heavy oddity. The art direction is profoundly generic, but so deceptively understated it at times resembles a Ray Harryhausen film, full of weight, movement and character. DD2 makes you feel like you have friends, albeit stupid friends, who'd throw themselves off a cliff for a view of yonder.

Some cool tech & snappy gameplay trapped in Free-to-play hell. We talk a lot about games being tied to & shaped by their technology but little about how they’re shaped, and hollowed out, by their revenue model: GaaS “living games” are released (and shut down) before there is any life in them.

The Finals contains the movement & sugary energy of nu-battlefield (post-Battlefield 1) wrapped in the most horrid vibes: Forza Horizon-esque npcs at their infinite party, Siege/Valorant/Hyperscape-adjacent esports mush. Embark has managed to make Unreal resemble Frostbite, including impressive physics & destruction that echoes the chaos of bad company 2, but it’s all wasted here.

Even for a tight competitive shooter, this needs a more fleshed out setting, either leaning further into the surreal elements (bodies exploding into coins) or situating it in a world that is more than a watered down squid-game/mirror's edge/DICE's entire catalog. Feels like a very polished tech-demo and I refuse to play 100 hours to unlock interesting mechanics or outfits, which has led to every character running around in the default tracksuit/pyjamas. And don't get me started on the AI voices.

I am cautiously optimistic about embark’s other beautiful but empty sci-fi project, ARC raiders, which has seemingly transformed into yet another extraction shooter.