It's about that time to dust off the blog and get an entry written about some of the games I've played over this past winter...which seems to never end! With all the cold, story and wet weather this winter I've been holed up making and playing games!
When I last wrote, I was diving into the epic Dark Souls III. I spent about 6 months slowly playing this third and possibly final entry in the franchise. As those that came before it, there was never a dull moment in the art direction, and the world felt rich — with a skin that it felt incredibly comfortable to be in. The music was some of the best of the series, especially that opening track on the title screen. I would sit and listen to it entirely sometimes, both before and after playing. There were a few times where I had to just sit and wind down from a Boss fight. Boss design was equal parts fantastic and frustration, which I've also come to expect from a Souls game.
As much as I enjoyed plodding through some of the deepest parts of this crawler, I find myself wishing for the days of Demon's Souls when it felt fresh and new. With the impact the series has had on the industry, I'm almost glad that the franchise is coming to an end. I want to see something new that is hopefully vastly different. I'd love to see Miyazaki dive into space and sci-fi and do what he does best with it.
After Dark Souls III I fired up Xenoblade X. It took a while for me to get into the game, mostly because it was so different than DSIII, which I'd been playing for half a year prior. Once I finally got used to the controller and the grappled the scale of the world, the game really started to take hold. Beyond the battle system I didn't find much in common with the original Xenoblade, and felt like it was closer to some of Takahashi's older games in theme.
Combat is by far the highlight of the game. There are many layers of choice that lead to hours of time spent looking at super tiny text on the screen [Be prepared with a seriously large TV (I played on 72") to play this game without squinting all the time] trying to juggle the perfect combination of skills, relationships, and augments for weapons and armor. The amount of systems at play both with the characters and with the world can be overwhelming at times. There is never a time with nothing to do on either screen. From balancing geo nodes to get maximum funds and resources on the controller, to buying and comparing Skell parts which you've also guided the construction of.
Just as with Demon's Souls, it was a slog of a game. Thankfully the story was full of amazing moments, and the world was just a delight to explore. The world was abound with unique plants, rock formations and water features. The creatures offered a lot of visual variety and of course offered interesting on-foot and in-mech battles. The game oozed with atmosphere overall with a soundtrack to match every emotional strum of the guitar. I could do without a few of the vocal tracks, but the more I played (and fought) the more I found myself listening to the music.
It's the story that really carries the player through to the end, but it was enjoyable overall. I think I would have preferred the likes of Xenoblade 2 on the Switch, but that doesn't make X any less of a good game.
After the two long-winded RPG's, I decided I needed something "lighter". Enter Resident Evil VII:
RE VII is the kind of game that I didn't want to end. It was over sooner than it should have been, it felt like it was just getting to the really good stuff when the credits rolled. I really enjoyed the game. It creeped me out, it really felt like I was back in 1996 playing the original game, slowly creeping around corners in the house. I jumped a few times when the moulded made their initial appearances! I loved every scary minute of it - something I usually don't enjoy when playing games or watching films, but something about Resident Evil makes it incredibly engaging.
This installment certainly feels like a return to original form, but through a fresh lens - literally. The switch to first person really put some people off, but I felt right at home with it. Even the soundtrack felt like it was harkened from the PS2 era, with a catchy, creepy intro-tune that I couldn't stop listening to. Graphically it was mostly gritty and unforgiving with the only softness appearing in the save zones, which felt straight out of RE2, along with the music track.
If an 8th entry meant more of this, I would certainly dive in but if the sales figures were any indication of the fate of Resident Evil... then at least we had this fantastic game :D