Interim 2020: Sorting my Pile of Shame.

Besides the recent longer posts, there are also other games I played in between; some of these I did complete, but more I did not. So for this Interim Report on the first half of 2020, I would like to briefly mention and reflect on my experiences in:

  • Tower of Time (completed)
  • Assassin’s Creed (stalled)
  • Warhammer 40k – Mechanicus (incompleted)
  • Elex (incompleted)
  • Quantum Break (completed)

Tower of Time (completed)

Tower of Time – Graphics and levels are really beautiful

This games is a mixture of a bit of Baldur’s Gate, Divinity Original Sin, and… well anything Infinity Engine’ish.

Story-wise the game is set in a dying world with a plague ravaging inhabitants and several races quarreling and struggling. A tower is discovered, but upside down stuck in the ground, and while you as the main character sit on its’ crystal throne, you send and follow your characters down to the bottom (which is the top) of the tower. And as the throne empoweres you tremendously, you are also capable to sway the mood of decisions in the party.

The game itself is beautiful and has some stunning scenery, characters are believable but behave sometimes erratic / unpredictable according to the choice mechanics in the game. Fights are on a good / challenging difficulty level with an interrupt / slow-down function to adjust your actions and movements during battle.

What really dragged me though was the more classic “tower level” design, which felt a bit like in Eye of the Beholder: You know there are twelve levels, so you slowly move forward to the end, level by level. So of course, every level has its own biome and specialities – some cooler, some colder. Strangely the tower levels become tremendously huge, the more you proceed downwards (which is upwards). It’s a magic tower – I get it! – but sometime it felt more like dragging everything out for more playtime.

The game overall is actually too long and becomes rather repetitive, but leaves a good taste after the final credits rolled. I sometimes really had to motivate myself to proceed further though …

Time played: 43h | Achievements: 56%

Assassin’s Creed

Looking for the fun part in just another Assassin’s Creed game

Well, after my first tilt with Assassin’s Creed Origins I thought a smaller AC game would do the trick and started at the beginning of everything.

I was so wrong.

As soon as the game hinted me to collect 100(!) rags (or flags?) per region, my motivation dwindled and quickly stopped. Why would you ask something like that from anybody? And yes, I get it – I don’t have to do it – but they are glowing everywhere and they need to be picked up and … …

I quickly uninstalled the game and my hopes for ever completing an AC game … ever! Nevertheless my return to AC:Origins was tremendously enjoyful and so I will probably also return to this one and do a very quick run through, just for the story.

No flags for this Assassin.

Time played: 5h

Warhammer 40k – Mechanicus

My screenshots are so unremarkable – please take a look at this wallpaper instead

This one came from my random selection process and I was actually really hyped to play it – something turn-based, something strategic, something… different!

But oh! … was that different.

There are some realms of lore I simply find no footing in. One is the Elder Scrolls and the other is Warhammer. This is not because both are boring or uninteresting, no – the opposite! They are just so lore-heavy, that I have the feeling I would never ever understand what the heck is going on and be able to follow the flow of history and relevance of events and characters.

So I tried to watch some videos (thanks Vitali!) but it just became more and more complicated. I could not even grasp the necessary vocabulary to understand what these people are talking about.

So I started and played some hours; the combat was quite ok, the progression too, but the overall feel, relevance or impact of what was happening here was completely lost to me. So I remained very disconnected to whatever I did there and never found an angle for moving forward. Also this constant bubbling tech-mumbo-jumbo became really annoying, so I quit.

Sorry Inquisitors, you will have to win this one without me.

Time played: 8h | Achievements: 17%

Elex

Being bossed around and being an asshole in Elex

My first step into one of Pirania Bytes’ games and I thought I was prepared through reading and listening to reviews and impressions, but I was not.

You are some dude on a planet, which obviously seems to be a very harsh world, because round about everybody I ever met behaved like an asshole. And I mean everybody, including me, the main character. Strong words everywhere, strong choices as a reply, a quite unfamiliar progression of finding out what the heck you should actually do right now, a quirky UI that keeps you unnecessarily busy and a very strange overall storytelling, including side-quests. I understand, that this game focuses on a more open-worldish-emergent-story-telling approach, but it is just not my take of fun to get beaten up by everybody and everything in this game and by try & error find the right direction to move forward. I recognize the effort for exploration though, but I was more running away from everything than actually exploring.

I later read, that they tried to write the dialogues like they are delivered in a classic table-RPG session. Meaning amateurs trying to be tough, or play a character-type you are not familiar with or gamemasters trying to impose various social actors. And yes, everything made so much sense afterwards, and the voice actors (especially in German) really tried to pull this of like amateurs. Well, I hope they were. With many smiles I remembered from my own table-RPGs, how we played it out and voiced our characters.

All the above is then combined with very clunky movement and combat mechanics, which I never became really used to or comfortable with. Positioning towards the opponent was so difficult (or random?) that I often missed my target by some meters and was then attacked into my back and died – again.

I am definately too soft for a game by Pirania Byte. Elex just chewed me up and spit me out, nothing to gain for me here. Let’s move on.

Time played: 11h | Achievements: 12%

Quantum Break

Quantum Breaks’ cinematics and cutscenes are great.

After finishing Assassin’s Creed: Origins I wanted to play something with a tight story and not another 80+ hour game. So I found Quantum Break in my library and went straight in without much preparation.

The game has very nice graphics and is structured into episodes with real live acting in between (around 15-20 minutes). So you meet quite some known actors in a real and digital version and this was a very refreshing and needed change of pace after 100 hours running through Egypts’ dunes.

The story itself was quite good, not great, not average. Sometimes engaging, and more often running around picking up trash other people left around. At least the ‘trash’ was contributing a lot for delivering the story and it makes a lot of sense to read all this and watch all the videos and diary entries. Acting is really good and you can see that they are all professionals.

Gameplay mechanics are quite average though. The movement is clunky, jumping feels like 2008 and levels are very linear; at least this I did not mind much. What I did not like were the combat mechanics as these were very difiicult to control and target, so I turned off some auto-aiming in the settings to not become too annoyed. The skills are quite cool and when you manage to connect a flow, it feels really impactful and powerful.

Final bossfight was a catastrophe and I was terribly annoyed by the mechanics. I mean … how? why? I felt like a chicken running around all the time.

Overall quite nice game and a good recovery from AC:Origins’ rather sandy story progression.

Time played: 14h | Achievements: 78%

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