Surprisingly, despite my attempts to do an A-Level, run a business, work on shows and learn to swim, I had an incredible amount of time in August for gaming. (Possibly because I didn’t run the business…..or do the A-level. I can swim though.) Last month, being out of the house so often, I really rekindled my love for the Nintendo Switch, though it does mean my 3DS sees the light of day less and less each week. I also upgraded my phone so I now get 100gb of data a month, so the app games got downloaded thick and fast. 90% of my gaming was done on the go. It’s incredible to think of how much mobile gaming has come on over the last few years, and how much more accepted it is within the gaming community.
I’ve tried to stay balanced, though, and written about 4 games on a mix of platforms. This whole post had the potential to become a list of apps I’d downloaded, and that wouldn’t be any fun.
League of Legends (again…)
League really doesn’t need an introduction, but just in case it does, LoL is an MOBA, a battle arena where two small teams battle it out to take control of the enemy’s base. It’s hugely popular, but like many MMOs, can be toxic for the…less skilled players.
While I was off work soul-searching, I tried my hand at making gaming videos for YouTube, and for some reason I decided League was the game to do that on. In my defence I wasn’t as bad as I thought I would be, but I was still terrible. Being far too scared to play online, I created practise games against bots which made for incredibly boring YouTube footage. Eventually I gave up trying to become the next gaming star, but I did keep playing League for most of the month – almost exclusively against the AI. My skills as Veigar improved greatly, but my confidence didn’t.
So. Snatch is back – the mobile AR game where you can win real prizes. When opening the app, you’re shown a map of your local area, dotted with small parcels which you can pick up. You then guard these parcels from other players who try and steal them, and if you manage to keep hold of them for six hours you win the contents of your box(es). Most of the time they contained in-game currency, but occasionally you could win vouchers or money-off codes, wine, games consoles or even real money. Unfortunately, the game vanished about a year ago, amid rumours the company had gone bankrupt. Hype started to build again around April, and last month it was re-released with a new look, new tactics and new prizes for a hopeful audience.
Obviously, there were teething problems at the start, but in general I’d say the app has improved drastically. The prizes aren’t the most exciting yet (mainly weight loss teas and other questionable nutrition) but the brand deals need to start somewhere! In the past, AR was optional, and turning it off meant collecting and snatching parcels was as simple as clicking once, but now you have to track the parcel with your camera and keep in within a target for a certain amount of time. Defences also changed, so you can now see your parcel getting snatched, and you can throw smokescreens up to protect your bounty. You can still encounter problems with lag, so sometimes you’ll lose parcels after throwing every defence possible at it, but they’re easy enough to replace.
It’s frustrating, and if you’re like me you’ll get aggressively protective of your potential prizes, but it’s harmless. If you’re already on the AR games like Pokémon Go or Wizards Unite, it’s worth downloading, because it won’t take up too much of your time. Who knows, you could win £1000!(*)
(* – TBH, you probably won’t. I won about £30 in two years, but it was free!)
My Time At Portia
For me, My Time at Portia has been the gaming highlight of summer. I bought this game to fill the Stardew Valley shaped void in my heart. Sort of. I wanted to purchase Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles, but somehow got it confused with this game, and I’m very glad I did. My Time At Portia is a strange blend of Stardew Valley, Animal Crossing, Harvest Moon, Minecraft and the best parts of any other life simulator game you’ve ever played. You are a builder, given your Pa’s workshop, in a world where civilisation had been destroyed and humans forced underground. Now that humanity has emerged from the ground, the quest is on to rebuild, and for you to become the best builder.
The game features questing, crafting, social and friendship building, battles, farming and all the things you expect from a life simulation game, but a little bit more. The storyline and quests give the game a less monotonous feel, and fact there are other builders in the game brings out a competitive side of gameplay. You really do have to work your arse off to be the best builder – and even then you might not make it.
It does have some issues, on Nintendo Switch at least. Loading times can be very slow, especially saving each night. Sometimes the loading times lead to a whole crash of the game. Currently, I have the console next to me and have been trying to load a special event for some time. After three minutes I restart the console. I’ve done this four times now, and it feels like Groundhog Day, as each restart takes me to the start of the day again. In terms of gameplay, sometimes there can be too much to do. At the beginning of the game, maybe for the first two months, things will take you so much time to craft, you probably won’t make Workshop of the Month. Drop rates aren’t great, and the game seems to overly-withhold quest items from you which is a pain in the arse on timed missions.
Despite the loading time issue (which can be incredibly frustrating) and sometimes insufferable grind, it is a brilliant game, and I’d highly recommend it to anyone. It can take a bit of getting used to if you’re more partial to slower paced life simulators like Animal Crossing, but if you’re willing to fail a few times to learn the ropes, you’ll have a fantastic game experience. It also has a stunning soundtrack, especially in Winter. It’s enough to make you want to chuck it all away and become a builder.
I have very mixed feelings about the latest addition to the Darksiders’ franchise. Darksiders, in my opinion, was one of the greatest games I played on the 360. Its familiar but challenging gameplay, the soundtrack, the voice acting and the incredible scenery made it a standout game, and one I’ve measured a lot of games against since. Darkiders 3 provides (almost) all the same things – but surely it should have improved?
Darksiders 3 sees you playing as Fury, a horseman. The world isn’t quite post-apocalyptic yet, but it’s close enough. Fury’s duty is to locate and overpower the seven deadly sins. Using a variety of combat methods, Fury takes down enemies to collect the souls of those she defeats, using them as bargaining tools to upgrade her own abilities to keep defeating her enemies. It’s standard stuff, a tried and tested format which should appeal to me, but it doesn’t.
Firstly, Fury’s chosen weapon is a whip. It’s a odd choice, not quite knowing if it’s a ranged weapon or melee, and sometimes it wants both. It’s also hard to control, especially out of combat. One of Fury’s techniques is to use her whip like a rope vine, swinging from pipes and railings. Your first big battle is reliant on this skill – but if you don’t swing EXACTLY when the game wants you too, then you simply perform an odd jump. You also need to be lined up with jump precisely – which in a timed boss battle can get infuriating. I died more times than I can remember in the first battle as a result of bad swinging.
Enemy counts were reduced in D3 to make battles feel more personal, but instead, it gives the game more of an exploration vibe. So much time is spent walking around with no encounters- and while the sheer amount of enemies in D1 did get annoying, the amount in D3 isn’t the happy medium. The scenery is still nice, though. Point to the game there.
Finally, my silliest gripe is Fury herself. She’s thoroughly unlikeable, but that’s allowed, she is a horseman – but it feels as if she was designed in 2002. Her hair moves in strange clumps. She stands as if she must use every muscle in her back to hold up her boobs. She’s counterbalanced by her arms which she holds behind her back like she’s ready for flight. Also, while she’s kicking demon ass in high heels, she doesn’t seem to be able to stand up straight. There’s something a bit Teresa May curtseying about her legs. Now, I’m not trying to tear down a female lead based on her appearance, War was weird looking too, but it seems she was built hastily, making her look out of place in some situations, and especially on a console so capable.
All this said, it still can be an enjoyable game, and I am slowly amaking my way through it, but it lacks….something to give it that oomph. I wanted to play Darksiders 1 and 2, but I play 3 when I don’t know what else to play. For a gaming experience built on such strong foundations, it’s a little shaky.
I also had a little dabble in Fire Emblem : Three Houses, Plague Inc, NiNo Kuni 2 and Horizon Zero Dawn. I also played WoW Classic, but seeing as that didn’t come out until the 26th I’m not counting it. I’ll try to cut down on my gaming time this month to get more assignments done. I’ll likely fail, the pull of Portia is too much. I wish I had willpower.
Have you played any good games this month? Are you looking forward to any releases in September or October?