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Topic: Games you've recently beat

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RogerRoger

@KratosMD My best friend said the same; she was totally taken aback by the "story complete" trophies, but stuck around to do everything else (the Cultists ring a bell) and put simply, yes, keep going.

@andreoni79 Hope you enjoy Andromeda! There's a decent game in there, beneath all the memes.

PSN ID: GDS_2421
Making It So Since 1987

Th3solution

After rage quitting Sonic Mania this morning, I went back and finally reached the end of Transistor.
I enjoyed this game, although I think the cult following of the game and the high Metacritic scores are probably overselling the game a tad. It’s a reasonably short experience — probably took me about 6-8 hours. The art style is lovely and the music is top notch. The protagonist, Red, is endearing to play as. A singer who had her voice stolen by the enemy and is subjected to traveling through the dilapidating city of Cloudbank which has been over-run by “the Process” - a robotic futuristic force that creates mechanical enemies and altered humans for you to fight. The whole thing is all very artsy and bizarre, actually. The story barely makes a modicum of sense and the way it’s told is so cryptic that I don’t think I truly understood it all. The pinnacle of the outlandish premise is that your weapon to fight with is the ‘Transistor’ - a large sword-type thing (think Kingdom Hearts keyblade but instead of a huge key sword the Transistor is a huge SD memory card like you’d put in your digital camera) that houses the consciousness of a dead nameless man in whom it was impaled. It is this man, whose voice will narrate out of the Transistor throughout the game. And he talks, a lot. And Red can’t talk. So I got sick of his voice after a couple hours. I don’t mind the strange premise and the cryptic story-telling style, but the voice actor’s delivery just ruined it for me and some of it was the poor script he was working with. In the end, the story came around and I appreciated the conclusion. Again, there’s some heavy dose of suspension of disbelief to swallow, but I ended up liking the ending.

The gameplay and combat was really quite good. A strange amalgamation of action and turn- based strategy, you can pause time and line up some attacks, or just fire away in real time, and often you need to do a combination of both. Various powers unfold through the game and they are fun to mix and match to get desired effects and boosts. The game was never brutally hard, but it does have a steep learning curve.
The maps, although pretty, are barren of life and simplistic. At times the atypical 2.5D presentation has you having trouble knowing where the opening for the next area of the map is, but it’s impossible to get truly lost.

I’m glad I played The Transistor, and I think it’s worth the time, especially for the unique take on combat.

The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

JohnnyShoulder

@Th3solution Glad you enjoyed Transistor, if you are into it the soundtrack is available on Spotify.

We are now in a world of people being offended for other people who they think should be offended, who arent offended.

PSN: JohnnyShoulder

Ralizah

Th3solution wrote:

After rage quitting Sonic Mania this morning

LMAO.

Yeah, I don't think classic Sonic games are for you.

You mentioned people overselling Transistor. I haven't played that game yet, but I actually felt that way about another game from the same developer that I did, Bastion. It has some praiseworthy aspects, but it was a very mixed experience for me.

Bastion also had a non-main character who would JUST. NOT. STOP. TALKING.

The dialogue was OK, but I don't want to hear a narration through the entire game, y'know?

Combat and the setting sound a lot more interesting in Transistor, though, based on your description, so I'll definitely have to check it out sometime.

Ralizah

PSN: Ralizah

JohnnyShoulder

@Ralizah I didn't get along with Bastion either, can't quite remember why, I think maybe I didn't quite gel with the combat. Really liked Transistor though, I imagine it is quite well suited for the Switch too.

We are now in a world of people being offended for other people who they think should be offended, who arent offended.

PSN: JohnnyShoulder

Ralizah

@JohnnyShoulder They're low-impact indie games, so yeah, I imagine they run well on the Switch. I actually own Transistor on PC AND have access to it via PS+, though, so I'll be playing on one of those.

Bastion was... I dunno. The story was vague and kind of poorly presented, imo, and it relied too heavily on the folksy flavor of the omnipresent narration. The gameplay was alright, but I didn't get a lot of joy out of running along narrow paths in the sky shooting arrows at enemies. The presentation was pretty gorgeous, and I expect the same to be true of Transistor.

There's a lot of potential to be found in the game. Hopefully Transistor is better. That'll determine whether I go on to play Pyre or not, I think.

Ralizah

PSN: Ralizah

Ralizah

Sonic Mania

Platform: PS4

Level of Completion: Normal Ending (vs the true ending, which I assume you get for collecting all the chaos emeralds)

What I Liked:

  • Elegant balance of old and new content. Aside from a new stage or two, most of the content here is a mix of old and new. In general, Act 1 replicates the classic design of a stage from a previous 2D Sonic game, while Act 2 switches things up and adds a ton of new mechanics and features to make it feel like a brand new thing entirely. It's an interesting way of keeping this an homage of sorts to classic Sonic games while also making it feel like a new title with its own identity and unique content.
  • Gorgeous pixel art. The people who worked on Sonic Mania clearly poured their hearts and souls into this game, because everything is gorgeous here. The classic parts of stages look as good as they ever did (only in HD this time), but, in the newer content you usually see in Act 2 of a stage, there is some really gorgeous and detailed pixel art. This is evident, for example, in background elements, as well as the new bosses they introduced to this game.
  • A lot of the bosses here some of the most creative and engaging encounters in the entire series. This was an element that disappointed in a lot of older Sonic games. I also like how every stage has a mid-Act boss and then a proper Stage boss, so there's a lot to work with here.
  • This game manages to capture and almost perfectly replicate the nuanced level design and momentum-based gameplay of the older Sonic games in a way other homages do not (see: Freedom Planet, which has broken platforming physics and levels that almost feel endless)
  • The music is fantastic, both old and new. Some of the best tunes in the series can be found here.
  • The difficulty is more balanced than in previous Sonic games for a variety of reasons. In general, it's a lot more managable and approachable than the Genesis classics were.
  • Seems like there's a wealth of additional content. I didn't encounter it, though, as I won't be replaying it.

What I Disliked:

  • As usual with classic Sonic games, the level design finds an uneasy medium between speed and proper platforming. One that I feel it never manages to properly capture. This is not, by the way, a criticism of this game in particular, but the level design in all Sonic games. The problem is more pronounced in 3D iterations of the series, but it never attains the functional elegance of something like Super Mario, Rayman, Yoshi's Island, Ristar, Rocket Knight Adventures, etc. You'll spend long sections of a level being bounced around from place to place automatically, only for the game to throw a bunch of spikes in your place, or to punish you for engaging with these aspects of the levels by hiding secrets as you're being bounced around a stage.
  • The game persists in refusing to explain itself, provide clear context for what's happening in the game, or even introduce you to its new mechanics. Good luck figuring out the drop dash is a thing if you didn't read up on it beforehand. This sort of stubborn refusal to engage the player clearly is more understandable in older entries, but there's no reason for it to pop up here, other than the fact that the designers were so intent on making a classic Sonic game that they even replicated the flaws of these games.
  • The labyrinthine level design feels like such a complicated mess of different elements that I rarely bothered to explore. I never got a feel for the overall geometry of a level, because, more often than not, it felt like there was no greater overall design to it.
  • The ring mechanic has always felt like a sort of unrealized inheritance from a Mario game. You're rewarded with an extra life for collecting 100 of them, like coins in a Mario game, but the degree to which you're punished for hitting an enemy (it seems like ALL your rings spill out at once) kind of negates this feeling of reward for collecting a bunch of them, as I knew I could lose almost all of them at any moment. This feels unbalanced. Then, of course, there's the fact that you can sort of ring-scum boss encounters by collecting the same few rings that spill out from you when you're hit, making it where you can get hit numerous times and still survive, all but negating the need for skill in these encounters. Just make sure to abuse the invincibility window and grab a ring or two and you're perfectly safe.
  • The lack of balance extends to the extra stages as well. There's no room for error. You have to fly around a level collecting 90+ blue orbs most of the time, but make the mistake of hitting one red orb and your minutes of work go to waste all at once. Again, it's such a pain that it feels like it's not worth the effort. The stages where you collect the chaos emeralds feel much more well-designed in this regard.
  • With that said, despite not getting the true ending, I feel like some of the chaos emeralds are too hidden, with too few clues to their location in time and space, to jusitiy the effort spent in tracking them down.
  • Puyo Puyo shows up in a boss fight. While I think this is pretty creative, good luck winning this encounter if you've never played this game before and have no idea what to do. Again, the game refuses to explain itself.

Conclusion: Sonic Mania is a beautiful work of passion that so painstakingly seeks to recreate the magic of older Sonic games that it ends up recreating a lot of their problems as well. If you have no issue with the design of classic Sonic games, then this is probably no issue for you, but I do feel, this being a modern game, I have somewhat higher standards that I expect to be met.

Verdict: 6/10

Ralizah

PSN: Ralizah

Th3solution

@Ralizah Very much in agreement, based on my experience so far. And as usual, you said it much better than I could. I’m doubtful to be able to finish it, but I’ll keep it on my hard drive for now.

The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

RogerRoger

@Ralizah I could answer every single bullet point, but won't because whilst I do have an answer for a lot of what you've raised, I'd still wanna agree with you more than the explanation. A six is what I'd give Sonic Mania myself, too; perhaps for a couple different reasons, but also for a lot of the same. Excellent write-up and yeah, don't worry, you're not missing much with the "true" ending (it's a terrible, terrible boss fight which completely tramples over the care and attention paid to all the others in the game).

PSN ID: GDS_2421
Making It So Since 1987

Ralizah

@Th3solution How far did you end up getting?

@RogerRoger Ah, good to hear I'm not missing too much with the true ending. Honestly, this review could sort of function as a review of most of the older games in the series. I like this well enough, but I've always had some gripes with their game design, and I finally had an opportunity to articulate them here (versus shouting them into the void or annoying random Sonic fans with my opinions, LOL).

I've heard people suggest multiple times since this game released that SEGA should just turn the franchise over to its fans, and, while I agree that this is a really solid effort and better than numerous entries in the series, I feel like there must be a type of game design path for Sonic to follow and evolve into a truly good series. I don't feel like wallowing in the past forever is the correct way forward for this series. Christian Whitehead (or whatever his name is) clearly loves the series and knows it like the back of his hand, and that's great. I think this was an awesome love letter to classic Sonic fans, and I'm glad it exists. But I'm not sure I want any more Sonic Manias for a while.

Props to Sony for including games like Sonic Mania. I don't play online, and haven't bought much on sale lately, but the IGC is solid enough that I still feel like I'm getting my money's worth in gameplay out of it.

Ralizah

PSN: Ralizah

RogerRoger

@Ralizah Agreed. The classic Sonic games were great for the time, pushing technical limitations and introducing new physics and mechanics to game design, but they're also an example of where a lot of fans / gamers forget the importance of context.

I'm a huge fan of a good few franchises, and have written well-received short stories / fan fiction, etc. before, but offer me the keys to the next big Sonic game, or a Star Wars film, or a core series Batman comic, and I don't think I'd take them (or I'd only take them if they made me part of a large, multi-disciplined team). Fans are the last people who should be in charge of your content. Their support doesn't translate to automatic entitlement and yeah, whilst I'm pleased that Sonic Mania exists to salute them and their creativity, just you wait; the reviews of Sonic Mania 2 will contain whispers of "stale and unoriginal" and then, by the time Sonic Mania 3 spin-dashes around, everybody will be begging for something new. The dozen or so folks who say otherwise aren't enough to prop up a major international brand.

For the record, that's the main reason I'm cool towards Sonic Mania. It's an excellent classic Sonic game; I've just got handfuls of them already, and they're not my favourites because of those design limitations or errors that have been repeated to a fault. What I didn't have before 2017 was a Sonic game in which I could create my own original character, which is why I preferred Sonic Forces that year. At least it took a chance and tried something new, regardless of the outcome.

Maybe that'll pop up on PS Plus sometime down the line; like Sonic Mania, it'd be a perfect fit.

PSN ID: GDS_2421
Making It So Since 1987

Th3solution

@Ralizah I’m embarrassed to say I only made it to the second stage (?), or world (?) I forget the term they use. It’s the chemical factory. I kept getting caught in the ... chemical, whatever it was. The pink or orange stuff that slows you down and then there’s the blocks that rotate and I’d end up there and get squished by a block and killed over and over and didn’t know how to keep from getting stuck in the pink goo. I’m not opposed to try again when I get an itch for a 2D platformer, but I have another PS Plus freebie waiting in the wings, Rayman Legends, which might be easier for a novice of the genre.

The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

Ralizah

@Th3solution Ah, the Chemical Zone from Sonic 2. That stage is a classic. <3 Getting trapped under the water is always stressful, though, especially when you start drowning and the world's most stressful music starts playing.

Rayman Origins and Legends are very accessible, and two of the best 2D platformers ever made, so you're in for a treat!

Ralizah

PSN: Ralizah

JohnnyShoulder

@Th3solution Rayman Legends i found starts easy enough but I quickly hit a brick wall. I've not gone back as I've got be in the right mood to play these 2d platformers, and whenever I look at it I can't face playing it again.

We are now in a world of people being offended for other people who they think should be offended, who arent offended.

PSN: JohnnyShoulder

Kidfried

I beat Shovel Knight last week, and the Plague Knight DLC yesterday. Now I'm deep in the Spectre storyline.

After just beating Shovel Knight's main game I was about to post "It was fun, but nothing too special". Good thing I didn't because I would have to retract those statements. After having spent some more time with it, I have to admit this game has not been overrated at all. Playing with the different characters is a lot of fun, and once you master the controls (which took me longer than most 2d platformers!), you'll get so much fun out of this one.

Only thing I didn't really like is the big amount of money you lose upon death, without a way to regain those within the same level. Yes, it does make deaths more impactful, but it also resulted in me restarting the levels completely, kind of undoing that effect.

I might give it a 9/10 maybe?

At the end of the day though, I worried more about money than I should have, as it's easy to get enough money for the upgrades you want.

I really liked the different flavor each character brings. And I found the game's length to be pretty much perfect. I really hope we get to see more from this dev soon.

Edited on by Kidfried

Kidfried

Ralizah

The main thing I appreciate about Shovel Knight is how much support it has gotten since release. I bought it at launch on 3DS when it was just the main campaign and, since then, two of three other full campaigns have released for me to play for free. Very cool.

It's an alright game. Not one of my favorites, but it's a fun experience.

Ralizah

PSN: Ralizah

Thrillho

@Th3solution @JohnnyShoulder Rayman Legends is excellent and I especially loved the musical levels at the end of each world. The bonus “remixes” of those at the end of the game are really tough though.

That game has a couple of ridiculous trophies though; one of which means having to log into the game repeatedly for at least a month to get.

Thrillho

Kidfried

Guess what I did last night?

I finally finished Red Dead 2. Wow, what a relief. Feels like I've been playing this game since I was born or something. It took me seven months to beat this, and I still have plenty to do.

I will probably never do those things, though. I wouldn't be surprised if I never touch it again.

So... was this game any good? For me I felt that everything leading up to the 'first ending' was brilliant story wise, but I felt that the last part, actually diminished the impact of the actual story.

Kidfried

Th3solution

@Kidfried Congratulations! Yeah, if you go back and look, I think several of us share the sentiment that the epilogue was just too much in a way and may actually detract. It’s got a very ‘DLC’ feel to it, as the ‘first ending’ is quite impactful and satisfying and the rest just seems like extra bonus content. Some people have come in the defense of the extra Marston storyline after Arthur dies saying they thought it was great, but it dragged a lot and affected the pacing of the overall experience to me. I give Rockstar credit though for including all that content (and RDO to boot!) in the base $60 game where most developers would hold back anything outside the core story and sell it separately to us as DLC or add-on packs. So, I try to look at it through that lens and it makes me feel better about it. Because otherwise, I was starting to get rather upset at the game when I was playing it because it just wouldn’t end! 😅
You may find it interesting to go back and read some of the discussion in the game-specific thread where different people weighed in about these issues a few months back.

Regardless, I bet your happy to have seen it through to the end. What’s your next big gaming project? Assassin’s Creed? NieR? Persona 5? Another Yakuza game? God of War? A Soulsborne game?

[Edit: I did go back to the RDR2 thread out of curiosity and revisit some of our discussion back in February when I was finishing the game and I wonder if you still feel as you did back then. We were comparing RDR1 and RDR2 and discussing the pacing and whatnot even then. Interesting read.]

Edited on by Th3solution

The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

Gremio108

@Kidfried @Th3solution Congrats on finishing. I think, given time and space to think about it, I kind of feel the same way about the epilogue. The 'ending' of the main storyline was so good, that whatever followed was going to struggle to top it.

I'm glad I played the epilogue, though. I thought it was superb in its own way, it just had a completely different vibe. Looking back, I should have had a break from the game before playing it. The epilogue would have worked very well as DLC, but had it been a separate thing, I'm not 100% sure I would have ever got around to it, so I'm glad it was included with the main game.

Good job, Parappa. You can go on to the next stage now.

PSN: Hallodandy

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