Now that E3 is over and I’ve had some time away from the annual gaming blitz that it is, I’ve been trying to take some time and play try out some games I missed over the years.  Since signing up for the PC version of Game Pass, I’ve had access to some particular titles that I’ve wanted to try, but never got around to.  It’s weird though, because I can’t seem to play games for more than like 45 minutes at a time these days without feeling the urge to go take a walk or something.  With that being said, here are some genuine, super duper early impressions of some of the stuff I’ve tried thus far.


VAMPYR

I’ve had my eye on this one for a while, and it might be the only game on this list I actually stick with in any real way.  Vampyr is a choice driven, action RPG by the people behind the Life Is Strange series.  So like, choices seem to matter.  From what little I’ve dabbled in, the combat is serviceable but simple so far, but the stuff that’s been hinted at as far as story mechanics are very exciting.

Since you’re a vampire in this game, you can just start going to town on just about everyone you meet.  Different NPCs have different qualities of blood that have XP numbers attached to them.  So the drunk guy in the bar had pretty poor blood which wouldn’t help me out that much, but the guy renting the room upstairs had some crazy alluring blood.

I assume that as you play on, whomever you choose to… drain, will result in something happening in the world.  Allusions to quest lines vanishing and the way people react to you were hinted at, and that’s all very exciting to me.  They also do this thing where blood acts like mana, allowing you to do special vampire attacks when you have it.  So you can be the good guy and not feast on the townsfolk or enemies, but I guess you wont be doing some cool blood spells at anyone because of it.  Seems pretty rad honestly.


WEST OF LOATHING

What a weird game this is.  It’s this stick figure styled, adventure game with turn based RPG combat.  It’s got some cheeky writing in it, but I constantly feel like I’m not doing the right thing.  For instance, at the beginning you can choose one follower, so I chose the lady with a gun.  And good thing I did, because she does way more damage than I could ever hope to.  She’s one-shotting fools left and right, while I’m gently scratching the backs of my enemies.

I’m having trouble articulating exactly what this game is, because it’s this weird amalgam of different games and mechanics.  The closest analog I can come up with is Paper Mario, and that’s me being generous.  Despite how much I want a new Paper Mario game, West of Loathing just isn’t filling that void for me.

West of Loathing lives and dies by its sense of humor.  If you’re not onboard with it’s snarky tone and stick figure aesthetic, nothing else in the game will end up winning you over.


RIVERBOND

It took me way longer than it should have for me to remember what game this was, because it turns out I actually wrote about it over a year ago.  I liked the way it looked back then, and I still like it now.  What I’m not enjoying so much is how repetitive and lifeless the gameplay is.  Like I mentioned, I’m only an hour into this game at most, but all I’ve really had to do in Riverbond is skirt around enemies while hitting the attack button, and moving on.  There are occasions where you’ll want to pull out your gun and press the attack button until a thing dies, but it really doesn’t matter what you do as long as you don’t die.

I hate to rag on this game, but it was just such a disappointment from the jump.  It isn’t a bad game by any stretch, just a forgettable one.


CRACKDOWN 3

I have some pretty fond memories around Crackdown and considerably less that are tied to Crackdown 2, but this entry in the franchise is mostly confounding.  I think I’m enjoying Crackdown 3 despite how flawed it is.

From top to bottom, there are glaring issues in Crackdown 3 that are absolutely infuriating.  For instance, Crackdown 3 utilizes the basest concept of a “combat puzzle” by encouraging you to use different weapon types against certain enemy types.  Fire and poison work great on people, but not as effective on robots.  You get the deal.  That’s a neat thing in concept, but it’s all kind of undermined by the fact that when I hit the button to change weapons, and the game just doesn’t do it, that’s bad.  I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve died because the game demanded that my character, in this superhero game about moving around and being badass, stand still in order to swap weapons.

And it isn’t exclusive to weapon swapping either.  Sometimes you’ll try to climb a ledge or pull yourself up onto a flat surface, and the game just wont.  Certain objects in the game will downright deny you the ability to climb, especially troubling when it’s the only surface in the ocean that isn’t covered in enemies.

Another wonderful thing Crackdown 3 does is recycle.  Yes, it’s good for the environment, but when you literally are liberating the same exact outposts just in different locations, it gets really old really fast.

But despite how apparent its flaws are, Crackdown 3 is still just fun to play.  It’s satisfying to throw a car at a mech.  It’s satisfying to lob the lifeless husk of an enemy at a few of their surviving compatriots.  It’s fun, mindless action and mayhem that in anything more than small doses, could be extremely frustrating and boring.


I still have some games installed that I need to get around to trying, but I feel like I should finish a game before I move on.  It’s been quite a while since I’ve actually beaten a game.  That’s incredibly weird to me.

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