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I just finished Metro: Exodus, another game I played because of a video by Game Maker’s Toolkit that piqued my interest in the game itself. The things discussed in the video are definitely true, but unfortunately a little overstated for the whole package of the game, as only two of the six main chapters are these free-roaming open world style landscapes where you can really bring the game to bear, while the other four are far more linear. These two chapters are the longest in the game, but even with that it comes maybe to 50/50 between free roaming and linear sections. Maybe that is colored wrong by me as the chapter in the Taiga could also possibly allow for a bit more free movement, but I basically blasted straight through it.

But maybe I should start at the beginning. For those living underneath a rock, Metro is a series of video games (based on russian novels) that deal with a subterranean society in the subway system of Moscow after a nuclear war made the surface uninhabitable, filled with radiation and mutated monsters. Exodus is the third game of the series. I have not played the first two, but this game was good enough that I have bought the other two and plan to visit them over the course of the rest of the year, so consider this a stamp of approval for this one.

The player character is called Artyom, a soldier in The Order, a paramilitary group under the leadership of Colonel Miller, whose daughter Anna is Artyom’s wife. Artyom dreams of finding a place that survived the apocalypse and makes routine trips to the surface to try and find a radio signal, which earns him reprimands from his superior and pleas from his wife to stop. As the name “Exodus” hints at, in this game you are not trying to simply survive in Moscow, but escape Moscow by stealing a train together with your squad after they are basically forced out of the city after revealing that the russian military is actually isolating Moscow from the outside through a jamming device.

The journey takes you through various different locales in search of a place to stay, which is actually quite nice. As said above, a large chunk of the game allows you to freely roam through some interesting open-world sections. These are not littered with obvious markers on your map, but you have to discover them and any possible side-quests from characters yourself, which hides a lot of the artifice of other games of similar nature. All the parts of the game are also strongly differentiated by the types of enemies you face, with only one enemy type showing up twice (as far as I can tell).

The game play is very much focused on resource management, scavenging for crafting materials that you have to use to maintain your weapons and gear, make ammo for your weapons, health packs, and filters for your gas mask. Having played on normal I only once really fell into trouble though. This game also puts a large emphasis on stealth. While you have to option to storm in guns blazing (or fall back on that should things go sideways), sneaking up on human enemies conserves both your ammunition and health and preserves your ability to sneak up on more. The game is also in my opinion a bit unfairly punishing if you get spotted, as enemies seem to have a radar for where you are once combat has broken out. This unfortunately also entices a bit of save scumming, which I am not above doing. I also had an issue where I was never really sure whether I had to knock out or kill enemies or simply sneak past them, but that may be me not playing stealth games too often. The games in the Metro series are often classified as Horror, but wile the events and the setting are definitely horrific (and there is the occasional jumpscare), I don’t think it is really that as most of the time it is you who is stalking the enemies, rather than the other way around. There are definitely sections where there is a lot of dread and some moments of panic, particularly in the final chapter when the predator-prey dynamic is finally switched around.

However, the thing that really got impressed my from this game was the characterization. Between each main chapter there is a section where you are traveling by train to the next locale. During this you can roam the train and interact with the rest of your squad and other people you pick up along the way. This allows you to get them to know better and see that these are pretty well fleshed out characters and you, as a player, can actually feel connected to them as characters, which I think was very well executed. Unfortunately this is not flawless. For one, it is weird that Artyom is a silent protagonist. I guess this is to minimize the dissonance between player and character, but at times some characters will very much monologue on and on in your face as if it was a conversation. It is also weird because Artyom actually has a voice actor, who narrates the “what happened so far” when you load into a save game on first startup.

And then there is your wife Anna. She is characterized as a headstrong woman who can stand up for herself and is capable of fighting for herself when need be. The character relationship between her and Artyom is also the strongest built out. All of this is somewhat undermined by her being damseled twice throughout the story, once explicitly by being captured by enemies, and once more or less implicitly as in an early chapter she is exposed to a chemical gas, which gives her a lung condition that worsens over the course of the game with the final chapter being about you trying to find a cure from an abandoned city. In that regard the story is a bit paint by numbers.

The game is definitely not flawless, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend it to others.

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You’re right, it is kind of weird. Especially since both of the DLC portions - dealing with a late-game character and also with Sam’s post-game journey - have voiced PCs. (Then again, if I was paying for Steve Blum, I’d be trying to get my money’s worth, too.) And, especially considering in some of those conversations, you even get to pick dialog options, and the NPCs react as if Artyom said whatever you picked, except he, y’know, doesn’t.

I just finished Firewatch, a game I knew was good but just never gotten around to it. It is the type of walking simulator the “hardcore gamer” crowd hates, but I don’t mind them and I thoroughly enjoy stories and the first person perspective makes such stories a lot more visceral. I did like other games in similar like Dear Esther and Gone Home (which is also directly referenced by an easter egg). The game has you constantly make some choices, whether in the prologue how the backstory of your character unfolded, or how you respond to conversations. I think it would be interesting to see how exactly things are impacted by this, but I don’t particularly feel the need to do so, as I am content with the choices I made.

I won’t go very deeply into the story as it would defeat the purpose of playing the game. If you haven’t played it, I would recommend doing so as it is quite enjoyable and did elicit some very heightened emotions from me. I also very much enjoyed the themes of guilt, regret and obligation woven into the narrative.

Decided to try Riot’s newly out of beta Counter-Strike clone Valorant. Was in winning team both of the matches I’ve played and even got few kills, so I’m basically ready to go pro.

Don’t have anything too deep to say about it, I don’t have enough skill or experience to talk about things like balance. Basic gunplay feels good. Some really nice UI things Riot has done, like showing where teammates are looking at mini-map and if they see enemies, all that pops in the map. Also loud sounds have visual marker on hud, to point their direction, which is nice.

One of the biggest things that surprised me in the game was how small the “no man’s land” in the one map I played was. Most of the map was ether team’s setup zone, defenders could hole up deep in bomb spots and only small hallways leading to both bombsites and small central room were unaccesable before match started. So when round starts, things happen instantly.

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I plugged in the Wii and it works, which means I can go back to all the GameCube and Wii games I bought, but didn’t beat. Starting with some Kirby Yarn.

Yarn is fun with kids, you cannot die. There is zero challenge, but it’s ok for a few levels. Kirby’s Adventure on the Wii however is really fun and a good challenge. Pretty too, for a Wii game! What else do you have on your GC and Wii backlog?

Monster Train is an excellent variation of the deckbuilder roguelike. It has a Magic the Gathering feel with summonable units and explosive synergies. There are 4 demon clans; you choose 2 to compose your deck at the start of a run. Your primary and secondary choices determine which hero unit you start with. I haven’t counted, but there looks to be a comparable number of cards and artifacts to Slay the Spire. Runs have far fewer battles with a higher complexity per battle.

What stood out to me is the card upgrade system. Each card has two upgrade slots, with upgrades being very cheap as they only apply to one card. Upgrades range from lowering cost to increasing numbers to making the card hold in your hand until cast. Events that duplicate cards can now give you huge power boosts and money saves.

Difficulty is harder to judge. I achieved the win state on my second run, but there are 25 ascension levels with increasing difficulty. I also got lucky by grabbing an artifact that directly countered the last boss. There are a wealth of offers to upgrade and add cards which gives it a much more planned feel than StS. Highly recommend it.


Recently I started watching someone play Zelda BOTW for the very first time on Twitch. It was exciting to see her experience this amazing game. I really missed that game, but I completed all the shrines and max all my armor.
It was then that I decided to get the DLC and check out Master Mode. Master Mode is a game changer, it is super difficult (there was a Lynel at The Great Plateu), enemies’ HP regenerates if you take too much time to defeat them, and finally it takes longer to defeat enemies (which means the weapons degrade faster).
That being said, the game was never boring, it teaches you to be more efficient when fighting, and to see if fighting enemies is worth your time and weapons.
So far I have unlocked the Master Sword, unlock all the Towers, and I am yet to upgrade any stamina wheels. I haven’t use stasis flying either during this run.
If you want to fall in love with Zelda BOTW all over again, I recommend Master Mode, it does not disappoint.

I definitely have considered replaying Breath of the Wild with the master mode. Thankfully my copy of the game is on my friend who lives in another city these days. Can focus time on games I haven’t finished before.

Since it got re-released on Steam for free, I went to play Frog Fractions to the end. When the game was new I only played it enough to find it it went down a weird rabbit hole, then I stopped and never finished. Now that I go back I found out the game is super short! I was deceived. I thought it was going to keep increasing it’s zaniness on and on. Disappointing, but still entertaining. It actually increases my recommendation, though. It takes such a short amount of time and effort to beat Frog Fractions, you have no reason not to.

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Fall Guys is fun, but I need a proper controller. Thankfully my birthday is next week so I requested an 8bitdo pro thingy and a Bluetooth adapter.

My coworker is really trying to get me to get fall guys. hmmm.

Just be ready for rampant cheating. It’ll be a while before they fix that I think.

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For some reason I’m playing TF2 again and really enjoying it. Game good.


The game loop really got ruined for me once I moved on to Overwatch. Too little ammo at one time, so there is a radically different ebb and flow. It’s very difficult to manage any sort of area control, and positional advantages are subsumed by limited ammunition and rapid reload cycles.

Honestly, I’m just really enjoying the specific feeling of Pyro and Sniper again? Like I agree, I had a blast playing Overwatch, but those two classes scratch some kind of hyper-specific itch for me that Overwatch just didn’t.

Thoughts on Fall Guys:

Super fun game! I love the looseness of the controls and the randomness. It’s weird because normally those things are hell for a platformer, but with 59 other players bumping into each other it somehow all comes together into a fun experience.

However, there’s one game type that really sucks. There are three-team team levels where it’s literally a “vote who loses” game. For example, in the egg grabbing game, whichever team falls slightly behind at the start just loses. It’s that simple. Both teams just gang up on the team in third place, so it’s not 10 vs 10 vs 10 but 10 vs 20. Neither of the team ahead care who is in first place, only that they aren’t last.

So while losing in every other mini-game, level, race and team event feels fun, losing at a “vote who loses” game just feels bad. It’s not enjoyable.

And weirdly, not losing at the “vote who loses” game also doesn’t feel fun either. It breaks the vibe of the game and bums everyone out.

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If there was favorable placing in the next game based on 3 sided team placement, would that help, or make the next game feel even harsher(/too harsh?)

No. What would help is no “vote who loses” rounds.

The other three team games are things like a race pushing a ball, who can jump through the most hoops, etc.

But two of the games are “the team with the least things loses” and the other teams make them have less things by taking them away.

If the least things is just jumping through fewer hoops, everyone is incentivized to jump through more hoops, regardless of team or colors.

If the game is push the ball to the finish line and get first or second, to be sure to win you want to be across the line first, and when that happens your entire team is removed from the mini-game. The two two teams that are left then have a one-on-one race. First is best, then second is needed.

It’s a pure game design/game theory thing. In society we don’t want a majority of people voting against the continued existence of a minority of the population. It feels wrong, and we design democracies to stop that happening.

I was a citizen of a country where part of the population voted to take away the rights and liberties of other people. That was the Brexit vote. To fix it I had to become a citizen of a different country.

Why does playing the “vote who loses” mini-games in Fall Guys make me feel the same emotions as the morning after Brexit results?

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What you’re saying about some of the games in Fall Guys is absolutely correct. The team based rounds make for a very political situation where player skill and input doesn’t matter much.

What’ you’re missing is that Fall Guys isn’t supposed to be a serious competitive game. You’re not supposed to care about winning or losing it, just like you wouldn’t care about winning or losing at Mario Party. Yes, the games technically have winners and losers, but they are primarily just silly.

For example, the ball pushing game. Two other teams gang up to push your ball backwards and your team loses, that feels bad. But as a player you are supposed to be out there trolling the other teams. It’s your chance to have fun being the bad guy sabotaging the other teams. And since nobody cares who wins, since it is such a silly game, you can have a good laugh whether you win or lose.