[Game] Shin Megami Tensei IV

Shin Megami Tensei IV.jpg

Game

Shin Megami Tensei IV returns to the roots and tells a very similar story to that of the original SMT… which is kind of underwhelming after Nocturne, but then it also retains the characteristic dark atmosphere and the awesome hardcore game-play that just never grows old.

Positive:
Negative:
Beautiful artwork
Outdated visuals
Cool soundtrack
Doesn’t offer much in terms of story that prequels didn’t already
Dark, creepy atmosphere
The game-play is pretty much the same as the prequels
Thought-provoking on human society
Low-effort side-quests artificially extend the play time
Fantastic, hardcore turn-based combat
Challenging difficulty

 

[Novel] Summer of Night (Dan Simmons)

Summer of Night

Book

An entertaining horror story centering around a haunted school and a bunch of kids involved in the affair set in 60s, somewhat reminiscent of Stephen King’s “It.”

Positive:
Negative:
Light and conversational, but pleasant and flowing prose
The story doesn’t offer anything particularly unusual
Likable, relatively profound characters
Immersing plot with an odd surprising twist here and there
Genuinely spooky, unnerving atmosphere

[Game] Visage

The Visage

Game

As an early access game Visage is very rough around the edges, but holds a lot of potential. It’s without doubt one of the scariest games I’ve ever played and I imagine it could outright stop your heart in VR.

I just hope it gets finished properly as there was a sense of developers running out of ideas toward the end of even this demonstration version of the game.

Positive:
Negative:
Beautiful visuals
Awful controls
Genuinely scary
With no indication of where to go, you end up walking in circles a lot
Potential VR support
The latter part felt like a bunch of random stuff thrown together

[Novel] The Wapshot Chronicle (John Cheever)

The Wapshot Chronicles

Book

A relatively entertaining account of a quirky town with quirky characters, though at times it feels like the story lacks cohesiveness and with the amount of characters it sometimes can become hard to follow.

Positive:
Negative:
Quirky, interesting, profound characters
Hard to keep track of all the characters
Relatively interesting plot
The story feels a bit all over the place
Thought-provoking on life

Top 50 Best Rates Games in 2018

This was another great year for gaming, and while it didn’t see as many great JRPGs as last year, with Dragon Quest XI being nice but nothing particularly special, and Valkyria Chronicles 4 and Octopath Traveler kind of continuing the already paved path, there were a lot of notable indie games, especially platformers.

My favorite of the year was Celeste that combined fantastic game-play with a pretty good story, but then we also had The Messenger that brought back the classic Ninja Gaiden of all things to life, Iconoclasts that really caught me off guard with its fascinating setting and characters, Yoku’s Island Express that combined pinball with platforming, The Missing:JJ coming from the crazy guy responsible for Deadly Premonition, Guacamelee! 2 which carries the already established legacy, Dead Cells which is equal amounts frustrating and fascinating, Just Shapes & Beats which is a rad if very short experience, and though I didn’t like it that much, the audiovisual spectacle that’s GRIS.

The other indie games include my second favorite game this year, the underwater survival and exploration simulator, Subnautica, that’s though rough around the edges is a beyond incredible experience in VR. Then there was a detective-like game Obra Dinn which is probably like nothing you’ve played before, and Unavowed that does a worthy homage to the 90s adventure games.  And I nearly forgot my new favorite turn-based game, Into the Breach, which though short is mind-blowing addicting.

It really makes me think that indie games might be the way of the future, though we had some pretty cool triple AAA titles as well this year, like Red Dead Redemption 2, God of War (2018), Marvel’s Spider-Man, and Monster Hunter: World. …All of which I have yet to play, but I’m sure at least one or two of those would end up in my personal top ten of the year.

There was also a resurgence of the city builder genre with a worthwhile successor to Theme Hospital and an ice-age themed survival builder Frostpunk, which turned out to have a much more involving narrative than I’d expected.

[Game] Guacamelee! 2

Guacamelee 2.jpg

Game

For better or worse, Guacamelee! 2 is just like its prequel. It offers the same kind of pleasant experience, but it feels a lot less fresh the second time around.

Positive:
Negative:
Attractive, colorful 2D visuals
The story’s pretty generic
Pleasant, unique music
Combat mechanics are a bit repetitive and can get dull
Cool Mexican setting
Some of the levels drag on for too long
Well-written, genuinely funny dialogue
Plays a lot like the previous game, making for a less memorable experience
Good boss fights
Good platforming with lots of gimmicks to keep things fresh

[Novel] Money (Martin Amis)

Money

Book

Money feels a bit all over the place and is a bit hard to follow, but it’s thoroughly entertaining sarcastic protagonist makes every line in this story simply a pleasure to read.

It kind of reminded me of The Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

Positive:
Negative:
Satyrical, thoroughly entertaining prose
Feels a bit all over the place at times
Interesting, likable, profound characters, especially the protagonist
So many characters it’s easy to lose track of who is who
Relatively enthralling plot
Solid, poignant story
Thought-provoking on capitalistic values and human nature