PolyNerdic Play Test: SteamWorld Dig 2

Sometimes boredom leads to great discoveries.

Such as my boredom earlier today leading me to “discover” that SteamWorld Dig 2 in the PS4 marketplace.

Having not played the original I could only go on the videos I have watched of the game but boredom mixed with a tiny bit of impulse control failure led me to playing this game and absolutely loving it.

-Shad (@PolyNerdic)

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Episode #20 of The OrNERDnary Podcast Has Arrived

Back at it with a full length episode after last week’s personal debacle and the rally couldn’t have come at a better (or worse) time.

EA makes an incredibly boneheaded move and closes Visceral Games, cancelling the Amy Hennig led Star Wars Adventure game in the process. They appear to be moving away from the single player story driven game and towards the “games as a service model which is as atrocious an idea as any I’ve heard recently.

But then Activision tossed their hat in the ring when they unveiled a patent on a new insidious matchmaking scheme around increasing micro-transactions.

Among the odds and ends discussed are my thoughts on a number of games from Uncharted 4 to Cuphead and Shadow of War as well as my thoughts on a few upcoming shows and films.

-Shad (@PolyNerdic)

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PolyNerdic Play Test: Middle-Earth: Shadow of War

Got my hands on a copy of Middle-earth™: Shadow of War™ and after playing about six hours of it the last several days I have some mixed thoughts.

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It’s Mid-October and You Know What That Means

We are weeks away from Halloween and that traditionally means it’s the perfect time of the year for spooky, scary, atmospheric horror games.

Had I not played it way back in January now would be the perfect time for Resident Evil 7.

But since I did play it nearly 10 months ago and I don’t have much in the way of other horror games I haven’t already live-streamed I went with two of the ones I do currently own and haven’t yet played.

Layers of Fear and Little Nightmares.

Layers of Fear is a “walking simulator” with horror elements, meaning it is similar to games like Gone Home or What Remains of Edith Finch in that the gameplay consists of you walking around an environment, searching for clues and such but this time in a location that is seemingly haunted.

The game leans heavily on the jump scares as there is no “combat” or even segments that require fleeing and hiding…which is a godsend since your character has a fake leg that is the wrong size and you walk with a stumbling gait.

Layers of Fear is not a great game or a lot of fun to play but it has its moments as a B level offering.

Little Nightmares isn’t quite a horror game but the setting is horrific and unsettling as you guide what appears to be a tiny person through a world full of monstrous beings that seem hellbent on eating you.

The game reminds most of Limbo or Inside and I think that is a fair comparison.  You navigate the environment, avoiding things that will kill you on site and weird shit happens.

-Shad (@PolyNerdic)

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PolyNerdic Review: Cuphead

Normally I operate on the basic principle that I should not review a game until I’ve finished it.

Personally I feel that I cannot truly speak about what a game is and what I thought of my experiences with it until I’ve seen everything the game has to offer.

Once in a while a game comes along that proves itself the exception to that rule.  Sometimes I find myself desperate to tell anyone who will listen about a game, maybe the game is simply too long for a timely review, the game is too broken to finish or too good to delay spreading the word.

Cuphead is one of those exceptional games that warrants a provisional review, a review based on the roughly 45% I’ve seen coupled with the knowledge that what I have yet to see will be even tougher than what is behind me will likely take me forever to beat.

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Cuphead is a sadistically difficult video game.

The moment I fired up this game I fell in love with its 1930s cartoon inspired art design.  From the animation style to level specific music to constant patter of Cuphead’s finger gun, the whole look and feel of the game has me enamored.  Even as I smash my head against incredibly difficult boss fights and punishing platforming I keep coming back for more.

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Run & Gun levels are a chaotic mix of platforming and combat.

There are two types of levels in Cuphead, Run & Gun and Boss Fights.

The Run & Gun levels are side scrolling areas with plenty of platform jumping and combat.  I’ve heard it described as being akin to a 1930s cartoon version of Contra.  As you make your way through the levels there are coins to collect that can be spent on upgrades such as spread or homing shots or an extra hit point (at the cost of damage).  These levels are tough and chaotic require accurate shooting, precise jumping, nimble dashing and an understanding of what the level is going to throw at you.

Needless to say there is a heavy amount of trial and error before you can “get” the levels and even then you’ll have to try again and again to get it “perfect”.

The same can be said of the games many, many boss encounters.

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Boss fights are difficult at best and utterly hellish at worst….but always fun.

The meat of the game’s three worlds are the boss fights.

These boss fights, much like the platforming levels, require pattern recognition, timing and sometimes luck to survive.

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Boss fights come in two varieties: platforming and aerial.

Each boss has a series of forms that change as the battle progresses.  You may start out fighting a woman/plane hybrid but over the course of the fight you’ll fight a large cloudy bull, an archer and a giant moon faced woman that launches projectiles and UFOS.  Many bosses also have randomized elements to their fixed patterns.  One battle ends with a giant slot machine that has three or so attacks during the “damage phase” that are chosen when you activate the arm.  Another battle starts with a “genie” that opens a chest from which one of three types of projectiles come: very easily dodged blades, somewhat easily dodged cat sarcophagi that spawn smaller cat projectiles or difficult to dodge jewels and treasures.  This is where luck comes in as many times I only defeated a boss because I received the “easy” variations of it’s attacks, making it to the final portion with one or two hit points left (the game only gives you three to work with).

The battles are intense in varying degrees and are often frustrating but always rewarding when you land the knockout blow.

As for story, Cuphead’s is minimalistic but suitably strange for the era of cartoon it is paying homage to.

The titular character and his pal Mugman got in over their heads at the Devil’s casino.  They plead for their souls and strike a deal that sends them out to collect the contracts on the souls of other debtors.

Yes, you and your pottery headed buddy are playing as the Devil’s personal bounty hunters, taking on plant folk, candy ladies, blobs and flying dragons who owe the Devil.

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Some contracts are more satisfying than others.

 

Final Verdict: 9 out of 10.  Cuphead is a nearly flawless and incredibly difficult game that isn’t for everyone.  I happen to enjoy the experience of smashing against the brick walls that the individual levels represent again and again until I beat them.  The feeling of satisfaction that comes from finally besting a tough enemy carries me through this game but it may not do so for everyone.

I also put a PolyNerdic Play Test up a few weeks ago, you can watch it below if you missed it before.

-Shad (@PolyNerdic)

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The OrNERDnary Podcast #18: Blind Box Bingo

Loot boxes, req packs, supply drops, battle packs or just plain old crates…blind boxes are everywhere in video games and I for one can’t stand them. In my opinion they are the bane of modern video games. Whether they contain cosmetic items or skins, single use cards that modify rules or grant you access to equipment or even simple icons they are a becoming increasingly problematic.

Also in this episode I discuss: the awesomeness of Cuphead, my love/hate feelings on Gerald’s Game, Netflix raising prices and delaying The Punisher (for good reason), my thoughts on Destiny 2’s end game content and more.

-Shad (@PolyNerdic)

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Pacific Rim: Uprising Trailer is Here!

Before my thoughts start spilling out all over the place watch this:

So I recorded this week’s podcast, walked away from the computer to do some quick chores, sat back down a few minutes later and see my social media feeds explode with “OMG New Pacific Rim trailer” or “Have you seen the Pacific Rim Trailer?”

Yes I have seen and well…

Well I’m feeling pretty torn about it.

Here are my “hot takes” to use modern parlance:

  • What the fuck was up with that music?  That music was garbage and feels tonally out of place.  3rd rate dubstep would have been less grating on the ears.
  • Kaiju are back but I’m curious as to why/how.  Remember the portal between worlds was closed at the end of the first film.
  • What’s with the Jaeger on Jaeger stuff?  Did the surviving humans immediately go to war with each other before the last Kaiju’s corpse was cool?
  • So Jon Boyega is playing Jake Pentecost the son of Idris Elba’s Stacker Pentecost in the first movie but I don’t recall it being mentioned even one time that Stacker had a son.  In fact Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi) was more or less treated as a surrogate daughter by Stacker, so this leaves me confused and slightly irritated.  Am I wrong?
  • Already knew it was going to be the case but the lack of Idris Elba and Charlie Hunnam still hurts my overall opinion.
  • At least Burn Gorman and Charlie Day are back.
  • Also Scott Eastwood could be an interesting addition depending on how he is used…want to bet he ends up getting blown up in a flooded tunnel?
  • Mako Mori appears to be back too so that’s good.
  • Really not feeling the way the Jaeger’s move in this trailer.  Most of them appear to lack “weight” and move around a little too lightly.
  • That said the action still looks pretty good in spite of the floaty Jaegers.
  • That big “mega-kaiju” looks cool but really should have been left out of the trailers….reminds me of the BvS Doomsday reveal being blown by those trailers.
  • Also feel like Guillermo Del Toro’s absence really shines through.  The first film while crazy stupid fun also possessed a bit of darkness to it that this trailer certainly lacks.  This trailer feels soulless.

All that said I’m still interested in this follow up to one of my favorite “stupid/awesome” movies but that interest is now of a much more “cautiously optimistic” type.

Thoughts?

-Shad (@PolyNerdic)

 

 

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