Now Playing: Vagrant Story, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, River City Girls, And More



Hello! We’re back again to ask about and discuss the games we’re playing right now. The GameSpot team is usually busy keeping up with the biggest releases, but other times we’re catching up on games we missed, replaying old favorites, experiencing classics for the first time, or just dabbling in odds and ends for a spell. Below you can see a sampling of the games that we’re playing, the reasons we’re playing them, and what we love about them so far.

But don’t just stop at reading our responses; we want to hear from you, too! Tell us all about what you’re playing in the comments section below and what’s got you so juiced about them.

So please, join us and ramble on about all the super cool video games you’re playing! We know you need to talk about it as much as we do. And if you’re playing the same games from previous weeks, that’s fine too! You’re more than welcome to talk about why you still love it!

Corruption 2029 — Edmond Tran, Senior Editor & Producer

Did you play Mutant Year Zero around the end of 2018? No? You should! It had anthropomorphic animals shooting guns for f’s sake. But more than that, it had a great new twist to the turn-based tactics formula XCOM kicked off–a real-time stealth component. In Mutant Year Zero you can freely roam the open maps, observe enemy routines, quietly pick off opposing soldiers when they stray from their friends, and focus on setting up big ambushes with your three-person squad. The odds are always against you, so this tense loop of slowly whittling down a larger force and constructing an advantage for yourself is its number one thing, and it’s a very good thing.

Anyway, Corruption 2029. Developer The Bearded Ladies surprise-announced this follow-up last week and it launched on the Epic Store last Tuesday, so I’ve been enjoying a bit of that. It certainly feels like a much more focused affair–Corruption is structured around drop-in missions, as opposed to Mutant Year Zero’s free-roaming adventure style with a more involved story. Also gone are things like skill trees, currencies, and vendors; new weapons and skills are earned from completing missions and optional objectives.

But the most important thing is that the satisfying ambush tactics loop is there, and Corruption 2029 is great for doling out quick hits of it when I need a break from whatever I’m doing. Nothing beats crashing down through the roof of a building, taking out two baddies with a shotgun blast, and then detonating a well-placed remote explosive to take care of their alerted friends outside. I’m still trying to decide whether I’m a fan of the cold, cyberpunk military apocalypse theme–it certainly looks cool, but I’m really missing the weird personality of MYZ. Regardless, I’m getting my kicks from Corruption, and I’m excited to get all the way through it. | Twitter: @EdmondTran

Bloodborne — Lucy James, Senior Video Producer

I’ve started Bloodborne so many times. I know Central Yharnam like the back of my hand, I have a decent grasp on combos and stamina management, and bosses like Gascoigne give me little to no trouble (humble brag). And yet, I’ve never finished the bloody thing.

I have a range of excuses. A playthrough was disrupted by my house move, and I didn’t trust my muscle memory to pick up where I left off. Another game came out that I needed to play for work. Vicar Amelia.

So I’m taking advantage of the lull in releases to finally see it through to the end. As usual, it has its hooks in me: I’m obsessing over its lore, its gargantuan bosses give me a genuine thrill, and exploration is such a joy.

But this time, I’m playing “pass the controller” with someone else, which is not only a fun way to play by giving you someone to commiserate/celebrate with, but it also means that I’m being held accountable to reach the game’s end.

We just got to Castle Cainhurst (my first time!) and I’m finally in an unfamiliar area, and feeling the challenge. I can’t wait to see what’s around the next corner. It’s probably some kind of gross monster. | Twitter: @lucyjamesgames

Hollow Knight — Dave Klein, Video Producer

This week, I had a couple flights coming up, and decided to buy Fire Emblem: Three Houses for Switch, but… couldn’t get into it on a flight, so I decided to pop in an older game, Hollow Knight. I originally played Hollow Knight around two years ago after its Switch release and thought it would be fun to start up a new game on my flight. It was then that I discovered “Steel Soul Mode,” aka permadeath mode.

Hollow Knight is a Metroidvania-style game with Dark Souls inspirations in its death mechanics, leading to, at times, an extremely challenging 2D side-scrolling game. The gameplay is fantastic, the music is wonderful, and the art is gorgeous, which all lead it to being one of my favorite indie games of the past decade. If you haven’t played it, it’s well worth a shot.

But! Back to the permadeath. It’s led to an all-new experience, invoking the NES days of having limited lives, when you felt every move you made mattered. Obviously if I die, I’ll be losing far more time than I would from a game over in an NES game, but I love how intense the mode makes every encounter. I defeated the Soul Master and have worked my way through most of the Crystal Peaks, and I am terrified. But, it’s a great feeling, and just another reminder of how incredible Hollow Knight is. Plus, it’s the perfect primer for Silk Song, the Hollow Knight sequel coming out later this year. | Twitter: @TheDaveKlein

Coffee Talk — Jenae Sitzes, Commerce Editor

While some games may get your heart racing, others make you want to curl up in a blanket with a cup of warm tea. I’m a sucker for those sorts of cozy games, and Coffee Talk on Nintendo Switch is truly a vibe. The newly released coffee brewing and talking simulator places you in rainy Seattle, where you own a nighttime coffee shop and have heart-to-heart conversations with your customers. This is an alternate-reality Seattle where elves, orcs, mermaids, and other fantasy races live alongside humans, just trying to make an honest living. They all need someone to talk to about their fears and relationship troubles, and you, the local cafe owner, are their confidante.

In Coffee Talk, you’ll listen and observe as your customers open up about their lives and interact with each other. There are branching storylines, but these are based on how well you serve your customers rather than chosen dialogue options. The drink-making mechanic is simple but satisfying. You may have a customer ask you for a warm drink that’s a little sweet but low on caffeine, and you’ll have to consider what ingredients are needed when creating their order. Eventually, you’ll build up a recipe list in your phone as you discover new drinks, but I find it most fun to craft new concoctions from scratch.

With ’90s anime-inspired pixel art, a wonderful lo-fi hip-hop soundtrack, and colorful characters who become your regulars over the course of the game, Coffee Talk crafts a rich world from inside the walls of late-night coffee shop. I get the sense that I’m about halfway through the game, and I can’t wait to see who walks though that cafe door next. | Twitter: @jenaesitzes

Beat Saber — Michael Rogeau, Entertainment Managing Editor

There are two things I’ve been wanting to do for ages: Get in better shape, and actually use the PSVR that’s been collecting dust in a corner since I bought it a couple of years ago during a sale. Playing 30-60 minutes of Beat Saber a day for the past couple of weeks satisfies both goals.

I like VR a lot–I was covering the technology when Oculus was still a scrappy startup showing their makeshift headset to journalists in back rooms at CES and E3. I also like rhythm games, particularly those that require more than simply pressing buttons in time. I definitely don’t like working out–unlike gaming, I’ve never been good at hitting the gym, running, or, really, any other type of prolonged physical activity. Beat Saber is turning out to be my perfect solution. I’m enjoying the sense of constant improvement as I gradually ramp up the difficulty of the songs I choose, and I find that I get out as much as I put in–sure, it’s possible to phone it in and keep the movements to a minimum, but if you let yourself get into it and move your whole body to the music as you swing your arms around wildly, it’s easy to work up quite a sweat. This is my first time trying “games as exercise,” and it feels good to finally be on the path to achieving these goals. | Twitter: @RogueCheddar

Vagrant Story — Phil Hornshaw

When the GameSpot team was creating our Remembering 2000 feature, I immediately jumped at the chance to write about Vagrant Story, one of my all-time favorites. As soon as I started thinking about the game, I realized I wouldn’t be able to get it out of my head without another replay.

There’s a lot I can say about Vagrant Story (and, uh, I did, in that 20th anniversary blurb), but for the sake of brevity, let’s just talk about one of its best parts. Vagrant Story has what you could argue is the best opening sequence of any game ever made. It’s a beautifully cinematic introduction that takes you through every feeling the game will eventually offer, establishing Vagrant Story’s adventure story moments as well as its spooky supernatural atmosphere.

The game opens with the strange cult, led by the shadowy figure Sydney Losstarot, attacking the manor of the politically powerful Duke Bardorba. Dispatched to deal with the situation is Ashley Riot, a specially trained “Riskbreaker” knight–basically, a medieval Solid Snake.

It’s Ashley’s ultimate confrontation with Sydney that sets the tone of the game. Ashley catches the cult leader unawares and holds him up with a bow gun, but Sydney makes a play against him anyway, and Ashley fires the bolt straight through Ashley’s chest. A moment later, though, the cult leader is back on his feet, spitting up pixelated blood, and yanking the crossbow bolt out of his chest. Though Vagrant Story has an undercurrent of very human political machinations, the music takes a menacing dip as the game establishes that spooky forces are also afoot. Death is no match for Sydney, and his resurrection is legitimately freaky. And then Sydney summons a freakin’ dragon and leaves it to fight the Riskbreaker while he escapes by jumping through the cathedral’s giant stained-glass window. It definitely sets a mood.

The opening moments of Vagrant Story are gorgeous–a perfectly realized introduction to the characters, the plot points, and the depth of the game awaiting players. It also remains a ridiculous technical achievement: Vagrant Story’s introduction makes use of cinematography skill easily on par with film and television. Even for a 20-year-old original PlayStation game, it’s impossible not to get lost in it.

Look, enough talk: Just watch it. | Twitter: @philhornshaw

The Last Of Us — Jess McDonell, Host & Video Producer

Everybody has a game that causes people to balk at you for saying you haven’t played. Mine is The Last of Us. In my defence, I did try to get into it when it first came out (and cried excessively at the first scene), but it lost me around the point where throwing bricks and shuffling between chest-high walls became the focus. As a result, I’ve spent years nodding politely while people extol the virtues of The Last of Us, which has only become more of a problem now that the sequel is nearing release.

So, a few weeks ago, I picked up the remaster on PS4 and I’ve been slowly working my way through the story. PS4 is far from my preferred platform for third-person shooters, but I’m enjoying the characters, the story progression, the stealth, and the environmental design. Not the bits where you push Ellie around flooded levels on a conveniently located piece of wood, though. Those can get in the bin.

It’s also reminding me what I love about linear games. The focus stays on the protagonists’ journey without the distraction of side quests, enemies don’t respawn, and the overall experience doesn’t feel bloated. I’m about halfway through the game right now and I can’t help but think about it whenever I put it down. I wouldn’t say I’m as in love with the main characters as fans who have finished the game seem to be, but I’m enjoying following them through their highs and lows. Given the game has already made me laugh, cry, scream, and breathe countless sighs of relief, I’m fairly confident this is another Naughty Dog home run for me. | Twitter: @JessMcDonell

Halo: The Master Chief Collection — Eddie Makuch, Editor

I’ve played Halo: The Master Chief Collection since its release in November 2014. Yes, I was there through the rocky launch–it was so very bad. But the game is in a much, much better place these days, with active player populations and regularly updated playlists.

Not only that, but Microsoft has added a Call of Duty-style progression system, which creates yet another reason to keep coming back. I have more than 1,000 hours in MCC, and that number goes up every week because I just cannot stop playing the game on Xbox One.

There is one reason, in particular, I will never stop playing MCC–and that’s Halo 3. It’s my favorite of the Halo multiplayer experiences, and it still holds up in 2020, some 13 years after its release back in 2007. Halo 3 is a pure, stripped-back-by-today’s-standards FPS that is challenging and rewarding in equal measure. No sprinting. No loadouts. Great maps.

Not only are the bones of Halo 3 still great, the MCC package on Xbox One increases the frame rate to 60fps, and now I never want to go back. Basically, there has never been a better time to be playing Halo 3. Please come join me. | Twitter: @EddieMakuch

River City Girls — Steve Watts, Associate Editor

River City Girls is one of those games that you could just see slipping through the cracks as soon as it came out. Released in September, it seemed destined to be swallowed up by big-budget releases. We even made a video titled River City Girls Shouldn’t Be Skipped. Having ignored that advice, I skipped it. I’ve had it sitting on my Switch for months, barely played, until this week.

If you missed it like I did, let this be another reminder: Do not sleep on this game. River City Girls is a great beat-em-up with loads of style. As you learn more moves from the Dojo, your chosen character expresses more and more of her individual style and personality through her skull-cracking maneuvers. I’m proudly a Kyoko player, and I’ve been rewarded with bizarre and thoroughly entertaining move sets inspired by Street Fighter 2, pro wrestling, the original River City Ransom, and the Dab. (I know, I know, it’s wonderful and horrible.) Juggling street thugs and recruiting them as summon-like abilities is always satisfying, and boss battles present tricky combat puzzles with their own unique rhythms. And if the theme song doesn’t get you hyped to beat up some street punks, I don’t know what to tell you.

Best of all, the story is delivered with sharp, witty writing. Kyoko and Misako are just self-aware enough to pepper in meta-commentary about the tropes of an old-fashioned action-revenge story, even as they remain hilariously single-minded on the goal of saving their boyfriends. They’re utterly confident in their own butt-kicking abilities, and they often clash with other students on issues like social class. The two even peek down from their lifebar portraits to deliver exposition from time to time for an extra touch of personality. It’s smart, funny, and makes the duo two of the best new characters introduced in games last year.

Don’t make the same mistake I did. Play River City Girls. | Twitter: @SporkyReeve

Fire Emblem: Three Houses — Meg Downey, Associate Entertainment Editor

I’m woefully out of the loop when it comes to Fire Emblem games–so out of the loop that Three Houses is actually the first one I’ve ever picked up. It was mostly a decision made on a whim. A few friends (correctly) pointed out that a handful of the characters were pretty aesthetically and narratively up my alley and I’d been feeling a little guilty about not using my Switch with any regularity. And, well, I guess it was a moment of weakness, or maybe just the right amount of mania. But either way, I can now officially say that I’m working through my second Fire Emblem story route (Blue Lions) with plans to not only complete the third option and DLC, but the intent to loop back around and replay my first attempt (Golden Deer) since I messed it up pretty badly.

I’m so sorry I failed you the first time around, Hilda. Please forgive me.

Despite being an absolute beginner and insanely late to the party here, I’ve clearly been having a total blast. I’m notoriously horrible at actually finishing RPG-style games, especially with turn-based combat, so the fact that I’ve been hooked so completely is really a testament to the quality of the story. And now that I know (mostly) what I’m doing this time around, making sure I pay attention to things like support levels and gunning for specific epilogues is scratching a very specific gameplay itch that I didn’t even really know I had. It’s all just so satisfying. This one is going to keep me busy for a while–at least, I guess, until Animal Crossing comes out and my Switch becomes a New Horizons machine. | Twitter: @rustypolished

Kunai — Tamoor Hussain, Senior Editor

Kunai plays fast and loose with the Metroidvania formula, in the literal sense. I’m not very far into it so right now I can’t say if the exploration and character advancement hooks that I usually want from a game like this hold up their end of the bargain, but I am enjoying the fast-paced movement.

The game puts you in control of a sentient TV screen that is wearing a cool cloak and is running around with two kunais doing… something. I’m not quite sure if I’m honest. The narrative setup is very light and, thus far, the game hasn’t expanded upon the little laid out in the opening sequence. But the slightly slippery feeling to its movement and, more importantly, the ability to launch your kunai at surfaces and swing around like Spider-Man have proved to be more than satisfying enough to keep me engaged. It has that feeling of playing a Mario game with your thumb jammed on the sprint button: slightly risky but very exhilarating.

My time has been spent sprinting from room to room, climbing up vertical surfaces, and ruthlessly dispatching enemies with a short but very deadly sword, and every part of this has been endearing thanks to the main character, which wears its emotions on its flat-screen face. As you hop, skip, jump, and sword-swing, expressions to match the movement and the moment are displayed: slightly bemused while wandering through strange corridors, gleeful when swinging from ceilings, furious when assaulted by angry machines with guns.

Kunai feels like a simple game that gets a lot of mileage out of the satisfying momentum of movement and the charm of its character. My hope is that the rest of the Metroidvania pieces click into place, but for now I like the little robot swinging around with a smile on its face. | Twitter: @tamoorh

Dragon Quest III: The Seeds Of Salvation — Kevin Knezevic, Associate Editor

It’s taken several weeks, but I’m finally nearing the end of my journey in Dragon Quest III: The Seeds of Salvation. While the random encounter rate has remained a persistent thorn–exploring the world can get incredibly frustrating when you’re beset by monsters every few steps, even with the Holy Protection spell active–any grievances I harbor about that have been offset by just how much I’ve enjoyed the rest of the game.

In particular, it’s felt very satisfying to follow the breadcrumb-trail story through to its conclusion. When I first wrote about my time with the game, I complained about the constant need to jot down notes as I played to keep myself from getting hopelessly lost. As it turns out, this has actually made the experience more enjoyable, as it’s helped heighten the feeling that I’m an adventurer trying to figure out my way around this vast, uncharted world.

What’s been truly wonderful are the little vignettes that occur in each town you happen upon along the way. Despite how simple Dragon Quest III’s overarching plot is, the self-contained stories you encounter on your journey add so much color and charm to the world. I particularly loved the sub-plot involving the burgeoning settlement east of Persistence. Without spoiling too much, watching the town grow and develop over the course of the story–and what ultimately happens to your former merchant companion who helped establish the town–has been one of my favorite aspects of the game.

At the moment, I’ve finally acquired all six mythical orbs and made my way to Baramos’s lair, so all that remains is (presumably) the final confrontation with the Archfiend–unless some unexpected plot twist extends my adventure a little longer. Either way, I’m eager to finally put my journey to an end.



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