What Joe Has Been Playing #2
May 22, 2018

Aside from some random Steam indie games, I've been picking up the last few entries of the Tales series I missed. I recently nabbed Tales of Berseria on a Steam sale, plus secured Tales of Xillia (and its sequel) and Tales of Hearts R. The only US released Tales game I'm not bothering with is Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology, as I've heard it's pretty underwhelming. The GBA release of Tales of Phantasia is all the underwhelming I can stand from that franchise ("Kangaroo" my ass).

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Through Humble Bundle, I also recently got The Witcher 3 and Ys Origin, but it'll be a while before I start either.

The only other thing titles I hope to buy in the next few paychecks are Suikoden V, Wild Arms 5 and Wild Arms XF. I may have to pay elevated prices for them, but I'm willing to do so.

Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves has improved since my last post. Like its predecessor, it offers a wealth of variety and some truly entertaining missions. However, in some ways it showcases too much variety for its own good. For every five or six awesome levels where you gun down speed boats or gather giant scorpions using a massive truck, you play a wonky third-person shooter-like stage, complete with over-responsive and confusing controls. The developers tried their hands at so many genres that not all of the experiences in Sly 3 click. They would have been better off featuring more actual platformer stages, rather trying so hard to not make a standard platformer.

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I also discovered that the game eschews the clue bottles in favor of special challenges you unlock as you play through the campaign. In other words, you occasionally gain access to segments from the campaign itself, except with an added constraint. For instance, the aforementioned speed boat fight now sets you up with decreased defense, so you die more easily. These missions also add to the game's completion percentage, making them required if you want 100%. Honestly, I'm not going to bother. I'd rather either have the bottles back or unique challenges that aren't just rehashed fragments of the campaign, except with time limits.

Whenever the kids go to school, I use the opportunity to fire up Grand Theft Auto V, and I've had an absolute blast with it. I remember being against this game when it came out, mostly because GTA IV almost ruined the series for me. I've spent numerous hours just punching people or seeing how much mayhem I can cause. I'm also glad they not only brought rampage missions back, but improved upon them since the PS2 era. I recall hating rampages in the GTA III and Vice City because neither game would spawn enough targets to kill within the time limit. GTA V sends massive hordes of enemies at you, making rampages feel more like, well, actual rampages.

This is also one of the few GTA games where I actually want to advance the story, because the main missions are entertaining and only moderately frustrating. The heists are a lot of fun, and some of Michael's missions are excellent, especially the one where he has to rescue his son from some thugs who stole his boat.

I started some games from deep within my Steam list. ADR1FT is one of them, though I"m sadly playing it without VR. This one is a walking simulator of sorts, except you're in space--so it's more of a floating simulator. It bears the same basic premise as the movie Gravity, except you spend most of your time on a partially ruined space station. So far, I could go either way with this one. I might return to it now and then, but I don't think I'll put much effort into it. Its visuals are terrific, though.

Songbringer is basically indie Zelda, with sci-fi trappings. I mean, there's not much more to it than that. It's indie, science fiction Zelda, but with a talking robot instead of a fairy. You mosey about a retro-looking overworld, slicing aliens with a high tech sword. Occasionally, you stumble upon a dungeon (or you can use an item found throughout the game to pinpoint where the next dungeon lies), enter it and scour its corridors until you find a special item. So far, I've gotten a boomerang top hat and a matter bomb that destroys weak walls. Sound familiar, right?

But my current obsession right now is Omensight, a spiritual successor to Stories: The Path of Destinies. It really is a wonderful game, with gorgeous visuals and an epic soundtrack. Its combat is pretty cut and dry, but I expect nothing else from a hack 'n slash. The game's selling point is that you play a spectral being called a "Harbinger" who seeks to avert doomsday by preventing a priestess' murder. The only crummy thing is the murder already happened and the world has already been blown away.

As you enter the world's final moments, you tag along with one of a few characters to learn what you can about the murder. Your time with your new ally always ends with a tremendous monster destroying the world, but a witch outside of reality pulls you from disaster and allows you to restart the day, a la Groundhog Day, until you can find out who committed the murder and how you can stop them.

So far, I've gained some quality information and a handful of useful things. I don't think I'm close to solving the mystery, but I've definitely come a long ways. I had one pretty decent boss battle against a character initially established as the main antagonist (though you know how obvious main antagonists go in murder mysteries...).

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