August update
August 06, 2021

As per the norm, I'm playing about five or six games at once. In a nice touch, I've gotten caught up in my review-writing. Spent some time with about three games done, but no time to write, so I was a bit behind. Not ideal, especially when you're trying to write something and it's a struggle to remember concrete examples because you were playing the sort of "good, not great" game where you had fun, but nothing really stuck out in your mind as awesome or crappy, making it fun to write about.

As for what I'm doing now:

Judgment (PS4): The combination of EmP's Yakuza reviews and Jason's review for the PS5 port of this game made me really interested in this whole series of games. The fact that immediately after reading Jason's review, this game became available for 90 days via PlayStation Now gave me a great starting point to see if I'd want to really dig into the games. One month later, the answer is a definite yes. A few annoyances, like getting texts about members of a gang causing troubles, leading to you having to constantly fight their lackeys until you've beaten up a leader or two in order to end the threat; but the overall game is really cool. Great story and tons of content ranging from side-quests to arcade games to batting cages, darts, VR courses and so on. Some of it hasn't been overly accessible to me. I know Mahjong as that tile-matching game I can play on my phone. Here, it's a tile game that may or may not kind of be like rummy. And this Shogi game seems like chess, if the maker of that game had done a LOT of meth while devising the rules. I have no idea what I'm doing with either (other than losing lots of yen with Mahjong...). Currently in the early phases of Chapter 6. With 29/50 side-quests and 29/50 friends obtained, so I'm probably putting as much or more time into that than into moving the plot.

Okami HD (PS4): I'd wanted to play this one again at some point and now I am. And it's still fun. At least it became fun after I spent time completely changing the camera settings, as the default version might have flown back in the day, but was horribly awkward for me. Inverting everything and it's just a kind of clunky version of a modern game. Up to where I have to go to the Water Dragon in order to access Oni Island and reach my personal favorite part of the game -- the confrontation with Ninetails. The cartoonish and bright colors of this game work well with an HD port. My main qualms are: 1). A few of the challenges are annoying. Like the digging game. I nearly lost all ambition when I couldn't reach Himoko in her castle and realized I had to do a digging game in order to get the item allowing me to cross her lava moat. And, as always, 2). Issun. Since you control a silent wolf character, I understand the concept of having a more vocal sidekick. But to give said sidekick an "obnoxious child" persona, have him banter constantly AND regularly interrupt the game to openly tell you how to solve puzzles and criticize you when you botch an ink sign...I'd love to find the people in charge of him and punch all of them in the face. With a spiked glove. Until death.

Tales of Zestiria (PS4): The first Tales... game on the PS4; also available via Now. It's kind of okay story-wise (mainly saved by the character interactions in skits and post-battle scenes), but I do enjoy the fighting. Started out not liking it, but the longer I play, the more I get into it and it's fun to mix up attacks and try to make the most out of what's a huge arsenal of possible moves. Made it to the first town in the Rolance Empire and am working through the huge-ass plain separating it and my next objective.

Dragon Age 2 (360): Only have the final quest to do, as I just finished the Legacy DLC. I wish I loved this game, as the plot is really good and Kirkwall winds up being a great video game city with all the factions opposing each other and how no matter what you do, the situation gets more like a powder keg about to go off. But the cut-n-paste environments just get hilarious after a while and combat is so dumbed down. As Fighter Hawke, my role is simple: Run up to enemies, use skills, use regular attacks during cool-down, use skills again, wait for everything to die. One of those games where, in the rare case I find a fight legit tough (Bonus boss demon in Act 2, main bosses of both DLC), I just drop it down to Casual for that fight (or use cheese tactics in the case of the Act 2 bonus boss) because I just don't care enough to want to devise a winning strategy. I just want to experience the story and characters and then put it away when I'm done.

Avernum 2: Crystal Souls (Steam): Much like the first Avernum, I'm really enjoying this game. Never feels like I spend enough time with it due to always seeming to have this one game I'm totally digging, but there's a reason I've never put this one on the backburner and just try to give it an hour or two every week. I'm in the "making real progress" phase now, where I've gotten my party pretty powerful and am just going through and doing quests in the hope of getting the final couple spells I need to be able to revisit every single dungeon, as just about all of them have either a magic barrier or sturdy rock blocking something, so that I'd need the stronger versions of the Dispel Barrier and StoneShatter spells to get past.

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honestgamer honestgamer - August 06, 2021 (06:25 PM)
The out-of-town thugs is my pick for the most annoying thing about Judgment, since it quickly reaches the point where there's virtually always a thug when I just want to run around and do stuff. But that can't dull the overall sheen on what is still a fantastic game. I'm glad you're enjoying it too.
overdrive overdrive - August 07, 2021 (10:02 AM)
Yeah, and I think there are four of those guys eventually and I only am having to deal with two at this point. At least, all I have to do is fight the one closest to me (preferably the weaker one, as Honda does have a couple wreck-yo-face combos) and that both gives me a reward from the guy who constantly is announcing their presence AND lowers the threat level enough that it won't be long until they're gone. And regularly fighting those guys has improved me at minor details like learning to get out of the way when they fire up so I don't have to spend 20K to get rid of mortal wounds.

The annoying thing is the random encounters. Not the constant fights, necessarily, but the fact that each Keihan dude has that one henchman who's essentially a mini-boss with a full life bar who takes a while to beat down. The XP value doesn't match up to the annoyance of fighting those dudes (a regular four-man fight is 36XP; if one of them is a mini-boss, it's 63XP...yeah, that's a real reward, guys...

Well, technically, the game's real annoyance is that I can't frickin' hit a curve ball in the batting cages to save my life! It's basically 85% miss and 15% singles. Not ideal!

But, yeah, this game is almost overwhelming with how much stuff you can do. I'm in Chapter 6 and still haven't even touched Drone Races or the VR courses besides the mandatory plot one. Just got access to another game I don't understand in the second casino, but haven't spent the $$$ to get the 200 sticks I need to try my hand. Just got access to the Crowdfunding. This game is insane!
honestgamer honestgamer - August 07, 2021 (12:32 PM)
I did a fair bit of side stuff on my way through the campaign (sometimes, it's too cool to resist), and I participated in fights as they came along. By the final few chapters, I got really good at watching the map and running away when I saw red arrows appear. I didn't have to do a lot of fighting, and tried to avoid it when I could in case someone was packing a gun. Kind of like how I work in real life, actually.

Anyway, they could probably touch that up a bit for the sequel, which I believe is due later this year.
Genj Genj - August 10, 2021 (06:15 AM)
Judgment is really good but I'm not a fan of the "detective" activities they added to differentiate from Yakuza. Namely the many long, slow tailing missions and the awkward "find the evidence" sections. Yakuza 0 is probably the best of those games. Yakuza 7 is straight up a turn-based JRPG.

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