Griftlands Early Access — Is It Worth It?

Early Access is so often little more than a grift, a calculated money grab intent on screwing the players over little more than a promising idea – but that has not been the case with Klei Entertainment’s previous games, and it certainly isn’t with the developer’s latest. Griftlands is an excellent roguelike deck builder with modular storytelling that you’ll be well pleased with. It has excellent protagonists, two sets of decks, and the kind of worldbuilding that engages with the player on a constant basis, which makes for plenty of moments of emerging storytelling. I’m eager to follow its development. References: More on Modular Storytelling here: https://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/David… Adam Millard’s “What Makes a Great Deckbuilder?” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_gBR… ——————————– If you’d like to read the script for this video, please visit https://fantasy-hive.co.uk where I host a gaming column, in addition to acting as Assistant Editor! DON’T FORGET TO LIKE, SUBSCRIBE AND RING THAT BELL FOR NOTIFICATIONS! IF YOU’D LIKE MORE CONTENT… FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER: http://bit.ly/2op2jmt

Darkest Dungeon: The Butcher’s Circus – A Free Mode Nobody Wanted

The Butcher’s Circus offers one thing I never thought to see in the Darkest Dungeon – a PvP mode! I could hardly believe it when I first saw the announcement. But curiosity won out in the end, and here I am, sharing with you my impressions – short as they are.

The narrator makes his return with a few blood-curdling lines, but I think voice actor Wayne June could’ve been commissioned to do some shoutcrafting along the lines of “The Vestal breathes her last under the eldritch horrors of the Occultist.” That would’ve shown some extra commitment to the mode.

It’s not a bad piece of free content to dabble in – but it is also absolutely not the kind of content I expected to ever see from this game. At the foundation of Darkest Dungeon has always been a test of endurance – for the characters, in their repeated attempts to map out the Estate of the Ancestor while surviving its untold horrors; and for the player, as he learns to cope with mechanics which often might leave him furious with the injustice of it all.

The aspect which makes this entire mode infuriating is the Death’s Door mechanic. Logic dictates, the folks at Red Hook Studios should’ve removed or heavily modified it. Death’s Door, for those not in the know-how, is a last chance for your characters to survive at zero hp – the name says it all. Your adventurer can die immediately on the first hit after they fall to zero hp, or they could take five or more hits and still, miraculously be alive. Can you see the problem such a mechanic imposes on the game in a PvP setting? Yup, it’s all about that sweet, sweet RNG – which causes plenty of people to play with specific builds in mind, builds which rely on a sure-fire way to win. These builds are all about increasing the stress of your characters to 200, at which point they get a heart attack and die. This is the kind of meta born out of necessity and not particularly enjoyable to engage in – and I picked up on it after but a few matches.

I’ve also heard about disconnect issues – and that whole menagerie of problems so common to many multiplayer modes of otherwise stellar singleplayer games. My advice? If you’re a committed Darkest Dungeon fan, skip this mode and keep your eye on news for the release of the sequel – and if you’re brand new, just play the bloody main game already. If I hear you complaining about having no games to play one more time, I’m gonna smack you!

Maybe there’s more to the Butcher’s Circus. Maybe it’s aimed at a different kind of player, the kind that enjoyed the combat of the game more than any other element, and that kind of player will find the testing of wits against living opponents a challenge worthy of sinking a dozen hours, or more. But with a meta game that forces you to play in one certain way over others, that seems to be very unlikely. That said, Red Hook studios has always listened to their players – I am curious to see if they will show the initiative to tackle the Death’s Door issue, at the very least.

Hades: The Blood Price Update – Excalibur Build #01 (Demeter/Athena)

In stark contrast to my semi-frequent updates on Hades’ development in Early Access, I thought I’d try my hand at delving into a build guide for one of Zagreus’ blade aspects, Excalibur! This one relies on two key boons by Zag’s Olympian relatives — Demeter’s Crystal Beam upgrade for your Cast ability, and Athena’s Divine Flourish, which synergizes with Excalibur’s Holy Aura to devastating effect.

If you manage to snag a Daedalus hammer, the absolutely most useful upgrade, for me, is Breaching Slash, which increases your damage to Armor by 300%. Insanely good for all those tough baddies with plenty of armour in Elysium! As for my legendary, I got Aphrodite’s Aid, which, at a hundred percent outright murders folks: The Hydra ceased to be despite having a third of its health left as soon as I sent Aphrodite’s kissy-kissy projectile in its face! Incidentally, the Hydra, which in very Early Access once terrorized me, really needs to up its game. Blowing a kiss to a mighty monstrosity living in lava and seeing it wrecked—talk about a vulnerable emotional state! 

DOOM Eternal Review: Nearly a Masterpiece

Here it is, my latest gaming review/essay on Doom Eternal’s design! Take a look, I’m happy how it turned out.

DOOM Eternal is the most intense first-person shooter I have ever played and would’ve been a masterpiece, if not for a few strange, bizarre, and downright bad design decisions which take away from the experience. Which is a shame, because the underlying design philosophy of DOOM Eternal is excellent.

There’s also a story! I don’t think anyone much cares for it, so I spoil it a bit — but this is Doom, you really shouldn’t care about the story.

Update on the Denuvo Anti-Cheat Software I speak about at video’s end: Over the last few days (as of 25.05.2020) DOOM Eternal’s executive producer Marty Stratton announced that the software will indeed be removed come the next patch of the game: “Despite our best intentions, feedback from players has made it clear that we must reevaluate our approach to anti-cheat integration,” Stratton said. Good riddance, I say.

The Outer Worlds Review – Great Dialogue, Good Characters…Okay-ish Gameplay?

The Outer Worlds was one of the games I was most excited about in 2019 – so why did it take me this long to finish it? It’s got a lot going for it – the great dialogue, the memorable characters who don’t get nearly enough screen-time, and the…okay…gameplay? No, that doesn’t sound right – Obsidian wouldn’t do something like offer the minimal amount of customization in terms of weapons and equipment, right? They wouldn’t offer us a really boring Perk system in the place of Fallout’s V.A.T.s, would they?

Oh, they would? Ah, then.

That is unfortunate.

It’s not that I disliked The Outer Worlds – but I’m nowhere near as taken with it as I hoped I would be. In this twenty-two minute long video, I’ve gone at great length to explain what my problems with Obsidian’s latest consist of.

Revisiting the Classics: Hellblade – Senua’s Sacrifice, a Descent into the Underworld

I don’t necessarily have the best opinion of content I’ve worked on in the past but I had a friend over this last Friday and I happened to show her the trailer of the recently announced Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 (it looks great, you can see it here) and she’d never heard of the first one. Rather than explain the first one to her, I remembered I’d done a video on it and played it for her.

Imagine my shock when I realised it was quite an in-depth look at Senua’s journey. Well-crafted arguments, solid examples, quality audio. Yes, I was annoyed by having left an instance of repetition in my narration but I’ll forgive my past self this one.

If you’re interested in Hell, Hades and the Underworld, this one will be a great watch. I used the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice to contrast desire and lack of faith with the journey of self-discovery and reconcilliation that Senua goes through.

It’s one of my better video essays and I’d appreciate your support, likes, shares.

Afterparty Review – Crude Fun, Surprisingly Deep

Afterparty, the latest game by Oxenfree developers Night School Studio, swaps suspense for crude, crude humour, while holding onto the good old-fashioned interpersonal drama that might be familiar to you from their previous title!

Does it work? You’d be surprised. Several factors help Afterparty along, foremost among which is the fact that Milo and Lila are a pair of really likable protagonists. The sharp dialogue and its delivery by a stellar cast don’t hurt none, either. Overall, this is an excellent game and I am happy to recommend it…but don’t take my written word for it, watch the video! Go on, you know you wanna.