Category Archives: video game

My top 5 games of 2023

Well, look at the time! Another year has passed, and I have to say, compared to the years before this one, it didn’t suck nearly as bad. Sure, it still had its share of downs to equal the ups, but looking back, I think this is the year I could say, “Yeah, I’d do that again if I could.” It was a combination of good food, good company, and good games.

I know this is new for me, as I’ve never been much for recapping what I played, but I decided this year that I want to give a spotlight to the games I think went beyond good and sailed into great, taking up so much of my time, but in a good way.

So join me after the cut as I look at my top 5 games of the year. (In order of lowest to highest ranking.) Continue reading

Game review: Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion for EGS

I originally got Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion (Hereafter shortened to Turnip Boy) on the Google play store because it sounded like everything I wanted in a mobile game. But it turned out that I was too much of a klutz to complete it using touch controls, so I wasn’t able to finish it, thus I could never review it, even though I liked what I played.

Fast forward a few months later, and I saw Turnip Boy on Epic Game Store, and I decided that even though I had to buy it again, I liked it enough on my phone that I wanted to see how it ends. As it turns out, I liked Turnip Boy enough that I don’t even mind buying it twice.

I think it helps that despite being a Metroidvania, one of the genres I’m not keen on, it does manage to make the formula work for me because the game isn’t that big. I get a new item, and it’s close enough to me hitting a roadblock in another area that I think, Oh, that’s right, I needed this to get into that other area. Continue reading

Versus series: Diablo Immortal VS Diablo IV

This installment of the versus series became inevitable pretty much right after I did the Diablo IV server slam. But that little weekend-thin slice wasn’t enough to build a solid idea of what the full game would offer. Since then, I’ve played a lot of Diablo Immortal, and I got Diablo IV around three weeks ago. You’d think I would play one character to the end of the story, but no, I played every class. My main, a Rogue named RhodaRargh, has just entered Act III at level forty, and all my other characters are around level thirty. At this point I can safely say I’ve seen the core loop even if I’m not yet ready to fire off a review.

What I am ready for is an in-depth examination of what Diablo Immortal offers in relation to Diablo IV, and I’ll say right up front, I am genuinely shocked at who is winning this contest with flying colors. I’m coming into this contest with years of bias against free mobile games and all their bullshit. So believe me when I say how shocking it is that I am endorsing Diablo Immortal as the winner by a freakin’ landslide.

Before I get to the apples to oranges fight, let me be clear to avoid drama with the die-hard fans. I’m not saying that Diablo IV sucks, okay? I’m just saying that Diablo Immortal manages to do a better job of getting me into the game while respecting my time and my budget. Continue reading

Game review: Divinity: Original Sin II for Steam

It’s rare for me to mention how much time I played a game before reviewing it, but I think saying upfront that I played five hundred and thirty nine hours of Divinity: Original Sin 2 can help back up some of what I’m going to say. This is because for as much as I loved a lot of the game, I also hated it in equal measure. In fact, I can’t think of a single game that challenged me more to wring enjoyment from it while it in turn tried to aggravate me to the point of wanting to break a controller.

Oh, fair warnings are in order. This will likely be a long post, and there will be spoilers. So if you wanted the short and sweet, spoiler free version: great combat systems cannot balance out terrible enemy AI, nor can it absolve the schism between Pratchett-like humor and grimdark world building, and it cannot overcome not one, but two terrible control schemes.

So, spoilers and long-windedness after the cut m’kay? Continue reading

Game review: Lara Croft Go for Android

Ages ago, back when I was using a Windows Phone because of the Zune music service (another great idea Microsoft abandoned even though they had the better service over Spotify AND Apple Music) one of the first mobile games I paid to play was Hitman Go, and I very much loved it. It was set up like a board game on a diorama with little plastic figurines, and while there was some light puzzling to it, I didn’t have too much trouble breezing through its levels. Even so I came away feeling pretty positive about it aside from some finicky control issues.

When Lara Croft Go came out, I put it in my Want To Play list, but as so often happens, I forgot it existed until it recently got pulled off the market. When it got put back up for sale a few months later, I said, “No, this time, I’m going to buy it.” So I did, and I’ll say right upfront, this could have been a 5 star game. It loses a star for stupid greedy reasons, but I’ll get to that in due time.

The first thing to know about Lara Croft Go is, the designers altered the formula to be less of a board game, and more of a puzzle game. And let me tell you, some of those puzzles are real brain ticklers. I played several levels where I had to put the phone down and come back to it with fresh eyes the next day. One level near the very end had me so perplexed I surrendered and went to watch a YouTuber try it, and seeing them fail the same way I did actually made me realize what I was missing, so I closed the video, went back to the game, and nailed the solution on the first (twenty-first, is more accurate) try. So when I say this game is a joy for puzzle lovers, I mean, this is going to really test whether you are paying attention or not. Continue reading

A Vampire Survivors: Whiteout update

Before we get into the  reviewy stuff, I should apologize for missing updates and explain. I was rushing to get reviews together from a book I’ve been loving, a mobile game I have mixed feelings on, and an RPG that’s damn near broke me. All of them were close to the finish line when my dog Toffi died. It’s been close to two weeks since then, and I’m still waking up and looking around for her. The husband is still calling for her when it’s time to take the other furbabies out for walkies. So, yeah, we both needed time to process, and we’re not really done with that.

On top of that, I’m using November’s NaNoWriMo as the kick in the ass I needed to get back into writing books like I used to. I’m making steady progress there, but that means I might be a little light on reviews because I was too busy trying to plan crimes most heinous for my characters to solve. So if I miss a few posts, just bear with me, and I promise the new book is going to make up for my lack of reviews.

With all that out of the way, I’m sure I’ve mentioned before that it’s rare for a review to be the final word on most games these days. There’s constant tweaking and balance changes for some that can drastically alter a game for better or worse. Otherwise there can be added content, either as paid DLC or as free updates.

The vast majority of the professional review sites rarely revisit games to offer new reviews in light of these changes, but to be fair, most have been struck from the lists for early review copies for daring to call game publishers like EA, Activision-Blizzard, and Ubisoft out for their shitty policies. I respect them for that, but it means they have to buy games on release day, and then play them as fast as possible. It’s a race to see who can put out the first proper reviews, so they don’t have a lot of free time to pick an old game back up and try out the shiny new toys that got added after their review.

I however, have lots of free time, and given that Vampire Survivors remains high on my list of favorite games to chill out with, a recently released winter-themed update boasting a new character, weapon, relic, bonus level, and character morph sounded like the perfect excuse to get back into the senseless slaughter of thousands of rampaging monsters. Continue reading

Game review: Suika Game (for browsers)

I know what you’re thinking. A browser game? Really? Yes, but what got me looking at it was a review for a Nintendo Switch game of the same name Suika Game, or Watermelon Game. The review said, “There’s also a browser game, but it isn’t as good.” And then I said, “Well that may be so, but I don’t own a Nintendo Switch, so let’s try this bad boy out.”

That was around 2 PM on Monday of last week. I looked up at what I thought was a moment later to see it was 6 PM, and I’d yet to go out to get the shopping done for dinner. So I said, “All right, one more game, and then I’ll quit.”

That should be all you need to know to understand this is going to be a glowing endorsement from me, but I’ll go ahead and do the full review. Continue reading

Red Bull limited edition flavors and some other stuff

Boy howdy, this week’s review of all the so-called Limited Edition Red Bull drinks promises to be hard to judge. They’re all just so good, and unlike Monster’s candy-inspired flavors, they taste like real fruit juices got added to a can of regular Red Bull. The new summer edition with Juneberry is certainly delightful, but is it better than dragon fruit, watermelon, or apricot mixed with strawberry? Yes sir, a hard competition indeed.

Or, we could review Death Stranding, which I finally finished. That’s on me for getting tangled up with two massive games at the same time and failing to juggle them right. (To be fair, I suck at real juggling, too.)

If you’ve followed me long enough, you know I’m not really a fan of Hideo Kojima. I’ve played several versions of the original PS1-era Metal Gear, the PS Vita remasters of Metal Gear 2 and 3, and the PS4 release Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. In all cases, Hideo’s penchant for overwriting by way of repeating the exact same information twice or even three times rubs me the wrong way, and it gets in the way of what I really want to do, play the games. In all these cases, I’ve ended up repeating a similarly worded lament, “Dude, if you want to talk so much, write a movie or a book!” Continue reading

Game review: Steam World Heist for Steam

I realized moments after starting Steam World Heist that I’d played the games out of order, or sort of out of order. Hand of Gilgamech is an odd entry in the series, as it could be a prequel that comes before the first Steam World Dig, or it could be a sequel taking place long after Heist. In any case, Heist is meant to follow the two Dig games, being a sequel that takes place a hundred or so years after the previous entry.

Before I get into the plot or mechanics, I will drop the early verdict and say that this was the least enjoyable of the games thus far. Like, it’s okay, but not really great or bad. The shift to turn-based strategy combined with the idea of pillaging ships for resources could have been the best pivot away from the resource management of the first two games.

Instead, this entry in the Steamverse also got shackled with resource management for the dumbest of reasons, and with a burden of a required grind with every new character introduced. But if it were just these two factors, I might still be forgiving and regard it as a good game. Instead, Steam World Heist continually makes choices to bury any hope of fun under a pile of terrible ideas. Continue reading

My GTA VI wishlist

Believe it or don’t, but I’m actually ahead of my blogging schedule for once, with a few reviews already queued up and good to go. Finding myself with free time on my hands, I decided to go back to Grand Theft Auto V to finish up the last of the story. Unlike my run on the Xbox, this time I chose to spare Trevor because even if I still don’t like him, the idea of getting rid of Steve Haines and Devin Weston was more appealing after putting up with their crap a second time around.

I’ve actually been playing GTA V a lot on PC, though I’ve frequently restarted without getting very far beyond the second heist. This is because I’m not really playing the game like other folks. I don’t go in for crazy stunts or skillful getaways from higher level police pursuits. I watch folks do that on YouTube, and of course I find it impressive. But mostly, I play to chill out.

I might get in a car and cruise around the highway while listening to the radio. Other times, I like to play golf with Franklin and his golfing buddy, Castro Lagano, or play tennis with Michael against his wife Amanda, or against a random dude at the public courts. (Though I prefer playing random strangers because Amanda was working on her backhand almost as she was on her reverse cowgirl with her tennis instructor. She’s set me up with that cross court backhand so often, I’ve had actual nightmares about it.) Sometimes, I like to steal the faster cars and get on the highway late at night to get a mostly free length of road for a real test run. And sometimes I just go for a walk to take in whatever is happening around my character. Continue reading