Hey it’s me the guy that plays games, talkin’ about the games I'm playing. How are you doing? I’m alright. Could be better, but I’ve been worse too, so you know. It’s funny, have I mentioned why I started to blog about media, which led to my minor in Media Studies? It’s because I felt bad about consuming it all the time and not having “anything to show for it.” So I started writing about it to feel like I wasn’t wasting my time experiencing all of it. A very healthy way to engage with things, I’ve been told.
Anyways, that’s enough for Mint’s Therapy Hour. I feel like I’ve been playing more than analyzing lately, so here’s some of the latter to balance things out.
Monster Hunter Stories 2
This game. This game. Hoo-hoo-hoo, this game. Monster Hunter Stories felt criminally underrated, so I’m glad it’s getting its dues right now, as far as sales and praise go. It’s all well deserved, because MHS2 takes everything that sucked about the original and improves on it. To call this game a Pokémon clone frankly does it a disservice. It has, in my opinion, more engaging combat than the former, and a more interesting story on top of that. It’s nothing special — you’re out to solve the mystery of giant holes that are making monsters go wild — but it makes up for the predicability with a bucket-load of heart and some fantastic cutscene direction.
It’s also just a blast getting to tame some of my favorite monsters in Monster Hunter, and have them be my buddies on an adventure. Personally, I enjoy engaging with the world of Monster Hunter in this way more than I do the usual hunts of mainline series. The rock-paper-scissors fights are always fun, and the process of determining the behaviors of a monster and countering it with your group of Monsties stays interesting, especially as the battles get more difficult. My only criticism is that some fights feel like they go on a tad too long. I’m 30 hours into the game, and I’ve now hit a wall trying to beat a Mizutsune that will probably require a shift in strategy and Monstie, but I don’t see myself stopping any time soon. And I’ve barely touched the Co-Op! This game rules and you should play it.
Splitgate is the kind of game that shocks you when you find out it didn’t already exist. In summary: it’s Portal, but a shooter. That’s pretty much it, and it owns. You can shoot through portals, and throw grenades at the portals of enemies to close them. That’s all you need to start pulling some absolutely wild plays.
Beyond the cool gameplay mechanic, it’s also nice to just have an Arena-Shooter to play again. The game has big Halo-Vibes, with all kinds of fun modes like Sniper-Shotties, VIP, King of the Hill, and so on. It’s very chill and fun to log in for a round or two (if the servers are working, considering they’ve been at capacity for days now, heh). My only complaint is the the menu UI is genuinely, unequivocally hideous. Not a deal-breaker, but damn if it wasn’t close. They’re lucky the game feels as good to play as it does.
I come back to Warframe now and then, hoping it can capture me the same way Destiny 2 eventually did. It still hasn’t taken very much, but I’m getting closer. It helps that the new Warframe is a cute idol girl that has fancy water powers and a manta ray that she surfs and can do tricks on (including railgrinds!).
It continues to be a game I play when I’m not in the mood to play other games, but it also works handily as a game to play while I watch movies and listen to podcasts, similar to MHS2. The onboarding process is also a lot better, so I feel like I’m making good progress compared to previous attempts. Still a little annoyed that I have to check wikis to figure out where to get some materials and the like, but obtuse games do be like that.
Ender Lilies: Quietus of the Knights
Remember Chaos Legion? Of course you don’t, I’m the only one on planet earth that remembers Chaos Legion. Well, Ender Lilies is Chaos Legion if it were a 2D Metroidvania. You play as a relatively defenseless girl — I say relatively because she can dodge with a forward-dive that would rival an MLB star athlete. The rest of her power stems from the spirits that she frees from a Dark Souls-like corruption, who then give her abilities and attacks. It’s a very pretty game, with a great soundtrack, and it feels good play, especially because I haven’t touched a Metroidvania in quite a while.
This is all great, but it’s probably only a step below Hollow Knight in terms of difficulty so far, and I’m not far in the game, so it could get even harder. It’s not a very relaxing experience, especially when it comes to boss fights. But I’ve been enjoying my time, and unraveling the mystery of the plague that’s fallen on the land has been intriguing enough. Worth taking a look at.
I haven’t gotten very far in this game, but I bought it to support a developer that isn’t American (shout out to Colombia). Cris Tales so far is a very pretty, but slightly unpolished love-letter to JRPGs. And not in the “I played Earthbound and think I can do a better job” way either. It has a real veneration for the genre, and feels earnest instead of ironic, and sincere in its plot instead of cloying. The art style is also gorgeous, with a big focus on Colombian architecture being converted into these beautiful, almost art-deco-esque landscapes.
That said, mechanically I'm not being drawn in too much. While the time-travel mechanics are great — I'm a tiny bit of a Chrono Trigger fan, if you didn't know — the timed attacks that take after the Mario RPGs are not executed very well. And while I complained about MHS2 having some overly long fights, Cris Tales takes this to an absurd degree in comparison, with boss fights going on way too long after you've solved the puzzle of how to defeat them. None of this is a deal-breaker, and honestly a lot of it is patchable, but it's worth considering. Frankly I don't really care about these issues as it stands, and will continue to keep playing simply because I can see the passion that was put into the game, and I intend to reward that passion with my time.