More Games to Play

Time for some more games I recommend playing.

Hades
Welcome to the world of Greek myth, the realm of the gods… or the realm one god in particular. You play as Zagreus, son of Hades, in your quest to escape the underworld and reach the surface, perhaps even go to Olympus to meet your aunts, uncles, and cousins. Speaking of your illustrious family, you won’t be tackling this challenge alone, the Olympians grant you boons as you progress through the levels of the Underworld. But… eventually you will die
And that is were the setting does extra duty, you see Hades is a rouge like game, meaning you are meant to paly again and again against randomized levels, getting different perks on each “run”. Most games in this genre have to somehow explain how you keep coming back to try again. But you are the son of Hades, Lord of the Dead, your “reresection” back home is treated as “another day, another death” by most of the denizens of the Underworld… Zagreus especially, who shakes off death about as fast as the blood from the pool he resurrects out of.
As you progress you will unlock new weapons to use, new boons to play with, and even make some semi permeant stat boosts between runs to make things more manageable. And on top of all that it even has some great interpretations of various Greek myths, and not just ones limited to the gods.

Slay the Spire
From one rouge like to another, but where Hades is an action packed brawler game, Slay the Spire is a deck drafting game. In Slay the Spire, you select a class that determines what strategies you can use in the run, for instance the warrior might go for a big armor or a high risk self damage strategy, where as the rouge might go with a cheap card strategy that relies on drawing a bunch of cards and unloading them all at once. But at the start you only have a basic preconstructed deck that shows off a few of the things your class can do, and as you progress (killing enemies, finding shops, and more esoteric encounters) you will have opportunities to add more cards to that deck… and even the opportunity to remove some cards to make your deck more consistent. But the spire has many mysteries, and many strange encounters.
For if you like the idea of rouge like games, but don’t like the twitch reaction speed elements. Or if you just like a well made deck crafting game.

Elden Ring
From the creators of Dark Souls, Demon Souls, Bloodborne, and Sekiro, comes the latest “Souls” game. For those that don’t know, this company has a reputation for making “hard” games where you die, drop your unspent experience/wealth, try to get it back and make more progress, die again, and repeat. Now you will notice I put “hard” in quotations, this is because the difficulty of these games is vastly overhyped. That is not to say the games are easy, far from it. These games certainly are hard… but they are fair.
Was there a trap that caught you off guard? Look for the telegraph and learn from it. Enemy came “out of nowhere”? Maybe dropped down on you? They were always there, and if you spot them early you might even get in some free damage. Boss killing you over and over? Learn their moves and the timings, almost no attacks are completely undodgeable.
But in Elden Ring a new wrinkle was added: an open world. In all the previous games there might be a branching path here or there, but the core game was pretty linear. In Elden Ring you can go off and explore for hours before encountering your first main story boss… or even skip that boss altogether if you explore enough. Or you might be out exploring and suddenly a dragon swoops down, taking out a bunch of other enemies, and starting up boss music. The good news is that these “overworld bosses” you can encounter at random can be run away from and they will stop chasing you… eventually.
As with most “Souls Like” games there is a top level story, a sub level story, and more world building than you can shake a stick at.
If you do decide to pick up this game I heard an anecdote that rings true in my experience: “You know you are in the right part of the game if the encounters are hard, but manageable. If the boss is beating you, but you feel you can win.”

Stardew Valley
And now for something on an entirely different wave length. Stardew Valley is a farming sim game. But don’t let the simplicity of that genre description fool you it is quite a bit more than that. To start the game, your character is tired of the city life and decides to take up their decides grandfather’s offer to take over an old farm in the town of Stardew Valley. To start off you are clearing the land of some weeds, planting your first crop, caring for them, selling them off when they ripen, and repeating. But soon you get enough money to start buying some upgrades to your land and house and you will start making some things to make your job easier, like scarecrows and sprinkler systems. Soon you will discover the mines that house ore for your crafting, but also monsters you have to defend yourself from in order to get that useful ore. Or maybe you got yourself a chicken coop or barn to raise some animals? Or maybe you are focusing on your relationships with the various townsfolk and seeing what stories they have to tell. Or perhaps you might have tripped over one of the more magical aspects of this town and started exploring where that leads. Plenty of things in Stardew Valley to keep ones attention.

Game Recomendations

So I have recommended some webcomics, some books, and a specific author, now for my other big obsession: Video Games.

Going to go with a variety of choices here, the only real criteria being that I have played and enjoyed a given game. So here we go

Ghost of Tsushima
I am something of a Japanese history and culture nerd (thank Gaijin Goombah on YouTube for that) so a game that takes place during the Mongol invasion of Japan? YES PLEASE! You play as Jin Sakai, the young lord of the Sakai clan and nephew of the ruler of the island of Tsushima. After the first confrontation with the Mongols goes horrifically bad, most of the Samurai of the island are dead, with Jin being left for dead and only being saved when a female thief saves him. It is now your job to save your uncle and the island from the Mongols, but the strict way honor code your uncle taught you won’t work against this enemy, so Jin is forced to learn new strategies and make unsavory allies in order to save his home.
Gameplay wise the game is split into exploration, stealth, and combat. Most situations can be solved either by sneakily eliminating the enemy or charging in with sword drawn and a curse on your lips (although stealth is usually the better option most of the time, you can usually fall back on a brawl if things fall apart). Sometimes you are forced into stealth or combat (infiltration of a castle vs fighting on the front line of a siege) but you are fairly free to handle situations as you see fit. And all of this is not to mention that the game is drop dead gorgeous.

Monster Hunter: Rise
Want to hunt big monsters? Want to wield a giant sword while you do it? Or how about a lance that is also a gun? Or sour through the sky spinning a glaive at the monster’s unprotected back? Monster Hunter is all about it. The play loop is simple: Hunt monster, return to town, craft new weapons, armor, and items to help hunting bigger monsters, repeat. There is also a story in there, and a nice one too, plus a bunch of lore to justify hunting these monsters. But let’s be real, you aren’t here for the story, you are here for the mechanics. And Rise (like most Monster Hunter games) has a few unique mechanics to offer. Firstly is the wire bugs, allowing both for more mobility than in any other Monster Hunter game to date, and being a resource system for new big moves unique to each weapon. Speaking of weapon’s unique moves, the Switch Skills system allows you to swap out some of the moves on weapons to further customize your playstyle.
Rise is one of the most newbie friendly Monster Hunter games so far. That is not to say it isn’t hard to get into, Monster Hunter games are notorious for being hard to understand. But as long as you are willing to open a wiki or look up some guides on YouTube nothing is too arcane or shrouded in mystery that you cannot master it.

Elder Scrolls and Fallout
Just some good “comfort food” games. If you don’t know them yet… what rock have you been living under? These are more or less the base lines for modern open world games.

Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin
This game is one part 2D side scrolling beat ’em up and one part shockingly accurate rice farming simulator, yes really. You are Sakuna, you are a Kami and as the daughter of a Kami of agriculture and a Kami of War you have inherited both of your parent’s affinities. As such, you gain power by bringing in a harvest of rice and you gain the resources to harvest that rice by going out and fighting demons. But you have to manage your time fighting because managing your rice field is a surprisingly demanding task and how well you do that determines how good your stats will be.
On the story end the game isn’t lacking either. Sakuna at the start of the story is a lazy, spoiled, arrogant, Kami. But after a chance encounter with a group of humans (a large cowardly man who is knowledgeable, but fails at most of his endeavors. An energetic, rebellious, boy and a shy, reserved girl. A baby. And a Western religious missionary.) Sakuna is forced to live on an island of Demons, tasked with subduing said demons. All the characters undergo a myriad of developments and the story intersects with the mechanics in surprising ways. And finally as with my first pick, it has a surprising amount of fairly accurate (if twisted for story purposes) references to real world things, mostly how the Japanese viewed the Kami, but also daily life and Western Missionaries.

 

I still have plenty of games to recommend, but this is enough for today.