Let’s Play: Inside

Here is my Let’s Play series on the great game by Playdead, the makers of Limbo. It’s quite a short game, but it leaves a strong impression.

It’s a strong example of how video games don’t need to have everything and the kitchen sink thrown into it. A strong art style and sure-handed direction, with tight puzzle mechanics make you realize you don’t even need dialog or music.

Still, I’m always an advocate of a strong story. Not that Inside doesn’t have a story or a message, but one of Playdead’s tricks is to leave things very vague and open to interpretation.

What I’d Want in a Remastered Mass Effect Trilogy

There’s more and more chatter about EA finally relenting and considering a remastered Mass Effect trilogy for current gen consoles!

A lot of gamers complain that there are too many remasters and not enough originals, which yeah I can agree with, but Mass Effect is one that I’d gladly and without hesitation grab on day one.

Of course, we have no idea what a remaster would actually entail at this point, but why don’t we do some wild speculation! Now, I’m not proposing radical changes to the story, like “FIX THE ENDING!! IT SUXXX!!!!” I have my issues with the conclusion but I don’t believe Bioware is ever going to change anything so a remaster would almost exclusively be cosmetic.

Here are the things that I’d want in my Mass Effect Trilogy Remastered…

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HD graphics and textures.

This seems the most obvious and achievable. I’ve read that Bioware had all the elements at higher quality resolutions but had to downgrade to fit the last gen console requirements. Obviously that’s not a problem anymore and you wouldn’t expect a remaster without a nice new coat of paint anyway.

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All DLC content

Another easy one knock off. Most remastered game do this already so it’d be out of the norm if Bioware didn’t bundle all the extras here. Some of the content was hit or miss, but DLC such as “Lair of the Shadow Broker” and “Citadel” are some of the best moments in the entire trilogy. I’d be pretty peeved if I didn’t get to play those again in a remaster.

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Adapting ME3‘s shooting mechanics and inventory system into the whole trilogy

This might be a lot of work to achieve. Mass Effect 1 barely qualifies as a shooter and could desperately use better gameplay. But it might open up a hornet’s nest such as having to reconsider all the battle encounter stages (to include cover areas) and major changes to enemy AI. Mass Effect 2 was a huge step in the right direction and probably wouldn’t need more than a few tweaks.

That said, I believe the Uncharted Trilogy lifted Uncharted 3‘s shooting mechanics and made them universal to the rest of the games. So it’s not unheard of to do.

The inventory system is Mass Effect 1 is also a mess. It’s probably the biggest thing that keeps me from booting up my Xbox 360 and playing it again. Something would HAVE to be done about it. Seriously. I have nightmares about it.

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Better Shepard customization

One of the things that makes me most jealous about PC gaming is the modding. The custom characters that PC gamers are able to create are gorgeous, making the ones that console gamers have to settle for look ugly and downright weird looking.

If amateur modders can make better facial features and create a wider variety of hair options, why can’t the developers? Modders proved it can be done, relatively easily. Some people simply lifted Ashley’s long hair and placed it onto FemShep with no problem. Call me superficial but I want a better looking Shepard!

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Those are my requests. Again, not looking to “fix” plot issues or make big (if any) changes to any story elements. But these things seem like reasonable, doable features that would make me salivate over jumping back into that world.

Let me know what features you’d like to see!

Thoughts on No Man’s Sky

I’ve had a chance to dive into No Man’s Sky for about 6-7 hours, enough to get an impression of what this game has to offer (I think).

I can definitely see why there’s such a wide spectrum of opinions on this game. It’s not for everybody. I can imagine those who like online shooters like Call of Duty hating this game.

The mechanics of the gameplay can get pretty tedious. At one point, you have to craft a succession of four different items in order to get the right type of fuel for your ship. You can spend almost all of your time staring at the ground around you for minerals and crafting items. To me, I feel like I’m not exploring or taking in the wonder of the environments because I keep bee-lining to the next pinged location on the horizon. But that may just be my gaming tendency.

Isolation is a key word for this game. This is true despite running into NPCs at a surprisingly regular pace. They never feel like real characters so you still feel alone. But it sort of runs contrary to the idea of truly exploring new, undiscovered worlds when you can encounter settlements and outposts constantly.

Most of the planets I’ve explored are desolate rocks but a couple have had lush vegetation which livens up the experience. I’ve yet to come across a landscape teeming with animal life as shown in the trailer and it sounds like that was an exaggeration, yet I’m still hoping it happens. I also wish, but don’t really expect, to see a wide variety of planet types. Will there be a world covered in water? Will there actually be a planet with big cities? The last seems very doubtful but the not fully knowing is part of what makes this game wondrous.

Much of the hype for this game was around how the game is largely built on dynamic algorithms. It’s been an interesting debate on whether a game is better by having truly random, unique environments or if a meticulously crafted experience (such as Uncharted 4) makes for a better video game.

I think my feelings are that the medium can’t be the message. The emphasis on the technology always seems misguided. A game can be a tech or graphic marvel but if I don’t care about the characters or story then I won’t want to play it.

What’s also getting lost on all the reviews and opinions that this is still essentially an indie game. Sure it’s got the backing of Sony but this isn’t a AAA product. People expecting the kitchen sink or a flawless game are piling too much hope onto this game.

My hesitation for jumping onto No Man’s Sky (and the hype bandwagon) was wondering if the game’s expansive scope would in actuality be a pretty desolate and boring playthrough. For now, I don’t think I’ve played enough to have that come to fruition, but I can see the possibility. 19 quintillions planets! How are you ever going to run across anyone else in that universe? I would’ve preferred a Journey approach where the encounters are a bit random and unplanned but at least possible.

For now, the exploration and the crafting are intriguing enough to keep me interested. The question is for how long?

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Now Playing

I know everyone’s on the No Man’s Sky kick, and my friend is really talking it up. But I really had no clue what the game was actually going to be so was waiting until I get a better consensus from everyone.

Meanwhile, I’ve been knocking out a bunch of indie games and still banging around on Star Wars: Battlefront.

Oxenfree

The first indie game on the list was Oxenfree. I’d heard a lot of intriguing things about it, like Life is Strange (and I ended up loving that one), so decided to make the leap.

It was an interesting game, but definitely lacked much of any actual gameplay. A lot of it is walking your character around as she talks to other characters and choosing dialogue options. I know that annoys some people but I usually have no problem with it as long as I’m interested in the characters and story.

There were definitely moments that had me on the edge of my seat. And some actual creep out instances that I wasn’t expecting.

It ended up being pretty short and not quite as mind-bending as it was starting to hint at, but I’m still glad I played it.

And I recorded the live stream which you can watch here.


 

Abzu

Next up was Abzu, which was a pretty new release by the people who made the masterpiece, Journey.

That was very evident as the art style, music, and general feel didn’t veer too far from the former at all. Not that that’s a bad thing. Journey was one of the more memorable, unique gaming experiences I’ve ever had.

The only knock against Abzu is probably that it’s doing a lot of what Journey already did so there’s a diminishing return on the impact.

Still, I kept feeling moments of quiet awe and expansive serenity. Several times during my playthrough, I thought to myself that this is a game I’d want to sit my mom down next to me and watch as I play. I could imagine her “oohing” and “ahhing” at the underwater scenery.


 

Firewatch

I was hesitant to check this one out because I’d heard conflicting reports. Some people gushed about this game while others were very dismissive.

I think my verdict is somewhere in between, edging slightly on the higher side.

To be fair, I think playing the three games in quick succession hampered my experience of Firewatch. If I’d just come off something like Uncharted 4, then maybe this would’ve felt more refreshing.

As it is, I still liked this game. The voice acting is great, considering they have to bring to life two characters that you never even really get to see in person. The art style is very solid. It’s tough to compete against AAA games the likes of Naughty Dog’s but I found this game’s depiction of wilderness just as immersive.

I think, like Oxenfree, there is a point in the story where it feels like it could open up into a larger conspiracy or crazier adventure, but it ultimately settles on a smaller scope.

I was very tempted to make this a Live Stream series too but coming so close off the coattails of my Oxenfree playthrough just didn’t seem right. Perhaps if it had more of a gaming element but it was basically another walking simulator with dialog choices.


 

That’s my current gaming lineup. Let me know if you had any thoughts on these games. And if you think there are any others out there that you think I should check out!