Monday, January 6, 2014

The Playlist - Lamenting the Loss of Holiday Gaming

Hello 2014! Changing the last digit of the year marker makes little tangible impact in the world around us but still makes everything feel so peculiar. You can't quite put your finger on it, but you know that something is different. Anyway, I had a great (albeit short) vacation and am ready for another 365 days. Over the break I managed to catch up on some of the biggest games of 2013. I finally completed Bioshock Infinite and ran through the short, but enjoyable, Gone Home. Also, I relaxed with a bunch of of my mainstays and picked up a few things for cheap during the Steam sale.

What's Coming Up
Not a ton to report on here as I haven't written much yet for 2014. For GeekBinge, my next Danny's Descant went up today where I briefly discuss the major trends of the last year in gaming and how I think these will play out for the future. In the same piece, I nominate my Games of the Year and single out a few titles I am hoping will see the light of day soon. I also recorded a Podcast for GeekBinge last week but I think it is being delayed to include everyone's vote for Game of the Year. For StudentCom, my Hearthstone impressions will be going up soon but I already posted them early on this blog so nothing terribly exciting there. I have several articles in the works including a few more end-of-year style pieces I am hoping to hammer out this week. Depending on length and content their final location (GeekBinge, StudentCom, or The Sofa) is still to be determined. For The Sofa, I am hoping to publish my belated opinion of Bioshock Infinite later this week and will, of course, put out the usual 'Weekly Roundup' on Saturday.

Just a quick note: I have decided to adjust the titling of the Weekly Roundup and Playlist articles to be a bit more clear/engaging. I find the use of date ranges clutter the archive and are difficult to interpret. For the Playlist, I am taking out the dates entirely and opting for a headline title. This should give a bit more flavour as well as a bit of flexibility on publishing (I will still aim for every Monday but may delay a day or two if it means I can provide links to my latest stuff). For the Weekly Roundup, I will be opting for a more simplified approach with numbered weeks - "Weekly Roundup - 2014 Week 1". Same content, new titling.

What I've Been Playing
I was pretty fortunate over the break and had plenty of time for gaming and managed to finally finish some of the big games of 2013 that, for whatever reason, I just didn't get around to sooner.

Bioshock Infinite
I know. I'm a horrible person to have only finished playing this a few days ago but what's done is done. The one positive of being so late to the party is that I wasn't washed away in all the release hype. In the end, I found the game to be worthy of the game-of-the-year buzz surrounding it even if it wasn't my personal pick (GTA V in case you are wondering). The combat is a bit light and the story feels intentionally vague but the visual design is amazing and worth a play through on its own. I intend to write my full impressions later this week so I'll save my detailed comments for then.

Outlook: One play through was enough for my tastes.

Gone Home
A game of the year candidate that I hadn't played primarily due to the steep (20 euro) price tag for a few hours of play. At 10 euros during the Steam sale, I felt a lot more comfortable buying. I appreciate that Gone Home is really stretching the conventions of what a game can be and was quite impressed by the character development achieved through simple narration. At the reduced price point I feel like I just managed to get my money's worth and I recommend this title to anyone who enjoys indie/concept titles and an intriguing (if ultimately a letdown) story.

Outlook: I don't feel the compulsion to pick up every little item and squeeze out each ounce of 90's nostalgia here so I doubt I will play it again any time soon.

The Stanley Parable
I gave this game a run through for my consideration of game of the year. I still love this game but it doesn't quite take the crown.

Outlook: I may actually play this again soon with my non-gaming wife as she was intrigued by the trailer.

You Don't Know Jack
Picked it up for cheap during the Steam sales and had a bit of fun. Definitely got my 2 euros worth out of this quiz game.

Outlook: Maybe I'll play a bit with some friends but unlikely to garner much of my future play hours.

Chrono Trigger 
As I've previously mentioned, I am giving this game a fresh run through in preparation for the new podcast I am working on. I was swept up in the other stuff I was playing so I only managed to progress an hour or so in.

Outlook: Should get a lot more devotion in the weeks to come.

A bunch of other stuff...
A also played a collection of some of my favourite games included Team Fortress, Street Fighter, Hearthstone, and The Old Republic. Just some relaxing fun and not much more to say that I haven't previously said about them.