For the week of January 15 through 21
Welcome to the third week of me playing a different game every day. This is a travel week, so my slate of games for the week features some handheld picks. That will also be the case for next week as I continue to be away from home and unable to access my PC, PlayStation, or Xbox.
However, this week, I did get to start playing a high-profile game and got to finally try some notable “classics” I didn’t have the chance before.
January 15 – The Ascent
The Ascent was a game that interested me back in 2021 but I didn’t get around to trying it out until now. It took me some time to get used to the controls, especially when it came to understanding aiming and firing. This caused me to die a lot because I didn’t fully grasp your ability to aim higher or lower depending on the position of enemies. However, once I got the hang of it, I was having fun.
The story isn’t anything special but I did like how there is a lot to explore. After the tutorial section, the first main mission had me venturing through a few different areas. The graphics aren’t incredible but at least on the Steam Deck, the game ran very smoothly, so you can move from one area to the next and not have to wait for things to load.
I’m not sure how much staying power this game has. If all the missions feel the same, I know I’ll quickly grow bored. However, if there is variety, I’d be willing to play a bit more.
January 16 – A Short Hike
I remember hearing a lot of positive buzz around A Short Hike, mostly because of its short length. This is a swift game, taking me only about 90 minutes to complete. But even with that brief runtime, I liked the game’s open-world nature.
The main objective is to reach the highest point of a provincial park to get cell phone reception. How you get up to the top is fairly open-ended. You need to do some things, such as collect feathers which allow you to spend more time climbing or flying. How you get those is entirely up to you. You can find them in different spots in the park. Finding coins will allow you to buy some. I believe collecting at least seven is necessary to reach the top, but I suspect there are more than that.
Because I was so focused on reaching the top, I didn’t do much else. There are more things to do, such as fish. There are even a few more sidequests that give you more context on the other park visitors. I don’t think missing out on those affects the story. These serve more as additional treats to give you more to do. If you’re looking for something quick to play and enjoy, this is an easy recommendation.
January 17 – Exoprimal
Going into Exprimal, I knew there were Player vs Player aspects to the game. What I didn’t know was that the game’s story only progresses by playing in those PvP match-ups multiple times. Success or failure moves the story but you still have to play a few matches before you can unlock the next aspect. Also, while you are competing with another squad, you only compete against them at the end of a battle. Otherwise, you’re mostly fighting against hordes of dinosaurs.
This has a very Japanese feel. It reminds me of games like Binary Domain and Vanquish. The characters feel over the top and super stereotypical. The silent protagonist is fine but my awkward gesturing when responding to my shipmates feels a bit off.
The combat is easy to grasp and a lot of fun. I ended up playing in four PvP matches, winning half of them. But, I only ended up seeing two levels in those four matches. I hope there is more variety, otherwise the fad of shooting dinosaurs will quickly lose its appeal.
January 18 – SolarStriker
As I was flying to Europe, I decided that my time on the plane would be spent trying at least one older game. My flight had some movies I haven’t seen (such as The Super Mario Bros. Movie, the latest Indiana Jones, and the indie film, Past Lives) but I did manage to try the vertical shooter, SolarStriker. This is a 34-year-old game for the original Game Boy. I had no idea that Nintendo developed a shoot-em-up, so this was a nice little surprise and something I quite enjoyed.
I only managed to reach the game’s third stage, but reaching that was quite a challenge at first. Although the controls are simple: just move and shoot, this is still a game where one hit kills you. So, I was dying a lot at first. There is a lot of memorization, so I suspect that those who are good at remembering the placement of enemies can probably finish this without getting hit once.
January 19 – Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy
I’ve seen Getting Over It memes for years, so I finally found the time to try it out. My goodness, what a frustrating but crazy game. I only spent about 30-35 minutes before accepting that I wasn’t going to get very far. I can appreciate its physics and the concept of trying to climb a mountain, but after failing and falling time and time again, I couldn’t continue playing.
However, this does make me even more interested in Bennett Foddy’s next game Baby Steps. It’s another one of his movement-focused games and I suspect that I won’t get very far, but that I still want to see what it’s like and just how little progress I would make before giving up.
January 20 – Dragon Quest/Warrior III
I’ve wanted to play Dragon Quest III for a while. When they announced the remake last year, I was almost certain I would wait until then to try it for the first time. But, being on this trip, I had the Game Boy Color version on my Analogue Pocket and I just had to finally give it a try. I didn’t make too much progress but I like the open-world approach.
I managed to get the thief key and the magic bomb, so I believe I’m at the point where I’ll reach the game’s main storyline. But it took me a while to get there. The combat system takes some time to get used to, especially with this version. The more recent remaster, which is available on mobile and Nintendo Switch probably would have been the better option to start with. I’ve read they improve a lot of the original aspects, and I think they look nice. However, this does make me even more eager to play the upcoming remake, whenever that might come out.
January 21 – Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown
This is a game I’ve been looking forward to playing since the first gameplay videos hit the web last summer. I’ve enjoyed the last few Prince of Persia games. The 2008 reboot was a lot of fun and I’m probably one of the few people to play and enjoy both versions of 2010’s The Forgotten Sands, as the Wii version was well-designed.
So far, I’m still in the opening sections of The Lost Crown. I’ve unlocked only 4% of the game’s map and I’m still trying to complete the first real objective. My biggest frustration at the moment is the lack of save points in more reasonable locations. While the game does save your progress, any time you die results in your starting from the last save tree you visited.
There is a part I’ve encountered with poisonous enemies and environmental hazards that have resulted in me hitting the “game over” screen a few times. Having to venture through a few areas to get to where I was means I’m often not 100% healthy. So, one hit of poison and my health is nearly depleted.
Still, I like the combat and I’m curious as to the newer abilities I’ll start to unlock. This is a game I will complete in 2024.
That wraps up this week’s installment. As mentioned in the intro, I’m out of the country, so next week’s feature will only include mobile and handheld games. I brought some older Switch games with me, which will allow me to start a few of the games I bought that I just never got around to playing. Until next week’s blog, thanks for reading!