For the week of March 4 through 10

Click here to see the games I played last week

Welcome back to my weekly wrap-up showcasing the games I’ve tried for the first time. This week doesn’t include any major releases. However, I did get a new mobile game that if people aren’t talking about yet, they probably will in the coming days/weeks.

An enemy character dying and showcasing the end level graphic from Rollerdrome

March 4 – Rollerdrome

I never watched either of the Rollerball films (the original or the remake) and I’m not too familiar with roller derby, but that didn’t stop me from wanting to try Rollerdrome. Although this doesn’t feel like it takes homage from those outside of the roller skating, I still had fun.

This is a game where you’re not facing off against another team. Instead, you’re on your own trying to take down enemy’s waves as quickly as possible while trying to stay alive. Points are earned by killing foes in combo fashion and performing stunts. It’s like Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater if every level was filled with enemies with rocket launchers and other explosives.

While I enjoyed this brand of combat, I found I was too reliant on grinds to earn bullets and using the game’s “slow down” feature to defeat foes. I played through the first four levels, and the formula was always the same: shoot foes in slow motion, grind to regain bullets, and repeat. The trick system feels deep, but when you’re trying to avoid rockets and snipers,  you’re not too focused on performing flips and grabs.

The novelty is fun but I don’t know if it has too much staying power to keep me interested in the long-term. The scoring system does encourage playing through stages multiple times, I was hoping for a bit more. Later levels may start introducing other obstacles and engaging challenges, I just don’t know if I’ll ever actually see them.

Your character in Warhammer 40K: Boltgun firing at an emeny from a high vantage point

March 5 – Warhammer 40K: Boltgun

When Warhammer 40K: Boltgun was released last year, its main selling point was how it played like the First-Person Shooters of the 90s. I have fond memories of games like Doom, Wolfenstein 3D, and Duke Nukem 3D, so I was craving that kind of nostalgia.

For the most part, this game delivers on that. There is a lot of lore in the 40K universe, so even with my limited knowledge from the Dawn of War RTS series, a lot of this goes over my head. But that doesn’t matter here. You’re just trying to move from one area to the next with the mindset of killing everything that gets in your way.

I was having a lot of fun until the third stage in the game’s first act/chapter. You reach a huge open area and you have to destroy a ton of enemies and there are some very relentless foes. I died a few times before ultimately completing the stage. The worst part for me, there is a plasma weapon in the middle of the area, which is extremely powerful and helpful. It was only after finally reaching it on the fourth or fifth attempt that I got it and was able to finish off the last foes.

This is a game I could see myself playing a bit more of. What I’m most curious about is the types of weapons you unlock in later stages. The first few weapons have been very reliable, so I can only imagine how much better it gets.

A magic attack from a character in DNF Duel

March 6 – DNF Duel

I have no previous experience with the Dungeons and Fighter series. Those games haven’t made their way to the West. So DNF Duel, a side-scrolling fighting game from the same universe didn’t garner a lot of attention. Surprisingly, I had a lot of fun with this fighter, even if its story didn’t quite grab me in any meaningful way.

DNF Duel came out in 2022, and its biggest selling point was its ease of access. This game doesn’t rely too much on intricate moves to pull off cool attacks. While your character has punches and kicks, they can also use MP to perform magical attacks. You can’t spam magic attacks, so you need to mix it up in each fight. Thankfully, each button corresponds to a different attack, so it’s easy to learn controls and be effective in combat.

I played through one of the character’s stories, but it feels like each character has a unique story that leads to one main antagonist. But, as I mentioned earlier, the story isn’t that interesting and I could barely follow along. I just wanted to fight and thankfully, the combat was super enjoyable. I’d want to play this some more just so I can see how different each fighter’s styles are.

Admiring the sky in The Invincible

March 7 – The Invincible

After Fort Solis last year, I got more interested in the walking simulator genre. A few weeks ago, I played through Return to Grace and now I’m trying The Invincible. Of the three, this one feels like the deepest, and like Return to Grace, this one also gives off vibes that there are multiple endings, making it a bit more open-ended.

Of the two hours I’ve spent wandering this strange planet, I still don’t feel like I know what’s going on. There is a lot of exposition here and it’s being slowly revealed. You wake up on a planet with no memory of how you got there. You’re part of an expedition and for the first hour or so of the game, you’re trying to relocate the other members of your crew. At the same time, you’re learning more about them, your previous space exploration, and the planet itself.

Not knowing the source material, I’m not sure what else to expect. However, I am still interested in its story and would like to see it through. My biggest concern is that after a few hours of little story progression, it might take a while before I see the game’s main plot take shape. I liked Fort Solis and Return to Grace because they were cohesive and both didn’t feel bloated to pad their game time. I can’t see myself spending 8-10 hours if that’s what’s required of me.

A gameplay sample from Astro Duel II

March 8 – Astro Duel II

This week’s free game from the Epic Game Store is the 2024 game, Astro Duel II. I don’t have any experience with the first game, but I don’t think that’s necessary here. This is a competitive space shooter with some single-player aspects. Unfortunately, to have fun with this, you need to organize your multiplayer sessions.

This game lacks a proper multiplayer matchmaking system. You can play with others, but you need to use a system called Parsec. For those unfamiliar, Parsec is a remote desktop system. We use it at work to connect to a Mac computer in the office as most people work on PCs. So, to play with others, other than playing together on the same computer, you need to organize play sessions with people and have them remote to one person’s computer.

I will never go this route, so not having any other way to play with people, this game has almost no appeal. The single-player mode is fine, but little more than a training mode where you can get a hang of the different ships, weapons, and power-ups. You earn money by completing levels, which is necessary to unlock additional stages. Again, fine for a bit, but won’t keep you playing long-term. For a free game, it was nice to try but that’s all for me.

The start of a fight in Ex Astris

March 9 – Ex Astris

I suspect that in 2024, the mobile game that will gradually gain attention in the mainstream is Ex Astris. This is a $13.99 (USD 9.99) mobile game from the studio that also developed Arknights. I’ve never played Arknights (I might one day), but I started hearing some solid buzz around a mobile-only RPG and the footage I saw convinced me to pick it up.

This is an RPG that focuses on timing. Your attacks and blocks rely on timing. On the attack, time your moves correctly and you can dish out a lot of damage. On defense, if you time your block correctly, you avoid taking any damage and you build up a cast meter that then allows you to perform a special, high-damage attack. 

The timing is tough to perfect. While I’ve been good at dodging most attacks, I’m not always able to get multiple combos. Getting more than a four-hit attack is tough for me, so some of these early fights have gone on longer than they probably should.

Also, the story doesn’t reveal itself that much. I’ve played for about two hours and I still don’t understand the world I’m in or the characters I’m controlling. One is an investigator from Earth while the other and her pet companion are locals. I’m missing a lot of details, but I’m hopeful I’ll learn more. This is a game I will stick with and slowly chip away at. I’ve been looking for more mobile games that will keep my attention. For now, this should suffice.

Lucas from Fahrenheit standing in front of a door

March 10 – Fahrenheit

My first Quantic Dream game was 2010’s Heavy Rain. It was a game that even with its faults, I couldn’t put down. After that, I always anticipated their next release, even if they were disappointing. Beyond: Two Souls was forgettable while Detroit: Become Human should have been so much better than it was. 

But I’ve never played their first two games: The Nomad Soul or Fahrenheit/Indigo Prophecy. Both are available on PC, so with me buying the latter many years ago when it was remastered, I thought now was a good enough time to give it a shot. For an almost 20-year-old game, it shows its age but there is a lot of what I enjoyed with Heavy Rain on display here.

I’m not too far. I’ve interacted with the playable characters and managed to do a few of the story-changing events. It feels like there are obvious story beats you can’t skip, but I’m super curious how the story diverges if certain actions don’t happen the way they have. Those branching aspects are why I enjoyed Heavy Rain and to some extent, Detroit: Become Human.

There are a few annoying elements. I’m not a fan of the camera and some of the character movements are stiff, even for a game from 2005. Also, the voice acting is fairly weak. I’m not a fan of nearly all the side characters, with some of the performances failing to be believable. Also, the dialogue is weak, but that’s always been a problem with QD games. Still, I could see myself playing more of this, but I’m not in any rush.

Another week is in the books. To be honest, this was one of my busier weeks on a personal level, so I had a hard time picking the games to play. I’ve been listening to podcasts and trying to read up where I can to get some ideas for games to feature here. I’m seriously considering finally picking up Helldivers 2, although I was hoping to play the original game first. It’s a game that I feel I have to try, so it will eventually get featured in this series. While this week might again rely on me going into the vault, I see the following weeks including at least one new release from the busy week of games available.