For the week of March 11 through 17

Click here to see the games I played last week

Welcome back!

This week’s slate of games is all over the place. I managed to try both Epic Game Store freebies, we’ve got a popular sports title featured, and I even dug out my Playdate to play a new game on it.

The spacestation overworld map from Citizen Sleeper.

March 11 – Citizen Sleeper

Back in 2022, a lot of people were talking about Citizen Sleeper as this engaging RPG that relied heavily on its storytelling. I’ve always had it circled as a game I wanted to try but it wasn’t until now that I got to play it.

I went in not knowing what kind of RPG it was. I knew it focused on narrative but I didn’t realize just how much. You’re interacting with many people and doing a lot of “things” but all the “action” is in random events that help move the story along. You only have a set number of actions you can perform in a day/cycle, so you have to pick and choose what you do. For the first part of the game, I’ve got three quests that I am trying to juggle and I can’t do everything, plus maintain my health and make enough money to pay off debts.

Playing this on the Xbox Series console, this feels so much better suited on the Nintendo Switch, Steam Deck, or even a mobile device. I think I would enjoy myself even more if I’m laid back in a chair, bed, or sofa and following the story. Not being too far along, I would consider picking up on something else while on sale and dedicate the time and effort to see how the story unfolds.

One of my home designs from Summer House.

March 12 – Summer House

There isn’t too much to say about Summer House. This is a sandbox game that allows you to build a home using the different tools at your disposal. It’s very affordable at the moment through Steam, costing less than $6.

Unfortunately, this is not optimized for the Steam Deck where I first started playing. The controls are designed with the keyboard and mouse in mind, so the controller just a d-pad doesn’t work the same way. I suspect a patch would fix this issue, but I don’t know when that is planned. But, for the price and the novelty that this game offers, I still had fun fooling around.

A combat sequence from Legend of Legacy

March 13 – The Legend of Legacy HD Remastered

I managed to snag an early copy of The Legend of Legacy HD Remastered. I didn’t play the 3DS original, so I went into this game without any prior knowledge. The idea of a story with seven different characters automatically reminded me of Octopath Traveller II, so my thinking was that this is very much like that. Unfortunately, that doesn’t appear to be the case, but I’m still too early to judge.

I plan to do a proper write-up later in the week after the game officially launches on March 22. So far, I’m enjoying the combat, although it feels kind of limited. The story is almost non-existent. For the time being, all I’m doing is exploring areas and filling out a map, which you can then sell to buy more maps. I don’t see where the narrative is other than being on this newly discovered island. Your task as a surveyor is kind of interesting, but again, doesn’t expand much more than that.

Luka Doncic (in a Sacramento Kings jersey) dunking over two Hornets players in NBA 2K24

March 14 – NBA 2K24

Playing any sports game not developed by my current employer, I have to be as objective as possible. My big break in the video game industry was sports games, I still always pay attention to the genre (eg. the new Top Spin teaser released this week was nice but I want to learn more about it).

The NBA 2K series is one that I play every year, but rarely at launch. I’ll wait for it to go massively on sale or to be offered for free through Game Pass or PlayStation+. So, with it now available on Game Pass I gave it a try and my feelings over the past few years haven’t changed much…I can’t grasp its popularity.

The game still feels disjointed. For years, some animations have felt out of place. While the presentation aspects are fine, still having players walk like robots between plays takes you out of it. I also find the rubber banding to be so damn annoying. You will dominate, then all of a sudden your shots won’t go in and the computer takes a double-digit lead. I don’t want to play online; I enjoy creating teams/rosters and fooling around. But, constantly dealing with gameplay inconsistencies frustrates me.

It’s hard because I still have fond memories of the 2K series from 5-10 years ago. Even with the campy plots and awful voice work, I enjoyed playing the story-driven character modes. The historical teams and modes are always fun, but that’s it. They want you to play My Team and I don’t have the time and energy to invest in making those worth my while.

One of the completed puzzles from The Bridge

March 15 – The Bridge

There are two games that the Epic Game Store is offering for free. I wasn’t sure if I played either of these games. For The Bridge, I thought that I perhaps played it on the PlayStation Vita back in 2013. It felt like it was one of those games offered as part of the PlayStation Plus free game of the month. But, the moment I started the game, I knew this was my first time playing it.

This is yet another one of those puzzle games that relies on modifying your environment to progress. You’re rotating the screen and moving your character to reach the exit. Playing through the first two chapters of the game, which amounts to about 15 or so puzzles, the only time I struggled was when the game introduced a new environmental obstacle. Once I understood what those things did, then the next puzzle that featured the same thing became slightly easier to complete.

I’m not sure how many chapters there are in the game, but it doesn’t feel like there are that many. If I had the time, I could see myself completing this game. In any case, this is the type of puzzle game I enjoy playing, so I’m glad I finally got to try it out.

An early cutscene from Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

March 16 – Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

It’s been well over a decade since I completed Deus Ex: Human Revolution. It was one of my favorite games of 2011 (I put it at #4 when I was at GameSpot), but I never played the sequel, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, even though it was a game I was anticipating. Now that it’s the other free game this week in the Epic Game Store, I booted it up and instantly remembered why I was so fond of the first game.

I went through the opening section in Dubai, going completely non-lethal until the closing sequence. After dying a few times, I decided to high-tail it to the helicopter trying my best to avoid combat. It was significantly easier than trying to shoot my way through that sandstorm.

The opening sequence is brief, only about 20-30 minutes long. I spent a good chunk recapping the events of the first game. Even though I was fond of the game, it’s been 12 years since I played it and I forgot a lot of what happened. The 10+ minute recap video to start the game (optional but highly recommended) is great for those who missed out on Human Revolution or forgot like me.

After having so much fun with Cyberpunk 2077 last year, this is another game I’d love to keep playing. The expected game time is somewhere around 16-30 hours. That’s not too bad. It’s unlikely Embracer (who I believe holds the rights to the franchise) is considering returning to this series. However, if it being free through the EGS gives the series a nice boost, maybe it’s something they’d reconsider.

A collage of screens from Mars After Midnight

March 17 – Mars After Midnight

When I do my “Year in Review” blogs, I don’t highlight the lowlights. If I did, then the Playdate would have been included, without question. I was looking forward to it and trying out some quirky games. I had a hard time enjoying enough of the 24 games that came with the unit. In all, I didn’t touch the thing much long after those games were redeemed. However, I was hearing some interesting buzz around the game Mars After Midnight. So, I dug it out, charged it, updated it, and then proceeded to spend the $6 USD to try it out.

Mars After Midnight is the latest game from Lucas Pope, the mind behind the cult-favorites Paper, Please and The Return of the Obra Dinn. He has a unique style in his puzzle/narrative games and although I never tried Obra Dinn, Paper, Please was a game I enjoyed sampling back in the day.

This time around, the game revolves around a community help center in the off-colony district of Mars. You, as the host need to plan, manage, and cater these events every night. You’ll work the door allowing or rejecting the creatures interested in attending. You’ll need to clean up after attendees as they rummage through the food you have on display. Then at the end of the night, you’ll clean up and plan for the next evening’s session.

After three sessions, I was having quite a bit of fun. Each session takes what feels like 10 minutes of micromanaging. It was easy to determine who can and cannot enter, but the tidying of the refreshments can be a bit challenging but far from impossible. I’m curious if this is all there is to the game or if things get more complex. Regardless, Mars After Midnight is easily one of my favorite games of the year.

A few major releases are coming soon (specifically around March 22). I already have my copy of Princess Peach Showtime!, which I plan on playing this weekend when I have the time. Other than that, I’m still looking at what I’ll try this week and feature in next week’s blog.