For the week of March 18 through 24

Click here to see the games I played last week

This past week has felt like the most challenging week to play games. It’s not that I was too busy or I didn’t want to play games. I spent a lot of time playing games. It’s just that for this week’s slate of games, I could not find much enjoyment in them. I’m not saying these games are bad, but I had difficulty enjoying what I was playing. I’ll explain more below.

An early sequence from Octopath:COTC

March 18 – Octopath Traveler: Champions of the Continent

I felt compelled to try out the mobile game because Octopath Traveler II was a game I loved last year. This launched a few years ago, smack between the two console versions. I vaguely remember when this launched that there were some concerns about how to translate a single-player RPG into a free-to-play experience. From what I can gather, most of the monetization is in the form of buying additional characters, both those you can play as and to call allies in battle.

The start of the game is fine, but it’s fairly limited. Rather than let you experience the first chapter of a character’s story before trying out another one, you’re almost immediately given three partners who join your squad. There is no real sense of discovery. If you’ve played either Octopath Traveler game, the combat here is easy to grasp. There isn’t much to explore for the first part and the first battle. It might open up more later on, but I’m not sure I’ll go far enough to see that happen.

Aloy looking at an abandoned Space Station in Horizon: Forbidden West

March 19 – Horizon: Forbidden West

With the PC port of Horizon: Forbidden West launching this week, I felt it was time to try this out finally. I’ve had the sequel installed on my PS5 for over a year. The first game is one I enjoyed but I didn’t feel the need to jump in right away and play the follow-up. For a game that continues the story of the first, they spent a significant chunk of the first part of the game slowly reintegrating you into this one.

Yes, it’s nice that they ease you in, the pacing feels way off. I don’t understand why they move you at such a slow pace. I was ready to go but they had me re-learn just about everything. Of course, there are some new elements and skills available to Aloy but I felt like they could have done it better. In all honesty, while the intro might only take no more than maybe 30-45 minutes, it felt much longer than it needed to be.

When I finally got to the first main hub town, I wasn’t compelled to play anymore. I got my fix on the stunning visuals, experienced my first battle, and saw one of Aloy’s new gadgets. While her hook does a good job of opening up sections for her to travel through, it just didn’t do enough to keep me around.

Hank Aaron up to bat in MLB The Show 24

March 20 – MLB The Show 24

I quite enjoy the The Show. It’s a sports series I play every year and now that it’s on multiple platforms, I’m always jumping into it on day one. Last year’s game surprised me, mostly because of the time I spent a lot of time playing its Negro League mode, which was an absolute blast to play.

This year’s game brings back that mode with a slight change. Now called Storylines, you have four Negro Leagues players to sample (including one female and the legend, Hank Aaron). But the other, more focused player is Deter Jeter. There is a complete “walk down memory lane” for Jeter from his first hit in the majors through every major milestone in his lengthy Yankees career.

Thus far, I played through all of Hank Aaron’s storyline and started a bit with Jeter. It looks like more storyline content is planned throughout the baseball season, specifically with more Jeter situations to play out. Even if I’m far from a Yankees fan, if there are some interesting scenarios to play out, I will come back to try them out.

Other than that, there isn’t a lot new. The other “major” inclusion is the addition of female players in Road to the Show. I want to see how they implement that. This is one of the last sports games (except Madden) to include female athletes. So, I’m curious if they put some serious effort into their inclusion or if it’s just an easy tick to check off a marketing box.

Some comic panels from Atom Eve

March 21 – Invincible Presents: Atom Eve

The first of two free Epic Game Store games is Invincible Presents: Atom Eve. This has been offered for free in the past, so it was already in my collection. But, having not tried it, I decided to jump in. Like a lot of the free EGS titles, this one I knew nothing about heading in.

To be fair, I am familiar with the Amazon animated series, having watched the first season. I haven’t had the time to jump into the second season or even the standalone Atom Eve special that was released last year. After spending some time with this game, I’m under the impression that the episode is more or less a re-telling of this game.

The game itself is 75% visual novel with 25% turn-based action game. As Atom Eve, you’re dealing with her final year of high school and her responsibilities as a superhero. The visual novel aspects do have choices, which feel like will lead to one of many different endings. The combat is fine but early on, it’s been pretty easy.

This feels short. I played through the one full chapter and parts of the second. With what appears to be four chapters, I guess you can complete a runthrough in 3-4 hours. Nothing is compelling me to return to this, but for die-hard fans of the source material, it’s an easy recommendation.

March 22 – Princess Peach: Showtime!

Princess Peach: Showtime is a game I’ve been anticipating since it was first shown off last year. It always refreshing when Nintendo focuses on non-Mario characters from the Mushroom Kingdom. At the same time, I’m guilty of not playing those games (I’ve never experienced any of the Luigi’s Mansion games even though I probably should). But, for this one, I was ready to jump into the game immediately.

So far, this is a pretty standard platform game. I do enjoy the fact that each stage so far has focused on a different ability for Peach to use. The controls are pretty simple but thankfully, which is intentional as this game feels catered towards a younger audience. In typical Nintendo fashion, there are plenty of secrets to be found.

The only real downside thus far is that the story is pretty forgettable. I’m not invested in any of the characters. I can’t describe the plot or the main antagonist. It’s odd for that to be the case with a first-party Nintendo game. It feels like they had a concept: Princess Peach in different costumes doing cool things – then scrambled to build a story around it. If I stop playing this game it will only be because I have zero interest in seeing how the game concludes. I’m only here to see what other cool things they came up with.

Catching a small fish in Call of the Wild: The Angler

March 23 – Call of the Wild: The Angler

I don’t enjoy fishing. I have an uncle and cousin who love to fish and have tried it on multiple occasions to get me to see what is so enjoyable about it. When there are fishing mini-games in RPGs (which is quite often), I try to avoid doing them unless it’s necessary. But, with the second free game in the Epic Game Store being the fishing game, Call of the Wild: The Angler, I thought that I’d at least see if a video game dedicated to the sport could interest me. Nope, it can’t.

It’s not that the game is bad, but this very much feels like a fishing simulator that only those who love the sport would enjoy. At some point in my early fishing adventure, I was waiting for real-life minutes for something to bite. Then after spending the next moment trying to lure it in, only to discover that my puny reward was a fish I already caught before.

If this wasn’t available for free, I would have had zero interest or reason to try this out. Again, I think someone who enjoys the sport might find this enjoyable, even if it does feel a bit limited early on. For everyone else, I’m not sure it’s worth sampling.

Deploying a Beacon in Frostpunk

March 24 – Frostpunk

Frostpunk is a game I’ve wanted to play for the longest time. As a fan of city-builders (check out my review of Steamworld Build), I enjoy the creativity they offer. On the flip side, Frostpunk doesn’t offer too much creativity at first, but I love its approach to trying to rebuild after a catastrophic event.

I started a run but quickly realized I got too carried away with the city building and didn’t quite grasp the other core elements (specifically keeping the city heated). So, I started again and have gotten about 17 days in. I’m at the point where I’m scouting for resources, making more impactful decisions, and having to deal with managing a city that’s using up more resources than what my people can produce.

With Frostpunk 2 slated for release this summer, it’s now shot up as I game I will most certainly play at launch. I might fool around with the first game a bit more just to see what else I can experience. Although I’m only playing the base game, I’m a bit curious to see if I can get my hands on any of the expansion content. I suspect a lot of it teases what you’ll be able to do in the follow-up and it might serve as a nice prime. But even if I don’t, this was a good game to end the week on.

Looking back, this week wasn’t as bad as I initially thought. Frostpunk and The Show were the two games I enjoyed most, but the rest of the week didn’t compel me as much as I had hoped. Looking into the coming weeks, I don’t have too many major games I can look forward to playing. This could be another backlog week. I picked up a few cheaper games through Steam’s Spring Sale. I’m also seriously considering picking up Alpha Protocol through GOG and finally giving that game a shot. Lastly, with news out that Stellar Blade‘s demo launches on March 29 and its progress carrying into the main game, I want to try that out.