For the week of March 25 through 31

Click here to see the games I played last week

Another milestone was reached as I’ve completed three full months of trying a different game every day. This week’s slate of games includes an early trial of an upcoming PlayStation 5 exclusive and two mobile games. I also used the opportunity to try a few games because they offered timed trials. Because of that, I will play this week’s free game from the Epic Game Store in a future week.

So, here are the seven games I tried this week:

A character profile from Mortal Kombat 1

March 25 – Mortal Kombat 1

It’s been a while since I played any Mortal Kombat games. I barely touched Mortal Kombat X and missed out on MK XI (even though I bought it last year when it was 90% off). With MK1 offering a 2-hour trial through PlayStation+ Premium, I jumped in and was immediately hooked!

I played through what was available in the game’s single-player story mode (the first two chapters of Act 1). It was a blast to play. I liked how it allows you to play through a handful of fights against a nice mix of opponents. There is still a lot of the plot that isn’t revealed, but it does just enough to hook you in.

Afterward, I played through a few regular battles, seeing Mileena’s ending. I like the Kameo characters and can see how different combinations can lead to some interesting interactions. I only used Cyrax but I’d need to try a few others. This trial did more than enough to sell me on the game. While I might wait a bit before picking it up, I will most certainly play this again soon.

The main character from The Callisto Protocol

March 26 – The Callisto Protocol

Back in 2022, I was looking forward to playing The Callisto Protocol. The early previews and the developer’s pedigree of working on the successful Dead Space franchise were more than enough to pique my interest. But, as reviews started coming in, it sounded like this was a disappointment. I held off playing it until now and I must say, I don’t quite understand the mixed sentiment.

After close to two hours with the game, perhaps my sentiment isn’t tainted. But from the get-go, this is a beautiful-looking game that does a great job of hooking me in. While the story hasn’t revealed too much, it certainly feels like this borrows aspects of Dead Space. I enjoy the combat. The focus on melee is nice, especially the inclusion of left-stick dodging. Timing it right to smack an enemy and following it up with a well-timed shot from your firearm is satisfying.

Again, perhaps while The Callisto Protocol has a good first impression (at least for me), it loses that appeal the more time you spend with it. Looking back at those mixed-to-negative reviews, the consensus is that it is too repetitive. If that’s the case and I lose interest, then I’ll admit my poor first judgment. But as it stands, I do want to play more and see where it takes me.

A battle sequence from Pokemon Masters EX

March 27 – Pokémon Masters EX

When it comes to the free-to-start/play Pokemon games, I’m not usually there for the long haul. I tried Pokemon Unite a few years ago but didn’t stick around (although after enjoying Wild Rift earlier this year, maybe I should give it another try). Pokemon Masters EX doesn’t do enough to keep me interested, even with its single-player campaign.

The campaign is fairly straightforward and after two chapters, I still wasn’t getting excited about playing more. The concept of working as a team is fun, but I play Pokemon for the collecting and training. You don’t get that early on. You only have access to Pikachu and even though you’re tasked with hatching a Pokemon, I wasn’t given the chance to use or train it.

I didn’t get to the point of seeing where the monetization kicks into gear, or to sample its multiplayer component. The single-player wasn’t holding my attention, so I just stopped. All this did was remind me that I probably should finally start playing Pokemon Scarlett/Violet.

The game board in 100% Orange Juice

March 28 – 100% Orange Juice

With my obsession with Balatro (I finally finished a run in the game, which was so satisfying), I wanted to rekindle my enjoyment of card-based games. I wrote a feature covering just some of the card-based games I was sampling. I picked up a few recently on sale on Steam and the first to try was 100% Orange Juice. This one is more of a board game with card elements.

I foolishly jumped into its single-player assuming it would give me a tutorial of the game’s mechanics. But, that wasn’t the case, so I had to learn as I played. To be fair, there is a Wiki within the game that does explain the game, it just doesn’t teach you as you play.

The core of this game is to get your character to Level 6 before your three opponents do. To do that, you roll a dice and move around a board containing one of four colored panels. Each color does a different task, which can help you earn/lose stars or to fight against enemies. The cards you have are added to a collection pile and they impact the game for either your character or your foes depending on when, who, and where they are played.

I’ve done a few matches and this isn’t bad, but I can see that this is more suitable for multiplayer sessions with friends. Playing against the CPU didn’t translate into an enjoyable experience. At the same time, the single-player campaign’s story is hardly memorable and quite slow-paced. Part of that is because the matches can last well over 50 turns. Even when you play the game at its fastest speed, that still means 10+ minutes.

A cutscene from Stellar Blade featuring the main character, Eve.

March 29 – Stellar Blade

Stellar Blade has slowly gotten my attention and not for the reason most people think. I was looking for what I would consider a crazy action shooter like Devil May Cry or Bayonetta. This is giving me Bayonetta vibes, especially with its timing dodge and parry system (which reminds me, I still need to try Bayonetta 3).

The demo is the first part of the game, lasting about 30-45 minutes. It was easy until the final boss you faced. I died a few times trying to grasp the parrying and blocking. While the window is there where you can “perfectly” time either, a lot is going on, so you need to pay attention. It was also frustrating that there is an animation to heal, and if you get hit in the process, you die.

I’m not too sure if the demo will sell the game to most people. It’s pretty short, only giving you a glimpse of the game’s cold opening and the first part of the game’s first area. When you defeat the available boss, you get a snippet of what’s to come and it does do a good job of teasing what’s possible. Not sure if this will be a day-one pickup, but I still do see myself getting this game and venturing forward at some point.

An early cutscene from Assassin's Creed Mirage

March 30 – Assassin’s Creed Mirage

It’s been a few years since I last played a game from the Assassin’s Creed franchise. The last one that I put in any meaningful time into was Syndicate. I probably got about halfway through before just stopping. I have a love/hate relationship with the game. I’m always frustrated by its controls, especially on how it relies on context to determine what a button press does. Falling while climbing because the game “thinks” I want to do something always broke the immersion. This sucks because I love how they build locations. My favorite parts are always just exploring the different locales.

So, with Assassin’s Creed Mirage available to play for free through Xbox this weekend, I jumped in and used up almost the entirety of the two-hour trial, reaching Baghdad. The game starts well but there isn’t too much you get to do in those first 90 minutes. It takes about that long to arrive in Baghdad’s main city. The prologue and your character’s development as an Assassin take up the majority of your two hours.

It’s been said that Mirage was Ubisoft going back to the roots of Assassin’s Creed, but this trial doesn’t give you enough time to see if that’s true. You only get about 30 minutes in Baghdad and you barely get a chance to experience the Investigation mode, which this game was highly touting. If this was another hour, then I would be able to say for sure if I wanted to keep playing or not. But for now, I’ll wait until this is heavily discounted before I consider that.

Walking by the stadium in Call of Duty: Warzone Mobile

March 31 – Call of Duty: Warzone Mobile

On mobile, I’m not too big on first-person shooters. I’ve dabbled with the mobile versions of PUBG and regular Call of Duty, but that’s about it. When looking at the Battle Royale genre, I still have yet to try regular COD: Warzone, so starting with the mobile version is a strange first impression.

For the most part, the game does a pretty good job of introducing its mechanics. But, if you’ve played any BR game, this is pretty easy to understand. So, after the two or three mandatory tutorial matches, which felt way too easy, I got thrown into a regular match and did not last very long.

I played using both the game’s touch controls and a Backbone controller attachment. While it feels much better with the Backbone, I was still getting killed by much better players. I don’t know how much of the community here are seasoned console players who wanted to give the mobile version a shot. Or, if these are mobile-fps gamers who are also familiar with the intricacies of these types of games.

Not sure if this has lasting appeal for me. As with PUBG Mobile, I had a bit of fun but I was only really playing it when they had crossover events that interested me (for PUBG Mobile, I started playing around the time of their BlackPink Event). I think the only way I’ll come back is if there is some cool event or crossover that I just have to experience. At the same time, I’ll probably stick with Fortnite or Apex Legends if I’m playing any other BR game.

Three months are down with another nine to go. There were a few surprises for me this week, especially with Mortal Kombat 1. For next week’s blog, I will use it to catch up on the Epic Game Store free game and I have a few other games I’m keen on trying out. As always, thanks for following and I look forward to sharing what I play next.