For the Week of April 22 – 28

Click here to see the games I played last week

This week was a bit of a challenge for me mentally. There were times this week when I wasn’t in the mood to game. There wasn’t a specific reason, I wasn’t feeling motivated. But, I wanted to keep at this, so I persevered and managed to try a different game every day.

The main character from Afterimage entering a town

April 22 – Afterimage

There is a trend in these posts that I’m playing a lot of games in the exploration-platform genre. There are so many of them, and they can either be really fun or incredibly unremarkable. This week, I played two, with Afterimage being the first. After an hour with the game, I’m quite enjoying it.

For me to enjoy these games, they have to have cool exploration and engaging combat. Afterimage has both of those. I am having fun traveling through the different areas. Meanwhile, the enemies thus far have given me a fair challenge, but have never felt “cheap”. The game has a leveling system that encourages combat, so I’m trying to fight as many foes as possible.

While I can’t speak too much of the story, that’s not what I’m here for. The sense of discovery and the new abilities that come your way are doing more than enough to keep my interest. Put this on the list of games I’d like to spend more time with.

Zau standing in a tree from Tales of Kenzera: Zau

April 23 – Tales of Kenzera: Zau

For context, Tales of Kenzera: Zau is published by my employer Electronic Arts but developed externally. I have zero connection to the game (I confirmed that my name isn’t in the credits).

The second exploration platform game I played this week was Tales of Kezera: Zau. This afro-futuristic game is much more story-focused than other games I’ve played recently. I’m a little torn because the story is very strong, but I’m not feeling the combat. In the first hour, there is a lot of world-building and we learn more about Zau, his family, and the people around him. There is also a lot of mystery and I want to see what’s next.

But, the combat is a tad frustrating. This is a game that incorporates a color system for its combat. Zau has two attacks, close range, and projectile, each corresponding to a color. To defeat foes, you need to use the opposite color to beat them. So, an orange-colored foe needs to be attacked with a blue color weapon and vice-versa. This is fine in situations where you’re moving around.

But in closed-off sections when both enemy colors are on the screen, it does get frustrating. In one sequence, you have to juggle attacks from both colors. Having to switch between attacks gets annoying. It also doesn’t help that all weapons have a cooldown to prevent overuse, so you need to attack wisely.

I played this on my PlayStation 5, but I feel that this is great on the Nintendo Switch or Steam Deck. For a studio’s first game, this is a solid effort. I’m not sure I’ll see it through the end. This made me want to return to Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown from earlier in the year.

The main town from Eiyuden Chronicle - Hundred Heroes

April 24 – Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes

I’ve been looking forward to Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes for quite some time. I never played Suikoden, which takes inspiration from it. However, there were so many cool things I heard about the game that caught my interest. I also happened to have played through most of Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising. That game was fun and helped add to my interest in the main game

I’m not sure how the two games connect if they connect at all. While Rising was very much an action RPG, Hundred Heroes is turn-based. The first hour of this game doesn’t go into too much backstory. Meaning, you might need to invest a good 3-5 hours to get a better understanding of the game’s lore.

The combat is fine, although unremarkable. This game plays it safe with some cool aspects but nothing feels original or unique. For those who have been playing RPGs, especially Japanese-developed ones, this feels generic. The first hour of the game didn’t do enough to keep me engaged, which for me was a huge disappointment. If I find myself craving a Japanese RPG, I just don’t think this one will be the one I go back to.

Staring at a building in Industria

April 25 – Industria

It’s been a few weeks since I tried a free game through the Epic Game Store that I’ve enjoyed. A few were fine, but Islets was the last game I could see myself playing more if I had the time. From its description, Industria sounded interesting. But what I played felt more like a tech demo than an actual game.

My biggest gripe with Industria is that it feels like a project meant for something more. The story is slow-paced, using the historical East German events of Nov 9, 1989, as its starting point. But this game isn’t about Germany’s reunification (at least it doesn’t feel that way based on how far I got).

The game is linear. You move from area to area looking to trigger specific events. In one area, I got stuck because I didn’t realize I picked up a key item. The combat is dull, with the enemies having a much better range. The melee robots were causing more damage than the ones firing bullets at me.

There is a sequel slated for release shortly. Offering this one for free helps get eyes on the follow-up, and it’s a decent marketing strategy. Unfortunately, if others felt the same way I do, it may have done more harm than good.

Your character in LISA: The Painful interacting with a character in the desert

April 26 – LISA Definitive Edition

The second free game through the Epic Game store is the RPG, LISA Definitive Edition. Technically, this is two games wrapped into one package. For this, I only played LISA: The Painful, while I didn’t touch LISA: The Joyful. From what I gathered, the two games are connected, so it doesn’t make sense to play The Joyful before The Painful. From what I played so far, this is one weird game.

The story, or at least what I can gather, is a dream by our main character. He’s bullied at school and his dead-beat dad only puts him down more. He then awakens in a barren wasteland/desert scenario where he finds an abandoned baby. He raises it in secret until one day she is kidnapped and he must go off and rescue her.

This feels a lot like Earthbound/Mother and Undertale. Both of those games were self-reverential and this also feels like it knows it’s a video game. Meanwhile, the first hour or so is light on combat. You spend most of it wandering the wasteland and trying to grasp the story. There isn’t much more I can say about this game. It doesn’t hold my attention but I can see others finding some enjoyment.

Theif and Prince in conversation in Sand Land

April 27 – Sand Land

Just over a year ago, I got into reading manga, leading me to start watching anime. Yes, I dabbled in anime a bit when I was younger but not enough to care. Now, I’m reading a Tankoban almost every night. Because of that, I’ve started looking at potential anime-based games to play.

The first anime-adjacent game I’m trying is Sand Land, based on the work of Akira Toriyama. I didn’t read the manga (note: I started reading it now), but I am currently watching its anime series on Disney+. It’s great, so I thought this would be a perfect one to try. So far, it’s mirroring the series as I would have expected.

I’ve gotten to the point of the game where you steal your first tank. It differs a bit from how it happens in the anime. Thankfully, they gamify it in a way that’s just as appealing. There will be more deviations from the anime, but I’m happy with the changes thus far.

This game looks incredible. I’m playing on my Steam Deck and although it’s not verified for it, it runs well. This game is only available on current-gen consoles and PC. Why this wasn’t released on Switch is a shame. I hope they reconsider a Nintendo release in the future because I think it would help get more eyes on the series.

A frantic battle in Squad Busters

April 28 – Squad Busters

Squad Busters is the first Supercell game I’ve ever played. I “missed/avoided” the hype of Clash of Clans and Clash Royale. Technically the game isn’t officially out until the end of May but Canada was part of it’s soft-launch. Google Play recommended the game to me and I took their advice.

This is an action-brawler where you’re competing against nine other foes to collect the most gems. At the start of a match, you select a character. From there, you begin collecting coins and gems to increase your squad’s size and strength. The player with the most gems at the end of the game is the winner.

The concept is simple, which is why I’m having fun. I’ve played about a dozen matches, winning a few but getting whooped in others. Playing the game more unlocks and upgrades characters. Having stronger foes puts you at a significant advantage.

The start of the game doesn’t feel like you need to spend money but they definitely wouldn’t mind if you did. It appears that real money helps you unlock and upgrade characters faster. Hopefully, match-making doesn’t pit the high-spenders with the free-to-play crowd and hurt this game’s longevity.