For the Week of May 6 – 12

Click here to see the games I played last week

This week’s edition of “Trying a different game each week” is the last full week before my trip to Hong Kong. I’m leaving after midnight on Saturday, so I only have five days of “regular gaming” before I head off. So, for the next three weeks, you will see more classic/retro games in place of the more recent 2024 offerings.

I will have my Switch, but I’m also bringing my PS Vita, Nintendo 3DS, and Analogue Pocket. There is one major Switch release while I am away, but if there are others, I might try to buy them while I’m in HK. At the same time, I will see if it’s possible to download some Asian-exclusive mobile games. If I can install it on my phone, I will share my thoughts.

Your character driving in the snow in an early section of Kona

May 6 – Kona

While looking at the Coming to Game Pass section on my Xbox Series X|S, I noticed a game called Kona II: Brume. I remember seeing that the first game was also on Game Pass and decided to try it out. This is an adventure game that takes place in 1970’s Northern Quebec.

Your character is a detective visiting a small community. You get driven off the road as you approach the town/village. When you awaken, the driver of the other car is gone. You then return to your car and continue driving. Once in town, you find the body of the person who invited you there and the whole area appears deserted. Now, you need to figure out what the heck is happening.

Like most adventure games, this is a slow burn. The game uses first-person narration to describe your actions and thoughts. I don’t recall too many games that incorporate this kind of narrative. It took me a bit of time to get used to it. At the same time, the first little bit of the game doesn’t give you too much room to roam. It’s only once you are in the town that you can start snooping around the homes.

While I won’t play Kona to completion or try the sequel, I see the appeal. For those who enjoy supernatural adventure games, this is an easy recommendation.

The main character of Sea of Soltidue walking around some destroyed buildings with huge waterwalls behind her.

May 7 – Sea of Solitude

As I’ve mentioned in past blogs and even a few weeks ago when I talked about Tales of Kenzera: Zau. I currently work at Electronic Arts and I also was at the company from 2013 until 2017. But, there are some EA Games I’m interested in trying that I know I have no worries of “conflict of interest”

One such game is 2019’s Sea of Solitude. I remember the buzz behind this game when it was first revealed. I’ve always wanted to try it, so I downloaded it and have gone through the game’s first five chapters. This is a game that doesn’t reveal too much at first. But once it does, there is a lot to grasp.

The gameplay is limited to some platforming, enemy avoidance, and driving around in your boat. I love its art style, but the dialog is weak. The voice acting is bad, both in its delivery and the intended impact. The problem is twofold. The main character is a teenage girl but she sounds much older. Also, the dialogue is in English, but the voice actress is not a native English speaker. It’s even more noticeable when you hear her talk to her family members. They all sound like regular British English speakers, while she sounds like German.

While researching the game, I found that the Director’s Cut version addresses this. They not only recorded with new actors, but they also included additional language options. I don’t think I’ll play that version, but I’m glad that I wasn’t alone in this concern.

Your character in Blacktail looking at a heart-shaped rock formation.

May 8 – Blacktail

Blacktail was a game I learned about through my PR inbox. A first-person action/adventure game that incorporated Slavic mythology. It’s been a few years, but I finally bought the game as it was discounted and put about an hour into it so far. I like the asethics but I’m not completely sold on the story.

You are Baba Yaga, and you’re in a mysterious world where Mushrooms and insects talk to you. Early on, I’m interacting with a group of mushrooms and tasked and battling another one who seems to be causing problems in the land. I’m also trying to get access to a city. Again, the story here isn’t grabbing my attention. However, the visuals and the combat are keeping me interested.

So far, I only have one weapon, the bow and arrow but the shooting with it is a lot of fun. I’ve also only unlocked one magic skill and it’s very effective in combat. I’m curious what more is available in my arsenal. The combat has been pretty easy on its default setting. The key here is the branching story. It feels that the story will drastically change depending on the actions you take.

The cat in Little Kitty Big City looking at a bumble bee after helping it find a phone.

May 9 – Little Kitty, Big City

Little Kitty, Big City surprised me with how much fun it is. I jumped into this not knowing what to expect. So far, I’ve spent a couple of hours wandering the streets of a Japanese town, seeing where I could take this cat.

This is a puzzle game where you play as a cat trying to get home. At the same time, you’re also learning more about the world around you. You’ll come across many different animals each with tasks that they’ll ask for your help. I’m currently trying to recover some runaway chicks. I found one playing in an arcade. Getting him to stop playing requires you to figure out a way to turn off the system.

The puzzles don’t seem to be too difficult so far, which is what I love about this game. The only problem I’ve encountered is when interacting with certain objects. I’ve had a few times where I’ve gotten stuck in certain areas or fallen off objects too easily. It doesn’t ruin the experience, but having to climb back up a section because of a fall can get annoying.

I am happy I played this and will put in some more time. This doesn’t feel like a very long game, so I think I’m about halfway through. I want to see how the cat gets home and what other surprises I might come across.

The overworld map in Company of Heroes 3 showing a section of Italy.

May 10 – Company of Heroes 3

Technically, I played Company of Heroes 3 a few years ago during its Alpha Test. I felt I could include it because of the state of the game then and how much time has passed. With the game part of a “Free Weekend and Franchise Sale”, this was a great opportunity to see the final product.

So far, I’m enjoying the story campaign. It’s your typical WWII story. You are commanding a US and British collaboration trying to regain control of Italy. The campaign incorporates a two-map structure. You have a large map of Italy where you can direct forces to different parts of the country. In this mode, you can attempt to liberate towns and cities and expand the Allied’s presence.

When the missions call for it, you then play in your standard RTS format. You’re building units and attempting to complete certain objectives. Anyone familiar with the genre will feel right at home. I found the first major mission (taking control of a hospital) to be a bit challenging. This was more that I’m not too familiar with the CoH series, so I needed more time to get used to squad management.

I’m not sure why the game has had such a mixed reception since its launch. My only guess is that the multiplayer, which the series is also known for, is the cause of that. I’m not looking for that, so the single-player feels like it could be right up my alley. This is discounted, so I might pick this up and have it ready to play whenever I feel like it.

The battle screen in Circus Electrique showing four hero characters and four enemies.

May 11 – Circus Electrique

Circus Electrique is a turn-based RPG set in 1899 London. You’re controlling a circus that is also involved in a weird event that has caused some chaos to ensue in the city. This is a game that does not start on a strong footing. A lot is going on here and the first few battles don’t do enough to grab your attention.

I will give this game some props. The idea of recruiting circus performers and then transforming their skills into combat is very intuitive. There is a lot of variety here and from the looks of it, even early on, you can recruit 20 characters to join your troupe. However, the pacing takes you out of momentum once you get into a battle.

Most of the early fights were taking between 4 and 6 turns. This meant that fights would last nearly five minutes because each character performed an animation when it was their turn. Even when you move a character to a different position has an animation. When there are up to eight characters it just takes too much time. I didn’t see any way to skip these animations to help speed up combat.

In all, this just doesn’t do enough to maintain my interest. Perhaps, it starts to pick up after a few hours. Unfortunately, after the first hour and still nowhere near the end of the first real story beat, I can’t give it any more of my time.

Your charcters fighting in Firestone.

May 12 – Firestone

I’ve made it a habit that if I haven’t played the game that Epic is offering for free, I’m giving them a shot. That unfortunately includes games like Firestone. I’m not against playing free-to-play games. I’m leaving for Hong Kong in a few days so I’ll be trying my fair share of F2P games over the next two weeks. But with this one, this is the ultimate idle game.

Firestone looks like those games you often see advertised on social media. The visuals seem so generic and the gameplay is almost non-existent. I’ve had the game running on my PC for the last little bit and the only things I doing are upgrading my characters and doing the occasional Quest task that it asks of me.

I don’t think I need to play much more to know this isn’t something I’ll spend much more time with. It was interesting to see how these games play on PC since you can leave your computer running and just let most of the action happen.