Welcome back to Gaming Respawn Plays. Likely due to work and other time constraints, a lot of us Gaming Respawners seem to have less time to just sit back and play some games (I can personally attest to this), but hopefully, this will change in the coming weeks and months. For now, check out what games a few of us have managed to get to recently.
Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory
Since my wife got me the Xbox Series S for Father’s Day, I’ve been slowly playing through random games through Game Pass. From Alice: Madness Returns to the Yakuza games, I’ve played a whole bunch. But most recently I’ve been playing a lot of Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory.
It’s my all-time favorite game of my all-time favorite game series. Everything from the mechanics to the visuals I think still hold up today. And if I do say so myself, it is probably THE best game of the stealth genre…period.
Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
I’ve just completed a grueling playthrough of Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch Remastered. On paper, there’s a lot to love about the game; it’s a huge JRPG with a genuinely epic story, borrowing heavily from many of the best genre tropes. It’s got a Pokémon creature capture and battle mechanic with real time party-based combat, a la the Tales franchise, and an overworld map (and airship!) reminiscent of early Final Fantasy games, as well as monstrous Summons akin to the latter ones. Its story is whimsical, and the tale of a young boy dragged into a world of magic after suffering great loss reminds me fondly of Harry Potter. And to top it all off, the game was co-developed by Studio Ghibli, inheriting their flair for beautiful world-building, gorgeous character design, and even a few anime cutscenes that you’d be forgiven for assuming were actually from a Ghibli film.
So, you’re probably thinking that all sounds perfect; and honestly, for a lot of the game, it has been. But unfortunately, it’s the mechanics that let Ni No Kuni down; so much of the side content is a repetition of tasks you’ve completed a few dozen times before. At times Ni No Kuni is actively punishing you for playing, continuing to baby you with tutorials even 30+ hours in. This penalizing was no more apparent than its making catching Familiars (Pokémon to you and I) a luck-based RNG exercise, with rarer creatures having a lower percentage of even becoming catchable in the first place. Certain side missions are tied into catching these critters, and thus began my literal two-hour traipse around a desert trying to acquire a walking bunch of bananas.
Wrath of the White Witch commits that JRPG sin of having many false endings, and towards the latter half of my 60-hour playthrough, I just wanted it to end already. I had a rocky relationship with the game; we had good times, we had bad. And maybe there were more good than bad. But man, those bad times were just the worst.
Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout, F1 2020, and Pokemon Games
Recently, I have not been playing any brand new games. Rather, I have been going back to those that I have thoroughly enjoyed previously.
The first of these is Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout via PlayStation 4. On the 20th of July 2021, the fifth season of content was released, including new rounds, costumes and more. In the past few weeks, I have been really enjoying the new and old from Fall Guys because it is so easy to jump in and play while being fun and almost addictive. It is better than ever and packed with plenty of content, whether you play by yourself or with others.
Recently, I have also found myself going back to F1 2020. Now, I know what you’re about to ask: “F1 2021 is out, why are you playing this instead?”. While I realise F1 2021 has provided some updates that are good for the experience, it is currently a worse game. No brand new tracks (in fact, the Vietnam Grand Prix and short tracks are gone) and no old cars mean that the package is currently not worth £50. We are still seeing some bugs and glitches, so I will not be picking it up for a while at least. If they add tracks from this season (Imola, Turkey, etc.), I will probably buy it.
Anyway, I’ve been enjoying F1 2020 because it is so fun to get behind the wheel and race. It feels so satisfying to complete a great lap or perform an overtake, so I’m hooked again. Having 22 full-length and a My Team Career makes it very repayable.
Pokémon is perhaps my favourite gaming franchise of all time. With this I have played most of the mainline entries in its 25-year history. I know many of them inside and out in terms of new Pokémon, locations and characters. So, what better way to up the difficulty than attempting a Nuzlocke?
If you do not know, a Nuzlocke is a set of self-imposed rules to make a Pokémon game harder. These include only catching the first encounter in a new location and releasing any Pokémon that faints. It is grueling but very worthwhile to try and even more worthwhile to complete. I started with Pokémon Alpha Sapphire, which took two attempts. Now, I am on to Pokémon Black, and it is certainly more difficult. Nonetheless, it is very enjoyable, especially when things go right.