Thursday, November 9, 2023


I was attracted to The Pedestrian´s concept since I saw a trailer on the internet. I had played a similar game in the iPad (Continuity 2) and liked it… but couldn´t finish it. The problem was common to other puzzle games: The game systems at the beginning are simple and you get some nice and easy challenges, but developers feel they have to ramp up the difficulty to keep the player´s interest, they keep adding more systems and eventually the puzzle involves so many elements and possibilities that it´s difficult to progress. I hoped The Pedestrian wouldn´t fall for the same

I was wrong

I basically had the same issue: The first 40% of the game is reasonably simple to grasp and entertaining. But then designers start adding more gameplay elements, which boosted the combinations and complexity. That made me think I´m not really a puzzle gamer. After all a real aficionado would be excited by the challenge and try over and over to find the solution, no matter how many hours it takes

I guess I´ve reached a point in my life in which I don´t think I can spare days on solving just one puzzle. If I do I don´t feel rewarded enough as to compensate for the time loss, and it´s even worse when later internet walkthroughs prove I wouldn´t had found the solution by myself in a lifetime, and if I wouldn´t resorted to external help I would´ve been stuck for ages

So, for the last half of the game I followed a video walkthrough step by step. I don´t feel bad about it, I honestly wouldn´t have finished the game solo, and at least I enjoyed it to a certain degree. But I wouldn´t recommend it unless you´re a true puzzle fan. The concept is still great, but soon it can make you feel inadequate

Wednesday, November 8, 2023



Much like others, I have a huge Steam library - Normally because the games are SO MUCH on sale sometimes that I can´t help to buy. But I rarely play them, I´ve been favouring PS3 and PS4 games lately. Precisely because of this I noticed Stories Untold was on sale in the PS store, and then I said to myself “wait a sec, don´t I have it already on Steam?”

And yes, I had it. I was tempted to buy the console version anyway to boost my trophy rating, but I thought using the keyboard might be a better option for a game that at times uses an early 90s word parser (I was wrong actually, the console version has an ingame word selector that would´ve made some of the puzzles MUCH easier)

Overall it´s a short game, if you know what to do it can be finished in around 3h. It´s divided into 4 episodes, each of them unique by itself, including specific game mechanics. All of them involve the player into a rather dramatic story. The last episode is an amalgamation of the others, providing an unseen-up-to-that-point connection between the stories

I like the game for several reasons: First it tries to do something new… several times. Then it tries to create an experience, to make you feel something you can´t in other media. It´s also fairly well implemented – within its humbleness, it´s an indie game after all – and largely achieves what it´s trying to. And since every episode has its own systems, there is a strong sense of variety

On the minus side, some of the puzzles were too obscure. I had to resort to an internet walkthrough – which is always either frustrating for the player (you don´t feel smart enough for the challenge), a sign that developers didn´t do a good job to make the game accessible for everybody, or simply didn´t cover that possibility with an internal hint system

Anyway I highly recommend Stories Untold. Its shortness is also a good thing: You pay less but those 3-4h give you quality content, as opposed to other games that reuse the same gameplay template over and over (cough cough Ubisoft cough)

Monday, October 16, 2023


 Honestly, the only reason I had Far Cry Primal in the first place was because it was bundled with the PS4. I just wanted to play Uncharted 4, so I kept Primal on a shelf for years. Until now

I even played Far Cry 5 in between. Maybe because I sort of liked it, I eventually decided to give Primal a chance. I am trying to clean up my game library from previous generations after all, and I still have dozens waiting (including Xbox 360 and PS3)

Well, I am not a Far Cry guy, but I give credit to Primal. It´s a spin-off from the series – normally set on modern times – but it has its own personality. All cutscenes are spoken in “troglodyte”, and you really feel in neolithic times

Otherwise it has the same strengths and weaknesses than other FCs: On the minus side, the first hours difficulty is poorly controlled and the learning curve doesn´t feel right. Highly annoying random encounters constantly spawn around you – I would say 95% I wasn´t interested in, but they kept happening anyway. And the content is the usual Ubisoft repetitive templates. Also, when the IP started the emergence was more chaotic/fun. Here you can combine different systems, sure, but I think they simplified/streamlined them so they can be chewed by a wider audience, as opposed to only the skilled few

On the plus side, after some hours you eventually achieve a certain zen state of mind: You get a grasp on the weapons and enemies, difficulty is reduced and you find yourself in a numbing dynamic of clearing the map from icons. Rinse and repeat. Much like other Ubisoft games (the AC series is just the same) the challenge is about how much time you want to put on it, not the difficulty. Most of the quests are relatively easy to complete if you have a minimum control over the game mechanics, it´s just a question of keep playing and try again if you fail

It might not be the best Far Cry around, but it stands out on its own right. And albeit repetitive, it keeps you entertained. It´s also a relatively easy Platinum 😉

Monday, September 18, 2023


Somehow I managed to live away from the Fallout series… until now. At some point I tried Fallout 1 (the one with the top-down camera) on Steam and died almost right away, then abandoned it. Not sure how, I got a copy of Fallout 3 (the first one in 3D, I believe). I tried it 2-3 times and barely made it beyond the tutorial zone. Again, I let it rot on a shelf. It was only a month ago when I decided to give closure to this and finish it. And somehow ended up loving it

To be clear, the main issue I had with the start of the game is the training on a series of numeric UI features that have little impact in what you´re doing at the time. The UX onboarding is improvable, and the game lacks leading: You´re basically left to find your own challenges early on, when you need handholding the most

Aside from that, the menus are simplistic (bordering programmer art), and the game is plagued with bugs, some tolerable some not – It crashed no less than 4 times, forcing me to reboot the console. And the main campaign feels rushed, it´s about 12 not-particularly-long quests. There is A LOT of content in the game only available linked to specific conditions, you wander around, or you are at a particular point in time at a particular location. It´s fairly easy to miss stuff. Also, the game has not “watercooler” content aside from 2-3 moments. However, most of the quests and challenges are low-quality/template-based so you´re probably not missing much. Even worse, most weapons are unsatisfactory, and the inventory management can be as frustrating as in any pure RPG (which is A LOT)

On the plus side, I haven´t been obsessed with a game in years, and Fallout 3 definitively got me there. I am an overly-anal player when it comes to RPGs, and I try to be 100% ready for any circumstance at any given time. That means I spent a lot of time curating my inventory, analysing my stats and saving every 100 meters just in case. The game mechanics promote slow progression: Lots of pickup options, micro-exploration, inventory management and cryptic world traversing – which means you´re constantly checking the pipboy map. My gameplay experience was overwhelmingly pivoting between the UI menu and the save/load options

All in all, a perfect environment for obsessive players. I did a platinum run, meaning I played for the trophies, only doing what it was needed to get them all. I succeeded but got a feeling I didn´t explore the world at my own pace, nor I made the decisions I would´ve normally done if free of that approach

I really appreciated some details that made the game feel fresh: NPCs can be permanently killed and your future options will change based on that. You can even nuke a whole town full of quests, and they will be moved to other locations (most of them). If an NPC tells you “I´m going to another city” they don´t just de-spawn and show up in that city next time you go there: They actually go walking to the new place, and you can accompany them all the way if you want

I also liked very much characters and factions: They were interesting fabulations of what type of peoples would populate a post-atomic Washington. It was worth just to make NPCs talk and find out their motivations and backgrounds. Some of them even have fixed routes around the world, and you can find them on the road while “doing their chores”. Vendors have a fixed budget for buying stuff from you, like they had a real internal economy

Leaving aside the green tint – which was ubiquitous some years ago – there is also some praising for the world visuals, as well as the cartoony pipboy elements and the melancholic music. The world makes sense, and you get to discover why it came to be and endless secrets while playing

One interesting thing of the game is a number of risky decisions they made, which are normally avoided by designers since some players *might* not like: Your team mates can die permanently (my dog was killed by scavengers!), weapons decay with use, NPCs have a daily calendar and can be unavailable depending on the time, or simply the fact that when you do the final mission… the game literally ends! If you missed something you need to either load a savegame or start a new one. Traversing is often frustrating because there is no easy way to get where you want - Most destinations are part of an map puzzle, and sometimes you need to check internet guides to find out how to get there. These are things Ubisoft games will never do, because research shows a percentage of players don´t like them. But betting on them gives your game a unique feeling, a special sauce that market-driven companies will never have

All these decisions create a unique experience. Fallout is not a great game by its individual elements – which are often questionable – but because the whole they create. And that makes it special

Thursday, August 3, 2023

DOOM - 2016 (PS4)

In my “best games of all times” list, Doom is in the top 3. Doom 3 (2004) was a disappointment – it pivoted towards the survival/horror instead of shooting fun (I actually abandoned it until I found a community mod allowing to attach a flashlight to the weapons). Then came Doom 4 (2016) or simply “Doom” (not sure why they reused the name, it´s confusing to me)

I think they nailed the basic gameplay core: Shoot demons, keep on the move to avoid damage and use your weapons and powerups as much as the ammo allows. There is a decent amount of monster variations, but maybe lacking some more bosses (they resolved some levels with above-than-average encounters reusing regular mobs)

They added some depth to combat with several upgrade layers: Weapon mods (I rarely used them tbh), character (the real deal), runes (minor improvements on actions, more or less useful depending on your playstyle). On top of those there were level challenges, which reward upgrade points. Altogether a bit confusing, if you ask me. I see a honest intention to provide combat options, but they have so many similar systems working simultaneously that it takes some time to digest. Still, you eventually get it and likely adapt your playthrough to them

I wasn´t impressed by the level design. It works as a series of combat arenas, connected with tunnels for – I presume – performance reasons. Add some basic platforming here and there, secrets and there you go. Classic Doom was a cornerstone in level architecture and graphic innovation. Doom 2016 works fine, and that´s it

So many secrets, by the way! Not surprised, it´s on Doom´s DNA (I will consider the original game the pioneer of adding secrets to levels). It´s a completionist paradise. They also made a good decision to let you know where they are in the level if you find the map. But – I think - you can´t always backtrack so you have to re-play the level anyway

Menus and UI are serviceable, but I felt a bit overloaded with info. Maybe they were designed with PC in mind. I tried a bit the multiplayer and seemed fun. Nothing you haven´t seen before, but playable and what is more important there is a decent editor you can use to create your own levels

I started playing the game, got to 30-40% and abandoned it for years. It was just now that I decided to finish it… to free up console hard drive space. All in all it was a good experience, but the story is not particularly engaging – no Doom is particularly heavy on that aspect – and the level design feels a bit repetitive. Still, when you start playing to keep moving onto another monster pack, then another… and that´s a good sign

Tuesday, June 27, 2023


I found This is the Zodiac speaking browsing across discount games in a Playstation store sale. Didn´t know it existed before that. What called my attention was the use of the name of a real serial killer (The Zodiac murdered 5 people between 1968-69 and was never arrested). That is uncommon in videogames. Digging into it, it's a reconstruction of two of his real-life attacks, as part of the game´s main plot about a journalist obsessed with those crimes

What I found interesting is that there is an existing sub-genre for similar works in TV and movies. It´s called True crime, and it´s fairly popular (just some months ago Netflix ran Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer story with great results). But there are no similar products in videogames. Why?

Probably because in the VG industry we still have genres to discover, mostly those falling outside of the “family market”, which is the preferred environment for the big consoles (Playstation, Microsoft and definitively Nintendo). There are rarely any political games, no true crime or anything involving real people, and barely any erotism

I believe we play too safe in videogames. We tend to pivot around existing genres and rarely venture away from them. That´s why I found interesting This is the Zodiac speaking: They took a shot. It was made by a small group of Polish developers, and it´s plagued by small issues: Some obvious visual bugs that even affect gameplay, control issues (it was obviously developed for PC/mouse, it´s difficult to aim precisely with a console pad), some achievements could not be completed and the killer sections could use a better user experience

But still, they tried something new, and I value that. You definitively feel it´s unique, and that´s something that rarely happens nowadays. We need more of that

Monday, June 26, 2023


Yet another game I completed last month and forgot to write a review. AC Liberation came on the same package than AC3+DLC, I wouldn´t have bought it separately but since it basically came for free I thought why not. Luckily, I enjoyed it better than its “big brother”. The game was originally developed for PS Vita, and it´s noticeably simpler and less demanding than a big console AC: Objectives are straightforward, secondary objectives are fairly easy to achieve and overall the game experience is less “polluted” with side activities, unrelated to the assassin´s fantasy

Overall it felt as an easy and satisfying game. Most developers forget the value of making products you can actually complete without too much trouble. Specially for “series” titles, since that inclines you to buy the next one. Liberation has some novelties, being the most notorious an outfit mechanic that splits world activities depending on what you´re wearing (mixed feelings about the results, but overall it´s good to try) and a new city, in this case New Orleans (equally non-impressive as AC3) with the additions of the swampy Bayou and Chichen Itza (weird location tbh and also underused, but /shrug/)

The story is as inconsequential as it´s common in the AC series. The main twist is that you play as a black woman, but otherwise it´s the same “Templars are bad because of reasons, so you´re entitled to kill hundreds of human beings to stop them but that doesn´t make you evil at all”. I welcomed the possibility of fighting Spaniards – me being one – but their barks were strangely European when they should sound more American-Spanish speakers

In sum, it was a nice experience but not memorable. But thumbs up for easy games, I even went for the platinum!