40 Games / 40 Nights: Week 4

November 8, 2020
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PS4

With the release of the PlayStation 5 on the horizon, I got to thinking about my enormous backlog of games on the current generation. Therefore, I thought I’d set myself a challenge. 40 games in 40 nights. Can I do it? I’m not sure. I’ll have fun trying though!

Week 4 and we’re finally over the halfway mark in terms of games. However, there’s only just over a week and a half until the November 19th cut off date. I’ve gone from feeling confident about my chances again to feeling a little cautious. Still, another six games down this week. So, let’s get into it.


Horizon Zero Dawn — Frozen Wilds DLC


Horizon: Zero Dawn
is one of my favourite games of this generation. The characters, the world, and the hulking, monstrous, machines that roam it were met with critical acclaim and love from fans alike. The addition of the Frozen Wilds downloadable chapter was added months after release and, for one reason or another, I never got to it. 

However, it only seems right to use my time capping off this generation by playing through this frosty additional chapter to Aloy’s stories. Frustratingly, this chapter does take place during the core story. And whilst it provides some insight on key characters, I think I’d have preferred this as a proper epilogue to the story of Zero Dawn. That aside, the quest line itself is fantastic. It gives us more of an insight into the Banuk tribe from the core game and the Frozen Wilds themselves offer a wintry alternative environment worthy of exploration.

Aloy is also met with a number of new machines to battle with, providing additional challenge for veteran players. However if, like me, you’ve done everything the base game has to offer, you’ll likely not have too much trouble dispatching Frostclaws and other machines controlled by the mysterious Daemon.

Any excuse to explore the world of Horizon: Zero Dawn is a welcome one. I’m just kicking myself I’ve waited this long to do it.


Defunct


Defunct by name, defunct by nature” would probably be a little too harsh to describe this odd little indie platformer about a broken robot. However, its budget PS2-like aesthetic and inconsistent gameplay meant that I ducked out of this one very quickly. 

Whilst frustrating to play and dated to look at, it’s certainly not a difficult game. Its momentum-based navigation and platforming is an interesting mechanic, but there’s not enough here to hold anyone’s attention for more than a few minutes.


Shadow Complex: Remastered


One of the stars of the Xbox Live Arcade back in the day and a game that helped define what a modern ‘downloadable game’ could be, Shadow Complex is a game that has evaded me for years at this point. Knowing that this remaster won’t be available to play on the PlayStation 5 — I’d love to know why! — it only felt right to give this a spin here.

Although now very dated looking, even despite its remastered coat of paint, the game still plays fantastically well. A Metroidvania which eschews sci-fi and fantasy for a more action movie-like tone — complete with their very own Nathan Drake-alike voiced by Nolan North — Chair Entertainment have created a world that you want to explore.

Sure, the tropey ‘damsel in distress’ set up is a little dated and it definitely feels like an eleven-year-old game in a lot of ways, but there’s still plenty of fun to be had here.

Thomas Was Alone


A charming indie game with narration from British actor, comedian, and general public figure Danny Wallace, the simplicity of this quirky puzzle platformer means that it withstands the test of time. 

A short and sweet game with a much deeper story and plot than might be anticipated in a game based around jumping inanimate objects, I quickly became invested in Thomas was Alone in a way that I didn’t expect.

Perhaps it was the game’s overt Britishness, but more likely it was the combination of solid puzzle platforming gameplay, tight controls and small but perfectly formed level design. Play through one level and you’ll want to play through every one that follows. This feels like something of a philosophy in Mike Bithell games, as our next entry will emphasise.


Volume


So yes, following my time with Thomas was Alone I jumped into Volume. The isometric stealth action game plays like an indie game equivalent of Metal Gear Solid’s VR Missions. It’s well designed, its puzzles are clever and they’re short enough that they have that ‘just one more’ draw to them that, if you’re anything like me, will have you playing for hours.

As the levels progress, the challenge ramps up in a way that’s probably going to mean that I don’t finish Volume. However, having now transferred my save to the PlayStation Vita (it lives!) I can imagine myself playing this on public transport — if it ever feels safe to use it again.


Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series


Guardians of the Galaxy
is one of the lesser talked about games from Telltale. Once dead, now alive again (maybe?), the studio is best known for its adventure games that are heavy on storytelling with low-impact gameplay.  Guardians of the Galaxy plays into that to some degree, but when it tries to offer something more it falls apart.


The Guardians are my favourite Marvel team and this dysfunctional family of superheroes lend themselves well to Telltale’s brand of storytelling. Unfortunately, the quality just isn’t there. Solid voice acting from some well known names (Nolan North, Ashly Burch and Scott Porter, to name just three) is let down by a somewhat inconsistent story and the feeling that its trying too hard to imitate the characters’ MCU counterparts. Similarly frustrating, some excellent quick-time set pieces are met with poorly executed platforming and exploration sections that slow the pace of the game to a crawl.

Like a lot of Telltale games, Guardians of the Galaxy was also plagued with technical issues. Prominent dips in frame rate, voices not syncing with facial animations and other immersion-breaking issues pulled me out of the story all too often. A shame, but not unexpected given the track record of the studio. That said, if you’re a Guardians fan then this game gets the tone right and does the characters well. Plus, the music is excellent.

                                                                                                       ***


6 more games down. 24 in total. Playing 16 more games in 10 days is going to be no easy task. However, I’ll continue on. For the content and to trim down this monster backlog ahead of my shiny new console arriving on November 19th.

Speaking of which, I’ll be looking at some of the games purposely left off this list to see how they fare in backwards compatibility mode. Will it have been worth shelving the likes of Rise of the Tomb Raider and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare until then? Maybe you’ll be able to find out here in the not so distant future!

For now, thank you for reading and following this ridiculous journey through games. For anyone wondering, this is not the optimal way to play videogames. However, it is efficient. If you have any questions, comments, or anything else please head to the comments below.

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Ant Barlow

Started with the PlayStation, now I'm here... with a PlayStation. Once skipped school to play the Metal Gear Solid demo repeatedly. I love stories big and small. Trophy hunter. Recent VR convert. Probably a hipster.