April 2017 Games With Gold

April 2017 GWG

Time sure is flying.  It’s time again for this month’s games with gold from Microsoft.  This month’s games seem to be a bit on the dark side:

  • Ryse – Son of Rome – We got this one with our XBox One and haven’t played it yet.  It was fairly heavily advertised pre-release for its graphical prowess.  We’ll see how it stands up.
  • Walking Dead – Season Two.  I don’t like the Walking Dead TV series and zombies just aren’t my thing.  But I love just about anything Telltale puts out and The Walking Dead series is no exception to that rule.  The story telling is amazing and it plays like a “choose your own adventure” game in that your decisions drastically alter the future of your game.  I have played season one and I’m looking forward to adding season two.
  • Darksiders looks to be a post-apocalyptic game involving demons and the end of time.  I don’t know that I’ll play this one.
  • Assassin’s Creed – Revelations – You can’t go wrong with an Assassin’s Creed game, so I’ll definitely be adding this one to the backlog.  I’m not sure what it’s about, but I’ll give it a shot.

Steam

I have featured some fairly obscure games on my site, and you may wonder how I find them all.  I have one word for you – Steam.  What is it?  It’s a service which works with thousands of developers to feature their games for you to buy.  The store interface is great, but what really stands out is their recommendations.  They really tailor to your previous purchases and you can customize the tags included in the search.  You can see customer reviews, similar games, videos and screenshots.  You can build a wish list of up to 50 games and follow many more.  When one of the items on your wish list goes on sale, they’ll email you.  There are many free games as well.

They also arrange “discovery queues” for you, which is where I find most of the obscure games.  They pick 11 games for you, and you can say whether you want to follow it, add it to your wish list or are not interested.  The queue gets smarter as you go.

Steam Store

Steam is more than just a store, though, it’s also a way to keep your PC games organized.  Every game that you purchase from Steam is listed in your library, which you can categorize however you see fit.  You can also add non-Steam games to this library as well.  If you’re not a Steam member, I would strongly recommend it, as this is where all of the best PC gaming is these days.

Chey’s Top 25 – #4 – Diablo 3

Genre – Dungeon Crawler
Platform – PC

It has taken me a very long time to write this article.  Every time I go into the game to get some screenshots, I end up playing for hours and forgetting about the screenshots.  I already have Diablo II on my top 25, but Diablo 3 takes my number 4 spot.

I have been playing this game since day 1.  It did some things well and some things not so well.  Blizzard has made some major changes over the years, usually for the better.  In the beginning, there was a player market place where you could sell in-game items for real money (or for in-game currency)!  I made a whopping $13 way.  Many argued that this made the game unfair.  I found it a new and thrilling element to the game.  A couple of years in, they removed the auction house.  In doing so, they really upped the quality of crafted items, which made the reliance on super-rare drops less, which ultimately made the game more enjoyable.

Another thing that I was disappointed about was the skill tree, or lack thereof.  Instead of highly customizable skill trees, there are a handful of skills that you can pick from.  You can go into an advanced mode, which allows you to put any skill into any slot, which helps a bit, but I still miss those skill trees.  After you hit level 70, you start to gain Paragon points, which allow for some further customization, but I would still like to see more.

Another thing that was changed was the inventory.  Diablo has always been about the loot, and they greatly improved this in Diablo 3.  Items, no matter their size, only take up one inventory block.  The runes are a thing of the past, but items are still socketed and there are many different sets of armor.  In a more recent update, they rolled out ancient armor, although I still have yet to see one.

Screenshot007

The story is solid.  The graphics are great (check out some of the screenshots below).  If you have the expansion, you can pick from the following classes – monk, witch doctor, wizard, crusader, barbarian and demon hunter.  I’ve played each one up to level 70, but my favorite, by far, is the monk.  I also enjoy playing on hardcore mode, which means that when you die, it’s game over.  As you progress through the story, you can choose followers to join in your quest.  They are actually useful and have different abilities.

I would say ignore the negatives that you may have heard about this game and try it for yourself.  It’s a lot of fun and you’ll likely get sucked in!  I have played over 600 hours on my main monk alone and I keep going back to it.

 

10m play

Genre:  Match 3 with RPG elements
Platform:  PC

I just discovered 10,000,000 yesterday on Steam.  I haven’t gotten much accomplished around the house as a result.  I need to do my taxes, balance the checkbook, do a load of laundry, vacuum, start planting my garden, mow the lawns, etc etc.  But no, instead 10,000,000 has sucked me in all day yesterday and today.  In fact, it took me over an hour to write up this post because while getting screenshots, I ended up playing it more.

That should be reason enough for those of you that like match 3 games or casual games to go out and get it.  You are an adventurer stuck in a dungeon and you can earn your freedom by scoring 10,000,000 points.  This isn’t a quick task.  I played through the entire game in about 7 hours, but I started over immediately after completing it.  You start in your home dungeon area, which consists of some rooms and a bed.  You unlock the rooms and upgrade them as you go.  In these rooms, you can upgrade your weapons and armor.

Before entering the dungeon, you are given three tasks, which award you with either gold or experience, both necessary for upgrades.  The game play itself has you at the top of the screen, meeting monsters or loot chests along the way.  You only have so much time to play, and you can eventually get upgrades or food items which allow you to extend that time.  The longer you’re in the dungeon, the higher your score.  The monsters get tougher, but you rank up, which increases your score multiplier.

There’s not much more to this game than that, but it is super fun.  Check it out on Steam or on your mobile device!

March 2017 gwg

March came up on me pretty quickly, so I thought I’d post Microsoft’s games with gold for the months.  There are two titles that intrigue me, and two that I’ll likely play at some point.

Layers of Fear looks like a horror game, which isn’t typically my favorite genre.  (Silent Hill is an exception!)  Evolve is a pretty popular game on Twitch, so I’ll likely try it.  I already have Borderlands 2 and have been playing it quite recently, but if you haven’t, definitely pick it up!  It’s a really fun RPG with some FPS elements, but don’t let that scare you.  I’m terrible at the genre, but I can survive well enough.  I’m not sure what Heavy Weapon is, but it looks like something my husband will like.

I missed last month’s here’s what we missed.  I don’t really know much about this one, but Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime looks somewhat unique and I’ll definitely be trying it out.  It looks like a fun little indie title.  Monkey Island 2 looks funny, and I’m always up for a laugh while playing a video game.

You still have time to download:

Project Cars, which looks like a fairly standard race game, and Star Wars, the Force Unleashed.

If you have an XBox One, be sure to download them all!  If you have a 360, you get Monkey Island 2 and The Force Unleashed.

Feb 2017 gwg

We are fast approaching the launch date of the Nintendo Switch (March 3).  I have had my mind made up for some time now.  I think I will be skipping this console.  Nintendo was once THE powerhouse in the video game world.  The NES and SNES were incredible systems.  I had to do grown-up stuff during the N64, and bought an XBox original in lieu of the Gamecube. I did try the Wii, but found it too gimmicky for my taste.  I missed the awesome (relative) graphics of the XBox and XBox 360.  I completely skipped the Wii U, as did most of the world.  Handhelds aside, I am done with Nintendo.

From what I’ve seen of the Switch, it looks like another gimmicky console.  While I’m glad to see the motion controls go, as you can see on the picture on the right, the controllers, when used separately, are tiny and will only be usable in short bursts of time.  My hands are cramping up just watching it.  And when paired into the larger controller, it doesn’t look any more comfortable.  I like the idea of the removable tablet, but that’s not near enough to get me to buy this.

It’s probably a neat party item, but as a more serious gamer, the games just aren’t there.  As with the Wii, it appears geared toward Mario, Zelda and kids.  Check out the game launch chart below.  There are the usual players (Zelda, Mario Kart, Pokemon), but otherwise, there’s not enough there to make me want to spend money on this system.  There are many games that you can find on other systems such as Shovel Knight, Tetris, Cave Story, Stardew Valley, Rayman, Minecraft, etc.  I think I’ll stick with them on those systems for now.

switch-games

Oldies but Goodies -Bart vs the Space Mutants

Genre:  Platformer
Platform:  NES

The Simpsons have been around for a long, long time.  Along their long history have come some pretty good video games.  One that I played as a kid was Bart vs. the Space Mutants on the NES.  This was actually the first licensed Simpsons video game.

In this game, you are playing as Bart and you’re wandering around Springfield.  You’re just trying to go about your daily business of vandalizing the city when you notice that something is off – aliens have invaded the city!  You are armed with your spray can and x-ray glasses.  Using these, you can identify and deal with those pesky aliens.

Many of the show’s gags make this game, such as Bart’s catch phrases (“eat my shorts!”) and his phone gags to Moe:

bart-1

I don’t remember much else about the game, but I think it was fairly difficult as I never finished it.  I do own this one and will likely pop it in my NES some time.