Weekend Gaming – SOMA

SOMA is what it’s like when its done properly.

The dark, dank atmosphere and overall persistent sense of foreboding and anxiety are so well done that it is very easy to hand your psyche over to the game, to place you directly under its spell.

For the first few hours of gametime, I kept on wanting to compare it to Alien:Isolation. Both games share a few of the same user-defined tags ala “Horror”, “Sci-Fi” “Atmosphere”. And both games fulfill these same roles very, very well.

But the further I progressed in SOMA the more it diverged from Alien:Isolation.

Where Alien:Isolation is instinctive and deathly tense, SOMA takes a more cerebral approach. Where the basic premise of A:I is ‘survive. get out.’, SOMA digs in like a philosophical tick. Both games are without a doubt engaging, but SOMA possess far more lasting power than A:I.

Progress in SOMA finds the player moving deeper and deeper. Deeper in the physical sense of its oceanic setting, and deeper in the sense of its philosophical queries. It is a game whose narrative works at multiple levels of meaning. Taking a step back to ask oneself “What do you think?” has a magnitude of implications – Perhaps, maddeningly, horrifically so.

SOMA is no slim fable. Measured benchmarks in progress may answer one question but will blast open another pressure lock, flooding the player with more inquiries and dilemmas. Player engagement is nurtured by posing meaningful questions about the self, intelligence, happiness, ignorance. And the way SOMA twists these themes in and out of each other is incredible.

I look forward to completing the journey this weekend. With the way the game has presented itself thus far, I am anticipating a conclusion that will blow what I think is my mind out of the back of what I think is my skull.

What are you playing this weekend?

Weekend Gaming – Europa Univeralis IV

Europa Universails IV continues to morph into quite the juggernaut. First released in 2013, EU4 now hosts additional content which includes nine expansion packs (with #10, ‘Mandate of Heaven’, set to be released in two weeks) and a bevy, a hoard, a throng, a cacophony of cosmetic and music DLCs.

Want a good jolt? Go to the game’s Steam page and see how much all this crap costs. Here – I’ll link it for you. Europa Universalis IV.

Luckily. Thankfully. Paradox titles often go on sale. And given the base game’s age, these discounts are often steep and attractive. And not just on Steam, either. The Humble Bundle Store often hosts developer discounts – of which I recently (like, last weekend) bought the remaining EU4 expansions that had not already owned… and played.

The tenth expansion for Europa Unviersalis IV

Indeed. I’ve been stewing on EU4 for a while. Turning it down outright during sales and other opportunities to buy at discounted price. As shocking as the summation monetary figure is in the steam link above, price was and has never really been an impediment for picking up Paradox titles – although sales are definitely a huge motivating factor, of course.

No. The timing just never felt right for me to take the Europa plunge (And, to an extent, the timing never felt right for most games this past winter season). But, I’ve crawled out of the hole. I’m feeling increasingly rejuvenated and interested in playing video games again — not just playing, but also learning how to play. What better way to experience both at the same time than with EU4?

Yes. I feel like I’ve come full circle. I feel like my hero’s journey has brought me home. It feels great to be up to my friggin eyeballs in a Paradox game. Where once all the EU4 expansions and content scared me off, I now embrace it tightly, smooshing my face in and motorboating the game’s generous offerings.

What are you motorboating this weekend?

Clinton ‘Fear’ Loomis Retires From Evil Geniuses

Evil Geniuses today issued the announcement that EG and esports veteran Clinton ‘Fear’ Loomis is retiring from the player’s hot seat. He is, however, remaining with EG as an active coach for future EG Dota2 lineups.

His retirement is effective immediately, with Fear citing his personal health as a priority. In a brief statement on EG’s website, he recognizes his accomplishments and gushes about EG and Dota. “I still have a passion for Dota and for competing,” Fear begins, “but the long term health of my arm has to come first.”

clinton-fear-loomis-eg-dota2

The sudden removal of heavy-hitters like Fear is sure to make a splash. Teammates and many redditors who Bleed Blue are bummed yet supportive. Teammate PPD said this of Fear: “Fear helped me reach my potential, and I believe he will continue to do that for players in the years to come.” Of his prospective coaching abilities redditor /u/prolepatriot thinks, “considering how much ppd and others on EG have praised fear for being a calming presence as well as helping with the drafts…i expect fear to be one of the best coaches in the scene.”

With an empty chair now in the lineup EG plans to announce its new Dota2 roster tomorrow.

Weekend Gaming – Offworld Trading Company, DOOM

Mars is the Roman god of war. He is a representation of aggression and conflict. The Romans celebrated Mars for what he represents because war was a way of securing peace, even though peace was usually achieved by submission from the bloodied pulp of the empire’s foes. Meh. No matter, a means to an end. Roma Victrix, n00bs!

Mars is also a planet – Our neighbor, in fact. Howdy-ho neighborino! The planet earned its namesake because of its reddish hue as seen from Earth’s surface. Blood, being red, is also seen splattered all over Earth’s surface during the throes of war. Therefore, the Romans figured, let us name that red dot in the sky after our god of blood splatters and glory.

mars-orbital-photo-edit

Mars, it just so happens, is also the setting for two of the games I plan on playing this weekend – both of which share pretty much the same types of cutthroat, purposeful aggression as our Roman friends enacted while under the gaze of their reddish god.

Offworld Trading Company (Mohawk Games)

I was all over this game last week, hell-bent to git gud, or, at least, to understand. And I do understand. I really do. It’s a bloody good game, deserving of every shred of critical praise it receives. I haven’t even touched the campaign, focusing instead on skirmishes and working up the cajones to dabble in free-for-all multiplayer mode — perhaps this weekend.

In order to improve my gameplay I started off at a measured pace, pausing prodigiously during skirmishes and learning from my mistakes. I made a habit after every game to learn from one single error that I made. But my desire to improve quickly exceeded my ability and I hit a wall. I started repeating the same fatal mistakes such as overlooking my fuel consumption, not reacting to the market, trying too hard to influence the market, not building enough power generators, building too many power generators, etc. etc. etc. Matches would stretch on and on only to see my company ultimately bought up. And so, I tilted.

At the onset of this week I decided to side-step from OTC – to regroup, as it were. Still, watch some Zultar commentaries, and think about my own mistakes. But overall, to turn my attention to another completely different game that takes place, at least initially, upon the same martian surface as this cut-throat economic strategy game.

DOOM (id Software)

I cannot recall the last time I gamed from the couch. I didn’t even know that I missed it. I also didn’t even know how badly I needed DOOM in my life right now. The planets are aligned.

DOOM is just straight up fun. It is agreeable in so many ways. Everything the game does seems to flush you into another rumble with a swarm of demons. And the more you move, the better time you’ll have. It is so propuslive. The fighting is fluid. In fact, I would say the fighting almost has a tactical quality to it with how easy it is to toggle weapons and cater upgrades. And the glory kills! What a wonderful design decision to force close encounters as a primary source of replenishment. And the fact that you can target a specific glory kill animation is so completely pointless yet so necessary…

Indeed. The fighting is fun, yes. But I am also so impressed with how the entire experience is composed. I am reminded of Metalocalypse with its propensity towards ironic/hyperbolic use of violence and gore and heavy mothereffin metal… but it is still so completely, genuinely badass. DOOM walks that fine line. So much so that glory killing a demon by ripping out his heart and shoving it down his throat is equal parts hilarious and practical. Bravo.

So, yeah… I’ll be hanging out on Mars this weekend. I’ll be sure to send a postcard splattered with blood and minerals.

What are you playing this weekend?

I hope your weekend goes better than his. <3

I hope your weekend goes better than his.

Weekend Gaming – Offworld Trading Company

Offworld Trading Company is weird.

No. I take that back. Offworld Trading Company is in fact quite elegant. A description worthy of even more celebration when you consider what the game does: It completely redraws what a RTS can be. An approach this new, working so well the way that it does, takes a little bit of time to get onboarded – for me, at least.

No. OTC is not the weird one. I’m the weird one.

I’m still learning the ropes. I’m taking the task of learning this game in measured paces, and this process has generated an unusual matrix of emotions. Indeed. Never before has a game made me feel so self-powered and competent yet so dadgum blockheaded. Although, I trust that practice will help chisel my blockhead into something less grotesque and stupid looking…

Offworld Trading Company Screen Shot

Yes. The skill ceiling in the game seems to be so very high. N00b mistakes are common but so very valuable. Every game I learn something new, one golden nugget of truth that I can carry with me into the next skirmish. These nuggets can be little things like figuring out how to toggle auto-sell – all the way up to big things like overbuilding with complete and utter oversight to energy costs.

Little things. Big things. And everything inbetween. Learning how to play Offworld Trading Company has never been frustrating; it’s always been fun, enlightening, and with a healthy dose of DERP! mixed in. It is rarely about how to do something, but when…When, when, when! Freaking, WHEN!? This is a testament to how well-designed OTC is. I dig it.

What are you playing this weekend?