Weekend Gaming – The Council

Praise be to a medium that has the diverse history and abundance of flavors that games of the video variety have. One of the primary reasons I have taken up gaming as a hobby is because no matter what mood I happen to be in, no matter how awesome or plaguing a week has been, there is enough of a variety that I can load up just about anything to sync with my current mood status. Even when I don’t feel like playing anything I still end up playing something.

I’m shifting gears this weekend. Up until tonight I’ve been shuffling chits in The Operational Art of War IV or creating wildly cost-prohibitive and clunky alchemy machines in Opus Magnum. Both games require an amount of patience, dirty work, trial and error, and even more patience on top of the patience already listed – mainly a patience in oneself, which, at this juncture, I am pretty much devoid of. Let us turn to matters of a more theatrical and humanistic nature, shall we?

I don’t trust George any farther than I can throw him.

Yes. The Council is an episodic adventure, ‘choices-matter’ game taking place on a secret island during the closing years of the 18th century. You play as a young potential-initiate of a secret society populated by an elite group of individuals who represent their respective countries or territories. It is on this island that these power-players discuss and initiate matters of political and social concern. So, of course in such a core setting like this there is duplicity, power struggle, side-taking, hidden meanings, and things left unsaid in the many dialogs available. Add in some occult flavor, twinning, murders and perhaps an immortal character or two, and you’ve got a recipe for an evening of fun!

Four out of the five episodes have been released, of which I left things hanging at the beginning of episode three way back in August. I feel like immersion this weekend, folks. I feel like plugging in the gamepad, putting my feet up, and parsing the dialog trees of the powerful leaders in this time of change to determine who is on the up-and-up and who is full of duplicitous crap, discovering myself in the process. Much Existentialism. Very Talking. Wow.

What are you playing this weekend?

Is it Fall Yet? Weekend Gaming

My gaming frequency increases as the weather outside feels less and less conducive to spending time outdoors. It’s not quite fall yet, but as the calendar flips over to September and College Football is in the air, I can feel the pull toward gaming more and more.

While the boys in the house are firmly consumed by the Fortnite tidal wave, I have been wandering here and there, looking for something to stick. I have a handful of games that have been abandoned (but not forgotten) but nothing has gripped my attention completely. In the spirit of posting semi-interesting content after a stream of monthly releases, I am going to take a new look at my gaming threads and pick up one or two this weekend to make some progress. Here is where some of those hanging threads are at:

Zelda: Breath of the Wild: I am actually SUPER close to finishing BotW. I have found the Master Sword, discovered all but the last memory and done enough shrines that my health and stamina keep me alive for quite some time. I really should close up that chapter and move on to something else on the Switch.

Super Mario Odyssey: I grabbed Odyssey the day it came out, played it for a few hours (loved it!) and then moved on. After I finish up BotW, I think I will restart SMO.

Pillars of Eternity: I recently restarted my PoE campaign. I have made it past Lord Raedrick and now that the game has opened up, I’m really starting to get into the flow of things. I imagine I will make some progress in Pillars this weekend.

Tokyo 42: I picked a handful of games in the Summer Steam Sale but haven’t even downloaded yet. I was super excited when information about Tokyo 42 starting trickling out and I pulled the trigger recently but still haven’t touched it. I may give Tokyo 42 a go this weekend.

This is just a smattering of the games that I’ve touched in the past few months. I have limited gaming time which forces me focus my gaming on one or two games (which lately has just been Dota 2, but that’s another story).

So for this weekend, I think it will be Pillars and Breath of the Wild.

What are you playing this weekend?

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?

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, 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.