Bronze Buds #3
A few friends of Bronze League discuss some games they recommend! #3
BRONZE BUDS IS BACK BABAYYYYY
Bronze Buds is a recurring segment where friends of Bronze League talk about some of their favorite games and why they would recommend them.
If you sent me your game rec and you don’t see it here, it may not be posted this week but it will get posted! Thank you for your patience <3
As always, please be sure to check out the folks who gave their time to chat about these games. They put aside their time and energy for Bronze League, so all I ask is that you do the same in return! All of the names in the headlines are hyperlinks, so check out these Bronze Buds and the games they recommend!
Kaaira - Spiritfarer (2020)
Spiritfarer starts off with a dark moment -- you find out you are essentially the new Grim Reaper. Your job is to ferry lost souls across the barrier from this limbo world you start in to the next world. It’s a resource and building management game with an interactive world and some light platforming. It quickly becomes clear that this is more than just a management game, and you’re more than just the ferry of lost souls. You meet lost people over and over, and your number one job becomes clear: help these lost souls heal, take care of them, and deliver them on their journey to acceptance of their own fate. The game brings you through many stories of people who had short lives, long lives, exciting lives, and mundane lives, all learning how to accept their fate.
The game becomes a game about the journey of acceptance towards death. It gives the player some very personal experiences to have, characters that are emotionally tied to the player character, Stella, and an extremely personal journey in learning about Stella’s live and what led her to become the Spiritfarer.
There’s absolutely no combat of any kind in Spiritfarer, and that was the best part of the game. In a game about the journey of acceptance to an impending inevitable end, combat would seem unimportant and cruel; instead the game is a satisfying loop of resource gathering, inventory management, and relationship building. While building up your ferry, you lend a home to wayward souls and cook them their favorite meals, learn about their life, and show them that connection in life can help you cope with life ending.
If you want to learn more about yourself emotionally, want to explore the relationship between life and death, and want to be brought on a visually impressive, feels-forward journey… then Spiritfarer is exactly what you need in your life. I played it on relaxing weekends, I opened it at 2AM when I thought about those who have passed, and some of the heaviest moments that brought me to tears helped me accept some unresolved feelings about some of the people I’ve lost.
Platformers were in abundance back in the 90's and Crash Bandicoot was the one that would stand the test of time. This collection includes the first 3 games in the main series, being made from the ground up for a new generation of players and also for the die-hards like myself. The game studios were able to get the movement and feel down perfectly, providing every slide and jump to be as I remember from all those years ago.
The first game in the trilogy is definitely the hardest out of the bunch, so be prepared to die a lot from the smallest missteps. I found myself raging the most with the first game, trying to destroy every crate and collect every crystal. The second game however, perfected the formula by hitting a sweet spot with difficulty by not making it as hard as the first, but not too easy. Another welcome addition were some new mechanics to the series, like the double jump, a more powerful spin that also adds the ability to glide. They also added a new level hub, giving you the ability to choose whatever level you want first on a floor to floor basis that included a handful of levels and a boss at the end. Lastly, they went crazier with the collectibles, adding colored gems to some levels that require certain conditions to be met or alternate paths that are more difficult than the main game and the inclusion of time relics, which you earn from visiting levels for a second time, but this time it's for how fast you complete a level, giving you a bronze, sliver, gold or platinum relic for how fast you finish. These are welcome additions to the formula, keeping it fun, interesting and diverse. Lastly, the third game builds on top of the second, but adds in some variety in levels, which include motorcycle racing, plane flying and animal racing with his sister Coco Bandicoot taking lead. The third game is my personal favorite in the trilogy because it takes you through different time periods of history, searching for every power crystal to yet again stop the evil Dr. Neo Cortex.
Due to the amazing success of the N. Sane Trilogy, they made a brand new mainline game in the series, which hadn't been done in 22 years! This one was appropriately named Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time and It lived up to its name. I'd recommend this game to anyone who's a fan of platformers and collectathons, or just someone looking for a challenge. it's also widely accessible on most platforms, so please, take a dive into the beloved series praised by many as one of the most challenging and rewarding platformers out there. You won't regret it!
bearforce - Phasmophobia (2020)
Alright gamers, buckle in and make sure you brought a change of pants for this one -- we’re talking Phasmophobia ($13.99, Kinetic Games, Steam, Early Access 2018 / Full Release TBA). Phasmophobia is a first person, co-op survival horror title that has the players working as paranormal investigators working contracts in various haunted locales to determine the type of ghost on the premises. The team uses various tools of the trade (EMF meters, handheld thermometers, AM radios, bundles of sage, etc.) to gather spectral evidence of the ghost -- that is, until the ghost turns the tables, and the hunters become the hunted. During an investigation, the spirit may become agitated by the hunters fulfilling certain conditions; some ghosts will fixate on one person, others will pursue people who stray too far from the group, and some may just decide that it’s die time for one unlucky hunter. Lights begin to flicker, and the only door to the outside is locked by an unseen force…
Phasmophobia uses in-game proximity chat, as well as a global radio chat and is best enjoyed using these means of communication in lieu of a third party app like Discord. The reason for this is that the ghost reacts to voice activity. When using the spirit box (a handheld AM radio), the player must use the in-game chat to ask questions to the spirit to which, if the spirit is one who uses this form of communication/evidence, will respond to the querent. Additionally, each ghost has a name (my personal favorite experience was hunting a ghost named Betty White -- she was just as spicy in video game death as real life!), and calling the ghost’s name is one of many ways to irritate it regardless of its preferred hunting strategies. The developers truly thought of the players when implementing this feature, as bullying, insulting, and swearing at the ghost may prompt an early hunt or spectral event.
The game has been received with overwhelming positivity, and is constantly receiving new updates as it continues its early access cycle; as of writing, the game just received a major content patch introducing two new types of ghosts, a new map, and many other features that have kept the game entertaining since its launch. Another point of praise is that the game is both VR compatible (for those who are braver than myself, who lives and breathes horror media) and cross-platform, meaning that you can be playing on a standard keyboard and mouse setup, while a friend plays in VR.
Happy hunting, and make sure -- wait, did you see that?
Exposition dump alert: Astroneer is a cooperative open world, exploration, survival, crafting game from the indie developer System Era Softworks. Released into early access 2016 (full release in 2019) for PS4, Xbox One, and Windows, it has received nothing, but positive reviews (66k) through steam and won 5 Webby awards in 2019 for best art direction, game and visual design, and user experience. The game is supported in 13 languages including the 5 most common universal languages and retails at 30 USD on steam.
Now that you’ve either trudged through the exposition or skipped it entirely let’s actually review the game! Astroneer is an incredibly relaxing, vibrant and fun single/coop/cross-play space exploration game. The game is equipped with an expansive and easy-to-understand crafting system that is layered over an even more expansive setting that is filled with bright and colorful landscapes. This all makes for a visually stunning game that isn’t taxing on the brain while being exceptionally entertaining.
Like smooth Neapolitan ice cream, the soothing and melodic soundtrack composed by Machine Fabriek leaves your head in the cosmos while you roam around collecting resources and expanding your planetary home base. Imagine playing a 3D poly version of The Martian as Mark Watney (Matt Damon) with a vaporwave aesthetic and infinite worlds to fly to, explore, harvest resources, and vibe. It’s like a zen garden shaped and tilled on alien soil with some friends, but be wary the nightly storms get rough and you don’t want to get lost in the plains unprotected! The narrative is communicated to the player through the environment and the growth of the player's Hab/power network. Things like partially submerged space debris, satellites, and ships assist in directing the player to questions like, “What’s the ultimate goal? Where is everyone else? Is there anyone else out there?”. Ultimately, Astroneer blends fun, intuitive game design with beautiful visuals and a stellar soundtrack that will take the edge off a tough day, to let you settle in and enjoy something relaxing.
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