What we’ve been playing?

And here it is, the first “What we’ve been playing?” a new monthly post in which we (just me ☹️) give some impressions on the games we’ve played over that month. So, we’ll call this the September edition, and without further ado let’s get started.

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening | Switch

This game is like putting on that cosy, over worn hoody, that appears out of the wardrobe after a summer of being left alone. Up there with my favourite games, this was one that I was always going to enjoy. The only changes that have been made from the DX version I opened up and played over Christmas eleven years ago, are a modernising of the controls and a beautiful lick of paint.

The Island of Koholint and its inhabitants are both incredibly unique and full of life, but just a little bit “off.” I read somewhere that when making the game the developers were very into Twin Peaks, and it shows. I mean, there is a character in the main village, Male Village, that asks you to save them when they are lost in the mountains “later.” It’s all just very quirky, and I love it. The gist is, you’ve washed up on Koholint, and the only way for you to leave the Island is to wake the Wind Fish, who sleeps in a big egg on top of the largest mountain on the Island. To do this you must collect mystical instruments from the dungeons dotted around the Island, and play the big egg a nice wee song. Yup. All the Zelda staples are there, heart pieces, a great trading quest, and of course bomb-able walls. It all comes together into an adventure that you just won’t want to put down.

If you have played the original or DX versions, popping the cartridge out of the box, and sliding it into your console will give you those fuzzy nostalgia feels, because really that is the exact same thing you did all those years ago, except now that cartridge slots into the Switch rather than the Game Boy. This is a must play, in my eyes. 

Gears of War Ultimate Edition | Xbox One

With the hype surrounding Gears 5, I got the urge to return to the series, so started Gears Ultimate with the intention of playing through the series to get to the fifth instalment. That might still happen, but to be honest at the time of writing I haven’t picked up the game in a couple of weeks, despite being close to the end. It’s just not drawing me in. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think this is a bad game, quite the contrary. The gameplay is fantastic, I’d go as far as to say it is the gold standard of cover based shooters. The problem is that the story is practically non existent, and while there is some cool ideas, they just aren’t explored. 

Walking around tight corridors, with little to no exploration, makes the game feel almost like an on-the-rails shooter, and when you combine that with the “ho-rah” dialogue and lack of story, I just find myself becoming bored. There is only so many monsters I can shoot. Hopefully I’ll pick it up again soon and plow on with the series. I’m a Xbox fan, so it doesn’t seem right that I’ve not played much of one of their flagship franchises. 

Another Lost Phone | iOS

I really like these “phone sim” games. The premise is that you’ve found a phone and are trying to figure out who owns it. The game itself is basically a puzzle that you slowly unlock, finding out more and more information, and progressing by gaining more access to the apps. This is the second game in a series, and while the two aren’t linked, I would definitely recommend playing them both – the first is called A Normal Lost Phone. 

The developer has done a great job in making the interface feel like an actual phone. So much so, that throughout my play through I actually felt quite uncomfortable, like I was invading someones privacy. I did find this instalment’s puzzles to be a bit more obtuse than the first game, leading to a bit of frustration, which I never felt while playing A Normal Lost Phone. It is still great though, and well worth the small price. 

KotOR | Xbox

Knights of the Old Republic II is up there with one of favourite games, but I had never played the first one. Thanks to the Xbox One’s backwards compatibility that has changed, and the game is living up to all my expectations.

I love how these games focus less on just the battle between Light and Dark, but instead show the grey in-between. Not everything is cut and dry. There is loads of dialogue, the turn based combat is fun, and the characters are as excellent as you’d expect from a Bioware game.

I’ve still a ways to go to the finish, thank god, because I am savouring every last detail.

Grindstone | iOS

I’ve maybe played 30 minutes of this, my first foray into the new Apple Arcade, but what I’ve played is really fun, and I’m looking forward to getting more into it. I think I’ll play it on my phone, though, as it seems like a good travel game. The lack of microtransactions is refreshing, I think Apple Arcade is really going to change the quality of mobile gaming for the better.

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