Games

My time with Animal Crossing

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When Animal Crossing: New Horizons launched back on March 20th 2020, the world was in the throes of a crisis. I’m sure I don’t need to relay the facts to you, but for context, here in the UK we went into government sanctioned lockdown on March 23rd – due to health implications, my own lockdown began on March 17th.

I had no intentions of buying ACNH, but a combination of getting caught up in the hype and wanting something to fill my lockdown time really appealed, so I bought it. My current play time sits at around 160 hours, and with the game having been out for 75 days (at time of writing). Whilst it sounds a lot, that actually only equates to an average of just over 2 hours per day, nothing in comparison to some players I’m sure.

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Initially, I really enjoyed playing ACNH. I loved meeting new villagers, building up my library, extending my house, all the things that are exciting and fresh once you start playing. Online there have been some people saying that ACNH doesn’t have enough to sustain it. Back over Easter, there was a lot said about the eggs that could be found throughout the game being too frequent and getting in the way of normal play. All of this is a stark reminder that the lockdown changed things. This isn’t a game that was designed to be played for 8 hours a day, we were supposed to be a lot more casual in our playing. I think now, some 75 days on, this is where I’m at with ACNH. I’m finally putting in the 1-2 hours a day playtime that the game developers probably had in mind when they made it. 

Once I’d met the goal of having KK Slider perform on my island, terraforming brought with it it’s own anxieties. Where the game had been reasonably relaxing knowing I had no control over the environment other than decoration, being given carte blanche to tear down cliffs and stick water wherever I wanted was pretty overwhelming.

There’s been a lot of discourse on Twitter about not comparing yourself to other players, but in an age where everything is easily shared, it’s hard not to. I’ll admit I got myself trapped in a cycle of seeing things online and realising I would never come up with anything that creative for my own island, and found that any joy I’d got from ACNH had left, replaced by fear. What I was scared of I couldn’t exactly say, but I think part of it was having an image in my head that I couldn’t recreate. 

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Whilst my playtime on ACNH has reduced of late, I’m still playing a bit each day. I’ve found it helps with my daily routine. The daily ACNH tasks; collect fossils and have them assessed, check for recipes on the beach and in villager houses, all of these things keep some structure in my life which as been missing since coronavirus hit. 

I have a few areas on my island I’m looking to develop, and that I have some ideas for, but after they are done I do wonder what the game will hold for me. I feel like I’ve definitely got my money out of ACNH, 160+ hours into any game is more than reasonable, but I also feel like the end of my time with ACNH is probably in sight. 

When I started writing this piece, it was centred around how playing ACNH helped me cope with depression and anxiety during lockdown, and whilst it has, I can definitely tell that the end of the cycle is in sight. I’ll still play it, but it’ll be less of a coping mechanism for me now. 

 

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Games, Platinum Review

Platinum Review: The Sims 4

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It’s been a while since I’ve written one of these, but rest assured, I’m still getting platinum trophies. This year my challenge is to get 20 platinum trophies, and I’ll be honest, things are not going brilliantly, but I’m trying to turn things around!

Early on, I decided I would mop up some platinums for games I’d started, and I had an urge to play The Sims, so I opted for The Sims 4 for my first platinum of the year.

Playstationtrophies.org lists The Sims 4 as a 3/10 difficulty rating, and 26-30+ hours. I have to say, whilst not difficult it did take me a lot longer than the estimated time.

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No trophy is especially difficult, but the fact that so many of the trophies are for getting to the top of each career path and maxing out each skill means they are fairly time-consuming. There are a lot of tips in the forums on Playstationtrophies.org, and these will direct you to some custom content you can download to make things easier; a Sim who is pregnant with triplets being the hardest to come across in the game naturally, but with the custom content, you have a pregnant Sim who you just need to move onto a lot and wait. Simple!

Towards the end of the slog for the platinum, I sort of lost any love I had for the game. I’ve always been someone who loved The Sims, but somewhere along the line grinding for this one (and it did feel like a grind), any enjoyment I had for the game just left me.

I’m glad to have done it, but I don’t think I’ll ever play The Sims in any iteration again.

Game Reviews, Games

Review: My Hero One’s Justice 2

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My Hero One’s Justice 2 is the second fighting game based on My Hero Academia, arguably one of the most popular anime in the world. As its title suggests, My Hero One’s Justice 2 is the follow-up to 2018’s equally awkwardly titled My Hero One’s Justice — and it’s every bit as bland as its predecessor.

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My Hero One’s Justice 2 boasts a lot of different modes, each of which is enjoyable in its own right, if not a bit repetitive at times. Story mode focuses on retelling recent events from the anime, centring on the Provisional Hero License Exam and Shie Hassaikai arcs. This does feel somewhat like a double-edged sword; on the one hand it’s really cool to be reliving those moments and taking part in some truly iconic battles, but on the other hand, it all feels so recent — it would have been nice to experience some original content. Story mode does offer this to an extent, giving the option to replay it as a villain to get another perspective on the story, but still, it all feels like you’re retreading very familiar ground.

Read the rest of my review on Push Square.

Games

My Top 10 Games of the Decade

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Along with the rest of the world, I’ve been deliberating what my top ten games/anime/films of the decade are.

I finally have some semblence of a list, though when I was putting it together I had a total mind blank and seemed to forget any game I’d ever played, so undoubtedly I will have forgotten something that should really be on this list.

  1. The Trails of Cold Steel series
  2. Persona 4 Golden (Western release date)
  3. The Danganronpa series
  4. The Zero Escape series (Western release date)
  5. The Last of Us
  6. The Wolf Among Us
  7. Final Fantasy XV
  8. Persona 5
  9. Mystic Messenger
  10. Ni No Kuni 2

When I think back on the decade, these are the the games that made the biggest impression on me. I appreciate some (Final Fantasy XV/Ni No Kuni 2) might not have been so well received, but for me, I had a lot of fun playing them and they opened me up to a lot of other things. Final Fantasy XV was the first Final Fantasy game I played all the way through, and made me appreciate the series a lot more than I probably had done previously.

What were your favourite games of the decade?

Games

Interview with Kondo-san, President of Nihon Falcom

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If you know me, even the slightest bit, you’ll know that the Legend of Heroes series has taken over my life in recent months and has become my latest obsession. Thanks to being especially vocal about this on Twitter, and being lucky enough to work with Push Square, I was given the opportunity via Reef Entertainment to interview the president of Nihon Falcom, the series’ developer.

Read my full interview over on Push Square.

Game Reviews

Review: Labyrinth of Refrain: Coven of Dusk

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Nippon Ichi’s latest release Labyrinth of Refrain: Coven of Dusk is a first-person dungeon crawler where you play Tractie – that is, the Tractatus de Monstrum – a mysterious book with a soul trapped inside, able to communicate by filling out its pages. Tractie is under the control of a witch named Baba Yaga, or Dronya as she goes by in the village of Refrain. The titular labyrinth is a no-go area for humans, so Dronya decides that Tractie is going to explore on her behalf, and throws it down the well that serves as the entrance to the labyrinth.

You’ll need to report back into Dronya after fulfilling a set requirement in order to progress the game. Early on this is a bit frustrating, as it means you have to abandon your position in the labyrinth to get back, but eventually you’ll learn a skill called Mud Exit which creates a one-use portal to teleport back to, making exploration much easier.

Read the rest of my review on Push Square.

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Game Reviews

Review: Planet of the Apes: Last Frontier

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Planet of the Apes: Last Frontier is set between Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and War for the Planet of the Apes – the two most recent movies in the franchise.

With the power of PlayLink, up to four players can decide the fate of humans and apes alike, as we take control of Jess, the head of a human settlement, and Bryn, an ape in a mountain tribe. If playing along with the PlayLink app isn’t cutting it for you, fortunately you can also use multiple DualShock 4 controllers. In fact, playing this way is preferable, as you’re not threatened by connection problems if your wi-fi isn’t behaving. Still, the option for PlayLink is there should you need it.

Read the rest of my review on Push Square.

Game Reviews

Review: Chaos;Child

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Chaos;Child is the latest visual novel brought to us by developer 5pb, and the fourth main entry in the ‘Science Adventure’ series. Chaos;Child sits in that series with acclaimed titles like Steins;Gate and this game’s predecessor, Chaos;Head, but don’t worry too much about having experience with either. Ultimately, playing those will add depth to Chaos;Child, but it’s perfectly enjoyable and works as a standalone game if you haven’t played the others.

Read the rest of my review on Push Square.

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Game Reviews

Review: Blue Reflection

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Blue Reflection is the latest offering from Gust, the developer who previously brought us the Atelier series. A brand new IP, Blue Reflection focuses on the story of Hinako, a former child ballet star who starts a new high school. She discovers that she’s a Reflector, the game’s version of a magical girl, along with her new friends, Yuzu and Lime. As the story unfolds we learn of a parallel world, The Common, where monsters feed off emotions. Hinako and her friends must use the power of friendship to defeat the evil Sephirot and save the world.

Read the rest of my review on Push Square.

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Platinum Review

Platinum Review: Nubla

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Desperate times call for desperate measures, and as I faced ending the first half of the year with no platinum trophies I found myself on a forum for “Games with easy platinums” on PSN Profiles. Imagine my delight when I see a game that is hailed as being the easiest platinum trophy ever. I quickly corroborated the fact on PlayStation Trophies, and lo and behold it’s true. The rating on the game’s page was down as 2/10 and estimated time of 0.5-2hrs.

A quick check of the PlayStation Store, and I saw the game was £7.99. Too good an opportunity to pass up.

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So, what is the game? It’s called Nubla, and as a loose plot description it’s about an art gallery that has lost the pictures in its paintings. You control a character and essentially solve puzzles to restore the paintings. For a game that centres around art as you’d expect, the art style is really impressive. It’s unique and charming, and makes the whole game feel like a really special experience.

You get (gold!) trophies for completing each of the games chapters and for collecting each “Dream Memento”, with the platinum popping at the end of the credits.

The collectables are sometimes difficult to spot, and a few are only visible after you trigger a certain art of the environment. There’s no chapter select, so these trophies are missable, but luckily there are some really comprehensive walkthroughs on PlayStation Trophies.

It took me almost an hour to get the platinum trophy for Nubla (around 50 minutes in actual fact), and I used a collectible guide. I’d personally estimate the difficulty at 1/10. The game isn’t diffcult in any way. There are some frustrating moments with the game mechanics, but they don’t affect the playthrough in anyway – you can’t die in the game, there are no platforming moments.

For those interested, there’s also World of Nubla. It’s exactly the same game, but a different trophy list, and comes in at £11.99 on the PlayStation Store.