Game of the Month - April 2023

Having a blast with The Planet Crafter. I bought it on sale in march but only started it this weekend. It sucks you up and a big pro is there is no combat. It plays like Subnautica, but instead a sea planet, you have a barren planet to terraform.
Only downside is my left pinky is sore because of constantly pressing shift to run…

I finished up Opus: Echo of Starsong on GamePass and absolutely loved it. Feel like this may be an overlooked gem. It’s mostly interactive fiction, with the story taking priority over complex game play, but there are nice little bits to keep you busy in between the story telling. It also has some of the best world building I have ever come across.

Really go into Spellforce 3 early in the month, think I am about half way but have put it down for a bit, it’s a little repetetive and the story failed to grab me at all. I’d love to see this engine used for a full on RPG at some point, and the visuals are superb.

Also played through the Magnificent Trufflepigs which was basically a Radio 4 afternoon play in game form. Mostly story telling with a little bit of simple metal detecting in between. Quite decent but I am not sure how well it’d translate outside the UK.

My 2nd replay of Marvel Midnightsuns has taken up most of my free time in April, playing all the new DLC, and now i paused to wait a minute for Storm to get released this week. Loving the game more the 2nd time, seeing more nuance to the strategy than my previous play through.
Loving getting extra card draws for knockback into a friend is a huge buff i missed previously, and the Deadpool upgrade ability to get an extra shove really morphs the game to an odd manifestation of Marvel Pinball for me :) Also maximizing Spidermans aoe attacks combined with his power-building quick attacks turns him into a monster in every battle. I have a hard time NOT taking him.

I only gamed a few days at the end of the month. Star Ruler 2 got that time, and made me wish it was more successful, or at least that more 4x devs would pilfer it’s great ideas.

The multiplayer patch dropped so I picked Last Epoch up again. I’m enjoying trying the different classes and have played both online and offline characters (online dudes seem a bit laggier IMO).

My game of the month is Horizon Forbidden West and Burning Shores. When this first came out, I rushed through it to get it done before Elden Ring came out, and then tabled it forever. Now, with the DLC release I went back and played heck out of this this week. They’ve added quite a bit of re-playability with a NG+ mode, and ultra hard mode, and the DLC is really good. The only thing this game suffers from IMHO is poor release windows.

Ooh, that will be a tough one to choose between:

Diablo III: The latest season 28 has been a ton of fun for me. I have never been good enough at the game to push Greater Rifts far, but with the new Altar of Rites, it has given me enough advantages and power to get to GR103 with my Bone Spear necro build. All I have left to do is push to GR110 to complete the Altar. I learned a ton this time around including unlocking powers in the cube and adding gem enhancements to ancient legendary gear. I even got my first primals ever and upgraded to one. There was a lot in the game that I had never seen before and it was a blast!

Spellforce: Conquest of Eo: Thanks to all of the feedback and conversation here, I decided to grab this game a couple weeks ago and I can see the draw and am thoroughly enjoying it. I am only up to week 26 or so of my first ever game and I can see this staying in my routine for a good while.

Fallout New Vegas – I installed this on the deck just to see how it runs and looks. Ended up finishing it. Still a great game!

I didn’t really play a standout, truly exceptional game in April - some pretty solid ones though. I managed to wrap up Assassins Creed Valhalla, which was good but so packed full of stuff, I just eventually had to declare victory and walk away. Roger Ebert always said no good movie is ever long enough and no bad movie is ever short enough and I feel that generally applies to most media as well, but the AC games really push that maxim to its breaking point. I’m pretty much always ready to be done with them before they’re done with me.

I’m late to the party with Loop Hero, but finally tried it since it came to Game Pass. I liked it, liked it quite a bit, though there were moments when it definitely felt more like work than an enjoyable pastime. But I did manage to get through to the end which seems like a reasonable enough place to stop.

I bought this years ago and just never got round to playing it, then I got the feeling that it wasn’t going to be quite the kind of strategy game I was looking for so started eyeing up:

So I’m glad Reborn hit the spot for you! It’s something I hope to play soon(ish).

Yeah, this is how I felt for a spell and I got so focused on trying to finish it with the rogue that I ultimately burnt out on it.

Anyway, my game of the month is: Rollerdrome. Rollerdrome. Rollerdrome. I even made a thread so I can talk to myself about how great it is. Hi-scores to chase abound!

Following that, I finally got round to starting (and playing a fair bit of) Rain World which is like Another World but with the physics-y movement and improvised deadly brawling of FEIST, the emergent ecology of STALKER, and the cataclysmic cycles of Outer Wilds, which give the exploration and survival some real bite and tension. Despite being such a deadly game, there’s so much life in it.

I will buy it when it gets a good discount here, since the regional pricing for my region is way too high. Waiting for a 50% or something.

That’s a shame to hear. I hope that discount comes around soon!

April was a huge month for Old World again. I’m only now shifting my play a bit to catch up on other games. But those Old World hooks are deep and I’m eager to jump back in again.

Sekiro - still in love. One of the finest videogames I have ever played. It’s hard to go on from there.

My gaming time in April was neatly bifurcated between two new pieces of hardware, both of which were as much a part of my enjoyment as the games themselves.

For the first half of the month, I was on a long sightseeing trip to the East Coast, with games slotting into downtime in planes and hotel rooms. The titles that stand out the most are Hexcells, Boomerang X, Lunacid, Symphony of War, and SpinRhythm XD, but really the nod has to go to my brand-new Steam Deck itself.

And then I was back at home and working at my new job. After years of gradually worsening finger pain tied to typing all day (particularly in the right pinky from constantly having to reach for the enter, shift, and backspace keys), I had decided to bite the bullet and retrain myself to use a split ergonomic keyboard with thumb keys to take off some of that load. That was a substantial learning curve on its own, but I raised the stakes further by deciding to make a clean break and simultaneously learn an alternate layout with better long-term ergonomics, on the theory that that way I could form a hard mental association between the layout and the form factor, and leave my decades of QWERTY muscle memory intact and ready to use whenever I have to use a standard keyboard.

So I started learning the Colemak layout, switched after a while to an improved descendant called Canary, and finally wound up using Canary as a base but plugging in a few tweaks of my own to create a layout that I’m calling Crebain.

I’m slowly building my speed and fluency back up – still slower than I was before, but it’s feeling much better to type. Games have formed a big part of that necessary practice and repetition, as I played through the entirety of Epistory: Typing Chronicles (a charming papercraft adventure where you type words to fight off bugs) and The Textorcist: The Story of Ray Bibbia (a gonzo boss rush where you dodge bullet hell patterns while finding openings to type out Latin liturgy). Both were much more enjoyable than just grinding out endless standalone typing practice. And beyond learning the base layout, it’s been a fascinating journey to take an interface that I’ve always taken for granted as mostly unchanging, and approach it deliberately, asking how it can be better customized for myself, seeing how others have solved similar questions, and applying and testing the results. So again, rather than any individual game, the nod goes to the hardware itself (the ZSA Moonlander).

It’s really good! It’s snappy, the interface is neat, the balance is quite good as long as you don’t grind (a common theme of any srpg, really). It only crumbled on the storytelling front to me.

Stellaris got almost all of my gaming time in April. I slept on this game for way too long. Distant Worlds 2 a close second.

Mobile: Marvel Snap
PC: Dredge
Switch: Cult of the Lamb
PS5: Hogwarts: Legacy

I obviously bounced between platforms; Marvel Snap probably topped my playtime but each has been a lot of fun.

Bravely Default 2: What a surprise this game has been. I mildly enjoyed the first game, but lost interest at some point and the second game (Bravely Second: End Layer), I picked up but haven’t played. Took a break from my April Games of the Month runner-ups (Etrian Odyssey IV and Labyrinth of Yomi, also on Switch, and Soul Hackers on Xbox) and decided to pop this one in and had a great time with it.

Pacing is good, combat is fun and challenging enough (with some tough boss fights), and it has good voice acting and a likable main cast of characters (for a JRPG). Didn’t finish it, but still playing. Playing some of these more recent handheld JRPGs makes me lament the fact that Final Fantasy is a shadow of its former self, and even though the upcoming game looks good, that magic is long gone.

May will be Age of Wonders 4, but I’ve been pulled out of that game by my April pick Against the Storm.
I’ve been hesitant to put too much time into it because I don’t want my EA progress to be (possibly)deleted when it releases, but I keep going back to it. A big part of that is they’re adding some meaty updates every other Thursday.