Gone Home: A Review

Gone Home is a fabulously atmospheric first-person exploratory adventure game.  You arrive at home and begin to explore through the house.  So what do I think of it?

 

GoneHome

 

Game: Gone Home Console Edition

Developer: The Fullbright Company

Publisher: The Fullbright Company

Platform: Xbox One

 

This is an intriguing game as it leaves it very open to the player as to how much or how little they do and explore.  Although it would be a shame to miss out on areas of this house – and there are certainly plenty of rooms to explore.  I would highly recommend going room to room and looking at everything.  The little details are all in there and you start to imagine what has been happening in this family whilst you have been away.  Some extra explanation appears through the journal entries left by Sam which you can collect throughout the house.  These and the details of the house even down to the items in the fridge paint a wonderful picture of this family, who have had quite an eventful time of late.   I love learning snippets of the Greenbriar family through the items, Sam’s journal entries and the journal from Mitten too.  These journals are so well written, and spoken by the voice actress Sarah Grayson, they really invite you into Sam’s world and her perspective on what has been happening in her life.  The writing is so carefully done and it comes across so well.  All these moments spoken to you through these journals make you feel so connected to Sam and it can get a little emotional.

 

This game puts player choice at the forefront by allowing you to do however much you want.  You can interact with items, open cupboards, and find things that you maybe don’t want to find.  Read notes, school work, postcards and only once does the game force you to look away.  This is so unexpected but is a wonderful addition.  I was so interested in the background to the family and finding out what has happened to them through all the details left around the house.

 

The atmosphere is quite spooky, and indicates how you really don’t know anything since you have just returned from abroad, which is achieved through simple things like the thunder outside, flickering of lights and the odd creak of a floorboard.  To be honest as a scaredy cat when it comes to jump scares or any form of horror my initial look at the house I found myself outside at the start of the game made me slightly concerned about what I had started.  I had no reason to worry, the game is just very atmospheric and this works so well and really adds to the game.

 

I would also highly recommend the developer commentary.  I have been listening to all of these and they are so interesting.  A delightful addition to learn a little more about this game.  If you have played through Gone Home once already, I would say turn on this modifier and stroll back through the house and try to find all the commentary nodes to listen to.

 

The console edition comes with some interesting achievements, particularly surrounding the speed runs.  I haven’t attempted these yet but I am tempted to try and see if I can manage to complete the game in under 1 minute.  These allow a nice challenge to keep you coming back for more.  It does also require you to get very practiced the routes through the house.  I haven’t started my practicing yet!

 

I do have to highlight my favourite little item in the house.  The Christmas duck.  Adorable and Christmas themed, this little duckie just wants to find his place to nest.  Look at him all comfy in his nest.

 

ChristmasDuck

Christmas Duck at home finally.

 

So if you are an Xbox Games with Gold member, Gone Home is currently on Games with Gold for October 2017 so grab it quick!  If you aren’t or miss this in any way I would thoroughly recommend this game.  I can’t believe I hadn’t played this before and is a bit different from anything I have played recently.

 

Have you played Gone Home?  What did you think of it?  Let me know in the comments.

Advertisements

Overheard in a game shop

Once again entering the magical realm of game shops where so many moments happen which make you question what actually just happened.  Again, this could be a game shop or any retailer which sells games as well, as these moments can occur anywhere.

 

The one that I still haven’t quite worked out what happened was when I overheard the sales assistant trying to help a mother choose a console bundle for their child’s birthday.  They were really helpful and answering her questions (gold star to the sales assistant).  What got me was the mother had got her choice down to two different bundles I think, with the only difference being the games added with the console.  Perfectly understandable as if she doesn’t take interest in games herself they wouldn’t mean much.  So, all the games were explained clearly so even I who didn’t know what console bundles were on offer could tell the games included.  Except for one.  The game description I heard was “it’s very popular and like Call of Duty for kids”.

 

What does everyone think of this description? Any guesses on the game?  Let me know in the comments!

Impressions of Hitman

I have always meant to get around to playing a Hitman game.  I own one which was a Games with Gold title a few years back, and thanks to my Player 2 I have access to (or own depending on if we count all our games as jointly owned) several others.  I just haven’t yet got around to playing any of them.  However, I have recently started playing Hitman The Complete First Season on Xbox One so what are my impressions of this and Hitman based on my first venture into the world of Agent 47.  So far, I have played the missions in the Intro Pack, Paris, Sapienza and Marrakesh, so I am roughly half way through as it stands.

 

Game: Hitman The Complete First Season

Developer: Io Interactive

Publisher: Square Enix

Version: Xbox One (disc)

 

The premise of the game seems to be the same as all other Hitman games, I’m not saying this as a criticism although it may sound that way.  Instead I mean this as a reassurance, that despite the format change to an episode based game it retains the main idea of past games.  As I have nothing to compare this to I find the episodic nature works well as you have amazing settings and interesting variety of targets with their own backstories.  The vast array of methods you can employ as Agent 47 to assassinate the target in each mission are welcome and allow for great replay value.  I have spent some time attempting the missions a few times in order to get to complete extra challenges and see what happens if you approach the mission differently.  I can see myself doing this with the other missions as well, although I still have plenty of challenges to attempt for the missions so far.

 

The main story that links each mission plays out over cutscenes although I don’t want to comment too much as I’m sure more shall be revealed and could influence my thoughts on the story.

 

The locations of the main missions (I’m excluding the Prologue/Intro Pack here as that is slightly different) are all so well designed and show the grand nature of the world that Agent 47 is infiltrating.  This makes a nice contrast to the simplicity of Agent 47’s appearance, just a bald man with a smart suit.  He blends to an extent but is not a part of the rich society that he works his way into and takes out targets from.  A favourite so far is Sapienza, there is just something so beautiful about this setting.  In complete contrast to the autumnal weather I can see out of my window, but it lets me forget for a while about the true state of the weather when I am wandering around Sapienza.  The game itself creates such detailed locations with so many rooms and corridors or grounds, which allow for so much exploration, that it is almost surprising that each location is essentially just one small part.

 

The missions being contained in one episode works nicely for me.  Each mission and the target(s) can be self-contained and it means that IO have made such a variety.  I think this is quite a good way to format the Hitman games, and would be interested in another of this style.  Admittedly I haven’t played previous games, so perhaps this could change if I play another Hitman game that isn’t episodic.  I think the episodic design makes this quite easy for me as a Hitman newbie to approach the game and means it is very accessible.  Hopefully this is also a nice change for existing fans of Hitman.

 

These are simply my initial thoughts but I am thoroughly enjoying this game and would recommend it based on what I have played so far.  I also haven’t attempted any of the Escalation contracts or the Elusive targets, but hope to in the future.

 

Have you played this game?  What did you think of it and does it live up to past Hitman games?  Let me know in the comments.

October releases

October is an exciting month for gaming, and I am super excited for a couple of things this month but we will get to my top choices of games for this month in a bit.

 

Forza Motorsport 7 (Xbox One, released 7th October) looks fantastic, and if it is anything like as enjoyable as it predecessors it will be a fantastic game.  I’m not getting this straight away but hopefully I will find out.  My problem with these games is I drift in and out and get through them so slowly so technically I have about three FM games on the go as well as FH2 and FH3 so I’m all Forza-ed out at the moment.  That said I will probably pick this up sometime in the future.

 

Lego Ninjago Movie Game is out on PS4/Xbox One and Nintendo Switch on the 6th October.  Lego games are generally awesome and so I have high hopes for this one.  Again, I’m not sure I will pick it up but I do want to know what people think of this if they get it.

 

Mario & Luigi Super Star Saga + Bowsers Minions (3DS) is out on the 6th October.  It’s a Mario and Luigi double team and Bros. moves should add an interesting element to this game.  Puzzles to solve and areas to explore in the quest to restore Peach’s voice.  Sounds like a fun game to me.

 

Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires’ Conspiracy is out on Nintendo 3DS, also on the 6th October in Europe.  I love the Professor Layton games, even if some of the puzzles are frustrating.  This game sees Katrielle take centre stage and attempt to find her missing father but finds the Millionaires’ Conspiracy.  I find Professor Layton games easy to get into and you can drop in easily at any Layton game, and this looks exciting.  Definitely on my list!

 

Now briefly onto games I’m slightly less interested in owning, however will (probably) have a massive following and do look like fantastic quality games but they just don’t seem to be for me.  Friday the 13th The Game (Xbox One/PS4, 13th October), could this have been out on any other date?  Personally, I’m not really a big horror game (or film) fan so this is one I shall be skipping but if you like this sort of thing then I would suggest this is worth a look at.  The Evil Within 2 (Xbox One/PS4, 13th October) falls into the same I’m not interested category as the words survival horror fill me with some fear.  However, I hope this does well and people get enjoyment from it.  Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus (PS4/Xbox One, 27th October) also looks really good, but I haven’t played any of the previous Wolfenstein games so I don’t really know what to think of this.  There seems to be a lot of fan excitement so should be good to see how this one performs.

 

Now I said at the start that I’m super excited for a couple of games and I have mentioned a few that I am looking forward to and some that I think people will enjoy but aren’t going to be for me.  So, what am I extra excited for?  That would be Assassin’s Creed Origins (Xbox One/PS4/PC, released 27th October) and Super Mario Odyssey (Nintendo Switch, released 27th October).

 

Despite not owning a Switch I am so excited to see Super Mario Odyssey be released and hope to be able to try it out sometime.  I just need to find someone I know with a Switch and buys the game so I can have a play!  I am still wishing I owned a Switch but hopefully in the future I will be able to get one and the games which have been released for it this year that I would love to play.

 

Assassin’s Creed is one of my favourite series of games, yes it as a series has had its downsides and criticisms but I still enjoy each of the games.  Origins has been said to improve the fighting system which I look forward to trying, I am intrigued as to Ancient Egypt location and the character who we shall follow.  From all I have seen so I far I think it looks fantastic and I am so excited to get this.

 

What are you looking forward to this month?  Have you planned to get any of these games or are there others which are top of your list?

September gaming

September has been a really busy month for me but I still managed to get some games played.  So what have I been playing?

 

Pokémon Sun (3DS) has once again been played.  I picked this up again last month and it is getting me in the mood for Ultra Sun/Ultra Moon in November.  I mentioned this a bit more in my August gaming list so I won’t say too much more here.  This has probably been my most played game, although my lack of time means this isn’t exactly a large amount of time versus the other games on this list.

 

Batman Arkham City (Xbox 360) has been keeping me busy.  I decided to play this again and have gone through the story as (most) of the side missions (yes there are still Riddler trophies all over Arkham City…).  I love helping Batman solve crimes and take down the bad guys so this was great time spent.  I haven’t done all the challenge maps and such like but might go back to that at another point.

 

I finally got round to starting Hitman The Complete First Season (Xbox One).  In fairness, this was bought by my Player 2 when it was first released in steelbook/disc format so it isn’t quite as long a delay from release that I have actually played it.  It has, however, spent far too long on my “to be played” list.  I’m enjoying the stealth required and the challenges to make me try each mission in a different way which I am slowly working my way through.  I do want to try to use the cannons in Sapienza, although I haven’t worked out how to use these effectively (yet!) but hopefully soon.  I’m finding so much replay value here so it is still enjoyable after replaying missions a few times.  I did consider doing a very late to the Hitman party review/thoughts post but with time constraints and this game having been released last year I’m on the fence on whether to do this.

 

Like I said, it has been a quiet gaming month due to a busy day to day life but I did have a fun month playing these.  What have you been playing this month?

 

 

The physical versus digital decision

Personally, I have some downloaded games.  Some.  Mostly games which were available for free as part of Games with Gold/Origin etc, and occasional other games which I want having spotted on whichever digital store.  As you can probably guess from this most of my games are physical copies.

 

I appreciate the convenience of digital games and I appreciate the minimal storage space in the home that these require.  However, I still don’t use this as my usual way of purchasing games.  I guess I prefer having the physical copy even though my collection takes up an increasing amount of space and takes time to organise.

 

I once was asked if I felt that I was a collector of games, and I hadn’t ever considered it that way before.  I guess that I am, as I don’t usually get rid of games and that works for me.  I still go back to games from my childhood and still have most of them as some have gone walkabout in the last few years (or I have forgotten where they have been stored, which is probably the more likely of those options).  I have an increasing collection and this results in an increasing game backlog which I am working on, although the backlog isn’t all mine as my Player 2 has a collection too and their own backlog (some do overlap though).

 

I also still like having the artwork on the cover of the box and I appreciate the design work that goes into these and I feel I miss this when I digitally acquire games.  I do find that, sometimes, I miss the instruction booklets, that used to be standard in game boxes this used to give me something to look at even when I wasn’t playing them.  Did anyone else look at these when they weren’t playing the game or was that just me?  I also have to admit that tin cases and special editions also greatly appeal to me.  I only own a few, as I try to be good and follow a budget but these are so tempting.  The shininess, texture (sometimes) and the general design look are often incredible.  To be honest if I could I would buy more of these.

 

Whatever way you buy games it doesn’t overly matter as long as you still get enjoyment from the game itself, but what is your preferred way of owning games?  Do you have any special editions/tin cases and what are your favourites if you do?

Overheard in a game shop

As I have said before game shops (and other retailers who sell games) can be the perfect place for humorous moments.

 

Kids are hilarious.  Their natural desire for attention plus saying exactly what they think and wanting to play with anything can lead to some funny moments.  This can also lead to tired parents but that is another story.

 

I was looking at games in a really quiet store one day.  In total, there was me and one father with his young child (say 5 years old), plus the sales assistants.  Like I say, quiet.  The child was full of energy and just wanted to pick up everything and talk about everything.  This child also had an uncanny ability to point at everything that was 18 rated.  Every time the child pointed at something or picked it up, it was declared that this is my favourite game ever and would proudly show the father this one.  The father just laughed and smiled every time, as he had not played any of the games his child had picked and said that they were not suitable for the child.

 

It was the adorable innocence of the child wanting to play in the store, making the trip fun and just picking anything and everything at his eye level to be his favourite.

 

What moments have you had in game shops that stick in your memory?

Driving into my heart 

I enjoy racing games.  The speed.  The cars. The ridiculous turns that I absolutely could not make in real life.  Although let’s face it I wouldn’t be able to drive so well on a race track if I was put in charge of a race car.  Racing games allow me the chance to play and drive as fast as I can and beat everyone (at least in some cases).  I can drive down highways and round race tracks which I can only imagine but they look wonderful when you enter the game world.  So what are my favourite racing games?

 

  1. Mario Kart

I can’t have a list of racing games without a mention of Mario Kart.  Responsible for many a family argument but many hours of fun.  Who doesn’t enjoy sneaking into first place after a perfectly timed blue shell?  I have played various versions of Mario Kart and am always pleased to return to any of them.  Despite trying to pick a particular version for this list I can’t decide.  These are perfect games to play with your family and still good fun on your own.  (But don’t blame me if there are some arguments as you all try to beat each other!)

 

  1. Blur

An Xbox 360/PS3/PC racing game which I think follows nicely from my first entry.  In Blur, you have an excellent single player career mode where you try to take on some bosses after completing challenges.  This allows you to gain access to cars and mods.  These are great fun, and challenging in order to get as many fans as possible and complete each one appropriately.   The multiplayer was also great to do, albeit I do not know if this is still active or not these days, but I didn’t spend too much of my time online with this game.  The locations were interesting and learning the tracks was always advisable as with other games.  Every little improvement you could make to a time or to the number of fans you got made a difference.

 

  1. Forza Horizon

I was so excited when I first heard about Forza Horizon.  I played this single player and online quite a lot.  This has become a series and we are currently at Forza Horizon 3.  Each of these games has been based in a fabulous location and I thoroughly enjoy these.  Even if finding every road is often ridiculously annoying and I still remain determined to drive down every road.  I’m back playing Forza Horizon 3 again after taking a break from it and I am wondering why I took that break.  I think Forza Horizon 3 has edged its way into the favourite Forza Horizon game of the three but each is worth a play and then some.  I haven’t played any of the expansions for Forza Horizon 3 but they also look great fun.

 

  1. Need for Speed

I was unsure which Need for Speed game to include in this list so have made it very general.  Each has its own feel and having played several I was a bit stuck.  The first one that came to mind was Need for Speed Most Wanted as this was the first one that I properly played (as in put some consistent time into it).  I was (sort of) late to the party!  I had played some Need for Speed games previously but not for as long or in as much detail as I did Most Wanted so I take that as my first proper Need for Speed game, although it isn’t technically.  I played a lot and sometimes just drove around (doesn’t everyone do this at some point when driving in games).  The games are worth getting into, I still find them very enjoyable today and there is a new Need for Speed (Payback) coming in November which should be very exciting.

 

  1. Crash Team Racing

A Play Station classic (in my eyes)!  Do I need to say much about this?  I believe this was one of the earliest racing games I played.  I used to play this with a friend who had it as I don’t think I owned it at the time.  I mainly liked it because I used to play Crash Bandicoot games and replay all the levels, and this was racing plus the characters from those games.  It has been years since I last played this but I have so many good memories attached to this game.  Maybe it is my rose-tinted glasses but this still has a special place for me.

 

What do you think of my choices?  Any I should have mentioned and should try if I haven’t played them?  Or any recommendations for racing games that I should look into?  Let me know in the comments.

September releases

September is a great month for games releases so what am I excited for (even if I don’t own the system the games will be on)?

 

The Nintendo Switch is getting some fantastic games this month and despite not owning one I am psyched to see how these are received.  Top of my list for the Switch releases is Rayman Legends: Definitive Edition (released 12th September).  I have enjoyed Rayman games since I first played them on the PS1 and own and have played Rayman Legends on Xbox One and Xbox 360.  This is a fun platformer which is a sequel to Rayman Origins, although there is no requirement to have played this.  I think this will work brilliantly on the Switch and look forward to hearing the thoughts on this version of the game.   Another exciting game for the Switch will be Pokkén Tournament DX (released 22nd September).  Again, this should work nicely on the Switch being able to play at home or out and about.

 

In other Nintendo release news, the Nintendo Classic Mini SNES is out on the 29th September.  Sadly I didn’t manage to snag a preorder, which in all honesty I wasn’t expecting after the same outcome for the Classic Mini NES.  I hope everyone who managed to get one enjoys owning it and the games on it!  I want to hear how you all find it.

 

I am intrigued by Dishonored: Death Of The Outsider (released 15th September) for Xbox One, PS4 and PC.  Personally I have not (as of yet – gaming backlog!) played a Dishonored game but this one also looks interesting.  If you play this after it’s release, let me know what you think of it.  Project CARS 2 (released 22nd September) doesn’t excite me as much as Project CARS when it was originally released in 2015.  Unfortunately I am terrible at it.  Hence my lack of enthusiasm for this sequel – but that is my personal lack of skill.  If I was a bit better at the original I would definitely put this on my to buy list.

 

Other big (and multi-format) releases this month include Destiny 2 (released 6th September), PES 2018 (released 14th September) and FIFA 18 (released 29th September).  Personally it is unlikely I will own any of these, however I wouldn’t completely discount it.  The fan base of these is massive and I’m sure they will be enjoyed by many.

 

What are you looking forward to this month and what are you picking up upon release?  Let me know in the comments.