January 2017 Update – #YOLG

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Well, I am getting this update off a little later than I had wanted,  I was holding off the update until I finished up a 2nd game just in time for end of month for my Year of Living Gamegerously.  I was able to knock down Batman Arkham Knight and Valiant Hearts while continuing my play through on two longer games (X-com 2 and Rebel Galaxy).

So on to the games (I do my best to keep them spoiler free).  batman arkFirst up lets talk Batman Arkham Knight.   This is a big game, no way around that and play through for the average person will exceed 25+ hours assuming you just dabble in some side missions. There is a lot to like about Batman Arkham Knight, and if you are a Batman fan you will really enjoy the who’s who of villains this game parades out.   The main story line has Batman going up against a fairly well known villain who is hell bent on destroying/reshaping Gotham.  Nothing really new here, I think this is the main plot to every Batman game/movie/comic ever.  What I did find fun and refreshing was how they introduce so many of the characters/villains of the Batman lore into this game.  In particular one such persona will take on a very large and un-expected role in the game and the implementation and direction of this is fantastic.   I think ultimately this may be one of my most favorite story lines for the Batman games.

Visuals again are top notch, combat as smooth as ever and the amount of gadgets and skill trees for upgrades is robust to the point you will not max out in a standard play through.  Luckily the game does offer a game plus mode so even once you finish the main story you can continue to be the capped crusader for many more hours.

So what is not to like?  Well, the bat-mobile for me was a great addition at first but quickly it becomes what I felt like was a crutch to extend game play and make its inclusion feel relevant.  Far too often you are going to be engaged in vehicle sequences that really take you out of feeling like Batman.   They tend to be rather mundane vehicle combat sequences that have little challenge to them and at worst feel down right boring.  Add to that the gazillion Riddler Challenges that are car based and you soon loath the thought of getting in the bat-mobile which is a shame because its actually a really cool tank (really its not a car at this point).   Also, is it just me or does Gotham never have sun light and rain free days?  I really would have enjoyed even just a bit of daylight game play or a few “overcast not raining on me” moments.  This game is a stunner to look at but I feel like the devs fell in love with their rain a bit too much.

Anyway, overall this is a great Batman game.  Really worth a play if you enjoyed previous Batman games or even games like an Assassins Creed.

So my second game finished is Valiant Hearts.  Valient HeartsThis game I had started a ways back and just couldn’t get into it and left it for dead.  Thanks to YOLG though I felt compelled to give it another go and overall, pleased I did for the most part.  This is not a long game, ultimately you can speed through in about 7 hours but there are collectibles to be found so I would figure more like 9 hours.

The main story has you switching out between a few different characters & story lines during World War 1.  No, this is not like Battlefield 1 even though it might seem similar at first read.   The different characters do all mesh together into one overarching story that is delivered through a cartoon like hand drawn vibe.    Sprinkled into the game is a narrator who not only delivers story beats but also very real facts and stats from World War 1.

Game play wise the game is a horizontal side scrolling action title with a pretty simple control scheme.   Often times during game play you will be teamed up with another character (usually a dog) and you will use them to solve numerous puzzles to get items for quests.  This was one of my bigger complaints to be honest.  Too often you feel like the level you are playing is just a series of tedious fetch quests that extend the game play time but don’t exactly add to enjoyment.  Of all the different characters you play as I found playing the role of the young female medic to be the most rewarding and fun.   They introduce a rhythmic button mechanic to the game play in certain moments that I found to be compelling and suited for the situation.

Overall, Valiant Hearts is a nice play and certainly worth and afternoon or two.  Its story telling is done in a fun way with the serious undertones of reality.  Add to that the fact that you can actually learn a few historical facts and the package is nice.   You should be able to grab it on the cheap these days so I would say a $10 is about right.

So that’s all for January my budget is still at $90 left so nothing new spent.  The month came and went in a blink, hoping I can increase my pace a bit on completion for February but given the short month… well we will see.

January YOLG update


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