Last game you finished, tell us about it

I have finished Horizon Zero Dawn once more. I played it, when it was released on PC, but started it again now after having played, Forbidden West. I still find the story deeply moving, for example, if you listen to a conversation between Elisabeth Sobeck and Gaia after your last fight...

A recommendation for everybody playing this for the first time: Don't skip the cutscenes. Otherwise you miss out on important parts of the story.

I played this on highest difficulty and that is indeed challenging even for experienced players. But I found all fights manageable somehow.

If I could choose an improvement, I would ask for the possibility to use a stealth approach also in the boss fights. I believe, that a game that allows specialisations in character development, should also give the player a chance to use their specialisation in the boss fights. (As I noted somewhere else, the developers of one of the newer Deus Ex games added the stealth option to the final fight in an update since players had criticised its absence.)

That said, this game is still or again a 10/10 game for me.
 
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I played this on highest difficulty and that is indeed challenging even for experienced players. But I found all fights manageable somehow.
You managed on the highest difficulty? I tried it for a while, but it got so tedious. I'd constantly die if I didn't have some bushes to hide in, and from where to exploit the AI.
Good job if you managed!
 
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You managed on the highest difficulty? I tried it for a while, but it got so tedious. I'd constantly die if I didn't have some bushes to hide in, and from where to exploit the AI.
Good job if you managed!
As I said I use a stealth approach. Mainly this includes the following methods:

1. Hide in high grass, shoot once at a machine. Since this makes them angry, wait until they have calmed down again. Rinse and repeat. For smaller machines you can also use the one-hit killing ability from stealth.
2. Learn to override machines, so they fight for you. I find this very satisfying, in particular if you override the strongest machine in a group.
3. Use corruption arrows to make machines fight each other. This is better than 2. if you have to act from a distance and also against flying machines.
4. Use traps (the normal ones and the wire ones). You can set the latter ones from stealth, so you can eliminate many machines in a short time with this method.
5. You can also shoot from far away with the far reaching sharp shooter bow. This is very useful, if you have no high grass to hide in, but can exploit the terrain to hide behind rocks etc.

With these methods you can win all fights except boss fights, where you sometimes can't avoid direct confrontation.

Addendum: Don't try to kill everything you see. Then you risk to get a burnout. Only fight enemies if it is part of a quest or you can't reach a location otherwise.
 
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I also abused stealth, with the one-hit from stealth attack especially.
But in areas where there isn't enough grass for me to run and hide in it never scaled.
During actual combat I abused the 'jump to trigger slow-time' skill. I'd constantly jump just to get the free slow-time triggered.
 
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But in areas where there isn't enough grass for me to run and hide in it never scaled.
Why would you need to run and hide? You hide first and shoot from hiding. Then you stay in that hiding place until the enemies stop searching for you. For some enemies you need to move a little bit inside of the hiding place, of they shoot ranged attacks to the location, where you shot from. But there is no need for running.
 
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Why would you need to run and hide? You hide first and shoot from hiding. Then you stay in that hiding place until the enemies stop searching for you. For some enemies you need to move a little bit inside of the hiding place, of they shoot ranged attacks to the location, where you shot from. But there is no need for running.
Weird, I thought it automatically puts you in combat when you attack from stealth, and you lose stealth and need to regain it. Anyway ...
 
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Weird, I thought it automatically puts you in combat when you attack from stealth, and you lose stealth and need to regain it. Anyway ...
In HZD you stay in stealth, when you shoot once. The enemies get alerted (yellow sign) and start looking for you. if you shoot a second time, while they are yellow, they get in "red" state and then you loose stealth. But if you wait, until they stop looking (get "blue" again) you can shoot again without losing stealth.

This is much harder in HFW at high difficulty levels, where the enemies find you much faster, even after only one shot. There you might need to use a smoke bomb to regain stealth.

Edit: Note that even in HZD you should use an outfit increasing stealth.
 
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I finished Horizon Zero Dawn too.

I enjoyed it but I wasn't crazy about it. I can't put my finger on why. Maybe I wasn't in a gaming mood? I couldn't connect with the story or the characters, for some reason, except when the game started revealing how it all came to be, later in the game.

Despite the mild enthusiasm, I'll probably play HFW. :)
 
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I have finished my playthrough of Wizardry 8 with my party that emphasized on ranged combat. They mostly dominated the final stages of the game on Ascension peak as well as the final fight with the Dark savant. The only enemies that posed a threat were the djinns because of their constant "instant death"-spells.

Finishing the game took me about 80 hours and it was - again - a satisfying experience, though I'm done with the game for a while (a few years), mostly due to its sheer length. I will probably take a break from gaming or at least playing a long game for a while.
 
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I wrapped up my revisit to Dark Deity today, and it was a good time. I mixed things up a bit, tried out some new blokes in my stable this go-around, and until the final battle all worked out well. That last guy got off a grand total of seven critical hits on my squad, yet since it was the last fight it didn't really matter. A great game that I know I'll replay again some years down the road. Not sure what I'll try next.
 
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I wrapped up my revisit to Dark Deity today, and it was a good time. I mixed things up a bit, tried out some new blokes in my stable this go-around, and until the final battle all worked out well. That last guy got off a grand total of seven critical hits on my squad, yet since it was the last fight it didn't really matter. A great game that I know I'll replay again some years down the road. Not sure what I'll try next.
Apparently I own that on Epic (must have been free at one point?).
Have you tried Symphony of War: The Nephilim Saga? Seems like a similar kinda thing.
I haven't played it, but I got it from a Humble bundle and it seems to have really good reviews
 
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Finished Hellblade 2

More of an experience than a game, or as some might think they're insultingly calling it a walking simulator. Probably not as close to your run-of-the-mill walking-simulator, but it does indeed have a lot of its systems streamlined and simplified. Especially its combat system. Even so, I've probably had the most thoughtful experiences and stories in so-called walking-simulators. SOMA and What Remains of Edith Finch come to mind. Overly used game systems do tend to break immersion or cause the fancy-named ludo-narrative dissonance issue, especially in these sorts of narrative heavy games.

With that intro and caveat out of the way, Hellblade 2 is most certainly, at this point in time at least, the most impressive rendition of graphics and sound. Especially graphics. Not sure if this is the first one, but its sporting of Unreal Engine 5 really sets it in a league of its own. And it's miles away from the competition. Of course, it also suffers from being very linear and constrained, with regards to the playground it offers its player. But with that in mind this is one beast of a looker. Its scenery, both up-close and far away, is on a level not seen in anything yet. Probably the closest we've come to photo-realism. Not exactly there yet, but incredibly impressive. The same level of fidelity can be see on the animations and characters, even in combat, though there it is a bit hard to focus on such things in the heat of battle. But having seen some examples of combat frozen in time via the game's impressive photo-mode, it is indeed staggering. This makes it doubly exciting to see what companies like CDPR, who have announced they'll be using UE5 for their next sequels to Cyberpunk and The Witcher.

A close second to the visuals is the audio. They weren't kidding when they recommended headphones. It really contributes to each moment. And is great all-around. Voices, music and sound in general. There is also one particular moment, during a particular encounter, with Senua sprinting in chunks, staying clear of lava, where I've not heard such a perfect sync between music and things happening on screen. For people that have played it, it's probably obvious; it is that impressive.

The combat, as mentioned at the start, has been streamlined and simplified even more than in the original. There's been a lot of humdrum made over it. This being a game. And I can sort of understand it, if you want it to be a game first-and-foremost. I'm of the opinion that we can have a few games that choose to make the combat less of hassle, and make it more appropriate from a narrative context perspective. The result is a series of partially-scripted impressive looking combat encounters, that visually are stunning, but mechanically they're as simple as they could get away with. And I'm fine with that, in this sort of narrative-focused game. Others might not be, and it's sort of understandable. At least it's definitely better than the repetitive system in HB1, which was one of its biggest negatives for me. Now there it really hampered the narrative since it too gamified the whole thing. It was like we were playing two different Senua's; one for out of combat, and one in combat.

But even with all of this said on the combat, with the negatives of streamlining and all, it still managed to have a couple of really impressive combat set-pieces. The one against the draugr, during their sacrificial ceremony, was incredibly evocative. The way they played with the light in that dark pit was impressive as hell.

On the story part there are some spoilers on the theme of the story, so it's definitely worth only reading after you've experienced it yourself. But here goes:
The last thing to be mentioned is probably the story. While it is incredibly impressive and obviously has had very high production value, it sadly didn't hit as hard and wasn't as touching as the story in the first Hellblade. It certainly had plenty of interesting moments, with a lot of mind-bending elements and artistic motifs and choices, making it probably the closest to an art-house film out of all games. But even with all of that I didn't have the same attachment as I did to Senua's plight in the first game. Probably centrally because it wasn't as evidently a personal journey as it was in that one. It felt more like a Norse folk-tale and a classic adventure, built upon the personal struggle of Senua, but a different struggle than in the first game. The ending really underlined that central internal conflict for Senua, but I feel it wasn't as poignantly portrayed until then. Or maybe I just need to replay it. But the central theme, of Senua fighting to not become her aggressors, while she could easily become that by fooling herself into believing she was doing it all for others's sake, I felt came a little out of left-field towards the end. Or again, maybe I need to re-experience it and be more attentive. Maybe it was more/too subtle and I missed it in parts. But it does now bring to light the message behind the game's central marketing portrayal of Senua with the clasping hands around her head. Yeah, so maybe I do need to replay it, especially given that once you finish the game's campaign it unlocks the ability to have two other narrators in place of the original one (Druth or the companions you meet along the way). And the narrated text does seem to be unique and different from the original; at least for Druth.

One concretely negative that can be said on the narrative, is the trope of doing lore-dumps from the hidden-folk via those dreams or hallucinations; the couple of times it did it. For all the genius and creative ways it handled its narrative and cinematic moments there probably was a much better way of relaying that context to the player. We really need to get away from using "ghosts" to tell what happened in the past.

With all of this said, I think it does bear repeating, as a favorite reviewer has recently said about it, that this is a "Cinematic masterpiece in game form but not a masterpiece game".
Your enjoyment of it will very much depend on how much weight you put on the experience, narrative, visual and auditory, vs the video game. And even if you do slide more towards the narrative, it will depend on your being sync with what it is trying to say. It's central narrative theme is sufficiently profound and classical in nature, but I will need to re-experience it to make up my mind if it's properly sprinkled through Senua's journey, or if I was right in feeling it coming a bit out of left-field towards the end.

It's going to be hard to score it, especially since comparison with the first one will inevitably happen, but I'll have to just score it absolutely, and not relatively.
Even though the story wasn't nearly as emotional as in the first one, all other components really do the heavy lifting. And even though it did not struck a perfect cord with me, it did have its beautiful moments.
I'll score it an 8.5/10 for now, slightly lower than the first Hellblade.
 
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Finished Trails in the Sky SC (second chapter), which is easily the best game in the series that I've so far played. Genuine emotional stakes are fairly rare in RPGs, and the way they set up and handled the Joshua/Estelle dynamic was very well done. Another thing this game did better than most JRPGs is the nature and pacing of the ending... a lot of times, the end is a slog, with some big dungeon and lots of boss fights. This ending has bosses and plenty of fighting, but it's intermixed with a sense of discovery, an unfolding overarching plot that makes sense (another rarity), and character development.

Overall, the Trails in the Sky duology is among the best games in this genre I've ever played.
 
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Finished Call of Duty WWII.

It was ok. I wouldn't call it a must-play, but there are so few single-player WWII shooters nowadays, there isn't much to choose from if you want a newer game in that setting.

I didn't care much for the first few missions, but there are some pretty good ones mixed in throughout the campaign. The problem is that they're all quite short, and the entire campaign is really short overall. I finished it over 3 days of casual playing.

One thing I didn't like is that there are a few instances where you're suddenly taken out of the standard FPS gameplay and thrown into a vehicle with very different controls. In one mission it's a tank and in another it's a plane. There are several car chases as well. I didn't feel like those sequences added anything of value whatsoever.

It's worth playing if you want to blast some Nazis, but don't pay full price for it.
 
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Just finished SKALD on hard difficulty last night. Too easy overall. But I loved the game and will play again after it's all patched up. Perhaps I'll try a solo run.
 
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