Preacher Episode 1, Quadroplis, Punch Club, Bravely Default, and Total War Warhammer
So, the first episode of AMC’s adaptation of Garth Ennis’ Preacher series (I’ve read some of the comics, so there may be spoilers here if you want to skip that) has come and gone and I’m interested in hearing what everyone thought of it. For me, a person that has read a couple of the trades but was never really grabbed by the series (always on the backburner to revisit another time), I thought it was somewhere between ‘good’ and ‘quite good’, but not really up to ‘great’. Still, it’s a series with a lot to set up. AMC can’t presume that everyone has even a passing familiarity with (spoilers, presumably, from the comics) the story of a Texan preacher possessed by a half-angel-half-demon called Genesis, so they have to ease the audience into things. It was and, I expect, will largely continue to be a very exposition heavy episode that was intent on making sure we knew who the main characters (Jesse, Tulip and Cassidy) were and that the Preacher was and would be a bad man mixed with some pretty visceral violence. And, man, compound fractures sure get me every time. Honestly, after the first episode we don’t know much. Someone is hunting down Genesis (assuming that is still what it is and what it is called), they eat tea bags, and that is going to bring them squarely to the doorstep of the possessed Preacher and his friends. It’s a good set up and I’ll keep watching, but that’s all we have for now.
I’ve gotten to play Days of Wonders’ (Ticket to Ride, Five Tribes) new boardgame Quadropolis a couple of times (all with two players) and I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s a really nice looking game where you use numbered tiles (called architects) that let you buy a city tile in that space on a central grid corresponding to that number (so if you use a ‘3’ architect on a column, you take the third tile down) and then you place it in your city over the course of four (or five if you are playing with the advanced rules) rounds. The first couple of turns can take a little while because you have basically the whole grid to the choose from, while the last couple of turns (there are four turns each round, except for in the advanced game) tend to move pretty fast because of more limited options. The scaling for two players seems to work pretty well, with randomly placed tiles being left face down to limit your choices. Each tile is scored differently and there is definitely an art to maximizing your spaces, as different tiles score based on being near other types of tiles and the architect you used controls where you can put it on your own city board, as well. The game teaches fast, but a more experienced player seems to me to be very likely to beat a less experienced player. Like I said, I’ve played it a couple of times and it plays (with two) in under an hour with lots of swearing as your opponent as they take the tile you wanted (or block you from taking it), forcing you to readjust your strategy on the fly. It seems that the game would become more chaotic as you add additional players (with three tiles being taken before you go again instead of one), but there are also more tiles available, so it may all come out in the wash. In any case, it’s definitely staying in my collection and will come out in the rotation of light-medium family games like Five Tribes or Takenoko.
I continue to try to work through my videogame backlog and have recently completed the first Bravely Default, including getting the ‘true ending’ (a term not used in the game, but that seems to be the accepted term on the Webz), an idea that I hate. I also finished a play through of Punch Club, I felt it best to reconfigure my strength-based fighter into a high-strength Dexterity-based fighter. Perhaps I am just not very good at the game (although by the end it felt like a lot was happening very, very quickly), but it felt like it alternated between far too much grinding and no progress and huge leaps in story that bordered on the sublime. I like the nonsense of it all, and I may revisit it to see if I can optimize a fighter (I think I can), but I also wonder about a genre where so much of what you do is watch a sprite animate while bars fill.
As for true endings, as mentioned above, I guess I don’t mind so much where a game branches and different results are possible (The Witcher, Dragon Age, Mass Effect), but something really bugs me about a game being like ‘yeah, you can beat this now, but it doesn’t really count’. In any case, I did make it through the game, although I completely cheesed my way through the bosses, the first of which I found entirely unpleasant. Sometimes it feels like games can create difficulty for its own sake, a tradition that seems especially proud in the JRPG context. After playing through Bravely Default, something that took me some 40+ hours, I wonder if my appetite for massive, epic games has diminished so much in adulthood/parenthood that I should leave them behind forever. JRPGs and CRPGs, such as those terms are, were once my genres of choice, but there are very few narrative games that I want to play for forty hours. It is one thing, I think, to devote that amount of time in small bursts to something like Overwatch, where each round creates a discrete win/loss condition, but it is another to feel like you are slogging through a world after about 25 hours seeking only release from the purgatory, but too far invested in the game to quit it completely. I still have Xenochronicles X and Bravely Second unopened and I think I may move on from them entirely. I think both games have interesting things to say and I would enjoy them on some level, but I have moved to wanting more discrete game experiences. Still, I do not regret my time with Bravely Default, even if it was more grinding than game by the end. The ending of the story, at least, was an interesting conceit, but I do not believe that it paid off the amount of investment I have in the game and the world itself is rarely interesting to explore. Speaking of which, I now am in possession of Total War Warhammer (which is not called Total Warhammer despite my desire to the contrary) and do not have well-formed opinions of it yet, but I am interested to see what it offers. I am not a professional at either Warhammer (having never played the figure-y variety, although I have played other, similar games) nor at Total War (although I played a goodly amount of Shogun 2 and really thought it was swell), so I’m curious to see what this one has to offer. My first impressions (to be followed by at least one and maybe more After Action Reports) are very positive, but we shall see what it offers from here. It does seem to be much of the same, albeit with a great deal more Dwarves and Orks and whatnot. I suppose whether or not that is an improvement depends on your personal tastes, but it is certainly to my liking.
So, what have you been playing? Did you grab Overwatch or Total War Warhammer? Are you still playing something on your backlog? Let me know and we’ll talk.
Currently playing: Total War Warhammer, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3DS, The Witcher 3
Next Up: Yo-Kai Watch, Hitman (?), Overwatch (?)