Hungry for Colonialism


January 2021

GreedFall box art PS4

Game Data

Platform:PS4 played on PS5
Price at Purchase:AU$0
Released:10 Sep 2019
Genre:Action RPG
Game Size on Disc22.4GB
Game Version at Review1..0

I hadn’t really been kindled by the central conceits of GreedFall – I think it came out while I was deep in Days Gone or Red Dead Redemption 2 Online at the time and by those standards it looked low budget and a bit too much like 3rd person Europa Universalis or something – yeah nah said I and I let it through to the keeper – there are just some periods in one’s life when a game comes out and you genuinely don’t feel like you have to play it – it’s a sweet relief.

Now GreedFall just came out as the PS Plus game for January 2021 and I’d just finished CyberPunk 2077 and Assassins Creed Valhalla and I thinking I was done with open worlds, but I thought “oh what the hey it’s free and small so lets just have a quick look at it”.

52 hours later I watched the credits roll, had a quick look at the remaining trophies to see if I had it in me to dive back in and sweep them up, decided that I didn’t so uninstalled the game and felt like I’d had a thoroughly good time.

You play GreedFall as a gently customisable male or female diplomat born into enough privilege to allow you to run around yelling “Do you know who I am?” to get you into most places. Later in the game you can put the right coat on to get into everywhere else. 

GreedFall has some serious issues in some very sensitive places, but it’s also a pretty decent game. There are plenty of moments of huge cultural cringe and thinking “have they really just slapped black-face on that white guy and given him a silly accent to signify he’s a ‘native?'” Oddly the answer is yes but only because of poorly-timed random-ish character generation.

It seems the “natives” are built from a random assembly of character model types which encompasses many races and many variations of face-paint – I must have just been unlucky but I can’t have been the only one.


GreedFall armada

It’s a petty thing to complain about but once you’ve exhausted the starting area and via a nice late title card arrived at the Island of Teer Fradee (which interestingly is spelled many and various ways throughout the story) the player is greeted to the new town/city with an effective soaring orchestral score evoking the majesty of the moment, the grandeur of colonial advancement and so on but the score continues long enough that it was still going strong as I looted and pilfered my way through the contents of every box, crate and barrel on offer. It’s a strange feeling to steal to such an ornate musical backdrop.

I continued to find the Native portrayals (and betrayals) a bit unsavory – not least the utterly bizarre accents they are given which are somewhere in between Irish, Scandinavian and maybe Nigerian as Dory might speak whale – all mooshed up into what you might expect if you told a kid to put on a silly accent. I never got used to it.

So why did I keep playing?

The rest of the voice work is first class – at least it was playing as Femme De-Sarde and there are some video game big hitters amongst the cast.

I found the story to be genuinely engaging and I found some of the diplomatic paths through seemingly intractable situations to be genuinely insightful – I felt like a diplomat and was pleased with my own solutions.


GreedFall PS4

The character and NPC relationships grow and develop at what feels like a natural pace, and given the wrong conversation or action options, can wither just as naturally.

The game loop was pleasing enough – it would have been intolerable without the nice fast running speed although it might have been easier if it didn’t require both hands on the controller to run – small gripes – and perhaps the loading speed of the PS5 helped enormously with the fast travel between areas – but even this started to drag a little towards the closing stanzas of the game as all the areas had been cleared out and all I needed to do was run from area to area speaking to people. This may have been a negative outcome of my typical explore everywhere, kill everything, plunder all as soon as a new area opens up preferred way of playing these games but hey I’m sure I’m not an outlier in this regard.

Greedfall Ending

Game length must be a hard thing to get right. Having put over 100 hours into a couple of REALLY LONG games recently – Assassin’s Creed Valhalla & CyberPunk 2077 – I was aware that when you stretch a game out this far it can be really hard to maintain focus on the central or original plot. If you fill an adventure with too many side quests, a player can get lost in those thickets. Sometimes this is a good thing but like most things that exceed moderation, it can often end in horrific bloat.

I understand that most games are put together not really expecting most players to complete absolutely everything – hey I like a platinum trophy as much as the next guy but there are limits to my patience as well as my play time and while I am happy to explore exhaustively most of the time the first time round, I will notice if the game is just starting to take liberties with my attention and/or my time.

Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla

Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla

Same Same but Different


Nov, 2020

Assassin's Creed Valhalla - PS5 box art

Game Data

Price at Purchase:AU$63
From:Amazon AU
Released:12 Nov 2020
Rated:MA 15+
Genre:Action Adventure
Game Size on Disc33.73GB
Game Version at Review1..04

It’s very tempting to start any review of an Ubisoft game with ‘here we go again’ and while that may sound like a terrible slur, the Canadian game giant does rather ask for it.

Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla looks like it uses exactly the same engine as all the Assassin’s Creed games since maybe Unity, and at this point I have to say the engine is starting to look distinctly Last-Gen.

Granted, at the time of writing we’ve only been Current Gen with Xbox Series X/S and Playstation 5’s for about a week but in a video game universe that has included MGS:5 & The Witcher 3 for 5 years, God of War & RDR2 for over 2 years and this year The Last of Us Part 2 Resident Evil 2 Remake and Ghost of Tsushima, it is very much starting to look like the kid who turned up to school in no-brand sneakers.

But for all it’s sins (to say nothing of those of the production company) there is still a huge inherant gamyness to these titles. If nothing else you know that when you buy a modern Assassin’s Creed game that you will be getting a lot of play-hours for your money.

Massive bloated game length is a valid criticism if you’re a game journalist and you need to review 4 other games that week, but it is worth noting that your frame of reference might be very different if you can only afford one game to play for the next month or 6, or you only have a few hours a week to game and you game to escape into a world where you can be someone else or just zone out while you listen to a podcast or even to music.

Just before I got my copy of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla I heard the overwhelmingly positive throughts of Matt Gault on Waypoint Radio and I thought “yes, you know what why don’t I put my cynicism aside and just let myself enjoy this video game for the video game it is – forgetting the Ubisoft Troubles, the fact that it looks like a competant indie title now rather than anything the hugest game development houses in the world might proudly produce.

The Initial Good:

Fast travel is now a viable option – this is a function of PS5 and new gen rather than of the game of course but it makes a stark difference.

The Initially Not So Good:

The jank is back and it’s bad. The most immediately frustrating is the traversal which is strange given that it’s such a core part of the game play and has been for so long. I don’t recal it being this bad in either of the last couple of games but maybe the game worlds were somehow less cluttered?

I seem to be forever clashing into things I feel I should be able to hop over or round, and don’t get me started on trying to climb down.

It’s strange how we’ve kind of come to accept that even in one of the year’s biggest games from one of the world’s biggest game makers your character can’t jump off a horse without dramatically clipping through the back of it, or that idle villagers can just be standing around with their hands inside their torsos.


Assassins Creed Valhalla in Norway

To England – and the 10th hour Title Card!

Ok we’ve finally left Norway after just over 10 hours of noodling around. The story feels like the strongest element so far given how creaky the game engine is and how oddly stilted a lot of the dialogue delivery is. It often feels like each line was recorded in complete isolation from both the previous and subsequent lines, but also from any other actors. This may of course be common practice but it seldom sounds so apparent.

But again we must stress that for all Assassin’s Creed Valhalla’s many kinks and janks and minor frustrations, its still the largely enjoyable game play experience that carries me forward.

It should be said that the crazy late title card which appears as you set off for England wasn’t a surprise – it had been widely reported so it was more of a relief when it finally popped up.

So far the characters seem to be better written than their often rather stilted line delivery – there is decent clarity & destinction between who I assume to be the main players so far and there’s decent variety in the minor cast too.

We’re Not In Norway Anymore…

Somehow although the shape of the game is the same – you run around (trying to) climb things and smiting fools – it suddenly feels quite different.

It might just be the strange “omni-season” where as you spin the camera around your stationary character, the game world behind them looks at various angles like it’s a chilly winter morning, a hot summer day, a warm autumnal afternoon and a cool spring evening. It’s actually more disorienting that you might imagine.

So the world has sprung to life in terms of colour and country side but also the story suddenly got a lot more varied and interesting. There are more divergent paths, more types of “mystery” quest scattered around the hills and dales, some quite remarkably obtuse and inscrutable.


We’re Not Even in England Anymore…

And suddenly we’re in Asgard.

Another striking change of scenery and the introduction of a heap of new characters – and wouldn’t you know it a heap more markers on the map. There were something like 30 “Ymir’s Tears” to collect scattered around the Islands that made up Asgard, some in really annoying or hard to reach locations. Being diligent I duly chased down each one in the expectation of grand rewards – it was time-consuming and fiddly – I had visions of huge XP boosts or unique items BUT NO – the reward for schlepping around was a couple of skill points. 

And suddenly we’re in Juttenheim.

There were, of course, yet more “Ymir’s Tears” to collect here of a slightly different colour but I’d learned my lesson and completely ignored them. Oh, how it tore at my completionist urge but really for a measly 2 skill points I just couldn’t justify it.


Assassin's Creed Valhalla in Jutenheim

Side Quests

I just helped a lady build a shrine to her cat but in the process of finding elements for the shrine I accidentally burned 3 or 4 of her kittens to death. Thankfully – because UbiWorld – the woman didn’t notice and I was adjudged to have completed the quest satisfactorily.


Wrapping Up

I think if you get towards the end of a game and find yourself thinking “oh god, please just end already” you’ve probably miscalculated a bit with your game design.

Sure, it’s going to be next to impossible to plot everything out so that it suits the game reviewer who has, by the nature of her engagement, to dash through to the end of a game as fast as possible, just as much as it might suits the kid who might save up and get this game to be “her game” for the next 6 months, who has the time and freedom to truly wallow and emerse themselves in every aspect the game’s every nook and cranny.

It’s a tricky balancing act and I don’t envy those who have to tread it.

Even though I was in a position to both languish a bit but also to languish quickly, I found that I was encountering characters in the game who’s arc I’d kind of lost touch with – the “I’m sorry who are you and why do I care again?” question is not one anyone should feel comfortable asking after putting 90+ hours into a video game.


Assassins Creed Valhalla - Finding Excalibur

The Concluding Bad

Like the vast majority of Ubisoft’s seemingly endless and increasingly homogenous Open World adventures Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is easy to criticise – it’s very very long – not intrinsically a bad thing but I’m not entirely sure that this game meets the challenges that such a time-committment presents.

I can’t be sure – because it was so long ago – but I thought I had selected “let the game decide for me and swap around accordingly” when chosing which gender to play as. I started out as Femme Viking and only seemed to swap to Homme Viking for the Asgard and Juttenheim missions. I’ve no real complaints here it’s just that if you announce that as a game you’ll be gender-swapping willy-nilly and then find there’s much more Nilly than Willy that might disappoint some more than it did me.

I like when a game hides great gear behind protracted and obscure quests or procedures but the fact that the hammer Mjolnir(sp?) and the spear were basically inaccessible until right near the end of the game felt a bit like “well done – you’ve finally earned this amazing tool – sadly there’s no time to use it”. I understand it all about The Post Game and DLC but there isn’t a lot of post-game here and the DLC is still a ways off and frankly after 130 hours I’m not sure how much patience I’d have for DLC anyway.

Delaying the best gear has back-fired in the instance of this gamer. 



Assassins Creed Valhalla

The Concluding Good

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is very very long – not intrinsically a bad thing as it does allow folks with limited gaming budgets an adventure to enjoy for huge tracts of time.

For the most part I never struggled with the “oh I’m under-levelled for that area” though there were a couple of key battles with individuals that I lost and noted to only revisit once I’d beefed up some more.

And for the most part I never really felt the plot dragged too much – gather all the counties and then take on the bad one worked fine as you pretty much always knew how much there might be still ahead of you. Waiting or killing time without knowing how long you have to do it is what really erodes one’s patience.

I also started to feel that the game looked better around when I finished than it had earlier on. Some of this could have been updates – or fatigue.

Raiding monasteries and storming castles – started out fun and stayed that way for the duration. Were they just so well spaced out that I never got tired of them? Perhaps. As a set-piece it did remind me a bit of Ghost of Tsushima but that’s hardly a damning comparison. For either game.

In terms of the actual story – the Ancient Ones plot line I think concluded just fine – there was a little twist and honestly it was nice not to face yet another boss fight.

Post Game Part 1

There was a Yuletide thing up over the Xmas break. I put it off for ages and then was underwhelmed when I finally hopped back in. Did I miss something or was there nothing more than a couple of silly skill tests and a fist-fight tournament to win currency with which one could purchase underwhelming – if limited edition – gear?

I like free stuff as much as the next guy but this really felt super light.

Maybe it would have had more impact if I’d not yet finished the game?



Get the Hell Out


Oct, 2020

Last Updated: 4 Nov, 2020

Hades Game Cover

Game Data

Price at Purchase:AU$20
Released:17 Sep 2020
Genre:Action, RPG, Rogue-Lite
Game Size on Disc11.15GB
Game Version at Review1..36

I was initially skeptical about Hades. Sure I’d played and loved Bastion, sure I own both Transistor and Pyre but never really got round to loading them up. But folks started going nuts about Hades and Epic had a deal where if you picked up Rocket League for free they’d give you an AU$15 voucher to use anywhere in the store so I forked out the remaining 20 beans to have a look at what all the fuss was about.

The Hades fuss mentioned how the game was like the culmination of all Supergiant’s preceding offerings, it fussed about how Hades was a perfect example of how to do an “Early-Access” release – I had good memories of how it all went with Introversion’s “Prison Architect” and their genuinely amusing little monthly videos, but whatever, amaze me.


As a rule I’m not wild about Rogue-Likes or Rogue-Lites – as mentioned elsewhere I have issues with games you can’t really finish – but I was happy to drop $20 on a ticket to the Hades party seeing as how everyone else was having such a merry old time. 



OK so off we go…

First off I have to say the voice acting and script is strange but grew on me very fast. The conversations between characters are light in tone & delivery but sort of heavy in portent and presentation and it works surprisingly well.

The individual characters in this game are well drawn – I don’t just mean their static portraits that present like wild psychadelic Tulouse-Lautrec which are filled with such detail that you tend to notice new elements each time you meet them – but they are also very nicely defined both in themselves and against each other.

The game world is also bright and colourful and similarly drawn in such a way as to allow the hasty eye to quickly scan but also to allow the more careful eye to see little bits of enjoyable new detail on each run.


October 6th 2020

So about 6 or 7 hours in I noticed that Hades was playing subtle tricks on me.

In most games like this, heck in most games, dying is a failure to be regretted and that the game will most likely punish you for. In Hades I’d come to realise that I was totally OK with it, recognising it as an important even vital part of the process of moving on in the game, and that the game was recognising and allowing and catering to this in a way that felt very very new.

The learning curve, player skill progression, character, skill and equipment development and most importantly the main plot are all perfectly tuned to cater to the central game loop.

The game loop in Hades is not new – set off through a succession of randomly generated rooms crushing a variety of foes, gathering boons, buffs and modifiers before facing off against a level boss and moving on – or dying and going back to the start – where folks will talk to you about what just happened.

It’s this dialogue that really dictates and helps keep up the pace in this game. If it were longer – or delivered in more sizeable chunks – it would slow everything down, any less and it would probably just keep getting skipped as inconsequential.


10-12 Hours In

So it seems we now have all the weapons – the clear favourites thus far are the trident which has crazy speed and range, and the shield which is just a fun sort of Hulk Smash good time. They have a couple of Blood Heart upgrades and I’m now getting to the Minator at the end of Elysium on the regular. I even had the good fortune to get mashed by him on the little live stream I did this morning.

30-40 Hours In – about 70 runs

I seem to have hit another wall at what I can only assume is the final boss in it’s final form. But again to the eternal credit of this game, the defeats don’t feel like wasted time – I’m not cursing or throwing my controller around – rather I’m usually keen to get back to The House Of Hades to cash in any newly acquired currency and upgrade the load-out or pimp the crib a bit more or get my flirt on and advance the various relationships.

Starting again never really feels like a grind – the runs seem manageable enough in length and the save system is nimble enough if I have to duck out at short notice. There’s enough encouragement to try out the various weapons, to upgrade them and hone your skills with each one that I’ve never felt the sort of oppressive repetition that makes folks bounce from games like this.

I should also point out that I’m still not really making overly strategic builds at this point. I’m choosing rooms and buffs mostly based on which looks coolest or does the most damage or increases stats by the highest amount. I shan’t deny that some runs seem to present themselves in such a way that one particular perk stands out as demanding development but mostly its haphazard – and again this feels just fine.



Saving Lost Souls


Sep, 2020

Spiritfarer PS4

Game Data

Price at Purchase:AU$49
Publisher:THQ Nordic
Released:16 June 2020
Genre:Strategy Action
Game Size on Disc18.36GB
Game Version at Review1.05

Spiritfarer as a game is a perfect antidote to much of the chaos and swearing and panic of many of the other games I’ve played in 2020.

Spritfarer looks like a bit like a Klei game (think Don’t Starve and/or Griftlands), plays a bit like Stardew Valley but oddly never reminded me Animal Crossing – which I think is very much to it’s credit because for all it’s cutesy and lets face it absolutely massive appeal, ACNH became a tiresome clickfest and although I loved it dearly in months of need I haven’t picked it up for a while now and I’m not sure I will go back.

The idea with Spiritfarer is that you’re taking over from Charon (pronounciations optional) as the dude who takes dead folks from this world to the next. In this incarnation of the job description you (and your petable cat who is also couch-co-op playable delightfully) have to turn your ferry into a floating apartment complex to accommodate a variety of very distinctly drawn characters while you help them through a range of emotional issues and blockages before they can pass on in peace.

It’s a nice idea and it’s lovingly executed with a strong mix of adult (though not explicit) subject matter and so far it seems to be handled sensitively and with care. At one point you’re helping to resolve a workers rights strike, at another you’re helping your aunt-spirit work through her unrequited love for a filanderer.


Look I spoilt all the Spiritfarer character endings for you…

Desperados III

Desperados III

The Quicksave & The Dead


Aug, 2020

Desperados 3 - PS4 box

Game Data

Price at Purchase:AU$49
Publisher:THQ Nordic
Released:16 June 2020
Genre:Strategy Action
Game Size on Disc18.36GB
Game Version at Review1.05

Desperados 3 is a hard game. It’s a hard game on the Playstation 4 even though the control scheme is innovative and clever. It’s a hard game on its own merits and it keeps kicking my butt.

And yet I keep going back for more butt kicks. Please Sire May I Have Another.

Much has been made of the big “Quick Save Now – No Really You Really Should – hey you haven’t saved for like 90 seconds – are you sure you really want to keep paddling out to sea like this?”

In a game of impressively large open game maps, it seems strange to find myself inching across it in tiny increments – advance 10 paces and try a move, fail, reload, advance 5 paces, quicksave and try a tiny variation of the move.

I curse like a trooper – or a cowboy – everytime I reflexively save when I wanted to quick load. I curse when my tiny character picks up a dead body when I intend to climb a ladder. Desperados 3 makes me turn the air blue despite the scorched deserty settings of the game world. I should point out that I am not usually so potty-mouthed in my normal life.

So far my favourite element of the game is the post completion “replay” that shows diagramatically each of your character’s progress across the map.

Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout

Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout

Falling for The Guys


Aug, 2020

Fall Guys Ultimate Knockout

Game Data

Price at Purchase:AU$0
Released:4 Aug 2020
Game Size on Disc3.95GB
Game Version at Review1.05

I had very little time to get excited about playing Fall Guys. I’d seen it foreshadowed on Twitter and tried like every other human on earth to get Steam or PS4 keys but even though they resorted to a live stream with new keys being random key numbers every 12 seconds.

I’d resigned myself to a Steam Pre-Order but then found out it was going to be PS-Plus and then knew it would be massive – like Rocket League massive.

So what’s the appeal?

  • It’s the most simple premise – 60-Player It’s A Knockout/Takashi’s Castle for Gang Beasts.
  • It’s brighly coloured
  • It’s super easy to “learn” – there are 3 controls: run, jump and dive
  • It’s reasonably fun to watch so has Blown Up on Twitch

So I’ve played and the kids have played. Is it amazing? Not entirely.

I’ve won a few times – on Hex-a-Gone and Jump for the Crown which were the first 2 final stages available – so I’m not useless – but I am also not overly crazy about the tight rotation of “courses” and very quickly lost the thrill of the very narrow music track selection and started beaming in my own music to retain some sanity.

15 September 2020

So after a few weeks away playing Other Games we hopped back in to see what had changed and because we’d heard there were a couple of new stages.

The first thing we noticed is that everyone else is good now. It’s a far more genuinely competitive game now that there are videos about The Ideal Line through every stage.

While I’m sure this is a good sign for the game, it has frankly lowered its appeal for me as part of what was fun at the start was that winning was if not easy then certainly within reach. Now I’m not so sure.

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