Days Gone – The Pros and Cons

Days Gone – The Pros and Cons

A Farewell to Farewell


July, 2019

Mash Mash Game Score:


Game Data:

Price at Purchase:AU$66
From:Amazon AU
Developer:Bend Studio
Released:26 Apr 2019
Rated:MA 15+
Game Size on Disc68.18gb
Game Version at Review1.26

The Pros and Cons of 50+ Hours With Days Gone’s Con Deacon St John



1. Its a Mud Mud World – granted I’ve not travelled the lush back-country hills of Oregon myself but I can’t imagine that the colour palette is quite as drab as it is represented in Days Gone.

The infection drained the humanity from the souls of the Freakers but did it have to take brightness from the world as well?

2. The Gruff White Male – our protagonist is far from unique or even overly interesting. It may well be that the vast majority of people who play through this game are indeed white and male – hey that’s me – but its hardly a blow for diverse representation. It’s hard to mark this game down for the “safe” choice of main character but I’m still going to.

3. Sound Off – there are a few instances of jank in Days Gone, most of it is harmless enough to almost be charming, but none is so frustrating as the audio overlays. I don’t know the proper name for this but I just mean that you’re trying to hear some crucial plot exposition or mission description from a quest-giver and some rambling flavour text from a random NPC in the camp will be just as high in the mix making it next to impossible to hear either clearly. It happens a lot in this game and it’s disappointing.

4. Mad Not To – there’s plenty of times in the game where DSJ will just start mumbling quietly and aggressively to himself as he creeps around in a style not dissimilar to the way old homeless drunks and the mentally unstable tend to do. Yes I can see how routinely cutting and hacking your way through the rotting flesh of countless humanoids, undead and living would take its toll on the noggin but this is a side of our chosen hero that is never really explored and I think that may have been a missed opportunity.


1. Feel The Love – it may sound strange but there’s something about this game that makes it feel like it was cared about deeply by its creator. Sure it has its jank but the the jank here feels more like the work of a smaller studio trying to wrap its arms around an enormous & ambitious project rather than oversight of some huge unwieldy corporation too focussed on profit to sweat the small stuff.

2. Oh The Humanity – the characters in Days Gone feel quite real, and where they may in places seem a bit more wooden (Yes Garret I’m looking at you…) there remains at least a verisimilitude to the way the characters related to each other, and the performances are solid, sometimes even touching.

Yes DSJ is your standard Gruff White Male but he’s also a bit of a dork, a bit gormless and were it not for his persistent lust for killing he actually comes across as almost charming – which is no small achievement for a man who represents such a collection of standard tropes and cliches.

I appreciate that the emotional integrity of the protagonists is a fairly ephemeral benchmark to be measuring the game against but its a strong point in Days Gone and should certainly be acknowledged and given its due.



  • Gameplay 95% 95%
  • Story 90% 90%
  • Content 85% 85%
  • Graphics 95% 95%
  • Sound 75% 75%

Have you played through?

Did your experience differ? Let us know below.


Minit Game Review

Minit Game Review

From Zero to Hero in 60 Seconds … and then 60 more


February, 2019

Mash Mash Game Score:


Game Data:

Price at Purchase:AU$14
Released:3 Apr 2018

Minit is a quirky little game from Dutch indie studio Vlambeer who brought us such delights as crazy sepia dog-fighter Luftrousers (aka LoveTrousers) and Nuclear Throne and who’s collective imprint touches most notably Big Serious games like Horizon Zero Dawn.

The premise of Minit is simple: explore the world around you with a 60 second life span – perish and respawn with knowledge and items intact – and repeat. As the game progresses you’ll find new items and new spawn points and the map becomes bigger easier to traverse.

There is a gently revolutionary theme running through the core of the game with a wicked factory owner playing the role of the ultimate baddie who must be overthrown to save the oppressed workers.

There are also side quests and sub-quests that must be completed to allow story progression – each seem satisfactorily timed and placed to encourage further exploration or the use or acquisition of a new usable item that might in turn open up new areas or abilities.

The game mechanics are where Minit stands or falls – if you find the tiny life spans frustrating then you’ll hate this game – I didn’t so I loved it.

At no point does the die-and-repeat loop feel annoying or, perhaps surprisingly, repetitive and in few places does it feel restrictive – which is testament to how well this game is designed. It’s not like dying is ever really a punishment. This is more Groundhog Day than Rogue Legacy – you are reappearing as your same self rather than anything approximating your offspring.

The mayfly lifespan element brought about some great moments, like where you’re talking to an old person near the lighthouse who’s basically a manifestation of the DMV Sloth from Zootopia – small spoiler: you get a trophy if you hear them out before you perish.

The graphics are simple 8-bit monochrome but with those simple restrictions Vlambeer have created a lovely and varied coastal game world of forests, islands, underwater and dungeon locations, plus an excellent cast of distinct and amusing characters. Although the character voices being comprised of bleeps and bloops and Peanut’s Teacher “whaaa-ba-bwaaaa’s” there’s still a vocal cast list in the credits like 8 people long.

The controls are simple with just 8 directions, an attack button, an interact button and another to instantly respawn.

If forced to name a gripe I suppose not all the puzzles or progression makes immediate obvious sense, but “occasionally difficult” is hardly a criticism.

In terms of market competition, when a game can be done in less than 2 hours it’s not really competing with the Big Boys for the Big Cash.

After the main story is completed there is an option to do New Game Plus and another secret mode can also be unlocked – but neither feature was enticing enough to make me want to jump back in immediately. Part of the charm of this game is its brevity – in all aspects.

I’m not sure one could convincingly argue that Minit has deep or profound things to say about death, time and reincarnation, but what it does do is help you relax a bit about the idea of dying in the game and that’s a pretty novel idea. Unlike other games like Hotline Miami where dying and immediately starting again is pacy but annoying, the process here feels gentler and altogether less traumatic.

It’s a rare moment while playing this game that I wasn’t smiling broadly from ear to ear so Minit presents a very tightly cohesive game world and all fits together in a most satisfying way.


Game Score Breakdown:

  • Gameplay 95% 95%
  • Story 80% 80%
  • Content 90% 90%
  • Graphics 85% 85%
  • Sound 75% 75%

Have you played through?

Did your experience differ? Let us know below.


The Games I Loved Most in 2018

The Games I Loved Most in 2018

 The Big MashMash List of Favourite Video Games of 2018

Oh great another dated list of games from 2018

This is a list of games I found notable for reasons various. Mostly these are games I either spent significant time playing or played enough to get a sense of how great it was and long enough to impart a great sense of wanting to play it more – so much more.

This list is not a cool unique list of quirky indie games that i’m so avante no one has ever heard of – it’s just a list of video games that either enjoyed or spent a lot of time playing in 2018. Its actually worth observing that there seemed to be a significant number of pretty big games in 2018, and good big games at that.

I’m being a bit brutal and discounting games that I got some of the way through but didn’t actually finish until a nice quiet spell in January – yes Night In The Woods I’m looking at you – but I am including games that I “completed” but might still be noodling around in for whatever reason. 


Hitman 2

Platform: PS4
Price at Purchase: au$69 (nice)
From: EB Games
Publisher: IO Interactive
Released: 13 Nov 2018
Rated: MA 15+
Genre: Action
HowLongToBeat: 9-23h
MetaCritic: 82

Hitman 2 is the big game in this list of which I’ve probably played the fewest hours, but I played so much Hitman 2016 and while it may sound like damning with faint praise to describe this as more of the same, that sameness is still of an exceptionally high level.

Hitman 2’s graphics are already starting to look a bit Last Generation and the Ken Burns style dialogue scenes occasionally made me wonder if I was back in a Yakuza game, but the core idea of the re-playable clockwork arena is just so good and surprising and so deep and let’s face it so FUNNY I just know it will be a game I’ll be enjoying over and over again.

I like how what appeals about the Hitman game world is the small tight stages where everything is knowable and predictable and you can choose where to start your interruptions, and with Red Dead Redemption 2 the appeal is the huge unknowable unpredictable unique quality of it’s world. Hitman 2 is about as non-linear as it’s possible to be.

Snipin’ fools can be a lonesome business – but it doesn’t have to be


Donut County

Platform: PS4
Price at Purchase: au$29
From: PSN
Released: 28 Aug 2018
Rated: G
Genre: Puzzle Adventure Casual
HowLongToBeat: 2-3h
MetaCritic: 75

Donut County is a perfect example of a small game done with very perfect authenticity to its own little game universe. The game dialogue is of a piece with the graphic style which seems of a piece with the music which is of a piece with the writing and even the simple quirky gameplay.

It can be surprising how much clear definition of character is crammed into the often brief appearances.

I think it speaks volumes for Donut County that it can be played and enjoyed equally by a five year old and a forty-mumblemumblemumble year old. I actually found it delightful.

Just looking at this silly image makes me smile and reminds me of the sweet sweet music – another rotation on the Spotify playlist sir?


Dead Cells

Platform: PS4
Pre-ordered: au$24.76
From: PSN
Publisher: Motion Twin
Released: 7 Aug 2018
Rated: M
Genre: Action
HowLongToBeat: 13-25h
MetaCritic: 87

I had watched a lot of Baer Taffy and others playing this game in beta before it came out. It was a fair wait for it to come out on PS4 – and of course it came out while I was deep into other stuff but its absolutely the perfect “drop-in and punch out a run” kind of game – it’s super bright, wonderfully responsive and yes some of the shrug stuff comes off as a bit cheesy but it’s such a small part of the game it would be nuts to mark it down for a bit of “personality”.

There is enough variety in each run that it never feels repetitive and that’s no easy trick.

I did sometimes feel like it took me longer than I had to reacquaint myself with the control scheme – and this game can be unforgiving if you’re slack – but then my thumbs are old and can take a while to warm up to slow.

Being dead never looked so bright and colourful


The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit

Platform: PS4
Price: au$Free
From: PSN
Publisher: Square Enix
Released: 26 Jun 2018
Rated: CTC
Genre: Adventure
HowLongToBeat: 1.5-2h
MetaCritic: 75

I very much enjoyed the first Life is Strange series and the soundtrack playlist is still on the Spotify rotation – I haven’t played Before the Storm yet – but this little stand-alone free “introduction” to Season 2 quickly won my heart.

Yes I’m a sucker for a bit of Sufjan and yes the awkward/abusive father son relationship was still a tender spot from God of War but those components alone wouldn’t have swayed me.

The writing did a great job of conjuring a real boy in a very imaginary world.

Superheroism never felt so human



Platform: PS4
Price: au$24.95
From: PSN
Publisher: 11 Bit Studios
Released: 29 May 2018
Rated: PG
Genre: Action Adventure
HowLongToBeat: 13-20h
MetaCritic: 81

Moonlighter is a curious little gem where you loot little dungeons for junk to sell in your little shop in town to make money to buy bigger weapons & gear to explore bigger dungeons – it all works nicely and has the most lovely inventory management mini-game.

There are a couple of people in the town who I don’t really see the point of, and to thieves try to rob your shop 5 or 6 times in a 5 minute operating hours game day seemed a bit extreme, even with an assistant and the lower the chance of thieves perk, but hurry-up system in dungeons and the secret lower floors bits are great.

Also I somehow never got tired of the almost always-on music – which in itself is no small achievement.

Moonlighter – really nothing to do with Bruce Willis


Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

Platform: PS4
Price: au$114 (Gold Edition)
From: Amazon
Publisher: Ubisoft
Released: 5 Oct 2018
Rated: MA 15+
Genre: Action Adventure
HowLongToBeat: 40-70h
MetaCritic: 82

As far as I can tell, in terms of raw playing hours I’ve spent more in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey than any other game in 2018, and while I can’t say I empirically enjoyed this game more than others, I have to concede that it was – and remains – a very playable game.

I found Alexios immediately intolerable – in fact he seemed much better suited to being the idiot stooge bad guy brother – though I’ve not seen this inverted so I may be wrong. In general I found the male characters quite wooden and hammy in their performances.

The game’s systems are evolving too – the combat good fun and offers genuine variety through the skill trees and endlessly modifyable weapon and armour loadouts. The naval combat is tighter than that in the still venerated Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag (which I still haven’t played…)

It’s been said often that this game world has clearly opted for size over depth, for sheer geographical mileage rather than any meaningful substance, and it is hard to disagree that the world through very pretty to look at, exists only in 2 dimensions and little or nothing you do anywhere in it has any real lasting impact – it’s like you’re in a very pretty dream.

For my sins I’m probably like 130 hours into this game and although I liked Kassandra immediately I can’t honestly say she’s changed since the first moments. Sure there are dialogue options referencing her being a god but really those can be passed off as wild egotism as much as character arc. 

They say that beauty is only skin deep – but its also over 100 hours long too


Tetris Effect

Platform: PS4
Price: au$40
From: Amazon
Publisher: Enhance Games
Released: 9 Nov 2018
Rated: G
Genre: Puzzle
HowLongToBeat: 2+h
MetaCritic: 89

I must admit I play this game as much out of VR as in, but if introducing someone new to PSVR it has rapidly become my go-to game.

Tetris Effect is like a very special medicine – it is like a pick-me-up if you’re down, a massive stress-ball when you’re stressed and also like a reset if you just want to give you head a break.

Positivity is an underestimated commodity in modern gaming – or media generally – but Tetris Effect will micro-dose you little hits of joy with each completed line and smother you in happiness when you get a Tetris or finish a level.

The music and the way it responds to your every move just adds to your perfect sense of agency.

Who knew that falling shapes could be so tremendously uplifting?


Marvel’s Spider-Man

Platform: PS4
Price: au$62.70
From: Amazon
Publisher: Sony Europe
Released: 7 Sep 2018
Rated: M
Genre: Action
HowLongToBeat: 16-24h
MetaCritic: 87

Marvel’s Spider-Man seemed like a simple recipe for success – get a fantastic looking game with a great script, narrative and fantastic voice actors, add a compelling combat system with fun skill unlocks and collectibles – what could go wrong? Very little as it turns out.

Combat made my thumbs hurt – but I liked this about the game.

Like everyone else, I loved the traversal – the swinging through Manhattan Island made getting from point A to point B a total joy – though the subway vignettes for fast-travel were nice also.

Part of what I loved most about Marvel’s Spider-Man was that it didn’t really hang around too long – you play through the story, do a bit of post-game tidy-up and you’re done.

I’ve not felt the urge to explore the DLC here, which can be taken as an additional tick in the “done” box.

Its not all fun and games being a super hero


Red Dead Redemption 2

Platform: PS4
Price: au$129/Free part-exchanged for old games
From: EB Games
Publisher: Rockstar Games
Released: 29 Oct 2018
Rated: MA 15+
Genre: Action Adventure
HowLongToBeat: 44-74h
MetaCritic: 97

First off I have to say that I totally loved this game.

I don’t mind admitting that just a bit I fell in love with Arthur Morgan and shed a little manly-man-tear when he finally met the end of the non-epilogue chapters. I know people found it maddeningly slow and needlessly fastidious but as a lover of a game experience that tries to be cohesive with the world it presents.

I liked that the game was slow, or at least that it periodically “invited you to slow down”.

I totally loved how when you were out and about the “ambient animal noises” all had an actual detectable source – a real animal/bird would actually be nearby if you heard it .

Arthur Morgan goes all Vermeer or some sh!t…


God of War

Platform: PS4
Price: au$75
From: Mighty Ape
Publisher: Sony Europe
Released: 20 Apr 2018
Rated: MA 15+
Genre: Action Adventure
HowLongToBeat: 20-32h
MetaCritic: 94

God of War isn’t a novel or edgy pick for best game of 2018 I grant you. I cogitated & ruminated long and hard about whether to put God of War or Red Dead Redemption 2 at the top of this list as both were amazing to look at and had story arcs clear and strong enough to compete with the best epic highbrow TV box sets, but in the end I opted for God of War because felt it was designed to be a more Gamey Game – there are puzzles and jumping and the combat is just so brilliantly done.

God of War is bright and delicate and strong and deep and oh lordy is it deep – both the amazing voice of Kratos and “shake the windows and doors and shelves and neighbours’ apartment” voice of the World Serpent are just the most incredible sounds I’ve heard in any media.

I haven’t platinumed this game because I’ve not beaten that damn last Harpie Queen and I haven’t really been tempted by New Game Plus, but I’ve done everything else.

Father and son days never looked this good


There are a couple of clear themes emerging from the list of video games above:


  • In a big game, a good story is required to move me
  • In a small game a cohesive game world is more important 

It was a pretty strong year – some have said it rivalled 2017, others that it stands up against 2009.

What do you think?


8 Other Notable Games I Played in 2018

8 Other Notable Games I Played in 2018

 8 More Games I Put Time Into in 2018 But Couldn’t Really Justify Putting On The Big List


It feels a bit redundant to have put significant quantities of time into games and not to somehow acknowledge that fact by including on at least some list of activities from one’s gaming year, so this list represents Other Places I spent my gaming 2018 that didn’t deserve quite enough praise to warrant inclusion on the Big Top Ten List.

But this isn’t just a list of Also Rans and I’m not just throwing it up to justify the hours I put into these games either.

Opinions are important, however briefly made, 

Assassins Creed Origins

Platform: PS4
Price at Purchase: au$58
From: Mighty Ape
Publisher: Ubisoft
Released: 27 Oct 2017
Rated: MA 15+
Genre: Action Adventure
HowLongToBeat: 30-50h
MetaCritic: 81

Yes I’m putting a second Assassins Creed game into the 2018 lists – what of it? I only finished AC Origins in January 2018 and went back for the Curse Of the Pharaohs DLC mid-year once it was on sale.

How is there space for both games in a small year?

Bayek is a much more compelling central character, he has a proper story arc unlike Kassy or Alex and although the newer game has lush geographical diversity and at times jaw-dropping verticality, there was a grandeur to the deserts and pyramids that Odyssey’s Greece lacks.

Assassins Creed Origins – smaller in scale but bigger in dreamy haunting landscapes

Detroit: Become Human

Platform: PS4
Price at Purchase: au$78
From: Mighty Ape
Publisher: Sony
Released: 25 May 2018
Rated: MA 15+
Genre: Action Adventure
HowLongToBeat: 11-14h
MetaCritic: 78

Detroit: Become Human is a deeply flawed game – one of its most glaring flaws being that it’s just fundamentally daft – but there is still something to be admired in here – the character models and facial animations are quite stunning and there are scenes/sequences that will stay in the mind for some time, and the timeline or branching story visualisation is pretty innovative.

My fundamental issue with the David Cage milieu is the assumption that people are happy to sit attentively through 5 mins of cutscene then be chastised for missing a sudden QTE at the end of it that shows up with no warning.

Modern gamer attention spans don’t tend to work like that.

Detroit Become Human – It’s not especially sexy and it’s not even that good but it is very interesting

Into The Breach

Platform: Nintendo Switch
Price at Purchase: au$17.50
From: Nintendo eStore
Publisher: Subset
Released: 28 Aug 2018
Rated: E
Genre: Strategy
HowLongToBeat: 5-16+h
MetaCritic: 89

Into the Breach is a game my love for exceeded my time to actually play, but what I did experience I totally loved. Yes it’s my only Switch entry on either of these lists – maybe I need to be more of a public transport commuter to be getting more time on Nintendo’s wonderful little piece of gaming hardware.

A bit like a complexo-simplified techno-chess with robots, and there have been many wise and sage things written online about the science of predictable outcomes or Perfect Information and their role in Random Number Generation, but regardless of where you stand on this debate the fact that Into the Breach lends itself so readily to this level of discussion says much for the game’s complexity and deft design.

Into the Breach – A simple story with endless complexity

Far Cry 5

Platform: PS4
Price: au$99
From: Mighty Ape
Publisher: Ubisoft
Released: 27 March 2018
Rated: MA 15+
Genre: Action
HowLongToBeat: 18-30+h
MetaCritic: 81

Yes I played through Far Cry 5 and had a fun enough time as I did so but like an increasing amount of Ubisoft’s recent output, this game never felt like a cohesive experience – more like a game system with a “market tested edgy” narrative loosely tethered around it but not attached in any meaningful way.

Daft but fun enough.

The post-launch DLC and the idea of the player created levels from game assets had promise but neither delivered – the Mars and Vietnam DLC just lent strength to the feeling of Game Mechanic over plot or narrative. 

Even the not-DLC but kind of related post-release spin-off Far Cry New Dawn which is set on the same bit of fictional midwest lends weight to my suspicion that Ubisoft came up with a game engine and have been playing Scenario Roulette with the game ever since trying to find what might stick best with playing audiences.

Far Cry 5 – literally putting the Pump in Pumpkin

A Way Out

Platform: PS4
Price: au$39.95
From: PSN
Publisher: EA
Released: 23 March 2018
Rated: MA 15+
Genre: Action Adventure
HowLongToBeat: 6+h
MetaCritic: 78

A Way Out deserves a mention not for its highly derivative plot or its super cheesy in the wrong ways dialogue, but certainly to its innovative approach to cooperative game-play.

No the story really isn’t great and the graphics are little more than passable, but the act of playing this game with a friend – either online or sitting next to you on the couch – is still an experience unlike too many others available at the time of writing.

As I played through A Way Out with the knowledge that the flamboyant director and his brother had been heavily involved in the development to the level of character modeling and motion capture I couldn’t help to what extent those were budgetary decisions and to what extent the game was a vanity project?

One noteworthy highlight was the trophy for sitting together on a bench in the forest where you could hear the characters from Brothers A Tale of Two Sons calling to each other in the distance – as confusing as that game could be for one’s thumbs I totally loved it.

A Way Out – Some interesting ideas and some old hackneyed ones too

Jurassic World Evolution

Platform: PS4
Price: au$67.95
From: Amazon
Publisher: Fronte\ier
Released: 12 Jun 2018
Rated: M
Genre: Action Sim Strategy
HowLongToBeat: 24-38h
MetaCritic: 68

Jurassic World Evolution was the park building sim with some Jeff Goldblum voice work in it.

As a management sim it was fine and fun for a while but by no means outstanding.  I didn’t WIN at it but once I’d stopped I was happy to trade in for I think Spider-Man and didn’t feel like I’d wasted my time – hardly a ringing endorsement but I played more of this than I got to play of other games on this list and that has to count for something.

A common downfall of games of this type is the “busywork” of micro-management.

In Jurassic World Evolution the idea of earning enough credibility with factions and public to unearth fossils that will allow the player to ultimately grow your own T-Rex or whatever the exponentially more fearsome Made-Up-O-Saur is called – but in reality if your beasts surroundings aren’t totally perfect they will rather horrifically bash their head against even the toughest most electric barriers until they either die or escape and start eating people.

At its later stages Jurassic World Evolution just stopped being fun.

Jurassic World Evolution – some interesting ideas but ultimately more frustrating than fun

Fallout Shelter

Platform: PS4
Price: au$Free
From: PSN
Publisher: Bethesda
Released: 11 Jun 2018
Rated: PG
Genre: RPG Sim
HowLongToBeat: 12-37h
MetaCritic: TBC

Fallout Shelter is in here because we kind of got into this as a family for a bit – each on separate devices like the modern family we are.

Yes I even platinumed it – no I didn’t spend any money on its insidious microtransactions – would I ever pick it up again or recommend anyone else play it? No not really.

Fallout Shelter – all the fun of 2015

Monster Hunter: World

Platform: PS4
Price: au$58
From: EB Games
Publisher: CE
Released: 26 Jan 2018
Rated: M
Genre: Action
HowLongToBeat: 51-92h
MetaCritic: 90

I got caught up in Monster Hunter World’s crazy bewildering loop of track beast to hunt beast to kill beast to craft better gear from the beast to to hunt and kill bigger beast.

Monster Hunter: World is so very much it’s own game and I respect it for that. The story is nuts to the point of superfluous, but the worlds and the creatures in them are so lovingly created, and the weapon options and game balance are just perfect.

I felt bad for being a bow person but meh.

Monster Hunter: World – does a great job of actually looking like its box art


I don’t think I can honestly say I’ve ever regretted playing a game – but then of course I’m not in any kind of position to play anything I don’t want to – it’s not like I’m being paid for any of this.

It is a very useful mental exercise to try to be aware of what you might be feeling and why as you play any video game – to try to identify if you are having fun why are you having fun, if you are getting bored then why is that?

I don’t love every I played last year but that’s not to say those un-loved games were experiences without merit and this was my attempt to identify those points of interest.

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