Written by G. Russell
One Game A Week is a bunch of words from my brain to yours about whatever game has been occupying my time the most over the last 7 days. Once a week, EVERY week for the duration of 2015. God help us.
Three things have been occupying my time these last 7 days : The Witcher 3, Splatoon and (unbelievably, seeing as I wrote it off a few weeks back) Dark Souls 2 : Scholar of the First Sin. So I need to talk about all 3. But don’t worry! For the fun of it (and so I don’t provide you, dear reader, with yet another 800 word ramble) I’m going to force myself to get my point across about each of them in 250 words or less! Can you imagine the fun we’ll have together? Me writing and you reading (not in real time, of course), locked into a destiny together. Shall we?
Splatoon is flat-out incredible. You all know the deal – an online shooter, where you spray paint instead of bullets, created by the kings of family videogame entertainment. It’s every bit as marvellous, entertaining and captivating as all those insano-colour screenshots would have you think. People don’t like that there’s no voice chat but that suits me fine. I don’t need 9 year olds singing into their mics in a pre-match lobby, thank you very much. At times, I’ve been playing this with my 4 year old daughter, with her sitting next to me, giving me orders, screaming with delight as we paint the arena, pressing the super-jump button on the Gamepad when it’s time to respawn. She’s basically my spotter. And I know it’s rated 7+ but Nintendo have ensured that this is about as innocent as you could make a team-based online shooter. Ok, there is a possibility that she’ll go on a killing spree when she’s older and be found at the crime scene telling police that she “was just painting”, but it’s a chance I’m willing to take. And yes, I bought the bundled Amiibo edition because I’m a cool guy.
The Witcher 3: WIld Hunt
There’s a lot of things to love about The Witcher 3. The mesmerizing preparation required to enable you to have a particularly successful fight against a powerful enemy. The Treasure Hunt quests, which see you tearing about the map, following clues that lead you ever deeper into the story of a lost piece of legendary armour, before finding the blueprints for it and then assembling the materials in your inventory as you head to a blacksmith to have it made. The combat itself, a sticking point for many, I find to be exceptional; acrobatic yet weighty and full of variation, with flashes of outrageous violence that could give Mortal Kombat a run for its money. Or simply the way that the winds blows through the trees as you wander through a copse at sunset, boughs bending and leaves rusting as Geralt mumbles “wind is howling” to himself. But one thing that I’ve thought about every day since experiencing it last Friday is the Bloody Baron’s quest and the way that a simple missing persons case flowers out, folding into 2 other quests as it goes, to be a legacy of human suffering. This one quest almost single-handedly puts anything else in every fantasy RPG from the last 10 years to shame. It’s that good. And it works because it’s not about witches, curses, magic or evil trees (though they all feature), but because it’s about people. And all the awful shit that they do to other people. And how those other people are often the ones that they love. Incredible.
Dark Souls 2 : Scholar of the First Sin
Roll up, roll up, come and watch a man eat his words. Yes, only a couple of weeks after, essentially, calling Dark Souls 2 : Scholar of the First Sin a hack job, I turned it back on for a quick look and became absolutely besotted with it. When I slid the disc back into my PS4 at the weekend I didn’t even really want to play it. I actually had a craving to play the original Dark Souls but, with my Xbox 360 now relegated to the bedroom as a Netflix machine, DS2:SotFS (acronym of the year) had to do. And, well, wow. Particularly, the Crown of the Old Iron King section, which was the second chunk of DLC released originally. It’s construction veers between tight and claustrophobic or bewilderingly enormous, as gigantic, hanging stone soldiers become elevators at the pull of a lever and terrifying axe wielding warriors launch themselves at you from the dark end of a corridor. It’s some of the best stuff I’ve experienced in a Souls game. Seriously. In other, more familiar, places, some of From’s tweaks and changes are proving to be a delight, as familiar bonfires explode when you touch them and enemies are shuffled to more conceptually sensible locations. The graphical overhaul also works wonders for areas like Drangleic Castle, an area which suffered big time from being scaled back originally but now is drenched in atmosphere, lit mainly by your flickering torch. And there’s a horse in a place I didn’t expect.
We did it! You and me! 250 words for each game! Just don’t count The Witcher one, cause there’s more there. Hey, I tried.