What I'm Playing - No. 122
Welcome back to another weekly wrap-up of the games I’ve been playing over the past week!
Be warned, minor spoilers may be contained within. Generally, I do try to keep things spoiler-free but this isn’t always possible/practical! If you want to totally avoid all potential spoilers so you can play these games yourself in a blind run, you shouldn’t continue reading! Click a title to skip to that section. Games contained within this post:
Chrono Trigger (DS)
I played a ton of Chrono Trigger, and actually finished the game. That means there’s a lot to cover, but I’ll try to stick with the highlights and my overall feelings about the game.
In the first third or so of the game, your time travelling is done entirely through portals that exist at specific places, and take you to specific times. Eventually you gain access to a hub area that lets you more quickly navigate between various time periods, but you’re still limited to time travelling at the specific locations where portals exist. Some time after that, you get your very own time machine though, and once it’s equipped with wings, you have much more freedom. Not only can you fly anywhere in the world, you can freely travel to any period of time in the game too!
At that point, the game becomes very non-linear. You’re left to decide which side quests you want to pursue, there’s an optional main story branch you can pursue, or you can just go fight the final boss in a few different ways. It’s a really impressive game design feat. The side quests available feel really impactful too, they’re not just throwaway “fetch me 10 of this item because I said so” type things from an NPC, they feel like meaningful missions that have a real impact on the game world. For instance, after defeating an optional boss, you can choose to leave Robo, your robotic teammate, behind in the Middle Ages so he can help with reforestation efforts. Doing so results in a desert in the Present Day becoming a lush forest instead, and a shrine was built there in Robo’s honor. Since he’s a robot, Robo is still alive after 400 years. You can wake him up within the shrine in Present Day, and he rejoins you, so it’s not like he leaves the party forever. It’s a really cool moment though, and really makes you think about the power that your party has to alter the world’s fate through time travel.
The 2nd half of the game was definitely a lot more challenging than the first half. Well, maybe not a lot more challenging overall, but there were some tricky bosses that you really had to be strategic about. Some of these I struggled on initially, getting multiple game overs to a pair of golem twins in particular. They opened the battle with an attack that damages a character by half whatever their current health was, following it up with a regular attack that was killing or nearly killing my characters. That was overwhelming at first, but then I realized I could put them to sleep, giving me time to heal my party. Then I realized that their attack became either physical or magical depending on the last attack you hit them with. Turns out they had high strength, but really low magic, so they become pretty harmless if you hit them with a magic attack before their action. They weren’t the only boss like that, there were a few others I initally struggled with before figuring out their quirks. Figuring these bosses out was pretty fun actually, it’s nice that some of the bosses require strategy beyond just hitting them with your strongest attacks repeatedly. It adds some variety to the battles.
The ATB battle system continued to grow on me throughout the game too. Overall, I still prefer a more relaxed turn-based system, but the active nature of Chrono Trigger’s default system was exciting. Navigating the menus quickly to get an extra attack in against an enemy, or trying to find the right healing item in the inventory in time before they attacked and killed a party member always got my heart pumping.
Chrono Trigger was a fantastic game, just super fun all around. I was afraid it wouldn’t live up to the hype, but I shouldn’t have worried; it was just as excellent as I was lead to believe. I am definitely open to replaying it someday, maybe trying the Steam version (with mods) or the original SNES release again. We’ll see! My final play time according to my save file was 19:52, though my actual final time may be a little higher since I don’t know if that save includes the time it took to beat the final boss and view the credits.
This is a roguelike published by Chucklefish that I actually bought and played a round of only once before, right after it released. The game has been updated a lot since then, but the last time I played was so long ago, I didn’t really notice the changes. It was sort of like I was playing the game for the first time again. The premise of Pathway is that you basically go on several Indiana Jones style adventures, filled with random events and encounters. You move around a board, and each move consumes 1 fuel. Each move might trigger an event, sometimes these are just choices while other times they’re battles.
Battles are sort of XCOM-like, they’re turn-based with an emphasis on cover and gunplay. I’ve played 2 games with similar combat so far: Mario+Rabbids, and Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden. It’s probably not as deep as either of those games, though to be fair I’ve only played Pathway for about an hour so there’s probably more depth to it in later adventures. In the end, I made it through the adventure successfully, snagging some sweet loot that I can take with my characters on future adventures. It was a fun run! I should make it a point to play this game more than once every 2 years. One weird thing, the time taken listed on the Statistics screen was 1:60:41…I think it was supposed to be 1:00:41, so there’s some kind of time display bug there.