What I'm Playing - No. 86
Image source: Negative Space

What I'm Playing - No. 86

Welcome back to another weekly wrap-up of the games I’ve been playing over the past week!

Spoiler warning for A Hat in Time, I spoil the final boss. I put this game section last so it’s easy to skip if you want to remain unspoiled.

No spoilers for either Dragon Quest VIII or SteamWorld Dig though!

Click a title to skip to that section. Games contained within this post:

Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King (3DS)

Dragon Quest VIII provided another week of dungeon crawling and RPG goodness! I’m still not done, but I think I can definitely sense the ending around the corner…or at least the ending of the current plot arc. I don’t know whether another arc will follow this one or not, but I wouldn’t be mad if there was still more to go. This game just has so much charm and a great sense of adventure!

dungeon crawling RPG goodness sense of adventure

My party acquired a ship, which opened up a bunch of new places to explore! That freedom was initially a bit overwhelming. The enemies I found on some of the foreign shores now available to me were a bit too much for my party. Luckily, game overs are relatively forgiving and simply set you back to the last Church you saved at. You’re fully healed and don’t lose any progress, but you do lose 50% of your gold. Eventually, I figured out where the next objective was and got back on track following the main quest.

acquired a ship a bit too much for my party the main quest

The hero and Jessica have both learned some pretty strong spells, like Kasizzle. That one deals considerable fire damage to a group of enemies, making it especially useful when dealing with one or two large groups. Yangus has also learned the comical Underpants Dance. He dances around with pairs of boxers in his hand when using this skill. It has a chance to cause some status ailments on enemies, and while I’ve yet to see it succeed it’s pretty amusing anyway!

Kasizzle Underpants Dance

I’m steering clear of plot spoilers, so I won’t say much about the main story. There were some slightly unexpected events, but nothing mind-blowing. The story concept itself isn’t anything special. It’s serviceable, but I think the way it’s framed is what really makes it shine. That probably doesn’t make any sense out of context, but I don’t want to spoil anything so I’m just going to leave it there. Uh…enjoy some more screenshots!

some more screenshots

SteamWorld Dig (PC)

I played through this short, indie metroidvania-ish game, and really enjoyed it! My playthrough took under 3 hours, so it really is quite short. You play as the SteamBot Rusty, a robot who has inherited a mine from his uncle, and you set off exploring and digging between the old mining town, Tumbleton.

indie metroidvania-ish game inherited a mine Tumbleton

I described this game as “metroidvania-ish” since it definitely has elements of a more traditional metroidvania, and reminds me of the formula strongly, but it distances itself from the normal metroidvania mechanics in a few key ways. Primarily, you spend a lot of time digging your own paths through the dirt, so it’s less exploring a pre-determined map and more like you’re making your own map. You will likely do some amount of backtracking through the tunnels you dug earlier, as your inventory can only hold so many resources before it fills up. Then you’ll need to make your way back to the surface to sell your loot for profit, buy upgrades, and head back down to repeat the cycle. There’s less backtracking later on as you discover teleporters and other shortcuts that can take you back to the surface instantly, as well as the ability to buy and place your own teleporters. There also aren’t a bunch of bosses like there are in metroidvanias, in fact the final boss is really the only one in the game. Combat really isn’t the focus here, and that’s fine.

digging your own paths sell your loot for profit buy upgrades

Where it feels more like a metroidvania is in the mobility and progression upgrades you’ll find in caves as you explore. These upgrades are things like a wall jump, high jump, and a drill that lets you dig through tiles you couldn’t before.

progression upgrades high jump drill

The gameplay loop had me hooked. Digging down into the unknown and bringing precious metals back up to the surface to sell has a sort of Minecraft or Terraria feel to it, and it felt very satisfying to sell off a large haul and use the profits to buy more upgrades. There was also some element of planning required when digging through the dirt, especially deeper down, since you need to be careful not to get stranded without a way to get back up. If you do get trapped, you can always self-destruct which will send you back to the surface at the cost of 50% of your money. Dying worked the same as self-destructing, and I did die a few times when I underestimated the monsters and hazards lurking underground!

into the unknown I did die a few times

SteamWorld Dig is a unique game that feels great to play. I started playing it on a whim, but I’m really glad I did! It has a sequel, and while I don’t have that one in my Steam library at the moment, I’m definitely going to be watching for a sale and grabbing it someday!

SteamWorld Dig a unique game

A Hat in Time (PC)

I finished A Hat in Time this week! I spent more time collecting Time Pieces in the free roam world and by defeating the boss of Chapter 3. This brought my total Time Pieces to 25, which was enough to unlock the final chapter!

free roam world the boss of Chapter 3 the final chapter

The final chapter occurs after Mustache Girl, a character from the beginning of the game, sneaks aboard Hat Kid’s ship and steals tons of Time Pieces from the vault. She basically uses these to alter time and make herself the ruler of the entire world. The final level consists of some platforming challenges in Mustache Girl’s new lava-filled home before confronting and battling her. This final fight was pretty hype. The visuals are really eye catching, the music is super energetic, and all the characters you met along the way are there watching you fight and cheering you on. In the end, you defeat Mustache Girl and reclaim the Time Pieces she stole from you. Despite how large the pile of Time Pieces you get from beating Mustache Girl is, it still only counts as one collected Time Piece.

platforming challenges final fight the Time Pieces she stole from you

And that’s the end of the game! Hat Kid sets off on her journey back home, and the credits roll. A Hat in Time was a phenomenal game. I went back to my save after finishing the game because I was still craving more of its great 3D platforming, and I wanted to collect a few more Time Pieces! It wasn’t a difficult game, but it was extremely charming and very fun. I’m super glad I finally played this great indie title.

the credits roll a phenomenal game finishing the game

Ben

(bsinky)
Ben
The self-proclaimed "Guy with the Backlog", as of this writing his Steam backlog is slowly growing to the point of consuming him. Meanwhile, he spends most of his time trying to catch up on the retro classics he missed, as well as replaying the games he grew up with.

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