Farpoint VR

Date Completed: January 14th, 2018

Most of the content that has come out for the Playstation VR would be better understood as ‘experiences’ rather than games.  I was hoping that Farpoint VR might be something different – something fantastic.  The game came out in May 2017 as part of a bundle with the Aim controller and the total bundle price wasn’t much more than the price of a normal game.  I decided to wait for the reviews to make any purchase decisions and the reviews were very disappointing.  I decided that even with poor reviews I was interested in the game if it came as part of the controller bundle.  Sadly they sold out of the controller bundle and I didn’t see it in stock again FOR SIX MONTHS.  There were even rumors that the bundle had been discontinued.  Shortly before Christmas 2017 I started seeing it show up online again but my budget for the month had already been blown several times over so I didn’t buy it.  Luckily I received some cash for Christmas and I noticed the bundle had gone on-sale at the local Walmart for 10$ cheaper than anywhere else.  I snatched it up immediately.

I started playing the game and immediately got motion sick.  This was a surprise to me because I had played the Doom demo in VR and hadn’t experienced any major issues and Farpoint VR isn’t anywhere near as frantic a game.  I was only able to play in 5 minute intervals at first.  I started reading up on VR sickness online and found that ginger supplements were recommended as well as pointing a fan at yourself.  I set up a series of fans in my game room and made myself tea with ginger oil my wife had supplied before each play session and surprisingly it worked.  It didn’t completely eliminate motion sickness but I was able to complete the game with minimal discomfort.

The game is a first person shooter but movement is restricted in most directions by the game’s ‘Comfort Controls’.  I didn’t try changing the default comfort settings because of my early issues with motion sickness but it appears you can play the game with a more traditional range of motion.  There is a minimal story to the game but mostly it involves exploring an Alien world and killing what you find there.  Since movement is restricted the game itself ends up being very linear.  You mostly walk down corridors with very few twists and turns.  The story unfolds as you explore via a series of hologram flashbacks.  The story is very basic and while it does have a few interesting parts overall I’d call it forgettable.

With only a few basic enemy types, linear exploration and a ‘meh’ story you’d think I wouldn’t have enjoyed the game but much like other VR titles the VR makes it fun.  Combat felt realistic (especially with the Aim controller) and while movement was linear the sense of immersion into the environment helped with the enjoyment factor.  If this game wasn’t in VR I would not recommend it, but I think my pre-purchase impression was correct.  If you can get it bundled with the Aim controller it’s totally worth it.

  • Is it fun: Yes
  • Score: 6/10
  • Length:  6-8 hours
  • System: Playstation 4
  • Genre: First-Person Shooter / VR



Hellblade : Senua’s Sacrifice

Date Completed : December 1st, 2017

I had never heard of this game but a co-worker bought a surprise copy of this game for me (Thank Again!) and after reading about it I was intrigued.

This is one of those games that once it’s spoiled you can’t go back so I’m not going to say much about it.  It takes place in a Norse setting (which gets it 10 extra Awesome points) and follows the story of a woman named Senua.   Throughout the game you hear the voices that are whispering to Senua which I first tried to ignore as background babbling.  Eventually I got to a point where I realized I was listening to the voices and doing what they told me.  When I realized the game had subtly led me to listening to the voices in Senua’s head I realized it was something special.

One of the top billed individuals in making this game was the Psychology Consultant.  The descent into mental illness particularly in a time when it was not understood or remotely treatable was believable and horrifying.  More than once I’d go to bed after playing, look at my wife and say “I shouldn’t play that game before bed.”

I recommend playing with headphones on for maximum effect.  When I was wearing the headphones gave the sound a better ‘sense of immediacy’ and it felt as if the voices were in my head as well.

Since completing the game we’ve had many conversations at the office about what was really going on – how much of the game was a delusion and how much was real.  There are a lot of possible ways to interpret the events of the game and there is so much depth to them it may take a few play-throughs to fully understand it.  I ended up playing through 1.5 times, just to pick up my platinum trophy.

I will leave you with the soundtrack of my favorite scene.  When I got to the Bridge with the Nordic Chanting started I was all smiles.

Is it fun: Yes
Score: 9/10
Length:  ~8 Hours
System: Playstation 4
Genre: Third-Person Adventure, Psychological Thriller

Horizon Zero Dawn

Date Completed : August 27th, 2017

When I first saw the trailer for Horizon Zero Dawn I sensed greatness.  Robot dinosaurs in a post-apocalyptic world?  YES PLEASE.  Sadly I live in a world without money so I didn’t pre-order it at launch.  It also had the unfortunate circumstance of sharing a launch window with The Legend of Zelda : Breath of the Wild so I knew I wouldn’t get around to it for awhile.  Luckily being married to my wife paid off once more and my brother-in-law loaned me the game for free.  I played through the intro and was instantly hooked.  The robot dinosaurs did not let me down.

The game takes place on earth after a robot apocalypse.  Human beings have reverted to tribal lifestyles and robots and animals live side-by-side.  During the course of the game you discover the answers to the mystery – what caused the Apocalypse?  And what has happened since then?  And quite a mystery it turns out to be too.  I won’t give anything away but in my opinion it is one of the best sci-fi stories ever.

The game is rated Teen but most of the violence is human-on-robot so I figured I could get away with letting the kids watch.  Violence is OK if it’s against machines, right?  Oddly enough my boys weren’t particularly interested in this game (unless they walked in on me battling a Thunder-jaw or something) but my daughter loved it.  She declared that the heroine (‘Aloy of the Nora tribe’) was her mother and she called this ‘The Mommy Game’.  I assume this is because my wife, like Aloy, kills with impunity and uses a zip-line to get down the stairs.  Hopefully my daughter will not grow up thinking that a video game character is her biological mother.  We played a lot of hours of this game together and she was heart-broken when I returned the borrowed copy to her Uncle.

Since completing the game I have badgered everyone I know to play it so I’ll have someone to talk to about it.  Because of my actions I have no friends left and at least one marriage is on the rocks (long story) but it will be worth it.  It’s a great game and worth buying a PS4 to play it.  Yesterday for Christmas I finally received my own copy of the ‘Complete’ Edition that includes the DLC and I can’t wait to see what’s in store.

Is it fun: Yes
Score: 9/10
Length:  ~70 Hours
System: Playstation 4
Genre: Third-Person Shooter

Until Dawn : Rush of Blood

Date Completed : April 22, 2017

I received a Playstation VR for Christmas from my in-laws (who instantly went up a notch on the awesome scale) but I didn’t receive any games so I had to content myself with the demo disc that game with the system.  I started the year off with the laughable goal of spending less than I earn which has sadly been a failure but did prevent me from making any un-budgeted 60$ purchases. While poking around Amazon one day I discovered that Rush of Blood was available for 10$ and since I already had a bundle of crap in my cart for my wife and son’s birthdays ( which unfortunately for my budget are only three days apart ) I figured this game would only be a rounding error.

Rush of Blood is on the demo disc so I knew what I was getting into. Each level consists of a short roller coaster ride where you are armed with two handguns and everything tries to kill you.  This was typically the demo that I’d let friends try when they tested the Playstation VR unless small children were present.  In my opinion it’s a rather sub-part rail shooter that was rushed out to be available for the launch of a new gaming platform.  I wouldn’t have paid full price for it but I figured the 10$ investment would be worth it to have an actual retail game for the VR.  (In true form Sony made the game free to  Playstation  Plus subscribers recently once again proving you should never pay for Playstation software).

I made one minor change to my play style when I started the full retail version of Rush of Blood.  I dug out my Playstation Move controllers and paired them up to my Playstation 4.  It turns out that playing this game with motion controllers MAKES IT AWESOME. I could look at my hands in VR and they would appear to be where I thought my real hands should be.  I could control them independently and shoot two targets at once.  The sense of immersion was complete.  I forgot that I was in a chair in my office and unfortunately I forgot there was a wall to my left.  Once I tried to point my gun at a bad guy only to find that I couldn’t physically orient my arm in the desired direction.  It was because back in the real world the previously mentioned wall stubbornly refused to give way.

I usually played 15-20 minutes at a time before going to bed but the game would get me so wound up I’d have a hard time getting to sleep.  The game is really short so It only took me about two weeks to finish all of the mission.  The short duration of each level was the perfect way to begin acclimating to VR.

  • Is it fun: Yes
  • Score: 5/10
  • Length:  ~3 hours
  • System: Playstation VR (PS4)
  • Genre: Rail Shooter, Horror





Never Alone

Date Completed: February 7th, 2017

According to my current count I’m about 11 games and 10 months behind in my blogging. After some self reflection I’ve decided that the biggest issue preventing me from being more timely with producing these little blurbs is that I feel like I should try and do a good job.  Unfortunately this has resulted in dedicating additional time that I do not have hunting down screenshots, collecting my thoughts, reading and re-reading what I’ve written to see if it makes sense and eventually giving up and publishing when I realize I have no talent for writing. Well, no more of that! I’m going to change my format up to be shorter and try and get these things out within a few days of finishing the game.

Never Alone was on my radar before it was made one of the free games of the month on PlayStation Plus. I would have paid actual money for the game but once again Sony proved to me that only chumps pay for games anymore. Wait long enough and sooner or later you’ll get every game for free.

I installed the game on my PS4 but I didn’t get around to playing it until February this year when the city was covered in ice and snow and the entire family got sick. My wife had both bronchitis and pneumonia at the same time and all three kids cycled through various infections and treatments of antibiotics. I stayed home from work to help out but between feedings everyone mostly slept so I had some time to sneak away and get some gaming done.

Never Alone is based on Native Alaskan folklore and follows a young girl and her Arctic fox companion as they attempt to save her village. The game involves you solving simple ‘puzzles’ by switching between controlling the girl and the fox. The ‘puzzles’ are easily solved and don’t require any serious thought. There is really very little about the gameplay that is particularly interesting. Sometimes you run from a Polar Bear, sometimes you jump over a pit. The in-game physics are frustrating and the game isn’t particularly fun to play.

Surprisingly that doesn’t ruin the game. The characters in the game have a certain charm to them that transcends crappy game play. The story was interesting enough to keep me playing and the game includes ‘Cultural Insights’ that discuss the Native Alaskan people (and that you get trophies for watching).  The game is short enough that I didn’t get too frustrated with the game play.  Overall I’d say the experience was worth it!

  • Is it fun: Yes
  • Score: 5/10
  • Length:  ~3 hours
  • System: Playstation 4
  • Genre: Action / Adventure, Platform


firewatch-game-cover-pc-2016Date Completed: February 4th, 2017

Firewatch is more of an experience than a game.  Its similar to the game ‘Journey’ where it tells a story, and any spoilers to that story could potentially ruin it.  I’m going to stay away from spoilers, and instead focus on all of the things I did wrong while playing Firewatch.

Firewatch tells the story of a dude who watches for fires in Colorado wilderness.  When I started Firewatch I wasn’t sure what kind of game it was going to be.  Was it silly?  Was it scary?  Something else?  I didn’t know what to do or what kinds of interactions with the game world would be allowed so I tried stuff.  The first thing I did was pick up the bottle of dish soap from my watch tower and go for a hike.  Once I got out into the wilderness I felt bad about littering so I ended up carrying that bottle of dish soap around for an entire day.  This was super inconvenient because I had to set the soap down every time I wanted to consult my map ( which required both hands to be free ).


My soap and I enjoying the sunset.

The other thing that really pissed me off about this game was the sound the electric generator made.  When the game started up the first thing I noticed was the constant grinding sound of an electric generator.  I found the generator outside my watch tower and tried to shut it off but this wasn’t allowed.  Sometimes the generator would power down and I’d have a few precious minutes of silence but it would always start up again.  For some dumb reason the generator sound followed me through the entire park.  I’d be miles away from my watch tower and I could still hear it!  I began to wonder if it was a clue to the plot – maybe my character was in a hospital room hooked up to some machine and the whole game was a hallucination of some kind?  Maybe it was a bug in the game?  Either way it was super irritating.  You know what the worst part was?  After I turned the game off for the night I could still hear the noise!!!  This was the moment I began to suspect something was amiss…

Yeah…so it turns out that the kids had shoved a pencil into the pencil sharpener on the windowsill behind me.  It’s about at ear-level when I am sitting down and I was wearing headphones while playing and couldn’t tell it wasn’t part of the game.  It would run for a few minutes before shutting down on it’s own and eventually restarting.  Darn kids.

I would have played the game straight through except after 11PM I figured I should go to bed or I’d be in a mood the next day.  Overall a great game although the kind you only get to play once.  After experiencing the story there isn’t any reason to visit this game again.  Except maybe to find those turtles.

  • Is it fun: Yes
  • Score: 7/10
  • Length:  3-4 hours
  • System: Playstation 4
  • Genre: First Person / Thriller

Dragon Age : Inquisition

91iutl4hdvl-_ac_sl1500_Date Completed : February 3, 2017

Two years ago – about six months after we moved into our new house – I participated in the “It only happens twice a year gift exchange event” with my college roommates and the one random guy who keeps showing up to our holiday parties.  The rules of the gift exchange are simple.  We all get the same gift, hand it to another participant and continue redistributing gifts until each participant ends up with exactly one.  When it first began we usually purchase each other the same video game such as ‘The Orange Box’, ‘Command and Conquer : Generals’ or ‘Star Wars: Battlefront’.  Since kids and budgets and new game consoles have come along this strategy no longer works so today have a policy of exchanging Amazon.com gift cards.  In late 2014 I still hadn’t purchased any games for my PS4 so I spent my entire gift card on Dragon Age : Inquisition.  I didn’t know anything about the Dragon Age series other than the fact that people seem to like it and it has the word Dragon in the title.  Dragons sounded cool, and I wasn’t aware of anything else coming out for the PS4 any time soon.

My daughter was about 5 months old when I started the game.  To celebrate my newborn child I created a lady elf warrior and named her after my daughter.  I played through the first area of the game but I found the tutorial to be lacking and I never understood what was going on.  I put the game down for a few weeks and when I came back I had forgotten what little I knew.  It’s hard to find the time to play a game with a newborn in the house and it’s hard to feel motivated to do so when you keep forgetting how the game is played.  My enthusiasm for the game suffered and after a few price drops I experienced buyer’s remorse.


One big giant sand box.

Every once in awhile I picked up the game again and made some progress.  The game consists of several large (and I mean LARGE) areas that you can explore that each have dozens of missions to be completed.  I’d start the game up, run a few missions and then take a few weeks off.  The game is so vast that I usually didn’t feel like I was making any positive progress towards the eventual ending.  Running quests was ‘OK’ but often it just felt like busy work.  Towards the end of the game I was surprised to find that my views on this had changed.  I actually liked completing all of the stupid little missions, and exploring all of the maps.


On a mission to kill the saddest bear ever. 😦

The game is full of many memorable moments and after I recalled that the PS4 has a share button I started posting a few of them to my Twitter feed.  Once such moment occurred when I was taking a stroll on a beach and happened upon a giant punching a Dragon IN THE FACE.

Giant Punching a Dragon

Uh…leave me out of this.

It was clear to me early on that at least some the characters in this game had been in previous games in the series.  The back of the game case said ‘Meet Legends’ but I wasn’t sure who was supposed to be a legend or not.  I didn’t know who any of these schmucks were!  You can recruit nine different playable companions to your cause, most of whom seemed pretty cool.  It also turns out that you can choose to romance one of your companions (or some of the NPC characters).  There is even a trophy for committing to a long term relationship.  Since I wanted the trophy I found myself in the somewhat uncomfortable position of choosing a romantic partner for a woman named after my daughter.  I didn’t like it but eventually I settled on commander Cullen, one of the NPC advisors.  He seemed like the most honorable choice that didn’t have a porn-star beard.



After I started really getting into the game and beginning my final push towards completing it I became obsessed with doing things the ‘right’ way.  Events can unfold different depending on how you handle some of the situations that come up in the game.  Your companions may either grow to like or dislike you depending on how you converse with them.  Whenever a speech bubble popped up I’d always pause the game and look up the consequences of the various answers on the web before continuing.  My goal was to not miss out on anything in the game (especially those trophies) but this ended up partially ruining the experience for me.  I shouldn’t have worried about making the right choices.  Instead I should have owned the choices that I made and lived with the consequences.  It would have been more realistic and more fun.


Advisors gotta advise…

I usually didn’t let the kids watch when I played this game, unless I knew nothing horrible was going to happen (This game is rated M).  My daughter (who is now 2) was a big fan since the main character was named after her.  She’d walk in while I was playing, point and say “That’s me!!”.  Now that I’ve finished with the game she’s seemed pretty disappointed to find me playing other things on my Playstation.


Wouldn’t be an RPG without some questionable outfits…

Since I didn’t really know what was going on most of the game I avoided spending skill points, crafting weapons/armor or choosing a specialization until I felt like I absolutely had to.  My inventory was always full of items that I wasn’t sure if I should hold on to or not.  Eventually I’d stored up about 18 unused skill points and spent them all at once.  Suddenly I had TOO MANY skills and it took some trial and error to find a set of abilities that I liked.  My favorite was the ‘Charging Bull’ ability that had my warrior dashing into danger like the late Mr. Jenkins of World of Warcraft fame.



My first impression of Dragon Age was poor but after I understood enough about the game to play it intelligently I started to enjoy it more.  It’s a solid game but I can’t recommend it to everyone because there is a time investment required to acquaint the player with how the game is played.  This isn’t a pick-it-up-and-go title, it’s a read-the-strategy-guide-first kind of game.  I don’t plan on holding on to my copy, or playing any other games in the series.  If another Dragon Age game comes out some day I may look into it but for now I’m (finally) done.

  • Is it fun: Yes
  • Score: 8/10
  • Length:  ~110 hours
  • System: Playstation 4
  • Genre: Action / RPG