With the clock repaired we have pretty much caught up to my first run in terms of main story progress. In fact we are a little further through since I don’t think I had any idea last time where to start looking for her where as now we have a location and a name. We need to find out where Fulsome is and if they have seen Matkina. It does look like she has spent a fair amount of time interacting with people in the Underbelly though so I am sure we can get some more information from the other inhabitants. Time to go talk to the overseers again, mostly because I like them.
On a more technical note I would really prize feedback regarding the voicework I have been doing, this episode marks the first time I have tried to add an effect directly on the vocal track so I would love to know what people think of it and any kind of tweaking they would like done. Specifically I am talking about the effect I added for the Overseer voices, I hope it helps to make them more distinct and helps to remind the viewer of the artificial nature of the speaker, it takes a bit more work but the same approach could potentially be used to help further separate some of the characters I have been interacting with. It is surprisingly difficult to create new voices for each character and then to remember them week to week, I do not know how voice actors manage.
Heya, readers. Happy birthday to me! By the time this goes up, I’ll have celebrated my 30th birthday. Officially old enough to know better than to spend my valuable free evenings playing and writing about terrible video games. But young enough to not care.
Apropos of that, I decided to spend my (busy) birthday week and weekend playing The Most Recent Sakura: Sakura Dungeon. As a gift to myself. No, not like that. I mean, yes, also like that. But more importantly, if I play and review it now, I won’t have this thing hanging over my head come November. I’m essentially gifting myself a bullet to bite, and yes, I couldn’t have thought of a better 2016-themed birthday gift if I’d tried. Thank you, I’m good at my job.
It is over, it is finally over. Xenonauts diverges pretty significantly from X-COM at the end. The aliens were just playing with us, as interstellar empire the resources they have at their disposal far outweigh what feeble resistance we can muster. Even if we did manage to beat their small fleet they had a backup plan that had to be countered to claim victory. I love their backup plan; it is as simple as it is diabolical. Just use the Reapers a vast numbers, initiate a fast zombie apocalypse on humanity and pick through the wreckage. Fortunately the Ranonauts were able to stop them, but at what cost?
This is by far the longest longest series I have done but the end here caught me a little off guard. I have a tendency in these games to reach an equilibrium and then just try to keep going building up a nice strong team for the end of the game but I couldn’t really do that here, not just because it would stretch and already long series but because I am not sure I would ultimately have gotten anywhere.
Despite a pretty clear technological advantage over my foes I was losing high level soldiers about as fast as I was generating them. It was a pretty frustrating and demoralising experience. In retrospect some of my problems likely stemmed from poor tactical decisions, I think I completely missed the tactical value of smoke grenades. In X-COM (and thus I suspect in Xenonauts) smoke is able to break line of sight and enemies don’t shoot what they cannot see, I assumed that it was just an accuracy debuff so I prioritised attempting to kill or disable the enemy instead, which was much more likely to get a soldier killed when I screwed up.
The other major weakness on the tactical level was psionics. I just could not find a good counter to psionics. It is tough to handle because psionics:
Doesn’t require line of sight so you cannot sneak your way around it
Is defended by a stat, which is only raised if the soldier is attacked by psionics
There is no anti-psionic gear
Has a range, but you have to assault ships that force you to zigzag your way up, giving the aliens plenty of opportunity to ruin your day
The obvious answer was to just try to avoid all Ceasans, meaning that story and base missions where they are unavoidable were extra dangerous (because none of my troops had practice against psionics) and then attempt to slowly grind and savescum my way past any psionic enemies. Even Sebillions ultimately gain a psychic presence as the fight becomes important enough to get Preators involved, but at least there the psionic attacks are limited to one a turn (beyond the passive TU sapping Dread ability).
I am really looking forward to seeing how they mix things up in Xenonauts 2, I know they have say that it will not continue this storyline and will instead be set on an alternate earth with a different alien invasion which helps to move them further from the XCOM series. I hope that they will feel more free to diverge from the X-COM mold and we have a more diverse group of aliens perhaps ones that are less reliant on psychic attacks and are alien in completely different and unexpected ways.
As tempting as it is to chain straight into XCOM 2, tune in next week for a newer, much shorter series.
Time to leave the reef and get to Sagus Cliffs. We will return eventually but for now there is nothing left to do here but have a bit of a scrap. Broadly this fight is pretty much unchanged from the third alpha test, though here as a primarily fighting based character my attempts at intimidating or otherwise ending the combat early fell pretty flat. I almost wish that talking was a free action because it feels pretty lame to use an action and get nothing from it, but on the other hand the same thing applies to missing a regular attack.
Once I enter Sagus Cliffs I am going to try to restrain myself from engaging with every NPC, mostly because I did that in the previous iteration of the beta and this way I both avoid spending too much time on relatively redundant content and I don’t have to come up with as many new voices or intonations nor remember what on earth I came up with last time.
Heading straight for the Cult of the Changing God in Circus Minor is pretty rewarding because we get to see what the more complete version of the clock quest looks like. I was actually pretty surprised that the conversation and choice of focus was so quick because this is the thing that flavours your character and powers most strongly, what really sets you apart from other characters of the same type. It explicitly mentions that your focus choice isn’t final and I suspect based on the layout of the rooms involved that we will slowly pick up more focus options as the story progresses. I guess this is to follow the theme of personal mutability that was present in Planescape: Torment
It does seem odd for my low intellect pool glaive to be spending so much time in mental spaces, dealing with psychic projections and attacks, a lot of this storyline feels more thematically appropriate with a nano or at least a jack with a relatively high esotery focus. I wonder if the initial storyline involving the castoff was created with a character type in mind and then widened to fit a more generic character or if this is meant to reflect more on the Changing God than the Last Castoff.
You can sometimes tell things about a new game by its pre/early-release social media footprint. For instance, The Game Bakers‘ Furi was met with two very different responses on my Twitter timeline. Some people hailed it as a really good game, ‘incredible’, that sort of praise. And some people bashed it for being poorly developed, particularly in the area of responsive controls. It was either a possible game-of-the-year contender, or an unplayable mess that required sorting A.S.A.P.
You can imagine that, as a reviewer, this sort of thing has me salivating at the mouth. An incredibly polarized split of good and bad? And a chance for my testimony to be the deciding factor that finally, forever tips the scales? How could I resist?