Summer Games Wrap-up

August is winding down and cooler days have started to creep into the forecast. For me, it’s unavoidable that the fall semester is about to start up. While I’m excited to start a new semester, this time of year always means that gaming goes on the back burner. I’ll find time to game. I always do. Like photography, gaming is an activity I think about often, even when I don’t have the immediate time for it.

So before the semester gets underway, I wanted to write up something about the final games of my summer.

Disco Elysium (PC)

Disco Elysium first released in 2019. I played The Final Cut version of the game, which added full voice acting, new political options, and other features. Disco Elysium puts players in the role of a detective. In that role, you’ll explore a city block, interrogate suspects, and discover who you are. That all sounds pretty straightforward, right? Well…Disco Elysium is anything but straightforward.

But here’s the thing. I don’t want to say much about the game because Disco Elysium is something that has to be experienced firsthand for full effect. Tonally, Disco Elysium is a mix–it’s dark and depressing with humorous and touching moments that hit deep. It’s a truly bizarre experience to play. Playing Disco Elysium was like being back in an undergraduate literature class reading an old text that took several readthroughs to understand. But I don’t say that as a deterrent. The nuance and depth were appreciated, and the game is art. The game’s ending is something I will think about for some time. There is this beautiful moment at the end that is only possible within the context of the game’s darker side. Again, I don’t want to say too much for fear of spoilers. But if you can stick through the game’s grittiness and depressing aspects, you might be similarly struck by the ending. It’s the kind of moment in gaming that feels like magic, and because of that magical quality, I’ll only ever be able to experience it in full one time.

Stray (PS5)

Stray (2022) is billed as an adventure game featuring a stray cat who is separated from the world it knows when it falls into a walled city. This city presents many dangers to our dear feline, but also includes some exciting discoveries.

When I first heard about Stray, I knew I would play it. I adore animals and the animations and sounds of the game looked cute. I didn’t expect Stray to have as much depth as it does. Several points in the game surprised me with their emotional weight (I may have shed a tear at one point). The world, occupied by robots, was fun to explore as I completed tasks and gathered various objects to progress through the levels. Stray is divided into twelve chapters and does not take very long to complete (expect roughly six hours depending on how much you poke about).

Animal Crossing: New Horizons (Switch)

I don’t think I’ve written about Animal Crossing: New Horizons in much depth before, but I have been playing it off and on since launch. It’s one of those games that helped me get through the early days of the Covid pandemic and kept me connected with friends. A lot has been said about Animal Crossing by many others. For me, it’s a near-perfect cozy game that leaves enough room for creativity and inventiveness. I can spend hours redecorating my house. I can also spend hours swinging my net at bugs and going fishing. I set my goals and accomplish them as I want. It also feels very much like a summer game. Obviously, the island setting contributes greatly to this, but the available activities and the time spent in nature makes the game feel like an extended camping trip to me.

Arcade Spirits: The New Challengers (Switch)

Arcade Spirits: The New Challengers was a highlight of my summer gaming. I enjoyed the art style, setting, and story. I loved playing in this game world where arcades are exciting places full of character and that are popular with a range of people. I won’t comment on the story here, but if you’re looking for a game with a diverse range of characters and options for romance and/or friendship, this one is worth checking out. It’s also cool that there are a number of customizable elements–your character and the UI are notable here. The New Challengers is a visual novel, which may be a turn off for some. But there is more to do than selecting dialogue options. There is a game within a game, relationships to foster, and choices to make. Replayability is also high with this game.

Sniper Elite 5 (PS5)

I have yet to play all the way through Sniper Elite 5; however, that is not unusual considering my approach to previous Sniper Elite games and games like Hitman. I tend to take my time with these games, playing for a while, leaving for a while, and then coming back. I like that these games are broken into relatively self-contained levels/chapters as that makes for easy starting and stopping points.

I played through the first two major areas of the game and having nothing but good to say about Sniper Elite 5 so far. It does more of the same, which is absolutely fine by me. The levels are well-designed and fun to explore, the gunplay feels good, and the stealth is manageable. I have heard that close combat can feel clunky, but I haven’t had much experience with that yet. All-in-all, I’ve been enjoying this one and look forward to playing more.

Mainline Far Cry Games (PC, PS5, & Xbox Series X)

One of the goals I set for this summer’s gaming was to play through some of the mainline Far Cry games. I wanted to do this just because but also because I’ve wanted to record gameplay for some time now. I successfully played through Far Cry 3 and Far Cry 4 and got about halfway through Far Cry 5 before having to take a break from it. In addition, I reacquainted myself with Far Cry and Far Cry 2. It was fun re-visiting the franchise, taking notes, and recording gameplay for future projects. I’ll have more to say about Far Cry 3, Far Cry 4, and Far Cry 5 in future posts (the first of which will be published in October).

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