What Has gmw3 Been Playing?: March 2022
As gmw3 continues to grow and expand our coverage so too does our team of writers, all of whom love tech, videogames, Web3, and anything else with a digital signal. We’re all continually playing videogames for fun (and for work) so now seems like the ideal time to see what everyone has been passing the time with; from epic blockbusters to fringe virtual reality (VR) titles, here’s what we’ve been playing during March.
This month I’ve mostly been playing Elden Ring. Although playing might be a strong word for someone whose play style mostly involves summoning spirits then dodging around frantically until they kill the boss for me.
That generous summoning mechanic is partly why I find myself getting much less frustrated with Elden Ring than in previous entries in the Dark Souls series. It’s also because, being open-world as the game is, Elden Ring encourages you to bypass the tricky bits.
Indeed, one of the first enemies you meet once emerging into the game proper (Tree Sentinel for those in the know) seems designed to ram home this message by ramming your face into the floor, repeatedly, until you learn to simply walk around them. Cue many happy hours of running past enemies, whether on foot or on my trusty steed Torrent, taking in the many wondrous sights of the Lands Between. Except Caelid. We don’t talk about Caelid.
If you’re interested in playing Elden Ring but wish much of the eldritch horror was replaced with cute foxes, the charmic Tunic is surely the game for you. While it takes much more than a leaf out of the Elden Ring book, with unlockable respawn points, nail-biting boss fights, and one opportunity to recover your experience points upon death, the best thing it replicates is the sense of mystery.
You’re dropped into the game with almost no information and, in a very meta twist, are required to work everything out for yourself by finding pieces of the manual scattered throughout the world. Even these are mostly written in a mostly indecipherable language, so establishing exactly what you are being told becomes a puzzle in itself.
There are doubtless people who will be put off by Tunic’s obtuse nature, but it is skillfully designed to (mostly) avert frustration and make you feel smart for figuring out its secrets. Tunic has served as an excellent side dish to the Elden Ring main course this month.
Walkabout Mini Golf
In VR, meanwhile, I’ve been whiling away the hours in the supremely relaxing Walkabout Mini Golf VR. This is undoubtedly the VR game I find myself coming back to more than any other.
Why? First, there’s the music, which is much better than mini golf game music has any right to be (particularly the theme for the pirate world, which is pretty much playing non-stop inside my head at all times).
Equally as good are the gorgeous environments, from wild west saloons to Japanese gardens to weird candy fantasias. Every time I look up to curse the heavens regarding my latest triple bogey, I’m distracted by some lovely piece of detail and all is once again right in the world.
Pair all this with some lovely swinging physics that ensure the ball always seems to go where you intended it to and you have a supremely enjoyable package. I mean, who hasn’t wanted to play crazy golf in space?
Gran Turismo 7
Like much of the games playing public, I’ve spent tens of hours playing Elden Ring. I chose a sorcerer, it’s dope. But you all know how great it is, so I’m going to tell you about Gran Turismo 7, AKA the best racing game for years that is being abysmally handled by creators Polyphony Digital. Gran Turismo is known, for one thing, gorgeous car models. There’s something wonderful about starting the GT journey in a clapped Mini Cooper and working up to a Ferrari F40. But that’s damn near impossible for casual players since Polyphony is only interested in our micro-transaction money.
Want that Aston Martin? Grind this race multiple times. Fancy hopping into a McClaren and tearing through the countryside? Well, open your wallet and make it rain. Recent news shows that the developer, and Sony, are willing to shift this balance. Apparently, we’re getting better rewards for finishing races, which is handy because, despite all the drama, Gran Turismo 7 really is the best racing game to emerge for many years.
The actual driving is a delight and, as expected from the PlayStation 5, it looks bloody glorious. A special shoutout must go to the DualSense controller which elevates the experience beyond a basic rumble of tires and picks up the smooth changes in asphalt and dirt in America, or chatters over storm drains in Tokyo.
The Binding of Isaac
The Binding of Isaac is my favourite game. No other game holds a candle to this McMillen masterpiece, so I’ll preface this entry with some useless stats. On PC I’ve played 846 hours. On PlayStation (across Vita, PS4 and PS5) I’ve stacked up over 500 hours. Now playing on Nintendo Switch my total currently reads 921 hours. I’m a fan.
Isaac has become a comfort game for me. That’s right, a game about religious institutional murder, Munchausen’s syndrome, faecal matter and gore, is a comfort. I’ve played this game in my low times, my high times and those moments in life when nothing made sense. The addictive gameplay loop of discovering items, pairing them with others to create an overpowered character is, to me, as moreish as crack cocaine.
With the latest DLC, Repentance, the game has become a whole new beast. It’s maddeningly difficult, features intricate routes to secure success and some of the new character variants are punishing. Many times I’ve wanted to launch my Switch across the room as I pick up an item that breaks my progress. But I still love it. It’s still my comfort. My favourite.
Virtual Virtual Reality 2
The metaverse has pretty much just been born — and yet we’re already fantasising about its collapse. In this fun-filled, brightly-coloured comedy-adventure game adapted for Meta Quest 2, it’s easy to forget that the premise sits on top of some dark undertones. With that being said, however, the juxtaposition is perfect — and the tongue-in-cheek humour featured throughout the game is also on-point.
The game starts off with, well… basically your character dying and being recreated inside a new mech body situated inside the fictional realm of Scottsdale. In short, you are tasked with using your new body to save avatars and digital identities from a metaverse on the verge of collapse. It poses the important question: “When a metaverse shuts down, what happens to the avatars left behind?” After spending the last few months creating a surplus of avatars inside various games and ecosystems, it’s a fitting inquiry.
Through becoming more acquainted with my Meta Quest 2, it’s been exciting to start a game with a great metaphysical backstory. These types of things are my bread and butter — as a fan of other storylines like Ghost in the Shell and Fullmetal Alchemist, I love a good cyborg storyline. However, what’s more notable is that VVR2 also does a great job at poking fun at the absurdity of our current transition into the metaverse and the fragility that could follow it. If we’ve one day put all of our stock into virtual worlds, how catastrophic might it be to see them collapse? At this point in time, I suppose the best thing we can do is laugh.
Pokemon Shining Pearl
I’ll admit, I was a bit late to the Nintendo Switch party. However, making a move from Canada to the UK and being subjected to steep baggage fees meant I was best off leaving most of my consoles behind. It was also the perfect time to finally get my hands on the one, more portable device that would overcome a transatlantic barrier.
Pokemon Shining Pearl was an easy choice. A remake of Pearl and Diamond for the Nintendo DS, it’s a formidable reinvention of the 2006 fan-favourite and a perfect bridging gap between classic and modern games, equipped with the right level of nostalgia. The reinvented Sinnoh region looks bright and crisp on the Switch’s display, with a simplistic and colourful art style that doesn’t feel too bloated.
The gameplay mechanics are also great, with just the right amount of additions to differentiate it from its predecessor. Amongst the coolest new features are definitely the Hideaways — areas where players can find more powerful and exclusive Pokemon. These can be accessed through the Grand Underground — a reworked version of the Sinnoh region’s more challenging underbelly seen in the earlier titles.
Now, this was one of those random picks from Xbox Game Pass. You know how it goes, you vaguely recognise the name and might take a look at a screenshot or two but in reality, I wanted to pick something at random to while away a few hours.
What I got was this epic roguelite dungeon crawler from Supergiant Games that I’ve been ploughing hours and hours into during spare moments when I’m not reviewing VR games or heading to events like GDC. And it has got me hooked, easy to master gameplay mechanics allow quick access to the rich world of Hades and the huge amount of lore the developer has put into it. I almost love simply unlocking all the narrative and info on each character as I do storming through the underworld killing wave after wave of monstrous creatures.
Plus there are plenty of upgrade options to play with, altering my character each time to try a push that little bit farther. I’ve come to realise that I’m a bit of a roguelite fan having enjoyed VR versions such as Outlier, YUKI and In Death: Unchained. I’ll likely continue playing Hades for quite a bit longer.
There had to be a VR game in here somewhere as I do spend a fair amount of time using the tech. I’ve spent a fair chunk of time in Owlchemy Labs’ latest project Cosmonious High – of which you can see the full review here – because it’s quite a laid back experience in all honesty.
Sure it’s a brightly coloured intergalactic high school with daft students, and even dafter names for everything but that silliness offers a welcome break from things. I can use my hands to paint the walls, freeze random objects or step into the chemistry lab to mix up random ingredients to see what they do. There’s no time limit on anything and I find completing some of the side challenges more enjoyable than the main campaign itself.
The only downside is that there isn’t a proper challenge to be faced. As a veteran VR player, I appreciate the technical achievement when looking at aspects like the water effects but I honestly don’t see myself playing it much longer; unlike Hades which has hooked me.