Ray Stuart

@rshandle

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Reviewed a game
PS4
The Last Of Us Remastered
Reviewed: Mar 30, 2022
9.70

I'm new to the Playstation ecosystem with the PS5. So there was a huge back catalogue that I've gotten to explore that has been amazing. I heard how amazing this game was but I was unsure. Before this game, I really avoided anything that dealt with zombies. But I decided to give it a chance. It was one where my wife watched the entire game. And the story was gripping and at times heartbreaking. There is no player agency; you can't impact the story. But the set pieces are nearly perfectly designed to tell the story they wanted to tell. I really enjoyed the crafting and upgrading but was constantly worried about missing stuff so I'm sure I spent more time playing the game that most.

This one beats out the sequel for me. And this one is one of the best gaming experiences I've had and one that I was happy my backseat gamer wife could enjoy with me.

Reviewed a game
PS5
Horizon Forbidden West
Reviewed: Mar 30, 2022
8.70

They threw everything, including the kitchen sink, into this game and it almost all works very well. The side quests and NPC interactions are great. Truly great writing when it's so rare to have interesting side quest stories that help you understand the world better. The big machine fights were challenging. The main story has some amazing twists and turns. You end up really caring about the main NPCs you interact with regularly throughout the game.

But the world is so big. There are so many things to do. You have to truly grind (even with easy loot turned on) to upgrade everything you want. It's just a little too full and too grindy. The platinum wasn't difficult to achieve, but I was definitely ready to move on after I accomplished that goal.

Reviewed a game
PS5
Kena: Bridge of Spirits
Reviewed: Mar 30, 2022
8.20

At the time that I played Kena, I had never played a Souls like game. Reviewers were quick to point out that the fighting was truly a challenge. I enjoyed the challenge so much that it made me think about playing a Souls game. The game is absolutely stunning. Probably the most beautiful game I've ever played. It's is helped thta this game was made by an animation study and that the world has very few characters. So density is very low.

The challenge and journey does become a repetitive near the end. You've got to go to three locations and fight three bosses and then fight a big boss. And sometimes what you need to do next is not super intuitive. I highly recommend this game. It's not the same price as a full AAA game but gives you a fairly full AAA experience.

Reviewed a game
Series X
Elden Ring
Reviewed: Mar 20, 2022
8.80

(Review in progress)

Updated Post: 8.8 rating

I went ahead and leveled up another 10 levels and continued. It definitely made a difference. Exploration is absolutely the best experience of any game, including BOTW, that I've ever had. There are secrets and tension around every corner and behind ever rock. Enemy variety is mind blowing. So much flexibility in your build. I started as a Confessor and expanded into some basic sorceries to give me some reliable range attacks. I'm regularly changing my spells and encantations at sites of grace depending on how I died last. And at level 85 after 80 hours, I have a lot of choices of swords and ashes of war to swap up. Combat is truly difficult and challenging. I'm enjoying that more than I thought I might.

I have a major love/hate relationship with losing runes apon death though. It currently costs me over 40,000 runes to level up. I seem to regularly lose 15k-30k runes and then fail to get them back. I wish you had more than one death to get them back. You can equip a twig but it would often mean I unequip a talisman that I really need. This will probably be my most played game of all time when I'm done. BUT it won't be my favorite game of all time. There are just too many frustrating moments with dying over and over.

Original Post: 8.4 rating

First off, this is my first Fromsoft Souls game. I have 50 hours in the game and am level 55.

Ive basically done everything I can in the first 3 big regions (Limgrave, Weeping Penisula, Larnia) and I have hit some significant roadblocks where I just can’t quite get past some key bosses. If I am to continue, I’m going to have to go grind to level up another 10-15 levels. Not sure I want to. I haven’t minded the roadblocks when I can just go to another area I haven’t explored.


I have loved the exploration. Finding and buying new gear/spells. The enemy design is amazing. The world is beautiful but on the PS5 has very regular pop-in of graphics. I have loved beating bosses and haven’t minded taking 4-5 tries and sometimes 10 tries or coming back later. There is a big brain chemistry payoff there. Those are great things that I wished other games imitated. The lack of clear story, the difficulty spikes, and the continual loss of runes are really souring the experience though. Those are all fromsoft key markers.

Good game. Not for everyone. Maybe not for me. Fromsoft’s masterpiece. But not for everyone. The frustrations and lack of coherent story really weaken it for me though.

Reviewed a game
PS5
Chorus
Reviewed: Feb 21, 2022
9.00

Really enjoyed the combat and skill development. Super unique. Wish fast travel was more intuitive (I discovered it late).

Reviewed a game
PS5
Tales of Arise
Reviewed: Feb 21, 2022
7.20

This game just wasn't for me. Combat can be very challenging but it was so repetitive and a certain amount of grinding is required. But the story just takes too long to unfold.

Reviewed a game
Series X
Dying Light 2 Stay Human
Reviewed: Feb 21, 2022
9.00

I played Dying Light in 2021 and it was a huge surprise. I loved the survival/crafting elements and the parkour was really satisfying. Dying Light 2 raised those things up a level. There is definitely the open world jank that happens, but I didn't experience any game breaking bugs. And despire performance mode on Series X only being 1080p 60fps, it didn't reduce my enjoyment of the game. There are lots of reused assets across the game environment mixed with a lot of hand crafted levels.

I loved the "dungeon" elements of the GRE facilities. I really grew to love and hate most of the main NPCs. And even after I made the decision about which faction I was going to support, I still felt like maybe I made the wrong choice because of interactions iwth NPCs. I only did one playthrough and will wait till New Game+ is added for additional playthrough and trying to get different endings. This lived up to and exceeded my expectations for this game. So glad I bought day 1.

Reviewed a game
Series X
Outriders
Reviewed: Feb 21, 2022
8.50

Played this 9 months after launch on Xbox Game Pass. Even coming off of Halo Infinite, the gunplay in Outriders was really fun. The unlocking of new skills and weapons/armor is extremely satisfying. And while each new gun or new armor piece is only a little better than the last, it feels like you are constantly getting stronger, getting new buffs, or being tempted to try different gun mod combos. As a sci-fi fan, I really enjoyed the story. It won't win any awards, but I really grew to like the characters. And near the end, I made a guess of what I expected the end to be only for People Can Fly to pull a good unexpected twist. I loved how the combat was extremely fast paced, especially in comparison to Gears. If a story expansion is released, I will very likely return to this game.

Reviewed a game
Series X
It Takes Two
Reviewed: Feb 21, 2022
8.80

I played this with my 9yr old daughter. The story was very sad at times and we really grew to hate "the book". But the story and characters developed really well. Every "level" or chapter is extremely different with different gameplay mechanics and lots of mini games scattered around. There were definitely some puzzles or bosses that were difficult for us and some of the chapters dragged on longer than we wished. But easily the best coop game, for gamers, that has been made! Highly recommend

Reviewed a game
XB1
STAR WARS: Squadrons
Reviewed: Feb 21, 2022
7.00

So I played Chorus, which is a fast paced space fighter sim, right before this. I had so much fun with Chorus that I wanted to play another space fighter sim. And while I am a huge Star Wars fan and have lots of nostalgia for the old X-Wing games, Chorus just really outshined this game for me. I also encountered a few mission bugs that required me to restart missions and when missions take 20-30 minutes each, that was just painful. And so I put it down and decided I'm probably done. Played about 6 hours. This is not a BAD game. It definitely captures the nostalgia I wanted, but it just wasn't as fun as I was hoping.

Reviewed a game
PS4
Days Gone
Reviewed: Jan 11, 2022
9.50

PS5 is my first entry into the Playstation platform. I've been enjoying the large library of blockbuster exclusives. While Days Gone doesn't have the same story impact as The Last of Us; the open world gameplay is much more enjoyable. But the story is still good - lost love; dispair; hope; and community.

Riding your bike is also just fun. Sometimes you want to ride instead of using fast travel. The need to incorporate stealth as well as strategic combat adds really good tension and variety. The hordes are like nothing else I've encountered.

Days Gone is the only game I've gotten the Platinum Trophy and its the only game that I truly wanted to keep playing after I beat it. Usually I'm ready to be done with open world games because of fatigue but this one, because of the characters and mechinisms, made me wish I could play it again for the first time.

Reviewed a game
PS4
Mass Effect Legendary Edition
Reviewed: Jan 11, 2022
8.30

I have no nostalgia for Mass Effect. I started to play ME1 before the Legendary Edition was announced. The game clearly showed its age in the gameplay department. Legendary Edition smooths over some of those in ME1 (I can't speak to the changes in ME2 or ME3 having not played those previously) but the age still shows through a lot.

But the story and choice & consequence are clearly stronger than almost any game published today. It carries the series. It helps you look over the tedious planet scanning/searching for resources or the long and redundant hallways that aren't needed with today's technology. These are remasters and not remakes so those older design choices hold it back. The gunplay doesn't measure up to today's standards either.

However, the weight of the story and the character development and the impact of your choices through each game still make it a very enjoyable game. I think though, nostalgia has helped boost ratings vs the overall quality of gameplay when compared to the best of AAA games released today.

Reviewed a game
PS4
Horizon Zero Dawn
Reviewed: Jan 11, 2022
9.10

I knew very little about HZD before playing it; only that it was highly rated. Being new to the Playstation platform, I was excited to give it a try. I was not expecting the truly wonderful underlying story. I was worried about open world fatigue but I easily skipped a lot of the side content and didn't feel like I was missing very much. Fast Travel on the PS5 likely helped a lot as well; it really is fast!

I thoroughly enjoyed finding the journal entries and historical locations that flushed out the lore. I always stopped and watched or listened. Combat was enjoyable and deeper than BOTW (with the exception of parrying which would be out of place in HZD). Though I did miss BOTW's freedom as not everything was climbable in HZD.

This is truly a must play.

Reviewed a game
PS4
Until Dawn
Reviewed: Jan 11, 2022
6.50

How the game integrates classic horror movie tropes was actually the best part of the game for me. It managed a few decent jump scares and made me smile at the silly decisions. But at 8-10 hours it just wasn't unique enough from the B-movies it was emulating to make it feel like the time investment was worth it.

Reviewed a game
Switch
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Reviewed: Jan 27, 2021
9.30
My first game after getting back into video games. Exploration, story, challenging combat, freedom to pursue the story you way, excellent puzzle solving. No other game before or since has quite captured the balance of perfection