#RacingGameMonth – A Story in Three Parts

Want to know more about #RacingGameMonth? Check out the Community Game-Along page!

Racing games really aren’t my forte. There are genres I am … not so good at, but I am just downright dismal when it comes to operating a motor vehicle on a computer screen. My inability to (virtually) drive is the reason I never got very far in L.A. Noire, and the only reason I can tolerate driving in games like the Saint’s Row series is that there’s absolutely zero penalty for demolishing car after car trying to get from Point A to Point B.

Still, in the spirit of community, and due to the fact that I have a handful of racing games in my library from various bundles through the years, I decided to give it a fair shake.


Part One – Table Top Racing: World Tour

I’m not sure why I thought this would be a super-casual, extra-easy-for-total-noobs racing game experience. Maybe because the it’s little toy cars, and how hard can that be?

Hard. The answer is hard, at least if you’re me.

There are six cars in the first race. Which means I came in dead last.

Now, I didn’t just come in dead last once. Nope. I came in dead last over and over, even after using the pity money to upgrade my adorable little truck multiple times. I was not getting the hang of this. Not with the keyboard and mouse. Not with a controller. Not for anything could I manipulate a toy car around this little itty bitty race track. It wasn’t even an overly complicated track.

I set it aside, figuring I’d go back and push through later in the month, but as usual, I got distracted. Since I picked this up in a Fanatical bundle way back in 2018, it doesn’t make me particularly sad to leave it mostly unplayed.


Part Two – Forza Horizon 4

Yes, I fully appreciate the flying leap I took here. But I promise, it wasn’t my idea. I picked up XBox Gamepass for PC this month, and got a recommendation from one of the Community Game-Along organizers via Twitter.

Accessible. Accessible is good. Well, I turned everything all the way down to see how I’d do. If it was a cakewalk, I could always turn things back up.

Want to guess how many cars were in the race? Did you guess 12? If you did, you would be correct.

This is me. Taking out a stone wall. Clearly, this is going very well indeed.

In all fairness, Forza Horizon 4 is gorgeous. Given enough time, I probably could have started to get a handle on things with all the training wheels fully engaged. But I figured, if I was going to wreck stuff anyway, shouldn’t I play something where at least that was the point?


Part Three – Carmageddon: Max Damage

Carmageddon: Max Damage is … the ultimate antidote to racing games!!

from the Carmageddon: Max Damage Steam page.

Why I didn’t just start with a game that rewards me for driving badly, I will never understand. I’m still playing on the easiest difficulty, mind you.

I’m a fan of alternate win conditions. Especially ones that don’t require me to stay on the track. And first race in?

Yep. Crash into the other cars over and over to profit. This I can do.

Initially, I was a little surprised how much I was enjoying Carmageddon: Max Damage because it is still actually a racing game, and let’s be real – it’s totally cheesy. But it totally scratches my mayhem and destruction itch. Usually it comes via shooting things – a lot of things – but I also can do the whole demolition derby thing.

I will likely play this well into next month when I feel the chaos itch. I assume it will get harder and I won’t win every event the first time out, and that’s okay. It’s got a 15+ hour main story, and I picked it up in the dollar tier of a Fanatical bundle almost two years ago and proceeded to forget all about it.

Finding little nuggets of gold in the back of the library is why I have one, after all.

Nerd Girl Goals – June 2020

GAMING

Play to Satisfaction

For me, saying “Play to Satisfaction” gives me explicit permission to drop a game that’s not working for me, but also to grind away for nerd points if I’m really loving something. I’m trying to make it a policy for myself that I will always play to satisfaction – no more, no less.

Elder Scrolls Online

While most people dipping back into ESO at this point are checking out the new content in Greymoor, I’m going back in for (what I hope will be) a satisfying single player experience. At this point, I’ve seen almost all of the base game stories, but I’ve missed out on a lot of the DLC and expansion content.

I plan to focus on two of my lower level characters – both magicka based. The first is my Breton Necromancer, and the second is my Dark Elf Dragonknight. I’d like to take my necro through the Elsweyr content, and then head over to Murkmire. My Dragonknight will quest through the entire Morrowind – Summerset arc.

Having a plan of which content I’d like to do (and knowing that much of it requires ESO+) makes it a lot easier to justify the sub cost for the month.

Subscription Gaming

I have been struggling quite a bit with what to play lately, as well as with the need for NEW STUFF (which I don’t need at all, actually), so re-upping my XBox GamePass for PC seems like a no-brainer. There’s still a handful of things on there I meant to try out before letting my subscription lapse, and although there’s no firm date just yet, No Man’s Sky is expected to hit the service sometime in June. Hopefully, giving that a dabble while I’m subbed will quash the grabby hands that pop up inside me every time it hits a half price sale, because I don’t really believe it’s something I’m going to love.

There’s also a handful of games on Utomik I’ve been meaning to try out, but for whatever reason, just haven’t fired up just yet.

#RacingGameMonth – Table Top Racing: World Tour

I’ll fully admit I am rubbish at racing games, and I don’t know that I’ve ever played one on PC, so I decided to go with something a little bit frivolous.

Ten Games to Tackle in 2020

Overall, I’ve been disappointed with this project – I played one game to satisfaction, and the next three titles, I’ve decided weren’t for me. But since I’m starting to get the zombie-slaughter itch, I’m going to play some Dying Light on Story Mode & see how I feel about it.

Other Gaming

I realize I’ve already put a lot of options on my plate, and it’s not really that big of a plate, but I’ve been poking deep into my Steam library, and have found a few other things I’d like to sneak on there.

With the weather getting warmer (and travel still out of the question), I think I’d like to give ABZU a shot and go on a virtual dive. It looks like it’ll be chiller than Subnautica (the other contender for this spot), and is also pretty short, giving me a better chance of completion.

After realizing that I had plenty of options in my library to scratch my space station building itch, I downloaded The Spatials: Galactology to finally give it a fair shake at making me lose hours upon hours managing tiny people in space.

I didn’t think I’d like Saint’s Row with aliens, but I totally did, so it’s time to find out how I feel about Saint’s Row in hell.

Although I still haven’t gone back and tried out SR2, I’ve decided to keep pushing forward with Gat Out of Hell.

WATCHING

May turned out to be a month where I retreated deep into the comfort of books and of low-engagement television. I’d like to finish out my watch of Grimm this month.

But before that, I’d like to spent a few evenings with Interrogation on CBS All Access. When I had to replace the Fire Stick in the bedroom, I grabbed a Roku stick instead, and got a few free months of CBS All Access, and have yet to watch it once, so I’d like to check this one off the list before my free time runs out. It’s only 10 episodes, but I still probably won’t spend as much time with it as I originally planned, but I’m fascinated by non-linear storytelling, and this is so far up my alley, it’s actually in my backyard.

Steam Summer Sale – June 25 – July 9

There is very little that gives me the same oomph of excitement and distraction as the Steam Summer Sale every year – I even enjoy it more than the Winter sale, despite them being very similar.

In an attempt to make more conscious buying decisions, I’ll be preparing my shopping list ahead of time (completely with minimum discount to purchase), as well as plotting what gifts I want to send to others. I’ll likely blow through the rest of my Stay At Home budget here, and I’ll have to take another look at how I want to proceed with Low Spend 2020.

Quick Look – Distortions – #MusicGameMay

I picked up Distortions in a $4 IndieGala bundle back in March of 2019, added it to my Steam library because it looked cool, and promptly forgot all about it until I was looking for something to play for #MusicGameMay. Sure, reviews were mixed, but I can forgive a lot of rough edges on an otherwise lovely game. And watching the trailer, it looked like it was going to be absolutely lovely.

However, a little over two hours in, and I have to officially say I’ve given up. This was such an ambitious undertaking for a small indie studio (only four people according to the dev in a discussion thread on Steam), and knowing that, it’s not surprising that it didn’t completely come together. But what they did right, they did so very very right.

I was absolutely willing to trade a somewhat clunky character model for the breathtaking vistas you get throughout the game. I took so very many screenshots while playing because it was just that pretty. The music, and honestly, the sound in general, is also spot on, which made it easy to forgive the rough patches in the translation.

I went in being most concerned about my ability to keep up with the actual musical part of the game. I can’t sight read music, and my rhythm chops are … well … basically chop-less. However, once I overcame the initial awkwardness of the keybinds, even playing the violin felt good.

Unfortunately, not much else did.

Movement is mostly hindered by the constant perspective changes – from first person to third, then to top down, and occasionally even to 2D sidescrolling. The camera is adjustable, until it’s suddenly not, and control is wrested away (and given back) almost randomly. You can sprint when necessary, as long as it’s not necessary for more than a couple of seconds, because your character gets winded fast. It’s almost never clear where the game expects you to go next.

And yet, I wanted to keep playing. But as you enter into the second part (of how many, I cannot tell you for sure), all of a sudden, this linear adventure with light platforming and even lighter rhythm segments goes in a more open-worldy sort of direction, and I was lost.

I knew I needed to collect more music fragments to learn more songs, but I couldn’t figure out where I needed to go. Now, I have no sense of direction, so I fully admit this might be a me problem. I managed to navigate a section which I believe was the Shadowy Forest and unlock the ability to play notes in the wild to solve puzzles, but only narrowly. I bumbled around, eventually finding another song, but once I played it, I couldn’t figure out how to use the wall that it summoned. I was both flummoxed and frustrated and I knew I’d had enough.

Once I exited the game, I did something I almost never do. I went looking for a commentary-free play through. Sadly, I found that the same things that make Distortions un-fun to play also make it not terribly enjoyable to watch (not to mention, the need to pause the video when journal pages are discovered, since neither play through I found left them open long enough to actually read).

Usually, I have no qualms tossing a game a side when it isn’t for me for whatever reason, but this time, I’m doing so with a small measure of regret and disappointment. This could have been great – I think it would have absolutely found an enthusiastic audience if it were a more linear walking sim, maybe sprinkled with music puzzles. I want to read all the journal pages (and am actually considering picking up the reasonably priced DLC on offer to do just that).

I feel like the creators of this game had a very solid vision of how the story should be told, combining exploration, collectibles, puzzles, stealth, and platforming, but when it all comes together, it doesn’t hold up. It’s heartbreaking, because the art and the sound are so well done, and the story was – at least for me – compelling enough that I want to see it through, but I just can’t.

I will, however, keep an eye out for whatever Among Giants does next, assuming they don’t let poor reviews keep them down. And I may still watch the cutscene movie that YouTuber TheBlueDragon put together, and just relax into it and watch it an arthouse film in a language I don’t speak.

A Change of Direction – #CapcoMonth

For the second time in only four months, the game I originally picked for the Community Game Along turned out to not be the right game for me. I’m kind of bummed about this one, because Remember Me looked so very very good.

Don’t get me wrong, there is absolutely some good stuff here. The concept of being able to extract memories, and even to alter them, is intriguing. During my couple hours of play time, I kept going back and forth between “This is so cool.” and “Ugh, this is really irritating.”

I think if I had loved everything about it except the movement, I would have tried to dig out my controller and play that way, but I also found the combat to be pretty awful. You set up combos, but how to make the combos work wasn’t really clear, and I ended up turning the difficulty down to the easiest level after the first major fight.

I’ve played many other clumsy console ports over the years, and I’ve certainly put many hours into older games – I’m not sure why Remember Me rubbed me the wrong way as much as it did.

Still, the month is young, and it’s far from the only Capcom game in my library. I briefly considered replaying Dead Rising 2 or starting up Dead Rising 2: Off The Record (which is basically the same game with a different protagonist), but decided instead to play something new instead. So I went to Twitter with a poll:

So, the next game I will be trying out for #CapcoMonth is DMC: Devil May Cry, a game from the same era as Remember Me, but hopefully with far fewer annoyances.

Quick Look – Another Eden: The Cat Beyond Time and Space (#MitsudaMarch)

When it comes to mobile gaming, I tend to gravitate towards very casual games, which usually leads to having half a dozen different match three or hidden object games to choose from.

However, for #MitsudaMarch, I downloaded something with a little more meat on its bones, and I’m really loving Another Eden so far. Sure, it’s pretty far outside what I normally play on any platform, and I am 100% bumbling through it.

I can’t tell you for certain how much time I’ve played it overall (I did poke at it when I first downloaded it last month, and I started playing it fairly regularly a couple of days early), but my iPhone’s Screen Time setting tells me I’ve already put in almost six hours this week.

I think what’s surprised me the most so far is how meaty the game feels. Just about everything you do earns you Chrono Stones, which can be spent in the Gallery of Dreams to unlock more characters for your party. A full party (including backline) is only six characters deep, so it doesn’t take that long to get a full party together as a free player.

The core game play is full of random encounters with simultaneous turn-based combat. It’s necessary to pre-select your party, and when you run into an enemy (or more often, a group of enemies), you can choose what each front-line party member does before activating your turn. It’s not a combat style I’ve overly familiar with, but I think it works well for a mobile game.

Another Eden looks great, it sounds great, and once you get into the swing of things, it plays great.


As with any free-to-play game, there are microtransactions, and things that can only be bought with premium currency. So far, I don’t feel like I’m at any sort of disadvantage by not spending, but I assume at some point, the story will run out, and making a purchase will be necessary to continue. At this point, that’s really just an assumption, though – so far it seems that the only things that cost to unlock are additional characters. Based on the prices of Chrono Stones in the app, and the costs of character unlocks with free Chrono Stones, it looks like you can expect to spend anywhere from $2.40 to $5 to unlock a single premium character.


Overall, this is a nifty little package of fun, and I’m grateful to the folks at The Community Game Along for #MitsudaMarch, because I never would have discovered this little mobile gaming gem otherwise.

The Smolder Scrolls Online – #DatingSiMonth

Oh, lordy. Zenimax has really done it this time.

If you’ve played through pretty much any of the Elder Scrolls Online base game content, you’ve likely run into Razum-dar, Naryu, or Darien (depending on your faction). At least for the moment, you can try to romance the character of your choice in a super-short dating sim available on the Elder Scrolls Online website.

I have no idea how long the game is going to be around, but you can absolutely play it a matter of minutes per character, so if you’ve ever daydreamed about one of these ESO heart throbs, now is your chance.

Game Over: Purrfect Date (#DatingSiMonth)

Although I’ve often played games with dating sim elements, I think this is the first game I’ve played where I went into it thinking about it as a dating simulator, if that makes sense. I’m not sure exactly what I expected, but in more ways than one, for me at least, Purrfect Date fell short.

Here is the most frustrating thing: I made one mistake, and my only recourse if I want the “true” ending is to replay the entire game. Now, the game was only four hours long, but that’s an awful lot of rereading just for .. a cut scene? Some exposition? I don’t know, and I don’t expect I’ll run through the game again to find out.

There is no going back to a save point, no replaying single chapters. There isn’t even a fast replay option; you’ll need to page through all the dialogue, even if you don’t re-read it. If you only want to play the game once, chances are you won’t get the best ending.


Putting that (admittedly not so minor) gripe aside, I liked the game well enough. Although I was disappointed in the inability to date more than one character simultaneously (once you pick a date, that character is locked into that choice for the duration of their chapter), I did enjoy the distinct personalities of all the date-able characters.

That said, the “game play” portion of the game felt very forced. After every three events, you need to rest (and if you forget, the game will remind you). The only reason I could fathom for this mechanic is to toss in an achievement (and potentially an “ending”) for completely ignoring the mechanic, but it’s another thing I really don’t feel compelled to go back and check out.

I managed to successfully romance each character, and I felt like the “correct” response was always pretty obvious. A successful romance, however, only requires 2 of 3 correct answers, so if that’s your main goal, you can actually afford to make an error.

I got the happy ending in five of the six chapters, and I found those resolutions satisfying – an “awwww” or two might have even escaped my lips.


I really hate saying that I walked away from the game feeling very meh, because almost all the pieces were really well put together. Normally, I can overlook a clumsy element or two when everything else feels right, but for a narrative driven game, I feel like a second full play through in which I need to only make a singular different choice is too much of an ask.

While I like a game that is built with an eye toward replay value, I think Purrfect Date swings for that, but misses, and that miss makes it far less appealing for even a single play through. Which is a shame, because there’s a lot of great stuff here.

#DatingSiMonth – A Small Sample of Free Dating Sims on Itch.io

Although I’ve decided to go with Purrfect Date for my Community Game-A-Long during #DatingSiMonth, I wanted to do a quick post highlighting some interesting looking free dating sims, available on Itch.io, for anyone who wants to just dip their toe into the dating sim waters.


Cooked With Love: With a playtime of only about 20 minutes per run, you can cook for your crush. Will you win them over, or crash and burn?

Hot Date: If, like me, you’re more of a dog person than a cat person, you can go on a speed date with a pug!

Last Minute Love: It’s never too late to find that special someone. Play as a nursing home resident, hoping to have one last great romance.

Kill Your Darlings: Dating can be scary! Who will you woo during the masquerade party?

Dino Dearest: Win the heart of one (or more than one) delightful prehistoric creatures.


I’m hoping to play all of these myself this month, but if you beat me to any of them, let me know how you liked them!

Game Over: Type:Rider

It may have taken choosing an extremely short title for #PlatforMonth, but I managed to finish up Type:Rider in just over two hours!

If you’re looking for a platforming challenge, this isn’t it. If you’re looking instead for a lovely romp through the history of typography (or even if you just appreciate a clever use of letters as art and some pretty graphics), then you’re in the right place.

True confession: I didn’t push myself playing this game. I did make it a point to get all the asterisks, but I skipped over any letters I couldn’t immediately see a way to get to. I didn’t hunt down the ampersands either, but I grabbed a couple that I practically bumbled into.

I assume that one or both of these things are required to get to the “bonus chapter”, so I did not manage to unlock it. However, I actually started to struggle on the final chapter, and although I enjoyed my time playing Type:Rider, I didn’t feel an overwhelming pull to go back and try to hunt down all the collectibles.

The Tetris-style segment gave me a heck of a time!

For a budget game (full price is just under $5), I think Type:Rider was a worthwhile experience, but it probably will only appeal to a very niche audience.

Changing Direction for #platformonth

I was under the mistaken impression that I could play Ori and the Blind Forest on easy and it would be … well, easy.

Instead, I played it for several days in 10 minute increments, and quite honestly, didn’t get very far. Having been a PC gamer from a pretty young age, I never really worked on my platforming chops as a kid, and now that I’m over 40 and my reaction times aren’t what they once were, it’s really challenging to get to a place where most platforming games, even on easy, are something I can tackle without getting frustrated.

I have to believe this isn’t how MOST folks play.

Instead, I decided to redirect my efforts. Although I’d still like to participate in #platformonth with the Community Game-A-Long, I’d like something that I have a chance of completing before the month is out. So I dug through my Steam library and came up with another option.

Not only is Type:Rider totally my aesthetic, it’s also gloriously simple. Maybe too simple, because it gets reviews like this one.

A very simplistic platformer, with not much going for it. The only "challenge" to it is the controls, as the character follows inertiamore than player input.
A very simplistic platformer, with not much going for it. Sign. Me. Up.

But it’s lovely. And easy. And short. I will ride the inertia and gape at the stunning visuals, and any letters I miss on the way by will stay missed. I’m very okay with that.