It’s been many years since I had even thought about Kingdom of Loathing, never mind having actually played it, when I saw that West of Loathing was coming out. Intriguing, sure, but not something that would skyrocket to the top of my Must Play List.
I downloaded it on a whim from XBox Game Pass for PC, and since I’ve been kind of struggling to find the next thing to play, I decided to fire it up a couple of nights ago.
Having absolutely no clue what I was getting into, I decided to play through as a Beanslinger. Before I knew what was happening, a couple of hours had passed, I’d giggled at the absurdity more than a few times, and I discovered that hey, this is actually pretty fun.
I’m currently undecided if I’m going to push through to the end – I have probably about 6 hours into it so far, which means I’m more than halfway to the end. However, I’m already finding myself somewhat underpowered, and I don’t know how much of that is due to skipping things – not having a dedicated quest log or journal means I don’t really remember where I left off when I fire the game up.
That said, it’s reasonably priced, and if you have fond memories of Kingdom of Loathing or really really like puns and referential humor, it might be worth picking up. For me, it’s been a lovely little palate cleanser while I debate what to dive into next.
Since I’m not going to be buying much in the way of new games next year, I decided that I’d use at least some of that time to tackle some games that have been lingering in my library that just seem too damn long or overwhelming.
Now, I don’t actually expect to finish all of them, and it’s possible I won’t even start all of them, but what I am doing is getting myself prepped and making sure things are installed. I chose ten games with some pretty significant potential play times, because really, the only better time to play these monsters than during low-spend 2020 is if I had played them when I actually bought them.
I have a weird relationship with the Assassin’s Creed games. Weird, in that, I buy them but I don’t really play them. After my third or fourth attempt to get into the first game, I decided that playing them in order was overrated. Although there are some earlier entries in the series I want to spend some more time with, I decided to go for Origins.
I have played a little bit of Borderlands quite a few times, but never really stuck with it. Rumor has it that’s it’s better in co-op, but that’s not really my thing, but I feel like my recent interest in shooters filled with mayhem and destruction mean it’s time to give it another go.
PurchasedSeptember 2013 in a Humble Weekly Bundle (total bundle price: $6.00)
Crusader Kings 2 is another game that irks me – I should like it, I want to like it, I keep buying more and more DLC for it, but I don’t actually play it long enough to get up and over the learning curve.
Here’s another series I had to finally give in and tell myself it was ok to play the later iterations without having completed the early games. I still probably SHOULD start with 3 or New Vegas, but I think I want to go into this one with very low expectations if I want to actually get my money’s worth.
I have no idea if I’ll even like this one – I’ve never played further than half an hour or so into any Far Cry title, but I love the concept, and I just kind of want to mess around and be all prehistoric and make my tools out of sticks and stones.
Will the hype machine kill this one for me? Will I finally discover that I no longer enjoy long & meaty RPGs? Will I finally understand what Gwent is all about? I suppose we’ll find out.
Call of Cthulu
Divinity: Original Sin
These didn’t quite make the cut, but if I wanted to leave them here in case I nope out of any (or, god forbid, all) of my top 10.
Because I really struggle with giving myself permission to play even one massive, life-eating game – actually listing out a bunch I really want to spend some serious time with feels kind of overwhelming. However, since I’m also not restricting myself to these titles only, I’m hoping to open myself up to a good balance of intimidating titles, with some lovely little palette cleansers from my library in between.
Look, I know I just talked about Low-Spend 2020, but there are TWO major Steam sales between now and then. Do I need any more games? Not even a little. Am I going to buy some more games? Absolutely.
However, I want to put some real thought into my purchases – including the price point at which I’m willing to take the plunge, hence the shopping list.
Almost Certainly Going to Buy
The Witcher 3 GOTY Edition
70% off ($14.99)
This one is kind of a no brainer. It’s been 70% off pretty much every recent sale, and I fully expect it’ll hit that price again. I’ve resisted buying because I probably don’t have time for a 200 hour RPG, but I feel like it’s time to take the plunge.
25% off ($14.99)
This feels a little ridiculous, but I haven’t enjoyed a game this much in a really really long time, and I need to own it. To be fair, I’ll probably buy it before the year’s end with no discount at all.
Probably Will Buy
Utomik6 Month Subscription
25% off ($28.35)
This might be cheating a little, but there’s still enough stuff on Utomik I’d like to spend some time with that this seems like a great deal (and frees up 6 months worth of paid subscription slots).
Sure, I’d love for this one to see a discount, but I’m optimistic that it will be completed sometime in 2020, so if I want to support it at full (or at least close to full) price, this is the time to pick it up.
Unlikely to Be Discounted Enough
50% off ($19.99)
As much as I’d like to get my hands on this one, it’s probably too new to get the price drop I’d be looking for, and it feels too likely for eventual Humble Choice inclusion to spend full price on it, especially considering how long things tend to sit in my library.
50% off ($12.49)
I’ve been eyeing this for awhile (and I can see it being a game I spend a LOT of time with), but it hasn’t had enough of a discount yet for me to pick it up.
50% off ($9.99)
It’s probably too new to Early Access to hit 50% this year, but I’m super intrigued even though the early reviews are less than stellar. I’d absolutely scoop this one up for $10 or less.
I thought I might have gotten wanton mayhem out of my system for a little while by playing Dead Rising 3 last month, but apparently not. I installed Sunset Overdrive from XBox Game Pass for PC on a whim. It was nothing that had been on my radar at all, but it looked bright and violent and weirdly fun, so why not? Even if I didn’t make it through the intro level, I had nothing to lose.
I’m a good chunk of the way through the story content, and I’ve wandered off a few times to do side quests. What I haven’t done much of are the challenges – there’s one that’s required to progress the main stories, and I’ve steadfastly ignored all the others so far because if we’re being completely honest – I feel like I’m playing the game very badly.
While I’m sure the game would still be a lot of fun if you had, y’know, actually skills, it’s also really enjoyable to just flail around and hope for the best. Sure, I die a lot, but death doesn’t feel overly punishing. In fact, when I was stuck on a particular parkour sequence three-quarters of the way up a tall tower, I kept dying repeatedly. The respawn point was very close to the spot I was having trouble with, and the character even says something to the effect of “Thanks for not making me start at the bottom!”
I love it.
Sure, the self-aware meta-humor might not be for everyone, but I think it’s fantastic.
If I rush to the end, I could probably wrap the game up in another 3-4 hours. However, if I decided to go for all the challenges, collectibles, and side quests, I probably could play for another 10-20 without running out of things to do.
What I will likely do is something in the middle. I have quite a few things I would like to poke at this month, and since I can see myself replaying this one in the future, I’ve added it to my Steam wishlist and plan to pick it up next time it goes on sale (or maybe before, if I don’t find a discount before the end of the year).
I’ve known for awhile that I have a problem with impulse purchasing, but I try not to think about how big of a problem it actually is.
Of course, bundle buying absolutely throws the account value out of whack. On the other hand, this is only games I own on Steam, and it’s still way too many. So I’ve decided to slow my roll next year, and stop buying things just because they’re cheap or they look interesting or I’m having a bad day.
Low Spend 2020 – Allowed Spending
I’m allowing myself the full 12 months of Humble Choice, as well as one paid MMO subscription and one paid gaming subscription service at a time.
I am allowed to spend up to $50 gifting games to others during the Summer and Winter Steam sales, and I am allowed to purchase non-Collector’s Edition expansions for World of Warcraft or Elder Scrolls Online. Additionally, I may elect to purchase one new co-op game or MMO to play with my husband if something comes out he’s excited about.
Other than what I’ve indicated above, I will not be purchasing any new games, or making any cash shop or micro-transaction purchases in 2020. This includes purchasing any bundles other than the Humble Choice subscription.
While I acknowledge that I’m still allowing myself a massive budget, I still feel like this will be an improvement over what I’ve been doing – which is just making game purchases without a whole lot of thought behind them. It’s not really about the money – although I love to shop, I don’t spend to the point where it strains our budget. But by always chasing the next great deal, I am not really enjoying the things I buy.
While it’s not restricting myself to only five games for an entire year, I am hoping it’ll encourage me to play through some more of my library, as well as better evaluate the worth of the various gaming subscription services that are out there.
This month’s focus point has absolutely NOTHING to do with the Nerd Girl life, but I’m going to put it here anyway. When things get busy (or we get too deep into whatever), our eating habits suffer a lot. Will more time cooking and meal planning translate into less time for gaming, reading, watching and blogging? We shall see.
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.
Since I’m fairly certain I’m keeping XBox Game Pass for PC, at least as long as it stays at the beta price, I am going to let myself dive into The Outer Worlds, which means that might be the only thing I play this month. However, I would like to check out a few games while I have Origin Access Basic during November (Unravel, Fe, Vambrace: Cold Soul, & They are Billions look the most promising to me at the moment). I tacked on Spyro: Reignited Trilogy, one of the November Humble Monthly early unlocks, but more likely than not, I won’t actually get to it because…
Reactivate my World of Warcraft Account
I have tokens burning a hole in my bank alt’s bags, and renewing my sub this month means I can earn two mounts on a single token – I didn’t go for the bee last month, and who am I to turn down a Deathwing mount?
I am sure we’re going to finish up The Boys before too long, and I figured I’d switch it up this month, and put Westworld, Undone, and the seasons of American Horror Story we haven’t seen yet on deck.
We’re also planning an evening in which we watch Unbreakable, Split, and Glass. I think it’ll be interesting to see them all back to back (and only Unbreakable will be a rewatch).
I need to get through four books this month to stay on track (which is absolutely doable), but I never seem to know what I’m going to want to read before I read it. Still, in the interest of full disclosure, I’m currently partway through both The Boys, Omnibus 1 and The Haunting of Saxton Mansion. I’ll add in Kind Nepethe and Locke & KeyVolume One to round out the month.
Interested in seeing my October 2019 recap? You can find it here!
With things returning – more or less – to normal around here, I found myself with more leisure time than I’ve had for several months. As a result, I did a lot of gaming, reading and watching throughout October, and this blog is WAY longer than I anticipated it being.
What I Played This Month
Haunted Domains – The first week of October was hectic as well, heck, so I picked something that I could play in REALLY little increments if needed. This creepy time management game fit the bill – each level is only about 5 minutes long! I didn’t finish it, but I would say I played to satisfaction.
Gourmania 2: Great Expectations – I remember really liking the first Gourmania, so when the second one showed up on Utomik, I thought I’d give it a whirl. It wasn’t great, but I managed to run through from beginning to end in under three hours, so, I guess I can’t say it was completely awful either.
Elder Scrolls Online – After barely touching ESO for almost a month, I started logging in daily again for the Dragon Rise event – not because the event interested me, but because I still needed two berries for my Onyx Indrik.
Dead Rising 3 – Completing the main story with the “S” ending took me just over 20 hours. By far, the easiest of the Dead Rising games I’ve played – I really enjoyed the more relaxed time limit, although I could have done with a LOT less driving.
Monster Prom – It took me a little while to “get” this one, but it has grown on me. It’s perfect for when I only have a little time to game (I read fast enough that the 60 minute game is about half that), and it oh-so-vaguely reminds me of Long Live the Queen, which I played obsessively for awhile.
Yoku’s Island Express – I spent a lot of time confused, and ho-boy, I am bad at pinball, but I just kept going back to it over and over. I couldn’t really play in long bursts since using the controller makes my hands cramp after awhile, but it was charming and adorable. Despite one very frustrating part, I was able to finish the main story.
The World Next Door – True confession – I was totally in this for the frenetic match-3 game play, and that aspect of the game did not disappoint. It was super short, which, to be fair, I apparently missed a lot of side quests, but nothing that detracted from the actual combat game play. Overall, I was pleased for the $3 I paid.
Night Call – I’d never heard of this before browsing the XBox Game Pass for PC library, but I am so glad that I did. Totally captivating.
Taptiles – I had completely forgotten about this game, but I was in the Windows store looking for something else, and I re-discovered it. I was even going to pony up and pay for it to get rid of the ads, but apparently, it’s not a one-time purchase but a subscription? Oh no. I’ll live with ads, thanks.
Where the Water Tastes Like Wine – It makes me a little sad when a really interesting concept becomes a mediocre (and sometimes frustrating) game, but I am going to poke at it for a little longer, because the good stuff is oh-so-good.
Viscera Cleanup Detail – House of Horror DLC – I only dabbled a little in this, to have something to keep my hands busy while I watched scary stuff on TV. Although I’ve enjoyed VCD in the past, this is a LONG level, and I’m not sure I’ll ever actually complete it.
This month I played 2 games on Utomik, 2 on XBox Game Pass for PC, and 7 from my own library!
What I Read This Month
I read five books this month – all of them ghost stories, and three from the Riveting Haunted House Mystery series. I abandoned one book, and have two in progress. Not bad, coming off a couple of months where I didn’t read much of anything at all. I’m at 22/30 for my 2019 Good Reads Challenge.
What I Watched This Month
The Boys – Although I initially wasn’t much interested, this is the dark and awful super hero show I didn’t know I wanted. I’ve been savoring it, so I still have a couple episodes left to go, but I’m surprised how captivating it is.
Halloween Baking Championship – I not only watched the new season, but devoured the past seasons available on Hulu as well. This also reminded me how much I hate waiting for new episodes.
Hallotober Movies Galore – I’m sure I missed some, but every chance I got, I tossed a horror movie on TV.
Whew, that was a lot. Sure, I deviated a bunch from my initial monthly goals, but I’m really satisfied with all the good stuff I got to enjoy in October.
I might have missed this one entirely if Naithin hadn’t posted about it (and I read that right before bedtime too, so you bet I was thinking about it while I was waiting to fall asleep). Let’s be real – I probably couldn’t stick to this and would just take my beating. And I’m not so organized as to worry myself about categories – I’m just going to look at potential play times here.
Game One: World of Warcraft
I would definitely want an MMO, and this one was super-close. Like, I had already started writing about the Elder Scrolls Online close. But every time I’ve take an extended break from WoW (like, for example, now), I come back recharged and excited and ready to Do Stuff. Plus there’s pet battles. I can spend a LOT of time on pet battles. And I haven’t seen the Horde side of the last three expacs, so I probably wouldn’t run out of stuff to do, even if it wasn’t always the most exciting things.
Besides, I have a guild that’s been around for a good 10 years, and I miss those folks like whoa.
Game Two: Rimworld
I’ve been away from Rimworld a long time, but I haven’t forgotten how easy it was to lose myself in. Sure, all the changes since I played last would be overwhelming at first, but I don’t think it would take me too long to get caught up. Plus, I’m pretty sure there’s like 80 bazillion new mods I haven’t even looked at since I played last.
Game Three: RollerCoaster Tycoon Triple Thrill Pack
Another building game, you might be thinking. Yes. Another building game. There is SO MUCH content in this game, and I may even someday learn to build my own coaster that doesn’t kill people. This has the added bonus of being extremely low spec, so if something happened to my regular gaming rig, I wouldn’t be left game-less.
(this is where it gets really hard)
Game Four: Tales of Maj’Eyal
I’ve played enough of ToME to know I enjoy it, and there are currently over 1700 achievements to strive for. I can see this one holding my attention for many many hours.
Game Five: The Sims 3
Replayability and longevity have to be considered, and what game has more to do than Sims 3? I’ve played hundreds of hours already, and I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface. Add in a whole bunch of self-imposed challenge modes like the ones here, and I would probably never get sick of it.
Well, that was uncomfortable. My interests are so varied and my library so vast. Cutting down to a single MMO and giving up all manner of mobile gaming were probably the biggest sacrifices.
Thank goodness this isn’t a thing I actually have to do, although it certainly makes me less apprehensive about my plans to seriously limit my gaming purchases in 2020 (more info on that soon).
The monthly Nope List will chronicle the games that I tried out during a given month, but for whatever reason, they just didn’t click for me.
This month’s Nope List was made up of one game from Utomik, four from XBox Game Pass for PC, and two from my own library.
We Happy Few – Even for me, even for Hallotober, this was dark. It looks great, but it wasn’t particularly fun to play, and I just wasn’t feeling it. If it eventually finds its way into my library on the cheap, I might give it another go, but mostly, I just confirmed that this isn’t a game I want to spend serious money on.
Equilinox – I think this one was done in (perhaps too soon), by awkward controls. Every time I tried to look closer at something, I did the wrong thing, and it was just wholly unintuitive for me. No idea if or when I’ll give it another go – I can push past bad controls and UI when I’m really enamored with something, but having to plant grass and flowers on a blank canvas didn’t blow my skirt up.
Felix the Reaper – It looked and sounded great, but it wasn’t enough to keep me struggling to meet all the metrics on ever level. Just because I can memorize a series of moves and then replay levels doesn’t make it an enjoyable use of my time.
Ghost Cleaner – Like Peggle, but way less fun. It’s not awful, but it’s not all that good either.
Death Mark – I probably would have really enjoyed this, but I played for over an hour before hitting a place where I could save, and I somehow failed to save, and decided I wasn’t into it enough to play that first hour over. Ugh. If you’re not going to let me save anywhere at anytime, at least put the save points reasonably close together.
Creature in the Well – It just didn’t click for me. It’s a neat idea, but other than a neat gimmicky sort of combat, there just didn’t seem to be any reason to play it.
Prey – I don’t even have an excuse, y’all. Unless “I am bad at video game sometimes and kept dying a lot” is an excuse. I considered restarting and lowering the difficulty a notch or two, but … nah. Maybe some other time. On story mode.
Yet again, none of these games were so wretched I want to warn others off of them (and I have played some truly awful games from time to time), but for one reason or another, they weren’t for me, at least not at the time I played them.
Once I own a game, I usually give it a few tries to hold my attention before banishing it to the meh category of my Steam library. Games sampled on a subscription service might get another shot if I continue my sub or if they show up in a bundle, but I’m unlikely to purchase them in the future.
For me, the biggest appeal of Where the Water Tastes Like Wine was in the concept of the “narrative adventure”. What I didn’t realize I was getting was a fantastic story-telling collectathon. After losing big at poker, you are tasked with wandering the United States collecting stories to pay your debt, and along the way, you’ll meet other wanderers like yourself and swap stories.
I kept an eye on it for awhile when it first released, and then it faded from my radar. When I spotted it on XBox Game Pass for PC, I knew I’d have to at least give it a shot to see how the concept panned out.
Let’s start with the things I thought were amazing. The voice acting in this game is top-notch. I am frequently guilty of pushing through dialogue as quickly as I can read it, but I found myself wanting to sit and listen to the stories rather than just reading them quickly. This is not a game you can play in the background – you are going to want to sit and take it all in. The music is also pretty fantastic, although with how slow you tend to mosey around the overland map, it does start to get a little repetitive when you spend too long in one portion of the country.
Then there’s the artwork in the stills. Simply stunning. So stunning in fact that when I started playing the game proper, I was a bit disappointed that wandering the countryside didn’t look better. It’s not bad, but it’s not up the quality I was expecting.
You should be aware that traversing the country is every bit as tedious as you might expect. You can whistle to walk a bit faster, but for me, it only served to distract slightly from the plodding pace. You can hop trains and hitchhike, but when you do so you lose control of how far you’re going to travel, making it easy to miss things along the way, and usually requiring you to backtrack significantly. I’m not sure how detrimental it is to miss stories along the way, but I had to walk back to revisit the major characters, so I picked up everything I could while I did so.
Also, the actual “game” mechanics feel poorly explained. Money can be obtained when you randomly search locations, or by panhandling or looking for work in major cities. This is important because travel will make you hungry and tired, and if you ignore either of those things for too long, they will kill you. In major cities, you have the opportunity to purchase items to refill your meters, or you may get lucky and find opportunities to rest or eat while looking for stories. If you get unlucky, and have no money, you may die. The first time it happened to me, I thought it was game over, but it’s not, so at least there’s that.
For me, the most frustrating part of the whole game is story swapping mechanic. The stories you pick up along the way are automatically sorted into categories and cannot be changed, and once you swap a story from a given category during a camping session, the other stories in that category are no longer available. There are plenty of categories, but you don’t know what types of stories your companions will request. Over the course of the night, you trade several stories, and I frequently struggled to match the requested type.
Stories may be scary, sad, hopeful, exciting, or funny. It sounds simple enough, but those categories have nothing to do with how the stories are sorted in the interface, and it’s not always easy to figure out which category a story fits into. I was really wishing that the game gave you some way to mark your stories once you discovered their category, but it looks like I’ll have to rely on trial and error and my memory.
Where the Water Tastes Like Wine really does keep the focus on the stories, sometimes to its detriment as a game. You can expect to spend 15-20 hours to complete the game, which requires getting all four chapters from all 16 potential companions.
One last note for completionists: This game has an unobtainable achievement, so unless you’re willing to resort to a cheat, you will not be able to get 100% completion.