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That elusive hide-and-seek cow is at it again
I'm tempted to find a copy of Cyberpunk, but currently too obsessed with Returnal. I'm hoping to finish a write up on that today or tomorrow. I got a 7-minute video of some gameplay befor dying. Brutally. Again.

Whenever this burns out, I may jump to Cyberpunk. Thinking to go it on the PC rather than console. Seems like I'd need the keyboard for that one. The Netflix cartoon was pretty great btw. I think DD was pimping that out not too long ago. Nice stuff.
"My Dionne Warwick understanding of your dream indicates that you are ambivalent on how you want life to eventually screw you." - Joel

"Ever try to forcibly pin down a house cat? It's not easy." - Captain Steel

"I just can't get pass sticking a finger up a dog's butt." - John Dumbear

omg i use to play this game at arcades back in the day and now they remaking the game ahh im definitely gonna get this game for my ps5*

Will it come with a light gun? Man, the world needs a decent light-gun shooter for consoles.

That elusive hide-and-seek cow is at it again
Release Date: April 30, 2021
Developers: Housemarque, Climax Studios
Platform: PS5 Exclusive*
*Pending PC release date: February 15, 2023

"BREAK THE CYCLE! Fight to survive in this award-winning third-person shooter. Take on roguelike challenges. Engage enemies in bullet hell-fueled clashes. Share your journey through Returnal™ with another player."

Where do I even begin with this game? Seeing the demo on a large screen T.V. in the Tallahassee Best Buy back, oh, around Thanksgiving, I got a mid-90s vibe of of console side-scrollers and overhead shooters. You know, the type that spawned 20 or so enemy ships, each spraying the screen with patterned geometric arcing fire? Well, Returnal offers that but in 3-dimensional space. Yes, the rage quit self-loathing remains in full effect, and eager to relive some of that, I made a purchase.

*Record scratch*
Or so I thought....

As it turns out, this game is pure evil. And I mean that in the bestess of sense. When I purchased this game, I made a short note here on what I thought the game was about. I mentioned some type of loop mystery progression resetting things in one way or another upon death and I mentioned the patterned fire of the enemies on screen and the chaos all of that seemed to be leading to. I was seriously underestimating this title. I've put in about 14 hours so far and during the first 12, at least, I had NO CLUE as to wtf I was doing or what my immediate objectives were. That's not to suggest that the game does not provide guidance. It does. Along with a few tutorials as you interact with new elements within the stage. All very helpful. The problem was that upon death, not only do you start from your original crash site, losing any weapons and upgrades collected in the previous run, but the entire level staging changes. Completely.

Actually, that's not really a problem if you can adjust your expectations of this game early on. That transition took me approximately 12 hours to make, though, and that window felt like an eternity. This game is hard. Very hard. Take and Dark Souls type game death penalty and frustration and throw that into a blender with a Call of Duty FPS speed and you end up with something like this. The plus? This game is so tight in design, controls, soundscape, etc., that it's just impossible to quit. No matter how badly it beats your confidence into dust. I've posted my enjoyment of C O N T R O L here. Often. This feels very much like that, but a level or three beyond. The rage scales proportionally too.

You play as "Selene Vassos, an astronaut who lands on the planet Atropos in search of the mysterious "White Shadow" signal and finds herself trapped in a time loop." The opening sequence shows Selene intercepting a mysterious signal she has been tasked to investigate. Something goes wrong and her ship crashes onto the planet. She then wakes to this strange new, yet familiar world.

Returnal opening sequence

I wouldn't know it from experience, but there are six biomes (levels) to explore and die in. Mostly, you will die. A lot. Having only made it to the biome 1 end boss once (and died), I had to google what lies ahead. From what I can find via Reddit, there appear to be 392 rooms within the entire game, split in some sort of logic between the 6 biomes. Assuming an even split there and that gives you about 65 possible rooms to spawn per biome. Every death randomly generates a new level path from a random pull of the total possible rooms within. The locations of those rooms are randomized. The direction from which you enter any given room may change during each run. The enemy types (and total counts) will be randomly adjusted. What gear you collect and upgrade are randomly generated. Bonuses and life boosts are too, random. While you may learn the layout of a particular room set, you will never know exactly what you will encounter within it until you cross the entry threshold. Oh. And some of those rooms are locked upon entry and remain locked until you clear the room of three waves of spawning hell. With no way of predicting what the enemy stack will be, how many, or what level your current weapon is to be able to side-step that room to first level up a bit.


Partial map of Biome 1 - The Overgrown Ruins (this path will be completely different on next cycle)

Actually, it is quite fun. Every attempt is very much a new game. There is no formal mapping to track progress. Some objectives may be in room 30 one run and in room 4 in the next. I have come to learn where many hidden treasures, pitfalls, and spawn points are, just I never know WHAT treasures will be waiting the next run.

Weapons are varied and interesting. you start with the default pistol sidearm. A space version. When stumbling upon other weapon options, you will be able to compare the specs of what you have to what is available. check the various specs and probably go with the better one, as you can only ever carry one firearm. Things to consider is your weapon proficiency stats for each weapon. The more you use a weapon, the better those stats increase. Something interesting here is that those proficiencies stay with you after death. So be deliberate on what weapon you choose. Also, weapon specs are random!!!! Each gun has a primary and secondary shot. The primary shot has a limited number of round, but those replenish in time. Secondary shots are more powerful but have a timed cooldown. Secondary shots will be up to the random number generator game. Primary assists are also randomly generated. For example, your default pistol fires a single shot for as long as you have ammunition and for as fast as you can pull the trigger. The assist (or whatever term the game calls it) may include two homing missiles in addition to your single shot round. The next version may replace the homing missiles with a ricochet effect that pings around the room until it burns out or makes contact. The secondary may be a charge shot, a grenade launcher, a life syphon of sorts or any other option that I've not yet experienced. You only experience items you unlock, so be sure to scan everything when you find it. So weird. So infuriating. So addictive. Unending. As you near the end of biome 1, you pick up a laser sword thingy. That is a permanent fixture that stays with you. Damage upgrades, however, will be lost!

Here is a 7-minute gameplay clip. For context, I've put about an hour into this one run (cycle) to this point. You can save, sort of. You do not have the option to save multiple states that one might use as a backup state before entering a boss interaction. No, you can only pause your current cycle at the point you are at. When you save again, you overwrite that progress with where you are in that moment. Once you die, you restart. Anyhoozles, this picks up from where I suspended my cycle, the night before.

Details for this clip:
  • Green items are health boost
  • Red are weapon drops
  • Orange items are consumables
  • Small bouncy yellow bits are currency drops used to pay for upgrades (not to be confused with yellow enemy fire that tracks your movement throughout the room)
  • Those lil wormy, squiggling things all over my character are alien parasites that randomly appear as loot. Most provide some form of upgrade. At this time, I believe I have 4 of 5 total parasites latched on to my character's suit. Of course you lose them and their boost effects when you die.
  • If you wonder why the hell I'm shooting walls, most statues can be destroyed. Some provide currency drops. Some provide nada. Others provide an enemy spawn.
  • The first major doorway I pause at is a lockable room in which you must clear the infestations before you can leave. I did not know that enemies could fire on me before crossing that threshold, so I ignorantly stood there wondering if I should enter the zone or not. That "thing" made the choice for me.
  • There were three spawns in the room. Two Groot-looking tree thingies that fire a massive volley of yellow missiles your way. Those projectiles can track you throughout the entire room, so movement is good. Those critters also have the power to teleport randomly around the room. That is a slow transition, but you can track their locations by watching the new red chevrons that appear in the lower-right minimap. The problem there is that while you're tracking one, the other one is firing on you from who knows where. The third spawn is the glowing red portal that you see materializing as I opened the doorway. That creature looks like a squidy from one of the Matrix flicks. It has a fast charge attack from across the room that can knock you off your feet when hit, a dense shield that you have to blast through, and it can chase you. Pretty much, you just run your ass off taking pot shots as they present themselves, while scanning the room for any green health boosts to stay alive. Attack, stun, move.
  • Later in the cycle I come across a pitfall drop. These are recognizable by the chunky, yellow glowing what the hell ever thing, usually found in shallow caves. USUALLY, these are drops to hidden treasure rooms. My health was pretty low at this point, so I thought I might happen upon some desperately needed health upgrades. Unfortunately, that was not the case and I found myself within yet another locked room. A room I never left.

This game is brutal. The two rooms above really aren't even that bad considering what I've gone through. This was probably one of the easiest, best cycles I've had in game. I've NEVER had so many parasites, such a high health pool or such luck with the RNG spawns. In the end, my fault was not taking my time.

This game is random in almost every aspect. That has been terrifying but OMG the replayability is high, assuming you can get past the sense of lost progression. You do actually progress by learning the rooms, gaining permanent proficiencies in weapons use and unlocking better specs of those weapons as a result. Some looted artifacts are permanent as well. Not many, but enough if you're paying attention. You learn what combinations of loot works for your style and the patterns of enemy motion. Just be ready to repeat it all over and over and over and over to reveal more gear, more biomes, and more enemies. And know that one cycle may offer a crap RNG hand while one, several cycles later, maybe serves up a path to beat the game in one go. So far, I've put in just north of 14 hours and I've yet to complete biome 1 of 6. I've explored 75 rooms, if memory serves, and have killed 900+ enemies. I have died in the double digits.

I highly recommend it, just be realistic. This is Metroid on acid. And it's gorgeous.

A system of cells interlinked
That's some crazy gameplay and impressive graphics, especially in the facial expressions of the character etc. These next gen games are really pushing the realism!
"There’s absolutely no doubt you can be slightly better tomorrow than you are today." - JBP

That elusive hide-and-seek cow is at it again
@ynwtf ... Infinite replay value!

Also, NO THANKS. I'll stick with Animal Crossing.
Is that a passive-aggressive copy edit suggestion there??

The Adventure Starts Here!
Is that a passive-aggressive copy edit suggestion there??

Nope, just that, since everything seems to randomize, you can keep playing infinitely and never have the same experience twice.

I, on the other hand, don't want to have that experience even once.

You ready? You look ready
Procedural generated games are the bread of butter of replayability
"This is that human freedom, which all boast that they possess, and which consists solely in the fact, that men are conscious of their own desire, but are ignorant of the causes whereby that desire has been determined." -Baruch Spinoza

I'm currently going through God of War Ragnarök, which is considered one of the best games of 2022. The next game I'm going to pass is Borderlands 3, the second part fell into my heart and I fell in love with it, I hope the third part I like too.

A system of cells interlinked
Got a couple more long-ish session in with Cyberpunk, and am now able to free roam etc. I am thinking of dialing up the difficulty (surprise, surprise), as since I have spent some time roaming around leveling and upgrading my cyberware and weapons, the difficulty of the missions has dropped considerably. I mean, I am coming off of Elden Ring, so maybe any game would seem easy, but next time I play, I am cranking it up a bit and will run a few missions to see how it goes.

Wanted to mention the funny/cool homage to Portal, also. That got a good chuckle out of me.

Yeah, Cyberpunk really needs to be played through those first few on-rails hours. It just feels like a generic setpiece ride game (albeit with the best aesthetic vibe and best lighting effects we've probably ever seen) in the beginning, but after that, and once you get into a good fight/loot/upgrade loop and get your bearings, it starts to get really fun.

I think forgetting the missions a bit and making your own game is the way to go, honestly. At one point I just decided I was gonna take out every single police report on the map (I think they repopulate, but not unless/until you advance the story, or something like that), and had a grand old time doing it (and it naturally led me to travel and see all the different locations in the process).

I agree you can get pretty OP that way, but I dunno, that always feels earned to me, when it takes that amount of effort. It might not be the kind of thing that stays fun for hundreds of hours, but dozens? Easily. For me, at least.

A system of cells interlinked
I did quite a few of those as I was running around, and one of them dropped a nice piece of INT based cyber ware. I just so happen to be an INT/REF based character, with a dash of COOL of course! So, the 'ware was a nice addition. That said, the quick hacks just destroy people, and seem pretty OP. The story may be on rails, but it is really well done so far, and has me kind of sucked into it. So yea, this stuff is right in my wheelhouse, and I am really digging it so far!

That elusive hide-and-seek cow is at it again
Returnal Updates
As of last night, I have around 20 hours into this game, explored 79 rooms (I am assuming now that there are only 79 possible rooms for Biome 1), and have killed over 1k critters.

In contrast to my absolute lack of awareness the first several hours into this game, I feel I have a solid clue to what is going on. Let me be clear: I have NO idea where this mystery story is going, but as to game play, I am now holding my own. I believe I have accessed all of the enemy types for the first Biome and have MOSTLY learned their patterns. The first handful of times meeting these monsters have been stressful. You can sometimes avoid overwhelming numbers by running back through a room entry door. Some of them (the Groot-looking guys) can teleport through the doorway and chase you throughout the level. If your weapon proficiencies are not to spec, then you will die. Well, I guess that's a given regardless of the excuses.

Yesterday, I had a pretty great run. RNG was my ally and my loot drops were very helpful. I found one of my favorite weapon types, the Electropylon Driver. With this, you can shoot and anchor a handful of pylons that, together, create a web of energy that can ensnare several enemies at once. What's even better, is that this weapon is a fire-and-forget type. Fire a few rounds into an enemy cluster then run and hide, letting your web do the damage for you.

The Electropylon Driver in action (not my video)

The random primary assist damage for this gun was in firing two seeking missiles in addition to each pylon launched. The secondary damage was a cluster of homing missiles. On top of all of that was the random bonus damage was the Silphium Extractor trait. This bonus has the potential to extract life from the current target, passing it onto you. Oh, and I had some weird parasite on my suit that gave me 2% of the damage that I created on any enemy for while I was in an Adrenalin state. This state comes whenever you kill X number of enemies without taking damage.

I was prepared and I just lucked upon the Biome boss for the second time. I knew I could handle him this time. I couldn't, but at least I tried. Later tonight, I'll try to upload the fight clip with Phrike. I just knew I had him!! He was down to the last portion of life in his final, third state. Le sigh.

That elusive hide-and-seek cow is at it again
It will be a while, but I'm looking forward to trying Cyberpunk eventually. Thanks for the posts on that.

A system of cells interlinked
The difficulty of the game you are posting is enticing...

I think I will finally suck it up and buy a new video card soon, finally getting rid of my 1060 6GB I have had for years.

That elusive hide-and-seek cow is at it again
The difficulty of the game you are posting is enticing...

I think I will finally suck it up and buy a new video card soon, finally getting rid of my 1060 6GB I have had for years.

It's coming to PC mid February, I think!!! I can't imagine playing this without a controller though, with the FPS vibe it gives.

The difficult is MOSTLY accepting that this game in a non-linear progress expectation. I spent hours trying to get to X position in the map to make some sort of mental chart of how far I am getting. NO! Absolutely the wrong approach, there. Now, I get that the more I play the more weapons upgrades, perks, and damage I discover that could not be available during my first few hours. I am also finding enemies so much easier due to my knowledge of experience and damage proficiencies remaining persistent after death. It's really this ongoing build that the game is about. I imagine once I have Biome 2 skills in place, Biome 1 will be child's play.

It really does give me the rush of old arcade cabinets, such as Altered Beasts and those previously mentioned second gen console shooters.

A system of cells interlinked
I play most of my PC games with a controller, the exceptions being top down RPG and 4x strategy titles etc. No way I could play souls-likes without a controller though. I mostly do this so I can sit out in the living room on the big TV and play while relaxing on the couch.

Recently been getting into video games again. I played PS2 as a kid and PS3 right out of high school. I have a PS4 now. Today I played a bit of:

Batman: Arkham Asylum
God of War
Dragonball FighterZ (w/ friend)
Tekken 2 (w/ friend)
MLB The Show 22 (w/ friend)
The Last of Us

Most challenging bit by far was where I am in The Last of Us. The clickers just showed up and I'm currently in a dark room with something like four clickers and two runners. I had to stop out of frustration. Awesome game.