Nattering about video games

First of all: I reviewed Hoa when I first played it– spoiler alert, I really liked it– but I promised to link to the Let’s Play when it was up and I never did. So here it is; all five episodes are live so if you have some time to watch, feel free. Hit that subscribe button, too.

Second, it’s weird how this whole YouTube thing has affected the way I actually play video games. This is not at all surprising, but I find it interesting anyway. To be more specific: a game I did a Let’s Play series for just released some new (free) DLC, and I don’t know how to play it, if that makes any sense. Before, I’d just play it or not. Now, I’m going back and forth between doing regular episodes, a livestream where I just run through the whole thing, or– crazy, I know– possibly just playing it off-camera, y’know, like a normal person.

(Looks it up, discovers it requires a fresh playthrough to be done right, decides not to play at all)

Still, though.

In related news, I’m playing Far Cry 6 right now, and that’s set in the “real” world, so to speak, and so features licensed music whenever you enter a vehicle. I uploaded a bunch of new episodes yesterday and immediately got hit with a ton of more-or-less bullshit copyright claims, but the way YouTube arbitrates copyright claims puts all the power in the hands of the people claiming that you’re violating your copyright. Now, granted, I’m hundreds and hundreds of followers away from monetizing the channel and will probably lose interest well before it gets that big, but it annoys me that there could be a 13-second clip of a song that was licensed to the game in my video because I jumped into a car for a few seconds and because of that these folks feel like they’re entitled to all of the revenue that video might generate, as if those thirteen seconds are the fucking reason people are watching the half-hour video. It’s horseshit. I’ve turned off the radio option for any further episodes I record so this won’t be happening again, but I’m thinking about re-editing the videos that have claims on them just to pre-empt any future bullshit. The way I record preserves my commentary and the game audio in separate files, so it would take some time to do but in terms of the actual work involved it would be pretty trivial to snip the songs out. We’ll see if my appeals go through or not.

Bathroom work is proceeding apace. Not as exciting today as yesterday, but I’ll post pictures later anyway.

#REVIEW: Hoa (PS5)

I haven’t written a game review on here in a while, mostly because I’ve been confining most of my gaming to my YouTube channel, but I just finished Hoa last night and I feel like this one deserves a little bit more of a push. The Let’s Play isn’t going to run for a few weeks– the current game I’m playing is going to wrap up on the 30th and there’s a whole other game I want to play before Hoa runs, but I picked it up on sale and more or less on a whim– at $4.95, I’m willing to play ten minutes and decide I made a mistake– and it’s absolutely fucking delightful, and if you’re any kind of gamer at all you owe it to yourself to check this one out. It seems to have launched on basically every available system, so you don’t even have to have any particular device to play it.

Hoa is a platformer/puzzle game, only about two and a half hours in length– it will run five episodes when I stream it– and all of the art assets are entirely hand-drawn. It is absolutely gorgeous from start to finish, as you move through (mostly) naturalistic, wooded settings, interacting with fish and insects and other forms of wildlife along with the occasional robotic enemy. The game is divided into five or six zones, and the progression is pretty linear– you collect five butterflies in each level and then turn them in to … well, not a “boss,” because the game doesn’t have any combat at all, but a large denizen of the level, who gives you a new movement ability and sends you on to the next area. There is a story, but it’s kind of bare-bones until all the reveals come at the end, so I’m not going to spoil anything.

This is not a challenging game, and I don’t think it’s meant to be; it’s one of the few games I’ve played where I really feel like relaxation was one of the goals of the game designers, and the piano soundtrack (while occasionally a bit too loud) is just amazing. This is a great game to just play through and chill to, and it’s one of the very rare games where I feel like trying to speed-run it might be fun.

What pushes this game into territory where I’m raving about it is how it handles the ending. There is a big chase scene that is actually handled as a cutscene, which took me by surprise, but then the game does something completely unexpected once the game ends, and the way it handles revealing the parts of the story that had been opaque through endgame cutscenes is really impressive. This was a good game until the last half-hour or so and then shifted into something entirely more notable at that point, and I strongly suggest you play it yourself before watching me do it. It’s a steal at $4.95, and I wouldn’t have felt bad at all if I’d paid the full price. Definitely check it out.